International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition

Fighting slavery’s legacy of racism through transformative education 

By Marsha Hall

For decades, the institutionalised system of slavery and its horrific effects and traumatic presence have lingered within the global community, whether in the faces of descendants of the former enslaved African people; powerful images; relics of the past or through tangible and intangible heritage. The ‘domino effect’ of this inhumane system signified that no society could remain complacent or indifferent to the intergenerational trauma that followed. With this in mind, each year on August 23, the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition commemorates the memory of lives lost and numerous societies still haunted by the legacies of slavery. The precursor to this was that night of 22 – 23 August 1791 when thousands of enslaved peoples in Haiti revolted in the Haitian Revolution which played a crucial role in the abolition of the transatlantic trade in enslaved people, which began in Santo Domingo (present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic). The quest for self-liberation is historically significant as the cries of freedom reverberated in other colonies and among the African enslaved masses.

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous People – The Legacies of the Taino

By Chelsea Stephenson

Indigenous peoples are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. They have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. In Jamaica’s case, the first known inhabitants of the island were the Taino, a people descended from those who first crossed the Bering Strait into the Americas thousands of years ago.

“Never Again”: International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in


By Marsha Hall

Established by the United Nations General Assembly on December 23, 2003, and adopted by Resolution 58/234, the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda is commemorated annually by UNESCO on April 7th.  This date marks the start of the 1994 genocide which lasted for what is known as the – “100 days period to mid-July 1994,” where more than 1 million Tutsis (ethnic minority) were brutally murdered by the Hutu extremist-led government. During this time, the massacres also resulted in the deaths of moderate Hutu and sympathisers who opposed the genocide. With cases of history repeating itself and not necessarily the best parts, this day provides a starting point for each generation to identify and raise their voices against such human atrocities in the global support of  “never again.”

Two to One … Ghana
By: Marcella Phillips-Grizzle

The Republic of Ghana is a West African nation believed to be the ancestral home of the vast majority of Jamaica’s Black population. Its national flag – much like the Ethiopian flag, which is revered by Jamaica’s Rastafari community – consists of the colours red, green and yellow, and has a black star depicted in its centre. The Republic is situated on the Gulf of Guinea and is bordered to its east by Togo, its west by Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), and its north by Burkina Faso. Formerly known as the Gold Coast, Ghana is the first sub-Saharan country to have gained independence from Great Britain on March 6, 1957, with its first Prime Minister being the pan-Africanist, Kwame Nkrumah.

THE 1865 MORANT BAY rebellion

With the British government’s passage of the Emancipation Act in 1834, the enslaved population throughout the colonies was granted freedom from working on the sugar plantations, and the right to establish themselves as free persons. However, by the 1860s, there was the growing feeling among the emancipated population that the British government’s interest in safeguarding their welfare in Jamaica was waning.

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

By: Marcella Phillips-Grizzle

The United Nations’ World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is recognised and celebrated around the world on May 21. The designation came in 2001 when the UN adopted the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity and, in 2002, the UN General Assembly declared May 21 as the day for dialogue and development, in direct recognition of the need for appreciation of the value of not only cultural differences, but also the tremendous role it plays in minimising poverty and achieving overall development in a sustainable manner.

Storytelling: A Vehicle for Cultural Preservation

By: Chelsea Stephenson

Storytelling is an important cultural thread that makes up the colourful fabric of Jamaican society. Louise Bennett Coverley, Ranny Williams, Charles Hyatt, Dr. Amina Blackwood Meeks, and many others, have played an integral role in promoting and protecting this aspect of Jamaica’s heritage.


Kumina is a musico-religious form which is based mainly on communication with the ancestors of the Congo people of Africa and their descendants in Jamaica. The dance ritual is also performed at times for recreational purposes.

The History and Development of Devon House

Devon House, located at the corner of Hope Road and Waterloo Road in St. Andrew, is a historic building and is regarded as one of the finest examples of nineteenth century domestic architecture in Jamaica. It is situated a far distance from these roads and is surrounded by gardens, with scattered boulders and majestic trees, including a huge cotton tree. The entrance is graced with black iron gates and the pathways leading to the house are dotted with royal palms. It has the ambience of a great house.

Jamaica’s National Bird: The Doctor Bird

By: Rochelle Clarke

The doctor bird, also known as the Swallow-tail hummingbird, Streamer-tail, Scissors-tail or Swallow-streamer or by its scientific name, Trochilus polytmus, is considered to be one of the most outstanding of the 320 species of hummingbirds. The genus is currently split into two separate species, namely, the Red-billed and the Black-billed Streamertail. This bird is indigenous to Jamaica, which means that it lives only in Jamaica.

UNESCO International Youth Day

By: Marsha Hall

Despite almost every nation grappling with its own challenges, there is a global push for diversity, equity, and inclusion for everyone – regardless of race or ethnicity. At the core of this thrust are common topics and pervasive societal issues ranging from climate change to social justice, health disparities, food insecurity, unemployment, equitable access to technology, and a clean and safe environment. However, these debates are no longer limited by age or the domain of a few, as is evidenced in the popular triumvirate: Baby boomers, Gen-Xers, and Millennials. Therefore, the theme for this year’s International Youth Day – Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages – within the context of achieving the sustainable development goals, is quite appropriate and urgently requires ‘all hands on deck’.

