A Jamaica of doubt and belief
A midweek celebration does not have the full vigour of a weekend ritual, mostly because we know that, come the next day, we have to crank up and go do the boss work as usual. For those who have been punishing the liquor and putting pressure on the dancing muscles from the weekend before, it is even harder. But, if ah so it go, we can't let the side down. So, out people came on Wednesday to do what they could in the name of Jamaica-52.
Celebration went on amid economic dissonance and kass-kass. Once again, the letters IMF are interpreted as a call signal for oppression and depression. In the 70s, one man was seen as the demon who brought IMF down upon us. Years later, the "call letters" are not written on the wall like in the past, but somehow we manage to work it into conversation.
Washington, DC, must be as confused as we are. They paid us the extreme compliment of sending their Big Boss to come meet us, and not a kind word has been said about her since. Is so-so kiss-teet and cut-eye ever since she come and gone. So, whose approval will mean something to us?
Our young sportsmen and women went over to Glasgow, Scotland, and showed them what "lickle but tallawah" means. You'd think by now every speech made at Emancipendence events would have been dedicated to our Glasgow triumphs. Not really. Is it that we've become so accustomed to triumph on the tracks, that we are so laid back?
Then, there's our victory in cricket, a field where we've been knocked around more times than the ball. One would think we would have been singing victory songs and planning a big fete under the new Sabina Park lights. There's still hope, so let us see what we're going to do to big up Gayle and the boys. I hope we are not going to be stingy with the applause when our latest stars of the track make it home.
Did you know, that there actually is a kilt dedicated to Jamaica?
Apparently, it has been in existence for some time, but for whatever reason, it wasn't brought into the spotlight until it was mentioned that Bolt turned down an invitation to wear it. Of course, if he or any of the other fellows had dared to put on anything which looked like a skirt, it would be hell and powderhouse. We don't run dem kinda joke. Man inna skirt? You mussi mad!
To the Scots, a kilt is a historic garment, but a skirt is a skirt as far as we are concerned. By this I hope they understand why our guys wouldn't do a victory lap in anything but a garment built to accommodate nothing but two legs at a time. Glasgow can be cold and miserable when it wants, so it was no surprise that the Jamaicans who live there -- yes, we live everywhere -- were glad to see the family, even more so when we let it be known who-a-di-Boss.
A friend of mine said that we brightened up the Glasgow gloom so much that tickets for every event at the Game was sold out. Somebody must have believed that Jamaicans just might turn up where least expected and they wouldn't like to have missed us, according to my friend's view of the event.
So, how come we hold such a sway over the rest of the world while Back-a-yard we can be so steeped in pessimism and doubt? We overcame slavery but we don't see the importance. We turned the tables on Backra, colonising him in reverse, according to the indomitable Miss Lou. To hear we of all people talk, however, in the season of "Emancipendence", it would surprise people abroad who identify us with forward thinking that we seem dedicated to complaining. I'm sick of hearing how all our men are no good, because they still have the slavery attitude towards family life and how we are not independent in the least, because we claim that we have nothing to show because we're still borrowing money -- car loans don't count.
This continual cloud of gloom in which we seem to revel is not for me. We can't turn the pride on and off according to when we think the world is watching and turn it on again when they think that it is only us here. So, we have some monsters among us, but why should they determine who the rest of us are?
Much has been written locally and abroad about the Games just ended in Glasgow. How many of us, especially a new generation, know that this lickle Jamaica, hosted the 1966 Commonwealth Games right here in Kingston and successfully too?
The ever-present naysayers at that time didn't believe we could bring it off, but we did. One English newspaper actually published that the temperature in Kingston was so hot that the swimmers would get scalded in the Stadium pool. Nobody was boiled to death as far as we know. Other naysayers also questioned whether we could handle the overwhelming logistics on and off the track. After all, we were a little country, not even independent yet. We did it, creating many records along the way.
In the great untapped source of wisdom of the Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, one of his most powerful messages of encouragement for this country is not as well-known as the "Emancipate-yourself" quote, but Mr Garvey had no doubt. He wrote: "Jamaica must not go backward. She must now go forward. Our intelligence must penetrate every barrier, climb over every mountain, clear away from us every hill or mount that stands in our way of progress. Go forth to tell a world that Jamaica is ready, Jamaica is ripe, Jamaica is prepared, Jamaica is able."
Naïve and unrealistic, I can hear you saying, pointing to what doesn't work now. Who are we to blame but ourselves, if we don't move on and get it right? Why is it that we can succeed when we want to, very often outside of Jamaica, and fail so miserably that we foul our own nest at home? It is ironic that even as we stand up and salute our flag and the achievements of the best of us, we continue to sing songs of love to "Sweet, sweet Jamaica," then rush out to undermine our confidence by an entrenched lack of faith. It is time to grow up.
CONGRATULATIONS to those who have been accorded National Honours and Awards for contribution to the field of journalism. All the best to Desmond Allen and Novia McDonald-Whyte of the Jamaica Observer, Franklin McKnight, Editor, Northcoast Times, Wyvolyn Gager-Patterson, Editor/consultant, Producer/editor Owen James. Big up, everyone!