Hundreds of jubilant Jamaicans turned out to greet Jamaica’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Anthony Johnson, during his tour of the refurbished Brixton Village, South London, on the Independence weekend.
Mr Johnson was special guest of the traders in the cosmopolitan shopping and cultural village, which was toured by Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall two weeks ago.
Jamaican High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Anthony Johnson chats with Jamaican-born PC Errol Patterson of Brixton Police station during a tour of Brixton Village on Saturday, August 7.
He observed, at close hand, the melting pot of people drawn from different nationalities utilising one economic space. He also cut the ribbon at the official opening of the chic clothing store, Bella West Boutique, operated by Jamaican June Daley.
Members of the community expressed delight that the High Commissioner had chosen to visit Brixton, the community with the highest concentration of Jamaicans in London.
“We are very happy that the High Commissioner decided to visit us. Brixton often gets a bad rap, but people should see firsthand the positive things that are happening here. There is a lot of regeneration taking place and Jamaicans are involved at every level. We are transforming the community, and we are pleased that first
Prince Charles and his wife Camilla and then our High Commissioner have endorsed us,” said craft trader Peter Baker.
Lauren Craig, founder/director of Thinking Flowers? based at the Field Gallery in Brixton Village presents Jamaican High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Anthony Johnson with flowers for his wife Mrs Pamela Johnson, during a tour of the village on Saturday, August 7. Ms. Craig was commissioned to design floral arrangements for Barrack Obama’s inauguration.
Many Jamaicans who emigrated to Britain during the Windrush era of the 1940s and 50s settled in the South London town, upon arrival. While the first generation has dwindled, due to repatriation and death, second and fourth generations and new migrants have helped to maintain a strong Jamaican presence in the town.
During the Independence weekend, shops on High Street and stalls in the marketplace were heavily decorated with Jamaican colours. Jamaican music blared in the streets and jerk chicken stands littered the sidewalks.
High Commissioner Johnson, who was accompanied by his staff, interacted with traders from various backgrounds, including the owner of Italian restaurant Bellantoni’s, Chef Dario Bellantoni, who also operates a Bed and Breakfast in Portland, Jamaica, called Blue Heaven.
Dario Bellantoni, owner of Bellantoni’s Artisan Pasta in Brixton Village and Blue Heaven, Long Bay, Port Antonio, Jamaica, shares a moment with Jamaica’a High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency, Anthony Johnson, during a tour of Brixton Village on Saturday, August 7.
Mr. Bellantoni told JIS News that Jamaican culture had a heavy influence on other nationalities in the town, because of its vibrancy and strong presence.
“In this village you will find people from all over- Finland, Denmark, Pakistan, Afghanistan. If you speak to anyone of them, they will tell you that they have been influenced by reggae music or something Jamaican. Such is the power of the Jamaican brand in Brixton,” he said.
High Commissioner Johnson congratulated Ms. Daley, who is also founder of the 21-year-old Miss Jamaica UK beauty contest, on her business ventures, noting that her entrepreneurial spirit goes back to her Jamaican roots.