Luvs, y'all might not have guessed it due to the seemingly low-key way in which this potentially monumental occasion was handled. But the island just finished celebrating Diplomatic Week, and the buzz is, it was all that and then some!
The non-resident ambassadors jetting into the island for the annual confab and meet-and-greet; and the various consular officers here playing hosts to the visiting envoys; as well as a number of official engagements and shindigs hosted in their honour. This all made for one fabulous showcase of brand Jamaica!
My dears, this is exactly as it should be with Jamaica's heads of mission (for the most part) coming home to share in the annual diplomatic confab. Jamaica Diplomatic Week represents the crowning gem in our diplomatic jewel as it is at this time that the country and our leaders get to interact with the representatives of the various states with whom we share diplomatic relations. In so doing, the nation avails itself of the opportunity to sell itself, its policies and the island as a preferred tourist destination and hub for doing business.
We should all facilitate and encourage as wide an interaction as possible for visiting delegations and their heads during this period of intense diplomatic activity.
While Kingston has always enjoyed very good international relations with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the last Dutch ambassador to have been domiciled in Kingston was the rather affable Erik Clipp, and that was a decade or so ago. Since then, the Dutch ambassador has been based in Havana, Cuba, and from there makes an annual or biannual pilgrimage to Kingston.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and, indeed, with memories still fresh in many minds of the diplomatic soirées and/or Queen Day celebrations hosted by successive ambassadors at Holland House, the Dutch's absence from the diplomatic and social scene here in Jamaica does give character to the old saying.
Mind you, the honorary consul of the Netherlands, Robert Cartade, has been an exemplary representative of the Dutch here in that capacity. His deputy, the charming Pauline Edie, equally so. And so it has been their duty not only to represent the Dutch here, but also to act as their host whenever they are on official visit or otherwise to this here rock.
With the retirement of ambassador Ronald Muyzert and his wife, the fabulous Etty Villanueva, there was a changing of the diplomatic guard, with the new ambassador being Norbertus Braakhuis. He and his wife, the lovely Christianne Saunier, arrived in Kingston last week to present his letters of accreditation, as well as to join in the annual Diplomatic Week celebrations.
With official duties fulfilled, Ambassador Braakhuis and his wife were hosted to a charmingly intimate welcome soirée at the fab Long Mountain residence of Pauline Edie that was not only a welcome shindig, but was truly a taste of Jamaica.
With 'From Thought To Finish' one of Kingston's finest event planners and first-class caterers doing the honours, y'all know, we are talking fab!
With the beautiful city of Kingston, the plains of St Catherine, Clarendon and the foothills of St Thomas framing the backdrop, invitees had a great time.
They included honorary consul of the Netherlands, Robert Cartade; the dapper Jermaine Deans and his fabulous wife, Novlet Green Deans. The stunning Dr Kurdell Espinosa; Patrick Bailey; Andreas and Pat Oberli; Andre Reid; Terry Cunningham; Nicholas Stephenson and Alicia Fredericks, Randean Morgan from the Netherlands consulate; Nicola Spencer; Trudy Campbell; Sylvia Ricketts; Donna Bunting; Patricia Henry; and Stephen Dawkins.
This capped off a busy week of activities for Ambassador Braakhuis and his wife, during which he hosted a reception at the Mona Visitors' Lodge, where this year's recipient of the annual Prince Claus Award, publisher Ian Randle, was bestowed with the prestigious award.
The Prince Claus award is presented to outstanding individuals for their achievement in the field of culture and development and the positive effect of their work on their direct environment and the wider cultural or social field. This is presented annually to individuals, groups and organisations in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
There were 11 recipients; one principal and 10 laureates. Randle is one of the 2012 recipients. He is a pioneering publisher who transformed knowledge production and circulation in the Caribbean context. He focused on academic publishing, opening doors for local scholars to express and spread their ideas on subjects from a local perspective. Founder of the Caribbean Publishers network, his visionary leadership and energetic commitment have transformed Caribbean knowledge production and dissemination.
The awards ceremony took place on Monday, February 4, and he also used the opportunity to launch his latest publication The Caribbean in Sepia: A History in photographs 1840-1900 by Canadian Michael Ayre.
And thus, the soirée made for quite the mood on which to crown a week of fab activities!
Photos by Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer