Belmont’s forgotten past comes alive
Vines crawled across the plot of land where the family home of late president Sir Ellis Clarke once stood.
Glendon Morris, son of the late masman extraordinaire Ken Morris, was busy fashioning three coats of arms in copper for the embassy in Beijing, China.
The Rada community was founded by slaves from Dahomey (West Africa) who never experienced the humiliation of plantation slavery.
These were among the revelations during an early morning tour of Belmont’s heritage and cultural sites yesterday. It was hosted by Citizens For Conservation (CSC) and Belmont’s Freetown Community Cultural Heritage Conservation and Tourism Project coordinator.
Conservation was represented by its president, Rudylynn De Four Roberts, and members Christine Millar and Jalaladin Khan. Freetown was represented by homeboy Elton Scantlebury.
During intervals, De Four Roberts, Khan and Scantlebury morphed into oral historians on beautiful Belmont’s rich history.
The ultimate aim was to encourage residents and visitors to discover, explore and gain appreciation for the community. They are optimistic other communities will follow suit and showcase their community’s heritage and culture.
As the bus drove past the empty plot opposite Hilton Trinidad in St Ann’s, Scantlebury said: “That area had a huge silk cotton tree. We used to pick up the pennies and go and buy mauby. Some people say it was obeah. We never took it as obeah.”
The bus slipped past modern-styled buildings and homes which had sprung up alongside Belmont’s gingerbread houses. They are characterised by George Brown fretworks and jalousies. Landmark churches like St Francis were being restored.
School was in session at Providence Girls and Belmont Government Secondary. Guavas hung like yellow pendants on trees. Clusters of ixoras and buttercups brightened the landscape.
The first pit stop was at the home of Orville Joseph, a relative of the late wrestler Cyril “Ray Apollon” Joseph.
Joseph said: “We have been living there for four generations. There was a piano in the corner. We had a marble-top washbasin. Ray left here to study to be a doctor. His father, Cyril, was a doctor. And much to his father’s mortification and chagrin, he ended up on a wrestling team. He became the most celebrated local wrestler. He used to regale us with stories about meeting dignitaries in China and Japan.”
Asked how he felt about community/heritage tourism, Joseph said: “They keep telling me about restoration. But it has mice. The floorboards are creaking. The house is in danger of falling. Termites have taken over the roof. Termites are vicious. As sentimental as it may be and how I’m seeing the fate of the Magnificent Seven, I don’t have much trust.”