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Jamaica: 50th Celebrations Enhanced by Olympic Performance

This post is part of our special coverage London 2012 Olympics.

“She hope dem caution worl-map

Fi stop draw Jamaica small

For de lickle speck cyaan show

We independantness at all!”Louise Bennett-Coverley

Today, Jamaica celebrates 50 years of independence from Great Britain and thanks to the incredible performance of the country's track and field athletes at this year's Olympic Games (quite fittingly taking place in London), netizens are having a double celebration.

Diaspora blogger Geoffrey Philp set the tone for the day by posting the lyrics to the Jamaican national anthem. Jamaica Woman Tongue takes a more in-depth look at “the rigours of independence” – then and now – by examining the poetry of the Jamaican spoken-word artist and cultural pioneer, Louise Bennett-Coverley:

Miss Lou acknowledges the fact that Independence is much more than the song and dance of Festival celebrations. It requires a capacity for self-sacrifice that some Jamaicans may stubbornly resist…

In ‘Jamaica Elevate’ Miss Lou also raises the vexing issue of colour and class politics in the newly independent nation. She highlights an amusing case of mistaken identity, underscoring old antagonisms. The new, native Governor-General, the Queen’s representative, resembles a family member, Bada John. At Independence, the changing face of authority would seem to confirm the ‘elevation’ of not just the Jamaican state, but, more important, black people.

But with wicked wit Miss Lou reveals the purely superficial nature of what appears to be fundamental social change. The immediate response to what looks like Bada John’s picture in the newspaper humorously defines the usual circumstances in which a black person would be deemed newsworthy in the media politics of the times – the heralding of misfortune.

But misfortune is not anywhere in sight during these 50th independence celebrations; despite some of the country's shortcomings and challenges, Jamaicans continue to dominate the international track and field arena, boasting the fastest men – and women – on earth.

Nadine, Unscripted comments here

I’m chuffed to bits! Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell-Brown have given Jamaica memorable presents in the form of gold and bronze medals, respectively, in the Women’s 100m finals at the London Olympics. I consider them marvelous gifts for our 50th year of Independence!

And here:

As we say in Jamaica, ‘mi glad bag buss!’

Usain ‘Lightning’ Bolt struck twice, successfully defended his title in the Men’s 100m finals and created a new Olympic record of 9.63. Not to be outdone, Olympics newcomer, Yohan Blake showed why Jamaicans have dubbed him the “Beast” on the track, by powering his way to a silver medal for Jamaica.

So, that’s two more gifts on the eve of Jamaica’s 50th Independence. Tomorrow, on our Jubilee Anniversary, our National Anthem will play at another medal ceremony. How much cooler than that can you get?

Jamaica Woman Tongue sums it up by saying:

Our history is one of migration. All of us foreigners who came, willingly or not, and now call this island our own, do have a sense of ancestral homelands. This speck of Jamaica is great because our conception of ourselves is not dependent solely on our present insular location. Beyond the boundaries of this little island, we envision landscapes of greatness that we can also claim as ours.

On Twitter, you can follow what netizens are saying by searching for the hashtags #bolt, #olympics2012 and #jamaica.

This post is part of our special coverage London 2012 Olympics.

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