Archive for the ‘Inspirational’ Category

Marley-StephenSTEPHEN MARLEY

HERE IS AN EXCERPT OF AN INTERVIEW I DID FOR CARIBBEAN TODAY MAGAZINE. WHICH WAS ALSO AN EXCERPT OF A MUCH LONGER INTERVIEW, WHICH I PROMISE TO PUBLISH IN FULL IN THE FUTURE.

STEPHEN MARLEY TALKS TO JASON WALKER

Stephen Marley is one of the most successful and decorated artistes and producers around. He is the son of late reggae king Bob Marley and a member of the Melody Makers, the group his father started with his siblings.

“Ragga” Marley runs the Ghetto Youths International (GYI) label where he produces music for himself and other artistes, including his brothers Damian and Julian, along with Wayne Marshall. Stephen holds the record for the most reggae album Grammy award wins – three with Melody Makers.

 

Caribbean Today freelance writer Jason Walker recently caught up with Stephen Marley. The following is an edited version of that interview.

 

Jason Walker: Tell us about GYI.

 

Stephen Marley: Well GYI is a label whey we form that consists of Damian, Julian, Stephen (Marley) and then you have youth like Black Am I, Jo Mersa (Stephen’s son), and Wayne Marshall who just joined the force and we a build; we building.

 

J.W: Tell us how it got started?

 

S.M.: Ghetto Youth United (GYU) is something (eldest brother) Ziggy Marley had started with myself, where we were producing and releasing records for the youth dem in the ghetto of Jamaica. From that now I man had branched off with GYI. It was a platform where if artistes in Ghetto Youth United were doing well would be pushed up to the more upstream label, which was GYI, where we could spread out our wings a little more. That was the whole concept of the label.

 

J.W.: Tell us more about the artistes on GYI.

 

S.M.: GYU was more of a mass thing; maybe 10 or 15 youth would come to the studio and they would have their songs and

 

we would have our riddims. That was going on in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Now when we are concentrating on being a label, that is when we came up with GYI and that is where we really started to take on artistes. In the beginning it was myself, Damian and Juju (Julian).

 

J.W.: How are artistes evolving at the label?

 

S.M.: Damian a start from a little youth to now where he is taking on artistes and producing. We are a house of music; really that is what it is. When you come amongst us, you are definitely going to grow. I live at the studio; that is my home. We live this, we don’t just talk this and prepare like a job. We live this.

 

J.W.: Tell us about your evolution.

 

S.M.: Well, the whole evolution, we started in 1979 when we released our first official record as the Melody Makers (“Children Playing In the Streets”). We started from then on a professional journey and a profession career, that is what we did.

 

We were privileged to be around great musicians and great artistes helping to raise the bar. We have to exist! It couldn’t be just because we are Bob and Rita youth and we are singing. We went through all of that. We have to prove that this is what we were meant to do.

 

The evolution came from there and then I started doing a little production with my grandmother and then I started slowly taking on my younger brothers. They nurtured me as much as I had to nurture them. All of my elders Ziggy, Cedella, Sharon etc. gave me the guidance necessary to be as strong as we can be.

 

They are always there when we need them. All of those things we take and move forward to today, where I have two solo albums and I am looking to come with a third, Damian gone three and looking to come with a fourth and Julian likewise.

 

J.W.: You have been an artiste, producer, performer, label owner and manager. Which role do you enjoy the most?

 

S.M.: I man is a skipper, in that sense. I was born in April. April is from the tribe of Reuben. In the Bible Reuben was the first son of Jacob, so I man is a general like that. Is a natural thing, I do not have any position. I cook, clean, wash, sing and do everything, anything that is to be done. I man is the man.

 

J.W.: Tell about the music coming from GYI.

S.M.: There was the Set Up Shop compilation, which summed up all the artistes on the label – myself, Julian and Damian. Then it had Wayne Warshall,,,,,,, (Read the rest of the article here http://caribbeantoday.com/entertainment/item/17901-musical-weapon-stephen-marley-armed-and-fighting-the-revolution.html)

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Blessed New Year 2014

Blessed New Year 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL

I believe that 2014 will be a great year for my family and myself, my family and my people. I will take the lessons that God has graced me with and I will apply to my rise in being a better husband, father, son, brother, uncle, friend, Christian and human being.

Happy New Year to all. For all those who I interact with regularly and those I have not interacted with in a long time. May 2014 be a year of nurturing, love, progress, justice, wisdom, healing, advancement, prosperity, unity in the family & community and all positive blessings! Did I mention love? Biggup all and lets mek 2014 #TUNUP!

