As the Premier of the Cayman Islands I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Jamaica — our sister Commonwealth nation — on reaching a half-century as an independent democratic nation.
Like siblings who may occasionally squabble, each of our nations has a common understanding of where the other has come from, that ensures a lasting and heartfelt bond.
In the case of our two countries the hearts and souls of the people of Cayman Islands, like those of Jamaica, are forged at the intersection of sun, sand, sea, and soil and the blaze of colour and multi-ethnic cultures that characterises the wider Caribbean region. We have an undeniable connection traceable via the crossroads of our geographies, cultures, histories and economies; networks that have created a powerful kinship between our two nations over the past 350 years or so.
So, although the Cayman Islands opted to remain a British territory following Jamaican independence in 1962, the ebb and flow of commerce, people and ideas between our nations continued unabated, as did demonstrations of mutual support in times of trial.
This has also been true at administrative level. Like Jamaica, the Cayman Islands is a small island nation that shares many of the same development challenges. On many occasions we have benefitted from opportunities afforded by the Jamaican Government for a close review of the solutions that they have been implemented there.
We are well aware of just how much there is to learn with regards to finding innovations to develop our citizens despite limited resources, and that Jamaica has long been a thought leader in this regard within the Caribbean. This position was consolidated by the establishment of the University of the West Indies Mona Campus some 60 years ago, which has since served as alma mater to a number of notable Caymanians. Indeed my ministerial colleagues and I are already engaged in exchanges across the areas of Government for which we are responsible, including education, culture agriculture and security.
Any discussion of how Jamaica has enriched culture and society in the Cayman Islands in the last half century would be incomplete without a mention the role of what is now known as Mico University College. Some of the early leaders of Cayman’s modernisation trained at Mico. In addition, for some four decades the Caymanian school system has benefitted from the dedication of a number of Mico trained teachers, who have worked tirelessly to develop the character and citizenship, as well as the academic skills, of more than one generation of students. The highly desirable outcome of this is that we now have a number of young Caymanians teaching in schools, who themselves trained at Mico. But there are many other areas where Jamaica has contributed to the development of the Cayman Islands, too many to mention here; but prominent among them has been the provision of medical care. Needless to say the Cayman Islands has come thus far with the help of Jamaica; and Jamaica has come to appreciate the benefits of employment and trade opportunities in and with the Cayman Islands.
For these invaluable contributions, and many others besides, for this warm and mutually beneficial relationship, the Government of the Cayman Islands warmly salutes the Commonwealth of Jamaica on the 50th anniversary of its independence. We have learned many valuable lessons from observing your progress since 1962. It is our hope that the next 50 years will offer us an opportunity to strategically expand on the already close relationship that exists between our Governments and cultures, to the benefit of both our peoples. Again I congratulate Jamaica on its milestones. Personally, because my ancestors came in part from Jamaica – it is a part of me, and I am a part of it. I love Jamaica, in all beauty, culture and contributions for good, and will always wish it well.
Premier McKeeva Bush