Mugabe's criticism another wake-up call?
The President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe has struck a very controversial and apparently disruptive - though not necessarily discordant note - with Jamaican men in general, which is reverberating at the highest level of the social and political order. He was able to accomplish this daunting feat in his bold attempt to label us as "a country of marijuana smokers, where women are now taking charge since men are always sloshed (drunk)".
Both the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and the Opposition Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade have waded into the fray, with the minister stating that "his office would be seeking to verify the statements, after which Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller would respond". The Opposition spokesperson's response to Mugabe's outburst is that "it's inappropriate, and frankly speaking, rude", and suggests "he should apologise to the Jamaican people".
But what of our men - Jamaican men? This seems to be the case of a "one cap fits all" situation. The quintessential question really is: Is President Robert Mugabe on to something? Certainly, his observation that our "universities are full of women" while our "men want to sing and do not go to colleges" is a truism that is straight on, supporting his line of reasoning which none can deny. We may want to hit him hard with the charge of meddling in the internal and domestic affairs of another sovereign nation. We might even question whether he should maintain membership in the Order of Jamaica. But regardless of our feelings, is this another "toll of the bell" for men and our manhood in this our beloved country? Can we not use this as an eye-opener and another wake-up call to help our men?
There is urgent need for a concerted groundswell effort by all Jamaicans to salvage the dignity and respect of some of our downtrodden and marginalised (whether self-imposed or otherwise) men. The church, schools, colleges, universities, private and public sector organisations, NGOs, the judiciary, civil society: we must be united for this one common cause. Assistant Commissioner of Police Derrick Cochrane, in appealing for greater public support in resolving domestic disputes said, "It is a real problem for the police but we cannot do it alone ... so we want everybody to see themselves as part of this critical coalition going forward." My general comment: Ditto!
Vincent M S Peterkin, PhD
Northern Caribbean University