Commentary Jamaica Magazine

The Hero in our Leaders

When we look back at our leaders throughout our history, including our eight prime ministers, we should be proud of the hero in each of them. Our vibrant democracy has given us Sir Alexander Bustamante, Sir Donald Sangster, Hugh Shearer, Michael Manley, and those still with us, Edward Seaga, PJ Patterson, Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller – our first woman prime minister – and Prime Minister Bruce Golding.  

Historian Arnold “Scree” Bertram gave an important interview recently on Jamaica Speaks commenting that too little has been published about our National Heroes. We remember the brave Nanny who stood up to the British army, the spirited Sam Sharpe, the resolute Paul Bogle, the noble George William Gordon, the revolutionary philosopher Marcus Mosiah Garvey, the champion of self-government, Norman Washington Manley and the defender of workers’ rights, Sir Alexander Bustamante.     
They lay the groundwork for our considerable achievements. Ask a senior about the so-called “good old days” and they will tell you of a time when high school education, piped water and rural electricity were either luxuries or aspirations. Our independent spirit, enduring democracy, our music, sports, superior crops and achievements in almost every field of human endeavour, set us apart.

Indeed, there is enough in our fertile country for every person’s need, but it will never be enough for some people’s greed. Diligent public sector workers should be identified and rewarded, even as their corrupt counterparts should be identified and discarded. It is certainly unfair that a few bad apples are causing competent professionals to be labeled as obstacles to productivity.

The agonising issue confronting not only this government but also most others around the world is unemployment. In our tiny Jamaica, I regard this as a conundrum because there is a shortage of trained, qualified personnel in so many areas.

With continued excellent opportunities for career advancement in teaching, nursing and the constabulary force, more young people should be encouraged to pursue these worthy careers.

In the hospitality industry, chefs are pulling in higher salaries than are general managers. As the population ages, physiotherapists, pharmacists and optometrists are going to be in greater demand. The financial, distributive and telecoms sectors offer opportunities for management, accounting and marketing professionals who are tech-savvy.

Beware that we look down on jobs that are actually paying good returns like plumbing, electrical and building repairs, home nursing services, agriculture, landscaping and cosmetology.  

We need to nurture sound work ethics in our young people so that they understand the importance of patience and perseverance. Every successful professional should find at least one young person to mentor, whether within or outside of your workplace. Think back to that tough boss or supervisor who would accept nothing less than excellence from us. Now it is our turn to give back.  

Let us spare a moment on this National Heroes Day to salute outgoing Prime Minister Bruce Golding. Public and private sector officials recall his long hours of work, his exceptional analytical ability and his dedication to efficient implementation. National Road Safety Council convenor, Dr Lucien Jones, says PM Golding as chairman of the council, was deeply involved in the development of the promising “Save 300 Lives” campaign.

We quote G2K leader Delano Seiveright, who outlined some of the prime minister’s efforts as he strove to address the corruption that is at the heart of our slow progress:

  • Appointment of a special prosecutor to fight corruption.
  • Whistle-blower legislation to aid in fighting crime and corruption.
  • Independent Commission to investigate abuses by the security forces.
  • Fiscal-responsibility legislation to, among other things, exert control over our fiscal deficit and accumulation of debt.
  • Reform of the libel laws to enable greater transparency and accountability in government.
  • Measures to reverse the institutionalisation of political tribalism and garrisons, as manifested in many constituencies across political lines.

The recent years have had their successes and their challenges. Jamaica and Bruce Golding will emerge the stronger for it. 

About the Author:
Jean Lowrie-Chin runs an Advertising/PR Agency, PROComm, in Kingston, Jamaica. She is a writer, poet, blogger and columnist for the Jamaica Observer. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in English from the University of the West Indies.

About the author

Jean Lowrie-Chin