Where to begin? I write as music streams in from across the street and as voices shout in blissful celebration. This has been an extremely eventful week in Jamaica. Local festivities have been frequent and significant. I’ve learned so much in so little time. My skin is burnt and my bites are plentiful, but what remains is a dainty grin.
Aug. 1 – Emancipation Day
Emancipate: “To free from bondage, oppression, or restraint; liberate.”
Emancipation Day is celebrated in many former British colonies in the Caribbean on various dates in observance of the emancipation of slaves of African origin. I thought it would be fitting to check out Emancipation Park here in Kingston to observe this day and to recognize the suffering many have endured. It’s a beautiful and tranquil park, and at the entrance stand two compelling African statues.
Aug. 4 and 5 – Olympic 100 meters
As I’m sure you’ve heard, the Jamaicans are fast. What a glorious victory for this country of few inhabitants and little resources, to birth both the male and female winners of the Olympic 100 M dash. I watched the women’s final from Usain Bolt’s local pub and the men’s from the public screens at Half Way Tree transport centre. The elation was something I could feel through my skin and into my bones. I jumped and danced in ecstasy along with the others when Bolt triumphantly crossed the finish line.
Aug. 6 – Independence Day
Independence: “Freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.”
Today marks the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence from Great Britain. This makes Jamaica a young country, full of life and promise. What I’ve witnessed on this special day is a unification of souls and nationalities, genders and classes. I appreciate this sense of kindness and peace and look forward to serving the people and community here. I sat in Bob Marley’s garden this morning to honour the holiday, listening to the beautiful rhythm of drums.
And of course, one cannot forget to mention tropical storm Ernesto. This storm thankfully did not (literally) rain on Jamaica’s parade this weekend although it was most certainly a threat. I have quickly come to respect the strength of winds in this region of the world.
The fireworks are signalling the end of a magnificent week. Boom. Boom. Boom…..