Jamaica's Tessanne Chin winner of the 2013 season of the Voice

Jamaica’s Tessanne Chin winner of the 2013 season of the Voice

TESSANNE CHIN win’s NBC’s The Voice representing Jamaica well with Excellence, Quality, and Humility.

TESSANNE CHIN WINS NBC’S THE VOICE

By Jason Walker

Tessanne Chin made history Tuesday night December 17 when she became the first Jamaican and the 2nd Caribbean person (Melanie Ann Amaro whose parents were from the British Virgin Island won  X-Factor in 2011) to win a USA mainstream singing talent competition by winning NBC’s The Voice. Not only did she make history in that regard but also some of the activity that was occurring around her appearances on the Voice.

For several weeks Jamaicans in Jamaica and around the world along with Caribbean people mobilized to support Tessanne in her bid to win the reality show competition. The feeling that was created for Jamaicans everywhere mirrored the emotions that Jamaicans felt when Jamaica’s Football team the Reggae Boyz had qualified for the finals of the World Cup in France in 1998, the Success of the 2008 Track and field Olympic team in Beijing, and Jody-Ann Maxwell becoming the first non-American to win the Spelling Bee Competition at age 12 (1998) to name a few memorable events. All these events including Tessanne’s victory had Jamaica on display showing Jamaicans in a very positive light and united Jamaicans. Jamaicans behaved in a manner that demonstrated that they felt all the aforementioned achievers were a part of their extended family.

Tessanne’s victory had all the characteristics of all the previous historic moments but this moment had an added and very engaging feature and that was the high level of interaction that Jamaicans had with Tessanne being on The Voice. In order to win the contestant had to not only win over the judges perspective of their talent but also had to then convince those watching to vote for them as the best and to buy the songs that were performed each week. The votes and sales would establish the winner of the competition.

Jamaicans, Caribbean people and those who love Jamaica spread the word, mobilized and got people involved to vote and buy songs. It started out slow as in the beginning her sales were not that strong and one week she was in the lower end and had to be saved to be kept in the competition. Eventually, especially after singing “Many Rivers To Cross” by Jimmy Cliff, Tessanne began to surge ahead with voting and sales of her songs on Itunes. Jamaicans, Caribbean people and her supporters were hitting social media heavily, hosting watch parties in cities throughout the Jamaican Diaspora and they were encouraging people to buy her music. The fact that votes and purchases from outside the United States did not count did not deter Jamaicans in Jamaica and the non-US Diaspora as they mobilized family and friends in the US and kept up the powerful social media campaigns.

The groundswell of the grassroots mobilization led to Tessanne being featured in main stream outlets in the US which led to creating new fans and more support. The timing and choice of songs by celebrity coach Adam Levine and of course Tessanne’s powerful voice with an amazing vocal range once heard enthralled large crowds of new fans.

Some defining moments included her audition where in a very dramatic way all four celebrity judges gave her instant approval (a rare feat) in record time. Other defining moments that followed included:

  • Winning the 1st round battle with Ms Donna
  • Coverage of her husband, Mother, Father, sister and brother-in-law at the event
  • Singinig “Many Rivers To Cross” by Jimmy Cliff (led to strong sales)
  • Performing No doubt & Lady Saw’s “Underneath It All” (Injected new energy into her growing fan base)
  • Singing Simon & Garfukel’s iconic “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” (showcasing her ability to master complex songs, her vocal range and endearing her to the mainstream US audience)
  • Singing Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” (Slam dunk! Proved she could stand with the greats)

The last two songs went to number one on the I-Tunes chart and since sales of each song in the top ten represented 5 votes these songs helped her surge ahead.

Throughout the competition not only was her heavenly voice on display but her humility and loving spirit. Tessanne the daughter of two musicians and the younger sister of a very popular artist in Jamaica (Tami Chynn) had not enjoyed major success since she began her career. The Chins had moved to England when she was younger (she is now 28) and at around 16 she returned to Jamaica. The audience would learn she was always singing and once she arrived in Jamaica she tried to make a career of it. Tessanne would come to focus on a fusion of Reggae and Rock and created a small cult following for this. All would agree that her voice was majestic, one of the best in Jamaica, even the Caribbean. There were comparisons to a young Aretha Franklin and more.

