Kingston, 31 July 2018 – After many months of planning, the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange says she’s satisfied that all is set for Jamaica Festival which begins on Tuesday evening with the annual Emancipation Jubilee, marking 180 years since Full Freedom.
Jamaica Festival, which runs from July 31 to August 6, is the official celebration period for Emancipation and Independence. Minister Grange has been leading a programme of renewal and revitalisation of Jamaica Festival with the aim of ensuring that the celebrations are relevant, participatory, inclusive, inspirational and highlighting the best of Jamaica’s culture, values and the achievements of her proud people.
Among the events slated for revitalisation and renewal is the annual Emancipation Jubilee, which takes place at the Seville Heritage Park in St Ann.
“Jubilee remains one of our most important celebrations. It is one of the most worthy commemorations on our national calendar,” said Minister Grange.
Emancipation Jubilee commemorates the freedom of the African ancestors from enslavement. The event celebrates the spirit and triumphs of the ancestors and pays homage to their sacrifice by highlighting significant people, activities, events and creations along the road to freedom.
According to Minister Grange, Emancipation Jubilee “calls us to remember all those who resisted slavery, who fought the oppressive system, who gave their lives in pursuit of the freedoms we enjoy today — and whom we must continue to honour.”
Major features of the event include the re-enactment of the reading of the Proclamation of Freedom which granted freedom from enslavement to all the inhabitants of Jamaica as of the grand Augus’ Mawnin (August 1, 1838); traditional drumming and dancing; traditional Jamaican food including chaaklit tea; and floral tributes to the ancestors.
Minister Grange notes that this year, on the 180th anniversary of Full Freedom, is “an opportune time to reflect on the liberation mission, to review our knowledge of the Emancipation struggle and to present findings from historical and archaeological research about the nature of the movement and the people who led it from conception to execution.”
As such, the Jamaica National Heritage Trust — the agency of the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport which leads the Emancipation commemorations — has been hosting an exhibition at the St Ann Parish Library (since last Wednesday) focussing on the condition of the ancestors as they fought for Emancipation. The JNHT will also display, at Emancipation Jubilee, powerful and emotive artefacts that have been uncovered in the quest to know more about the ancestors: how they coped, how they resisted and how they succeeded.
Minister Grange said:
“The improvements that we will continue to make to the Emancipation Jubilee programme, as part of the entire Jamaica Festival revitalisation effort over the next three years, will help to re-position this event as a must-attend activity each year. And therefore, given the importance of Emancipation Jubilee, I am happy that we are able to say that it will be free of charge again this year.”
Emancipation Jubilee starts at 8pm on Tuesday evening and continues until the early hours of Augus’ Mawnin with traditional rites.
There will also be several Emancipation Vigils across the country on Tuesday evening.
The Emancipation Day calendar also includes the opening of the Official Independence Village at the National Arena in Kingston where there will be daily activities and nightly entertainment including the Miss Jamaica Festival Queen Coronation, Mento Night, World Reggae Dance Championship, Mello Go Roun, and the Jamaica Gospel Song Finals ahead of the Grand Gala in the National Stadium on Independence Day, August 6.