Monday, July 7, 2008

“By the sweat of thy brow…”

The late Douglas Chambers partner of Simber Productions, as he celebrated the 100th episode of the Susan Show.

by Jean Lowrie-Chin
Jamaica Observer 7 July 2008

How can you fathom the casual comment of a so-called educated person on Douglas Chambers’ cold-blooded murder: “that’s what happens when you take away man food.” Such comments are as dangerous as they are ridiculous. In short, we should just send the cashiers home and let the thugs raid the stores. As a Bible-reading nation, how can we forget the basic tenet of honest living: “By the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat bread.”

People who insist on “eating bread” without producing one bead of sweat are the creators of chaos in family, community and nation. Last week on her “Today” programme, Beverley Anderson Manley interviewed a security official, who disclosed that building contractors and taxi drivers are at the mercy of extortionists. “As soon as you start buying even a little sand and some blocks to extend your house, the extortionist is there, demanding envelopes on regular paydays,” he said.

And yet as far as I am concerned, the grim-faced gun-toting extortionist is not the biggest thief in this country. The biggest cons in Jamaica are those who have used the façade of passionate words and political status, access to the hard-earned taxes of this country, to fool our ghetto youths into thinking that the might of the gun gives them the right to other people’s hard earned bread.

With every interview on the renewed efforts to make JUTC and NSWMA viable, we are hearing stories of some of the most blatant abuses of power. To paraphrase Bob Marley, the night has turned to day. We have duped ourselves into feeling vindicated when we see a truckload of suspects hauled away from a wake in Clarendon. We should not rest until those suspects sing like canaries about who gave them those expensive guns that they hide in their raggedy clothes.

Joint security operations in inner city communities are now necessary, because those who begged us for our votes so they could bring hope to the people have been the harbingers of desperation and dependency. We should be very concerned about how our parliamentarians and members of our Cabinet spend their waking hours. Commissioner of Customs Danville Walker has also put members of the private sector on notice about exposing those who play cute with the system.

We had another heartbreaking moment watching a CVM interview with a young girl who has had to seek refuge in the witness protection programme. Like Shakespeare, the reporter should have warned us, “If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.” This traumatized girl was allegedly raped by a don and because her life is in danger, she must now be in hiding, isolated from her family. But it has got worse for her, because the wait for the trial seems interminable. She suspects that the don is being shielded by political friends. “The politicians are not fighting crime, they are helping crime,” she says. In the meanwhile, both her parents have become literally sick with worry. But she is resolute. “Even if I die,” she sobs, “I am not giving up. I want justice.”

Earlier this year, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made a moving apology to the “stolen” aboriginal children of Australia, snatched from their parents and “given” to white families. I had suggested then that Jamaica’s politicians, PNP and JLP should apologise for their complicity with thugs who have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on their fellow Jamaicans. But an apology should only be the start of a fresh, honest approach to this albatross of crime hanging around our nation’s neck.

We are told that a State Funeral will be held for Douglas Chambers. No doubt, we will see the parade of pious faces. If they are asked “who killed Doug Chambers?” we will get a chorus of “Not I” just like the nursery rhyme. That will not help us solve the mystery of how semi-literate inner city dwellers obtain the expensive weapons that ended the life of Douglas Chambers. They almost did the same to MoBay’s ex-mayor and political commentator Shalman Scott – we pray for the quick and full recovery of this exceptional gentleman.

If ever there was a moment in our history when we should demand from our leaders a genuine spirit of patriotism and a demonstrated will to rid us of this endless bloodshed, this is the moment. We, the people want them to know in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t just those wretches who pulled the trigger that killed Douglas Chambers. It was every single politician, public servant, businessperson who gave an activist a “bly” and who made him believe that he could “eat a food” without producing the requisite sweat.

In tribute to Douglas Chambers and those who are working honestly for the national good, let us be emboldened by the timeless words of our beloved Claude McKay, the poem used by Sir Winston Churchill to galvanise his people in wartime England:

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accurséd lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honour us though dead!
O, kinsmen! We must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

1 comment:

  1. Jean: Thanks so much for this article which for me was very special. The great challenge is to allow Claude Mackay's epic poem to inspire us in the same it inspired Sir Winston Churchill in the dark days of WW11. I have always been moved by the fact, that this great war hero used this poem to rally his people to defeat, what was, at that time, one of the most evil powers ever to exist on planet earth. Would to God that we in Jamaica would come together to fight the evil of murder and corruption in our country.
    Lucien Jones