Grange sees major role for Diaspora, Opposition in Jamaica 60
Culture Minister Olivia “Babsy”Grange

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport (MCGES) Olivia Grange says that the Jamaican Diaspora will be playing a major role in this year's Diamond Jubilee celebration of Independence.

“The Jamaican Diaspora will be fully engaged as a part of the celebrations, and we will be working closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade (MFAFT), which will have oversight of Diaspora activities,” she told the Jamaica Observer Sunday.

The minister said that this would ensure that Jamaicans living abroad would not only have an opportunity to enjoy the wide range of events being contemplated to commemorate the country's 60-year-old history of political Independence and democracy, but also “refamiliarise the country with its heroes and its failures and achievements, at home and abroad, since the Union Jack was replaced with the black, green, and gold flag of the Jamaican nation on August 6, 1962”.

She said that her ministry, which is in control of operationalising the eventful programme of celebration, had lost no time in putting in place a core committee headed by the permanent secretary in her ministry, Denzil Thorpe.

The committee also includes Billy Heaven, CEO of the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) fund; acting executive director of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Lillian Reid; director of communications at the MCGES Oliver Watt; Jean Lowrie-Chin, public relations specialist; Howard McIntosh, chairman of the Entertainment Advisory Board; Director of Tourism Donovan White; and executive director of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) Dr Kerry Wallace.

The MCGES will be working more closely with the Ministry of Tourism, primarily through the Jamaica Tourist Board and the TEF, the Minister explained, “to ensure that Jamaica has the best chance of maximising the potential benefits from the celebrations”.

She noted, however, that the 2022 event would not be planned overnight as its success rests on the foundation of a number of events, which have been promoted jointly by both her ministry and the tourism ministry headed by Edmund Bartlett over the years to promote milestone anniversaries of national activities every five years since Jamaica 55 in 2017.

“All ministers and ministries have been asked to identify events which can be designated as legacy projects from the past 60 years, and some ministries have already started identifying these projects,” she said.

Grange also pointed out that the Opposition would be included as members of the national planning committee (NPC), which will be appointed through the Cabinet. “So, while the core committee is the initial committee, a national planning committee will be formed, as soon as possible, on the advice of the Cabinet.

The formal announcements of these developments will be made at a later date.

But she acknowledged that the planning and preparations for the celebratory events would be subject to disaster management preparations to stem spread of the next novel coronavirus variant, as well as the continuing efforts to control the pandemic.

“We are in a very uncertain period, and we have to bear this in mind, but we will certainly be celebrating the high levels of achievement since Independence,” she said.

“Culturally, we will have the Jamaica 60 Gold Awards for the music industry, and we are celebrating the anniversary of Kingston's designation by UNESCO as an intangible Cultural Heritage and a Creative City of Music,” she said, noting that work had already started on these activities.

Another interesting event, she said, would be the creation of a monument in honour of the members of Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) who have died in tragic events since 1962.

Celebratory events listed by the ministry in full page advertisements in the press on Saturday included Reggae Month; the regional Carifta Games for students; the wider Commonwealth Games; the Prime Minister's Jamaica 60 Awards of Excellence; Workers' Week/Labour Day; National Heritage Week celebrations; Jamaica Festival events such as the Festival Song Competition; Seville Emancipation Jubilee; a Jamaica 60 Ecumenical Church Service; and a Jamaica Defence Force Military Tatoo in July.

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter henryb@jamaicaobserver.com

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