However there was not much Commercial success. She would be chosen by Reggae Legend Jimmy Cliff to back him on tours and eventually by Shaggy to collaborate on several projects that he was doing. In all these areas her voice shined. So it was probably a no brainer when Shaggy, who had signed Tessanne to his new label Ranch Entertainment, had lobbied for Tessanne to be on the Voice, and the timing could not have been better since Tessanne was beginning to have doubts about the economic sustainability of her career.

Tessannes performance will now go down in the annals of Jamaican music history, according to the host of the show the amount of voting and sales of songs were at record levels. The winner gets a record deal and of course instant fame. Tessanne performed at the highest level and won, she did this while showing great humility and poise and inspired a movement of mobilization that could be compared to the 2008 mobilization that helped President Barack Obama win his 1st Presidential election.

Jason Walker is a freelance writer for Caribbean Today Magazine who has had an award winning journalism career that spans 20 years. He can be followed on twitter at www.twitter.com/jasonwalker_ or emailed at jasonarticle@gmail.com

Photo Image Courtesy of Corey Hamilton

Miss Lou Photo courtesy of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission

Miss Lou Photo courtesy of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission

Jason Walker

(SCROLL DOWN FOR CELEBRATION EVENTS DURING SEPTEMBER)

                As I write this it is actually the day after what would have been the 94th Birthday of ‘MISS LOU’ JAMAICA ‘S FIRST LADY OF COMEDY, THE HON. LOUISE BENNETT-COVERLEY O.M. O.J. M.B.E. DIP R.A.D.A., D. LITT (HON). That however does not stop me from reflecting on one of my heroines and a Jamaican and African legend. As a Jamaican who loves my culture and the platform of enjoying the expression of my culture, I am grateful to Miss Lou for helping to create that platform.

                As will be seen in some of the highlights of her life, Miss Lou began celebrating our culture, especially the major African part of our culture, publicly with international impact, at the age of 14 with a poem that was done in Jamaican patois. This poem opened doors for her that would lead her into acting and eventually to spread her talent and the Jamaican language to the shores of England.

                Miss Lou created her legendary platform that was all about Black and Jamaican pride. Throughout her career she fought racism, sexism, classism, bigotry, xenophobia and various forms of oppression. I was fortunate to be born in a time when she was still alive (Miss Lou passed away in Canada in July 2006). I was exposed to her very popular TV show (Ring Ding) on Jamaica Broadcast Television (JBC), the show was a children’s show that focused on Jamaican & African stories, poetry, folklore, art and other cultural manifestations. She always ended her show with her signature “Walk Good! …… Ai yah yah!” followed by a heartfelt laugh that I remember to this day.

The show helped to foster a certain pride in my Jamaica “Africanness”. The show helped (with other things) to give me a certain confident poise, a swagger if you will, about being a black Jamaican and everything that came with African-Jamaican culture. In school her poems were the most impactful and most fun for me. The poems not only used my native in the most beautifully rhythmic manner, they also provided a window to the development of Jamaican culture over the years, while entertaining the reader in the most engaging manner possible. Throughout her career she was the pinnacle of theatre, poetry, comedy, television and other cultural art forms, and wherever she was she fought for and presented through an African-Jamaican perspective.

                All persons who in some way enjoy, are exposed, involved with, impacted by or in some way connected to Black Jamaican culture can thank Miss Lou for her contribution to its development. I am now a father of four and my family resides in the United States, there is a little regret that my children will not be able to be exposed to Miss Lou while she is alive, or to see a show like Ring Ding, however we have her poems, we are blessed to be in an era to see some of her television work and yes at every birthday we do sing her version of the Happy Birthday song. Miss Lou always had a smile or a laugh for all, while being a constant tower of strength for her culture and her people. Thank you Miss Lou, thank you for all that you have given us. May we treasure and carry on. “Walk Good……. Ai yah yah!”

Miss LouMISS LOU

HIGHLIGHTS: Louise Bennett was born on September 7, 1919. She was a Jamaican poet and activist. From Kingston, Jamaica Louise Bennett remains a household name in Jamaica, a “Living Legend” and a cultural icon. She received her education from Ebenezer and Calabar Elementary Schools, St. Simon’s College, Excelsior College, Friends College (Highgate).

Although she lived in Toronto, Canada for the last decade of her life she still receives the homage of the expatriate West Indian community in the north as well as a large Canadian following.

She was described as Jamaica’s leading comedienne, as the “only poet who has really hit the truth about her society through its own language”, and as an important contributor to her country of “valid social documents reflecting the way Jamaicans think and feel and live” Through her poems in Jamaican patois, she raised the dialect of the Jamaican folk to an art level which is acceptable to and appreciated by all in Jamaica.

