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 .

THE PNP SLAP HEARD FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Thursday February 25, 2016 will be highlighted in the history books as the day democracy and the people of Jamaica grew one day older. It was the day that Jamaicans, articulate and otherwise,  understood that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a Prime Minister , members of the House of Representatives and government officials, but the voters of this country.

An election is simple. It is the time when those who are selected to represent the people of Jamaica gather for an evaluation on their performance. Politicians never lie so much as before an election. It is the people who must decide how they will evaluate their performance after getting rid of the slush and lies.

Many politicians use the party’s  perceived popularity as references to boost their resumes. I am a member of the PNP therefore I must be good, they say. But as many of these politicians learned yesterday, popularity of a party is by no means a measure to elect them. If it were so then the fabled Anancy the Spider would have seats in parliament.

The defeat of the PNP, despite being the popular party with the populous inarticulate came as a pulmonary shock. The symptoms they were showing,was pride and arrogance.

There are two kinds of pride, both good and bad. ‘Good pride’ represents our dignity and self-respect. ‘Bad pride’ is the deadly sin of superiority that reeks of conceit and arrogance. (John c. Maxwell)

The two parties were faced with coming before the people  with a program for their intended work. Andrew Holness decided through his interactions through social media that the only way to win this election was to make a big leap. If you don’t go out on the limb… how are you going to get the good apple?

portiaOn the  other hand the PNP decided that  every election, must have a bogey man. If you haven’t got a program, a bogey man will do. Their campaign to the people was nothing more than selected bogey tactics that made no reference to how they would impact the lives of their constituents.  This tactic backfired.
For a party expounding that theirs is the party of the future, when you line up the little chickens in the PNP, all you see is your grand father’s party.  The PNP ran an antiquated campaign reminiscent of the 80’s, including the ole party standard anthem. They seemed completely disconnected by not embracing technology and how to reach today’s generation. As one person puts it, the JLP was advertising for people to download their App, while the PNP was still wondering what was Appening?
No one told Mr Phillips, the party’s campaign manager, that people do tweet, not just birds. Neither was he told that even the inarticulate majority live on social media. Mr Holness realized that social media is the ultimate equalizer and so he dived in head first.
Whether it was by design or just poor judgement, the latter only revealing itself as the truth, the PNP  decimated its youth from its power line up to the people, ousting two progressive youth MP’s Raymond Pryce and Damion Crawford to replace them with unknowns or undesirables much to the chagrin of party comrades. They were warned the voters would retaliate. The PNP did not listen.
The two party’s message to the people of Jamaica were drastically different. On one side the PNP was expounding the bogey man tactics while the JLP was selling  political chocolate. Andrew Holness went out on a limb. He touched people’s pocket book. He promised real change to manage a depressing economy. The PNP spent their time describing Holness’s plans as a Three Card play, offering no real value. “beware the Bogey Man’ they preached.
The irony of this bogey man tactic is simple. It is hard to tell people to hold on to suffering  caused through the growing pains of progress whilst when they look at you who is expounding to hold strain, they see otherwise. Thousands of people have to make simple choices every day. They range from do I send my child to school or buy chicken back for dinner? Do I purchase 2 lbs of rice or 1 lb and buy 2 tins of mackerel?
Every pocket book decision is based on serious evaluation of pros and cons, this or that, go or stay. It is a reality so few of the party comrades in the PNP do not understand. Jamaicans have been so indoctrinated on the Culture of Poverty that the only way out is to obtain a visa to go abroad or a passport to go to another country. The Jamaican dream is to leave this country behind. It is no secret that the country’s inflow of cash from Western Union is the single most sustaining economic activity preventing a total collapse.
Jamaicans are not beggars and they are not monolithic except in one thing- we are all ambitious and desire to earn our own wealth not by handouts but by hard work and achievement. Jamaicans have been walking with their head in the cloud of poverty searching for a ray of sunshine. The youth refer to their country as alms house and so they accept the democratic socialist principles of the party as the only way out of poverty, and immersing in wild abandonment of entertainment to forget their hard life.
The disparity of  wealth and the rest of Jamaicans is  so decidedly sharp and a growing gap of inequality that eventually someone had to ask the question do  you want to speak to the manager or someone who knows what’s going on?
andrewholnessThat someone was Andrew Holness. He listened and he responded. The evaluation simply ended  with  some comrades  not going to the polls whilst others  went and technically joined the rest of the 60% and gave a protest vote and voted for the JLP.  That evaluation  was the ultimate slap in the face to those in power. The comrades reminded the league of  Grand Pa who was in charge.
Copyright 2016 Kwesi All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR JAMAICA

