We have a lot going for us in Jamaica

Jean Lowrie-Chin

Monday, May 13, 2019

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We are a health-conscious country too. We know we must have a certificate of vaccination before we can enrol 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 Electoral Office of Jamaica team has been invited to assist with elections in several other countries.

We have a very hard-working 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 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 Supreme Ventures Limited 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.

When it comes to racial harmony, Jamaica is number one in the world — despite the few incidents of 'shade-ism'. “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.

Indeed, 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 Science, Energy and Technology 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 hot spots, 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 that the biggest hurdle to bringing business leaders into the digital space was 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”.

Corrigan 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 of Jamaica — 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 members of the Jamaican Folk Singers… 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 individuals 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... 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 channelled 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 [an] 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.”

Congratulations to these honorees and all those who have served the national chorale.

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