The heat in Kingston this week has been a dictator, beating us all into submission. I have spent the week cowering at home (two inches away from the fan) or hiding in air-conditioned cafés.
And it’s only June. As one Twitter friend just observed: “This rain need fi fall an dun.” (translation for non-Jamaicans: “This rain needs to fall and get it over with.”)
Shock and horror: Friday night frolics for many Jamaicans were somewhat overshadowed by the disturbing news that one of our athletic heroines, Veronica Campbell Brown, tested positive for a banned substance, a diuretic called Lasix (furosemide). Ms. Campbell Brown has won gold medals and broken all kinds of records, and Jamaica has been justifiably enormously proud of her over the past few years. Now, many are in denial, believing that it must be an error, a “set-up” even. Others are pointing at the big, bad United States, which they claim is the sports doping center of the world; the athlete lives and trains there. Many others are just hoping it’s not true. We will have to wait and see.
The Church again: Meanwhile our ultra-conservative, dogmatic, religious anti-gay activists are sharpening their keyboards/pencils and ramping up their opposition to a case that will be coming up soon in court. More details later this month. Long live the Status Quo!* Long live the Patriarchy! Long live the Normal and the God-fearing! *Not talking about the UK pop band of the 1960s…
The death of the animals: I did not mention the horrific slaughter of 32 sheep and 18 goats at a farm in St. Catherine last week. An armed gang invaded the farm and tied up the caretaker, then killed his entire stock of animals and carried away the meat. I commented on the issue of praedial larceny in April, thus (and I might as well repeat it here – nothing has changed: “Poor farmers: Another kind of thieving…is what is called “praedial larceny” (a term I had never heard until I came to Jamaica). This means stealing farm produce and livestock, which hard-working farmers have reared and grown. In other words, taking their livelihood away from them…I cannot understand why this criminal act, which goes on year after year unabated, is not taken more seriously by law enforcement and the courts. Perhaps it is because it affects rural residents, and we really only care about what happens in Kingston and a couple of other towns. I don’t know. But I believe the penalties should be much higher and the pursuit of these criminals should be aggressive and unrelenting. This isn’t happening. And when someone spots an alleged goat thief, an angry and frustrated mob attacks him.” National Security Minister, over to you! (And the meat must have gone somewhere!)
Ganja gone high-tech: So a high-tech marijuana farm was found in a big house on the outskirts of Kingston. Most of the comments seem to be along the lines of “Good for them, you’ve got to make money somehow.” Yes indeed, times are hard. One word of warning, however: a doctor whom I know and respect told me recently that he is seeing more and more young people (not only men) coming to his office with psychoses, directly related to ganja-smoking. Jamaicans (especially those who smoke themselves) believe it is harmless. I believe otherwise.
Ganja conference: Meanwhile, the energetic pro-ganja lobby is holding a Cannabis Conference in September here in Jamaica. This will presumably be an entirely one-sided affair and a platform for Lord Anthony Gifford et al to air their views. I hope they all enjoy themselves. I do agree with them though that using one spliff as an excuse for the police to harass, abuse and imprison a young man is not right and the law could be corrected.
Online=scary: We all know about the dangers of cyber-bullying. It has been going on for a long while, but it seems our police have just caught on to it. Of course, there are many pitfalls and hazards online, especially for young people – some pretty nasty stuff going on. But perhaps the police could figure out a way of using social media to actually find some of the missing persons they think have fallen prey to it. It’s a good way of getting the word out, you know! Tech entrepreneur Ingrid Riley spoke on radio on the topic and sought to point out the many positive aspects of social media. It’s a tool, and as such it depends how you use it, she says. But it’s clear the police regard it as the latest fearsome menace of the modern world.
Tapping the diaspora: The fifth conference with members of the diaspora is opening in Montego Bay. What is the Jamaican diaspora? It is the many thousands, even millions of Jamaicans scattered across the globe, but mostly in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. These conferences are a bit like CARICOM meetings in the jaundiced eyes of many Jamaicans. They are seen as “talk shops,” where all the challenges, issues, problems and possible solutions are aired, and then…what? I would love to see lots of investments and joint ventures and the like flow from these biennial meetings, but it doesn’t seem to happen. Like so many things in Jamaica, we talk and talk – but these confabs are not “fruitful” as politicians like to say. Reality hits. Things are not as attractive as they might sound in a comfortable room, with air-conditioning purring and a good cup of coffee at hand. The two major constraints to the diaspora digging in its pockets and spending its hard-earned cash are still there: crime and bureaucracy. Successive governments have not addressed these issues. It just goes round to round.
Having said all that, I would love to see some meaningful projects and partnerships come out of this conference. Something fruity. Sorry, I mean fruitful.
What IS the matter with the National Water Commission (NWC)? The government agency is reportedly dragging its feet on projects already funded by multilateral donors. They have not yet got off the ground and the excuses are manifold and complex. But listen, the NWC has been stumbling along for years, awash in what seems to be chronic inefficiency and waste, lack of resources and a kind of inertia that results from both. There is talk of privatizing water. Do you think this would help, dear readers? At this stage, I don’t know whether I am for or against it.
No reason to panic: Meanwhile we had the “don’t panic, folks” routine from the Bank of Jamaica this week, over the issue of the declining Jamaican Dollar. As a member of the long-suffering Jamaican public, reeling from the effects of recession, huge tax increases and soaring prices, I don’t feel I can listen to any more of these rationalizations. Not right now, anyway. I’ve had it.
Petchary Awards today go out to:
- The Government of Japan and the World Bank for funding a project to improve the lives of the disabled in Jamaica. I would love to see more of these projects funded that will really help the most vulnerable in Jamaican society. It is an empowerment project – skills training, special education. Very good!
- Javed Jaghai, our articulate (and brave – I won’t say unafraid because I think that is not true) gay rights activist. He tackles the issues head-on. Take a read of his blog post, below.
- The energetic Ms. Tanya Batson-Savage for the launch of a truly delightful children’s book, “Bolo the Monkey” - published by her very own Blue Moon Publishing. Tanya is also to be congratulated for venturing forth full-time into the world of publishing. I wish her the best of luck. Go out and buy the book! Only J$500 in local bookstores… It’s a treat.
- Ms. Stephanie Saulter for her new sci-fi novel “Gemsigns” - I missed the launch last week but wish her all the best with it. Published by Quercus Books in London. Check it out!
- That dedicated microphone wielder Andrew Cannon of CVM Television. His reporting on the vexed issue of customs (fees etc) this week was informative.
- UNICEF’s representative in Jamaica Robert Fuderich (he might as well have a permanent spot on my “honors list”!) again for his refreshingly outspoken remarks this week. After four years here, he is irritated by the divisiveness, finger-pointing and point-scoring going on among those involved in protecting and caring for Jamaica’s children. Please! Let’s work together! And again – too much talk, not enough action. How is all this helping the children?
- Also to UNICEF for sharing a very useful online Directory of Services for Children in Jamaica. It’s in a pdf document here: https://workspaces.acrobat.com/app.html#d=AdnGY2QvUTbKs0C89DBjow
- Finally, to the Rain God who granted our wish… Since I started writing this we have had a deliciously refreshing shower!
Sadly, more Jamaicans have lost their lives to violence in the past few days; two were teenagers. My condolences to their grieving families.
Nathaniel Brown, 18, Old Harbour, St. Catherine
Goston Smith, 27, Woodstock/Claremont, St. Ann
Killed by the police:
Christopher Wilson, 17, Yallahs, St. Thomas
Related links and articles:
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130616/lead/lead1.html Disbelief! Jamaicans line up behind VCB despite positive tests: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130613/lead/lead1.html IMF rep says without key policy changes, Jamaica will remain in economic rut: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/BOJ-says-fall-of—within-expectation_14490279 BoJ says fall of J$ within expectation: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/The-value-of-the-dollar-is-just-a-symptom-of-Jamaica-s-underlying-problem_14488271 The value of the dollar is just a symptom of Jamaica’s underlying problem: Keith Collister column/Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130615/letters/letters1.html Stop lying to us! Sunday Gleaner/Letter of the Day
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/34238 Focus on Vision 2030 at Diaspora Conference: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/Example-of-excellence-in-the-public-sector_14486846 Example of excellence in the public sector: Dennis Chung column/Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130616/lead/lead2.html Build new schools, government urges overseas Jamaicans – but red tape, crime scaring away investors: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130613/letters/letters1.html Customs fees oppressive: Letter of the Day/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/High-tech-ganja-farm-found-on-church-owned-property_14482785 High-tech ganja farm found on church-owned property: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Ganja-lobby-fires-up_14497626 Ganja lobby fires up: Jamaica Observer
http://digjamaica.com/blog/2013/06/13/2013-crime-stats-parish-by-parish-jan-april/ 2013 crime stats parish by parish, Jan-April 2013: diGJamaica.com
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Gunmen-raid-animal-farm_14490972 Gunmen raid animal farm: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130615/cleisure/cleisure1.html Farmers cower as heists continue: Gleaner editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130613/lead/lead2.html Black tank project lacked transparency: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Seaview-High-Home-to-stray-animals-haven-for-criminals_14480144 ”Seaview High”: Home to stray animals, haven for criminals: Jamaica Observer
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/court-date-set-for-cops-charged-in-connection-with-school-girls-death Court date set for cops charged in connection with schoolgirl’s death: RJR News
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/cops-involved-in-fatal-shooting-of-st-ann-man-taken-off-front-line-duty_1 Cops involved in fatal shooting of St. Ann man taken off frontline duty: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130614/cleisure/cleisure2.html Gays made, not born: Peter Espeut column/Gleaner
http://sonofstmary.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/freedom-to-be-intolerant/ Gay rights clash with the freedom to be intolerant: Son of St. Mary
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130615/cleisure/cleisure4.html Father-child interaction crucial to development: Dr. Sandra Knight op-ed/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130616/lead/lead8.html UNICEF official: Too many unhelpful quarrels: Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Police-establish-link-between-social-media–missing-persons_14465683 Police establish link between social media, missing persons: Jamaica Observer
http://newsandviewsbydjmillerja.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/parliaments-sectoral-debate-yawn/ Parliament’s sectoral debate. Yawn. newsandviewsbydjmiller
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Japan-funds-project-to-improve-lives-of-people-with-disabilities Japan funds project to improve lives of people with disabilities: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130616/news/news5.html ”You’re moving too slow, NWC” – International agencies say Commission taking too long to implement projects: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130613/news/news1.html Inside the Cockpit Country: Conservation workers want to end deforestation, pollution: Gleaner
U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica Pamela E. Bridgewater gave this lecture on June 6, 2013 at the University of the West Indies. I thought I would share it with you. You can also find it on the U.S. Embassy website at http://kingston.usembassy.gov/sp_06062013.html.
