Is the "brain drain" in Jamaica is still happening? Read Philip Dinham's commentary on this issue.
Commentary Jamaica Magazine

Jah-Micah brain drain on tha rebound

It was a predominant black race that took Jamaica from the British Empire in good faith, a Land that wasn’t the British Empire’s own to keep. They fought and took the Land in battle from a retreating Spanish army to whom Jamaica didn’t belong either, as they came to the isle and found the Taino Indians whom they applied brute force on, while over working them and offering little rest or sufficient food to eat. The Tainos eventually became exposed to European diseases for which they had no immunity and they the first recorded people of this Land are no more.

The Land however remains solid and immovable, even after the bitter and persistent conflicts between those of different languages, different races, different ethnic tribes, and different sectarian grouping of peoples. This Land in whom men of every race have been born, have a history that is so unique. Its foundations from the Genesis of its written history in 1494 when Christopher Columbus met with great surprise a friendly and giving people, fast forwarded to present time Jamaica, where there is an intense obsession with making friends with peoples of every nation, tongues, and tradition. Speaking to the testimony of this rich Land, as so many continue to hail it as one of the purest Loving Lands that all peoples have ever found, unbelievable fairness, realness and an obsession for truth emanates from within making it a marvelous treasure to behold and protect.

So many times this Land has been called one fit for Kings, and one made for Royalty, Prince’s and Princess’s. A Gem of paradise with Diamonds, Silver, Gold, Pearl, Crystal and all the precious stones that you can imagine mysteriously lining each attempt to truly describe its presence. It is a Land of real abundance and plenty to give, with resources from nature gardens that is paid tribute to in song and in “nyahmings” daily. The minerals are so much that all plants and animals flourish here including many species that can be found in no other place on the earth.

Ye-AH there is a fruit tree in season here every day, and the harvest is always so bountiful it carries on consistently through twelve months of brilliant sunshine for us to share our blessings with each other. The warmth and sheer felicity of gentle breeze makes for so much tranquility, and reflection as the doctor-bird leads a throng of hosts that remind us all too often not to worry about our daily toils. Many rival enemies of this Land’s ancient and present time, including the British, the Spanish, slaves and slave master, down-pressers, anti-resistant and renegade tribal factions have during their pilgrim journeys here, been forced to yield to the eternal presence of this Land, as it with its dominant hills and roaring springs and winding rivers sparkle a golden splendour that heals peoples’ heart and forces us to chant and sing of a majestic and gracious God.

Jamaica from its foundations makes for a safe haven, a sanctuary not among gods of idols but safely it sits, one may say, at the feet of the true God of eternity, The God of Abraham, The God of Moses, The God of old, ELOHIM, JEHOVAH, YAHWEH also called JAH, the one who is First and Last and Beginning and End.

With the capitol sitting opposite to a backdrop of awesome hills and mountains, almost prophetically like how the children of Israel had rested at Mount Sinai in the wilderness looking for their Promised Land. Kingston rests at the feet of the Blue Mountain peak, which is the highest point on this land rising to some 7,000 feet above the sea before fading. This splendid tower blends into other lush variegated green mountain ranges and hills before rolling the Plains of New Kingston into the urban centres of Downtown Kingston that rushes to greet the 7th largest natural harbour in the world at its coastal shores.

Indeed an amazing city is Kingston, founded in1692 it was designated capitol city in 1872. The fact is, no one can actually trace how Jamaica’s capital officially got its name, as the entire area where Kingston now rests was once called Port Royal during the early years of British rule and later Beeston after the Lt. Governor William Beeston, before being changed at some point to being officially called the parish of Kingston. A letter dated July 3, 1693 from Port Royal refers to it as being called Kingston by some or “Killtown” by others. The meaning of the word Kingston varies, but I have seen “Kings manor”, “Kings Town” to “Kings Stone”.

The original name of the Land of Jamaica when Christopher Columbus arrived was “Xaymacca” meaning “Land of wood and water”. It wasn’t until resting at these hills of many rivers for several hundred years did we begin to sing some new songs from our hearts in tribute to the Land that God did indeed give us.

Now this Land is Renowned for creating and presenting a variety of music that have crossed over into different genres. Jamaicans undoubtedly have a special niche in creating lasting appreciated tunes in praise of God, sometimes prophetically revealing Gods purpose for us as a scattered nation. Fashioned by God, the Land has openly thrown itself at Gods feet in homage to his greatness, kneeling before the Lord who has made us proclaiming righteousness, rejoicing in praise.

From hymns, folk songs, festival songs such as “The Right Hand of God is moving in our Land”, “Jamaica Land of beauty”, “Our Blue Mountain”, “This is the Land of My Birth”, to popular hit reggae songs like “Strive” by Shine-head, “Lift up your head” by Everton Blender, “Jamaica Farewell” by Harry Bellefonte, “JAH is my Keeper” by Ivanny, Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross”. Man, the thing is, I can’t even touch the surface because there are far too many rich golden treasures in music. The crème de la crème hits have been already turned into anthems, and Peter Tosh, Legendary Bob Marley, Third World, Luciano, Chalice, Bush Man, Beres, Buju, and Silk, New comers Abijah and Warrior King to name a few, have really been marshalling the Nation and urging it to play a defining role in the world but for the most part we are just awakening, as we yawn and stretch.

No song is more widely sang in this land or by any native Jamaican, than the song of our appreciation and Love for the Land that we rest on. At night, at noon and brightly at the dawn of each morning we sing this song of prayer to the God of eternity, asking him to bless our Land and guide us as a people with his mighty hand, and to teach us truth and respect for all.

