Sun | Aug 20, 2017

'Bad-mind' active - Crime, violence, corruption and envy the worst things about living in Jamaica

Published:Tuesday | July 25, 2017 | 7:00 AM
Trevor Munroe
Dr Leahcim Semaj
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Crime, violence and 'bad-mindedness' have emerged as the main issues that cause most Jamaicans to not be so proud of the country.

Corruption, unemployment and poverty also figure high on the list when Jamaicans were asked about the things that make them not so proud or ashamed of the country and cause them to dislike living here.

That, according to a recent Gleaner-commissioned Bill Johnson poll that tested the pulse of the nation on the perceptions of Jamaicans after 55 years of Independence.

The poll, which was conducted from June 9 to 11 across the island with 1,500 respondents and a sampling error of plus or minus two per cent, found that 74 per cent of respondents listed crime, violence, bad-mindedness and corruption as the things that made most ashamed to be Jamaicans, with poverty, unemployment and ineffective government added to the list, for 92 per cent of the reasons persons don't like living in the island.

The findings are not surprising for Professor Trevor Munroe, executive director of the anti-corruption group National Integrity Action (NIA).

"In 2016, Kingston ranked 32 among the top 50 cities in the world with the most murders per 100,000 population and if St James and Westmoreland were cities, they, too, would also be in the top 50," Munroe told The Gleaner as he reacted to the poll findings. According to Munroe, white-collar corruption remains deeply entrenched at high levels of politics and businesses in the Jamaican society, and there is a definite link between crime and corruption.

That is a view shared by psychologist Leahcim Semaj, who charged that Jamaica's political system contributes to a high level of crime.

"A large number of our people are still living in garrison communities, and criminal behaviour is tied to many of those communities.

"We can't really take the politics out of it. It is the fabric that makes up the Jamaican culture," said Semaj as he charged that bad-mindedness is a "pervasive part of our culture.

"What goes into bad-mind is jealousy and envy, whenever somebody is doing well, you always hear, 'No, man, a thief him thief it, man, a somebody help him.' Instead of trying to see what they can learn from that person who is excelling, they look at ways to drag him back to their level," added Semaj.

He charged that this crab-in-a-barrel mentality must be remedied in order for Jamaica to develop as an independent country.

- Myesha Broadie