KINGSTON — The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture is collaborating with several stakeholder groups to stage a series of activities to mark 2011 as the International Year of People of African Descent (IPAD).
These events, which will coincide with celebrations for Workers Week and Labour Day, Emancipation, Independence, Heritage Week and National Heroes’ Day, were unveiled by portfolio Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, during the launch of Labour Day 2011 at Devon House last week.
She informed that the Labour Day concert, scheduled for Emancipation Park, New Kingston on May 23, will feature an African theme incorporating rituals and traditions retained in Jamaica’s culture such as Dinky Mini, Jonkanoo, and Kumina.
There will also be exhibitions of African customs, values and traditions with elders, singing, dancing, drumming, and performing with children in full orientation of the Labour Day slogan: ‘It Takes a Village to Raise a Child’.
In addition, a symposium on the Labour Day theme will be held on May 25, popularly celebrated globally as African Liberation Day or Africa Day, and will feature a presentation by the Nigerian High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency Peter Oydele, on the practicalities through which Africans, historically, express the concept of a village raising a child.
“We believe this is especially relevant to us, here in Jamaica, as we approach our Golden Jubilee (of National Independence). In this regard, we are set to target children, teachers in training, and teacher trainers,” Miss Grange stated.
A cultural exposition, within the context of a regular market day, is being planned for the Coronation Market, downtown Kingston, over the Emancipation weekend of July 30 to August 1. The staging of this event, the Minister stated, is anchored in the historical significance of the marketplace as the centerpiece of community action and collective engagement of African people.
“We intend to stage, in the market, a full cultural exposé, including drumming, storytelling rituals and African retentions, entertainment, as well as economic empowerment activities, by inviting special institutions to provide information and demonstrations to our people, right there in the marketplace,” she detailed.
Miss Grange informed that this year’s Emancipation Jubilee, slated for Seville, St. Ann on July 31, will carry a special theme focusing on the rituals of liberation, and the triumph of African people over slavery and oppression.
As part of the observance, the National Gallery of Jamaica is set to stage a special symposium to coincide with the exhibition of a collection of the works of late revivalist leader, sculptor and painter, Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds, in the gallery. This event will also focus on the centenary of Kapo’s birth, as well as revivalism and pocomania for which he was also renowned and other African and Afro-Christian traditions.
This year’s National Heritage Week celebrations in October will depict the various social, political and economic roles played by Africans in the past and currently and there are plans in place to stage exhibitions on the achievements of people of African descent.
The Culture Minister pointed out that other events, commemorating IPAD, have already been held, mentioning a motorcade and rally in Kingston last month, in collaboration with the local Rastafarian movement, to mark the 45th anniversary of the state visit to Jamaica by late Ethiopian Emperor, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie.
Miss Grange said the three African Missions in Jamaica, the Nigerian and South African High Commissions, and the Senegalese Embassy, have consented to work closely with the Ministry. Their input, she pointed out, includes the provision of important calendar dates, which she said will be shared in the planning and implementation of the events.
She encouraged Jamaicans to identify with the activities being planned, noting that, the “promotion of the well being of people of African descent has always been a fundamental element of what we do in the Ministry”.
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter