KINGSTON — Representatives of the three African Missions in Jamaica will participate in this year's Labour Day and Workers’ Week activities, between May 15 and 23, Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, has announced.
South Africa and Nigeria have established High Commissions, while Senegal has set up an Embassy in the island. Labour Day will be observed on Monday, May 23.
Speaking at the media launch of the activities at Devon House, Hope Road, St. Andrew, on May 6, Ms. Grange said the Missions’ engagement coincides with the United Nations (UN) designation of 2011 as the International Year of People of African Descent (IPAD), and the government’s decision to incorporate activities reflecting this commemoration in the Labour Day and Workers’ Week itinerary.
The Missions, she added, have consented to participate, with their input bringing an element of variation to what has become the norm over the years.
“They have expressed their willingness to work with us as one African family. This year, they will either be registering their own projects or will select from among the registered projects that they will support. In this way, we will promote IPAD through this demonstration of solidarity and friendship between Africa and its Diaspora,” the Minister outlined, while expressing the government’s gratitude to the Missions for their decision to participate.
Senegal’s Ambassador to Jamaica, Her Excellency Dr. Nafissatou Diagne, and her Nigerian counterpart, High Commissioner, His Excellency Peter Oydele, attended the launch.
Ms. Grange said the UN designation for 2011 also influenced the theme for Labour Day and Workers’ Week activities: ‘It Takes a Village to Raise a Child’, pointing out that, “we are also aware of the universality of the themes that have guided the existence of African people over the years.”
“We believe this slogan is appropriate as the platform for the engagement of communal action in the interest of our children. So, we are inviting people to register projects that will enhance the lives of our children,” she said.
To this end, she urged that special focus be placed on children in vulnerable and disadvantaged situations; in foster care; in children’s homes; in need of special care; and challenged by disabilities. The Minister also implored adults to provide mentoring support to young people in need of this type of intervention.
“We have to mentor many of our young people. Those of us who can find the time, and those of us who even can’t find the time, must make the time, because there are young people out there who just need someone to care for them. So, your project for Labour Day may be one that requires physical labour, such as painting basic schools or building recreational facilities or enhancing play areas or creating libraries,” the Minister said.
“We are also encouraging you to register projects of social interaction, such as mentoring or counselling or even helping with homework. In all of this, let us demonstrate the practicalities of the slogan, and come together as a village to raise our children and make them shine,” she urged.
Ms. Grange said Workers’ Week will commence on Sunday, May 15 with the National Church Service at the Ocho Rios Methodist Church, beginning at 9:00 a.m. Other scheduled activities include: an information and interactive hub at the Half-Way Tree Transportation Centre on Wednesday, May 18, which is being repeated, following the success of last year’s staging.
“Several agencies have agreed to mount various exhibitions, displaying their offerings and holding face-to-face discussions with members of the public,” she added.
The Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU) will stage a panel discussion on Thursday, May 19, which will focus on entrepreneurship, the role it has played in the liberation of the Jamaican people, the need to promote it among young people, and its values, challenges and triumphs.
Ms. Grange said that 14 national projects, one for each parish/municipality, have been identified for execution on Labour Day. She advised that all Mayors, Parish Councils, Members of Parliament and various levels of leadership in the parishes will be involved in the projects, while urging the nation to “identify with our activities for Labour Day."
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter