By EDDIE OSIFELO
SOLOMON Islands Government has totally supported the move to ratify the 2001 UNESCO Convention.
Director of Culture, Dennis Marita confirmed this during the opening of the second UNESCO 2001 Underwater Culture Heritage (UCH) Convention in Honiara yesterday.
The first workshop was held at Honiara in 2009.
The objective of the consultation is to enhance the understanding of the UCH Convention among national stakeholders, in particular, in terms of its benefits and obligations, and indicate the possible ways towards Solomon Islands’s ratification of the UCH Convention.
Marita said the SIG supports this course based on the following reasons:
- That Solomon Islands is a Maritime Country and that part of our heritage and history is based with the ocean and what that is beneath and above it. Just like our other brothers and sister in the Pacific, the ocean caries much of our identity and survival from past to present generations. As such, the ocean water has been an integral part of our history paving way for journey into the Pacific, as well as sustaining the very existence of our people and civilization.
- There are many legends of the sea in our culture that relate to physical structures and landscapes both on land and underwater. An example is the sunken islands between Ulawa and the Three Sisters Islands in the Makira Ulawa Province, Eastern Solomon Islands. The legends told that the ancestors were angry with the people of the islands and cursed them to sink beneath the waves. Whilst this may be contrary to scientific reasoning of a tectonic fault causing this catastrophic event, the legends very much prevail to this day. For the Government these sunken islands are cultural treasures and archeological sites at the same time as house structures can still be seen in the water during fine weather. The Kavachi underwater volcano in the Western Province can also be regarded as an underwater cultural heritage due to the traditional legends and stories associated with this marine volcano. I believe there are many more examples of similar nature in other parts of Solomon Islands if we are to carry out serious assessment in this area.
- Solomon Islands was a hotspot during the Second World War and much of the war machines and amour used at that time, have now become relics of history both on land and in the sea. The particular stretch of sea between Guadalcanal and the Florida Islands (Ngella) and Savo is called the ‘Iron Bottom Sound’. It was given this name because this is where hundreds of planes, warships and boats belonging to the two warring parties (the Allied Forces and Japanese Forces) found their resting place. It is a mass grave of war machines and twisted metals…not forgetting the thousands of souls that have perished in these waters during the war. 70 years on, Solomon Islands has come to embrace the war in the Pacific as part of its story and history. Despite the horror it produced, it also contributed to the formation of Solomon Islands as a country. Today World War two wrecks and relics form part of the tourism attraction for Solomon Islands. We even have a WWII Relics Act to protect these historical artefacts from abuse and illegal trade as they have come to be regarded as national treasurers. I am sure you will come across the WWII Relics Act within your discussions in the next two days.
The workshop ends today.