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Emancipation, Independence holiday merger would be a retrograde step – Patterson

Published:Tuesday | December 8, 2020 | 2:16 PM
Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson - File photo.

Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has come out strongly against the call for a merger of the Emancipation Day and Independence Day holidays, labelling such a move as a retrograde step for the country.

Patterson charges that this would be a severe violation of Jamaica’s ancestry if the country should go that route.

A survey conducted by pollster Don Anderson found that the majority of respondents support the proposal where the merged holidays would be celebrated on the first Friday in August followed by the Monday.

This would create a long holiday weekend for enjoyment, which was the preference of most respondents.

The survey, which was commissioned by the Culture Ministry, was conducted between July 16 and 20 and polled 1,077 persons and has a margin of error of plus or minus three per cent.

Patterson argues that Emancipation Day and Independence Day are too significant to Jamaica’s history for there to be a singular event, noting that one marks a commemoration and the other a celebration.

“It would be a betrayal of all our efforts to promote our own identity as a people,” he asserted in a statement.

“The idea that the present separation from Independence Day is inconvenient to some and causes discomfort must be firmly rejected. Comfort and convenience cannot be our response to the deaths and atrocities of the Middle Passage. That equation is untenable, but if ever there was a disaster in enforcing such an inequitable balance, that time is now…,” he charged.

Arguing that the poll results are not surprising given the lack of sufficient teaching of the country’s heritage over many years, Patterson argues that the Jamaicans should seek to uphold the nation’s legacy.

“To determine where we are going, we must know from whence we came.”

“Our focus cannot be to enjoy a holiday weekend of fun and frolic which obscures the significance of these two memorable milestones in the life of our nation; our freedom from enforced labour, and subsequently, the right we secured in charting our destiny as an independent nation on August 6, 1962.”

In light of this, the former prime minister said that the government should not disturb the country’s history.

“Our Minister of Culture, Hon [Olivia] “Babsy” Grange, has made some commendable strides to reflect our rich history of struggle and survival. Let me now implore my beloved sister not to be the driver who takes our country in the wrong direction on a one-way street.”

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