‘My Jamaica!’ Festival now includes storytelling

Jamaica familiar terms such as Aunty Roachie – (Miss Lou character) Dutchie (cooking utensil made of iron) and Ska names three festivals that will be incorporated to make this year’s Jamaica Festival a more diverse island-wide celebration.

Extended to run from June to Independence Day in August, national Emancipation and Independence event were detailed recently when Lisa Hanna, the island’s minister of culture announced the theme for 2014 would be “This is Jamaica …My Jamaica.”

A new feature of the festival is the introduction of the Aunty Roachie Festival. Named for the character created by poet/actress/folklorist Louise Bennett, this aspect is tailored ‘to showcase the storytelling talent of Jamaica Literary, Film and Television communities.’ Aunty Roach Festival will feature: a short film competition, trailers from new television program, a book fair, poetry reading and storytelling.

An appeal for submission of scripts for the short film competition will open the competition to everyone who make applications at www.cptcjamaica.com

Hanna said the redesigned program also includes the Heart of Ska International Festival and the Dutchie Culinary Festival which will add music and cooking to the major festival. Also making a debut are Live Music Tuesdays, National Independence Exhibitions and Independence Signature Conversations — which will reflect the government’s determination to enhance the contribution of culture and the creative industries to the national economy.

The most major change to the annual Jamaica Festival program is that the celebrations of Emancipation and Independence which usually refers to the week of celebration from July 31 to Aug. 6, Independence Day is now extended to brand Jamaica Festival a season of activities beginning in June.

The redesigned Jamaica Festival includes an expansion of activities to incorporate most areas of the Cultural and Creative Industries including literature, film, television, culinary arts and fashion. The program also increases focus on parish and community activities in order to widen the identification, development and showcasing of talent island wide. In this regard, the ministry is introducing the Big Stage – a talent search competition at the community and parish levels which will provide unprecedented exposure for creative talent and present an opportunity for development through the JCDC’s new artiste management program.

“In the spirit of not leaving our cultural development to chance, we have made the strategic and deliberate decision to enhance the Jamaica Festival program by reviving, revitalizing and adding new activities to the season of celebration and reflection. Culture is an economic catalyst that we must maximize for the benefit of our people.”

Hanna said that Jamaica Festival would continue to ensure that Jamaicans “never forget the ancestors who fought for and attained our Emancipation and our Independence” and be “inspired by their example of triumph in the face of adversity”.

The minister said that the celebrations would also be used to emphasize the importance of family values through the first ever National Family Day.

“I really wanted to do this as a way of helping to heal the Jamaican family. Many of the challenges that our children face are directly related to problems in the homes. If we can fix the families, we will fix Jamaica.”

National Family Day is set for Aug. 2. Hanna is encouraging families, particularly those who have never had a reunion, to use the opportunity to connect to their roots and “to bolster the ties that bind.”

Additionally, Hanna appealed for support of the reintroduced Independence Ball which will be a major fundraising event to improve conditions for Children in State Care.

A statement of solidarity with the people of Nigeria was issued on behalf of the government. The statement referenced the kidnapping and hostage holding of schoolchildren by terrorists.


Something Positive — acclaimed as New York’s premier Afro-Caribbean performing dance company – slates a number of events to mark Caribbean heritage Month. Under the artistic direction of Michael Manswell, two back-to-back weekend engagements promise high energy activities at Jazz at Lincoln Center on June 14 when a Pan-Jazz performance bills Tales from the Silk Cotton Tree. The following day, Long Island University’s Kumble Theater is the venue for another spectacular Brooklyn showcase. The following weekend, two fundraising events — designed to bolster support for their public performances, educational programs and improvement projects – promise an all white summer fete on June 21. The chic summer event will begin at 9:00 p.m. at Brooklyn’s newest hotspot located at 333 Flatbush Ave. With music an integral consideration, the all-white fete promises to be an electrifying night filled with sounds provided by renowned DJs, Strictly Noise and Freeze International. Sunday Soiree at Harlem’s Strivers Row brownstone of art offers an exclusive day party hosted by art collector and gallery owner Asake Bomani On June 22. The soiree will feature a performance by Something Positive, delicious cocktails, and a smorgasbord of African, Caribbean, and Asian inspired cuisine prepared by Bomani and Alexander Smalls, executive chef at Harlem’s The Cecil Restaurant.

For more information visit www.somethingpositiveinc.org

Caribbean Heritage Month also returns BRAATA Folk Family with song, dance and comedic nostalgia from the region. On June 21 at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center, 153-10 Jamaica Ave. in Queens, the cultural folk group will celebrate their fifth anniversary with revelry, beginning at 8:00 p.m. For more information, call 718-618-6170.

On June 22, the anniversary celebration moves to Long Island University’s Kumble Theater, One University Plaza (Flatbush Ave. bet. Dekalb & Willoughby) for a 6:30 p.m. concert.

For more information, call 718-488-1624.

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