Letters to the Editor

Creating a shared national identity around natural disasters could unite J'cans globally

Friday, September 15, 2017

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Dear Editor,

So, as the beautiful petals from the Otaheite (Jamaican Red) apple tree blanket the bare rocks, then fall to the ground like a velvet carpet, so should be the voice of our leadership — smoothing the hard reality of the Jamaican experience both at home and abroad.

In some countries, shared interest is borne out of having a common enemy. But Jamaicans at home and abroad, despite having a common enemy in the devasting effects of hurricanes, have failed to shape a shared identity for national development, especially among our leaders.

When South Korea emerged in the early 1950s, it had a shared identity under a military dictatorship. Thanks to a common enemy (North Korea), they developed a unified identity that resulted in a lot of policies which benefited everyone (Sir Paul Collier, professor of economics and public policy at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of London).

Jamaicans overseas have never given up on their responsibility to national development, far too often many of us give up our last dollar to send home and live for the next payday. We have always been committed to the development of a shared national identity, whether it is hurricane relief or supporting the development of quality health care and education in Jamaica.

While it is not too late, we have not seen any reciprocity, not in terms of aid or material assistance, but inspirational support in a statesmanlike manner from our leaders. If the prime minister had been committed to building a shared national identity, he would announce plans to visit “Little Jamaica” in Florida in light of the devastation from Hurricane Irma or making the necessary arrangements. It cannot be that the only time our prime minister will visit Jamaicans overseas is when an election is called or selling them on investing in Jamaica.

The Government must endeavour to create a shared national identity for all Jamaicans at home or abroad in order for nation-building and economic development to take place. One identity for all, not a Diaspora global card or passing laws for born Jamaicans to stay only six months in their country of birth.

“I believe it is also appropriate now that we have Jamaican immigration recognise the fact of dual nationality on the part of Jamaicans. Most passports record where you were born, and when the Jamaican of dual nationality comes in they should be recognised as being Jamaican and be treated as an accepted part of the Jamaican community,” said leader of the People's National Party Dr Peter Phillips.

Leadership must not only to be aspirational but, more so, inspirational. We must inspire our people to reach their full potential, despite what hardship and difficulties they may have suffered. We are one people; out of many one people, not many out of two political parties. We are no foreigners in our birthplace.

Silbert Barrett





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