The truth of the Manley years
I wish to congratulate Delano Seiveright on doing his part in knocking down a great fallacy that is being foisted on the Jamaican people. These people claim that Michael Manley was the most visionary and transformational leader in Jamaica's history. That is not true.
My father, a black man from humble beginnings, owned and operated a small but profitable wholesale and a very small factory in Kingston since the early 1960s. It is that wholesale and very small factory that sent my four siblings and me to school, and maintained our house in Meadowbrook. In 1972 Michael Manley captured the imagination of countless Jamaicans, including my mother - a teacher - and my father, who both voted for him in 1972.
Two to three years after Mr Manley took office, all hell broke loose. They said "Socialism is love", yet my father's wholesale was constantly raided by men claiming that it is "fi we time now" and that "people like unnu a fight poor people". My father, a philanthropist at heart, resisted on two occasions and was subjected to physical and verbal assault. The police were nonchalant and instead demanded that we give more "free" supplies to the nearby police station.
I watched as my father's business crumbled before our eyes and the economy sank into despair and chaos under the government's reckless economic policies and actions. In 1977, after gunmen boasting "a fi we time now" invaded our home and attempted to sexually assault my mother and 14-year-old sister, my dad locked shop, sold the house and we all migrated.
After visiting last month I was shocked to see the ramshackle state of the area where my dad's wholesale and small factory had been located. I was also surprised at how Meadowbrook has lost its appeal. My sister, who braved it and returned to Jamaica in the 1990s, was gobbled up by extortion and Finsac. She has since re-migrated to Canada. My father went on to build a successful business in Canada employing 12 people.
Jamaica was devastated by Michael Manley's government and the facts outlined by Mr Seiveright are there for all to see. The truth needs to be told and repeated every day.