I read a British newspaper and it was in there; a Canadian one, and it was in there, too. I found two American papers and the popular one-line Huffington Post and it was in there as well. Subsequently, I found it in quite a number of other international papers. What am I talking about?
Jamaica is making an attempt to have its once notorious city, Port Royal, " the richest and the wickedest on earth," in the 17th century declared a World Heritage Site site by UNESCO, the UN arm that is responsible for cultural, educational and historical matters of this nature. The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO has listed 936 sites around the world that have cultural and natural heritage that it deems have universal value. If accepted, Jamaica's Port Royal would join the ranks of popular tourist attractions such as the Taj Mahal in India, Petra in Jordan, and Stonehenge in the U.K.
A few months ago, in a previous blog, I did state the case for Port Royal's neglect by successive governments in preserving what is left of the city, a qualification for gaining World Heritage status. This is something I have been advocating since my novel Port Royal was published in 2001. I have never given up on this possibility, and although it is still not a reality, and the application won't be made until 2014 because of the need to have certain things in place, I'm confident that this little place will once and for all get the attention it deserves.
There are inquisitive and curious visitors who'll want to visit such a World Heritage Site when it wears that crown. The fact is Port Royal is unique; it was a major British port and fortress, the ruins of Fort Charles bearing testimony to that in the 21st century, a haven for pirates including the infamous Sir Henry Morgan and his ruthless bunch, a major slave auctioning centre for the western Caribbean, a major stop-over for cargo ships coming from the Americas, and a great portion of the old city is lying under the sea after being submerged by a major earthquake on June 7, 1692.
World Heritage Site will bring back life to Port Royal. Disney had ambitious plans for Port Royal some years ago, including theme park and underground submarine tours. Activities like those could provide well-need economic development for that area, including the city of Kingston. The possibilities are endless. Rather than having the Disney Pirates of the Caribbean movies remind us of this old Jamaican city, why not have the reality of Port Royal ready for the visitor first hand through a UNESCO designation as a World Heritage site? My novel Port Royal has just been released as an ebook on Amazon (it's cheap) and is still available in print. Check it out and sail right back to the reality of 17th century Port Royal, Jamaica - "the richest and wickedest city on earth." One love!
- Horane Smith, is an award-winning Jamaican author of eight published novels. (www.horanesmith.com)