2009 marks Jamaica’s 47th year as an independent nation, it also marks 12 years since the country officially resumed Emancipation Day celebrations on August 1.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Olivia Grange officially announced plans for “Jamaica Festival 2009”, a celebration of Emancipation and Independence under the theme “I Believe in Jamaica”, at a launch held on Wednesday at the Jamaica Pegasus. The minister outlined that island-wide activities organized by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) are to commence on July 30 and culminate on Independence Day, August 6. A series of preliminary activities including the Miss Jamaica Festival Queen Competition and the Jamaica Festival Song Competition were also highlighted.
Listing the activities, Grange announced that Mello Go Roun, a performing arts showcase at the National Arena, kicks off the festivities on July 30, followed by the National Emancipation Vigil at Emancipation Square, SpanishTown and the Emancipation Jubilee at Seville, St. Ann, both scheduled for July 31. Emancipation Day (August 1) will see Augus’ Fair, a salute to traditional entertainment and cuisine, being staged at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre with the finals of the World Reggae Dance Championship scheduled for the same venue.
A day of worship is planned for August 2 with the National Independence Thanksgiving Service slated for the EastQueenStreetBaptistChurch in Kingston and similar services planned in other parishes. The finals of the Jamaia Gospel Song Competition, which was recently added to the celebratory period, will also take place on August 2 at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre. Added to the calendar of events is the National Emancipation/Independence Forum scheduled to take place on August 5 at the Kingston and St. Andrew Parish Library (Tom Redcam).
Plans for Independence Day ( August 6) include the Festival Float Parade throughout the streets of Kingston and a Grand Gala at the National Stadium ,followed by the Independence Street Dance in Half Way Tree Square. Additionally, Montego Bay will host an Independence Street Gala with other parishes hosting a variety of civic functions and other activities.
A Visual Impact & Awareness Programme has also been announced and will include Festival Fashions, a Shop Window Display Competition and the decoration of town squares island-wide. In urging full support for the activities, Miss Grange noted the importance of celebrating our achievements as a nation since Independence.