Tuesday, January 27, 2009

'This is divine order'

Frances and Bill Beard with their daughter Patrique at an Obama Rally in Ohio

President Obama greets Jamaican American Michael McPherson, Chief Financial Officer of the NEA, at a National Convention of the organisation.

Patrique (right) and her Dad Bill Beard with cousin Anica Allen at the Inauguration.

Column in the Jamaica Observer | Monday, January 26, 2009
by Jean Lowrie-Chin

I vicariously experienced the past six amazing months in the US presidential elections and inauguration through Frances and Bill Beard, my sister and her husband. Frances relocated to Ohio for three months to work relentlessly with her colleagues in the NEA (National Education Association - membership 3.2 million); their primary mission was to elect a pro-public education president and like-minded members of Congress. Ohio was considered a "Red" (Republican) state and it took millions of mailings, endlessly buzzing phone banks, and masterful logistics to organise more than 150,000 NEA members in that state to win it for Barack Obama.

A senior executive of the NEA Ohio affiliate commented, "We shared (our message) with whoever would look at it. in direct mail. in a special booklet, in email, in the magazine, on the web and at face-to-face meetings - the layered communications approach."

Messages were tested and volunteers knocked on millions of doors, motivated by the steady, calm, brilliant campaigning of a US politician, the likes of whom had never been seen before. My intrepid sister, who is an organisational development consultant for the NEA was able to reserve platform appearances for colleagues at a major rally. "Frances Beard. showed us a whole new side of her capability - who knew she could run presidential campaign appearances," joked her associate.

When Ohio and 28 other states came in for Obama and the world raised a cheer for kudos-hungry America, everyone knew that this would be an inauguration like no other.
And so, for their work, the NEA folks earned precious tickets for the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama, the man who commandeered the most dynamic campaign-turned-transition team in the history of the USA.

Bill Beard who is a communications project manager, and their daughter Patrique (a cold prevented Frances from attending) became a part of what he described as "an unending sea of people" on the Mall facing the Capitol. They met the subway at 6.30 am, arriving at Union Station at 7 am. The four blocks to the Mall were "thick with people", said Bill.

A parked bus kept the crowd stuck for over an hour on one street. Suddenly, Bill heard people behind him chanting "Keep hope alive!" Bill was puzzled since that was really not Obama's but Jesse Jackson's slogan. He said that as he thought of the man, there appeared Jesse in his fedora, walking with the crowd. Minutes after, whom did he see but Al Sharpton. It seems that these two seasoned activists had decided to get the authentic experience of the day.

As they approached their spot, the "silver" standing area, their progress slowed. "We remarked to each other that we felt like penguins," chuckled Bill, "with our arms stuck to our sides, we were packed so close." It turned out that the scanning equipment had begun to fail and the security had to resort to asking them to show their tickets while the police took a keen look. They entered the gate four hours after leaving Union Station, at 10.30 am, just in time for the start of the programme.

Over to Bill Beard as he described Inauguration Day, Tuesday, January 20:
"I was absolutely taken by the moment - for me it was a bookend, taking me back to that day in 1963 when relatives from all over America gathered at our house in DC, then set out with my parents to march with Martin Luther King Jr. They kept me home because they did not know if it would have been dangerous. I had seen on television marchers being beaten, attacked by dogs and knocked down by water cannons. What a far way we have come - on Tuesday I was heading to the Mall with my 13-year-old daughter, to witness the swearing-in of the first African-American president!"

"You should have seen the Mall - a wonderful spirit pervaded. People knew they were being called to a higher level of behaviour. They were helping and checking on each other, laughing, sharing stories, making each other feel comfortable. The one reason was the man, Barack Obama, who was taking the Oath of Office. They wanted him to see that they could pattern the behaviour this extraordinary leader exemplified."

"The inauguration was awesome on so many levels. There was a spiritual intensity, a connectedness that people felt in the sheer size of the gathering. It was indelibly imprinted on our hearts - this was too important for us. We could not miss it."

"I have never before in my life seen a crowd like this. I went to the Million Man March and this was so much bigger - two million! I had never seen so many people with walkers and in wheelchairs in one place. We drank in the moment.

"The chief justice's error with the oath was like a lump in everyone's throat. When Obama stopped and looked at him, I started to wonder and then I realised that he had picked up on John Roberts' error. Roberts misplaced the word "faithfully" - it just shows how astute Obama is."

