Words by Jesse Serwer, Photos by Martei Korley—
On Monday August 6, Jamaica celebrated 50 years of independence with a massive, entertainment-filled Independence Grand Gala at the National Stadium in Kingston. No stuffy state event, the impressive spectacle was one for the people, offering a full night of music and dance performances highlighting the breadth of Jamaican culture, from ska to rocksteady to reggae and dancehall, faux Rasta rituals to Indian dance, Maroon culture and the late national treasure, Miss Lou. There was also race cars, a helicopter and real life (female) military troops in uniform stepping to Konshens’ “Do Sum’n,” and following the directions to Lil Rick’s “Go Dung.”
Jamaicans of all ages showed their approval for the remarkably swift-moving and taut proceedings by waving flags and blowing Vuvuzelas for the entire four-hour program. Even U.S.-born yardies Colin Powell and Louis Farrakhan (not to mention other political figures like South African president Jacob Zuma) were having a great time, letting loose and dancing about. LargeUp’s Martei Korley and Jesse Serwer were there to capture all of the sights, and the full vibe.