Monday, 3 August 2015

Reconnect to Emancipation History

Emancipation Day 2015 is now beyond us. However, by now we would have realized that there is a disconnect between the historical significance of the day and most Jamaicans. Interestingly, this is not the case in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago where Emancipation Day is also observed. This lack of attachment to Emancipation Day is not surprising since the teaching of History; specifically, West Indian History is optional in many of our secondary schools. The teaching of History should be compulsory for at least the first three years of high school in order to raise awareness and foster a sense of identity and pride regarding Emancipation Day, as well as other cultural significant days. In fact, we should give history the same attention as the core subjects of Mathematics and English Language in the curriculum instead of viewing the subject as an afterthought or add on.
Disturbingly, not only is the spirit of Emancipation Day dying, but also the awareness of our young people regarding where they are in the human story. We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s development. There is hardly any indigenous Jamaican culture anymore due to the intense cultural penetration from North America which we have gladly embraced.  We have become culturally unbalanced as a people.
It appears as if Emancipation Day is being treated like a step child who no one really wants but who is tolerated to some extent. This attitude is unacceptable especially for a country whose population is over ninety per cent of African descent.
We need to redouble our efforts at empowering the people of Jamaica, especially the youth population by infusing in the school’s syllabus and educating our students about their past in order for them to successful navigate a bright future.
In the words of Marcus Garvey, a people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.

Wayne Campbell