Jamaica’s profile in the Washington community and indeed throughout the United States, was significantly enhanced last weekend, as the country’s art, music, food and other elements of its rich cultural heritage were on full display in the American capital.
The events, which were dubbed, ‘A Capital Celebration of Jamaica’s 43rd’ took place over two days and featured major entertainment as well as religious and cultural components, all designed to showcase the island to the greater Washington community and beyond.
Ambassador to the United States, Professor Gordon Shirley (4th left), greets members of the Third World Band at the Embassy’s Sunday Market event on the Grounds of the Organization of American States to commemorate the country’s 43rd independence anniversary, in Washington
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the K.D. Knight was on hand for the festivities.
The celebrations were held to commemorate the country’s 43rd independence anniversary, and were attended by thousands of Jamaicans drawn primarily from communities in Washington D.C., as well as the states of Maryland and Virginia. The events also received significant support from Washington’s Caribbean and diplomatic communities and officials from the United States government.
Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Professor Gordon Shirley, who spearheaded the planning and staging of the celebrations, along with embassy staff and community volunteers, expressed satisfaction with the weekend’s outcome.
“We are heartened and indeed humbled by the tremendous support we received from Jamaicans, as well as the Washington community at large, during our commemoration of Jamaica’s 43rd year of independence, which took place between Saturday and Sunday,” he said.
“The energy and enthusiasm of those who came out in force in celebration of Jamaica was overwhelming and is a testimony to the esteem in which the country continues to be held by many in the United States and also speaks to the sense of goodwill that Jamaica enjoys within the American public,” the Ambassador added.
The series of events kicked off on Saturday night (August 6), with the hosting of a Jamaica Night at Washington’s landmark Zanzibar-on-the-Waterfront entertainment complex, which drew over 1,000 participants. Washington hoteliers Braxton and Debby Moncure, who are also investors in Jamaica’s tourism industry, partnered with embassy personnel in hosting the audience, which included many from the Jamaican community, as well as several officials from the international financial institutions in Washington and representatives from the DC and U.S. government.
In addition, on Saturday night, the two major Jamaican community organizations, the Jamaican Nationals Association (JNA) of Washington and the Jamaica Association of Maryland, which is based in Baltimore, held their annual independence balls. The JNA event was addressed by Minister Knight and Ambassador Shirley was the keynote speaker at the affair organized by the Baltimore organization.
Sunday’s celebration commenced with the staging of a Service of Thanksgiving at Howard University’s historic Dunbarton Chapel, which was presided over by the Lord Bishop of Jamaica, Rev. the Hon. Alfred Reid, who preached the sermon.
The event received significant sponsorship from several companies and entities, including HEART, GraceKennedy, J. Wray & Nephew, Mayberry Investments, the Development Bank of Jamaica, Red Stripe and Western Union.
Featuring a broad array of Jamaican art, food and entertainment, it was headlined by the Third World Band, which simultaneously used the occasion to launch their new album: ‘Black, Gold and Green’.
The curtains were brought down by legendary Jamaican performers, the Bare Essentials.