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Would our national heroes be pleased with Ja? - Entertainers debate whether they would be happy with country's progress

Published:Monday | October 19, 2015 | 10:04 AM
Mr Vegas
CeCile
Lady Saw
Nanny of the Maroons
Marcus Garvey
A statue of Paul Bogle
Norman Manley
Sam Sharpe
Sir Alexander Bustamante
George William Gordon
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Today, the country celebrates our national heroes, the men and the lone woman, whose bravery paved the way for independent Jamaica. Not only will they be remembered for their tremendous sacrifices and the roles they played in helping to write the country's history books, but they will also be celebrated for the legacy they left, a heritage Jamaica has sought to build on since their passing. In today tribute to Jamaica's heroes and heroine, entertainers share what they think our national heroes and heroine would say about present-day Jamaica if they were alive.

The Gleaner spoke to dancehall artiste Mr Vegas. The entertainer has been known to speak his mind on any issue, so when the question was put to him, he held nothing back.

"First let me say big up to all our heroes who fought for us and paved the way for us to be where we are today," he said.

"With that being said if our heroes were alive today, I think they would want to change what's going on with crime in our country. Crime is mashing up Jamaica and I don't think they fought for us to be a free nation, and for us to now be fighting each other. People fraid a Jamaica because a crime, so I think they would want to turn around that situation."

He went on to say that apart from the crime issue, Jamaica's national heroes would be pleased with the country's progress since slavery, as the nation has come a far way and has a number of achievements to show for it. "We have come a far way as a people since the days of slavery. We have achieved a lot as individuals and as a country on a whole. Jamaicans make an impact wherever they go in the world and I think our heroes would have been pleased with that. We have produced a lot of great individuals who stand for the very things our ancestors fought for and they are testament to all the things that are right with Jamaica and shows that the sacrifices our heroes made were not in vain."

While agreeing that Jamaica has produced some outstanding individuals and have made a lot of positive steps since slavery, Marion Hall, more popularly known as Lady Saw, believes there is still a lot more to be done as a country and says if our heroes were alive today, they would change a lot about present day Jamaica. "They would change a lot, especially as it relates to grooming and educating our children," she explained.

"If you look at our culture and how much it is being taught in our schools today, you would see that our history is not being enforced enough on our children. When I was growing up I knew about Junkanoo, we use to dance with them in the streets at Christmas time, but these children today hardly know anything about that and its sad. I think if our heroes were alive today, they would teach our children more about the country's history and what we stand for as a people."

She also said that if our heroes were alive today, they would not be happy with the progress Jamaica has made as a country. "I don't think they would be pleased because our country is changing, but not for the better. All the heroes struggled for us to be where we are, but we seem to have forgotten that," she said.

"Our children need to be taught to go back in the history books and really read. The more they learn the more respect they'll have and once people respect themselves again, Jamaica can really begin to see change."

While tipping her hat to all the heroes, Lady Saw revealed that she had a special place in her heart for Nanny of the Maroons. "She represents everything I strive to be, a strong woman that people look up to for leadership," she said. "Women play a big role in our society, they are the caregivers, the nurturers, the cornerstone of any society; one woman can grow a community and should be respected. Nanny was respected."

CeCile also gave her two cents on the issue, saying: "Our heroes fought for a lot of reasons, but common among them was injustice and I think they would still fight to eliminate that today," she said.

"If Nanny were alive, I know she would fight for equal rights for women, because she was a strong leader and Marcus Garvey would still be fighting to get justice for black people around the world. With all the issues surrounding 'Black Lives Matter', he'd still be very much involved in that fight for equal rights and he would also be encouraging black people to stop fighting each other."

In terms of whether or not our National Heroes would be pleased with the country's progress since slavery, CeCile said both the bad and the good would have to be taken into consideration.

"They would be pleased to see that because of their teaching, people have been motivated. People have strived to achieve and to become someone because of what they fought for, so they would be happy to see that. They would however, be disappointed that so many people are still mentally enslaved. I think that would be depressing for them."

She also took the opportunity to thank the heroes for the sacrifices they made to allow Jamaica to be where it is today. "Thank you for the motivation and for fighting and dying for what you believed in."