This year’s commemoration of Commonwealth Day under the theme “Connecting Cultures” is especially important because it reinforces what is unique and special about the Commonwealth – the fact that it continues to bring together over 2 billion people drawn from a broad range of faiths, races and cultures. The Commonwealth can be justly proud of this legacy of bringing societies and peoples together, as fortifying this bond and maintaining this cohesion is critical to the Organization’s vitality and effectiveness in this era of globalization.
We are all aware that without an appreciation of cultural differences, there can be no real progress in deepening understanding and cooperation among governments and peoples. The focus on culture is of particular significance as we celebrate 50 years of Independence. The architects of independent Jamaica were cognizant of the importance of cultural connections when they imprinted on our collective consciousness the motto “Out of Many, One People”, and thereby predetermined the rhythms of our unique Jamaican culture, the fusion of the many traditions, customs and mores of the peoples who have made Jamaica home.
With our cultural expressions so admired around the world, we have a duty to ensure they are adequately protected, preserved and appropriately promoted. We continue through our various cultural institutions, under the leadership of the Ministry of Youth and Culture, to foster and enhance programmes to engage every sector of the society in the development of our culture, as well as to connect the wider global community to our values and ideals. The Commonwealth through its various institutions and organizations has been able to provide member countries with the opportunity for such connections and has enabled the sharing of our beliefs, customs and experiences.
We are proud of our membership in this noble body and stand ready to work with fellow Commonwealth Members to realize this objective and in so doing assist in the creation of a more peaceful and secure world.