Commentary

President Obama’s Memorable Visit To Jamaica

pres-barack-obama-jamaica

US President Barack Obama with Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller – Photo courtesy of JIS

 

It is a known fact that Jamaicans always put their best foot forward and rise to the occasion on demand. As Jamaicans, our drive, dreams and achievement supersede our size; as the saying goes, ‘wi likkle but wi tallawah’.

Amidst the common knowledge that Jamaicans love President Obama, his visit to Jamaica April 8-9 has prompted many views among Jamaicans at home and abroad. Irrespective of the opinions, it would be thoughtless to ignore the unity, joy and hope that was confirmed during that short visit. Albeit a brief visit, the President was immersed in the Jamaican Culture; he got a taste of our food, a brief history of our music and he felt the warmth of our people.

On the announcement of the date that the President would arrive in Jamaica, the buzz started among the nation and among Jamaicans across the Diaspora; our little island would witness for the second time, the visit of the President of the USA; “POTUS” as he is affectionately regarded. It took the united effort of the people of Jamaica to make it the success it has been. The preparations that were made for the President’s visit were remarkably superb and quite deserving.

There has been criticism and cynicism about the funds used in repairing the roads and the relocation of the vendors in preparation for this memorable visit, but these preparations are no different from other times when diplomats visit our island. It is just a part of us, we always make preparation for visitors; even at our homes special plans are made for the accommodation and comfort of friends and relatives. The vendors are back and we still have the resurfaced roads even after the visit. Let us not be limited in our thinking, the success of the visit has created an impact on our youths as well as the entire nation.

Our dialect (Patois) that is habitually ridiculed by some Jamaicans (especially in the Diaspora), was warmly acknowledged by President Obama while greeting the Caribbean and Regional Young Leaders at the President’s Town Hall Forum held at U.W.I.; it emanated cheerful laughs and applauds among the audience “Greetings! massive!” “Wah gwaan Jamaica?” My mom, understanding the positive meaning of Obama’s introduction at UWI, belted out a big laughter upon hearing the words. She still walks around the house today, repeating that now famous phrase, which is certain to make it in the annals of Jamaica’s history.

The meeting at UWI focused on student exchanges, entrepreneurship and job training. Overall, the meeting was a success; the questions put forth by the audience were adequately and appropriately answered by the President and the youths are left with a sense of hope and zeal for the future.

The effects of this memorable visit are far reaching and will strengthen Jamaica’s relationship with the USA and the world. Believe it or not, the joy of Obama’s visit lingers in our heart.

About the author

Leo Gilling