W’appn bruddahs and sistahs? Mi ‘ope seh yuh gud!
In Jamaica, Emancipation Day is celebrated on August 1st in commemoration of freedom granted to all slaves in August of 1838. This joyous occasion kicks off a spirited week of celebration, culminating in nation-wide observance of Independence Day on the 6th of August.
Jamaica gained its independence from Britain in 1962, and the country recently commemorated its 50th year as an independent nation. Residual fanfare from the momentous “Jamaica 50” festivities can still be found everywhere, from bumper stickers on taxi windshields to faded billboards to grocery store banners. There’s even an ice cream flavor called Jamaica 50 (and yes it’s bright green and yellow)!
On Thursday night, the eve of Emancipation Day, I went with my host mom down to the Stewart Town square, which is essentially a cross road, for a celebratory vigil. The night was organized by the Webb Memorial Baptist Church’s congregation, and all of the churches in town were asked to send a delegate to present an item to add to the program. They had historical objects on display, like coal-heated irons and old 3-foot Dutch cooking pots. One woman presented riddles in the form of old Jamaican proverbs—like “One one cocoa, full basket”—and the MC, Brother Keith, quizzed us with questions about Stewart Town’s history.
The Jamaica Gleaner, a popular newspaper, wrote this rather scathing article about Stewart Town last week. While I do believe it failed to capture the good-natured country charm of my town, its description of a more lively past does seem to ring true here. Read the article here.
Fi true, Jamaica comes alive at night. We arrived some time past 8 that evening and left at about 10, but as we walked back home, groups were still arriving. My host mom assured me that the festivities would likely last until about 2 that morning!
Perhaps the most exciting part of the evening happened after I spotted a 40-legged centipede (or 40-leg as Jamaicans call them) and watched as 3 people, including my host mom, finally pulverized it into submission. They’re totally wicked creatures and a bite from one will send a person to the hospital. Even better, they’re really skittish, aggressive and can grow up to 12-inches long!
I’m looking forward to celebrating Independence Day tomorrow. Since the 4th of July is my favorite holiday back home, my hopes are pretty high. I’ve got a feeling the North Coast won’t let me down.
Finally, Josh, an Environment Volunteer in a nearby town, and I had the pleasure of meeting up with our District Counsellor recently. I was able to capture some lovely shots as we made our way deeper into Upper Trelawny, as I wasn’t crammed into a taxi. I hope that you enjoy!