'Whom shall we fear?'

Jean Lowrie-Chin

Monday, March 05, 2012

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MY husband had offered to drive me to Negril, but I decided to go solo as we "girls" had not caught up for a while. I was a bit nervous as I mounted the steps of the South Coast Express, recommended by PR colleague Dave Rodney. I had never travelled this far on a bus by myself, but it turned out to be a comfortable ride with clean rest stops. My friend Christine Craig, who had read from her brilliant poetry collection All Things Bright at the Talking Trees Literary Festival in Treasure Beach, joined me in Santa Cruz.


We passed through Belmont where there were several buses parked near the Peter Tosh Mausoleum. Scores of visitors were taking photographs of the vivid beach scene, and making their way to the memorial site of this poignant Jamaican. Tosh's voice vibrated through my consciousness: "Jah is my keeper - so whom shall I fear?"


Now a resident of Florida where our bad news dominates while good news skulks in the scroll-downs, Christine seemed a little concerned that we didn't know which taxi would be taking us from bus to hotel. As we alighted, there was the gallant Leroy with his small JUTA van. Once we established that we were fellow "Westmorelites", we chatted away like long lost cousins and so we had a trusted driver for the evening.


We had decided to visit Rick's Café at Negril's West End, to see its famous sunset. Even in the rain, the atmosphere was magical as buses converged and the bars became thick with Appleton-loving tourists. Though partly hidden by the clouds, the sunset brightened the sky and we were happy to tick off this "bucket list" imperative.


Christine was overcome by the beauty of Negril's seven-mile beach, which she had not visited for over 20 years. Lots of tourists were enjoying themselves and a restaurant owner told us it was her best season since she had set up four years ago. The next morning, I boarded a Vacation Tours bus and headed to Montego Bay to catch a flight. Mr Garrick the driver gave us accurate Jamaican history highlights. The proud Hanoverian showed us the extensive development taking place in his hometown, Orange Bay.


However, we found our enthusiasm for Jamaica surpassed by the tourists on the bus! The Canadian said he had postponed his return three times and was now reluctantly making his way home after "five wonderful weeks". He visits several times a year and in three years planned on making Jamaica his retirement home. The young couple from New York echoed his sentiments and said they planned to invest in Negril property, because it was their "favourite place in the world".


Lifted by their optimism, I recalled my earlier jitters on travelling solo on a Jamaican bus, and mentally rewrote Tosh's words: "Jamaica is a great nation: whom shall we fear?"


National's Bold Ones


Buoyed by the punctuality of Jamaica Air Shuttle, I was back at my desk and ready to tackle last Tuesday's Launch of National Baking Company's "Bold Ones" programme. I feel quite justified to give column space to this initiative which not only mentors new manufacturers, but also picks up a $28-million tab for an extensive promotional package to help them gain a foothold in local and international markets.


In seeing the valiant work of the Bold Ones, National Baking's Chairman Butch Hendrickson appealed to the authorities to "Tear down the walls of bureaucracy. Tear down the walls that are created by ridiculous regulatory processes that only serve to hamper us and make life extremely difficult." The charming Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, state minister in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, gave her reassurance that this is being addressed.


We surveyed with pride the offerings of this, the second set of National Baking's "Bold Ones" from six parishes across Jamaica: Robin Lumsden, Belcour Preserves Limited of rural St Andrew; Deborah Belcher, Debz Limited of Kingston, producer of soy ice-cream and sorbets; Jason Dear, No Brand Chemicals of Kingston; Heneka Watkins-Porter, Patwa Apparel of Kingston; Dr Angela Chin Hing, Pretti Slippery of St James; Denese Palmer, Southside Distributors Limited of St Elizabeth; Suzette Thomas, Sue True Caribbean Manufacturers and Distributors Limited of St Thomas; Cinderella Anderson, Visionaries - Mango Valley Pride of St Mary.


The Jamaica Observer's "Mogul in the Making" is also an important promotion. These programmes are telling our unemployed Jamaicans that you don't have to seek a job, you can create one.


CCRP legend Oliver Clarke


Sitting at the back at the "Bold Ones" conference was JN and Gleaner Chairman Oliver Clarke, who had joined with National Baking to give his company's support to Deika Morrison's "Crayons Count" programme which promotes early childhood education. This is typical Oliver, quietly doing his part for good causes.


As we continue our mention of CCRP Jamaica 50 Living Legacy Award recipients, we salute Oliver Clarke. Distinguished businessman, media leader, and humanitarian with a passion for sustainable national development, the former managing director of the Gleaner Company and Jamaica National Building Society, created models for succession planning in these two organisations. This much decorated leader holds other top positions in several local and international business, professional and developmental organisations.


Transitions


RJR Group held a fine send-off for TVJ's phenomenal General Manager Kay Osborne whose eight years of service was a watershed for the station. The tributes spoke of her leadership, creativity and mentorship, bringing some of us to tears. Walk good, Miss Kay.


Her PR colleagues have yet to come to terms with the loss of the communications dynamo and star of Jamaican stage and television Christine Bell. Jamaica has lost a talented and gracious daughter. Our heartfelt sympathy to her family and close friends.


lowriechin@aim.com


www.lowrie-chin.blogspot.com


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