Jamaica’s 60th Independence Day will be celebrated today (August 6) at Victoria Square during the Commonwealth Games 2022.
The organisers are working with the Association of Jamaican Nationals to mark a day of celebration alongside a civic ceremonial moment to commemorate the Jamaican Independence Day.
They are planning a very special day at Victoria Square to celebrate Jamaican culture and heritage. It’s also carnival time at the Bullring and Grand Central. Thousands of Jamaicans live in Birmingham and across the West Midlands with many descending from the Windrush Generation after the first HMS Windrush voyage from Kinston in 1948.
What to expect at Victoria Square?
There has been a party in Victoria Square ever since the Commonwealth Games arrived in town with the Queen’s Baton being delivered by Lenny Henry over a week ago.
And the Jamaica Day celebrations on Saturday are shaping up to be extra special, with food and drink and the latest Commonwealth Games sports action on the big screen all day long.
Here’s the itinerary:
In the morning, Sofunk Dance Fitness’ Sharon Brown is back with her signature class featuring the best soul, funk and disco classics - a crowd-pleaser for all ages! Then, show off your best moves at Perry’s Playtime Disco - your opportunity to have a boogie with the Commonwealth Games’ official mascot.
The day will begin with Sofunk Dance Fitness’ Sharon Brown conducting her signature class featuring the best soul, funk and disco classics. Then, you can show off your moved at Perry’s Playtime Disco.
For lunchtime, Girl Grind UK has set up a lineup of young female and non-binary performers representing the future of Jamaican music. The performers include Birmingham’s Czafari, R&B & Punk-Rock musician Chyna Victoria, multi-talented Shandanan, and Jamaica-born singer-songwriter Janel Antoneshia. The event will be hosted by Girl Grind founder Namywa and feature slick beats from Tu3sday.
There will be a civic flag raising ceremony in Victoria Square at 2.30PM on 6 August.
At 4.30PM, a musical showcase will be hosted in honour of Jamaica 60th Independence Anniversary at the Fountain Stage.
Classically trained violent Melika Queely will take the stage first followed by Clifford & Jacqueline, a husband and wife duo who sing with the Crystal Gospel Choir. Next, Laverne Major, a singer-songwriter and performer with a passion for female empowerment, will dazzle with her performance. And finally, BeeNiice’s unique style fusing old school and new school reggae, hip-hop, R&B, and dancehall, will move the crowd.
At 7.15 pm, Amplify Sounds will present a special performance.
It will include performances by Myki Tuff, frontman of the Friendly Fire reggae band. Louis D Prince + THEM will discuss a range of topics like equality and sociopolitical issues. Next performer will be Jamaica-born Nakeeta, or Yardie Barbie, who fuses her Caribbean root rhythms with stories we can all relate to. Brixx willgive high-energy performances ranging in Dancehall, Grime & RnB. Dancehall artist YungJay who often mixes it up with RnB, afrobeats and grime, will play next. Then, Juggernaut will bring powerful vocals, followed by Dertee, a reggae artist, Scubba Bling who fuses Dancehall, Reggae and other influences, and multi-talented Lawdgad.
You can see the full line up here: 60th Jamaica Day Celebrations in Victoria Square
Dr. Beverly Lindsay OBE, OD, Chair of Association of Jamaican Nationals and a Queen’s Baton bearer, said a celebratory dinner will follow the civic flag hoisting in front of the Council House.
A Jamaica 60th Grand Gala Fundraising Dinner and Awards will be held from 6.30pm at the Eastside Rooms. The dinner will be attended by Lord Mayor and the Bishop of Birmingham and several other bishops and members of the Jamaican High Commission. At least 400 people are expected to attend the dinner and there will also be screening of the Games.
What’s happening at the Bullring and Grand Central?
Big, colourful costumes inspired by the 11 Caribbean islands will be on parade at Birmingham’s iconic Bullring and Grand Central as It’s Carnival takes over the centre in a celebration.
