The late Jimmy Carnegie taught me history at Jamaica College in the 1960s. He always told us that we should never submit any paper in an examination with a mistake made in the very first sentence. Those marking the papers are paid by the amount of papers they mark, and they might be tired or even angry when your paper is being marked. When I taught history and English I told my students the very same thing I had learnt at JC.
Yet, being human, I made the very same mistake in my last article. Last week Thursday was the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (in the Roman Catholic Church), not the feast of the Immaculate Conception as I wrote, which is December 8. Thanks to all who pointed out the mistake to me, particularly Thalia Lyn, who was the first to do so. I hasten to correct my mistake in case someone gets that question in an examination.
And while I am on the subject of errata and omission, in my column of August 1 entitled 175 years of 'full free' I wrote about a former English governor, Saint John Peter Grant, who succeeded Sir Edward John Eyre following the Morant Bay Rebellion. In listing the reforms implemented by Grant, I omitted the establishment of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. Thanks to Berbon, who responded online with this very important point.
At the same time, I got an encouraging response to my article last week about the idea of bringing Roman Catholics here as pilgrims from overseas to fill the hotels and provide employment. It is actually a merger of two ideas.
In 1989, P J Patterson, then deputy prime minister, was guest speaker at the annual convention dinner of the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League. In his speech he criticised the credit union league for not taking up the offer made by the Michael Manley- led government of the 1970s to sell to the credit union league the hotel that is today known as Jamaica Grande in Ocho Rios.
I had been employed for a time (between 1979 and 1981) to a public sector company known as Community Economic Organisation (CEO). The prime purpose of this company was to set up community enterprise organisations, all of which were to be registered as co-operatives.
My job entailed teaching co-operative principles for which I was sent on three courses. However, the government changed in 1980 and the systematic dismantling of CEO had begun. And, unfortunately, none of the community enterprises had been registered as co-operatives at the time of the change of government so everything was dismantled.
So I was well sold on the idea of co-operatives and the idea of a co-operative hotel resonated with me when I heard PJ Patterson speak at the credit union annual dinner in 1989, when I had already been a newspaper columnist for the now defunct Jamaica Record for one year. And by October 1989 I started my campaign to have such a co-operative entity.
Seventeen years later it suddenly dawned on me that I was getting nowhere with having the stubborn credit union league board implement such a plan. So from that time I have been trying to get people together to form a service co-operative to do so.
There are two types of co-operatives in Jamaican law, service co-operatives (that are organised to do specific business, such as the farmers co-operatives) and financial co-operatives (or credit unions).
Eventually I thought that benevolent societies could be included. Benevolent societies come under different law from the other co-operatives, but they are run on general co-operative principles and both entities fall under the same registrar.
Now about the other idea. Preston Hill is very important in the history of the Roman Catholic Church in Jamaica. The Roman Catholic Church was banned in Jamaica for 136 years (1655-1791), but the effect of the ban was for 137 years as priests did not arrive until the year after the ban ended (1792).
Somewhere during this period some slaves of a Spanish colony in Africa were on a boat en route to Cuba to be sold as slaves when pirates intercepted and carried the slaves to Castle Mines, St Mary, Jamaica. The slaves who would be all Roman Catholic due to the Encomienda System (the code of regulations for slaves in the Spanish Empire).
When the ban on the Roman Catholic Church was lifted a Roman Catholic Church was eventually built in Preston Hill (about a mile downhill) for these Catholics.
In 2010, I was asked by the then reigning Archbishop of Kingston Donald Reece to go to Preston Hill one weekend per month. Despite the solid footing that the church started with, most of the catechists (teachers of the faith) had left Preston Hill in search of jobs following the closing down of the banana trade by United Fruit Company.
So it was quite clear that Preston Hill needed an economic boost, but this would have to be done by making the district a tourist stop. I thought of a bed and breakfast programme (and wrote as much, and was highlghted by Colin Greenland in the Gleaner). It can still work if the people are willing.
But in the meantime, pilgrim tourists could be brought here to the hotels and carried around Jamaica including Preston Hill. And the Catholic tourists would provide a substantial amount of the guests at the proposed co-operative hotel with the overflow going to other hotels.
To do this, a foundation could be set up to which credit unions could contribute. All that would be needed is for the credit union members to go to the credit union meetings and vote that some of its surplus goes towards this. It is important for all to note that in law the highest authority in any co-operative is the general meeting, whether annual or special.
The foundation could then provide jobs to their members on the condition that the only people who would benefit are those who join a credit union and save in a credit union at regular intervals so that there would be money for others to borrow.