Letters to the Editor

Scrap the celebration and do some soul-searching

Monday, July 23, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

Readers, please don't characterise me as being too negative, unpatriotic, unappreciative or just being a party crasher, as I am definitely not, but I am one Jamaican who will not be caught up in this farce called "Jamaica 50 Celebration" that is being paid for and promoted by our politicians. What are we celebrating? The rest of the world and more so our Caricom neighbours are surely laughing at us and are likely to be calling us a bunch of poppy shows.

This potentially great nation, since Independence, was founded by two esteemed, patriotic, and noble men, Alexander Bustamante and Norman Manley, national heroes. Our early days of self-government had promise and were filled with hopefulness. Jamaica became a spark on the world map and was the darling and admiration of the Caribbean which many other islands tried to emulate. Bustamante and Norman Manley, though political adversaries, were never really self-serving in their approach to politics nor did they that put party interests before country. They genuinely had the welfare of the people at heart.

Then came the 70s and the tide changed and the politics and governance since the post-Busta/Norman era has set Jamaica on a free fall, deeper and deeper into the dungeons. We are now the laughing stock of the Caribbean and shunned and castigated by some other countries of the world. A promise that was so bright has almost dissipated and a nation that was so hopeful in 1962 has become lost and virtually hopeless. This demise has been caused solely by the type of politics that has been practised since the 70s.

So I will not sugar-coat or hide my head in the sand regarding the realities now facing my country in this our 50th year of Independence. We have failed badly and we have let down our forefathers who have sacrificed blood, sweat and tears to create a platform where we could rise and prosper as a nation.

Besides Usain Bolt and all the other great athletes and Bob Marley and all the other great musicians, there is not much to shout and celebrate about. Politicians like to brag about the advances in road infrastructure and in the telecommunications and IT sector, but those achievements are not of our own doing. The world has been swept up like a tidal wave in the last two decades in the field of IT and telecommunications. Inevitably, Jamaica was simply caught up in the current and was naturally moved forward with high tides. Similarly, much improvement in our highways was not of our own initiative. It was foreigners who saw the potential and opportunity to invest in our infrastructure at handsome returns.

Amidst all this blindfolded anaesthetic celebration, the undisputed truth of our reality since we achieved self-government is that we are not really better off now in 2012.

My recommendation for Jamaica 50 is to scrap the elaborate and expensive celebration and engage in some deep soul-searching and national introspection. Most important, we need to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to be co-chaired by former political rivals Prime Ministers Edward Seaga and PJ Patterson. This commission should be charged with the mandate of purging the sins of the nation for the past four decades, particularly political sins. Start the healing and forgiveness process, tear down political tribalism and garrisonisation. Seek to purge the nation of the norms of wanton corruption, injustice and inequality. Also, the committee must construct a feasible mid to long-term plan that would unite all Jamaicans and set us on a path to achieve our true economic and social goals that have eluded us for the past 50 years, but which are well within our grasp and capability as a truly potentially great but under-achieving nation.

Richard Patterson






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