The process of human development is that we learn to crawl before we learn to walk. A country is a place comprised of humans, and the process of a country’s development is much the same – over time a country learns how to be an independent nation. For Jamaica the 6th August 1962 represents the date of the cutting of the political umbilical cord from our colonial mother Great Britain. But it is too much to think that as a nation we were instantly matured on a certain date – we are still on that road.
In relative terms, as a country, we are still young but developing well and substantially in many ways. If we should pause to speculate about the future of Jamaica, what do we honestly anticipate – that things will get better or worse?
In the 1970s and early 1980s political violence was a major teething problem for first generation Independent Jamaica. On hindsight it might be debated that the social turbulence of the time was merely symptomatic of contrasting political ideologies struggling for the heart of a new nation. Thus it might be argued that during that period Jamaica was just experiencing growing pains. Current politicians from all sides of the political spectrum denounce any suggestion of association with political violence. Public sensibilities are such that this type of behaviour would now be regarded as a shocking feature in present day politics. Jamaica’s present electorate are more educated and informed.
In recent years the issue of Jamaica’s crime rate has been of major concern to Jamaicans at home and abroad. Those who have recollection of the Jamaica of the 1960’s complain that the country’s social landscape and moral values have changed for the worse. The fact however is that the world has changed; globalization, convenient air travel and instant communication technology has made the world a smaller place.
We live in the Information Age; immediate access to news as it unfolds anywhere in the world; the internet has made global communication and access to information incredibly effortless; and advances in mobile telecommunications has decisively linked the modern world on a personal level. Jamaica has an endless appetite for technological advancement and the latest lick (state-of-the-art, for our non-Jamaican readers). It is in the nations psyche to look to emulate or set First World standards.
Take for instance our tourism industry, in Jamaica our pitch is a tourist experience in a modern world class hospitality. Jamaica’s tourist industry regularly win international accolades for its level of service, and to boot, the industry always has that enduring boast of being the destination favoured by Christopher Columbus himself.
There is a saying: ‘There would be nothing wrong with the world if there were no people’. Certainly in that context Jamaica is all beautiful. Many of the problems we face as a nation can be addressed by positive reconstruction of our relationships with each other, our children and our future plans. Jamaicans are gifted people with immense capacity for tolerance and acceptance of all types of people and culture. It is a quality which is expressed in our national motto: Out of many one people. We are happy to identify with any colour, creed or complexion as belonging to the Jamaican family. There are few countries which genuinely demonstrate this quality of character, but as a nation comprised of a rainbow coalition of people it is part of Jamaica’s depth and strength.
Over the years Jamaica has of course changed. If there had been no change, we would be a country stuck in the dark ages. All developing countries are expected to change over time. Indeed even developed countries continue to change. Some of these changes occur in the form of political alliances or international and regional treaties, but in all these instances change is intended to be synonymous with development.
Whilst Jamaica continues to mature as an independent country, it will be affected by outside influences. Jamaica is an island but it does not stand in isolation; there are diplomatic, regional and international relationships to be courted, observed and tactfully maintained. Jamaica would not wish to be sidelined or lose what influence it can muster on the international stage. As a small country our objective should be to avoid being rendered mere pawns to more powerful states or manipulated by giant commercial entities with questionable scruples.
The Jamaican Government is charged with the political responsibility to be on guard in the interest of the people of Jamaica. In a developing country such as ours it is an onerous charge, but it is given and received on the basis that the individuals in public office have the passion, patriotism and integrity to stay the course of putting the interest of Jamaica before all else.
Hamilton Daley is a practising Attorney-at-Law in Jamaica [tel. (876) 967 0224], Solicitor Advocate in England and Managing Director of T.R.A.D.E. Ltd. Entrepreneurial Diasporians Jamaica calls you to duty. TRADE exists to facilitate trading bridges between Jamaica and the rest of the world.