Our heroes, athletes demonstrate the spirit of our Emancipation

Friday, August 01, 2014

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Today, we again turn our focus to the start of the process that culminated in our decision to govern ourselves.

While our athletes are showering us with wonderful Emancipation and Independence presents, via their achievements at the Commonwealth Games now on in Glasgow, Scotland, we will have a number of other occasions locally — between today and next Wednesday — to sing our National Anthem and recite the National Pledge with great pride.

In addition, this time of year affords us the opportunity to reflect on the fight our ancestors waged for freedom from colonial rule.

We have said in this space before, and we believe that it needs reiterating, that this period of recall and celebration will not be worth its place on our calendar if Jamaicans do not mark the dates and themes in their hearts and lives.

We all have a duty to make productive use of the freedoms won by our forefathers, because they were not easily attained. Indeed, many lives were lost in that struggle, and as such, we cannot give scant regard to their sacrifice.

We are now well past the debate as to whether a separate observance of Emancipation Day vis-a-vis Independence Day would best serve us as a nation. Our true focus now must be placed on the real meaning of emancipation: that the system of governance is no longer innately oppressive, no longer is the segregation of people legal, and that an open playing field is the surface on which humanity must exist.

Such acknowledgement, we hold, cannot be complete if the question of what we have done with freedom is not asked.

No one can successfully challenge the fact that we have made great progress as a nation. We have adhered to the ideals of democracy, have respected individuals' freedom to speak, and have, in large measure, established institutions to protect our citizens.

However, if we are to be true to ourselves, we must admit that we have much more work to be done, as too many Jamaicans are still starved of basic services and the wheels of justice turn too slowly.

However, we see in Emancipation Day great hope for our people, because the observance of the day signifies a realisation that our achievements will not come without hard work and sacrifice.

Our national heroes — Paul Bogle, Sam Sharpe, George William Gordon, Marcus Garvey, Nanny of the Maroons, Norman Manley, and Sir Alexander Bustamante — have displayed that drive and spirit to overcome challenges.

Those are the same traits that our athletes have been displaying in Glasgow since July 23 when the Commonwealth Games opened.

The task before the entire country now is to emulate them all and give true meaning to their sacrifice.




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