WHO IS A JAMAICAN?

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Yesterday was not the brightest of Thursday’s.
I was on my second day without data or cable from the hapless cable and data provider, Flow.
This has now become a periodic feature from the lowly provider.
Since I returned to the country, January this year, this was my 3rd time experiencing this black out.
Calls to the company are followed by the programmed “we are trying our best” to solve the problem.

“Trying our best.”
I grew up hearing that phrase many times so it is not surprising to see it has now become a part of our culture and the way we do things.
We “try our best ” at everything.
Because that is our valid excuse.
If any reader can say they haven’t heard those 3 favorite words in any service organizations, please send me a comment.

But trust me,
Everyone has.
And hearing those words seem to have a psychotic effect on the receiver as they invariably walk away;
Hopelessly
Helpless!

But I digress. Flow is not the inspiration for this essay.
As I sat listening to everyone’s favorite DJ, Barry G, on Mello FM
I was entertained by his conversation with one caller, who like myself, is a returning resident visiting the country, lamenting the same realities every Jamaican face each day.

Blocked Roads.
Blocked by rubbish, garbage, and clutter.

Barry G sounded surprised but in reality, I personally thought that was his radio performance.
He couldn’t have been surprised because this is a reality in Jamaica.
Blocked roads are part of the landscape for years
You usually see them In performance after a heavy downpour.

Four days earlier I had rented a car and driven to Negril
The Sodom and Gomorrah of any Town planning.
It rained all day and heading back to Montego Bay on the same Wit Horn road
The road was blocked!
Drivers had to do what they have always done;
Drive on the bank of the road to traverse the high waters.
Problem was that the diversion was also mud soaked and with over 100 cars taking this route
A mixture of Rain, Mud and Car tires produce a veritable Mud Bath!.

As you turn West to go over the bridge
As they say in Jamaica,
Riva Cum Dung!.
It was pure entertainment for the residents as the river was ferociously rocking the bridge as it took with it huge tree limbs, huge debris and anything that was moveable because it was a perfect missile.
Crowds stood by.
Water rushing from the nearby hill was now a gushing waterfall, flooding the main road even more. It was chaos.
Impatient Drivers. Floods. Mud. Crowds.
CHAOS.
That was 4 days ago.
Four days later nothing had changed.

Everyone had “tried their best”.
This has been like this for over 10 years!
The problem seems unfixable.

Barry G did not relent however in calling out the new tenants of the local parish council and I was hoping one of his crack producers would have called them to hear their ” try their best” story. Suddenly the producer earned their salary and got the big kahuna, The Mayor.

It is important to note that this municipality of Lucea has had some interesting history with the last Mayor. Under the previous government, the Mayor was allegedly doing more for their pocket than for the parish.

But I digress.

The New Mayor said in as many words that the problem was not their problem. Rather it was another culprit.
The N.W.A.

For my readers not familiar with that acronym, the NWA is the National Works Agency, another listless government agency that defines the word impotent.

Barry G giving this problem a public voice was also spurned on by his wife experiencing this reality. It took her over 45 minutes to reach home and she lives only 5 minutes away under normal circumstances.

But Barry G, even YOU know that
This is nothing New!.
Mediocrity is so widely accepted in Jamaica, it has become a cultural norm. When the Mayor blames the NWA, that was him telling the public he has,
“Tried his best!”

Barry G then exclaimed:
“These people are sick!”.
Maybe that was to provoke his listener’s emotional reaction
But the “these people” he referred to had to include himself.

You see Barry,
“These people”
Are the same people that have allowed their representatives
Year after year,
Government after government
To be unaccountable.
Can “these people” expect anything better
When they know their ’employers’ don’t give a damn?

Most Jamaicans have never accepted the simple fact that
Representative government is just that,
Representative. The government represents them. Not the other way round.
Since our independence Jamaicans experienced politicians after politicians expounding their ideas and vision of the country.
All nice and rosy.
None realistic and progressive.
And this is the principal reason why our little country has not progressed as fast as it should have because our leaders,
At Every level,
Are more Talkers than Doers,
More Takers than Givers,
More “Fi Mi” than “Fi You!”.

Eventually, an official from the NWA came on the program and his version of “trying their best” was typical of a governmental agency prone to doing nothing.
We see problems.
We do not see solutions.

Here were some of his explanations.
*The money is not there.
*The citizens do not dispose of their garbage properly.
*the technical issues are bigger than they think.
*The citizens do this, they do that
And we, you guessed,
‘”Try our best!”

He finished the call with the assurance that he will
“Meet”
With some other low less officer to
“Do something”.
Before the hurricane season!

BEFORE THE HURRICANE SEASON!
That’s it, ladies and gents.
That’s “Trying Our Best” in action.

The four-hour rant by Barry G accomplished only one thing.
Everyone is “Trying their Best”.
Let us move on.
Life goes on.
Drivers will drive on the bank
And I guess his wife, who is only 5 minutes aŵay, will continue to get home late when it rains.

Jamaica is still very much a youth in its development.
There is this disconnect with what type of a nation we can be and the type of nation we seem to be.

