Diasporans plan irie times in Jamaica

Former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell.
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Jamaicans abroad are anxiously anticipating the golden celebration of independence next year. Reportedly, from Europe to Australia nationals are anticipating an official announcement of activities planned by the government.

However, in anticipation of those announcements, diasporan Jamaicans living in Florida recently introduced an internet portal to jump-start preparations for 2012.

“We plan to represent in a big way,” Leroy “Dreamy” Riley, CEO and founder of IrieTimes.com said. “We intend to play a major role as Jamaicans living abroad.”

Apparently the site, which streams 24-hour audio/visual broadcasts of vintage and contemporary Jamaican music has been receiving queries about the 50th anniversary of independence celebrations.

According to Riley, throughout the years the site has amassed a wide and devoted audience comprised mostly of Jamaican and reggae-loving listeners/viewers from all over the world.

He said Jamaicans living in Canada, Dubai, France, Germany, England, Japan and the United States are curious to know how the nation will mark the milestone.

Along with requests for music during the continuous programming, occasionally there have been queries about next year’s island-wide celebration.

Last week, Riley posted a nostalgic retrospect featuring news paper reports of the Aug. 6, 1962 historic achievement. The reports chronicle events related to the lowering of Britain’s Union Jack to the raising of the new nation’s black, green and gold flag. In addition, human interest features related to the proud accomplishment are posted at the portal.

Riley said he plans to update the page by posting reflections, photos, information, activities and travel plans to the island. Those wishing to contribute to the Jamaica 50 webpage can log on to www.irietimes.com or send submissions to www.irietimes.jamaicans.com

President’s Award

The first Caribbean to merit America’s highest diplomatic distinction serving as Secretary of State will be showered with accolades on March 4 when the NAACP presents retired General Colin L. Powell with the President’s Award during their 42nd annual convention.

The former army officer will be bestowed the special honor in Los Angeles, California during a gala ceremony hosted by the Civil Rights organization.

Previously awarded to Muhammad Ali, former Pres. Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and jazz great Ella Fitzgerald, the President’s Award is given in recognition of extraordinary and distinguished achievement. The achiever will be lauded by a grateful organization that has always acknowledged the leader for his pioneering achievements and public service to the country his parents adopted before he was born.

“General Colin Powell has led an extraordinary life of public service,” NAACP President and CEO Ben T. Jealous said. “As the first African American to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and later the first to serve as secretary of state, General Powell holds a unique place in American history. He is a man of conscience and conviction, who uses his vast influence to promote education and self esteem to our country’s youth.”

General Powell became the 65th Secretary of State on Jan. 20, 2001. He brought extensive experience with him to his office. Before becoming Secretary of State, Gen. Powell served as a key aide to the secretary of defense and as national security advisor to President Reagan. He also served 35 years in the United States Army, rising to the rank of a four-star general and serving as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993.

During that period he advised military chiefs and the presidents through 28 crises including the Panama intervention of 1989 and Operation Desert Storm in the 1991Persian Gulf War.

“Although his position on the Iraq War was controversial, he was often the voice of reason in the prosecution of that war. He rose from humble roots as the son of Jamaican immigrants to become a distinguished military leader, a statesman, a humanitarian and a philanthropist. He is an inspiration to us all.”

On a related mission, the retired general has accepted an invitation from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissesar to visit Trinidad & Tobago from April 9-10. Gen. Powell will help launch T&T’s National Structured Mentoring Program.

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