Some 12 million dollars will be spent this year to stage the inaugural Western Gala in observance of Emancipation and Independence celebrations.
The activities, set to rival those in Kingston will mark the commencement of the inaugural Western Gala, which will expand to become an annual occurrence, not unlike the grand gala held in Kingston annually.
The joint Emancipation/Independence celebrations, slated for the western region of Jamaica, were launched officially on Thursday, July 25, at a ceremony held in Sam Sharpe Square, Montego Bay.
The ceremony preceded the announcement of the sequence of activities slated for the Western Jamaica celebrations. Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, Oliva Grange, outlined the sequence of events that will occur, beginning with the vigil on July 31. First on the agenda is an event for Wednesday, July 31, which is an emancipation parish vigil commencing at 8 p.m. in the Sam Sharpe Square. On Thursday, August 1, a kiddies’ village will be held at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex at 10 a.m.
On Friday, August 2, a culture talks special, featuring drummers will occur and the kiddies’ village will continue. A gospel fest commencing at 7 p.m. will also occur on that day. On Sunday, August 4, an Independence Thanksgiving service will be held in the Bethel Baptist Church located in Chatham, St. James. The Western Gala will also occur later that day. On Tuesday, August 6, an Independence Civic Ceremony will be held and an Independence float parade will also be on display.
Minister Grange asserted that this inaugural staging of the Western Gala will be the start of many to come, and was emphatic in her declaration of the importance of expanding the annual Emancipation/Independence celebrations to Western Jamaica. “I’m delighted to be here with you in Montego Bay tonight to launch the Western Independence Village and the Western Gala. We have heard it said so often that Kingston is not Jamaica and we know this is true. That is why we are leading by example and ensuring our citizens in Western Jamaica are able to enjoy the best of Jamaican culture, just as the folks in Kingston do.”
The government has allocated $10 million under its auspices to the successful staging of the Western Gala. An additional $2 million donation came from the Minister of National Security, Horace Chang. This $12 million endowment was entirely dedicated to the Western Gala and Minister Grange was adamant that the funding opportunities provided are sufficient to launch the celebrations.
“Indeed, Western Jamaica has produced some great cultural icons. The theme for celebrations this year—our 57th year of Independence—is “One Nation, One People” and it speaks to the diversity in our country. To add to that, our fashion theme is roots and culture. This means that for Independence, you can dress up in whatever you consider your roots and culture,” Grange added. “The government of Jamaica has committed to spending 12 million dollars to make the Western Gala spectacular, through the kind contribution of 2 million dollars from Dr. Horace Chang and 10 million dollars from the government.”
The gospel festival and other events slated for the Western Gala will feature a lineup of several sterling recording artistes. The likes of Eric Donaldson, Chi Ching Ching, Professor Nuts, Ernie Smith, Luciano and more, will display their talents during the gala. This is all part of the government’s effort to promote inclusivity and expand the scope of operations from the Corporate Area.
“We will have, for the first time, a fantastic fireworks display. We believe that Western Jamaica is worthy of this level of attention, of having your own celebrations,” Grange affirmed.
Rashaun Stewart – Summer Intern