The Jamaican Diaspora Critical To National Development, PM Portia Simpson Miller

NEW YORK (JIS) – Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Grand Independence Ball celebrating Jamaica’s 44th Anniversary of nationhood took place last Saturday night, August 12, 2006 at the New York Hotel in midtown Manhattan. Against a backdrop of bright colours and island décor, the 9.5 hours gala celebrations provided a fitting finale to an ambitious two weeks schedule of events that criss-crossed the city since July 30, 2006.

Some 1,200 patrons decked out in their ‘Sunday Best’ and entranced by the importance of the occasion and the moment, listened as guest of honour and Prime Minister of Jamaica, The Most Honourable Portia Simpson repeated her call for partnerships from within the overseas Jamaican community in her drive to move the country forward.

Prime Minister Simpson Miller said that such linkages were vital for her vision for literacy, early childhood education, rural development, agriculture and crime and violence. “It’s time to catch this monster once and for all. We do not make guns in Jamaica”, the Prime Minister said.

Drawing heavily on the legacy of our fore-parents including national hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Prime Minister Simpson Miller urged the audience to never to allow their memory to die as the country goes forward. She said that as prime minister, she will work for a unified Jamaica. “I have made it quite clear at home that I am for all the people”, Prime Minister Simpson Miller said, noting that she was honoured for the opportunity to keynote the Independence Gala on her first tour of duty in New York City as Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller walked to the podium as the cabaret duo of Ossie D & Stevie G crooned “My Jamaican Girl” just after Consul General, Dr. Basil K. Bryan introduced her as, “A woman of esteem”.

Dr. Bryan later presented the Consul General’s Independence honours to eight Jamaican Americans in acknowledgement of their professional achievements and exemplary community service.

Those honoured were; Amir Abdullah Muhammed Abdul Akbar (CAPE, Inc.); Minnel M. Porter (Giddy Hall School Alumni Association); Paul Campbell (VP of HR, Polo Ralph Lauren); Barbara Richards (UJAA, Inc.); Raymond ‘Ray’ Goulbourne (EVP at BET); Valrie Wilson (Volunteer, Healthcare Int’l); Patricia Chin (CEO, VP Records Distributors); Dr. Saleem Josephs (2006 Graduate, Columbia University, DDS, MPH, MBA).

The annual event which benefits charities in Jamaica, received $20,000 Quality Ford Car Dealership of Mt. Vernon, NY (Cecil Wright/ Patrick Fitzgerald).

The combination of Andrene Bonner (Evening Time) and Carlton James (mento music) remembered the late Hon. Louise “Miss Lou” Bennett Coverley.

Entertainment was provided by Byron Lee & The Dragonnaires Band. David “Squeeze” Annakie, CEO of LinkUp Media and radio host (93.5 FM WRTN, New York, serves as master of ceremonies.