Columns

'Out of Many One' strong

Jean LOWRIE-CHIN

Monday, March 10, 2014    

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PROFESSOR Anthony Chen's address at the reopening of the Chinese Cultural Association (CCA) Sunday before last received a good deal of coverage because of his comments on the proposed Goat Islands development. Although Prof Chen expressed his disapproval of a proposed coal-fired electricity generation plant, he explained that he would not object to the Goat Islands project, "as long as all the proper procedures are carried out to satisfaction".

Prof Chen noted recent negative comments about Chinese in Jamaica. "To be clear, I am not refering to genuine concerns of some of those who are worried about the environment," said the professor, who was part of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for the Environment with Al Gore. "I am referring to the antagonism that would not be there if a USA or UK firm were making the Goat Islands proposal. The antagonists have been swayed by propaganda both locally and internationally."

Prof Chen reminded us of the significance of Chinese ancestry in Jamaica. He said that, although official figures may number Jamaicans of Chinese ancestry in mere thousands, there are many tens of thousands of Jamaicans who are mixed race. "At CBA last year I recall meeting Paula Madison, the owner of the Africa Channel, who is of mixed Chinese ancestry," he said. "She travelled to China to discover her Chinese roots and was warmly and enthusiastically welcomed to her village, to the extent that she was invited to visit again the following year for a family celebration."

This reminded me of a story from my friend Gloria Palomino who said when she visited a village in Guangdong, and some residents found out she was from Jamaica, out came dozens of African-looking folks who spoke Hakka. It turned out that they were of mixed Jamaican parentage, born here and sent to China to study the culture. But there were no funds to take them back home to Jamaica, so there they remain to this day, hungry for news of the homeland to which they were never able to return.

But back to the Chinese Cultural Association. It is located at 22 Barbican Road, next to Orchid Plaza, and its library has many important publications donated by Ambassador Dong, who graciously opened the centre. It differs from the Chinese Benevolent Association whose emphasis is outreach and limits membership only to those of Chinese ancestry. Membership in the CCA is open to all Jamaicans.

Tessanne at the White House

Although I believe Jamaica is one of the most racially harmonious countries in the world, there are the ignorant few that hold backward and hurtful views. And so when my Alpha classmates of Chinese ancestry went "Tessanne crazy" last year, I could understand how proud they felt that finally one of their own was allowed, unconditionally, to wave our flag high, and was embraced unreservedly on that exciting night when she became NBC's The Voice for 2013. At that Digicel homecoming concert on the Kingston Waterfront, Tessanne shed tears when she felt the love of the jubilant thousands.

As if that were not enough, our Tessanne and her handsome husband Michael Anthony Cuffe Jr were invited by that conscious United States First Lady Michelle Obama to participate in the "Women of Soul: Performance at the White House" last Thursday. What an amazing honour for Jamaica's young star.

We will never forget what she said to Adam Levine about wanting to give her best to Redemption Song: "It is an important song for my people." Hear that, people? So let us not allow anyone to divide us. Let's stay "Out of Many One" strong.

Ah, Justice Hylton, it could not be 'deliberate'

It is alleged that Justice Velma Hylton made the following comment about the Tivoli insurrection: "If the police and the rest of the security forces had not taken action to repel force with force that day, I say again, at this point in time, we may still have been shovelling up pieces of bodies in West Kingston... In my respectful submission, if the women and children deliberately put themselves between the law and order forces...to enable those gunmen behind them to fire at the security forces and to fire at civilians, I for one do not understand why, in all circumstances, they cannot return the fire..."

This takes me back to a story from a now retired senior officer who was called to an inner-city community to keep a demonstration in check. He was surprised to see a stalwart of the community -- let's call her Miss Brown -- with placard in hand, shouting down the police. He went up to her and said softly, "Miss Brown, I didn't expect to see you here."

Miss Brown whispered back, "If I didn't demonstrate they say they would burn down my shop." So no, Justice Hylton, I hardly believe that women and children "deliberately" put themselves in harm's way. I believe there was an invisible gun to their

collective heads.

Spain boosts Food For the Poor school effort

It was a beautiful morning last Friday at Food for the Poor Jamaica, when the dynamic Spanish Ambassador to Jamaica, Celsa Nuño, and fellow Spaniard Tristan Garcia Alvarado presented over $2.2 million -- the cost of a container of 1,150 desks and matching chairs for Jamaica's schools. This has pushed the Food For the Poor 30th Anniversary School Furniture Drive past the halfway mark, as Chairman Andrew Mahfood aims at a well-needed 15,000 desks and chairs.

Ambassador Nuño made the presentation as president of the Spanish-Jamaica Foundation, which has been recognising top Spanish teachers throughout the island. Manager of the foundation, Dr Rebecca Tortello says the ambassador is a strong advocate for the teaching of Spanish in our schools, as this could forge important links with the other 375-million citizens of Spanish-speaking countries in the Caribbean and the Americas.

We learned from Ambassador Nuño that Tristan Alvarado has been resident in Jamaica since 1994 and was a prime mover in bringing the popular Riu chain to Jamaica. Mr Alvarado explained that his donation of $1,189,100 was collected from the shop operators in the Spanish hotels who encourage visitors to support Jamaican charities.

Our Spanish friends were delighted with the performance of Shaliece Dawkins, president of the St Catherine High School Spanish Club. She sang a beautiful Spanish version of We are the world; her poise and talent reminding us that this school furniture drive is key to the development of our promising Jamaican children. A big thank you to Ambassador Nuño and

Tristan Alvarado!

lowriechin@aim.com

www.lowrie-chin.blogspot.com

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