Just over 800 Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica from the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan attended Saturday nights grand ball to mark Jamaica’s 48th year of Independence at the New York Hilton and Towers Hotel in Manhattan. The event which is a featured calendar event brought the curtains down on a two-week long series of activities and celebrations across the United States.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Hon Olivia Grange, patron of this year’s gala and who represented the government at the event, told the large gathering that she will be taking the recommendation of the National Planning Committee that has been established to plan events for Jamaica’s 50th Independence celebrations to the cabinet for their approval.
Minister Grange said the recommendation would also include a wide range of activities for the Diaspora in the USA, Canada, London and other parts of the world where large numbers of Jamaicans reside. The Culture Minister noted that a special committee within the 50th Anniversary Secretariat has been established to focus on working with the Diaspora to plan a grand home coming for Jamaicans from all over the world. Minister Grange extended an invitation to Jamaicans all over to start planning to be in Jamaica for this great once in a lifetime celebration of Jamaica’s half century.
The Minister said, “As we celebrate the 48th year of our Independence, I want to encourage all Jamaicans to reaffirm their confidence in our country and rekindle the old flame of resilience, courage and assertiveness for which we have been known over the years. We must recall the pride and triumph of our ancestors over the challenges of slavery and oppression as they sacrificed even their lives to ensure that we experience freedom that we now enjoy”
“We must recommit ourselves to the mission of national development and again pledge to play our part in the advancement of the welfare of the whole human race”, she added.
The Minister lauded the Jamaica Independence Celebration Foundation (JICF) for their dedication over the years to stage this very important event in the city of New York. “This Independence Anniversary Ball provides our Jamaican community with an opportunity to celebrate our nation’s achievements as well as for coming together to engage in the reflection as well as the revelry that must accompany significant moments in our history, such as our independence”, she said.
In delivering the keynote address, renowned Journalist and Talk Show Host, Hon. Dr. Barbara Gloudon, O.J., in addressing the audience said, “As we celebrate Jamaica’s 48th year of Independence, Jamaicans living in the Diaspora has a responsibility to educate the next generation by teaching them the various Jamaican stories, nursery rhymes and the enormous amount of great things about Jamaica. We need to pass on our great history to the next generation of young Jamaicans, else this great history will be lost and forgotten.
In her remarks, chairman of the Jamaica Independence Celebration Foundation (JICF), Ms. Paulette Willoughby, disclosed that the funds from this year’s ball will benefit the Jamaica Early Childhood Basic School Foundation and the American Foundation for the University of the West Indies. She disclosed that one needy student will receive a full scholarship to attend the University of the West Indies.
Four awards were presented by the JICF, organizers of the Ball. The 2010 Community Service Award was presented to Mr. George Emanuel Crooks for his 23 years of service in the field of arts and culture; the Corporate Award went to Air Jamaica, while the 2010 Youth Award went to Mathew Jamal Thomas who will attend the University of Maryland and specialize in Social Work. A special award went to Mr. Tyrone Morrison, an employee of the Consulate of Jamaica in New York.
In messages from the governor of New York, David Patterson and the Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, both lauded Jamaica for reaching 48 years of independence and spoke of the enormous contribution that Jamaicans continue to make to the state and city of New York.
Among those in attendance at the ball were Jamaica’s Consul General to New York, Hon. Geneive Brown-Metzger along with her husband Dr. Stephen Metzger; Jamaica’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Raymond Wolfe and Mrs. Sharon Wolfe US Congresswoman, Yvette Clarke; former NY City Council woman, Una Clarke,; St. Lucia’s Consul General to New York, Martha Smith and Deputy Borough President of Brooklyn, Yvonne Graham.
The Master of Ceremonies for the event was Host and Weatherman of NBC’s Today Show, Al Roker
The Jamaican renowned singer, Ernie Smith provided entertainment along with the Fabulous Five Band who took the audience down memory lane.