More than 400 names were read on Friday, October 11, at the Paul Bogle monument in Morant Bay, St Thomas, behind the old courthouse, to mark the 148th anniversary of Paul Bogle's march from his home in Stony Gut. The yearly event, put on jointly by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, the Afrikan Heritage Development Association (AHDA), and the Social Development Commission, and sponsored in part by the St Thomas Parish Council, was dubbed 'Salute to the Heroes, The Right Excellent Paul Bogle and the Martyrs'. The event, in part, was also to honour and remember the martyrs of the uprising, who gave their lives in 1865 to secure better education, health, and general treatment of the black populace in the parish and across the country. The names of those who were charged with and convicted of 'threatening and traitorous language' in the aftermath of the uprising, convicted, flogged, and imprisoned were also read.
The historic date was also marked by a re-enactment of the march from Stony Gut, organised by the Paul Bogle Foundation and led by Mayor Ludlow Mathison and Councillor Constantine Bogle, great-great-great-grandson of the hero. Other events included a night-long vigil the previous night, with a candle-lighting ceremony at the site of the hero's former home and chapel.
Dorrette Abrahams, president of AHDA, stressed that it was important to preserve the monument, to clean it up and make it a special place of remembrance and reflection for the parish - a place to give thanks and acknowledge the contribution of the ancestors. She charged the St Thomas Parish Council to do more to secure the site from vandals. Sydney Bartley, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth and Culture, who was guest speaker, echoed Abrahams's sentiments, emphasising the need to celebrate the triumphs of Paul Bogle and the martyrs, citing that without their sacrifice, Jamaica would still be a country of slavery and servitude.
"We are on a spot that for us must be a sacred spot. The parish council, as representatives of the people, must keep this place as a shrine," he said.
Bartley also pledged the ministry's support, adding that it was the aim of the ministry to remind every person, and especially youth, that being Jamaican was a strong and good thing.
To demonstrate this, he led the students and residents gathered at the monument in a series of cultural songs and Negro spirituals.
The ceremony concluded with the laying of wreaths at the original graves of the martyrs.