Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Letter of the Day | Give me a reason to return home

Published:Thursday | September 22, 2016 | 12:00 AM


I'm a hardcore Jamaican. Even though I live abroad, I am deeply interested in goings-on in the country.

I visit the Gleaner and Observer websites first thing in the morning. I was pleased as punch and filled with utter joy at the performances of our Olympians. I was deeply heartened by the exploits of the Jamaica Tallawahs in the most recent T20 Caribbean cricket tournament and the successes of the West Indies men's and women's cricket teams in the T20 World Cup.

I did not leave Jamaica in the manner most of us who live outside the island did. I left Jamaica to take up an appointment with an international organisation. The expectation was that, at the end of that sojourn, I would return to Jamaica was an option.

For those who ask if I have plans to return to Jamaica, I tell them the four things that give me pause on making such a decision. Space affords me time to reflect on only one, which is number four on the list. Jamaica's economy is a factor, yes, but it is not as big a deal as the other three. I believe I could muddle my way through. That said, I would be immensely relieved if Jamaica were to get its economy right.

The state of the economy does not inspire confidence, and is serious discouragement. Why can't Jamaica get it right? So many others that were in a similar position to ours have. Singapore, for instance. I've read that both islands had very similar economic profiles back in the early 1960s as British colonies, except one is Asian and the other Caribbean. Jamaica had at least one advantage: natural resources. Singapore has very little, not even fresh water!

Today, Jamaica and Singapore are night-andday apart. Singapore, among other things, is a global financial centre and is the world's top logistics hub. I've travelled around the city-state with a good deal of envy in my heart, and all I could ask myself: why couldn't Jamaica get it done?




Expatriates from other countries who live elsewhere have been making their own trek home because, finally, those countries are doing something right by their economy. Among the most recent is Ethiopia. Who can forget the devastating famine in Ethiopia in the 1980s that inspired the hit song, We Are the World, done by American artistes, with proceeds going towards Ethiopian famine relief? It is a country that's been through civil war for 30 years, up to 1991, and lost a big chunk of its territory, now independent Eritrea.

Now Ethiopians are paying thousands of dollars to pack their bags to return home from the United States and elsewhere. Why? To take advantage of the new economic opportunities that have arisen over the last decade or so.

If only Jamaica could! Many of us who pine for home would jump on a plane and return in an instant, even those of us who are in relatively comfortable positions. But for that to happen, Jamaica needs to get its problems right. The economy is just one. The others, more social in nature, are just as, if not, more important. On those, I have to remain silent for now.

Eron Henry

Communications director

Baptist World Alliance

Blogs at