Wednesday, July 17, 2019

That day will come – if you’re lucky!

by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Column published in Jamaica Observer 10 June 2019
Presentation by CCRP representative Angela Foote
 on Centenarian's Day

Yes indeed, if you are lucky, you will be counted among the elderly one day, and so regardless of our age, it serves us well to be interested in the care and protection of the elderly. This digital age can dehumanize our relationships if we are not careful.  So while it’s great that your Grandma is on Facebook, take the time to let her hear the voice that makes her heart soar – yours. 

Your making time for your elders may very well be assuring your care in old age, as your children learn more from your example than from anything you tell them.  Moreover, the stories that our elders have to share will keep your children grounded, understanding and valuing their heritage.  Stories of sacrifices to ensure the well-being of their families will help children to appreciate the contribution made by elders to their own development.

Members of the Lions Club of New Kingston support the
CCRP outreach to infirm elderly by donating personal care products.
L-R - Lions Club former President and CCRP Board Director Mrs Vilma McDonald,
VP for Health Merle Bernard, Jean Lowrie-Chin, Executive Chair, CCRP and
Executive Member Joy Richards
The wisdom which comes with age is a treasure that we should encourage our children to respect. Our elders have braved many obstacles, experienced goodness as well as negativity in their encounters.  Discussions with their elders will help children to navigate difficult circumstances at school and in the workplace.

The debate continues regarding who is a senior and who is an elder. I have been advised that you become a senior at 65 and an elder at 80. We should be careful of ageism however, as most seniors are as active as ever. We have been delighted to recommend our CCRP members for positions in various organisations, and to receive feedback that they are outstanding in their performance. Think about it, many over-sixties are up with the digital age, and have a wealth of experience.  They are a boon to the workplace, while some like our CCRP Northeast Jamaica convenor Pixley Irons, run their own successful businesses.

Minister Robinson’s call

Convenor of the CCRP Northeast Jamaica Chapter Pixley with
Hon Shahine Robinson, Minister of Labour & Social Security
at the Launch of the Chapter on 7th June 2019.
CCRP had a good day last Friday when Minister of Labour and Social Security Shahine Robinson launched our Northeast Jamaica Chapter. Our convenor Pixley Irons, immediate past president of the St. Ann Chamber of Commerce and President Vana Taylor hosted the event at their John McDowell Conference Centre. 

Minister Robinson reminded us that her Ministry’s Green Paper, proposing a revised policy for the elderly, will have two public sessions in Mandeville and Kingston this month, and is urging the public to attend and participate in ensuring what she describes as “an all-embracing policy which will in a comprehensive way seek to address the issues affecting our seniors in a more effective and purposeful manner.

The Minister emphasised that persons over 60 who would like to benefit from the assistance of the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC) should register with their parish offices.  The NCSC assists in enrolling senior citizens in the National Health Fund, the Jamaica Drugs for the Elderly Programme and the Poverty Alleviation programme (PATH). She lauded the over 3,000 volunteers who assist the NCSC in their work and appealed for more, bearing in mind the help that must be offered to the 12,000 shut-ins who are registered with the NCSC.

In commenting on the scourge of elder abuse, she said “if these matters are not reported to the Police for action, then certainly they will continue to take place … What in effect we need is for the communities to be more vigilant and that instances of abuse are reported either to the Council or to the Police.”

In congratulating CCRP on the launch of the newest Chapter, the Minister said that it “speaks to your desire to enhance your membership and to offer the services to a wider cross section of Jamaicans … the Government recognizes the worth of organisations such as this in mobilizing support and creating assistance for such persons. There is no political regime that can ever fulfill all the needs of everyone.”
CCRP Northeast Jamaica planning meeting (l-r) Pixley Irons,
Jean Lowrie-Chin, Joan McDonald, Chyna Whyne,
Earl-Robb-Brown and Denyse Perkins.
 The minister noted that Jamaica was seeing an increasing number of centenarians, which her ministry lauded in an advertisement on Centenarians Day, May 24, listing the 168 centenarians that they have on record. “Interestingly … in St Ann the Ministry celebrated with three centenarians, all living in the same household,” she said. We had read reports of the event in Content Gardens: Melvin and his wife Icilda Scott are 100 and 101 years old respectively. Icilda’s sister Evelyn Gibson celebrated her 104th birthday on May 23.

