Do not give up on Jamaica

Published: Sunday | December 29, 2013 Comments 0

Ronald Mason, Contributor

The holidays are with us and all Jamaicans are of two minds. The economic hardships make for reduced spending. Cutting back is the order of the times, yet the ritual of visiting family and friends, the joy of renewing acquaintances and the search for good times are still with us.

Jamaicans love living. All this calls us to make some observations about Jamaica. Let us resolve not to give up on Jamaica as we journey on the pot-holed roads, fight crime and curse the leaders for bad decisions.

The climate in Jamaica is the most perfect in the world. The sun shines 365 days and the beach is open all day every day. If you do not think that is valuable, ask family members who live in other parts of the world. Call Toronto, New York, London, Beijing, Dubai or Tanzania. Jamaica is the best.

Jamaicans are good people at the core. We care for and defend strangers in need, make friends easily. Check your telephone contact list and your Twitter or Facebook friends. See how many are listed there. Even when we are bad, we display traits of genius. The inner-city youth can operate a lottery scam so professionally that improbable pleas to complete strangers result in a payment of US dollars.

Any vacant position will be sought by someone with an assumption of competence. What type of job are you seeking? I can do and will do anything, is the answer. Would you not run the risk of insulting the local 'tradesman' if you were to ask to see certification in masonry, carpentry or plumbing? They usually have none, but will gladly tackle the most complex of tasks. Guess what? We will hire the person to carry out the task because the price is right. Competence takes a back seat. Only Jamaica. Our people have talent. World-class talent. Let us present a few: Tessanne Chin, Bob Marley, Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Jamaica's netball team, Alia Atkinson, Timar Jackson, the late Monsignor Gladstone Wilson, Father Ho Lung, and watch TVJ at 6:30 p.m. on a Sunday. We Jamaicans are clearly the best. Do not give up on Jamaica.

Yes, we are corrupt, abysmally bureaucratic and indisciplined, but remember the following. We have given the world a new religious dogma - Rastafarianism. We gave the world dreadlocks, now an accepted fashion statement and a statement of religious preference around the world. We have given the world a new prism to look in on a religion based on self. A deity who we can relate to as being more than a myth, to be worshipped on blind faith. This cultural form came from the people.


Reggae, dancehall and the fusion in form of musical expression is ours. We created it, propagated it and spread it to acceptance around the world. So much so that we are now expressing concern that greater levels of musical authenticity in these forms may actually be found in Japan and Europe. The rhythm is still being created here, tweaked here and given to the world. We rarely express this music with compelling lyrics, but the world does. The world can barely identify the late creator of a rhythm, Patrick Samuels, but those within the music fraternity know Sly and Robbie. The elders know of Ernie Ranglin. I have no recollection that these icons attended the Juilliard School of Music, nor were they commissioned to produce pieces for performance at King's House. These works were born in studios under clouds, yet have found ready acceptance and markets across the globe. Imagine my joy at being able to acquire a CD of Jamaica's musical history with heavy emphasis on Leslie Kong in a Moscow record shop. To the world. Do not give up on Jamaica.

The problems and hardships are many. They are not, however, insurmountable. Let us recall some of the problems we faced in Independence in 1962. St Thomas had limited post-primary education, now there is a school place available. It is not whether we are all now endowed with 'subjects', but the potential to acquire subjects is greater than ever before. Rhodes Scholars now emerge from Vauxhall High School. The Tutorial College, Buxton High School and Crandall High School, schools no longer exist. Government-aided school place is available. Recall that the products of these institutions made by our own people rose to prominence as prime minister, senior civil servants and successful business operators. The evolution continues. Campion College is now a top school. It did not start that way. Do not give up on Jamaica.

The current leadership of Jamaica leaves a lot to be desired. Parliament is now lacking in quality. Where are the Edward Seagas, Edwin Allens, Michael Manleys, Robert Lightbournes to be found in the 63 of today? There is no independent thought of a F.L.B. 'Slave Boy' Evans. Where is the intellect? What we have is crassness, crude, incivility passing for debate. Where are the visionaries, the motivators, the inspirational? Hope springs eternal. These can and will be replaced with true leadership. The singleness of focus and purpose will come. Do not give up on Jamaica.

Ronald Mason is an immigration attorney, mediator and talk-show host. Email feedback to and

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