My Jamaican family in the Diaspora, the commemoration of Jamaica’s 56th year as an independent nation presents an opportunity for us to reflect on, and celebrate the significant achievements made in the past by this nation while strategically planning the future.
Jamaica’s success as a nation is in large measure attributable to the bold, courageous and energetic spirit which defines our people at home and abroad. It is this innate and unique spirit which gave birth to an independent Jamaica, 1962, characterised by the patriotism and sacrifices of the country‟s founding fathers, our national heroes and cultural icons.
It is quite fitting for Jamaica’s 56th Independence celebrations to be held under the theme “One Love…One Family”. This theme not only aligns with the country’s motto “Out of Many, One People”, but also indicates our friendly, kind, and compassionate character for which we are renowned. The theme also reminds us of our distinct cultural heritage and traditions which are discernible on the world stage.
The indelible mark of Jamaica’s culture globally is evident through various international designations. Kingston has been classified by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a Creative City of Music – the only Caribbean city with this designation. Trench Town, the birthplace of reggae music, is a favoured destination for tourists. A record 4.3 million tourists visited Jamaica‟s shores in 2017. Based on the current statistics, we are on track to surpass that milestone, as our visitors continue to be captivated by our island’s natural beauty and our rich cultural heritage.
Our beloved island Jamaica, is considerably endowed with a human capital which is tremendously innovative, powerful and influential. Of note is our achievement in the field of science and technology which has had outstanding pioneers throughout the years. Their rich and lasting legacies have left a firm foundation on which Jamaicans at home and in the Diaspora can build. Undoubtedly, Jamaicans have answered this call and have made significant inroads in product innovation, resulting in an improved ranking for Jamaica to 81st on the 2018 Global Innovative Index. This represents the third successive year of improvement and underscores the growth of “Brand Jamaica” globally. Indeed, our little but tallawah island continues to blaze a trail on the world stage in several fields which make us proud.
The strength of “Brand Jamaica” can be largely attributed to our 3-million strong Jamaican community overseas, of which you are proud members. Your deep affinity to your homeland and fervent loyalty to Jamaican products ensure the continued growth, recognition and success of the Brand.
I deeply value the Diaspora’s contribution to all sectors of our nation. It is for this reason that we have embarked on a renewed thrust to harness the skills and expertise of Jamaicans in the Diaspora.
Despite our achievements as a nation over the past 56 years, there are challenges which confront us. Dismantling these barriers requires a united effort by Jamaicans from all walks of life both at home and in the Diaspora. Together we can partner and place our best foot forward while working side by side for sustained socio-economic growth and prosperity for our beloved Jamaica, land we love.
To our brothers and sisters, friends and family in the Jamaican Diaspora, Happy 56th Independence!
The Most Hon. Andrew Holness, ON, MP