Sat | Dec 15, 2018

JaRistotle | 62 - Swapping dog fi monkey

Published:Thursday | August 2, 2018 | 12:00 AM

When Jamaica became an independent nation in 1962, I doubt that there was a single Jamaican who did not have immeasurable hopes of success for their country, a world leader in every respect and filled with opportunities. After all, their forefathers had been slaves, indentured servants, and basically anything but free. Now here they stood, free and independent, their hopes vested in a governance structure intended to afford them the rights, privileges and protections that freedom and independence were supposed to herald. Swapping dog fi monkey was the farthest thing from their minds.

Here we are 56 years later, with Emancipation Day and Independence Day here, representing triumph over the dark torment of slavery which our ancestors had to endure under colonialism. But for many of us there is hardly anything to celebrate, because although the foreigners are gone, we now have to contend with an even bigger problem - our own indigenous 'colonialists'. Yes, we swapped dog fi monkey and are now sweltering under the yoke of 'home-grown colonialism'.

Colonialism was essentially the exercise of authority by one country over other territories and people, generally with the aim of exploiting them to the benefit of the colonising country, and of helping the colonies modernise in terms defined by the colonisers. So when we transitioned from a British colony to an independent nation, we should have seen the back of exploitation and subjective modernisation. Alas, that was not been the case.

 

No better herring, no better barrel

 

Our two primary political parties, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and People's National Party (PNP), are indelibly entrenched in our political structure, with little or no scope for new entrants of any consequence. The only time these two parties will ever work towards a common cause is to stymie upstart parties so as to maintain their absolute dominance in the political arena. Such a closed-shop and unshakable political structure is fraught with danger for any nation.

It would be fair to say that the rudiments of colonialism never disappeared. The unchecked exploitation of the general populace [and raping of the country's resources] to the benefit of our politicos, particularly when they have formed the government, is very reminiscent of colonialism, as is our 'modernisation' along lines intended to keep us subservient.

The oft-used phrases 'hostile tribes and scarce resources' - a la pork barrel politics - are local spin-offs of the divide-and-rule tactics of our former colonial masters. The 'garrisionization' of large chunks of our metropolitan areas, and the spread of the divisive concept to rural areas, are clear evidence of indigenous colonial-like strategies designed to maintain the political status quo.

So I ask you, are we really free and independent, emancipated in every social and political sense? Or are we just pawns ripe for the crocus bag to be repeatedly pulled over our heads and to see only what the politicos want us to see? Let's face it, as long as the JLP and PNP maintain their privileged positions, alternating as governments and parliamentary oppositions, we will never be free from mental and political slavery. Monkey in, monkey out.

We need more and better alternatives, and a reversal of our apathy, evidenced by our decreasing voter turnout during elections.

The 2018 versions of Emancipation Day and Independence Day are here; please treat these days for what they primarily represent: triumph over evil and deliverance from dark times. However, keep in mind that they should also remind us that our emancipation and independence will never be truly realised until we have attained a system of governance with no dog, no monkey, just good people.

Send feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.