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Handsworth's flag raising ceremony celebrates Jamaica 50

ALL TOGETHER NOW: Councillors Sybil Spence (left) and Waseem Zaffer, Hector Pinkney, Coun Yvonne Mosquito and Desmond Jaddoo

HANDSWORTH THE first British home to thousands of Jamaicans more than half a century ago held its first flag raising ceremony to celebrate the island’s 50th anniversary of independence.

The black, green and gold of Jamaica was hoisted outside Birmingham’s Handsworth Library in Soho Road in a ceremony led by community stalwart Hector Pinkney, MBE, known to everyone as ‘Mr Handsworth.’

Bishop Alfred Reid, the District Overseer of the Church of God of Prophecy, who came to Handsworth in 1961, led the prayers. Pastor Pennant, who chairs the Council of Black-Led Churches also spoke.

Councillor Sybil Spence, who became Birmingham’s first black Lord Mayor in 1997, said: “Jamaicans are a proud people – proud of who we are. Some people say we are lazy and laid back, but they do not understand Jamaicans. When they get to know us they find we are one of the best people in earth.”

FAMILY AFFAIR: Hector Pinkney 'Mr Handsworth' with his sister Delores

She was joined by city councillors Waseem Zaffer, Mahmood Hussain, Paulette Hamilton and Yvonne Mosquito who made a point of thanking all parents who made that first journey from Jamaica more than 50 years ago.

While Delores Pinkney, of the Dojo Community Project, added that Trinidad should also be remembered as it too was celebrating its golden year of independence.

Community activist Desmond Jaddoo, who organised the flag raising ceremony independently of Birmingham City Council, said: “Come September we all have some serious work to do in this community. We need to build on the legacy of the Olympics and independence celebrations by becoming more politically involved. We need to get off our backsides and stop talking about it.”

He said he wanted to see a special exhibition on Jamaica’s history put together single-handedly by Annette Robinson given a permanent home in Handsworth.

There are also plans to launch a Jamaican community trust in order to give the local community more financial independence.

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