(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – Culture Minister Olivia Grange yesterday took a soft jab at low-key speculations about the nationality and racial background of the winner of the 69th Miss World title, Toni-Ann Singh, making it clear that the 23-year-old is Jamaican.
There have been some social media commentary over the past week about whether she is fully Jamaican.
“We have a new Miss World and she is Jamaica’s own Toni-Ann Singh, from St Thomas. To be specific, Bath, St Thomas. We must repeat her nationality for the benefit of some members of the foreign media – truly Jamaican,” Grange stated yesterday while announcing plans being made by the Government to welcome the beauty queen home for a brief visit this weekend. She was speaking at a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House.
Grange said the visit was secured after discussions with head of the Miss World international organisation, Julia Morley.
“I have been impressing upon them how eager we all are to celebrate with her as she begins her reign. The initial response from Ms Morley was that she has a very tight schedule and it would be unlikely for us to see her until some time in January, but after many discussions we all agreed that Miss World should return home for a brief visit, organised by the Government of Jamaica, this weekend,” she said.
“It’s a miracle that we have been able to get swift action, but Toni-Ann’s crowning of Miss World has been a Cinderella story, and a miraculous story. Everything has worked so well in the favour of Toni-Ann and in the favour of Jamaica,” the minister added.
Singh will be accompanied by her father, Bradshaw Singh, head of the Miss World international organisation Julia Morley, and Stephen Douglas Morley, Miss World event director, and David Greenwood, head of media and public relations for the organisation.
She said Singh is to participate in a series of public events which have been planned in her honour, to allow the Jamaican people to express their gratitude and affection.
The beauty queen will be met at the airport on Friday by Minister Grange along with Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams, and Mayor of Morant Bay Michael Hue. The welcome party will also include Miss Jamaica World co-franchisees, Weston Haughton and Dahlia Harris.
The flurry of activities will begin with a press conference at 10:00 am on Saturday, followed by a cultural tribute at Emancipation Park in St Andrew, where Singh will perform. She is to be the guest of honour at Unruly Fest, which is to be hosted by dancehall recording artiste Popcaan, who is also from St Thomas.
She is also slated to tour the Yallahs Square, the Women’s Centre Foundation of Jamaica, and Morant Bay Square, followed by a floral tribute to her grandfather Harold Singh, a former trade unionist and Jamaica Labour Party councillor.
The main highlight of her visit is set for Bath, St Thomas after which she will be hosted by the mayor of Morant Bay. On her return to Kingston, Singh will be further feted at a reception hosted by Prime Minister Andrew Holness at Jamaica House.
On Monday, she will call on the governor general and have a special presentation made to her by Prime Minister Andrew Holness. She will also call on Leader of the Opposition Dr Peter Phillips.
Grange stressed that Toni-Ann is an outstanding, talented young woman, who is also a focused, determined and courageous Jamaican. “We have witnessed first-hand her beautiful spirit and her capacity for care through the work that she has been doing with the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, and at the Women’s Centre location in her home parish of St Thomas. She has been helping to improve the facilities and raising funds to ensure that the adolescent mothers are given the tools to become great parents and to continue their education.
“Toni-Ann has proven herself to be an exceptional ambassador for our country…we all look forward to her journey as the new Miss World, and we know she will be phenomenal,” said Grange.
Singh is the fourth Jamaican to take the Miss World title.