It was great to catch up with the good folks who packed the Centre for the meeting. Among them were St. Ann Chamber of Commerce Past President Jeanne Dixon, emcee Joan McDonald, Joyce Tweedie-McDowell, Denyse Perkins, Chyna Whyne, Lorna Davis,Earl Robb-Brown, Evelyn Sangster and Iva Walters,. The Northeast Jamaica Chapter will serve members in St. Ann, St. Mary and Portland and has a part-time desk courtesy of the St. Ann Chamber.

Friday, June 7, 2019

In Edward Seaga’s memory – do something good for Jamaica

Jamaica Observer column published 3 June 2019

by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Image result for edward seaga
Former Prime Minister of Jamaica Most Hon Edward Seaga with his wife Carla
and PM Most Hon Andrew Holness. - Jamaica Observer photo

The achievements of Jamaica’s late Prime Minister Edward Phillip George Seaga, are a clarion call to all Jamaicans to focus our energy on nation building. He certainly did his best, establishing institutions to protect our democracy, preserve our culture, develop our financial capabilities, and provide wider educational opportunities.

It was when we toured an area called ‘Frog City’ in 2004 that I realised the vision of Edward Seaga’s creation of Tivoli Gardens. There we were, walking carefully through winding passages bordered by ragged zinc fences, and inspecting a ‘study area’, an old school desk with a rusting chair surrounded by yet more zinc. Thank goodness, last year, Mr Seaga’s mentee Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced a housing development for that area.

Mr Seaga named the West Kingston community after the Italian town Tivoli Gardens, telegraphing his dream for a beautiful and productive settlement. We should remember that Mr Seaga wanted peace for the citizens of West Kingston, even giving the police a list of persons whom he deemed to be troublemakers in the community, a very brave thing to do when we consider the names on that list!

And so last Tuesday evening, the citizens of Tivoli Gardens gathered to celebrate the life of a man ‘who put a roof over my head’, in the words of an elderly citizen. Even after he retired from active politics, Mr Seaga promoted the Tivoli Gardens Football Club, raising funds by renting billboard space and hiring coaches that would develop a formidable and disciplined team of players.

Most moving for me were the reactions of two Members of Parliament to the passing of Mr Seaga: Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange and Minister Desmond McKenzie.  It is in the deep mourning of the bereaved that we feel the care they experienced from their loved one.  Minister Grange’s voice broke as she addressed the House on Tuesday: “He was the kindest, most caring and most brilliant man I have ever known and I loved him dearly … he taught me to dine with kings and walk with beggars and to give respect to receive respect … Mr Seaga loved Jamaica and our people. He understood the value of our culture and way of life in a way that few people do… we have become a cultural powerhouse because of Mr Seaga’s vision and service.”

Minister McKenzie broke down in tears, and I recall his account some years ago of the kindnesses Mr Seaga showed him.  He said as a child, the first ice cream cone he had was given to him by Edward Seaga – what a sweet memory. Many of the hits he plays on his popular programme ‘The Mayor’s Parlour’ were created through Mr Seaga’s music production company West Indies Records Ltd, later sold to Byron Lee who renamed it Dynamic Sounds.

His creation of the Jamaica Festival Commission, later the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission offered tens of thousands of Jamaicans a start through Festival competitions in music, culinary arts, literature, dance and drama. He was a strong supporter of the work of Jamaica’s brilliant musical folklorist the late Olive Lewin, a close family friend.

We were reminded by Senator Robert Morgan on social media, that it was Mr Seaga who saved Devon House from being sold to real estate developers. Thanks to Edward Seaga, the mansion built by Jamaica’s first Black millionaire was spared and is a recreational refuge for Jamaicans of all walks of life.

