Jamaica’s Emancipendence nears with August calendar

This Jamaican dressed to impress as a higgler. She walked the aisle of the church carrying this bankra on her head filled with native fruits from the island.
Photo by Vinette K. Pryce

The combined celebrations of Emancipation and Independence by Jamaicans will merge for a weeklong commemoration known as Emancipendence. Providing a cultural calendar during the first days of August it will also highlight achievements of the island and those the people proudly exalt.

The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 ended slavery in the British Empire on Aug. 1, 1834 and “Jamaicans continue to celebrate Emancipation Day through the reenactment of the reading of the Emancipation Declaration in town centers particularly, Spanish Town, St. Catherine which was the seat of Parliament when the Emancipation Act was passed in 1838.”

On Aug. 1, a gala celebration in Mahwah, New Jersey, commemorated the 53rd anniversary of Jamaica’s independence at the Sheraton Mahwah.

Among the special festivities planned, Brooklyn’s Kings Theater hosted a reggae jazz fest headlined by Monty Alexander and Beres Hammond on that same date.

“Proud & Free: Jamaica 53,” touted a thanksgiving service at Saint Frances of Rome, 4307 Barnes Ave. in the Bronx on the next day.

Held under the auspices of the Jamaica Consulate, Consul General Herman G. Lamont represented the island’s government.

The biggest date of all is Aug. 6, Independence Day; when a flag raising ceremony is slated for Queen’s Borough Hall, Kew Gardens. The official noon ceremony, presented by the Jamaica Consular General Lamont is a joint event with Melinda Katz, Queens Borough President to hoist the nation’s black, green and gold alongside the U.S. banner. The address is 120-55 Queens Blvd.

The annual event was held last year at Manhattan’s Bowling Green and the previous year at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall.

Later that evening, British reggae super-group Steel Pulse will strum the nation’s reggae anthems during a concert at BB Kings in Times Square.

The following evening, reggae, super-group Third World promises a free outdoor concert at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. The 7:30 pm outdoor event is part of the annual Celebrate Brooklyn summer concert series.

A unity march to commemorate the 53rd anniversary of Jamaica’s self-rule kicks off from Empire Blvd. & Flatbush Ave. on Aug. 8 at 11 am organized by Paul “Jah Paul” Haughton and Rev. Terry Lee of Byways & Edges Ministry, the afternoon’s event will culminate with speakers and performers at Utica Ave.

Jamaica’s independence gala at the NY Hilton Hotel, 1333 Sixth Ave. will be held on Aug. 15.

Another major calendar date in August is the birth date of the island’s first national hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey. He was born Aug. 17, 1887 in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica. Several tributes are planned to mark the 128th anniversary.

He was the youngest of 11 children born to his parents — Marcus Mosiah Garvey Sr. and Sarah Jane Richards.

He inspired millions and particularly the Rastafarian movement.

Garvey is credited with motivating many by urging millions of Africans living outside of the continent to “look to the east” for a king.

To the inspired group, that leader was HIM Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia.

Garvey died at age 52 in London, England but emerged Jamaica’s first national hero.

His legacy will be celebrated internationally by parades, cultural activities and tributes.

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