Distinguished Jamaican citizens were named by Gov. General Patrick Linton Allen for national honors on the 56th anniversary of independence and will be publicly presented with instruments of appreciation at King’s House on Oct. 15, National Heroes Day.
Approximately 130 honorable citizens were included on the annual list of outstanding nationals however, topping the list of recipients is actor, activist, singer Harry Belafonte who will receive the Order of Merit, Jamaica’s third highest award for his outstanding contribution in the field of music.
Belafonte, 91 was born Harold George Bellanfanti Jr. in Harlem to parents from Martinique and Jamaica.
It was his Jamaican mother Melvine Love who reared him and enabled him to spend eight of his early on the island.
First introduced as a singer, he always acknowledged his Jamaica roots and Harlem bloom which he attributed to his success.
Throughout the years, Belafonte has managed to maintain relevance by providing entertainment and a political profile that heightened when he solicited celebrities to join him and Dr. Martin Luther King II to protest racial discrimination in the South.
His rise to international status, buoyed by recording the “Banana Boat Song (Day-O)” offered an infectious longing for the island and immediately became the signature track from a compilation album titled “Calypso.”
That was 1956 when few recording sold numbers close to one million.
The son of the Jamaican immigrant sold more than that and in the process spawned other hits “Jump In The Line,” and “Jamaica Farewell.”
The hits also signaled the need for monitoring record sales and honoring the talents that contribute to the music industry.
His trailblazing feat enabled the Grammy Awards.
His handsome looks did not hurt either.
Hollywood immediately seized on his good looks and tapped him for a starring role with Dorothy Dandridge in the film “Carmen Jones.”
Belafonte portrayed a soldier in the classic showcase perhaps due to the character he lived while serving in the military and afterwards returning to Harlem before embarking on a musical career.
Four individuals will receive the Order of Jamaica, the second highest award which many equate to a British knighthood.
Actress, model, singer Grace Jones is among the select few to be acknowledged on the fall date for excellence in entertainment.
Godfrey Dyer who is acclaimed for his contribution to tourism will also receive an OJ.
A long list of recipients for the Order of Distinction includes Cong. Yvette Clarke who was also not born in Jamaica but whose parents are reportedly Jamaican-birthed.
A provision for honorary membership permits foreign nationals to receive the precedence in the commander class.
Florida-based broadcaster Winston Barnes was also named for an OD in this class.
Social activist, filmmaker and writer Barbara Blake-Hannah, deejay Winston ‘Yellowman’ Foster, broadcaster Dermot Hussey, poet Joan Andrea Hutchinson, swimmer Alia Atkinson, former Reggae Sumfest promoter Johnny Gourzong and a long list of nationals will receive the OD in the rank of officer.
Other awards to be bestowed include recognition for meritorious service, badge of honor for long and meritorious service, badge of honor for long and faithful service and badge of honor for gallantry.