Jamaica-bought, China-made

Barbara Gloudon

Friday, December 14, 2012

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SAY IT ISN'T SO... Could the Grinch of Politics intrude again on the spirit of Christmas? Remember last year when we could hardly hear Jingle Bells without the competing blare of political advertising, offering bargains in candidates: "Buy one, get 59 others free?"

Luckily we don't have to go through that again. We can watch "Christmas around the world" undisturbed by the insistent nagging of repeat messages of self-styled Messiahs assuring us that they can bring joy to our world. This year their voices have been replaced by hire purchase offers too good to believe. Buy one, get one, pay down little, owe much.

You won't be alone if you're thinking about "where's the money to come from?" Obviously, it is coming from somewhere because the shoppers are busy already, even as we complain that "nutten nah gwaan fi wi". Repeat the question again... how come we talk so poor, but spend so rich? Price tags in the stores tell their own story. To be among the fashionistas, you have to be prepared to shell out some heavy dough. Clothing - all imported - doesn't come cheap, and yet people shop till they drop.

If you're one of those tiresome people plagued by Conscience, you may pause for reflection. Why is there so little made-in-Jamaica clothing? Whatever happened to the talented dressmakers, the meticulous tailors, who, in times of Christmas past, would be sewing through the night to satisfy the demands of clients?

The answer is: Made in China... Made in China... Made in China. The labels tell the story, never mind the name-brand tags, the Gucci, Pucci, whatever... Made in China.

"Fit" is relative. Don't be fooled by the label. SIZE TWO is actually One and Three is ONE too. That could account for the phenomenon of so many women walking around our streets with more body parts revealed than concealed. All that money we owe to the IMF, and all the more that we're hoping to borrow, how much will go into paying the import bill for ill-fitting clothing while out-of-work Jamaican tailors and dressmakers contemplate a bleak future?

The sound of the sewing machine humming through the night, to produce the Christmas dress and the Christmas suit, is fading fast. The man selling "pants length" to make "the Christmas trousers" is rarely seen. Hardly is the proud boast heard: "Going to see my tailor" or "Buying fabric for my dressmaker". In any case, fabric stores are becoming obsolete.

This could be the real story of the death of a Jamaican Christmas tradition. Should it be a matter of concern that a whole generation of garment industry workers are rapidly becoming obsolete? Yes-yes. We know about globalisation and all that jazz, but is this to be the only way? We speak "BUY JAMAICA" but go home with "MADE IN CHINA". We're still funding the training of young people in sewing skills, deluding ourselves and them that there's a future in earning from it. Oh that the Christmas dress and the Christmas trousers would be made here and all would be well again.

NEWS FLASH: Efforts are to be made to get Jamaica-made goods used in the tourist industry. We can dream, can't we? I fully understand the sentiment, but it is going to take some persuading to get some decision-makers to accept that there is such a thing as "Really made in Jamaica". Until we stop passing off fake souvenirs, origins masked by the Jamaican label, we are deceiving ourselves. I wish it were otherwise...true-true.

SO, HAVING GOT THAT OFF, let's go back to the beginning... Christmas and politics nearer home. Who would've thought that peaceful little Cayman would be having a political scandal competing with the season of goodwill? They take Christmas seriously in Georgetown, capital of the three-island nation, better known for its place in global financial matters and its idyllic environment.

That their premier could be accused of wrongdoing and be called to order, in the Christmas season of all times, must be the greatest shock of all. Caymanians don't spare the lights in hailing the season. An annual attraction is a Santa's village ablaze with lights. Hotels and shops, especially in the famed Seven Miles stretch, are transformed into a wonderland tribute to the power of electricity. Children dream of Kris Kringle even more than Santa.

What a time to attract the glare of media, etc, focusing not on these innocent pleasures, but allegations of the seamy side of politics. Guilty or not guilty? Premier McKeeva Bush seems quite unflustered. He has declared that he has done nothing wrong and has no intention of stepping down from leadership of his country. That he has calmly ignored the storm at home to come to Kingston to collect an honorary doctorate from the University College of the Caribbean, sets a new benchmark in how to keep your cool while all around you others are losing theirs.

Should UCC have followed through with an earlier decision to postpone the ceremony? What if things were to turn out differently for Mr Bush? Will the lofty sentiments of the investiture return to haunt them? But then on the other hand, if they don't then there's nothing to worry about, is there?

Meanwhile, up in the Turks and Caicos, it would appear that there will be no Yuletide trimmings for ex-premier Michael Misick. It is not a pretty sight to see a man who had a chance to contribute to honest development of his country now heading for courthouse. This is one gentleman who will not be resting merry, from now on. All of this is serving to convince people that politics is dirty business.

CHRISTMAS ON THE ROAD: How many times must the warning be given about the bad driving, the drunk driving, the reckless driving at this time of year? Yesterday I watched in horror as three drivers, one after the other, calmly drove through a pedestrian crossing in the middle of Cross Roads, within spitting distance of the police station. They displayed total disregard for a large group of men, women and children who were making their way across the street, using the crossing. The only explanation I could find for the arrogant display was that the men behind the steering wheels were suffering from a collective attack of mental instability. What else could it be?





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