Mr Seaga selected talent, not based on political bias but on objective achievement.  Barbara Blake Hannah wrote in the Observer last week about the man who appointed her as an Independent Senator for four years, knowing that she had also worked in the Michael Manley administration. She said Minister Grange had told her she was considered by Mr Seaga “because I took the bus”.
“I was, like most people, in awe of Seaga,” she noted. “But I liked him, first and foremost, because I am a Garveyite and he was not only the man who brought Marcus Garvey's remains back to Jamaica and buried them with honour, but also because he led the declaration of Garvey as Jamaica's first national hero.”

Merrick Needham recalls that day in London in the eighties when then Prime Minister Edward Seaga sent for him while he worked at the Commonwealth Secretariat and asked that he return to Jamaica because the country needed him. Merrick did, and what a programme he rolled out for the Protocol division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and for conference and logistics planners including former JNA and Finance Ministry powerhouse Vilma McDonald, the Observer’s Novia McDonald Whyte and CARICOM’s Marcia Ormsby.

We have to thank Observer Editor Desmond Allen for his interview with two of Mr Seaga’s sisters, Mrs Jean Anderson and the late Mrs Fay Tortello.  It is from this interview that we learn about this close-knit family who were proud of their eldest sibling, Edward who after graduating from Harvard returned to Jamaica. By 1959, Desmond Allen noted, “Edward Seaga was getting famous. He was lecturing at the University of the West Indies extra-mural department and writing many letters to The Gleaner on public issues, while deepening his social studies by living in Buxton Town, St Catherine, where he isolated himself from his family for six months.”

Jean Anderson noted that Mr Seaga caught the eye of the leaders of both the JLP and the PNP: “Both Sir Alexander Bustamante, leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), and Norman Manley, leader of the People's National Party (PNP), invited him to join their parties, Anderson relates. Although he was more like Manley in personality, she says, he chose the charismatic Busta who had taken a liking to him. With that, the age of innocence had come to an end. All that had gone before would pale in comparison to the high-stakes games of power politics which had now been irrevocably engaged.”

Jean Anderson’s home in Mandeville “became the staging point for Eddie's political activities when he visited central Jamaica.”  Jean recalled the time leading up to his victory in the 1962 elections: “They used my house like a hotel. Eddie was always on the phone, arranging things.”

Mr Seaga was a member of the seniors’ organisation, CCRP; here are excerpts from our tribute: “[He] personified our motto ‘Life to the Fullest … the late Prime Minister remained actively involved in public life long after he retired from politics in 2005. He continued to contribute positively to national development in several areas, including academia, cultural life and sports.

“Our thoughts are especially with Mr. Seaga’s sister, Mrs. Jean Seaga Anderson, a sponsor of our organization ... The poor and elderly Jamaicans are indebted to Mr. Seaga. Among the social programmes he established, Mr. Seaga launched the Golden Age Movement in the 1960s. The first Golden Age Home was built in 1985, as a modern home for seniors.”

We extend deep condolences to Mr Seaga’s widow, Mrs Carla Seaga, his children Christopher, Andrew, Anabella and Gabrielle, other family members and loved ones. The best tribute we can pay to this tireless patriot is to continue building on his legacy to create the Jamaica of his dreams.

True respect for LGBT persons

Excerpt from Jamaica Observer column published 20 May 2019
by Jean Lowrie-Chin

J-FLAG marked the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia with a roundtable discussion and a presentation of findings from a recent survey on the attitude of Jamaicans towards members of the LGBT community. The results were encouraging, but still cast Jamaica, including employers and politicians as being ambivalent about the rights of these, our fellow citizens.

Support for change to the “Buggery Law” showed that the majority was still against it, though there was slightly better support for the teaching of tolerance of LBGT persons. 

Ambassador of Mexico, Juan Jose Gonz├ílez Mijares noted that his country decided that it was not choice but an obligation, to legislate against discrimination.  He said that his country faced similar sociological issues as Jamaica, but passed a federal law against every kind of discrimination and established a National Council Against Discrimination. This upholds respect for all, regardless of race, creed, gender, age or sexual orientation.

Such laws would foster a more harmonious Jamaican society. Let us honour the “true respect for all” that we sing out in our Anthem.

