There, under a Leicester car park, they found the King. Well, actually, the skull of England's King Richard III, who was killed in battle in 1485 - 537 years ago. The photographs are disturbing, revealing that there were wounds to the head. Pages and courtiers had danced attendance on this King, celebrated in Shakespeare's 'Richard III', now barely remembered except for a few famous words from that play: "Now is the winter of our discontent."
And so it behoves our leaders to be humble and diligent, to use their fleeting power for a greater good. Then they will be remembered for such lasting legacies as a gentler, more educated, more productive society. The hardship permeating the lives of the Jamaican people is depriving us of a motivated workforce. No matter how many productivity experts and seminars we have in this country, we will not see growth if we do not work more feverishly for the developmental imperatives on which we can build our 'Vision 2030'.
This is why Food for the Poor has become such a pillar in Jamaica. A report written by Arlene Martin-Wilkins in the Jamaica Observer after Hurricane Sandy hit Eastern Jamaica last November, described the plight of "79-year-old Hazel McLean, looking on in despair as she stands in front of what was left of her house by Hurricane Sandy.
"The category one Hurricane Sandy flattened most of McLean's wooden structure only 30 minutes after she vacated the building," noted Martin-Wilkins, "frightened by the storm's howling winds as it ripped through St Thomas, one of the parishes hardest hit."
Responding to an appeal, the dynamic folks at Food for the Poor were able to turn Ms McLean's tears to joy when they presented her with a brand new furnished home before Christmas. The response of the organisation to calls for help is an understanding of what the great Dr Martin Luther King Jr once described as 'the fierce urgency of now'.
Jamaica, our famous friend Dr King is speaking to us from the grave: "But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilising drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy."
South Florida-based philanthropists hosted by Food for the Poor, were shocked at the condition of 65 families in Canaan Heights, May Pen when they toured the community last year. Spokesperson for the group LaMae Klos, expressed their concern in an ABC news report, which can be seen at this link:
LaMae and colleagues held their annual Building Hope Gala last weekend in Boca Raton, to fund the desperately needed homes. Realising 'the fierce urgency of now' they did not stop at talk, but proceeded to plan diligently to raise funds for the building of new homes with sanitation. Theirs will be a legacy of safety and security for the many children who now huddle in one-room shacks.
As we watched reports of the folks in Denham Town complaining about harsh treatment by police last week, we see the hardship etched on their faces not by that one incident, but by the daily disrespect they face as they try to eke out a living. We saw it in the relative of 19-year-old Najay Meikle who was electrocuted while doing honest work, cutting away branches around power lines in Savanna-la-mar last week. Sorrow cracked his voice as he told the reporter that 'Najay was a youth weh no make no trouble - him willing to do every little thing'. And so Najay lost his life as he tried to earn his bread, without the safety measures that could have protected him.
Those of us who know better need to do better. The education we have, in many cases subsidised by the state, is not supposed to be a cocoon, blinding us to the pain of 'lesser mortals'. Rather, it has endowed us with the requisite muscles to serve, to lift up our suffering brothers and sisters.
Media colleagues were dismayed when the House sat for only 45 minutes last week. What kind of conscience do our members of Parliament have? They drive through depressed areas to get to Gordon House, and yet they could not tarry for more than 45 minutes to attend to the nation's urgent business? Is there complicity between the two political parties in this lethargy, even as they find the time to call press conferences and make speeches to sound as if they are actually standing up for Jamaica?
Leaders all, please consider a signature quotation from the inspiring Prof Paul G Simmonds, Executive Director/Professor of the Mona School of Business and Management: "You can tell me anything; your actions show me everything."
Prince Klaus Award for Ian Randle
Jamaica's own Ian Randle became the only Caribbean recipient of the Prince Klaus Award when he was among the 11 persons honoured at an official ceremony at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam last December, in the presence of the Fund's Honorary Chairman, HRH Prince Constantijn and other members of the Royal Family. A release from the Netherlands-based Fund, announced: "The pioneering Ian Randle (1940, Hanover) transformed the knowledge, production and circulation in the Caribbean through his first local independent publishing house."
Colleagues and grateful authors gathered last Monday to celebrate this dedicated publisher, who has assisted so many of us in our literary endeavours. Professor Hilary Beckles noted, "The explosion of academic writing in the Caribbean during the 1990s, coincides with the growth and expansion of Ian Randle Publishers."
Now retired, Ian has passed the leadership of his firm to his daughter, attorney-at-law Christine Randle Wray. Congratulations!