Now this is a bit of a drag, isn't it? August is just about winding down, which means Jamaica 50 celebrations are all but over. Drat. Seems like only yesterday we were arguing over theme songs and Gala tickets.
Before September gets here, and the back-to-school/empty-pocket blues set in, it might be wise for us to take a moment to plan for the future.
You see, we're 50 years old as a nation. We're getting up in age, and just as someone had to sit grandma down to tell her it was time to retire the neon pink miniskirts, we must now identify what we should leave behind.
Take 'Jamaican time', for instance. Jamaican time is roughly two to three hours behind everyone else's. Ask us to be somewhere at noon, we'll get there by three, as long as there's no rain.
In our younger days, Jamaican time worked well for us. We were supposed to be a laid-back, 'no problem, mon' kind of people, so having a skewed perception of time was never really a big deal. The trouble is, now that we're 50, people could start expecting us to be on time.
It's all this globalisation hoopla. The world is one big network, and lateness is generally regarded as anti-productivity. I fear Jamaican time will be frowned upon by more time-savvy nations (stupid clock-watchers) so we might be forced to hop on to the 'on-time' bandwagon.
We might also wish to reconsider our affinity for long speeches. Whether it's the opening of a new public building, someone's swearing-in ceremony, or any old launch, we never pass up an opportunity to give a good speech. And that's fine. I'm sure we have a lot of important things to say. The downside is that by the time the speaker gets through the normally too-long opening with the obligatory acknowledgement of all the 'important' people in the room (Minister so-and-so, Ambassador this-and-that, the media, ladies and gentlemen, good evening), half the audience is already nodding off. Why can't a simple 'good evening', offered at the same time to everyone in the room, suffice? Protocol, I suppose. It just doesn't seem very efficient.
New name for music
Now that we're 50, it might also be a good time for us to come up with a new name for the music of the day. We know how Jamaican popular music evolved, moving through different stages - ska, rocksteady, reggae, dancehall. But once it got to dancehall, everything just seemed to come to a halt. The music didn't stop changing. We just got tired of naming it.
Now I'm no critic, but dancehall of the 1990s and what's being called dancehall today sound like very different genres to me. While driving home one day last week, I heard a yelp, followed by a frightening wail. I nearly swerved off the road, certain I had just decapitated a wayward cat. It was only then that I heard the announcer on the radio declare that the 'song' he just played was the biggest thing on the charts at the moment. Was I startled! Whoever is in charge of naming these things has been slacking off on the job.
Going forward at 50, we must come up with a new way to protest. The roadblocks and placard displays with crudely written, misspelled words won't do any longer. This worked well in the past and brought about meaningful results in many cases. But it's been overused. It's lost its effect.
Everyone feels like a victim at some point, so even taxi drivers who wilfully operate their vehicles contrary to the provisions of their licences will block roads and cry 'we want justice' when the police crack down on them because, well, that's what you do when you feel wronged. This cheapens protest and hurts the chances of those who genuinely need help. Real victims won't be able to get the attention they deserve because they come across as just another bunch of whiners. Think about it.
This list is by no means exhaustive. But let's be fair, we've only just celebrated our 50th. Rome wasn't built in a day, they say. The important thing is that we ensure that this milestone is marked by more than just a big party at the stadium. It's a great opportunity to make some important improvements. Let's not squander it.
Robert Lalah is assistant editor - features, and author of 'Roving with Lalah'. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.