Friday, December 30, 2011

Jamaica Election 2011 Roundup

Winners: People’s National Party (PNP)
Colour: Orange
Leader: Portia Simpson-Miller

Losers: Jamaica Labour Party (JLP):
Colour: Green
Leader: Andrew Holness

The Electoral Commission of Jamaica’s (ECJ) all-island preliminary results:
People’s National Party (PNP): 41 seats
Jamaica Labour Party (JLP):  22 seats

General reaction in nation:
SHOCK. It was a surprise sweep. Many expected it to be a close contest, but not very many thought that the PNP would win, or that they would win by such a large margin.

High Points:
- Little to no violence. One of, if not the most peaceful we’ve ever had.
- By most accounts, it was a smooth election process.

Areas of Concern:
- Low voter turnout. Stats from the ECJ indicate that approximately 52.10% of eligible voters exercised that right. What of the other 40-odd%?

Important Questions:
- Where do we go from here?
When the noise and excitement has finally settled down, Jamaicans will awake to the reality of the same hardships they faced before the elections. The question will become: can we cross it?

- What does the other 40-odd% of the nation want?
They did not vote, many claiming that they refrained as a statement of their dissatisfaction with both parties. Well, now a party is in power that they say they don’t want. What of it?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Loving Inmates Back To Destiny

She’s short. Not much over five feet high. But this height belies the power of a woman on a mission to change her world - one inmate at a time. She’s special because she’s a woman who has worked mainly with men - and not the best kind either. These are men who society has cast off as ‘offenders’, ‘criminals’, ‘hopeless’.

“We impact them by loving them, letting them know that in spite of what they’re going through, we’re here to love them, that God still loves them,” she says passionately. Throughout the interview, she repeatedly emphasises the need to love these fallen men past their failures. And that is what the organisation she founded in 2009 is all about. Friends With A Heart Outreach International was created with the specific aim of helping inmates and ex-offenders to lead better lives and reintegrate into communities.

“People make mistakes, but we have to get to a place where your situation does not determine your future. You may have failed at something, but you are not a failure. Don’t give up on life,” she quietly urges. Then she smiles, leans back, and waits for the next question.

Vivienne Nash, 46, was born in Kingston, Jamaica, though she has spent most of her life in her country of residence, Canada. The challenges in her life came early: at 17, she got pregnant with her only child – a girl. She explains that it wasn’t easy to take care of her daughter and attend school, though she was lucky to have the support of the child’s father, and her own mother.

Then, during her last year of college, she was incarcerated in Fort Augustus in Kingston, Jamaica, after she was caught trafficking drugs.

“It was an ordeal,” she explains, “I learned alot. When you’re in prison, you have a lot of time to sit down and reflect on what you want to do, where you want to go.”

After being released from prison, she went back to Canada, where she started getting serious about her religion: Christianity. According to her, “I realised that I’d tried everything and nothing else worked … . I actually found God in a nightclub ...” – something she admits is a unique experience – “you expect to meet guys and chill at a nightclub, but that’s not what happened for me – at least, I didn’t meet that kinda guy.” And she smiles as she remembers.

“We were the last four persons to leave. There was a heat that came over me. I told my friends I would go outside to wait in the car. When I got to the car, I started crying, started repenting. I remembered stuff back from way back and then the last thing I repented for was all the drugs I brought into the country.”

After that, Vivienne started to turn her life around. She was national director for one of Canada’s largest prison ministries – Prison Fellowship Canada – for three years. During that time, she travelled all across Canada and developed a better understanding of the prison system, becoming increasingly concerned with the limited provisions made for inmate rehabilitation. That was when she got the idea for Friends With A Heart Outreach International (FWAH). She felt the need to use the knowledge she had gained, and the passion she had for helping inmates, to do more for these fallen soldiers.
Her outreach group was registered in Canada in May 2009. The Jamaica arm was registered in 2010. Though both are still in the early development stages, Vivienne explains that these groups are making a difference in the lives of inmates in their host nations.

“We have women going into different institutions in Canada: to the Grand Valley Institution for Women and West Detention Centre. We have about 30 volunteers at the moment. Every Sunday, we have a chapel service, and we do one-on-one mentoring.”

Then she tells me about an exercise she did with inmates at the Tower Street Correctional Centre in Kingston, Jamaica:
“I asked them to just write on a piece of paper -– no names or anything – guilty or innocent. When I got back to my room and sat down to read the notes, most of them said guilty. And that made me realise that they really trusted us. I’m sure they didn’t say that to the judge. But that really affected me and made me want to do more for them.”

Although Vivienne has a secular job, she dreams of the day when she will be able to work in her outreach full-time. Sure, there are days when she gets discouraged, but she says these are the times when she has learnt to encourage herself. Eventually, her goal is that “wherever there’s a prison, we would have some sort of representation … I see us building a facility that will be able to function to its fullness, holistically – like a training centre for people to be trained/equipped to go back into society.”

It’s a big dream. And a small start. But she believes God will help her to achieve it. And she continues to find motivation from the stories she daily hears:
“This one inmate, he said he got involved in criminal activity through politics,” she says. “You know when politicians give young men guns and money for votes? He became an area leader, and I don’t know if the politician became nervous or what, but he reported him to the police and they arrested him. I know he committed murder. He’s told me about that. But, listen, I’m sitting here listening to a young man. I’m hearing the heart of what society calls a criminal. I’m speaking into his life. What I want people to understand is that we’re a Christian organisation but we don’t only deal with with Christians. Our whole purpose is loving people back to destiny.”

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous new media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

Monday, December 5, 2011

So Here's The Big Idea ...

The following was submitted as my final assignment before being selected as a WorldPulse Voices of the Future 2011 Correspondent:

Stories. Letters strung across a page that can do so much! The world is full of 'em - big ones, little ones, long ones, short ones, sad ones, funny ones, dull ones, bright ones. There are histories, his-stories, and her-stories ...

Women. Mothers, daughters, aunts, nurses, teachers, brokers, bosses, wives, lovers, providers, supporters, helpers, friends ... The hats they wear ... The roles they play, and most importantly, the stories they have to tell.

Sometimes, if you sit still enough for long enough, you can almost hear the world talking ... almost. And sometimes, when you look into a woman's eyes, you can almost see and feel her story ... almost.
For as long as I can remember, I've written. It's a passion, a fascination, an outlet ... a love. I've particularly enjoyed writing in journals and diaries. Sometimes, they are places to record memories, moments, events - to chronicle growth and development.

What if the world didn't have to search a woman's eyes to try to find her story? What if she freely, willingly opened her diary to the world and told them stories they wouldn't otherwise know? What if that story so gripped the hearts and imaginations of men that it revolutionised their perspectives, attitudes, lives? What if it completely redefined journalism as we know it? What if that story was multiplied by hundreds, thousands, millions?

What I want - what I've always wanted - is real simple: to change my world, one story at a time.
I believe in the power of the written, spoken, read and heard word. And, obviously, so does WorldPulse. I want to develop the versatility to tell any woman's story from any corner of the globe so well that her voice will not be misrepresented, misunderstood, ignored, or worse, unheard. I want to compile a set of diaries that reflect the heart of WOMAN - a powerful collection of stories from around the world. I know I have to start small. I know I have to start where I'm planted, so the immediate desire is to reveal the untold stories of the Jamaican woman.

