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Jamaicans in London celebrate independence day and Olympics athletics successes

posted 6 Aug 2012, 13:07 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 6 Aug 2012, 13:08 ]

Jamaicans in London mark the 50th anniversary of independence with a flag-raising ceremony and celebrations of their Olympics athletics successes, notably Usain Bolt's defence of his 100m title.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM (AUGUST 6, 2012) (REUTERS) - Jamaicans in London marked 50 years of their country's independence from Britain on Monday (August 6) and celebrated their Olympics athletics successes.

The ceremony came the day after Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt won gold and set a new Olympic record in the men's 100 metres, with compatriot Yohan Blake second; Bolt also won in Beijing in 2008.

Jamaica's High Commissioner to Britain, Aloun Ndombet-Assamba, said the anniversary of their independence was a chance for Jamaicans to celebrate everything they had achieved, on and off the sporting field.

"We have been a nation for 50 years and we have made a mark on the world. We have made our mark on the world not just in athletics -- although nobody else can touch us -- we have made a mark on the world with our culture, with our music, with our street fashion," she told thousands of people squeezed into the temporary Jamaica House, which has been set up in the North Greenwich Olympics arena.

The first large-scale immigration from the former British colony came after World War II, with 200,000 arriving between the mid 1950s to late 1960s; it has continued steadily since then.

Around 800,000 Jamaicans and those of Jamaican descent now live in Britain, including about seven percent of London's population.

Andre Ferguson moved to London from Jamaica 12 years ago and said the community was enjoying the opportunity to celebrate the homeland.

"It gives you a sense of patriotism. It's a beautiful thing to see so many of us in a space where there isn't anything but love flowing. This gives us a real sense of belonging, a sense of achievement. It's been 50 years since we gained our independence and you know we just want to celebrate it,"

he said.

Visitors to Jamaica House were greeted with an exhibition of Jamaican art.

Jean East moved to the UK in 1952, shortly before Jamaica gained independence. She said she was proud to see how far her mother country had come.

"The struggles that they have gone through, the country's gone through as a whole, how far they've come forward, all the improvements that have been made and just to see they are still standing strong, still standing firm," she said.

She, like most who were there, said the anniversary was made even more special by Bolt's win the night before.