Wed | Jun 16, 2021

'Yes massa' days over

Published:Wednesday | March 14, 2012 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, SIR:

I READ with a great deal of concern Mr Ramesh K. Sujanani's letter in The Gleaner of March 9 titled 'Society has decayed under Independence'. In his letter, Mr Sujanani bemoans the fact that the British Union Jack is not still flying high over the island of Jamaica.

It is sad that Mr Sujanani's yearning for the "good old days" is based solely on his perceived impoliteness of Jamaicans in the service industry, and their use of Jamaican Patois instead of the Queen's English. He remembers those "good old days" when he would have been "severely castigated" for using what he refers to as "bad English".

It would appear that Mr Sujanani has perceived that the self-confidence and assertiveness of the Jamaican people to express themselves in Patois is an overt sign of rudeness. This perception is unfortunate, for my observation of many Jamaicans in the service industry is the opposite of what Mr Sujanani has described.

In my two visits to Jamaica since 2009, I was extremely impressed with the overall hospitality and attitude of many ordinary folk engaged in their daily tasks. From the airport staff to the workers at the hotel where I stayed; from the operators of roadside food outlets to the vendors of arts and crafts; from the bus drivers to the employees at picturesque places of interest; all exuded warmth and civility.

It may be said that the yearning for the "good old Union Jack flying overhead once more" is synonymous to a 50-year-old man who desperately wants to return to the protective arms of Mama as soon as he experiences difficulties in the outside world.

Mr Sujanani tends to forget that many of the ills that plague the Jamaican society today are directly related to the legacy of over 300 years of British colonial rule. It was a time when about 98 per cent of all students were denied access to a high-school education. It was a time when rural Jamaica was badly neglected - very poor sanitation facilities, very poor roads, very poor water supply, no electricity. And the long list of deficiencies goes on and on.

Mr Sujanani's yearning for "the good old Union Jack" in Jamaica demonstrates the fact that some Jamaicans have forgotten that it was no picnic under British rule. The 'yes massa' days are over!

RUPERT JOHNSON

r.b.johnson@sympatico.ca