Being a VOF participant allows me the chance to be a more effective tool. I can be sharpened, recalibrated (where necessary), smoothed out and learn how to do the job with grace, beauty, strength, femininity. And as I learn, I can also teach. As I receive, I can also impart. I can be part of the beautiful cycle of positive, everlasting change - a thunderstorm, if you will - that starts with the incredibly remarkable power of one.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Creating A Thunderstorm 2 Billion (Women) Strong

The following was submitted as my first assignment of three I had to complete before being selected as a WorldPulse Voices of the Future 2011 Correspondent:

A thunderstorm starts with just one drop of water.

Once upon a time, information was a luxury owned by a privileged few.
Once upon a time, news was something prepared and packaged exclusively in a formal newsroom by a few individuals.
Once upon a time, a woman had to take her story, give it to a man, and ask him to tell it for her, hoping he would tell it right, praying he would paint her in the right light, use the right brushes, give the right shades and textures - but it can be so hard to tell another person’s truth.
Even with the very best intentions, there is always room for error.

But a thunderstorm starts with just one drop of water.

Web 2.0 revolutionised global communication. These new, convenient methods of sharing information broke traditional media’s monopoly on information. For me, web 2.0 embodies two concepts: transparency and diverse story-telling. Where once, all I heard and saw were the views of a limited few who could manipulate information to create the impression they wanted to give, I can now literally hear the world talking; and share and celebrate its diversity everyday. If life is, as Helen Keller said, a series of lessons that must be lived to be understood, then web 2.0 affords people everywhere the opportunity to freely and easily learn from and understand each other.
Of course, with great knowledge comes great responsibility. Web 2.0 is only as positively effective as each user makes it – the beauty of that statement being that power no longer lies with a few brokers at the top of an unjust pyramid. It now rests in the hands of each citizen.

Because a thunderstorm starts with just one drop of water.

For women, web 2.0 has special significance. In a world where media is still dominated by the voices of men, with most information still molded from a male-oriented viewpoint, we are empowered to assert our stories, own our voices, and speak the truths that only we can know. Through web 2.0, women have formed, and continue to form, a strong global collective. We can now combine shared stories, shared voices, shared experiences and shared support.
I’ve learnt that each human being has a story, and a voice. With web 2.0, each individual gets an outlet for self-expression. Each woman can tell her story her way.
Today, I blog.
Today, I own my story.
Today, I own my voice.
And when I log on to the net, sign in, network, I hear diverse voices rising, swelling, swirling … creating a maelstrom of dynamic revolutionary, cross-cultural transformation. Sometimes, an act as simple as story-telling can have an impact that lasts for generations.
I am just one drop of water.
You are one.
Together, we are over two billion strong.

Now that’s a thunderstorm.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Story of 7 Billion People

7 billion. That's the new buzz number. That's how many people the United Nations Population Fund tells us are now on the planet Earth. 7 billion! That's a lot! And they're predicting a 2 billion+ growth by 2019.

Suddenly, and almost simultaneously, we're hearing messages of lack and scarcity. There aren't enough resources on Earth to replenish 7 billion people. We have to think differently. There's more of us now. And we all share responsibility for our survival, which is largely dependent on the longevity of this planet.

It's funny how fear can be injected into every milestone of our race. How will we survive - all 7 billion (and counting) of us? In some ways, it's almost like saying Mother Earth gave birth to too many children ... and now, she can barely manage to lactate them.

I acknowledge the efforts the UNFPA has made to celebrate the 7 billion milestone. I love the fact that their efforts to record the stories of people from all over the world helps to create greater awareness of the diversity which abounds. It's a splendid idea! I give it two thumbs up.


But this message of scarcity bothers me. I've read so many reports which indicate that scarcity exists only in certain regions of the world. In 2006, the Guardian told us that an apparently very healthy 1% of our people are consuming and controlling a whopping 40% of the world's wealth. So, really, this message of benevolence to 7 billion belies a whiff of hypocrisy.

We spend so much time in labs trying to create super-foods and super-medicines to feed and cure the impoverished when our own bins are filled to the brims with stinking, rotting foods - the excess we could not consume and had to discard.

Waste. While we waste what we have, others' lives waste away.

Since I was a little girl, my question has always been, if there's even nearly enough to go around, how come so many still go without?

There's 7 billion mouths to be fed.
What will we give to make sure none ends up dead?
What comforts are we willing to sacrifice?
To ensure that another stays alive?

Sober up, world. Think about it.

For more on how you can participate in the drive for 7 billion, or to learn more, see 7billionactions.org.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The New Era of False Sensitisation

The New Era of False Sensitisation
You Think You Know But You Don’t

I was a student presenter at the 2009 Caribbean Culture and Media International Conference, held at the University of the West Indies, Mona, in collaboration with Clark Atlanta University. I spoke, along with another student from UWI, and two from Clark Atlanta, about the ‘Convergence of Politics, Media and Culture’. I remember, during the course of our presentations, that Dr. Alice Stephens - a woman I grew to have great respect for over the duration of the conference - asked us if we, as the younger generation, felt sensitised to what was taking place in other countries around the world because of networking sites (or applications) like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Blogger.

One UWI student said, “Yes.” He then proceeded to explain how he was able to receive and share information about the atrocities taking place in other countries via Twitter and Facebook, and how he could “click on links” to help save lives and send money to impoverished nations. Or something like that. He ended by saying that, yes, we were definitely more sensitised to what was taking place.

I disagreed. Not only are we not sensitised about what goes on in these other countries (forgive the double negative), we’ve fallen into a delirium of believing that we are, and that what we are doing online is somehow saving and changing lives. We believe that by putting a poster in the sidebar of our blog drawing attention to a crucial human development issue is somehow enough proof of our unflailing commitment to humanity and of how aware and ‘sensitised’ we are to global issues. But what I have found is that most times, it’s not. It’s not nearly enough. And too often, it’s a no-brainer decision that leaves us with no REAL sense of the reality others have to live with.

I think it’s a certain level of arrogance that makes us believe that we’re bestowing goodwill on the ‘lesser’, underdeveloped and undemocratic states because of our ‘superior’ access to these social media. And the worst part is, so many of today’s youth think they’re doing these countries a favour by tweeting and posting about their misfortunes, all the while maintaining this attitude of benevolent arrogance that belies hypocrisy and a certain contempt for the very states and people we claim to be helping.

We must remember the attitude of the coloniser to the colonised. The history and heritage of a people was disregarded as coloniser tried, through hegemonic cultural genocide, to ‘civilise’ another state and impose a ‘superior’ culture on them. We must be careful not to repeat history using 21st-century tools.

The fault of the colonisers is also our fault: we approach this ‘need for help’ with overzealous myopia. There is a chasm where there ought to be critical and serious thought. Like no other social network I know, Twitter has popularised the concept of following - sans frontieres, often sans mente. And the youth are often blindly following in their forefathers’ footsteps. They just mindlessly take whatever information is shoved their way from mainstream media and reproduce it without a thought - it sounds like a good cause - it’s a BRAINLESS decision.

And that brainlessness does not ever have a place in any serious sensitisation programme. People who are sensitised to an issue must, at least, THINK about it, must they not?

What Twitter often helps to create is a bubble of deception - a self-reinforcing one, no less! I can readily use the group of popular Jamaican tweeters whom I have often criticised for this self-involved, myopic syndrome on many previous occasions. The Internet is still a relatively new concept to some parts of the island. There are many people who don’t know how to manipulate a computer, much less log on to the Internet and harness its awesome networking power. But this group does not feature prominently on Twitter. They’re not there at all. And their absence is not felt.

