Dennie Quill, Columnist
Many years ago, I visited Nigeria, and while flipping through a local newspaper, I was drawn to the obituaries. I noticed that some of the deceased were being buried more than six months after death. I enquired about this and got a lesson in Nigerian ways.
I was told that funerals are huge social occasions, and to avoid being treated with scorn for not putting on a good show, the family of the deceased may borrow money or sell land to garner the necessary funds. The elaborate preparations could include repainting a house, or even building one, producing extensive funeral programmes with videos, and designing souvenirs.
Funerals in Nigeria are costly affairs. Local lore holds that it is better to pay the mortuary substantial sums to keep the body until all the elements are in place for the perfect funeral.
Well, isn't that akin to what has happened with our Olympic athletes? Here we are in October, and we have only just found a suitable way to honour the extraordinary accomplishments of our athletes during the 2012 Olympic Games in July/August. Why did it take a multisectoral committee to organise a homecoming victory parade to recognise these courageous men and women of sports?
I humbly submit that the moment has passed. History teaches us that there is nothing like seizing the moment. I believe athletes and fans, coaches, support staff and family members have been very disappointed that it took Jamaica so long to come up with an appropriate way to celebrate the team's magnificent performance.
It does not take money to recognise the extraordinary talent of these individuals who demonstrated such grit and determination and who brought untold joy to Jamaicans wherever they reside on planet Earth. Fact is, we will never have adequate resources to put on an Olympic-size celebration in tribute to our athletes and coaching staff. We will never be able to reward them in a manner befitting their achievements on behalf of Jamaica.
FAILING TO SEIZE MOMENT
The English novelist Jane Austen said it better than I ever could: "Why not seize the pleasure at once, how often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparations."
I can think of many public-spirited volunteers who could pull together a victory celebration with minimal effort. We have so many talented singers, dancers and poets - who among them would refuse to celebrate our athletes?
For some people, just a physical glimpse of their heroes would be enough. For others, to replay the golden Olympic moments in the presence of the athletes would provide the thrill of a lifetime. Yet there are many, young and old, who would be satisfied with an autograph from one of the athletes.
So Digicel has stepped up once again. The sponsors of the 2012 Jamaican Olympic and Paralympic teams and superstars Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce have been announced as headline funders of the national homecoming celebrations planned to honour the full contingent of Jamaican athletes and officials that participated in the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.
I know that my musings will in no way dampen the celebrations when they finally come about, for Jamaicans are not known to resist a party. Besides, we are passionate about our athletes. However, my happiness has been destroyed by the long delay in publicly acknowledging our Olympic team.
Dennie Quill is a veteran media practitioner. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.