We asked the Jamaicans.com writers, editors and bloggers to name their top Jamaicans for the year 2009. Some of the names you will recognize but some are everyday people who are making an impact on Jamaica and the world in their own way. We are pleased to present the Jamaicans.com Top 10 Jamaican for 2009.
1. Usain Bolt
The unanimous choice by our writers/bloggers for Jamaicans.com person of 2009 is Usain Bolt. With all the accolades over the past 2 years, he stands out and above the rest. He is not only a one-of-a-kind athlete but an ambassador of whom we can all be proud. See our 2009 interview with Usain Bolt.
2. Rev. Merrick ‘Al’ Miller.
Rev. Merrick ‘Al’ Miller is the head of the National Transformation Programme (NTP) which was established by the Office of the Prime Minister to counter Jamaica’s crime. He has created programmes targeting the underprivileged, mostly men and youth, but dares to take his Christian Ministry on the road while many pastors do not. In 2009 he was one of the leaders that led the “Thousand Man March” in Jamaica to take the streets back from criminals. In short, he is a man who is not afraid to “Lift up Jamaica” beyond the verbal.
3. Buju Banton
How did Buju Banton make this list? For most of 2009 Buju Banton has been the “comeback kid”. His newly released album “Rasta has Soul” got rave reviews from music critics and netted him a Grammy nomination. Though there were concert cancellations and protests, Buju Banton seemed to live out the single “Optimistic Soul” from his new album. He pushed forward with optimism that things would get better. Just when it seemed more concerts would be canceled, an unlikely source came to his defense. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) defended his freedom of speech. His arrest on alleged drug charges shocked the music industry. Buju Banton was not picked based on current allegations but based on his perseverance to push through the difficult times during 2009. Does the “Optimistic Soul” have another comeback in 2010?
4. Joan Hutchinson
Joan Hutchinson is on a mission to document the rich culture of Jamaica and making it accessible to us to share as a legacy with our children and grand children. She is doing this from an edutainment perspective but none the less achieving this goal.
5. Brigitte Foster–Hylton
Brigitte Foster–Hylton is one of the great comeback stories of 2009. After contracting pneumonia from the smog in China during Beijing’s Olympics in 2008, she insisted on competing. She still qualified for the finals even though she missed out on a bronze by 2/100ths of a second. After contemplating retiring she showed her resilience by winning gold in the 2009 World Championship 100-m hurdles in Berlin.
6. Shelly-Ann Fraser
helly-Ann Fraser holds the honor of being the only female sprinter to hold both World and Olympic 100m titles simultaneously. Not only is she a great athlete but the story of her rise to prominence as an athlete is an inspiration to many in Jamaica’s inner city. Here infectious smile captured the world in 2008 but her story has captured our hearts.
7. Richard Rose
This Jamaican 12 year old score a 100 percent in Mathematics in the Grade Six Achievement Test. At a time when students in Jamaica are recognized mainly for the negatives he stands out. He represents the hard working Jamaican students who are the islands future.
8. The Honorable Anthony Johnson
“Honorable Anthony Johnson is Jamaica’s ambassador to the United States. He represents Jamaica with a deftness and agility that is beyond comparison. His vision of what Jamaicans worldwide is inspiring. If you have the opportunity to hear or meet this seasoned statesman, you will feel his passion and love for Jamaica and Jamaicans.
9. Jaunel McKenzie
Pulse super model Jaunel McKenzie continues to excel in the world of fashion. She was the first Jamaican local model to shoot Vogue and has appeared in the magazine 13 times. In 2009 she appeared in many major campaigns and is the top super model to emerge from the Caribbean in the last decade.
10. Annette Howard
Thirty-two-year-old Annette Howard is a hero of the American Airlines flight 331 plane crash in Jamaica on December 22nd, 2009. She witnessed the crash as the plane came to a stop in front of the bus she was driving. She quickly called 119 (The Jamaican version of 911) and proceeded to assist injured passengers onto the bus. She is a true hero during a moment that put Jamaica on the world stage.