Maintaining the tradition of genuine heroismFriday, October 22, 2021
On Monday this week the country paid special tribute to the life and times of its nation-builders.
It's a time when our seven national heroes — Right Excellencies Marcus Garvey, Norman Manley, Sir Alexander Bustamante, Paul Bogle, Sam Sharpe, George William Gordon, and Nanny of the Maroons — get special mention for their contribution and sacrifice. In the case of the Rt Excellencies Bogle, Sharpe and Gordon that sacrifice was the ultimate.
But even as we recognised those seven, as well as the Jamaicans who were honoured in this year's investiture of national honours and awards, we must never, ever forget the contributions of a host of others, many of whom, having given up much, even their lives, and who will forever remain unidentified.
The truth is that unsung heroes are all around doing as best as they can and making sacrifices in the building of this nation. We speak, for example, of the neighbours who ensure that the children next door go to school; who assist young school leavers to gain marketable skills and/or employment; who lead the way in building self-help community groups
For this nation to grow and properly fulfil dreams and aspirations, many, many more Jamaicans need to be heroes in any way possible.
In this time of strange communicable diseases, and especially the deadly novel coronavirus pandemic, the hearts of all Jamaicans should go out to the country's health workers who so often are taken for granted. They have been swamped by the flood of COVID-19 cases but they are holding their ground, saving many lives and working tirelessly to administer vaccines that are helping to prevent more Jamaicans from falling victim to this virus.
While many among us are cowering in fear, our health workers must stay bravely true to their oath and professional responsibility. They must stand firm in defence of their community and nation.
And, as we seek to protect ourselves, we should bear in mind the wider world, not just in terms of seeking help in these difficult times, but in offering help where possible.
Against that background we endorse the call by former Prime Minister P J Patterson yesterday for an end to the discriminatory distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, particularly as it affects African countries.
Mr Patterson is spot on in his caution that, “Inadequate vaccination campaigns in Africa are a threat not only to Africa but to the entire world.”
Speaking in his role as statesman in residence at the P J Patterson Centre for African-Caribbean Advocacy, the former prime minister pointed to data provided by the United Nations Development Programme, World Health Organization, and University of Oxford showing that low-income countries could have added US$38 billion to their gross domestic product (GDP) forecast for 2021 if they had similar vaccination rates as high-income countries.
He also highlighted a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit showing that the world economy could lose US$2.3 trillion because of delayed vaccinations, with developing nations losing the most.
As Mr Patterson rightly said, and it's a point we have often made in this space, “The pandemic can only be effectively curtailed if it is addressed simultaneously everywhere in the world.”