PM: Oral and Public History Institute critical to country’s future
Published: Jul 12, 2013
Prime Minister Perry Christie declared at the official launch of the "From Dat Time" Oral and Public History Institute on Tuesday that the establishment of the institute is critical to the future of The Bahamas.
The prime minister also pledged government funding to support the work of the Institute at The College of The Bahamas.
"The history of a country is made up of the stories of the people of that country and when history is distilled on the basis that you have actually recorded elements of that history, and when the full glare of analysis is put on it and then the real stories emerge, that is how the ethos - that characteristic spirit that binds us together - emerges and strengthens itself," he said during the launch ceremony at the Harry C. Moore Library and Information Centre. "So it is critical for a country to know its history."
The prime minister has been an aggressive advocate for the systematic documentation and transmission of the stories of The Bahamas.
"Yesterday was a good day for The Bahamas in terms of discussions I had with investors about the economy of The Bahamas, and it gives me another strong indication that confidence in investing in The Bahamas is returning and we are going to be able to provide funding to this Institute for Dr. Tracey Thompson. We are going to pay close attention to what she is doing because I really believe that given the time that we have, we have to make a very special effort to capture our history."
The first of several centers of excellence that will mark the coming University of The Bahamas, the Institute has three goals. The first goal is to place on record, and flesh out into historical narratives, what
older Bahamians recall about various aspects of their lives. The second goal is to bring those rich narratives to Bahamian youths in various multi-media formats, and the third goal is to cultivate a cohort of Bahamian historians of global stature.
According to the director of the Institute, Oral Historian at the college Dr. Tracey Thompson, these three projects – of documentation, multimedia production and apprenticeship – build on a foundation of training and experience laid by the Oral History unit of the Library and Instructional Media Services of The College of The Bahamas.
"The Institute aims to bring our story not so much to other scholars, as to our people as a whole. The name ‘From Dat Time’ speaks of the spirit in which we are going about our institutional and intellectual project," said Dr. Thompson, whose father Jeffrey Thompson played a significant role in the struggle for majority rule in The Bahamas.
"Choosing this name sounds a note that in our fortieth year as a sovereign people we are comfortable with presenting ourselves on our own linguistic terms, just as we sounded a similar note to the world 40 years ago with respect to our political maturity."
College Council Chairman Alfred Sears acknowledged that launching the Institute is the culmination of generations of contributions and advances the work of many individuals who are not currently associated with it. He also explained its relevance.
“The ‘From Dat Time’ Oral and Public History Institute will record either in scribal, audio or film format, as Marion Bethel did in the documentary ‘Womanish Ways’, for our posterity and the global civilization the self-defining, self-accepting stories of Bahamians and our ultimate significance in the order of things,” Mr. Sears said.
Following the launch ceremony, those who attended, including Their Excellencies the Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes and Lady Foulkes, were taken on a tour of a special exhibition which showcased artifacts, and the faces of Bahamians who have shared historical recollections.