Jamaica

The island nation of Javmaica is the largest and most populous country in the English spaking Caribbean.  It is situated in the balmy Caribbean Sea, in close proximity to Cuba, Florida and Central America.  Its breathtaking mountains, rivers, beaches, flora and fauna have made the country synonymous with natural beauty.  With a population of just under 3 million, the mass exodus of Jamaicans over the last 50 years, to the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, now brings the number of the Jamaican Diaspora to approximately 2.5 million.  It is estimated that 60% of Jamaican professionals now live outside of Jamaica.

The ethnic composition is diverse but predominantly of African descent.  West Africans were brought to the island during the Atlantic slave trade.  In addition, a significant number of Chinese and Indians were brought to Jamaica as indentured laborers in the wake of the abolition of slavery.  There is also a small representation of Jews, who trace their roots to 15th century Spain and Portugal.  These Jews, fleeing Europe during the Spanish Inquisition, settled in Jamaica and other Caribbean islands.  There is a significant “multiracial” population, of Lebanese, Syrian, Irish, Scottish, German and other European representations.  The indigenous Jamaicans were Arawak Indians, wiped out by disease during the period of slavery.  The country’s motto, is reflective of its ethnic makeup – “Out of many, One people”.

Culture:   Jamaica enjoys a rich cultural heritage.  Characterized as a Christian nation, over 90% of its population claims adherence to / belief in the Christian faith.  Most schools, both primary and secondary were established by the church.   The church continues to play a significant role in Jamaican life.  There is a small percentage of followers of Rastafarianism, Revivalist, Pocomania,  Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and other faiths. Much of Jamaican culture has made its way onto the global scene.  Some indigenous genres of music (ska, reggae), folklore, food, indigenous religion (Rastafarianism) and even the dialect (patois) enjoy worldwide recognition and appeal.  In fact, hip hop music directly traces its roots to Jamaicans living in the Bronx, New York.

International History –  Jamaicans have made their mark in international history, from Marcus Garvey to Bob Marley, Poet Claude McKay (Harlem Renaissance), basketball legend Patrick Ewing, Harry Belafonte to Colin Powell (parentage).  Jamaica has earned the title of the Sprint Capital of the World, with Usain Bolt’s gold medal sweep at the 2008 Olympics, firmly establishing him as the fastest man on earth.  This title of Sprint Capital of the World, was again confirmed in the 2012 Olympics when Jamaica swept the gold, silver and bronze in the 200m race.  Jamaica’s athletes hail from a long tradition of Jamaican sprinters, some of whom have competed for their adopted homes in the U.K., U.S. and Canada.  The first Jamaican Olympian gold medalist was Arthur Wint (1920 -1992), a medical doctor by profession, who won the 400m race during the 1948 Olympics in London.

Donate to the General Fund

Donate to the Jamaica Children's Fund

Donate to the Medical Fund

Governance: The form of government is a parliamentary democracy, with the Prime Minister being the head of Parliament.  Jamaica, however, remains part of the (British) Commonwealth of Nations.  August 6, 2012 marked Jamaica’s Golden Jubilee, celebrating 50 years of independence from British rule.  Despite the social unrest of the past few decades, Jamaicans have been traditionally known as a warm and inviting people.

UPDATE

Upcoming Events

Summer Diaspora Youth Benefit Concert

TBD

NEW

Fall Banquet Fundraiser & launch of BKI Foundation

TBD

NEW

2018 - Heal Our Land

TBD

NEW

2018 - Rebuilding the Wall Reunion

TBD

NEW

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