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Jamaica 2000  Chairman’s Report 2008 – 2009

As I look back at our Charity’s ninth years of activities, I feel very proud that so much has been achieved. During the next year we will do a full review of the first ten years of activity in order to realign our work to match both the needs identified and our capacity to meet these challenges.

Jamaica 2K was launched in 2000 and has been successful in a range of activities, including:

1. Piloting the set up of learning centres in Jamaica using computers to teach basic skills working with JAMAL, now the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL) and the Jamaican Council for Adult Education

2. Gaining recognition for Jamaican as a language, working with the University of the West Indies and the UK’s Chartered Institute of Linguists, community groups and professional groups in the UK

3. Developing guidance for UK teachers and lecturers on language support for Caribbean Language Speakers

4. Supporting better understanding of Black History and Culture in the Caribbean by focussing on the books for children, young people and adults that are published in the Caribbean and by Caribbean authors in the UK.

5. Enabling educational professionals to travel between Jamaica and UK to meet and explore common areas of interest, with help from the UK’s Department for International Development and other funding sources

Liz Millman, our Executive Secretary and the Co-ordinator of our projects, has continued to work tirelessly to maintain and develop the extensive network of links that we have now established, and to create new links and projects to further the aims of the organisation:

1. To maintain and develop partnerships with other UK and Jamaican based organisations to undertake activities related to education and training.

2. To develop a range of community based support and activities which enhance understanding about the history and development of different aspects of Caribbean culture and languages

3. To provide training for professionals in education, social services, health, mental health and offender services to provide up to date understanding about the history and development of Caribbean culture and languages

4. To promote better understanding of Jamaica and Jamaican history and culture, through promoting Jamaican and other publications in the UK to schools, libraries and colleges

Liz Millman spent time in Jamaica during February and March 09, to develop contacts with the new management of the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL) and attended the AGM of the Jamaican Council for Adult Education. She also worked with the University of the West Indies as they were coming to the end of the 4 year research project on the use of bi-lingual teaching in Jamaican schools. Liz also met the British High Commissioner, Jeremy Cresswell, who commended Jamaica 2K for our endeavours and gave practical ways for better links with the British High Commission.

Our thanks go to Melvah Blake, who has supported the Jamaica 2K link with Jamaica since 2001.  Melvah’s enthusiasm and passion for recognition of Jamaican as a language has been invaluable as our endeavours to support the moves to gain more formal recognition for the languages of the Caribbean.

The recognition of the bi-lingual skills of Jamaicans is fundamental to our main aim which is to support literacy development in Jamaica, and also to support people of Caribbean heritage in the UK who continue to feature at the lowest levels of attainment academically.

Thanks also go to Joan Andrea Hutchinson, one of Jamaica’s best loved story tellers, a poet and an exceptional performer, for her support with her ongoing activities as an “Ambassador for the Jamaican Language”. Her latest book of poems “Inna Mi Hart” is presented entirely in Jamaican.

We are also honoured that Yasus Afari, one of Jamaica’s leading dub poets and author of “Overstanding Rastafari: Jamaica’s Gift to the World”, is now also linking with Jamaica 2K.  Yasus Afari has supported activities and events during the year, in Jamaica and in the UK that showcase Jamaica as a language, though his use and performance of poetry written in Jamaican, and in presentations at conferences. Yasus Afari also identified the need and potential for community research within the Rastafarian community in the West Midlands, which led to our successful application for Heritage Lottery Funding.

Natalie Fagan Brown has continued to lead on the academic research and development of learning materials and presentations relating to Jamaican and Caribbean languages: their roots, development and position in the world today. Natalie Fagan Brown must be recognised as one of the leading academics in this specialist field and we are very grateful to have her support.

The list of events and activities which Jamaica 2K has initiated or supported this year, will take several pages to record. One of the areas of focus has been to support the Rastafarian community in the West Midlands to undertake research and development activities related to the “Roots and Development of Rastafari” in the West Midlands. The publication of the research findings will be available through the website www.rastafariwestmidlands.co.uk in Autumn 2009 on completion of this exciting, initial, exploration working with the Rastafarian communities in the West Midlands, where Jamaica 2K is based.

Another focus has been supporting better understanding of Black History, we have teamed up with a new sister organisation, “Learning Links International” to explore and pilot ways of sharing the stories and achievements that make Black History such an important area of study. A busy programme of activities during the Black History Season, was pre-empted by a series of very successful conferences “Shackles to Sharing: Chains to Change” which was launched at the ”Institute of Jamaica” in Kingston with a presentation by Yasus Afari, supported by the University of the West Indies Press and Ian Randall Publications.

Events in the UK were planned for June 08 at the Museum of Slavery in Liverpool, the University of Birmingham and the Museum in Docklands, London where the Sugar and Slavery exhibition is housed.  The calibre of speakers was amazing, speaking on themes around “Redefining the Trans-Atlantic Triangle by sharing information, ideas and resources that will lead to change”. We aimed to support preparation for the Black History Season with Caribbean and African publications by making resources available relating to the Slave Trade and African History and a focus on:

• The current position on Reparation and Repatriation
• Rastafari and the impact of the reggae revolution
• The recognition of Jamaican as a language and the implications for other Caribbean and African languages that are living legacies of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Colonialisation
• Use of multi media resources to embed Black History throughout the year

Speakers included:

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles:  Vice Chancellor, University of the West Indies, Barbados 
Yasus Afari:  author of “Overstanding Rastafari: Jamaica’s Gift to the World” and dub poet
Natalie Fagan-Brown: Jamaican Language and Culture specialist
Dr Clive Harris: Director of the Three Continents Project
Liz Millman:  Director of Jamaica 2K and Learning Links International
Professor Gus John: author of “Taking a Stand”
John McAnuff:  NIACE Senior Learner of the Year - Jamaican Language and History student
Dr Garnet Parris: Director of the Black Theology Department, University of Birmingham

Plus an excerpt from Gazebo Theatre’s “Sweet Tooth” production, within a programme that included poetry, drumming, storytelling and music.

