Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Christmas Rebellion to be celebrated on Sunday

Published:Wednesday | December 23, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Sam Sharpe

The 184th anniversary of the 'Christmas Rebellion', which was led by National Hero Samuel Sharpe, will be celebrated and re-enacted on Sunday at Tulloch Castle, Kensington, St James.

Sam Sharpe, a slave and a deacon in the Baptist church, was the protagonist of the 1831 Slave Rebellion, which began on the Kensington Estate and which was largely instrumental in bringing about the abolition of slavery in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

"The day itself will start with a torch run from Catadupa, the birthplace of Sam Sharpe," said Calvin Brown, a spokesperson for the South St James Social and Economic Trust, organiser of the event.

"It will proceed to Sam Sharpe Square, Montego Bay, and then to the Kensington historical site," Brown said.

He pointed out that the annual celebration, dubbed the 'Flames of Freedom', served to bring light the significance of the rebellion and the role Sam Sharpe played in the subsequent abolition of slavery.

"That war in itself was a prelude to the ending of slavery as we know it. It is widely acknowledged that the burning of a trash house at Tulloch Castle Estate and the subsequent burning of Kensington Great House signalled the start of the rebellion," Brown said.

"When the rebellion was quelled several weeks later, some 40 plantations were burnt and 14 whites died. The retribution, however, was devastating as more than 500 slaves were summarily killed, primarily as a result of the inquisition which followed," he added.

 

FREEDOM WAS ATTAINABLE

 

The rebellion in 1831 involved some 50,000 slaves throughout Jamaica and was brutally suppressed by the British military. Approximately 500 slaves were executed, including Sam Sharpe. The rebellion is credited for influencing the push for the full emancipation of slaves, which came on August 1, 1838.

"A proud and defiant Sam Sharpe was publicly hung in the Square in Montego Bay on May 23, 1832. He accepted that death on the scaffold was freedom from the unbearable and repugnant miseries of slavery and that death was the only essence by which freedom was attainable," Brown said.

"It is a known fact that the Christmas Rebellion was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back as two years later, in 1834, the British Parliament passed the abolition bill, and four years later, slavery was abolished," he added.