That was the year that was
Anthony Gambrill, Columnist
Everybody likes to get an award. I admit I've received a couple. But in 2014, Jamaica seems to have gone overboard, giving the impression that, it doesn't matter what you do in life, you can get an award sooner rather than later.
Some are meaningful and well-deserved while others are frivolous or concocted to serve a commercial purpose. But the number and variety leave me wondering whether the trend is a distraction (like celebrity photos in the press) rather than concentrating on the real issues that face the country.
Take, for instance, Miss Jamaica. We now have a Miss Universe Jamaica, Miss Jamaica World, Miss Jamaica UK, Miss Jamaica Festival Queen (with each parish having its own Festival queen), Miss Teenager Jamaica, among others. And something called Miss Global International has recently popped up. Well, what do you expect, because Jamaica has so many beautiful women?
'Of the Year'
Then there is 'of the Year'. Teacher of the Year, Parent of the Year, Cop of the Year, Sportsman/woman of the Year, Pharmacist of the Year, Manager of the Year, Horse of the Year. Why not Criminal of the Year for whoever topped the most-wanted list?
If your child can spell, he or she has the chance to become a parish and possibly a national Spelling Bee champion or, going one better, win the Junior Achievement Award. To drum up advertising support in our newspapers and attendance at banquets, we recognised 'business leaders', 'innovators', 'nation builders' and the like. Let's hope 'national hero' keeps its credibility.
The phoniest title to be bandied about in 2014 was 'brand ambassador', even 'drink right ambassador' to help those of us who aren't sure how to quaff a Red Stripe. Ambassador always will be the formal title for diplomats representing their country.
All of this time is a boon to the economy, nevertheless. As well as award functions, we have created work for the producers of trophies, medals, plaques, citations, food baskets, newspaper supplements, halls of fame, and teachers of calligraphy.
In 2014, several words got a lot of repetition and got into a lot of news reports, news releases and breaking news. Top of the list, of course, was 'chik-V', which has wreaked such havoc on our national health. There was also 'divine intervention', which was called upon with regularity to save our economy, lower the crime rate, and win sporting events (like West Indian cricket). 'Humbled' got a lot of play and could be seen to verbally replace grovelling on one's hands and knees. A late newcomer was the phrase 'articulate minority', used to describe anyone who was dissatisfied with the government's policies.
This all leads up to me wanting to put forward my candidates for awards for memorable performances in 2014. Some are tongue in cheek, some are genuinely deserved - which is which may be difficult to distinguish.
The first set are inevitably political.
Person we have missed the most: Prime Minister Simpson Miller, the United States ambassador.
Unintended comedian of the year: A.J. Nicholson for faux rape.
Intransigent politician of the year: Chairman of the National Housing Trust over Outameni.
Non-divestment of the year: Caymanas Park Ltd.
Worst Investment of the Year: Outameni.
Only Jamaican politician to admit publicly he isn't pure: Dr Trevor Munroe.
Best-looking politician in a suit: Lisa Hanna.
Best-looking politician in a dress: Lisa Hanna.
Best-looking politician in a bikini: Lisa Hanna.
PNP paying $5,000 for votes in Westmoreland.
Reggae Boyz losing to French Guiana.
An incarcerated dancehall artiste being nominated for a Youth View Award.
Alia Atkinson breaking a world record in swimming against all odds.
Pothole of the Year: 8,967 claimants with no outright winner.
Quote of the Year: Outgoing CEO of the Pan Caribbean Sugar Company said that Jamaica is unlikely to be able to compete in the world sugar market "because if a worker is to be at work at 7:30 a.m., and he arrives at 8:30, it cannot be good for business".
While a lot of us are hoping that social love and corporate giving back will be enough to carry us forward, there are a few in Jamaica with the courage and determination to take on the challenges facing the country. Here are a couple of contenders:
My Man of the Year: Father Sean Major-Campbell who defied the antediluvian attitudes of his flock to wash the feet of a lesbian in the name of Christ.
My Woman of the Year: Kelly Tomblin, CEO of the Jamaica Public Service Company, who has had to grapple with defiantly criminal customers, the politicians who defended them, and a government that avoids paying its bills.
Anthony Gambril is a playwright. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.