In her poems she was able to capture all the spontaneity of the expression of Jamaicans’ joys and sorrows, their ready, poignant and even wicked wit, their religion and their philosophy of life. Her first dialect poem was written when she was fourteen years old. A British Council Scholarship took her to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where she studied in the late 1940’s.

Bennett not only had a scholarship to attend the academy but she auditioned and won a scholarship. After graduation she worked with repertory companies in Coventry, Huddersfield and Amersham as well as in intimate revues all over England.
On her return to Jamaica she taught drama to youth and adult groups both in social welfare agencies and for the University of the West Indies Extra Mural Department.

She lectured extensively in the United States and the United Kingdom on Jamaican folklore and music and represented Jamaica all over the world. She married Eric Winston Coverley in 1954 (who died in 2002) and has one stepson and several adopted children. She enjoys Theatre, Movies and Auction sales.

Her contribution to Jamaican cultural life was such that she was honored with the M.B.E., the Norman Manley Award for Excellence (in the field of Arts), the Order of Jamaica (1974) the Institute of Jamaica’s Musgrave Silver and Gold Medals for distinguished eminence in the field of Arts and Culture, and in 1983 the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of the West Indies. In September 1988 her composition “You’re going home now”, won a nomination from the Academy of Canadian Cinema ad Television, for the best original song in the movie “Milk and Honey.”

In 1998 she received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from York University, Toronto, Canada. The Jamaica Government also appointed her Cultural Ambassador at Large for Jamaica. On Jamaica’s independence day 2001, Bennett-Coverley was appointed as a Member of the Order of Merit for her distinguished contribution to the development of the Arts and Culture.

Born in 1919 in then-colonial Jamaica, Miss Lou began writing, then performing, verse in dialect from the age of 13 – at a time when standard English was considered the norm and the ideal to which most people aspired. She began acting in 1936, while in high school, and was spotted by impresario Eric Coverley (who would later be-come her husband). In 1945, she won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. While there and still a student, she hosted the live radio show, Caribbean Carnival on the BBC. During a second stay in London, she hosted another program for the BBC, West Indian Guest Night, which introduced emerging West Indian talent. In Jamaica, her verses, written in dialect, were published in The Daily Gleaner; she also performed them onstage and on-radio along with her prose monologues. She hosted radio shows, Laugh with Louise and Miss Lou’s Views, which were on the air for 15 years, as well as Lou and Ranny. Onstage she appeared in a number of productions including the annual Jamaican Pantomimes, from 1943 until 1971, without interruption; retiring from the stage in 1975. For 12 years, beginning in the 1970s, Miss Lou hosted a popular TV program, Ring Ding, which allowed children from all parts of the country to participate and showcase their talent in the performing arts. In 2003, she hosted another edition of Ring Ding, produced in Jamaica. Her film credits include Calypso and Club Paradise; while her song, “Going Home”, used in the film Milk and Honey, was nominated for a Genie Award. In 1989, Louise was appointed Ambassador-at-Large for Culture by the Jamaican Government. Over the years, she has performed and lectured throughout the world, promoting Jamaican history and culture, and creating awareness and pride among Jamaicans for their folk stories and songs. Her works are said to “have a sophisticated and subversive, political dimension and pillory both pretension and self-contempt. They ridicule class and colour prejudice, and criticize people ashamed of being Jamaican or ashamed of being Black.” (Gazette, York University, 1998)

Honours: Several including, Member of the Order of Merit for her distinguished contribution to the development of the Arts & Culture, Jamaica, 2001; inclusion in Who’s Who in Black Canada (1st & 2nd editions, 2000 & 2006); recognized by the International Theatre Institute, Jamaica Chapter, as the “Most Important Theatre Personality of the 20th Century” (2000); Member of the Order of the British Empire for her work in Jamaican literature and theatre; Norman Manley Award for Excellence; Order of Jamaica for work in the field of Native Culture; Honorary Degree of Literature, York University (1988) and University of the West Indies (1982); Gold Musgrave Medal for contribution to the development of the arts in Jamaica & the Caribbean (1978).

Works: Recordings: Include Yes, M’Dear: Miss Lou Live (1983); The Honourable Miss Lou (1981); Carifesta Ring Ding (1976); Listen to Louise (1968); Miss Lou’s Views (1967); Jamaica Singing Games (1953); Jamaica Folk Songs (1953). Poetry: Jamaica Labrish (1966); Anancy and Miss Lou (1979); Selected Poems (1982). Other publications: Aunty Roachy Seh (1993); Laugh with Louise; and Anancy and Miss Lou.

