KINGSTON — Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, has announced plans to begin staging Emancipation Jubilee celebrations in Spanish Town, St. Catherine, beginning this year.
The annual event, she said, will be in addition to the customary July 31 festivities in Seville, St. Ann, which precede Emancipation Day on August 1. After being off the calendar of events celebrated annually for several years, Jamaica resumed official commemoration of August 1 as Emancipation Day in 1997.
Speaking at a symposium commemorating African Liberation Day at the Mico University College, St. Andrew on May 25, Miss Grange informed that the Spanish Town vigil will be held in Emancipation Square, where it (Emancipation) all happened."
“It is of significance that (it) must return to the original space where it all happened, to rediscover the energy and the vibe of that first moment and translate it into the present for the benefit of our people. In this way, we will ensure that we will never forget. That space must become, again, a site of unity and triumph, and I will reach out to my sister Member of Parliament, Sharon Hay-Webster, who shares that border with me, for us to work together to make this happen this year, and beyond; we owe it to our ancestors,” she stated.
Noting that all activities organised and executed by the Ministry’s cultural agencies will carry an African theme, in keeping with 2011 as the International Year of People of African Descent (IPAD), Miss Grange disclosed that this year’s Spanish Town Jubilee will feature drumming, which she described as the “African symbol of powerful communication and cultural engagement”.
“We have invited our African Diaspora brothers and sisters to participate by providing drummers from their countries and we look forward to this celebration,” she said.
Diplomats and other officials of the three African Missions represented in Jamaica – the Nigerian and South African High Commissions, and the Senegalese Embassy, are expected to be integrally involved in the event dubbed: ‘Let the drums roll’.
The Independence celebrations incorporating the Mello-go-Round, Festival Queen coronation, Independence Gala, and National Festival of the Arts, will also seek to display to the public, “the strong culture of the African people, who were transferred to this place so many years ago, and who have constructed what we now refer to as Brand Jamaica,” Miss Grange said.
She informed that the Ministry is in discussion with the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) to stage a cultural exposition at Coronation market, downtown Kingston on July 30, featuring art and craft displays and demonstrations, storytelling, drumming, performing arts, fashion, as “well as opportunities to engage business practices and organisations for personal and collective development”.
There will also be events, focused on the island’s indigenous cultures such as the maroons, with the Portland-based Charles Town Maroons to stage a conference and day of celebrations on June 30, while the Moore Town Maroons will commemorate Nanny Day on National Heroes Day, October 17.
Ms. Grange advised that Heritage Week celebrations in October will focus on exhibiting the achievements of people of African descent, and urged that “everyone…join with us and to share your projects with us for inclusion in our work-in-progress construction of our calendar of activities for this international year”.
Activities already held this year to mark IPAD include: a celebration of the achievements of the nation’s women On International Women’s Day, March 8; and commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the visit to Jamaica by late Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie I, in 1966.
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter