This month we Interview, United Kingdom TV personality and community activist, Jamaican David Chen. He is passionate a Jamaica, Jamaicans and human rights. David has been recognized by numerous organizations for his work in human rights.
Q: Tell us about your work in the Jamaican community in UK?
First of all, I would like to thank jamaicans.com for all the work you are all doing to support the brand Jamaica. Overall as a passionate Jamaican, I have been campaigning for Jamaica all my life – with the aim of changing the negatives associated with Jamaica and Jamaicans into positives – with the long term aim of all Jamaicans “Working Together to Make It Better”.
Q: How did you get involved in the “A Gun Cannot Pick Itself Up – So Why Should You?“ campaign?
I started the “A Gun Cannot Pick Itself Up – So Why Should You” campaign over 7 years ago – after the birth of my daughter – at the time, the development of gun crime was becoming very ‘normal’ – I wanted to make a change – as I was not prepared to see these negatives happening in our communities and not do anything about it. Many youths in our communities are completely lost. They are disconnected from our culture – and because of this – they have not got a clue about their own heritage or understanding of good citizenship. Only recently, a young girl was stabbed in South London – she was ONLY 16 years young.
Q: Can you tell us about some of the success stories of this campaign?
Based on awareness – and we have to be honest here – the guns are still on our streets, the youths are still dying. The question I would like to ask is where are the guns coming from? In Jamaica WE do not manufacture guns – so HOW do the guns come into the country? The campaign aims to wake up the leaders of our world – and try to make them understand that our youths need constructive edu-tainment – and the negatives that are being promoted on the TV, on our radios and in our cinemas representing these young people needs to be censored.
Q: Do you think this campaign can be replicated in Jamaica?
Jamaica, generally speaking is a dynamic island, everyone loves Jamaica – what is happening is that WE are killing ourselves – Jamaica is NOT a poor country – we are unbelievably rich in culture, attitude and hospitality. Where is Jamaica going wrong? Our leaders need to be honest with the youths and the people of Jamaica, regardless. My question is ‘where are the guns and the bullets coming from and how did they get onto the island and what is attracting our kids to it? Think about it – Create a Skills &Trade Centre in every parish to offer the “idlers” something to do and see how those negatives that are currently associated with parishes will be changed to positives.
Q: Can you tell us about some of the campaigns involving Jamaica?
There are a range of organizations who offer workshops across the island – as we mention Skills & Trade Centres are our next project to continue our Positive Community Supporting Networking drive later this year – here we aim to go into each parish and offer an introduction to customer service and communication skills with the intention to increase the overall presentation skills across the island – with the aim to advance the confidence in all we are associated with. This will direct the minds of those who had negative intentions to be constructive and have a more positive outlook on life and beautiful Jamaica.
Q: I know you are passionate about all human rights but is there one area that is “dearest” to your heart?
As an Ambassador for Peace and Human Rights, something that is dearest to my heart is the issue of enslavement. Our ancestors fought long and hard to abolish slavery and allow the African-Caribbean to be treated as equals. I believe it is time for us to “Work together to Make It better” to create unity amongst all. What a peaceful world we would have!!!
Q: How frequently do you visit Jamaica?
I try to “go home” at least 3 times each year.
Q: Have you tackled the issues of human rights in Jamaica?
I have examined the human rights situation in Jamaica and seen where we as a nation are extremely passionate about our culture regardless of what others believe, however of the many citizens with whom I have ongoing relationships, there is a clear feeling that there is distinct cultural and class division and discrimination, as the rich get richer and the poor become poorer. In spite of the fact that Jamaica has natural resources to enable us to be more self reliant, there seems to be a mental desire for the unattainable and that which is outside of our natural resources and alien to a natural way of life using natural resources thus creating huge wants based on a mental imagery fueled by media representation in the programming which is now widely available via satellite into Jamaica. We need our political, spiritual, cultural and business leaders to work with us to support the poorer families. Freedom of speech can also be a major issue here. Hence the reason why I formed the organisation – VOICING FOR JAMAICA
Q: Many of the global human right activists see “Homosexual rights” and homophobia as a human rights issue in Jamaica. Do you agree with that? What do you think is a major human right issue in Jamaica?
