Wednesday 20 March, 2019

Cultural devastation: St Lucians react to loss of FRC

The tragic loss of the Folk Research Centre, which burned down Sunday night, has dealt a serious blow to the nation.

People have been reacting to the loss on social media, describing what it means to them personally and for St Lucia.

Rheysa Joseph posted on Facebook:

"The burning of the Folk Research Centre: A Cultural and Spiritual Death by Fire

I do not think my pain can rival that of the faithful cultural and historical pioneers who sacrifice and have sacrificed their lives to preserve our very existence, dignity and humanity.

But I will say today that I am broken in ways unimaginable even to tears. Everything one could imagine could be found there on our spirit, how we worked, played, ate, fought back, theorised, celebrated, mourned. It truly was the essence, spirit and heartbeat of us.

My personal heartbreak today as a Master of Philosophy student whose work was to propose through our Koudmen that an alternative form of governance and democracy is possible is that every bit of recorded history on the subject was reduced to ashes. I cannot resurrect the authors who wrote, neither our people who spoke the words which were recorded lived the experiences and built our nation.

To the staff of the Folk Research Centre, and its foremost founder Monsignor Patrick Anthony. I cannot fathom what your pain is at this moment, but I am thankful for all that you gave and tried to do.

We cannot put a price on what we have lost for truly it was invaluable."

Jerry George posted on Facebook: "This is from PABA:

Dear friends, I bring you sad news that the Folk Research Centre, recently renamed after me has been completely gutted by fire. Nothing was saved. Fortunately, FRC was never just a building, but a concept of development, which no flame can destroy. For, as Martin Carter once said, "Death will not find us thinking that we die "."

Journalist Terry Finisterre tweeted: "Fire has destroyed the Patrick Anthony Folk Research Centre at Mount Pleasant, Saint Lucia. This makes me more angry than sad. Sadly, the money the Folk Research Centre has needed for years to pursue digitisation has not been forthcoming. So decades of data have been lost. Hopefully agencies like and can help restore our archives."

Jocelyne Fletcher posted on Facebook: "As a board member of the folk research centre, my heart is broken. I feel devastated for my colleagues and my country. What our young people have lost is priceless. The paintings, the relics and books.....oh Father!!! It has now become imperative that those with the knowledge of our history and culture be harness and cherished as priceless as what we have lost today. Let us regroup and begin again. This tragedy has taught us hopefully to cherish and make a concerted effort to protect our heritage for our young. Be strong, my thoughts and prayers are with you my little treasure island, even if far away."


Parliamentary Representative for Vieux Fort North Moses Jn Baptiste posted on Facebook:

"Our PABA, Our FRC

When tears alone cannot comfort your heart
Your soul whispers to Almighty God for calm
The salty sweat of our mothers and fathers
Their struggles and passions our survival gifts Into Paba's walls like a pretty Christine purse
When your Patrimony is more a credit rating
This today , our buffer , our cloak against terror
Smoked into eternal echoes of our ancestors
I bleed,I cry, I am hurt and in pain."

Hugh Maitre posted on Facebook: "The very heartbeat of our lives, our identities, our heritage, our history reduced to embers. I am hopeful that we could start over as soon as possible. I am willing to assist in whatever way to restart the process of documentation and recording."

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