Being entitled to Jamaican citizenship on account of it being your place of birth is not in itself any kind of notable achievement deserving to inspire pride.
And there is the point to be made that it is not only persons who are born in Jamaica who are entitled to identify themselves as Jamaican. The second generation constituents of the Disapora claim that right also, and many of them formally do so by taking steps to register their citizenship with Jamaica whenever their host nation permits dual-citizenship.
Sometimes the children of immigrants born overseas suffer a crisis of national identity as to where they belong. Well, at least for the sons and daughters of Jamaicans, they should be confident in knowing that they do have an identity with us, and the family ‘home’ is Jamaica.
In the light of the Diaspora’s mammoth contribution to Jamaica’s foreign exchange earnings performance, we can hardly begrudge the second generation Jamaicans born outside the shores of Jamaica their right to be called Jamaicans. In this context the _expression ‘blood is thicker than water’ should be understood to mean that neither distance or oceans of water will dilute family connections, and the Diaspora’s unspoken motto should effectively be ‘we are out of many one people – wherever we may be’.
To enjoy the privilege of being able to identify as a Jamaican is more than a matter of pride – it is a blessing of belonging to an international family. For Jamaicans around the world it means a common identity with a place we simply refer to as ‘home’.
There are countries on the Globe where the full extent of their basic knowledge about the Caribbean is comprised of the names ‘Bob Marley’ and ‘Jamaica’. It is one of the awe factors about little Jamaica, with its big name.
Every country, every nation of people, have their specific difficulties with which they have to contend. In this respect Jamaica is no different. We are blessed though in the place where our fore-parents were landed, for on this planet there are some significantly inhospitable habitats which, but for fate, could have been our designated lot. Therefore it would be ungracious not to give thanks for the substantial blessing of being chosen to be a Jamaican.
Anywhere in the world, to be Jamaican conjures a sense of pride because the brand name of Jamaica is such an internationally powerful commodity. Being Jamaican suggests a stereotype of a people who are street cool, quality conscious, free-spirited, confident and assertive. Jamaicans reaching high offices overseas are known to be articulate in their communication and trustworthy in their integrity. In a professional environment, like some kind of universally recognised degree, being Jamaican implies that you are trained to standards of reliable competencies, and that you have the social skills necessary to integrate and get along with others. It is part of the culture of being Jamaican that we celebrate academic achievement and professional development. From early on our children are taught the value of education.
Jamaicans have a tendency to rise to the top in whichever country you may find us. You need only look to the US, UK and Canada for notable examples of this.
As Jamaicans, it is natural that we feel pride in being associated with the Jamaican brand name. Equally, its is implicit that we will feel aggrieved about any negative press reports about the crime and violence problems that threatens to damage Jamaica’s international profile. All patriotic Jamaicans bear the mantle of being deputized ambassadors for Jamaica’s overseas reputation. However, the conclusion we can not avoid is that it is what happens on the Island which informs the country’s reputation abroad. Therefore the chief responsibility for maintaining the country’s good reputation abroad must first be with those who are living on the Island. This would seem right since the Disaspora has no power of vote to influence political priorities for the Government. This priority of purpose for our Government has to be demanded by the electorate, who can hold the Government to account.
Accordingly, those of us looking after the family ‘home’ are charged, amongst other things, with the responsibility of continuing to pursue a path of building and developing a social democracy which will shine as a beacon of pride for Jamaicans anywhere in the world.
To be a Jamaican by birth or decadency is not in itself a reason for pride, but what it means to be a Jamaican is full justification to be proud.
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.