Cayman’s closest neighbour will be celebrating 49 years of independence on Saturday, 6 August, and Cayman will be celebrating along with Jamaica, albeit today, Friday, 5 August.
According to event organiser Banny Stephenson, the event started in 2004 and became the officially recognised Jamaica Independence Day celebration in 2005. The event has taken place every year to promote the culture of Jamaica and foster relations between the two countries.
It will showcase Jamaica’s cultural forms such as traditional dance, music, speech, craft and food, in what the organisers promise will be a fun, family-friendly atmosphere sure to please everyone.
This will be an all-day celebration in two acts, with festivities kicking off at 7am on Cardinall Avenue, which will be closed to traffic to create a true festival atmosphere in downtown George Town.
The early morning start means that a Jamaican breakfast will most certainly be on the menu, but there will be far too much to choose from for just one meal.
The festival will include food stalls selling all manner of traditional Jamaican dishes, including roast yam and salt fish, rundown, jerk chicken and pork, manish water, ackee and saltfish, chocolate tea, saltfish fritters, rice and peas, blue drawers, potato and cornmeal pudding and a whole range of other traditional favourites.
One of the event sponsors, Grace, will also be providing a free can of Tropical Rhythms and Grace plantain chips to everyone buying a meal at the festival.
For an extra taste of culture, the food stalls will bear the names of places in Jamaica famous for food, such as Faith’s Pen, Little Ochi, Devon House and Hellshire, to name but a few.
The daytime activities will also feature a display of arts and crafts by Jamaican artists residing in Cayman.
There will also be a cultural presentation over the lunch hour, with the celebration focusing on the many sayings that give the language a colour and texture all its own.
According to the organisers, the aim is to revive sayings that people might not have heard since visiting grandparents and relatives in rural Jamaica many years ago and stir memories for all. Of course, for those who do not yet share these experiences of Jamaica, the festival will also be an excellent introduction to all things Jamaican and is certain to spur thoughts of a visit to Cayman’s next- door neighbour.
In the evening, the celebration will move to the Reflections parking lot on Godfrey Nixon Way, with food sales starting at 6pm.
The evening will feature a jerk festival with seven vendors taking part, each presenting diners with their own attempt at perfecting that most famous of Jamaican seasonings. Of course, at the end of the evening the panel of judges will be faced with the unenviable task of choosing a winner, which, given the wide ranging tastes when it comes to jerk, promises to be a very tough decision.
The focus of the evening will be on the stage, with entertainment from local and visiting acts, as well as on-stage competitions and giveaways.
The entertainment portion of the evening will kick off at 9pm with a gospel music performance by local performers Michelle T and Clarity.
This will be followed at 10pm by the reading of the Prime Minister of Jamaica’s official Jamaica Independence Day message by the honorary Jamaican consul.
The festivities will continue at 10.30pm with performances by local dance groups, including Hype Squad, Yard Style dancers and Cree dance studio.
The featured performer for the evening will be Jamaican star Christopher Martin. The performer from Back Pasture in St. Catherine shot to fame after winning the Digicel Rising Stars title in 2005. With singles like Giving It and Jamaican Girls heating up the airwaves in Jamaica, Christopher became the first Rising Stars alumnus to score a hit single on the Jamaican charts.
The event is organised by Roma United Sports Club, and sponsored by QuickCash, Digicel, The Observer on Sunday, Seaboard, Vibe, Coca-Cola, Partysurfers.ky, Treasure Island Resort, Kirk Supermarket and Grace.
Hair to celebrate
Anne Marie Tomlinson put in a special effort to celebrate Jamaica Independence Day, sporting another of her intricate and outrageous hair styles. The work of art, which has the Jamaican traditional dish of ackee and codfish woven into it, was created by Keisha Coghile and Sara Barnett of Tatianna’s Heaven on Earth Beauty Salon. The hair style also includes the Jamaican flag and braids featuring iconic Jamaican colours. Tomlinson tops that off with a Jamaican football jersey, creating an ensemble that promises to be a unique celebration of the 49th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence.
“JN Money Services, through its QuikCash brand, is proud to sponsor and celebrate with Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica in The Cayman Islands, as our nation moves one step closer to marking 50 years of independence.” Gabriel Heron, JN Money Services Ltd
Jacques Scott (Grace and Appleton)
“Jamaica and the Cayman Islands have been brothers for many years. Likewise, Jacques Scott has had a long-standing partnership with Grace Foods, which has Jamaican roots. It is paramount to Jacques Scott to support all of the Jamaica Independence day events with Grace.” Eva Atkinson, Jacques Scott
The Observer on Sunday
“It’s great to be a sponsor of such a fun event on the island and this is the third year that the Observer on Sunday has been involved. We can all experience a little flavour of Jamaica today from the music to the food! I encourage everyone to get down to Cardinall Avenue and have some jerk for lunch.” Anne Mason, Cayman Free Press
“Vibe 98.9fm is honoured to be part of the 2011 Jamaican Independence Day celebrations here in Cayman. Vibe is all about embracing Caribbean culture and music, which there will be an abundance of this year, closing down Cardinall Avenue for the festivities.” Chrys Chapman, Paramount Media
Part of the celebrations will revolve around the unique sayings that make up Jamaican language. As Jamaica is a melting pot of African and English traditions, the traditional sayings often reflect this unique mix.
Di higher monkey climb, di more him expose himself
The higher your status, the more your vulnerabilities are exposed
De olda de moon, de brigher it shines
The older a person is, the wiser
Sorry fi mawga dog, mawga dog wi tun round bite you
Sometimes it is those whom we help who are the least grateful
Duppy know who fi frighten
Bullies pick on those who can defend themselves the least
Hog say, ‘de first dutty water mi ketch, mi wash’.
Make use of the first opportunities that comes your way
Mi throw mi corn, but me no call no fowl
A statement is made, the guilty party will pick it up
What sweet nanny goat ago run eeh belly
That which appears too good, can hurt you