'For God's sake - sing!'

Jean Lowrie-Chin

Monday, September 24, 2012    

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There is this story about a woman at a concert who was so awestruck by the tenor's voice that she asked a mutual friend to introduce them. Soon a romance blossomed and the gentleman, though rather plain, sang a handsome marriage proposal which she accepted. The morning after their first night together, the bride woke up ahead of her groom and was stunned at how unattractive he appeared in his slumber. She shook him awake, pleading, "Sing! Sing! For God's sake - sing!"

Every five years, members of Jamaica's electorate experience this "morning after", whichever party is elected. First, you have the exciting campaigns with seas of bright green or orange and on-form selectors rocking supporters. Then you have the romantic promises - money in every pocket and oxtail in every pot.

Night falls and day dawns. No money, no oxtail - just the same old issues repeating themselves like a badly scratched record. One or two politicians will try to take their jobs seriously and actually engage with their constituents, even if only to explain why everything cannot happen overnight, but that even a few things will.

However, as we become bolder on social media, tweeting about terrible conditions and behaviour, as the news cameras zoom in on those dustbowls posing as roads, politicians are being warned that there is no place to hide.

That insightful leader, former prime minister PJ Patterson had seen enough to give a warning at the recent PNP conference: "We must not hide from the people. When we were seeking their votes, we went and looked for them, don't let them have to come and look for us now...Time for the merriment is over and we have to now face the harsh realities."

When I remarked on his conference speech to Mr Patterson, he said party representatives must be prepared to work for their survival. This is what we need to hear, music to the ears of folk who are not asking for miracles, but for the genuine effort of an easy-to-find MP to help them plan their way out of their misery.

Come on now, MPs and parish councillors, you know better than anyone else how those squatter communities came about. Don't play shy, now that the owners want back their premises. The word "squatting" is such an undignified and ungainly word, visited on our fellow citizens, moved around to swell the ballots and purposely kept poor to be easily bought in our cynical "curry goat" politics. Colleague columnist Lloyd B Smith has said it well.

Our government workers are being asked to hold strain even as they know the perks enjoyed by our elected representatives. It is time for these well-paid, well-guarded individuals to sing well for their supper. We ask you to take Mr Patterson's words very seriously and sing! For the sake of God's people, sing!

Barrelling into Jamaica 100

We enjoyed the camaraderie of the gathering at the Wray & Nephew PM's Reserve event, where each Jamaican PM or their representatives poured a bottle of the Jamaica 50 Appleton rum into a barrel containing 2012 rum. They were sealed and will be left to age for the year 2062, Jamaica's 100th Anniversary of Independence.

The spirit of oneness as we reflected on Jamaica 50 was refreshing - would that we could take it wider. Then in 2062, Jamaicans could be toasting each other with the wisdom of age and finally the discernment that, in the words of the late Archbishop Oscar Romero, we are all God's masons and He only, is the Masterbuilder.

At the event, a positive CEO Paul Henriques commented that the Italian aperitif giant Campari is bullish on their recent purchase of Lascelles DeMercado, parent company of Wray & Nephew Limited. He described his recent visit to their head office in Milan where Bob Marley was playing on their speakers and a senior executive was sporting a Jamaica T-shirt.

He quoted Campari's description of this venerable Jamaican company with its professional management and staff, world-class products, and superior infrastructure. The company is graced by the only woman master blender in the world, Joy Spence, who earlier this month received an honorary degree of Doctor of Science from her alma mater, Loughborough University in England.

This is a lesson for the fainthearted - this local company is now valued at US$414.8 million or $36.8 billion. A Jamaica Observer report stated: "Lascelles DeMercado, formed in 1825, has the largest stock of aged Jamaican rum in the world - the popular Appleton Jamaica Rum - which is distributed by subsidiary company J Wray & Nephew. The company more than doubled net profits to $5.8 billion for the nine-months ending June 30, 2012 compared to the corresponding period last year."

Jamaica, what Wray & Nephew has done with rum, we can do also with our coffee, ginger, scotch bonnet, pimento and honey.

Real success in downtown Kingston

"One hand can't clap!" sang the sweet little pre-schoolers at the opening of the Real Success Basic School on Wildman Street. This is the first of 50 schools to be built or upgraded by Food for the Poor to mark Jamaica's 50th anniversary. They are also offering 50 scholarships per year for the next five years to support the training of early childhood educators. The children sang in earnest their request for teachers, parents and communities to join together to protect their schools.

The escalating vandalism of schools is a national disgrace. Some of the basic schools vandalised since the start of the year include the Sylvia Foote Basic School at Heroes' Circle, Church of God of Prophesy and Palmetto Pen Basic schools in Clarendon, and Reliance Basic School in Portmore. Surely our parliamentarians and parish councillors have the wherewithal to monitor communities and protect the future of these trusting babes.





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