Jamaicans in the United Kingdom (UK) are being urged to support the Mary Seacole memorial statue appeal, which is seeking to place a permanent monument to the Jamaican Crimean War heroine, outside the Houses of Parliament at Westminster in London.
High Commissioner to the UK, His Excellency Anthony Johnson, made the appeal yesterday (Aug.15), as he addressed the fifth annual Jerk Cookout at Brockwell Park in South London.
He challenged the community to reach beyond the usual sources and seek to encourage persons with strong financial resources to contribute to the cause.
The statue appeal committee is seeking to raise in excess of £500,000 to fund the monument, which will be erected on the grounds of St. Thomas' Hospital, facing the Houses of Parliament. The High Commissioner is a patron of the statue appeal committee.
High Commissioner Johnson and his wife, Mrs. Pamela Johnson toured the more than 100 cooking stalls spread across the vast expanse of Brockwell Park, serving a wide range of jerk delicacies including pork, chicken, and fish.
He expressed satisfaction with the wide scale acceptance and adaptation of the Jamaican jerk concept and praised culinary entrepreneurs for their initiative and skill in making the traditional style a favoured treat in the UK.
He said he was happy to see large numbers of Jamaican and wider Caribbean people operating their own ventures, noting that it was through business ownership that the community would find pride of place in the UK.
"We are in a place where the universal language is business. We cannot afford to be left behind. I am proud to see that so many of you are engaged in various types of business, as is evident in your displays here today. But we have to encourage others to get involved and to seize on the opportunities that exist," he stated.
The jerk cookout was organised by Tony Fairweather, who is of Jamaican parentage. The event attracted thousands of people from different ethnic backgrounds.
Among those who spent the afternoon browsing the stalls and sampling the cuisine were British-Jamaican Member of Parliament and candidate for leadership of the Labour Party, Diane Abbott and newly appointed Liberal Democrat Peer to the House of Lords, Baroness Floella Benjamin of Beckenham, who is of Trinidadian background.
The High Commissioner and Mrs. Johnson had a very busy Sunday afternoon as they also attended the 'I Love Jamaica Day' event, which pulled thousands of Jamaicans to Crystal Palace grounds, also in South London.