Rosalea Hamilton | Let’s BIGUP Jamaica!
For a tiny country of only 2.8 million people to produce the fastest man and woman in the world in the last three (3) Olympics is an extraordinary accomplishment. Jamaica is the 10th most successful Olympic nation in the world if we consider the total number of medals we have acquired in our Olympic history relative to our population, i.e., 24.8 medals per million people. This is a phenomenal achievement given the fact that there are 73 countries in the world, including Bangladesh with a population of 162 million, that has never earned an Olympic medal. At the end of the historic Olympic achievement of Usain Bolt and the outstanding performance of our medal winners in Rio, Brazil, all Jamaicans should feel truly proud. Let's BIGUP Jamaica!
However, some Jamaicans seem to be stuck in the negative mindset that thrives on the "tear down" energy, even in the midst of our Olympic glory. Perhaps the best example of this is the "Goldfish" tweet posted after Omar McLeod won gold in the 110-metre hurdles. The tweet was in response to the Gleaner Company's question to twitter users: "If you could caption tomorrow's Jamaica Gleaner front page of Omar McLeod what would it read?"
This was such an unfortunate response! It has stimulated much conversation and introspection about who we are as Jamaicans and how we treat each other. For some, this incident is just another example of the "crab in the barrel" mentality that thrives on "tearing down" each other in order to get ahead or progress in life. For some, it reinforces the homophobia of Jamaicans. For others, this is just the nature of the social media age where "anything goes" - we write whatever comes to our mind without regard to any consequences. But there are very real social and economic consequences to our words and actions ... because we are all interconnected.
How we treat each other, especially the most vulnerable among us, is a major concern of the Fi Wi Jamaica project being executed by the University of Technology, Jamaica, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). A core philosophical concept being promoted in this project is the concept of "Ubuntu" that has its roots among the Nguni peoples of Southern Africa. Recognising that the essence of a person's humanity is measured by how we relate to each other, "Ubuntu" highlights our interconnectedness - "I am because we are". It encourages us not to diminish or humiliate others, because in so doing, we diminish or humiliate ourselves.
BIGUP JAMAICA DAY
The Jamaican music industry is currently suffering from the hateful, violent and discriminatory lyrics that has contributed to the rejection of a few musicians in some markets across the world. It has created significant loss of opportunities to earn income, and much needed foreign exchange, to provide for families and loved ones. This is truly a pity for an industry that has given the world such powerful, positive lyrics as: ONE LOVE!!!
In an effort to encourage more thoughtful public discourse about how we engage each other in a global marketplace and how we communicate, especially on social media, the Fi Wi Jamaica project is organising a public forum on Tuesday, September 13, 2016, at the Spanish Court Hotel at 6:00pm entitled: Jamaica to the World: Are we Social Media Ambassadors? Panelists, including Dutty Berry, Kelli-Dawn Hamilton and Hanniffa Patterson, will examine the extent to which our social media engagements position us mainly as "Social Media Ambassadors" highlighting our greatness to the world or whether we position ourselves mainly as "Tear Down Advocates" highlighting our weaknesses to the world. Social and economic consequences will also be examined.
Importantly, Jamaicans will be encouraged to identify occasions to declare a "BIGUP Jamaica Day" where we flood social media with positive words, statements and images about who we are as Jamaicans to the World. Our upcoming Heroes Day on October 17, 2016, is a great "BIGUP Jamaica Day" where we can BIGUP our Heroes and take pride in our historic accomplishments.
YES, for sure, we do have lots of problems in Jamaica and we need to do much more to address them. While doing so, we can be encouraged and motivated to do even more through BIGUP Jamaica Days.
- Rosalea Hamilton, PhD, is Project Director, Fi Wi Jamaica Project, UTech, Jamaica. Email feedback to email@example.com