Save our precious girls

Excerpt from Jamaica Observer column published May 20 2019
by Jean Lowrie-Chin

When we consider to heights which our precious Jamaican girls can reach, we mourn Jamaica’s loss with the parents of Shantae Skyers, Trisha Morris and Stefika Smith. Five days after seven-year old Shantae was reported missing, her body was found on April 16 in Sterling Castle Heights, Red Hills. On April 30, the body of 11-year-old Trisha Morris was found in her community of Woodland, Hanover and on May 13, the body of 17-year-old Stefika Smith was found in Four Paths, Clarendon.

On Saturday evening, CVM news carried a report of the attempted abduction of a schoolgirl in central Jamaica. Her mother said the child was lured to a car by a woman offering her a gift. As she looked in the car, she saw a man with a knife and ran screaming for her life. Her mother says the child is traumatized. 

Dr Mearle Barrett, President of the Business and Professional Women’s Club of St. Andrew (BPW St. Andrew) has expressed “alarm and concern at the recent spate of abuse and killings of young children, in particular, young girls … We call upon the authorities to vigorously investigate each incident and bring the perpetrators to justice. In addition, the need for more attention to be paid to the support services required to improve the family structure and parenting skills, must be recognized.”

The parents of Stefika Smith led a march in Clarendon last Friday, demanding greater protection for our children.  We must respond to the anguished cry of Stefika’s mother and the many heartbroken parents throughout Jamaica - our children must be saved from these heartless criminals.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

A wonderful day in MoBay for CCRP

Excerpt from Jamaica Observer column published Monday, 18 March 2019
Guest Speaker Lloyd B Smith welcomed by CCRP Central Jamaica
Convenor Dr Norma Taylor and Executive Member
Mrs Shona Heron

by Jean Lowrie-Chin
Our CCRP event for Montego Bay had been months in planning and then the news came about the daylight shootings.  As we read the headlines, we admit to a few butterflies, but the enthusiasm of our colleagues in the West was not to be denied.
Dr Taylor welcomes guests
Our fears were put to rest as we entered the city and saw a well-manned checkpoint.  We obediently rolled down our windows, and when I looked at the youthful face of the police officer, I thanked him from the bottom of my heart. It cannot be easy for members our security forces to suit up every morning, knowing the dangers of their job.
As we set up for the launch of the Western Chapter of the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) at the Blessed Sacrament Cathedral hall and saw the members arriving: retired police officers, professionals and entrepreneurs, we knew we must never stop working for these intrepid folks, who continue to volunteer for the upliftment of others.

Emcee the dynamic Joy Clark 
There was Dr Norma Taylor of Unity of Montego Bay Worship Centre who arrived laden with items to make the event more comfortable.  There was Shona Heron who had organised registration and catering.  There was Joy Clark, who lent her sparkling talents as emcee.
Then our guest speaker rose to address us – none other than a man they call ‘the Governor’ of Montego Bay, Lloyd B. Smith, publisher and editor of the 39-year-old Western Mirror, former Member of Parliament and former President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce.
He described the societal challenges that have led to the erosion of law and order in our country. “We are living in challenging times,” he warned. “There is an attitudinal change in Jamaica towards the elderly which we must address.” He bemoaned the lack of respect and rampant ageism, calling for an awareness campaign to be led by CCRP and Professor Denise Eldemire Shearer’s Mona Ageing & Wellness Centre.
The Gleaner's Janet Silvera, founder of Sarah's Children
lent her support
He recalled learning at his grandmother’s knee and noted the importance of family time to promote respect among generations. He said technology was threatening this, as he recently observed a family of five sitting in a restaurant together but glued to their respective mobile devices. “There was no conversation taking place,” he said. “It seems the art of conversation is dead.”
“We have to play a serious role in mentoring, because too many do not honour their mothers and their fathers,” he declared. Mr Smith called on us to be conscious of the vulnerability of elders and to help to protect them from dishonest folks.  He said we should advise returning residents to be careful about building houses that were too large for them to manage, and ostentatious living which may attract the wrong types.
Lloyd b had the audience riveted with his wit and wisdom
He noted the job placements being done by CCRP and said it was important that Jamaica continued to benefit from the experience and dedication of retired persons who still had much to offer.
Mr Smith condemned those unregistered nursing homes where gross neglect of their residents has been reported.  He said it would be therapeutic for the elderly to interact with children and encouraged the introduction of such programmes. He called for greater compassion for persons with senility or Alzheimer’s disease, noting that we must end the superstition around such conditions and work to make our elderly feel comfortable and loved.
Lloyd B. Smith urged his audience to do proper estate planning as this could prevent the rifts that develop in families over ‘dead lef’.  He also recommended the preparation of a ‘living will’, recording one’s wishes regarding medical treatment in circumstances of serious illnesses.
Journalist and community activist Janet Silvera was lauded at the event for honouring her mother Sarah Darling-Findlay by setting up a Foundation in her name – Sarah’s Children, to support the care and protection of children.  Dr Norma Taylor remarked that this was the kind of recognition that we should bee seeking to give to our dedicated elders.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Celebrate Literature: Yesterday, today and tomorrow at Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta

