Like everything else, we seem to have managed to degrade one of the most revered days in our history, from a day of solemn commemoration to one reserved for pedestrian-type entertainment.
Somehow, Heroes Day, The reason for the Holiday; Men and one Woman, (who were murdered), so we could be free; and those who fought the British Colonial Establishment, by giving up their lives, families and Professions and even luxury, so we could be free and as a people pursue our own national identity, as an independent free-people, instead as minions and or lackeys of Britain.
It is important that as much as we celebrate Heroes Day, by seeking to entertain ourselves, the real reason for the holiday, not be forgotten and it not be treated with scant regard, and in so doing, heap contempt and disregard for those whose sacrifice, helped forge this fledgling Nation State.
If our national Leaders, will not lead, then we the People, should.
Our celebrations should begin with Civic Commemorative Ceremonies, if not on a national level, then on a personal level, particularly if we are parents, as this is one way to instill a sense of responsibility, duty, and nationhood, in our young.
So, instead of looking for the nearest beach, river or park to just goof off, we are suggesting 10 Things, to Do, to celebrate Heroes Day.
1. Pay A Visit To National Heroes Park.
A visit to the Heroes Park, in Kingston, Might not be convenient for all, but its a trek one should make with one’s family, once.
For those at the Western End of the Island, A visit to Sam Sharpe’s Square, could do, until the big trip to National Heroes Park.. Othe Parishes have Cenotaphs in Parish Capitals and or Major Towns. To really mark the occasion, it’s important to lay a symbol wreath or bunch of Flowers.
2. Gordon House:
3. Bob Marley
Bob Marley, might not have been elevated to the rank of National Hero, just yet. But he is an International Cultural Hero. An Icon of resistance; a symbol of love, hope, and peace, so familiarising oneself with his history and life, is a step in the right direction. One could visit the Marley Museum at 56 Hope Road in Kingston; or would could visit his resting place by visiting his mausoleum in 9-Miles, in St. Ann.
4. Louise Bennett-Coverley
Louise Bennett-Coverley: Is another officially Unsung Hero, and resistance fighter. Mistakenly labeled as a comedienne, Louise Bennet-Coverley, was a resistance fighter who waged war on the colonial establishment, by using and promoting the Language of the People, the Vernacular, much to the chagrin and annoyance of the ruling establishment. A Statue was recently mounted in her hometown of Gordon Town, in honour of her contribution and memory, (for this life of mine, I cannot fathom why her home was not acquired by the Government and transformed into a Museum/Library, showcasing her work and life), but until that is done, a visit to Gordon Town to pay homage to the late Heroine, would be in order and in keeping with Honouring those, who made it possible for us to live as free people.
5. The Paul Bogle Statute At The Morant Bay Court House
The Paul Bogle Statute At The Morant Bay Court House.is sadly still missing from in front of the Morant Bay Court House (and the Court House is still in a state of utter disrepair following the Fire that consumed it years ago), But a drive to Morant Bay and or a pilgrimage to Stony Gut, would be in order, in terms of sensitizing the family and honouring the memory and contribution of Paul Bogle, to a free and Independent Jamaica. This place is an official testament to the tyranny of those in officialdom, who used the ‘Law’ as they saw fit, to engineer their own social changes, at the expense of Justice.
6. Visit The Old Capital:
Spanish Town, as the First Capital of Jamaica, is a treasure Trove, in architecture and history. Despite Its Ghettoization, and filthy streets, being overrun by sewage and garbage, the old city center houses a number of historic buildings, and is home to at least one functioning Museum and the Old ‘Records Office”. A Stroll through the Old Capital could be the perfect nexus, between the old world and the struggles and fights over the years, to gain freedom from Slavery and Independence as a Free Nation State.
7. Trench Town Culture Yard
Culture Yard, is an innovative concept being played out in old Trench Town, that seeks to both educate and entertain. And is worth a visit on Heroes Day or any other day. As it is in effect a a living docu-museum, showcasing the life and early history of the Wailers. Located at 6 and 8 Lower First Street in Trench Town, Culture Yard is recognized as the birthplace of Reggae Music, as this was where Bob Marley and the Wailers, (And later Peter Tosh), is said to have resided and drew their inspiration. Acknowledged as a Historical Site, the Museum boasts momentos of the era such as instruments, early articles, furnishings, and even some of the utensils of the day, in what is truly an authentically vivid mounting of the period. Curated by renowned Architect Christopher Whyms-Stone, the Docu-museum, offers guided tours and a visit, which is a most fitting manner to pay more than lip service to the work of Bob Marley, The Wailers, and Reggae Music.
8. Liberty Hall
Liberty Hall: Marcus Garvey, was and remains one of the most consequential Black International Leaders of the 20th Century. For many, the international impact of his political intervention continues to be underestimated and under-researched, But at a time when Blacks were largely downpressed and some still under the yolk of Slavery, That Garvey managed to travel the World, spreading his philosophy of Pan-Africanism and the importance of Black Unity, earning the ire of the White establishment and Governments, leading to what is still considered Trumped-up Charges, by the US Government, to criminalize and penalize Garvey and his teachings.
9. The Seville Great House
The Seville Great House: Is a Historical crossroads, where the Spanish Occupation and the English expansionist greed intersected. Firstly the Seville area was largely populated by the Spaniards until, the British invasion in 1695, when the Spanish abandoned the the area, leaving it free for the New Colonizers to treat with as the spoils of War. And so they did, by dividing the property amongst the Officer Class of the new invaders.
Today, Seville is some kind of a showpiece, in the cultural array, that is trotted out around emancipendence celebrations but lacks the rigour, debate, and intellectual support structure that would make it a valuable tool, in the teaching of our history, instead of parroting the blasphemy, that passes as Jamaica’s History, which is in actuality, the sanitized version of the horrors and brutality of British Occupation and enslavement of Africans, for their enrichment.
Lying just outside of St Ann’s Bay, on the way to Priory, the Seville Great House is not to be romanticized but staged for the harsh realities of its Slavery day cruelties. A Visit to this property is a Worthy homage to the trials and tribulations faced by our forebears.
10. Accompong Town
What Better way to honour our National Heroes than to do a pilgrimage to the home of Jamaica’s First Freedom Fighters? Founded in 1739 the land was seeded to the Maroons as part of the settlement that followed the Peace Treaty the British were forced to seek, after suffering several bruising losses to the Maroons for years.
located in the Mountains of St. Elizabeth, Accompong is named after its founder Accompong, brother of Quao, Cuffy, Cudjoe, and Nanny, the leader and founder of Nanny Town. Who were all reputedly fierce, well-trained warriors from the Ashanti area of West Africa.
There’s a Ceremonial celebration hosted each year on 6th of January, commemorating the Peace Treaty Between Cudjoe and the British, but the largely self-governing region, which is akin to a Duchy, has been making the news lately with the election of a New Leader, Chief Richard Currie, who has reasserted the rights the Maroons secured in their peace Treaty with the British, but have been trespassed on by successive Governments, but more recently by the current administration with its granting of Bauxite Mining Leases to Bauxite Company in the Cockpit Country, the enclave seeded to the Maroons in the treaty signed in 1739.
A pilgrimage to Accompong is not only to absorb the perspective of surviving Maroons, it could strengthen understanding of the grit of the descendants of the First Black people who successfully waged a war that would now be described as a “War of Terror”, to win their Freedom from their Oppressors and the Bondage under which they were forced to exist.