Friday, 27 July 2012

Profound Hopelessness: Jamaica's Most Vulnerable 50 years Later

This article came about after watching All Angles and a young professional panelist said "I'm feeling Profound Hopelessness for the next 50 years; if the past 50 was like what it was"  and the entire panel seemed against him both young and old made the point that we do have problems but we have made great strides all things considered (the usual Jamaican half-empty optimism). The young man was very forthright in his follow up response after everyone else dismantled his stance, saying "we need to take a good look at ourselves and be honest".

National Euphoria Notion

Liberally Speaking:There seems to be a notion (and lie) being pushed by the Traditionalist, most of the Post-Independence Generation and pseudo Patriots for patriotism sake (politicians, looking at you) that you are some how less 'Patriotic' or 'Jamaican' because you don't feel the urge to buy a Jamaica 50 souvenir or go to every event adorned by the 'official' Jamaica 50 logo, and sing praises to our (neo-con) political system for under-utilizing our political independence. 

This Idea that each Jamaican must divulge in the general mood of this period is just a 'coke' filled reality; constantly bombarded with consumerist ads tugging on our 'hidden' patriotism, beckoning for our monetary contributions, fed nefarious fabrications of unimaginable National Development from both sides of the political divide trying to out do each other in statistics from 62' to now concerning the matter; Traditionalist within the media spewing on airwaves the need for the rebirth of the 'Golden Days' yet sparing over which days were the "Golden Day".

Jamaica's Under Belly

According to the CIA World Fact Book Jamaica's poverty levels at the time of my birth in 1993 may have been 32% down from 34.2% the previous year, if you follow the line from '93 to '02 it was an agonizingly slow process down to 19.7% thats a drop of 13% (1.3% a year). Between '02-'03 there was remarkable drop of 4% from 19.7 to 14.8%, but unfortunately from '03 poverty has been on a steady and unflattering rise at the last report in 2010 poverty was at 17%. 
The American dream is the chance to own a home and if we were to transpose that crazy idea on Jamaica we would be having a nightmare (Jamaican Nightmare) because a decade after Independence  one third of the population are considered squatters (many build houses on illegally captured land).

Hoped you enjoyed that bit of factual journalism (don't get used to it). The understanding that should be drawn from these 'boogeyman' numbers are the same of Former PM. Hon. Edward Seaga whom in a article in the July 8 publication of the Observer titled: Ja has not progressed much in 50 years, says Seaga -like, no duh- he expressed  "that we made one step forward and taken one step backward," and also he said "the economy is worse off, the justice system is worse off, the education system is worse off".
If these are the words of a former Prime Minister, can you imagine those of the 17% of Jamaicans living in poverty, nonetheless we continue along the beaten path of selecting politicians who most certainly believe in trickle down effect of Capitalism.

The pure sadism of the moment is unbearably obvious because those pushing the "National Euphoria Notion" are those within the positions of power to employ individuals, create chances and shape futures through legislation but most won't act unless called out. We have left so many out in the raining cold and uncertain of a next meal far too long in this country, neglecting the responsibilities we have to each and stepping on toes without apology. The slums or ghettos aren't formed because of the low educational level of the people living in them or the material used to make a fence and house but by the persons who's shared  responsibilities it is to guide a community and its citizens on the path to "Independence". 

As a post-independent -1990s- baby with college level education, I grew up in a period of some economic stability (as low and slow, as it was) within downtown communities such as South-side, Eliston Road and Rae-town; where uneducated youth literally littered the streets their brains begging for early childhood education and stomach craving for PATHE paid nourishment that may have lasted half the day. The children of my time embraced the new and changing world that gave us the Internet and Mobile phones, we played with bullets and their handlers were our Robin Hoods. 

Its very unfortunate that our politicians should boast about 130,000 and increasing persons being allowed on PATHE, 2 simple reasons why: 

  1. PATHE is a welfare program (needed) and is paid by Tax dollars and not contributions, so it burdens the economy.
  2. PATHE is structurally flawed and is certainly in need of repairs considering the application process and delivery of funds through mail.  

