Colors: Blue Color

Dr. Peter Tarlow is currently in Jamaica conducting a security audit as he leads the eTN Travel & Tourism Safety Training Program in the country. He has spent the last few days preparing a national tourism security plan, and over the next months will travel across Jamaica to speak with many visitors and locals. Dr. Tarlow’s aim is to get to know Jamaica from the inside out.

One of the ways that Dr. Tarlow is learning about Jamaica is by spending time with the country’s tourism police. Last night, he went out with four police officers in Montego Bay, a tourism security unit composed of 52 officers that is on active duty every day of the year. Its officers work 8-hour shifts, 5 days a week.

The police offers were quite open about both their challenges and successes, and Dr. Tarlow said it was an evening in which he saw a great deal and learned a lot. “This is my third trip to Jamaica, and each time I visit, I learn something new,” he said.

Jamaica Tourism is working with the eTN Travel & Tourism Safety Training Program to develop a unique approach to deal with visitor safety and security. Jamaica Tourism Minister Hon. Edmund Bartlett has made this the focal point for a new way forward for the visitor industry on this popular Caribbean island.

If the all-inclusive hotel Dr. Tarlow had the good fortune to stay at is any indication, Jamaica Tourism is moving full steam ahead with providing visitors with a positive holiday experience. Peter said he was amazed at the numbers of staff that work there and that between cleaners, technicians, swimming pool cleaners, and more, there seemed to be a never-ending sea of people making sure that everything was perfect at the hotel.

“The grounds are perfect, there is never a piece of trash on the ground, and the food is served by an ‘army’ of waiters and waitresses. It is all too easy to lose touch with reality and begin to think of oneself as royalty,” he described.

Dr. Tarlow will meet hotel security staff as part of the next leg of his extensive tourism security plan for the island nation.

Marriott has signed a long-term management agreement with Panchshil for a Ritz-Carlton hotel in Pune, India.

Expected to open in September, The Ritz-Carlton, Pune will be the brand’s second property in India and is one of three Ritz-Carlton hotels in the pipeline for the country.

“As the luxury hotel industry continues to rapidly evolve globally, we are looking at delivering authentic, destination-specific experiences that are luxurious as well as memorable,” said Lisa Holladay, Global Brand Leader for The Ritz-Carlton. “The launch of The Ritz-Carlton, Pune reiterates our focus to further strengthen a market of well-heeled travelers that appreciate our brand’s legendary service and memorable experiences.”

“The Ritz-Carlton, Pune is designed to be a captivating haven that complements our efforts to craft the city’s most refined and luxurious lifestyle destination. We are delighted to collaborate with Marriott International to bring the unique Ritz-Carlton luxury experience to the land of the Maratha’s heritage,” said Atul Chordia, Chairman, Panchshil Realty Pvt Ltd.

Master developer Nakheel is investing AED15 million (£3 million) to increase boat mooring capacity on Palm Jumeirah,  the artificial archipelago in the United Arab Emirates, with two new marinas that will bring the total berths on the island to 600.

New marinas are on the way at Nakheel’s Azure Residences waterfront apartment and restaurant complex on the island’s eastern trunk, and at the Pointe, Nakheel Malls’ seafront dining and shopping destination. 

Nakheel has appointed Majestic Marine Engineering to build the new facilities, with Applied Technology & Management the appointed consultants.

The marinas accommodate a total of 44 boats and yachts up to 30 metres long, and will complement Nakheel’s two existing marinas on the island, at Palm Views East and West, which are already at full capacity with 556 moorings.

Nakheel is also building six marinas, at a cost of AED165 million, at its new waterfront master development, Deira Islands. Between them, they will accommodate 614 boats and yachts up to 60 metres long.

 

An innovative research project led by the University of Wolverhampton to transform the teaching of languages in Palestine has received a £70,000 boost.

The TEFL-ePAL project aims to modernise the teaching of languages in Palestinian universities.

Professor of Digital Learning, John Traxler, from the University’s Institute of Education joined colleagues from international partners at a launch meeting at Anadolu University in Turkey last week.

