A welcome Port Royal buzz

A welcome Port Royal buzz

Jean Lowrie-Chin

Monday, January 27, 2020

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Finally, after decades of talk, we welcomed passengers on the cruise ship Marella Discovery 2, who disembarked smoothly on the Seawalk floating pier which allowed them access to our historic town of Port Royal without damaging the ecosystem in that area of the Kingston Harbour.

On their arrival, they enjoyed the sound of our music, the enthralling sight of our dancers and the taste of the world's best coffee and rum. Two dozen tour buses were lined up to take them to the many cultural sites in Kingston — a favourite being Bob Marley's first Kingston home, Culture Yard, in Trench Town.

The Port Royal Museum and Fort Charles offer stories of this, once “the richest and wickedest city in the world”, destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami in 1692, which claimed 3,000 lives and another 2,000 from the diseases developed in the horrific conditions that ensued.

Port Royal has spun out movies and features, most famously Pirates of the Caribbean, with main character Jack Sparrow. The name was perhaps derived from the infamous pirate Calico Jack, who was hanged at Port Royal along with dozens of other pirates as the redeemed Henry Morgan tried to restore decency to the town. This 'decency' was the expansion of the most indecent and evil chapter in Jamaica's history, the transatlantic slave trade as witnessed by the exhibits of items of captivity and torture in the Port Royal Museum.

Now the residents of Port Royal can look forward to opportunities for self-reliance from that once-dreaded port. Last November, I had the pleasure of meeting O'Neil Chuck, president of the Port Royal Community Development Corporation (CDC), when the organisation received well-deserved Digicel Foundation '15 Strong' funding for the development of art and craft artisans readying themselves for cruise ship arrivals.

“All round, it was a positive experience for our crafts people,” affirmed Chuck. He said 27 artisans had stands in seven locations at the Old Coal Wharf pier and Fort Charles in the town, allowing the tourists to browse and purchase from their full range of items. “T-shirts were in high demand,” said Chuck. “We also sold a number of small souvenirs, bags, and other clothing items.”

May this fine Port Royal solution, and the resulting buzz, remind Jamaicans that opportunities abound for our island. Every parish is replete with history and talent. If only the 'pirates' in our midst would put Jamaica ahead of their greed so that their fellow Jamaicans can benefit from our birthright.

Applauding sporting excellence

The Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year Awards, founded 50 years ago by Radio Jamaica, celebrates the athletes who, year after year, put Jamaica on the map, not only in sports, but in the entire world. These disciplined and courageous performers star on leading networks, showing off our black, green, and gold colours. The top awards this year went to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, our “Mommy Rocket” who regained pride of place in her astounding run in last year's World Championships, and Tajay Gayle, who won a gold medal in the 2019 World Championships with a flying long jump that set a new national record.

Jamaica's legendary Courtney Walsh was presented with the Iconic Award and guest speaker Douglas Orane lauded our athletes and called for keener stewardship of sporting bodies. He piqued our interest with his disclosure of the greenfield project which has brought rich returns from the intellectual property of the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA). He noted that they were able to do excellent mathematics: “2+2 equals 11”. Let's hear more about this please sports journalists.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce moves us on and off the track. “Your time will come,” she said in her reply on behalf of the awardees. “You just have to be consistent, you have to stay focused… let us all continue to write our stories, owning our stories of tears, of joy, of peace… It took a village to get me here tonight…and I must acknowledge my family, friends, coaches, and sponsors. As I continue to evolve, I look forward to my fourth Olympic Games, and pray that I continue to inspire our generations that you write your own story. Nobody gets to write your story.”

Education and community outreach in Negril

Franciscan Father Jim Bok has spearheaded several projects in western Jamaica open to individuals of all religions. These include 'Get Kids To School', which is in its ninth year, providing transportation, books, uniforms, and lunches for over 150 children in Negril, Little London, Orange Hill, and Revival.

Then there is the popular 'St Anthony's Kitchen', which serves about 100 hot lunches Monday to Friday to the less fortunate. They run a thrift shop at the same location to support the operation. In the deep rural Revival district the priests have opened a clinic at St Mary's Church, established vegetable gardens, assisted in home building and repairs.

“We are writing to Jamaicans and others who love Jamaica,” notes a letter from a supporter of the projects. “'Many of us have been blessed with opportunities for education and more comfortable lives.”

Mike Pompeo's visit

A Jamaica Observer editorial about last week's visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Jamaica notes that his two-day working visit is “the opportunity for the region to further strengthen its relationship with our long-standing friend, the United States”.

We should not get embroiled in the statements and counter-statements between the US and China. This is diplomatic cut and thrust; let's remember that the two countries continue to negotiate trade agreements and have sizeable investments with each other.

Mourning Galen

Just last week we bemoaned the scourge of domestic violence, and this week there is widespread distress and condemnation of an unspeakable crime. After Tamara Lewis left her abusive boyfriend it is alleged that he went to the home where her 8-year-old son Galen Buchanan lived with his father, her former partner, and asked if he could take the child for ice cream. The child was later found dead, his hands bound.

The Jamaica Observer reported Lewis's response when she was called to identify her son: “When dem call mi, a mi cousin bring mi out there. When they [police] explained to me what him have on, mi say, 'Yes, is my baby.' From there so mi nuh know nothing much; mi pass out.”

We understand that the police have arraigned the suspect who was found in Trelawny. May justice be swift for the perpetrator of this heinous act, and may our prayers be many for the comfort of Tamara Lewis.



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