We can so easily be led to believe that everybody else is hooked up and YouTubing/tweeting because this is a prevalent feature in our circle (or BUBBLE) of influence. This is what has happened to the Twitter-happy bubble bunch. They are compulsive, obsessive tweeters who think that anybody who’s not tweeting must be living under a rock. But no, there are many people who are not familiar with these technologies right here ON the rock. What we have is a concentration of a few urbanly located youth who forget (or, often, don’t care) that the rest of their country is sans technologia. They consider themselves to classy, Western, modern … tweeting about the ‘issues’, up-to-date with the REAL world, but totally oblivious to what is taking place right here in their own country under their very noses! They think they know, but they really don’t! And those pretenders are ANYTHING but sensitised. What they are is self-involved, proud, arrogant, shallow, brash and dismissive of anything or anyone that does not conform to their twitterised way of life.

And that’s what false sensitisation does. It gets you comfortably passive, makes you make a lot of useless noise because you think you know, because you’re deceived into believing you ARE the essence of online sensitisation. Social media has its place. But it must be used hand-in-hand with other, more tested and proven methods of information. A tweet cannot take the place of proper, solid research. A sidebar to click cannot replace tangible, decisive action.

Media has its place in development. But education is still essential to train, teach and truly sensitise people about how best to use the technology, about its limitations, advantages, disadvantages. Sensitisation goes beyond a click on an electronic device. It calls for real interest, real thought, and more importantly, REAL ACTION.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Some Encouragement ...

It takes effort to stop and put your thoughts in order to share them with others. And sometimes, it's easier to be lazy and not even bother to try. But the easy thing is not always the BEST thing. And the easy thing often carries no lasting, gratifying reward. And when you get into the habit of easy, you never stretch yourself, you never grow, you remain comfortable, and eventually become retarded.

Because life is so designed that each individual must encounter a series of events that lead to growth and maturity. When you decide to stop pushing yourself beyond the last boundary, when you decide to stay where you are and remain in your comfort zone only for the rest of your life, that's the point at which you decide to become a living dead.

So rise, then, and take up the challenge to be more today than you were yesterday, and more tomorrow than you are today. Rise, and decide to push for the better you until you're certain there's absolutely nothing left.

These are my few words. Pray for me as I pray for myself. And push ...


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Remembering Steve Jobs



"Here's to the crazy one, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes…because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do." - Steve Jobs

Here's to a creative genius. Steve Jobs. February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Living on Luck: Making Emergency Preparedness a Lived Reality

Countries that have been (so far) fortunate enough to escape the catastrophe that has befallen Haiti and Japan must feel lucky. But with luck should come awareness of the strategies/measures that must be put in place to ensure that, should the elements of nature decide to pour their solid, liquid or gaseous wrath in our direction, they will be in a position to still escape catastrophe through forethought and proper planning and preparation.

Preparedness must replace the luck mentality. And I see no place where a strong belief in luck or an unwavering testament to people’s faith in God’s providence is more evident than in Jamaica - the nation with the most churches per square mile.

Every year, around hurricane season, the piousness and religious zeal of Jamaican people increases thousandfold, as they cross fingers, toes, hands and feet, blot their house doors with the cross and pray for the providence of God to help them through another rough, potentially devastating season. The problem with that approach is - many of them survive the season relatively unscathed, and as a result, their belief in their luck's never-ending supply gets bolstered, even as the folly of their unpreparedness and refusal to prepare remains veiled to them.

At the end of it, they throw up their hands, utter a “Tenky Jesus” and carry on until the next hurricane season, and the next season of their mixture of fear, faith and luck.

I have no problem with God or religion. And I certainly have no grouse with Jamaicans being a people of faith. But let’s make this biblical: Faith without works - sensible, WISE works - is dead. Their failure to see that ‘luck’, ‘providence’, or whatever they call it, can run out, whereas good sense, proper planning and detailed preparation will always prevail, is what disturbs me.

We could easily move from the ‘maybe I’ll make it this year’ feeling of uncertainty to the confident statement of, ‘yes, I am prepared’. Damages could be minimised and it would cost this country less if we would stop living on luck, and starting living out emergency disaster preparedness, until it is ingrained in our culture, like it was in Japan’s.

And we should take instruction from the fact that despite their superior levels of preparation, Japan still endured more than they were able to bear. What about us - who are not prepared at all??

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rainy Days And A Commuting Crisis Part 2

Or: A lesson in self-discovery

There I was. Caught in a classic catch 22. Take out the phone and make the call, risk being harmed or worse, killed, for a stupid BB (yes, right then, the damned thing seemed stupid and bothersome). Or not make the call and risk being stuck under that old shed with these strangers till midnight. I needed to go home. Badly. Cold, hungry and tired were beginning to make inroads on my will.

I took a careful look at the men around me. One was in shabby clothes, obviously a street runner (one of those men who spend all of their productive and consequently unproductive years on the side of the road harassing beautiful ladies, getting high, loading buses and dodging the police ...  an absolutely judgmental description, but, I promise you, also absolutely true). One was a really big and tall dude in a khaki uniform - I shuddered. He was a schooler but he looked like maybe he had repeat several grades several times. Scary. Another looked like he worked on a construction site, in a lumber yard, or some such place. Short, thick, muscular, hulkish. He was sighing and hissing his teeth a lot and I thought he could rip the phone from me with one brisk motion. The last man wasn't so bad. He was tall but thin - almost to a fault. I looked at him and felt a small measure of pity and solace. He looked so sad and malnourished. If push came to shove,  I could probably take him out.

The woman sounded like a security guard. She was short and fat. Maybe she would come to my rescue if I needed it. It never crossed my mind that she could have been antagonistic toward me  - funny how and when our biases are revealed.

I looked around me at this circle of strange faces, and thought to myself that before the great and terrible heavenly outpouring, they were all just regular people on their way somewhere. They were stuck under this shed, just like I was, and it was very possible that, at this moment, they were all more preoccupied with their own worries and troubles than they were with me and my BB. Maybe they hadn't even noticed me!

I stepped closer to a damp corner, and turned to face the wall. I slid my BB out of my handbag, and took another quick glance at the faces around me. Maybe they weren't criminals after all. I rang a friend and was halfway through relating my sorry dilemma when a bright flash of lightning struck - literally before my face!! I screamed at the same time that a huge peal of thunder clapped, and everybody looked in my direction - at me and my BB.

I looked back at them and felt like a mouse trapped in the limelight,  one hand clutching my handbag to my side and the other halfway through a wave (don't ask me how or why) with the phone held up in the air, visible for all to see ...

Funny how sometimes the things we try hardest to hide are the things that find their own way into the limelight.  Funny how much we can learn about ourselves in our darkest hours.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rainy Days and A Commuting Crisis

A lesson in being grateful for small, old and outdated mercies

So yesterday in Kingston, Jamaica, it rained cats and dogs! I mean, I had to wonder if heaven did laundry, the water was coming so heavy. And the lightning and thunder? As a friend would say, looked like God was fierce ... and fearsome!