He said: “The project represents another step in our ongoing engagement with the universities of Palestine and its neighbours, and another step in building our expertise and experience. Our colleagues out there are always happy to see us and understanding local culture and traditions, especially in terms of language and learning, are an important part of successful projects.”

With the support of the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, the TEFL-ePAL project is a collaboration between European partners including the University of Wolverhampton. They will work with colleagues in Palestinian universities led by Al-Quds Open University in Jerusalem.

The University will receive 80,000 Euros (approx. £69,300) from the European Union over three years for its role in the project, which will involve developing training materials and delivering training events, and to create an environment for training the trainers.

It builds on consultancy, previous research projects and research studentships in the Institute of Education focused on digital learning, language learning and Palestinian people and institutions.

 

The UK is expecting a boost in visits from China following resent Chinese New Year celebrations.

Forward flight booking data showed that bookings from China to the UK were up 24% from January 30 to February 12, compared to the period when Chinese New Year fell last year. Longer term forward booking data shows that bookings from China to the UK were up 31% from January to June this year compared to the same period in 2018.

VisitBritain is expecting 483,000 visits from China in 2019, up 43% on 2017, with Chinese visitors expected to spend more than £1 billion this year, up 50%, moving it well into the UK’s top 10 markets.

Chinese New Year is always a prime time to travel for the Chinese especially after the UK geared up to host some of the largest celebrations outside of Asia – with events including three days of celebrations in Liverpool, parades in Manchester, festivals and performances in Birmingham and Leeds to a street parade from Charing Cross to Chinatown in London and the first ever Chinese New Year festival in Edinburgh.

VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates said: “We want the UK to be the number one destination for travellers so it is great to see forward bookings looking strong in the coming weeks and months from China, the world’s most valuable outbound market.

“China is an extremely important market for VisitBritain and we want to provide a world-class experience and welcome for Chinese visitors who travel here. We’re building on the growth we have seen, working with partners such as British Airways and Ctrip to convert the inspiration to visit into bookings and making it easier to visit and explore more of the UK through regional gateways, driving our ambitious plans for growth.

“With 2019 being the Chinese Year of the Pig we also have an added opportunity, through the rising popularity and profile of iconic British brands such as Peppa Pig in China, to connect with millions of potential visitors to the UK and promote associated visitor attractions, destinations and experiences.”

Peppa Pig was recently named as a ‘super brand’ by e-commerce giant Tmall in recognition of the character’s growing popularity in China.

Chinese perceptions of Britain as a visitor destination are strong. China ranked the UK second out of 50 nations for its overall brand in the 2018 Anholt Nation Brands Index, up two places from 2017, also ranking the UK highly for its vibrant cities and urban attractions.

Visitors from China are some of the UK’s highest spenders, spending on average £2,059 during their visit, more than three times the all-market visitor average. For every 22 visits from China one job is created in the tourism industry.

Tourism is worth £127 billion to the UK economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth across its nations and regions.

Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has reaffirmed the Commonwealth’s collective commitment to an inclusive, fair and open rules-based multilateral trading system which drives growth, productivity, innovation and employability.

She was speaking at the 2019 Asia Trade Summit in Hong Kong on the importance of the Asia region in the Commonwealth’s mandate to promote and create inclusive prosperity. The summit brought together trade negotiators, business leaders, ministers, academics and economists for the advancement of global trade.

Opening a panel discussion on Global Business in an Anti-Global World, the Secretary-General said: “During the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), heads raised concerns about the risks of protectionism to the global economy and underlined the importance of resisting all forms of protectionism.”

In response, they adopted the Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment to leverage the expertise of member countries to increase intra-Commonwealth trade to $2 trillion by 2030. The Agenda will also foster greater cooperation between Commonwealth countries by learning from Asia’s vast experience in bilateral and multilateral trade.

The panel discussion presented proposals for consideration such as:

  • tax reform policies;
  • emerging changes to production from digitisation; and
  • empirical data to guide policymaking.
She argued that multinationals must ‘sing in chorus’ to make their voices heard and help ensure protectionism does not prevail. “They [multinationals] must continue to engage with governments to press for free and open trade which supports inclusive economic growth and prosperity,” she added.

