Sun | Feb 25, 2018

Ambassadors hail Obama's ‘understanding’

Published:Thursday | January 19, 2017 | 12:29 AM

Former Jamaican ambassadors to Washington during the 2009-2017 presidency of Barack Obama are hailing him for his ‘understanding’ of Jamaica’s culture and the ‘success’ of bilateral cooperation in areas such as education, energy, and security.
Anthony Johnson was Jamaica’s top representative at the start of the Obama administration. For him, it was a “‘tremendous pleasure” to interact with the first black man to be president of the United States.
“We have always known the US to be a place that has tremendous improvements for white people, and now here comes a black man, someone from Kenya no less, becoming the president. It meant for all Jamaicans that the world has clearly been making a change such that persons who have black skin don’t have to feel a solid block on where they can reach.”
This he recalled with laughter: “When I was up there, he had made plans to come down, and when I met him and asked him about the possibility of coming to Jamaica, he said, ‘No, not really,’ he had already been to the southern part of the US. I said, ‘No, sir. Jamaicans regard our southern part as completely different’.

Most memorable moment

For Ralph Thomas, whose tour of duty was August 2015 to February 2016, “The tone and mood of the entire experience was well-placed, with mutual exchanges on many areas of cooperation. The most memorable moment is my visit to the White House to present my credentials to President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, along with my family. The sheer humanity of Barack Obama and his ease were evident, and certainly, his understanding of Jamaica and its culture.”
Jamaica’s current ambassador, Audrey Marks, also did a stint from May 2010 to July 2012, while Professor Stephen Vasciannie served from July 2012 to July 2015.