UNESCO International Literacy Day

By: Marsha Hall

This year, UNESCO is celebrating International Literacy Day (ILD) 2022 on the 8th of September under the theme – Transforming Literacy Learning Space – a global call to action that informs and inspires people of the importance of literacy learning spaces to build inclusive education for all. More than anything, ILD is for everyone to continue the celebration of progress achieved in literacy since the day it was first established in 1967. According to UNESCO, ILD aims to remind the public of the value of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights. Yet, universally, there are still serious barriers to be addressed, as seven hundred and seventy-one million people in the world, two-thirds of whom are females, lack even the most basic literacy skills.

Jamaica’s Highest Honour: The Order of National Hero

By Chelsea Stephenson

Established in 1969 through the National Honours and Awards Act, Jamaica’s Order of National Hero is the highest award that can be bestowed in the country. It, along with the other National Honours and Awards, made it possible for the nation to recognize those who have contributed meaningfully to the development of the nation. Since the systems’ inception, to this date, only seven individuals have received the award of the Order of National Hero: Marcus Garvey, Sir Alexander Bustamante, Norman Washington Manley, George William Gordon, Nanny of the Maroons, Paul Bogle and Samuel Sharpe.

A Brief History of East Indian Heritage in Jamaica

By Rochelle Clarke

The East Indians are the largest ethnic minority group living in Jamaica at present. The decision to introduce East Indian immigrant workers to the island’s plantations came after the failure of the post-slavery apprenticeship system in 1838 as well as the European immigration scheme.

The Significance of Jamaica’s National Symbol – the Coat of Arms

By Rochelle Clarke

A coat of arms is the principal part of a system of hereditary symbols, which dates back to early medieval Europe, and is used mainly to establish identity in battle. A coat of arms that is found on an escutcheon forms the central element of the entire heraldic achievement, which consists mainly of a shield, a motto, supporters, and a crest. Traditionally, a coat of arms is unique to an individual, family descent, adoption, a state, an organization, school or other institution or cooperation, alliance, property ownership and later on, a profession.

Colonization in Reverse: How the Windrush Generation Rebuilt Post-War Britain

By Chelsea Stephenson

On 4 December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), taking into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world, proclaimed December 18 as International Migrants Day. The day was selected to mark the anniversary of the 1990 adoption by the UNGA of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights all Migrants and the Members of Their Families. With over two million individuals in the Jamaican Diaspora and the majority residing in the United Kingdom (UK), it is important that we acknowledge the sacrifices they have made to seek a better life for themselves and their families, after leaving home to forge a new path in the unknown.

World Poetry Day

By Chelsea Stephenson

Dub Poetry

Held every year on 21 March, World Poetry Day celebrates one of humanity’s most treasured forms of cultural and linguistic expression and identity. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO) first adopted 21 March as World Poetry Day in 1999, with the aim of supporting linguistic diversity through poetic expression and increasing the opportunity for endangered languages to be heard. World Poetry Day is the occasion to honour poets, revive oral traditions of poetry recitals, promote the reading, writing and teaching of poetry, foster the convergence between poetry and other arts, such as theatre, dance, music and painting, and raise the visibility of poetry in the media. As poetry continues to bring people together across continents, all are invited to join in the celebration. In Jamaica, words have always been a primary tool of expression, from jubilation and joy to sadness and pain. Jamaicans have an uncanny way of using words to draw people in, especially through poetry. One of the most unique forms of poetry born from great Jamaican poets is Dub Poetry.

“Kind of Blue”: International Jazz Day

By Marsha Hall

To celebrate music is to celebrate life. It is no wonder that Jazz music tells the story of a people beyond the hardships and challenges they faced – the story of Black people across the Diaspora. However, Jazz’s universal appeal welcomes a diversity of people across the globe, which is one of the main reasons why, in November 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference officially designated April 30th as International Jazz Day. It is a sustainable partnership by people for the people, culminating in a celebration of a rich cultural legacy of Jazz heritage which emerged from African-American musicians in the early 1930s.

African World Heritage Day

By Marsha Hall

May 5 was declared African World Heritage Day in 2015 during the 38th session of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference. Its purpose is to highlight and promote the incredible legacy and rich cultural diversity inherent to the continent – from the people, language, food, dress, rituals to the belief systems.

Solidarity: UNESCO World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

By Marsha Hall

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) proclaimed May 21 as the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development to address the inherent uniqueness of world cultures and push forward constructive dialogue in an inclusive manner as an essential factor in creating a more peaceful and humane society sustainably.

Death Rituals in Jamaica

Death and burial are treated with great reverence by many in Jamaica. They serve as a major opportunity for family gatherings and bring persons together from near and far distances. A burial is usually delayed until as many relatives as possible can arrive from abroad or from remote sections of the island.

Remembering Madiba

By Latoya Briscoe

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” – Nelson Mandela

In 1994, Nelson Mandela became the first Black head of state in South Africa — a feat which would transcend the borders of his country to resonate loudly with millions combating racial injustice in the African Diaspora. Mandela emerged quickly as a leader of the campaign against apartheid — a system which authorized racial segregation of the country’s minority white population, and its overwhelming non-white majority. The South African state successfully enacted these practices through policies and legislation that separated housing and educational developments for white and non-white people, and restricted the mobility of non-white people to areas designated for white occupation. With what can only be described as an uncompromising defiance, Mandela challenged this system on the grounds that it was a violation of the inalienable rights of South Africa’s predominantly Black population.