Author: Dr. Dwayne Dyce (Founder/CEO- ESI)
This year, 2022, on August 6, Jamaicans in Jamaica and across the diaspora celebrate 60 years of independence since Jamaica claimed self-governance from the crown of England in 1962. The theme for Jamaica 60 is “Re-igniting a Nation for Greatness.” This year marks Jamaica’s 188th year since its Emancipation back in 1834. On August 1, 1834, the Africans in the British colonies, including Jamaica, were granted freedom from slavery. The Emancipation Declaration was read from the steps of the Old King's House in Spanish Town, St. Catherine, which was the country’s capital during that time. Still, the bill for the abolition of slavery in the British colonies received the royal assent on August 28, 1838. It reads:
“Be it enacted, that all and every one of the persons who on the first day of August one thousand eight hundred and thirty four, shall be holden in slavery within such British colony as aforesaid, shall, upon and from and after the said first day of August, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-four, become and be to all intents and purposes free and discharged from all manner of slavery, and shall be absolutely and forever manumitted.”
August is a special month for Jamaicans since the first week contains two important days in history – August 1 and August 6. August 1st shares commonalities with Juneteenth in the United States because it is the freedom of enslaved people, but also the deepest flights for personhood of a people ripped from their families, chastised and degraded to an invented social concept referring to them as someone’s personal property. In this way, Juneteenth is the same as Jamaica’s Emancipation. My grandparents as well as my great grandmother, before she left us, told me stories of our people, their relentless spirit of optimism and resilience, even in the face of brutality, both physically and mentally. But they would not give up, because they saw us as their freedom. They saw us as their redemption from the evil of slavery, and they told us the stories so that we may never forget. As we celebrate our ancestors and Jamaica’s Emancipation and Independence with this year’s theme: “Re-igniting a Nation for Greatness”, here are 3 things to be mindful of: We have greatness in our blood; Freedom is a gift we claim within us, not from anyone; and Up, up you mighty race.
We have greatness in our blood
Our ancestors were great people who were dreamers and storytellers. They gathered the children and extended families and shared stories of unity and faith. Their dreams, which they told in their stories were of deliverance through a renunciation of the evil of oppression, while forming collective power to prove themselves worthy of personhood in the face of their oppressors. They had to be great and brave to stand up to the forces of the British military on several occasions. They must have seen and owned the vision of being free to dismiss the idea of death or brutal flogging among several other inhumane treatment for the sake of their children and their new-found home, Jamaica.
They created for us a path that teaches the value of courage and the wholesome beauty in collective power. Through their stories, the dreamers are the deliverers who, even in their last days and last hour, refused anything less than freedom. Their stories are our stories that we share, not just during this time of Emancipation and Independence, but every time we have a moment to remind our youth of our bloodline. We have greatness in our blood!
Freedom is a gift we claim within us, not from someone
Our people showed us by their actions that freedom comes from within us. True freedom cannot be bought or sold. Within each man and woman, there is a sense of what constitutes freedom depending on where you are on this earth.
We tend to run into problems when expressing the notion that all people want the same things, and when we listen to each other, we realize that our needs are different. However, at our core, we feel at our best when we are not being manipulated or being oppressed by others. Our ancestors, who fought for our freedom, were already free even before they went up against a whole army. They found their freedom within the recesses of their soul, and as a result, they became fearless.
We may not have that level of freedom, but we can develop our own version. We can say no to so many distractions around us, including too much Tik Tok, too much Instagram, too much Netflix, too much gossiping, too much time wasting, and too much procrastination. We can say no to the violence that is plaguing our society. We can say yes to reading a book, or an article, or to sit with an older person to learn about the past or enroll in a course to upgrade your knowledge. You will only gain something if you apply yourself. We can say yes to national pride and national responsibility to simply be a good citizen. If you think of it, what is freedom without responsibility?
Up, Up You Mighty Race!
The Rt. Honourable Marcus Garvey taught us about the power of our race. He gave us a sort of blueprint to govern our lives through purposeful thinking; to avoid being caught up in the rat race and to empower ourselves through education.
Marcus Garvey encouraged us to stay far away from ignorance and to embrace intelligence. I love this teaching from him that intelligence is the ruler of the world, and ignorance is its burden. This is part of my personal philosophy; that is why I strive to become knowledgeable about things that matter around us. We, as a people, need to become aware of our energy and the power we contain in that energy within us. Many times, we doubt ourselves even in the slightest circumstance as though we are not worthy.
Look back at the people who came before us and garner strength from that. We, Jamaicans are a powerful force in the world. We are ignited for greatness because of our position in this world. We only have to claim it!
So, as we celebrate our Emancipation and Independence this week, remember the words of Marcus Garvey: Up, up you mighty race, accomplish what you will. This is to fill us, first, with confidence and then, with courageous action towards nation building.
Walk good, and remember to help someone this week.
Dr. Dwayne Dyce is Founder/CEO of Education Solutions International (ESI). Please subscribe to ESI at www.educationsolutionsinternational.org