Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

 

Three days ago I sat satisfying my regular need for social media and saw what I thought would be an article par excellence pop up on my newsfeed from one of the regular social commentators in Jamaica that I respect, even if I don’t always agree with the views he espouses. The article I refer to was published in the Jamaica Gleaner on Sunday June 5, 2016 and is entitled “Why Campion is So Loved and Hated” by Gordon Robinson.

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/focus/20160605/gordon-robinson-why-campion-so-loved-and-hated

The topic is very near and dear to me due to my being the proud if sometimes reluctant sibling of a Campion alumna and *whispers* a one-time Campion College aspiring student (prior to divine intervention). This experience has made it more obvious to me than the average joe that Campion College may be the most opinion splitting, controversy stirring and divisive institution in Jamaican society and a lot of the reason for this actually is no fault of the institution itself.

So recognizing the above reality and acknowledging the literary prowess and infinitely sharp mind of Sir Robinson I eagerly awaited the well nuanced and balanced discussion of this lightning rod that is Campion. Unfortunately, but not altogether surprisingly, Mr. Robinson took the default position that many more contemporary Campionites take when the rest of society leans in on them with  the mostly unwarranted negative sentiments – he presented us with the combination of the litany of reasons Campion is great, blended with the subtle condescension that “you all really wish you were us.” And to top it off for me on a personal level, for no apparent reason Mr. Robinson sought to juxtapose the virtue of Campion by pejoratively comparing the strong Jesuit ethos of Campion to, what for him is the seemingly useless braggadocio of the motto “The Brave May Fall But Never Yield.”

Don’t get me wrong either, I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Robinson’s quite brilliant depiction of why Campion is a truly great institution that all Jamaicans should be proud of. And indeed we all should really be proud and I go on further to state that the Jesuit principles that have guided the school’s development and that are so ably described by Mr. Robinson should really form a template for the development of truly rounded citizens for the benefit of the Jamaican society.

But what Mr. Robinson has robbed us of is balance. Though mostly unjustified, there are perfectly reasonable explanations as to why Campion is not everybody’s cup of tea, not least of which is the subtle and not so subtle reminders that Campionites give us that we wish we were them. Though the catch 22 there is that sometimes that is the response of an attacked animal backed into a corner. But still what the article I eagerly awaited did not do was adequately account for what Campion has become a symbol of. Though Mr. Robinson merely mentioned it in an almost throw away fashion, Campion for all the developmental strengths it possesses does get the nation’s best students in large measure thus possessing a strong leg up on everyone else. Also a large swath of the school’s modern day population and I may venture to posit its “back in the day” population as well consisted of societies well to do. Simply put, in a gravely inequitable education system which foreshadows a probably more inequitable society on a whole, Campion has unwittingly become to many a symbol of this social stratification.

So I agree with Mr. Robinson that some of the persons who were dying for Campion to lose this years’ School’s Challenge Quiz Final need to grapple with some internal insecurities and perhaps even inferiority complexes. (Although this year people had many legitimate grouses not with Campion but how the Organizers handled Campion’s matches, but that is for another day.) Notwithstanding this agreement, what I expected from Mr. Robinson, and was left disappointed, was an honest acknowledgement that a lot of the anti-Campion sentiment also emerges from it being a symbol, right or wrong, for the social divides that mar our Jamaican existence.

SELAH!!!

PS –  To Sir Robinson, though you may disparage it, beyond the bar talk and the obnoxious bravado, the words “The Brave May Fall But Never Yield” have been a rallying cry that has steered many otherwise rudderless young men from lives of obscurity and strife to the upper echelons of success in their chosen fields of endeavor. And for those who may have not reached such lofty heights, the spirit of the Rt.Reverend PW Gibson, which those words channel gives us a reminder that though we face challenges we can overcome. I am sure you can acknowledge that beyond the Old Boys who won’t grow up, the Fortis ethos is of great value as is that of the strong Jesuit philosophy.

Fortis, Fortes…Respect.

