As Jamaica celebrates 60 years of independence on Saturday, there are mixed views among entertainment industry insiders on the level of progress the nation has made since it broke free of British colonial rule.
In commemoration of Jamaica 60, OBSERVER ONLINE sought the views of the insiders on the island’s journey over the last six decades.
"I feel good about the progress that Jamaica has made since 1962. Jamaica is a cultural superstate, a powerhouse nation around the world with some of the most iconic superstars this world has ever seen. People like Bob Marley in music, people like Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in sports - and the list goes on for our athletes actually because there are so many greats in that field - people like Marcus Garvey who is an iconic philosopher, leader, politician, a racial powerhouse of a man for empowerment," said choreographer, singer, actor, director and writer, Michael Holgate.
"We have done so much in terms of how we've contributed as a people to the global advancement of even spirituality. We gave the world Rasta and there's no denying how Rastas have helped the consciousness of black people around the world. We are just an amazing people," Holgate said.
Entertainer Yaksta, who has catapulted himself to the heights of the music industry through his positive lyrics and feel good music, says although sometimes it feels like the country has made little progress over the past 60 years, Jamaica has seen significant growth. The Ambition deejay, who has gained the endorsement of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, went on to share that although there is still lots to do to get Jamaica to where it needs to be, he would not change a thing about the country's journey thus far.
"I have seen a lot of upward mobility when it comes on to evolution for Jamaica. There are still things we can improve on to give true meaning to what Independence really is but so far we have made a lot of inroads. Music wise, cultural wise, we are unstoppable as a nation and me affi gi we a plus fi dat," he said. "I wouldn't change anything at all about being Jamaican or what we have accomplished as a people except maybe killing badmind."
For reggae singer Nesbeth, however, Jamaica at 60 has not progressed well. The My Dream singer expressed to OBSERVER ONLINE that vast improvements need to be made in education, health and security just to name a few.
“In the grand scheme of things, it is sad to say that the people of this nation have not progressed well. I would definitely change the paucity in leadership in our country and the inability of our people to unite,” he said.
“As a son of the soil, I would love to see the holistic development of our people. That is to say a robust security architecture to create a safer country, improve social services such as education, health, housing and roads. I also want to see some well-paying jobs because that is also critical to us moving forward as a nation,” Nesbeth added.
While their views may differ on how far the country has come since 1962, Nesbeth, Yaksta and Holgate all shared that there are unique things about being Jamaican that makes them unreservedly proud.
“This country with roughly 3.2 million people in a planet with eight billion people, Jamaica, the size of a pea on the world map has produced such luminaries who have triggered so much greatness in the world. It’s phenomenal and that’s what I love about being Jamaican,” said Holgate. “How we speak, our music, I love the fact that we ‘likkle but we tallawah.’ I love that we are unforgettable as a people and as a nation. Everything speaks about us as this ‘larger than life people’.”
Yaksta shared similar sentiments.
“Jamaicans are rated everywhere. It's like once you represent Brand Jamaica, anywhere you go, you’re among the cool folks,” he said. “Being Jamaican is super, yuh nuh see we tallawah.”
He added, “The recognition of our music, sport and culture worldwide are reasons I am proud to be Jamaican. Our dedication, determination and desire to achieve greatness is what makes us standout as a people anywhere we are in this world.”