‘If I don’t trod Rastafari’
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Community development specialist and UWI lecturer Alan Bernard, who will represent the People’s National Party (PNP) in St James North Western, has invited Jamaicans to hold him accountable if, during his political journey, he strays from the tenets of Rastafari.
“Any Jamaican can step up to I and hold I accountable if I don’t trod Rastafari in I political representation,” he declared.
“Simply put, Comrades, Rastafari is righteousness; Rastafari encompasses the highest principles of discipline, of integrity, of equity, and in the words of the beloved Peter Tosh, Rastafari uphold ‘equal rights and justice’,” he added.
Bernard was addressing party faithful on Sunday after PNP President Mark Golding introduced him as one of the candidates for St James. In the next general election, Bernard will go up against the Jamaica Labour Party’s Dr Horace Chang who has represented St James North Western since 2002.
From the platform, Bernard outlined what he views as the differences between the two major political parties and why he is a member of the PNP. In his view, “the PNP puts people’s rights, people’s hopes, people’s dreams, people’s aspirations centre to the policies”.
“Your next PNP Member of Parliament for North West St James will be challenging all these down-trodden policies of the Government. We intend to improve the quality of lives of people in North West St James. Your next PNP Member of Parliament for North West St James will be grounded with the people,” he promised.
According to the aspiring MP, under a PNP Administration they would listen to the people on the ground and craft programmes that will spur economic development in the constituency.
Bernard was among residents of Flanker, including the late Marlene Nash, who worked in the then violence-ravaged community to broker peace between warring factions. This led to a significant reduction in violence, especially murders. He was also among those integral to the establishment of the Flanker Peace and Justice Centre, now called the Flanker Resource Centre, which continues to serve the community, providing education, skills training and dispute resolution, among other resources.
Bernard told Comrades at Sunday’s meeting that he will continue working to promote unity in the constituency which includes some of St James’ most gritty inner-city neighbourhoods.
“Your next PNP Member of Parliament going to put the unity forefront in North West St James. Is we delivering safer and more secure communities. We know how down here stay. So Comrades, you see if you come from Kingston, you going know me as the university lecturer or you going know me as the development specialist that work with all the development partners and all the donor partners. You see if you come from Flanker, or you come from Glendevon or you come from Norwood or you come from Paradise or you come from Salt Spring, you par with the brethren who a build youth, who a build community and a make the lives better,” he said.
“Is build we build youths through education and make them be all they can be to themselves and them families. We been doing this for over 30 years and we come to do it again. Is build we build peaceful and harmonious community so we can strengthen community-based organisations, strengthen youth clubs, strengthen church groups, strengthen businesses and entrepreneurs. We build those and make those communities transform into sustainable and viable societies,” he added.
He pointed out that he has been engaged in community work for more than 30 years and it is work that he intends to continue.
Bernard has been a member of the party since the days when the late Nash served as constituency secretary, then regional secretary. He ventured into representational politics post-COVID-19, serving as chairman of Montego Bay North Eastern (Flanker Division) before transitioning into the chairman for the constituency then successfully applying to be the standard bearer.
Speaking with the Jamaica Observer after the meeting, Bernard explained why he chose to wade into the political fray.
“The decision to come in was a collaborative engagement with all of the party workers but mostly the community of Flanker which is near and dear to my heart. Everybody know say me take it serious and personal to see transformation,” he said.