SPEECH FROM HON. EDMUND BARTLETT, M.P.MINISTER OF TOURISM AT THE WORLD FLIGHT ADVENTURE GALA 2007


I don’t know if it’s the ‘island thing’, where we constantly feel that we need to explore beyond our shores or whether it’s the fact that we all came from elsewhere to populate our island home, but Jamaicans are definitely an itinerant people.
When Barrington Irving decided to fly around the world, he was following in a deep Jamaican tradition. It is the stuff that inspired the development of the strong contingent of people from Yard’ in cities all over North America, Europe, with new settlements now mushrooming in the oriental states of China and Japan.
This quintessential Jamaican trait also inspired cultural icon Lousie Bennett Coverly to pen her 1966 classic, ‘Colonization in Reverse’. Set in the period of the 1950s and up until 1962, when immigration regulations were tightened, it describes the outflow of over 300,000 West Indians, a majority of them Jamaicans, heading to Britain-encouraged by an official immigration campaign rooted in the post-war need for workers.
Yes – we have been migrating to help build other nations for many years … enriching them economically, socially and culturally. Jamaica’s National Cultural Policy makes much of this:
Jamaica and Jamaicans are well known in the world. Thanks to the stellar contribution of such flag-flying Jamaicans as Rt. Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey in the issues of black liberation and racial pride; Bob Marley in the development of the internationally acclaimed reggae music and the use of that rhythm to defend the rights of the oppressed across the world; outstanding sports person-alities like Herb McKinley, Arthur Wint, George Headley, Merlene Ottey, Courtney Walsh, et al who have positioned Jamaica on the track of international success; and so many others, the black, green and gold has become a force to be reckoned with among the flags of the world.
Our flag has flown majestically at the Olympics, in World Cup Football, on the great stages of the world from Sydney to London, and in other international fora.
So this restlessness, this wanderlust is a good thing. Maybe it is this culturally engrained truth that has spawned our world renowned hospitality, driving the number one foreign exchange earner -tourism.
I am not at all surprised that Barrington Irving confesses that he was restless as a child. However, with the right guidance and inspiration, he was able to set things straight and ‘fly right’ (pardon the pun).
It comes as no surprise either that Mr. Irving is focused on creating history – that too, is part of the genius of Jamaica…we do not aim low. That is why in sports, in academia and in so many fields of endeavour, we ‘punch well above our perceived global weight’.
What is special about Barrington Irving is his firm decision to use this venture as a leadership exercise. As the youngest person to have done this, also bears testimony to the power of the ‘under-tapped’ potential of the Jamaican male.
That is why the Government and people of Jamaica are fully on board in honouring this investment in excellence. We want you to know, Captain Irving, that we are proud that you personify the very best of our country at home and abroad.
I must tell you that you lifted the spirits of the entire nation when you and your family accepted our invitation to spend the Independence weekend with us. It was a period during which all partisanship was put on hold as we went through a period of fasting, prayer and togetherness to mark the 45th anniversary of nationhood.
That is why we ensured that you were appropriately honoured in several ways, including the Youth Musgrave Award for Excellence and the Order of Distinction, Commander Class – CD.
We are happy that you decided to accept these tributes, and the entire Jamaican family looks forward to welcoming you back home to receive the CD during the National Honours and Awards Ceremony on the lawns of Kings House. (As usual this will be on National Heroes Day – Monday, October 15).
We are particularly proud of you not only for setting a new global standard, but also for stepping up to the plate of leadership. You have committed yourself to applying your own career to uplift other young Jamaicans, inspiring them to operate at a higher plane – whether literally or figuratively. We are an island, so we could very well use more skilled aviators flying the black green and gold.
We wish you, your immediate and extended family as well as your ‘offspring’, Experience Aviation the very best in the future. We know & believe that the sky is NO limit.
One Love!

JIS Social