Jamaicans from across the United Kingdom (UK) celebrated Jamaica’s 48th anniversary of Independence at a special reception hosted by the Jamaican High Commission in London, on Independence Day (Aug. 6).
Jamaica’s High Commissioner to the UK, Anthony Johnson told the gathering, which included Caribbean Community (Caricom) and Commonwealth High Commissioners and other members of the diplomatic corps, that Jamaica today was much different than in 1962. He said the country has made significant achievements.
He urged Jamaicans in the UK to look to establish business enterprises as a way of securing their future.
Legendary Jamaican Mento band, the Jolly Boys, accompanied by musician and former Mayor of the London Borough of Haringey, Sheik Thompson on saxophone give a special performance at the reception to celebrate the 48th anniversary of Jamaica’s Independence. The event was held at the Jamaican High Commission in London on August 6.
“My mission is to get us to look at ourselves and see what form of business we can get involved in. The problem with Jamaica is lack of income and income comes from business,” he said.
Mr. Johnson said the High Commission was working to improve its service to the Jamaican community, and he commended the many groups and organisations working to improve the lives of disadvantaged Jamaicans both in the UK and in Jamaica.
Mr. Johnson urged the audience to start thinking about 2012 when Jamaica will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Independence, and when London will host the Olympic Games in which Jamaican athletes will participate.
The Ambassador also paid tribute to Jamaicans who are involved in representational politics at all levels. Member of Parliament, Dianne Abbott and former Member of Parliament Dawn Butler of the Labour Party who are both of Jamaican heritage, as well as Conservative candidate Wilfred Emanuel Jones were also invited to bring special Independence greetings.
Jamaican High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Anthony Johnson (2<sup>nd</sup> right) and Mrs Pamela Johnson (right) cut a specially-commissioned Hugh Smith cake to commemorate Jamaica’s 48 anniversary of Independence at the reception held at the Jamaican High Commission in London on August 6. Also cutting the cake with the High Commissioner are (from left) Pauline Reynolds, South-West Coordinator of the Jamaica Diaspora; Jamaican-born Member of Parliament, Diane Abbott; Earl Robinson of the Jamaica Society of Leicester; and Chairman of the Friends of the Noel Holmes Hospital, Mrs Gloria Leslie.
Ms. Abbott, who has been a British Member of Parliament for more than 20 years, credited her Jamaican heritage for her success and for giving her the confidence to put up the challenge for the leadership of the Labour Party. Both Ms Butler and Mr. Jones (who was born in Jamaica) also spoke of the positive impact that Jamaica has had on them.
A feature of the year’s Independence reception was a special performance by the veteran mento band, the Jolly Boys, who are currently on a UK tour. The group has been receiving a lot of media attention, and are starring in a new television advertisement for Old Jamaican Ginger Beer.
Activities to mark Jamaica’s Independence will continue this week end with a number of church services and balls in the major UK cities, including Edinburgh, by Jamaican community groups.