Celebrate Literature: Yesterday, today and tomorrow at Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta, May 25, 2019

Jamaica's Poet Laureate Lorna Goodison - with yours truly.
We were colleagues at Carifesta 76!
Inspiring youth and encouraging critical thinking through exposure to literature of all genres is one of the missions of the Department of Literatures in English (DLIE) at the Mona Campus of The University of the West Indies (The UWI). One of the strategies is to take its activities beyond the campus. To this end, the DLIE is once again partnering with the Gloria Lyn Memorial Fund (GLMF) and Two Seasons Guest House to present the Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta on Saturday, May 25, 2019 in Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth.

Held on the expansive grounds of Two Seasons Guest House in Treasure Beach, Talking Trees Literary Fiesta offers patrons a day of readings by established and emerging authors and poets. Billed as a family event, there will be a children’s programme sponsored by Jamaica Cultural Enterprises running concurrently with the main stage.

Free to the public, this year is the sixth staging of the Fiesta and the third in collaboration with the DLIE and the GLMF. Hosted by Fabian Thomas, under the theme, “Literature: Yesterday, today and tomorrow”, the readings will feature the works of four authors who died since the last staging in 2017. These are V. S. Naipaul (to be read by former Poet Laureate, Professor Mervyn Morris), Garfield Ellis, who was a reader at the 2012 staging of Talking Trees (to be read by Senior Lecturer in the DLIE, Dr. Michael Bucknor), Hazel Campbell (read by Tanya Batson-Savage), and Andrea Levy (read by Celia Skyes-Webster).
Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing and indoor
Marguerite Orane with Award Winning Blogger
Emma Lewis 
Representing literature of tomorrow are winners of competitions to inspire the young: Khadijah Chin, winner of the Young Writer’s Prize, and Delroy McGregor, winner of the Eddie Baugh Prize, two of the four prizes awarded in the National Library of Jamaica’s Poet Laureate of Jamaica Programme 2019; the winner of the Talk the Poem Recitation Competition organized by the School of Education, The UWI Mona Campus; and the winner of the GLMF “What Jamaica Means to me” Literary Competition for schools. Members of the audience will have the opportunity to present their work during the Open Mic segment.

Literature today will be represented by a formidable cast of locally and internationally acclaimed poets and authors: Alecia McKenzie, Lorna Goodison, Curdella Forbes, Brandon Wint, A-dZiko Simba Gegele, Sharma Taylor, and Marguerite Orane. The ten-minute play, It’s raining, rounds out the literary presentations. The readings will be interspersed by the drumming of young people from Treasure Beach and the Fiesta will end with the music of the local Treasure Beach Band, Mad Yardies.

Round trip transportation between Kingston and Treasure Beach chartered from Knutsford Express will be available on Saturday, May 25, 2019, departing Kingston at 6:15 a.m. Tickets may be purchased at the University Bookshop on the Mona Campus, or call Janet at 876-3406068. The cost of the round trip is $3,700 and $3,500 for seniors 65 and over.

