- The National Stadium was filled to capacity on August 6, as thousands of Jamaicans came out to celebrate the country’s 56thanniversary of Independence at the Grand Gala.
- The event got under way at 6:00 p.m. and ended just after 10:00 p.m. with the much-anticipated display of fireworks.
The National Stadium was filled to capacity on August 6, as thousands of Jamaicans came out to celebrate the country’s 56thanniversary of Independence at the Grand Gala.
The event got under way at 6:00 p.m. and ended just after 10:00 p.m. with the much-anticipated display of fireworks.
Among the attendees were Their Excellencies, Governor-General, the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen and Lady Allen; Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness and Mrs. Holness; Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange; His Worship the Mayor of Kingston and St. Andrew, Councillor Delroy Williams; Opposition Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Lisa Hanna, who represented Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Peter Phillips; and Members of the House, Senate and the Diplomatic Corps.
Citations were also presented to musicians, Richie Stephens, Strangejah Cole and Damian Marley, son of the iconic Reggae artiste, Bob Marley, who electrified the crowd with their performances during the ceremony. They were recognised for promoting Jamaican music and culture across the world.
There were also performances by Sister Pat, Kukudoo, Tinga Stewart, Wayne Marshall, Sanchez and the Escarpment Road New Testament Church Choir.
In an interview with JIS News, Minister Grange said she was pleased with the different elements of the show, which featured performances by local groups depicting the history and rich culture of Jamaica.
“What we did was to take the journey from the original Jamaicans, the Taínos, and we journeyed through enslavement of our African ancestors through to Emancipation, through to the Indians being brought in as indentured labourers after Emancipation, and then we moved into the Chinese, who came to Jamaica and have enriched the country with their culture,” she said.
“We are a country of diverse culture and a special people. This year, it wasn’t just about performances. There was a message in the music, in the movements and the songs,” the Minister added.
Miss Grange pointed out that there were more than 3,000 performers, particularly young people, adding that their involvement was important in fostering pride in their country.
“A lot of these young persons have never danced before. We had workshops and classes where they learned to dance. At the end of all this, they learned something from being able to showcase their culture, express themselves and share in the experience of what it means to truly be a Jamaican and to be proud of who they are,” she said.
Regular Grand Gala patron, Christopher Burton, told JIS News that he enjoyed this year’s event.
“I love to come to the Grand Gala; I love to see the performances and the entertainment,” he said.
Carmen Reynolds, who was attending the Grand Gala for the first time, said she brought her grandchildren so they could learn about and celebrate their heritage.
“I want them to go to school and talk about it to their friends and teachers,” she said.
The Western Gala was held in Montego Bay, St. James, concurrently, and concerts, street dances, exhibitions and other activities were also held in parishes across the island.
The Emancipation and Independence activities were organised by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) and held under the theme, ‘Jamaica 56 – One Love… One Family’.