SEVILLE, St Ann — Governor General Sir Patrick Allen and Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller led hundreds of Jamaicans who turned out Tuesday night at the Seville Heritage Park here for the annual Emancipation Jubilee to celebrate the role played by black leaders in their fight for freedom more than 170 years ago.
Addressing the huge crowd shortly after midnight, Simpson Miller told the gathering that as the Emancipation celebrations lead into Independence, Jamaicans should reflect on the journey already travelled and rise to meet the challenges of the future.
"We must take with us the best of our past, the strength and convictions of the present in order to achieve the promise of the future," Simpson Miller said.
"Our forefathers were prepared to make sacrifices; they nobly paid the ultimate price to allow us the opportunities we now enjoy, so it is in the spirit of a shared hope for a better tomorrow that I ask you to take hold of this promise and the possibilities that came with Emancipation," said the prime minister.
Simpson Miller, emphasising that Emancipation must be actualised, said the knowledge of the past have helped in the liberation from the bonds of the past, but said the liberation process must be continued.
She added that the country's mission was characterised by the journey of the past, and called on Jamaicans to continue on the mission set by the ancestors in seeking to have freedom in all forms.
She added: "Hold fast to the principles of respect for one another and sharing with each other, display the resourcefulness and determination of those whose belief in what was good and right and honest and truth enabled them to overcome. Celebrate the freedom journey as it is true to our mission; we have come a long way and today celebrate the fact that we are free to be all we can be," she said.
Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna, in reflecting on the work of the ancestors, urged Jamaicans to commit to national unity, plant seeds of community and pledge to fight against crime and violence and all evils that she said has oppressed the country.
"Here on this spot tonight, we proclaim the wonderful culture we inherited from our forefathers and certainly our heroine and our mothers and pledge to create the necessary mechanism to ensure that all our people live in peace, harmony and sustainable prosperity," said the minister.
"The greatest gift we can give to our ancestors this night is to commit ourselves to the ultimate sacrifice, in the interest of the most vulnerable among us, teach us true respect for all and strengthen the weak... Hanna added.
Lady Allen, Opposition Spokesperson on Culture Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, members of parliament Shahine Robinson and Dr Morias Guy, Mayor of St Ann's Bay Desmond Gilmore and Custos of St Ann Radcliffe Walters were among the hundreds who shared in the colourful event, held under the theme 'A Nation on a Mission-Movement of Ja People'.