Today, August 1, is Emancipation Day for Jamaica. Today we celebrate being 'set free, especially from legal, social, or political restrictions' (according to some online dictionary). Funny how this should crop up at a time when people are still debating whether or not we'd be better off as a British colony. Funny how on this most public of Caribbean holidays, we're still having trouble agreeing on the safety/desirability of regional airline carriers, our governments still bicker and frequently snub each other, and our nations are, by and large, wholesalely underdeveloped.
But here we are - we the emancipated.
August 6 will be Independence Day. A day on which we will celebrate 'the fact or sate of being free from outside control; self-governing; not depending on the authority of another' (according to the dictionary on my desktop). Never mind that we're still unable to adequately support the 2.5 million people on this little rock; never mind that more than half of our national resources and key industries have been sold to foreign entities; never mind the unemployment, illiteracy, crime, violence and general sense of frustration, deprivation and fear that punctuates Jamaican life.
Here we are. We the independent.
We claim it proudly. Because, like the antsy teenager who couldn't wait to leave her parent's home and stake her lot in the world, Jamaica is still lost in the reverie of adolescent pride - that first job, that first car ... that first 'real' kiss. But Jamaica is no teenager. Or young adult. Or even in midlife (although we have a crisis). We say we're 50, but that's not true either. Long before Britain decided to cut us loose, we were alive as a nation, plotting and planning our 'escape', dreaming of the day when we would finally be free. We watched them misuse, abuse, mismanage and misdirect. We saw the mistakes they made. Our minds didn't click into motion when Britain said, "We don't want you anymore." We were alive long before that. We're much older than 50. And it's time we started acting like it!
Emancipation? Independence? They are historical processes our nation went through - stages in our metamorphosis, aspects of our becoming ... . We did not begin to exist with these processes (as some seem to believe). So when we celebrate these holidays, when we claim these days as times to look back to our roots and assess our progress, I urge us to own our age - our real age - to see the full, open, barefaced truth of just how much/little has been accomplished.
Ah, yes. Here we are. We the emancipated. We the independent. A nation in denial of its age in attempt to assuage its ego? Happy Emancipendence to all.