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Visit the paradise island for an experience that rocks in black culture and heritage.    

As a black cultural tourism destination, the Bahamas has much to offer because African heritage is very much ingrained throughout the islands. The black heritage trail sites convey the rich, diverse history of the peoples of the African Diaspora through artistic expressions, written and oral stories, landmarks, monuments and artifacts. A vacation in the Bahamas, is not only a beach lover’s dream, but also an exciting, unforgettable culture heritage and educational experience.

The rich African Diaspora Heritage Trail begins with a visit to Nassau on the island of New Providence, where many vacationers go for fun and relaxation.  Everyone loves “funky” Nassau! But did you know that much of Nassau’s history contains references to African presence and contributions? Enjoy fun in-the-sun and the clear waters, but don’t forget to visit the Venue House in Nassau, the original marketplace where captured Africans were sold along with household goods and other commodities in the 18th and 19th centuries. A museum named in honor of Pompey, a brave African slave who led a slave rebellion in Exuma in 1830 is housed here. The Pompey Museum is dedicated to the study and interpretation of slavery.

Nassau's black heritage trail also encompasses colonial mansions, black townships and segregated burial grounds. At the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas artistic work of slave descendants is housed at Villa Doyle, a colonial mansion where blacks once entered only as servants. Another ADHT site is the Queen's Staircase- 66 steps hued from the hillside by slave labor to commemorate the reign of Queen Victoria. Churches to include in your tour are the Bethel Baptist and St. John's, both founded by former slaves beginning the Baptist community in the Bahamas.

junkanoo_boys_2The most popular cultural festival in the Bahamas is Junkanoo which is celebrated in two colorful parades on Boxing Day, December 26 and New Year's Day. Junkanoo is a very important aspect of the African tradition and the African Diaspora Heritage initiative in the Bahamas. During this festive celebration Bahamians dressed in elaborate costumes, and rush the streets clapping, singing and dancing in droves to Goombay beats. Visitors can learn about this centuries-old celebration of life and freedom at the Junkanoo Mini-Museum in Delancey Town, a historic suburb of Nassau that was once an area of settlement for free and upwardly mobile blacks lived. Also, learn more about Junkanoo and black Bahamian culture at Ms. Nettie's Different of Nassau, a unique cultural village that recreates the Bahamian way of life. Here you will find artifacts and related items that take you back in time where people enjoyed the simpler things in life.

adht_1Other historic black communities and townships of New Providence like Fox Hill, Grants Town and Adelaide have its own fascinating history. Adelaide and Gambier were settled by Africans who were taken from slave ships and liberated following the abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in 1807. Foxhill, named after a free black man, whose estate is believed to have been on the site now occupied by St. Augustine's Monastery. Slave descendants have maintained consciousness of their history and each year they celebrate Fox Hill Day in August. African burial grounds like St Matthew's Parish are also included in Bahamas ADHT. Also be sure to visit the Sacred Space, where you will find trees carved into 'sacred women" honoring the landing sites where some slaves were first brought to Bahamas. These sculptures, bending toward the ocean and to Africa, mark the triumph of hope and determination to conserve our heritage.

More black Bahamian history can be found in Eleuthera, an island located about 50 miles east of Nassau. With more than 100 miles of picturesque pink sand beaches and quaint New England-style fishing villages, Eleuthera is also a tropical paradise retreat for artist and writers. This is where the first successful European settlement took place in the Bahamas. Here is where you will find remnants of the Miller Plantation of Bannerman Town. Built by slaves, the remains of this plantation show the quality of their labor and workmanship. Other remnants of the slave era are still intact in Eleuthera.

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The Exuma Islands, made up of 365 cays and islands spread out over 120 miles, is where you also can explore more black history. Great Exuma and Little Exuma, situated on the southern tip are the two main islands that make up Exuma. The Hermitage and the Rolle Town Tombs are historic sites on these islands. The Hermitage is a reminder of the days of cotton plantations, and Rolle Town, once the largest slave settlement on the island was the site of numerous slave uprisings during the 1820’s and 1830’s. The Salt Beacon, standing 30 feet tall, another landmark in Little Exuma, was originally built to guide the ships involved in the salt trade.

Other notable African Diaspora Heritage Trail sites in the family of the Bahamas Islands can be found in Cat Island, Long Island and Andros. In Cat Island stand the ruins of the Hunter plantation where a slave called Driver Dick led a revolt. Taylor Estate of Long Island was built by slaves and Andros was once home to liberated Africans and Black Seminoles fleeing the Seminole Wars in Florida.

So the next time you are vacationing in the beautiful islands of the Bahamas, think black heritage and culture tourism also. For more information on Bahamas black heritage trails, visit www.bahamas.com.


 

Photos: Bottom Left, The salt beacon at Williams Town, Exuma by Derek Smith; Bottom Right, the Tombs at Hermitage, also by Derek Smith