WASHINGTON D.C. – Ambassador Audrey Marks has announced the launch of a new and innovative Jamaica Connect Program called Jamaica Roots! This promotion is aimed at Jamaican-Americans who have lost connection with their homeland but who would like to take up the opportunity to experience Jamaica and reconnect with their roots.
Ambassador Marks explained that,
Jamaica Roots, as the name suggests, is about reconnecting to your Jamaican heritage and culture. For Jamaicans who were born in Jamaica but moved to the United States for many years without returning, it will be a chance to reconnect. For Jamaican-Americans (children, grandchildren or even great great grandchildren of Jamaicans) it will be a chance to connect to and learn more about the place their family originated from, their roots and their culture.
Under the pilot program, winners will receive one (1) week free accommodation and tours in Jamaica. The winner will get the chance to stay at a hotel or live with a family member, travel the island on guided tours, visit and learn about their family history, and experience life in the community of their roots.
She explained that,
Ultimately, the aim of the program is to connect millions of members of Jamaica’s diaspora back to Jamaica as a second home to invest their time, talents and resources for Jamaica’s development.
The competition which will run for four months starting November 5 2017 and ending February 4, 2018, will have monthly draws that will be broadcasted on Facebook Live.
To be eligible, each applicant must meet the following minimum requirements:
- Be at least 21 years old at the time of travel.
- Have Jamaican roots (able to prove themselves a citizen, or the child, grandchild, great grandchild, great great grandchild of a citizen).
- Have a valid passport.
- Have lived outside Jamaica for 10 years or more.
In order to give everyone a chance the program will be executed following the sweepstakes model and entries can be submitted at: http://s.heyo.com/c9ca7e
The rules and requirements can also be found on Facebook @AmbassadorMarks
October 4, 2017
Consul General announces awardees for the Consulate General of Jamaica’s Diaspora Awards
Jamaica’s Consul General to Miami, Franz Hall, has announced the awardees selected for the Consulate of Jamaica Diaspora Honours 2017. Ten awards will be presented in the category of Luminaries including a Diaspora community organization, and one as Special Community Award. The names of the honorees will be inscribed on the Honour Roll of Jamaicans in the Southern United States of America.
The Luminary Honours will be awarded for areas of Public Service presented to Ms. Merlene Barton, President and Co-Founder of the Thelma Gibson Health Initiative, Inc., Coconut Grove; and Ms. Georgia Robinson, Attorney and community activist; Faith and Religious Leadership, Rev. Dr. Wesley Green, Senior Pastor of the Christway Baptist Church, Miramar; Cultural Arts and Entertainment, performing artist and Executive Director of Rootz of Music, Inc., Mr. Eugene Grey; Business Leadership to Publisher and Chief Executive Hugh Ferguson; Philanthropy, Ms. Julie Mansfield; Law and Justice to Jamaica’s Honorary Consul, Atlanta, Mrs. Jewel Scott, Attorney; and Education to Ms. Sandra Fatmi of United Foundation of Central Florida.
The Atlanta Jamaica Association (AJA) will be awarded for Outstanding Community Group. The AJA is this year celebrating 40 years as a community group. The Special Community Honour will be presented to Dr. Malou Harrison, President of the Miami Dade College (MDC), North Campus and InterAmerican Campuses.
The annual Diaspora Awards Ceremony will be held on Saturday, October 28, 2017, at the Sunrise Civic Center Theater, and will form part of the ongoing celebrations of Jamaica’s 55th Anniversary of Independence. The event is sponsored by the Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS).
The presentation of the awards continues the tradition of recognizing Jamaicans in the Diaspora who have positively impacted their community. According to Consul General Hall “recognizing members of the Jamaican Diaspora for their indelible contributions to community development takes on a special significance this year, as the theme of Independence is “Celebrating Jamaicans at home and abroad” Extending congratulations, Mr. Hall added that the awardees are being recognized for services directly supportive of Jamaica’s national development goals as well as community service to the positive mission of the Diaspora community positively impacting the local and wider international community.