Focusing on the need for inclusivity, Secretary-General Scotland described investing in human capital as key to economic growth, remarkably in this age of digitisation. She said this investment helps ensure the benefits of economic boom are distributed more equally.

She continued: “The quality and quantity of education have powerful effects on the distribution of income and on economic growth for everyone. A lack of investment in human capital leads to productivity losses in future which constrains the growth and economic transformation of a country.”

The Secretary-General also called for greater integration of small states in the global trading landscape. She said: “With 31 of the 39 world’s small states in the Commonwealth, we offer support to strengthen their fuller integration and beneficial participation into the international trading system so every member state can realise their development goals.”

Speaking as a member of the panel, Victor Fung, Group Chairman of Fung Group, said: “A balanced multilateral trading system will work closely towards developing inclusive and sustainable growth which will play a critical role in enabling developing countries to eradicate poverty.”

During her first visit to Hong Kong, the Secretary-General has also met with the Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry of Malaysia, Dr Ong Kian Ming, along with other development partners and senior officials.

Last month, the Government of Malaysia hosted a special session on inclusive trade which marked the launch of the working groups of the Connectivity Agenda. The Deputy Minister welcomed the Agenda and confirmed his country’s continued support for the Commonwealth.

He said: “The Commonwealth’s work on the Connectivity Agenda is a good starting point to make trade more real and beneficial for an ordinary person.”

The observations from the summit will help inform the 2019 Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting, which resumes after the 2005 meeting in Hong Kong.  

 

Commonwealth governments are set to benefit from a ground-breaking scientific research expedition into the unexplored depths of the Indian Ocean.

First Descent, a collaboration of ocean research institute Nekton, the Commonwealth and other partners will launch a multidisciplinary exploration of never-before-accessed ocean territory.

The expedition ship, a floating research station, will set sail from Seychelles in March equipped with cutting-edge subsea technologies, including a submersible capable of descending hundreds of metres into the ocean, and some of the world’s top scientists on board to test the health of the ocean.

A launch of the initiative will take place at Marlborough House, the Commonwealth headquarters in London, on Wednesday, 6th of February. More than a hundred people, including Commonwealth High Commissioners, media, scientists and ocean specialists are expected to attend to learn more about the mission.

In December, the Commonwealth and Nekton signed a memorandum of understanding to boost actions under the Commonwealth Blue Charter – a joint commitment by member countries to protect the ocean and sustainably manage its resources.

“This is a mission of world firsts - including the first live subsea TV series and an examination of previously unexplored ocean depths with cutting edge technologies. But what is most important is the insight that this will offer governments and those who make decisions on important ocean governance issues such as conservation, climate change and fishing,” said Commonwealth Director of Trade, Oceans and Natural Resources, Paulo Kautoke.

He continued, “This important partnership with Nekton and governments who recognise the need to take urgent action to protect our ocean will not only support the uptake of new marine science technologies and platforms to improve access to ocean data, it will also facilitate science-based policies and laws, and develop training materials for capacity building.”

First Descent will kick-off in Seychelles, where Nekton is working on behalf of the Seychelles Government and partners. The country has committed to protect 30% of their ocean territory by 2020 and champions the issue of marine protection in the Commonwealth’s Blue Charter.

The Commonwealth Secretariat has been appointed to an expedition steering committee that will help to plan Nekton expeditions, and take part in training, capacity-building and promotional activities.

CEO of the Nekton Foundation Oliver Steeds described the initiative as “a bold bid to help accelerate our scientific understanding of how the Indian Ocean is changing”.

He said, “Sustainable ocean development is the heart of what we are doing to support a blue economy and we are delighted to partner with the Commonwealth to support regionally led ocean governance for the Indian Ocean region.  We are seeking other Commonwealth nations to participate in future expeditions after the Seychelles in 2019 through to 2022.”

The Nekton Indian Ocean Mission will run from 2019 to 2022. Three research expeditions will be deployed in distinct regions of the Indian Ocean. They are backed by an alliance of additional partners, including the UK Government, Omega, Kensington Tours, University of Oxford, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Sky and The Associated Press.

