Columns

Teach Garvey and Rodney in schools

Michael
Burke

Thursday, March 15, 2018

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As we say in Jamaica, “Nuff tings a gwaan.” There is the comment by Peter Bunting about Dr Nigel Clarke. There is the protest by an ecumenical group about government wanting to be signatories for church school cheques. There are the advertisements that discourage obesity in children caused by sugary drinks and the observation that the real fault is the schools. And also, there is the 'sick-out' that was organised by the nation's public school teachers.

Regarding Peter Bunting's comment, I do not know much about Nigel Clarke so I cannot agree or disagree with Bunting. But I suspect that many of those who criticise Peter Bunting's statement aspire to being black Englishmen themselves.

Bunting also mentioned the first People's National Party (PNP) President Norman Manley and also the late Justice Ronald Small, father of Hugh Small (also Richard Small and Robin “Jerry” Small) as also appearing as black royalty. But none of Bunting's critics mentioned that he included the Manley and the elder Small.

Reading and listening to the objectors I realise that many of them seem to have a wrong idea of what an education should be. There is nothing wrong with having an excellent command of the English language, as I too have been accused, and perhaps correctly so. But having a good education does not necessarily mean a command of the English language. I have often said of others that I never criticise their English because I would not like them to criticise my patois.

There is also nothing wrong with liking to wear suits, although I have a different opinion on that while living in a tropical country like Jamaica. But one should not have to wear a suit to be recognised. And, again, I am not here referring to Dr Nigel Clarke, of whom I know little about. I believe he was the same person who gave me a lift home from a function some years ago, but I cannot really say that I know him. I am, however, referring to a large number of Jamaicans who have not emancipated themselves from mental slavery as Marcus Garvey said and Bob Marley sang about, and who see advancement in those terms.

I am yet to see one letter or e-mail that suggests that Bunting was incorrect. Nor have I seen any asking for evidence. All of what I have read points to the question: So what if he behaves like a black Englishman? Some even suggest envy on the part of Bunting, which is absolutely ridiculous.

I am not a Bunting fan. I have disagreed publicly with some of his statements in the past. And just so that you know, my preference is for Peter Phillips to be president of the PNP at this time. But on the question of whether or not Dr Nigel Clarke behaves like black royalty, I cannot understand the hullabaloo, unless it is not true.

This past Sunday, Garfield Higgins wrote in the Sunday Observer magazine The Agenda that Bunting is moving to the extreme left of the PNP as part of a plan to challenge Phillips for its presidency. Even if this is so, it still does not tell me whether Bunting made a correct or incorrect assessment of Dr Nigel Clarke, as I do not have sufficient knowledge to make a comment. And, if Higgins is correct about Bunting going left, I would find this most interesting.

I have asked, to no avail, in the past, what are Bunting's views on cooperatives. I would still like to hear Bunting's views regarding cooperatives. I have also criticised Bunting's anti-free education stance as being out of line with the Manleys.

Regarding “black royalty” or “roast breadfruit” behaviour, I have argued that the teachings of Marcus Garvey and Walter Rodney should be taught in schools. A few weeks ago, an online commentator wrote that Walter Rodney was a Marxist and only used black power as a front for his political interests. Even so, what has that got to do with Rodney's world-classic book How Europe underdeveloped Africa? To readers who sought to lecture me about Rodney, I ask one question: Have you ever read any of his books? Well, I have. And my opinion on this is based on his books — not his ideological beliefs or his character.

So the Ministry of Education has instructed church-run schools to add their representatives as a signatory to their bank account and cheques. Why on earth do they want to do this? The churches should carry the Government to court over this one and, in the meantime, set up different accounts and donate the money to their schools.

We already have a situation in which banks are allowed to charge exorbitant fees, and one can speculate why. It is the right of anyone, including any section of the private sector, to contribute to the political parties. Is a blind eye being turned from them so that they will be generous in contributing to campaign funds? If the Government has a right to touch church funds, can't that money be legally spent anywhere in government expenditure? Will such money be used for roadwork at election time?

So a campaign is on in earnest to stop sugary drinks. I am in thorough agreement. I feel good that I am no longer obese because I have cut down my sugar and starch intake tremendously. As a result, I am returning to my 'mawga' self of yesteryear. I mention this only to point out that it can be done.

The school canteens have been blamed for obesity in children. Every time I hear some discussion about lengthening the school term or the school week I ask if that decision would be to satisfy the suppliers of food and drinks to school canteens, so that they get a lengthier run in making sales. In that way, as campaign donors, they might be more generous.

Whether PNP or Jamaica Labour Party is in power, I am on record as stating that the Government will never be able to pay teachers what they deserve. The only answer is for teachers to join the rest of the workers in this country in forming a hotel co-operative in which they can work part-time. National Heroes Marcus Garvey and Norman Manley were also co-operative enthusiasts.

Michael Burke is a research consultant, historian and current affairs analyst. Send comments to the Observer or ekrubm765@yahoo.com.

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