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VIDEO: St Richard's Primary keeps Jamaican culture and heritage alive

Monday, October 16, 2017

National Hero Marcus Garvey, who strongly advocated the preservation of Jamaican history and culture, would most likely have been proud of St Richards Primary School's annual Heritage Day celebration last Thursday.

In addition to Jamaican foods, such as ackee and salt fish, grater cake, gizzada, jackass corn, and potato pudding bring available for sale, students and teachers were clad in outfits from varying ethnic groups, parents and other guests were treated to entertainment by a jonkannu group that travelled all the way from Portland to the school on Red Hills Road in Kingston.

The festival-like atmosphere featured drumming as well as performances of Jamaican gospel songs during devotion.

As the drumming grew louder, and the skies became overcast, the jonkannu group commanded the attention of the students, some of whom cried uncontrollably at the sight of the costumes, while others imitated the group's dance moves.

“There is not a lot of understanding about our... culture and what it is,” the school's cultural agent Imogene Cummings told the Jamaica Observer.

“I do believe we can do more.What we need to do is not just teach it but practise it. We could probably do a hero per month and someone else to fill out the other months,” added Cummings, who said that October is not enough to celebrate the nation's heritage.

“When we understand our culture and where we are coming from, when we understand who we are as a people, we will better embrace each other, love and respect each other, and build our country,” said Cummings, who is also the grade five coordinator.

Principal Maureen Wong pointed out that the day's celebration is in tandem with the curriculum.

“At this time of the year we highlight our culture, because if we don't do that the children will lose out on what their foreparents did,” Wong said.

Grade six student Esther Ogbaisi, who had no difficulty finding a dress to wear, given that she was born in Nigeria, told the Observer that she appreciates how Jamaicans embrace her culture.

“No matter which ethnic group you are, from they love you it's like one big happy family. I love Jamaica,” Ogbaisi said.

Patrick Green, whose daughter Kellisa is in grade two, said he was anticipating the Maypole dance, while Kellisa, said that she learnt about slavery during the activities.

— Racquel Porter