Sam Sharpe to get his own day after 187 years
The man who led the war that spurred the end of slavery in Jamaica, Sam Sharpe, is to have a day named in his honour come 2019.
The Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport has announced plans that it will be putting things in motion for the observance of the first Sam Sharpe Day for the national hero.
The declaration came at the Flames of Freedom celebration on Thursday night during the event's keynote address from Minister Olivia Grange, which was delivered by State Minister Alando Terrelonge.
The celebrations marked the 187th anniversary of the start of the Sam Sharpe War of 1831-1832 at Tulloch Castle in Kensington, St James.
The minister said that the Sam Sharpe Teachers' College is expected to play an integral role in the development of this project and the wider national recognition of the national hero, who "changed the landscape of world history forever".
Grange said that the ministry would honour its commitment to Member of Parliament (MP) for South St James Derrick Kellier for the National Council on Reparations to take responsibility for the Flames of Freedom project in 2019 in close collaboration with the organisation established by him.
"Ours is not the desire to take over the project, but to give it a home where it can be sufficiently nurtured and measured for greater impact on the national Jamaican community. We are committed to heightening the national awareness of the contribution of Sam Sharpe and his band of followers for the freedoms we experience and take so much for granted in modern Jamaica," Grange explained in her message.
Grange said that the National Council on Reparations would launch a series of public-education campaigns focusing on disseminating information related to the lives and contributions of African people as "a lack of knowledge is a foundation of failure and disaster".
"We in the ministry are well aware of the high levels of ignorance of our past history and culture that are pervasive among our people. We are aware that much that is read has been written by the colonisers and do not speak the real truth," she said.
In his address, Kellier expressed appreciation to the minister, to whom, he said, he had written to request that the Government take full control of the celebrations, which he noted, call for a lot of expenditure and planning and should be accorded the same status as the Marcus Garvey celebrations in St Ann.
He said that at the same time, the community itself would have to play a more "formidable role in the development of this project".
"What we intend to do in collaboration with all the other agencies and persons of goodwill and the political directorate is to make next year one with a difference. This thing is not a Kellier thing. Somebody has to start something, but it is for all of us. Sam Sharpe is not a hero for me alone. He is a hero for the entire Jamaica, so we want everyone to be involved," said the MP.
"The entire country must be a part of this. The Baptist people must play a stronger role," he added, noting that Sam Sharpe was a Baptist deacon.