Tomorrow, as we again begin to observe the events that led to Emancipation and our decision to end colonial rule, we must remember that what we now celebrate was made possible by the often selfless contributions of our forefathers.
We should give thanks, therefore, for their vision for a better country and their determination to put an end to slavery, easily the most abhorrent demonstration of man’s inhumanity to man.
At the risk of being accused of repetition, we cannot emphasise enough the importance of our people making productive use of the freedoms won by our forefathers.
Many Jamaicans made the ultimate sacrifice for those freedoms. Therefore, we should not regard them lightly as we worship, engage in the performing arts, and enjoy ourselves at the various parties and other events planned for the holiday period.
We expect that during the Emancipation Jubilee scheduled for Seville Heritage Park in St Ann tomorrow and at the Emancipation Vigil to be observed in all parishes we will do more than enjoy the performances and reflect on the historic events that shaped our nation.
We hope that the events will be used to call on Jamaicans to recommit themselves to Jamaica. The recommitment we advocate is not just in words, rather in deeds, especially from our leaders who give more currency to mouthing platitudes instead of doing what needs to be done to further improve the country.
Yesterday, in this space, we pointed to an example of what can be done to make this country better. We recommended a depoliticisation of the crime portfolio that would involve both of the island’s major political parties working together to combat this problem that has been plaguing the country and which has been contributing to a stifling of the economy.
Egos and political expediency have cost this country dearly over many years. It is now past the time for us to grow up and attend to our affairs in a manner that will make life better for our people and, just as important, end the culture of mendicancy that has, unfortunately, characterised us for too long.
In all this, we have not ignored the fact that Jamaica has made significant progress over the past 53 years.
We have adhered to the ideals of democracy, have respected individuals’ freedom to speak, and have established institutions to protect our citizens.
However, we would be fooling ourselves if we did not accept that there is much more work to be done. Too many Jamaicans are still starved of basic services and the wheels of justice turn too slowly.
As such, Emancipation Day, August 1, offers great hope for our people, because the observance of the day signifies a realisation that our achievements will not come without hard work and sacrifice.
Examples of the benefits of hard work and sacrifice are now evident in the performance of Jamaican athletes at the Special Olympics World Summer Games scheduled to end tomorrow in Los Angeles.
These athletes embody the spirit of Jamaica. Their drive to overcome challenges and their fixity of purpose are lessons to us all that there is great reward in dedication to country.
If nothing else, we should emulate them.