Bill saw Aretha Franklin's and Joseph Lowery's participation as "a symbolic bridge from the past" and that of poet Elizabeth Alexander representing "a new post-racial approach to how things are done, a broader perspective". In Rick Warren, he saw a message from Obama that whether we agree or not with some people's position, they are entitled to their opinion. "He is not stoking fires and he supports inclusiveness."

In the close-ups of Barack and Michelle Obama at those 10 inaugural balls, we agreed that they impressed us with their lack of pretension, that they are truly a loving couple, very comfortable in their skin. Bill noted of their children Malia and Sasha, "When your children so readily embrace what you espouse, respect and decency, they are redefining what an American family is, at a time when family was becoming unravelled."

Like so many Americans, Bill feels optimistic for his country. "Obama is a man sent for this moment, just as Washington, Lincoln and Roosevelt were, in their time. History will place him up there with them. This is divine order, a gift from God in so many ways. Now we should be working even harder to support him, and keep praying for him and his family."

- lowriechin@aim.com
- www.lowrie-chin.blogspot.com

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Presidential Spring in My Son's Step

Little Barack Obama with loving Mom Ann Dunham. In his book he wrote, "what is best in me I owe to her."

By Susan R. Benda
Washington Post | Saturday, January 24, 2009; A13

Growing up without a father, my son has at times struggled to feel "normal."

Barack Obama is many things to many people. Among the groups claiming a special resonance with him are mothers like me. Who has not seen The Photo (can it be that there is only one?) of toddler Barack and his young mother? His memoir may be titled "Dreams From My Father," but in the preface, Obama says that his mother "was the single constant in my life" and that "what is best in me I owe to her." She brought him up largely on her own.

This is significant for me as an unmarried mother of a preteen son, and it surely resonates for other mothers raising their children without dads. Growing up without a father, my son has at times struggled to feel "normal." All children struggle with that; of course, some struggle more than others. My son, who is white, was startled a few years ago to learn that his best buddy felt that he didn't belong anywhere because his dad was a black African and his mom a white American. My son didn't see the issue of race as a problem -- to him, they were a perfect family.

For my son, the issue is fatherlessness. Not having a father has been an impediment to "fitting in." He yearns for an adult man to call his very own and is uncomfortable when other children talk about their fathers or ask about his. This discomfort has affected his sense of security about his future, about measuring up and "making it" (whatever that means). You wouldn't notice it if you met my cheerful, outgoing boy, but in some intangible way he carries an invisible burden on his little shoulders.

It is hard to watch him do this, even though thousands upon thousands of households today are headed by women who don't have partners. I know, however, that it takes time for the world around us to catch up to where society already is. For example, my son's tae kwon do teacher had the habit of talking to the students about their "moms and dads." I took him aside one day and suggested that the term "parents" might do the trick, with no child left behind. But there is a limit to how much a mother can protect her son from the word "dad." A mother can repeat to her child that there is no model "normal" family, but the world reflected and projected by television tells another story. My son and others like him are a silent and almost invisible minority, but they know who they are.

For these young people, the election to the presidency of a man who grew up without a dad signifies a seismic shift. The mere candidacy of Barack Obama has spoken eloquent volumes to my son where my words had failed. I know this because my son now walks a bolder walk and talks a more confident talk. The doors of his imagination have swung open, and his sense of his place in the world has changed. He is proud to share this identity with the new president. For my son, Obama's inauguration this week felt like a personal embrace. For him and for the growing number of children being raised by their mothers alone, all of the ceremony showed something, in a concrete way, that our words alone cannot: Yes, you can.

The writer is a lawyer living in Washington.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address

President Obama as he gave his Inaugural Address today (Washington Post)