Education: Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, England; St. Simon’s College; Excelsior College; Friends College for Jamaica.

Hero: Her mother, Kerene Robinson.

Motto: Use a smile to cover sorrow.

2013 CELEBRATIONS OF THE LIFE OF MISS LOU

Islandwide Celebration for Miss Lou during September

 

The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) has planned a number of activities during the month of September to celebrate the 94th birthday anniversary of the late Hon. Louise Bennett – Coverley, OM, OJ, MBE.

 

These activities will be held in each parish across the island and includes Exhibitions on the life and work of Miss Lou in collaboration with Parish Libraries; Concerts featuring her works in poetry, storytelling & songs; a special ‘Storytelling’ feature for the ‘Tweenie Weenie’ children; and bringing back ‘Ring Ding’ time, in Montego Bay.

 

Below is the list of islandwide activities:

Parish

Date and Time

Activities

Venue

Description

St. Mary

Monday , September 2 – Saturday  September 28, 2013

Special Anniversary Display on the life and works of Miss Lou

St. Mary Parish Library, Port Maria

Exhibition will run daily Monday – Saturday

9:00am –  5:00pm

St. Thomas

Thursday September 5 – Saturday 7, 2013

Special Library Exhibition

St. Thomas Parish Library, Morant Bay

Special three day Display on the life and works of Miss Lou

Westmoreland

Friday September  6, 2013 commencing at 10:00am

   

 

Official Opening Ceremony of Pictorial Exhibition

Westmoreland Parish Library

Featuring performances of Miss Lou’s poetry, storytelling and songs. Exhibition to run daily September 6 – 28 – 9:00am – 5:00pm

Mondays – Saturdays

 

Kingston/St. Andrew

Friday September 6, at 10:00am

Library Exhibition

Kingston/St. Andrew Parish Library, Tom Redcam Avenue

Exhibition to run from September 6 – 13, 2013 Monday – Saturdays 9:00am – 5:00pm

Kingston/St. Andrew

Saturday September 7 at 4:00pm

‘Tenky Miss Lou Poetry Hour

Louise Bennett Garden Theatre, Kingston

A staged performances of Miss Lou poems and songs

St. Catherine

Saturday September 7

Library Exhibition

St. Catherine Parish Library, Spanish Town

Exhibition to run from September 7 – 21, 2013 daily from 9:00am

St. Catherine

Saturday September 7

Library Exhibition

Greater Portmore Library

Exhibition to run from September 7 – 21, 2013 daily from 9:00am

Trelawny

Friday September 13, 2013 at 10:00am

Official Opening of Library Exhibition Ceremony

Trelawny Parish Library, Falmouth

Guest speaker

Exhibition to run to September 28, 2013 daily from 9:00am

Hanover

 

Wednesday September 18, 2013 at 10:00am

 

Official Opening Ceremony of Pictorial  Exhibition and Storytelling Corner for “Tweenie Weenie” Library

 

Hanover Parish Library, Lucea

 

Featuring Internationally renowned poet Jean Breeze. Exhibition runs until September 28, 2013 daily from 9:00am

Manchester

Friday September 20 at 9:00am – 1:00pm

“Tenk God Fi Miss Lou” Tribute

Manchester Hugh School Auditorium & Grounds

A special tribute featuring panel discussion, exhibition and concert

Portland

Monday September 23, 2013 at 10:00am

Library Exhibition

Portland Parish Library, Port Antonio

Exhibition to run from Monday September 23 – Friday 28, 2013

9:00am – 5:00pm daily

Monday – Saturday

St. Ann

Thursday September 26, 2013 at 10:00am

Miss Lou Birthday Celebration

St. Ann Parish Library, St. Ann’s Bay

Official Opening of Exhibition, Guest Speaker, a special feature of an  essay competition and performances

 

St. James

Thursday September 26,2013 at 10:00 am

Miss Lou Mo Bay Ring Ding

Saint James Parish Library, Montego Bay

Featuring presentations from  Culture Clubs across the Parish

 

