• JIS News

    Story Highlights

    • The Minister of Youth and Culture, the Hon. Lisa Hanna, MP has received a Jamaican ‘cyas’ drum used in the Kumina religion, which had been in the United States for a quarter of a century.
    • The drum which belonged to the late Kumina leader Imogene ‘Queenie’ Kennedy had been in the possession of the Smithsonian Institute’s Director of Cultural Heritage Policy, Mr. James Counts Early.
    • Presenting the drum to Minister Hanna, Mr. Early said it was important to bring it back home as it “belonged to the people of Jamaica”.

    The Minister of Youth and Culture, the Hon. Lisa Hanna, MP has received a Jamaican ‘cyas’ drum used in the Kumina religion, which had been in the United States for a quarter of a century.

    The drum which belonged to the late Kumina leader Imogene ‘Queenie’ Kennedy had been in the possession of the Smithsonian Institute’s Director of Cultural Heritage Policy, Mr. James Counts Early.  Mr Early had been given the drum in 1989 by Queenie to take to the Smithsonian Institute in the United States during one of his field research visits to Waterloo, St Catherine.

    Speaking at the handing over ceremony on July 24 at the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica (ACIJ), Minister Hanna underscored the importance of the drum to Jamaica.

    Minister Hanna said:

    “Today when we hear the reverberations of this drum it sparks within all of us a stirring that evokes a deep sense of familial roots that calls us to action:  whether to dance, to think, to respect, or to close ranks around a cause in worship, death, celebration, cultural practice.”

    Presenting the drum to Minister Hanna, Mr. Early said it was important to bring it back home as it “belonged to the people of Jamaica”.

    The repatriation of the drum to Jamaica was completed with the assistance of the United States Embassy in Kingston.

    The drum is now part of the collection of the ACIJ which is mandated to create an awareness of the African presence in Jamaica. The ACIJ is a division of the Institute of Jamaica, an agency of the Ministry of Youth and Culture.

    Minister Hanna also announced that ancestral drumming would be used to mark the celebration of Emancipation Day across the island this year. She said it was appropriate to use the drums to honour the African ancestors who fought for and won our freedom.

    “This drum has become a part of us and a part of who we are and is inextricably intertwined with us as a people. And that is why even this year when we sat down to celebrate and to craft Emancipation — we have taken Emancipation deliberately outside of Independence, it [period of celebration] was usually to be called Emancipendence, we’ve done away with that — and we now have what is called the Celebration of the Drums in every parish to herald in Emancipation starting this year because of the significance of the drum to Jamaica.”

    Emancipation Day, celebrated on August 1, commemorates the abolition of slavery in Jamaica in 1834.

    Minister Hanna said the Celebration of the Drums, to take place in each parish capital, was “one of the features of the revitalised Jamaica Festival”.

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