Chester Francis-Jackson, Gleaner Writer
Dears, it's a case of all conscientious hands being on deck to right this state ship as we move forward in choppy waters. Not only are we sailing through turbulent financial waters, but the savvy have come to realise that, as a people and country, we either swim or sink together.
In this respect, the Rotary Club of Kingston, seven years ago under the initiative of past president Robert MacMillan, initiated the celebration of International Rotary Day. Its signature commemoration has been a prestigious luncheon, with members of the diplomatic and consular corps invited to join Rotarians in a symbolic gesture of unity and cooperation - a timely intervention, in the hope of promoting greater bonds of friendship and cooperation between not just members of the corps, but also of the host country.
Well, last Thursday, under the watch of president Manley Nicholson, Rotary International Day was celebrated at the Caribbean's most fashionable urban hotel, the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston.
The event took place in the hotel's all-white and ultra-mod Valencia Suite, and dears, it proved a charmer of the finest order!
With leading members of the diplomatic corps, the consular corps and ranking members of the Rotary Club in attendance, the club members being leading members the Jamaican business, professional and productive sectors, y'all know we are talking an august gathering here, and then some!
No escaping the spectacle
Dears, for arriving guests, there was no escaping the spectacle of the uniformed rows and rows of diplomatic high-end motor vehicles, flying their countries' colours, while the flagpoles of the hotel were all aflutter with the flags of the nations represented by the members of the diplomatic and consular corps. Dears, it was majestic.
And with Robert MacMillan and leading members of the hotel's management officially welcoming arriving guests and escorting them to the Valencia Suite, you know we are talking high pomp and circumstance here.
The afternoon that started on a high note only got better. The Valencia was packed with dignitaries. Dean of the diplomatic corps, Cuban Ambassador Yuri Gala-Lopez, was the man of the hour as guest speaker. He outfitted himself quite well, with an address that saluted the club for its forward-thinking and inclusive approach - it being the first in the island to admit female members; as well as for its pioneering role in philanthropy and mentorship.
Now, a feature of the now-annual luncheon, is that the dean of the diplomatic corps (the dean being the oldest member of the diplomatic corps) slices the symbolic cake of unity, offering a slice to its youngest member. In this instance, the youngest member was Indian High Commissioner Pratap Singh.
And so it was that, after feasting and speaking, Ambassador Lopez, with the assistance of Miss Jamaica World, the lovely Deanna Robbins, and Club President Manley Nicholson, cut the cake of international brotherhood and solidarity and shared with Ambassador Singh. This signalled the end to the official work.
Dears, it was indeed one fine outing, with among those in attendance being: Ambassador Vladimir Polenov, of the Russian Federation; Ambassador Yasuo Takase, of Japan; Ambassador Celsa Nuņo of Spain; Ambassador Godelieve Van Den Bergh, of the Kingdom of Belgium; Canadian High Commissioner Robert Ready; South African High Commissioner Mathu Joyini; Dr Iva Gloudon, high commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago; High Commissioner Dr Cedric Harper of St Kitts and Nevis; Ambassador Ariel Fernandez of Argentina; Ambassador Antonio DaCosta E Silva, of Brazil; and Mexican Ambassador Gerardo Lozano Arredondo. Also in attendance were: Ambassador Jorge Constantino Gonzales of Panama; Ambassador Jose Tomas Ares German of the Dominican Republic; Acting Consul General of the US Embassy William McCulla; Deputy High Commissioner Dayolola Olulola Charles of Nigeria; Vanessa Torres; first secretary, Republic of Colombia; and Charge d'Affaires of the Republic of Costa Rica, Tanisha Ellis.
Also spotted: Ricardo Alicock and Justin Pearson; both of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Dean of the consular corps and Honorary Consul of Norway Grantley Stephenson; Honorary Consul of Ghana Patrick Lynch, and Honorary Consul of Ecuador Clelia Barreto de Hunter. Rotarians: Lorna Phillips; Effiom Whyte; Louis Grenier; Deika Morrison; Cleto Parkinson; the celebrated Francois St Juste; the lovely Allison Peart; Heron Thompson; Richard Josephs; Robert Kinlocke; Al Casserly, visiting from St Andrew Rotary, among a number of others.