Are we actually independent?


August 02, 2017
Mr Festival himself Eric Donaldson performing during the Jamaica 50 Grand Gala at the National Stadium five years ago.
Stilt walkers representing Jamaica's national bird at the Jamaica 50 Grand Gala at the National Stadium five years ago.

Irie holiday greetings, fellow Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica! Yes peeps, yesterday, August 1, was Emancipation Day, and Sunday, August 6, will be Independence Day [to be officially celebrated on Monday the 7th, of course, because Jamaica doesn't keep holidays on Sundays]. So in typical yard-style, we blend the two days together and call the week Emancipendence Week. What do you plan to do with it?

To some people, yesterday was just another day to chill, unwind, party or find some other way to emancipate themselves from the daily grind of life. Many of the folks living in Kingston would have trekked to have a little family picnic or a romantic kickback time at the few oases of greenery that they can find in the city, like Hope Gardens in Mona or that lovely spot in New Kingston that a friend of mine likes to call 'Emancipenis' Park, in reference to the prominent nude statues that adorn its entrance. Many others use the day for an outing to the beach, river, spring or some other body of water.

What about you? What did you do, or plan to do?

And what does Emancipation and Independence mean to you?



Yes, most of us know or should know that the significance of the August 1 day dates back to that day on August 1, 1834, when the Emancipation Proclamation was ceremoniously read from the steps of the old King's House in Spanish Town, which was the country's capital at that time. That proclamation officially marked the end of slavery in the then British colonies, although full freedom was delayed until 1838.

We also know that the significance of the August 6 holiday dates back to that grand day in 1962 when we marked Jamaica's birth as an independent nation by finally lowering Britain's Union Jack and raising our green, gold and black flag in a gala ceremony at the National Stadium. That was the first real grand gala, nuh true? Yes, that was the first day of Independence.

The burning question, though, is whether now, 55 years later, we can truly call ourselves independent? What you think? Are we fully free? Are we truly emancipated? Are we actually independent? Or we just, as another friend of mine says, still 'in di pen' but with a 'dent'?

Personally, I give thanks for the day. I salute the spirit of Emancipation. I honour the founders of our nation. But I also deeply hope for a great day of national truth and reconciliation.

Other Commentary Stories