The Ministry of Youth and Culture will be using the celebration of Black History Month in February to sensitize young people about their rich heritage as part of a campaign to achieve a cultural revolution in the country.
“We want to instill in our young people a militancy, and an attitude that uplifts them…when you talk to them, it is clear that there needs to be a cultural revolution in the country that looks at values, how they treat one another, how they see their place and purpose in Jamaica, how they understand where they are and how they understand the meaning of identity,” said portfolio Minister, Hon. Lisa Hanna.
She was speaking to JIS News on Friday (Feb. 1), during the staging of a ‘Cultural Explosion’ event at Emancipation Park in New Kingston.
The day-long event, organised by the Ministry and its various agencies, is one of the mediums being used in the change process, which also focuses on instilling proper values and attitudes.
According to Ms. Hanna, if young people are able to fully grasp these positive messages and teachings, then “the bleaching would stop, the way they relate to each other (would improve),” she said, noting that they would also have a greater sense of self-worth.
She argued that young people would also come to realize that culture is not only about dance and music, but “is a dynamic process of our country, including the way we develop and the kinds of mores and value systems that we have developed over time”.
“One of the things we realise in speaking to our young people and our children is that many of them are taught history but they are not able to make that history empower them. So when you tell them how 300 years ago our Maroons beat a world super power and we led the abolition of slavery in this country, (and so on)…(this is inspirational),” she stated.
Ms. Hanna told JIS News that the Ministry “wants to position Black History Month to lead that cultural revolution that we are starting. We realise that one month is not enough and so we are launching Black History today with this kind of function with exhibitions for school children.”
She said the Ministry will be staging a series of events over the course of the month, “to lead us into that discussion and that conversation with our youth and our children and our nation really, so that we don’t just take things superficially, but we have a deeper meaning about where we’ve come from and how we are positioned and the purpose that we serve in the country”.
The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), National Gallery, and the National Library of Jamaica, were some of the exhibitors at the Cultural Explosion.
Several youngsters were afforded the opportunity have discussion with the Minister about their culture. Ms Hanna, who told JIS News that some of the youngsters were from places of safety, said she enjoyed the sessions with them as they were truly receptive.
“There were so many school children here and I had a rap session with them about (several) things (such as) how they respect themselves and our history. We danced with them, did a lot of historical dances with the drummers and it was good because they really felt a part of what was going on. They viewed the exhibitions and they asked us questions,” she informed.
The event also included a panel discussion with the youth. Patrons were also treated to performances depicting various aspects of the country’s traditions, including dances such as kumina and dinki minni, and drumming. A concert featuring several reggae artistes ended the event on a high note.