JIS News

Executive Director of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), Lolita Davis-Mattis, is promising Jamaicans a one-of-a-kind experience at this year’s Emancipation Jubilee, which will be held on Saturday (July 31) at the Seville Heritage Park, St. Ann,
Mrs. Davis-Mattis describes the event as the single most important opportunity to experience Jamaica’s culture and heritage at its best. It will feature an interesting mix of Afro-centric cultural forms, and a pop section which will showcase the evolution of Jamaican music from Ska to Dancehall.
“This year we are inviting patrons to experience with us what the African ancestors would have experienced. We want them to enter what in Africa they called the ‘Door of No Return’, where once you went through this door you would not have seen your family again. This would have been the last place before you went on this big (slave) ship,” she reveals in an interview with JIS News.
“You are going to see how the Africans were packed, before they took this long arduous journey across the Atlantic Ocean. Having gone through the ship, you will be introduced to life on the plantation; so you will see various activities of plantation life,” she adds.
All patrons will enter through a specially created entrance, experiencing a simulated African village representing Africa as the cradle of civilization. This will be later disturbed by the arrival of the Europeans. Patrons will then travel through the “Gates of No Return” to the slave ship which transports them to the Seville Plantation.
Persons will also have the opportunity to learn and participate in traditional folk forms, such as Dinki Mini, Kumina and Mento, while they view a variety of exhibitions.
Music lovers will be treated to performances from Etana, Romaine Virgo, Gee Whiz, George Nooks, Ernie Smith, Leroy Sibblies, Lady G, Gem Myers, Fab Five Inc. and others.
This year’s Emancipation Jubilee will be celebrated under the theme “Ancestral Reflections.A Bridge to the Future”.
The event is a family affair and there is a cost of $1,000 for adults and $300 for children, to cover the cost of production. Gates open at 6 p.m. and activities continue into the morning, including the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation at midnight.
The show was started in 1997 as a tribute to African ancestors who fought off the shackles of enslavement. In the first year, the remains of four Afro-Jamaicans were reburied in a ceremony at the Seville Heritage Park. The event has continued since.
Mrs. Davis-Mattis is urging Jamaicans to use the emancipation experience as an inspiration to change their surroundings.
“Here you had enslaved Africans who were deprived of basically everything but, at the end of the day, here we are as Jamaicans today, free and phenomenal people. Why? Because they never accepted their state, and my message to our young people is that, you don’t have to accept where you are as your final destination, because there is opportunity beyond the skies and, as a nation, that’s where Jamaica is today”.

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