Portia Simpson Miller will be sworn in today as prime minister of Jamaica.
There are other contenders such as Usain Bolt, who was undefeated in a completed 100m race and defended his 200m World title, and Veronica Campbell-Brown, who had an outstanding victory in the 200m at the World Championships.
Outgoing Prime Minister Andrew Holness, becoming Jamaica's youngest prime minister, at 39, was also remarkable. But pride of place goes to Portia for the impact this victory has on Jamaica and the world. Her victory was covered on BBC Online, which had a full report even before our local newspapers.
Two-term rate dismissed
Simpson Miller, by leading the PNP to a resounding victory, has laid to rest the theory of the late Carl Stone, noted sociologist and pollster, that Jamaicans, by rote, give governments two terms. Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson won three consecutive terms and his party four. It cannot even be claimed that every Jamaican government gets at least a minimum of two terms, because the JLP, in 2011, is the first one-term administration, and this happened at the hands of Simpson Miller.
Portia is not only one of the most popular politicians, but also a powerful one, with significant performances. In 2006, Simpson Miller was ranked by Forbes magazine as one of the world's most powerful women, No. 89 in the top 100. Her accomplishments include reform of the Overseas Farm Workers' Programme and significant growth in the National Insurance Fund, which benefits pensioners.
Under her leadership as sports minister, the indoor sports facility was built; the Sports Development Foundation established; and Jamaica had its first foray into football's World Cup. And as tourism minister, she dealt with a decimated travel industry following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, and also completed the National Tourism Plan. It is a myth to pretend as if Portia is merely populist and not a proven performer.
Simpson Miller is a survivor and has had to work hard for her accomplishments. She has been involved in three leadership races within the PNP. This is a record. The men in the PNP and JLP have had an easier pass.
Portia Simpson Miller, during the campaign, publicly identified herself as a Baptist Christian, which is as significant as it is symbolic. She identifies herself with National Hero Paul Bogle, a Native Baptist pastor. She is claiming that her passion for people who are poor is an outworking of her faith. She is admitting that she is not perfect. She believes in religious conscience, allowing for liberty of others even when she does not agree with their lifestyle.
What legacy will Portia leave? If she can make her quotable words "balance people's lives as we balance the books" a reality, she would have fulfilled the mandate of National Hero Norman Manley, who said the task of her generation was to lead us to economic prosperity. She has a difficult balancing act of overseeing job creation and providing hope for a large number of persons below the poverty line as she deals with the debt crisis.
Let us pray that Simpson Miller will have visionary and bold ideas that will lead to most, if not all, Jamaicans experiencing peace and prosperity.
I wish for you all a happy and prosperous New Year!
The Reverend Devon Dick is a Baptist pastor and author. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.