President Goodluck Johnathan in Kingston (Sho Wills, Carib News 2012)
KINGSTON - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan sent out a clarion call for Black people worldwide, urging them to follow Jamaica’s example and “rise up” to take a place among the world leadership, while speaking before the Jamaican parliament Thursday. The Nigerian president, in town for Jamaica’s 50th anniversary celebration, addressed a joint session of the Jamaican Parliament Thursday morning as part of his visit for the country’s anniversary festivities.
During his speech to the Jamaican parliament, President Jonathan offered praise for Jamaica’s accomplishments in music, sports and business, citing them as examples of the potential of all Black nations and Black people. The President continued with his praise, lifting up Jamaica’s accomplishments since shrugging off British colonization 50 years ago, as an example of the ability of people of African descent to overcome oppression and thrive. Looking forward, he called on Jamaicans to lead in business, politics and fight corruption.
After speaking to Parliament, President Jonathan and his team stopped by the Marcus Mosiah Garvey Multimedia Museum in Kingston. The president toured the facility, the world’s first museum commemorating Jamaican national hero Marcus Garvey. Jonathan's call for global Black unity earlier in the day is in many ways an echo of Garvey, who called for global Black Nationalism during the 1920’s and 1930’s as a writer, businessman and activist.
President Jonathan arrived in Jamaica via Norman Manley airport in Kingston Thursday morning, where he was greeted by a welcoming committee of Jamaican dancers, singers and drummers who performed Nigerian songs and dances to honor the head of state ,”I could not believe it when I heard the Jamaicans signing in my ethnic group’s dialect, we are one of the smallest dialect groups in Nigeria,” said Johnathan.
The first term leader of Nigeria also held a meeting with a gathering of Nigerian-Jamaican nationals. There are 5000 Nigerian immigrants living in Jamaica and more than two hundred showed up in downtown Kingston today to hear Jonathan, some driving as many as four hours to get there. Along with the Nigerian Ambassador to Jamaica and the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Relations, the Nigherian president addressed an enthusiastic group of several hundred Nigerians on a number of subjects.
Jonathan confirmed the ratification of a long rumored agreement between Jamaica and Nigeria to allow direct commercial flights between the two countries. Yet, he cautioned that it was up to a commercial airline to capitalize on the agreement and start flying the route, a factor which neither government could control. The President also promised aid to current Nigerians struggling in Jamaica and wishing to return home,”I will send a plane for them,” he promised before a packed room of Nigerian nationals, as they exploded into applause. The Nigerian President also addressed domestic corruption at length, citing that he had been pushing hard to stomp it out, and that things had become more gender equitable with record numbers of women getting roles in the Nigerian government during his regime.
Echoing the message he gave earlier to the Jamaican parliament, the Nigerian president also underscored the need for Nigerian-Jamaicans to work towards global Black unity and high achievement both abroad and back home. ”Nigeria is Africa’s greatest nation,” he told the group of Nigerians. “It is up to us to show leadership”.
Jonathan is expected to meet with the prime minister of Jamaica before departing tomorrow. The two will engage in bilateral talks and discuss ways to strengthen the partnership between their nations.