JIS News

The year 2007 will mark 200 years since the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade of Africans to Jamaica, so the Jamaica National Bicentenary Committee has launched a slew of events to celebrate the occasion.
The 13-month series of activities, from January 2007 to January 2008, will include the staging of a major Africa/Jamaican football festival, film and literary festivals, establishing and re-establishing Diaspora links, lecturers across the island, erection of monuments, among other things.
Chairperson of the Jamaica National Bicentenary Committee, Professor Verene Shepherd, in her remarks at the launch held today (Aug. 23) at the Courtleigh Hotel, noted that, “Jamaica accounted for about 1 million of the estimated 15 million Africans forcibly removed from their homes, and the end of the transatlantic slave trade in Africans saved millions more from the brutal middle passage.”
According to Professor Shepherd, the “abolition of the trade in Africans and not the abolition of enslavement itself or even independence, marked the beginning of the creation of a Jamaican identity”.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, in her message read by Professor Shepherd, said it was important for Jamaicans not to forget how far they have come since the abolition of slavery.
“The year 2007 is an occasion for us to reflect on the brutality and suffering of that journey and highlight the contributions of our ancestors to our freedom, which today has made us into strong and triumphant people, recognized worldwide for our achievements,” Mrs. Simpson Miller’s message said.
Minister of Tourism, Entertainment and Culture, Aloun Ndombet Assamba, called on Jamaicans to use the fighting spirit inherited from the African ancestors, to strive for greater achievement.
“Let us embrace the indomitable spirit demonstrated through their courage under fire as we each journey toward personal liberation. It is the spirit of Sam Sharpe, Nanny of the Maroons, Tacky, Merlene Ottey, Bob Marley, Miss Lou and so many others that we can name. Our human and cultural capital are indeed tremendous,” she stated.
The occasion also saw the presentation of awards to participants in the Bicentenary Committee’s logo competition, which was designed to come up with a motif for the bicentenary celebration.
Paul Dinham, who came up with the winning logo of: ‘Our Freedom Journey, Honouring our Ancestors 1807- 2007’, received a cash prize of $50,000. The second place prize of $30,000 went to Hugh Henry, and Marc James, who placed third, received $20,000. The committee received a total of 22 entrants in its logo competition.
The Jamaica National Bicentenary Committee was established in December 2005 by the Government of Jamaica, and is located at the offices of the Ministry of Tourism, Entertainment and Culture.
The mandate of the committee is to honour those who fought to end the middle passage and celebrate the early beginnings of nationhood.