President Uhuru Kenyatta and Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness Tuesday launched celebrations to mark the International Decade of People of African Descent in Kingston Jamaica.
The launch of the celebrations to mark the United Nations designated period were unveiled as Jamaica observed its 57th independence anniversary.
The colourful ceremony was held at the Jamaica National Stadium and attended by thousands of enthusiastic Jamaicans who traveled from across the country to attend the historic event in Kingston, the country’s capital city.
The highlight of the celebration was a presentation of songs and dances from the Americas which are what people of African descent remember of the traditions they came with to the Americas 400 years ago.
The presentations included nostalgic pieces from Cuba, Brazil, Haiti, New Orleans and Jamaica itself.
The presentations also included songs and dances paying homage to Africa with special mentions to Kenya whose President was the chief guest at the celebrations.
President Kenyatta, who was the chief guest at the event, said he was honoured to represent the African continent at the launch of the important celebrations.
“It gives me great pleasure to declare Jamaica’s commemorations to mark the United Nations Decade for People of African Descent officially open,” said President Kenyatta.
PM Holness said Jamaica will host several events over the next year until the 6th of August 2020 to celebrate the decade.
The launch of the celebrations coincides with the 400 year anniversary of the time ships carrying Africans first landed in the Americas.
It also coincides with the centenary of when Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey incorporated the Black Star Liner, ships which were to be used to repatriate Africans in the diaspora back to the continent.
Marcus Garvey’s teachings of African unity and independence had significant impact on the Pan African movements and also influenced the fight for independence.
Even though many Africans on the continent spend a lifetime without ever hearing of the history of black people in the Americas, there are millions of Africans in the diaspora who constantly search for their heritage and are very attached to Africa.
Among the places President Kenyatta has visited included the Jamaican Heroes Circle where he laid a wreath at the shrine of Garvey.
Prime Minister Holness said Jamaica will use the celebrations to mark the decade of people of African Descent to pay homage to Africa.
Earlier on Tuesday, President Kenyatta was the chief guest at the 67th Jamaica Agricultural Show at Denbigh.
President Kenyatta who toured the show ground was impressed by, among others, the variety of high grade cattle breeds developed by Jamaican scientists. The tropical cattle breeds include the Jamaican Hope, Jamaican Brahman, Jamaican Red and Jamaican Black. The cattle have the hardiness of the Zebu cattle and superior beef characteristics of the Aberdeen Angus.
President Kenyatta and PM Holness said that as part of the growing cooperation between the two developing countries, Kenya and Jamaica will work closely in exchange of expertise and technical knowhow in agriculture.
On Monday the two leaders held bilateral talks where they witnessed the signing of four deals to deepen ties between Kenya and Jamaica.
The agreements signed included MoUs on technical cooperation in tourism and also in the fields of sports, culture and heritage. The two leaders also witnessed the signing of a framework of cooperation between the two governments and an MoU on political consultations.
Besides the agreements that were signed, the two leaders and their delegations discussed plans to introduce air transport connections between Kenya and Jamaica.