Seventeen years to the day that Captain Robert Hamaty became Honorary Jamaican Consul for the Cayman Islands, a reception in recognition of his retirement was held on Wednesday, 11 March at Casanova Restaurant.
Along with family and friends, the small reception was attended by Governor Stuart Jack and his wife Mariko, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin, Jamaica’s Consul General to South Florida Sandra Grant-Griffiths and Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson.
Starting off on a light note, Jamaica Vice Consul to Cayman Elaine Harris said when Mr. Hamaty accepted the post 17 years ago he had a full head of hair.
‘I don’t need to go into the details of the challenging aspects of the role of Honorary Consul. However, I suspect that Captain Hamaty’s decision to retire was in an effort to reduce any further hair loss,’ she said with a smile.
Dispelling rumours that Mr. Hamaty was asked to resign due to the recession, she noted: ‘He was actually not compensated for his role as Honorary Consul here in the Cayman Islands. He served with visionary leadership and we are very proud of all the work that he has done on behalf of the Jamaican community here.’
Since opening its doors in November of 1992, the function of the office has grown tremendously, said Ms Harris, noting the challenges that the office faces on a daily basis is no walk in the park.
After announcing that Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Kenneth Baugh, sent his well wishes but could not attend, Ms Grant-Griffiths thanked Mr. Hamaty for his diligent work.
‘I am very happy to be here tonight to celebrate the two-fold achievement of Mr. Hamaty’s anniversary of his appointment and also his retirement. We wish him well and hope that he will still be available to us for counselling and advice, and all that it will take to support the consulate.’
‘From time to time individuals in the community are asked by our [Jamaican] government to respond to the call of service and this is the case with Mr. Hamaty. But it is not a mere call to service – Captain Hamaty was not here as the rule of the minister only.
‘Consuls need to do two primary things. They protect the interests of their nationals in the host country and they also represent the interest of their country to the host country. So the gamut would concern visas, passports, trade matters, tourism matters…everything that a government representative would be asked to do. This is what Mr Hamaty has been doing so wonderfully well for the last 17 years.’
Thanking everyone for their kind words and gifts, Mr. Hamaty, in a jovial tone, said people have always asked him why he would want to be the Jamaican Consul in the Cayman Islands. ‘I guess it was peer pressure,’ he said.
Elaborating, he explained that his father was Custos of Westmoreland in Jamaica and his brother, Fredrick Hamaty, followed suit and became a senator in the Jamaican government for nine years because he felt one should give back to one’s country and community, which is a sentiment that he, too, shares.
‘I was born in Jamaica and I have been here for 31 years. I love them both. I love Jamaica and this [Cayman] is my home.
‘My contribution to the Jamaican community here has been two-fold. I think I have assisted the Cayman Islands and its people in a good relationship between the two islands. I think the Jamaicans appreciate the fact of what the Cayman Islands have done for them and I think that the Cayman islands also appreciates the contributions that Jamaicans have made here.
It’s a small society and you hear a lot of friction here and there but of the 125 different nationalities that live here we are the closest nationality to the Cayman Islands,’ he said.
Thanking the Tortuga staff and wife Carlene for their patience during his time in the post, Mr. Hamaty concluded his address to the reception by saying, ‘I have enjoyed helping the Jamaican community.’