Thu | Aug 16, 2018

Memorable birthdays of memorable people

Published:Wednesday | July 27, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Birthdays represent a time for retrospection and for thinking to the future. On our neighbour Cuba's birthday, July 26, I want to say congratulations to that country, which has stood up to the mighty United States, survived a nearly crippling blockade for decades, and created a cultured nation.

Like many countries in the world, Cuba is facing economic challenges, but it has built so strong a foundation that it can only thrive.

Those who made the effort to create new possibilities in the once-bitter relationship with America should be congratulated.

Then on to Jamaica's birthday, Emancipation and Independence (August 1-6), when our festivities will be tempered by the myriad problems that face our country. We are fortunate that the Olympics will fall during the period to lift our spirits, as we see our young people, athletes, officials and coaches demonstrate how they discipline themselves and their talent to achieve global success.


Usain Bolt and Glen Mills will also celebrate their birthdays in the month of August, along with National Hero Marcus Garvey. We need to acknowledge and praise the contribution of these three persons who have demonstrated what discipline, commitment, sacrifice, self-belief and national pride can accomplish. There are lessons for us all.

We need to build strong institutions. Garvey made strenuous efforts to create institutions to organise a people whose families and societies had been nearly destroyed by centuries of European domination. Imagine Mills and Bolt without the schools that created the foundations of their lives. I speak of the Camperdown and William Knibb high schools, respectively, which were the creations of individuals, and Christian denominations, the United Church and the Baptists. The values which are evident in the lives of these men came from their homes and schools.

We need to believe that we are as good as other people and rid ourselves of a sense of inferiority that cripples our thinking and behaviour. We can meet and surpass global standards as our athletes have and will demonstrate again. We can create new records and raise the bar. As the battle in America today demonstrates, our lives matter. America's racist past continues to haunt its present.

We must demonstrate that as descendants of Africans enslaved in the New World, we here in Jamaica can do much better. We are able to flourish in a world where the once mighty colonisers controlled our destinies. As Brexit demonstrates, even the mighty are fallen. We have to build a country that is on the rise. Happy birthday again.


UWI, Mona