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WASHINGTON — Ambassador Audrey Marks has reiterated her call for the Jamaican Diaspora in the United States to expand their role in the country’s social and economic development.

“Remittances, in particular, have become an important feature of many households, but I dare say the Diaspora can play a much more significant role,” the Ambassador told a service commemorating Jamaica’s 49th anniversary of independence, at the Central New Testament Church of God, Baltimore, Maryland on Sunday August 14. The service was organised by the Jamaica Association of Maryland (JAM).

Ambassador Marks told the large gathering that Jamaican nationals residing in the Diaspora have a key role to play in the country’s social and economic development, through investment and entrepreneurship. She noted that they were also a source of academic and technical expertise, as well as an important market for Jamaican goods and services, including tourism.

She pointed out that Jamaicans at home and in the Diaspora have much of which to be proud, and have proven, time and again, that if given the right conditions they are an unstoppable force.

The Ambassador stated that 49 years is but a heartbeat in the life of a nation, nevertheless, during that time Jamaica has extended her reach far beyond its shores, was known worldwide for its cultural and athletic prowess and has become one of the most recognizable names on the planet.

“Truly, this is proof that size is not a deterrent, but is indeed a function of human desire to strive for excellence,” she said.

In his message, member of the Executive Council of the Caribbean and North American Faith Based Council within the Institute for Caribbean Studies, the Rev Cleon Anderson, stated that Jamaicans needed to break the scourge of dependency, develop the ability to form meaningful alliance and networks and embrace game-changing attitudes.

“What I mean by breaking the scourge of dependency is a deliberate attempt to unravel systems, conditions, ideologies and practices which stifle creativity,” Rev Anderson said.

“What we celebrate today are the initiatives taken by our foreparents, to conceptualize a reality which falls outside of their caves of bondage and oppression. This reality dispensed with unhealthy dependency and embraced forwardness and progress,” he said.

Rev Anderson reminded the congregation that the fight for emancipation was won not only because of proposed legislation which passed, but also because our foreparents mustered up the courage to conceptualize a reality which was contrary to popular opinion.

Rev Anderson pointed out that Jamaica did not get universal adult suffrage and, subsequently, independence by adhering to the status quo of the day, even though there were many benefits to be had by remaining a colony of Britain. Those benefits do not spur creativity, but perpetuate a culture of dependency and encourage waste and abuse of great talents, he added.   

He said the same could be said about the thousands of Jamaicans who moved to the United States and Britain in search of betterment: It is a process, consciously or unconsciously, embarked upon to break the scourge of dependency.

He concluded that the question Jamaicans in the Diaspora need to ask is, “What risk are we willing to take in order to advance the ideals of liberty, freedom and Independence?"

Greetings were brought by Maryland House of Delegates State Representative, Shirley Natham-Pulliam, and President of the Jamaica Association of Maryland (JAM), Rick Nugent. Pastor of the Baltimore New Testament Church of God, Bishop Stanley Murray, collected the JAM Community Service Awarded on behalf of the church from Mr. Nugent. 

The service, which featured Jamaican hymns, songs and poetry, was attended by over 300 Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica, and brought the curtain down on independence celebrations in Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia which started on August 4.

 

By Derrick Scott, JIS Reporter