Good evening and my thanks to the organizers of this evening’s forum: The Mona School of Business & Management, the Institute for Gender and Development Studies, and the Women’s Leadership Initiative, Principal Gordon Shirley, my friend Minna Israel – thank you for inviting me. To my colleague ambassadors and members of the diplomatic and consular corps; the students of the University of the West Indies, staff of the U.S. Mission in Jamaica, friends all, good evening.
Challenges Facing Women Executives was the topic that the organizers proposed to focus on. And let me say from the onset that females execute at all levels – at home, in the community, in the office and in the board room. In fact, we execute this or that — household budgets, shopping, getting children to school, caring for ageing parents, hiring and firing in an office setting, — you get the picture.
As an introduction, you heard Denise Herbol, the Mission Director for USAID, share her observations about some of the cultural challenges women face in male-dominated societies, and the Embassy’s Public Affairs Officer Yolonda Kerney speak of her experiences in managing work-life balance and some of the issues working mothers face. I thank them for speaking so candidly and sharing these personal experiences and I know we’ll delve more into these challenges at the conclusion of my presentation.
Recently the New York Times published an article examining the percentages of female executives among Fortune 500 corporations in the United States. They found that women make up only 16 percent of directors at Fortune 500 companies, 4 percent of chief executives at Standard & Poor’s 500 companies, and fewer than 10 percent of chief financial officers at S&P 500 companies. On Wall Street a small but increasing number of traders and executives are women, but still only 3 percent of hedge fund assets are managed by women.
Although there are fewer hedge funds run by women, a recent Harvard University study found that those hedge funds headed by female executives outperformed funds run by men.
Another study of retail investors found that men traded 45 percent more than women in their own accounts, but earned 2.65 percent less. Outside the investing and trading sphere, there are also scores of studies about how women enhance the organizational environment. If, and I emphasize, IF, there really is such a thing as “a female style of leadership” evidently it can yield better performance — a recent review of the S&P 1500 index found that corporations led by women performed better, that is to say, they yielded higher profits. In academia, universities led by women had higher rates of matriculation than universities led by men.
Now my intent is not to have a battle of the sexes. We don’t need that fight as there’s enough to do simply as females, but note please that some scholars and advocates for women do not consider the study of differences between men and women to be legitimate. To them, such research is insulting because it sets up the idea that women perhaps require different treatment.
But for those who had any lingering doubts about women’s abilities to lead corporations and organizations and produce stellar results, those results are in and the survey says: there is nothing wrong with women’s innate abilities to lead. So why are there so few women executives?
Might there be issues in academic preparation? Men and women who aspire to executive leadership often choose business as their academic discipline, so let’s look at the statistics: According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, in 2012, 43 percent of people who took the business school admissions test were women. Last year more than 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees in the United States were awarded to women. In 2010, the number of Ph.Ds awarded to women in the United States was greater than the number of Ph.Ds awarded to men for the first time in our history. So when it comes to academic preparation, there is certainly a strong cadre of women preparing themselves to be executives. So what exactly is the problem, and why aren’t more women rising to the top of their fields? This is where the conflict lies in seeking a remedy to the problem of too few women executives – we can’t agree on the cause of the problem. Depending on which rationale you believe, the remedy differs.
The first explanation is plain ole sex discrimination. Women in some fields entering the work force are sometimes met with overt hostility and resistance. I have experienced the resistance, the wonder, and the “how did she get here ahead of me” syndrome.
And then, there’s the opposite approach of overly benevolent attitudes that are patronizing and can do as much harm as outright discrimination. But remember, hostility is not required for discrimination to exist. Stereotypes can create different or lower expectations for women even when no hostility exists. Some researchers tell us there’s not so much an issue of resentment or bias toward women, so much as a preference for men.
We must be aware that subtle forms of discrimination confront us daily. Various means of hampering and slowing down the process of women’s development have to be acknowledged and brought to the attention of managers or supervisors.
In her introduction, our USAID Director told us about cultural prejudices against women that made it difficult for her to do the job the USG sent her to do. In some cases, people just are more comfortable if a man is in charge, even when that man’s female deputy is clearly the brains of the operation.
Sometimes the issue is compounded by the added layer of racism. Too frequently people become uncomfortable in speaking about racism, but let’s be honest, we all know it exits –subtly or overtly, and if we all are honest with ourselves we would do well to engage in a bit of self introspection and seek to determine if we hold views, impressions, prejudices that are race tinged. Yes, all of us of every race or ethnicity should engage in such introspection from time to time.
I recall that when I arrived in South Africa on a diplomatic posting, I discovered that I was the only African American officer at our very large embassy in Pretoria when I accepted my assignment there in 1990. But as I prepared for the assignment, determining whether there were other African Americans or females did not enter into my equation. In fact I didn’t even think about it or consider it important.
I was one of only two females in the predominately male political reporting section which was a very large section owing to the nature of our engagement and dialogue — the other female officer an entry level officer, whom I developed a wonderful relationship with and shared mentoring tidbits. And as I developed a special relationship with Mr. Nelson Mandela as the officer assigned to cover the ANC, which was not at that time a political party but a liberation movement, our mission and our country would be the beneficiaries of the unprecedented access I gained to the ANC and to the dialogue and cooperation that our embassy developed and the positive working relationships we forged that helped with that historic transition. It takes time to diminish these notions of racism and/or male superiority, but I am living proof that we have and continue to make progress. And that’s a very good thing.
A second explanation of why there are so few female executives is more complex, and theorizes that male-driven culture does not allow women to succeed. Women’s values and approaches can be different, and when entering the work force women may find that the male culture is not to their taste or are driven off. Those women who do succeed adapt to the “male culture.” In other words, women need to become “like men” to become corporate executives, or so the theory goes. I have never subscribed to that notion or to the theory that there are necessarily male or female solutions to problems, but there are effective and ineffective solutions to problems that both men and women must utilize.
I have had outstanding male and female bosses — Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leaps to mind — and the thing they had in common was tremendous attention to detail, an insistence on being prepared, and a willingness to listen, energy, drive and hard, smart work not being afraid to stand up to a wrong and discipline individuals who could benefit from a positive intervention. Good leadership is not the exclusive domain of male or female.
Another issue at the forefront impacting female executives is having and caring for children. Although more men today are happily involved in child rearing more so than their parents or grandparents, it is still women who function as the primary caretakers of their children. This is the struggle for “work-life balance” that Yolonda spoke about in her introduction. Gone are the days when we tried to pretend that small children do not need their mothers, even when their mothers have returned to work after birth. It’s for this reason I am so proud to say that every U.S. Embassy and Consulate have clean, clearly identifiable lactation stations where our employees who are nursing mothers may pump breast milk.
The competing demands of work and childcare continue well beyond infancy, so we see the need to care for children is often greatest when women are in their 30s and 40s, a period that is the prime time of their careers. Some managers – men and women – fear that working mothers are on “the mommy track” and that just because they have children, they are less committed to their careers. This could not be farther from the truth for so many women who juggle the competing demands of motherhood and career, and thrive with both.
Some women choose to focus on their children either by not competing for promotions, or working part time, or leaving the workforce for a period of time. All of these approaches working mothers take are legitimate, and each woman has to make the decision that is best for herself and her family. But I caution executives and managers not to make assumptions about a working mother’s priorities, rather, let her performance and initiative inform you of her intentions and her potential to rise. Just think about it — doesn’t it make sense to think that a woman who has raised well adjusted, happy off spring under challenging circumstances might just bring something extra of value to the work environment?
Support for each of these theories can be found in the repeated studies. No matter which premise you believe, the end result is that men significantly outnumber women at the highest levels of commerce, and women in corporate America are paid less than men performing the same work. I must say that when I went to work at one of my university teaching positions, I entered with a salary higher than the males on the faculty (I was the first female to be hired on that faculty); but, I had negotiated my salary prior to accepting the position and the university had recruited ME based on my qualifications and the needs of the Department. We soon over came the male disgruntlement when word got out about my salary and became wonderful colleagues, and friends, to this day.
I must share that on my first day joining that faculty, I ventured from my office building on a new campus to find the student union, and the chairman asked me to bring him some coffee back. I have to admit that I was a bit taken aback because I had to first find my way to the student center building and then get his coffee and lug it back to our office building. I didn’t particularly like this because, right or wrong, I thought is he having me to fetch coffee because I am a female? So I tried to settle a bit and simply said, “Hey, why don’t YOU come along with me and show me around and we’ll share a coffee together.”
