Saturday, August 11, 2012

The next 50 years of Jamaica Independence

The next 50 years of Independence

By Michael Burke

SO Jamaica's 50th anniversary celebrations are now behind us. We now journey as a nation towards the 100th anniversary milestone via the 60th, 70th, 75th, 80th and 90th anniversary milestones. The joy and happiness at our 50th anniversary celebrations were great. Of course, the naysayers were there but such people exist in every country.

I would have liked to have had even more historical reflections. It is my hope that at future anniversaries there should be more such reflections. I would like to commend the planners of the Jubilee Village and those of the Grand Gala, which were really as next to perfect as possible where only the directors would see the mistakes, if any.

But had I been in the planning committee of the Jubilee Village, I would have suggested an imposing sign that stated that 90 per cent of the displays were showing things that did not exist at the time of political Independence in 1962.

It is also a pity that we have not been able to shake some of the indiscipline that we have inherited. As the crowds filtered out of the stadium after such a wonderful Grand Gala on Independence Day, some technician or other decided that after all the recorded festival music developed since 1962, it was time to play lewd music. They could not even endure 24 hours without slackness!

It should be noted that the joy and happiness is due to the fact that most people like a party, even if they do not exactly understand what is being celebrated or even believe that there should be a celebration. As I mentioned last week, I hope that the older ones will get over their unwarranted shame so that they can truly educate the youth into an appreciation of what life was like in Jamaica in 1962.

But perhaps at the 75th or 100th anniversary, fewer of us will be alive to feel ashamed and the history can be looked at in a more dispassionate manner. Students of history will dig more into the material that exists and will be able to draw their own conclusions. I probably will not live to see the 100th anniversary of Independence (unless I live to at least 108).

But it is still my hope that by then Jamaica will be a republic based on co-operatives that spring from a nation of family units that we are yet to have. And I hope it happens before our 60th anniversary in 10 years' time. After all, we have been talking about this for decades.

Two things I have suggested before, and I suggest again. First, there should be an emancipendence meal similar to the Jewish Agape meal at their annual Passover celebration. Second, churches should have an Octave of Emancipendence or eight days of reflective prayer on Emancipation and Independence, as I have been privately doing for the last three years.

The octave that I developed runs the eight days from July 31 to August 7. It is my hope that others will join me next year. I hope that the octave will become a tradition by the time we reach our 60th anniversary in 10 years' time.

I have also suggested in the past that Jamaica should have an international negotiations conference as part of Independence celebrations. I envisioned having a major conference and staging it somewhere like the various conference centres, auditoriums and conference halls at hotels. We would also go through the negotiations from the days of self-government (half-Independence) to after political Independence when we did several negotiations. This should be not only about borrowing but also about trade.

It seems that if this is to take place it will have to be organised by a few people with vision. Indeed, if I could have done it by myself it would have been done already. I would include all former ambassadors and politicians involved in such negotiations. It would also include those who represented agricultural organisations on negotiation teams in the days when agricultural trade was the economic mainstay of Jamaica. While we should plan for a day when we stop borrowing, negotiation is a skill that we can make money from by teaching it to others.

I also hope that educational programmes will be in place to stop mental slavery. It takes many forms; one is the belittling of the self, especially the black skin of the majority of Jamaicans. It also takes the form of belittling all things Jamaican, although that is not so much a problem as our athletes currently win gold medals. But it also takes the form of erroneously believing that we would be better off as a Bristish colony and that our gains would have come anyway. We need as a nation to unlearn that.

We need to invite nationalistic Caymanians here to express their anger when hearing Jamaicans say that Cayman's economic success is due to their colonial status. The Cayman Islands have had self-government (half-Independence) for more than two decades. Some Caymanians say that the only thing Britain does for them is to pay the governor's salary.

August 09, 2012

Jamaica Observer