Yesterday, on the 147th anniversary of the Morant Bay Rebellion (also known as the Morant Bay Revolution, in non-colonial terminology), a consultation with youth was held in this eastern town in the parish of St. Thomas. It was hosted by the I Believe Initiative, and King’s House, also known as the Governor General’s office and/or residence. The goal was to solicit opinions from youth and provide a forum to air questions and concerns. I was invited by Wendy to act as a facilitator. I was paired with a young woman from a career counselling office named Janelle. But first we had to get there.
I arrived at King’s House on time as I also had the responsibility of monitoring three youth from Youth Opportunities Unlimited. I didn’t have to do much though, the two young men were well-attired in shirt and tie and a skirt and shirt for the young woman. And they were on time. The youth received a tour of King’s House and I met all the dignitaries and King’s House staff. That’s when things went slightly off track. One of the buses was late due to an accident and the entire day then went off time by about an hour. This is not such a big deal normally, but for the Governor General’s schedule, this is not acceptable. The buses left about a half hour late so we had to make up time. I honestly thought it would be my last day on earth. Windy roads and top speed. Enough said. But we made it. The consultations seemed to go well, although discussions kept getting cut off because of time constraints. I did my facilitating. Our group was focused on social and critical thinking skills.
The Governor General, Sir Patrick Allen, and his wife, Lady Allen, seemed to enjoy the day thoroughly. Sir Allen even participated in the question and answer period reserved for the youth. There was a lunch, presentations, more presentations, performance from a choir and dub poet and then a “pinning ceremony.” To my surprise, I received a pin in the pinning ceremony from the GG as I was a facilitator. Possibly (aside from the driving) the most exciting part of the day occurred when the GG was presented with an orchid. On its way over to him, however, the flowering part got chewed up by the fan which was followed by a lot of shrieking. After that event, the thank yous (everybody to participants to food servers to security were thanked) and closing remarks, everyone disbursed after chatting for awhile.
The GG and his wife (who had the most gorgeous hot pink and purple shoes) were extremely kind and gracious and chatted and posed for pictures for quite a long time. I met him and we talked for a few minutes and he is one of those politicians who make you feel like you are the only person in the room. But you are not, and security always has their eyes on the GG and those around him. I think there were two plain clothes security guards, maybe 10 police officers and a couple of aides with them. Then, they took off in a customized black Mercedes, surrounded by a police van and four motorcycles. We tried to keep up so that we could avoid traffic (people are supposed to pull over for them) but we could not.
The ride home was eventful as well since our bus clipped a taxi driver. There was minor damage but apparently the exchange of information took what seemed like a monumental amount of time. Then, I was dropped off near my apartment so I could walk home. Distance-wise, it was a short walk, however in heels and a skirt and carrying a heavy bag with my lap-top, in the dark, it felt like an eternity. I was glad to see the security guard Miss Monica when I turned onto my street. This will all happen again next week, when I am a facilitator for the same event in Montego Bay.