So, its that time of the year again when we grow through the ritualistic celebration of Emancipation and Our Independence.
Sadly, however, if you were to ask any of our young people today, what exactly does Emancipation means, contextually and contemporarily, few would be able to give you a cogent response, relating to the historical meaning of the Emancipation.
Where Independence is considered, that’s a different matter, as one would hazard a guess, that maybe a few more of those ‘polled’ would be able to provide a sensible answer. So, the sum total of this is the rank admission of the failure to communicate the historical and cultural import, of these two calendar holidays, which unfortunately, has become just “Holidays”, for many of our young, who have no idea of the blood, sweat and or tears, that went into making these two historical National and cultural breakthroughs, mere holidays to get all liquored up and gyrate to the latest popular songs, sporting the latest designer duds!
We should not be surprised, however, as this is the “Insta” generation, and since they are not taught, or the knowledge reinforced through our educational conditioning, the majority of our kids will grow up without the intellectual curiosity to make them want to contribute to building the Jamaica, of which we all yearn and dream; and pay homage to, once per year, but ignore all year round!
Sadly, at this time, we are a people with no vision, and consequentially, we are stagnating, or worse, actively regressing.
Our curriculums from “Infant-School”, through to our Institutions of supposed higher learning, are desperately lacking in body and guidance, as to who we are, where we want to go, and how we plan to get there! Its as if our contemporary leaders are just “winging it”, with no clear path philosophical vision or active prosecutable direction, as how we get there.
We are still using the template of the post Independence era, to celebrate todays’ Independence anniversary; And When It Comes To Emancipation, we know even less, as this was a relatively new introduction to the calendar of feel-good annual events.
Lost in the translation is the symbolism, the essence, and requisite knowledge, to transform these historical transformational events, to mere calendar party dates.
In this event, we live and celebrate our Emancipation and Independence, retrospectively, eyes firmly planted on our jingoistic past, with absolutely no clue, as to the way forward.
Each festival song, is a rehashing of one from yesteryear – representing the monumental failure of the Organizations charged with charting and fashioning these celebrations, with actually creating and or facilitating a forward-moving momentum, built around out history, (which we should always celebrate), tied to our aspirations as a growing country.
There’s nothing aspirational in our celebration, as we have opted to regurgitate, as against being creators. Our Leaders consistently pander to the lowest common denominator instead of seeking to lead a renaissance and cultural reawakening, in music, art, politics, education, and national purpose based on our common identity.
Our people now bleach their skin, as a sign of the contempt in which they hold themselves. Corruption has replaced hard work as a virtue to be admired and practiced; the zeal of patriotism is nonexistent, replaced by greed and the misplaced emphasis of our political leaders on majoring in the minor and applauding themselves for it!
We no longer Honour Those who Inspire because of selfless contribution, with national awards or offices, but now hand these out like cheap confetti. Our National symbols and Institutions are being debased daily on the altar of political expediency, defiling the memory of those who fought to secure our Emancipation and Independence, hoping that we would be worthy successors, worthy of their sacrifice, and worthier even to take the baton and run our leg of the relay in a fulsome manner!
Today, we have substituted our values and attitudes for commercial gratification and reckless showboating. So Instead of celebrating our history of leadership in politics, the arts, sports and education, we have devolved to the point where over the Emancipation and Independence Weekend, our young flocked to parties, where the operational mode was debauchery of the lowest order, with young people indulging in public sexual acts, and videotaping it and sharing it on social media, as the race to the bottom, continues with the gusto and animalistic machismo, that would scare those, who still cling to the values of family and tradition, while slowly embracing change.
We should teach Garveyism, at all levels of our educational system. As we should include all our National Heroes in our curriculum and more than just a perfunctory knowledge.
The contributions of Edna Manley, Lady Bustamante, Rex Nettleford, Louise Bennett, Mary Seacole, et al, should become our history, taught and elevated not relegated to being footnotes, whilst we are regaled with the murderous exploits and genocidal thievery, of what passes for the glorious history of our former enslavers whose legacy to us and the world, is one of institutionalized prejudice and a jaundiced perspective of ourselves and all we represent and stood for.
We have been made caricatures of ourselves to fit their narrative and history, and today, we continue to buy into and propagate their distortion of who we are and were.
We have risen and continue to rise, as a people, as a nation and a country, in spite of the odious malingering maltreatment that was bequeathed us, after being transgressed. And continue to confound them, as, despite their prescription, predicting our failure and fragmentation, we still persist as Out Of Many, One. (Despite the proclivity by some to see themselves as apart, from the majority).
Our Forefathers, at home and abroad, bequeathed us a legacy and foundation of independence and creative ingenuity of which we can be proud and on which we should be building.
Instead of pandering to the gluttony and ignorance of the masses, we should be channeling their energy and focus to generate rebirth and continuity.
Our people who export the Country’s wealth to foreign lands, (where they are not welcomed and or are regarded as second-class citizens), should be engaged to fully embrace this, their homeland and treat with it, with the respect it deserves, for nurturing and protecting them for generations.
Our history and exploits must be brought front and center of our identity and not just become a weekend celebration, devoid of national significance, where a day or two of our “oldies-music’, being played on our airways is regarded as paying homage to the struggles of our people for the right to be here, where we are now, celebrated globally, but without honour on grounds made hallowed by our blood, sweat and tears!
Our history is ours to embrace and celebrate and put to work for us, just like our former “Masters”, exploit theirs. And mind you, we have dignity and honour on our side, as they achieved their supposed greatness, in the most dastardly of fashion, and in ways that are now frowned upon as being dehumanizing and unworthy.
Its time we stop celebrating pirates, rapists, extortioners, slave-masters, and owners and the brutality of the regime it fostered, the cruel and inhumane, human-traffickers; instead, celebrate our surviving their inhumanity, and our carving our own niche in the pantheon of great nations, despite our handicaps.
If those who once ruled the world with their thievery and brutality can now be claiming to have “Cleaned-Up” their acts and still claim an exalted platform, we have the moral authority and historical calling to stand our ground and claim our birthright.
There’s no finessing anything these days, the gutter and its rodents are being made the new norm, and with old production centers becoming obsolete and or retrenched, and no replacement found, despite massive global changes signaling tectonic social and industrial changes, it seems we have embraced the race to the bottomless pit, and so, what we now celebrate, is our own impending destruction, by still genuflecting to to our moral inferiors, instead of safeguarding our Heritage, by protecting our Culture, as the vehicle to take us into the Future, instead of treating with it, with scant respect and the desultory manner we have been, as was evidenced during this last commemorative cycle!