Thursday September  26, 2013 at 4:00pm

Miss Lou Poetry Extravaganza

Portland Parish Library, Port Antonio

A special tribute featuring a poetry competition and performances

Clarendon

Thursday September 26, 2013 at 4:00pm

Miss Lou Concert Tribute

Clarendon Parish Library, May Pen

A special concert featuring poetry, storytelling, drumming & quadrille

St. Elizabeth

Friday September 27, 2013 at 1:00pm

Miss Lou Poetry Competition and Awards Ceremony

St. Elizabeth Parish Library, Black river

A special dialect poetry competition in honour of Miss Lou’s work in dialect, guest speaker, awards ceremony and performances

Information provided by Jamaica Information Service, JCDC, and Who’s Who in Black Canada

Jason Walker is a freelance writer who has had an award winning journalism career that spans 20 years. He can be followed on twitter at www.twitter.com/jasonwalker_ or emailed at jasonarticle@gmail.com

marcusgarvey

In light of recent events and of course the birthday of one of the greatest men to ever walk the earth, I have been inspired to reflect on Marcus Mosiah Garvey.

Jamaica’s first National Hero, was born in St. Ann’s Bay on August 17, 1887. In his youth Garvey migrated to Kingston where he worked as a printer and later published a small paper “The Watchman”.

During his career Garvey travelled extensively throughout many countries, observing the poor working and living conditions of black people.

In 1914 he started the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), in Jamaica. The UNIA, which grew into an international organisation, encouraged self-government for black people worldwide; self-help economic projects and protest against racial discrimination.

In 1916, Garvey went to the USA where he preached his doctrine of freedom to the oppressed blacks throughout the country.

However, USA officials disapproved of his activities and he was imprisoned, then deported.

Back in Jamaica in 1927, he continued his political activity, forming the People’s Political Party in 1929, He was unsuccessful in national elections but won a seat on the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC).

But the world of the 1930s was not ready for Garvey’s progressive ideas. He left Jamaica again, this time for England where he died in 1940. His body was brought back to Jamaica in 1964 and buried in the National Heroes Park in Kingston.

Garvey’s legacy can be summed up in the philosophy he taught – race pride, the need for African unity; self-reliance; the need for black people to be organised and for rulers to govern on behalf of the working classes.

Mention the name Marcus Mosiah Garvey to any Jamaican, black person or world citizen for that matter and the responses most likely to be heard are visionary, Jamaica’s first National Hero, ahead of his time, self belief, positive self esteem and self-image, liberation, racial equality and the development of Africa.

The recipient of numerous honours and memorials, which highlight the importance of his contribution and legacy, Marcus Garvey devoted his life to the liberation and holistic development of black peoples across the world and the advancement of Africa.

In spite of the fact that honours and tributes are the accoutrements of a prominent historical figure/achiever, a list of achievements and commendations cannot do justice to Marcus Garvey as a person; it serves only to highlight his value to world history, but neglects to sum up the essence of a man, whose teachings and philosophy have transcended time and space and is as relevant today, as a century ago.

 

Courtesy of JIS

AUGUST 1 IS EMANCIPATION DAY FOR ALL PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT

Emancipation Park statues representing Africans looking to the sky after Emancipation declared

Emancipation Park statues representing Africans looking to the sky after Emancipation declared throughout the British Empire in 1834

By Jason Walker

Emancipation day is an important day for the descendants of Africa, especially those whose ancestors were impacted by the Slave trade. In the 1800’s the holocaust of slavery was hit with a crippling blow around the world. The Emancipation Act was passed on July 31, 1834 throughout the British Empire and effectively ended the Slave Trade. Full freedom from slavery did not come until four years later on August 1, 1838.  The 4 year period was instituted as a transition period as this monumental change would irrevocably change societies worldwide. The abolition of Slavery in the British Empire would affect slavery everywhere mainly because Britain’s navy owned the seas and without the cooperation of the British Navy, it made slavery both difficult and expensive. And as destructive, dehumanizing and inhumane the European version of the system of slavery was; it was for all intents and purposes an economic manifestation.

Slavery was a system used to have Africans as free labourers in labour intensive industries such as Cotton, Sugar and Tobacco. Throughout the 1400’s through to the middle of the 1700’s products such as these fetched a very attractive price, along with the free labour, a tidy profit could be made. Although labour was free, the cost to keep Africans enslaved was high. Especially in areas where there were slaves freeing themselves and staging revolts. The most successful of these of course included the Maroons in Jamaica from the 1500’s through to the 1700’s and even more so the Africans (including Maroons) in Haiti who would successfully wage a revolution against French armies, supported by Spain and England.

