More recognition to be given to Christmas Rebellion, says MoBay mayor
Montego Bay Mayor Homer Davis is promising to speak with representatives of the Social Development Commission (SDC) in St James about making the anniversary of the parish's 1831 Sam Sharpe Christmas Rebellion a more high-profile celebration than it is at present.
"In my own thought process, I think Sam Sharpe has played such a significant role in Jamaica and, particularly, St James, that nothing should be withheld in giving him that celebratory honour that he rightfully deserves. Going forward, I will speak to the SDC to see how we can bring more highlights to this occasion," Davis told The Gleaner yesterday, which marked the 185th anniversary of the slave revolt spearheaded by Sharpe, a Baptist preacher and national hero.
"For a lot of our people, if you do not constantly remind them of their past, then they do not understand why they are here, and why we are here. Sam Sharpe is one person who has stood out, not just in Jamaica, but the Caribbean, against the background that he led a rebellion that caused the abolition of slavery," Davis added.
The Sam Sharpe Christmas Rebellion, also known as the Baptist War and the Great Jamaican Slave Revolt, was an uprising by approximately 60,000 slaves in Jamaica that took place between December 25, 1831 and January 4, 1832, arising from discontent among Baptist slaves that emancipation from slavery had not been granted from England as had been expected at that time.
The rebellion started as a peaceful strike led by Sharpe in which blacks vowed to stay away from working on the plantations until they were given greater freedom and wages for their work. When these demands were not met, the strike escalated into open violent protest, in which 207 slaves and 14 whites were killed during the initial revolt and more than 300 more slaves executed afterwards by order of the government.
Each year, the anniversary of the rebellion is marked by a celebration which is held in Tulloch Castle, at Kensington in St James, where the mayor of Montego Bay delivers an address to the celebrants in attendance. For this year's commemoration, a run was also held in which participants travelled from Catadupa to Sam Sharpe Square and then to Kensington.
Speaking about ways in which the celebration of the Christmas Rebellion could receive more publicity than what currently pertains, Davis suggested that communities that were integral in the rebellion, including Catadupa and Kensington, could be made into tourist attractions.
"Where that event is taking place tonight (Tuesday) in Kensington, it should be a premier tourist attraction. Even in Catadupa, where the [run] started, it should be a premier tourist attraction, but it has to be driven by individuals who are culturally aware and who have a deep-rooted interest in the history of this country," said Davis.
"I am a man who believes in the history of our people, and it should be recognised at every occasion, because without the efforts and bravery of these persons, probably, we would not be where we are today. So we have to recognise and laud them and keep their memories alive," Davis said.