Farrakhan, T&T and Jamaican drama
Ronald Mason, Guest Columnist
This past week must surely go down in the recorded history of this country as one of the most revealing. All at once we were exposed as a most complex society. We displayed a multitude of traits. They ran the gamut from proud accomplishment to raw brutality. The ability to comprehend what all this means for the society fails me.
At the time of writing this column, the Muslim-associated Million Man March, led by Louis Farrakhan, has not yet been held at the National Arena, yet the significant fact that as a country we were capable of displaying tolerance to host an event which is not in favour with the prevailing religious belief of the overwhelming majority of the population is a good sign.
That the same would not be said of countries with the reverse religious preference is a good sign. Think of the improbability of a function celebrating the values of Christianity being held in the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Not a chance in your lifetime. Jamaica's tolerance is on display. In addition, the event will be the subject of an islandwide live broadcast. Think what this conveys about our country.
In addition, I will predict the Million Man March will be incident free. This event has already generated its point of fury. The complexity is that Jamaica permits the main event, but denies entry to an attendee who has not been advertised as being a significant participant. The never-convicted Trinidadian who is associated with the death of 24 persons in a violent attack on the government of Trinidad was not allowed to enter the island. How does one rationalise us hosting the event, but deeming an attendee objectionable? Ah, the machinations of Jamaica's logic, or could it be that we were, not for the first time, doing the bidding of others.
While the Trinidad and Tobago government's refusal of entry to 13 Jamaican nationals is their right, we Jamaicans have demonstrated a cowardice in response. Are there no Trinidadians in Jamaica who could be deemed a public charge on the coffers? Why are we not rounding them up and with swift dispatch returning them to soca land? Know why? Spineless, slavish, needing to be accepted as integrationist on the part of the Government.
The present Government is linked to the misguided vision of the mythical Caribbean nation as was found in the nightmare of national hero, Norman Manley, et al. CARICOM is a major negative for Jamaica. Taxes deferred, migration restricted, no space in the line at the ATM, broken arrangements regarding the natural gas energy needs of Jamaica, of the University of the West Indies, which subsidises the education of the other Caribbean nationals. Recall the non-payment of their share by Antigua for their students at law school in Mona for an extended period. It is time the country speak out in the manner it spends its treasury. The products from Trinidad are not to be patronised.
Another side of the Jamaican persona was provided by the brutal murder of the four China Harbour Engineering Company employees at the same time that CHEC was providing a J$23-million infusion into local Premier League football. Only in Jamaica. The logic-defying muddle that is to be found so widespread in Jamaica was in full bloom in the past week.
The chikungunya virus caused Parliament to meet at Jamaica House. The agenda was presumably set. How to clean up a country that wallows in filth. How to instil civic pride and accept the often-stated view that the garbage collectors must clean it up. That is what they are paid to do, the cynics say. If I do not throw the garbage all around, they will be deprived of jobs.
Then Ebola. Here comes panic. Here comes fear. Here comes an apprehension not seen since Hurricane Gilbert. This emerging crisis has changed the tenor of the politicising of health issues. This is deadly, and it would not just start in Eastern St Thomas and provide fodder for the political opponents of the minister of health.
Moreover, Ebola will not respond to bissy, soursop or pawpaw leaves, old man's beard, guinea hen weed, and all our herbal potence. This will make you violently ill, then kill all with whom you come in contact. It is now not in Africa alone, but only three hours' flight away in the country where every Jamaican family has a member. It is where our tourists primarily reside.
The only thing that has not yet made an appearance on the national scene is the reverend gentleman, he who turns away hurricanes, calming the nation with the assurance that the powers that be have assured him that our exposure will be minimal, if at all.
Life in Jamaica is always fast-paced, with a multitude of things seeking attention. However, rarely can I recall so many conflicting thoughts in the public space. Ah, comfort, the Reggae Girlz beat Martinique 6-0. There is hope for our survival.