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Take politics out of emancipation celebrations – Bailey

Published:Saturday | August 3, 2019 | 12:16 AMRuddy Mathison/Gleaner Writer

SPANISH TOWN, St Catherine:

President of the Spanish Town House of Nyahbinghi, Rudolph Bailey, on Thursday expressed dissatisfaction with the turnout rate for Emancipation Day Flag Raising Ceremony in Spanish Town, St Catherine.

Fewer than 100 persons were in attendance. Chairman of the St Catherine Municipal Corporation, Norman Scott, said the scaling down of Emancipation Day celebrations in Emancipation Square where the proclamation was read was largely due to the Sligoville event that has overshadowed the celebrations in the square over the years.

Sligoville celebrations

However, Bailey said any event which coincides with Emancipation Day celebrations in Emancipation Square should take second place.

“It is wrong for the focus to be placed on the Sligoville celebrations. By right, the celebrations should return to where the proclamation was read,” Bailey told The Gleaner, adding that free villages came after Emancipation.

“I am so disappointed with the presentation and the small crowd that turned out for such an important celebration,” he continued.

“I am saying Emancipation Day does not belong to any political party, it belongs to the descendants of black people who were enslaved against their will.”

Bailey said the event has been hijacked by party politics and this is unfair to the people.

“I am asking the political parties to dismiss themselves from the people’s celebration,” he declared, while pledging the Spanish Town House of Nyahbinghi’s willingness to work to make next year’s celebration more meaningful.

President of the Historical Society of Spanish Town, Charles Wright, also decried the low turnout and pledged to work to improve the staging of the event next year.

“We have to do better with the marketing and ensure that an Emancipation vigil starting from midnight on July 31 preceded the celebrations in the square on August 1st,” he said.

Thursday’s ceremony was also attended by the custos of the parish, Jeffrey McKenzie, and members of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, who hoisted the Jamaican flag in Emancipation Square.