Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Lloyd Myrie-Porus | Jamaica has become a strange land

Published:Tuesday | February 12, 2019 | 12:12 AM

Sometime ago, the singing group The Melodians produced a song entitled By the Rivers of Babylon. This group had merely stated in simplistic form and in song Psalm 137 vs 1-4.

Here is how they put it:

“By the rivers of Babylon where we sat down,

And there we wept when we ­remembered Zion.

For the wicked carried us away ­captivity required from us a song,

How can we sing King Alpha’s song in a strange land?”

Before Jamaica gained Independence, and while we were yet the progeny of Great Britain, this beautiful island, the pearl of the Caribbean, was ruled by the so-called ‘white man’. Our people possessed honesty, integrity, love and, most of all, godliness. Those were the ingredients that characterised us Jamaicans as a nation that stood head over shoulders of our sister Caribbean countries and often made us the object of admiration and sometimes envy.

Under English rule, the laws of the country were upheld and obeyed, and punishment for non-compliance was meted out with equality and justice regardless of colour, race, creed, or religious or political persuasion.

The national flag, The Union Jack, was respected, and the national anthem, God Save the Queen, revered. In this period of colonial administration, our people had visions of a better life and hope for the future.

The old was respected by the young and the young were, in turn, cared for by the elderly. People were seen as God’s creation and not as objects of a biological function, and lives were held sacred and respectful. Our leaders led and ruled with dignity and purpose and with a desire to please and not be pleased.


In this period of our independent Jamaica, a different picture unfolds. Lives are no longer sacred, but taken for granted and can be snuffed out anytime, anywhere, and without ­reason, cause or purpose.

Our national flag is constantly being disrespected and is oftentimes used by celebrity icons or in skimpy apparel on dancehall divas. Our national anthem is most unpopular and seldom sung in places and ­occasions in keeping with the customs in the past, and whenever it is sung there are more mumblers than singers.

Our leaders have become engrossed in pursuing plans and programmes that are designed to benefit themselves rather than the people they serve.

Trust and accountability are of the past, and the general feeling now is that if you want to corrupt our assumed most honest person, you only have to put him/her in charge of taxpayers’ money.

Our younger generation has lost it, or has found it, depending on from where you sit. Lost it, in that the majority of them cannot speak properly, do not act properly and find it difficult to behave properly, try to say a pleasant ‘How do you do’ to a youngster, and his/her response is either a deafening silence or a guttural grunt.

The question is often asked, how did we get where we are as a people. The answer is found in Jeremiah 2:13, and it reads: “For My people have committed two evils. They have forsaken Me, the Fountain of Living Waters, and have hewed out cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

Perhaps the time has truly come when, as Peter Bunting once said, we need divine intervention if we are to once again sing the Lord’s song in this strange Jamaica, land we love.

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