Who is a Jamaican?
Thursday gone was not the brightest of Thursday’s.
I was on my second day without data or cable from the hapless cable and data provider, Flow.
This has now become a periodic feature from the lowly provider.
Since I returned to the country, January this year, this was my 3rd time experiencing this black out.
Calls to the company were followed by the programmed “we are trying our best” to solve the problem.
“Trying our best.”
I grew up hearing that phrase many times so it is not surprising to see it has now become a part of our culture and the way we do things.
We “try our best ” at everything.
Because that is our valid excuse.
If any reader can say they haven’t heard those 3 favorite words in any service organizations, please send me a comment.
But trust me,
And hearing those words seem to have a psychotic effect on the receiver as they invariably walk away;
But I digress. Flow is not the inspiration for this essay.
As I sat listening to everyone’s favorite DJ, Barry G, on Mello FM, I was entertained by his conversation with one caller , who like myself, is a returning resident visiting the country, lamenting the same realities every Jamaican face each day.
Blocked by rubbish, garbage and clutter.
Barry G sounded surprised but in reality I personally thought that was his radio performance.
He couldn’t have been surprised because this is a reality in Jamaica.
Blocked roads have been part of the landscape for years
You usually see them In performance after a heavy down pour.
Four days earlier I had rented a car and driven to Negril
The Sodom and Gomorrah of any Town planning.
It rained all day and heading back to Montego Bay on the same Wit Horn road
The road was blocked!
Drivers had to do what they have always done;
Drive on the bank of the road to traverse the high waters.
Problem was that the diversion was also mud soaked and with over 100 cars taking this route
A mixture of Rain , Mud and Car tires produced a veritable Mud Bath!.
As you turn West to go over the bridge
As they say in Jamaica,
River Come Dung!.
It was pure entertainment for the residents as the river was ferociously rocking the bridge as it took with it huge tree limbs, huge debris and anything that was moveable because it was a perfect missile.
Crowds stood by.
Water rushing from the nearby hill was now a gushing waterfall, flooding the main road even more. It was chaos.
Impatient Drivers. Floods. Mud. Crowds.
That was 4 days ago.
Four days later nothing had changed.
Everyone had “tried their best”.
This has been like this for over 10 years !
The problem seems unfixable.
Barry G did not relent however in calling out the new tenants of the local parish council and I was hoping one of his crack producers would have called them to hear their ” try their best” story. Suddenly the producer earned their salary and got the big kahuna, The Mayor.
It is important to note that this municipality of Lucea had some interesting history with the last Mayor. Under the previous government the Mayor was allegedly doing more for their pocket than for the parish.
But I digress.
The New Mayor said in as many words that the problem was not their problem. Rather it was another culprit.
For my readers not familiar with that acronym , the NWA is the National Works Agency, another listless government agency that defines the word impotent.
Barry G giving this problem a public voice was also spurned on by his wife experiencing this reality. It took her over 45 minutes to reach home and she lives only 5 minutes away under normal circumstances.
But Barry G, even YOU know that
This is nothing New!.
Mediocrity is so widely accepted in Jamaica, it has become a cultural norm. When the Mayor blames the NWA, that was him telling the public he has,
“Tried his best!”
Barry G then exclaimed :
“These people are sick!”.
Maybe that was to provoke his listeners emotional reaction
But the “these people” he referred to had to include himself.
You see Barry,
Are the same people that have allowed their representatives
Year after year,
Government after government
To be unaccountable.
Can “these people” expect anything better
When they know their ’employers’ don’t give a damn?
Most Jamaicans have never accepted the simple fact that
Representative government is just that,
Representative. The government represents them. Not the other way round.
Since our independence Jamaicans experienced politicians after politicians expounding their ideas and vision of the country.
All nice and rosy.
None realistic and progressive.
And this is the principal reason why our little country has not progressed as fast as it should have, because our leaders,
At Every level,
Are more Talkers than Doers,
More Takers than Givers,
More “Fi Mi” than “Fi You!”.
