Cultural showcase hits the mark at Jamaica 60 launch
Under the stars and an almost full moon, Jamaicans representing every sector of society joined Prime Minister Andrew Holness on the lawns of Jamaica House last Wednesday evening as he officially launched the Jamaica 60 celebrations. Also present were special guests from Rwanda, who were in the island on a State visit.
The sounds of Nyabinghi drumming, accompanied by singing from Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith and Inna de Yard Binghistra Movement, welcomed guests who rocked to songs such as By the Rivers of Babylon and Schooling the Duke while mingling and enjoying the pre-event showcase.
Director of public relations and corporate communications in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Oliver Watt, donned his emcee cap and was quite relaxed as he guided the live programme which was interspersed with video presentations. At 8:08 p.m., all was called to order with the playing of the national anthem, followed by an energetic song-and-dance medley by ASHE. A medley of songs fromthe Bob Marley and the Wailers catalogue was brought to a dramatic and patriotic close with lines from Jamaica Land of Beauty - ‘ Our hearts salute Jamaica ....’
The prayer from Rev Christine Gooden Benguche and The Prayer sung by Miss World 2019 Toni-Ann Singh blessed the place, an invocation which was needed as the National Dance Theatre Company performed a poignant and unfiltered Goodbye Motherland, an excerpt from Rex Nettleford’s signature work The Crossing (1978), which brings to life the horrendous Middle Passage and the losses that reverberated across the entire Atlantic African diaspora.
Video presentations gave an overview of Jamaica 60 and also paid tribute to the visiting Rwandan delegation with information on the country and its people. A no-show, President Paul Kagame was represented by his Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr Uzziel Ndagijimana, who brought greetings and congratulations from the people of Rwanda to Jamaica.
The theme for Jamaica’s Diamond Jubilee is ‘Reigniting a Nation for Greatness’ and in officially launching the celebrations, Holness unveiled activities and the legacy projects which will ensure there are lasting structures to commemorate this milestone.
He named the redevelopment of the National Stadium; the creation of the Jamaica Sports Museum and the Jamaica Music Museum; the Usain Bolt/University of the West Indies (UWI) Sports Medicine Centre, and construction of the national parliament building as some of the projects that will be given special attention.
Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Minister Olivia Grange noted that “this is a time to reflect and to redouble efforts towards building a Jamaica that will last”.
Grammy Award-winning sibling group, Morgan Heritage, brought the curtains down with favourites such as Down By the River, Don’t Haffi Dread, Reggae Bring Back Love and Your Best Friend.