The National Anthem of Jamaica is an exclusive song of testimony from which a people boldly hold hands harmoniously asking for our Eternal Father to be merciful to us while he directs us with his great wisdom. It speaks to the Land that our forefathers honestly believed in and which they cried for, hoping for that beloved country that would stand for truth and justice, among the other nations teaching them a new language of Love.

The rude boy generation comes from this Land which in contradictory exultation, endures a tranquil presence for serene meditating of God’s goodness, many folks also see this Land as the most loudest in the world; with its repeated dominant cultural rumblings filling bustling streets day and night. As homes, offices, dancehall sessions, theatres, ballrooms and churches headline musical chants of naturally lilting vocals, bass drumming, tambourines, flutes, strings, cymbals spurning a uniquely spontaneous ridim that makes the sound track of present day JAH-Mek-YAH, JAH- MAKER, JAHMICAH, JAH-MECCA sounding so sweetly divine almost like a new word of praise. In true YAH-d language today some may say JAH is the Maker right Yah so. JAH has created his own musical MECCA cause he is the Almighty. JAH has named the Land after himself, thus JAHMAICAHNS are a chosen people of his Kingdom.

Surely we, a people who are near to the Lord of unfathomable greatness, have the capacity and the ability to live among ourselves in freedom and love on this Land. The kindling of a national spirit in 1962 brought such richness and magnificent beauty to us sons of slaves, and today that flame is still burning some 40 years since that fateful night, long enough it has burnt to have lifted us to higher heights while emanating a spirit that causes us to smile because we Live in JAHMICAH at the feet of our King. Yet evil is still in our midst. A lot of blood is spilling unto the Land once again. Our adversaries are on the prowl roaming about like a beastly Lion hoping to permanently devour our race. Urgently the YAH-d Man needs to check himself. Too many gunshots bawling out and tearing up our communities. Too much bloodletting and it’s getting rather worse. As glorious Kingston is hotter than fire and it’s not a joke thing cause gunshot a bark all over town, stealing the whole of our security and stability.

It’s like a rebellion against all of us simply because the gunman nuh want to creatively flex his energies and make something of his existence; like how JAH, earth’s maker and ruler created, authored, built, designed, and still manages the world. Men are stewards of the earth in Gods Eternal plan; we are here to subdue, which is, to tame the earth not to set it on More FI-YAH and Bun it Down.

Jamaica as a nation that has such tremendous hope and potential, it was celebrated during its colonial years as the pearl of the Caribbean where Sugar reigned as King. This was before technocracy was employed to trample the land; back then sugar thrived on our distinctly rich soil basking in beautiful temperatures with the help of a durable work force that created its own unique cultural vibrancy that we have preserved even to today. Jamaica is a cultural power house, a cultural super power, a gift that I don’t think was given to us for entertainment and the trappings of sexual, political, or economic exploitation but I am sure that it was given to heal us and release us into a passion for hope. We as a society have matured and evolved through our authentic creative flair and spontaneous artistic rituals that have nurtured our being as a charismatic God- fearing people. We are a people of natural brilliance and we exude a confidence of self that is purposeful, powerful and resilient. Always willing to renew our energies through the challenges we face as we seek God’s direction.

That’s the Jamaica I try to see daily, even though within recent years I have had to question a wha really a gwaan amidst all the confusion and chaos. There is no doubt it has been and still is a very difficult period that we face. Its no secret Jamaica has problems from politics to corruption and crime and violence.

There have been a lot of negative sentiments of doom and gloom parading itself across our scattered peoples with threats directly made to our characters as we, a people, mix up and blend up with all manner of substances and diverse ethnic cults that has slowly inspired and redirected our resources before unveiling a complex new attitude. The old and tired 13 year government now waning in popularity hasn’t helped the progress either as the support of the masses, based on performance evaluations, have rendered the government lethargic and in some quarters incapable of handling the severe economic and socials ills gripping the country.

I am guessing that the days of national hope that once galvanized our people is fading as a new conflict has emerged that we haven’t truly understood or even if we have, nationally no attempt has been made to redefine and limit the warfare. It’s obvious that forces are bent on eroding our identity and cohesiveness in pursuit of personal economic mileage.

Through globalization and the effects of a relentless foreign media invasion Jamaicans have been saturated with a new popular culture that has managed to help unleash a monster of national depression and helped to foster an unfortunate irreverent disdain by our people for the strength and capacity of our leaders and institutions to deliver quality, courageous, and insightful stewardship.

Certainly Jamaicans are less confident these days about neither their individual purpose as a citizen, nor the nation’s vision that illuminated so fervently during the fledgling years after independence. The nation seems to have lost its way, and the journey to the Promised Land, which began amidst much fanfare and overwhelming participation by most, is now being hampered by some real, as well as some vain discontent. Questionable lawlessness, irrational apathy, and new philosophies and expectations that are not necessarily in keeping with our identity, and consciousness as a people nor our resource capacity are throwing us into a bigger more vicious upheaval.

My generation is asking as I did when I was a young boy hoping for a community organization to be a part of, why now? Why after so many battles fought and won are we now losing our way? Why is there not the right attitude or the right channels, machinery to pursue sustainable development?

The fact that many Jamaicans no longer see opportunity for themselves or their families on the island is at the core of our problem. The brain drain came to town in the 1970’s and 1980’s… and it’s no secret its back again, but again we haven’t truly learned. I am wondering can’t we repress the images and sentiments of despair that appear before us for long enough, so that we can carefully assess the consequence that a lack of collective will undoubtedly have on the micro-community, the nation at large and the greater Jamaican Diaspora. Any conscionable person must agree that we are at an extremely difficult moment in our nation’s history but why should we turn our backs on years and years of having a unified position all now in favour of individual aggrandizement.

About the author

Phil Dinham