MINISTER of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna has encouraged members of the Jamaican Diaspora to lend their support to the enrichment and further development of the artistic and cultural legacy that has helped to make Jamaica a formidable global force.

Minister Hanna was addressing delegates to the 6th Biennial Jamaican Diaspora Conference, who were specially invited to a featured mounting of the Rastafari Unconquerable exhibit and Sunday dinner at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, Sam Sharpe Square, which was hosted by the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) on June 14.

“I’m also inviting you to come back to Jamaica and join us in this year’s Emancipation and Independence Celebrations under the theme: “Proud and Free…Jamaica 53,” she encouraged the overseas delegates, who hailed from the United States of America, Canada and, the United Kingdom.

Acknowledging that Jamaica holds pride of place as one of the “cultural capitals of the world,” the culture minister emphasised that her ministry has been working to “better manage the country’s cultural agencies and boards”.

To this end, she highlighted the fact that this year will see the opening of three new museums — Simon Bolivar Centre in Kingston, National Museum West in Montego Bay, and the Natural History Museum of Jamaica, to be located at the Institute of Jamaica.

“These new museums are in addition to the four other facilities, which we implemented in 2014,” she added.

Minister Hanna also disclosed that she was looking forward to the announcement of Jamaica’s Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, as a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); and, she will be travelling with a team to Bonn, Germany for the 39th session at the end of the month.

“I will be leading a team to attend this session, to make the presentation for the Blue and John Crow Mountain National Park to be accorded World Heritage status, a designation that would make it the first mixed site recommended in the region,” she said, adding, “It would join 32 other such sites around the globe.”

The special tour of the Rastafari: Unconquerable, exhibit formed part of a series of activities organised by Jamaica National during the Jamaica Diaspora Conference, which was held from June 13 to 18 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.

In his presentation Earl Jarrett, general manager of Jamaica National, encouraged the Diaspora Conference delegates and guests to pledge their support to cultural entities, such as the National Gallery of Jamaica and the National Museum West, which seek to maintain the foundation of the nation’s rich cultural heritage.

“We ought to enable the second, third and fourth generation Jamaicans in the diaspora to have an appreciation of their past; and, what better way to do so than to undergird the institutions that have been charged with this responsibility,” he emphasised.

He also implored the conference delegates and guests to aim to “broaden the conversation by adding another element to the discussion — and that is preserving our history and culture through support of these institutions, beyond the Diaspora Conference”.

In addition to a viewing of the special exhibit on the history of Rastafari in Jamaica, the more than 200 guests also viewed the award-winning photographs of rural high school students, who participated in 2014-2015 cycle of the JN Foundation Resolution Project exhibition, under the theme “Rites and Rituals”.

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