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Jamaicans eye solid-gold party in London
2012-08-03 14:57:18 | (0 Comments)
(AP) — The Jamaicans of London have got their soul food sizzling, their Red Stripe on ice and their expectations sky high.
They're ready for what they hope will be a solid-gold weekend celebration featuring Usain Bolt and other world-class sprinters from their Caribbean island nation.
"Jamaicans are very optimistic. We almost see this as a home game," said Clive Saunders, a community leader for the nearly 1 million Britons of Jamaican descent, most of whom are preparing late-night parties in London parks, Olympic venues and homes for the women's 100-metre finals Saturday and the men's 100 metre Sunday.
At the last Olympics four years ago, Jamaican sprinters cemented their status as the world's fastest. The women took all three medals, while Bolt set a new world record, a mark he's bettered since. This time Jamaicans are hoping for an even more dominant show, with Jamaican women positioned for a second clean sweep and Yohan Blake hot on Bolt's heels for the title of world's fastest man.
Many are predicting the greatest national hangover in Jamaican history on Monday, when the former colonial possession celebrates its 50th year of independence from Britain.
"We'll all be gettin' the rum out tonight, and Saturday, and Sunday!" declared Gorgeous Williams, a 43-year-old woman selling jerk chicken at a London food stall.
Desiree Lewis, a 30-year-old nurse, was hefting three overflowing bags of groceries home Friday on a London bus. Her stockpile of yams, grits, cornmeal and canned callaloo was testimony to the many Jamaican bellies she'd have to fill this long, raucous weekend.
"My young boys think they're British. We're going to make them proper, proud Jamaicans this weekend," said Lewis, who immigrated as a child to London.
"We're surrounding them with everything Jamaica. All our cousins from Birmingham are crashing in our flat this weekend. We've family here from Kingston too."
Richie Bailey, a 26-year-old bicycle courier taking a break to watch the Olympics on a cafe TV, was displaying his Jamaican pride with a Rastacap bearing the island's colors of green, yellow and black.
He predicted that Bolt would put the upstart Blake into his rightful second place and leave the foreign competition a pitiful speck on the horizon.
"My man Bolt is gonna beat them bad, man," he said. "This weekend, Jamaica is gonna be the most powerful nation on earth."
Indeed, these next few days could be among the most special in the history of Jamaica, a nation of fewer than 2.9 million people, mostly descendants of slaves brought from Africa to work the island's sugar plantations.
On Monday, the nation celebrates its Aug. 6, 1962, independence from Britain, a moment accompanied by soul-searching over whether to loosen the ties that still bind Jamaica constitutionally to its former colonial master.
Source: The Gleaner/Power 106 News
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