“I believe” must be etched in every classroom, the screensaver on every computer and cell phone, it must be internalized in the heart of every student until dreams are born as to whom they can become and the contribution they can make to the development of their nation. It must be the theme in the morning papers and the optimism of the evening news until the waves wash away our shame and we evolve into a nation destined for greatness.”
So spoke Dr. Patrick Linton Allen, the immediate past president of the West Indies Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, in his inaugural address as the sixth Governor General of Jamaica. The occasion was his inauguration as Governor General of Jamaica on the grounds of Kings House, yesterday, February 26, 2009. It is a moment that will be long remembered by the thousands who braved the inclement weather to attend.
My wife Pauline and I arrived on the grounds at about 3:45 PM for the 5:30 event. Thousands of seats were laid out on the expansive grounds, but none was occupied. Instead hundreds of persons huddled together for safety under a few tents, and the many voluminous mango trees which dot the grounds in some profusion. Rain was pouring down with such energy as if to say, ‘no inauguration here today’. Dark clouds had blotted out any semblance of sunshine, but at about 4.45PM the rain suddenly stopped, the skies quickly cleared and the sun shone forth in its glorious evening splendor. It was as though a hand had wiped the heavens clear of clouds, and banished them to the deep horizons.
Everyone then went to the voluntary task of drying the chairs. As one surveyed the scene, one quickly saw that Seventh-day Adventists of every class was the dominant presence in the crowd. Presidents, officers, departmental directors, pastors, teachers, elders and hundreds of ordinary church members were there in such numbers that one got the impression it was a ‘homecoming’ event.
At 5:29PM Dr. Allen and his wife Patricia was led to the platform.
At precisely 5:30 the group rose to the singing of the national anthem played by the Jamaica Military Band. The President of the Jamaica Council of Churches, The Reverend Karl Johnson, prayed a stirring prayer. Immediately thereafter, the Governor General’s Secretary read the Royal Commission appointing Dr. Patrick Allen as Governor General of Jamaica. The retiring Governor General, His Excellency The Most Honourable Professor Kenneth Hall, then invited Dr. Allen to take and subscribe to the Solemn Declaration and Affirmation of Allegiance and the Solemn Declaration and Affirmation of Office, which he did.
On completion of this affirmation he was presented with Her Majesty’s Royal Commission, confirming him in his new role as the Governor General of Jamaica. There was a lot of cheering as this humble man from Fruitful Vale, in Portland, Jamaica rose to the highest office in the land.
It was a most opportune time for the Northern Caribbean University concert choir to lead the audience in the singing of Jamaica’s national song:
I pledge my heart forever To serve with humble pride This shining homeland, ever So long as earth abide.
I pledge my heart, this island As God and faith shall live My work, my strength, my love and My loyally to give.
O green isle of the indies Jamaica, strong and free Our vows and loyal promises O heartland, tis to thee.
At the close of the singing, His Excellency Dr. Patrick Allen was invested by the Chief Justice with the Insignia of the Order of the Nation.
It was now time for speeches. The outgoing Governor General assured Dr. Allen, that “based on experience, . . .the bonds between the Office of the Governor General and the Jamaican people are sufficiently secure and you will find this new post both exciting and satisfying’. The Prime Minister emphasized that the new Governor General had been selected after the most careful consideration. He pointed that the GG is no figurehead. Jamaica had crafted various pieces of legislation requiring the judgment of the GG. “This practice”, he says, “of relying on the judgment of the Governor General in sensitive decision-making is a significant innovation toward good governance unknown to most other commonwealth jurisdictions but an innovation that has served well, and is an illustration of the political maturity of the nation”.
Then it was Dr. Allen’s turn. Coming out of the presidency of an administration, his tone was that of a man in charge. “There is nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica”, he said to exuberant applause. “My commitment is clear and without equivocation. I will set forth to stir the people of Jamaica, inspire them to greatness and see their recommitment to building a great society. . . . I believe in Jamaica. I believe in the people of Jamaica. I am committed to doing my best as I carry out my responsibilities. . . . "I believe” must be etched in every classroom, the screensaver on every computer and cell phone, it must be internalized in the heart of every student until dreams are born as to whom they can become and the contribution they can make to the development of their nation. It must be the theme in the morning papers and the optimism of the evening news until the waves wash away our shame and we evolve into a nation destined for greatness.”
The audience erupted into thunderous applause. It was an inspiring speech. It was obvious that the very numerous Adventists were proud of the new GG. The new president of The West Indies Union Conference, Pastor Derek Bignall, gave the benediction. Northern Caribbean University’s concert choir which had led in previous items of vocal music did themselves well in bringing the evening to a close with the singing of Jamaica’s national anthem.
The inauguration of the new G.G was at an end and all left for their separate homes feeling pleased.
This is the second time in the Caribbean that a Seventh-day Adventist has been so appointed to the position of governor general. This appointment speaks not only to the measure of the man, but also to the strong and increasing number of Seventh-day Adventists, who are now approaching twelve percent of the Jamaican population. I wish him well.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/1457