Jamaica 2K then worked with Learning Links International and supported a range of activities during Black History season including a series of workshops for adults or young people:

• “Black History: my history, your history - our shared history”:  to explore the history of Africa, the Caribbean and Europe from a non Eurocentric perspective to give a framework on which one can carry on interpreting history.

• “Caribbean History, Language and Culture” - workshops around the work following the Black History research of the Bi-Centenary year, with opportunities to focus on the development and history of Jamaican and other Caribbean Languages and to look at the African language links.

• “Overstanding Rastafari” - workshops for groups to learn about and understand the development and history of the Rastafarian Faith and the positive principles of Rastafarian Livity.

“Diversity Week” in November 2008, gave Jamaica 2K an opportunity to organise an event hosted at the University of Birmingham, to support the establishment of the Rastafari Studies Centre and to celebrate diversity, sharing insights and perspectives with other communities.

The activities included hosting an “Interfaith and Reasoning” event held at the University for Lecturers and Teachers and a day of activities with music, dance, poetry, fashion and food from a range of different cultural groups. Working closely with the Students Union we managed to engage young people as well as older people in the community and workplaces and provided opportunities for students and the communities of the West Midlands to get involved and share creative talents. We also engaged with a range of local groups and supported them to create high quality display material, information and stands.

Jamaica 2K was represented at a reception at the Jamaican High Commission in London for Andrew Holness, the newly appointed Minister of Education, who was very interested to hear of our work and while at a reception organized by the Jamaican Embassy in Tokyo, Liz Millman also met the Hon. Sydney Bartlet, Minister of Tourism. He was interested to make the link and recognized our support in working with Yasus Afari and others in the entertainment industry. 

A new development for Jamaica 2K is taking a lead in promoting formal school, community and college links between Jamaica and UK. Yasus Afari initiated this with the Mayor of Wolverhampton in his role as “Dub Poet in Residence”

We proposed that “in harmony with the claim that 80% of the Jamaicans living in Wolverhampton are from the Parish of Hanover, the fraternal bond of friendship between Wolverhampton and Hanover be deepened and strengthened by a formal link”. Discussions continue about this proposal.

Representatives from J2K also worked with the DfID in Kingston and met with teachers from 12 schools in the Hanover region who are interested in links with schools in Wolverhampton. Applications were invited by the beginning of May for UK schools to establish a link with a Jamaican school through the DfID Global School Partnerships scheme. “Jamaica 2K” is linking with the DfID to support Wolverhampton schools to apply and establish partnerships.

DfID Global School Partnerships are an exciting and effective way of providing learners with an understanding and knowledge of the world. Joint curricular work and exchange visits between partner schools widen perspectives and change attitudes and values. The programme aims to raise young people’s awareness of global development issues and equip them with the skills and knowledge to become active global citizens.

We also discussed plans with the University of the West Indies for the forthcoming launch of the book on “Writing Jamaican - the Jamaican Way” and the “Year of Respect and Recognition for the Languages of the Caribbean” that we have initiated.

Jamaica 2K achievements in 2008 – 2009 in summary

 Jamaica 2K has become the lead organization in UK re: Caribbean Languages,  with strong links with the University of the West Indies, Jamaican Language Unit

 Jamaica 2K has provided strong support for Black History and Languages by developing the approach of national and international conferences and workshops

 Jamaica 2K has supported the Heritage Lottery funded project to research “Rastafari: Roots and Development in the West Midlands”

 Jamaica 2K has explored ways to working with colleagues in Jamaica to run conferences: for example on “Caribbean Language and Culture” and “Bringing the Caribbean into the Classroom”

 Jamaica 2K is exploring ways to support Learning Links International’s work with Yasus Afari, other Caribbean artistes and Caribbean academics

In conclusion:

Jamaica 2K was set up before the “Jamaican Diaspora initiative” and as an organisation of almost 10 years standing; it is now reviewing its aims to bring them in line with the Diaspora aims to support specific educational initiatives and links between UK and Jamaica.

Jamaica 2K will continue to seek funds to support projects and activities that specifically benefit the peoples of Jamaica and the wider Caribbean and other communities in the UK and will work closely with the other Jamaican Diaspora Groups.

There are many people to thank, but special thanks go to the Jamaican High Commissioner, Hon Burchell Whiteman, Patron of Jamaica 2K; Delores Cooper the Community Relations Officer of the Jamaican High Commission, Yasus Afari, Natalie Fagan Brown, Joan Andrea Hutchinson, Professor Hubert Devonish, Professor Gus John, Professor Hilary Beckles, Professor Peter Patrick and all the other individuals and organizations who have been a part of the Jamaica 2K achievements this year!

Stephen Brooks

Chair Jamaica 2K

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