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Planning for the 50th anniversary

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dear Editor,

This year, 2012, should have been a year of fulsome celebrations for Jamaica. Fifty years of political Independence deserve not only to be noted but also to be celebrated. This noting and celebration should take place at two levels. One is a cerebral level; the other a popular general level.

The cerebral level is one of sober assessment. Scholars and professional thinkers and members of the government should be pondering how the country can continue to move forward. There should be some serious and thoughtful examination of what exactly Jamaica has accomplished during the past fifty years and just precisely what measures are required to ensure the continuation of material and moral progress for the next 50 years and more. In short, a number of blueprints should be produced that will guide the national policy makers in a variety of fields as they move beyond 2012. Policy makers will then have various options, some of which will be more feasible than others. The important thing is to have careful assessments of challenges and opportunities.

The second level of popular activities should be just as important as the first. Fifty years of political Independence deserve to be celebrated widely. This should not be an occasion of party differences, of political divisions between groups and areas, or of media negativism and nihilism. This is a time to suspend all sorts of differences and make the island truly one. This should be a year of total merrymaking. It should have been one prolonged carnival. All across the country from Negril Point to Morant point there should have been popular celebrations. The people should have had parties and dances and bonfires and spectacular fireworks every month for the entire year from January to December. Regardless of the cost, this is a year for all the people to feel good about themselves and their country.

Instead, the year is more than halfway through and little of what I have outlined above has been done. So far everything seems embarrassingly muted as though both the government and the people of Jamaica cannot quite believe, after 50 years, that they control their own political affairs.

That is a great pity and a sad reflection on the island. Indeed, it probably says much about the Jamaican psyche.

Without access to the inner circles of policy-making, one thing is certain. It is too late already to begin to plan for properly organised activities on the scale and significance deserved. What has not been already planned and announced will probably not be worth the time and effort. A proper 50th anniversary celebration this year would have needed at least five full years of planning. Maybe Jamaicans have not yet developed the concept of planning, despite the prolific announcement of plans of all sorts. Planning requires more than wishful thinking followed by hollow declarations. They require careful study. And anything done well requires time.

Frederick S Campbell


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