Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Jamaican Independence Day

It's Jamaica's 46th Independence Day today, August 6, 2008

Here's how the Observer summed up the day's meaning:

Sometimes the debate rages as to whether Jamaica is better off now than before Independence. That is always going to be a moot question. We have advanced and progressed in immeasurable ways, for example, in education, health, infrastructure, communication and transportation, among others. The explosion of media has meant this is the most informed and, possibly, the most sophisticated population of Jamaicans.

But we have also retrogressed in many areas as well. We recall when our currency was worth more than the United States dollar; when Jamaica was the number-one producer of bauxite; when we produced more sugar and bananas for export than we are doing now; when we produced the best pimento and coffee in the world; when we operated a commuter train service between Kingston and Montego Bay.

More than anything else, we remember that we used to live in gentler, kinder times, ironically, when there was more grinding poverty and that was no excuse for the level of crime we are now experiencing. The coarseness and indiscipline, played out daily on the roads and in our public places today, make the Jamaica of the past look like a walk in the park on a quiet Sunday evening.

Still that is not the full essence of this wonderful, complex, energetic, exciting, ambitious and industrious people and nation whose generosity of spirit and innate genius know no bounds, as our visitors can attest.

Of course, there is still too, the question of all questions to be resolved: why is it that this small country can produce the two fastest men in history at a time when we are earning the dubious reputation of being the world's most murderous country?