New York Jamaicans celebrate a milestone

Jamaicans home and abroad while still reminiscing of last year’s golden jubilee celebrations, reflected on Jamaica’s Fifty-First Year of Independence, August 6, 2013. At the heels of such a milestone Jamaicans in New York, though dichotomously existing, shared their love and aspirations for their nation state Jamaica in a series of events in New York.

Thousands gathered for worship at one of Brooklyn’s community churches, the Lenox Road Baptist Church, hosted and pastored by the Reverend Dr. Kirkpatrick Cohall for Jamaica’s Fifty-First Year of Independence Service of Thanksgiving on Sunday, August 4, 2013.

Reverend Cohall delivered the sermon, while Bishop Cecil G. Riley of Freedom Hall Church of God officiated.Notably, His Execellency, Mr. Courtenay Rattray, Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations offered scripture readings along with other members of clergy and community leaders. Mr. Lloyd Chung and the Independence Choir, artisans and cultural groups participated in the Service of Thanksgiving.

Reverend Cohall, implored Jamaicans in the Diaspora never to forget their homeland Jamaica, to fervently keep Jamaica in mind, heart and judiciously remembering the dawn of the spiritual journey of Jamaica with God at the helm and the continuum even in “a strange land”. Cohall likened the journey of emancipated Jamaica through the dawn of Independence to that of the emancipated children of Israel from Egypt to the promised land, who at times failed to “sing the Lord’s song in a strange land.”

In addition, Consul General LaMont, brought greetings and message from the Prime Minister of Jamaica on Independence Day, Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica at the Flag-Raising Ceremony at Borough Hall, Brooklyn. Brooklyn Borough President, Marty Markowitz; and Congresswoman, Yvette D. Clarke (D-Brooklyn) provided remarks.

Through the Consul General, Hon. Herman G. LaMont, the message from The most Honorable Portia Simpson Miller, Prime Minster of Jamaica was conveyed, exhorting Jamaicans to “stir response to duty’s call”. A call to every member of the Jamaican family both at home and in the Diaspora “to respond to and fervently support Jamaica if we are to ensure Jamaica’s development, as we look to fulfilling the mission of economic independence.”

“As we mark the 51st anniversary in the change of our status from colony to independent nation and reflect on the significant achievements along the journey, and the daunting challenges that lie ahead, we remain triumphant in spirit and resolve; proud of our rich cultural heritage and history, and celebratory of our freedom and enviable democratic tradition” Miller stated.

The Jamaica Independence celebration culminated on Saturday, August 17, 2013 with “Splendor of Jamaica” displayed at Jamaica’s 51st Anniversary of Independence Ball at the New York Hilton, through genres of Jamaican music performed by famed Fabulous Five Band, Jamaican cuisine at its best and hosted under the distinct patronage of the Consul General of Jamaica to New York. His Excellency, Professor Stephen C. Vasciannie, Ambassador of Jamaica to the United States of America delivered the keynote address, while noted actress and singer, Sheryl-Lee Ralph, served as the Mistress of Ceremony.

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