As the first and only female on the faculty, I was more than a little novelty, and there was a bit of green eye as both male and female students signed up for my classes in numbers as they had heard about my work and activities about the THEN young prof from another university where I had taught. Well they flocked in and many flunked out. Performance pays and that’s what won the colleagues over and the students’ respect, which I am really proud to say, continues to this day as they stay in touch wherever I am over the world. I don’t like to dwell on problems without considering solutions, so I want to here offer some suggestions and tools that have helped me on my journey.
We’ve talked about various data relative to executive level work in the traditional business environment, but but let me give a few personal reflections about the United States Foreign Service which is under the personnel management of the U.S. Department of State. Change in recruiting and hiring practices for our diplomatic corps came as a directive from the Office of Equal Opportunity. This office had been mandated to do so by the Secretary of State who recognized the need to make opportunities for employment available to females and minorities and that our diplomatic efforts around the world should reflect better the makeup of our increasingly diverse society. Such a policy has enriched our Foreign Service and strengthened our country’s ability to engage with people around the globe.
In 1982, only seven of the 134 United States ambassadors were women, compared to 43 today. In 1985, just 3 percent of senior Foreign Service officers were women, but in 2010 more than half the new recruits for the Foreign Service were women, and we expect that they will rise to the highest ranks of our diplomatic corps. We see repeatedly that when women are allowed to compete, they succeed.
Now to continue with solutions. First, find and be a mentor. I was fortunate in that I had several individuals along the way who mentored me, and most of them were men primarily because there are so many more men in our Foreign Service. But the females that I encountered along the way were positive role models to whom I could turn for advice and guidance. Further, it was actually a male senior officer and later Ambassador at the Department of State who approached me about the Foreign Service when I was a university professor. He worked in the Office of Equal Opportunity I mentioned earlier, and every time he saw me he told me how few people of color were in the U.S. diplomatic corps, and how even fewer women there were. He just stayed on topic and kept reaching out to me. I finally was convinced. And I take mentoring seriously, continuing to reach out. Outreach must be more than a word — it must be a deed.
Mentoring is an extremely effective management tool and he benefits can be immeasurable. We have implemented in the Foreign Service a formal mentoring program, pairing seasoned staff members with aspiring officers. This is not just diversifying your workplace, but it is a good and effective managerial tactic. I am so proud to have several people I am proud to call “mentee.” We should not be afraid to give a chance to our colleagues when we are in positions to do so.
During my tenure as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs I subsequently was moved up to Principal Deputy and often served as Acting Assistant Secretary. I had responsibility for personnel issues and identifying persons for key positions. I saw the list of ambassadorships opening and thought of a superb officer who had the requisite language skills, and other management and leadership experience. The individual happened to be a woman, and I reached out to her as I considered her ideal as a possible candidate.
She couldn’t believe I would think of her and was shocked and surprised, happily and when I told her I needed her response quickly, like in over 24 hours as the White House needed candidates to consider, she phoned me back the next day and say, well if you think I can do it, I’ll go for it. And the rest as they say, is history. She was nominated, confirmed and served in an outstanding manner in her first ambassadorial post. She said so often, she wanted to be like me and could not express her gratitude in my belief that she could do this job.
Affirmative action is often a testy subject, but I want to be clear that it does not mean taking jobs away from males or other females. It gives the opportunity for jobs to categories of employees who have not historically had a chance to compete for those jobs. Competition is the key. Additionally, executive and professional women must network, network, network. We must network not only with other women’s groups, but with our male partners. We cannot and should not further our positions of equality in isolation from men. Professional women must network across class and socio economic lines – this is key to learning and benefiting from the experiences of others. We needn’t spend precious time inventing a wheel that is already operational. Please always remember that we can learn something from everyone, even if it is something we ought NOT do. Value and respect everyone and remember that it never hurts to say a kind word or share a smile. All of these actions are elements of mentorship.
Secondly, right at the beginning of your career, examine the courage of your convictions. We all have to be willing to take some risks, and it may be that you have to take an unpopular position because you really believe it’s the right thing to do. My accepting an assignment in South Africa as an African American who grew up in a segregated community and attended segregated schools, was a risk — was I ready to experience this kind of treatment all over again? I have a reputation as being willing to have open, frank conversations that some other people just aren’t willing to have.
And that’s what I did in South Africa, and that’s one of the many reasons I had a successful and very productive tour, including two promotions during a six-year tour. Being open and frank might be a bit unusual for a diplomat! But it’s a core conviction I hold, and I have taken that with me during my career as a professor and a diplomat. Remember it is not what you say, but how you say it. Figure out what is core for you, and hold on to that – it has served me very well.
Finally, realize that transformation and growth are a natural part of any career. Very little in our lives stays static, so we have to decide how we will embrace and guide change. I was sent to South Africa during that country’s period of transformation to help forge a new relationship between its post-racial government and the United States. I am proud of that work, but the things of which I am most proud in my career are the comments from girls and women where I have served who tell me I inspire them.
It’s why the U.S. Embassy brings Dr. Mae Jemison, the first woman of color in space, to Jamaica to tell little girls it’s ok to love science and when a young girl says she believes she can become an ambassador for her country because she’s met me and has proof it can be done, that is the most beautiful transformation ever – transformation of belief in what is possible. Everyone won’t like what you do or how you do it, or maybe they won’t like you; but you will know what’s right, and in their hearts, they will know also.
The process of work place and self transformation must be ongoing and represent a decisive and steady break from the past. Breaking from poor past practices is more than a break, it is reforming to travel the same paths more efficiently and developing new paths. Corporations hoping to be competitive and successful have to look at their employees in a new way. Transformation, my sisters (and my brothers), requires a few things I consider important:
Everyone within the company, firm, corporation or organization must share complementary core values; the organization should balance legitimate and essential needs for profit and growth with concern for the environment, for human welfare and fulfillment and for the health and well being of all is stakeholders. I mention here the importance of health, and this is where executives and senior staff have a responsibility again, to set an extremely important example about how we care for ourselves. We must not be shy about condemning and ending domestic violence against us – it is a violation of our human rights.
Women must fight to ensure that health research and environmental standards address the health of women. We must ensure that when national decisions are made, economic decision and political decisions that affect our future, that women are at the table. And around the table, we must be armed with facts about our petitions and positions and be ready to lobby to get them accepted. We know that physical fitness is equally important to substantive training and mental prowess. Support your staff in setting and meeting health goals.
If we are to transform, we must be able to be flexible and to accommodate rapid change, and generate continuous innovation and creativity; there is no one right way of doing a thing; and we must make every attempt to encourage all members of the organization to be partners rather than individuals who happen to work together. And while it is important to always respect authority relationships, we know that those in authority now — those executives, those managers, those leaders we look up to and report to — were somewhere else before getting there and that you may well be that person one day sooner or later. So don’t let statistics, organizational theory or someone’s doubts about you weigh you down or diminish your aspirations. Many women have come before us, we have and will continue to make strides.
I leave you with these thoughts in a poem, “Be Good To You”
Be yourself – Truthfully
Accept yourself – Gratefully
Value yourself – Joyfully
Forgive yourself – Completely
Treat yourself – Generously
Balance Yourself – Harmoniously
Bless yourself – Abundantly
Treat yourself – Confidently
Love yourself – Wholeheartedly
Empower yourself – Prayerfully
Give of yourself – Enthusiastically
Express yourself – Radiantly
Ladies, always keep in mind that when you find ways to transform yourself or your workplace, you then are able to transform community and our world. I look forward now to taking your questions.
- Angela Ahrendts, Burberry CEO, Is First Woman To Become The Highest-Paid Executive In Britain (huffingtonpost.com)
- The Golden Skirt (c-suitexx.com)
- Untapped Potential for Expanding Women’s Entrepreneurship Holds Promise to Grow the U.S. Economy, According to Kauffman Report (kauffman.org)
- ION Expands East Coast Presence, Adds Executive Women of New Jersey as Seventeenth Member Supporting Gender Diverse Corporate Board Leadership (prweb.com)
- Here are the top ten cities for women entrepreneurs (venturebeat.com)
- Women Entrepreneurs-The Time is Now (theformationscompany.com)
- Kathleen Rogers: Fixing the Green Economy Gender Gap (huffingtonpost.com)
- Girls Innovate! Holds Second Leadership Forum for Women & Girls (prweb.com)
In the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico—where great biodiversity meets immense cultural and linguistic diversity—live the indigenous community of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec. The Rainforest Alliance’s education manager Maria Ghiso recently visited the community to meet with students at Bachillerato Integral Comunitario Ayuujk Polivalente (BICAP) and introduce them to the basics of climate change and the role forests play in the carbon cycle.
- Sustainable Tourism In Latin America (thefrogblog.org.uk)
- The Rainforest Alliance Visits Folly Farm (thefrogblog.org.uk)
- From a seed grows a garden: Guest Post From The Sustainable Living Project (1millionwomenblog.com)
- Conserving Rainforest Locations Around the Globe (biology.answers.com)
- Turtle Tales (thefrogblog.org.uk)
- Mexico resists Monsanto corn (newint.org)
This month has started with a kind of numbing heat. Kingston nights are hot and dark; the days are hot and bright. Those annoying birds, the grackles have brought some screeching offspring into our yard. I chase them away, and it seems to make me feel better.
First things first…The PM is anxious about our athletes’ health: Remember now, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller is Minister of Sport. She must also be Minister of Defence, but national security is of lesser importance, I guess. Before taking a few days’ vacation, the PM met with a large group of people (you can see some of them sitting round the table in the photo below, which doesn’t even show all of them) to discuss the burning issue of a wellness center for our athletes. Top priority – not child abuse, children in lock-ups, crime and violence, the crisis in education, our failing health system, our failing justice system, the economy…
But the Reggae Boyz… Our national football team is now sadly on life support after its third consecutive defeat in Honduras last night. Moreover, our coach, former player Theodore Whitmore, has resigned. The “Road to Rio” - our World Cup campaign – seems to have faded beneath our feet. Several rather unkind memes have circulated online. I will not rub salt in the wounds by reproducing them here. Fact is, we cannot just throw together a team made up of mostly second- or third-tier overseas-based players. We need a serious national football training program.
