Calling It For The Women

So I am about ready to declare some of the seats in this election.  I am particularly focused on the seats being contested by women.  Both the PNP and the JLP have fielded candidates in this 2016 general elections, the NDM has not fielded a full slate of candidates but they have put forward one woman and from assessing the names of the other candidates outside of the NDM it would appear that there is one other woman.     The PNP has 13 women in their slate of candidates, while the JLP has put forward eleven(11) women as candidates.

Getting more women on the ballot has been the focus of a number of women throughout Jamaica.  The formation of the 51% Coalition just over four years ago, following the National Policy of Gender Equality (NPGE) established a focus of the need for greater attention to be paid to the candidate selection process and the numbers of women who run and who subsequently make it to the House of Representatives.  As a member of the 51% Coalition I participated in conversations, workshops, teach ins, seminars, lectures, debates and street side chats with just about everyone who would listen, on the need for more women in representative politics.  Parity is the minimum goal for those of us who advocate for more women in representational politics.  Truth is we expect that women should do things differently, at the very minimum to impact decision making processes such that social justice kinds of issues are integrated into the governance considerations of the leaders in Parliament.  Whether or not this is so for every woman is highly debatable, in fact one of the discussions that we continue to revisit in the women’s sector is the kind of woman who really represents in such a way that these issues become a part of her agenda.  So while we examine the numbers, there is also a greater need to examine the substance of the women we elect and to ask will she really deliver on the expectations of those who advocate for greater numbers of women in the hope that women will have a positive impact on our governance arrangements.      There is agreement that at least 30% of the seats in Parliament should be occupied by women for one to see the impact women can have on decision making.

In this election some women will win and some will lose, so far it looks like their will be more PNP than JLP women who will sit as members of parliament in the House.  For the PNP St. Andrew South Western; being contested by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller;  St. Ann South Eastern where we find Lisa Hanna, St. Catherine Eastern with Denise Daley and St. Catherine North Central, with Natalie Neita Headley  are sure wins.  Clarendon South Eastern is an interesting one, Patricia Duncan Sutherland, is putting up a spirited fight against Rudyard Spence, the incumbent.  I am going to call it for Patricia; there is a feeling that she has covered enough ground to take it from Ruddy, furthermore if one looks at the voting trends over the last three elections it is clear that support for Ruddy has been trending down, clearly he has not been doing the work.   Three seats look uncertain but the women in these seats are fighting and look intent to take it home for the PNP, I just cannot call them yet.  In any case two of those seats are being contested by two women, one from each major party, so whichever party wins a woman will occupy the seat.

Imani Duncan Price in St. Andrew East Rural and Sharon Folkes Abrahams in St. James West Central, are both contesting strong women from the JLP, in any case a woman will win and so improve the numbers, but the details of this fight are also interesting.  Imani Duncan Price is a firebrand with a family history that spells ‘political dynasty’, she is smart and easy to like but somehow this is not being translated into support for her particular kind of representation in her constituency and her opponent Juliet Holness is being tipped to win the constituency.  Word is that Juliet comes across as being more ‘accessible’ to the typical voter, like Imani she is represented as likeable and though her family connections are different from Imani’s herself and her husband, Andrew Holness,  are certainly trending in the ‘famous families in Jamaican politics’  category.  But Imani’s father is a political strategist who is not contesting the election, this seat will be decided on the day I suspect, it will go to who have the stronger ground force.  Sharon Folkes Abrahams is the incumbent in St. James West Central, she is facing Marlene Malahoo Forte; these are two accomplished women with experience in the law.  For me the issue here is the power of female incumbency, can Marlene successfully challenge Sharon? I don’t know, I am going to wait until later, but in any case this seat will increase the numbers of women in the House of Parliament.  Ashley Ann Foster is a ‘newbie’ in St. James Central, her male  opponent is too, and the seat is a new one, came into being in the 2011 elections, she has already challenged one male,  and won, Lloyd B. Smith is after all no longer  on the PNP ticket; Ashley Ann Foster is one to watch.

