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Jamaica celebrates Heritage Month with Garvey Jr. and more

PROUD: Neville Livingstone – AKA Bunny Wailer OM – collects his honour from Jamaica’s Governor-General, Sir Patrick Allen, left

OCTOBER IS a significant month for both Jamaica and the UK. The latter celebrates Black History Month and the former Heritage Month annually in the same month, each reflecting in its own way on past experiences, present lessons and future solutions, especially as people of African descent in both spaces continue the search for recognition, justice and development.

Within that month, Heritage Week, which culminates in National Heroes’ Day, is the most active for Jamaica.
National Heroes’ Day is a day on which a grateful nation not only pays homage to its six National Heroes (Marcus Garvey, Samuel Sharpe, Paul Bogle, George William Gordon, Alexander Bustamante and Norman Manley) and one National Heroine (Queen Nanny of the Maroons), but also to the men and women who have given long and distinguished service in various fields of endeavour in Jamaica.

This year’s Heritage Week in Jamaica kicked off with the official launch of the newly minted Centre for Reparation Research at the University of the West Indies (UWI). The centre was established at the directive of CARICOM heads of government who, in July 2013, committed to joining actively the reparatory justice movement in the region believed a dedicated centre for knowledge production was critical. The centre will engage in research, public education and advocacy in support of the regional and global movements
for compensation from European powers for historic wrongs committed against Africans, indigenous peoples and Asians in the Caribbean and its diaspora.

UNITY: Samia Nkrumah, daughter of Kwame Nkrumah, called for the African diaspora to work together (image credit: Nsroma Media)

The keynote speaker at the launch event, which took place on the Mona Campus of the UWI, was Ghanaian politician and daughter of Kwame Nkrumah, Samia Nkrumah. She spoke of the need for all Africans, wherever they are, to unite, especially around the reparatory justice movement as well as for them to implement the vision of her father.

On October 12, Dr. Julius Garvey, son of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, gave a public lecture at UWI as he carries on his campaign to get policy-makers to infuse Garveyism into the educational curriculum at all stages of the education system, in a similar way that Samia Nkrumah is pushing Nkrumaism.

Heritage Week closed on October 16 with the National Honours and Awards ceremony at Kings House, official residence of the Governor-General, Queen Elizabeth II’s representative in Jamaica.

Under the National Honours and Awards Act of 1969, formal recognition of service to Jamaica and its citizens may be given by the conferment of the six Orders of the Societies of Honour, and the two national awards. They are: Order of National Hero; Order of the Nation (ON); Order of Excellence (OE); Order of Merit (OM); Order of Jamaica (OJ); Order of Distinction, Commander Class (CD) and Officer Class (OD); and by the award of the Badge of Honour and the Medal of Honour. The Orders are the highest of the national awards, and recognise merit in terms of achievement and service, while Decorations and Awards are used to recognise gallantry, meritorious, and long and faithful service to the nation.

This year, a total of 171 Jamaicans received national honours. Among them were the lone surviving member of the celebrated group, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Neville O’Reilly Livingstone, popularly known as ‘Bunny Wailer’, who was awarded the Order of Merit (OM) for his contribution to popular music.

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