Scores of Montegonians turned out for the Western Jamaica Leg of the CARICOM Reparations Youth Baton Relay and Rally, which took place in Sam Sharpe Square on December 27, 2017.
The event marked the last of the urban-centre rallies in Jamaica, which were aimed at ramping up support for the region-wide movement by encouraging the participation of youth and the general public.
It preceded another follow-up rally that took place a few hours later in Kensington, a rural community in the hills of St. James, which was the starting point of the Christmas Rebellion led by National Hero Sam Sharpe in 1731, and which served as a catalyst for Emancipation in Jamaica.
In his address following his official receipt of the Flames of Freedom Emancipation Torch and the Reparations Baton, Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Homer Davis, told the gathering that he was pleased to host the event at “two very historic locations” in the parish, which were connected to the National Hero, who “spearheaded the quest to have slavery abolished in Jamaica”.
“It is a very special day in the life of not only Montego Bay and St. James but it is a special day in the Caribbean and other areas of the globe, as this is the day in 1831 that Samuel Sharpe started the journey for Emancipation,” the Mayor said.
Mr. Davis, who is also Chairman of the St. James Municipal Corporation, said Jamaica has always been a very strong advocate for equality and justice, and the country’s participation in the CARICOM Baton Youth Relay and Rally sends a clear message to the world that the nation’s push towards reparations remains very forceful and strong.
Mayor Davis said the events also bring into sharp focus the efforts of Jamaica’s present-day leaders, “as we continue the fight to bring closure and, indeed, justice for Jamaica in relation to our ancestors being victims of colonialism and slavery”.
He expressed optimism that the Reparations Youth Baton Relay and Rally would bring more awareness to the people of western Jamaica and add momentum to Jamaica’s quest to obtain reparations for the injustices that the nation’s forefathers suffered.
Relays have also been staged in Barbados, Guyana, Suriname and St. Lucia, as well as in Antigua and Barbuda. The exchange of the baton from Antigua to Jamaica took place on October 10.
The Jamaican relay, which commenced on October 19 at the Paul Bogle High School in Morant Bay, was also staged in Port Antonio, Port Maria and Kingston and highlighted the atrocities of slavery and the socio-economic impact on the Caribbean region.
“It is no secret that our ancestors suffered a lot as they paved the way for us to be living as free Jamaicans with rights, which we sometimes take for granted, while people in other parts of the world continue to only dream of having these rights,” Mayor Davis said.
“Congratulations are in order for CARICOM for the work it has done, so far, and will continue to do in trying to get redress for our people. We have come full circle, and I daresay we have grown above the hatred that existed. We are on the road to recovery and I am sure that reparations for those injustices will be a fine way to make amends,” he said.