Review: Patriotism Aglow On Emancipation Eve

Another wonderful evening in ‘E-Park’, as it is fondly known, with the remarkable NDTC Dancers and Singers doing their mento thing, eyes fastened on them for as long as the performances lasted and no one bored or looking to lose their seats for any reason. E-Park was jam packed with thousands of folkscarrying balloons and flags or wearing some combination of black, green and gold; they came early eitherto secure a seat or to find a place that would be a perfect vantage point from which they could capture the view. Faye Ellington was stylishly dressed in her elegant Jamaican red and blue plaids, you know the one I mean and she was awesome in executing her duties and responsibilities as MC for the evening. Looking on were the many ‘tourist-looking’ Jamaicans who you could tell had not been to the land we love forsome time. The regular visitors had better command of the happenings but all were still patriotic and all were present to witness Jamaica, though still young, having grown up and matured.  

Present and performing too were the members of the stately NHT Chorale (National Housing Trust). Even though you may have thought of them as all stuffy office people doing business as usual, they broke new grounds in my mind and wowed the crowd with a different kind of energy. After the show, I was granted an exclusive interview with one of the members, Suzette Singh-Ogle. What a name to have as you sing!Truly we live up to our motto, ‘Out of many, one people’, because Suzette appears to be of Indian descent with her soft Jamaican accent that expressed the pulse of ‘EMANCIPENDENCE’, a word coined to keep the two celebrations separate but joined as a nation ‘on a mission’.  

Suzette, garbed in her short-sleeved white blouse and long, green and gold skirt, repeated that ten years ago when they broke ground and cleaned up the lot, which is now Emancipation Park, she remembers that in her mind she thought it would be just like some other places and would soon fall into a state of disrepair, having either tall and bushy grass or simply be a dust bowl during the dry, rainless seasons. She can see the park from her office window and now, ten years later she is singing in the park – a haven for those who want to walk, stroll, capture photographs, spend quiet moments or just lay on the neatly manicured lawn. You have a sense of safety and security with the ‘guardsman’ security men and women constantly patrolling to keep things in order, the water fountain doing dances to the rhythm of its own style.

The idea of the shows being put on for free in the relaxed atmosphere of Emancipation Park, brought a smile to Suzette’s countenance. What a concept – having free shows and concerts, no tickets, in a safe and clean environment. This makes her so proud to be Jamaican. Being a proud Jamaican too because she and the other artistes could have given of their time and talent, contributed to and participated in the evening’s happenings and feeling quite special because I asked her and not anyone else for her views on the evening’s affairs. Her patriotism was aglow.      

Here is one Jamaican who is truly proud of being totally Jamaican and has the opportunity of looking through her office window reminiscing of not just what happened ten years ago but also the excitement of Emancipation Eve, Wednesday July 31st 2012.