Eventually an official from the NWA came on the program and his version of “trying their best” was typical of a governmental agency prone to doing nothing.
We see problems.
We do not see solutions.
Here were some of his explanations.
*The money is not there.
*The citizens do not dispose their garbage properly.
*The technical issues are bigger than they think .
*The citizens do this, they do that
And we, you guessed,
‘”Try our best!”
He finished the call with the assurance that he will
With some other low less officer to
Before the hurricane season!
BEFORE THE HURRICANE SEASON !
That’s it , ladies and gents.
That’s “Trying Our Best” in action.
The four hour rant by Barry G accomplished only one thing.
Everyone is “Trying their Best”.
Let us move on.
Life goes on.
Drivers will drive on the bank
And I guess his wife , who is only 5 minutes aŵay, will continue to get home late when it rains.
Jamaica is still very much a youth in its development.
There is this disconnect with what type of a nation we can be against the type of nation we seem to be.
That nation building vision was missing from August 6, 1962.
Looking back, it seemed our politicians only took the keys to the door from the landlord, waved goodbye , closed the door and then asked, “What now!?”
55 years later
Our politicians and leaders are still debating that question.
There are many answers to that question but amidst all of the cacophony, one of the questions that has to be answered first is
Who are we?
Who is a Jamaican?
If you ask any Jamaican their answer will be laced with nationalistic pride. Most answers will even point to the many exploits of Jamaicans locally and internationally.
Intellectually, physically, mentally and socially Jamaicans have distinctly proven to be just as powerful as any Caucasian in any “first World” country. I use that word pointedly and for a reason. Somehow we seem to want the “Caucasian” hombre to tell us about how to build a nation!
But it has been my surmise that despite our repeated and proven acts of excellence, it does not translate to how we administer, govern and live in our country.
We start , then stop.
We excel , then we falter.
We slowly take our time to do everything. Soon Come!
No sense of urgency.
We celebrate bureaucracy
Laws? What laws?
We are quick to migrate and obey any other country’s laws
We achieve many firsts , then we allow them to fall apart
We create . Then We desecrate.
We create trends, dances, music, then we allow others to manipulate, confiscate and call it their own,
We are blind to injustice and accept public service incompetence
We use to grow what eat. Now we import so much more than we grow.
We produce. Then we create hindrances to production.
We invite tourist to our country, then we harass them away.
We allow our government to give us a 6 for a 9 through blind partyism.
Ŵe create barriers at every level of government and private service, creating a culture of NO!
We are excellent at Talking the Talk
But we do not
Walk the Walk.
That, Barry G is the symptom and sign of a “sick people” who are still discovering who they are and want to be.
Indulging in self pain,
Two steps forward. Ten steps backwards .
Suffering from a disease called PISS-
Post Independence Stress Syndrome.
Many may forget when the PM of Singapore visited Jamaica
When that country was trying to “find themselves”.
He learned many things from his trip,
One of which was how NOT to be like a Jamaican.
Not that he did not find the people friendly, beautiful and hard working.
Of course he did.
But I think he also found that as beautiful and talented as we were,
There was no discipline!
Discipline of thought, action and deed.
Jamaicans seemed to have been on an unending Independence Party, each man for himself, everyone pursuing their own goals at the expense of someone else, a lawless people, squandering all the wealth the county had accumulated indigenously, manually, naturally, culturally and scientifically.
They look outwards and not inwards.
That to me is a true Jamaican. He is very successful everywhere else except in his own country. I am convinced Jamaicans are not focused on nation building.
That’s too much work.
In common Jamaican parlance
And by that definition, Yard is a common ground where everything is just there. There is no there, there!
The Prime Minister of Singapore took a different route for his people
And his results are there to discuss and compare!
What if Jamaica had such a leader as Singapore had?
Tough. Some even called him wicked.
Results driven and has a plan for his people and country?
Let me stop and dream on this for a minute.
After all, we can all dream, can’t we?
All Rights Reserved.
(C). 2017. May
Written by Paul Tomlinson (c) – Check out his website HERE
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