Jamaica is a Great Nation But…

Martin Luther King is honoured today to remember his life and work.

Here is a man that simply talked with action, something that is foreign from similar people in similar positions today. They just don’t come into our lives like they used to anymore. Most of our political leaders have become soft at the edges, cold as ice, their words and promises flow like water down a drain.  They represent barrels, barrels filled with dried bush that is lit by critics and observers at every opportunity as they pontificate on a platform. 

King was different, so different he died for what he preached. MLK was a prophet. His message caustic to the ears of the unbeliever and was fire to the oppressor. One of his famous quotes on America is depicted in this piece and when I read it I could not help but think the same thing applies for my country.

It has been only 52 years since our so called Independence from Britain, which really makes us a novice in nation building, but what seems apparent over the years is that our leaders lacked one thing – vision. Not one, over the 52 years and counting, has ever expressed a vision for the country that is real and achievable for the people of Jamaica, one that is sold, bought with every man and woman marching to achieve.


And so in my estimation Jamaica is  still a country of varied people of intellect; economically each man for himself ; emotionally defending the name Jamaica as would a man his own mother; furiously expressive in the international arena and openly disloyal  as he seeks personal advantages that are still not sowed in the soil of where he was born.

"America is a great nation but... that 'but' is a commentary on 200 and more years of chattel slavery and on 20 million Negro men and women deprived of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Martin Luther King, Jr. - Image Source: abcnews.go.com
“America is a great nation but… that ‘but’ is a commentary on 200 and more years of chattel slavery and on 20 million Negro men and women deprived of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Martin Luther King, Jr. – Image Source: abcnews.go.com

Immigration and travel is useful and necessary but no man leaves his home and forgets it unless that home had no integrity and gave them no aching sense of a place where they can be who they are in a productive and loving way.

In Jamaica every generation that springs from the previous generation is aquatic in characteristics – they take the shape of any idea that surrounds them  and have the flavor of what influences them. Why is this ? Simple- Jamaica has no vision. People without a national vision of citizenry will take the shape of any vision that offers progress, even if it is completely foreign to their culture.There are approximately over 2 million Jamaicans living overseas doing exactly this. There is no country in the world, including Iceland, that you will not find a Jamaican living and contributing to a foreign vision. Those that are left behind will wait for their chance but like Martin Luther said..”Jamaica is a great nation but….

1. …for the cleanliness & our Environment.  Just recently in Westmoreland hundreds of fish died from pollution in the river. We are still a dirty and unhealthy nation. How do we solve this problem? We divide and rule -the upper class and tourist areas are pristine and the areas for local Jamaicans are left in filth. Every now and then tempers flair, local leaders duck responsibility and the problem is ignored. Our protected areas are as slippery as the ground they preserve with successive government seemingly un-interested in preservation and are more for diversification.

2.…for the lack of respect for National Heritage & History: Whatever exists is poorly maintained and the others left to rot and decay. We have no sense of history, its value or its documentation on who we are as Jamaicans. Every Parish has a share of Jamaican history and in every parish, save for capital Kingston, there is not one respectable monument that our visitors and people can visit with PRIDE.

3. ….we are still Religiously attached : Our political  leaders are still connected by the umbilical cord of  religion so we wear a secular coat but technically a devoted theocracy. It is as if through the incongruous prayer breakfast held recently, we collectively place our problems in prayer to the most high  hoping for a miracle to happen. To date we are still waiting on this miracle. Prayer without action is like a man starting a car without gas- it won’t move! 

4. ….our Laws are weak: Our law keepers are just as weak as the law breakers: There are  a good few but those that are weak are insipidly corrupting the entire forces and unless the ones so brave like Martin Luther King stand up and change the conversation  it will remain nothing but a bar brawl, each man shouting their own  vision of what he considers law and order and his version of  human rights. We are never proactive- always reactive and the laws we have are barely enforced.


5. …for no accountability: I will only use one example: The recent audit where millions of dollars were used to order the drug Viagra for prisoners when in fact it is a fraudulent activity for officers only shows the depth of government corruption that exists. Corruption is the enemy of progress and the whore of lawlessness.

6. …we treat everyone with suspicion: The elderly, the young, sometimes the rich and most times the poor when attempting  to receive benefits are given and granted suspiciously and with contempt. Our society has so much mistrust for each other that even those that are dead are held with suspicion and need a plethora of paper work, wrapped with bundles of bureaucracy  to be moved, autopsied and buried. With the hospitals, as crowded as they are, persons take hours, days and sometimes weeks to receive care. We are not kind to each other.

7.….for thousands of Jamaicans are disenfranchised : Simply put there are thousands of illegal workers in Jamaica working without permits, illegally and being paid much higher than Jamaicans.  In Jamaica , Jamaicans are the inferior workers. How we solve this: We know it and we remain quiet as the Ministry of Labour will hardly do anything anyway!

8. ….the Quality of living is determined by the money you possess: The quality of life you live in Jamaica is directly affected by your income or lack there of and as sparse as incomes are , so too is the quality of life – the only thing that remains for all Jamaicans collectively to enjoy, freely and without judgement of place in society is the air we breathe and  our beaches and even that is threatened. 

And so we have to pause and take a look at where we are. Jamaica is a great nation but… we cannot seem to solve the little problems. Is it the lack of money , is it lack of care, the lack of a common commitment or is it the usual divide and rule version of living  that is evident in the so called first world economies where the rich is propped by governmental benefits and the poor on their own, constantly fighting for RIGHTS of all kind and themes?

One thing is definite- Jamaica, like all the other countries whose government are formed by black ethnic nationalities, Africa included, continue to prove one thing- that the countries run by White ethnic nationalities seem to be the preferred place of domain  and are pound for pound better run, have better quality of life and accountability and have a vision for their people and country. Name me one black run country that is socially, economically and culturally progressive and I will immediately retract my statement. And let us not use the imperialist argument either. We are no different than they are.

Jamaica is a blessed and great country but..…until we have a collective vision, a vision that shows our Jamaican Wealth is far greater than those countries we seek, we will forever be a country lead by the clueless, inhabited by the frustrated and remain an island of exuberant people running fast whilst they sneeringly steal our wealth while we are cheering. 

Written by Paul Tomlinson (c) – Check out his website HERE

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