Emancipation Jamaica Have We Forgotten The Meaning?
By the time you read this, you may be just recovering from one of the most anticipated breaks in the Jamaican calendar, the “Emancipendence” celebration. While many would complain that these ‘holidays’ have lost their meaning with the excessive focus on partying and having good time, it could be argued that this is exactly the type of behavior that our forefathers would have envisioned for us all those years ago.
So, let us take a look at emancipation. What does this day signify and why is it such an important date in Jamaican history?
August 1, 1834 marked a special day for Africans in British colonies as it was the day they received freedom from slavery. In Jamaica, the Emancipation Declaration was read from the steps of the Old Kings House in Spanish Town, St Catherine, the country’s capital at the time.
Emancipation Day was officially introduced as a public holiday in Jamaica in 1893. The ‘First of August’ celebrations, however, were discontinued in 1962, when Jamaica gained independence. It was replaced by Independence Day, then observed on the first Monday in August. Emancipation Day was re-instituted in 1997 by then Prime Minister PJ Patterson as a national holiday celebrated on August 1. Independence Day was also fixed at August 6.