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January 1, the day when the entire world makes resolutions . Really cannot blame them. After looking back at the previous year it is a natural human want to improve on where you have fallen short. Sad thing is – resolutions always stay where they were conceived, either in the euphoria of the mind over a glass of champagne , with friends having careless banter, or in response to other people’s resolution just to make you feel as part of the in crowd. Our mind is never at a place of deep thought when we make our  resolutions neither are they achievable and so they usually fail or fall short . Where there is no grit, it won’t stick.

Resolutions are a personal commitment to self. It is paying good diligence to your time on this journey called Life and it gives you good discipline when it is used properly.  As we roll out a new year I begin to wonder about my homeland and trying to figure out what resolutions can be made for my country. After all my country is a living entity of 3 million people in a beautiful place called the Caribbean. But whiter Jamaica? Where do we go in 2014? The number 2014 defies our understanding of how the world has come of age and how fast it is moving.

Jamaica, like most places cannot boast of 2013 as a year of forward movement for its people, its economy and its cultural lifestyle. Yes there have been strides but as the athlete will tell you strides are like elegant footsteps on the way to accomplishing a goal. We cannot meet the goal if we don’t push and enlighten ourselves. We cannot meet our goals if we don’t accelerate with energy , power and form. In other words, if we are intent that our warm ups are good enough to take us to the finish line , then we must not be surprised when everyone has passed us and we are a distant last. This intent has been with us since we got our independence. There is this unspoken truth that because we live on  an island we must slow down, live on our own pace.  Living on an island means one thing here in Jamaica and that is to take life for granted.

Jamaica is not an island unto itself. We are part of the world and the world is and has changed. If we could only educate ourselves to that fact. If I were stranded in Jamaica a book I would certainly have is “How to build a country, not an Island.”  Our knowledge in Jamaica is a little island in a great ocean of knowledge and progress. We must change our mentality. We must change our perceived perception. Strides are good. But strides are like our beating heart. It reminds us that we are still alive. Lets move Jamaica, lets jump, lets sprint, lets throw as far as we can. Our island is a sea of ignorance. Being an island does not make us any less than other progressive nations. England is an island. England never allowed its size to be its reality. Neither should we Jamaica. We are better than an island. So here are my resolutions for Jamaica. We cannot quit on these either. We cannot afford to do nothing.

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude. (Thomas Jefferson)

1. We resolve to ……BE ON TIME

TIME-MANAGEMENT-QUOTES-HD-WALLPAPER-Use-of-time-determines-the-quality-of-your-lifeJamaica Time is a tourism cliché used to attract guest to our island. It is meant for our guests to slow down., not for us to use it as part of our lifestyle and culture. TIME is money Jamaica. We lose it, we can never get it back. Stop this nonsense . Get up and be on time.

 2. We resolve to ……BE CLEAN  

Naifaru Beach Clean Up 2Every corner of our cities, roads, towns, beaches are full of human garbage. If we don’t keep our island clean, then we have not left the plantation and our parents and ancestors have not taught us anything. Its called pride Jamaica. We keep our homes clean but outside our doors it’s a garbage war zone.  Cleanliness is an attitude made powerful by action. If you don’t believe cleanliness can move your country a zillion miles forward, ask the Swiss. 

3. We resolve to ……RESPECT- ITS NOT A WORD..ITS AN ACTION.    

url A lack of respect usually means the person has no respect for himself either. Self respect leads to self-discipline. Respect our laws, each other, our visitors, our creativity and our culture. When we do, that is Real Power.  A country without respect and discipline is a country afloat with no wind to direct its sail. 

