Jamaica: A Sad Happy Place

There are beautiful things about Jamaica that have remained consistent since its “discovery” in the 15th Century. It was the explorer Christopher Columbus who recorded in his historical journals, the endearing description that this country we Jamaicans now call ‘home’ was “the fairest of all places he had ever seen”.

Columbus was of course speaking of the physical beauty and ambience of the Island. These characteristics endure today; the offshore views along the coastlines are still breath-taking; the fresh Jamaican breeze still stirs emotion; the brilliance of the Caribbean sunshine set against the richly colourful indigenous foliage remains a sensual experience that can not be captured by any photograph; the spectacular white sand beaches are just as glorious; and the awesome views from the hills forming the vertebra of Jamaica, reaching its crescendo at the Blue Mountain peak, is an array of phenomenons replicated so naturally nowhere else in the world.

The physical beauty of our idyllic Island home has never changed. To bear witness to this fact Jamaica has a vibrant tourist industry and returnee residents continue to redefine the concept of ‘retirement home’. We Jamaicans are by nature a sociable people, warmly welcoming all good company.

If there is a paradise on earth Jamaica would be in the short list for that accolade. That is until you factor in the criminal elements challenging the state to exclude law and order from parts of the country; for here comes the most serious risk of damage and denigration to Jamaica’s international reputation. Let’s face it – we have a problem that needs fixing!

However, it must be recognized that this particular problem is man-made, and anything man makes can be remade and made better (or worse).

The recent past is not so far gone that we do not remember the neighbourly Jamaica of yesteryears. As a country it seems that we have now looked over the precipice – and disapprovingly shook our head. It was obvious from what we saw that a change of direction was both critical and urgent.

In a democracy the theory is that politicians are elected into political office to lead by the people’s consensual submission to their leadership. The Government of the day is usually under no illusion about the important issues that most concern its people. At this time Jamaicans watch for our current political leadership to lead, and to steer Jamaica on to a path which will involve sustainable prosperity and self-sufficiency, in the context of a globalized world.

Our leaders will need to lead with a vision which Jamaicans at home and abroad can commonly identify with, support, and follow for the good of the country. The borders of Jamaica no longer stop at her shores – there is an overseas family almost as large as the one on the Island.

The task for our present Prime Minister is an extremely challenging one. Whilst by now we all know that Rome was not built in a day, according to information – it burnt flat in only one night! The moral therefore is that tasks requiring mammoth efforts to achieve can be quickly obliterated by acts of minor recklessness.

Right now Jamaica cannot afford any acts of minor recklessness. Now more than ever government must govern astutely; the media must be tenacious in how it conducts its journalism and defends press freedom; the security forces must be professional in the exercise of their powers and; the courts and legal profession must be beyond reproach in the conduct of their combined and independent roles in the administration of Justice.

Jamaicans are now engaged in the task to ‘make a better Jamaica’. Relative to this task there is a realization that there must inevitably be a reckoning with Jamaica’s common enemy of crime and violence, which left unchecked could permanently disfigure our beautiful country. Surely this cannot be allowed to happen, and therefore law-abiding Jamaicans in their overwhelming numbers will categorically pick a side to secure Jamaica’s future.

Hamilton Daley is a practising Attorney-at-Law in Jamaica, 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.