So the work bus trip left me, and I ended up stuck under the shed of an abandoned building on a somewhat secluded road. In dangerous downtown Kingston. Funny how I suddenly remembered that I was downtown, and that the place can be pretty dangerous for young, unarmed, female pedestrians ... Funny how I suddenly felt the penetrating gazes of the four other men who were stuck under the shed with me ... Funny how I started to earnestly beseech the (already wroth) Almighty to please let the one woman who was under that godforsaken place with us not get the taximan she was so desperately trying to call so I'd have some sort of female company till the rain eased up and I could escape the peril of four strange, suddenly menacing-looking men (yes, I know, what a horrible thing to pray). And funniest of all was the interesting dilemma I found myself in as it regarded my only means of commmunication with the *supposedly* dry and safe rest-of-world: my cell phone.

Now, up until recently, I had a Nokia 3310 - an ugly, ancient thing that caused me many days and nights of continuous ridicule from my friends and coworkers. The phone was so old that when it fell, it separated into five different pieces: the back frame, the battery, the front frame, the keypad and the sim card would all fly into different directions, and I would have to gather these relics to put my *hardy* phone back together again (say what you will about my old Nokia, that phone was hardy - I had that particular model from sixth form in high school and it lasted into the 21st century, so there!).

But alas, I had to retire that phone. It was becoming a bit of an embarrassment for a young, working professional. And quite the setback. So I retired it, and stepped up to the fast-paced, hi-tech BlackBerry world which, up until last night, I was very happy to enter.

But yesterday. In this dangerous place. Rain pouring. Five pairs of strange eyes on me. And my only means of communication? A posh, hot, steal-worthy BlackBerry phone. I suddenly realised the unsavoury side of having material possessions that criminals find attractive. It was quite the dilemma and, right then, I longed deeply for my ancient Nokia phone ...

Funny the things we see, hear, feel and miss in our moments of crisis! From now on, I'll remember to be grateful for small, old and outdated mercies!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Very First Blog Post EVER

This is the very first blog post I ever did. I re-read it on my old (currently defunct) blog and thought, well gaaa-lee!!! Wow. I was deep once, lol. So enjoy.

So I started this blog because, well... I started this blog because...

Blogs are supposed to be the revolutionary media through which the ordinary, everyday, not-so-well-known-if-known-at-all person can express his/herself to a (hopefully) wide and varied audience. They aren't even that new. The concept has been around for quite a while now. So that means I'm several years behind. And why?

I could blame my teachers and all those persons who are supposed to facilitate the educational process. I could say that they didn't encourage me enough to have an avid interest in the wider world of journalism, that they themselves didn't seem to know anything more than standard, ineffective methods of teaching... purely by rote, and that this unengaging, uninspiring sort of tutorship is to blame for me being so disgracefully out of sync with my chosen career, and it would probably be very close to the truth.

I could cite lack of mentorship or fellowship opportunities in a small, developing country like Jamaica. I could say that here, you have to be among a chosen few and have a certain level of experience or luck or links or precociousness in order to actually make any advances in a field like journalism; a field where jobs are limited, opportunities are few, and the salary is not too exciting either. And that would be no lie.

I could point out that in a society like mine, if you aren't studying to become a lawyer or a doctor, or someone who works in a bank, next to no-one recognises your career as anything significant or important. I could refer to the overwhelming ignorance about and therefore gross unappreciation for journalists or journalism in this country. I could explain that what we call the "grassroots man" in Jamaica has not yet come to terms with the role that good journalism plays in his development; that no-one has taught him to appreciate a concept so abstract, so he hasn't, and it really is no fault of his. Or mine.


But it wouldn't make a difference. It wouldn't change the fact that I am still only just starting a blog.

So I'm starting a blog because it's about time I did (and because some benevolent stranger named Pepe encouraged me to do it around the same time I was reading in magazines about blogs and had actually found a couple that were quite interesting).

I'm starting this blog because the whole concept behind blogs (I think) is to recognise the existence of people like me who may not have international acclaim or coveted millions, but still have something to say: I have a story worth telling, and if I get lucky, then someone, somewhere will think it's worth listening to.

I'm starting this blog because I am. And that alone warrants notice.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Celebrating International Literacy Day

The following is a message from the World Assembly of Youth in recognition of International Literacy Day.

Illiteracy is a crucial problem that affects all corners of the earth;
it has no boundaries and exists among every race, age group, and
economic class. According to the UNESCO statistics, one out of five
adults is illiterate while 67.4 million children are either out of
school or lack sufficient education. About 131 million youths aged
between 15 to 24 lack basic reading and writing skills.

Among many of the issues in literacy is gender disparity. Majority of
females lack education as compared to the male gender. Everyone needs
some basic education and has the right to it. Human rights to access
education must be exercised by all institutions with governments
enforcing such laws.

Knowledge is power when used to its full potential. To the societies,
literacy is essential for the development and economic growth of our
nations. We need to be able to read and write to get through our
important everyday tasks, excelling in school and be able to secure
jobs. Literacy opens up a window of opportunities to those who have it.

It provides people with the option of becoming members of a
self-confident and informed populace that can understand issues,
represent themselves, take responsibility for self-improvement
and family health, and better participate in civic affairs. These
are among the more priceless payoffs of literacy. It is also a vehicle
for tackling communicable diseases such as HIV, overcoming poverty and
a tool for achieving Millennium development goals.
Being the youth organization that we are, we are very much interested
in investing into the education of youth and raising awareness to the
issues of concern by all means. On this day, World Assembly of Youth
would like, not only to give insight on literacy issues but to also
encourage everyone especially the youth to pursue after knowledge and
hold on to it in order to preserve human potential.

May all be empowered with knowledge. Everyone can make a contribution
to the rise of literacy rates.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

From Pity to Power ...

I could write a million books about uncertainty and disenfranchisement. I could tell tales of doubt and internal agony. But what does that accomplish, really, at the end of the day? Where does that leave me, and the people who read and witness these sorry chronicles?

And is it not my due to my world to not encumber it with more sad tales of woebeme recollections, and tell stories of triumph, growth, development, and advancement? Isn't it always time for a raise and a rise??

No one speaks for me. I speak for myself. And I WILL tell a better story!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Musings ...

Truth? Sometimes I feel like I'm not living - like I'm here, but I'm not here at all. Before you jump to the bottom of the post, hit comment and start to type your 2000-word response encouraging me to hang on and not give up, let me explain. I am hanging on. I'm not giving up. Frankly, that's not what this post is about. It's about something infinitely more essential  - it's about living while alive ... and the freedom a body is supposed to have to do it! It's about finding purpose in the course of one's existence and pursuing that purpose with singleness of mind, heart and spirit, and being liberated to do so!

My particular concern has always been for the YOUTH in Caribbean nations - that demographic which is supposed to be representative of our nations' individual and collective futures ... the statistics are far from impressive. Apart from the spate of senseless murders targetting children and youth in this country, there are the scores of unemployed, undermotivated and uneducated youth who just feel and look hopeless.

In some ways, I'm like everybody else - I'm here. I'm sitting here in this chair in this large edifice typing at this desktop computer. You can see me, a touch would startle me, you can probably smell me (hopefully my cologne, lol) because I'm REAL. I'm alive.

So what am I getting at? What's eating me up? The thought that despite my obvious physical existence, I'm not as present as I'd like to be. See, my mind ... how do I put this?? My mind is not settled here, even if my body is. It's still stretching and reaching for other places, other avenues, other destinations.

