by Howard Campbell
SOUTH FLORIDA – On August 6th the Island of Jamaica and Jamaicans worldwide will celebrate its 58th Anniversary of Independence.
The theme for this year’s independence is “Jamaica 58 Resilient and Strong” and South Florida Caribbean News asked several individuals in the community, “What Makes You Proud to be Jamaican?”
Oliver Mair (Jamaica’s Consul General in Miami)
“I am proud of being born and raised in my God-fearing island home of the ‘black, gold and green’.
Attending Vaz Prep, Campion and Wolmers High and the University of the West Indies has provided me with a world-class and balanced education, preparing me for the international arena. My country has also taught me how to love, appreciate and respect persons of all races, color and creed.
‘Likkle but wi Tallawah’ speaks to our winning and indomitable spirit. Our warmth, strength and courage as a people is evidenced in our heroes like Marcus Garvey. My passion lies, however, with our arts and culture. Miss Lou, Bob Marley, Oliver Samuels, reggae and folk music, Jamaican movies, plays and literature are perhaps what’s stands out most for me.
What a blessed ‘One Love’ nation we are!”
Sister Carol (recording artist; born in Kingston)
“It means everything culturally, spiritually and emotionally. Because when I first came to America in the ’70’s I had to fight hard to maintain my Jamaican culture admist the stereotype of being from the Caribbean and the peer pressure of being in a foreign land. Being a Jamaican reminds us to be resilient and find solutions when there seems to be none. Going through windows when doors are closed. Turning our hands to make fashion while holding on to our original brought-upsy.”
Willie Stewart (Musician, organizer of Rhythms of Africa; born in London, raised in Kingston)
“It is a fact that Jamaica is one of the most influential countries around the world is what makes me so proud to be a Jamaican. For such a small island, we have made an enormous impact on a global scale. Jamaica is the birthplace of Mento, Ska, Rock Steady and Dancehall music; in the sports industry we compete on a global level and dominate the Olympics in track. We produce great leaders and creative inventors. People all over the world want to come to our country to be a part of our rich and inviting culture, exotic cuisine and our breath-taking natural resources.”
- What I would change about Jamaica?
“To invest more in after-school programs. Extracurricular activities such as music, sports, art, IT, vocational training, cooking and tutoring. Youth would be linked with peer mentors from high school for a five-year period. These peer mentors would assist youth with independent living skills such as the importance of health and hygiene, budgeting and money management, self-advocacy and networking. By promoting education for our youth and increasing employment opportunities there would be increased economic viability. I believe that if youth have alternative options available, there will be a reduction in youth engaging in criminal activity and violence. This program would serve youth islandwide, equipping them with everything they need to be successful.”
Trudi Tolani (Author, born in St. Ann parish)
“For an island to be so small, yet known globally gives me a sense of pride. Our music, food and beaches rival the best around the world. The people of Jamaica are, however, what makes me proudest to be a Jamaican. Our warmth and strength shines wherever we go. Our athletes, musicians, actors and scholars are just some of our people who have stood on some of the biggest stages around the world and have made us proud.”
Black Ice (Singjay, born in St. Ann)
“Being a Jamaican is very essential to who I am, especially living abroad for so long. It helps to build my character not only in my personal life but professional as well. It means the world to me. Wouldn’t have it any other way. I keep my Jamaican-ness by constantly engaging with the culture and most of my family and friends. And also through the music and food.”
Ronnie Tomlinson (Publicist, born in Manchester)
“Being a Jamaican comes with a sense of pride knowing we are a people who will put the best foot forward NO MATTER the obstacles set before us. Fondest memories, without aging myself (LoL), the coconut brush we use to use to clean the verandah and seeing the (ice) cream man ride past the house a shout ‘cream, cream, nutty buddy!’ and knowing I saved up just enough and could buy my cream today. Another memory was going with Grandpa to pick mango, and having to share the mango and couldn’t wait until I was old enough to get the seed.
- What I would change about Jamaica?
“The preference of American things over Jamaican things. Although this may be a broad statement I would change the attachment to colonial ways and embrace brand Jamaica and have more appreciation for our culture.”
To our Jamaicans in South Florida and worldwide, Happy Independence Day and feel free to share with us, What Makes You Proud to be Jamaican?