Do not think though that the Emancipation act came about from any altruistic gestures by the British Monarchy. Due to the work of many abolitionists in Britain; the sentiment against Slavery had grown tremendously among the English population. Also the prices of the aforementioned products began to drop on the world markets as new products that did not need this labour intensive situation were now rising to prominence. Along with that came the advent of the industrial age which was ushering a new era where such labour numbers were not the order of the day. All the aforementioned along with the cost of keeping control and responding to revolts made these endeavours non-attractive. Continuing Slavery no longer made economic sense.

As we come to the present, we find that it is only in the past two decades that countries have decided to mark this date as a holiday, and of the countries that were affected by this act (Countries in Africa, The Caribbean, Central America, South America, & North America) a small percentage actually commemorate this day*. Maybe that is appropriate; I say this because although things are different from the era of slavery, people of African descent in the aforementioned geographical areas are not in a position of true emancipation.

The definition of Emancipation from the British Oxford Dictionary states that it is “the fact or process of being set free from legal, social, or political restrictions; liberation:” With the majority of African persons in these areas lacking resources, political clout, and in some cases freedom, can we really call ourselves emancipated? It was probably this same observation that led former Prime Minister of Jamaica and former leader of the Non-Aligned Movement (a coalition of countries that were not listed as industrial nations) Michael Manley to say; “The enslavement of the body which endured till 1838 was nothing compared to the enslavement of the mind which persisted since”. The affects of slavery and the propaganda to support slavery has endured and left a lasting mark and has conspired to keep those of African descent in such a position.

Yet by our accomplishments singularly and in some rare cases collectively we see we are a very powerful people. So it is possible to change the current existence. However we will probably have to do what Reggae Superstar Bob Marley said in his song Redemption Song: “Emancipate Yourself From Mental Slavery” before we can truly be at a stage of Emancipation. So although we celebrate the Act that saw fruition on August 1 1838 annually, we should probably use these days to see where we are on the road of getting to the next stage of Emancipation and be creative in getting to that new stage.

*Countries that Celebrate Emancipation Day include: Jamaica, Barbados, Bermuda, Bahamas, St. Lucia, Canada, Guyana, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, St. Kitts & Nevis

CELEBRATE NELSON MANDELA

CELEBRATE NELSON MANDELA

What is Mandela Day?

Following the success of Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday celebrations in London’s Hyde Park in June 2008, it was decided that there could be nothing more fitting than to celebrate Mr Mandela’s birthday each year with a day dedicated to his life’s work and that of his charitable organisations, and to ensure his legacy continues forever.

The Mandela Day campaign message is simple: Mr Mandela gave 67 years of his life fighting for the rights of humanity. All we are asking is that everyone gives 67 minutes of their time, whether it’s supporting your chosen charity or serving your local community.

Mandela Day is a call to action for individuals – for people everywhere – to take responsibility for changing the world into a better place, one small step at a time, just as Mr Mandela did.Mandela day take action

What can I do on
Mandela Day?

The overarching objective of Mandela Day is to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better, and in doing so build a global movement for good. Ultimately it seeks to empower communities everywhere. “Take Action; Inspire Change; Make Every Day a Mandela Day.”

Individuals and organisations are free to participate in Mandela Day as they wish. We do however urge everyone to adhere to the ethical framework of “service to one’s fellow human”.

Make the change: Become a Mandela Day Changemaker

Change was the gift given to all South Africans by Nelson Mandela. Now it’s YOUR turn. In the spirit of Madiba and his vision to spread justice and freedom for all, this is your chance to step up to the plate and become a part of a continuous global movement for good. By becoming a Mandela Day Changemaker you can show that actions speak louder than words by giving a little of your time to make a change that’s close to your heart. (or by giving a little of your time to make a difference to the life of someone less fortunate.)

Share your Mandela Day deed

Honour the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela by making your “Mandela deed” part of history. Visit the Mandela Day Activities to pledge your support and let us know how you plan to commemorate the day. Then document your act of kindness on Mandela Day and share it with the world. You can send your feedback, pictures and experiences to nmf@nelsonmandela.org.

Spread the word

Mandela Day is a celebration of our collective power to do good and make an imprint on the world. You can add to the initiative’s momentum by telling as many people as possible about it. Use your own network of friends, media connections, corporates and organisations to get involved and make a difference.

