We face neither East nor West, we face Forward – Kwame Nkrumah.
Kenya and Jamaica share some things in common, besides the brothers and sisters tag. Topmost being the athletic prowess. Historically, they’re former properties of the empire in which the sun never set, and one of Kenya’s former Chief Justices, Sir. Horace Hector Hearne I learn headed this way from Jamaica, socially we all love a good beat and Jamaican reggae and ragga artists have had a field day tumbuisaing Kenyans. Economically, both countries appear to have had their best of times in their first decades after their respective independence and the stratification of the poor and rich class system took root at around the same period. In matters climatic, I cannot leave out our beaches.
I must highly commend the people of the land of wood and water, or the land of the rising sun, as Eric Donaldson puts it. Not Nihon, but Jamaica, world renown for its reggae beat and sporting prowess on the track and field, for rising beyond the yoke of parochial patriarchal hegemony and handing the mettle of leadership to a proven progressive and visionary leader, Prime Minister Portia Lucretia Simpson-Miller. As she rises on the rostrum, she is faced with an enormous task, shifting the base of power, switching from monarchism to republicanism and lady luck alone will not be enough. It is inspiring to note that she is of the opinion that after more than half a century of self-rule and government, she wants to severe the monarchial relationship with Britain and go the republican way. This is an offer Jamaicans cannot afford to refuse. She will be in good company. When the USA chose republican mode over the monarchy, it was entering uncharted waters, but experience has shown that it was the best move.
While a monarchial government is founded and sustained upon heredity and assumed divine right, and the state is a personal fiefdom, in a democratic republican system, legitimacy derives from the masses, the public, suffrage of the people, this form of government provides for checks and balances which are requisite for a transparent administration. The present arrangement is dangerous in a sense that the queen and the governor-general have the power to dismiss a democratically elected premier and parliament with no countervailing power. The rights of the people are subservient to the whims of the person sovereign. In its very essence, the queen is answerable to no one. However, this is not to be construed that the queen enjoys unfettered rights, powers and duties neither do I advocate the views contained in John Ponet’s A Shorte Treatise of Politike Power, we are living in a completely different world from his. It is only in an open, transparent and democratic country where people live in justice and equity, a country where leaders have no occasion to deceive or to defraud the populace, either intentionally or unintentionally as is apt in pseudo democratic governments. This was enunciated forth a long time ago by Plato in his Republic.
Jamaica has come a long way, her past has been dark and macabre, from having been under the yoke of British slavery for about two centuries, abolition of slavery in 1834 and subsequent declaration of full emancipation from chattel slavery in 1838 to being led and governed by descendants of the slaves and indentured servants whose human dignity is guaranteed thanks to the Wind of change that McMillan prophesied despite some resistance from the likes of Adlai Stevenson. Sovereignty will now vest in the people of Jamaica, and not in the person of the sovereign. The queen will no longer be the head of state, but the elected president. It is a timely thought, a thought whose time is right, which will be the fulfillment of the idea of government of the people by the people. A government where their elected leader derives his/her right to rule directly from the will of the electorates and is as a consequence subject to constitutionalism and the rule of law. Granted, Britain has done a lot of commendable work for Jamaica, but a child cannot be forced to crawl forever, it reaches a point when it has to walk. At fifty years of age, Jamaica has come of age. The beauty of the detachment is that it will not be emotional parting; Jamaica will still be part of the commonwealth by virtue of it having been part of the realm of the British Empire. There are some norms and customs from the empire which are not compatible with the day-to-day affairs of the people of Jamaica; they make them think they are moving forward when in fact they are stuck in a time warp rendering their essence mere relics.
It should however be noted that republicanism will not be the panacea to all the problems faced by the Patois speakers. The victim mentality has to be shed, the past has to be remembered but eyes have to be fixed on the future. The people of Jamaica who sit, sleep, walk and sing about Babylon “downpression” will need to drop their buckets where they are; in Jamaica, and stop dreaming of the promised land of their fathers, Shashamane where milk and honey flows. The Back to Africa Movement failed in its aims. There needs to be a shift in attitudes. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are, in the words of Theodore Roosevelt. They need to start working and making to do with what they have got if their situation is not to move from bad to worse, but ameliorate. Ethiopia has it own problems and as it was seen, the Shashamane project came a cropper. Those Jamaicans who immigrated to Ethiopia found the going tough than they had thought. Skylocking does not bring food to the table or pay bills, work does. Whether you are in your utopian slumber or in the Ethiopian highland, the fruit of the land will only be made true by tilling of the land. Those who still harbour the thought of coming back to Africa, in furtherance of Marcus Garvey’s dream need to get a pinch, a reality check of some sort. Problems are everywhere.
Prime Minister Portia Lucretia Simpson-Miller needs to be given all the support that she needs to stem the tide of widespread poverty, high unemployment, runway public debts, and stamp out crime, corruption and moral decadence in Jamaica. It will not be smooth sailing on the march to the mountain top. The march will demand sacrifice, suffering, and struggle. Bitter medicine will have to be chewed and swallowed in order that health and vitality may be found, the slicing will be close to the bone. As Dennis Brown sung, it will be Blood, Sweat and Tears. The argument that the white man is responsible for the problems faced by the Jamaican people is now moot. They have been bestowed with the right of voting in power persons of their choice who should propagate policies whose ultimate ends tend to uplift the standard of education and life for them. They have a right to resist violence, drugs, misogyny and contempt for decorum. Bob Marley put it to the people, “emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds…”, it is upon the Jamaican people to accept that the problems they face can, and will only be tackled by themselves, or compounded by themselves, not the bald heads.
The old way of doing things will have to go; a clean slate for Jamaica is needed much now rather than later. The relationship between organized crime, drug dealing and political power will have to be repudiated. Former premier Minister Bruce Golding’s Jamaica Labour Party was complicit in the criminal conduct and success of Christopher “Dudus” Cost which cost dear lives and loss of property because his posse had political clout. The gangsters need to turn over a new leaf in order to fit into the scheme of things under the new dispensation, if Malcolm X moved from being an inmate to an extremely intelligent, inspirational and visionary leader, it can be done even today. Prime Minister Portia Lucretia Simpson-Miller has promised to respect the rights of each and every person in Jamaica; this definitely is bound to face stiff opposition from those brought up on Lord Laro’s lyrics, who believe that the woman’s place is in the kitchen, or some dance hall artistes who advocate for the burning of the “chichi men” having regard to the fact that the premier has promised to uphold the rights of each person irrespective of his/her sexual orientation. Unity, tolerance and success require discipline, linear thinking, comradeship and patience with one another. The words of Bob Marley’s One Love song should be given life in such a time as this.