Fayval Williams is challenging Andre Hylton most convincingly in St. Andrew Eastern.  And the safe seats with Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange in St. Catherine Central, Shahini  Robinson in St. Ann North Eastern and Marisa Dalrimple Philibert in Southern Trelawny are set to retake their seats as Members of Parliament. At the very least I expect the JLP to have four women on their side when they take their seats in Gordon House. This is not to say they might not have more, things are looking quite well for Juliet Holness in St. Andrew East Rural and her namesake, former Olympian Juliet Cuthbert Flynn is putting up a convincing fight in St. Andrew West Rural, and of course Marlene Malahoo Forte is a serious contender.  So there are three too close to call ones for the JLP.   Though, I suspect that Juliet Cuthbert will emerge victor.

It looks as if we might have a maximum of twelve women as members of parliament eleven at the least.  This would mean an almost 40% increase in the number of women over the last term,   but would actually be only 17% of the total number of seats.  We still have far to go to parity, equality in respect of numbers and the matter of substantive representation might even be more problematic.    But if we are to change the numbers there are some points to consider; women need to be in a constituency at least two years before an election is called, in their caretaker role they can build the kind of social and political capital that will see them being serious contenders   for even the most hard to win and ‘garrisonized’ seats.  Patricia Duncan Sutherland’s challenge to Rudyard Spencer, a stalwart in the JLP, is a resounding and serious one, she has been in the constituency working on the ground and connecting with the people, putting in the necessary work.   Women need to contest winnable seats; the tradition of garrisons in some constituencies makes it impossible for challengers to win regardless of their gender.  For this reason placing a woman to contest an election in Clarendon Central, St. Andrew North Central and perhaps St. Thomas West can’t be seen as a serious attempt at changing the numbers; women need to be placed in winnable seats.  Other factors which might influence women’s ability to be viable are the number of new voters on the list, the strength of the candidate herself and in particular her access to money, organizational support from the party, especially from the top tiered leadership and social media visibility.

So I am going to wait and see what happens.

 

How to be Jamaican

Ever so often, I become absorbed with the idea of what it means to be Jamaican.  See as a child born in the 70s I learnt the hard way that Jamaican politics, as manifested in the politics of PNP and JLP, is damaging and has devastated this country.  So I am a Jamaican, and I am trying to figure out what this means.  For a lot of people being Jamaican is a yearly experience and at those moments when we are Jamaicans it is overwhelming and powerful.  I can still remember powerful Jamaican moments, when Veronica Campbell won the Gold in the 200 meters and collected her medal with tears streaming down her face, that was a powerful Jamaican moment.

My other powerful Jamaican moment was when  Bolt broke the world record in Beijing and when those three Jamaican women, Shelly, Kerron and Sherone, crossed the finish line before everyone else in the world in the women’s 100m. For a moment there I felt breathless, who would have believed that such a result would be possible, you hoped, you tried to be positive, but nothing could have prepared you for that finish.  There have been others but those two were amazing.

When Jamaica turned fifty, the atmosphere in the National Stadium was magnetic.  The Festival Songs that were being played transported every Jamaican back to that time, in a community, at a school dance, somewhere when curry goat and plain rice and mannish water and rice and peas and fried chicken tasted way too good to be true.  Or eating, bulla and pear with some brebige, sitting on a verandah while Maas somebody or Miss something pass and shout ‘good morning’ and ask how yuh How yuh madda.

So hear I am thinking about how proud I was when Chronixx appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel show.  Or when Tessanne took the Voice by storm and how incredible we were when we literally ensured that she won.  So I am wondering where is that Jamaica and where are those Jamaicans and were they real?  If they were real, how do we find them and those sentiments and use them all the time?  Jamaica needs some kindness, some love and some good vibes.  How could we have taken that identity, idea and sentiment to PICA these past couple of days, how could we have used that idea to determine how we would treat each other?  We need those sentiments at Kingston Public Hospital, or at the Tax Office when the lines are long and we feel as if we are almost without energy.

