Amid the grief, is there hope?Friday, November 04, 2016
HOW much more can we take? The seemingly unending tide of destruction — the taking of children’s lives by robbers and murderers — has brought anguish to parents, guardians and, to the wider public, a sense of despair. Words of consolation have become a regular litany, calling for an answer to what has beset us, but the pain does not go away easily and the evil has not stopped.
A crowd gathered on the grounds of Jamaica College on Monday morning past, joined in sympathy for the profound grief felt by a family who has suffered at the hands of an evildoer who, robbing their son, a young student, of his possessions, took his life. On Monday morning, prayers were said and speeches delivered with the message that, despite despair, we cannot let the evil ones completely deprive us of hope.
After the gathering dispersed, parents, guardians and others went off to mourn. Officials left behind uttered words of consolation and advice to soothe the broken hearts.
The questions that linger: Will the danger ever pass? How safe can our children be? How will we defend them?
The new week was barely underway when evil struck again elsewhere. Two more young schoolboys were targeted — one stabbed, one shot. This time the story is of a teenager returning from cadet training. He had been attacked and stabbed to get possession of his phone.
In the discussions of the day, a teacher’s lament is reported to have been in reference to the challenge faced by our children: "They are not safe on the buses and not safe on the roads." Where, then, are they safe? Who will find and answer?
The minister of education recommends, "Stand up, speak up and, where it is necessary, call the police."
"Stand up for justice" is the remark which draws my attention most of all; the most urgent call, as far as I am concerned. Until it can be real to the evildoers that they are not going to get away with it, our laments will continue with little result.
The accused individual in the matter of the young Jamaica College student stabbed for a phone is reported to have turned himself in to the police. Questions: How long before he is tried? How long before judgement is passed? Even still longer, when will he be sentenced? Will he be convicted?
Have we forgotten the saying, "Justice delayed is justice denied"? If those who torment our children and take their lives are walking around now — free to continue their reign of terror — where is the hope that we seek? What can the future hold for our children? We talk and talk and talk while justice is distressingly delayed and the tears of parents flow while our children live in fear.
On Monday morning, a student was overheard saying, "When the excitement over, we still have to take the bus," to which, all too sadly, we could be adding next: "The slaughter of the innocents, yet again."
All is not lost
In the same week that we were weeping for our children there were rays of hope in the form of the annual ceremonies for the presentation of graduates of The University of the West Indies held on the Mona home ground (last week Friday and Saturday), and for the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech), at the National Arena yesterday (Thursday).
I attended Friday’s Mona event. The "graduation white tent" (as I call it), was packed to the limit. Like a flowing tide, the hundreds (or thousands?) in academic dress, scholars of a wide range of subjects, were introduced by the hum of the Panoridim orchestra and the melody of the University Singers. On and on the procession of achievers made their way to receive the awards gained by the rigours of study. A note of poignancy was knowing that this was the last year as chancellor for Professor Sir George Alleyne in his 30th year in the service of his alma mater, which he had also made proud as one of the early students at Mona, and a distinguished international name in the field of medicine, who went on to serve his university at the highest level.
Amid the successes of 2016 were one young man who conquered the lack of sight and aced examinations, and a young lady who made her way in her wheelchair. The two honorary graduands (now graduates) of 2016 were Ambassador Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (queen of the track), honoured Saturday morning, and the noted poet Lorna Goodison, recognised on Friday — an internationally acclaimed author, professor emerita, University of Michigan, and who (I cannot resist telling you) is my younger sister. Pardon my pride.
I was not able to attend the UTech event, but I offer them all the very best and congratulations for their achievements. May the challenges which face the institution now be overcome for the benefit of a new generation of young Jamaicans who need all the education they can get.
Respect due for the accomplishment of the ambitious Nadine Sutherland, now being dubbed "The Ambitious Singer". Why not? Ambitious, yes! She aced her quest for a master’s degree in cultural studies and walked proudly across a new kind of stage to draw applause. Hear! Hear! She did it!
Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or
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