And this has been the story of my life - a constant pursuit of something ... higher? Nobler? Better? I'm always looking to the next step - the next big thing. I don't think that I've ever really settled anywhere. I watched Julia Roberts in 'Eat, Pray, Love' and laughed out loud because her character reminds me so much of me (minus the actually going anywhere part). But I always want to. Go somewhere. Be somewhere else. In whatever sense you read that, it's probably true.

Some people have tanks that are fuelled by the events of their past. Others run on the exhilaration of being fully entrenched in the present. I run on future - the thing and time that is yet to be. And I'm always reaching for it, looking to it ... Now don't get me wrong. I have this gift of throwing myself so fully into whatever I'm doing that sometimes it seems like that's all there is to me. But. The part of me that never dies is the part that reaches out to the next thing - whatever the thing might be - the next experience, the next adventure, the next story.

Let us not look back in anger. Or forward in fear. But around in awareness.
That's one of my favourite James Thurber quotes. I've memorised it since I was in high school. But the other day, I was reading through my book of quotes, going over my vision document (yes, I actually have one), and it hit me: when do you start looking around in awareness? The minute you take your eyes from before you or behind you and direct them to the spot in which your feet are planted; the minute your mind becomes actively engaged in your present ... when you stop fading out the voices you'd rather not hear and start listening to their every inflection. When you start looking people in the eyes and seeing the whole person, not just the job title, description and rank. When you start living not just as you are, but as you ought to be because that is what matters.

Open eyes. Open mind. Open arms. Open life. And that's what I've been doing since then: Coming alive.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What's Jamaica's NEET story?

August 12 was celebrated as international youth day. Not that very many Jamaican youth would know. Or care. To them, it would be just another day, because unless they had been involved in something like acing GSATs, getting 10 CSEC subjects, or winning Olympic gold medals, they'd probably feel like the country doesn't care very much about them anyway ... probably.

And that's probably the way British youth felt, too, when they decided to take to the streets in what was intended to be a peaceful protest over the police shooting of 29-year-old Mark Duggan earlier this month. Twelve hours later, there was mayhem and madness - looting, burning ... a full-fledged riot was on. And it was youth at the helm.

While there is widespread consensus on what happened during the riots, divergent views abound as to why it happened. Was it the result of British morality's demise? Was it the inevitable outworking of  selfishness groomed in this 'me-first' generation? Was it just a bunch of black Brit opportunists spreading their nihilistic culture (ask David Starkey about that)? Or were the rioters desperate, frustrated, unemployed and dispossessed youth finally getting their nation's attention?

Well, what if they were the latter?

In a Guardian article titled 'Looting Fuelled By Social Exclusion', Alexandra Topping quoted Professor John Pitts, youth culture expert, as saying that most of the rioters were from "low-income, high-unemployment estates" without "legitimate futures". He said, "Much of this was opportunism but in the middle of it there is a social question to be asked about young people with nothing to lose."

The Washington Post editorial of August 9 noted that "This is becoming a year of rebellion by the dispossessed." Their portentous warning: "At a time of economic disruption, no country is immune from such upheaval." No country. Especially not Jamaica.

The BBC identified 18 to 24-year-old English youth who are not in employment, education or training as NEET (capitalised for emphasis). Pointing out that 18.4% of England's youth population is in that predicament, the news service identified several contributing factors: cutbacks in career services, the discontinuation of the Education Maintenance Allowance, lessening youth apprenticeships, and a general disregard for the growing levels of disempowerment, dissatisfaction and unemployment among youth.

This is where it gets interesting, because over the years, Jamaica has seen a growing discontent among its own youth population. The Gleaner's editorial of August 16 drew parallels between Britain's situation and ours, noting that nearly 60 per cent of Jamaicans 15-29 are either unemployed or out of the workforce altogether: "That is nearly 400,000 young people. Perhaps 100,000 youth of school age are 'unattached' - they are not in school, not engaged in other forms of training, nor have jobs". That's our NEET.

The editorial went on to note that "it is largely from this group of jobless and largely unemployable youth that come the perpetrators of so much antisocial behaviour and who commit, or are victims of, 80 per cent of the country's murders". That's our NEET's story. They're not rioting yet, but they are well on their way. We'd do well to heed Gleaner's closing warning:

"If you hear a ticking, it may just be a time bomb among these drifting, disenchanted youth. The urgent task for policymakers is to find a way to defuse it."

Monday, August 15, 2011

David Starkey's Big Booboo



"The whites have become black ... a particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic, gangster culture has become the fashion ..." Ooh, so that's what black culture is!
 


The response gives food for thought ...

And yet another thought-provoking response in the Gleaner's editorial of Sept 5.

Monday, August 1, 2011

What Emancipendence Was Supposed To Mean ...

Today, August 1, is Emancipation Day for Jamaica. Today we celebrate being 'set free, especially from legal, social, or political restrictions' (according to some online dictionary). Funny how this should crop up at a time when people are still debating whether or not we'd be better off as a British colony. Funny how on this most public of Caribbean holidays, we're still having trouble agreeing on the safety/desirability of regional airline carriers, our governments still bicker and frequently snub each other, and our nations are, by and large, wholesalely underdeveloped.

But here we are - we the emancipated.

August 6 will be Independence Day. A day on which we will celebrate 'the fact or sate of being free from outside control; self-governing; not depending on the authority of another' (according to the dictionary on my desktop). Never mind that we're still unable to adequately support the 2.5 million people on this little rock; never mind that more than half of our national resources and key industries have been sold to foreign entities; never mind the unemployment, illiteracy, crime, violence and general sense of frustration, deprivation and fear that punctuates Jamaican life.

Here we are. We the independent.

We claim it proudly. Because, like the antsy teenager who couldn't wait to leave her parent's home and stake her lot in the world, Jamaica is still lost in the reverie of adolescent pride - that first job, that first car ... that first 'real' kiss. But Jamaica is no teenager. Or young adult. Or even in midlife (although we have a crisis).  We say we're 50, but that's not true either. Long before Britain decided to cut us loose, we were alive as a nation, plotting and planning our 'escape', dreaming of the day when we would finally be free. We watched them misuse, abuse, mismanage and misdirect. We saw the mistakes they made. Our minds didn't click into motion when Britain said, "We don't want you anymore." We were alive long before that. We're much older than 50. And it's time we started acting like it!

Emancipation? Independence? They are historical processes our nation went through - stages in our metamorphosis, aspects of our becoming ... . We did not begin to exist with these processes (as some seem to believe). So when we celebrate these holidays, when we claim these days as times to look back to our roots and assess our progress, I urge us to own our age - our real age - to see the full, open,  barefaced truth of just how much/little has been accomplished.

Ah, yes. Here we are. We the emancipated. We the independent. A nation in denial of its age in attempt to assuage its ego? Happy Emancipendence to all.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

'Survive' by Jacques Roche

This poem was written by a Haitian poet, journalist, activist Jacques Roche, who was killed six years ago this month. It's really beautiful, and I think the poem does justice to itself and its writer. Let it speak to you ...

You can destroy my house
Steal my money
My clothes
And my shoes
Leave me naked in the middle of winter
But you cannot kill my dream
You cannot kill hope
You can shut my mouth
Throw me in prison
Keep my friends far from me
And sully my reputation
Leave me naked in the middle of the desert
But you cannot kill my dream
You cannot kill hope
You can put out my eyes
And burst my eardrums
Cut off my arms and legs
Leave me naked in the middle of the road
But you cannot kill my dream
You cannot kill hope
You can cover me with open sores
Poke an iron into the wounds
Take pleasure in torturing me
Make me piss blood
You can shut me away without pen or paper
Treat me like a madman
Drive me mad
Humiliate me
Crush me
Give me no food or water
Make me sign my surrender
But you cannot kill my dream
You cannot kill hope
You can kill my children
Kill my wife
Kill all those I hold dear
Kill me
But you cannot kill my dream
You cannot kill hope

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Guess Who's Back?!!

