KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaicans are taking advantage of the new opportunities to establish a working relationship with their homeland, Dahlia Walker-Huntington, a former member of the Diaspora Advisory Board stated at the launch of the book, ‘The Jamaican Diaspora: Building an Operational Framework’.
The book examines the evolving relationship between Jamaica and its Diaspora since the first Diaspora Conference in 2002. Mrs. Walker-Huntington said the editor, Attorney-at-Law, and former Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Delano Franklyn, had provided a valuable chronicle of that relationship through his new book.
“For as long as Jamaicans have been living overseas, we have kept an eye on things back home,” she said. The Jamaican-American Attorney pointed out that Mr. Franklyn was one who had helped to develop the framework through which Jamaicans overseas were able to become engaged in a formal dialogue with their home country.
Delano Franklyn, Attorney-at-Law, and former Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.
“The formalization of the Jamaican Diaspora Foundation, Institute and Advisory Board was our opportunity to make use of the historic move by Jamaica to galvanise her people overseas,” the legal advisor said. She told the audience of diplomats as well as members of the public and private sectors that, “It was the right programme at the right time.”
“To strengthen and deepen the relationship between Jamaicans here and those abroad, we must approach the situation as a team,” Mr. Franklyn told the audience. Our country’s academic fraternity, government, and private institutions have to work with the diaspora community in a mutually beneficial process, he stated.
“Many of us in positions of authority in Jamaica take the Diaspora community for granted and they are aware of it,” he pointed out during the book launch at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge, at The University of the West Indies (UWI) on Friday, July 30. He indicated that attendees at the first Diaspora Conference in 2002 had said they wanted to be engaged in a dialogue with their home country.
They did not only want to be called on when there is a disaster in Jamaica and funds are desperately needed, he stated. These views are important because of the critical role played by Jamaica’s diaspora.
“They are the ones who have been able to prepare the way for many of the companies now doing business outside Jamaica, he said. They we are the ones who in their own way have enable companies to penetrate the cultures of others.”
“I believe that we have ignored the Jamaican diaspora community for far too long,” Mr. Franklyn stated. “We need to ensure that we take them on board, not just in words but in action.”
It is estimated that from then through the 1960s, more than 250,000 Caribbean people left their homeland to go to the UK; and approximately 160,000 Jamaicans were among this number, stated Earl Jarrett, General Manager of Jamaica National Building Society, who chaired the function.
“These pioneering men and women were the progenitors of the modern wave of migration that established this Jamaican Diaspora movement that is being celebrated in this book,” He stated.
From that early start, the Jamaican Diaspora grew globally to what some estimate as approximately five million people or more, Mr. Jarrett said. Brand Jamaica today has a visible presence where Jamaicans have settled, while the country’s music and athletic prowess gets international recognition.
“Our pioneering relatives and friends changed the social and cultural setting in the UK, some parts of the USA, and small communities around the world, through their active participation in the fight for equal rights of immigrants from the Caribbean and other regions,” Mr. Jarrett said. “We recognise the Diaspora’s important contributions to maintaining the strong Jamaican brand around the world; and we are also cognizant of what the Diaspora has done for Jamaica in Jamaica.”
“In an age of globalization and a shrinking world, the Jamaican population overseas is no longer far away and distant,” Richard Powell, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Victoria Mutual Building Society stated at the launch. Being Jamaican is no longer a definition based on territorial confines, but instead has become one of socio-political and cultural connections to shared roots.
Delano Franklyn, Attorney-at-Law, and former Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, signs a copy of his new book The Jamaican Diaspora: Building an Operational Framework, for Ms. Prisca Ishemo, Librarian at the University of Technology. In the background are (left to right) Mrs. Glynne Manley; Hon. Douglas Orane, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GraceKennedy Limited; Richard Powell, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Victoria Mutual Building Society; and Mrs. Dahlia Walker Huntington, a former member of the Diaspora Advisory Board.
The Jamaican Diaspora continues to grow not only in number, but also in terms of their influence in the communities in which they live, and in their philanthropic contribution to development in Jamaica, Mr. Powell declared. “It is this influence that is explored in the book.”
The book is based on Diaspora Conference presentations, as well as contributions from leaders in the community.