Proud of you, Kamina!
Duane Smith

The events that led to Jamaica’s historic fielding of a candidate for secretary general of the 54-nation Commonwealth are being seen, from some angles, as a good thing for the island, an ‘ill-advised’ move, among other things. It saddens me but doesn’t surprise me that even before the ink was dry after tabulating the final votes, the usually suspects, some who were even supportive of her candidacy, were back to their ways with their negative social media posts and articles in the press about her candidacy.

From my position, the move to Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith to become Jamaica’s first holder of the seat was a demonstration of how this little north Caribbean islands, known globally for its sports, and music, is also qualified in politics and matters that go with it. I would like to personally congratulate Kamina on a job well done and for running a dignified campaign.

I laud Johnson Smith for of all the bravery that she showed, and the courage that she walked with, to step into an arena that had before been occupied by so many qualified and stellar individuals, notably among them, Sir Shridath Ramphaul, the outstanding Guyanese politician who everyone calls “Sonny” — one who still has the record for serving the longest, from 1975 to 1990 as Commonwealth secretary general. Still around at age 93, it would be interesting to see how Sir Shridath reacted to the close race lost by a truly Caribbean native, and what it would have meant, as a source of inspiration to those who serve their country, and not those who are merely associated, by birth, to the region.

Sadly too, the Commonwealth missed the opportunity to see what another native from the Caribbean region would have brought to the table. I firmly believe that had she won, she would have introduced a new dispensation that the globe sadly lacks.

Quite unlike what so many people have suggested that a victory for Johnson Smith would not have benefitted Jamaica directly, there were many opportunities that would have turned up. Jamaica would have gained further respect from those countries that did not know of its prowess in the political field. By virtue of Johnson Smith’s experience as a foreign minister, and her skills in handling trade matters, it would have been a natural for the foundation to be strengthened as this little ‘rock’ continues on the road of prosperity.

Now that the race is over, Johnson Smith should not for a moment consider herself a failure. In fact, she, in the eyes of so many influential countries, will come away the real winner. She will learn from this experience…it is all part of the system called politics, whereby promises will be made to you regarding full support, yet, when it comes to the business end of things, people look the other way.

She has indicated already that she would not be interested in putting herself up for another election of the kind, and while her decision ought to be respected, she need not act so swiftly as to rule herself out of contention in the future. She is young, bright, and in a few more years, she would have grown even wiser than she is now.

Some have raised the issue of cost, as it relates to the campaign to succeed Baroness Patricia Scotland. But, knowing the minister as well as I do, I am sure that she is prepared, and will inform the nation as soon as the information is collated. It is my view. however, that no matter the cost, the exposure Jamaica received from this contest was priceless.

Johnson Smith was barely edged out for the top administrative job in the Commonwealth. Now, she will get back to her desk at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, and continue the sterling job that she has been doing — from which Jamaica will continue to reap immense benefits.

Duane C E Smith is councillor for the Chancery Hall Division of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation.

Duane Smith

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