Today, August 6, Jamaica celebrates 60 years of supposed independence from British colonial rule. All the planning and other predictable/unpredictable elaborations that go with these milestones were put in high gear from the start of the year, perhaps before. Today will be the most conspicuous of celebrations, as I gather even after the last firework disappears from the skies, the celebration will continue until the end of the year.
Grand Galas, floats and parades, the summoning of the citizenry for the biggest party of the year at the country’s National Stadium — -in a nation where parties are a staple — — for an evening of entertainment built on the backs of exploited poor African-Jamaican children to sing and gyrate their asses in front of the National Stadium audience and complacent, beaming politicians, grinning from ear to ear like Lewis Carroll’s fictional Cheshire cat are self-profiting — an incessant circus that is revived from hibernation every August 6.
Historically, governments use them and the citizens see them as welcome distractions from everyday life…the de Medicis of Florence made it an art. Festive processions were part of the “charm” of Renaissance Itay. The combination of lavish display and fancy dresses are captured quite exquisitely in Bezzozzo Gozzoli’s Procession of the Magi, 1459. Throw a party and make the citizens feel good, make them feel that you care about them, so you are feting them at whatever particular celebration. Make them forget their suffering — at authority’s hands no less — if even for a fleeting minute.
Jamaica’s grand feting is usually at “Independence”. Of course, this year being “special”, they went all out. Imagine all the farce this year: doves released when this administration is the most corrupt the island has ever seen, where daily scandals can compete with any soap opera. One that is more abusive of our constitutional rights, that normalizes that abuse with all kinds of rationale and with a runaway crime rate, that it either is reluctant to address or just plain bankrupt of how to.
I have imposed a news blackout during this farcical period of “Independence” celebration by the state; by people, many of who are aligned with criminal gangs.
Besides, we were never truly independent with the Crown, the “former enslaver” entrenched in the Jamaican Constitution as Head of State. We can’t be truly independent with all the obvious reminders of colonialist oppression still on the landscape. Independent transformative change with landlessness, segregated beaches, corrupt politicians, Chinese settler colonialism, Eurocentric ideology over Afro-centrism, where some educators are boldly saying no to expressions of blackness, colourism, class divisions, injustices, abject poverty, waste/theft of public funds, out of many but one rule supreme…?
This is not Emancipation. I have no ancestors to honour that fought and gave their life to remove the shackles that today I enjoy nominal freedom. How can I honour neo-colonialist Founding fathers (later National Heroes), Norman Manley and Alexander Bustamante and the other neo-colonialists who had no confidence in the ability of Jamaicans to rule themselves or simply wanted to get their hands on the state machinery, so they negotiated this flag/political independence?…left Elizabeth Windsor as Head…the ultimate in insult and dehumanization.
What independence are we celebrating? One to make the authorities feel good about whatever non-existent achievement they feel there is????? Or the fact that 60 years have passed since the farce?
We say in the vernacular, when we see all the unimaginable go unquestioned/unpunished/uninvestigated/unnoticed that Jamaica is not a real place, but I’m a real person and I will not endorse/dignify their make-believe. To do so would say to them that everything irie…to normalize and fictionalize. If only the majority would take a stance, but we live in a world of people who are slaves to rationalizing. So, slavery wasn’t as bad because it brought good as I heard a black person say recently!
I have better ways to spend my Saturday. After all, it’s just another day in unreal Jamaica, only that businesses are not open for business, but it’s pretty much business as usual!