THE PERCEPTION of men and the destiny of the nation must be defined by Jamaicans, according to Governor General Sir Patrick Allen.
The governor general's comments come against the background of recent remarks reportedly made by President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe, who labelled Jamaican men as drunkards who were perennially high on ganja.
Speaking on Monday evening at Jamaica College's (JC) first parent-teacher association (PTA) meeting for the new academic year, Sir Patrick said: "How can a leader who is unwelcome in the Commonwealth because of human rights abuses try to negatively refer to our men in Jamaica as arrogant, drunk, ganja smokers? That definition is within our own hands.
"We acknowledge that we have serious socio-economic problems, but we also believe that means for sustainable solution will be found within our people. We are strong and, if I might use our dialect, we are a tallawa set of people; that speaks confidence in our unlimited potential."
Sir Patrick said the country has the necessary talents and skills to tackle the current problems and challenges.
He also declared that the purpose of institutions such as Jamaica College is to train and mould their students, so that they can stand fearlessly, boldly and courageously "to show who we really are as a people".
Also speaking at the PTA meeting was JC Principal Ruel Reid who identified the alliance between parents and teachers as a lucrative partnership in tackling many of the challenges faced by young men, challenges that need to be conquered in order to preserve the rich heritage of institutions like JC.
The use of information technology was one such area that was outlined by Reid. "Students have far more distractions now than in the 1970s that put them at the risk of negative elements. These tools can be used for good as well, if we monitor the use of information technology," he told the parents.
Reid also told parents that "we need to lead the charge in (bringing back) JC to its former glory, not only in terms of financial resources, but to invest in men who will be good role models, locally, regionally and internationally."