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Jamaica dealt a Raw deal?

12 SEPTEMBER 2011

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AMAICA WAS BARED raw and live in sumptuous fashion, in Birmingham’s Victoria Square, with a day of live musical performances, arts workshops and a wide variety of foods all laid out to give a taste of things to come, leading up to the London Olympics 2012. With the sun at its brilliant best, back in July, it was a chance for young and old, from all our communities in the city, to celebrate Jamaica, at its best, to get a flavour of things to come when Usain Bolt and the rest of the allconquering Jamaican Olympic athletics team arrive here next year. In the presence of former

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British Olympic Triple-Jump gold medallist, Jonathan Edwards, it was a chance for people from the Caribbean island’s Diaspora to show off the array of talent they have and is always prepared and willing to highlight. The city’s own leaders in business, community, finance and the arts and who hail from the island paradise, were said to be in total gratitude for the organisers of the days’ festivities, because if it wasn’t for them, who, it is said, have no hereditary connection to Jamaican, by way of family ties, or spiritual history to the country, an event of such magnitude, for that particular community, wouldn’t have a chance of taking place. That said, Jamaica Live! was an opportunity for Jamaica itself to ‘put on its best frock,’ so to speak and look forward to 12months of celebrations in the city, leading up to the arrival of our special guests, as well as the highlight for Jamaicans next year; the 50th Anniversary of its independence. An opportunity, as it were, for people from the Diaspora, to take a lead, off their own ‘bat’ and not let anyone else take advantage, by jumping on the 2012 bandwagon. There was a very special appearance by Dragon’s Den ‘slayer’ and Reggae Sauce icon, Levi Roots, who, about the day’s event said: “I so looked forward to Jamaica Live! It was great fun, creative and safe for everyone. By ‘Live’ for me it meant one nation alive, old school, inspirational, and ready for 2012 where old and young enjoyed themselves, eat fo od, and just drop-in and talk to the musicians and artists, come and say hello” Organiser of the event, Ammo Talwar MBE, director of Punch, says:

“Birmingham’s Jamaican guests will be a major asset to the city in 2012 and we were delighted to celebrate that through the weekend event. Usain Bolt is an inspiring sportsman who can captures everyone’s imagination. All eyes will be on our city next year. Jamaica Live! was about celebrating that, along with our city’s unique fusion of Jamaican music, fashion, food and style” A day of free live music was headlined by the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra, a Steel Pulse Tribute band, and gospel star Monique, plus top quality, live comedy from TV’s Annette Fagon, Toju and Tony Hendricks, as well as spoken word artists in the story tent. Jamaicanstyle drumming workshops gave visitors the opportunity to bring their own drums join in with a collective drumming group. A lot of fun was had by a lot of people, at Jamaica Live! however, an underlying despondency was equally prevalent too. In fact, they saw Jamaica Live! as a Punch in the face. But then, whose fault was that? Who, apart from Ammo, was allowed to come forward with their ideas of celebrating Jamaica with the masses? And what, or whom, if any, blocked progress? Look, we live in a truly multi-cultural city, which means, reciprocally, that leaders of a Jamaican-Caribbean-background will be equally expected to be part of any other community’s cultural celebration organising committee. Whether that be Vasakhi, Mela, or Eid. One thing’s certain, all the money made by the Jamaicans, at Jamaica Raw, will be going to the right places. We will be fully informed of that, wouldn’t we?

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