Mon | Jun 14, 2021

An ode to Jamaica

Published:Sunday | August 9, 2015 | 12:00 AM

She sits amid the Caribbean Sea adorned with shades of blue,

This gem of an island claimed by Columbus in 1492,

Hills once green and valleys deep in verdant vegetation,

Now brown and dry under a hot sky, reeling from devastation.

Her rivers and coasts once teemed with life, marvels for us to see,

Her people were happy, kind and gentle, safe, secure and free.

But pollution set in, spoilt everything, from streams and rivers to reef,

And her people became tired of being mired in financial stress and grief.

What went wrong in this fair land, once the envy of the whole world?

People once stood with pride and joy as the Jamaican flag unfurled.

Now many are ashamed to claim her name, lest visas they're denied,

With crime everywhere, only fear ... in God's care we must abide.

Is it because we did not have to fight for our independence?

That we treat our land with scant regard and so much indifference.

I wonder why we desecrate our precious island home,

While many chose to run away; the world they prefer to roam.

A people who once survived slavery, a wicked and cruel fate,

Now given up on themselves and abandoned their dream to be great.

They allowed politics to take over and again enslave their lives,

They hate and maim and kill each other with stones and guns and knives.

From politicians to area leaders and eventually dons,

They turned to nefarious things and became international cons.

Embarrassing, some might say, just look what we've come to now,

A talented people with so much potential to evil they did bow.

Selfishness, indiscipline and rampant dishonesty, too,

The prominence of bad citizens makes good ones seem few.

Stretched thin and distracted, the authorities are simply swamped,

Criminality and corruption, national progress they have cramped.

Captured land, gully-bank dwellings and garbage dumped in drains,

Plastic, paper, wood and metal all washed to the sea when it rains.

Used tyres, hillside lands, farms and dwellings ablaze,

Smoke and smog, dust and fumes, we're living in a haze.

Falling dollar, financial crisis, borrowed for generations to pay,

We owe too many financial institutions, with loans our backs they flay.

We sold off this and sold off that and the other, too,

There's almost nothing left to sell, bad decisions we will rue.

Untouchable citizens, above the law at both ends of the social range,

Rules for me and rules for you, but none for them, that's strange.

The very rich, the connected and professional voters all know,

Duppy know who fi frighten, so freely they will go.

Corruption, inefficiency and favouritism, our sad reality of life,

Wastefulness in government places, inhibiting conservation is rife.

The decent, honest and law-abiding must struggle to find their way,

It's easier to go with the flow, nothing to see, hear and nothing to say.

Now we're neck-deep in the hole and digging deeper still,

Discipline, honesty and hard work, I wonder if we have the will.

Without those three we won't survive no matter what we do,

Country first and all else after ... to this we must stay true.

We're supposed to be 'independent', 53 years have passed,

We started out progressive; we thought that it would last.

But too much dependency, massive imports and exports few,

Foreign loans, foreign investment and foreign highways, too.

So how can we survive this, are we doomed, forever 'salt'?

Is it me or is it you, just who is at fault?

We need good, strong leadership, the clean and forthright kind,

Communicative, sacrificial, apolitical ... is there someone we can find?

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor. Email feedback to and