Dashikis and other ethnic dresses for Grand Gala

August 05, 2019
Olivia Grange
Olivia Grange
A section of the crowd at the National Stadium during last year’s Grand Gala.
A section of the crowd at the National Stadium during last year’s Grand Gala.
Dr Maris Hamilton was out in her colours at last year’s Grand Gala.
Dr Maris Hamilton was out in her colours at last year’s Grand Gala.

Jamaica's Independence Day Grand Gala is back again - with promise of a spectacular display that reflects Jamaica's inclusive motto, 'Out of Many, One People'.

The Culture Ministry expects to attract a capacity audience for the annual celebration at the National Stadium tomorrow evening - that will, hopefully, turn out ready to toast local cultures in their dashikis (African), hanfus (Chinese) and saris (Indian).

Patrons are invited to participate in this year's festival fashion under the theme 'Roots and Culture', by wearing outfits inspired by their cultural heritage.

"Put on your African clothes. Put on your Chinese and Indian clothes, your sari. Represent your heritage in roots and culture, " said director of production and events at the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), Gregory Simms.

In addition to inviting thousands of citizens to come out donning their most culturally 'flairy' outfits - and thousands of youngsters from the Corporate Area and St Catherine to perform on the football field, the gala's programme will include performances from reggae's newest global sensation Koffee, Beenie Man, Kevin Downswell, Sista Pat, Kukudoo, Minister Marion Hall, Judy Mowatt, Cocoa Tea, and Etana.

Entertainment package

Also part of the entertainment package is reggae and dancehall star Sizzla, who will be honoured at the event alongside reggae music matriarch, Rita Marley.

"Both Rita Marley and Sizzla are symbols of independence through their music. Rita Marley showed that she could use her own talents to establish a very successful solo career, even while her husband was a superstar. As part of the I-Threes, she demonstrated that Jamaican women had a place in the music industry and that work as served as inspiration to many females who have transitioned from being backing vocalists to independent superstars," Grange told THE STAR.

She continued: "Sizzla demonstrated independence in spirit and thought, embracing Rastafari and consciousness at a time when dancehall music was trending in a different direction. He helped to redirect the path of the music and we can see the results of his work in the many independent-minded, well thinking young dancehall artistes we have today."

This year, the cultural showcase will feature presentations in music, drama, song and dance, by costumed and uniformed groups; in addition, approximately 2, 500 young people drawn from communities across the Corporate Area and St Catherine will perform at the gala.

Expect to grow

Selected from some 13 communities, the performers were trained over a three-week period. According to Grange, there are plans to increase the number of costumed groups for future events.

"More and more communities are reaching out to us, saying we want to get involved. So we expect to grow in numbers as we continue the Grand Gala. We are hoping that for our 60th anniversary, we will have an extremely large and powerful presentation in the National Stadium."

"The Grand Gala remains the biggest entertainment/cultural event staged in Jamaica and everyone wants to share in the experience. We will close the evening with the customary fireworks display. I won't divulge details as that would nullify the element of surprise, but we will be putting on a spectacular display," she continued.

Meanwhile, Simms reminds that no weapons would be allowed inside the National Stadium for the gala. He encourages patrons to get to the venue early to facilitate a prompt 6 p.m. start. Gates will open at 3 p.m.

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