The Embassy of Jamaica in Washington, D.C., was abuzz with activity over three days as the island’s 48th anniversary of independence took center stage in the United States capital city. Festival songs filled the air amidst a backdrop of videos featuring grand gala events of previous years, which provided a real treat for which everyone was able to savor the country’s independence celebrations.
This unique event brought to the Embassy Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica from Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, among other states, to see first-hand how the Embassy and its staff operate, as well to view a variety of displays and sample sumptuous Jamaican dishes—the national dish among them, of course.
Among the highlights of the Open House was a poetry session, an exhibition on Jamaica’s participation in the Organization of American States (OAS) over the decades; a spotlight on previous Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives to the hemispheric Organization; Jamaican-made products; and a 30-piece art exhibition mounted by renowned Jamaica-based artist Alphanso Blake.
Unable to mask the excitement he felt, Delroy Pinnock, who hails from the parish of Clarendon, praised the Embassy, calling the Open Day “a real eye-opener” for him, as he was amazed at the vast range of work being done at the Embassy for Jamaica and for Jamaicans living here. “I would never believe that in all my life I would have an opportunity to meet with my ambassador in her office, where she took the time out to have a discussion with me and my family about the latest developments in Jamaica.”
Andy Michels, an official from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), after the tour, commended the Ambassador, Her Excellency Marks, and her staff, calling the Open Day “an awesome event. The idea to stage this Open Day is a great one. It gives us an opportunity to see your operations and give the Jamaicans an opportunity to see how their Embassy is being run.”
The public was able to have a number of questions answered on a wide range of matters, including investment, tourism, passports, birth certificates and returning residency.
Bringing the curtains down on the celebrations, Dr. Carolyn Cooper, University of the West Indies (UWI) professor of literary and cultural studies, delivered a spirited Miss Lou Lecture, in which she not only had the audience in stitches, but interpreted the arrival of independence in Jamaica and the former British West Indies, using poetry, including dramatic renditions, of the late Jamaican cultural icon and Ambassador Louise “Miss Lou” Bennett-Coverly.
Dr. Cooper, herself a well-known cultural figure in the Caribbean, was ably supported in her dramatization by Washington-based Jamaica cultural figure Faith Nelson.
Expressing her delight after the three-day event, Ambassador Marks said the objectives of the Open House were met. She spoke about the positive feedback from the many who attended.
“I was very pleased to have had the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with so many Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica,” the Ambassador declared. “They are really very passionate about Jamaica and share our dream for Jamaica to become peaceful and prosperous country.”
We are indebted to Mr. Derrick Scott of JIS Washington for this content