With the election body INEC declaring him the winner, the re-election of Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari was not a surprise result to many but after he was voted in for a second term he declared himself; “humbled to know that the country see me worthy to continue serving it for a second term.

"I thank the millions of Nigerians who voted to re-elect me as your president for the next four years," Buhari said in a statement. "I am deeply humbled and profoundly grateful to you for judging me worthy of continuing to serve you and for your peaceful conduct."

First elected in 2015 on an anti-corruption platform the 76-year-old, who defeated Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president and businessman, by about 4 million votes, previously ruled the country as a military strongman in the 1980s before re-emerging in politics, saying he embraced democratic values.

Buhari defeated former vice president and businessman, Atiku Abubakar, a by about 4 million votes.

Abubakar, subsequently, threatened to challenge the result in court.

Nigeria’s re-elected president won a second term to lead the most populous country in Africa, the country's elections authority said, while his main opponent promised to challenge the result in court.

The new Administration promises to intensify its efforts in security, restructuring the economy and fighting corruption. “We have laid down the foundation,” was the message “and we are committed to seeing matters to the end.”

More than 15 million Nigerians chose Muhammadu Buhari as their president in 2019, close to the number that elected him in 2015, indicating that four years in office have not diminished his appeal.

 

Imagine sipping a delicious Caribbean rum cocktail while watching spectacular sunsets with your partner; or enjoying a private candlelit dinner on the beach, or strolling through an enchanting botanical garden saturated with exotic Caribbean plants and flowers.

It's no wonder the Caribbean is hailed as the romance capital of the world, a reputation that draws couples looking for the wedding of their dreams, a honeymoon made in heaven, renewals of vows or simply a romantic interlude. Whether couples are looking for a laid-back experience, a romantic break tinged with nature or unrestricted luxury, the Caribbean has it all!

Join the CTO Twitter Chat today, Tuesday 26, at 3pm – 4pm GMT, to discover what makes the Caribbean a truly amazing region for the best romantic experiences.

Join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #LoveCaribbean.

The Commonwealth Group observing Nigeria’s general election has concluded that despite difficulties faced during the vote, “for the most part, Nigerians had the opportunity to express their will and exercise their franchise.”     In its Interim Statement, the Group called on political parties to reject violence, while also commending the people of Nigeria for their commitment to democracy, including positive steps taken for women and youth participation in politics.     “Election-related violence and loss of life, which occurred in a number of places, is deeply troubling. Nigeria can do better. Violence has no place in a modern democracy,” stated Chairperson Jakaya Kikwete, former President of Tanzania, noting that several reports of violence were received by the Group. “Those responsible should be held accountable. We encourage all political parties to honour their commitments in the National Peace Accord and reject violence.”

The Group welcomed the signing of the National Peace Accord, and noted that while the campaign environment was tense and divisive, overall, “fundamental freedoms of association, expression, assembly and movement were generally respected”.

On polling day, Commonwealth observes witnessed a number of key challenges, including delays in the distribution of election materials, late opening of polling units, technical problems with Smart Card Readers, and inconsistency in polling procedures.

The Group also noted that 11.2 million Permanent Voter Cards (required for voting) out of 84 million were not collected. Consequently, more than 13 percent of all registered voters could not vote.

Notwithstanding the challenges, Commonwealth observers were impressed by the hard work and dedication of polling staff. They commended the youth of Nigeria, especially the National Youth Service Corps, for their invaluable contribution to the electoral process. They welcomed the passing of the Not Too Young To Run Act in 2018, as a significant first step to enable youth participation, and noted some progress in the number of female political candidates. The Group encouraged stronger action to promote genuine inclusion.

“We trust that the final stages of collation and announcement of results will be handled in a transparent and credible manner,” said Dr. Kikwete. “The people of Nigeria have demonstrated patience and commitment to their democracy. We appeal to them to maintain the same commitment in the post-election period.”

The Commonwealth Group observed followed the pre-election campaign, voting, counting and collation processes. The Group’s full assessment on the electoral process as a whole, setting out its recommendations in greater detail, will be submitted to the Commonwealth Secretary-General at a later stage.

