We take Lisa Hanna at her word. She won't, she said, import political partisanship into the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of Jamaica's Independence.
But Ms Hanna has much work to do if she is to depoliticise the affair and fashion a genuinely national event from a programme that is already mired in partisan controversy over its planning and financing, as well as which song, if any, was commissioned to officially rally national sentiment.
There is little time remaining to get the job done, given that the celebrations are to reach a crescendo on Independence Day, August 6.
There is, however, a small upside in the revelation that Ms Olivia 'Babsy' Grange and another opposition nominee will sit on a broad-based committee overseeing the celebrations.
This suggests that Ms Hanna and her predecessor in the culture portfolio, Ms Grange, have been forced into a truce in their quarrel over who made the bigger mess on Jamaica 50.
Ms Grange was in charge of organising the celebrations until her party lost the government last December, upon which Ms Hanna, not without cause, suggested the programme was in shambles. Ms Hanna then set about creating her own crises.
All this is a great shame, for the 50th year in Jamaica's life as an independent country should be an opportunity for unity, effusive enjoyment and national pride. It should also be a time of sober reflection. With the move to depoliticise the event, there is a greater likelihood of the former. This newspaper, however, is concerned that insufficient attention, at least at the popular level, is being paid to the latter.
Jamaica's 50th anniversary of Independence, fortuitously in many respects, coincides with the London Olympics. Jamaica is a global power in athletics and many of our top performers are expected to win medals at the Games. Indeed, while conventional athletics wisdom has now been made uneasy by the heroics of Yohan Blake in beating Usain Bolt in the sprints at Jamaica's national trials, Bolt has largely been the face of the Olympics. It is a factor that, rightly, Jamaica hopes to leverage.
Inspirational national treasures
Bolt and our other great athletes are inspirational national treasures, deserving of our deep admiration and celebration. If they do well in London, as we expect they will, it should add to the spirit of the celebrations of Jamaica at 50.
Nonetheless, Jamaicans don't only run fast, love to dance in popular styles, or enjoy street parties, which, from our distance, appear to be the core of the celebrations. We are also people who have exercised our creative imagination in other areas of the arts and sciences, and whose intellects have helped shape events on the global stage.
It may be this newspaper's fault that it is yet to discern in the project a reflection of these and other elements of the triumphs of Jamaica this past half-century. Nor do we perceive an effort at popular engagement of the Jamaican people - putting aside a series of academic conferences earlier hosted by the University of the West Indies - on the many missteps we have made since Independence. This is largely evident in our economic underperformance and many areas of social dysfunction.
The event, however, need not end on August 6. In the absence of partisanship, the next 12 months can be a period of deeper reflection.
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