Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, celebrated what some would deem her diamond jubilee on Tuesday, her 75th birthday.
The long serving Member of Parliament continues to blaze a path as one of the leading figures on the Jamaican political scene and as one of the most senior figures around. In light of her recent birthday, here are a few facts about Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange.
1. She is a Kingstonian
Despite being associated with St Catherine because of the constituency she represents politically, her roots actually lie in the nation’s capital in Kingston. She actually grew up on Luke Lane in her formative years.
2. She lived in Canada
Grange at one point resided in Canada. She moved to the cold north to join her mother, who was living there. Grange completed her tertiary level education in Canada before returning to Jamaica.
3. She worked at Canada’s first black community newspaper
During her time in Canada, Grange was known as a stern advocate against racism, which was instrumental in her role at the country’s first black community newspaper, Contrast.
4. Top level music and entertainment personality
While ‘Babsy might be best known for her work as a politician she was at one point one of the most prominent event planners, promoters and artiste managers in Jamaica. During her time she managed the likes of Shabba Ranks, Patra, Mad Cobra, Bounty Killer and others.
5. Learned from former Prime Minister Edward Seaga
Babsy got her tutelage in politics from none other than former Prime Minister Edward Seaga. Upon her return to Jamaica in the 70s, she worked with him in his constituency of West Kingston which groomed her for her long distinguished career.
6. MP since 1997
She has been in representational politics for the better part of 24 years having first entered it in 1997 representing the constituents of St Catherine Central. She is also the longest serving female MP in the House of Representatives.
7. She was the first CARICOM Champion of Culture
Minister Grange has the distinction of being the first person appointed as the Caribbean Community’s first Champion of Culture. She received the recognition of her work in the area in 2009.
8.She is a Commander of Order of Distinction
In 2015, in recognition for her contribution to the music and entertainment scene, Minister Grange was appointed to the Order of Distinction, Commander Class.
9. She is a founding member of JACAP
She is a founding member and director of the Jamaica Association of Composers and Publishers (JACAP), the entity tasked with creating standards for the music industry.
10. She got the name Babsy from a family member
According to Grange she got the pet name ‘Babsy’ from a family member who wanted her to be called Barbara. However, because her father had already decided on her name, the cousin decided that she would still be called ‘Babsy’, a name that has stuck with her ever since.