A large crowd of Dominicans gathered at the Old Market Place in Roseau on Sunday to join the celebration of honoring the Maroons who courageously fought to undermine and destroy the institution of the slavery on the island.
The activity, dubbed “A Tribute to Jacko” was organized by the 12th of July Movement, to commemorate the valiant Maroon Chief “Jacko” who was killed on July 12th, 1814 and who was considered the most important maroon chief in Dominica.
“These very stones that you see here is some way sanctified by the blood of the innocents, by the blood of those people who had the courage to stand up against wrong, to stand up against slavery, to stand for injustice, to stand for liberty, to stand for human dignity,” Founder of the 12th of July Movement, Attorney at- Law, Bernard Wiltshire said while addressing the opening ceremony. “And they paid the price, and they paid the price with their blood and their blood was spilled on this very stones, in this very place.”
He said therefore the ceremony has symbolic significance and “we” can give it meaning.
“We can give it a meaning that we want to give it, not a meaning that it was given by those who oppressed us, but the meaning that we want to give it,” he explained.
He explained that, “the meaning we will like to give it is to show that we haven’t just jumped up from nowhere, we have roots and our roots go back to a great struggle, to something that has always distinguished man from beasts, something that has always in fact motivated the highest qualities in the human minds. That struggle to be free, that struggle to be dignified, that struggle to realize our potential as human beings.”
He indicated that because of the struggle which took place in the Old Market, the area can now be transformed from a place of desolation, to a transcendent place.
“We can give it a meaning that in fact confirm, not the defeat of our people attempt to get freedom, but in fact its triumph,” he explained
Meantime, Wiltshire called for the Old Market Place to be transformed into a National Heroes’ Park.
“We want this square to be a National Heroes’ Park at the back there,” he noted. “Instead of having the statue of the Maroon there, those people we regard as our heroes, the people who fought for our freedom, we will have statues around the square, this very place where they suffered and were executed and were murdered. Their memory will stand in triumph, that will show the victory of good over evil, the victory of triumph over disaster.”
The event began with libation and drumming, followed by a moment of outrage, poetry power talks, chanting and the production of a short play called “Your Time Is Done Now” directed by Alwin Bully and written by Polly Pattullo which presented the original evidence from the Maroon trials of 1814.
Sponsors of the event include; Dominica News Online, Valley Engineering, Dr. Damien Dublin, Alliance Francaise, DBS, KairiFM, Q95, the Chronicle, Fort Young Hotel, The Old Market Trust, Papillote Press, Green Mountain Flowers and Garraway Hotel.
See photos below from the event.