Those trips again: I am glad that Opposition Senator Robert Montague stood up and asked a number of questions about yet another trip that I may not even have mentioned: the journey of Mayor of Kingston Angela Brown Burke and her entourage, including Local Government Minister Noel Arscott and various assistants, down to the good old continent of Africa. This is quite separate from the Prime Minister’s excursion (no report card yet, Madam Prime Minister? And yes, we know about the “teachers to Tanzania” concept. Apart from that). Since the good Senator has formally tabled questions, I hope he will get proper answers. The Mayor et al went first to Uganda and then down to South Africa, I understand.
Dollars nah run: My favorite minister Phillip Paulwell wants more people to apply for the (barely) “single-digit” interest rate energy loans. Amazing that 9.5% is considered a really low interest rate in Jamaica, isn’t it? I think that everyone’s running away from getting themselves into more debt at the moment. What does my economic guru Ralston Hyman have to say about this? I will have to listen in to his morning radio program to find out. Confidence in markets is everything. I learnt that during my years in the financial sector. Once it is gone…dawg nyam yuh supper.
And time a-wasting: A great report in today’s Gleaner notes the irritation of employers with the huge chunks taken out of their employees’ working days while they wait in line at banks and government agencies (the two prime culprits, but there are others). Yes indeed folks, in Jamaica you can wait up to two hours for service in a bank, in the middle of the day when you should be back at your workplace. It is utterly ridiculous. I know of one financial institution that my husband and I jokingly call the “sleepy place.” There is a large waiting area – rows of chairs, where customers regularly doze off while waiting. And no matter how many customers they have, there is almost always only one person to serve them. It’s an insult and it is a serious deterrent to productivity.
Oh, and no money for disasters? About two months or more ago (I will have to look it up) I mentioned in a blog post that there was absolutely no mention of budgeting for disaster preparedness. When I raised the issue, someone muttered something about help from overseas. So if we do get hit by a hurricane this year then we can always turn to these kind donors and say “help”? Now the Local Government Minister tells us that “it is apparent that the (National Disaster Fund) is not adequate…” God help us if a disaster hits. I don’t know who else will.
So now gays are “uncontrollable”: You’ve heard about the “uncontrollable” girls, such as those at the Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre (and elsewhere) who are locked up because their parents (mothers) can’t cope with them. Well, the Jamaica Observer is now describing a small group of homeless young men who have occupied an abandoned house in an upscale area of Kingston as “uncontrollable.” Is it that any group of Jamaicans (young ones) who don’t behave “normally” is uncontrollable? These two groups have something in common: seriously marginalized. At least the newspaper tried to get a more balanced picture this time – actually speaking to J-FLAG and to the police – plus a so-called caretaker at the house.
I’m not very impressed… by radio journalist George Davis’ column in today’s Gleaner. He is trying to be too clever. But I do not think it particularly clever to refer to “a man who presents the major evening newscasts for one of our two major television stations” as homosexual. Why do that to a fellow journalist? Of course, no names mentioned but please!! It’s just tacky.
The meaning of service: The image many of us have of U.S. college fraternities is one of heavy-drinking, partying, crazy students. However, there is another side to fraternities: a tradition of service to others. The photograph below and the blog it comes from epitomizes the “giving back” that these fraternity brothers (Delta Upsilon) from several different colleges and universities are engaged in during a recent trip to Jamaica. The students are refurbishing a school in Westmoreland; I must find out which one. The contribution of these “farriners” - like the ongoing medical missions from overseas – is often greatly under-estimated. OK, I am sure these boys had fun in Negril too – but they also gave their time and energy, freely, to the children of Jamaica. They could have been sitting on their couches at home watching TV. I wish more young Jamaicans would catch on to the power of volunteerism. It is better to give than receive…
Word of the week: “Committed.” I think we (especially any government agency) should give this word a rest. It means “we’re going to do something but we haven’t done it yet. But yes, we think it’s a really good thing and a great idea. But…Not just yet.” Just read a Jamaica Information Service report: “Government committed to the elimination of child labor.” How? When?
And big ups to:
The U.S. Peace Corps volunteers: Since we are talking about service… Below you will find a link to the blog of one volunteer in Jamaica, who is living and working in rural St. Thomas, up in the mountains. The U.S. Peace Corps has been doing great work in Jamaica since Independence.
Ms. Virtue…: I met Ms. Erica Virtue quite a few years ago. I remember bumping into her in the Gleaner newsroom when visiting that worthy media house; and many rambling telephone chats. I have always had a healthy respect for her feisty, often provocative style. Now Erica is doing a weekly video commentary piece on the newspaper’s website, called “Erica’s Edge.“ I love it, and Erica’s biting and sometimes brutal humor. She may rub people up the wrong way sometimes – but she’s a journalist, not a shrinking violet…
…and Mr. Henry: When I first spoke to Darien Henry many years ago, he was an enthusiastic community-based reporter for Irie FM in Ocho Rios. I told him what a splendid radio voice he has. Now, it seems, he is putting pen to paper – or rather, fingers to keyboard. He has written a sensible column on education reform in the Gleaner. I look forward to more from the affable Mr. Henry.
Isle Chixx: Jamaicans eat chicken like there’s no tomorrow, and a relatively new local firm is doing well. They do Cornish hens. Managing Director Alex Antaeus will be opening a Greek restaurant in Kingston soon – so we can start eating healthier!
The Ministry of Justice: For posting the draft terms of reference for the upcoming Commission of Enquiry into the Tivoli Gardens massacre online for all to see. This kind of transparency and public consultation is laudable and I don’t believe this has been done with previous enquiries. You can find the discussion draft at http://www.moj.gov.jm/sites/default/files/pdf/Discussion%20Draft.pdf And you should submit your comments in writing to the Ministry not later than Friday, June 21.
And talking of consultations, I just returned from a complex, lengthy public consultation on the boundaries to the precious Cockpit Country in western Jamaica. More on that in a later blog.
The following Jamaicans have lost their lives violently in the past three days. I extend my condolences, as always, to the grieving families and friends who are left behind:
Errol Irwin, 57, Bog Walk, St. Catherine
Millar Bowen, 43, Bodles Research Station, St. Catherine
Rohan Clarke, 28, Cambridge, St. James
O’Neil Clarke, 34, Stettin, Trelawny
Unnamed infant, Stettin, Trelawny
Killed by police:
Davion Gordon, downtown Kingston
Okeen Edwards, 19, Greendale/Spanish Town, St. Catherine
Related links and articles:
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-117/34209 PM wants swift action on wellness center for athletes: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Montague-questions-Local-Govt-trip-to-Africa-in-May Montague questions local government trip to Africa in May: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Security-costing-taxpayers-million–for-ruined-Goodyear-factory_14447506 Security costing taxpayers millions for ruined Goodyear factory: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Ruined-Sligoville-Stadium-to-be-rescued–says-Neita-Headley_14435373 Ruined Sligoville Stadium to be rescued, says Neita-Headley: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130612/lead/lead1.html Bosses seeing red! Long wait in lines keeping their workers off the job: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130612/lead/lead3.html Tick, tick, tick: Jamaicans lose valuable production hours standing in line: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130612/lead/lead5.html Not enough money in the country’s hurricane coffers: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130610/lead/lead9.html ”I love UTech, but no”: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130611/cleisure/cleisure1.html Dr. Phillips must hold his nerve: Gleaner editorial
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/100-to-1–makes-sense-_14465183 100 to 1, makes sense? Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/More-takers-needed-for-energy-loans_14471505 More takers needed for energy loans: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130610/lead/lead1.html AJ, know your role: private sector fires back at Nicholson after “trade bickering” comments: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130610/news/news1.html Jamaica, China dreaming together: op-ed by Chinese Ambassador to Jamaica Zheng Qingdian: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130610/letters/letters2.html CARICOM an old boys’ club: Letter to the Editor from Joan Williams/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Why-we-are-glad—-and-mad-_14451547 Why we are glad – and mad! Jean Lowrie-Chin column/Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130610/news/news5.html Mass exodus! Senator warns teachers may leave in droves: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130611/cleisure/cleisure3.html Pay teachers better, then hold bar higher: Darien Henry column/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130611/lead/lead5.html More teachers than vacancies: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130610/cleisure/cleisure1.html Look at New York, Mr. Thwaites: Gleaner editorial
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130611/lead/lead1.html Free health fallout: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Don-t-touch-it-_14451904 Don’t touch it! say Negril residents: Jamaica Observer
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/commissioner-of-police-knew-of-plans-to-settle-bribery-case-says-witness Commissioner of Police knew of plans to settle bribery case, says witness: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130610/cleisure/cleisure3.html Use human rights to save us: Garth Rattray column/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/J-FLAG-denies-abandoning-homeless-gay-men_14447331 J-FLAG denies abandoning homeless gay men: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130612/cleisure/cleisure4.html Those slow to accept gays are not evil: George Davis column/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=45647 Government invites comments on draft terms of reference for Tivoli enquiry: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130610/cleisure/cleisure2.html Judges can’t bail out cops: Peter Champagnie op-ed/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/High-hopes-for-Diaspora-conference_14464778 High hopes for diaspora conference: Jamaica Observer
http://wellreadrobin.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/the-sheltered-ones-are-not-yet-born/ The sheltered ones are not yet born: wellreadrobin.wordpress.com
http://aprilspeacecorpsblog.com/2013/06/10/life-in-the-valley/ Life in the Valley: April’s Peace Corps blog.com
http://deltaupsilon.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/gsi-jamaica-why-i-am-a-du/ GSI Jamaica: Why I am a DU: deltaupsilon.wordpress.com
Jamaica is bleeding. I feel it is not only the blood seeping from the veins of those who have been murdered by their fellow citizens – including the police. It is the slow and exhausting drip, drip, drip of life-giving energy from the country. Since I wrote my mid-week update on June 5, I have had a growing sense of this. Maybe it’s the increasing heat of early summer that’s getting to me.
