Thursday, August 6, 2020

Jamaican Independence. But what of dreadlocks issue with students?

Jamaica Diaspora Taskforce Action Network (JDTAN), but what of the issue of the student that is unable to attend school because of belief and freedom to wear dreadlocks?

Just a question. 



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National Strength Through Adversity


At 11:55 pm on August 5, 1962, darkness engulfed the National Stadium in Kingston Jamaica. There was a quiet. And later a roar of the capacity filled stadium at 12:01 am August 6, 1962;  Indicating the end of the flight of the Union Jack and a new beginning, a new independent nation, new colors representing a new Jamaica the Green, Gold, and Black.  I was 2 at the time,  and this is the story I’ve heard throughout my life describing the momentous occasion of Jamaica’s independence.


In the 58 years that have followed, Jamaica has shown our prowess with our domination of track and field, holding the record for the highest per-capita medal rate of any nation with multiple medals. We have some of the fastest, record-breaking men and women in the world. Our sports prowess is rivaled only by the way we’ve captivated the world with our music, culture, and food. Anywhere in the world we go, everyone knows Jamaica. We now also boast the highest performing stock market in the world and are consistently rated as one of the top destinations to do business in the Caribbean. We even ranked on the top ice cream list in the world, Devon House ice cream of course. The accolades keep piling up. 


With nine separate persons holding the office of the Prime Minister since Independence, there is no doubt Jamaica has left its imprint on the world including how we harness the Diaspora to contribute to nation-building. “Jamaica recognizes the navel string long”, and despite the natural challenges of the growing Diaspora movement, many countries are eager to follow in our footsteps and mirror our progress.


As an active member of the Jamaica Diaspora, I can definitively say that Jamaicans abroad have made huge strides in supporting, empowering, building capacity, collaborating, creating access, building bridges, engaging and enabling the development of our beloved country. From individual efforts to alumni associations, to regional organizations, faith-based groups, task forces, and more; The Diaspora movement is buzzing with activity. It is and dynamic and evolving. 


Our 58th year of independence, the year 2020, has been historic. The world is facing a global pandemic, the likes of which we have never seen. Entire Industries are closed for business; We are experiencing record job loss and the challenges today and ahead, are nothing short of extreme.  Even though we are all, in every country of the world facing this global crisis, the Diaspora’s commitment to service remains strong. With the rise of zoomification, we found new ways to stay connected and create closer ties between Jamaicans at home and abroad. Like most things in life, with every dark cloud, there is a silver lining. 


For example, instead of traveling for the professional development of approximately 150 teachers, Diaspora Educators were able to deliver training on zoom to over 1000 teachers, principals, and middle managers through the Jamaica Diaspora Education Taskforce. We’ve also been able to participate virtually in Emancipendence events across the Diaspora and Jamaica.

The Diaspora even voted for the first time this year in the Festival song competition! “Nuff excitement” as everyone campaigned for their favorite song. 


As we move forward in 2020 and prepare for 2021, it is not fully understood, what the post- COVID-19 world and economy will look like. The traditional bedrocks of Jamaica’s economy are at risk. What opportunities do we have to create new bedrocks in this increasingly virtual marketplace? How can Jamaica and the Diaspora partner to accelerate this transition to minimize the economic disruption?


Through the challenges of 20202, Jamaicans have truly embodied the Independence theme, resilient and strong. Let’s continue to be resilient; Let’s continue to be strong; Let’s work together to build a better Jamaica so that;  “Jamaica may, under God, increase in beauty, fellowship, and prosperity, and play her part in advancing the welfare of the whole human race.”


Leo Gilling
Chairman, JDTAN
Jamaica Diaspora Taskforce Action Network (JDTAN)


P.S. Don’t miss the Virtual Independence Spectacular in Jamaica, starting at 4 PM Jamaica time today:



Independence Messages





Leo Gilling


Miramar, FL



The Jamaica Diaspora Taskforce Action Network (JDTAN) is a network of 15 sectoral focused Diaspora Taskforces with members across 21 countries. Taskforces have been operating for the past seven years as a collaborative approach to engage, and mobilize the Jamaican Diaspora to join forces and support Jamaica in achieving Jamaica Vision 2030 and UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs.) 

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