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Bunce Island included in World Monuments Watch

October 28, 2015 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

Bunce Island, an 18th century British slave trade and the most important historic site in Africa for African-Americans, has been included in the 2016 World Monuments Watch.

The Watch is the primary advocacy program of the World Monuments Fund that brings international attention to the challenges facing cultural heritage sites around the globe.

Chairperson of the Sierra Leone Monuments and Relics Commission, Ms. Isatu Smith, yesterday told a presser in Freetown that the Island’s inclusion was as a result of a nomination they submitted to the World Monuments Fund, which was accepting nominations for cultural heritage sites that are in grave danger.

“It was with great pleasure and surprise therefore that I received an email on 8 October informing me of the success of our nomination. Inclusion on the list provides nominators and site owners with an opportunity to promote their sites locally and internationally,” she stated

She continued that nominators will also be opportune to work towards improving site protection as well as building community engagement in their preservation efforts, while revealing that the 2016 World Monuments Watch includes 50 sites in 36 countries and territories.

As a proclaimed asset under the care and management of her commission, Ms. Smith reiterated the need for the immediate preservation of the Island as it has suffered from chronic neglect and is in a shocking state of deterioration.

According to her, the Island provides a unique testament to the cultural interchange between the United States and the African continent, and that its restoration will be very significant for lost connections to be made.

“The preservation of the Island will institute a central control mechanism that would create order for its activities to be carried out in a structured way. It will also serve as a model in our bid to start rewriting our country’s history,” she noted.

Also speaking, acting Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Kadijatu Seisay, noted that the government is very much cognizant of the island’s history, heritage and the circumstances that make it one of the most unique places in Africa.

She noted that its inclusion in the 2016 World Monuments Watch is good news as it echoes the government’s quest to restore and preserve the Island by presenting it both locally and internationally with the goal of fully harnessing its socio-economic potentials.

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