“Reclaim the glory”
I welcome this opportunity to address the Kingston’s JP’s and Lady and I are pleased to be with you. We appreciate the fact that you have taken time to attend this function.
Since my inauguration in February 2009, Lady Allen and I have travelled across Jamaica to meet with people including our JP’s. Today, we are in the Downtown Kingston Business District and we could not complete our tour without meeting and affirming you our JP’s who play such a critical role in the stability of our nation. We want you to know that we appreciate your service. I wish to thank the Honourable Custos Fuller for his gracious invitation and this is the first visit we are making since his installation in the office. Mrs. Fuller has been an equally charming host and we thank her and her team also.
As you no doubt are aware, Downtown Kingston is the epicenter of political, commercial and social activities and a treasure trove of monuments rich in their historical significance. Roadways such as Beeston, Beckford and Barry Street are reminiscent of leaders of Kingston’s colonial past. Meanwhile monuments such the numerous historic churches, Ward theatre and St. William Grant Park are nuggets of history which in their own way continue to captivate and excite visitors to the city.
During the halcyon days the City of Kingston was regarded as “the great port of the Caribbean.” Writing in 1810 after a visit to Jamaica, Michael Scott noted that Kingston was the hub of transshipment activity for all the trade from the pacific, across the Panama Canal, through Cuba, Santo Domingo and the north of Venezuela. This is a natural advantage occasioned by geography, and something that we must always capitalize on.
Kingstonis also renowned as the cradle for every genre of Jamaican music – ska, reggae and dancehall. The city is also a great source of inspiration for authors, playwrights, painters and sculptors and of course, it’s the sporting capital of Jamaica. Today we again got a glimpse of some of the magnificence and magic of the City as we toured the Calabar Infant and Primary School, Coronation Market, Liberty Hall and the Jewish Synagogue.
In recent years issues relating to crime and violence have become the highlight of activities in Kingston. Some of the most recent incidents have gone ‘viral’ and have raised the image and reputation of city.
But despite evidence of social, moral and physical decline, I believe that the decent, dedicated, hardworking members of our society are in the majority, despite the violence, vulgarity, decline in values and economic vicissitudes that confront us. I believe the majority of people who live or work in Kingston, the business people who engage in trade and commercial activity, vendors and persons who work in the city, members of the security forces, Judges, fit that description and represent what is right with Downtown Kingston. I believe these groups working together can, in the words of Marcus Garvey, “accomplish what they will.”
Reclaim the glory
To reclaim the glory of Kingston, it is obvious that everyone has to play his/her part in the restoration. This is not just a task for the KRC. There has to be sustained visible incremental evidence to encourage others to get on board. It is encouraging to see the efforts of Digicel, the work at Coronation, the Ward Theatre and the restored Cathedral which is very beautiful on the inside. You have a dynamic Custos and a conscious group of JP’s who, seized of their responsibility and interest themselves in the revitalization of the social life and leadership in the city, can play a pivotal role.
This is where you come into play because Kingston cannot remain in a state of paralysis for much longer. It must move forward and time is not a luxury that we have. There is still a lot of potential for the future development of this great City: a study conducted by the Planning Institute of Jamaica earlier this year, indicated that Downtown Kingston is to play a key part in a medium to short term growth inducement strategy to boost economic growth significantly by 2012.
The PIOJ describes the project as the “Kingston Lifestyles’, a market brand that would be based on a strategic clustering of the economic, cultural, historical, social and geographical assets, and business opportunities that give downtown Kingston a competitive advantage as a commercial zone. This growth-inducement strategy is intended to significantly boost economic growth in the country.
Going forward, however, we have to respect the law and order and adhere to the regulations established to keep that order in the city. This beautiful section of the plain silhouetted against the magnificent mountains should entice its visitors to come again or even stay, because you make the place so attractive and so appealing by the utilization of the resources that we have here. Proper waste management and good aesthetics, beautification of green spaces allow visitors to appreciate the place when they visit. The historians tell me that next year will be 320 years since Kingston was founded, and has remained its capital throughout the fifty years of Independence. Why don’t we use this as an impetus for efforts to revive, restore and reclaim its former glory.
Word for Justices of the Peace
As Justices of the Peace whether you live in the city or conduct business here daily, you play a pivotal role in maintaining the peace, dispensing and upholding order. So I invite you to interest yourselves seriously and serve as a support base, inspiring and motivating the people to cooperate with the initiatives, for ‘hereunto were you appointed’. You are appointed to be leaders in your community, to be mentors for people to look up to and to motivate others to do good and to be good. The Judges have their hands full and there are greater challenges to be brought before the Courts.
Use the confidence and respect that the citizens have for you to build trust among contending factions and to solve petty disputes before they engulf the entire community. I encourage our Justices of the Peace to continue being a part of the solution as we move forward.
Despite the challenges and setbacks I encourage you to keep hope alive. If we lose hope we are as good as dead. That is the message of the ‘I Believe’ campaign. I believe that every Jamaican can make a contribution to national development and I invite everyone to come on board. Together we can motivate each other to believe in ourselves. We can achieve whatever our goals, dreams and visions we have for Jamaica, but we must unite as a people, support each other and discharge our duty care for each other’s well being including their reputation.
I leave you with a quote from “Kingston: Portrait of a City,” a commemorative bookwritten in 1992 by our present High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, H.E. Anthony Johnson. I quote a passage which describes the significance of Kingston in its heyday:
“If history’s great nation builders were to have been asked to select a single spot on earth which had a natural defence, a massive harbour, abundant and good water, proximity to natural resources, with fertile soil and gentle breezes, they would have selected the site of Kingston, capital of Jamaica.” (End quote)
This is a great parish that you serve as JP. Make it a great parish; bring back its beauty and also its people. As the saying goes, “wherever Kingston goes the rest of Jamaica follows.”
I thank you.