by Howard Campbell
[MIRAMAR] – South Florida has long been referred to as Kingston 21, given its 90-minute flight distance from Kingston, the Caribbean country’s capital. The region has a massive Jamaican community which makes it a prime candidate for Jamaica 60 celebrations.
On May 5, Jamaica’s culture minister, Olivia “Babsy” Grange, led a delegation to the Miramar Cultural Center where she outlined her administration’s plans for the country’s 60th year of independence from Great Britain.
Grange lauded the South Florida Jamaican community for maintaining close ties with their homeland and instilling a sense of national pride throughout their adopted state.
“I want to say that you all here in Florida have contributed immensely to what we have become. Because when you left the ‘rock’ for the United States of America, you took with you the love and loyalty of your heart, the wisdom and courage of your mind, as you set up home and business and determined to build one of the most formidable Diasporas in the world. I salute you!” Grange told the packed hall.
She added that stalwarts of South Florida commerce, entertainment and politics will be among those honored with the Prime Minister’s Award of Excellence, scheduled to be issued this year as part of Jamaica 60 celebrations.
The event was also addressed by Miramar mayor Wayne Messam, whose parents are Jamaican; Dr. Allan Cunningham, honorary chairman of the Jamaica Diaspora Southern Region; Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, representing Florida’s 23rd district and Oliver Mair, Jamaica’s Consul General to Miami.
Launch Reception Entertainment
The launch had a strong entertainment component. Including performances by Keith Lyn, the Jamaica Folk Revue, and Wayne Armond. Plus, Jo Mersa Marley, Mykal Roze, Peetah Morgan and Inner Circle. Best of all, the reception closed with the artists doing a rousing rendition of Bob Marley’s One Love.
There have been similar events in London, Toronto, New York and Philadelphia.