Columns

Jamaica's human 'energy crisis'

Jean LOWRIE-CHIN

Monday, May 19, 2014    

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THESE are the days that send us back to the writings of our first national hero, that colossus of dignity and self-determination, Marcus Mosiah Garvey. The Jamaican legend pulled no punches as he instructed his followers about education, employment and ambition. He warned them about preserving their respect and not becoming "a bum or hobo race".

Garvey must be weeping to see the statistics of electricity theft in the prized constituencies of long-standing leaders -- as high as 89 per cent of users! I was surprised at the accusation of elitism in the JPS action from a politician I like -- Damion Crawford -- but relieved at the chorus of subsequent declarations that "we do not condone stealing". Out of this strong action by the JPS, finally a committee including government officials has been formed to take a serious look at this ugly practice.

Electricity theft has caused the death of many -- including the most recent incident last Wednesday when an innocent man who went crab-hunting with friends in Hanover got tangled in uninsulated wires thrown up to steal electricity. I got very worried when I heard words like classist and racist being used to describe the JPS's action. Seriously, if you had a store in a community from which 89 per cent of the goods was stolen, wouldn't you lock it down? The racist argument is what those heartless scammers are

using as they fleece American retirees of their hard-earned savings.

What impression of Americans do these scammers have? Do they know how hard these folks work for their money? Whenever I am in US stores and cashiers see from my ID where I live, many sigh and say they are saving so that one day they can make

that long-dreamed-of trip to Jamaica. These are humble, diligent folks, showing up for work through rain or snow. How will we keep their love for Jamaica, if they hear that scamming is now being viewed by some as an acceptable career? A report on the death of a scammer quoted his mourning mother as saying he was "honest and hard-working". When asked what he did for a living she said

she indeed knew he was a scammer.

Our leaders must ask themselves how electricity theft and scamming became viewed by poorer folks as being acceptable. When people become desperate, they have to rationalise their antisocial behaviour. They become desperate when they are crammed into yards where entrance is only allowed by a resident thug. They lose their dignity when they are packed like sardines into buses during elections and bullied into voting for the garrison party. Their every move is watched and they live in the valley of the shadow of threats. Robbed of their selfhood, they become T-shirted billboards for their power-hungry representatives. They are everything Marcus Garvey did not want them to be — dumbed down into perpetual poverty.

But it is not too late for our politicians to admit their wrongs, open up their constituencies and allow people to regain their humanity. Political dunceness makes colours like orange and green unwearable in certain parts of Jamaica. We are hoping that people Marlene Malahoo-Forte, Paula Kerr-Jarrett, Kamina Johnson-Smith, Imani Duncan-Price, Julian Robinson, Dr Dayton Campbell, Raymond Pryce, and Norman Grant will help us to pave the way for a more intelligent type of politics in our country. So, instead of terrorising people, we will have politicians who help them to actualise

their dreams.

Politicians who have committed atrocities should now be praying for absolution. We know who you are, and you belong to both major political parties. You have sinned against your people and your country until it had to take the IMF to curb your wasteful ways, and the JPS to explain to you that stealing electricity is just plain thievery.

The biggest energy crisis in this country is the lassitude of a nation that has not been nurtured to stand and deliver to her full potential. As the indiscipline spilled over on the football field in Arnett Gardens last Monday, the politicians were hustled away by their security detail, leaving their hapless followers to fight each other.

We know that our politicians know better, so we are asking them to stop playing these dangerous games with our people. Try integrity and productivity. Hold yourselves to a higher mark so that the sacrifices of Garvey and all our other national heroes will not be in vain.

Dynamic Edith Dalton-James High Principal

To see the beautiful surroundings at the Edith Dalton-James High School in Duhaney Park, to hear the passion for excellence of Principal Ray Howell; what a lift it gave us — representatives of Food for the Poor, the Spanish Embassy and the Spanish-Jamaica Foundation. We were there last Wednesday because Mr Howell, his staff and students insisted on saying a proper 'thank you' for the 400 desks and chairs donated through the Food for the Poor School Furniture programme by the two Spanish organisations.

Celsa Nuño, the engaging Spanish ambassador to Jamaica and chair of the Spanish-Jamaica Foundation, said she was "honoured and inspired" to see the work of the school and hear the gifted students who performed cultural items for their donors. "There are so many Jamaicans committed to this country," she said. "I congratulate the principal, staff and students for the goals you have achieved."

The courteous staff and students, impeccable classrooms and a recent expansion which came out under budget are a tribute to Mr Howell's leadership. With an additional five classrooms promised by the Ministry of Education, Edith Dalton-James High will be moving away from the shift system by 2016. The school's furniture programme is the brainchild of Food for the Poor Chair Andrew Mahfood, who has raised millions including the $2.2 million from the Spanish, to provide 15,000 well-needed chairs which will go to over 200 schools islandwide.

MLK Award for Hon Karl Hendrickson

We are delighted that this year the Martin Luther King Jr Humanitarian Award from the Jamaica-America Friendship Association will be presented to Karl Hendrickson, founder of the Hendrickson Group which includes the first company in the group, National Bakery, founded by his parents. The exemplary family man and his wife Nell have nurtured their four children who now run National Bakery, Yummy Bakery, Caribbean Broilers, Hi-Pro Feeds, the Jamaica Pegasus, The Courtleigh, Knutsford Court, The Sunset Jamaica Grande, Sunset Beach, Holiday Inn, and Palms of Negril. The patriotic family is actively involved in several nation-building and outreach projects, dedicating their time, talent, as well as millions of their treasure for the greater good. We are looking forward to the event this coming Saturday.

Accomplished, generous Ethlyn Norton-Coke

Next Monday, family and numerous friends will bid farewell to Ethlyn Norton-Coke at the St Andrew Parish Church. This distinguished Jamaican attorney-at-law and chartered accountant used her considerable qualifications for the benefit of her country, serving both the private and public sectors. Hers was a familiar voice on many talk shows as she translated our various tax laws into layman's language, making herself easily accessible despite the demands on her time from various business and voluntary commitments. Ethlyn's friends valued her caring and loyalty. My condolence to her dear husband Ronnie Coke, other family members and friends. Rest in peace, phenomenal Ethlyn!

lowriechin@aim.com

www.lowrie-chin.blogspot.com

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