Bring peace back to Mount Peace…

Barbara Gloudon

Thursday, January 12, 2017

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HERE we go again: Another round of death and destruction finds it way into the headlines. How long will we, the Jamaican people, be faced day and night with this enemy? "Double murder in Mount Peace" is one among the most recent assaults in a rural area, in the parish of Hanover, to be exact. What has displaced the peace in Mount Peace?

Once again, I got sick to my stomach when the news was spread about another once-quiet country area, particularly one of those places which implanted memories of the "golden age of youth", when the joys of nature were the hallmark of holidays in country, where every day brought its own excitement, allowing all the pleasures which were unknown to town, pleasures such as bathing in the river, catching janga, getting a whole roast breadfruit for yourself — even if you were "long-belly" to believe that you could handle it and could make a meal of your own, while ignoring the "craven choke puppy" warning.

For the record, I never saw a puppy with a roast breadfruit, nor any child laying claim to a formidable fruit, much less putting away a whole one.

Hanover was my paradise; lickle but very tallawah. Among the names of places which used to be introduced to us by our mother, a dedicated Hanoverian, Mount Peace was one. I never got the opportunity to go there, and cannot recall hearing the name for years until now come the words "Double murder".

To call this a severe jolt is an understatement. Media reports state that the murders were the first to have taken place in Mount Peace in a long, long while. That doesn’t make it any easier to accept. If "the pestilence that walks by night" has now turned on a peaceful place, what else is to come?

It has been said that, for approximately 18 months, there was peace in Mount Peace. What has caused the attack on this small, peaceful, rural village? Where does this evil come from?

Questions for Mount Peace: From now on, what will things be like, now that ‘peace’ has been taken from the people? Will there be a new name for the community, now that the valued title of a place of peace has been marred?

At this moment, we are led to believe that prosperity lies ahead, but even if it comes, what will it mean if we cannot live in peace? Why is the answer dodging us so much?

Moving on

As one president of the United States of America demits office, another is waiting in the wings to make his entrance. The world watches, and wonders too, what will come of it? In midweek, Barack Obama said his farewell at a gathering of thousands in Chicago — where he launched his political career eight years ago, and to which he returned to say farewell.

On television, the world watched the enormous gathering which hung on every word presented in a rally-style event, which will enter the history of the country which had enough faith in him eight years ago when they entrusted their nation to his care.

Some of the ideas he shared with his audience on Tuesday night will become part of America’s legacy, whether or not everybody liked him. His presentation reminded me of the days in our own region when there were orators who knew how to reach the heart of the people — friend and foe alike.

The West Indies, in its time, used to be famous for the oratory skills of their leadership cadre. I don’t hear too much of that nowadays. Talk the truth, when last have you heard a politician who gave a really interesting speech to reach the heart and soul of the people, win or lose? When did our leaders get so dull and boring? How many can actually hold their audiences spell-bound these days? Obama can be criticised for all kinds of things‚— and there are many detractors out there, but that never stopped him.

We don’t hesitate to diss our leaders. This has resulted in the ever-growing atmosphere of deep cynicism with which politics and politicians are treated. If all of us know what is wrong, why aren’t we even making a try to make a change?

The other evening, "the Obama lecture" — for that is what it was, and a first class one at that — was more than an American matter. Every nation could do with some of it. He began the story by going back in time, eight years ago, when he arrived in Chicago, "trying to figure out who I was, still searching for a purpose in life". He took his listeners on a journey of determination and faith, a journey both smooth and rough, an adventure which took him and his supporters all the way to what he called "our bold experiment in self-government".

When last have we heard even one deggeh member among our current leaders, on both sides of the fence, speaking freely and boldly of what it means to enlist everyone in having the courage to face challenges, to take some risks, to build a vision. In our case, not everybody has been rushing to take a chance in speaking from the heart to reach our people, to stir up the truth, to travel together to reach the destination.

Obama did what not too many politicians seem interested in doing, which is, trusting the people; from "lickle man to big man, big woman to pickney gyal", in our idiom.

One of his memorable lines included the words, "Only if all of us, regardless of party affiliation or particular interests, help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now." Americans seem born to speak of "democracy". He defined it this way: "Democracy does not require a basic sense of solidarity." He said many things. Not everybody is going to rush out into the street for celebrations, but he is not daunted.

I ask myself — and you, maybe — once again, are we, along with other members of the Caribbean, really convinced that we are doing the best for ourselves? As to the new generation, is it enough to pin the title of "millennials" upon them and then drift off to bore even ourselves with waste-a-time rhetoric? One line we would do well to think about is, "All of us have more work to do." In our environment, who knows such words?

One area where he did not fail came when he paid homage to his wife of 25 years, thanking her for her loving support. He was not afraid to say it publicly: "You have been not only my wife and mother of my children, but my best friend." He spoke with love and respect from his children too. A bit of that wouldn’t hurt any family, if we are to put an end to the man and wife cruelty now tormenting families.

Obama started his career with the mantra, "Yes, we can." Now, it is "Yes, we did!"

As he prepares to embark on a new journey, he has not been afraid to speak from his heart, as if telling other men — ours among them — strong men don’t need to destroy their women. Which of our leaders here in various aspects of community will have the guts to say it to those of our men who still haven’t got it, that it is cowards who kill the women they claim to love?

Nuff respect, Mr Obama. Talk yuh talk, Sir. May you continue to light a lamp in the darkness. The world needs the light you have created.

PS: What has the prime minister and entourage gone to Israel to achieve? Are we going to get entangled in the kass-kass, Israeli against Palestinians? There was a time when we would have been kept informed. Why the silence now?

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or




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