“I pledge my heart forever, to serve with humble pride, this shining homeland ever, so long as earth abides.” – The Jamaican National School Song.
The richness of the Jamaican culture is evident every year around the time of their ‘Emancipendence’ celebrations. ‘Emancipendence’ here is the fusion of the words Emancipation and Independence. These 2 national holidays; Emancipation Day celebrated on August 1 and Independence Day, August 6 are two days Jamaicans hold dear to their hearts.
- Emancipation Day holds great significance for this tiny but powerful nation as it goes down in history as the date when the bill for the abolition of slavery became law. Emancipation Day is the day slavery was abolished in not just Jamaica, but the entire British empire. (As a side note, full freedom was officially granted in 1838).
- On August 6,1962 Jamaica gained its independence from the British Monarchy and became part of British Commonwealth of nations. As the Union Jack was lowered and the flag bearing Black, Green, and Gold rose to take its place, the newly independent nation of Jamaica would become a powerhouse full of great people ready to leave their mark on the world.
Jamaica’s ‘Emancipendence’ celebrations first began in 1963 under the leadership of then Minister of Development and Welfare, Edward Seaga. At that time the celebrations were simply called ‘Jamaica Festival’ and was initiated to showcase the Nation’s excellence in the fine and performing arts as well as the literary arts. The Festival at that time also showcased street parades, agricultural showcases and culminating with the Grand Gala (which we’ll speak about later on).
Today, the celebrations have evolved and blossomed into what is truly something full of Jamaican culture and pride and take place under the leadership of the Nation’s Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment, and Sport.
Through this Government Ministry, the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, JCDC is responsible for putting on events such as:
- The JCDC Festival Song Competition – This competition was first held in 1966 with the winning song ‘Bam Bam’ at that time being sung by the Maytals. Since then, the essence of this competition is what heralds the start of what is always a great ‘Festival Time Again’.
- The JCDC Gospel Song Competition – Introduced to the lineup of Emancipendece celebrations in 1987, showcases talent at its best through what is deemed ‘indigenous gospel music in Jamaica’, this competition unearths the talents of artiste’s through their submission and performance of original gospel songs. The competition takes the participants through a series of workshops providing them with grooming and training to prepare them for the big stage.
- The Miss Jamaica Festival Queen Competition – Beginning in 1963 as the ‘Miss Jamaica Beauty Contest’, The Miss Jamaica Festival Queen Competition is a platform for young women between the ages of 18 and 25 years old to showcase their intelligence, cultural awareness, and poise all while vying for the crown as Cultural Ambassador to Jamaica.
- Grand Gala – The ‘Emancipendence’ celebrations culminate with the Grand Gala. This event takes place at the national stadium in Kingston on August 6 of every year. Here, the best of Jamaican culture is on display through musicians, dancers, and other creatives who get the opportunity to celebrate their national pride and showcase their talents.
This year all the ‘Emancipendence’ competitions and celebrations have gone virtual due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Jamaica celebrates 59 years of Indepence in 2021
This year, Jamaica celebrates 59 years of Indepence. The theme for all the ‘Emancipendence’ celebrations is ‘Jamaica 59: Come Mek We Celebrate Online’ and will last for 10 days ending on August 6.
In years gone by, the place would be buzzing with excitement especially in Kingston, The heart and capital of Jamaica. Here, the culturally minded would be able to attend events such as ‘Mello Go Round’, ‘Grand sing alongs at Emancipation Park’, ‘Jamaican Music Street Parades’, along with other celebrations that would be taking place all over the island at the same time.
How could we end our blog post and not mention this fun fact? Each time Jamaica’s ‘Emancipendence’ celebrations take place during an Olympic year, the country also gets to celebrate the successes of their athletes as they compete on the international scene.
Jamaica’s athletes always do exceptionally well in athletics at these games which makes their ‘Emancipendence’ celebrations even more special; especially when their athletes medal.
We hope we were able to immerse you even a little in the Jamaican culture and how they celebrate their nation’s important milestones. Day Translations is dedicated to bringing you all over the globe and expose you as a reader to the richness of the cultures we have in the world.
Such celebrations are a part of a growing worldwide phenomenon known as the Festival Economy, which is generating serious economic spinoffs for countries smart enough to embrace and invest in their culture.
As Tinga Stewart sang in ‘Nuh Wey Nuh Betta Dan Yard’