Based on approved criteria, a Jamaica Diaspora Honours Selection Committee evaluated and approved the final selection of awardees from the large number of exemplary nominations received. These awardees will now join the outstanding changemakers, luminaries and vanguards who were previously recognized and who continue to render significant service to enhance the positive image of Jamaicans at home and in the Diaspora. Previous recipients of the honor can be accessed on the Consulate General’s website at: http://jamaicacgmiami.org/uploads/pdfiles/jcglistofhonorees.pdf
Consulate General of Jamaica
August 29, 2017
Consulate General invites Nominations for Jamaican Diaspora Awards in the South-East USA
Jamaica’s Consul General to Miami, Franz Hall, is inviting nominations for persons to be inscribed on the Honour Roll of Jamaicans in the Southern United States of America.
The annual Diaspora Awards Ceremony will be held on Saturday, October 28, 2017, at the Sunrise Civic Center Theater, and will form part of the ongoing celebrations of Jamaica’s 55th Anniversary of Independence.
The presentation of the awards continues the tradition of recognizing Jamaicans in the Diaspora who have positively impacted their community. “Recognizing members of the Jamaican Diaspora for their indelible contributions to community development takes on a special significance this year, as the theme of Independence is “Celebrating Jamaicans at home and abroad” said Consul General Hall.
The application form is attached and is now available on the website for the Consulate General at http://www.jamaicacgmiami.org or can be requested by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by telephone at 305-374-8431. The deadline for submissions is Tuesday, September 26, 2017. The areas for selection include, but are not limited to, law and justice, health care, faith/religious leadership, public service, philanthropy, social services, entrepreneurship/business leaders, youth leadership, cultural arts (entertainment, media, sports, etc.) and education. Previous recipients of the honor can be accessed on the Consulate General’s website at: http://jamaicacgmiami.org/uploads/pdfiles/jcglistofhonorees.pdf
Consulate General of Jamaica
305-374-8431 ext. 232
Reggae Sumfest 2017’s ‘90s Era Throwback Reflection Proved to be Crystal Clear
By Nicholas E. Ford
Jamaica’s yearly Reggae Sumfest festival in Montego Bay is no doubt a huge tourism attraction and lure for the country. And the 2017 edition, which was Sumfest’s 25th, just the same featured a flood of visitors to the island to witness the very best of reggae and dancehall music. To sweeten things up even more for this year’s concertgoers, a ‘90s themed block party and a traditional sound clash were also on the menu of entertainment offerings.
‘90s Retro Block Party Event
The Sumfest 2017 happenings kicked off in earnest with what was dubbed as the ultimate “retro block party” devoted to ‘90s dancehall music, which was held on the grassy field adjacent to Pier One on the Waterfront—arguably Montego Bay’s most pulsating open-air Seafood Restaurant, Bar and unique Entertainment Center. There, patrons were delighted see perhaps Jamaica’s most storied sound system in action—the Immortal Stone Love. In addition, several dancehall acts—including Mr. Lex and Ward 21—from the ‘90s gave great performances to complement the smooth tunes juggled by Billy Slaughter, one of Stone Love’s premier selectors. The Metromedia sound system also gave the crowd a wonderful vibe, not to mention the on-stage theatrics of front man selector—Big Belly Sky Juice.
Heavyweight Sound Clash Event Was Nice and Hectic
Aside from the usual buzz surrounding Sumfest’s dancehall night, the inaugural Reggae Sumfest Heavyweight sound clash competition saw patrons turn out in numbers to take in the action—once again at Pier One in Montego Bay. Many anticipated a competitive and animated clash environment among the sound systems jugglin’ their best selections on the lawn, and they surely got what they paid for. In the end, Dancehall selector, Tony Matterhorn, and the man behind the smash hit song a few years ago ‘Dutty Whine’ that seemingly took the world by storm, was declared the winner of the Reggae Sumfest Heavyweight sound clash competition. After the musical dust up, Tony Matterhorn and his sound system stood tall over the likes of Warrior Sound International, Yardbeat from Japan, New York’s Soul Supreme, and No Limit Sound. In victory, Matterhorn grinned from ear to ear after claiming the sound clash bragging title and the $500,000 (in Jamaican dollars) cash prize.