Resilience is everybody’s business. All policymakers in the Caribbean must be concerned about the resilience of their national sectors amid a wide range of constantly evolving threats facing the region.  The concern is however especially urgent for policymakers in the tourism sector which is simultaneously one of the most resilient yet volatile segments of the economies of small island states. the risks facing tourism are indeed dynamic.

They are traditional as well as non-traditional.   They range from natural disasters to made-made disasters such as climate change to epidemics and pandemics to terrorism to the emerging threat of cybercrimes.

Despite the presence of these threats, The IDB Action Plan for Latin America and Caribbean has noted that with a few notable exceptions, the region has not pursued policies that reflect an understanding of its vulnerabilities and that identify actions to redress them.  It noted a lack of comprehensive capacity building for disaster and emergency preparedness and response.

As we move forward indifference to the potentially existential threats facing the region’s tourism sector can no longer be the order of the day.  Mitigation and resilience will require Caribbean destinations to engage in proactive planning against anticipated disaster risks rather than repeatedly being caught reacting to events as they occur. This would demand greater levels of coordination, collaboration and integration between tourism agencies and local disaster management agencies to address disaster vulnerability and risk.  The region’s tourism policy makers must take seriously the recommendations of the World Travel and Tourism Council that the important matters of climate change, disaster degradation and resilience be prioritized over the next several years.

Resilience strategies to protect the future of tourism in the Caribbean are especially urgent given the unquantifiable importance of a healthy and secure tourism industry to the economic sustenance of the region.  As I have stated many times before the Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region in the world with tourism being the largest generator of foreign exchange and jobs in 16 out of 28 countries in the region and the sector receiving the most FDI. A major disruption to tourism will likely devastate the economic livelihoods of millions and stymy the sustainable development of the region.

Coming out of the 2017 UNWTO Global Tourism Conference held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre  to mark the commemoration of 2017 as the year of sustainable tourism, the Montego Bay Declaration was adopted  affirming  the commitment of governments, the UN system, global and regional financial institutions and the private sector  to cooperating to promote safe, secure and seamless travel and build resilience for tourism by advancing crisis preparedness and management capabilities as well as the full integration of tourism in emergency structures .

The 2017 Global Tourism Conference closed with a call for Government, private sector, donors and the international and regional organizations to support the establishment of a Global Tourism Resilience Centre in the Caribbean, including a Sustainable Tourism Observatory, to assist destinations’ preparedness, management and recovery of crises which impact tourism and threaten economies and livelihoods. On February 30, a little over a year later, this call was answered with the launch of the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre to be housed at The University of the West Indies (Mona Campus). The Centre is tasked with the responsibility of producing and generating toolkits,

communication strategies, guidelines and capacity building programmes to enhance assist destination preparedness, management and recovery from disruptions and crises that impact tourism and threaten economies and livelihoods in the region.  The establishment of this Centre will constitute an important enabling mechanism for achieving our institutional goals of increasing the quality of the output of the global tourism product by providing outstanding support through research, action, and advocacy.

The Centre will be engaged in a wide range of activities geared towards promoting mitigation and resilience including the development of indicators to measure resilience; risk assessment mapping and planning; promoting innovation systems for climate adaptation and resilience; cross-border intelligence sharing; widespread training and education to build capacity and promote behaviour modification;, developing a regional funding model to coordinate regional responses; fostering deepened  knowledge of cyberspace policy; promoting counter-terrorism studies;  developing urban resilience and building meaningful partnerships.

The Centre will act as both a practical solution facing destinations globally and an intellectual space for academics and practitioners to share information on contemporary issues in and strategies for global resilience management with the establishment of an International Journal of Tourism Resilience Management and an academic Chair in Resilience Management at UWI to develop and enhance scholarship in the area of Resilience Management for universities around the world. The Centre will also provide research fellowship opportunities for individuals seeking to either expand their knowledge or, gain experience in tourism resilience and crisis management, through postdoctoral research, and (2) internships for undergraduate and graduate students in fields of study related to tourism resilience and crisis management. Given the globally recognized importance of tourism management, the centre will certainly position Jamaica as a global thought leadership in tourism resilience and crisis management and is thus a critical development enabler for countries around the world.

