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Jamaicans have been encouraged by Research Fellow at the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica/Jamaica Memory Bank (ACIJ/JMB), Dr. Julian Cresser, to visit the exhibition, ‘Revivalism: An Afro-Caribbean Religion’, which opens on Monday (February 2) at the Institute, Ocean Boulevard, downtown Kingston.
“It will give them an opportunity to learn more about the country’s African cultural heritage,” Dr. Cresser said.
“I would love it, if Jamaicans from all walks of life come to the exhibition on Revival. Revival is a very important part of our cultural identity, and I think it is very important that Jamaicans know and learn more about their cultural identity, especially the African contribution to our culture”, he told JIS News.
“We are showcasing Revival, so come and learn about its origins, beliefs, practices and the organisation,” he added.
“We actually had this exhibition for the first time in February 2008. It was very successful…We ran it for about two months and, at the end of the two months, a number of persons and groups said that they hadn’t gotten the chance to see it…It was a very popular exhibition,” he commented.
The exhibition will be launched on Monday, February 2 and will run until Friday March 13. It will form part of the ACIJ/JMB’s annual February programme which, Dr. Cresser said, will also feature lecture presentations and the launch of a CD produced by the ACIJ/JMB and titled “Afro-Jamaican Religion: Revival, Kumina and Rastafari,” produced from research done by the ACIJ/JMB over the last two or three decades.
He said that the exhibition will display poster boards, with images and text, which will explain the beliefs, practices and organisation of Revival. It will also highlight Revival Tables and offer explanations for the significance of some of the objects that are used.
Dr. Cresser said that other objects identified with the Revival mission ground, will also be displayed.Revival, according to him, is a syncretic religion which draws on both Christian and African religious beliefs and practices. It was born out of the 1860 – 61, Great Revival which was a period of Christian awakening across the island.
He said that this was triggered by the work of a number of nonconformist missionaries in Jamaica, and that while this great revival seemed on the surface to be a Christian movement, “it really was an outlet for the expression of African beliefs and values which were a part of the worldview of the Afro-Jamaican ex-slave population.”
He pointed out that Revival merged into a religious movement with two groups – Zion, otherwise called 60, and Pocomania, sometimes referred to as 61.
The ACIJ was created in the early 1970s to look at Jamaica’s cultural heritage and specifically the African retentions in Jamaica. The JMB was an initiative started by Dr. Olive Lewin in examining folk music in Jamaica. It is an oral history project which seeks to capture information about Jamaica’s social history, generally through interviews with the country’s senior citizens.
Both organisations were combined in the 1980s under the IOJ and serve to examine all aspects of Jamaica’s cultural heritage and make the information accessible to the public.