Dear Jason,
What took you so long?!! I nearly had a fit without you!! I swear, I really missed you! Why were you gone for so long? Don't you know that work is not the same without you? That my days are quite dreary and just - blah - when I haven't got your sketch comedy to listen to, especially when the constant whining about your absence starts to sound like an unhealthy obsession?

Jason, listen, seriously. Don't do that again. Don't leave me like that. Prior notice would be greatly appreciated, so that I can try to find suitable replacement (if that is possible). You can't get a person hooked on you, and then just up and disappear like that. It's not funny. And it's not fair. So don't ever do that again.

PS Tell BBC I said thanks for hearing my cry and bring back the Byrne! I love 'em that much more for it!

So, yeah, it took them a whole two months or so, but they brought back my Irish comedian, and I am absolu-totally-n-wholly thrilled! I love love LOVE Jason Byrne! I mean, seriously, I LOVE him, and I really really REALLY missed that show. He was gone for waaaay  too long, and I'm just TOO excited to have him back.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Quick update

Life is good. Check that. Life is GOLDEN.

I'm still living, learning and growing. I'm staying on top of my game and making progress - sometimes painfully slow, but always steady and sure!

I'm here. Love y'all!! Thanks for the support, the big-ups, the one-liners, two-liners and sometimes whole paragraphs of love that you keep showering on me. I'm not missing. I'm still right here ... and still very much large and in charge.

God is good.
Peace.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hope Springs!

He thought it was over.
She thought she was through.
They thought they couldn't live anymore.
I thought I'd seen the best of 'em all.

But then, hope springs.

And there's a new day.
And he can still smile.
She finds a laugh.
They share a group joke.
And I live to see it all.

Hope springs.
Don't forget it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What Speaks To My Most Authentic Self?

That's my question of the day. I heard a renown educator pose it to an audience, and it hit me: what speaks to my most authentic self? For a moment, I thought I'd have a ready answer. Because, gosh, I know me so well, right?

Wrong. There was/is/has been (note change to present continuous tense) prolonged contemplation. Then here I am, blogging about it, and still not in any definitive way. What speaks to MY most authentic self? WHAT speaks to my most authentic self? What speaks to my most AUTHENTIC self? It is, I admit, a worthy question.

What I love about this question is how it is personalised. It's not asking about YOUR most authentic self (no offence to you, I assure you I value and highly esteem your self and its authenticity). It's asking about ME and MY authenticity. It's talking about ME from MY paradigm, MY perspective, MY point of view. I think many people have become so absorbed in (and by) their environments that they have forgotten the existence of their authentic selves, and the need to nurture them. We can get so caught up in being politically correct that we begin to create - and nurture - a self that engenders what everyone around us wants us to be, but that betrays the very essence of those elements that speak most to who we really are or want to be.

It's like kids growing into adults and forgetting the importance of having and pursuing dreams with  firm belief in their possibility. The kid had the big heart, but not the knowledge. The adult has no heart, lotsa *negative* knowledge. And, for some reason, society affirms the adult, rehabilitates the kid, but never considers a way to consolidate both points of view.

I love this question because it asks us to go back to basics and rediscover genuineness and authenticity. It asks us to do more than just get by under the shroud of conformity. It forces us to face up to what is different and real about each of us - and to own it. I hope you take the time to answer the question.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

As the World Turns ...

My mind is screaming to go beyond established walls. Beyond the boundaries of chronic limitation.

Like Mandela, there's a gnawing in me, because powerlessness must not be tolerated. It must not be accepted. It must be fought. And inertia can be a disease that debilitates forever. And it must be avoided at all cost.

'Wutlissniss' has to start somewhere. It starts on the day when you decide to slow down. That one moment when you decide to 'take a break' can somehow metamorphosise into years. Years of breaks and breaking. Until finally, you see something new taking form. Water comes together. Dry land appears. Shoots and roots burst into being. The wheels of time keep turning in endless revolutions. 

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Aha ... Eureka! A revolution. An evolution.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bring back the Byrne!!

Jason Byrne, of the BBC's Radio 2's
The Jason Byrne Show.
I'm a sucker for BBC programmes (Jamaicans, I mean the internationally known TV/RADIO station/news service, not the cloth!). It could very well be a cultivated bias (because I've become a kind of BBC buff, with a marked interest in all things BBC). Or it could be that the quality of their programmes appeals to me like no other broadcasting group's programmes have. Whatever the reason. Here I am. The BBC buff.

I especially love their iPlayer service because it affords me the luxury of listening to pre-recorded programmes at my leisure. So, for example, I can catch up on programmes from Radio 4 and 2 that I wouldn't otherwise hear (because those stations are not available in Jamaica). And that's exactly what I do. I listen to either the World Service live (I love World Have Your Say and the News Hour), or something on the iPlayer.

I'm particularly in love with their comedy offerings. I think they're fantastic! The wit. Puns. Clever riddles and literary wheeling and dealing ... I love it! My favourite type of comedy has to be sketch. It requires the kind of on-the-spot, quick thinking that leaves my adrenaline peaked, pulse racing and general respiratory cavity breathless from chronic laughter. I love The News Quiz, I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, Just A Minute, The Unbelievable Truth, Saturday Stand-Up ... but most of all, I absolutely adore this Irish sketch comedian called Jason Byrne! He's dynamite! And hilarious. The wit. The jokes. The Irish accent ...  *swoons*. You get the picture.

He's become a big (read really important) part of my weekly BBC diet, much like a glance at the BBC's news home page has become a seriously indispensible part of my daily routine.

Imagine my surprise when I couldn't find his programme on my iPlayer anymore. I felt crushed. Deserted. A little lost. A lot upset. And empty (how's that for dramatic, lol). How could the BBC - my one true love - have jilted me in this way? I wasn't even this upset when they ended the Caribbean service and dashed to pieces every bit of hope I'd had of one day working there. No. That hurt. But not as much as this kidnapping of my weekly bit of Irish heaven. I was incensed! Still am.

I've gone a week without him and I don't think I can last. Nothing is the same. The BBC has GOT to listen to me on this one. Lives are stake here, so bring back the Byrne!!! I must find him on my iPlayer tomorrow, or else ...

PS In case you're wondering, I didn't find him on my player the next day. Still haven't. And, yes, sadly, I'm surviving. But how happy I'd be if they'd oblige me and bring my Byrne back!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 25 - A song you could listen to all day without getting tired of it

Hmph. I do that so often with SOOO many songs (an annoying habit to other people, I know, I've learnt, hehe). But this one, I think, tops the lot (and I know because I've done it!).

It's a recent fixation, a relatively new-found love.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 23 - A song that you cannot stand to listen to

OK. This is pretty difficult because I just don't have any songs that get to me that much. Oh no. Wait. Yes I do. That Rihanna song. Not the Umbrella one. The one about going downtown. Ugh. Sorry. Out of respect for you, I will not be placing it here. But I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about... Yeah, that one.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 22 - A song that someone sang to you

When I was a little lassie. My mommy used to sing this song to me. I think it was the first song I learned... and a good one too. Here's Jesus Loves Me :-)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 21 - Your favourite song

Oh come on!! There is no way you can expect me to choose just one favourite song out of the many I have!!! That's ludicrous!! Anyways, if I must choose one favourite song, I have to think carefully about it and, let's see ... Nope. There's no way I can choose just one song. Just NO WAY! i love too many songs for equally important but vastly different reasons.

