Happy 54th Independence Day Jamaica!

Jamaican track stars Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

Jamaican track stars Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce are currently in Rio, Brazil, representing the island in the summer olympics.

Jamaica, the tiny, enchanting island in the West Indies that beckons to visitors and nationals every day, celebrates 54 years of independence today.

The Jamaican Flag.

The Jamaican Flag.

Thank you Jamaica, for emphasizing faith, family, education and one love. Yes, out of many, we are one. Happy birthday Jamaica!—OnPointPress.net–

Happy 52nd Independence Day Jamaica, land we love!

Jubilant crowd at previous Jamaica Independence celebration at National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.

Jubilant crowd at previous Jamaica Independence celebration at National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.

By Carmen Glover

Kingston, Jamaica: On August 6, the picturesque island of Jamaica, known for late reggae icon Robert (Bob) Nesta Marley, delicious food, a lilting Caribbean accent and a cadre of fiercely proud and ambitious nationals, celebrates 52 years since the country gained it’s independence from the United Kingdom.

Jamaica's Prime Minister Hon. Portia Simpson Miller.

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Hon. Portia Simpson Miller.

The feeling of pride that infuses the hearts of Jamaicans at this time of the year is boundless. Many nationals, myself included, have flocked to the island to enjoy the Independence galas, festival song contest and other entertainment activities among family and friends.

Jamaica's Minister of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change Hon. Robert Dixon Pickersgill.

Jamaica’s Minister of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change Hon. Robert Dixon Pickersgill.

Jamaica has nurtured sons and daughters who have excelled on the national and international stage in just about every professional category imaginable. Among the Jamaican stalwarts who inspire a devoted following and interest in the country are former U.S.A. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Colin Powell; Charlotte Hornets Assistant Head Coach and former Knick center Patrick Ewing; track stars Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

NBA Hall of Fame Center and current Charlotte Hornets Assistant Head Coach Patrick Ewing.

NBA Hall of Fame Center and current Charlotte Hornets Assistant Head Coach Patrick Ewing.

Additionally, there is U.S.A.‎ Ambassador Susan Rice who boasts Jamaican heritage through her grandparents; entertainers and activists Sheryl Lee Ralph and Harry Belafonte; musicians Shaggy and Sean Paul and many more who span the professional spectrum.

Ambassador Susan Rice is the United States National Security Advisor.

Ambassador Susan Rice is the United States National Security Advisor.

While Jamaicans have a proud history of achievements, the country still has areas that need to be addressed in order to push the island forward to sustained growth and stability. For instance, the tendency that has recently been embraced of selling off national businesses to foreign investors is distressing and does not bode well for the nation.

Jamaican Independence postage stamp from 1962.

Jamaica Independence postage stamp from 1962.

Also, the incidence of crime, an issue which has plagued the island for decades, needs a feasible solution. The fact that the country is experiencing a drought since May, prompting the imposition of a water restriction by Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Robert Pickersgill, dampens the spirit a bit.

2013 World Athlete of the Year Award winners Usain Bolt (l) and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (r).

2013 World Athlete of the Year Award winners Usain Bolt (l) and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (r).

Nevertheless, these are exciting times for Jamaica as it ‎celebrates 52 years as an independent nation. The country’s motto “Out of Many, One People,” resonates deeply as the genuine warmth and passion of Jamaicans shine through from the moment a visitor or returning native lands on Jamaican soil.

Popular reggae singer and Grammy Award winner Shaggy is actively involved in social issues in Jamaica.

Popular reggae singer and Grammy Award winner Shaggy is actively involved in social issues in Jamaica.

In my case, being here for the Independence celebrations after a long time away evokes a flood of pleasant memories of a carefree childhood filled with summer excursions to the beach in Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. As I retrace those steps with my family, I am grateful to be home and proud as ever of my rich heritage. Happy Birthday Jamaica, land we love!–OnPointPress.net.

Jamaican track stars named 2013 Athletes of the Year in historic nod

Jamaican track stars Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Usain Bolt named 2013 Athletes of the Year.

Jamaican track stars Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Usain Bolt named 2013 Athletes of the Year.

By Carmen Glover

Jamaica is known internationally for its verdant beauty, miles of white sand, pulsating reggae music, educational excellence and indomitable prowess in track and field. On Saturday, November 16, both Usain Bolt, 27, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, 26, created history and elevated the tiny Caribbean nation to a realm previously experienced by two other nations, the United States and Great Britain, when they were named 2013 Athletes of the Year.

The dual honor was bestowed on the Jamaican track stars in Monaco at the 2013 World Athletics Gala. U.S. athletes Carl Lewis and Florence Griffith-Joyner won similar recognition in 1988 while Colin Jackson and Sally Gunnell won in 1993 for Great Britain. According to the Jamaica Observer, Bolt’s honor is his fifth since he won World Athlete of the Year in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012, while Fraser-Pryce’s recognition represents the second Jamaican woman to be so honored, after track star Merlene Ottey received the award in 1990.

Jamaican track stars Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

Jamaican track stars Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

Jamaica’s dominance in track and field has typically caused fierce competition from its U.S. counterpart, and in many cases top-rated track stars who represent the U.S. in athletic events are Jamaicans by birth or boast Jamaican heritage, including Sanya Richards-Ross, for instance.

To say Jamaicans across the globe are bursting with pride about the historic recognition received by Bolt and Fraser-Pryce would be a gross understatement, especially at a time when the country is bitterly disappointed that its soccer team, the Reggae Boyz, failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup which is scheduled to be held in Brazil. However, the honor received by the track stars is not merely symbolic, but it is monetary as well, with them receiving US $100,000, each in prize money to accompany their award, as indicated by the IAAF website. –OnPointPress.net