That nation-building vision was missing from August 6, 1962.
Looking back, it seemed our politicians only took the keys to the door from the landlord, waved goodbye, closed the door and then asked, “What now!?”

55 years later
Our politicians and leaders are still debating that question.
What now?
There are many answers to that question but amidst all of the cacophony, one of the questions that have to be answered first is
Who are we?

Who is a Jamaican?

If you ask any Jamaican their answer will be laced with nationalistic pride. Most answers will even point to the many exploits of Jamaicans locally and internationally.

Intellectually, physically, mentally and socially Jamaicans have distinctly proven to be just as powerful as any Caucasian in any “first World” country. I use that word pointedly and for a reason. Somehow we seem to want the “Caucasian” hombre to tell us about how to build a nation!

But it has been my surmise that despite our repeated and proven acts of excellence, it does not translate to how we administer, govern and live in our country.
We start, then stop.
We excel, then we falter.
We slowly take our time to do everything. Soon Come!
No sense of urgency.
We celebrate bureaucracy
Laws? What laws?
We are quick to migrate and obey any other country’s laws
We achieve many firsts , then we allow them to fall apart
We create . Then We desecrate.
We create trends, dances, music, then we allow others to manipulate, confiscate and call it their own,
We are blind to injustice and accept public service incompetence
We use to grow what eat. Now we import so much more than we grow.
We produce. Then we create hindrances to production.
We invite tourist to our country, then we harass them away.
We allow our government to give us a 6 for a 9 through blind partyism.
Ŵe create barriers at every level of government and private service, creating a culture of NO!

We are excellent at Talking the Talk
But we do not Walk the Walk.

That, Barry G is the symptom and sign of a “sick people” who are still discovering who they are and want to be.
Irrational.
Indulging in self pain,
Two steps forward. Ten steps backwards .
Suffering from a disease called PISS-
Post Independence Stress Syndrome.

Many may forget when the PM of Singapore visited Jamaica
When that country was trying to “find themselves”.
He learned many things from his trip,
One of which was how NOT to be like a Jamaican.

Not that he did not find the people friendly, beautiful and hard working.
Of course he did.
But i think he also found that as beautiful and talented as we were,
There was no discipline!
Discipline of thought, action and deed.

Jamaicans seemed to have been on an unending Independence Party, each man for himself, everyone pursuing their own goals at the expense of someone else, a lawless people, squandering all the wealth the county had accumulated indigenously, manually, naturally, culturally and scientifically.

They look outwards and not inwards.

That to me is a true Jamaican. He is very successful everywhere else except in his own country. I am convinced Jamaicans are not focused on nation building.
That’s too much work.
In common Jamaican parlance
Jamaica. Is. Yard.
And by that definition, Yard is a common ground where everything is just there. There is no there, there!

The Prime Minister of Singapore took a different route for his people
And his results are there to discuss and compare!

What if.
What if Jamaica had such a leader as Singapore had?
Fearless.
Tough. Some even called him wicked.
Disciplined.
Progressive.
Intuitive.
Results driven and has a plan for his people and country?

Let me stop and dream on this for a minute.
After all, we can all dream, can’t we?

Kwesi
All Rights Reserved.
(C). 2017. May .

JAMAICA IS A GREAT NATION BUT………

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Martin Luther King is honored today to remember his life and work. Here is a man that simply talked with action, something that is foreign from similar people in similar positions today. They just don’t come into our lives like they used to anymore. Most of our political leaders have become soft at the edges, cold as ice, their words and promises flow like water down a drain.  They represent barrels, barrels filled with dried bush that is lit by critics and observers at every opportunity as they pontificate on a platform.

King was different, so different he died for what he preached. MLK was a prophet. His message caustic to the ears of the unbeliever and fire to the oppressor. One of his famous quotes on America is depicted in this piece and when I read it I could not help but think the same thing applies for my country.

It has been only 52 years since our so called Independence from Britain, which really makes us a novice in nation building, but what seems apparent over the years is that our leaders lacked one thing – vision. Not one, over the 52 years and counting, has ever expressed a vision for the country that is real and achievable for the people of Jamaica, one that is sold, bought and every man and woman marching to achieve. And so in my estimation Jamaica is  still a country of varied people of intellect; economically each man for himself ; emotionally defending the name Jamaica as would a man his own mother; furiously expressive in the international arena and openly disloyal  as he seeks personal advantages that are still not sowed in the soil of where he was born.

Immigration and travel is useful and necessary but no man leaves his home and forgets it unless that home had no integrity and gave them no aching sense of a place where they can be who they are in a productive and loving way.

in Jamaica every generation that springs from the previous generation is aquatic in characteristics – they take the shape of any idea that surrounds them  and has the flavor of what influences them. Why is this ? Simple- Jamaica has no vision. People without a national vision of citizenry will take the shape of any vision that offers progress, even if it is completely foreign to their culture.There are approximately over 2 million Jamaicans living overseas doing exactly this. There is no country in the world, including Iceland, that you will not find a Jamaican living and contributing to a foreign vision. Those that are left behind will wait for their chance but like Martin Luther will say..”Jamaica is a great nation but….