Dead children: The Director of UNICEF in Jamaica, Robert Fuderich, is a forthright man – which I love. He gave a speech this week, expressing distress at the murder and abuse of Jamaican children. So, the head of UNICEF is upset. So are many Jamaicans, by the way. Is the Prime Minister upset, one wonders? She is a woman who, as I have said before, has often expressed her love of children in speeches. Could she have made a statement about the recent shocking murders? Even that? Better still, could she have visited the families and the communities affected, to grieve with them and to express her condolences? I am not demanding that Portia Simpson Miller responds in every case, but a nice appropriate public gesture would have been good. Too late now, by the way.
…and neglected: The National Road Safety Council is expressing deep concern at a huge (400%) increase in child pedestrian fatalities on the road this year. But this does not surprise me. Yesterday, the Gleaner’s front page story reported that children are being dumped on other people to look after, etc. As if this is news? Why don’t we realize that children aren’t adults. They are vulnerable.
Where is the Prime Minister? Have we seen or heard from her since her return from Africa? I have scoured the Jamaica Information Service pages, looked under the Office of the Prime Minister – and find nothing at all that relates to her. Has she made any speeches? Maybe I missed something. No ribbon-cuttings or ground-breakings? Is she sick? Is she on vacation? (I am not trying to start rumors – just trying to explore possible explanations).
Women suffering too: You may have noticed that women are murdered every week. Whatever the motivation – sometimes a jealous lover, other times gang violence – it is becoming increasingly common. I remember when the murder of a woman was a shocking and unusual occurrence – now it’s commonplace. The Jamaica Observer’s Karyl Walker (whom I have criticized recently) wrote a very painful report in today’s newspaper about a young woman who has ended up on the street, abused and unwanted. Can someone please help?
And talking of trips: I know, I am obsessed. As I asked in my last bulletin, what actually took place in Africa? What did the Prime Minister and her large delegation achieve? Since we paid J$8.6 million for the trip, I am still hoping for a report card. But it’s been two weeks or so since they all came home, laden with souvenirs no doubt. So, I don’t hold out much hope. Now, we understand that our amiable Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke will soon be off to China, with a small delegation, at the invitation of the Chinese Government (hopefully the Chinese are paying, so taxpayers don’t need to dig into their pockets again for this one).
Dusting off the begging bowl: Meanwhile, the Finance Minister has just returned from a trip round Europe - he might have to wait for the flood waters to subside, though. I am afraid he may end up getting us into deeper debt (although Europe is not exactly flush with funds at the moment). It’s just a thought, but if we are going for growth rather than plunging ourselves into deeper debt, perhaps a trade and investment team, with a few private sector representatives, would have been be smarter? He has at least commented on the trip, though. See below.
Psychological barrier: On Friday morning word went out that the J$ had reached 100/US$1. It closed slightly above. A collective shudder went through the Twittersphere and radio talk shows. This is the end, we all declared – or the beginning of the end. In theory, of course, the devaluation might benefit us by making exports cheaper. Oh, but…We’re not exporting anything are we? Where is the Jamaica Exporters’ Association? Long time, no hear.
Elusive growth: As Dr. Damien King, economics prof and head of our local think tank CaPRI tweeted a few days ago, “The average growth rate of the world’s poor countries over the last decade was 6%, cutting worldwide poverty by half during that time.” But again – that doesn’t apply to Jamaica, does it? We can’t manage any growth at all, at the moment. None in sight; and more worryingly, no clear strategy for growth.
“We don’t want INDECOM, we want outcome!” The police killed five people, since I last wrote, and in the space of a little over 24 hours. This was the cry of one resident – which made me laugh a little, as Jamaicans have such a way with words. But very serious too. I know that the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) is working as hard as it can but is hampered (by very late police reports, for example) – but can’t blame people for getting impatient.
Another twist: You may be tired of hearing about this saga by now, but just to let you know that Doran “mongrel dog” Dixon is back in the race for the presidency of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, who have changed their mind and allowed him to run, after all. Meanwhile Mr. Paul “cocaine injection” Adams is not suffering any ill effects (he’s not running, anyway). I only hope that a sensible woman is elected to the presidency. I am tired of the male egos…
Earth matters: You know I am a big fan of CVM Television’s “Live at Seven.” I am glad that the program turned its attention to a whole bunch of niggling environmental issues that are not going to go away – the beach at Negril, for example.
Untouchable Usain: Some of my tweeps have been following the French Open tennis tournament, and were thrilled to see our very own Usain Bolt presenting the trophy to Rafal Nadal. I was a bit surprised. I thought it was usually rather dull officials (or royalty in the case of Wimbledon) who did this. The spotlight is supposed to be on the winner of the trophy – not on the presenter. I am told that Bolt is a “celebrity” so it is acceptable, and we are all proud of his achievements. But celebrities have a habit of popping up all over the place, like Kim Kardashian. I just thought it inappropriate, and upset several people on my Twitter timeline by suggesting that it was. Don’t get me wrong – I love Usain as much as anyone and have often praised him in my blog, but I don’t want it to get to the point where people say, “Oh no – not him again!” whenever he makes an appearance. He is worth more than that.
Still so much good things to say about…
- Dr Jean Beaumont, who has been doing great work as head of the USAID/Jamaica Basic Education Project. What could be more important than reading?
- Health writer Eulalee Thompson, who has a new blog and a new consulting practice. Find her at http://kingstontherapist.wordpress.com.
- Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater, who delivered a terrific speech on women’s leadership at the University of the West Indies‘ Faculty of Law on Thursday evening. I couldn’t make it, but hear the place was packed. I do have a copy of the speech, which I intend to post on this blog shortly.
- Dr. Rosalea Hamilton for her piece on nine-day wonders – with specific reference to the Richard Azan/Spaldings shops issue. Dr. Hamilton concludes, “It is time we move beyond complaining about our situation and seriously press for governance that is accountable to the people of this country.” Make your voice heard and put some pressure on.
- The Jamaica Medical Mission. We do tend to take this almost continuous stream of visiting medical teams, mostly from the United States, for granted. They often pay their way and sacrifice their vacations etc. to come over here and help Jamaicans who simply cannot afford to access our public health system. They are absolutely marvelous. I know the Jamaicans whom they treat appreciate their work; I hope the rest of us do, too. (This group of 157 doctors, nurses etc comes over every year and will treat at least 3,000 indigent Jamaicans).
- Nice to see an interesting report by environmental reporter Petre Williams-Raynor, now with the Gleaner. Check out her attractive blog, too. By the way, public consultations on the boundaries of our precious Cockpit Country are still ongoing. There is one in Kingston this week – I must check details.
- The Gleaner for two things: Firstly, its editorials have really hit the nail on the head in the past week. It’s worth reading them all. Secondly, on Friday evening its continuous, accurate tweeting of the World Cup qualifying match between Jamaica and the United States was streets ahead of the competition. Sprinkled, too, with marvelous photos from one of my favorite photogs, Mr. Ricardo Makyn. See a couple of the photos below…Hats off!
Petchary’s Pet Hate of the Week: Mosquitoes are plaguing us. Thank God for the electrifying plastic tennis racket – or the zapper, as it’s called in our house.
Petchary’s Quote of the Week: “Children are not just the future, they are the present” – Robert Fuderich, Director, UNICEF Jamaica.
