Daviot Kelly, Staff Reporter
Youth leaders say the true essence of the Jamaica 50 celebrations is being lost on persons, including their peers.
The youths were airing their concerns during a Gleaner Editors' Forum, focusing on the Jamaican Dream and other issues, held yesterday at the newspaper's North Street, Kingston offices.
Karen Manning-Henry, University of Technology Students' Union president, said she was looking forward to something significant but felt more needed to be done as it relates to really understanding the concept of Jamaica 50 and Independence.
"I think we are at a point where, to some extent at the university level, of course we would understand what it's all about. But the grassroots, the children coming up who are part of this thing futuristically, they really for the most part do not understand the concept," she said.
A week of enjoyment
Manning-Henry felt those children and other grassroots individuals were just joining in the fun of the event, and were looking forward to the first week of August as a week of enjoyment.
"But I think we need to ... really allow our children and grandchildren to understand the concept, the essence of this whole thing. I think with that, it would aid in us moving forward," she said.
Anake Henry opined that most people view the celebration as "a big bashment".
"But there's nothing wrong with that because it's a celebration, who doesn't enjoy a big bashment? But at the same time, now that we have the whole country's attention... I think it is important that we take the opportunity to teach each Jamaican to understand the importance and significance of being independent, of being a Jamaican, and also to understand their place in Jamaica moving forward to another 50 years."
Daniel Wilson, University of the West Indies guild president, said people have been asking "So what?" as it relates to Jamaica 50.
"So I'm hopeful it will be something of substance but I'm realistically expecting a party.
Nackadian Jones, first deputy chairman of the National Youth Council (NYC) said he was feeling Jamaica 50 to a point, noting that you couldn't miss the emblem "all over the place".
"But in truth and in fact, I think it's more of a celebration than something meaningful in terms of what's the purpose.
National Youth Council Chairman Ryan Small said young people have been asking what it's all about, and it wasn't until Director of Culture Sydney Bartley spoke with them that they understood they were really celebrating 50 years of political independence. He said the anticipation has not been there.
Floyd Green, recently elected president of Generation 2000, said he wanted Jamaica 50 to remind Jamaicans how they gained Independence and what it really means for them.