Plans for the ‘Jamaica House’ at the O2 Arena were outlined on June 18, at a special media launch, hosted at the Jamaican High Commission in London.
‘Jamaica House’, which is expected to celebrate all things Jamaican, is to be the centrepiece of the international celebrations of the island’s 50th anniversary of Independence and the expected success of the Jamaican athletes at the London Olympics in August.
High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Her Excellency Aloun N’dombet-Assamba, said Jamaica House will also be the headquarters of the Jamaican Olympic Association during the 2012 Games.
“This event has been planned in order to raise awareness of ‘Jamaica House’, which is possibly the biggest activity for Jamaica in peacetime Britain, for two very good reasons. The first is to help celebrate our hopeful success in the games and to share with the UK and the world, our 50th year of independence,” the High Commissioner said.
The ‘Jamaica House’ venture is spearheaded by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and the Jamaica 50 Secretariat in partnership with JAMPRO and the Ministry of Youth and Culture.
Deputy Director of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), Jason Hall, said the 02 is a truly iconic venue that will resonate with all things Jamaican.
“Jamaica House is the official country house for Jamaica and the base of the Jamaican Olympic Association. We will be celebrating the genius of our culture and of our people,” he said.
Mr. Hall also spoke about the ‘Jamaicanisation’ of the 02 as the ‘Jamaica House’ would be at the heart of the arena and a place where Jamaicans, fans of Jamaica, athletes, musicians, officials, the media, business targets and celebrities will gather during the Olympics.
Project Director of Jamaica 50, Robert Bryan, who outlined some details of ‘Jamaica House’, said it would allow for a unique global platform to celebrate Jamaica 50.
“We are 50 years old and we are 50 years old at the precise time that we expect to be stars at the largest international sporting event in the world. So, we want to build on this unique platform to create essentially a global celebration of Jamaica 50. And that global celebration is inviting the world to meet us at 50, look at us as we evaluate and celebrate and also witness the next great moment of our history as we chart the course for the next 50 years,” he said.
Mr. Bryan said Jamaica 50 gives the country an opportunity to really rebrand and reposition itself globally, and it will stimulate a rebirth and a rethinking within Jamaicans and well wishers.
In addition to the O2 arena, the Jamaica House experience will link with other celebrations in the UK, including Jamaica in the Square, in Birmingham; Brixton Splash in South London, and the ‘I Love Jamaica Day’.
Mr. Bryan said a live broadcasting platform will also be created linking London to Jamaica, the USA and Canada, to share in real time celebrations and the athletics. There are also plans for the Jamaican flag to be raised at the O2 on Independence Day, on August 6.
‘Jamaica House’ is also part of what is being termed the Summer of Jamaica at the O2, which will include a special Bob Marley Exhibition and the Respect Jamaica music festival that will feature more than 50 of Jamaica’s world renown singers, musicians and poets, including Jimmy Cliff, Damion Marley, Lee Scratch Perry, Shaggy, Marcia Griffiths , Monty Alexander and Mutabaruka.
By Vivienne Siva (London)