Reggae legend, Bob Marley, is set to have an English Heritage blue plaque installed at his former home in England, with the property, on Oakley Street - just off Chelsea’s King’s Road - on a list of places to receive the honour - with novelist Angela Carter, writer and traveller Gertrude Bell and war correspondent Martha Gellhorn among a cluster of names announced as figures to be celebrated in 2019 by the London heritage scheme.

Historian David Olusoga, a trustee of English Heritage and blue plaques panel member, said he was particularly excited by the Marley plaque.

“He was one of the first superstars to come from Jamaica,” Olusoga said. “He is one of the most famous faces in the world, one of the most recognisable faces in the world, and he blazed a trail for other artists from developing countries.”

Around 12 blue plaques are given out each year and English Heritage is conscious of needing to have more women and people of colour commemorated.

Chairman Sir Tim Laurence said: “We went through a long phase where unless you were white and male you had less chance of getting a blue plaque. We are trying to make the selection much more balanced and more diverse.”

It was while living there that Marley and the Wailers finished recording his ‘Exodus’ album – described as one of his best.

Bob died from cancer in 1981 – age 36.

 

 

Dr Willard Wigan MBE, the world’s leading micro-sculptor, is to bring new UNBELIEVABLE work to Sutton Coldfield Town Hall this April in his first exhibition in the Royal Town.

His pieces of art, some smaller than a full stop in a newspaper, cannot be seen with the naked eye. They are presented in the eye of a needle or on the head of a pin and displayed under specially constructed microscopes.

‘Willard Wigan Through The Looking Glass’ will run from April 1-26 (not 7th) at the charity trust venue and is a joint project between the Town Hall and the Birmingham based artist. The micro-sculptor, who recently broke his own world record for the world's smallest sculpture  - a baby set inside a human hair - has just completed a new Alice in Wonderland sculpture for his Sutton Coldfield visit.

A pop up cafe will be available featuring art from the Sutton Coldfield Society of Artists, with activities available for school and youth groups.

There will be a launch evening on Monday April 1, featuring a meet and greet with the artist, canapés and welcome drink, plus tours of the Town Hall.

‘An Evening with Willard Wigan’, featuring a talk by the artist, Q&A and entry to the exhibition will take place on Thursday April 11.

Town Hall exhibition organiser Julie Rennison said “Willard has a huge affinity with Birmingham, having held his first exhibition in the city that has become his home, and having had such huge crowds at venues such as the Library of Birmingham.

Having visited the Town Hall, he was immediately captivated by its beauty and potential and was keen to work with us. We’re excited to be bringing new visitors, not just to the venue, but to Sutton Coldfield as an Easter holidays destination.

Our proximity to the train station and the park, plus all the dining opportunities between us and the cinema, means that Sutton can be a perfect Easter day out for all ages.”

Willard, who has a permanent exhibition at The Broadway Museum in the Cotswolds, will follow his Sutton Coldfield show with a tour of the USA around the Trinity Galleries chain.

While President Muhammadu Buhari said he was "deeply disappointed" and leading opponent Atiku Abubakar accused his rival of "anti-democratic acts," Nigeria’s much anticipated election, which was moved to delay, left many people’s disappointed, frustrated and angry after "logistical reasons" were cited in presidential and parliamentary polls - with two main groups, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People's Democratic Party (PDP), both condemning the move and accused each other of trying to manipulate the vote.

As APC party leader, President Buhari, called for "refrain from civil disorder and for voters to remain peaceful, patriotic and united to ensure that no force or conspiracy derail our democratic development," Abubakar called for calm over the next seven days saying saying: "I'm appealing to Nigerians to please come out and vote and I'm asking them to be patient about it."

Independent National Electoral Commission chair Mahmood Yakubu, said the decision to delay had "nothing to do with political influence."

