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‘We have to learn to work together'

VIEWS: High Commissioner Aloun Ndombet Assamba (right) with Lincoln Downer, Minister-Counsellor for the Jamaican High Commission, and Deputy High Commissioner Diedre Mills

RENOWNED FOR its pristine beaches and pulsating reggae music, Jamaica’s High Commissioner to the UK, Aloun Ndombet Assamba, has declared that the island has much more to offer.

Addressing members of the diaspora on her inaugural official visit to Birmingham recently, Assamba, a qualified lawyer, attempted to connect the points of a roadmap outlining the path for Jamaica’s future and its relationship with Birmingham, urging the community to get involved in local politics.

“We can accomplish much but we have to learn to work together – we cannot fight like crabs in a barrel,” warned Assamba at a community meeting at Birmingham Council House. The event was organised by Beverly Lindsay who chairs the Association of Jamaican Nationals (Birmingham) UK and was hosted by Bishop Dr Joe Aldred.

No stranger to Birmingham, having attended several functions in the city organised as part of Jamaica’s 50th year of Independence celebrations and to welcome Jamaica’s Olympic squad, Assamba sought to encourage support from Jamaicans of all ages.

She emphasised that the involvement of young people born in the UK, many of whom may not be in touch with the island, was critical to Jamaica’s future development.

And Assamba added that more needed to be done to highlight the fact that there was “more to Jamaica than reggae.”

“There is nothing wrong with reggae – it put Jamaica on the map,” she quickly clarified. “But we have as many literary giants as any other country our size and larger. We have painters, musicians, poets and dancers, as well as all our culinary arts.”

According to Assamba, “if we are not careful these young people will not know their Jamaican roots now (that) there is no longer granny or uncle living in Jamaica.”

YOUTH

At the meeting she asked why no-one had brought their children or grandchildren along.

The Jamaican High Commissioner explained that “many young people tell me they have met their Jamaican cousins through Facebook and we must accept that is their way of communicating today.”

She urged people to lobby the city council for more cultural exchanges between Jamaica and Birmingham, adding: “Many young people here are not sure if they are Jamaican, but they do not feel British either.”

And she stressed the importance of maintaining the momentum of this summer’s Olympics to increase investments and trade between Jamaica and Birmingham.
The ground work has already been started by the Jamaican Tourist Board and the Jamaican Promotions Corporation JAMPRO.

“We must show that Jamaica is open for business. We are more than a beach,” she said.

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