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Learning English - Words in the News
26 March, 2007 - Published 12:58 GMT
Jamaica marks slavery abolition
Jamaica map

A special ceremony, 'the funeral of the ancestors', took place yesterday in the Jamaican capital, Kingston, as part of commemorations that have been held around the world to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the British slave trade. The BBC's Rachel Harvey was there and sent this report:

Listen to the story

A solitary horn hewn from animal bones sounding start of ceremonies here. On the waterfront of Kingston's natural harbour, where centuries ago ships laden with slaves would have moored up, a large and colourful crowd is gathered.

This is a multi-faith event - Rastafarians, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, together to honour a common heritage. The Reverend Earnley Gordon of the Anglican Church in Kingston says it's important to acknowledge the past, however troubled that history may be.

REVEREND EARNLEY GORDON: Modern Jamaica is learning that we should forgive, we should reconcile, we should never return to any form of slavery.

And this is a combination of remembrance and celebration, honouring those slaves who perished on the passage from Africa, those who died of neglect or abuse on the sugar plantations, but also praising those who resisted captivity, those whose rebellions played such a crucial role in their own eventual freedom.

Later a scroll with the names of a thousand slaves will be buried under the shade of a tree at the water's edge - the spirits of the ancestors laid to rest.

Rachel Harvey, BBC News, Kingston, Jamaica

Listen to the words

cut into shape with a sharp tool

laden with slaves
heavily loaded with people whose lives and actions are completely controlled by others

moored up
been attached to the land with a rope

a multi-faith event
an event where people from different religious backgrounds gather together

a common heritage
qualities, traditions and things of historical importance that people share

harmonize, make mutually compatible


resisted captivity
fought against being taken as slaves

a crucial role
a very important part

a scroll
a roll of paper with writing on it

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