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Take charge of Jamaica 50 now, PM!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

THE first order of business for Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller on her return from Rio+20 in Brazil is to take charge of the Jamaica 50th anniversary Secretariat.

Better yet, Mrs Simpson Miller should telephone Opposition Leader Andrew Holness from Rio de Janeiro and set up a meeting with him at the VIP lounge of the Norman Manley International Airport to discuss how the two parties will work together to lead the celebrations marking this monumental achievement by our nation.

It is very clear at this point that left to Culture Minister Lisa Hanna and her Opposition counterpart, Miss Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, Jamaica will suffer the greatest embarrassment of the last 50 years.

We have in this paper betrayed our fondness for Miss Hanna, who has tremendous abilities, and our admiration for Miss Grange, who is well known for her knowledge of things cultural. So for us it is not about the ability to run the 50th anniversary Secretariat.

But Misses Hanna and Grange are not getting along and that is absolutely untenable.

In yesterday's editorial, we rehashed our fears when the anniversary was first announced in 2011 that partisan politics would capture the celebrations and keep the nation divided at a time when we should be collectively looking to craft the future Jamaica. We are extremely pained that our worst fears are now being realised.

At this stage, we don't see the possibility of Misses Grange and Hanna working together in harmony. Before there was any thought that the general election would come in 2011, Miss Grange, as the then minister of culture, had gone ahead and started preparations for the celebrations. Commitments were made, timelines were set and plans were laid with her in mind as the minister. And it is something she enjoys doing too.

Enter Miss Hanna who, in the best of circumstances, would disagree with some of those commitments, timelines and plans. Understandably, she, as a product of the post-independence era, would want to bring her own stamp.

The first major sign of the fireworks to come was the public disagreement over the budget to mark the event. We knew that things had reached a point of no return when the media was invited for a photo opportunity at a meeting of the two and then suddenly uninvited. So the promise that a joint release would be issued did not fool us into believing that the two had kissed and made up. That is easier said than done.

School children understand the awesome symbolism of commemorating the first 50 years of political Independence. It is a rare opportunity to reflect on past glories, but also failures as well. It is a chance to start afresh by resolving to right those wrongs that have kept us shy of the mark of the great nation we truly are.

We have absolutely no fear of contradiction that the entire Jamaica agrees that the greatest sore on the body politic of our nation is partisan politics. We have endured this evil monster, sipping from its dripping sores and impotent to remove it from our midst.

We cannot leave Misses Grange and Hanna to continue to feed and fatten this dastardly beast. Their cass-cass over which is the Jamaica 50th anniversary song is more fodder for this internecine warfare.

We don't see any evidence that the Shaggy-led On a Mission song was declared the 50th Anniversary song, but we also note that its launch was poorly handled and one could have drawn the conclusion that it was meant to be such.

Let's wheel and come again!

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