1. …for the cleanliness & our Environment.  Just recently in Westmoreland hundreds of fish dead from pollution in the river. We are still a dirty and unhealthy nation. How do we solve this problem? We divide and rule -the upper class and tourist areas are pristine and the areas for local Jamaicans are left in filth. Every now and then tempers flair, local leaders duck responsibility and the problem ignored. Our protected areas are as slippery as the ground they preserve with successive government seem un-interested in preservation and more for diversification.

2.…for the lack of respect for National Heritage & History: Whatever exists is poorly maintained and the others left to rot and decay. We have no sense of history, its value or its documentation on who we are as Jamaicans. Every Parish has a share of Jamaican history and in every parish, save for capital Kingston, there is not one respectable monument that our visitors and people can visit with PRIDE.

3. ….we are still Religiously attached : Our political  leaders are still connected by the umbilical cord of  religion so we wear a secular coat but technically a devoted theocracy. It is as if through the incongruous prayer breakfast held recently, we collectively place our problems in prayer to the most high  hoping for a miracle will happen. To date we are still waiting on this miracle. Prayer without action is like a man starting a car without gas- it wont move!

4. ….our Laws are weak: Our law keepers are just as weak as the law breakers: There are  a good few but those that are weak are insipidly corrupting the entire forces and unless the ones so brave like Martin Luther King stand up and change the conversation  it will remain nothing but a bar brawl, each man shouting their own  vision of what he considers law and order and his version of  human rights. We are never proactive- always reactive and the laws we have are barely enforced.

5. …for no accountability: I will only use one example: The recent audit where millions of dollars are used to order the drug viagra for prisoners when in fact it is a fraudulent activity for officers only shows the depth of government corruption that exists. Corruption is enemy of progress and the whore of lawlessness.

6. …we treat everyone with suspicion: The elderly, the young, sometimes the rich and most times the poor when attempting  to receive benefits are given and granted suspiciously and with contempt. Our society has so much mistrust for each other that even those that are dead are held with suspicion and need a plethora of paper work, wrapped with bundles of bureaucracy  to be moved, autopsied and buried. The hospitals, as crowded as they are takes hours, days and sometimes weeks to receive care. We are not kind to each other.

7.….for thousands of Jamaicans are disenfranchised : Simply put there are thousands of illegal workers in Jamaica working without permits, illegally and being paid much higher than Jamaicans.  In Jamaica , Jamaicans are the inferior worker. How we solve this: We know it and we remain quiet as the Ministry of Labor will hardly do anything anyway!

8. ….the Quality of living is determined by the money you possess: The quality of life you live in Jamaica is directly affected by your income or lack there of and as sparse as incomes are , so too is the quality of life – the only thing that remains for all Jamaicans collectively to enjoy, freely and without judgement of place in society is our beaches and even that is threatened.

And so we have to pause and take a look at where we are. Jamaica is a great nation but… we cannot seem to solve the little problems. Is it the lack of money , is it lack of care, the lack of a common commitment or is it the usual divide and rule version of living  that is evident in the so called first world economies where the rich is propped by governmental benefits and the poor on their own, constantly fighting for RIGHTS of all kind and themes?

One thing is definite- Jamaica, like all the other countries whose government are formed by black ethnic nationalities, Africa included, continue to prove one thing- that the countries run by White ethnic nationalities seem to be the preferred place of domain  and are pound for pound better run, have better quality of life and accountability and has a vision for their people and country. Name me one black run country that is socially, economically and culturally progressive and I will immediately retract my statement. And let us not use the imperialist argument either. We are no different than they are.

Jamaica is a blessed and great country but..…until we have a collective vision, a vision that shows our Jamaican Wealth is far greater than those countries we seek, we will forever be a country lead by the clueless, in habited by the frustrated and remain an island of exuberant people running fast whilst they sneeringly steal our wealth while we are cheering.

Quick thoughts on Jamaica

I recently read an article written by a blogger with the heading Jamaica…mad to rasa. Fr the benefit of my foreign readers RAAS is a Jamaican patois slang that is used to emphasize the seriousness of a situation. Here is the link to the article. Below is my response.
http://www.og.nr/permalink/8922

Einstein once said – Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. As a returning resident I have witnessed Jamaicans becoming insular – well to do people cloak themselves in their own world with a sense of belonging, the not so well off constantly creating their own war amongst themselves, the church preaching to their own choir, the business people delivering service under heavy taxes, the tourist industry an insular institution unto itself and I can go on. You notice I left the Govt. out of the equation. I respectfully ask – What government? This country is a rudderless ship. I say all this to invoke that when we begin to restore Jamaica as a country of laws, a country of tolerance, a country that has a mission and goal , a country whose government believes that all Jamaicans are equal and that everyone must have the same opportunity to succeed, a country that supports entrepreneurship, until we as a country know who we are and what we stand for then Jamaica will continue to be a mad man walking in the wilderness of time, with her people behaving like savages.