Main Event Night One (Dancehall Night)
Spice and Her Bedroom Excitement…Who Will Forget?
Many Jamaican dancehall music fans can attest to the fact that female deejay artist, Spice, was among the relatively few female acts on this year’s festival line-up for Dancehall night. But nonetheless, Spice as always did not let the sold out venue down as her risqué stage performance certainly earned her a place among the most memorable dancehall night performances. Accompanied by her dancers clad in furry bedroom robes, Spice was wheeled out on a bed and wasted no time in transforming the stage into her bedroom, literally. Known for her stand out entrances, I must say that Spice outdid herself with that ensemble. And decked out in a body fitting-gold suit underneath her bedroom robe, Spice was not shy in reeling off her hits songs such as ‘Indicator’ and ‘So Me Like It’. Her enduring smash, ‘Rompin’ Shop’, which featured the embattled deejay warrior, Vybz Kartel, was also a crowd favorite.
Dancehall Icon, Bounty Killer, Gave a Stellar Performance While Inspiring the Younger Generation of Artists
Known as the ‘Five Star General’ in Jamaican music industry circles, Bounty Killer expertly demonstrated his mastery of the dancehall deejay craft. As Bounty canvassed the far reaches of the stage from end-to-end, he mesmerized his musical contemporaries, adversaries, as well as the thousands of onlookers by delivering snippets of his enviable catalog of music spanning 25 years as songs like ‘Anytime’ and ‘Eagle and Di Hawk’, echoed in the crisp night air. As the Dancehall night line-up moved along, space in the Catherine Hall venue was at premium as the swelling crowd eyeballed the stage with the hope of seeing their favorite artist at his or her best.
As it happened, the sea of patrons who came out to be entertained by the likes of Dexta Daps, Spice, Alkaline, Mavado, Aidonia, Bounty Killer unquestionably got their belly full where excitement was concerned. To cap off a splendid dancehall night, Tommy Lee Sparta rose with the morning sun and closed Main Event Night One by delivering a high-energy performance that sent electricity and shock waves throughout the entertainment complex that will be remembered for a long time to come. Yes, Tommy Lee was that good!
Josef Bogdanovich (head of the DownSound Entertainment Group that puts on Sumfest) and his team were absolutely elated in the aftermath of the 2017 Sumfest dancehall night that they put on. Quoted by the Jamaica Gleaner, Mr. Bogdanovich stated: “When you put together a line-up such as the one we did, with the hottest acts in dancehall music sharing the same stage, you can only expect good things, and we were very pleased with the result. Patrons came out in droves and the venue was at capacity, and we had to close the gates to manage that and ensure the safety of those in and around the venue.” He added that he was even more pleased that “despite the massive crowd, the one-week festival, which kicked off with a beach party at Tropical Bliss, was incident-free.”
Main Event Night Two (Reggae Night)
Singers, Jah Cure and Fantan Mojah Put and End to their Fued in an Entertaining Sumfest Set
Jah Cure and Fantan Mojah shook hands and embraced on the Reggae Sumfest stage, a perfect setting for ending their fued. Reportedly, the pair had been at odds since May when it was alleged that Jah Cure assaulted Fantan Mojah near the home of fellow artist, Capleton. Mojah had admitted on social media afterwards that an incident did in fact take place, but said that he held no grudges against Jah Cure. Mojah then ably assisted Jah Cure on stage to perform their recorded collaboration, ‘Nuh Build Great Man’. Jah Cure then delivered ‘Love Is’, after which Fantan Mojah belted out his own hit, ‘Hail The King’, which was greeted by loud cheers of approval from the crowd. Mojah then left the stage to allow for Jah Cure to finish his performance with ‘Longing For’ as well as ‘Unconditional Love’.
