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Jamaica: Emancipation Park

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Emancipation Park | Jamaica | Americas

[Visited: April 2009]

The sun was on its way down when I approached the northern entrance of Emancipation Park. Cars were honking their horns, stuck in a traffic jam. Another working day was coming to its end, and people were on their way home. I decided to enter the park. Right at the entrance, a big sign informed me of how I should behave and what I should, and should not, do. One of the activities only allowed with prior permission was to do sports, but right at the entrance I saw a jogging track following the outline of the park, on which joggers and walkers were exercising. I crossed and walked the main lane cutting through the park. Unfortunately, the fountains and channels in Emancipation Park were all dry, and I could only imagine how the park would look like when they would all be functioning. The three fountains symbolize the stages of the Jamaican people towards emancipation, starting at the beginning of slavery in the late 17 century, towards freedom in 1838. The central fountain, Magic Main fountain, is supposed to be especially attractive at night, and is often used by newly-weds for pictures. Right at the centre of the park, you can find an open-air multi-purpose stage where performances are regularly held.

Picture of Emancipation Park (Jamaica): Jogger passing a tree in Emancipation Park

From the central area of Emancipation Park, I walked a lane with reflecting pools on both sides towards the ceremonial entrance at the crossroads of Oxford Road and Knutsford Boulevard at the southeastern entrance of the park. Here I found Redemption Song, the unique and expressive bronze sculpture made by Laura Facey especially for the park. It consists of a man and a woman, bigger than life size, both naked and looking towards each other. They symbolize the breaking free of the slaves of Jamaica, looking up to the sky, not to each other. Normally, the base of the sculpture emerges from a pool, which is considered as elemental according to the sculptor, but this was also dry on my visit. The nudity of the sculpture caused some heated debate in Jamaica after it was put in its prominent place. Emancipation Park commemorates the emancipation of the slaves, and as such is a tribute to the Jamaican people, most of whom were originally taken to the island by the English to work the sugar cane fields. Moreover, in details in the park you can still see decorations referring to the African heritage of the Jamaican people: motifs taken from Ghana.

Picture of Emancipation Park (Jamaica): Redemption Song: statue commemorating the liberation of slaves by Laura Facey

The park is laid out spaciously by Kamau Kambui, to allow for freedom of movement, as a symbol of emancipation. Apart from its symbolic function and the opportunity to workout, Emancipation Park is used as a meeting place by many. The many benches and lawns provide ample opportunity to relax, talk, and see daily life pass by. I did not have time to try any of them, and instead walked around the park, partly using the jogging path. Emancipation Park is beautiful with its orchids, Poincana trees, and Royal Palm trees. As the sun was sinking towards the horizon and the temperature dropped, more and more people were running here, and I was careful to stick to the side of the path to let joggers pass easily. As the sun was now gone and darkness was falling over Kingston, it was time to leave the park and look for dinner.

Picture of Emancipation Park (Jamaica): Redemption Song statue reflected in sign at one of the entrances of Emancipation Park
Picture of Emancipation Park (Jamaica): Redemption Song statue under the clouds of the late afternoon sky
Picture of Emancipation Park (Jamaica): Jogger passing a sign in Emancipation Park
Picture of Emancipation Park (Jamaica): Right in the middle of Emancipation Park: open-air stage
Picture of Emancipation Park (Jamaica): Having a rest in Emancipation Park
Picture of Emancipation Park (Jamaica): Female nude close-up, part of the Redemption Song statue
Picture of Emancipation Park (Jamaica): Taking a break under the palm trees in Emancipation Park
Picture of Emancipation Park (Jamaica): Having a workout dressed in yellow and green
Picture of Emancipation Park (Jamaica): Going for a run in Emancipation Park

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