The tragedies continue. Each Jamaican’s death is a tragedy for the families, friends. The following Jamaicans have died violently just in the past FOUR days:
Sophia Smith, 47, Mandeville, Manchester
Dwight Robinson, 28, Seaview Gardens, Kingston
Jerome Anthony Gooden, 33, Seaview Gardens, Kingston
Ricardo Lawes, 28, Seaview Gardens, Kingston
Omar Smith, 32, Seaview Gardens, Kingston
Killed by police:
Unidentified man, Kitson Town, St. Catherine
Junior Guy, Waterloo Villas/Tredegar Park, St. Catherine
André Ledgister, Waterloo Villas/Tredegar Park, St. Catherine
Kemar Thompson, Waterloo Villas/Tredegar Park, St. Catherine
Jevon Reid, 21, Granville, Trelawny
Related links and articles:
World Environment Day: June 5, 2013 (petchary.wordpress.com)
http://thinkjamaica.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/thanksgiving-service-for-the-jamaican-dollar-will-be-held-at/ Thanksgiving service for the Jamaican Dollar will be held at… ThinkJamaica.wordpress.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130607/news/news2.html “Jamaica debt burden a threat to human development” – UNDP: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130609/lead/lead1.html ”Don’t panic over sliding dollar”: Gleaner
Final chance for Jamaica, says Financial Times (commonsenseja.wordpress.com)
http://www.jis.gov.jm/component/content/article/111-ministry-of-science-technology-energy-and-mining/34169-minister-paulwell-urges-jamaicans-to-access-energy-fund- Minister Paulwell urges Jamaicans to access energy fund: Jamaica Information Service
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130607/business/business2.html Port divestment proceeds to dredge Kingston Harbour: Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/34162 Minister Hylton sets record straight on logistics hub: Jamaica Information Service
http://sonofstmary.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/democracy/ Anti-gay Christian groups undermine democracy: sonofstmary.wordpress.com
http://newsandviewsbydjmillerja.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/gay-rights-activist-seeks-to-challenge-belize-and-tt-laws/ Gay rights activist seeks to challenge Belize and TT laws: newsandviewsbydjmillerja.wordpress.com
http://perceptualpost.com/jamaica-observer-accused-of-staging-story-involving-gays-observer-report-tells-all/ Jamaica Observer accused of staging story involving gays: Perceptual Post
http://www.televisionjamaica.com/Programmes/AllAngles.aspx/Videos/26956 Discusion on homosexuality/All Angles/Television Jamaica, June 5, 2013
http://drtammyhaynes.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/homosexuality-choice-or-innate/ Homosexuality: Choice or innate: Dr. Tammy Haynes blog
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130606/lead/lead1.html ”We have the numbers”: Church leaders confident enough religious Jamaicans in island to prevent change to buggery law: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Woman-beaten–robbed–raped-in-Kingston_14442076 Woman beaten, robbed, raped in Kingston: Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Handling-of-rape-cases-irks-Montague_14444584 Handling of rape cases irks Montague: Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Allman-Town-wants-closure-to-boy-s-murder_14426032 Allman Town wants closure to boy’s murder: Sunday Observer
http://delanoseiv.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/g2k-writes-to-ocg-regarding-dead-silent-richard-azan-probe/ G2K writes to OCG regarding dead silent Richard Azan probe: delanoseiv.wordpress.com
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130416/lead/lead92.html Another nine-day wonder? Rosalea Hamilton op-ed/Gleaner
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/more-work-needed-on-spaldings-market-probe-arscott More work needed on Spaldings market probe – Arscott: RJR News
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/more-road-blocks-in-claremont-as-residents-continue-protest More road blocks in Claremont as residents continue protest: RJR News
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Jamaica-leading-project-to-address-underachievement-in-boys_14424128 Jamaica leading project to address underachievement in boys: Jamaica Observer
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/montaque-questions-nicholson-on-status-of-reported-rape-cases Montaque questions Nicholson on status of reported rape cases: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130606/cleisure/cleisure3.html Condoms aren’t aphrodisiacs: Jaevion Nelson column/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130606/cleisure/cleisure4.html The crime of “uncontrollable”: Patrick Lalor op-ed/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Cabinet-approves-new-policy-for-pregnant-schoolgirls_14434151 Cabinet approves new policy for pregnant schoolgirls: Jamaica Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/UNICEF-concerned-about-child-killings_14424458 UNICEF concerned about child killings: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130607/lead/lead4.html Disabled, elderly should get free health care – CaPRI study: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130606/news/news4.html Reading coaches initiative making a positive difference: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130607/lead/lead5.html Dixon back in the race: Gleaner
https://blogs.worldbank.org/latinamerica/animation-could-mean-jobs-and-serious-business-jamaican-youths Animation could mean jobs and serious business for Jamaican youths: World Bank
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130607/lead/lead3.html Trench Town Ceramics and Art Centre – Using art to save the youth: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Downtown-Kingston-vendors-protest_14434985 Downtown Kingston vendors protest: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130607/news/news3.html 3,000 indigents to benefit from medical mission: Gleaner
http://wordsfrompetre.webs.com Petre Williams-Raynor environmental blog
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130607/news/news1.html Inside Cockpit Country: Project eyes conservation of key biodiversity areas: Gleaner
OK, I know that title sounds a bit religious (or maybe blasphemous, to some) because I am only talking about…a small creature.
Remember the small spider spirit in our bathroom that I wrote about recently (on May 29, to be precise)?
Well – he’s back. My husband gave a yelp of surprise late last night as we were turning in. (By the way, we are a bit night-owlish these days; please don’t call me before 9:00 a.m., and only then if you must…)
The spider was back, only larger. About twice its previous size, in fact. And now, instead of five legs, it has six and two half legs. Yes, I know that sounds even stranger, but two of the legs are sort of just a suggestion, like they are not fully formed. But his body is fatter. More substantial altogether.
He is in the exact same corner. Motionless, just sitting there. Only at nights. If you go right up to it, it doesn’t move an inch.
I tried again to take a photograph. For what it’s worth, here it is, although it looks so small in the photo. In reality, it seems to dominate the bathroom…
I don’t know what to make of this. After a week or so, we assumed it had died.
But he’s back in town.
Today is World Oceans Day, officially a United Nations-recognized day now (since 2009, although many countries have been celebrating it since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, which was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
Our island, standing in the Caribbean Sea, has not yet officially celebrated the day. I hope we will in the future. Meanwhile, I thought I would celebrate it in words and photographs. Unless otherwise stated, the photographs are my own. If you search my archives for “sea” or “ocean” you will find several earlier posts I wrote about the sea. Perhaps, in one sense, the ocean is more our Mother than the Earth. And perhaps Planet Earth should be called Ocean?
Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of Time.
I was like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of Truth lay all undiscovered before me.
Our knowledge is like a little island in the great ocean of non-knowledge.
Roll on, deep and dark blue ocean, roll. Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain. Man marks the earth with ruin, but control stops at the shore.
Blue, green, gray, white or black; smooth, ruffled or mountainous; that ocean is not silent.
“The sea is emotion incarnate. It loves, hates, and weeps. It defies all attempts to capture it with words and rejects all shackles. No matter what you say about it, there is always that which you can’t.”
I have always been fascinated by the ocean, to dip a limb beneath its surface and know that I’m touching eternity, that it goes on forever until it begins here again.
Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.
I am the shore and the ocean, awaiting myself on both sides.
Those who live by the sea can hardly form a single thought of which the sea would not be part.
Shearwater sighed, like a whale in the night.
I have seafoam in my veins, I understand the language of waves.
Le Testament d’Orphée
I wonder if the ocean smells different on the other side of the world.
It is beautiful, it is endless, it is full and yet seems empty. It hurts us.
Tucked away behind the grey stone Chapel on the University of the West Indies‘ (UWI) Mona campus in Kingston is the Book-keeper‘s Cottage. It is small and solid and is one of the few original plantation buildings left on this beautiful swathe of land that rolls out at the foot of the forested hills. The University’s 653 acres once formed part of two sugar estates, Mona and Papine. There are fragmented ruins (a water wheel, an aqueduct) scattered throughout the campus among the modern university buildings.
The Cottage now houses UWI’s Archaeology Lab. This is where I met up again with U.S. Fulbright Scholar Heidi Savery, along with the lively group of students from the Department and from U.S. colleges. Some were sitting outside writing up notes; inside, they were analyzing, sorting, bringing records up to date. All the students looked much cleaner and tidier than two days previously, amidst the windswept dust and heat. They were conducting excavations at Fort Rocky, near Port Royal (see my earlier post). Now the atmosphere was relaxed, but they were all working hard to finish things off. The Archaeological Field School at Fort Rocky was over, and the summer has arrived, with the heat seeping in from the coast.
I met up with Oshane Robinson and Adrian Reid, who are President and Vice President of UWI’s History and Archaeological Society, respectively. Adrian just completed his final year and hopes to work with the Jamaica National Heritage Trust. He grew up in a rural area of western Jamaica and went to Rusea’s High School in Lucea, Hanover, which has an interesting history of its own. There, he says his history teacher greatly influenced him and it was always his favorite subject. A natural fit. The Society conducts the only heritage tours of the Mona campus authorized by the University, in a beautifully decorated van. It is actively involved in UWI’s Research Days, too. And Adrian told me that the Society provides a great deal of guidance to first year students, helping them to link history, heritage and archaeology.
I also chatted with Max, an anthropology student who will be conducting community research with the Jamaican Social Development Commission during the summer. The other Jamaican students who had been working at Fort Rocky were Melissa Bryan, Keresha Barr and Kwame Clarke (I hope I got their names right…)
While I was in the Cottage I browsed through some Taino exhibits. Heidi told me about Dr. James W. Lee, a native of Vancouver, British Columbia, who arrived in Jamaica in 1951, and settled here. Dr. Lee used to work for the bauxite firm Alpart (Alumina Partners of Jamaica), and as such traveled round the island prospecting (and, one presumes, doing a bit of digging). He developed a passion for archaeology in Jamaica, and especially for Taino relics; he began mapping Taino sites in 1959. Dr. Lee was not an academic in the strictest sense – that is, he did not work at an academic institution. His daughter Wendy observes, “I have never known a researcher as meticulous and thorough as my father. He founded the Archaeological Society of Jamaica and published a quarterly newsletter for 25 years without a single interruption. He used this medium to document and publicly share the results of his explorations and research. He read widely, including all the original sources of information about the ‘discovery’ of the Caribbean islands (in Spanish, French and German) and used this knowledge to inform his work in the field. My father devised a classification system for the artifacts he collected, and every piece was labeled and accounted for; each stone artifact was also described, measured and the stone and its source identified. He made detailed maps of every new or rediscovered archaeological site (he was also a trained surveyor). He was the author of numerous articles on Jamaican archaeology and geology, published in relevant professional journals.” Dr. Lee’s wonderful collection (which he had hoped to house in a museum at his residence in Runaway Bay) was donated to the University in 2000, thus enriching our knowledge.
By the way, we used to call Jamaica’s first nation people the “Arawak Indians.” Nowadays we are calling them the “Taino” people. But can I tell you something? I am not quite sure I understand what the difference is. I do wish someone would enlighten me. I can’t help still thinking of them as Arawaks.
Meanwhile, back at the Cottage it was group photo time, before everyone said their goodbyes – at least on the work part of the field trip. I believe some social events were planned over the weekend. The students and professors gathered on the porch and posed beautifully (well, some of them perhaps not particularly elegant, but…) See the results below.
The afternoon waned. Grackles strutted in the grass outside and music played somewhere, as the group drifted off, in ones and twos and threes. The end of a great project – but there will be many more to come.
