The recently coined word “Emancipendence” has been cleverly used to describe two quite separate events that culminated over 100 years apart. They do, however, represent two cooperative efforts that transcended racial descent, giving rise to a concept later described as “Out of Many, One People”; our Jamaican National Motto.
In a rather simplified way, Emancipation came from two main efforts. Firstly, the numerous uprisings on sugar estates led by slaves themselves who seemed committed to take freedom. Secondly, the efforts of some in England who lobbied in many ways, including in the British Parliament and churches. Whatever differences there were in motives the result was Emancipation, and Jamaica entered a new status leading towards limited self-government.
In a similar way (simplified) a British Empire that was over-extended faced declining economic fortunes, wars in Africa and Europe and the resultant loss of those killed in the wars tempted them to jettison certain difficult colonies including India and Jamaica (among others). This was not generosity but was somewhat similar to what we would today call an IMF intervention (although I must stress that institution was not established at that time).
The two strategies crossed with the diminishing role of sugarcane and the emergence of beet sugar in Europe; and the industrial development of America’s mass production (often attributed to Frederick Winslow Taylor) threatened to overtake Britain’s hegemony. It seems that one was a fight, and the other a foul (in any way we may have gotten the sixth letter of the alphabet). So we are still seeking reparations (perhaps it should be for both scenarios).
Almost halfway between these two events was the birth of National Hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey delivering a very valid alternative to slavery and colonialism, an encouragement to self-reliance, education, science and technology, and a sense of moral worth and actions.
For a man with a sound message, he has been the most ignored National Hero and although he was the first named recipient, his message has been carefully ignored and obscured by our two current political parties. Self-reliance has been reduced to vote for me and I will look after you; education has been reduced to less than minimum standards; science and technology is merely a face card for students who do not read enough to comprehend mathematics and science; and moral worth is now “hol a food”, praedial larceny, and scamming.
By and large the message of Marcus Garvey is in academia and thus hidden from the person in the street who would be the prime recipient of his philosophy, meaning little to those who will not/cannot read and comprehend. We are attracted to the simplistic rhetoric and repetition, loud music, and current slogans that emanate from platforms as the way forward.
The Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in Jamaica seems to have surrendered to a kind of Rastafarian philosophy while hiding the fact that Garvey and Selassie were not in friendly communication even while in exile in Britain, and their philosophy does not resemble each other. Other organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) have resisted their capture by sub-groupings.
There is a need for some persons to step up to the massive task of repositioning our population to nationalism, industriousness, values, commitment to excellence, understanding to follow sensible rules and rebel against stupidity. Unequal development, exploitation, and inequality need to be addressed.
Some of our “wanna be” political leaders have entrenched themselves in the modern values that point in a straight line to corruption leading to shame for their families and a premature migration (if able). Scandals come so fast and furious that we are not able to commence investigations before others arrive. Today we cannot even last for the proverbial nine-day wonder syndrome. We are the ultimate premature evaporators.
Our political products need to be faced with disruptive innovation that will force a change of perspective or an assignment towards obscurity and obsolescence. This is the most important action that this new world of tweeters and other social media participants can use to better their governance structure for themselves and their children, or did they completely miss the Obama campaign?
It seems that we the baby boomers have been sidelined or absorbed into the charade that passes for a modern Jamaica. We sit quietly on verandas speaking of all the ills without any conviction that pushes us to action, or even to stand up for what is right. We hold no one to account and continue to bow down to the “honourables” who continue to dishonour us every week.
Lewis Carrol wrote: “The time has come, the walrus said, to think of many things, of shoes, and ships and sealing wax, and cabbages and kings.” That poem ends in betrayal of the young oysters by the carpenter and the walrus and they are all eaten in the end. Jamaica needs to identify and avoid our own carpenter and walrus, and preserve our safety.
“Up, you mighty race, accomplish what you will”: Marcus Mosiah Garvey.