We have to somehow draw on this identity, because the other identity is wrapped in bitterness and anger and an unforgiving spirit.  I have encountered Jamaicans who are rude and abrasive and downright ugly in spirit.  Who thrive on being insulting and mean, dismissive and cruel.  The taxi driver who is so ill mannered you are left speechless, the nurse at the hospital who speaks to you with such contempt, or the doctor who looks right through you, the average Jamaican who is always ready to ‘tell yuh how much string mek yuh up’.  I have experienced them all, and we need to be rescued from a tendency in our national character to dehumanize and treat each other with sheer contempt.  This schizophrenia in our national psyche is a sickness and it is costly.  We need to think about it, which of these identities will work? I know which one, I wish we would put thought and strategy behind it.

Which poor?

When I was eight (8) years old, my grade two teacher taught us a song that we were sure would get us gold at Festival.  “The postman, the paper boy, the piano turner too, they all come the front way like visitors do” we were all perfectly poised and our pronunciation was on point.  Festival was in Black River that year and it felt like the entire school was in one of the several pieces we were practicing in our attempts to win a gold medal.  Somehow on our return from Black River we were so tightly packed in the bus that was taking us home that my kidney was damaged.  By the time I got home I started swelling uncontrollably.  By the time Monday rolled around I was twice my size.  My mother had to wait until Monday despite her apprehensions. So I was heading back to Black River, this time to the hospital on the same bus, I had been packed so tightly in, that my kidneys were squeezed and I developed Nephritis.  Of course I was admitted; I spent a couple days in that hospital and then was transferred to the Bustamante Children’s Hospital where I spent fifty-two days.

My poor mother was stressed and tired all the time.  Travelling from St. Elizabeth to Kingston was only possible once a week, I was in that hospital by myself most of the time, except for an occasional visit from a family friend or my sister who was at school in Kingston.

When I came to Kingston, to attend UWI, I was terrified at the idea of living next door to August Town, I had heard about ghettoes where poor people lived and that they were ‘bad’ areas with a lot of killing and people who were not afraid.  I imagined the poverty and imagined sheer horror and constant torture, when I visited August Town I was in shock and awe, the people looked so affluent, they had taxis and buses and they were right next to UWI.  They were near a hospital, schools were nearby, and they had running water and road.

Just after the Tivoli incident I volunteered with a group of people to do outreach work in Tivoli Gardens.  I promised I would never do outreach in a Kingston community again.  Tivoli had skills training centre, community centre, a HEART Training centre.  As I walked through the community I saw children who were well dressed, homes furnished to the hilt and people living well.  I thought longingly of one of these opportunities in Kilmarnock.  On the day we were there several groups were competing to go into the community, they were on a schedule and we were competing for space.  I could not help but be amazed by their good fortune.

When I was in Teacher’s College my sisters lived in Montego Bay and I spent most of my time with them.  One holiday I came home and a friend of theirs from St. Elizabeth was planning a dance in her community, she had invited them but my sisters were and still are not the dance going type, I was young and restless and every time I look back I say ‘damn careless’ because I went.  At the time the train was running so we took the train from Montego Bay.  It was a community called ‘Breadnut Hill’ there was no road, no water, and no electricity.  I left that situation, thanking God for the Rural Electrification Programme; it had reached Kilmarnock, we had light in our homes and the community even had three street lights, there was none in Breadnut Hill.  I felt as if I came from affluence.

When I was pregnant as a seventeen year old teenager in Kilmarnock, I worried a lot.  What if I went into labour and Maas Victor was not in Kilmarnock? (Maas Victor’s Land Rover was available for rental in emergencies) How would I get to the hospital? I was in full blown panic, what if I had to wait for long and then had the baby on my way to the hospital?  Kilmarnock is a hill, with an extremely narrow and windy road, it is about two miles from where I live to New Market and then seventeen miles to Black River.  I did panic and my mother took me to the hospital too early, but the doctors did not send me back home, especially when they checked my records and saw my history of kidney disease.  I waited a week to go into labour, I felt safer in the hospital.

