Celebrating Jamaica's Best

THE WEEKLY GLEANER | JULY 30 - AUGUST 5, 2020 | www.jamaica-gleaner.com | I AS we commemorate the 58th anniversary of our Independence, Jamaicans at home and abroad will once again reflect on the tremendous contributions of our fellow Jamaicans, past and present, who paved the way towards the birth of an independent Jamaica. We will also call tomind our continued relentless pursuit of socio-economic prosperity. With hearts full of pride and joy, we will celebrate our nation’s great attributes, most notably our resilience, warmth and generosity of spirit. Under the theme: ‘Resilient and Strong’, we have an opportunity to highlight our achievements and advancements in sectors such as health and education, infrastructure development, agriculture, international relations, tourism, music, culture and entertainment and housing and investment opportunities. The world is confronting a global pandemic, COVID- 19, which has impacted our usual activities, our lives, and our livelihoods. As we observe the ‘Emancipendence’ period, the limitations brought by the pandemic will no doubt affect howwe can celebrate. It is customary for us to observe the traditional festivities around this time, which often have at their core large gatherings, vibrant songs and dances and great culinary delights. For our continued health and safety, and that of our loved ones, regretfully, we will not be able to celebrate at the scale and magnitude to which we are accustomed. In this current pandemic, we are responding with resilience and strength. We are counted among the countries which have successfully implemented policies which have served to control the spread of the disease, based on the fundamental principles of public health. The approach taken by the Government has been characterised as agile and coordinated.This approach is consistent with ourmission tobalance lives and livelihoods, and is testament to the fact that we are accustomed to innovation and creative responses to challenges. As the country looks beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and tackles its socio-economic impact, Jamaica’s strong I NDEPENDENCE DAY – August 6 – has always been the most significant date on the national calendar in Jamaica and for Jamaicans residing overseas. Each year, we look forward to our vibrant celebrations, including national festival and gospel song competitions, Festival Queen and Farm Queen pageants, fireworks and the much-anticipated Grand Gala at the National Stadium. It is a time to celebrate and showcase the best from our deep reservoir of talents in every domain, while inspiring hope and unity. Independence Day is also a time to reflect on the nation’s journey from the era of slavery and colonialism to our achievement of full nationhood in 1962; and to chart our course forward. This year’s commemoration comes as the entire world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic that has left no area of the globe untouched, not even Jamaica. We have had just over 700 cases and 10 fatalities – very difficult especially for the families of the fallen or the stricken, but relatively minuscule compared tomany other countries worldwide. But, thankfully, the Government of Jamaica has done a phenomenal job in containing the virus among the population. Observance of our country’s 58th anniversary of independence under the theme “Resilient and Strong: Let’s celebrate Jamaica 58”is, therefore, quite opportune. Birthed out of centuries of struggle, our nation has long been accustomed to adversity. The ongoing challenges are, therefore, no match for the strength and powerful resolve of the Jamaican people. I am confident that we will not only survive this ordeal, but we will thrive. Many will recall the successes achieved by the Government of Jamaica in the last few years, in terms of macroeconomic stability: 20 quarters of modest growth or no economic contraction, decline in unemployment and inflation, and increased consumer confidence. Many of the gains have been eroded or risk erosion by this sudden, invisible enemy of the last few months. One recent United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report cites Jamaica as one of the countries to suffer the greatest economic fallout from the closure of our tourism industry, to the tune of 11% of GDP. To alleviate the negative impacts of our borders being closed and the economic slowdown, the Government provided stimulus packages, including to the unemployed and pensioners. With our borders now reopened and tourism and other key sectors back in business, we expect Jamaica will eventually emerge “resilient and strong”. My sincere appreciation to Jamaican diasporamembers for their tremendous help, tangible and intangible, to fellow Jamaicans, especially those stranded in the United States after Jamaica’s borders closed in March. Let me also extend condolences to those grieving the loss of loved ones to COVID-19, and pray for speedy recovery for those still struggling. Nonetheless, resilient and strong: let’s celebrate Jamaica 58, as a people of steely resolve and tenacious Jamaican spirit. Despite these monumental challenges, I firmly believe we have a bright future ahead. Let us all join hands and hearts to make Jamaica a better place. H.E. Audrey P. Marks, Ambassador of Jamaica to the USA and Permanent Representative to the OAS. THIS YEAR, Jamaica has the honour to celebrate its 58th independence anniversary under the theme “Resilient and Strong”. The occasion affords us yet another opportunity to reflect and reaffirm that these are the distinct qualities that characterise the people of Jamaica. As we gather to commemorate another significant milestone in our history, we recognise and express our deepest appreciation to our forefathers who were emboldened and determined to chart the future of Jamaica as an independent country. Their collective vision and efforts to dismantle the oppressive colonial system at the cost of personal safety and convenience, serve as inspiration to stand up for justice and uphold our fundamental freedoms. The invaluable contributions of our formidable nation builders have been instrumental inmoulding prolific and influential Jamaicans across all spheres of professional endeavours. Moreover, our vibrant culture and rich heritage, that have been shaped by amosaic of nationalities, have uniquely positioned us as a true melting pot – so eloquently captured by our motto, “Out of Many, One People”. We should stand proud of our country for the countless achievements and strides we have made throughout our development trajectory. We continue to elevate our stature in bilateral, regional andmultilateral fora, through our unmatched advocacy and diplomacy, in keeping with the spirit of collaboration, to advance our national agenda. Jamaica, like other countries, acknowledges that, despite our accomplishments, much work remains to be done. In this regard, we are committed to strengthening our resolve to improve areas of deficiencies and notable gaps, as we accord the highest priority for Jamaica to become the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business. For many of us, 2020 has so far proven to be quite a challenging year. Notwithstanding, let us remain undeterred by the setbacks and disappointments, with a renewed sense of determination and purpose. It is, therefore, incumbent on us to remain optimistic, seize available opportunities, leverage our talents and, most important, work together to create a promising future for all Jamaicans. Happy Jamaica 58 to a resilient and strong people. Nicole Johnson, Jamaican Consul to Toronto. Work to create a promising future for all Jamaicans Success and abundance to all Jamaicans! PLEASE SEE SUCCESS , 3 2 Jamaica will emerge ‘resilient and strong’ INDEPENDENCE FEATURE J L 30 - A T 30,