New York hosted superb celebration of Jamaica’s 52nd Independence


state ministrer

State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Arnaldo Brown, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Former Prime Minister Hon. P.J. Patterson and Paulette Willoughby, JICFI chair share a moment at the Jamaica Independence Gala in New York on August 16, 2014.

New York/CMM/August 27, 2014: Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica turned out in huge numbers to the New York Marriot Marquis on Saturday, August 16, to celebrate another year of independence, and 52 never looked so good. It was an evening of elegance, sophistication and sheer class, all bound by the simple yet profound theme: “Honoring Greatness.”

Greatness was plentiful at the event with honorees including the he Skatalites, represented by the band’s only surviving member, Lester Sterling; accomplished actress, singer and humanitarian, Sheryl Lee Ralph; Karl and Faye Rodney of the New York Carib News and by no means least, special guest presenter for the evening, former prime minister, the Honorable Percival J Patterson. In his short but distinct remarks, Former Prime Minister Patterson lauded the Diaspora for its continued civic engagement, making special mention of the newly launched ‘mapping project’ which seeks to identify individuals and document the skill sets spread throughout the Diaspora. He spoke of his belief that it is a Jamaica for all, whether within or outside of her borders.


JICFI chair Paulette Willoughby poses with  honorees Jerome Haynes, son of Jah Jerry Haynes, Karl and Faye Rodney, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Lester Sterling.

Wearing his `special presenter’ hat Mr. Patterson, who managed the Skatalites before his transition from lawyer to politician, had the privilege of presenting Lester Sterling with his award and posthumously to former original members: Don Drummond, (trombone); Lloyd Knibb, (drums); Jerome, “Jah Jerry” Haynes, (guitar); Jackee Mitto, (pianio); Lloyd Brevett, (bass and drum); Tommy McCook, (tenor saxophone); Roland Alfonso, (tenor saxophone) and John ‘Dizzy Moore, (trumpet).

Sterling went on to wow the room with powerful renditions of Freedom Sound the Skatalites’ theme song, Take 5 and Puppa Lick. Backed by Fab 5 and accompanied by Leroy Graham Jr, on tenor sax, it was Ska resplendent and awesome to the ears–a true moment in time. Master of Ceremonies for the evening, Jeff Barnes kept the room buzzing with quips that elicited plenty laughter, enhancing the already pleasant and lively atmosphere in the room.

Other notables in attendance at the gala included Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, NY State Assemblyman N. Nick Perry, State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, with special responsibility for the Diaspora, Arnaldo Brown; Consul General of Jamaica to New York Mr. Herman G. LaMont, and former NY Council Member, Dr. Una Clarke.

It was an evening of which all Jamaicans would be proud. Patriotism, pride and Jamaican verve waxed a-plenty. The ballroom, bathed fully in the unmistakable colors of the national flag-black, green and gold, shone with energy. Reggae songbird Etana graced the stage, belting out her familiar hits, which turned things up a notch. Fab 5 band, with their usual sparkling set, followed before a short but electric set by DJ Roy and Road International, who kept patrons on their dancing feet into the early morning hours. The Alpha boys Home will benefit from part proceeds of the ball. For more information about this annual event, contact Ms. Andrea Daley at–

Jamaica undertakes extensive mapping initiative for Diaspora cohesion (Part 1)


The Hon. Arnaldo Brown, M.P., Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, poses with’s Editorial Director Mrs. Carmen Glover, and Mrs. Rukiya Brown, of IOM, after an interview about the Mapping Jamaica Diaspora (MJD) Project at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade on Monday, August 18, 2014. –Charles Glover Photo.

By Carmen Glover

Heeding feedback that emerged from the Diaspora Conference held in Jamaica a year ago, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade has partnered with the International Organization for Migration, IOM‎, to compile a database of Jamaicans across the globe via mapping of their location through voluntary completion of an online survey. The extensive effort is described as the Mapping Jamaica’s Diaspora (MJD) Project and its objective is to determine, through responses to the survey, specific areas of interest expressed by Jamaicans across the globe and then harness the information to “create a borderless Jamaica.” The survey instrument is dual in nature, one to be completed by individuals and one by organizations and business entities.

The survey instrument was developed in December 2013 and the mapping project officially launched in June 2014. the minister of state, who is responsible for the project, recently visited the New York Tri-state area to launch the international version of the initiative and solicit support from the community in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Upon his return to Jamaica, the minister of state met with in Kingston at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade on Monday, August 18 for an interview brokered by Assistant Director in the Ministry of Diaspora and Consular Affairs Department Mr. Lincoln Downer. Hon. Arnaldo Brown, Mrs. Rukiya Brown of the IOM (no relation to the minister) and Ms. Ann-Margaret Lim, who spearheads media affairs regarding the initiative, provided an overview of the project and feedback generated to date.

arnaldo brown

The Hon. Arnaldo Brown M.P, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade is aggressively promoting the Mapping Jamaica’s Diaspora (MJD) Project.

