Reflections on Enrico's story
Paul H. Williams, Gleaner Writer
Two Mondays ago, we told the story of Enrico Stennett, a Jamaican who lived in Britain for years, returned to spend his 'twilight years' in the country of his birth, but had to return to Britain because the social and political situations in Jamaica frustrated him. The online and email responses to the articles echoed his sentiments and mine.
Long before Stennett spoke about his frustration and disappointment with Jamaica, I had given up hope on Jamaica's return to paradise in my lifetime. Writing the article was a poignant journey, as it dawned on me that Stennett might just be right.
It was a sad task since I realised I might never live to see the night when I can sleep in a house without grilles and burglar bars, which I find so unliberating, and when I can walk in Half-Way Tree with a cellphone at my ear and not worry about being attacked by a knife-wielding loser who, upon killing me for the piece of junk, will sell it for enough money to buy a 'box food'. Here are some feedback to the article:
Courage and honesty
"At last a Jamaican has been courageous and honest enough to say what many in the diaspora have been thinking for years. For far too long, we have been burying our heads in the sand and pretending that other countries were exaggerating the violence and corruption that are now endemic in the Jamaican society at almost all levels. How much longer will Jamaicans be allowed to go on murdering each other inside and outside Jamaica before teachers, church leaders and politicians come together and set up an active programme to enlighten our brothers and sisters about the folly of their murderous actions, and give us back a country of which we can all be proud?"
"I had drawn the same conclusion as Mr Stennett's many years ago. This conclusion is: Jamaica, as an island, has suffered the full brunt of slavery, where every method was used in the process of degrading, dehumanising, and all other efforts of subjugation which one could imagine. This had started over 300 years ago, but so deep were the roots of the methods which were used to instil in the minds of its people, which brought about a sense of inferiority and worthlessness, that until this day, in the 21st century, we still remain not much better than we were then.
"But may I add one important modification to Mr Stennett's analysis? Jamaica's problem is not a sense of 'inferiority', but 'superiority'. Virtually all our Caribbean neighbours with the exception of two or three of them have overcome, or overcoming the legacy of slavery with its accompanying brutalisation of the psyche. However, Jamaica still seems to be indelibly scarred and marred from the effects of slavery and subsequent colonialism.
But, although Jamaica has these deep psychological scars, it is not the sense of inferiority that has held Jamaica back, but rather its misplaced sense of superiority and entitlement. It is 'ginnalship' in the Jamaican parlance, and, with it, 'corruption', which are the roots of Jamaica's problem.
"Jamaicans have a superiority complex which is the opposite of an inferior complex. And this superiority complex has led to an attitude of 'we can do whatever we like, how we like, when we like, and, if onnu nuh like it, onnu guh weh' ... That is why Jamaica is 'ungovernable' in the view of Mr Stennett. So, if Jamaica is to progress, it has to disabuse itself of the notion of its 'superpower' status, or superiority complex. Jamaica may be superpower all right, but it's only a 'Bra nancy superpower'.
"Our leaders need to get to grips with reality and set a better example for their people. We Jamaicans must recognise and come to terms with our brutal past, and do all that is in our power to convert these latent negative and destructive forces into positive and progressive actions. Previous leaders had started along this path of self-recognition, self-identify, self-esteem, and self-pride.
But unfortunately, perhaps, since the '70s onwards, this drive towards 'emancipation from mental slavery' has been subverted and turned into a new 'enslavement' of our mental faculties. Jamaica, please wake up before we become a failed state, that is, a nation that is emotionally, mentally, intellectually, morally, socially and spiritually bankrupt."
- George S. Garwood
There is hope
"Please assure our precious Jamaican, Mr Enrico Stennett, that there is hope for Jamaica, much hope for Jamaica. All is not lost. There is a generation to which I belong that shall see this nation to the fulfilment of: 'So that Jamaica may under God, increase in beauty, fellowship and prosperity, and play her part in advancing the welfare of the whole human race'."
"O what an assurance, confident assurance, I have for this nation. She shall overcome. I am certainly not fazed by the events in my nation. Indeed, we are reaping what we have sown, and more shaking is yet to come. But that which cannot be shaken shall remain and we shall begin again. Yes, we shall.
"I am a positive change agent for national development. I am committed to make a difference, not just for generations to come, but for the eternal. So share that assurance with Mr Stennett, if you will."
- Millicent Battick