Authentic Jamaican Jamboree brings life to Kgn waterfront
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
The arresting aroma from myriad food cooked with indigenous flavour, coupled with the pulsating sound of local music of a past era created an authentic Jamaican vibe yesterday, setting the stage for today's final day of the big Emancipendence Jamboree at the downtown Kingston waterfront.
If that were not enough, there was the cool sea breeze wrestling with the penetrating heat of the sun beaming down on the picturesque pier with several large ships, creating a backdrop that completed the vibrant setting.
The aroma from well-seasoned meat broke free, tempting the taste buds of the Jamaicans and a few tourists who trickled through the festive scene to gaze, sample the myriad fares, or just soak in the atmosphere.
Communications manager of the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), Tyrell Morgan, told The Gleaner that the UDC has initiated the two-day celebration to mark its 45th year, having been in existence since 1968, when it was established under the ministerial direction of retired politician Edward Seaga.
"We thought it fine to have a special Emancipendence Jamboree to tie in with the whole spirit of nationalism at this time, with August 1 being Emancipation Day, and August 6, Independence Day," said Morgan.
He said it was with this in mind that the UDC, the company mandated by the Government to redevelop the downtown Kingston commercial district, merged the celebrations into one gala.
"We are having an exposé on Jamaica's culinary culture, as well as from the partners, including Novelty Trading Company, which is giving special discounts on cultural books."
ONE THING MISSING
For 68-year-old Florence Salmon, who sat enjoying one of Jamaica's favourite dishes, stewed peas and rice, as vintage music from an old Jamaican music band, Skatalites, sounding about her, the scene would be complete by a sense of peace and unity all around.
"A city divided by itself cannot stand," shared Salmon.
She also thought the UDC could have brought a little more colour to the scenery. And she was quick to point out that gold was needed in the décor, not yellow.
Bryan Austin of the discotheque Soul Assassin was in fine mettle as he brought out the vinyl records - mostly LPs - that generated an even more vintage Jamaican flavor.
The ever-present André Richards - better known as Robert, the jelly/coconut man - was kept busy as he used his cutlass to good effect, even as other indigenous fruits, and a few imported ones, coloured stalls and booths.
Then there was newcomer to the downtown district, Digicel, which was not to be left out of the excitement. Also joining in were more seasoned campaigners, including Victoria Mutual Building Society; Novelty Reading Company, which showcased books of great Jamaicans such as Usain Bolt and National Hero Samuel Sharpe, as well as those written by the likes of John Maxwell. To quote the title of one piece of literature, It was 'Jamaica Absolutely'.
The Institute of Jamaica was also present, highlighting the emblems of Jamaica's signature art form, including the crocodile, calabash and pots and pans.