The Fraud Against Usain Bolt, and the Case for National Service: a Blog Post by Professor Anne C. Bailey

In my last post, I promised to share this blog post. Again, it is a plea for unity, and for going back to basic principles of humanity. Jamaican-born Dr. Anne C. Bailey is a writer, historian, and professor of History at SUNY Binghamton (State University of New York) She is also the founding Director of the Binghamton University Harriet Tubman Center for Freedom and Equity – which produced its inaugural newsletter last December.

The quote from Gwendolyn Brooks at the end was added by me. Once again, let’s lift each other up and unite…

An emotional Usain Bolt embraces a young female ward of Walker’s Place of Safety in St Andrew, after a fire which killed two of her friends, a few years ago. The Usain Bolt Foundation donated $1 million to assist the displaced children. To me, this compassion and generosity represent core values that Bolt represents, and for which he is loved. It is particularly painful that he should suffer this financial loss at the hands of greedy Jamaicans. (Photo: Gladstone Taylor/Gleaner)

I imagine they were among Usain Bolt’s many cheerleaders around the world. I imagine they attended Bolt’s races or watched in rapt attention on television—wherever he was running—Beijing, London, Brazil, Kingston- on behalf of his beloved country, Jamaica.

I imagine they smiled and shouted with pride when he won.

I imagine they celebrated with friends.

We all did.

No matter where we were in Jamaica or the Caribbean Diaspora, we celebrated every win.  We mourned his few losses.

Usain Bolt, eight-time Olympic winner, made us so proud.

He made us doubly proud because he could have lived ANYWHERE in the world, but he chose each time to return to Jamaica.

He has a deep love for his country. He knows the problems as well as anyone else, as evidenced in his songs, but instead of chasing fancy football dreams in the US or lucrative soccer dreams in England, he returned to Jamaica. He likely gave up millions to return and retire at home and to invest in local businesses.

And so, it was not surprising that he chose to invest his retirement dollars with a local investment company, Stocks and Securities Ltd. …only to be fleeced out of US$12.7 million.  Yet as I have surmised, when he was competing on the world stage, they were likely among his many cheerleaders.

We know fraud takes place all over the world, but we have to have a sense of accountability for our part of the world – Jamaica- a small island whose influence is historically greater than its size.  Part of this influence is Usain Bolt who from humble beginnings and sheer hard work and sacrifice rose to the top.

How could this happen to him and what can we quickly learn from this incident?

  • Dishonesty does not pay. Those who have committed this fraud will have to face justice.
  • The Jamaican people and the world will not forget how Bolt inspired us all.
  • Bolt will recover all that has been lost.
  • His PRIDE in himself and in his country is what we need to imitate right now.

In my mind, it is about PRIDE or lack thereof.  If you have pride in yourself and in your heritage, you cannot do this.

So how did we get here?  We spend our days looking at the lives of others – on the internet, on the television, on billboards all around us.

Yet we would do better to return to the CORE VALUES of our grandparents and great-grandparents. They had much much less, yet they NEVER stooped so low.  Many served God and country humbly.

Chasing money and things at all costs, we have let them down. And we have let ourselves down.  What are our limits? When do we say enough is enough?

What I have is what I have. I will be content. I won’t have a long eye for money and things I did not earn by the sweat of my brow.

I will be satisfied with the fruit of the land and what it brings.

Green Team International, an NGO which is committed to education, heritage and the environment, wants to do its part in changing course.  For ten years, we have supported school children in their efforts to further their education in secondary school and in college or trade institutions.  They receive scholarships to assist with books and/or tuition but in return are asked to serve their schools and community—planting school gardens,  cleaning up our beaches and the like.

It’s a kind of national service model that we once had decades ago and one that has worked well in several countries.

Give young people a leg up but also give them a chance to SERVE and to learn what it means to commit to something greater than themselves.

I am hoping this horrible situation with Bolt and the others who lost their monies will help us find the road back to core values –core values of honesty, integrity, and patriotism that Bolt so vividly represents and that we desperately need right now.

We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.

Gwendolyn Brooks

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