Scores of Jamaicans joined the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington DC by teleconference on Sunday, August 1 to commemorate the 183rd anniversary of the freedom of enslaved Africans in the British Commonwealth as well as the 59th anniversary of Jamaica’s Independence.
In response to the Government’s call to “Come Mek We Celebrate Online”, the online service attracted Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica from across the United States. The service was moderated by professor of the Howard University School of Divinity, the Rev. Dr. Burchell Melbourne, as well as Rev. Sylvia McDonald Kaufman and Canon Kortright Davis.
In delivering the sermon, Senior Pastor of Webster Memorial United Church, Rev. Astor Carlyle, speaking under the theme “Jamaica at 59: Revival and Renewal with Resilience”, said the indomitable Jamaican spirit which allows us to transform stumbling blocks into stepping stones must be affirmed, for through our people the weight of our little nation impacts the world significantly”.
However, Rev. Carlyle cautioned his audience, that “moral sensibility is the consciousness that God is the Rock out of which Jamaica has been hewn, and to abandon the ground and foundation of our nationhood is to not only betray our national essence and identity but it is to build on shifting sand a nation that cannot stand when the winds and waters of compromise blow and flow.
“As we celebrate the journey of 59 years, may we heed the prophet’s call to work for the continued revival and renewal of Jamaica land we love by walking in the ancient paths of moral sensibility and moral sensitivity. May we not like the people of Jeremiah’s day respond by saying ‘we will not!’.”
In a video message, Governor-General, His Excellency, the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, lauded members of the diaspora, stating that you have “kept our flag flying high and have made an invaluable contribution to the land of your birth or your adopted country.
“Although we are divided by sea, we remain inextricably connected to each other through our shared values, vision and the desire we have to work together to build a resilient nation of which we can all be proud,” the Governor-General said.
In her address to the diaspora, Ambassador, Her Excellency Audrey Marks, said “the 59th Anniversary of Independence of our great nation, Jamaica, is an opportune time for us to come together to celebrate this milestone with the usual sense of triumph and jubilation”.
She said: “while 59 years in the life of any nation is relatively short, we have much to celebrate and even more to reflect on as we contemplate our progress over the past years. Jamaica, with its strong democratic principles and global influence in so many spheres within the multilateral fora, has long been “punching admirably above its weight”.
She observed that “the Government of Jamaica has begun to mobilise investment locally which will help us to ‘build back better’. There are positive signs that our economy is steadily rebounding with our tourism industry set to welcome 1.7 million visitors by the end of 2021. Despite the challenges, Jamaica has also gone a long way in bridging the digital divide in the education sector, owing to the significant support of you, the members of the diaspora and Friends of Jamaica”.
The Ambassador noted that “alongside the rest of the world, Jamaica continues to be impacted by the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will, however, not be daunted in this unparalleled period of challenges, as there is indeed much to be celebrated, as our COVID-19 recovery efforts have been steady and consistent”.
She said: “Jamaica still has the distinction of having the world’s fastest man and woman and Brand Jamaica remains internationally known and respected. These are but some of the achievements… for which we ought to be justly proud.
“Importantly, let us also celebrate our collective efforts in the continued fight against COVID-19. Our health workers and other front-line workers, who have remained committed and continue to work tirelessly to keep us safe, must be saluted. We thank all the members of the diaspora and Friends of Jamaica for their understanding and unrelenting support during this challenging time.
“You, the members of the diaspora, have used your self-confidence, creativity and determination to make a home for yourselves here, while not turning your backs on those you left behind in Jamaica, and for this, we applaud you,” Ambassador Marks declared.