Jamaicans are in a state of euphoria after a week of outstanding accomplishments that celebrate nationals at home and abroad.
The nation declared Oct. 15 Heroes Day and handed out medals to 123 distinguished citizens considered exemplary.
On the public holiday, students, as well as the general population paused to witness the gratitude of a nation during a high profile ceremony conferred by the Governor General Sir Patrick Allen. Throughout the diaspora the ceremony of investiture is often celebrated with focus on the categories that acknowledges consular representatives, entertainers, politicians and well-connected diasporans who at times have lobbied to receive the Order of Jamaica, Order of Merit, Order of Distinction, Order of Excellence, Order of the Nation and Order of National Hero. However, the Kings House date also lauds extraordinary citizens who in the performance of their everyday duty excel in saving lives. Most impressive on the Monday were presentation of medals of honor for gallantry to those heroes. Awarded to police officers and other members of the uniformed services who beyond the call of duty perform extraordinary acts of bravery in order to save lives, superheroes — women and men were regaled.
Their extraordinary acts of heroism deservedly distinguished them as courageous heroes and sheroes who risked their lives while facing extreme danger.
Some of the honorees defied threats from dangerous criminals and gang-members, staved off bullets and some rescued children trapped by flood rains. Acknowledged for their selfless effort to advance into treacherous turfs when retreat might have been the rational course to take, the country hailed them to be gallant citizens worthy of acknowledgement.
And while celebrated names such as actress/model Grace Jones, dancehall king Yellowman, reggae singer Wayne Marshall, actor, singer and activist Harry Belafonte and others won international acclaim and photo opportunities for their achieving heights, it is the unheralded names that still resonate as true heroes and sheroes of the nation.
World’s Fastest Man & Woman Still On Track
Two-time Olympic champion and world’s fastest sprinter Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce may have kicked off an eventful and historic week in Jamaica by witnessing the unveiling of a statue mounted in her honor on a Sunday prior to Heroes Day.
The shero was able to stand up close and personal with Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Olivia Grange, the island’s minister of sports culture and gender for the unveiling of the bronze monument at Statute Park in the National Stadium Complex in Kingston.
Revered for being the first Jamaican woman to win an Olympic 100m title and the first to win three sprint titles at the same world championship event, the sprinter could not hide her enthusiasm during the ceremony.
“I think is very big, to have a statue in your country for others to see, just to represent your legacy and what you have done on the track so I am really honored and I think it ranks very high and I am just excited about it,” she said.
“I am not very speechless often but I am grateful, honestly.”
Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce stands among some of the greatest athletes from the island, the most recently erected 10 months ago when the likeness of the fastest man on the planet -- Usain Bolt-- took up a permanent position there.
During the week, Bolt opened another of his Tracks & Records restaurants, this time in London, England.
After making a newsworthy debut in the Australian professional soccer league striking and scoring the first goal, the tested fastest man on the planet showed off his Liverpool Street Station eatery to culinary critics, sports enthusiasts, Jamaican food aficionados and fans alike. It is the first of 15 venues set to be opened by the Olympic gold medalist.
The restaurant opened on Oct. 10 and promised “lunch in 9.58 minutes or its free.” That reference to Bolt’s 100m world record time will probably sustain hungry patrons unwilling to hanker past the record time.
The menu features classic Jamaican dishes such as fried fish, bammy and jerk chicken. The bar will stock 100 varieties of Jamaican rum, along with a range of specialty cocktails. There will also be a dance floor with DJs playing reggae music until dawn.
“Your senses will be tingling the second you step through our doors and smell the aromas of our menu,” the restaurant’s website boasted. “We use fresh, local ingredients to create dynamic menu items that are sure to leave you wanting more, more, more. Not to mention our drink menu with a host of delicious and exciting cocktails sure to satisfy everyone’s taste buds.”
Twenty years after Jamaica’s men’s national soccer team – the Reggae Boyz – qualified to compete in the World Cup in France, the women’s team made history for the Caribbean and is headed to the same European destination to demonstrate their skilz (sic)
Reaching the FIFA Women’s World Cup, was not only a first for Jamaica, the Reggae Girlz became the first Caribbean team to qualify for the tournament.
The team edged out Panama after a 2-2 draw that gave them an advantage after scoring 4-2 on penalties in the Concacaf Women’s Championship third-place play-off and becoming the first Caribbean team to achieve the feat.
“By the time the last penalty went in we were all on the floor,” Cedella Marley, eldest daughter of reggae icons Bob and Rita Marley said.
She has been one of the staunchest supporters of the team and even bailed them out from extinction when funding was cut to support the women in 2014.
Named the ambassador of the team, Marley invested her family foundation to help with expenses and she has been one the loudest cheerleaders of the team.
“That support from the Bob Marley Foundation has been so important to us,” the island’s head coach Hue Menzies told FIFA.com.
“Bob Marley loved football, of course. Cedella has continued that passion and she really wants to help women’s football develop in Jamaica.”
“Daddy would probably not be surprised when I put my foot into something, stuff happens. He’d be like, ‘that’s my girl’.”
“Big up to Cedella Marley for putting the neck on the line for us,” Menzies said. He added that that the team’s triumph represented “a lot more than football.”
Reportedly, the 64th-ranked Reggae Girlz held their composure best from the 12-yard spot on a cold and rainy night in Frisco, Texas, to join reigning champions United States and Canada as the confederation’s representatives at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
“We are looking to change the future of Jamaica women’s soccer, not just for us, but the next generations to come, so that they can have the necessary resources they need to compete. This was not just a victory for us, but women’s soccer in a whole,” 33-year-old Christina Chang, the oldest team member said.
“It’s a dream; a dream from a little girl playing in a park with her dad that grew into a passion and love for the game. And to know now that the little girl’s dream has now come through means a life complete,” she added.
The Panamanian team is scheduled to play Argentina next month and still has a chance to qualify for the cup.
Although Jamaica takes the prize for winning Caribbean acclaim last week, pop singer Rihanna secured a place in the history books for her native Barbados by refusing to headline a halftime concert during the Feb. 3, 2019 Superbowl.
The Fenty beauty turned down big bucks offered to her by the National Football League to perform and instead declared support for Colin Kaepernick, an athlete she believes has been wronged by the major league for his stance of kneeling during the playing of the US national anthem – in protest of the rampant killing of Black men and boys in America.
Rihanna spoke volumes by rejecting the high-profile platform alleged to be the biggest television viewing audience. Her hope is that other upstanding artists will follow her lead. Pink, another pop superstar who had been offered the opportunity to sing the national anthem has also passed on the deal.
In addition actress Amy Schumer has joined the pop stars by refusing to voice promotional commercials for the sporting event.
Catch You On The Inside!