Friday, January 21, 2011

Opinion: The Two Jamaicas

The two Jamaicas are always present.

The Jamaica that is gives us innovative music, gorgeous scenery and world renowned athletes is there.

To some, in fact,  Jamaica is the third coolest country in the world.

But the other Jamaica is there too.

The Jamaica where a Blackberry phone is more precious than life. And where every day gunmen run the streets with abandon and innocent civilians taking the bus are caught between their bullets and the police firing back.

Not that other nations don't have their share of tragic dualities. The US especially leads in this category as the "Land of the Free" with a prison population of nearly 2.3 million. But America is large and unwieldy, a nation of many states that nearly broke apart a century ago.

Jamaica, on the other hand, is only 40-some years into its independence with a population less than that incarcerated in the US and more churches per capita than nearly anywhere on earth. Yet as cool as CNN rates JA, Yard cyaan cool. And anyone who cares about Jamaican culutre, and who indulges in its music, food, athletic prowess and other positives must consider and take to heart the underlying problems of income distribution and governance that result in it's daily deluge of gunfire.

Though the national motto may still be "Out of Many, One People," its clear from the today's headlines that two Jamaica's persist and the slogan won't ring true until the guns fall silent.

[Update: More on the murder of Coper Cat, referred to in sentence 5 above.]