The Soloist, Contributor
Happy 50th anniversary Jamaica! Or is it? The jury is still out as to whether we really have anything to celebrate 50 years later. Well, I am not in such doubt. For example: I was watching Piers Morgan Tonight on CNN the other night, and he interviewed two Americans and in those interviews, Usain Bolt's name and picture appeared more than twice.
He also interviewed boxing champions Evander Hollyfield and Lennox Lewis (Jamaican) and mentioned my country's name, and during all the commercial breaks, they were playing promos for an upcoming interview with Veronica Campbell-Brown! Not bad eeh?
And to top it off, the July 23 edition of Newsweek features a six-page spread on Usain Bolt. The article would have been fine in my estimation, except that writer makes two statements that, even if true, don't sit well with me. The first: "In a land where hardly anything else works, an exemplary tradition of track and field instruction and competition has flourished for almost 100 years."
Excuse me madam, for someone born in a country whose natives leave in droves for better opportunities elsewhere, you have some nerve. We might not be First World, but to suggest that most things don't work, means that you ought to go back home where I assume they do.
The second statement in your article that irks me at a time when, while being fiercely patriotic, I am still a tad upset that we are not more advanced, is the following:
"Bolt is still growing into his role as an international star. He didn't even know standard English until he began winning gold medals. Until then he spoke only the Jamaican patois."
Well, well, well, a weh you come from me dear? We nuh care ef him cyaa chat gud; he is not a linguist or English professor, he is a damn fine runner, and Jamaicans understand every word he says with those long legs! My point is, I am tired of all these foreigners who never had life so good until coming here, only to find fault with my precious 50-year-old country.
So be it
Check out the average 50-year-old person and see how many mistakes they have made on the way to half a century. If Jamaica is not perfect, so be it. It's my country and I love it. I would not change it for any other and I have been to and lived in four others for periods ranging from four months to three years. None of them gave me more happiness than Jamaica. If you have been here so long and still don't like our patois and our systems/institutions that do not work, pack your bags and go!
The eyes of the world are upon us, they are seeing our good and our bad. So that is why I am not so happy in spite of all the achievements in politics, sports, tourism, the lively arts, architecture, music, academics, and more. With the speed at which we took off in the early '60s, I had expected that Singapore would be using us as the example right now and not the other way around. I did not expect so much corruption, I did not expect bleaching and self-hate. I expected a first-class hospital in each parish.
Heck, this is not utopia. I am a realist. We will buck our toes many more times on our way to the next 50. But I expect you to achieve even more greatness, my Jamaica and I know you will. Yes, my Jamaica, I love you, warts and all. I love you like the mother of a disabled child who knows that he needs much more love. I will protect you from and guard you against persons whose countries also need fixing.