Under the theme: “Building Pathways for Sustainable Development”, the opening ceremony of the 8th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference was ingenious. With attendees from over the 6 Diaspora regions, the atmosphere of the Jamaica Grand Suite at the Pegasus Hotel vibrated with excitement and anticipation at the beginning of the ceremony. Commencing the week in this fashion, undoubtedly leaves the audience excited for the proceedings over the next 3 days.
The speeches given throughout the night not only intrigued the audience, but also invited them to capitalize on the discussions over the 3 days, as well as to suggest innovative ideas which will be beneficial to the growth of Jamaica.
Professor Lesleyann Samuel gave the greetings on behalf of the Diaspora. Her greeting was well received as she implored the audience to “give forward instead of giving back”. The first Jamaica Diaspora and Friends Excellency Award (JADAFEA) was presented on behalf of the Diaspora to Professor Neville Ying. Professor Ying who has been a long-standing executive director of the Jamaica Diaspora expressed that the award was “a great sense of satisfaction”
Senator The Honourable Kamina Johnson Smith. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, gave the remarks in which she spoke about the importance of the conference:
She commended minister Pearnel Charles Jr. on his involvement with the youth diaspora as the youth are needed to ensure the sustainability of the partnership and pathway are being developed through a targeted and strategical approach towards the younger generation.
The Minister then thanked all involved with putting the conference together before making way for the night’s honorary guest; President of the Republic of Ghana, His excellency Nana Akufo-Addo. The president reinforced that Jamaica is apart of the African Diaspora. He also stated that Jamaica and Ghana are more similar than we think as we even share some of the same words:
The President’s address stood out for many listeners as they were elated with his impressive knowledge of Jamaica as well as his interest in doing business with Jamaica.:
The keynote address was given by The Most Honourable Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica. Before, going into his vision for the conference, the Prime Minister addressed the critics who were devaluing the importance of the Diaspora and its symposia:
With Investments as the centre of the Prime Ministers speech, he spoke about the importance of investing in one’s home country. He focused on four key investment areas which are: combating crime from a social stance, infrastructure, the security force and fiscal discipline. He challenged the diaspora to not only be tourists in their country but also investors. The Prime Minister’s speech was well received and was a favourite among the attendees: