Looking at Jamaica 60 years after Independence, I am certainly not happy with its state of affairs, not to mention the crime epidemic that is devaluing our land of wood and water, once associated with the phrase “Jamaica no problem”.
As I examine the Jamaica 60 theme ‘Reigniting A Nation For Greatness’, I want to ask the following questions: Are we ready to reignite the nation for greatness? Will Jamaica ever be great again?
While I have lived here for 43 of the 60 years of Independence, I would really want to see my country reimaged and transformed into a great country – low crime rate, low illiteracy rate, strong economic growth, excellent employment rate, state-of-the-art tourist destination, modern ports of entries, modern technologies, modern education system, decent working arrangements for all categories of workers, state-of-the-art facilities, and systems catering for our ageing population.
As I reflect on the reimaging of Jamaica, through the reigniting of greatness, I am thinking of various methods to modernise industries and theoretical perspectives for socialising the people, both young and ageing groups.
In an article entitled ‘Jamaica on the long road to social restoration’ written by Joshua Wachtel and published on June 25, 2014 on the International Institute for Restorative Practices’ website, the then permanent secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Carol Palmer, lamented that her goal is to make Jamaica a restorative country. She further stated that the vision is grand and beyond one generation, but she believes something can be done to change the fact that too many Jamaicans do not know how to settle differences and disputes peacefully, as violence amongst each other and our communities seems to be overbearing on the country and on the justice system.
While I agree with her somewhat, I will take it a step further to say our women need to reclaim their role in the family, home, and society, because until they start to nurture and discipline their children, nothing is going to change. It may seem cold, but there could be training and education programmes implemented in every community until we fix the broken homes, implement policies to tackle parenting skills, train parents how to discipline their children, and restore social graces.
The industrialisation and aesthetics of Jamaica need to reflect those of the modern world. Jamaica and its facilities need to look like what the young people are seeing in movies, on social media, in keeping with modern globalisation and urbanisation practices.
This modernisation must be extended to our schools as well as work and public spaces. It is high time now we make the place appealing to the eyes, as too many dilapidated buildings litter our landscape. Sometimes people’s behaviour are a reflection of their surroundings, the dirty streets, toxic cities, rodent-infested towns, overgrown lots and roadways are definitely not attractive or appealing to the eyes.
After 60 years the Jamaican landscape should comprise buildings with great architecture; public facilities, including sanitary conveniences; play areas; green spaces; and health facilities that are clean, modern, and retrofitted with basic amenities.
As it relates to socialisation, children need to be monitored on social media; allotted a limited time to play video games; encouraged to play outdoor games, such as marbles, gigs, and dandy-shandy; and sent to Sunday and Sabbath school more often.
Less children need to be on the road begging and selling, less children need to be entrusted with parenting and caring for younger siblings. Our children are growing up too quickly; they need to be children a bit longer and the family unit needs to be strengthened.
Equally, employers need to be more supportive of parents by increasing opportunities for remote work and flexi-work arrangements so that they can spend more time with their children. This rigid five-day-8:00 am-to-5:00 pm work schedule is doing more harm than good to the children.
As we refocus our energies on reimaging Jamaica through a paradigm of eclectic modernisation and socialisation, it is important for us have checks and balances. Some of the vital support groups and institutions that need to play their part in the reimaging of Jamaica are churches, schools, communities, homes, social clubs, workplaces, uniformed groups, international donor bodies, women, lobby groups, and male mentors.
Jamaica is our little gem that everyone in the world wants a piece of; therefore, we must cherish and protect it as we try to restore it to its former days of glory; laughter; safety; love; Jamaica no problem; and the fun place to live, work, and raise families.