Tuesday, August 31, 2010

'No better barrel, no better herring'

YENDI PHILLIPPS... her genuine smile and sparkling eyes reflect the warmth for which our country is renowned.

Jamaica Observer column | Jean Lowrie-Chin | 30 August 2010

While we were listening intently to the local news, we noticed that two young relatives did not appear in the least bit interested: one was nodding to the rhythm of his iPod while the other was smiling at a message on her BlackBerry. They say they are so sick and tired of politics that I shudder to think what the voter turnout will be in the next general election.

But thanks to our dedicated public servants and intrepid entrepreneurs, we continue to surprise ourselves. Cinecom's Natalie Thompson (Cool Runnings, How Stella Got Her Groove Back) just completed work as line producer for a movie filmed for the most part in Jamaica's inner cities and had nary an incident. Ghetto Life is written and directed by Chris Browne and was filmed in Rose Town, Craig Town, Trench Town, Grants Pen, the Stanley Couch Gym between Southside and Rae Town and Top Range in Mountain View. In fact, they worked mostly at night.

Our 4-H Movement is inspiring a growing number of young Jamaicans to go into farming. We are sitting on a gold mine of the world's best coffee, ginger, pimento and some of the tastiest organically grown fruits and vegetables. Chef Colin Hylton tells me that otaheite apple is finally being processed by a company called Goshen into jams and syrups. We caught up with friends Mike Nugent and Anthony Raymond in New York last weekend - they say the enthusiasm for Jamaican-grown and produced products has never been higher.

Over the past week, folks from our firm travelled across Jamaica for a series of culinary workshops presented by Norway's celebrity chef Espen Larsen. The Jamaican chefs worked magic, pairing saltfish with yam, breadfruit, Scotch bonnet and other spectacular Jamaican products. Award-winning chef Anthony Miller, who attended, will be guest chef of the South African Culinary Association in mid-September with the mandate to bring Jamaican flavours to their annual feast.

The view from the terrace of the Royal Plantation in Ocho Rios left our visitors breathless and vowing to return. We met US-based Jamaican Dr Walford Bancroft Lindo who was on his fourth visit to the property managed by the highly respected Peter Fraser.

"They say a man is not king in his country, but here, I feel truly honoured," Dr Lindo declared. "I am encouraging my fellow Jamaicans abroad to vacation in their homeland. I have been to many other destinations in the Caribbean and Jamaica remains my favourite."

At Tryall in Hanover, our guests marvelled at the flawless golf course nestled against the sparkling sea. Every step of the way, they lauded the outstanding service of the hotel staffers, the artistry of our chefs, many of whom were trained right here in Jamaica, and the extraordinary beauty of our country.

Every Jamaican, who can afford it, owes it to himself to become more familiar with this wonderful place we call home, at the same time making our contribution to the tourism industry, the biggest employer of our excellent hospitality workers.

Just as Yendi Phillipps did, we should be promoting this big world brand called Jamaica. We want it to prosper, so why do we persist in being so cynical? Our lovely Yendi with her open smile and sparkling eyes reflected the warmth for which our country is renowned. Was it her mention of God in her reply to the judges that lost her those precious points? Well, so be it - she may have come second in Miss Universe but she is Number One in our hearts. My friend Dave Rodney said Jamaicans up north were riveted to the television watching Yendi on Monday night, and calling each other at every stage of the eliminations. "It was like the Beijing Olympics all over again," he enthused.

Our legendary poster child Usain Bolt has been signed on by Puma for four additional years to the tune of US$10 million per year. Even when we were turning our noses down at our flag, long before the emergence of Bolt, Puma had decided that they would do Jamaica-themed products and decorate their store windows in our vibrant black-green-and-gold. Homegrown Jamaican companies need to understand the power of our flag in the world market.

After TVJ's June poll showed 87 per cent of Jamaicans wanting to migrate to the US, some took to Facebook to reaffirm their faith. Here are a few quotes:

Sheryl: "No weh nuh betta dan yard, the grass is not always greener, I guess some just don't know that. Ja just need likkle money."

Sandra: "Nope ...life is hard everywhere, crime and corruption is worldwide so is everything else that happens in Jamaica. If I have to fight to survive, I'd rather do it on the soil I was created on...always praying for Jamaica."

Christopher: "Absolutely not...I wish my family never left."

Talisa: "That's really something else. What people in Ja seem to fail to realise is that it's a complete different ball game from when u talk about "farrin" how money run vs actually living here. I'm in America and I'm poor, and feeling the effects of corruption. Cho man."

On the other hand, some are downright disappointed in their country:

Michelle: "Mi woulda tek a one way ticket right now, mi tired a di crime, corruption, discrimination and mismanagement!"

Horace: "I'd leave in a split sec. I miss the days when people could sleep with their doors even half open."

So are our politicians ready to redeem themselves and revive our faith? There is so much blame to go around that it would be a waste of time to start pointing fingers, the favourite pastime of the JLP and PNP. Our two major political parties should know that their shallow games of sophistry are unconvincing and tiresome. Give us the truth about Trafigura, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips and DB&G. Take your medicine and resolve to put Jamaica first.

We have placed our trust in our members of parliament to be the lawmakers, not the lawbreakers of our land. The world is in an economic depression so we are asking them not to make it worse for us. My grandmother would say, "You are no better barrel, no better herring." Let us get busy with the nation's work and stop this power-hungry bickering.



Devon T
Let us get busy with the nation's work and stop this power-hungry bickering... The best part of this article. I have no idea why we chat so much thing is ...40% of us chatting and claiming rights have given up the most important of those rights... TO VOTE. Do you believe that if we have a 100% voter turnout in Jamaica our politicians would behave like they do...Ever envisioned the thought of Politicians fearing the people that voted...Trust me that is the best possible thing we could do.
Ruby Shim
You are so right about us dwelling so much on the negatives and casting blame. Both our political parties spend more time casting blame on the other that we cant get anything done in this country. All the PNP want to do is regain power AT ALL COSTS no matter who suffers. They dont have the answer to our problems as we can see from the 18 years they were in office. They gave out contracts to their cronies and lied about Trafigura. What more do you expect from them.
Duncan Bertram
Will somebody inform these people that colonialism is dead. Just saying....
Martial Law
And your point is what exactly?
george watson
The writer must be the best PR strategist in the country. She begins with no better herring, no better barrel bit and then goes on to list a litany of positives in the country, without of course tying them to the JLP.
If I were reading this, my first thought would be, "despite what is happening then, why change the JLP." Of course this logic is flawed, because she is not one of the thousands of public servants not being paid what they are due, nor have the difficulty with school next week.
Chuck Emanuel
Jamaica, no problem mon !.
Jaye Stone
What is your point Jean? We have some great prospects lined up, but who will stand at the helm od leadership? We have thugs on either side to choose from, none of them really interested in taking the country forward until they are in opposition.