by Jean Lowrie-Chin
|National Hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey|
These are the days that send us back to the writings of our first National Hero, that colossus of dignity and self-determination, Marcus Mosiah Garvey. The Jamaican legend pulled no punches as he instructed his followers about education, employment and ambition. He warned them about preserving their respect and not becoming ‘a bum or hobo race’.
Garvey must be weeping to see the statistics of electricity theft in the prize constituencies of long-standing leaders – as high as 89 percent of users! I was surprised at the accusation of elitism in the JPS action from a politician I like – Damion Crawford – but relieved at the chorus of subsequent declarations that “we do not condone stealing”. Out of this strong action by the JPS, finally a committee including government officials has been formed, to take a serious look at this ugly practice.
Electricity theft has caused the death of many, including the most recent incident last Wednesday when an innocent man who went crab-hunting with friends in Hanover, got tangled in uninsulated wires thrown up to steal electricity. I got very worried when I heard words like classist and racist being used to describe the JPS’ action. Seriously, if you had a store in a community from which 89 percent of the goods was stolen, wouldn’t you lock it down?
The racist argument is what those heartless scammers are using, as they fleece American retirees of their hard-earned savings. What impression of Americans do these scammers have? Do they know how hard these folks work for their money? Whenever I am in US stores and cashiers see from my ID where I live, many sigh and say they are saving so that one day they can make that long dreamed trip to Jamaica. These are humble, diligent folks, showing up for work through rain or snow. How will we keep their love for Jamaica, if they hear that scamming is now being viewed by some as an acceptable career? A report on the death of a scammer quoted his mourning mother as saying he was “honest and hardworking”. When asked what he did for a living she said he was a scammer!
Our leaders must ask themselves how electricity theft and scamming became viewed by poorer folks as being acceptable. When people become desperate, they have to rationalize their anti-social behaviour. They become desperate when they are crammed into yards where entrance is only allowed by a resident thug. They lose their dignity when they are packed like sardines into buses during elections, and bullied into voting for the garrison party.
Valley of the shadow of threats
Their every move is watched and they live in the valley of the shadow of threats. Robbed of their selfhood they become T-shirted billboards for their power-hungry representatives. They are everything Marcus Garvey did not want them to be – dumbed down into perpetual poverty.
But it is not too late for our politicians to admit their wrongs, open up their constituencies and allow people to regain their humanity. Political dunceness makes colours like orange and green unwearable in certain parts of Jamaica. We are hoping that people Marlene Malahoo Forte, Paula Kerr-Jarrett, Kamina Johnson Smith, Julian Robinson, Dr Dayton Campbell and Norman Grant and will help us to pave the way for a more intelligent type of politics in our country. So instead of terrorizing people, we will have politicians who help them to actualize their dreams.
Pray for Absolution!
Politicians who have committed atrocities should now be praying for absolution. We know who you are – and you belong to both major political parties. You have sinned against your people and your country – until it had to take the IMF to curb your wasteful ways, and the JPS to explain to you that stealing electricity is just plain thievery.
Our biggest energy crisis
The biggest energy crisis in this country is the lassitude of a nation that has not been nurtured to stand and deliver to her full potential. As the indiscipline spilled over on the football field in Arnett Gardens last Monday, the politicians were hustled away by their security detail, leaving their hapless followers to fight each other.
We know our politicians know better, so we are asking them to stop playing these dangerous games with our people. Try integrity and productivity – hold yourselves to a higher mark, so that the sacrifices of Garvey and all our other National Heroes will not be in vain.