“I th‎ink the response has been good” said the state minister, evaluating his week-long trip to the United States. “The mapping project is not a new idea. It’s been on the table since 2004. This particular project is the first in collaboration with the IOM.”

He explained that the project is funded by the IOM to the tune of US$100, 000. Rukiya Brown, who has provided insight on behalf of the IOM, explained that while the main thrust of the mapping project is to encourage brisk completion of the survey, the demographic tool experienced a myriad of growing pains initially.

“The survey is accessible on the IOM system and we had problems with the IP address at first but those issues were fixed,” she said. She further ‎explained that with the survey now properly streamlined, “IOM gets updates from the IP specialist three times per week to tell us how many people have taken the survey and how many people have subscribed to the website to get more information and our newsletter.”

diaspora conf

Concrete ideas for the Mapping Jamaica’s Diaspora (MJD) Project were explored at the Jamaica Diaspora Conference 2013. The 2015 conference will be held in Montego Bay, Jamaica in June.

‎Despite the period of time that has elapsed since the launch in June, only 300 persons had completed the survey as of the interview date with But State Minister Brown shrugged off concerns about the low numbers at this stage of the process.

“I’m optimistic that we will meet our target. There is a build up that is happening and we will continue to plug it,” he said, explaining that the survey “is online and can be downloaded wherever you have Internet access. The issue is not whether people are supportive of the idea but if people are taking the survey.” He explained that during his week-long trip to the New York Tri-state area between August 9 to 17, he was heartened by the interest and commitment espoused by members of the Diaspora there.

“We got the support of Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, who attended the Independence Ball in New York last weekend. In his statement he mentioned the mapping project and encouraged people to sign up.”

ann’s co-founders Charles and Carmen Glover pose with Ms. Ann-Margaret Lim after the interview.

But why would a Jamaican who resides overseas complete such a survey in the first place and is there a risk of personal information being compromised? According to information provided by Ms. Brown, the survey can be completed by anyone of Jamaican heritage by birth, descent, marriage, naturalization or registration. Hon. Brown explained that the potential benefits to be derived from completing of the survey ‎are far-reaching, with no discernible drawback since the information provided will be closely guarded and only used for the purpose outlined.

“There are two aspects to the project: reaching individuals and organizations, businesses etc,” the state minister explained. “This is an 18-month project. Between December 2013‎ to June 2014 it was the technical phase. The first six months was the construction of the website. The next twelve months is the promotion of the site. After June of next year people will still be able to take the survey,” he said, indicating that the process of survey completion will be ongoing. Once June 2015 rolls around, the database will be compiled of individuals who have taken the survey to that point. The advantages to participating, he said are immeasurable. Stating that Angel Investors will be developed, the state minister said:'s co-founders Charles and Carmen Glover share a moment with Mrs. Rukiya Brown of IOM, after the interview.’s co-founders Charles and Carmen Glover share a moment with Mrs. Rukiya Brown of IOM, after the interview.

“Once you know where the person you can use the information. We plan to plug this information into JAMPRO’s Global Business Connect which will launch later this year.”

Inclusion in the database that will be complied from the completed survey ‎can make it easier for Jamaicans in the Diaspora who plan to return to Jamaica to live, work or to launch businesses, he said.

“The government of Jamaica has never ruled out the possibility of recruiting anywhere from across the Diaspora for positions available, example the commissioner of police,” he said. ‎”The idea is to create a database that is dynamic in access to intellectual ideas.”

The Hon. Arnaldo Brown, M.P, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade is being proactive and aggressive in promoting the Mapping Jamaica's Diaspora (MJD) Project.

The Hon. Arnaldo Brown, M.P, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade is being proactive and aggressive in promoting the Mapping Jamaica’s Diaspora (MJD) Project.

The promotion efforts for the mapping project are being coordinated through the various missions and consulates across the globe. Among the notable Jamaicans who have pledged support to the effort are track icon Merlene Ottey as well as various civic leaders. Participation is key, the minister explained, urging Jamaicans to embrace the slogan: “You count, I count, we all count,” in completing the survey so that their voices can be heard.In an effort to maximize the survey completion process, Ms. Brown, from the IOM, said that social media tools are being utilized aggressively.

“Currently we have a Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter.” However, she acknowledged that there is no involvement on LinkedIn despite that medium being the main engine used by businesses and professionals. “We’ve been active on social media but not as active as we would like to be,” she explained, but she said that will change.

To take the mapping survey visit:, Twitter:@MapJaDiaspora, Facebook:, Instragram:MapJaDiaspora. (In September, we will share feedback from the Diaspora)