I love and give five stars and two thumbs up to ALL Hillsong songs!
I LOVE Jeremy Camp! (Have you heard Let It Fade and There Will Be A Day?)
I'm loving Matthew West and Britt Nicole and Michael W. Smith and Casting Crowns and Avalon and Chris Tomlin and Lincoln Brewster and Mandisa and David Crowder and Toby Mac and Nicole Mullen and Jaci Velasquez and Aaron Shust and Addison Road and Tenth Avenue North and Natalie Grant and Newsboys (omg, I LOVE these guys), and delirious (even though they've dibanded - they AWESOME). And I have favourite songs from all of them. And that's just one genre of music. I have others.

Like

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 20 - The last song alphabetically in your iPod

W for West, as in Matthew West. The song is The Motions - a very powerful song about giving your all and having no regrets. It's a real motivator for me.  play this at work when I need to remember that I MUST give 100% and live a life of NO REGRETS!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 19 - The first song alphabetically in your iPod

B for Battistelli, as in Francesca Battistelli. The song is Beautiful Beautiful. I love it because, well, I know God's making me into somebody even more beautiful than I am lol :) . It's an AWESOME song for anybody from any religion. You'll luvvit!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 18 - A song you love but listen to rarely

I love this song so much. But, to be honest, I jive to it when I hear it, but I don't play it very often. It's a kool song tho.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 17 - A song that makes you want to dance

Yeah man!! This here is a WINNER!! It just says 'Get up and MOVE IT!!'

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 16 - A song that has made you cry

My friends on hall know that I tear up pretty easily. So, alla them gathered into one room one day to watch me listen to this song (because they knew I'd cry). I didn't disappoint them.

Bob Carlisle's Butterfly Kisses

Monday, April 11, 2011

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 15 - A song you love singing along to

Hahahaaa. Ask my former Print labite classmates, or my present coworkers, this song gets me EVERY time!! Whenever I hear this song, I just can't help but bust a tune! It's my hopeful song and I just love it, love it, love it!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 14 - A song that reminds you of your boyfriend

Hehe. Well. Ok. No explanation. I won't incriminate myself on here. Just listen to the song :)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 13 - A song that reminds you of a former friend

Well, what can I say? We called her Lightning on hall and she was always busy busy busy, so here's Flight of the Bumblebee.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 12 - The last song you heard

The last song I heard is actually the last song I sang this morning on my way to work. Another gospel fave. Here's Twila Paris singing Oh Lamb Of God.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 11 - A song on the soundtrack of your favourite movie

But I don't have a favourite movie. I have favourite MOVIES!! How do I work this out? I'ma choose a favourite song from one of my favourite favourite movies... The Sound of Music!! In fact, the song is called My Favourite Things. That film is sooo awesome - and timeless!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 10 - A song by your favourite band

By far, the group  I love the most in this whole wide world (at this point in my life, lol) is a Christian alternative group called Hillsong United. So, here's to them! This is one of my favourite songs from them: You Hold Me Now.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 9 - A song that makes you feel hopeful

I have so many of these! But here's the one that I sing to myself every so often...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 8 - A song that reminds you of your first love

Ahm. It gets interesting. I dunno. My first love was books, if that's what you mean (*big grin*). But ok, seriously, whatever it was, it was young, secret, immature. Just like this High School Musical song, The Start Of Something New.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 7 - A song that reminds you of the past summer

Last summer was quite uneventful. Nothing of note stands out in my memory, so ... here's to the sweet sounds of SILENCE.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 6: A song that reminds you of a best friend

Actually, this reminds me of a good friend from high school to university: Shyan! Whenever I hear this song, I remember her ... (cause she was just the impersonation of every word of it).

Friday, April 1, 2011

Why I Still Watch the Commission of Enquiry

You are a good and sensible heart. You, too, see past the charade to the seriousness of the issue. I hate this resignation to a crappy fate that Jamaicans have been displaying. And I intensely despise the arrogant nonchalance and politicking of what is, essentially, a human-rights issue. It is painful to watch the serious business of our nation bandied about like fanfare. It is painful to feel the snub of politicians who continuously trivialise serious and solemn issues of paramount national (and international) import.

But I MUST watch the Commission. I want the truth of their carelessness to be cemented so irreversibly in my mind that, please God, every piece of journalistic work - any kind or type of work that I create – will reflect with acute, meticulous and irrefutable precision and exactitude the reality of the Jamaica we live in. I want it branded into my mind so I can share it well, so I can paint so vivid a picture that readers, listeners - whoever - will understand clearly when I speak/write about it. Because we must never forget.

Comedy of Enquiry ... or Tragedy of Errors?

Entertainment at its best?
Government at its worst?
The serious business of the people treated like fanfare.

Yes, Jamaica. This is the Dudus-Manatt Commission of Enquiry. We've finally replicated an O. J. Simpson-type scenario. Take a front-row seat. Prepare for temporary amusement. Hear the absurdities. Roll back your head, widen your eyes, jut out your chin, and laugh.

"When you do that, you make my adrenaline flow like the waters of the Dunn's River Falls," says one man to another. A very funny statement. And so, we laugh. We laugh in gaiety at the folly – the insidious ineptitude and injudiciousness of our leaders. We laugh, swept up in a tide of incredulous hilarity. Laugh at the drama - the comedy. Laugh at the irony - the frustrating futility.

Then pause - deliberately - take a moment for mindful breathlessness. A titter here. A giggle there. And slow, painful realisation. With whom do we laugh? At what do we laugh? Why are you laughing, sweet Jamaica? Like a naked woman in a jeering crowd, have you been laughing at yourself?

And have you now, realising your nakedness, made no attempt to cover your shame? As the world  feasts on your vulnerabilities, why do you stand here still, and laugh?

Beware the permanent disgust - the nasty taste that will linger in their mouths, the sting of gall in the recesses of their oropharynxes, long after your commission is gone. Beware the sinking feeling that will nip at the hearts of your people. It will manifest in the next business transaction. It will reflect in the next general election.

But most of all, beware the moment when you stop laughing. When you stop laughing long enough to realise the hopelessness of it all. And then, Jamaica, let me hear you cry.

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 5 - A song that is often stuck in your head

You'll find this weird. A little funny perhaps. But it is true that since hearing it once, I can't get this stupid song out of my head ... Gotta admit the guy has a voice like dynamite ... and this is a LIVE studio session. Can you believe the awesome vocals? And, um, he's hot!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 4 - A song that calms you down

Oh this is sooo hard! I have so many me-moment songs that have a fantastic, soothing effect!! But I'm choosing this one because I think it best represents my idea of peace and serenity: the shalom I always try to embrace.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 3 - A song that reminds you of your parents

Hmm... kinda hard to think of a song that reminds me of my parents, but I'll try. They're the kinda happy-go-lucky, crazy-in-love, stuck-together-for-the rest-of-their-lives, whimsical couple that you'd see in older family-friendly sitcoms. They're sickeningly lubby-dubby too. Here's to them and their special brand of love. May I inherit even half of it, and replicate the experience with someone some day.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

10 things to learn from Japan

I got this in an email and thought it was very instructive. And wonderful.

