JIS News

Hundreds of Jamaican nationals and friends turned out inspite of torrential rain to celebrate the first anniversary of Jamaica Diaspora Day at a reception at the Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale recently.
An evening of true Jamaican culture, which included dance, song and recital, complemented the activities allowing the guests to “come together and get involved for the good of our beloved homeland” according to appointed Diaspora Advisory Board member for the Southeastern USA, South Florida attorney, Dahlia Walker-Huntington. Entertainment was provided by accompanying musicians of the Jamaica Folk Revue mento band ‘Tallawah’ while a dance recital was performed by Professor of Dance at Miami’s Barry University, Yvonne Jones-Houston. There was also a folkloric recital by Marcia Bedassee and a poem saluting Jamaicans in the Diaspora by John Moodie, all of whom are Jamaican nationals residing in South Florida.
Jamaica Diaspora Day resulted from the historic national Diaspora conference held in Kingston last year, when nearly 400 Jamaican nationals from overseas communities as well as locally convened to strengthen the relationship between the Diaspora and Jamaicans at home in the areas of trade and investment, volunteerism and philanthropy.
Guest speaker at the reception was Chairman of the Jamaica Diaspora Foundation, the Professor Rex Nettleford, who told the audience that the celebration of the Diaspora Day was important, as the heart of Jamaica was wherever Jamaicans resided.
He impressed upon the group that he was always supportive of the initiative to encourage and support the Diaspora as he felt that Jamaicans abroad were an integral part of nation building. At this time, he commended the government administration for spearheading this movement.
As Jamaicans have demonstrated the capacity for a civic society, Professor Nettleford urged the audience not to become marginalized. On the contrary, he reminded Jamaicans in the Diaspora that overseas communities had benefited significantly from their involvement and accomplishments, indicating the growth and progress of those communities.
Simultaneously, he said that while nationals make contributions in the form of ‘remittances and barrels’ he encouraged them to continue their investments ensuring that those remittances are sent to specific projects aimed at development of our people and honing of skills to benefit the workforce.Also, he urged Jamaicans to more specifically invest in education projects preparing the younger generations for future building of the nation and at the same time enhancing the presence of Jamaicans in the new global arena.
Jamaica, according to Professor Nettleford, was built on the spirit of volunteerism. That value has continued to perpetuate itself through the efforts of strategic alliances between the family, home, church and school.
He encouraged continued dialogue between Jamaicans in the Diaspora as well as at home to build unity, tuning into each other’s strengths and weaknesses in order to continue that spirit of volunteerism. “Jamaicans have always been able to deal with complexities,” Professor Nettleford said.Referring to the historic movements that have propelled Jamaicans overseas in their contributions to nation building, the Chairman looked at the efforts of National hero, Marcus Garvey through the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and the Jamaica Progressive League that were established in the United States.
In encouraging the efforts of the Jamaican Diaspora movement, the Professor commended the progress of the Florida community in uniting through a network of associations, churches, students, entrepreneurs and public officials to continue efforts for personal development as well as create leverage for the progress of Jamaica through the efforts of nationals in the overseas communities.
He urged all Jamaicans to participate in discussions and establish institutions that would have continuity regardless of the ruling political government in Jamaica.
The Consul General to the Southeast USA, Ricardo Allicock read the Governor General’s message officially declaring June 16th as Jamaica Diaspora Day. Proclamations from the City Commissions of several South Florida communities marking the observance of the Day and the outstanding contributions of Jamaican nationals to those communities were also presented to the Consul General.