Jamaicans return home to stake their claim

Former Jamaican Ambassador Audrey Marks (left) with playwright actress Debra Ehrhardt.
Photo courtesy www.jamaicafarewelltheplay.com

A majority of Jamaicans returning home from Canada, England, the USA and other parts of the world next week share a common interest, they want to have a voice in the decision-making process that ultimately affects their investments in the island.

Often referred to as Diasporans, they are heading to the island to attend a conference from June 13 to June 18 where they will lobby with government officials to win approval for a seat in the nation’s Parliament.

It is a topic they have revisited every two years since 2004 when a biennial meeting of Jamaicans living in foreign countries convened after discovering their shared interest in improving the lot of nationals residing outside of the island.

Fully committed to participating in the betterment of its resident population, they get together to iron out and decide the role they will commit.

Some claim a desire for voting in island-wide elections, others want a democratic stake in the way remittances are disbursed and there are others who believe their ownership of dual passports should enable the right to citizenry and participation in their birthplace.

They have been vociferous and relentless in their pursuit to obtaining a voice and at the Sixth Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference in Montego Bay, they will once again stake a claim for ensuring opportunities of involvement.

On this go-round, the theme “Jamaica and the Diaspora: Linking for Growth and Prosperity” promise hope for dialogue with the minister of foreign affairs and trade to establish a closer bond with the “Jamaican family at home and abroad to work together to achieve the goals outlined in the National Development Plan’s Vision 2030” agenda.

Since its inaugural meeting 11 years ago, a mission of strengthening linkages have successfully built alliances that have improved development on the island and may have also contributed to a better world image.

While the emphasis has focused on business, trade and investments, the long-term goal has always been to sit amongst the 84 legislators and perhaps ultimately the House of Representatives.

At the last meeting in 2013, an implementation council was established.

According to a website aimed to inform members of the Jamaica Diaspora: “we are pleased to inform you that this council in collaboration with government ministries and agencies, individuals and interest groups in the diaspora, the private sector and the international community and development partners have taken concrete actions on the major recommendations from that conference.”

On this year’s agenda they promise a full reporting of advances made with regard to policy. In addition, engagement with youth will implement a program to integrate children of Jamaican descent “in an effort to nurture their involvement in the country’s affairs and make possible, tangible connections with other young people in Jamaica.”

Efforts to explore better business opportunities and discussions about ways to expand the contribution of diasporans in areas of health and education will also be addressed.


The final New York performance of Debra Ehrhardt’s true-to-life-story is nearing.

Titled “Jamaica Farewell,” the enthralling one-woman showcase has been revisiting the stages here since it first debuted in 2007 during the Fringe Festival and like its title is bidding farewell.

To all theater lovers who missed out on the annual retreats, the story is based on a real life adventure of an individual who lives to leave Jamaica during the turbulent 1970s when strife and a state of emergency dictated quality of life on the island.

When the play first opened, Jamaicans flocked to see how the playwright and actress depicted the island they love and protected.

The press had advanced her topics of revolution, visa applications, the CIA, seduction, desperation, heartbreak, politics, America and its fantasies, prostitutes, gunshots and the desire to “run for your life.”

However, when word of mouth spread that “Jamaica Farewell” may well have characterized the island life of the era, Jamaica’s consul generals, ambassadors, and even a former prime minister endorsed the funny and dramatic tale.

It played in virtually every city Jamaicans reside and since that time has returned on and off to this city.

It will end its run on June 21 after a one-week run at the Soho Playhouse.

Check it! For the last time.

Catch You On The Inside!

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