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Respect heritage

There are several ancient monuments scattered across this land in fairly good state of repair. That is because the nation loves its heritage and its people respect the traditions. The present generation can experience the past by visiting the monuments and archaeological sites. Heritage has existence through all three tenses. Though it is cited in the context of the past, it is very much present now and has a bearing on the future. Disrespect shown to heritage is not disrespect to the present alone. It is callous disrespect to the past of a nation that treats its memories sacrosanct. A nation that forgets the past cannot have hope for future. Therefore, it is height of irresponsibility to sentiments of a nation when people disfigure monuments of historical importance. Oman Tribune the other day carried a picture showing graffiti scribbled on the outer wall of a monument. Whatever is the sentiment of the person who wrote it there, the act was one of sheer vandalism. It shows that despite the efforts of the authorities there are people, especially youngsters, who need to be made more aware of the importance of preserving these places of historical and cultural importance. Such education should never stop. It could begin in the schools at an early age so that the respect for heritage is inscribed into the hearts and minds of students. Site visits from schools when teachers explain the importance of each such place would help drive home the message in all its significance.

Disrespect to heritage revered by a nation also smacks of indifference to the future because we hold everything from the past in trust for generations to come. This is why the government has been spending huge sums of money for the upkeep of historical monuments and cultural sites.

This land is one of the few on the face of earth that has seen continuous human habitation since prehistoric times. That means the generations that have lived and passed through here have left indelible marks of their times. This had supported fairly large populations in different periods. Moreover, its geographical location made it a confluence of trade routes.

From time immemorial, merchantmen drew up at the ports along the lost coast of the Sultanate to bring people and goods from far off lands. Muscat, Sur and Salalah were on world’s marine navigation map from the earliest of times when humans mastered seafaring skills. Caravan routes radiated from these ports to centres of trade and culture in the hinterland of the region.

Therefore, it is no wonder that the terrain is strewn with ancient sites and monuments of repute. The wealth of history no doubt has resulted in the nation boasting several museums that help the young learn about the nation’s culture and tradition. Of course it’s not easy for the government to keep a watch everywhere.

It’s important that the local community remains awake to any attempt to deface these places. This would be possible only when the people begin to consider themselves stakeholders in preserving the nation’s heritage. When the local community becomes alert, the young people would also become more aware and desist from activities that damage the place.