Sat | Jun 23, 2018

The path to Jamaica's rebirth

Published:Thursday | May 27, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Hilary Robertson-Hickling, Contributor

AT THIS psychological moment, Jamaica is mourning the loss of life of its citizens - whether they be gunmen or members of the security or other citizens. This mourning is not only about the loss of life, but also the loss of confidence in our agency and capacity to forge a new country in the 21st century.

It will be a century of challenges in every sphere of life, from natural to man-made disasters. Who will be the midwives of the new Jamaica and what are the plans that will be implemented to make this a reality? What of the old plans and blueprints have worked and what is to be discarded. Of whom will the team of midwives consist? What will the role of those with the requisite skills at home and abroad be?

In two of the most powerful countries in the world - the United States and the United Kingdom - the new political leaders are men in their mid to late 40s - Barack Obama, and David Cameron. I think that Jamaica needs to explore that generation and select some who are not clones of the existing 60-80-year-old leaders who are now in power. While the earlier generations have made valuable contributions they have also been responsible for the dire state of affairs in which the country finds itself. We need new thinking from new people, especially those who can be and think independently.

The networks based on patronage and clientelism that are so entrenched have to be exposed. I look forward to the days when promotions will be based on achievement and merit. We are frequently bestowing accolades and honours to the undeserving who are our friends. This results in cynicism and mistrust which is very unhelpful if we are trying to forge coalitions to help in this island's rebirth.

A tragic and sad situation

I think that it is tragic that someone with as much potential as the man who has been extradited, who is part of this generation of the early 40s, has reportedly dedicated his life to activities which have made him intoan international pariah. He has been part of a great experiment which was established to improve the lives of the poor Jamaicans, but has had some equally tragic consequences. The community has been stigmatised and appears to be a zone of lawlessness, and many of its residents feel alienated from the rest of the country. In spite of the good that has been done, the community has been dogged by a reputation for badness and criminality in a marriage with the most destructive kind of politics.

The sight of the women in white demonstrating against the extradition and speaking of their complete dependence on him for the care of their children, dispensation of justice, and their care filled me with a sense of sadness. After 48 years of Independence, there are so many people especially young people who are dependent on others for their care and protection.

We need the rebirth of Jamaica as an independent nation, not a nation of mendicants begging and hustling, and using our abilities to develop ourselves and be able to take care of ourselves and our families. We recognise that our forbears fought for our rights and for their independence. We have regressed when we depend on one man to save our lives. To compare a man with God is a dangerous and desperate act. On the other side of this dependence is the power wielders and brokers who create a model in which poor people are held in perpetual subjection. The new plans and policies are breaking the hold of criminality but are also about a more equitable model of economic and social development in Jamaica and the generation of more wealth and other resources. On the deathbed of the old Jamaica, we need the confessions of truth about the current tragic state of affairs. The old Jamaica is dying so as to give birth to the new country. I remain hopeful.

Dr Hilary Robertson-Hickling is lecturer in the Department of Management Studies, UWI Mona.