Welcome home! - Mayor greets Jamaicans home for Ja50
SCORES of Jamaicans who live overseas have been returning home over the past few weeks excited about experiencing Jamaica50 Independence anniversary celebrations in the flesh.
Those who stepped off the airplanes at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston on Friday were treated to a warm welcome from the mayor of Kingston herself, Angela Brown Burke.
Mayor Brown Burke handed out welcome certificates to 50 of these visiting Jamaicans with a word of encouragement that they attend as many events as possible while they are here. She explained that the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation came up with the idea as another way to celebrate the country's 50th anniversary as a sovereign nation.
"This is just one more way to enjoy and to help others to enjoy the celebrations and it is one more souvenir that persons can take back home from what is a once-in-a-lifetime experience," she said.
Though they now live in different states in the United States and have had varying experiences in their birth country at different periods over the last half a century, the returning migrants all shared the view that Jamaica was the best place to be to celebrate its 50th anniversary since gaining Independence in 1962, and, that despite the difficulties, Jamaicans still had a lot to be thankful for.
Maudlyn Scarlette, who has lived in the United States for the past 41 years but has visited Jamaica several times, said:
"I've been away every year, but chose not to go to the Olympics this year because I want to be here with my fellow Jamaicans."
"I don't usually come back at this time of the year, but I am just happy to be here," said Scarlette, who was accompanied by her husband, Kieble.
He was equally excited and noted that although there is still much to improve on, the country has done a great job at improving the road infrastructure.
He was not alone in citing this as a significant achievement over the years. Many of his fellow travellers praised improvements to the country's infrastructure, especially the road network, as well as improvements in the health and education systems. They were also extremely proud that there are so many high-acheiving Jamaicans across the globe.
Dorrette Morphis, another 'Jamerican', said Jamaicans in her home state of Florida, were in the throes of party-planning to celebrate the Jubilee, but she wanted to celebrate right here at home.
"They are all excited and are partying but I wanted to be at the real party," she said.
"I don't have any thing special planned to do while I am here, but I just had to come and celebrate. It's 50 years since we have gained Independence and we have come a long way in terms of health, education and infrastructure," said Morphis, who migrated 25 years ago.
Also among the group were some nationals who were returning to celebrate their birthdays during this festive period.
One of them was Jacinth Hyman, who, when asked why she had returned home for Independence, said she had three very good reasons, "Because it's Jamaica 50, my birthday (August 5) and it's the Olympics, so I have triple reasons to be here."
She was delighted that she had also received a welcome certificate but was disappointed that the mayor and her team did not have any tickets for the highly anticipated Jamaica50 Grand Gala event on Monday.
Still, Hyman said, Jamaicans have a lot of reasons to celebrate including that the people can enjoy freedom, that there has been much progress and that the country has acheived 50 years of Independence.