Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

marcus_garvey_0822

TODAY IS MARCUS GARVEY’S BIRTHDAY, in the face of all that has been occurring (police brutality against brown and black people, institutional racism and all other forms of oppression) the words of MARCUS MOSIAH GARVEY can help us in our quest for change.

 

“One God One Aim One Destiny”

 

Short Overview from Jamaica Information Service.

 

– Jamaica’s first National Hero was born in St. Ann’s Bay, St. Ann, on August 17, 1887. In his youth Garvey migrated to Kingston, where he worked as a printer and later published a small paper “The Watchman”.

 

During his career Garvey travelled extensively throughout many countries, observing the poor working and living conditions of black people.

 

In 1914 he started the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), in Jamaica. The UNIA, which grew into an international organisation, encouraged self-government for black people worldwide; self-help economic projects and protest against racial discrimination.

 

In 1916, Garvey went to the USA where he preached his doctrine of freedom to the oppressed blacks throughout the country.

 

However, USA officials disapproved of his activities and he was imprisoned, then deported.

 

Back in Jamaica in 1927, he continued his political activity, forming the People’s Political Party in 1929. He was unsuccessful in national elections but won a seat on the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC).

 

But the world of the 1930s was not ready for Garvey’s progressive ideas. He left Jamaica again, this time for England where he died in 1940. His body was brought back to Jamaica in 1964 and buried in the National Heroes Park in Kingston.

 

Garvey’s legacy can be summed up in the philosophy he taught – race pride, the need for African unity; self-reliance; the need for black people to be organised and for rulers to govern on behalf of the working classes.

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Emancipation Park statues representing Africans looking to the sky after Emancipation declared throughout the British Empire in 1834

Emancipation Park statues representing Africans looking to the sky after Emancipation declared throughout the British Empire in 1834

(I originally wrote this piece a few years ago, still seems to make sense to me)

By Jason Walker

Emancipation day is an important day for the descendants of Africa, especially those whose ancestors were impacted by the brutal Slave trade. In the 1800’s the holocaust of slavery was hit with a crippling blow around the world. The Emancipation Act was passed on July 31, 1834 throughout the British Empire and effectively ended the inhumane Slave Trade. Full freedom from slavery did not come until four years later on August 1, 1838.  The 4 year period was instituted as a transition period as this monumental change would irrevocably change societies worldwide. The abolition of Slavery in the British Empire would affect slavery everywhere mainly because Britain’s navy owned the seas and without the cooperation of the British Navy, it made slavery both difficult and expensive. And as destructive, dehumanizing and inhumane the European version of the system of slavery was; it was for all intents and purposes an economic manifestation.

Slavery was a cruel and destructive system that had Africans as free labourers in labour intensive industries such as Cotton, Sugar and Tobacco. Throughout the 1400’s through to the middle of the 1700’s products such as these fetched a very attractive price, along with the free labour, a tidy profit could be made. Although labour was free, the cost to keep Africans enslaved was high. Especially in areas where there were slaves freeing themselves and staging revolts. The most successful of these of course included the Maroons in Jamaica from the 1500’s through to the 1700’s and even more so the Africans (including Maroons) in Haiti who at the end of the 1700’s would successfully wage a revolution against French armies, supported by Spain and England.

Do not think though that the Emancipation act came about from any suddenly altruistic gestures by the British Monarchy. Due to the work of many abolitionists in Britain; the sentiment against the horrific system Slavery had grown tremendously among the English population. Also the prices of the aforementioned products began to drop on the world markets as new products that did not need this labour intensive situation were now rising to prominence. Along with that came the advent of the industrial age which was ushering a new era where such labour numbers were not the order of the day. All the aforementioned along with the cost of keeping control and responding to revolts made these endeavours non-attractive. Continuing the genocidal and devastating system Slavery no longer made economic sense.

As we come to the present, we find that it is only in the past two decades that countries have decided to mark this date as a holiday, and of the countries that were affected by this act (Countries in Africa, The Caribbean, Central America, South America, & North America) a small percentage actually commemorate this day*. Maybe that is appropriate; I say this because although things are different from the era of slavery, people of African descent in the aforementioned geographical areas are not in a position of true emancipation.

