As a nation, we are at fault

As a nation, we are at fault

Time to take back Jamaica!

BY Romane Elliston

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

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“A nation's most powerful asset is its people. Develop them and it will flourish.”

It is advisable to be subtle when relaying one's opinion, lest you come off as bigoted or egoistical. However, on such a topic as this, it cannot be business as usual. I have to open with my conclusive stance: We need to do away with corrupted government!

Jamaica, the land of wood and water, has been historically known as a wealthy and resourceful nation. According to The Economic History Review, Jamaica was considered the island of “prodigious riches”. In fact, in times past, the Jamaican economy rivalled that of the United States. Furthermore, in recent times, Jamaica has been lauded for its progress in literacy. According to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), Jamaica's literacy rate is at an impressive 89 per cent overall, with males totalling 84 per cent and females 93 per cent.

However, with all this built-up hype, Jamaica is still considered a Third World or developing country, which according to IGI Global is described as a nation that has low living standards, undeveloped industrial base, and ranks low on the Human Development Index (HDI). Furthermore, according to an online infographic published in 2015 by US-based Vox Media, Jamaica is considered as rich as the US was back in 1916. Today, 2019, makes Jamaica more than a century behind the United States in terms of economic progress. If that were not bad enough, the World Atlas, in its latest publication on February 1, 2018, ranked Jamaica based on per capita gross domestic product (GDP) as the 17th richest Caribbean nation out of 23 recorded territories. And the International Monetary Fund (IMF) ranks Jamaica as the second-poorest Caribbean country in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita. Many may argue where Jamaica actually falls on the economic ladder in the Caribbean but, based on my research, it was conclusive that we do not appear in the top 10 on any list. Unfortunately, it does not end there, The Chicago, one of the top five newspapers in the US, wrote an editorial titled 'The Greece of the Western Hemisphere', of which Jamaica was likened to Greece owing to our excessive borrowing which has plunged us into debt.

We have been giving away our birthright. The Government of Jamaica and a small group of minority shareholders, together, own 20 per cent of shares in the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited. We have moved from owning our own airline (Air Jamaica) to only owning 16 per cent shares in Caribbean Airlines. And we now have zero shares in the West Indies Alumina Company (WINDALCO). Unfortunately, our bauxite, hotel, sugar cane, and coffee industries, among others, have not escaped this trend and, to make matters worse, Prime Minister Andrew Holness is readily signing over mining contracts to the Cockpit Country.

Truly, I am ashamed of the direction in which my country is heading. Before I proceed any further, I hope that my intentions for this article are not misinterpreted. I am not saying that nothing positive is happening, but what I am saying is that enough is not being done.

The facts speak for themselves. When I asked what the source of our problem might be some have gone back as far as our formation days and blamed Michael Manley and Edward Seaga. Others argued that it is simply a matter of misappropriation of resources, invasion of foreign entities, and corruption within the Government. However, if you ask me, I would blame the people.

As a nation, we are at fault. We put and keep these white men in black skin in power. [White men is only a reference to the white slave masters, and in no way is directed at white people in general or intended to incite racial or otherwise discrimination.] They continue to oppress us and destroy our nation. But this is not new. In the past, black tribal leaders in Africa sold their own just as how our governments have been selling us out; and we were enslaved, forced to follow a white man's regime. But still we managed to overcome oppression. That is how we gained our Independence. However, unfortunately, all of us are not free. Many of us are still bound by shackles in our minds.

Our nation is still a rich reservoir of resources, both physical and the people. In fact, Jamaica has many nationals who have multiple master's and/or doctorates, who have studied abroad and are influential in their respective circles, yet we sit around and watch our country suffer because it does not affect us directly, yet. I say yet because it is only a matter of time. Additionally, many of us are fleeing the country vowing never to return because we see our imminent demise.

As a people, we are hypocrites, we turn a blind eye to injustice, we protect criminals and thugs — the Government included — and then we lie in wait for a hero, a saviour. But I say, up, up you mighty race! None but ourselves can liberate our nation. Too many of us are afraid to die. But, I tell you, when we no longer fear death, then the enemy has no power over us. Our forefathers did not let the fear of death cripple them. They fought and won although they died, but we tasted freedom by their sacrifice. Stand up for your children and their children's children. Stand up for the rich heritage fought and earned by our forefathers.

My people, we do not require dragon slayers nor superhuman beings, but a people who know fear, admit their fear, but are ready just the same to fight. Let us rid ourselves of our failed and corrupt government. Enough is enough! We cannot afford for our beautiful nation to sink any further.

Romane Elliston is an educator, writer, and motivational speaker. He is also an activist for young people, at-risk boys, change, and enlightenment. Send comments to the Observer or

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