Columns

Joining the past and the future

Barbara Gloudon

Friday, August 03, 2018

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Emancipation and Independence are times of mixed emotions when we look back at the past, and consider the past and the future. This is a time when we are reminded that we are in a season of remembrance of the good and the bad. We are taking a journey through the times of challenge and looking back at the history of our ancestors is worth giving some attention. These days we cast our minds on the long-gone years when there were so much trials in the world.

Through this long holiday weekend, and even further on, we should seek to educate ourselves if we wish to know who we really are as sons and daughters of the past. Not everybody is interested, their focus is firmly set on the future, but that doesn't mean that we can't spend time to know our history. There are nuff and plenty of our ancestors who passed through some serious times but never gave up. That we have survived is worth recognising.

There are those people who will kiss-teet and declare that all that business about Emancipation and slavery and backra massa has no relevance in the 21st century. Over recent years, there have been occasions whereby effort is made to educate a new generation in proving that history does matter. The education system has been enhancing the lessons through various means to get the young ones connected to the past. Teachers of today include historical facts in different subject areas, not just social studies and history, and occasions such as Heritage Week and Jamaica Day provide other opportunities to entertain and edify.

It is time now that some of the elders of the past share their knowledge with the achievers of today. We can learn from history books as well as from the stories told by grandma and grandpa. There is a long road to travel, but are we making sure that we know the distance we have travelled so far? Over this weekend, there are various activities staged by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission and other organizations on a national and parish level at which even the youngest among us can learn something new about their history.

It has been refreshing to see the pictures of youngsters taking part in programmes that are reminders of what the ancestors used to do. I don't know about you, but I can't help but smile when I see a youngster getting down to some Dinki Mini or dancing the quadrille. It is yesterday joining today as the now-generation shows what they have learned from the past. What if we can find other ways to ensure the continuity of learning? Students at school should study the past and continue to learn more for the future. What do we want learning for our next generation to be?

During the current week, I found myself reading Tales of Old Jamaica, a publication by Clinton Black, a noted Jamaican writer of the past who put together a collection of stories of the long-long past. Should today-day Jamaicans even bother to read about Annie Palmer or Anne Bonny and Mary Read — the women pirates of Port Royal. Why not? As our youth latch on to all kinds of stuff from Up There, why can't we entertain them with something from Down Here?

What about the story of the great Marcus Mosiah Garvey who affected so many people the world over? How many of our schoolchildren know more about the great man than he was our first national hero? We must open their minds to learning more. To quote Garvey: “Education is the medium by which a people are prepared for the creation of their own particular civilisation and the advancement and glory of their own race.”

During this weekend, thousands will head to Clarendon to enjoy the Denbigh Agricultural Industrial and Food Show — the oldest agricultural show in the English-speaking Caribbean. Will we let youngsters know about T P Lecky, a highly trained man who developed remarkable breeds of cattle which revolutionised the livestock industry in this hemisphere? The Jamaica Red cow and the other varieties he worked on were sought out by many countries. Yeah, man, we used to have really smart people here. We still have them now and we always want to encourage and inspire the youth so that there will be even more people of brilliance.

Also in the news this week are the reports of the wonderful achievements of our athletes participating in the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Colombia. Jamaicans have been performing at the highest levels in the areas of track and field and other disciplines wherein we never thought we could excel. Our champions are building on the success of heroes such as Herb McKenley, Donald Quarrie, and many others. Are we ready to see that the next set of young leaders will be able to be the best of the best?

We have come far together, and there is further still to go. To the family here and abroad, from town to country: Happy Independence to one and all. Let's prepare for the next 56 years, even while we remember the past.

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or gloudonb@yahoo.com.

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