I hate when Jamaicans pretend as if they do not know that some of our people still live in extreme poverty.  I do not like the biased emphasis on the urban poor and the representation of their plight as the plight of the nation’s poor and vulnerable. Poverty in Jamaica cuts deep and sits at the heart of our social ills.  In many rural spaces people still live the same way they did a hundred years ago, people still cannot visit hospitals and doctors because they have no money to.  Public transportation provided by the government covers St. Catherine, St. Andrew and Kingston.   And in those places fare is not cheap.  And some of those people either can afford electricity or they cannot, if they can’t the JPS men cut the light one week after the due date and until you get the reconnection fee and the full amount owed, people buy ice and ‘draw fi dem’ ‘Home Sweet Home’ kerosene oil lamp.

So when we talk about the poor in Jamaica what do we mean?  Who is poor and where do poor people come from? What does it mean to be poor and what are the expectations we have of or poor people?  Why are some of us so horrified at the announcement by the JPS? In this very colour conscious and class driven society we have to be careful about the labelling, some of us are a little too mean with our empathy.  We seem to only save it for people who live in relatively close proximity to each other and are logistically easier to transport on Election Day.

Nadeen Spence

In Response to Mr. Reid

In Response to Mr. Reid

Mr. Ruel Reid is once again putting forward a position on a matter that well thinking men and women find extremely troubling.  On the first occasion that Mr. Reid felt it necessary to speak to his belief that poor Jamaican women are ‘dropping babies’ without any care or concern about how they should be taken care of, I was perplexed, I had imagined that he had revisited his position and had somehow changed his perspective.  But unfortunately, he has not altered  his position, he is apparently concerned that state resources are being used to care for the unwanted and unplanned children of people who are too poor to maintain them.   Mr. Reid’s logic suggests that the poverty, lack of resources and economic opportunity which plagues the most vulnerable of our society are a result of unplanned pregnancies and unwanted babies. 

Mr. Reid further suggests that Jamaica, because of these unplanned pregnancies and unwanted babies, is facing a cultural crisis and needs to re-evaluate its values such that a behaviour change will occur which will see a lessening of the immoral acts  which poor people engage in which sees them having more and more children.   Now I know Mr. Reid is a learned man, he is after all the current headmaster of one of Jamaica’s most respected colonial schools.  One that has produced prime ministers and Rhodes Scholars and other men of stellar achievement and solid reputation,  further he was at one point the chief shepherd of teachers and was recently sworn in as a Senator; Mr. Reid is for all intents and purposes an honourable gentleman.  Not only is he honourable he is learnt and experienced and a man of good conscience.

Mr. Reid must not then know that a 2010 UNDP report pointed to the fact that the 2010 Economic and Social Survey of Jamaica records that we are currently experiencing decreasing birth rates and relatively low death rates,  resulting in an ageing population.  In other words we are faced with a very first world problem in the midst of third world realities.  Mr. Reid must not know that the 65 years and older age group is the fastest growing segment of the population.

Mr. Reid might very well argue that his problem is not with all Jamaicans but with those poor Jamaicans who are having children who they cannot afford to take care of.  It is quite strange that the best example of population control he can point to is China’s ‘One Child Policy’.  Firstly, he is pointing to this at a time when China is relaxing the policy, at a time when it has been argued that the policy was and is an abysmal failure and at a time when Chinese children are abandoning their elderly parents in droves because as their parents enter into old age the one child is finding it financially challenging to take care of two elderly parents, this Policy failed in a number of ways not least of which is its impact on the Chinese labour force.  But without even getting into the nuances of that debate I wonder why Mr. Reid, educator par excellence did not feel the need to examine the impact education has on population growth.   In fact I would like to ask Mr. Reid to critically assess his statement, in that long tradition of academic writing where statements are put forward after credible research and a well thought out position.  I would think that as an educator, with limited knowledge of Planned Parenthood, and reproductive rights he would know that he ought not to speak from an uninformed position, after all Mr Reid you are a distinguished gentleman and leader to boot.

