Spirit of Jamaica comes to Stratford

The summer may be soggy but the sun will be shining in Stratford as it hosts its first Festival Jamaica.

Maryland School in Gurney Road will be transformed into a cultural haven to celebrate 50 years of Jamaican independence.

Herbie Miller, historian and curator, said: “The Early Jamaican Music Room kicks off the journey through reggae that visitors experience in the variety of Reggae Rooms. It fully immerses visitors into the captive musical, historical, and exciting experience of early Jamaican music.”

An explosion of Jamaican beats include performances from The Aces, the original Desmond Dekker band, performing their greatest hits including The Israelites and 007, a ska showcase with The Originals and Jerry Dammers, a roots night with The Gladiators, plus No-Maddz and Jamaica Rising.

The colours and sounds of Jamaica will be shown on the big screen at the Reggae Film Festival with Africa Unite, the European premiere of Awantu: The Journey, Fire in Babylon, H2 Worker, plus short films and animations.

‘Laid back’

Hit 70s musical The Harder They Come will be performed during the festival as part of a world tour of the production that made Jimmy Cliff an international star.

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Jamaica’s heritage, from its architecture to botany, feature in Regenerating Jamaica’s Architectural Heritage, photography exhibitions and The Power of Jamaican Plants.

The Reggae Kitchen will serve full Jamaican breakfast, lunch, and dinner under the expert eye of Caribbean Chef of the Year 2006 and 2007 Colin Brown.

Festival director Ziggy Golding said: “The vision of Festival Jamaica 2012 is to deliver fun-filled days where visitors will enjoy the cool, laid back Jamaican atmosphere, while delivering a lasting legacy of Jamaican achievements, including those living in the UK and abroad.”

Festival Jamaica 2012 is at Maryland School, Gurney Road, Stratford, from July 27-August 12.

n Day tickets and individual event tickets are available from www.festivaljamaica2012.com.