Kellier heaps praise on Sam Sharpe - Calls for return of values in 2016
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Derrick Kellier says National Hero Samuel Sharpe was not only instrumental in the abolition of slavery, but has left an enviable legacy of selflessness that Jamaicans should emulate.
Speaking at the 'Flames of Freedom' celebration, commemorating the 184th anniversary of the Christmas Rebellion, which saw some 50,000 slaves taking up arms against the planter class at Tulloch Castle, Kensington, St James, on December 27,
Kellier said Sam Sharpe embodied everything that was good in mankind and lived a life that was built on principle and moral decency.
"There is a lot we can all learn from Sam Sharpe - the selflessness that he embodied, his courage, his vision and leadership. He had all the traits that we would or should all want to emulate. He was a true Jamaican in every sense of the word," the minister said.
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 'Flames of Freedom' celebration, a re-enactment of what took place 184 years ago on the slave plantations, began with a torch run from Catadupa, the birthplace of Sam Sharpe.
It then proceeded to Sam Sharpe Square and then to Tulloch Castle, where it was handed over to Kellier, to loud applause. The minister then handed it over to the torch-bearer who, like the slave girl who lit the first fire on the Kensington Estate 184 years ago to start the rebellion, proceeded to torch the trash house.
Struggles and sacrifices
Calvin Brown, a spokesperson for the South St James Economic Development Trust, organiser of the event, said a lot of planning took place to make the annual event a success.
He said Sam Sharpe was an icon, and that the re-enactment was a way of showing the young people the struggles and sacrifices that took place, enabling them to be born into a free Jamaica.
"The Christmas Rebellion, led by Sam Sharpe, was instrumental in bringing an end to slavery. The burning of the trash house, which we saw enacted tonight, and the subsequent burning of Kensington Great House signalled the start of the rebellion," Brown said.
Meanwhile, Kellier said he was calling on all Jamaicans, going into 2016, to adopt a new sense of values and attitudes that will go a long way in making Jamaica a peaceful nation and the kind of place that will continue to attract investors.
"No country can be properly developed without having proper values and attitudes. Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson initiated a values and attitudes campaign some years ago, and I think the time is right for us to revisit it and to take it seriously. This is my charge to you as we go forward into a new year," he told the audience.