Sean Paul Was Dynamite
International superstar, Sean Paul, ignited the fans by delivering ‘We Be Burning’. He even had fireworks to complement his performance, as he unleashed ‘Get Busy’, ‘Got to Love You’, and ‘Like Glue’.
Stephen Marley, Mad Cobra and Richie Stephens Conjured up Nostalgia from Reggae’s Past
One of the high points of the night was Richie Stephens, who teamed up with SkaNation, in reminding the older generation of fans throughout the entertainment complex of the Ska vibe that emanated from Jamaica in the late 1950s and was the precursor to rocksteady and reggae. As part of his set, Richie Stephens fittingly invited Mad Cobra, a well-known dancehall star from the ‘90s in his own right, on stage to perform ‘Legacy’—a very melodic collaboration that had the crowd swaying back and forth in the night breeze. Mad Cobra also took the opportunity to sink his fangs into the Catherine Hall crowd, by performing local favorites, such as ‘Press Trigger’, as well as ‘Tek Him’ and ‘War’. With doses of classic after classic Cobra’s distinctive voice reminded the crowd that he was the man behind the monster ‘90s hit, ‘Flex’, which brought the park back to 1992 when Cobra’s career took off.
Stephen Marley, one of the sons of late reggae icon, Bob Marley, certainly had with him that classic, feel-good reggae vibe. Multi-tasking by playing the guitar and singing at the same time seemed so natural and instinctive for Stephen Marley—who effortlessly resonated with the audience. Stephen also introduced his son, Jo Mersa, who got his feet wet by performing on his own. Fans were also pleasantly surprised when the reggae artist, Capleton, who is known as the fireman, joined Marley on stage to perform ‘It Was Written’.
Queen Ifrica – Showed She is a Lioness on the Rise
Queen Ifrica did not shy away from showing off her vocal talent, especially as she transitioned from one song to another in her cache of hits, including ‘Lie Dem ah Tell’ to ‘Lioness on the Rise’, with ease. She also offered some needed political commentary by noting that Jamaica would overcome its current ills – from the high rate of murders to both child and domestic abuse.
Sumfest 2017 Culminated in Seasoned Closing acts of Sizzla and Beenie Man
Beenie Man was in top form as always, and the self-proclaimed King of the Dancehall’s appearance appropriately commenced with ‘Who Am I?’ and his loyal fans already knew the answer. As usual, Beenie did not hesitate to affirm that he is still the ‘girls dem sugar’ and capable of giving the ‘Wickedest Slam’, even if only on a stage through his lyrics. Aside from his big hit ‘Wickedest Slam’, Beenie delighted the audience with ‘Memories’, ‘Romie’,‘Old Dawg’, and ‘Dude’.
At 8:15 a.m., the venue remained packed with those awaiting the closing of the Sumfest 2017 festivities courtesy of Sizzla Kalonji. In closing, Sizzla was quick to remind the audience that he is as ‘Solid as a Rock’—perhaps an indicator to the strength of his commitment to the Rastafarian religion which, of course, was birthed in Jamaica. The audience rode along smoothly with Sizzla as he reeled off his anthems, such as ‘Woman I Need You’, ‘You’re So Lovely’, and ‘Just One of Those Days’.
For 25 years, Jamaica’s annual Reggae Sumfest festival has been celebrated as the biggest and best weekend for Caribbean music lovers. The thousands that flocked to the Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex for Sumfest 2017’s closing night were undoubtedly reminded of how powerful and lasting reggae music has been. Other notable attendees at this year’s festival who were: the Hon. Mrs. Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange (Jamaica’s Minister of Sports, Culture, Entertainment and Gender Affairs), Mutabaruka (legendary dub poet), Dean Fraser (iconic saxophonist), and Barry ‘Barry G’ Gordon (legendary radio broadcaster and Godfather of Jamaican airwaves).
“I think patrons got their money’s worth and more, as several of the performances were simply amazing,” said Bogdanovich when he spoke with the Jamaica Gleaner. Mr. Bogdanovich, I can personally attest to that!
 Nicholas E. Ford lives and works in South Florida.