The National Association of Jamaican and Supportive Organizations (NAJASO), along with host organization, Jamaican and American Association of Buffalo, staged NAJASO’s 35th Annual Banquet in fine style July 12 – 15 in Buffalo, NY – a city whose mayor boasts Jamaican heritage in that his father is a Jamaican. Held at the upscale Adams Mark Buffalo Hotel, the planners organized the convention under the theme “Celebrating NAJASO’s 35th and Jamaica’s 50th Independence Anniversary, in Unity.”
Seven Atlantans earned prestigious awards for high-level accomplishments and meritorious service in the Jamaican community. Of the seven, two were Kingston College Old Boys. Those seven awardees are:
- Hon. Vin Martin, honorary Jamaica consul to Georgia
- Glen Laman, KCOBA-GA past-president
- Derrick R. Wright, KCOBA-GA board member
- Sybil Leslie, educator and Sugar Canes cultural group founding member
- Barry Bennett, Tropical Sports Club president
- Errol Ritchie, Atlanta Jamaican Association (AJA) president, and
- Derrick L. Harvey, AJA past-president.
Other distinguished awardees included Convention Keynote Speaker Curtis Ward, Former Jamaica Consul General Dr. Basil K. Bryan, the Mayor of Buffalo, Honorable Byron Brown (he received Lignum Vitae award), JAMPRO’s Robert Kerr, and the President of the Jamaican and American Association of Buffalo, Dr. Charles Anderson (he received a distinguished citizen award).
Altogether, the NAJASO president nominated 80-odd persons for some form of honor. Naturally, the presentation of awards lasted through several segments of the night’s program, much to the discontent of a number of conventioneers who made it clear that one of the main reasons for their attending the convention was to actively celebrate NAJASO’s many and varied accomplishments over the past 35 years, as well as Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary of Independence. They were in a dancing mood, they explained. In time, the guests and revelers were soon dancing to Merritone’s legendary selections of timeless hits.
NAJASO is a non-profit, tax-exempt umbrella Association of Jamaicans and supporters throughout the United States and internationally. The organization was founded July 4, 1977 when representatives of Jamaican groups from across the USA met in Washington, DC, and launched the national body. The key organizational goal at the time: To address problems that primarily affected the member organizations’ local communities.
Next year’s convention is scheduled to be held in Jamaica, NAJASO announced. Early indications are that the convention will be held at the world-class Half Moon Hotel, the very hotel where the convention was held the last time it was staged in Jamaica. Asked what we might expect next year, the NAJASO president, Roy Davidson, said emphatically, with confidence, and reminiscent of the Charles Dickens classic: “Great expectations!”
I pressed the president for greater details, and he asserted: “great speakers, great topics, greater involvement of the conventioneers on all fronts, and great fun to be had by all.” On that basis, as the NAJASO chair for the education and outreach committees, I was proud to renew my pledge of support for NAJASO’s 2013 benevolent programs.