Jamaicans around the world are celebrating the island’s 60th anniversary of independence this year with the special day falling this Saturday, 6 August. As well as all over Jamaica, there are special events in the largest Jamaican communities in major cities including Toronto, Montreal, New York, Miami, London, Los Angeles and Atlanta.
After a two-year hiatus, Jamaica’s popular annual festivals are back, showcasing some of the country’s hottest local talents through Reggae Sumfest, Jamaica Dream WKND and MoBay Jerk & Food Festival.
This week saw an increase in activities which started on Wednesday. Monday was Emancipation Day. Tuesday the main event was Old Skool Dancehall, Wednesday Mello-Go-Roun, Thursday is Jamaica Praise - the JA60 Gospel Concert and Friday, 5 August is Independence Watch Night in the Village and JDF60 Jamaica Military-Tattoo-Like Displays at Up Park Camp. It’s the Independence Grand Gala in the National Stadium on Saturday.
The Jamaica 60 Western Gala, on Sunday, 7 August at the Catherine Hall Sports Complex, Montego Bay, will round off these events.
Olivia Grange, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, said the celebration of Jamaica 60 will follow the tradition of having a significant commemoration of independence every five years, with the aim of setting goals for the future.
As Jamaica became independent in 1962, controlling its affairs was the responsibility of the locally elected Cabinet and the newly elected Prime Minister Sir Alexander Bustamante and was no longer under Britain’s control. As a result, Jamaica required its own constitution, symbols, an army, a currency, and passports to be developed.
After gaining its independence, Jamaica assigned ambassadors to represent the country. It was also the responsibility of oversea ambassadors to sign treaties on its behalf. As they became members of various international organisations, Jamaica was able to get equal rights on various issues related to international policies, trade, and treaties.
• Independence meant freedom of mind, freedom of speech, and freedom to live an independent lifestyle. That’s why each year, on 6 August, Jamaica commemorates its freedom from British colonial occupation. It is a day of grand celebrations from paying tribute to the fallen heroes who fought for the country to indulging in music, dance and entertainment. The island honours all those who contributed significantly to the transfer of power. It also honours seven National Heroes an in recognition of their contribution to the independence. They are: Sir Alexander Bustamante, Marcus Garvey, George William Gordon, Norman Manley, Nanny of the Maroons, Samuel Sharpe and Paul Bogle.