Click title to see Washington Post videos of the entire day's highlights

January 20, 2009 - New York Times

Following is the transcript of President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address, as transcribed by CQ Transcriptions:
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you.
CROWD: Obama! Obama! Obama! Obama!
My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.
I thank President Bush for his service to our nation...
... as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath.
MR. OBAMA: The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.
MR. OBAMA: So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.
Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many, and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
MR. OBAMA: These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable, but no less profound, is a sapping of confidence across our land; a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real, they are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
MR. OBAMA: On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less.
MR. OBAMA: It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame.
Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West, endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
MR. OBAMA: For us, they fought and died in places Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.
Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.
This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed.
MR. OBAMA: Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done.
The state of our economy calls for action: bold and swift. And we will act not only to create new jobs but to lay a new foundation for growth.
We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.
We will restore science to its rightful place and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality...
... and lower its costs.
MR. OBAMA: We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.
All this we can do. All this we will do.
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what this country has already done, what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose and necessity to courage.
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long, no longer apply.
MR. MR. OBAMA: The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works, whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.
Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.
And those of us who manage the public's knowledge will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched.
MR. OBAMA: But this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control. The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.
The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.
Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.
MR. OBAMA: Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake.
And so, to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.
MR. OBAMA: They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use. Our security emanates from the justness of our cause; the force of our example; the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
We are the keepers of this legacy, guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort, even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We'll begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people and forge a hard- earned peace in Afghanistan.
MR. OBAMA: With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat and roll back the specter of a warming planet.
We will not apologize for our way of life nor will we waver in its defense.
And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that, "Our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you."
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.
We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth.
And because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
OBAMA: To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.
To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.
To those...
To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
MR. OBAMA: To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.
And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.
We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service: a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves.
OBAMA: And yet, at this moment, a moment that will define a generation, it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.
For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.
It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break; the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours.
It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.
Our challenges may be new, the instruments with which we meet them may be new, but those values upon which our success depends, honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old.
MR. OBAMA: These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.
What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
MR. OBAMA: This is the source of our confidence: the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.
This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall. And why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
So let us mark this day in remembrance of who we are and how far we have traveled.
In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by nine campfires on the shores of an icy river.
MR. OBAMA: The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood.
At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
"Let it be told to the future world that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it."
America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words; with hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come; let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
Thank you. God bless you.
And God bless the United States of America.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Inauguration and a Jamaican dream

Jennifer Kerr at her Liberty Hill Estate

Jamaica Observer | column | 19 January 2009

by Jean Lowrie-Chin

The euphoria is building for the Inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America. My sister and her family will be well sited at her workplace in downtown DC. They will have to stay the night – access to parking will not be permitted on Tuesday as security tightens in the streets around the White House.

Never to be left out, we Jamaicans are also planning various local celebrations. Call it serendipity or ancestral urgings, but tomorrow evening Jamaican American Jennifer Kerr and friends will be toasting President Obama at her Liberty Hill Estate, the site where slave masters used to take a cool view of sweating servants toiling on their land. The estate is in Lime Hall, St Ann, just a few miles from the birthplaces of Marcus Garvey and Bob Marley.

Jennifer’s story reminds us that Obama’s message of hope and courage can apply to each and every one of us. This successful entrepreneur who has a thriving business in the US is falling in love all over again with her homeland. Born in Westmoreland, Jennifer migrated in the late seventies to seek new opportunities. She studied nursing at Highland Park Nursing School in Michigan. The Rehabilitation Nurse who was known for going the extra mile, quickly climbed the corporate ladder and over a decade later, started her own company in the basement of her home. Diversified Health Care Management Inc, now occupies its own building in Southfield, Michigan and has a 32-strong workforce comprising physicians, registered nurses, social workers and administrative personnel.

Jennifer recalls the excitement of the historic presidential race last year. “I drove through several neighborhoods in Michigan that are predominantly white and Republican and I was amazed at the multiple yard signs supporting Obama for President. That alone was history.”

“We have come a long way in the US and Jamaica,” says Jennifer thoughtfully. “Liberty Hill Great House was once a plantation where many slaves worked and died, so again it is only natural that we celebrate by having our own Inauguration gala alongside the US celebrations on the evening of January 20th.”

“My dream was to return to Jamaica and open up a health and wellness spa as an extension of my business in the US when I retire,” she explains. “I mentioned it to my dear friend Fay Alston who was very excited for me. ‘Why wait until you retire? Do it now!’” Jennifer describes the quick series of events in 2006 that led to her purchase of Liberty Hill Great House. “Fay told her Jamaican-based friend Patricia Isaacs who went to look at the property. As she was driving up to Liberty Hill she was on the phone describing it to me,” recalls Jennifer. “I could feel it in my being that this was the property where I would realize my dream. Not only did I purchase the property from the Draytons, but Donald and Faith Drayton have become mother, father, friend, customer and enthusiastic marketer.”

Trying to grow one’s business in Jamaica while managing a fully grown one in the US became a real challenge, and Jennifer was delighted to meet the super-efficient Sharon and Theo Chambers. “I met Sharon and Theo while attending their Caribbean Health Tourism & Wellness Symposium at the Hilton Kingston Hotel in Kingston in 2007,” said Jennifer. “Since last October Sharon and Theo have become an integral part of Liberty Hill.”

