Fri | Dec 9, 2016

Name a Road after Barack Obama

Published:Thursday | April 9, 2015 | 12:00 AMDevon Dick

Yesterday, Barack Obama, president of the United States of America, arrived in Jamaica for a state visit which is historic. Obama is the first US president of African origin to visit Jamaica and is deserving of a road being named after him. Obama has not yet visited all the 50 states of the US since he became president, and that he, the president of the largest economy, should visit Jamaica is worthy of acclaim.

Obama won a second term as president, which is no small feat. He has overseen economic recovery in a difficult environment. Since the US is our main trading partner, then a prosperous US economy benefits Jamaica. In addition, we receive remittances from the US, which is a major foreign-currency earner for Jamaica. Jamaica has benefited from Obama's emphasis on renewable energy, which is a contributor to reduced cost for oil. Obamacare, with the intention to provide health-care coverage for more Americans, is a model for Jamaica. Additionally, Obama's immigration policy will benefit Jamaicans living in the US. Finally, the international attention and free publicity that Obama's visit will bring to Jamaica is more than the Jamaica Tourist Board's promotional budget for five years. We do not have to agree with every policy, action and statement by Obama to give him this high honour.

 

honouring P.J. patterson

 

We need to honour our high achievers. There is also a place for a part of the highway to be named after P.J. Patterson, Jamaica's longest-serving prime minister. Tomorrow, P.J. Patterson turns 80 and it would be a good gesture for a highway to be named after him. In some circles, P.J. is known as Mr Infrastructure and it was under his leadership that Highway 2000 was inaugurated. Since then, more highways have been built and Jamaicans have benefited greatly. Patterson also started the educational transformation; mandated that every government board has a person on it who was born after 1962; Emancipation Day was reinstituted as a national holiday; pledges by politicians were made to the people of Jamaica rather than to the queen of England, and he made 'values and attitudes' part of our consciousness in our quest for a kinder and gentler society. One does not have to agree with all of Patterson's statements, policy and actions to recognise that he deserves the high honour.

Perhaps the Portia Simpson administration could establish a commission to look at all persons who deserve to have a road being named after them. In addition, this commission could examine the issue of renaming places after our national heroes and others. This year marks 150 years since the Morant Bay March of 1865, and to mark

the significant role National Hero Paul Bogle played in Jamaica's history we should change the name of the official residence of the governor general, King's House, to Paul Bogle House. There are other persons who have similar ideas. For example, Justice Patrick Robinson, international jurist, called for the renaming of Queen's Counsel, an honour given to outstanding attorneys-at-law, and the renaming of the Throne Speech. Clayton Hall, former president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association, has called for the renaming of Lady Musgrave Road.

There was once a Rex Nettleford Commission which looked at our national symbols, etc. In fact, that commission facilitated Emancipation Day being reinstated as a national holiday. A new commission has 'unfinished' business of naming places after outstanding persons and Jamaicans.

Let this process start by renaming the newly refurbished Marescaux Road on which President Obama will travel as the Barack Obama Road, in tribute to his visit and work.

- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.