Celebrations of the half century of Jamaican independence are reaching a high point with a series of events that will get the Cayman Islands truly jumping.
The weekend celebrations kick into action on Friday, 3 August, with the much loved Jamaica Culture Day taking place on Cardinall Avenue in George Town. This annual event is always a whole lot of fun and with the added bonus of it being the 50th anniversary of independence, it will kick the festivities up a notch.
The events aim to celebrate the half century of independence in a wholesome family atmosphere; to provide quality entertainment for all age groups; to showcase Jamaica’s cultural forms such as traditional dance, music, speech, craft and food; to educate and share with the public this diversity; and to promote and highlight the cultural ties between Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
Expect a whole bunch of food stalls serving everything from jerk, ackee and salt fish and rundown to chocolate tea, mannish water and of course rice and peas. There will also be arts and crafts in abundance, performing artists meet and greet and sponsors stalls showcasing products from 7am to 5pm.
Evening festivities are held in the Reflections’ parking lot. There will be jerk stalls, gospel music, the independence message of the Prime Minister of Jamaica presented by the honorary Jamaican consul and a host of great performers.
Romain Virgo, the youngest contestant ever to win Digicel Rising Stars at age 17, is the headliner. Also performing is Roy Rayon, the four time winner of the Jamaica festival song competition. On top of this there’s dance performances by Kri, poetry, cultural groups, video presentations and on-stage contests, too.
Marquee sponsor is JN Money Transfer and Quick Cash and other sponsors are Digicel, Grace, Appleton and Heineken, The Observer on Sunday, Radio Cayman, Vibe and AF Insurance.
Take up cricket
Cricket is the central theme of a special family fun day and cricket challenge, taking place on Saturday, 4 August, at Smith Road Oval. Organiser Alton McDonald says that the game represents a large part of Caribbean heritage.
“We are planning a cricket game – a Jamaica team versus Cayman International Team. We are inviting Jamaican players and are expecting to have Tamar Lambert, the captain of the national team, plus former players Delroy Morgan and Nehemiah Perry.
“It will be a limited-over game, a one-day affair,” Alton says.
The family fun day will also take place with bounceabouts and activities for the children, plus dominoes with a Jamaica vs. Rest of the World showdown.
Entry to the event is free and food will be on sale, adds Alton – some of that good old Jamaican jerk and other delicious dishes.
On Sunday, 5 August, the All Nations United Pentecostal Church on Woodlake Drive hosts an Ecumenical and Thanksgiving service. Anniversary Day is Monday, 6 August, and there will be a flag raising service at the Jamaican Consulate Office on Dorcy Drive.
Cayman Brac events
In Cayman Brac, the independence weekend is packed with great events.
On Saturday, 4 August, at the Aston Rutty Centre, fun and laughter galore is promised with an “explosive, dynamic variety concert” featuring international Jamaican superstar Roy Ryan.
“He is a winner of numerous Jamaica Festival music awards,” says Georgia Isaacs of the Brac celebrations committee.
“Other artists include The Jambrac Choral, Jambrac dancers, Cordell Smith and more.”
There’s also the voting for Jamaican of the Year. The event costs $10 for adults and $5 for children and kicks off at 7.30pm.
On Sunday, 5 August, the Independence 50 Banquet takes place at the Alexander Hotel from 5pm. Dinner is $15 and a limited amount of tickets are available from JamBrac members. Dress up for this one in semi-formal or formal attire, please – preferably, Georgia tells us, in the colours of the Jamaican flag: black, green and gold. There will be entertainment from members of the JamBrac Choral, we’re told. The theme is A Time To Remember and a guest speaker will be confirmed. The prime minister’s message will be read by the Jamaican of the Year. Most importantly, the food sounds awesome: Curry goat, BBQ chicken, ackee and salt fish, escovitch fish, rice and beans, boiled bananas and dumplings.
On Monday, 6 August – the big day itself – there is a free gospel concert and service at 7pm at the Aston Rutty Centre where all are encouraged to join in praise and prayers for Jamaica and Cayman. A free-will love offering will be collected, proceeds of which will go toward the Hear the Children’s Cry Ministry of Jamaica, plus Feed Our Future of Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac.
Looking a little further ahead, there is a jerk fest planned for Saturday, 11 August. It is mooted to take place at Layman Scott Senior High School from 6pm, Miss Georgia tells us.
“All are invited to join as long as they have their own jerk pan. The jerk meats will be judged then will be sold afterward. We are asking the jerkers to donate a portion of their proceeds to our charity causes. There will be a domino play-off as well as live music entertainment by local artists.
“Jerk is a vital part of our heritage,” she tells us – and a delicious one too, we can attest.
Participants pay a fee of $25 and can jerk all they can but for everyone else the event is free.
Little Cayman events
Not to be left out, Little Cayman is also planning to celebrate, albeit on a smaller scale.
On Saturday, 4 August, there will be an evening of food, fun and games from 4pm onwards at Bloody Bay.
On Sunday, 5 August, The Little Cayman Baptist Church will be holding a special Thanksgiving Service at 7.30pm.
On Monday, 6, August, Little Cayman’s residents will gather at the Village Square at 7pm for the cutting of Jamaica’s 50th birthday cake.
Wherever you are, have a happy and safe celebration – One Love.