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Series of events for Morant Bay Rebellion anniversary

Published:Friday | March 6, 2015 | 3:10 PMSadeke Brooks
Paul Bogle, courtesy of the Jamaica Historical Society.

There was much bloodshed and many lives were lost during the Morant Bay Rebellion of October 1865, but 150 years later, the historical event will be commemorated with a series of events throughout the rest of the year.

Speaking with The Sunday Gleaner, Errol C. Greene, secretary manager of the St Thomas Parish Council, explained that there will be a series of events leading up to October 11, the same day the rebellion occurred.

Today, he says there will be an event with the Jamaica Military Band in concert, while a church service to commemorate the event will be held on March 15.

Some of the events that will be held include a prayer breakfast, construction of a monument in memory of the martyrs, East Fest, a street dance in Morant Bay, an exhibition at the St Thomas Parish Library, a symposium, a panel discussion, lectures, a gospel concert, a speech/essay competition, a 5K run/walk, a vigil at Stony Gut, a breadfruit festival, a re-enactment of the march from Stony Gut to Morant Bay, Kumina and fireworks displays.

Celebration significance

Greene said the celebration is of much significance based on its place in Jamaica's history. The post-slavery march took place on October 11, 1865, when now national hero Paul Bogle led a group of blacks in a protest that ended in Morant Bay. In the aftermath, hundreds of blacks were killed, while Bogle and mulatto politician George William Gordon were executed.

While the events occurred 150 years ago, this will be the first major celebration. However, one of the persons organising the event, Ainsley Henriques, says he was in attendance at the small celebration that was held for the 100th anniversary.

"In those days, it was not planned to be a big function. What I remember vividly is being at the Kumina at Spring Gardens. But we know much more about Paul Bogle now through research," he said.

He added that it is very important for Bogle and Gordon to be "properly recognised and respected".

"We are committed to making it a special year," Henriques said.

While some of the plans have not been finalised, he hopes it will all go well.

"We expect good reception. It is historic. Persons in St Thomas are very conscious of the contribution of these people. We expect that we will get very good support," he said.

Although he has commended the organisations that have come on board thus far, Greene admits that there could be more improvement in this area.

"The support from outside the parish has been good, but the support from business persons inside the parish has been lukewarm," he said.