A celebration of all things Jamaican

Published: Friday | August 28, 2009

Chester Francis-Jackson, Contributor

Cherise Francis-Windle (standing) with guests (from left) Beryl Coakely, Esther Chapman and Marvis Bernard-Garbutt, at a celebratory dinner she and husband, John Windle, hosted at their San Clemente, Southern California, residence last Saturday, in celebration of Jamaica's athletes' victories in Berlin. - Contributed

Daahlings, following upon the awesome display of track and field prowess by the Jamaican contingent to the International Association of Athletics Federations Championships in Berlin, Germany, and a record-breaking happy birthday singalong to sprint superstar Usain Bolt, there will be few celebrations that can rival that performance.

One such celebration was the victory celebration of Jamaica's success hosted by Jamaican-born Cherise Francis-Windle and her British husband, Dr John Windle, last Saturday, at their residence in San Clemente. It was dubbed 'city by the sea' in Orange County, Southern California. The occasion was one that will long be remembered for its spirit of nationalism, nostalgia and triumphalism.

Well, the day started out with a frenzy of excitement and preparation as nothing could quite stem the excitement of the week's individual victories by Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser, Melaine Walker, Brigitte Foster-Hylton, and the rest of the combined track and field team from Jamaica.

More than deserving

And with Pastor Howard Francis and wife extraordinaire, first lady of the Lime Hall and Discovery Bay United Pentecostal Church, Marcella Ward-Francis (affectionately known as Daisy), visiting from Jamaica, they took time off in quiet respite from their usual hectic schedules of ministering to their flocks in St Ann and rural Jamaica to monitor the progress of the Jamaican athletes in Berlin. There was no doubt that their magnificent haul of medals was more than deserving of a celebration. And with a number of his pastoral colleagues from the United States in attendance, the prowess and achievement of the Jamaican athletes could not go unheralded.

And so, the evening's festivities began with prayers from all the pastors, including resident Pastor Harry Robinson, who heartily blessed the meal, as guests stood eagerly by in anticipation of digging in to the scrumptious fare laid out for the occasion. The Jamaicans in attendance were led by a rousing rendition of the Jamaica National Anthem by matriarch Frances Allison, which saw those guesting break into appreciative applause as the song ended with the trademark pose of 'Lightning' Usain Bolt.

Food galore

And from there on in, it was all about the celebration of all things Jamaican.

It began with the oohs and aahs drawn out of guests by the Jamaican fare on offer - the succulent and tender curried goat, which proved somewhat unfamiliar but decidedly delicious, as the main course served over rice and peas and roasted breadfruit. Then there was jerked pork and chicken, escoveitched parrot fish, steamed jack fish and goat fish, and brown-stewed snapper, plus a whole range of other fish brought in from Jamaica to mark this wonderful celebration.

Wife extraordinaire

( l - r ) Mara Jarchow, Wayne Chen

There were assorted salads with the Jamaican garden salad - done in the colours of the Jamaican athletic team that took the gold. With a number of traditional Jamaican goodies: sweet potato pone, plantain tarts, gizzardas, drops rounding off the dessert offerings.

After dinner, and some Jamaican musical masters providing recorded background music, guests then settled into very vibrant discussions of Jamaica, its athletes, musicians and their contribution to the world and thus stirring waves of nationalism. But it was the selfless manner in which jewel of a wife, first lady Mercella Ward-Francis, treated her husband and fellow guests that left most quite bedazzled. Leaving them to comment on the boundless joy with which she served her husband, they dubbed her "wife extraordinaire"!

What an evening it was! Guests included Pastor Harry Robinson and his family, his Canadian wife Carmen Robinson, their four teenage children Cole, Jacob, Kyla and Jolie; his parents, Harry and Beverley Robinson; the Faucettes, Greg and Felicita and their daughters Kayla and Brianna, the senior Faucettes, Junior and Pauline, also in attendance; the Chapmans, Tim and Esther and their daughter, Payge; Beryl Coakely; Judith Meija; and Esther Chapman, plus a number of others.

The sign of Virgo

And while Jamaicans everywhere were celebrating the triumph of Jamaica's athletes in Berlin last week, alas, it's now the sign of Virgo.

Dears, birthday wishes to the awesomely talented musician Paul Kastic, who celebrates his birthday, today. As will Mara Mandara Jarchow, the wife of Ambassador Gerd Jarchow, with the party at their home in Brussels, Belgium. Charmaine Elaine Harrison will celebrate here in Jamaica; and Gordon Wedderburn will celebrate in London, England.

Tomorrow being the 29th, the absolutely fab Cecile Levee, of Wine With Me fame, will be blowing out the candles on her very own birthday cake at her eatery over there in Montego Bay, with loads of wine expected to flow as the former high-fashion model marks her birthday in fine style.

The fabulous Monique van Spankeren celebrates her special day on Sunday the 30th.

The super-fab Nancy Fadel celebrates her special day on Tuesday, September 1, back in Sweden, after years in Dubai and London, and the celebrations will take place in the south, where this style maven now resides. Also celebrating her birthday on the 1st is the lovely Phillipa Saffron Sauterel.

The very avant garde-style maven Sonja Sutherland Dumetz will celebrate on Wednesday, September 2. As will the affable Wayne Chen. Also celebrating on the second is the absolutely and flawlessly talented and oh-so-fab Michelle Facey, who jetted in before her birthday and did a week of partying in Negril, no less, before returning to Florida, where the birthday celebrations will begin anew.

Paul-Navarro Jackson, 'Chey' to his friends, will celebrate on the third in Long Island, New York, before jetting into Kingston next weekend for some 10 days of partying, before returning to the Big Apple. Businessman Chris Nakash also celebrates on the third, with the word being the house-warming/birthday celebrations is now on hold. Also celebrating on the third are Nafthalie Floyd Walsh, Garth Barakat, and former Pulse international male model, now studying in Chicago, Albert Brown.

Many happy returns y'all, with champagne toasts and beluga treats!

Chris Nakash