Eric Lewis–fondly called His Royal Highness (HRH) by the late veteran journalist Louis Homer–strives to live up to his honorary title. Lewis is the curator of the two museums in Moruga and is the owner of the largest cultivated plantation estate in Moruga. His estate used to be 194 acres but has been reduced to 182 acres because of erosion. He supplies the local and international market with plantain, cassava, pumpkin, cocoa, peppers, pimento, pawpaw, the famous Moruga scorpion pepper and numerous other crops and fruits.
At the age of 35, Lewis has a vision for his community that has enabled him to venture into international countries to preserve the rich legacy and history of the first peoples of Moruga. The National Cocoa and Chocolate Museum and the Moruga Museum are original buildings that house numerous artefacts and documents. Lewis uses his personal resources to maintain the authenticity of the structures. He has sought assistance locally but this has been daunting for him. He has reached out to international companies to become stakeholders in his effort to preserve what he deems as a culturally unique influence of the Europeans on the shores of Moruga. He hopes to attract investors to develop resorts and other enjoyable amenities while preserving the natural habitat as much as possible.
Lewis said Moruga was a neglected ward of the State. The failure to have a fire station has disabled the community and limited their efforts in constructing three-storey buildings. He also said there was a small health centre but no hospital and many have died trying to get to the nearest hospital in neighbouring Princes Town.
“To state that the roads are just deplorable is an understatement,” declared Lewis empathetically. Vehicle maintenance and transportation costs have escalated, preventing villagers from venturing very far for commerce. There is no bank or Automatic Teller Machines at the people’s disposal. He said "young people have to venture further for education and employment and that has caused a brain drain with a difficult commute.’’
Assertive and passionate about the development and stimulation of the rural community, Lewis dips into his personal finances to provide what is needed. He does it discreetly and will not allow cameras or make any public distribution. He hopes to establish a heritage and provide a tourist hub for visitors to experience local cuisine in a comfortable environment. He wants to see the fishing industry become viable for the residents. He believes that people should be able to enjoy their community and sustain a living.
He explained that 90 per cent of the land is deemed agricultural and wants the laws to change to make provisions for housing and development.
Lewis believes that Moruga, a “lost and forgotten place” will resurrect if those in authority genuinely want to maintain the richness of a heritage and culture that will be lost to locals and devoured by foreign capitalists when they see the wealth of resources untapped and undeveloped.
He encourages visitors to keep the Moruga community clean and assist in maintaining the sacred monuments and sites. He is hoping that banks, NAMDEVCO, Ministry of Tourism and Angostura take an interest in preserving the historic shores of Columbus' landing and see an opportunity to help instil hope, faith and secure a more holistic life for all.