Honourable Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna, MP, Address at the National Heritage Week Thanksgiving Service Power of Faith Deliverance Ministries on Sunday, October 13, 2013.
Theme: Our History…Our Strength
1. This morning I am happy to be here at this National Heritage Week Thanksgiving Service in the warm fellowship of the Power of Faith Ministries. I am pleased to be at the church that provided the witness that led to Howard Brown becoming the National Gospel Song Winner for 2013 in what was an amazing performance. He has done it again today and we are truly blessed.
2. This is another occasion for us to contemplate and celebrate the great heritage we have inherited from our ancestors. For this reason we come in prayer and praise.
3. We have always been called to understand the significance of pausing to look back and reflect on our history – our struggles and triumphs – even as we journey onward to success and prosperity in our modern life. We are constantly reminded of the importance of providing our people with occasions to ritualize and entrench memory, for without memory our policies and programmes will become bare and incomplete. Memory cautions us and prevents us from repeating history and offers us opportunities to reinterpret and re-engage the stories of our past as we fortify ourselves in the present and future.
4. Today I welcome us all wholeheartedly because I am assured that after spending these moments interrogating our history, we will leave here empowered and emboldened to take on the challenges we face in our collective and individual lives.
5. In the year when we celebrate anniversaries of such major achievements as the triumph of Captain Kojo and his team over the British in 1738, the successful and forceful negotiation of Full Freedom by our ancestors in 1838, and the determination by our founding fathers to promote better working conditions for Jamaican workers in the riots of 1938, we come into the House of the Lord to give thanks and praise for our wonderful heritage and culture.
6. I must also remind us that on Friday last, the 11th of October, we celebrated the 148th anniversary of the Morant Bay Rebellion when Deacon Paul Bogle and over 400 African-Jamaicans marched from Stony Gut to martyrdom in Morant Bay days later. How many of us even now would walk from Stony Gut to Morant Bay or like Nanny did from Moore Town in Portland to Accompong in St. Elizabeth? This is the stuff of heroes.
7. Ours is a history of resilience, determination and sacrifice of a people who resisted all efforts to be bludgeoned into acquiescence and servitude by the global military power of the day.
8. Our history as a Jamaican people is one that is littered with great achievements. Nothing that was externally imposed upon us was ever able to keep us down. No barrier placed before us could prevent us from excelling because the higher they built their barriers, the taller we became.
9. This is the message of our Heritage Theme this year. It is a part of the project of cultural transformation we have started in the Ministry of Youth and Culture. The idea is to use knowledge of our history to cause our people, particularly our young people, to re-discover our ancestral pedigree and rise above our challenges and situations and advance the age-old cause of the redemption of our people. We owe it to our ancestors.
10. Today in this Heritage Service, we pause to salute those who have gone before us, who have blazed a trail for us to follow. We herald and sound the trumpet of acclaim not only for our National Heroes, but also the many often nameless warriors who walked and fought beside them in fulfillment of the cause.
11. We also salute the many ordinary men and women in rural and urban Jamaica who used all their acumen to ensure that their children would end up better than they had, passing on to their children a heritage and culture of resilience. We salute the great mothers, fathers, grandmothers and extended families, who understood it so well, and had the courage to engage life so that their children would not suffer as they had. This is what we celebrate in our theme this year.
12. Our theme also calls us to greater knowledge of our history. We cannot be like trees without roots. That is how Marcus Mosiah Garvey described people who have no knowledge of their history. For this reason, we have launched in our Ministry a project to promote museums and sites of memory so that our young people will have the knowledge they will need to become better citizens of this country.
13. This year alone we opened three new museums: the Norman Manley Museum in Roxborough to promote knowledge of our great founding father; the museum at Seville Heritage Park in St. Ann where the cultures clashed; and the National Museum at the Institute of Jamaica in Kingston where there is currently an exciting exhibition on one of Jamaica’s most dynamic indigenous cultures, Rastafari.
14. I am pleased to announce that all these museums as well as Fort Charles in Port Royal will open over the Heroes’ Weekend, i.e. Saturday, Sunday and National Heroes Day FREE to the public so that families can go there and bask in the knowledge of our past with our children as we invite you to bring back the ole time family outings. This is what we promote for Heritage Week 2013 – that families will have picnics or just take walks or simply drive by sites of memory and re-discover the great stories of our history which will energize us to greater commitment to national development.
15. Finally, on National Heroes Day, let me invite us all to pause and pay homage to our six heroes and one heroine, and the thousands of unsung heroes still constructing and re-constructing lives, still walking the extra miles for the most vulnerable among us. Let National Heritage Week 2013 provide us with occasions to once more appreciate the contributions of our ancestors and cause us to pledge our own commitment to the programme of national prosperity for all our people.
16. Thanks to the Committee for the Planning of National Religious Services for their dedication and support, to the Power of Faith Ministries for opening your church and your heart to all Jamaica, to the JCDC for implementation and to all of us for our participation.
17. May this Heritage Week help to rekindle the flames of commitment and dedication to the advancement of Jamaica Land We Love.