ACE dance and music’s professional company along with their mini and youth companies will join with DJ G-Zee, Jamaal Burkmar and Black Voices and the community choir in 2 indoor performances as well as on the streets.
The NBA partnership commissioned festival anthem, We Rise, composed by Ken Burton, will be performed by Mighty Jamma Steel Pan and Ebony Steel Pan who bring the sounds of Trinidad and Tobago to Birmingham.
Spectacular costumes created by Clary Salandy (Mahogany Arts) inspired by the 11 Caribbean islands and countries coming to the Games will wow at It’s Carnival.
Presented by Bullring & Grand Central, co-produced by ACE dance and music and Birmingham Hippodrome. A part of Birmingham 2022 Festival and the North Birmingham Alliance (NBA) Route 34: Embracing Cultures.
Other events around the city
From August 3-7, The Glee Club will host the pop-up Jamaica House. The special hospitality pop up, includes watch parties and themed live musical entertainment, every night from the 3 to the 7 August. The celebrations form part of Jamaica Tourist Board’s global Jamaica60 initiatives to celebrate the island’s sixtieth anniversary of independence.
August 3: Lovers Rock featuring legends Carroll Thompson and Winston Reedy.
Thursday 4 August: International reggae night featuring Doktor and special appearance by Stylo-G.
Friday 5 August: Comedy night with White Yardie & Friends.
Saturday 6 August: Ring the alarm – The DJ showdown featuring Big John Newood, Lady Jennie P, Mikey Biggs and JNR Banton (Blood Line Sounds).
Sunday 7 August: Giving thanks and praise – The Gospel Showcase featuring Lurine Cato and Isaiah Raymond.
On 6 August, Jerk and Whine Festival will be held at Secret Space Digbeth, 30-34 River Street from 3PM to 10PM. The event will feature old school Dancehall, Reggae Vibes and Jerk food all day. It’s perfect for those looking for the Carribean holiday vibes.
On 14 August, a church service and other events by the Association of Jamaican Nationals will be held in Handsworth.
On 20 August, The Jerk Festival at The Mill will showcase music and street food at the day-to-night show. It will headline acts from Channel One Soundsystem, son of the legendary radio broadcaster Sir David “Ram Jam” Rodigan Jamie Rodigan and 1Xtra’s UK dancehall and reggae DJ Robbo Ranx TBC + more.
Jamaicans in Birmingham
Black Carribean people make up 4.4% of the Birmingham population, as per the 2011 Census. The diaspora is well into their third generation as Jamaicans have been migrating to the UK since the 1960s.
Lindsay wants younger Jamaicans to learn about their heritage and stay close to their roots. She advises the younger generation to focus on their goals and achievements.
“You can be anything you want to be. Stay on the right side of the law and work hard, be more supportive of each other,” she added. “Sometimes we dont celebrate each other’s success but try to lift up each other up.”
She is also calling for more unity among the diaspora. “Sometimes, as Jamaicans, we don’t come together as much as we should. However, this 60th anniversary is a milestone and a stepping stone,” she said.
History of Jamaican Independence
On 6 August, 1962 Jamaica became an independent country after almost 300 years and a member of the British Commonwealth instead of a colony. The new constitution of Jamaica was approved in February that year and general elections were called. Alexander Bustamante became the first prime minister of Jamaica in April 1962, according to the Jamaican Information Service.
Jamaica at the Commonwealth Games
Lindsay, founder of Diamond Travel and former Vice Lord-Lieutenant of West Midlands, was the last woman to carry the Queen’s baton at the Commonwealth Games 2022. She is “excited” to have the Games in Birmingham, her hometown, and is looking forward to Jamaica winning medals at the sporting event.
Speaking about her homeland, she said: “We have come a long way since 1962. At the 1966 Games held in Jamaica, we didn’t get any medals but now we are shining. We have done quite a lot in sports, music, and food. There has been growth but there is room for more growth.”
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