Many thanks to Heidi Savery for allowing me to get to know this wonderful group. I wish them all the best for the future, as they all go their separate ways, and hope they will all keep in touch with each other. These times spent together, working as a team, are invaluable.
Related articles and links:
http://petchary.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/revealing-the-silences-of-the-past/ Revealing the silences of the past: petchary.wordpress.com
http://myspot.mona.uwi.edu/history/ Department of History and Archaeology/University of the West Indies Mona Campus
http://myspot.mona.uwi.edu/history/staff/lenik-steve Lecturer Dr. Steve Lenik’s profile, Department of History and Archaeology
Happy World Environment Day!
The first part of this week has been eventful, as always. Here are a few highlights…
Come on now, kids: I am so tired of the childish posturing of members of the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA) – in particular, Mr. Doran Dixon – that I could scream. The Education Minister is wisely keeping quiet while the former heads of the JTA use up valuable radio and television time with their arguments. Meanwhile the male egos continue to puff themselves up. Which brings me to this thought (and I don’t mean to sound sexist): Could the JTA consider a female candidate next, please? The few female presidents they have had in the past have performed very creditably, I think. And considering that 80 per cent of the teaching profession (at a rough guess) consists of women, why do they always vote in male presidents?
A slightly surprising appearance: Who should pop up in the Lower House today, struggling through a speech, but Junior Transport and Works Minister Richard Azan? I am puzzled as to what has happened to the pending reports on Minister Azan’s misconduct (which he admitted) over the construction of illegal shops at Spaldings Market. What has happened to the Contractor General’s report? He apparently started investigating the matter as long ago as March 6. That’s three months ago! Perhaps the media could enquire. Or perhaps, for them too and as predicted by one highly supportive councilor, it has all blown over. Can we call it a thirty-day wonder?
Report cards, please, anybody? When someone travels abroad for work purposes (or even for pleasure), those left behind generally expect some kind of report on what transpired when the weary traveler returns. National Security Minister Peter Bunting went to a CARICOM meeting with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. At the same time, a good-sized delegation led by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller toddled off to Africa for the best part of a week, at a cost of J$8.6 million. They returned last week. Have we, the Jamaican people who funded these trips, received any kind of report on what happened? Any agreements signed? Any discussions on cooperation, etc? Any business transacted? And no, dressing up, going to banquets and making speeches don’t count. But even some photographs would be nice?
Murders upon murders: The murder rate continues to escalate steadily, and apart from an expression of regret from the Youth Minister there has not been a peep out of the aforementioned ministers, Bunting and Simpson Miller. Our Prime Minister, who has often told us breathily that she loves children, has not even expressed sadness at the horrible deaths of two young girls last week. And the National Security Minister – is he still living here?
Health worries: The Minister of ‘Ealth is worried about HIV/AIDS and the expected decline in overseas assistance in this area. Minister Ferguson has good reason to be concerned; virtually all the government’s HIV Program is overseas-funded. He is also worried about an outbreak of gastroenteritis, apparently made worse by a lack of clean water in some areas. Let’s stay on top of this one; and with all the rain we are now having, I would like regular updates on dengue fever cases, too.
Uh oh: The Ministry of Local Government has reportedly set up committees in each parish, so that local parish councils can give out waivers on property taxes to various people/organizations. I have two concerns: firstly, I thought tax waivers had been abolished, per IMF decree. Secondly, isn’t this another lovely opportunity for – dare I say it – corruption? Not necessarily, but you know, benefits for friends?
One a day: That is the record over the past week or so with the police killings. One in Claremont, St. Ann, in which a farmer lost his life, sparked such anger and grief among residents that fiery roadblocks were set up, and the Independent Commission of Investigations could not reach the scene and had to come back the next day. The police couldn’t seem to come up with a story this time about how the allegedly unarmed Mr. Leroy Henry died. A senior policeman visited the grieving family – Leory Henry Snr. sat on his verandah in complete shock.
But now, Petchary gives some kudos:
- Jamaicans are extremely fond of spelling bees, and for many years now Jamaica has been competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Maryland, U.S.A., with considerable success. Although our Jamaican champion Christian Allen did not do as well as he had hoped, he says it “made him a stronger person.” Well done, you did your best, Christian! Good attitude.
- Technology Minister Paulwell for presiding over the second, and considerable reduction in mobile phone rates. How could I have omitted to mention this? I do still like this Minister!
- Returning resident Judith Williamson for organizing a dialysis unit in May Pen, Clarendon. Absolutely brilliant! She has overcome yards and yards of red tape for over two years to make this happen. Why can’t the government make it easier for generous and kind individuals at home and abroad to provide much-needed assistance?
- Carol Narcisse of the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition (JCSC), who gave a strong case this evening for the inclusion of J-FLAG in the Coalition, and for the recognition of gay rights in Jamaica. JCSC’s core values include respect for diversity and human rights. Carol quieted down university lecturer Orville Taylor‘s odd posturings; he said that if the anti-buggery law is repealed, then why not allow him to marry his father? Dear me. The reverend gentleman made much more sense than the educator, during this interesting and thoughtful discussion on Television Jamaica‘s “All Angles” on what Jamaicans like to call the “homosexual lobby.” I will post the link when it’s up. TVJ takes a while to put this program on their website.
- Overseas-based NGO Projects Abroad and dedicated Country Director Dr Bridgette Barrett, who have been working assiduously towards the construction of a residential facility for Jamaicans living with HIV/AIDS in Manchester, including a women’s center. I really hope they get all the funding support for this project – they have already acquired the land. Projects Abroad does great work here in Jamaica.
- Last but not least: Youth Crime Watch of Jamaica, a fantastic non-governmental organization. With the support of the University of the West Indies‘ Faculty of Science and Technology, the UNDP and the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Program, YCWJ launched its biodiesel initiative – a waste to fuel conversion project. More on this in a later blog! But huge congrats to Edward Dixon, Latoya West Blackwood, Deon Edwards-Kerr, Marlon Moore and all the community members and children involved. So proud of you all!
It has been another grim few days. My deepest sympathies to all those whom the following, murdered Jamaican citizens have left behind in the past four days:
Kenisha Nembhard, 19, Somerset, Manchester
Sheldon Najair, 29, Lakes Pen, St. Catherine
Rudolf Derson, 47, St. Catherine
Leon Bennett, 32, Lime Tree Grove, St. Catherine
Kevin Mussington, 24, Greater Portmore, St. Catherine
“Bentley,” Greater Portmore, St. Catherine
Jenese Burrell, 38, Islington, St. Mary (on May 14)
Killed by police:
Nicholas Whyte, 30, Little London, Westmoreland
Leroy Henry, 28, Claremont, St. Ann
Luke Levels, Glen Road, Kingston
Related articles and links (Local blogs in purple):
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/jhta-keeps-close-watch-following-murder-of-tourist JHTA keeps close watch following murder of tourist: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130603/lead/lead4.html Tourist killing not the norm: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130603/lead/lead9.html ”Falmouth needs a facelift”: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=45448 Caribbean tourism “barely keeping head above water”: Gleaner
http://f.cl.ly/items/3r1I2Z3C1r1C1n0J0X2P/Screen%20Shot%202013-06-04%20at%208.55.45%20PM.png GK unapologetic about executive pay
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130603/cleisure/cleisure5.html Whither local government in development? Pauline Gregory-Lewis article/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/China-offers-US-3-billion-concessionary-facility-to-Caricom_14412491 China offers US$3 billion concessionary facility to CARICOM: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130603/flair/flair91.html Send Clayton Hall, Paul Adams et al to Tanzania: The Soloist/Flair/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/More-power-for-education-minister_14413140 More power for education minister: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130605/lead/lead22.html The other JTA hopefuls: Gleaner
http://wellreadrobin.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/the-price-of-physicians/ The price of physicians: wellreadrobin.wordpress.com
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/One-step-closer_14392510 One step closer: Lease approved for site of proposed HIV/AIDS facility in Manchester: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130604/lead/lead1.html Church won’t bow to gays: Clergyman calls for religious leaders to stand firm against homosexuality: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130605/letters/letters9.html Church stands resolute against buggery backers: Letter from Rev Al Miller/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130605/cleisure/cleisure1.html PBCJ in the debate for tolerance: Gleaner editorial
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/We-don-t-love-poor-people_14420377 We don’t love poor people: Henley Morgan column/Observer
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130603/news/news1.html Jamaicans sell sex abroad: Jamaica Star
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/police-kill-suspect-in-murder-of-teenager Police kill suspect in murder of teenager: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130605/letters/letters1.html Rogue cops killing faith in police force: Letter of the Day/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130605/lead/lead3.html Five killed within hours: Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/34087 Ministry of Health establishes International Cooperation Unit: Jamaica Information Service
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130603/letters/letters1.html Nobody stopped to listen: Letter of the Day/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130604/cleisure/cleisure2.html Beat down Babylon: Gordon Robinson column/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130604/cleisure/cleisure4.html ”Dockie” Maragh: committed champion of religious unity: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130603/lead/lead6.html ”I am a stronger person”: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130605/lead/lead41.html St. Thomas not ready for Bogle: Gleaner
http://stacyannhayles.com/2013/06/03/its-not-who-you-know-its-who-knows-you/ It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you: stacyannhayles.com
Today is the second day of the 2013 Hurricane Season. Now, those large Atlantic maps appear on our televisions, with the forecasters looking further to the east to see what might, or might not, be making its way across the ocean from the West coast of Africa. Blobs of bright orange are the ones to look for, bringing rain and hopefully not much else.They also tend to hang out in the Gulf of Mexico and decide to pay us a visit, on occasion. I always look here: http://www.weather.com/newscenter/tropical/ where you can also find an animated Caribbean satellite map where the blobs actually move around… If you are into that.