Jennifer enjoys the warm community of Lime Hall. “The people of Lime Hall and St. Ann generally have been kind and welcoming. Everyone has been supportive and encouraging: from the little man in the street like Enos and Patrick, to Delroy, continuing his job as groundskeeper after I bought the property – he is my biggest supporter. Mr. Lynch my chef and the leaders in the community have also been great. It has not been easy, but the overall feeling that I get is that everyone wants to see Liberty Hill succeed, everyone is proud to see a Jamaican return to invest in Jamaica. The challenges and frustrations have been many but I am not discouraged.”

One visit to Liberty Hill and you will understand why you cannot easily be discouraged in that ambience. Jennifer, standing on the huge cool verandah of the great house, is at once the lady of the manor and the exotic Jamaican woman, a blend of many races. “My dream always was to return home,” she discloses. “I love my country, and investing in Jamaica allows me to give back to my country. I must say I have met remarkable people throughout this journey. I use words such as ‘wonderful, kind, loving’ to describe those that I have met, such as Custos Radcliff Walters and wife Norma Walters, Lloyd Baker and his wife Iva Walters-Baker, who have adopted me, mentored me and are my biggest supporters.”

“Jamaica has so much to offer the world,” believes Jennifer fervently. “The wonderful warmth of our people, beautiful sunny weather, the landscape is like no other in the world. We should keep telling that story. When investors hear that story they want to invest in Jamaica, and most Jamaicans abroad dream of returning to Jamaica.”

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Long Journey Ends


By Eli Saslow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 18, 2009; Page A01

ABOARD THE INAUGURAL TRAIN, Jan. 17 -- On the final leg of a two-year road trip, Barack Obama rode into Washington on Saturday in an antique caboose with the contented look of a man convinced he was arriving at his rightful destination.

A slow-rolling special Amtrak train carrying the president-elect, his family and his closest friends and advisers departed Philadelphia at noon and pulled into Union Station 6 1/2 hours later. It was part of the journey that will take him to the White House, and for Obama, it was a day to be savored. He spent much of the 137-mile train ride, with his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters by his side, staring out the windows at a vista of supporters who waved and chanted his name.

Bundled in winter jackets, they gathered along highway overpasses, icy lakes, Little League baseball fields, cow pastures and neighborhood cul-de-sacs -- all to catch a glimpse of the man in the 1930s-era blue caboose as the train rumbled by. Firefighters stood on their trucks to take pictures; schoolchildren waved handmade signs. Three times during the trip, the train slowed and Obama stepped onto the rear platform to wave at shrieking onlookers and blow the whistle.

What began for Obama two years ago as a long-shot presidential bid launched in Abraham Lincoln's shadow in Springfield, Ill., ended with another tribute to the 16th president, Obama's political idol. His 10-car train retraced the route Lincoln took to the capital before he assumed the presidency in 1861. Obama stopped to deliver speeches in Philadelphia, Wilmington, Del., and Baltimore, often referring to the spirit of Lincoln and the Founding Fathers.

"We are here today not simply to pay tribute to our first patriots but to take up the work that they began," Obama said.

In Wilmington and Baltimore, thousands of supporters waited outside for hours in temperatures that dipped into the teens. They climbed onto trees, flagpoles and walls to get a clear view of the stage. Obama entered the rally in Wilmington wearing a long black coat. He rubbed his hands together and blew on them for warmth. The crowd applauded for more than a minute before he managed to bring silence.

"Thank you. Thank you," the president-elect said. "We have been touched by your grace, and we will fight for you every single day that we are in Washington."

Obama, typically so serene, was visibly affected by the receptions he received. He sometimes paused onstage to survey the magnitude of the crowds, and he beamed in Wilmington as more than 7,000 joined in a chorus to sing "Happy Birthday" to Michelle Obama, who turned 45 Saturday.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dr Patrick Allen to be sworn in as Jamaica's New GG

President of the West Indies Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Pastor Dr Patrick Allen to be sworn in as new governor general on February 26. - Contributed

Published: Gleaner | Wednesday | January 14, 2009

Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter

The man selected to walk into the job as Jamaica's sixth governor general since Independence, Dr Patrick Linton Allen, has expressed confidence that he will have the support of both sides of the political divide.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding announced in Parliament yesterday that Allen, the president of West Indies Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, would replace Sir Kenneth Hall, who is to retire on February 26 because of health reasons.