On Sunday, May 26, Poet Laureate Lorna Goodison will be facilitating a poetry writers’ workshop at Two Seasons Guest House. Limited to 20 participants, the contribution for the workshop is JA$5,500 per person.

Information on the Fiesta and the readers can be viewed at For further information telephone 876-571-0818 or email or


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Kind Lauding the Kind: Butch Hendrickson and the Lyn Kee Chow Family

Butch Hendrickson – timely Lecture and Award
Excerpt from Jamaica Observer Column published 18 March 2019
Image result for Butch Hendrickson
Gary 'Butch' Hendrickson CD
As usual, business leader Butch Hendrickson pulled no punches in his address at last week’s UTECH 2019 Research, Technology and Innovation Day.  He appealed to our leaders to take the guesswork out of policy-making by using hard data. He appealed to students to hold persons in high office to standards of excellence, noting that “Jamaica cannot afford to be mediocre anymore”.
As this column has noted several times, Jamaica is suffering from ‘a conspiracy of mediocrity’.  People of excellence are shunned and frustrated by mediocre managers who are afraid of losing their jobs to them.  And so, the cycle of mediocrity continues, dumbing down companies who wonder how their hefty investments are taking them nowhere.
Butch Hendrickson called out the poor reasoning that results in such cases as the recurring potholes at a section of Knutsford Boulevard and a lack of strategic planning which leaves the authorities in conflict with poor market ladies and squatters for whom land should have been earmarked for their settlements.   
Hendrickson has been a man who puts his money where his mouth is, having established the National Baking Foundation, supporting over 2,000 schools islandwide, and funding countless projects for the needy.
Image result for Lyn Kee Chow
Michael and Veronica Lyn Kee Chow
Earlier this month, he was presented with the Gift of Hope Award by Michael and Veronica Lyn Kee Chow of Pickapeppa fame. It was really a case of the kind lauding the kind, as the Lyn Kee Chows contributed the Gift of Hope Apostolate in Mandeville to Mustard Seed Communities in 2013. Gift of Hope houses 20 residents with disabilities, age two to 24.  The Lyn Kee Chow family have annual fundraisers, using proceeds for therapy equipment, building repairs, a new vehicle, sustainable agriculture initiatives and care of the residents.
So great was the response of Butch Hendrickson that the Lyn Kee Chows wrote: “Your years of philanthropic giving, extensive work meeting the needs of vulnerable populations, and dedication to religious communities in Jamaica has benefited countless individuals across the island and beyond….Please know that your generosity has enabled the Gift of Hope fundraiser to grow and provide much-needed funding both for the home and the residents who it serves.”

Monday, May 13, 2019

Jamaica, this blessed spot

by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Column published in Jamaica Observer 13 May 2019

