Thanks to the performance of the Jamaican women’s 4×100 metre team on Independence Day Friday, 6th August 2021, we really had something exceptional to celebrate.
These ladies — Briana Williams, Elaine Thompson-Herah, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and Shericka Jackson — also clocked a national record 41.02 seconds for Jamaica’s first gold in that event since 2004. So, building on the other gold medals won by Hansle Parchment in the 110m hurdles and the ladies in the 100 metre, plus the silver and bronze medals brought home by the other star performers in the previous days, our athletes once again wowed the world and made us so proud.
What a wonderful gift for our struggling nation on the 59th anniversary of our ‘independence’ from Britain!
While I, like everyone else, was overjoyed by the performance of those who medalled, I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate all the elite athletes who represented Jamaica at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, whether they medalled or not.
For just qualifying to reach the top of their careers and competing in the Olympics is an outstanding feat. While we tend to only see the final results, their success did not come by accident, it took years of dedicated training and discipline to qualify.
I am therefore personally proud and thankful for all our young athletes who mek Jamaica tek shame outta wi yeye as we celebrate another year of ‘independence’.
For apart from the prowess of these disciplined individuals year in year out, when one reflects on the counter-productive political shenanigans which landed us with economic disasters like FINSAC and the violence-ridden society that we have built since independence, there is not much else to celebrate.
Look at the per capita income in US dollars of some other Caribbean islands which got independence after us — Bahamas, US$23,671; Barbados, US$16,237; Antigua, US$16,176; Trinidad, US$15,459; Dominica, US$7,091; and Jamaica, US$4,934.
Fact is, we have the lowest per capita income of all the former British colonies in the Caribbean!
So here we are, though blessed with myriad natural resources, yet we have really failed to gain a modicum of economic independence and social stability during those 59 years.
Apart from the economic and social failures, the question I keep asking is how can we be called independent when we, the first English-speaking Caribbean country to declare ‘independence’, remain so steeped in mental slavery that we insist on retaining a foreign head of state?
And not even a good foreign one either, when we consider the brutality with which Britain treated our ancestors during slavery and colonialism!
This unacceptable situation remains although both political parties, JLP and PNP, which have alternated in government since independence, have at one time or the other promised to enact the necessary constitutional change to correct that unsavoury situation. But guess what they say is holding up the process?
The PNP wants an executive president while the JLP wants a ceremonial president. In the meantime, Dominica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and soon Barbados, (once known as Little England) have not dithered on the issue.
On the other hand, as if to entrench this love for the racist British monarchy, our own Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in July 2021, accepted appointment to the British Privy Council!
All this in the midst of Caricom now taking a decisive and cooperative approach in demanding reparations from Britain for their brutality, rape, murder and exploitation of our ancestors during slavery and colonialism and their continued oppression of our people during what is now proven to be the Windrush scandal.
My dislike of the current relationship with Britain has nothing to do with the present queen who has been quite unobtrusive and benign. However, she will not live forever and the thought of a foreigner with Charles’ reputation and character being the head of state of my country is even more intolerable.
Anyway, regardless of who it is that sits on the British throne, 59 years is just too long for us to claim to be independent while that situation prevails.