Internationally we are living in a society where we cannot please everyone – as our great Bob Marley said in one of his songs “you can please some people sometime – but you can’t please all the people all the time” – from a human rights perspective we try to promote the idea of “Don’t Discriminate” where we urge all to work together in Unity to create Peace for all. I believe in equality of opportunities and the acknowledgement of diversity as contributing to the richness of society. People have a right to co-exist without fear of violence or discrimination and the recent treaty signed by some artists demonstrates that there is a shift in consciousness on this level.
The biggest human rights problem in Jamaica can be seen as a division of rules and laws.
Q: How did you get involved in Television and the media?
I have always had an interest in international matters and current affairs with an overall support for my community as a proud Jamaican Voicing my opinion and being put on a platform to campaign for our rights. With this idea about 20 years back – my aim was to keep my standards high, be consistent and persevere to achieve the best. A funny star time moment for me was the grand opening of “Mother’s Patty” in Cross Road (Kingston) on my way home from school (Kingston College) when I was interviewed live – and being asked by the presenter “What did I want to be when I grow up” my answer was “Like You” -……. So said so done – but must admit, being a freelance journalist and a broadcaster is not an easy job – to all those who would like to take up this career – a media career involves a lot of sleepless nights and NUFF research and responsibility!!! However, extremely enjoyable as we meet many new people on a daily basis.
Q: Tell us about your TV show?
Oh WOW! My programmes is one with a difference. I host a number of TV programmes in the UK, the prime is the flagship – The African Caribbean Connection which is called The BBS SHOW, a live and interactive programmes where we engage the viewers to call in on various topics of the day. We base the discussion on issues that relates to the African and Caribbean nationals who reside in the UK and Europe. We touch on issues such as immigration, welfare, entertainment, leadership and equalities, global political issues, and economic news. Anything that is in the remit of current affairs. If I must say so myself – I find it extremely interesting as the callers are the ones who make the show for us.
Q: Your shows can now be viewed on Youtube.com. How has the Internet affected your show?
The internet without a doubt is a major promotional and marketing tool for everyone – so for my viewers worldwide – we are closer to you than you think… I must thank you all for the continued support, nuff respect to you at www.jamaica.com
Q: On your shows you seem to be very involved in highlighting the positive in the Jamaican community in UK. Can you share with us some of the positives of the Jamaican community in the UK?
The Jamaican community in the UK is a warm and vibrant community which is reflective of the Jamaican culture at home. There are the divisions mentioned earlier but also more unity amongst people as desperate groups rally together for a common cause to celebrate ‘being Jamaican’. Jamaican’s living in the UK although they may be divided on class at home, here in the UK, will often experience to greater or lesser extent the same issues in relation to discrimination, victimization, employment and immigration as they are, in common ‘Jamaicans abroad’.
Q: What are your long terms plans for the show?
Firstly we have to give thanks for all that we have achieved so far. The only aim is to continue doing what we are doing, be consistent and keep our profile as high as possible. Our viewers make the show, and so far they are completely satisfied with what we are delivering. You can see my weekly clips on www.myspace.com/caribbeandavidchen – share your views and opinions with me online.
Q: Have you done work on bringing attention to the genocide in Darfur?
We have supported the people of Africa on a daily basis and have had as guests on our show numerous government officials who highlight the current situation across Rwanda. Currently in the UK there are a number of events that are taking place – in relation to the genocide situation in Darfur. Here we urge visitors to the www.jamaica.com website to take your time out to write to various government bodies worldwide requesting that they aim to support Rwanda in all ways possible.
Q: Let say you had a magic wand and you could change one thing in Jamaica. What would it be?
If I had a magic wand I would wave it across all the poor areas to ensure better accommodation and utility supplies. Build schools that are well equipped and staffed. Create investment opportunities and employment and increase the levels of literacy through community programmes and ensure that every child receives a decent education. Introduce innovative Skills & Trade centers and encourage respect for the environment and encourage greater awareness of environmental issues. Overall, better quality of life for all.
Q: Any final thoughts for the users at Jamaicans.com?
Saying this as simple as I can… Users of www.jamaicans.com – remember that We are the ONLY ones who can do it for ourselves and as Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica We need to seriously come together and join hands in hand and work as hard as we can to keep the name J.A.M.A.I.C.A. as high as possible. Whenever you see or hear of a Jamaican doing well – always make sure you BIG THEM UP!!!
ONE LOVE Jamaica and one love my people – DAVID CHEN love you all!!!