Jamaica at Fifty Reporting from London
If there was ever a year to celebrate being a Jamaican in London, it is 2012. The year of London’s 2012 Olympics has already made 100m record holder Usain Bolt its poster boy. And in August, Jamaica marks 50 years since it became the first West Indian territory to gain independence from the UK. For Jamaica’s diplomatic team in London, it’s a PR timing made in heaven. So it’s no surprise that Jamaica’s High Commission in London spent more than a year brainstorming to come up with celebratory plans. The programme kicked off at the start of 2012 and will peak on 6 August, Jamaica’s 50th Independence Day. “The Olympics and our 50th – that’s an opportunity to celebrate our heroes,” Jamaica’s Deputy High Commissioner to London, Joan Thomas Edwards, told Caribbean Intelligence©. The work of her committee comes at a key time for one of Jamaica’s oldest diaspora communities. The first main West Indian migration (there had been smaller migration groups for centuries) started in 1948, with the journey of the Empire Windrush steamship from Jamaica to London after World War II. Today the Anglo-Jamaican community remains one of the largest Caribbean groups in the UK. Officially, there are 600,000 people with Jamaican passports in the UK. But unofficially, this figure could be close to a million.