If you have read my blog before or even perused the archive you will realise that by a country mile my primary focus is usually on the most topical happenings in the social economic and political realms. However there is a category in said archive called “Random Me Stuff.” This episode of Reasoning is definitely a “Random Me Stuff” edition.

Sitting at my desk assisting the work day in becoming palatable by listening to the discography of the legendary Hip Hop/ Neo Soul band “The Roots” the melodies and superb wordplay had my mind drifting to “the good ol days” of my vintage. Overcome with nostalgia my mind couldn’t escape the need to jot down a list of some of the many things from my childhood and youth that I miss greatly.

90’s & Early 2000s Hip Hop/ R&B Music

With the inspiration for this mood outlined above it is only right that this list starts here. Whether it is the playful ABC rhyming of the Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff on songs like “Parents Just Don’t Understand”, the Bipolar, thoughtful and belligerent Tupac Shakur that would “Hit ‘em up” one day and teach us to “Keep ya head up” the next.  Maybe it is the crooning of real singing groups like Boyz II Men and Jodeci. Bringing it forward thoughts move to the undeniable word play of Jay-Z. Tracking back, the more conscious, soulful Hip Hop of Mos Def, Common, The Roots and Talib Kweli. I could ramble on this forever but rather than playing the grumpy grandpa that I have become and bash contemporary music, I’ll just rework the thought from Summertime by the Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff and instead of being shocked that “the smell from a (bbq) grill could spark up nostalgia” I’ll blame this feeling on a YouTube suggestion.

Innocent TV Shows About Teenage Years/Puberty

I don’t know about you but there are some TV shows that have a direct connection in my mind with my transition from “likkle pickney” to pubescence. Shows that just got it. Shows that understood the moment the first girl you ever liked looked at you. Shows that knew that friends at school were the first source of information (usually full of crap but still) about relationships and sex. Of Course that is followed by the eternal peer pressure. Shows that depicted family life for all its pros and cons, good days and bad days with siblings good days and bad days with parents. Some that come to mind for me are “Boy Meets world”, “Wonder Years”, to a lesser extent Soul Food: The Series and last but definitely not least The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. This classic show transcended just thoughts of growing up but spanned the gamut of family life and lessons mixed with straight up laughs. TV today is cool and all can’t deny that but… I miss those days.

McDonald’s

Let’s keep this one short as the nutritionist, the doctor, the blood pressure machine and BK loving Jamaicans aren’t going to be happy with me. But for me, and at least three other people I know who will remain nameless, the day that the Golden Arches disappeared from the Jamaican landscape was a true tragedy and a sad day in the annals of Jamaican history. Just typing this right now I can feel the oranegish/yellowish box that held my beloved Quarter Pounder with Cheese on my fingertips. Burger in one half of the box fries in the other. Sad I tell you sad. I have to move on though the depression is steadily growing. Ronald we miss you dawg.

Youth Itself

Rather than continue this list of random memories what is becoming clearer and clearer as I type is that the truth is, sparked by a handful of YouTube videos, I am just really appreciative of the childhood and adolescence that I was blessed with. On the other side of Mother’s Day I must unequivocally declare that I have a pair of parents that I would never ever ever trade for anything and they created an enabling environment that allowed me to just be a child and grow up at my pace. As an adult each day gives me reasons to realise how great they were and how much they did for us without much fanfare.

Pausing the mushy part for a bit, ADULTHOOD IS THE BIGGEST SCAM IN LIFE. As a youth you spend your whole childhood yearning for the day when you get big. “I won’t have to listen to anybody, I do what I want when I want.” The sad part is when it hits you that the thing you want the most now that you have reached this hallowed adulthood, is to reverse the clock and fully spend the time enjoying every single blessed moment of that youth.

And that is the advice I just recently had to leave a young friend with who was cursing her youth. Not even being too far removed from my youth I can honestly look back at it and say those days were legendary and a treasure that I will never forget, and with the exception of a few “perks” of the now, would readily trade for and go back.

