Jamaica is fine, warts and all
Mark Wignall's piece on Thursday, September 12, 2012 was one of his best. Wignall outlined a string of socio-economic statistics that confirmed beyond any doubt that Jamaica, compared to Zimbabwe, was further up the developmental curve by a significant margin. Where Wignall erred, I would suggest, was in giving significance to Lee Kuan Yew's criticism of us at an earlier period, and which was similar in content to that of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.
No well-thinking Jamaican would deny that some of the criticisms from both Mugabe and Lee represent the truth. Wignall, however, has already dismissed Mugabe as Comedy Central. I will add that Mugabe was a man I once put in the same category as Nelson Mandela. If ever one needed evidence that history is never written in the present, compare both men at this time. Mandela has become, for some, the world's most iconic representation of modern leadership and his stature continues to grow with the passage of time. Mugabe has become a seemingly senile old man, unaware of the time of day and an embarrassment not just for proud Zimbabweans, but indeed for many intelligent black men and women all over the world.
Where Lee and Singapore are concerned, I disagree with the predominant sentiment that Singapore is virtually heaven on earth. Lee became a dictator of the right who, in Wignall's words, "neutered trade unions, almost obliterated political opposition, made the media redundant and introduced many draconian laws". Outside of its first-world economy, what has Singapore contributed to the world?
Jamaica, for all its problems, continues to astonish the world by its brazen achievements. We created the world's newest religion in Rastafarianism, one of the world's most popular music forms in reggae, our cuisine has become standard fare in the finest restaurants across the globe, and we are the sprint capital of the world. Brand Jamaica is massive. For all our problems, the choice of Jamaica as a place to live, over Zimbabwe and Singapore, is for some of us an easy one.