Mr. Reid, I am worried that your concerns about balancing the nation’s budget and promoting economic growth are much too one sided.  How about we examine the impact those big businesses which have been granted protracted periods of tax exemptions are having on the economy?  What of those companies that do not turn over the taxes they collect from these said poor people to the state?  What of the role of crime but better yet how about examining the role  political parties have played and continue to play in Jamaica’s uncontrollable crime problem and of course the subsequent cost to our country’s economy and reputation?

Unless Mr. Reid, you yourself have become a part of the system that Bob Marley referred to when he described a system which ‘sucks the blood of the sufferer.’   Mr. Reid who is the problem in Jamaica? Is it the children of poor people? Or is it this ‘Babylon System’ that you seem hell bent on protecting?

Exiled in Siberia

I have learnt powerfully in the last two years or so some critical and valuable lessons about life on this planet and more particularly on my piece of rock.  I am not complaining mind you, or I hope that this is neither a rant nor a rave, I hope I don’t sound bitter.  If I do, I cannot help it then and to be truthful I do not want to apologize, it is what it is.  Ira Shor that accomplished educator and thinker refers to the ‘Siberia Syndrome’ in his attempt to explain the position that students who feel marginalized take in a classroom: “it is the tendency of alienated and marginalized students to seek out the far corners of the classrooms.”   I am noticing how women here are firmly located in a kind of ‘Siberia’, how they have been pushed aside to the far corners of this place, busily moving from place to place hesitant to engage in public, never staying long in one place, inaccessible, locked away behind closed doors.

Here, women are not allowed to represent themselves, they must be represented by a man, if a woman dares to speak for herself then she is labelled ‘feminist’, ‘lesbian’, ‘man hater’ someone who emasculates men or is forced to take responsibility for the ‘marginalization of men.’   So I dared to do that, I dared to speak for myself, but alas I did not realize that as a single, young woman I was not allowed to speak on my behalf, then came the silencing, the banishment to ‘Siberia’ the place to which women who do not know their place,  who dare to speak for themselves are ‘exiled’ when they breach the rules of patriarchy. My banishment was particularly shocking, I don’t know why, it just was, perhaps because I believed, mistakenly, that in the final analysis the truth surfaces and reigns supreme, perhaps I had read too many fairy tales or read one too many Mills and Boon romance novels.

It was then that I began to wonder about the women who I had noticed around me who had been banished, those women who were operating from their own places of exile,  how did they get there, was the exile self-imposed? How did they get relocated to ‘Siberia’?  That is my new task, I want to find out how these women moved to Siberia.

Rethinking Siberia

Shor says to combat ‘Siberia’ one has to embrace a critical pedagogy; a pedagogy of questions.  That allowed me the opportunity to rethink my ‘exile’ because I believe that it is in exile that I am learning to ask beautiful and profound questions.  Can you imagine if we as the ‘exiled’ were able to unite around that principle of ‘critical pedagogy?’ if we were committed to asking the questions we are now asking in isolated exile, as a community of exiles? I think that is my second task; creating community from individuals in exiles!

Leadership Crisis At UWI, Mona

Jamaica Woman Tongue

After the rumours were finally confirmed last week that Professor Gordon Shirley, principal of the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies, would soon be sailing into a new port of call, I had a spirited conversation with an optimistic colleague. In response to my fears that the campus would now be facing a leadership crisis, he reassuringly reminded me of that famous gem of Chinese wisdom: danger + opportunity = crisis. It’s the kind of thing you expect to find in a fortune cookie.

As it turns out, it’s a fake gem – even though all sorts of people have brandished it. John F. Kennedy once famously declared, “[T]he Chinese use two brushstrokes to write the word ‘crisis’. One brushstroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger – but recognise the opportunity.”

