BLACK, green and gold could be seen at every turn yesterday as Jamaicans turned out in the national colours at various events to celebrate Emancipation Day, many expressing pride about the country's achievements over the last decades.
Lightposts and the front of buildings across the Corporate Area were draped in the national colours, while flags fluttered in the afternoon wind from many fences.
Yesterday's celebratory events served as precursor to Monday's big celebration, when the nation marks its 50th year of Independence from British rule with much pomp and pageantry.
The majority of the persons with whom
the Jamaica Observer spoke singled out the areas of education, healthcare, technology, housing and infrastructure in which the greatest strides have been made.
"We have developed beyond 50 years," said social worker Beverley Edwards. She said that there have been some setbacks along the way but that the achievements in all areas of life, including politics and personal development, have been great.
"Overall, Jamaica has really moved up. Jamaica at 50, we have grown immensely. There is room for improvement but we have come a long way," said Edwards.
Educator Winsome Reid said there were many ways in which the island has progressed in the 50 years of self-governance. "That is something we can celebrate. I'm a proud Jamaican -- very proud Jamaican. There are other national goals to achieve but I think we have done well," Reid said.
Retired nurse Sheila Edwards, who was among the throng of people enjoying the festivities at the National Stadium car park, said "I could have been away but I choose to come back to Jamaica". "I love this country in spite of the challenges; I'm married to this place for better or for worse. I really love my Jamaica -- land of my birth and everything. I'm thankful for what we have achieved."
Dr Maxine Gossell-Williams, senior lecturer at the University of the West Indies, said: "I think we have a lot to be grateful for. We have our challenges but we have done well."
Tracey-Ann Thomas, a research officer and the only person below 40 with whom the Observer spoke said that Jamaica could have achieved greater development.
"Jamaica at 50 -- without the bureaucracy and mismanagement we would have been far ahead, even further than Trinidad because we have the potential," said Thomas.
An information technology worker who gave his name as Everton said that while the country has done well, he has found that the people have been adopting the culture of other countries, especially that of our North American neighbours, "to the detriment of our culture".
"Jamaica has progressed in industries, technology... it has come a long way. In another 50 years it will be great," said Melanie Burrows, who has been visiting the island from Bermuda for the past 20 years.
Meanwhile, Jamaicans yesterday turned out in their numbers to celebrate Emancipation Day at the Jamaica 50 Golden Jubilee Village at Independence Park in Kingston.
The village, which opened at midday yesterday, was a buzz with activities as patrons were treated to several cultural performances throughout the day.
Amidst the entertainment and visits to the different booths, patrons flocked Jam Shop to purchase Jamaica 50 memorabilia.
"It's a very good experience, I really enjoyed myself and the fact that I am celebrating Jamaica. I am always a Jamaican and I love my country," said Hermine Moore who was out with her friend enjoying the offerings of the village.
Annie Kopene, an America who has been living in Jamaica for the past two years, said she loved the vibes. "I just came here today to celebrate as I won't be around for Independence and it was fun shopping because the things are so reasonable. And we loved that we could sample different things," Kopene said, showing off the different bottles of wine that she had purchased.
Acting executive director of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, Delroy Gordon hailed the first day of the village as a success. "Today is the first day and certainly you would expect a bit of production glitches but things have got off to a fairly good start. We are very pleased with what we are seeing so far. There weren't any major glitches," Gordon said.
"It is a success for me, dream come true, mission accomplished and we only expect it to improve," he added.
The village will run until August 6 and will end each night with a stage show.
— Additional reporting by Tanesha Mundle