There will be a strong Panamanian presence at the upcoming Naniki Caribbean Jazz Safari next month ??? an event that signals the start of celebrations to mark the 100th Anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal and Railway.

Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, David Bulbulia, said some 60,000 persons including many Barbadians, migrated to Panama to work on the construction of the railway and canal.

He said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the coordinator of the Team Barbados effort that included representatives from the Barbados Tourism Authority, Invest Barbados, the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation, other government agencies and private sector entities, is finalising a programme of exciting activities to ???celebrate the fact that so many Barbadians went to Panama and contributed to the opening of the Canal???.

???We have a number of events that are being planned including a commemorative stamp issue, a tour to Panama being organised by the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, and book launches centered on Panama, among other events. In effect, there will be a whole series of activities during 2014 that will reflect on the fact that Barbados has contributed so much to what is still one of the wonders of the world ??? the Panama Canal,??? Mr. Bulbulia underlined.

The Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary urged the media to assist with the Ministry???s efforts to sensitise the public about the upcoming celebrations and in welcoming Panamanians to Barbados.

???Even though they will have their own celebrations, we are expecting a number of Panamanians of Barbadian descent to be here. We are trying to maintain that connection between Barbados and Panama and one of the important initiatives that we are working on is trying to make connection with those generations of younger Panamanians of Barbadian descent. So, we are counting on media support to help us get the word out,??? Mr. Bulbulia added.

Meanwhile, Executive Producer of the Naniki Caribbean Jazz Safari, Tom Hinds, said Randy Weston, a Panamanian pianist of Barbadian descent, will be among the performers at the opening night of the event on Tuesday, January 14. Weston will join Mary Wilson, of the Supremes, at the show in the Sea Rocks Dome, Barbados Beach Club, Maxwell, Christ Church.

On the following, January 18, Reggie Boyce, another Panamanian, will be among the line-up of performers that include Buyu Ambroise & the Blues in Red Band from Haiti, Cameron Pierre from Dominica, Barbadian Arturo Tappin, the Alternative Quartet from Trinidad and Tia Fuller from the United States.

???Next year is the 100th Anniversary celebrations of the Panama Canal and we are happy to kick-off the celebrations in Barbados and I thought that it would be fitting to have a Panamanian of Barbadian descent to be a part of the programme,??? he said.

The Naniki Caribbean Safari Jazz event ends on Errol Barrow Day, Tuesday January 21.

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