FT. LAUDERDALE – Jamaican nationals across the South Florida Diaspora celebrated with pride at the Premier Independence Ball on Saturday (July 25) as the nation prepares for its 47th anniversary of Independence.
Hosted by the Jamaica United Relief Association (JURA), the event was held at the Grand Ballroom in Fort Lauderdale.
In her unique style, Jamaican cabaret-style entertainer, Ms. Sabrina Williams kept her audience well entertained through the night with a rendition of popular reggae music while she also acted as mistress of ceremonies.
They also enjoyed the innovative style of guitarist Dwight Pinkney, who also performed a repertoire of his compositions as well as some traditional folk songs.
JURA’s President, Dr. Vonnie McGowan-Arscott, in her welcome address, spoke of the continued efforts of Jamaicans in the Diaspora to contribute to the development of the Jamaican economy as well as the various communities in which they reside abroad.
This, she said, was reflected in the role established by members of JURA, a major charitable organization founded some 25 years ago, its objective to provide needed assistance to Jamaicans in the Diaspora as well as at home, and also to the wider South Florida community. These philanthropic efforts have extended to the needs of the less fortunate, to immigrants in need of assistance, and provision in times of disasters to affected areas.
Mrs. McGowan-Arscott called on Jamaicans to continue to unite as they continued to progress personally and collectively, and to take pride in the accomplishments and contributions shared in the building of our communities abroad as she reflected on the some of the adversities and challenges we face as immigrants.
Jamaica’s Consul General Sandra Grant Griffiths, also spoke of the monumental achievements of Jamaicans across the globe. At the same time, she called on Jamaicans to recommit themselves to redouble efforts to overcome our shortcomings as a nation.
Expressing confidence that Jamaicans will continue to achieve with the strength and maturity of a great nation, the Consul General called on nationals to join hands and hearts in renewed faith.
Guest speaker, Dr. Basil Bryan, Jamaica’s former Consul General to New York, spoke of the progress in maturity of Jamaicans as a nation since gaining Independence in 1962, to the point of political, national independence and also national development.
Commenting on our current economic situation, Dr. Bryan said that Jamaicans must exercise patience while the country recovers through continued growth and maturity.
He encouraged Jamaicans in the Diaspora to continue to work hard, building the communities in which they reside, adding that “as we contribute to community building, we do more for ourselves, and therefore, we can do more for Jamaica.”
Reflecting on Jamaican culture and heritage, Dr. Bryan noted that while they have excelled at home, Jamaica has made an impression on the world with the production of outstanding people in the field of arts, sports, entertainment, education and other outstanding achievements, among others.
While he commended the members of JURA for their sterling contribution, he lauded the larger Diasporic community for its resourcefulness, flexibility, service, commitment and excellence, and urged them to continue being the best examples of humanity as they continue to be ambassadors of their island home.