The story of Bermudian slave Sally Bassett, a symbol of resistance who was burned at the stake in 1730, will be featured in a fall slate of cultural tours and events curated by the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA).
Bassett was implicated in a poison plot and accused of encouraging fellow slaves to poison their masters. Although she maintained her innocence through a trial, she was convicted and publicly executed at Crow Lane, Pembroke. Over the centuries, she became a symbol of slave resilience and resistance, and a statue in her honour was erected a decade ago in the grounds of Bermuda’s Cabinet Office on Front Street.
Launching this week, a four-night commemoration of Bassett’s story will take place on the lawn in front of her monument, a finale for a series of BTA-curated bus tours. While the hour-long guided bus ride is a paid experience highlighting black heritage sites around Pembroke and the City of Hamilton, the public can choose to attend only the half-hour dramatisation, which is free of charge. The Department of Community & Cultural Affairs, the Cabinet Office and the BTA have collaborated to ensure the open-air performance is free to all visitors and locals.
“Whether it’s Sally Bassett or Mary Prince or Joseph Rainey, our black heritage stories are gripping, and visitors who are experience enthusiasts cherish learning these kinds of narratives when they travel,” said Glenn Jones, BTA’s Chief Experience Development Officer. “While the visitor experience is always our primary focus, this heightening of cultural tourism also presents an opportunity for locals to rediscover and re-examine their own heritage. I think we will be proud of what we see, hear and learn.”
The four bus tours, incorporating sites on Bermuda’s African Diaspora Heritage Trail (ADHT), start tomorrow, October 3, and continue October 11, 18 and 24. Each tour visits select points around Pembroke, paying tribute to figures and events such as slave abolitionist Mary Prince, the slave ship Enterprise, US Congressman Joseph Rainey, and the 1959 Theatre Boycott.
At the end, tour-goers receive reserved seating for the 30-minute performance excerpted from the Bermudian play Trial by Fire that chronicles the final hours of Bassett’s life. Tours leave at 6 pm from the Hamilton Visitor Services Centre, Front Street, and finish on the Cabinet Office lawn. Price for the full tour is $40 per person, available for online purchase via Ptix; guests attending the free dramatisation only are encouraged to bring their own seating.
PHOTO CAPTION: A statue commemorating Sally Bassett sits in the Cabinet Office grounds, where cultural tours will pay tribute to its 10th anniversary this fall
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