St. John’s Antigua- Jamaicans in Antigua & Barbuda are celebrating their country’s 50th anniversary of independence under challenging circumstances, a leader in the local Jamaican community has said.
The Jamaicans, many of whom have become citizens of the twin island nation, celebrated on Monday with social gatherings that included reggae music and partaking in traditional drink and food.
But former president of the Jamaica/Antigua Friendship Association Andy McDonald said the celebrations are being held against the backdrop of challenging economic times locally for his people.
“The economy has slipped so badly that many Jamaicans cannot even afford a ticket to go back home, and so they are caught in a struggle to survive,” McDonald said.
He added that the traditional areas like tourism, where Jamaicans have been employed over the years, is not what it used to be, putting several people at a disadvantage.
The struggles for economic independence for Jamaicans continue, McDonald said.
“Roughly 95 per cent of the persons who have left Jamaica to seek a better way of life in Antigua are non professionals. They are persons who might even lack a trade and so if they are not working in construction, the majority is forced to work in the security business and it is just a subsistence way of life for them.”
McDonald said there have been success stories of Jamaican men and women who have made a comfortable living for themselves but these stories have been limited.
“These success stories have come from those who work in the areas of law, medicine and a few who have come as skilled persons have also made strides,” he noted.
Thousands of Jamaicans call Antigua & Barbuda home although the exact figure from the last census is not yet known.
In Jamaica, residents also celebrated under similar circumstances shrugging off economic hardships and high crime. Meanwhile, on Monday, people across Jamaica proudly wore the national colours of gold, black and green.
Telephone poles and streetlights were wrapped in the flag’s colours across the island.
In the capital of Kingston, revellers wore shirts emblazoned with Jamaica’s name as they thronged a “golden jubilee village” showcasing the country’s history, food and culture.