The definition of Emancipation from the English Oxford Dictionary states that it is “the fact or process of being set free from legal, social, or political restrictions; liberation:” With the majority of African persons in these areas lacking resources, political clout, and in some cases freedom, can we really call ourselves emancipated? It was probably this same observation that led former Prime Minister of Jamaica and former leader of the Non-Aligned Movement (a coalition of countries that were not listed as industrial nations) Michael Manley to say; “The enslavement of the body which endured till 1838 was nothing compared to the enslavement of the mind which persisted since”. The affects of slavery and the propaganda to support slavery has endured and left a lasting mark and has conspired to keep those of African descent in such a position.

Yet by our accomplishments singularly and in some rare cases collectively we see we are a very powerful people. So it is possible to change the current existence. However we will probably have to do what Reggae Superstar Bob Marley said in his song Redemption Song: “Emancipate Yourself From Mental Slavery” before we can truly be at a stage of Emancipation. So although we celebrate the Act that saw fruition on August 1 1838 annually, we should probably use these days to see where we are on the road of getting to the next stage of Emancipation and be creative in getting to that new stage.

*Countries that Celebrate Emancipation Day include: Jamaica, Barbados, Bermuda, Bahamas, St. Lucia, Canada, Guyana, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, St. Kitts & Nevis

Vin and flag

VIN MARTIN

Vin Martin, the former Jamaican Honorary Consul to Atlanta has died in Atlanta.  He served as Jamaica’s honorary Consul from 1997 until he retired last year after 16 years of dedicated service.

He was awarded the  Jamaica Diaspora Award of Excellence in 2013 for contributions to the development of the Jamaican diaspora in the United States.

Vin was born in Jackson Town, Trelawny and attended Excelsior High School before migrating in 1965 to the United States to attend College. He earned an undergraduate degree from Howard University (1969) in Washington D.C., an MBA (1972) in Finance and Investment from Pennsylvania State University and a Juris Doctorate (1976) from the Washington College of Law of the American University in Washington DC.

In 1972, Vin commenced work as an Accountant with Fannie Mae but upon graduation from law school, he was transferred to Atlanta and commenced work in Fannie Mae’s Atlanta legal department. After 30 years at Fannie Mae, he retired to open his own law practice in Stone Mountain.

Vin is survived by his wife, Hazel, their two sons and three grandchildren.

Courtesy of JAMATLANTA

WYLCEF JEAN SITS WITH JASON SKYWALKER ON CROSSOVER MEDIA

Wyclef Jean and Jason Sky Walker

Wyclef Jean and Jason Sky Walker by Tiffanny Stennett

          Jason Sky Walker had a sit down with hip hop legend and superstar Wyclef Jean for Cross Over Media TV. On this archived podcast the producer, artist, politician, and author speaks on many topics including the Haiti earthquake, his career, the Fugees, his book, family and more.

          Play the video to watch this interview from one of the most talented and successful artists to come from the Caribbean. Please feel free to comment and give feedback.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA ON CARIBBEAN AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH 2013

President Barack Obama flanked by Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller of Jamaica (Left) and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad & Tobago (Right) along with several Caribbean and Regional heads

President Barack Obama flanked by Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller of Jamaica (Left) and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad & Tobago (Right) along with several Caribbean and Regional heads

“For centuries, the United States and nations in the Caribbean have grown alongside each other as partners in progress. Separated by sea but united by a yearning for independence, our countries won the right to chart their own destinies after generations of colonial rule. Time and again, we have led the way to a brighter future together — from lifting the stains of slavery and segregation to widening the circle of opportunity for our sons and daughters.

“National Caribbean-American Heritage Month is a time to celebrate those enduring achievements. It is also a chance to recognize men and women who trace their roots to the Caribbean. Through every chapter of our Nation’s history, Caribbean Americans have made our country stronger — reshaping our politics and reigniting the arts, spurring our movements and answering the call to serve. Caribbean traditions have enriched our own, and woven new threads into our cultural fabric. Again and again, Caribbean immigrants and their descendants have reaffirmed America’s promise as a land of opportunity — a place where no matter who you are or where you come from, you can make it if you try.