67 ways to change the world

Think of others

1. Make a new friend. Get to know someone from a different cultural background. Only through mutual understanding can we rid our communities of intolerance and xenophobia.
2. Read to someone who can’t. Visit a local home for the blind and open up a new world for someone else.
3. Fix the potholes in your street or neighbourhood.
4. Help out at the local animal shelter. Dogs without homes still need a walk and a bit of love.
5. Find out from your local library if it has a story hour and offer to read during it.
6. Offer to take an elderly neighbour who can’t drive to do their shopping/chores.
7. Organise a litter cleanup day in your area.
8. Get a group of people to each knit a square and make a blanket for someone in need.
9. Volunteer at your police station or local faith-based organisation.
10. Donate your skills!
11. If you’re a builder, help build or improve someone’s home.
12. Help someone to get his/her business off the ground.
13. Build a website for someone who needs one, or for a cause you think needs the support.
14. Help someone get a job. Put together and print a CV for them, or help them with their interview skills.
15. If you’re a lawyer, do some pro bono work for a worthwhile cause or person.
16. Write to your area councillor about a problem in the area that requires attention, which you, in your personal capacity, are unable to attend to.
17. Sponsor a group of learners to go to the theatre/zoo.

Help out for good health

18. Get in touch with your local HIV organisations and find out how you can help.
19. Help out at your local hospice, as staff members often need as much support as the patients.
20. Many terminally ill people have no one to speak to. Take a little time to have a chat and bring some sunshine into their lives.
21. Talk to your friends and family about HIV.
22. Get tested for HIV and encourage your partner to do so too.
23. Take a bag full of toys to a local hospital that has a children’s ward.
24. Take younger members of your family for a walk in the park.
25. Donate some medical supplies to a local community clinic.
26. Take someone you know, who can’t afford it, to get their eyes tested or their teeth checked.
27. Bake something for a support group of your choice.
28. Start a community garden to encourage healthy eating in your community.
29. Donate a wheelchair or guide dog, to someone in need.
30. Create a food parcel and give it to someone in need.

Become an educator

31. Offer to help out at your local school.
32. Mentor a school leaver or student in your field of expertise.
33. Coach one of the extramural activities the school offers. You can also volunteer to coach an extramural activity the school doesn’t offer.
34. Offer to provide tutoring in a school subject you are good at.
35. Donate your old computer.
36. Help maintain the sports fields.
37. Fix up a classroom by replacing broken windows, doors and light bulbs.
38. Donate a bag of art supplies.
39. Teach an adult literacy class.
40. Paint classrooms and school buildings.
41. Donate your old textbooks, or any other good books, to a school library.

Help those living in poverty

42. Buy a few blankets, or grab the ones you no longer need from home and give them to someone in need.
43. Clean out your cupboard and donate the clothes you no longer wear to someone who needs them.
44. Put together food parcels for a needy family.
45. Organise a bake sale, car wash or garage sale for charity and donate the proceeds.
46. To the poorest of the poor, shoes can be a luxury. Don’t hoard them if you don’t wear them. Pass them on!
47. Volunteer at your local soup kitchen.

Care for the youth

48. Help at a local children’s home or orphanage.
49. Help the kids with their studies.
50. Organise a friendly game of soccer, or sponsor the kids to watch a game at the local stadium.
51. Coach a sports team and make new friends.
52. Donate sporting equipment to a children’s shelter.
53. Donate educational toys and books to a children’s home.
54. Paint, or repair, infrastructure at an orphanage or youth centre.
55. Mentor someone. Make time to listen to what the kids have to say and give them good advice.

Treasure the elderly

56. If you play an instrument, visit your local old-age home and spend an hour playing for the residents and staff.
57. Learn the story of someone older than you. Too often people forget that the elderly have a wealth of experience and wisdom and, more often than not, an interesting story to tell.
58. Take an elderly person grocery shopping; they will appreciate your company and assistance.
59. Take someone’s dog for a walk if they are too frail to do so themselves.
60. Mow someone’s lawn and help them to fix things around their house.

Look after your environment

61. If there are no recycling centres in your area, petition your area councillor to provide one.
62. Donate indigenous trees to beautify neighbourhoods in poorer areas.
63. Collect old newspapers from a school/community centre/hospital and take them to a recycling centre.
64. Identify open manhole covers or drains in your area and report them to the local authorities.
65. Organise the company/school/organisation that you work with to switch off all unnecessary lights and power supplies at night and on weekends.
66. Engage with people who litter and see if you can convince them of the value of clean surroundings.
67. Organise to clean up your local park, river, beach, street, town square or sports grounds with a few friends. Our children deserve to grow up in a clean and healthy environment.

courtesy of MANDELA dot com