Culture Minister Defends Staging of Emancipation and Independence Celebrations


Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, is defending the administration’s decision to stage Emancipation and Independence celebrations this year, despite calls from some persons for their postponement, in the face of the global economic downturn.
This year’s celebrations, which were staged under the theme: ‘I Believe in Jamaica’, and which started as far back as May, with the Festival of the Arts, culminated with costumed group float parades, and the Grand Gala at the National Stadium in Kingston on Independence Day, August 6.
Addressing the Future Leaders Jamaican Diaspora Conference at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge and Conference Centre, University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, on August 7, the Minister cited the success of last year’s festivities, which she said saw the re-introduction of the float parades, and the Grand Gala, after an absence of several years, and the resultant positive responses.
“How could we have denied those who came out with great expectations and waited in the broiling sun? How could we miss the excitement and hope on the faces of so many of our people, especially our children, who armed themselves with every patriotic symbol they could find, and decked themselves in the colours of the National Flag? Even those who poured cold water (on the festivities) … those who were negative came out and enjoyed themselves,” the Minister said.
In the face of the global recession, Miss Grange hailed the celebrations as a success, pointing out that this “is cause for another celebration of the triumph of the Jamaica spirit.” She argued that, with the success of last year’s celebrations, “we had to come good this year to ensure that we kept up the reputation that we had established.”
“With very little, we put together a celebration. We put together an annual Festival of the Arts, starting in May, and we climaxed on August 6 with something that was just awesome,” she recounted.
The Minister pointed out that this year’s events, particularly the Grand Gala, reflected a theme that invited all citizens to focus on the positives of Jamaican culture, in order to assure the nation of a better future.
“It’s about the history, the heritage, from whence we came, where we are, and where we intend to go. You saw the multitude of positive Jamaicans, shouting their love for this country, and the feel good energy that overflowed in the stadium. Those were the faces and the hearts of Jamaicans who continue to hope and strive for a better Jamaica, whose energies need to be harnessed and unleashed for greater productivity, and better resolution of all our challenges,” Miss Grange contended.

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