But alas, Benjamin Button is but fiction. Life, we must endeavor to move forward and grow and not just in waist size but in mind and relationships and emotional maturity. But lucky for us, although life is a forward trod, it never hurts when we get a chance to look back.

 

SELAH.

 

Baccra Massa Still Smiling in 2016

Baccra Massa Still Smiling in 2016

Baccra Massa Still Smiling in 2016

Every time I open my social media accounts and see the internet Molotov cocktails being chucked from the north western end of the Caribbean down to the south eastern end and vice versa I think to myself… Baccra did a really good job with this divide and rule thing and no matter how hard and often we proclaim emancipation and independence it is clear that we need regular doses of the words of Redemption song that Tuff Gong borrowed from the Rt. Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey.

“Jamaican’s does be the reason the crime going up in T&T and allyuh does know it” vs “Who do these Trinis think they are, them think dem s!@# can mek patty, not even know why Jamaicans still want go there.” Baccra Massa Still Smiling in 2016.

But what really is going on here? What is the real root of all this? Why is it that every other year or month we have some reignition of these “wars” between Caribbean nations, with particular emphasis on the two largest English speaking ones? Is it resentment for one Jamaican National Hero saying Jamaica is walking while the rest of the region is crawling? Is it because one PM was tired of being the region’s ATM? All this while Baccra Massa Still Smiling in 2016.

But what of the current melee, it is clear to me that CARICOM and the CSME are valuable or at least potentially valuable but at present and perhaps from ever, they have been beset with regional, structural and national level issues that have hamstrung its potential. Most people do not even know what CARICOM/CSME is or is supposed to be. Here is the Cliff Notes version – CARICOM is a political and economic cooperation organization forged between mainly English speaking, former British colonies designed to face the” big bad” world in a vein of pooled capabilities. CARICOM is based largely on three pillars:

  • Functional Cooperation –  shared institutions like  CXC and UWI
  • Coordinated foreign policy – CARICOM joint positions in International Organizations and negotiating Trade Agreements as a unit
  • ECONOMIC INTEGRATION – common external tariff and the free movement of goods, capital and labour i.e. PEOPLE.

We do pretty well in the first two pillars if people are honest but the third pillar is really why we are here cussing each other on Facebook while…Baccra Massa Still Smiling in 2016.

What is required now is an honest introspection on the part of the entire CARICOM family, but particular the governments and citizenry of Jamaica and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Rather than get touted by the modern day dividers such as skewed media, influential civil society players that stand to benefit from the disharmony and government officials acting in the name of political expediency versus the greater good. My brothers and sisters from Jamaica must realize that as a sovereign state the Twin Island Republic has the right to protect its borders and seek to avert abuse of immigration laws in any way fit, especially in the face of illegal immigration from Jamaica that is at a fairly significant level by all accounts. Concurrently, my brothers and sisters from the Twin Island Republic must realise that not every Jamaican is coming to be a “leach” and that legitimate efforts at border protection are subject to the rule of law, fairness and humanity. It cannot be done in a pseudo-arbitrary fashion, where even persons who are above board are made to feel like criminals, all this while under CARICOM arrangements we are all “guaranteed” hassle free travel.

WE ALL HAVE BEEN GUILTY OF WRONGS IN THIS SITUATION BUT WE CANNOT ALLOW THE POTENTIAL GOOD OF OUR UNION TO BE KILLED OVER MISGUIDED EMOTIONAL RESPONSES TO REAL ISSUES THAT REQUIRE MATURE DEBATE.

For example, and controversially, if one ascribes to the “free trade” school of thinking then the purpose of a free trade movement like CARICOM is the “efficient allocation of resources” therefore if T&T has an oversupply of manufactured goods and an undersupply of low skilled labour and Jamaica has an oversupply of low skilled labour and an undersupply of manufactured goods, then the concurrent influxes of goods into Jamaica and people into Trinidad and Tobago is something that should be perhaps promoted but in a streamlined fashion. But this paragraph is for another day and for more rigorous economic scrutiny, but the general point is that we might actually need each other more than we think but never ending pride, misguided nationalism and self-serving public voices are pushing us apart all while…Baccra Massa Still Smiling in 2016.

