Happy, hopeful times are here again
WELL, all politicians can have a happy month until after Independence as this columnist will not be paying any attention to the strife and contention that they seem inclined to create in their own interest. So happy fighting in Parliament on the eve of Norman Manley's birthday, happy indiscipline, happy corruption, and happy lying to you all as that is obviously what Independence means to you. So enjoy your unearned freedom as, for the next several weeks I will not be doing anything but enjoying the things that are positive, and the memories that still keep the Jamaican dream alive.
Firstly, let me comment on the Military Tattoo at Up Park Camp and the impressions made by the performances exhibited. The cast comprised some 800 persons, some of whom joined in the celebrations coming in from Canada, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and Bermuda. It must certainly be recognised as a major accomplishment to have a mammoth show of this nature run with absolute precision and discipline.
In a country with our tendency for indiscipline, the patrons must have been amazed to see a production worthy of a Disney World nature performed in Kingston. The precision of the motorcycle police with their dangerous high-speed manoeuvres and death-defying crossovers drew 'oohs' and 'aahs' from the crowd. The Guyanese parachute performances from 6,000 feet to a precise landing kept our focus towards the sky during their descent.
The women of the Jamaica Defence Force put a new face on formation marching and a versatility that made dancing dynamites pale in comparison to marching dynamites. To top it all, they looked so good in the stylish uniforms and would have been admired even if they did not march. The marches and the music from all the various sections of the military were exemplary and everyone loved the bagpipes.
When the enactment of the commitment to service was done and the depiction of a soldier being willing to lay down his life in service to his country was done, there was not a dry eye in the stands and we all stood respectfully as we realised the sacrifices of our men and women who give all in service to their country. There was no need to invite the participation of singing of our national songs and anthems, and national pride flowed as freely as the tears. We were together as one in the soft voices in the quiet night.
It is interesting and informative to look back at the responses of the families -- parents, children, grandchildren -- sharing a happy and wholesome experience in such a grand spectacle. People were asking why the Military Band doesn't play every week at the waterfront and at the many neglected parks across the city and the country, as the national interest would be greatly served. No violence, no indecent behaviour, just pure, clean and wholesome fun and happiness. Perhaps we need a permanent Tattoo.
The second uniting event was the National Athletics Championships at the National Stadium. There was such debate about the participants and their prowess prior to their events, and analysis afterwards by the general public. The quality of the discussions was informative and intelligent, and the wide cross-section of discussants really gave me an insight into a possible new and interesting method of educational instruction. We could encourage reading, elocution, critical thinking, and debating skills through the analysis of our athletes.
Shakespeare could be replaced by Usain Bolt, Charles Dickens by Asafa Powell, and most importantly, the mathematics of time comparisons and historical achievements could provide great and interesting stimulus to developing young minds. Now, this may sound frivolous to many, but I am so desperate to find ways to motivate young people to seek knowledge that I am willing to try anything.
I have also been a keen observer of the beauty of our ladies on the track, not only with their athletic achievements but the way that they carry themselves and express themselves during their interviews. The Queen Veronica is furthering the influence of the former Queen Merlene, and is indelibly written in our hearts for as long as memories last. She has set a standard for the young Princess Shelley-Ann and we all hope that she will win in the future, both on and off the track.
I didn't believe that I would have witnessed a performer that could compete with the performance quality and the beauty of Grace Jackson and Juliet Cuthbert. Well, when Mrs Foster-Hylton stepped on the track, ran up a storm, and then smiled and waved to the camera, my heart stopped and my wife had to revive me!
There was another legend in the making and I was so proud that I had to call my friend Patrick immediately to send our love and congratulations. The Women's Hurdles and the Men's 200 were two stellar events that could have the Disney title 'Beauty and the Beast'. Some extraordinary performances were recorded in the field events, and these represent the determination of the JAAA in designing and following a long-term development strategy, and perhaps the country could learn something.
Now, I did not think that 'the Pocket Rocket' could dethrone the Queen in the 200m, so rather recklessly, I bet my wife on the outcome. I was penitent in losing and she was so gracious in victory when I asked her how she had been so certain of the outcome. She laughed out loud and simply said "Nuh your people feeding her Vienna sausage from she was small". Well, I had become a victim of our own brand.
So on Monday I drove down to the GraceKennedy Food Processors in Savanna-la-Mar where they produce the Vienna and the entire staff roared and clapped when I told them the story. They were busily preparing for the renewal audit required periodically for certifying the factory for export and since they have been exporting for decades I hope they will continue, so more young people at home and across the world can be future "rockets".
Another lesson that was evident was that no matter who your personal favourite athlete happened to be, we celebrated all with equal joy and happiness. No patron was dissatisfied, and all left the Stadium in a national spirit of goodwill. All the athletes were hailed as great Jamaicans without any attempt to label them with political stripes.
When they win in London it will be the National Anthem that will be played and not political party advertisements or songs. What a strong lesson that will be as those of us watching in our various communities will share a joy that surpasses the gloom of the garrison. I wish that the feeling of pride will take root and grow into a sustainable national joy.
So for one weekend so far we have taken a step forward in the two events that were unveiled. I wish that this could happen in every town and community across the country, live and direct, and over the coming weeks I will continue to share the current events and memories that still make me proud to be Jamaican.
God bless this land from which we derive our nurture.