Dr. Kenneth Baugh’s statement at the opening ceremony of the Jamaican Diaspora Convention


[Click here to view entire speech (PDF)]

I extend a warm welcome to Jamaicans of several generations, from the four corners o the earth. I know the feeling of exhilaration of the many who have studied or worked abroad, who upon coming home are greeted by the vivid blue Jamaican sky and the also vivid blue and vibrant Caribbean sea.

Establishing first that we are part of the bigger African Diaspora, I make the point that the Jamaican Diaspora Convention 2011 is the outcome of significant collaborative work of a wide cross section of stakeholders in Jamaica and the Diaspora. Your presence here in such impressive numbers attests to the ongoing commitment of Jamaicans both in the Diaspora and here at home to the process of our partnership for a better Jamaica. I acknowledge with much appreciation the tremendous investment in this process by several key private sector companies, all of which are represented here. I would like to congratulate and thank you, members of the Diaspora, for your participation in this Convention. Beyond that, I am very pleased to welcome you home to celebrate with us our One Nation partnership.

In 2004 and 2006 the Diaspora Conferences were designed to “release the potential” which resides in our Jamaican people at home and abroad. The process of engagement deepened and in 2008, we unveiled the bold and meaningful concept of a “Borderless Partnership for Development”. Testimony to our maturing relationship is the theme of this Convention “One Nation: Jamaica and its Diaspora in Partnership”. We are at that point in our journey where we must take stock of the status of our progress towards our main objective.

There is no doubt that the past few years have been particularly challenging globally. The international community has witnessed several very intense natural disasters the two most alarming of which were the Haitian earthquake and the 9-point earthquake and tsunami which hit Japan on 11 March, this year. The so-called “Arab Spring” has changed the face of the Middle East, even as tensions and civil war continues in that region. The global economic crisis has not lifted, though significant growth has been registered by several emerging economies. The recession continues in the world’s largest economy where most of our nationals in the Diaspora reside. Jamaica is not isolated from these events.

In fact Jamaica’s small and vulnerable economy has always been affected by global movements. Think back to the British imposed Equalisation Tariffs of the 1800s; this resulted in the Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica. Similarly, the Global Economic crisis of the 1930s precipitated the 1938 civil unrest in Jamaica. There are many more examples whereby global vent affected local ones.

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