Horror upon horror: That’s enough of the weather. The day after I wrote my last bulletin, the island went into a paroxysm of shock, despair and recrimination, which has lasted for the remainder of the week. It seems to have swamped almost everything else. Yes, it’s crime again – this time, a series of horrendous murders that began with the killing and dismemberment of four-year-old Natasha Brown in the small community of Duanvale on Tuesday. Duanvale has had a series of murders in the past few years; one wonders. Some residents think the best response is to “fast and pray.” If it makes them feel better…The death of another young girl, eight-year-old Temera Laing, in the impoverished March Pen area near Spanish Town, followed swiftly after little Natasha’s tragic demise. Immediately after that, the bodies of two men were found in the community. They were tagged with notes apparently blaming them for Temera’s death.
The finger-pointing began: “It’s the parents’ fault,” said some (for “parent,” read “mother” – the fathers are mere sperm donors in most cases). Why was the four-year-old walking home all by herself? Many Jamaicans say it is a traditional/common practice in rural Jamaica for small children to walk to and from school unaccompanied by an adult. Whether common practice or not, it amounts to child neglect in my view. It frightens me when I see small children, sometimes hand in hand, teetering on the edge of busy main roads. Anything could happen. Children aren’t adults, last time I checked. Well, OK, so maybe I am pointing fingers. But everyone gets blamed in these situations – the community, the police. The (silent) Minister of National Security. Of course, the Education Minister had to say something, about parenting, at a church. “We must not kill them – whether in the womb or whether by our behavior and treatment,” said the Reverend Thwaites when talking about the child murders. Could he perhaps, just for once, leave the religious dogma out of the discussion? But that is clearly quite impossible.
Child Month was depressing: Meanwhile Youth Minister Lisa Hanna took a deep breath and issued a regretful press release about the child murders. When I said in my last notes that she had had a rough Child Month, the last few days of it got a lot rougher. In fact, May ended on a note of horror…and hand-wringing.
But that was not all: In the past week, two elderly ladies have been murdered. A young man attacked an 83-year-old newspaper vendor on a busy morning in downtown Kingston with a machete. They say he was of “unsound mind.” I believe he is in hospital after onlookers set upon him. Meanwhile, an American tourist was reportedly caught in crossfire during a robbery and killed – in addition to a “wanted man”; a prisoner was stabbed to death in a police lock-up (how could this happen?); and more. But you don’t want to hear any more, do you?
And one newspaper has nothing better to do… So after its first sensational article, the Observer, in its desire to inflame its readers further on the shocking behavior of a small group of homeless men who happen to be gay, took a “team” up to Millsborough in uptown Kingston. What was the purpose of this? To try and get some salacious photographs of the gays getting on bad? To provoke some kind of confrontation? Well, they seem to have succeeded in the latter, as another so-called report appeared (this time with no byline) claiming that the gays attacked the journalists. This in turn sparked a disapproving release from the Press Association of Jamaica, addressed to J-FLAG.
J-FLAG responded, in part: “We condemn all acts of violence or intimidation either from or directed towards the LGBT community.” J-FLAG went on to point out that it is an advocacy organization agitating for the rights of LGBT Jamaicans. ”We do not have control over the behavior of the people we represent…We cannot be held responsible for the actions of any person who acts contrary to the norms of civil engagement, even if they are LGBT.” Tell me, if the offending group of squatters was made up entirely of women, would the PAJ write to the Association of Women’s Organizations of Jamaica? No? I thought not. Just call the police, for heaven’s sake!
Hey, corruption is a generational issue: This is what the zealous young politician Raymond Pryce seemed to imply during a radio discussion with Professor Trevor Munroe, who continues to maintain his laser-sharp focus on the corruption issue as head of the National Integrity Action lobby group. I was mighty surprised when Mr. Pryce suggested that the professor’s views on corruption were out of date…
The social divide: Meanwhile, tickets for the Jamaica Observer Food Awards were J$10,000 a pop, I heard. How happy and flourishing are the elite! How happy I am to see them so happy and flourishing, cocktails in hands, on the social pages! I just need to ask them one question: Do you live in the same Jamaica as me? Nevertheless, congratulations to Café Blue who won Best Café. One of our very favorite hang-out spots!
World Environment Day: Is on Wednesday, June 5. What will you be doing to reduce your carbon footprint? Here is the relevant link: http://www.thinkeatsave.org.
Throwing Petchary Bouquets to the following:
- Pan-Jamaican Investment Trust, who are going to bid in the Office of Utilities Regulation’s request for proposals for renewable energy generation. This is a first for the company. I am also glad to see that they are investing in the new Courtyard Marriott Hotel; ground will be broken this month.
- Dr. Carolyn Cooper for her relentless campaigning against the horrible, creeping over-development of the huge swathe of green that was Long Mountain, high above Kingston. Years ago I walked up there with environmental activist/journalist John Maxwell – before the concrete took over. I am afraid it will all end in tears…
- Jamaicans for Justice for their great series of articles in the Sunday Gleaner on children’s rights – outlining clearly the steps that must – must – be taken to improve the current situation.
- Police Commissioner Owen Ellington for a thoughtful piece in today’s Sunday Observer. Well worth a read. See the link below.
- Young Roneilla Powell and Breanna Marsh of Mona Heights Primary, winners of the school’s writing competition. Roneilla’s essay “Myself as a Clock” should make interesting reading. Kudos to to their supportive teachers and parents! I am all for creative writing – hope other schools will follow this example.
- Glad to hear that Sergeant Raymond Wilson, head of the Police Federation, is out of hospital and recovering from a heart attack. Take it easy and get well soon!
- And on a football note – Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (who has Jamaican roots by the way) who scored a cheeky goal for England against a star-studded Brazil team today; and the United States football team for beating the all-powerful Germans! Impressive.
As noted above, the death toll over the past four days has been depressing and the crimes horrifying. I would ask you, dear readers, to also read a report from the Jamaica Star (link below) on a widow’s efforts to ensure that the killers of her husband are brought to justice. It’s a sad and exhausting story. If you have any thoughts on it (or any pertinent information) please do let me know…
Sylvia Sewell, 83, Beckford/Orange Street, downtown Kingston
André Allison, 21, Central Police lock-up, downtown Kingston
Damion Spence, 19, Old Harbour, St. Catherine
Temera Laing, 8, March Pen, St. Catherine
Clayton Parkinson, 33, March Pen, St. Catherine
Tishawn Campbell, 24, March Pen, St. Catherine
Vera Knight, 75, Belle Plain, Clarendon
Unidentified U.S. national, Savannah-la-Mar, Westmoreland
Killed by police:
Unidentified man, Fraser’s Content, St. Catherine
“Bigga,” Savannah-la-Mar, Westmoreland
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130530/lead/lead2.html Help Tanzania if we have extra teachers – JTA President: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130530/lead/lead8.html TV stations defend refusal to air ad in tolerance case: Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Men-in-house-said-occupied-by-gays-attack-Observer-news-team_14372677 Men in house said occupied by gays attack Observer news team: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130530/cleisure/cleisure4.html Protecting rights and freedoms for all: Jaevion Nelson column/Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130530/cleisure/cleisure3.html Thwaites must stand firm on condoms in schools: Sean Major-Campbell op-ed/Gleaner
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/COJO-gives-generously-to-Maxfield-Park-Children-s-Home_14366437 COJO gives generously to Maxfield Park Children’s Home: Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130602/lead/lead6.html Former Fort Augusta inmate
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/the-americas-blog/imf-approves-jamaica-loan-pain-no-gain IMF approves Jamaica loan: Pain, no gain: Center for Economic and Policy Research
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/The-regional-trade–political-and-economic-quagmire-_14366167 The regional trade, political and economic quagmire: Anthony Gomes column/Jamaica Observer
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130602/news/news5.html Opposition MP provides additional suggestions to spark development: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130602/business/business3.html Pan-Jam eyes renewable energy market: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130602/news/news7.html Better parenting needed, says Thwaites: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130602/focus/focus7.html Inspect education ministry too: Owen Speid column/Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads/34048 Start-Up Jamaica to provide support for ICT entrepreneurs: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/We-are-nearing-on-the-mark_14366155 We are nearing on the mark: Letter from Housing Minister Morais Guy/Jamaica Observer
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/more-opposition-to-plans-to-amend-ocg-act More opposition to plans to amend OCG act: RJR News
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130530/news/news1.html Judge us on commitments – Robinson: Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-103/34049 Renewed focus on cassava: Jamaica Information Service
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130530/news/news8.html Erosion control agent testing gets under way on Negril beach: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130602/lead/lead8.html Negril the only Jamaican star on CNN’s top 100 beaches: Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130602/news/news2.html Visitor arrivals down – but summer looks “all right”! Sunday Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130530/news/news9.html Bad farming practices killing ecosystem: Gleaner
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130602/cleisure/cleisure3.html Raping virgin territory: Carolyn Cooper column/Sunday Gleaner
http://www.jis.gov.jm/news/leads-106/34065 Dr. Ferguson appeals for continued external support for HIV/AIDS program: Jamaica Information Service
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Dealing-effectively-with-guns-and-drugs-for-improved-public-safety_14390368 Dealing effectively with guns and drugs for improved public safety: Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington article/Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Call-for-Duanvale-to–fast-and-pray-_14391939 Call for Duanvale to “fast and pray”: Sunday Observer
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Madness_14388617 Madness: Tamara Scott-Williams column/Sunday Observer
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/body-of-slain-teenager-identified Body of slain teen identified: RJR News
http://rjrnewsonline.com/local/top-cop-charged-with-rape Top cop charged with rape: RJR News
http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20130426/news/news12.html Man escapes police custody: Jamaica Star, April 26, 2013
- The Hurricane Season is Here: June 2, 2013 (petchary.wordpress.com)