KINGSTON, Jamaica–October 20th,2020–Minister of Culture, Gender Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, is encouraging Jamaicans to be eternally grateful for the commitment and foresight of the nation’s forefathers, as Jamaica observes National Heritage Week 2020.
Speaking during the National Heritage Week Thanksgiving Church Service at the William Knibb Memorial Baptist Church in Falmouth, Trelawny, on Sunday (October 18), Ms. Grange noted that it was the “chaos and struggles” of Jamaica’s forebears that paved the path to the liberties now being enjoyed.
“We cannot forget the many rebellions that took place across the country such as the Tacky rebellion of 1760, Samuel Sharpe slave rebellion in 1831, and Paul Bogle’s Morant Bay rebellion in 1865, that help to realign the position of the black masses in this country,” she stated.
Additionally, the Minister said “the fortitude shown by Sir Alexander Bustamante and the Right Excellent Norman Manley in winning labor rights for the workers of this country… speaks to the overall efforts that put us where we are today”, while imploring persons not to “take [these] for granted”.
Ms. Grange said this year’s National Heritage Week theme – ‘Celebrating a Heritage of Resilience and Pride’ – reflects the strength and endurance of the Jamaican people, who continue to safeguard the rights and freedoms of their fellow countrymen.
She emphasized the need for these unsung heroes to be acknowledged and celebrated.
“Some gave their lives in service to this nation, trying to ensure our peace and security. Others contributed in their own humble and noble ways through… the arts, education, health, security, and many other walks of life. We will be bestowing national honors on some of these persons, and every single one is well deserved,” Minister Grange added.
In his remarks, Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, who represented Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, also highlighted Jamaica’s forefathers “struggle for equity and equal access of opportunity”.
Some were armed with sticks and stones. After seven men were shot and killed by the volunteer militia, the protesters attacked and burned the court house and nearby buildings. A total of 25 people died. Over the next two days, peasants rose up across St. Thomas-in-the-East parish and controlled most of the area.
The Jamaicans were protesting injustice and widespread poverty. Most freedmen were prevented from voting by high poll taxes, and their living conditions had worsened following crop damage by floods, cholera and smallpox epidemics, and a long drought.
A few days before, when police tried to arrest a man for disrupting a trial, a fight broke out against them by spectators. Officials had issued a warrant for the arrest of preacher Bogle.
Governor Edward John Eyre declared martial law in the area, ordering in troops to hunt down the rebels. They killed many innocent black individuals, including women and children, with an initial death toll of more than 400.