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Guilty with explanation

Barbara Gloudon
Friday, July 13, 2012

"A GOVERNMENT cannot commit any wrong because governments do not administer themselves. It is the individuals who administer governments that sometimes bring ignominy upon the honour of governments".

National Hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey had an uncanny understanding of his fellow citizens. The foregoing opinion, dated 1923 and captured in Ken Jones' publication Marcus Garvey Said indicated that Mr Garvey would not have been surprised at the leggo-beast behaviour passing for government in our Parliament. Mr Garvey's wisdom reminds us that the institution called "government" is one thing, but the individuals who make up the institution is quite another.

After last week's storm, there have been attempts at repentance in Gordon House. The "bull-buckers and duppy conquerors" are trying to appear as humble penitents, "Guilty with explanation, Mister Speaker, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa." The ritual is somewhat flawed, however. Brother Pryce drew muted giggles with a too-long sermon and Warmy found a way, as usual, not to use the word "sorry".

This brings to mind the story of a man who, upon seeing his friend Thaddeus in deep conversation with someone of much higher social standing, decided to join their company uninvited, to prove that "him a smaddy too". So he rushed over and greeted his friend: "Thaddeus, yuh ole (four-letter word)." The tappanares personality, displeased at finding himself in such coarse company, immediately ended the encounter, leaving Thaddeus to rebuke his friend who quickly declared how sorry he was. Thaddeus promptly advised him: "Yuh nuh fi sorry, yuh nuh fi dweet". We need a Thaddeus now to run a "sorry seminar" at Duke Street.

Now that all the self-serving excuses have been made and absolution granted, how long will repentance last? How long before the bullying and disrespect resume? Can we count on "the usual suspects" not to resort to their accustomed vulgarity? You could hear them chomping at the bit on Tuesday, rearing to have a go when Pryce was making his confession of faith. The presentation was indeed too long but it had its moments. The tribute to NW Manley on the anniversary of his 119th birthday was a worthwhile history lesson for both sides of the aisle and was no laughing matter.

Would that we could really believe that the penitents are sorry enough not to "dweet again". How can we trust them when Warmy the Warrior couldn't resist boasting that last week's episode was not the worst in the history of Parliament, as if that made his contribution to the disorderly conduct "not so bad to dat"? For this, apparently we're to be truly grateful.

LOST IN THE RUSH: With all the excitement, who even noticed that Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna made her contribution to the Sectoral Debate on that fateful day of disorder? Who even bothered to find out what the presentation was about? Ms Hanna has not been having it easy since she assumed office. Her ratings have been sorely tested with the Jamaica 50 controversies. Then representatives of the "leaders of tomorrow" publicly gave her an insulting D Grade for management of the youth portfolio. Interestingly, one of the assessors actually works in her ministry, even while giving the impression that he didn't know what was going on.

Ms Hanna has kept her cool so far. Someone commented that "pulling style is not her style". It is not often that she permits a glimpse into her personal history, either. In the budget presentation, she made reference to being chosen at age 23 to speak at the launch of Jamaica's signing of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This experience, she said, had a lasting effect on her and sparked her interest to do what she can to help set things right for Jamaican youth.

THE PRESENTATION to Parliament included focus on child abuse - emotional, sexual, etc. These challenges, she said, are being targeted by the ministry. Programmes are in the offing to do more for children who live in state-run children's homes and places of safety. Funding to these institutions is being increased by government. UNICEF has made a

$1.2-billion grant to assist with the eradication of violence against children and other negatives which challenge our young.

Considering the anguish expressed by the nation over the Armadale fire and the myriad reports of sexual abuse suffered by children, in what should be the safety of family surroundings, it is a pity that these and other matters brought to the House for discussion last week had to take a back seat to delusion and disorder. It is not too late, however, to restore them to the front burner.

The relevant agencies and organisations, which are charged with effecting the programmes to provide a better deal for Jamaica's children, need to make us know what progress we are making. The government should also know that we the people are prepared to test the substance of its promises. That is why a debate on issues involving youth should be receiving far more constructive analysis than which other marine animal swims in the Gordon House shark pool.

WHAT ARE THE SOLUTIONS for the questions raised? What answers can we give? If the crazies weren't so busy cussing and fighting last week, we might have had an interesting parliamentary debate on youth and the future. It would've been interesting to hear feedback on a project to train youths in development techniques, advocacy and leadership skills, then engage them to fan out across the island to teach others. What of another project to train and equip youths for careers in the entertainment industry, not only onstage but behind the scenes? How much is known about this and other proposals for unemployment alleviation?

There is a lot of talk about cultural industries and the potential for much earning. We should be examining its basis for a solid future. But then everyone is more concerned with TALK than action. A popular theme for Jamaica 50 symposia and lectures being organised by citizens and community organisations focuses on "looking to the future". You can bet "older heads" will dominate at these events, but let's not forget those to whom the future belongs. Let's make room for their opinions.

Who would believe a four-year old who has his own iPad and uses it easily too? Last year, at age three, he mastered a tiny camera. What will his life be, even a few more years from this? It would be instructive to know how government is planning now for him and others to whom the future really belongs.

WALK GOOD: Linda Gambrill (nee Desnoes) one of the nicest people I ever knew, left us on Tuesday. It's a long time since she was told that she had but a short while to live. She beat all the odds and used her full quota of a generous spirit to enrich the lives of so many, with her wonderfully outrageous sense of humour and unbounding capacity for kindness. A lotta people are missing her already, especially Tony, the children and the grands. She was one of a special kind.


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