Monday, August 4, 2014

Spare some joy for Independence

Dancers at a Festival Grand Gala celebration

Jean Lowrie-Chin | Excerpt from Jamaica Observer column | 4 August 2014

I will listen to no ‘grinches’ today, those cynics trying to steal my joy in Emancipation and Independence.  We keep talking ourselves into this ditch of despair, instead of raising our voices in thanks for our many blessings.  If you think we are badly off, please check the international newscasts, where countries are at war and an airplane of ordinary passengers with everyday plans is shot out of the sky. 

If you think Jamaica is badly off, think of those countries where democracy is still a shaky experiment, while our system has become so well run that the Carter Centre has said there is no need for them to monitor Jamaica’s elections. Read our papers, listen to broadcast media and check the comments on social media – we are in the top ten for press freedom in the world.

Oh yes, we have tons of issues, and a drought to boot, but still much for which to be thankful.  The bougainvillea is preening itself in the hot weather and mango trees seem to have drawn extra sweetness out of this dry earth.

Thank goodness for resourceful Jamaicans, like that savvy taxi man who visits the spring at the back of the Constant Spring Golf Course almost every day.  This spring gives the area its name – several folks go there to fill large water bottles or give their cars a wash.  The foliage around the spring is dark green and yes, its waters are constant. 

Mama Joy Baker (R) receiving the CCRP Jamaica 50 Living Legacy Award from CCRP Chair Prof Denise Eldemire Shearer and former Vice Chair Aloun Assamba
Such is the constancy and resilience of our generous and dignified Jamaicans, rich and poor who continue to be the strength of their communities.  It was National Hero Norman Manley who said that Jamaica’s poor is surviving on the generosity of the poor.  I will never forget the tears of young Jermaine from Torrington Park as he wept at the funeral of our pensioner Miss Icilda Riley, who had been blind for several years.  His mother explained that in the yard where they lived, ‘Miss Icy’ as we called her, would watch and counsel the children, especially young Jermaine. 

We remember ‘Mama Joy’ Baker from Downtown Kingston who scrubbed the floors of bars to pay for the education of generations of inner city children, and opened over 300 saving accounts for them as she taught them the importance of thrift. 

Those of us who live more comfortable lives should be in awe of these good people who can still find love in their hearts, despite their marginal conditions.  How will we help them to achieve full emancipation and independence?  Be assured, they are not looking for charity.  They are willing to work, and will take the humblest jobs in order to get their children through school. 

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