Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 17th 2013 Contents B1
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Donny Rogers opens an ordinary looking
family photo album to reveal a quite aston-
ishing piece of family history. Two paper
documents, neatly encased behind plastic
sheaths are creased, stained, torn in places
and have become a brownish-yellow colour
Having said that, they are still in reasonable
condition for documents dated April 25 1932
and have retained a sense of nobility in line
with the historical information they hold.
April 25, 1932 was the date Rogers s great
grandparents were released from indentured
labour by their colonial masters after 26 years
working on the Perseverance sugar plantation
Their Certificates Of Exemption For Labour
are a part of his family history but more than
that they represent an important part of the
colonial history of Trinidad.
The certificates detail the ship his grand-
parents arrived on from India, the Lena, on
January 14, 1906, their age on arrival (25 and
21), the immigration number assigned to them
122,735---seemingly a running total of the num-
ber of Indians taken from villages and brought
to the plantations---and more disturbingly a
field entitled "bodily marks" with the entry,
handwritten in calligraphy ink, "long tattoo
mark on forehead, scar on back."
It appears that, much like slaves, indentured
labourers were known by their identifying
physical characteristics rather than their names.
As a child, Rogers searched through his
grandfather s metal box of bills, receipts and
other miscellaneous documents and discovered
some old tattered pieces of paper folded up.
When he realised their significance he began
the process of preserving and caring for them.
He has brought them to the National Library
in Port-of-Spain where Danielle Fraser, the
library conservator and her team in the Heritage
Division have been playing host to conservation
specialists from across the Caribbean.
They are at an event celebrating the com-
missioning of the new PAC (Preservation and
Conservation) laboratory in the basement at
NALIS, but today it s the public s turn to bring
their little bits of history to the Family Heirloom
The event is an attempt to encourage people
to reconnect with their family heritage as well
as giving them professional tips and advice
on preserving and restoring objects.
Fraser, her team of conservationists and
guest Randy Silverman---a preservation librar-
ian from the University of Utah---brought in
to consult on conservation techniques disaster
recovery, have heard many moving stories and
seen delightful objects of family history
throughout the day. Like Carol Rafeek s grand-
mother s "autograph book" found inside a
hope chest intended to be passed down from
generation to generation.
The booklet dates back to the 40s when
her grandmother left Peru for Trinidad and
is full of good luck messages from friends and
family and even a puppy s tiny paw prints on
Rafeek wants to hand down the hope chest
to her children but the younger generation of
her family seemingly aren t interested in taking
on the family heirloom.
In an attempt to get the kids to engage,
Rafeek tells them the messages in the booklet
are the equivalent of their BlackBerry mes-
saging or Whatsapping with teenage friends
writing "I love you" or "I m gonna miss you."
Except, as Fraser points out, "who is going
to see the Whatsapp messages we all exchange
in years to come? This autograph book has
survived from 1941 with little drawings and
the paw prints of her puppies dipped in ink,
it s an interesting range of memories in that
one little book and she feels preserving it is
an important thing."
Asked if with the whole world going digital
now, whether we as human societies will lose
the ability to preserve our heritage, Fraser says,
"it s going to be harder to show future gen-
erations our histories, it will be harder for
someone to imagine how we lived, what life
was like in 2013, all these interactions that
happen through our cellphones, on the internet,
on Facebook are more ephemeral. They are
probably stored on a server somewhere but
what s the possibility of us being able to access
this and having something we can access and
share with the next generation?"
Technology moves so fast these days that
the information contained on software and
hardware will be non-transferable as tech-
nology becomes obsolete.
Floppy disks are just one example of a recent
technological storage device once used as stan-
Nowadays you couldn t find a computer
with a disk drive. Fraser says digital archiving
is one of the newest courses of study in library
schools and that conservation academics are
beginning to realise that finding ways of storing
heritage digitally is fast becoming a reality.
"Right now, the fact is it is easier for me
to physically access my grandmother s things
from 50 years ago than stuff that I saved on
a computer ten years ago."
It s an interesting concept that could be
discussed all day---could human beings lose
our entire history due to the onward march
of digital platforms? If Anne Frank s diary
were written today, would it be in the form
of a blog that would simply disappear once
internet 2.0 becomes replaced by 3.0 or 4.0?
We discuss classic newspapers and magazine
collections such as Paris Match from the
1940s-1960s. Continues on Page B2
Bunji Garlin's mega hit
Differentology featuring Nigel
Rojas is making waves once
again---this time with its
placement on MTV Iggy's list
of worldwide songs for
In a recent Web site post,
MTV Iggy lists its top ten
summer songs and opens up
the polls for music lovers
worldwide to pick which song
should take the top spot.
Among others featured on the
list are San Cisco's Get Lucky,
Fuse ODG's Antenna, 2NE1's
Falling In Love and Classixx's
Holding On. Jamaican
dancehall singer Tifa also
appears on the list with her
Champion Bubbler track.
On Differentology, MTV
Iggy says: "Nothing makes us
feel more like shedding layers
of clothing than soca. Even on
the most sweltering days,
Differentology makes it feel
By yesterday afternoon,
Differentology had racked up
just over 31 per cent of the
online votes, behind 2NE1's
Falling In Love which had
around 67 per cent of the votes.
NE1 is a all-girl South Korean
pop group formed in 2009.
MTV Iggy's poll closes on
Garlin's Differentology makes MTV top ten summer tunes
PRESERVING THE FACTS
Donny Rogers found this
historic document among his
grandfather's bills and receipts
when he was a child, it details
his great grandparents' release
from 26 years of indentured
labour on the Perserverance
sugar plantation in Couva.
PHOTO: KEARRA GOPEE
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