All night celebration at Emancipation Jubilee

August 02, 2018
Shorn Hector/Photographer Ernie Smith
Shorn Hector/Photographer These youngsters were the highlight of the Charles Town Maroons' performance.

Each year, the Seville Heritage Park is transformed to mimic the euphoria and ancestral traditions of Augus' Mawnin', carrying on in song and dance until the sun rises on Emancipation Day.

Following the reading of the Proclamation of Freedom 180 years ago, it is imagined that the newly freed peoples of Jamaica lit their fires and sang songs of exultation as day turned to night then into morning. While this modern celebration revisits the song and dance of previous eras during the Emancipation Jubilee, it also seeps into the now , inviting the participation of contemporary players.

The lawns of Seville Great House were open to the public as early as the afternoon of July 31 and remained crowded as the hours passed from midnight to morning.

After Tuesday night's re-enactment of the proclamation and the midnight candle-lit procession of government and agency leaders around the former plantation, the audience tucked away some of their historical reverence to engage with a more modern stage.

Earlier in the night, they had been treated to the folk sounds of the Hertford Cultural Group, entertained by the quadrille dancers of Retreat Primary School, and encouraged to dance by the Charles Town Maroons.


At 3 a.m., however, the celebrations turned into a stage show with the introduction of iconic local band Fab 5.

During their set, bassist Frankie Campbell took a moment to say that despite the emancipation celebration, their day had not been a good one. Speaking to the loss of their friend and colleague Carrot Jarrett, the accomplished musicians dedicated their closing set to their fallen colleague with a rendition of Give Thanks and Praises.

Though stricken with sadness, the veterans moved expertly through their performance, led by Grub Cooper on vocals and drums. The group even managed to wrangle some dancehall into the concert segment of the event with a performance of Beenie Man's party classic Rum and Redbull.

Veteran Ernie Smith also performed. Pitta Patta, Life Is Just For Living, Bend Down, and Play Di Music, were some of his chosen songs. Etana also came to the stage, maintaining her reputation as a powerhouse vocalist, singing hits like Free, Warrior Love, My Man, and No Address.

It was 5 a.m. when Sister Patt took the stage. The sky had begun to lighten and the first few vehicles took their turns out of the parking lot. Nevertheless, the lingering audience, which was mostly seated, rushed to the front of the stage with their arms raised and voices loud.

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