…And you know the other half of that saying. Which is it to be, for Jamaica? The Gleaner newspaper has been running a series on its front pages on the topic of “Unity,” in the context of Jamaica 50. The newspaper asks “movers and shakers” this question: “Why is unity important at this time as we celebrate Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of Independence, and what will this mean for Jamaica going forward?”
The responses have been by turns optimistic, stoic, doggedly determined and idealistic. Lovely words like “commitment,” “integrity,” “transparency” and a short word with great significance for us, “trust,” adorn the short paragraphs attributed to leaders from the private sector, civil society etc. It’s all so predictable it’s almost painful. Yet one senses an unease among many of the comments. ”We are too close to the wire,” comments one young businessman. What does he mean by that? Another more mature businessman comments, “If we do not change direction, we may end up where we are heading.“
And where exactly are we heading? Have we, perhaps, already reached that place, without even realizing it?
Looking at today’s Jamaica Observer this morning, I got some answers as to where we are, right now. “Bloody weekend” declared the front page headline, noting an upsurge of what the police say is gang warfare in a deprived inner-city area situated close to uptown. Three people were shot dead and three injured.
I turned the page to the newspaper’s “Page 2,” which is devoted to the activities of a select group of uptowners with familiar family names that are regularly recycled, it appears. It’s hard to distinguish one from the other. The ladies wear fashionable sunglasses à la Mrs. Beckham, very short skirts showing off their well-toned legs, and “on trend” shoes, hats, handbags. They are usually “sipping” something – the finest wine, perhaps, or the latest cocktail. The men wear cool shades too, of course, and are also very fashionably attired. They all smile for the camera. What a life.
Well, it’s Sunday lunchtime in the city, and just as these ladies and gentlemen were getting ready for their pool party at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, a mile or two away 49-year-old Paul Jackson was shot dead while attempting to flee into a house in Grants Pen. While the guests were arriving, and as the music played and the mimosas and champagne started flowing, 32-year-old Ava-Gaye Ward was being “sprayed with bullets” in Sunrise Crescent, not far from Grants Pen. She was hit in the back, hip, abdomen and right palm, according to the Observer report, and did not survive the attack.
I will leave you, dear reader, to draw your own conclusions.
PS. Wherever you are in the world, please don’t forget to observe Nelson Mandela International Day on Wednesday, July 18. It is intended to be a day of action. To quote the great man himself…
“Rhetoric is not important. Actions are.”
- http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Six-shot-in-resurgence-of-gang-violence-in-St-Andrew-North_11963377 (Bloody weekend – murder victims chased, shot)
- http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120716/lead/lead3.html (Unity: Jamaica 50)
- http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120716/lead/lead4.html (Nothing to celebrate, says Garveyite)
- http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/8308734/Page2-2012-07-13.jpg (Page Two: July 14, 2012)
- Nelson Mandela Day: Volunteers Needed… (petchary.wordpress.com)
- 50-50 Reflections (petchary.wordpress.com)
- Bloody weekend in Jamaica (antiguaobserver.com)
- Sunday Selection: July 15, 2012 (petchary.wordpress.com)
- http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/un/nelson-mandela-day (Nelson Mandela International Day)