“Together, as a Nation of immigrants, we will keep writing that story. And alongside our partners throughout the Caribbean, we will keep working to achieve inclusive economic growth, access to clean and affordable energy, enhanced security, and lasting opportunity for all our people. As we honor Caribbean Americans this month, let us strengthen the ties that bind us as members of the Pan American community, and let us resolve to carry them forward in the years ahead.

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2013 as National Caribbean-American Heritage Month. I encourage all Americans to celebrate the history and culture of Caribbean Americans with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

“IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.

“BARACK OBAMA.”

PHOTO CAPTION: President Barack Obama flanked by Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller of Jamaica (Left) and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad & Tobago (Right) along with several Caribbean and Regional heads

Jamaica Prime Minister NO SHOW at Jamaica Diaspora Event

by Jason Walker

               I know when you hear the words “No Show” they are normally associated with entertainers and concerts not Prime Ministers especially when it involves important audiences like the Diaspora. Well that is essentially what occurred on December 3 2011 in the state of Florida when Jamaican Florida Commissioner Dale Holness had arranged for a meeting between the very new Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness (Distant cousins) and the Jamaican Diaspora.

Let’s do a little a background Prime Minister (PM) Holness was sworn in as PM on the 23rd of October 2011 and as such became the youngest PM in Jamaican history. This brought intrigue and excitement in several quarters, and also extreme curiousity. There were questions throughout the Diaspora as to who exactly is Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness as a large percentage of the Diaspora was very unfamiliar with the new PM. To add to the fascination, former Prime Minister Bruce Golding had suddenly resigned amid a series of scandals that rocked the ruling party, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). To add to this earlier this year members of the Diaspora had shown a very public concern about the treatment of the Diaspora by the Jamaican government led by the JLP.

With the aforementioned reasons amongst others many members of the Diaspora jumped at the chance to meet the new PM face to face, they came from all over Florida and as far as the neighbouring states to Florida. The event was to start at 3:30 PM in the very large Christway Baptist Church in Miramar Florida. Hundreds of Jamaicans had already begun filling up the venue, surrounding parking lots were packed. Jamaicans of all stripes, classes and other strata were streaming in. Some identified themselves as PNP (People’s National Party the opposition) supporters, Independents and JLP supporters (wearing green in some part of their dress), the majority though seemed to be made up of independents who just love Jamaica. The general mood was they wanted to find out who their new PM was, to share Diaspora concerns and to hear the PM’s vision for a Jamaica.

3:30 came and went, 4:00 came and went and there was no Prime Minister. The audience was told repeatedly that the PM was on the way. Persons such as G2K vice president Sherman Calnek and the hilarious community member Easton Lee went on the podium to fill the time. Right before 5:00 it was announced that we would be hearing from the PM calling in on his SAT phone calling from his plane as it was taking off from Jamaica, yes I said taking off from Jamaica minutes to 5:00 when the event started at 3:00. The PM apologized for not being there and that he would be on the way. It was announced that he should be there soon. After 6:30 with no PM in sight Diaspora members began leaving in disgust, so disappointed that a promise made by the new Prime Minister was treated with such disrespect. Soon after when most of the Jamaicans from the Diaspora had left the event was cancelled.

Before the cancellation was made known, it was announced that later that night there was a fundraiser for the Jamaica Labour Party election campaign that persons could attend and meet the PM there. Understandably only JLP supporters were interested in such an activity while the invitation and no show left a bitter taste in people’s mouths.

Kudos must be given to Commissioner Dale Holness for arranging this event, for Jamaicans throughout the Diaspora still want to know who the man who is running the country they love is. Former Prime Ministers Michael Manley, Edward Seaga, PJ Patterson, Portia Simpson-Miller and Bruce Golding have a strong and positive record when it comes to making time for and honouring meeting engagements with the Diaspora. From here on in, if Prime Minister Holness wishes to interact with the Jamaican Diaspora, market to them and have them invest in Jamaica as he shared in a later interview, he is going to have to show some priority with the Diaspora when it comes to his scheduling. What happened on Saturday has been taken as a slap in the face by several who attended, even those who identified themselves as JLP supporters looked stunned and definitely disappointed as they left.