The Full Story
Jamaicans from all walks of life turned out in their thousands on Sunday (July 31) into Monday morning (August 1) to celebrate the nation’s culture at the Seville Emancipation Jubilee at Seville Heritage Park in St. Ann.
The event, which returns to the heritage site after a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, included an array of cultural performances in song and dance and a concert featuring Marcia Griffiths, Freddie McGregor and Lubert Levy.
Patrons also enjoyed a taste of Nigeria’s rich culture through songs, dances, drama and fashion.
The Jubilee, under the slogan: ‘Reigniting the African Spirit,’ was organised by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), an agency of the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.
It was part of activities for Jamaica 60 under the theme: ‘Reigniting a Nation for Greatness’.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, said the traditional African singing and dancing displayed at the event captured the past, while providing a platform for present and future prosperity.
“We sang and danced our way out of slavery. The sounds of Dinki mini, Gerreh, Ettu and Jonkonnu among others, rang loudly through the barracks at nights and drove fear into the hearts of our oppressors while comforting and building resolve within our people. They were songs of freedom,” she said.
She noted that Jamaicans have converted these songs and dances into a globally acclaimed industry “which has helped most of our vulnerable poor and their communities out of poverty to livelihoods of substance.”
“Tonight, we pause to honour those ancestors whose name we do not know, those who threw themselves in the oceans and seas during the middle passage, those who were thrown overboard by greedy mercenaries as in the Zong massacre of 1781, who were only intent on securing their monies from insurance companies.
“We also pause to remember Crystal, as she was named, as she was excavated right here at Seville. We salute them all tonight in these songs of freedom; the songs of freedom chant reparations now!,” she stated.
Ms. Grange said that the Ministry is moving apace to develop a national policy on reparatory justice as Government continues the push to repair the damage done to the ancestors.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon Kamina Johnson-Smith, who represented Prime Minster, the Most Hon Andrew Holness at the event, encouraged citizens to use the freedom they enjoy today to work to build the positive Jamaica they desire to see.
“Part of our responsibility is to make the decisions today that will result in a better Jamaica for our descendants, our grandchildren, their grandchildren. That is the responsibility that freedom places on us,” she said.
Ministers Grange and Johnson-Smith were joined by Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, who was special guest for the Emancipation Jubilee and North West Manchester
Member of Parliament, Mikael Phillips, in unveiling two story boards.
This is in honour of the African ancestors whose remains were excavated on the grounds of the Seville Heritage Park and late pan-Africanist Minion Phillips affectionately called Sister Minnie.
Sister Minnie, who championed the cause of pan-Africanism for several decades, was Mr. Phillips’ mother.