"Sir Kenneth had advised me in July of last year of his desire, for health reasons, to demit office in October. He subsequently agreed to continue until February 2009," Golding said.

The prime minister further said Her Majesty the Queen had approved Sir Kenneth's request to retire.

He also thanked the outgoing governor general and Lady Hall for their contributions to Jamaica since Sir Kenneth's appointment as head of state on February 15, 2006.

"He has performed his duties with diligence, dignity, charm, impartiality and understanding and has been a credit to the highest office in our land," Golding said of Sir Kenneth.

While the prime minister was speaking in Parliament yesterday, Allen was in The Bahamas on business.

He told The Gleaner that he was looking forward to the job and there was no concern about support from the Government and the Opposition.

Church unity

"You will appreciate that where I now work I have been able to maintain the unity of the Church by relating to both Government and Opposition without partiality, since our members support both parties,"Allen said.

An activist pastor, Allen has repeatedly called for the Church to address issues such as HIV/AIDS,child and spousal abuse, teenage pregnancy
, crime and violence and unemployment.

He has expressed deep concern over the state of crime and violence in Jamaica while calling for church members and other persons of goodwill to use their influence to put an end to those "ungodly" acts.

The incoming head of state has also expressed confidence that his Adventist affiliation will not affect his ability to conduct the job as governor general.

"I know that everyone knows my religious persuasion. That will not hinder me from giving my best service. Fortunately for us, we live in a nation that respects religious liberty. No GG has ever been able to attend all social functions but the constitutional roles will be conducted to the satisfaction of the nation," Allen added.

Adventism is a conservative branch of Christianity known for its strict adherence to the Jewish Sabbath and rigid dietary stipulations.

Allen is just shy of his 58th birthday, which he will celebrate on February 7. He will be the second-youngest man to assume the governor generalship.

Patrick Linton Allen CD, PhD, JP

# Born Feb 7, 1951 in Fruitful Vale, Portland, to Ferdinand and Christiana Allen, farmer and housewife, respectively.

# Married to Denise Patricia Beckford, July 20, 1975; has three children - Kurt, Candice, David.

# Pastored 20 churches; board member of several companies, organisations, public bodies.


# Fruitful Vale All-Age School, Portland

# Moneague College, St Ann

# 1998: Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA - PhD - educational administration and supervision

# 1985: Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA BA - history and religion

# 1986: Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA - MA, systematic theology

Professional life

# Water Valley All-Age School, St Mary, 1972-76

# 1976 to 1983: principal, Robins Bay All-Age, Hillside Primary and Port Maria High School, St Mary

# 1986-91: Central Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

# 1990-93: Director of education and family life - West Indies Union of Seventh-day Adventists.

# 1991-93: Adjunct professor, West Indies College, now Northern Caribbean University (NCU)

# 1993-94: Substitute teacher (Benton Harbour, Michigan, USA).

# 1996-98: Assistant registrar, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA

# 2000-present: President, West Indies Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

# Chairman of the board, NCU

# Chairman of the board, Andrews Memorial Hospital

# Commander of the Order of Distinction, 2006

Prime Minister confirms GG’s resignation

from Go-Jamaica website
Prime Minister Bruce Golding this afternoon in parliament confirmed the resignation of Governor General Professor Sir Kenneth Hall from that post.

Addressing the House of Representatives, Mr. Golding said Sir Kenneth had advised in July last year of his desire to demit office in October because of health reasons.

He subsequently agreed to continue until February 2009.

President of the West Indies Union of Seventh Day Adventists, Dr. Patrick Allen has been confirmed to replace Sir Kenneth and he will be sworn in at Kings House on February 26.

NCU president reacts to GG replacement

President of the Northern Caribbean University (NCU), Dr. Herbert Thompson has welcomed reports that chairman of the board of governors, Dr. Patrick Allen, is being tipped to replace Sir Kenneth.

Dr. Thompson said the University and the Adventist Church are delighted at the fact that he’s being considered and stressed that his appointment will allow Dr. Allen an opportunity to give Jamaica a new moral vision.

Dr. Allen is also President of the West Indies Union of Seventh Day Adventists.

Dr. Thompson said he expects Dr. Allen to continue Professor Hall's efforts to highlight the positives of the nation and to insist on improving its human and natural resources.

He adds that Professor Hall achieved much in his short tenure as Governor General and did so at a time when the nation was facing a crisis.