"My cousin said it was the first time he felt like his own man," declared my friend, explaining that her cousin was visiting Jamaica for the first time since childhood for a family funeral. He shared with her the lengths he went through to make himself appear non-threatening in many situations in the US.  Even in the cold, he was afraid to wear a hoodie and he would ensure that he left a lot of personal space between himself and others. Yes indeed, when it comes to racial harmony, Jamaica is number one in the world, despite the few incidents of 'shade-ism'.   
We are a health-conscious country too. We know we must have a certificate of vaccination before we can enroll our children in school, and we have heard myriad stories of Jamaicans in the diaspora returning home for surgery as they find our doctors and nurses exceptional.
We have a free press – number eight in the world – and engaged leaders in both Government and Opposition.  Since 1944, the results of our General Elections have been accepted by all and our electoral system is so efficient that the EOJ team has been invited to assist with elections in several other countries.
Recipients of The National Chorale of Jamaica Medal of Excellence after
the presentation of their Awards by 
Governor General Sir Patrick Allen at Kings House
 on Sunday, May 5. Recipients are (from 2nd right) Carole Elaine Reid, Soprano;
Marilyn Brice MacDonald, Contralto; Rev. Easton Hugh Lee, Dramatic Artist,
Communication Professional; and Winston Alexander Ewart, Musical Director,
National Chorale of Jamaica.
Also joining the Awardees are (left) Christopher Samuda, Chairman, NCOJ and (right) Donna Parchment, Political Ombudsman.
We have a very hardworking police force subject to tough regulations though there are the few who continue to undermine the good work of their colleagues. The Force has been working with various community outreach programmes even as they fight crime. We should take seriously the recommendation of Montego Bay Mayor Homer Davis for a more streamlined approach by the various agencies for social intervention programmes in the Western Jamaica.  The police alone cannot do it.
When it comes to entertainment, Jamaica has offerings to suit every taste – from classical and pop concerts, theatre, dances, and top-notch sporting events. Last Saturday we had an enjoyable 'Ladies Day' at Caymanas Park courtesy of SVL and sponsors Rum Fire. Both companies were represented by top professional ladies: Ann-Dawn Young Sang, Heather Goldson, Gail Abrahams and Christelle Harris. Yes, Jamaican women are rising through the ranks.
Yes, we have a lot going for us, and a lot more to do. The ease and comfort the young visitor felt here in Jamaica is motivation to work even harder for this blessed spot on God's earth.
Jamaica's digital journey
We received some good news from Minister of Energy Technology and Science Fayval Williams at last week's Global Digital Marketing Summit held by Creative Brands and Concepts. She said the Digital Data Bill was a high priority for her government as they build 'a tech-enabled society'. She disclosed that through the Universal Service Fund, her Ministry had been able to establish 300 community access points and seven public Wi-Fi hotspots, with four more to come. She said she was looking forward to islandwide broadband services for high schools, libraries, post offices and police stations.
It was heartening to hear that the long awaited GovNet may finally be a reality. Minister Williams said that this would provide shared services among Government ministries with a data centre, GovCloud, GovTalk and GovMail.
Aileen Corrigan, CEO of Trend Media identified the biggest hurdle to bringing business leaders into the digital space, as fear. She said it was important to "change the mindset – be open to change."  She said it was alright "to admit that you are afraid and ask questions."
Aileen said it was important to stay in close touch with younger team members: "Find out what is trending … how do we get our people to be upskilled?"  She advised, "Get on to the platforms, follow influencers and trendsetters, connect with your audience."
GG lauds National Chorale legends
Last Sunday, Governor General Sir Patrick Allen presented medals of Excellence to four outstanding Jamaicans for their contribution to our National Chorale: Marilyn Brice MacDonald, Carole Elaine Reid, Winston Alexander Ewart and Rev. Easton Hugh Lee. Each of these individuals has had superlative accomplishments and have received multiple awards and honours.
Here are brief excerpts from their citations:
"Marilyn Brice MacDonald who remains one of the longest-serving and still vibrant member of the Jamaica Folk Singers… Marilyn Brice MacDonald has popularized Jamaican folk singing for generations … Blessed with a truly rich, distinctive,  Contralto, Marilyn has been a soloist at St Luke's Church, Cross Roads where she worships .. Marilyn not only sang with the National Chorale but also was an active Board Member who assisted in the smooth running of its affairs; no doubt her versatility enhanced by her banking career."
Carole Reid: "From her local church hall to New York's legendary Carnegie Hall, and many points in between, the voice of Carole Elaine Reid, Soprano has reverberated far and wide and has served to remind of the true breadth of Jamaican musical excellence…Not only has Carole's voice taken her around the world, it has brought many of the world's best to collaborate with her, including the great American diva Kathleen Battle, whom she coached in a folk song of her choice – 'Linstead Market' – when performed at King's House in 1999." On a personal note, I have seen Carole's excellence up close, having partnered with her for performances in the early 'Powerful Women' concerts. She is one of the most generous persons I know, lending her talent to many national and charitable events.
Winston Ewart: "In 1972, he began his long and fruitful association with the National Chorale of Jamaica, as one of the Founding Members ..In addition to singing and accompanying the group on piano, he played cello in the orchestra for numerous major works performed by the Chorale .. In November 2016, Winston was inducted into the Caribbean Hall of Fame for Outstanding Achievement in the field of the Performing Arts by the Caribbean Development for the Arts, Sports & Culture Foundation in association with the Caribbean Community and UNESCO .. one of numerous accolades and honours .. he continues to serve as Musical Director of the National Chorale of Jamaica; as Organist, Choir Master and Accompanist of Christ Church Anglican (Vineyard Town) for over 50 years."
Rev Easton Lee: "His greatest contributions have been made in the dramatic sphere. As a playwright-director, "The Rope and the Cross" – which marks its 40th anniversary in 2019 – remains his crowning achievement .. Lee has channeled his interest - and his pen - in other areas; in poetry .. social commentary .. and in the gentle yet humorous and diverse reflections on his grocery shop childhood .. Rev. Lee, being the intrepid, diverse, artistic person also found time to be Chairman of the National Chorale of Jamaica, when it was undergoing some changes in management and held it together in his calm and unsullied manner, getting the job done without ruffling any feathers."

