The UWI Open Campus St Kitts and Nevis, Tuesday, April 11, 2023 – The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Open Campus St. Kitts and Nevis Site, in collaboration with the History and Heritage Month Committee, hosted the sixth annual Sir Probyn Inniss Memorial Lecture on Thursday, 30 March.
The esteemed lecture was delivered to a small audience at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and was live-streamed via various official Facebook pages and YouTube channels, reaching a wider audience. The event was chaired by Shermalon Kirby, a UWI Alumna, Communication Specialist, and Acting Director of the Corporate Relations Department at the ECCB, which partnered with the organisers, to provide technical assistance.
The theme for this year’s lecture was “Celebrating 400 Years of Ancestral Creativity and Ingenuity,” reflecting the significance of honouring the rich heritage and cultural legacy of our Federation. The lecture was delivered by Professor Jessica Byron-Reid, a distinguished academic, UWI Alumna and former Director of the Institute of International Relations, UWI, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago. Previously she had served as Head of the Department of Government, and as Professorial Fellow at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies, at UWI, Mona Campus, Jamaica. Professor Byron-Reid has made significant contributions to the field of Caribbean-Latin American international relations and has extensively published on small states and territories in the global political economy.
During her thought-provoking lecture, Professor Byron-Reid focused on the historical experiences of our ancestors during slavery in the plantation economy and post-emancipation era to the present day. She eloquently demonstrated how despite the extreme trauma of being violently uprooted from their African societies, losing all they owned and loved, and enduring lives of unending brutality and dehumanization, our forebears retained their memories, knowledge, and cultural practices, and adapted to an unknown and hostile environment by blending “legacies of the past with the struggles and multicultural influences of their present.”
The lecture also underscored that our identity and sense of belonging, personal freedom, and human rights are profoundly shaped by our history as survivors of uprooting, enslavement, and exploitation, and that we continue to grapple with these fundamental issues.
Professor Byron-Reid concluded her presentation by affirming the vital importance of “family and community solidarity, kinship networks, faith, and strong core values” in our ability to survive and succeed, while reminding us of the “pan-Caribbean and global legacy of far-flung roots and branches shaped by more than four hundred years of migrations” bequeathed to us by our ancestors.
Through engaging discussions and meaningful insights, the annual Sir Probyn Inniss Memorial Lecture series continues to contribute to the preservation and celebration of our rich history, heritage, and cultural diversity.