By Devon Dick
The past year has been very exciting and challenging for Jamaica and to select the top personality for the year has been very difficult. In selecting a personality of the year, we look at achievements of the person against great odds. It has also to do with the thought processes and behaviour of the person on and off the field of play. Furthermore, it has to do with the impact for the good on Jamaica and the Jamaican psyche.
Contenders for Personality of the Year would include: Dr Peter Phillips, minister of finance, for successfully concluding an International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement and Jamaica passing two IMF tests, which has laid the foundation for confidence, credibility, and growth in the economy; Dr Fenton Ferguson, minister of health, who invoked a smoking ban which, though unpopular among some within the People's National Party, was not revoked. In addition, improvements were made at the Princess Margaret Hospital, Bustamante Children Hospital, and St Ann's Bay Hospital, and centres of excellence were established in West-moreland and St Thomas at the primary-care level; and Mark Golding led the legislative process wherein Parliament passed 40 bills, nearly double the average over the preceding four years, three quarters of them had nothing to do with the IMF. Many were substantive bills passed dealing with libel, crime fighting, economic development, and one on the Church of Haile Selassie I, which represents a milestone in the recognition of Rastafari; Dr Wykeham McNeill; minister of tourism, under whose watch Jamaica welcomed two million visitors in one year, the arrival of hotel brands such as Hyatt, Marriott, and a new property, Riu Palace. In addition, there is increased use of Jamaican products in the tourism industry and opening new gateways in Russia and Sweden. There was also the significant victory for Andrew Holness as Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader over Audley Shaw with his well-organised and well-funded national campaign. This cemented Holness' authority as leader. In addition, Senator Robert Montague is now a kingmaker within the JLP, having retained the chairmanship of the JLP without the blessing of the party leader.
Nevertheless, none of these achievements can compare to our cultural icons Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and Tessanne Chin. Bolt was named IAAF athlete of the year for a record fourth time. He lost one race in the 100m in 2013. He won three gold medals at the World Championships in Moscow. Bolt continues to be the leading crowd puller at athletics meets and the face of sports.
Shelly-Ann was a little more dominant than Bolt. In addition to winning three gold medals at the World Games, she was named Athlete of the Year, and she won the Diamond League trophies for 100m and 200m. She added flair to the races with her hairstyle, thereby advertising her business. Furthermore, she was outspoken on behalf of female athletes getting fair recognition and forcefully urging the JAAA to do more in support of athletes concerning doping. She spoke maturely about her Christian faith and how God helps her.
However, she would have to share the Personality of the Year award with Tessanne Chin. Jamaican Tessanne went against the odds to win an American reality show, NBC's 'The Voice', which was based on votes and sales in the American market. She won convincingly, based on the quality of her vocals and singing iconic songs of reggae superstar Bob Marley and pop diva Whitney Houston. She sang from different genres with class, compassion, and competence. She was graceful, charming, articulate, and warm. She captivated, motivated, and inspired Jamaicans at home and abroad. She made us feel good to be Jamaican.
Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.