This much-recycled formula is not an accurate…

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Reflections on Celebrating Fifty (50)

 

 

Fifty years ago Jamaica joined the ranks of independent states.  I was not around then, but in my mind I imagine that it was a proud moment for our people and our nation.  When I was growing up that moment was brought to life for me by festival songs; names like Stanley and the Turbines, Toots and the Maytals; and the Astronauts excited me.   I looked forward to Independence Day there was always a dance or a fun day at the school up the road.  My childhood was calm, pretty idyllic.  I never grew up with cable television or electricity; I grew up with neighbours and Wednesday markets, farming and Sunday school.   I was happy. When I was about eight everything changed; two phenomenal things happened; I developed kidney problem and had to be hospitalized in Kingston at the Bustamante Children’s Hospital and we had a national election.  All of a sudden my peace was shattered; as a young patient at Bustamante the violence that came along with the election was all too pervasive. 

 

The nurses and doctors and other patients spoke about the violence openly.  I don’t think I understood then the full implications of the stories I was hearing.  I was too young and too sick.  I do remember travelling back to the hospital after being released for follow up and outpatient care and my mother having to change my orange dress somewhere in Old Harbour.  The bus driver refused to take us any further unless my mother changed my clothes.  I am not sure if she bought another dress or if she had one in her bag, but I remember being undressed and dressed again in a more neutral coloured dress.  I can still remember my mother’s anxiety and fear and how apprehensive the people on that bus were about my nice orange dress with the white strings.  I liked that dress.  I did not trust it very much after that; I just remember being uncomfortable every time my mother tried to get me to wear it; I felt like the dress had betrayed me.

 

I remember my brother who is six years older than me, deciding that he was awaiting a P.J. Patterson motorcade and he would hide out and ring the bell when the motorcade was near his hiding place. The Labour Party bell was an important statement in my house when I was growing up.  I think I learnt the Labour Party song “Equal Rights and Justice” before or about the same time I learnt to sing the national anthem.   I can still sing it, as a matter of fact as I write the words keep reverberating through my head.  I remember the motorcade stopping and some really burly men coming out and asking rather loudly “a who ring the bell; me seh a who ring the bell?  “Thirty years later I can still hear his voice.  I think my sisters and I were convinced that something terrible was going to happen to us.  By this the terror of the election violence which was mainly concentrated in Kingston had made its way to my remote rural community.  I understood that we were on the brink of becoming Communist and that there was a virtual battle over good and evil that was taking place between the two parties.  There was no middle ground in this debate; if you were for the party my mother supported you were right if not you were wrong.  There was no compromise, we were good, and they were evil.  I remember that the Gleaner had published a centre spread with all the JLP candidates contesting that election and as the election count progressed we ticked off the seats that were won by the JLP.

 I remember a number of incidents from that election, in particular the incident with Cecil July at Top Hill (or is it Hill Top) St. Elizabeth.  I also remember my mother going to a political rally with my brother  in Lacovia (the same one who had rang the bell) and coming back home in the dead of night with dreadful stories of a car which attempted to mow them down at the rally while they were listening to Neville Lewis.  I will never forget how scared I was for my mother who went to every rally, even the ones at the National Arena.  I remember Euphemia Williams, who subsequently defeated P.J. Patterson in the 1980 election, passing through my community in a motorcade, she gave my little sister a Shirley Biscuit, we were standing at the gate when she stopped and asked for my mother. 

 I grew to political maturity at university and I managed to extricate and liberate myself from the biased and totally uncompromising dialogue around politics that Jamaicans usually engage in.  I also developed a love for history and began a serious look into the history of my island nation; I became absorbed with its political history and began to extricate myself from some misinformation, lies and half truths. I remember a lecture I attended after the Zeeks incident when Anthony Bogues, one of my politics lecturers,   framed the context of urban violence to   his students in an attempt to get us to understand the reality of political violence, garrison politics and the connections between our two major political parties and violence.  He took us on a journey and in the process helped us to appreciate the truth of our political geography; both physical and mental,  and how it has created boundaries and borders which continue to define how we interact with each other and create our nation from day to day.  I was amazed at that presentation; I was too awestruck to take in all that he had said because his presentation felt very much like I was watching a movie from a Hollywood action flick.  Things from my childhood in St. Elizabeth began to click and fall into place and I woke from my political slumber; promising myself that I would not fall prey to the political manoeuvrings that had catapulted us down a path of hellish cruelty.

