It is time for us to get it right

Monday, June 04, 2012    

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Reports out of London say more than one million people watched on a cold, wet day as Queen Elizabeth's 1,000-boat Diamond Jubilee pageant made its way along the River Thames.

Across the world, millions more, would have watched in awe via television and the numerous, fast-evolving, Internet- related avenues.

The monarchy and its near 1,000-year-old tradition symbolises the political stability and strength of culture and confidence that we routinely associate with Britain -- a country that ruled much of the planet between the 17th century and midway the last.

From this distance many Jamaicans view Britain and its monarchy with considerable ambivalence. For, while we can admire the achievements, we are also well aware of our own history of slavery and colonialism which flowed directly from British imperial power.

There are those who will argue that looking back is pointless. But surely we can't logically deny that much of Jamaica's economic inequities and downright impoverishment -- addressed so passionately by Opposition Leader Andrew Holiness in last week's Budget presentation -- is legacy of slavery and colonialism.

But the debilitating legacy is not just about the hard, material, economic aspects. Even more damaging to nation building is the deeply embedded psychological hurt that has flowed from our history of being servants and slaves.

Surely we cannot deny that the inferiority complex among so many of our people and the absence of confidence in self and the Jamaican nation, so evident at all levels, can be traced to colonial domination and enslavement.

Sadly that lack of confidence in self and what we stand for as a people has influenced many of our young, including some with decent formal education, to bleach their skins in a bid to look less black and by extension - in their own eyes - more acceptable.

It is difficult to expect a people devoid of confidence in their own worth to vigorously stride forward as one towards development and the elimination of poverty.

It is within that context of the felt need to build our own self confidence as a people and a nation, that so many of us have consistently called for the replacement of the British Privy Council by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as our final court of appeal and the replacement of the British monarch by a home-grown head of state. That desired pride in self, and confidence in our destiny as a nation won't come overnight but it will come in time, once the process is in place. There are of course other clear-cut, material advantages to the replacement of British institutions such as having a final court in our own backyard instead of having to apply for an expensive British visa and then to travel all the way across the Atlantic.

Until a few days ago, this newspaper, like so many Jamaicans, was of the view that our two political parties had reached the stage where in this our 50th year of independence a firm platform, at least, would have been put in place to finally rid ourselves of these final symbols of colonialism and domination.

By condemning it as a "distraction" from the drive to "end poverty" Mr Holness appears to have deliberately and cynically scuppered the initiative to complete the circle of Jamaica's political and judicial sovereignty.

If we understand him correctly, Mr Holness has in one stroke, rendered Jamaica's 50th Independence anniversary celebrations meaningless for many of us.





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