The presidential and parliamentary votes have been rescheduled for Saturday, February 23, whilst the Governorship, state assembly and federal area council elections have been rescheduled until Saturday March 9.

 

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) hosted the launch of a charity appeal which aims to raise £500,000 for a commemorative monument for Caribbean Armed Forces personnel at the National Memorial Arboretum.

The National Caribbean Monument Charity (TNCMC) has already commissioned Martin Jennings to produce a design for a tribute to Caribbean personnel who served in many conflicts – but needs to raise money to get the monument built and maintained.

Sculptor Jennings, who also designed the Mary Seacole statue in London, has created a monument including figures representing Caribbean military personnel, the Armed Forces crest, and an inscription which reads: “This memorial pays tribute to Caribbean personnel of all ethnicity who serve and have served the British military and its Merchant Navy.”

TNCMC wants the statue to be placed at the National Memorial Arboretum as there is currently no national monument or statue dedicated to the service of Caribbean personnel.

Donald Campbell from TNCMC, who himself served in the RAF for 36 years, said: “This monument will celebrate the 18 British Caribbean Islands from where thousands of Caribbean men and women joined up to help the Mother Country and still remain a backbone in today’s British military - yet we do not have a national monument to recognise their contribution.

“This monument will provide an inter-generational link that has so often been forgotten.”

The WMCA helped TNCMC by hosting the launch event with potential donors at the combined authority’s offices in Birmingham on Valentine’s Day, February 14.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “Sixteen-thousand Caribbean service personnel willingly signed up to fight for Britain, and thousands lost their lives fighting for our freedom.

This monument will help to provide a lasting reminder of their dedication and sacrifice in serving Queen and country at a time when Britain needed them most.

We’re very happy to help support TNCMC as it tries to raise funds for a monument which will go some way to recognising the contribution our Caribbean communities have made to the armed forces over many years.”  

The National Memorial Arboretum, in Alrewas, hosts a number of commemorative monuments and statues for armed personnel. And in November 2018, a bronze 10ft statue of a Sikh solider, named The Lions of the Great War, was unveiled in Smethwick to commemorate the service of people from the Indian subcontinent who fought for Britain in World War I.

Eleanor Smith, Labour MP for Wolverhampton South West and patron of the National Caribbean Monument Charity, said: “It is marvellous that we are launching this charity and are on the journey to building a monument which honours the sacrifices and contributions made over centuries by Caribbean military personnel.

This monument is important because it links the past to the present. It will enable people to remember and respect those from all the Caribbean Islands who served in the British Armed Forces. It will be an important source of information for future generations in understanding the contribution made by past generations to our safety and way of life.

There is a strong fundraising plan in motion and I confidently look forward to attending the monument’s unveiling at National Memorial Arboretum in the near future.”

A JustGiving page has been set up to manage donations to The National Caribbean Monument Charity.

For more information, or to donate, visit:https://www.justgiving.com/nationalcaribbeanmonument

After months of pledges ahead of today's election, President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to take Nigeria to the "next level," promises his All Progressives Congress (APC) party, whilst leading opponent, former vice-president Atiku Abubakar of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), has promised to "bring power to the people."

"We are seeing increased investment across the entire value chain from agricultural inputs to farming and ultimately, food processing," Buhari said.

"Indeed, we are on course to achieve food security in major staple foods in the not too distant future."

This will be Nigeria's first presidential election with a generation of voters who have only known democracy.

But, does Nigeria's 'generation democracy' really want to vote?

20 year-old student, Favour Ifadah, says; "I actually wanted to vote at first and went to register. But at the registration centre we had to spend hours waiting, waiting, waiting, and then we heard that the person responsible had not turned up.

We were told to come another day and I got annoyed as I have a lot of things to do. I ended up abandoning efforts to get a voter's card."

Laundry worker, Adijat Balogun, 19, added; "All I want is for the country to be better. I don't really know about politics, and I don’t think I'm just not ready yet."

With campaigning for the general election coming to a close, embattled leader and ‘born-again democrat,’ Buhari, for one, will be seen if he can make that promised ‘clean break from the past’ if he, for one, really wants to move his country forward – for everyone concerned.