Reflections From a Returnee
I arrived in Jamaica in February 2016 and I’m in no hurry to book my return flight to London.
Jamaica is filled with paradoxes, charming people, natural beauty and ’nuff’ culture. But “things” have changed since I grew up in this small country with a mighty global voice.
For instance, there are too many fatalities on our highways and roads. And taxis nowadays, generally seat four people in the back seat, regardless of the sizes. Two people in front and oftentimes, one or two youths or school children in the trunk.
It irritates me to see primary school children forced to walk for miles when “police de pon de road” and a significant number of taxis – red plated and unregistered – disappear. Is it that the penalties for a blown bulb are too high or people just cannot bother to encounter the police?
That brings me to what I think is vulgar and unnecessary.
THE GRAVE DIGGING CEREMONY – When I was growing up, we attended a funeral and the grave had already been prepared by several dignified residents. Well, a grave digging ceremony today oftentimes consists of copious amounts of alcohol being drunk, “cussing” in the church yard and other undesirable actions.
And what of this recent spate of thefts from ATMs by Romanian gangs? ROMAINIAN??? Yes. Apparently they have stolen millions of dollars from citizens’ accounts. It’s funny that Jamaica allowed so many Romanians into the country yet my Nigerian colleague in London had to send his passport to the Ministry of National Security before he was granted a visa.
But despite all that, the fusion between Jamaicans and our African cousins is more apparent than when I was growing up. My mother’s Anglican Church has a Father ‘straight outta’ Sierra Leonne. My brother’s fellow-lecturer at UWI is from Uganda. And my neighbour has a huge, sprawling estate with all the houses painted in the Nigerian colours.
I am kind of tired of the Smile Orange tourism package we peddle. Why do we have at least ten airplanes landing in the country every day and the “small man” in the craft market does not see much benefit? Why do we have massive hotels with spas, pools, hot tubs and water features when poor Miss Mattie has never had running water in her seventy years of living in the country?
But I am really at deep spiritual peace here.
I thank the Supreme Being for giving me the opportunity to be home for so long and hope I can at least show appreciation to the soil by behaving myself. 🙂
By Neo Makeba
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