JIS News

My Fellow Jamaicans! This is the time of year when we remember our National Heroes, the courageous men and women who have stood tall among us.
We celebrate our heritage, that which we have created as the people of Jamaica, defining who we are.
It has been a very special Heritage season, because it began with tributes to our athletes who brought glory to Jamaica’s name at the recent Olympics. They are true heroes, who achieved greatness because of their extraordinary qualities.
When we venture outside of the field of sports, we find parallels in the stories of our outstanding sons and daughters. Achievers in medicine, the arts; entertainment; agriculture; engineering; politics; cosmetology; science and technology; fashion; auto mechanics; computer technology; hospitality and in every field, all share similar characteristics and experiences.
Many of them proved themselves winners in the game of life long before they arrived in the spotlight. They had to transcend the challenges of less than desirable socio-economic circumstances, in order to pursue their dreams.
Every one of our National Heroes, regardless of background and every single great achiever had to face and overcome setbacks and disappointments.
Every one of them had to give up the belief that anything should be impossible simply because no one had ever done it before. There is one clear message that emerges: what is inside of us is more powerful than external circumstances. Everyone can rise. People can achieve great things once they are determined, disciplined and dedicated to a cause.
As we “salute our heritage” and “build our nation,” we must take the time to analyze our victories. Over the years, we have learned to focus, sometimes to the point of paralysis, on the failures. But it is equally important to study and understand our successes. When we win, we need to know how and why we win, so that we can use the lessons to achieve successes in other areas of our national life.
This point is especially relevant today, for even as we celebrate, we face significant challenges in almost every sphere of our national life. Economic clouds are no longer far off on the horizon. The rain has started to fall. Crime and violence threaten to engulf us and destroy the dreams of our National Heroes. How will we gain victory over these daunting circumstances?
Let us use the victorious Beijing experience as an example. Apart from the talent, skill, hard work and discipline of the athletes and supporting personnel, there was another important factor at work:
Our entire heritage, handed down from generation to generation, came into play. On display was the legacy of all our great sportsmen and women of the past and the finest qualities of our National Heroes.
We were witnessing:
Sam Sharpe’s firm refusal to bow down before might and privilege, even unto death
Nanny’s toughness, strength and genius in strategy and tactics.
Paul Bogle’s resoluteness of spirit as he rallied the people on that journey from Stony Gut. And
George William Gordon’s quiet determination and willingness to give his all for the cause.
We were witnessing:
Marcus Garvey’s unshakeable confidence, pride in his people, and amazing ability to use the power of our rich cultural heritage to inspire, motivate and delight.
Bustamante’s striking presence as a leader, his extraordinary courage and capacity to generate love and loyalty, and
Norman Manley’s passion for excellence, love of sport vision of a bright and abiding faith in Jamaica.
All of who we are as Jamaicans was supporting our athletes: our warmth; cuisine; unerring sense of style; exuberance; creativity; musical talent and everything that makes us unique – our heritage.
All the experiences and qualities that make us special had a part to play in our Olympic triumph and in the victories of the Reggae Boyz over Mexico and Honduras.
But victorious achievements are not confined to stars and celebrities. Heroism is all around us every day. We see it in the courage and determination of so-called ‘ordinary’ people who do extraordinary things.
Think about our students from the poor communities who transcend their challenges to become successful businessmen and women, doctors and judges, and our minimum wage earners who are some of our greatest economists.
The main lesson of this Heritage Week is very simple. It takes the best of all of who we are as a people – all of what Jamaica is – to win. And today, as a country, we need to win. We need to be victorious over the economic problems, the crime, the violence, the killing of great grandparents and children. We need to heed the cries for peace, coming from our athletes, our children and all persons of good will.
We can do it: We can be successful:
–If we keep in sight the vision of our possibilities, are willing to do the work and approach nation building as a family, not divided by disagreements but united by common goals.
Our Heroes remind us of our possibilities and inspire us to dream big dreams and achieve greatness. Let us remember that our heroes fought for, and some died for, the freedoms we enjoy today that allow us to reach for the stars.
Eternal Father, bless our land, as we celebrate Heritage Week and renew our commitment to build a strong and great nation working together as one Jamaica, one Family shaping the future together.