I reflect now because I see that somehow we all as Jamaicans are going to have to wake up from this self inflicted amnesia which has allowed politicians to get away with everything from mayhem to murder.  There has to be some amount of accountability; everything can’t be explained away with the mere mention of a P.   I discovered some time ago that Jamaicans are not really Jamaicans, they became a P first.  We fought for independence after we fought for the right to belong to a party.  We were voting along party lines long before we knew the colours of the flag.  A nation did not go into independence in 1962; two parties did.  For that reason our nationalism has always been tenuous and dependent upon whether or not the parties are feuding or if it is near election time.  As a matter of fact the only mention of nation at election time is when the political hopefuls mouth platitudes of economic growth and transformation.  Yet we have seen powerful evidence of the strength of this nation and its people but those who would lead us are very uncomfortable with the identity of the people who would emerge if we first saw ourselves as Jamaicans.

What do we do now as we approach fifty (50)?  We have been celebrating our athletes, and basking in the phenomenon of our culture.  But I wonder sometimes if we have come far enough from that 1980 election.   Are we truly a nation?  What are we first Labourites, Socialists or Jamaicans?  Have we truly forged a community and are we truly a proud people?  I never saw that dress the same way I did before I got to Old Harbour. 

 

 

Leadership and Such Things

I have been listening to, watching, participating in the discussions on whether or not I believe Jamaica is facing a crisis of leadership.  I am amazed at the answers which come to either support or deny the statement.  As is expected, the typical response from a number of Jamaicans is to say yes if you are supporting the Jamaica Labour Party and to say No with eloquent explanations if you are a supporter of the People’s National Party.  So the question of Richard Azan’s resignation was never a real question, we all know that this would not happen, not in a million years would this have caused either of our political parties to break ranks and hang one their own out to dry.  By now we have figured out that the United States Government would have had to intervene for our politicians and leaders to take a stance against impropriety and corruption.

So why were we engaged in the discussion? Were we just “shooting the breeze” as they say or do we just like to ‘run off our mouth’ after all at the start of the discussions we knew where all of this was likely to go.  Call me naive, but I am going to say there was something new about this recent call for resignation, it sounded more like a test of the Portia Simpson led administration, somehow I get the feeling that those Jamaicans who are not caught in the debacle of party politics were taking note of the government’s response.  I think this was not so much about Richard Azan, it was more a dare for the PNP government, it went something like this “you said you were different, I dare you to put your money where your mouth is.”  Unfortunately, the government’s response was very much the same old response, it lacked awareness of the subtleties of the discussions which were being had across the nation.  Somehow the PNP got it wrong, this was not only the expected hysteria from the other party, the tone and tenure of the conversation had changed.

I suspect that those who asked for some sanction to be taken against Mr. Azan understood precisely that the current outcome would have prevailed.  So now I am left to wonder if our political leadership is really this disconnected from the sentiments on the ground.  The Jamaican political experience should have taught them that those closest to them are likely to tell them precisely what they want to hear.  Remember the story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes?”  But our political leaders are famous for hiding from the truth,they have deluded themselves into thinking that they are the full authors of the Jamaican story, their supporters continue to lie to them, to ‘con’ them into thinking that their actions are acceptable. I have heard so many ‘die;hearted’ PNP supporters reassure themselves that the only people having a problem with the current situation are Labourites, and that most of Jamaica has no problem with what happened.  “Listen to the talk shows” they argue, “most of the people who call are in full support of the government.” and they conclude convincingly “is the old tired Labourite dem a run up dem mout” .  Well at least convincingly  for them.

I suspect that there is something else afoot, I get the feeling that we are likely to refer to this particular situation again as we begin to add to the Jamaican political reality, I have a feeling that when we look back, when we reflect we might recognized that we were on the cusp of a major shift, unfortunately some of us would have missed it.