Those communities have not changed alot since my departure some time ago, thankfully I had a mother with strong determination to rise with the best and earned her Masters but it wasn't easy going for the both of us; growing up, I only saw her on weekends and holidays but otherwise she was working and studying so my grandmother graciously took care of me. Yes, I grew conservatively but thought liberally and opened minded (thanks to television, kids).

This years of "Culture Hugging"(formerly tree hugging), where we seem to put culture over our citizens rights and freedoms that tradition may be against, must be placed behind us ; their is such a thing as being over-protective of our Cultural Identity and Traditions, individuals must be allowed to break the chains of "Traditional Ideals" (not all old and bad) and progressively and actively be a member of society without the fear of prosecution and harm (touched on Gay Rights, there).

We should celebrate, reflect and give thanks but keep into consideration our fellow Jamaicans who have been living under substandard and unequal conditions for the 50 years (and more) and have lost faith in Jamaica, Land they used to love.      

PS *Reintroducing Civics (as matter of stepping on toes) as a subject in schools is an Idea that I will not put my foot on, because I simply see it as a 'Symbolic' gesture to the Traditionalist.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

The Politics of Hope & Change: Jamaica Needs an Obama 08' Moment

by Mario Raphael Boothe

The World and the minds of its inhabitants were both at Peace and in Shambles after the elected President of The United States; Barack Hussein Obama, spoke his last words in his inauguration speech to the 2 million strong crowd that sun-filled Tuesday, January 20, 2009. 

This was no ordinary inauguration of the most powerful man on earth; the first time in almost 4 centuries the moment shared by 44 other American men would be seen, heard and felt worldwide as a moment of "Ancestral Justice", "History's Greatest Moment" and "The Second Coming" all rolled in one tall, Dark and 'd' for democrat body.

The Obama 08' campaign ran on "Hope and Change", (2 words discarded among Jamaicans) ensuring that the message invoked nothing less than the pure rage against the former President's Party (2 unpaid for Wars, Wall st. collapse, Housing bubble burst...yea..rage) and absolute euphoria over the then candidate Obama. The true test of his slogan and inspirational words that swept a nation of its feet would be on Nov. 2 election night, after the votes were counted Obama had received 69,456,897 in the popular vote: the highest for an American Presidential Candidate.

The main narrative the political heads in the USA were spinning  for Obama's tremendous win was his slogan: "Hope and Change". At a time when the American economy and way of life never looked worst - Pres. Obama was able to pull the hearts from the wreck and the heads from the gutters; uniting and linking the fading light of "Hope" with the need for drastic "Change" creating this unforgettable universal enthusiasm that literally moved the world as musicians, singers, dancers, etc using their creative genius went head first into Obama-phoria, he was simply Loved and Admired for his courage.

His legacy will be debated and people will say we exaggerated and place inhuman task on his shoulders but there is shame "Hoping".

Jamaicans tried tumultuously, to force this 'once in a blue politician' moment on themselves falling BELL over HEAD for the young buck from West Central St. Andrew, Former PM Andrew 'Twice Bitten' Holness who was 'placed' in power by his (much,much,more) senior colleagues in the Jamaica Labour Party after the extradition failings of Bruce 'Papa' Golding. The youth-phoria that followed his seize of power would return to haunt him during the 2011 elections, where his lack of experience came into play and the attention focus x squared on him and his 'youthfulness' completely (wi did tiad, fi si him face), coupled with over-saturating negative ad airplay - his hopes were dashed (then again in local Gov. elections)

but aside from Holness's lackluster performance as a pseudo Obama,  the Dec. 2011 elections was a great one for post-Independence politicians as the "youth-phoria" generated votes for young members on both sides of the Orange/Green divide. The problem issue arising from the election were the 'elitist heirs' forged by the loins of the same "Jurassic" politicians who occupy the House, one must wonder (with disdain) if the family scrolls and wisdom are being passed on -recreating the cycle.  But If this trend of younger and younger minds being allowed to represent and legislate continues without resistant from the monarchical masterminds.

One day in the distant future and not by forced will, Jamaica will have its Hope and Change Moment.