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Jamaica – birthplace of ‘Bond, James Bond’

Sean Connery takes a break during the filming of 'Dr No'
in Jamaica
Looking out at the Caribbean Sea from the beautiful Golden Eye property in Oracabessa, novelist Ian Fleming created the world’s favourite spy, “Bond, James Bond”.  It is only fitting that the Bond production team is returning to Jamaica for the filming of the 25th James Bond movie. British actor Daniel Craig returned to Golden Eye last week with producer Barbara Broccoli, whose father produced the first James Bond film, “Dr No” right here in Jamaica in 1962.

Two ladies with Jamaican roots will be featured in the film, Naomie Harris and Lashana Lynch.  Jampro Film Commissioner Renee Robinson disclosed that over 500 Jamaicans will be hired for the project. Observer Senior Reporter Richard Johnson was on spot for the global press briefing so the following quotes are from his report.

Then there is the additional economic impact anytime there is a production of this size coming into the country,” Robinson noted. “There is the need for … drivers and transportation, hotels, catering, and so on, in addition to the actual personnel who will work on the production.”

Kudos to hotel mogul Chris Blackwell for his dedication to the preservation and enhancement of the Golden Eye Resort. Thus, Barbara Broccoli can still appreciate the birthplace of James Bond. “We particularly wanted it to be in Jamaica because of the history, because of Ian Fleming and what Jamaica represented to him and why it was Jamaica and he came to create,” she said. “I really feel like this is the vision of a perfect world... this is paradise.”

International Friends honour Jamaica

AFF Presentation: Mrs Beverley Nichols (2nd left presents her
contribution of US$500,000 towards the reneovation and expansion
of the Chapleton Hospital. Others from left are Mrs Wnedy Hart, President
of AFJ, Dr Christopher Tufton, Health Minister, AFJ Board Directors
Mrs Michele Rollins and Ambassador Sue Cobb.

Recently guests enjoyed the perfect harmony of Jamaica’s National Chorale which rang out in the gardens at the residence of Spanish Ambassador Hon. Josef Maria Bosch Bessa and Mrs Gonzalez de Bosch. At the Foundation Day of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations hosted by Indian High Commissioner Hon Sevala Naik and Mrs Naik, we listened to the fascinating journey of Errol Johnson, one of the many Jamaicans who studied in India on scholarships from the Indian government.  

Last week, the American Friends of Jamaica (AFJ) presented over US$700,000 to various charities. The organisation is made up of former US Ambassadors to Jamaica and other supporters.  New York-based Jamaican Beverley Nichols donated US$500,000 for the renovation of the Chapleton Hospital and the creation of a new wing which will be named in her honour. 

AFJ Founding Member and Board Director Ambassador Sue Cobb noted the strong support of members and well-wishers: “Beverly deserves such credit and I hope she is a role model for others have done well in the USA. Kenny Benjamin hosted a beautiful reception and dinner for us the night we arrived and Caron [Chung AFJ CEO] kept us busy day and night. Wendy Hart is the best President AFJ has ever had! She works hard on it and it shows … It also helps that she's brilliant!”