1. THE CALM
Not a single visual of chest-beating or wild grief. Sorrow itself has been elevated.

2. THE DIGNITY
Disciplined queues for water and groceries. Not a rough word or a crude gesture.

3. THE ABILITY
The incredible architects, for instance. Buildings swayed but didn't fall.

4. THE GRACE
People bought only what they needed for the present, so everybody could get something.

5. THE ORDER
No looting in shops. No honking and no overtaking on the roads. Just understanding.

6. THE SACRIFICE
Fifty workers stayed back to pump sea water in the N-reactors. How will they ever be repaid?

7. THE TENDERNESS
Restaurants cut prices. An unguarded ATM is left alone. The strong cared for the weak.

8. THE TRAINING
The old and the children, everyone knew exactly what to do. And they did just that.

9. THE MEDIA
They showed magnificent restraint in the bulletins. No silly reporters. Only calm reportage.

10. THE CONSCIENCE
When the power went off in a store, people put things back on the shelves and left quietly!

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 2 - A song that reminds you of your most recent ex-boyfriend

Interesting one. But very easy. So easy, in fact, that I wasn't going to do it.

But then I thought, what the heck, a fact is a fact. So here goes. Everytime I hear this particular song, I remember him, because this was the last song we danced to before the break-up. And we both knew we were breaking up because we had come to the decision around the same time, and had agreed on it. So it was a save-the-last dance scenario (my earliest followers will remember my rants about Dude and what kind of romantic he was). But so yeah, that last last night. We danced. In a park. In open air. With people watching us and probably thinking we were crazy. To this song. And I've never forgotten it. You'll be glad to know he's still a friend today. I don't believe in bad break-ups. And after all, he was, and still is, a really cool kinda guy.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Blog-a-day Challenge: Day 1 - A song from my childhood

I've been an avid reader since my very young days. I always say I learned the magic of books early, and that literary love affair has never stopped. Reading Rainbow was one of my all-time favourite TV programmes, so, I think the theme song brings back lots of happy childhood memories. I certainly spent many happy hours drinking in the new adventures LeVar Burton presented every week.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Kool Meme Challenge

So, I dropped by blahblahblog and found this meme ... and thought it was a totally awesome challenge. So, here goes. My second official blog challenge: a song for every day for the next 25 days coming up, because I LOVE memes too!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Restless

In my Vanity Fair Questionnaire post, I said that my state of mind was restless. I found this on Restless Development's Facebook page and thought it so perfectly described exactly what I was feeling that I had to borrow it and show it to you.

I was watching Courtney Martin talk the other day, and she said something that I thought was so profound: "I wrote the book I needed to read." She couldn't find it, so she WROTE IT!! And now that gap no longer exists in the world.

If Jamaican youth cannot find the answer we need to see in this nation anywhere else, are we willing to BE THE SOLUTION WE NEED TO SEE? Are we restless enough?

Pray we garner the courage to be the change we're waiting for.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

When Women Win ...

... the whole world gets better and brighter. We ARE change agents, and the whole world should know it.

Happy International Women's Day to one and all. 100 is a milestone that should not go unnoticed.

I was watching Isabel Allende in a TED Talk video (if you don't know TED Talks, you need to. They're awesome. Full stop). She was talking about the importance of passion, how the women she met on her walk during the Olympics were women of passion, living and working for a cause they believed in, and how essential that was.

Then I was reading Michelle Bachelet's speech at the official launch of UN Women.

Then I listened to Courtney Martin in another TED Talk about 'feministing',  and how the young generation of feminists have changed the face and name of the game, but still toil for the cause that has not, in 100 years, lost meaning or validity.

Then I remembered a talk I had with my coworkers, and how they laughed at me for calling myself a feminist, and for proposing very unorthodox views about equality between men and women ... and I remembered my mother, and the pillar of strength and resilience that she has been. What if there was no women's movement? Could she be where she is today? Could I be who I am today?

It's been 100 years. But it's been a battle well worth it.

So here are is the final stanza of a poem I wrote as an ode to my grandmother:
'I am not weak-willed. I am strong. 
The blood of a thousand warriors flows through my veins. 
Long live indomitable woman.'

Friday, March 4, 2011

When Judges STRIKE ... It's Judgement Time!

Photo taken from Jamaica Observer
What a thing when the people who enforce justice in a country can't get any justice for themselves ... This is not a case of who will guard the guards, this is a case of who will pay the guards, and give them all the promised benefits? And I can't help but wonder, where will the money come from?

We've developed a nasty habit of not paying people who work in essential services: We don't pay teachers. We don't pay nurses. We don't pay doctors. We don't pay civil servants. And now, we not paying judges. Seems like the only people getting paid up in here are government officials, crooks and their cronies, and anyone associated with this damned commission of enquiry. Anyone considering a career change? Maybe it's time for the whole country to strike, once and for all, and let Kingston become the next Tahrir or Tiananmen Square ...

I'm sure the judges will agree, it's time for action. It's time for JUDGEMENT!!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Fate of a Failed and Faithless State

There I was, late for church,  silently willing the chatterbox driver to go faster, and overhearing these two men talking about the driver's latest unfortunate run-in with the police (apparently he'd had several).

Then he made this statement: "Me nuh have no faith inna police nuh more. No rasta.  Police or pastor. Me nuh have NO faith inna dem." (Translated: I have no faith in the police anymore. Not at all. Pastor or police, I have no faith in any of them).

And it made me think of our entire nation, because I've heard similar sentiments expressed on many other occasions. Our society is so riddled with corruption and frustration-inspiring situations that Jamaican people seem to have lost faith in a LOT of things and people. So here's my list of things I think we have no faith in anymore.

7. Government/politicians
We let that ship slide a long time ago. So long, in fact, that people no longer make a distinction between politics and corruption.

6. 'Di system'
It's not just government and politics. It's this unnamed, intangible entity/force that drives all the major industries/sectors in our country. 'Di system' is this organised series of events, an unwritten list of requirements that naturally excludes the masses and imposes injustice on the people.


5. Police
A common cry among our people is that the police force has become the nation's machinery for mass victimisation, bending to the wishes of their heartless dictators, many Jamaicans see police as the enemy, as 'Babylon', the ones who make life difficult for everyone.


4. Pastors/religious leaders
If ever there was a people/state who have been grossly disappointed by the Church, it's Jamaicans. Usually a strong Christian society, over the years Jamaicans have become the world's best and biggest religious sceptics. They've seen it all: from sex in the pulpit to pastors with guns, and they are not impressed.

3. God
Well, if the people who represent him constantly fail you, why believe anything they say or look to any reference point they offer?


2. The future
'Boy, tings dread,' is a common sentiment. And if that was all, it wouldn't bother me. But our people have begun to develop a posture of resignation. Like the listless brood in Ayi Kwei Armah's The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, they have become firm believers in a stagnant, unchanging, unchangeable society. The more things change, they say, the more they remain the same.


1. Themselves
And this is the part many of us don't realise. Our loss of faith in all these other things belies a deeper crisis. It's not just that we no longer believe in others or the system they work in, but it tells us - tells me - that we don't believe in ourselves. We no longer value our own capabilities and potential.

So that's my list. What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? What would you add? Minus? And are you one of the many Jamaicans/persons who have given up on this country? I hope not.