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year, new approach

Melaine Walker “demands a lot of herself”.

by Jean Lowrie-Chin
Column in The Jamaica Observer - 5 January 2009

I am writing this on New Year's Day in Negril. There was hardly an empty table in the popular beach restaurant where we had dinner and tourists were strolling up and down Norman Manley Boulevard, no doubt happy to have escaped the bitter cold of their winter.

So here we are in a country where we never have to worry about heating bills or expensive winter clothes, still cursing our condition, even as others regard us as a paradise. Our visitors do not appear to be super-rich - some save for many years to be able to enjoy the beauty of our country, while our inner-city children long for a parent who will plan a bus trip for them to see a beach.

On this, the first Monday of 2009, could we pause for a moment to remember why we are so appealing to the rest of the world:

. We are a strong democracy, earning high marks for the conduct of elections from both local and foreign election watchers.

. Our music and musicians are renowned.

. We are the "sprint factory" of the world, witness the astonishing performance of our athletes in Beijing.

. Our heroes, in particular Marcus Mosiah Garvey. Ken Jones quotes Martin Luther King Jr: "Marcus Garvey . was the first man on a mass scale, to give millions of Negroes a sense of dignity and destiny and make the Negro feel that he was somebody."

. Our fertile lands with quality yield - best coffee, pimento, ginger in the world.

. The matchless beauty of our landscape, with world-renowned landmarks.

. Superior infrastructure for utilities and information technology.

. Excellent professionals in every sphere of Jamaican life.

. Myriad opportunities for self-improvement through adult education, scholarships, small and micro-business loans.

. Generous charity organisations and funding agencies donating tens of millions each year to promote sustainable programmes and projects.

We have many inspiring examples of achievers who have beaten the odds. Only recently we met two Alpha Academy graduates from the inner city, Niesha Doyle and Tavia Davis, first beneficiaries of the Sister Mary Bernadette Little Scholarship Fund (established by the Alpha Florida Chapter). Now UWI students, both young ladies obtained over 10 CXC subjects, most with distinction.

Recently, my colleagues had the pleasure of working with Melaine Walker on a road safety campaign. They came away deeply impressed by this young woman's insistence on getting the message right. "No wonder she won the Gold," they said."She demands a lot of herself."

So why is it that some youngsters from struggling families aspire, while others languish in despair? Each achiever usually tells of a parent, relative, teacher, pastor or other mentor who took the time to give constant support and encouragement. But we cannot continue to hope that some mentor will come along and save a child; parents must be held accountable for the well-being of their children. This is not just an inner-city problem, as guidance counsellors have disturbing reports from every single stratum of Jamaican society.

Here is a list of 10 ways in which we can make a difference this year and be worthy of emulation.

(1) Be a better parent. Even if funds are limited, spend time with your child.

(2) Own up to addictions -food, liquor, television, Internet, consumerism - then work to
beat them.

(3) Be positive - negativity is often a symptom of plain laziness.

(4) Volunteer.

(5) Make sure you share -strange as it may seem, it's the only way to true prosperity.

(6) Be organised - keep a daily schedule, write lists, be time aware and be punctual.

(7) Be productive -challenge yourself to complete tasks on time or before time.

(8) Be Internet and e-mail-savvy. If you have not yet learned, get a friend to give you some hands-on lessons, or sign up for a course. It's the most efficient way
to communicate.

(9) Join a church and worship regularly -every single study is linking achievement and good health to spiritual well-being.

(10) Be frugal - save, budget, conserve, repair and take good care of your possessions - your child is watching you!

If there is one body that has the power to help us make that quantum leap towards justice, peace and prosperity, it is the church of Jamaica, all the various denominations with many times the membership of the political parties. Several years ago we quoted the former head of the Peace Corps in Jamaica, Dr Suchet Loois, expressing this hope. Now we are hearing that the church has become too divided to be an effective change agent. Meanwhile, only one clergyman (who has proclaimed many of us to be dumb and dunce) seems to be grabbing the headlines.

Should the churches be actively seeking out the "deadbeat dads", counselling them and helping them to play an active role in the lives of their children? Should church groups monitor the pretenders to the pulpit so they do not take advantage of less educated folk? We have many dedicated, brilliant and patriotic church leaders. What an awesome force for change they could be if they spoke with one strong voice.

As we step into this new year, we should be energised by the fact that we live in a place that millions in war-torn areas can only imagine. Even with global and local challenges, we are still well positioned to make 2009 a good year for Jamaica.