So here we are with powerful private sector voices and voices in the streets of Jamaica calling for a boycott of all Trinbagonian goods and these cries being met with social media and radio retorts of “round up all these Jamaicans in T&T illegally, they are the reason there is crime, crime was virtually nil before their infiltration.” But are these voices speaking for the majority? I hope not, too often in public discourse the voice of the misguided, lowest common denominator dominates the discussion and derails constructive reasoning.

Or am I wrong? Is it that this impasse between Jamaica and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is insoluble? Is it that the majority of us would rather just sever all ties with each other forever?

Whatever the case, I am tired of this whole debacle and I am also angry, angry because

Baccra Massa Still Smiling in 2016.

SELAH

 

 

 

The song that is mentioned in the title of this blog post has been playing in my mind over and over as one of the many pieces of Jamaican creative art that has aptly served as social commentary basically covering my lifetime. In Jamaica POLITICS is a bad bad bad word, probably the worst word ever. In fact it has spawned many offshoots that highlight just how we as a people in large measure feel about the political process so we have “Follytics” which is my personal favourite of “politricks” which is perhaps the most popular.

For all persons who know me and know me well they know that ever since about the 9th grade I have stoutly held the position that until I see great changes in the way politics is practiced  I would never ever ever dip my finger in any ink. To this day I still feel very strongly about defending person’s right not to vote as being equal to a persons right to vote. I think this notion that “you must vote” whether you philosophically agree with the candidates put before you is one of the most popular yet flawed arguments that exists in Jamaica.

As I saw one comment on twitter yesterday “Voting for me is almost spiritual based on the sacrifice that went into me getting that right, I almost feel as though my soul will be damned if I just vote without conscience.” (slight paraphrase). That is deep almost deep beyond words. I think it is folly to say to someone your vote is valuable but give it to someone “just because” it’s the right thing to do. Persons who seek to bully and guilt trip persons into voting really need to spend the time and try to understand the stance of principled non-voters before reaching for the millions of tired clichés. Let me not even get into today the myriad of constitutional reform issues that legitimately turn people off from voting. That can be a blogpost for itself.

However, speaking of principled non-voters, I have recently developed a strong urge to reach out to my fellow disillusioned Jamaicans. We must not let our disillusionment turn into total apathy and separation from the process. whilst it is true that political participation goes well beyond casting a ballot and therefore voting is not the be all and end all of participation, we must also acknowledge that NOT VOTING AND NOT HAVING A VOTE ARE TWO CONSIDERABLY DIFFERENT THINGS. If you are not enumerated you don’t have a vote so your displeasure is not registered in any way that can even theoretically force those who you are displeased with to react. The sad truth is that these persons we make reference to are largely driven by electoral stimuli. So what we need to do is give them some different stimulus. If everybody who is not pleased with the status quo twinned their public expressions of disapproval with the REAL potential to be a “swing” set of votes THEY WOULD HAVE TO AT LEAST PAY SOME MORE ATTENTION.

SO DON’T VOTE IF YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE THERE IS ANYTHING TO VOTE FOR. I fully agree with that stance and it is your right and NEVER LET ANYONE MAKE YOU FEEL GUILTY FOR NOT CASTING YOUR VOTE FOR A MISGUIDED PERCEPTION OF CIVIC PRIDE. But political participation is more than just voting. What are you doing to contribute to the change that you want to see? Have you ever written to your representative? When parliament asks the public for written submissions have you ever sent one in? Are you a part of a civil society group fighting for a cause? NOT VOTING IS ONE THING BUT NOT CONTRIBUTING IN ANY WAY TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF JAMAICA AND THE “…THE WELFARE OF THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE” IS PROBABLY EQUAL OR WORSE FOLLY THAN THE FOLLYTICS WE COMPLAIN ABOUT.

Remone and Shane Married

Posted: August 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

Wonderful post about a wonderful couple. Big Up yourself Mr Chin!!!!