Restore August 1 to its prominence
We can only imagine what the morning of August 1 was like in terms of the massive acknowledgement of freedom. This freedom came from years of sacrifices — lives, blood and tears — from our ancestors who fought the British Empire and secured our freedom.
Therefore, this timeless legacy must be protected and we — the generations of slaves — must always honour and celebrate the great moment that ushered Jamaica from an entity of slaves into a community of free people.
We note over the years the attempts to devalue this holiday because it is a great moment of celebration of black freedom. This article condemns all the attempts to tarnish this important and timeless milestone in black history of Jamaica.
Emancipation spells black freedom and neither the word nor the moment must be tampered with because it is definitely not the embodiment of “Out of Many One People” concept that the current Seville Plantation celebration is pushing.
There is this idea that something calls “Emanci-pendence” exists, but it is an attempt to obfuscate the true meaning of that special day.
The honouring and celebration of Emancipation is most critical to the building of a proud black conscious community in Jamaica. Strong, enduring, and such self-sustaining communities are important in the building of a Jamaica that is “strong and free”. Of course, after 185 years of Emancipation and 61 years of Independence, Jamaica is nowhere near “strong and free”.
There was an editorial in a newspaper prior to August 1 in 1938 that called for the discontinuation of the celebration to this great moment for black Jamaicans because it evoked bitter history and feelings. There was a range of conservative comments in the newspaper by political, business, and religious leaders telling black people to be thankful for what they have, to praise the Queen Victoria for her kindness, and that they should not harbour any intentions to seize lands; that they should stop smoking ganja and that there was the need for birth control in the black community. This holiday, outside of the Christian calendar holidays, continued until 1962, when the “Out of Many One People” perspectives discontinued that great day in the history of the majority of people in this country. Emancipation Day was restored to its former glory in 1992 by former Prime Minister P J Patterson.
One of the major victims in the process of modernising Jamaica is the destruction of the community, especially since the 1980s with its liberal politics, economics, and building a transactional society.
The building of the community in Jamaica began with the celebration and honouring of Emancipation on that August morning in 1838. We must return to the source and discontinue the centralisation of the celebration of Emancipation in St Ann and Independence in the Corporate Area. We need to return to the source and restore August 1 to its prominence in the community as a force in community-building for a Jamaica that will be “strong and free”.
Louis E A Moyston, PhD
c/o Past Members’ Association
People’s National Party Youth Organization