Walking and quacking like a duck


Thursday, July 26, 2012    

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The People's National Party, founded in 1938 and initially led by Norman Manley, declared itself a socialist party in 1940. Between the times that Alexander Bustamante founded the Jamaica Labour Party in 1943 and the abolition of scientific socialism in the now defunct Soviet Union, the PNP was accused of being a communist party.

Norman Manley in his day denied the accusations. In the 1970s, Michael Manley as prime minister also denied all accusations of being communist. This was when Edward Seaga made his famous statement: "If you walk like a duck and quack like a duck, chances are that you are really a duck."

Thirty-something years later in 2012, Edward Seaga, now in retirement, denies an accusation by Jamaica Observer columnist Mark Wignall that the Central Intelligence Agency was present in Jamaica in 1980 at the time of the JLP landslide victory. Wignall's accusation and Seaga's denial coincide with our reflections on the 50th anniversary of Independence

Seaga pointed out that Michael Manley himself admitted that there was no evidence that the CIA was ever in Jamaica which, according to Seaga, discredited the statements by former CIA operative Phillip Agee that the CIA was trying to destabilise Jamaica.

But Michael Manley provided his own version of "Walk like a duck and quack like a duck". Please look at pages 176 -177 and 210-211 of Struggle in the periphery where Michael Manley quoted from a CIA operations manual and compared it with what was happening in Jamaica at the time.

I have a suggestion for the executors and beneficiaries of the Michael Manley estate. You should make some money by reprinting Struggle in the Periphery and use Edward Seaga's denial as the attraction for purchasing the book. And while mentioning the Manleys, Douglas Manley, the elder son of Norman Manley and elder brother of former Prime Minister Michael Manley, turned 90 on May 22 this year.

In the fable by Hans Christian Andersen, the Ugly Duckling walked and quacked like the baby swan which he was, and discovered his true species when he looked at his reflection in a lake. Many people "walk and quack like ducks" in terms of their talents and yet do not know them. For example, at no time of my earlier life did I ever have the ambition if being a newspaper columnist.

Suggestions that I should be a writer which I heard in my family as a teenager and in my 20s were always rejected. The first person ever to call me a historian was a student at my alma mater, Jamaica College, Jimmy Moss Solomon. When I was 28 years old, a co-worker of mine ( George Strachan who died earlier this year) asked me why I never did a degree in history. My reply to him was, "It never occurred to me".

I recall this because today is the 24th anniversary of my writing newspaper columns. The first 10 of the 24 years was as a columnist for the now defunct Jamaica Record and the now defunct Jamaica Herald.

My first printed work was a poem in the JC magazine of 1967. A prefect, who was one of three joint editors of the magazine, obviously saw in me what I did not see in myself and insisted that I do an article for the magazine. Apparently, I "walked and quacked" like a writer but did not see it in myself. That prefect who asked for a contribution from me for the school magazine is today the minister of finance, Dr Peter Phillips.

At JC, I was instrumental in getting a newsletter started, which was my idea, but even then I did not see myself in this role. That led to my being appointed the public relations officer for the JC Cadet Unit. While teaching at the Lluidas Vale Youth Camp in 1973 I was asked to edit a newsletter, but it still did not occur to me.

It all started to come home to me in my early 30s when I started a newsletter for Roman Catholic students who do not attend Roman Catholic schools. It coincided with the establishment of a weekly economic magazine called Money Index, owned and published by Mark Ricketts.

I suggested to Mark Ricketts that I could write columns in Money Index but unfortunately for me, I wrote about social matters like the importance of family life. Ricketts did not want that in his magazine so I never got published in Money Index.

Three years later Mark Ricketts established a newspaper called the Jamaica Record. Someone had a copy of my Roman Catholic newsletter and an article taken from it was published in the second edition of the Jamaica Record on July 26, 1988. In subsequent conversations with Mr Ricketts I was accepted as a columnist. The article taken from my newsletter and published was: "Priestly celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church".

The Jamaica Record closed in April 1992 and I wrote for the Jamaica Herald until it became a Sunday paper and I could not be published weekly. In April 1998, I started writing columns for the Jamaica Observer. Next year, God willing, I will publish a compilation of articles for my silver anniversary.





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