The 'Jamaican Queen' takes the road...

The 'Jamaican Queen' takes the road...

Barbara Gloudon

Friday, January 06, 2012

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"WHAT is fi-yuh, cyaan be un-fi yuh." So it is not Standard English... so what if it is that dreaded "patwah" which drives some people crazy and strengthens their resolve to rid the nation of all that terrible "bad chatting" which holds us back from taking tea at Buckingham Palace?

Consider well, in which language can you find an expression which is confident enough to say: "What is yours cannot be not yours". That sound pyah-pyah eeh? There we go again, lapsing into the vernacular. Like it or not, however, it is the voice of that part of the society which made its power known last week, changing the heartbeat of the nation in the process.

Every pundit has been toiling through the night trying to find the appropriate scientific explanation for what happened on December 29, 2011. In certain quarters, the puzzle to be solved was, why so few saw the train coming? Portia had been banished to the periphery to which she had been relegated since '07. How could she possibly become the star of the moment all of a sudden? She's not even young. Wasn't this supposed to be "yute time now"? Old people (anybody over 30) "shoulda did tek weh demself long time". But, instead, here they are, taking back the reins of leadership, from a much-vaunted younger generation. Another example of old age and treachery overcoming youth and skill?

The harsh truth is that one woman has triumphed over seemingly impossible odds, and, with the help of a well-organised team of strategists, has managed to confound the pollsters and naysayers. What is strange about this particular time is that so few could honestly say that they knew what was to come. Did anybody really anticipate a 42:21 scorecard? How come?

Writers of letters to the media have taken the opportunity to unleash a torrent of blame at the feet of the losers. Charges of arrogance, disrespect, insensitivity and more has been levelled at the 'Yute' brigade which led the charge, but that will pass...

Insult is being added to injury, salt is being rubbed into the wounds because we don't like losers, especially when the expectation of victory was as high as the cost of taking well-wishers on a round-the-island outing, among other things. With hindsight, it is now being asked, was the same effort expended on seeing that the joy-riders had been enu-merated? Who ensured that they were eligible to vote and did go out on Election Day?

THE GREATEST TALKING POINT of all though, is the victor — already dubbed the Personality of the Year, the woman whose slightest slip of the tongue, the smallest sign of vulnerability, drew the scorn of the self-appointed arbiters of the elevated little finger, who did not hesitate to delete her from their social register. They reckoned without her stamina and determination.

And now, lo and behold, here she is, returning once more to make, not only political, but gender history -- first woman in Jamaican history to bear the title of prime minister, not once, but twice. Never mind the argument about whether she is the seventh PM in her second term, or whatever, she is back in power again. She will find her administration strapped for cash to care for the many who are already making it clear that they anticipate jobs, especially for the 'yute'. Roads must be fixed, education improved, the health service made healthy, security made even more secure, and we want all that and more as soon as possible.

It's not an easy road ahead but the "Jamaican Queen" has trod it before. Only a fool would forget lessons painfully learned in the past. This Queen is not fool-fool, nor are the members of the high-powered team which quietly carried out the strategies leading to victory. A real challenge is how to keep the people loyal. Jamaica people have become more confident. They are not afraid to speak out, and speak they will when they're ready. Anyone who ignores them, does so at their peril.

ONE OF THE BEST recommendations I've heard so far comes from a highly-respected, experienced, now-retired professional in a much-needed field of expertise, who would like to commend to the attention of the new administration, that there are persons like himself who are prepared to volunteer their skill and expertise in areas where there is need. He spoke, in particular, of the area of health, but said he knew there were other fields -- education, for example -- where retirees are also prepared to assist, if required. This is not a new concept. This time, however, will it be accepted and put to use?

Before young people get the idea that this will deprive them of employment, the proposer of the "volunteer brigade" was quick to point out that so great is the need, that there is enough to go around. The only loss which would accrue is the nation's refusal or inability to make use of such resources.

OTHER PERSONS are talking about ways of strengthening communities for mutual assistance, particularly in rural areas. Jamaica is never short of ideas. Instead of just chat-bout, though, why not seize the opportunities?

If you see a hand waving at the back of the class, it's me, trying to get in my two-cents. "Me, me teacher... hear my idea. What are we going to do with all that mined-out bauxite land? Is it true that the companies (some, maybe all) are not honouring commitments to us? Are they returning to restart operations, or will we continue to live in hope and die in starvation?" There's a lot we have to discuss.

Another big question I've heard is, why aren't we doing more to help ourselves to be more self-sufficient? How much do we spend on importation of corn and other products for animal feed, imported with costly hard currency? Many persons are asking, what is to prevent us from growing corn and other suitable crops, and why can't we process them here? All we seem to do is chat and chat about attracting investors, ignoring the fact that they're all over in China, India and the rest of Cheap Labour Land. What if they don't hear us? What are we going to do?

FLASH BACK to the 1980 newspaper files, immediately after that election. See the photos of the men in the three-piece polyester suits of the day, trooping across the tarmac, beneath the banner headlines: "THE INVESTORS ARE HERE!"

Read on... See how quickly they left again. Are we ready for another round of disillusionment? You mean we really cannot do anything for ourselves? Joke done. New times call for new action. Let's get going.

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