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Jamaica independence kicks off in DC

August 2006 marks the 165th anniversary of Jamaica’s emancipation from slavery and the nation’s 44th anniversary of independence from Britain.In the U.S., Jamaica’s independence will be celebrated with the utmost fervor in Washington, D.C., in a series of events hosted by Ambassador Gordon Shirley and the Jamaican Embassy.

Beginning on July 28th, a week of theatrical performances, art exhibits, musical performances and gala receptions will mark Jamaica’s independence, culminating in a Jamaican Sunday Market festival at the Gardens of the Organization of American States.

The week will provide the entire community an opportunity to join together and share in the true Jamaican experience—its people, food, music, art and culture. The festivities will kick off with an Independence Dance, presented by the St. Andrew High Alumnae Association, featuring Merritone Winston Blake with Craig Ross on Friday, July 28 at 7 p.m. at Zanzibar on the Waterfront, 700 Water St., SW. Hot Spot, the award winning play by Basil Dawkins will be performed on Tuesday, August 1 at 8 p.m. at the Warner Theater, 1299 Pennsylvania Ave., NW. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.


From Friday, August 4 through October 29, New Possessions—an exhibition of contemporary Jamaican art celebrating 44 years of Jamaica’s independence will be on display at the Art Museum of the Americas, 201 18th St., NW. Admission is free. Following the opening of the exhibit will be the return of Jamaica Night at Zanzibar on the Waterfront, featuring one of Jamaica’s most popular dance groups—the Bare Essentials Band along with DJ Sprang on Friday, August 4 at 7 p.m.


On Saturday, August 5 the Jamaican Nationals Association will host an Independence Gala at the Renaissance Hotel from 8 p.m.—1 p.m., featuring special guest Mrs. Beverley Anderson-Manley and a guest appearance by Miss. Jamaica World Terri-Karelle Griffiths. The Image Band & Jason Steele will provide musical entertainment. Also on Saturday night, the Jamaica Association of Maryland and Baltimore Cricket & Social Club will host an Independence Ball at Martins West. On Sunday morning, August 6, an Independence Day Service of Celebration will be held at Dunbarton Chapel, Howard University, 2900 Van Ness St., NW at 11 a.m.

Following the mass will be the grand finale of weeklong celebrations—the Independence Sunday Market on the Gardens of the Organization of American States, 17th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW. The festival will last from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. and feature Jamaican food, art and craft, a travel pavilion with information about Jamaica and live music performances from Kimanyi Marley, Skatellites, Bare Essentials, Lovindeer, Roy Rayon and Image Band. Organizers are expecting seven to eight-thousand attendees throughout the day.

“On behalf of all Jamaicans, we are looking forward to the opportunity to stage these events along with our partners and friends who have helped make Jamaica the wonderful country that it is, and worthy of such grand celebration,” stated His Excellency, Professor Gordon Shirley, Jamaica’s Ambassador to the U.S. “We look forward to continuing the tradition of sharing the Jamaican spirit in the year to come, and encourage all of our friends to join us in the upcoming celebrations.”