4. We resolve to ……BE LIBERATED BY EDUCATION

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We promote sex in everything we do , degrading it to the lowest common human activity, in the things we wear and say, liberalism in how we drive, in how and where we live our lives, in how we do whatever we want when we want is not the sign of a liberated and civilized country. Let us instead be liberated by our education, not by our indiscipline. 

5. We resolve to…….PRACTICE CUSTOMER SERVICE                                         

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Jamaica has a new word in its vocabulary..its NO, usually said with a stern face of robotic mechanism and eyes looking away staring at the floor as if you the customer is there, at the feet of the messenger.  Imagine the power of the word YES in everything we do and the power of the word NO accompanied with a positive alternative. Jamaica would be welcoming its 3 millionth visitor for 2013 and creating a society of doers , not followers.

6. We resolve to ……HAVE COURAGE                                      

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Time and time again those that display courage reap the spoils and the citizens pack the streets and squares and jump in exhilaration at someone elses success. This is usually followed by the comments..‘yea mon, me feel good  she or he a mek Jamaica proud…” What does that mean..“make Jamaica proud”? Does it mean you are proud of YOURSELF as a Jamaican citizen basking in the collective euphoria or are you proud of Jamaica competing in the world of progressive nations? I think I know the answer. Courage is not overrated.It is the root to all things becoming right,  it makes all justice served equally, politicians & church leaders becoming accountable, it is the virtue that makes all other virtues possible. It is the wind beneath our wings. YES we CAN…TOGETHER!

7. We resolve to……BE DIFFERENT                           

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Einstein quote is “education is what remains after you have forgotten what you’ve learned in school..” In Jamaica’s case we can also add “after what you have been taught by your elders”. Going to school does not mean you are educated. The “village” educates you, not the school. So think positively and progressively. Think out of the box.  Jamaicans like to follow fashion and believe that if it  comes from foreign it must be good or better than what they were doing. When you follow you are floating on a river going nowhere. Everyman is a good teacher because he is an expert of what he does So learn and think for yourself. Life is your education. Remember the saying…if you judge a fish by how he can climb a tree, he will think he is useless.

8. We resolve to ……DON’T BLAME THE SYSTEM                                      

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It amazes me that we blame the system for our failure, for avarice, for selfishness, for decadence, for greed and we love these qualities in ourselves. And those  qualities of manners, kindness, honesty we admire them and convince ourselves those  qualities are the mark of the ‘Big Man” as if there are 2 kinds of people in Jamaica- the ‘big man’ and ‘the poor man.” Nonsense. That type of thinking is based on our emotions and is an illusion, a vulgar conception to soothe ourselves and give credence to our illusion. We create the system of which we complain. Fix it and succeed. Live with it and die. 

9. We resolve to ……SELL OUR BRAND                                    

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Don’t be fooled . People visit our island because of YOU, US , nothing else. No beach, no sun, no mountain, no hotel, no music can replace or supersede the Jamaican, that smiling, friendly, confident, talented and beautifully speaking island man. So sell US. Sell YOU. This is what Brand Jamaica is – it’s not the THINGS made in the country..its YOU, its US. 

10. We resolve to…..PURSUE OUR OWN PATH      

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“We run t’ings, t’ings noh run we “ is a common Jamaican phrase we use daily in our dialect and sometimes we need to stop and think on what we are saying. What we are saying is we decide our own path so Jamaica  let’s do just that. Jamaica was at her wealthiest when we were rooted in the soil. We were feeders of  the world once upon a time but we have turned our backs on our natural resources. We have rivers , brilliant sunshine , mountains, perfect soil and still we import things that can be grown here. We have wasted our resources on importing oil instead of focusing on expanding and developing  our solar energy resources.  A national policy of solar panel on every house in Jamaica would set world standards. That is where our leaders need to fight for its citizens. We need to run tings Jamaica. We have our own path. We are not producing . We are busy selling made in China and India cheap items when there should be a national policy of agriculture first, development of natural resources, national policies on river engineering for energy production, wind energy. We are destroying our own identity. Lets resolve to be Jamaican. Let us be leaders in the Caribbean again. Lets fall in love with Jamaica once again.  

Let’s start again Jamaica. it’s a new year but this time with feelings and resolve.

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