Sunday, November 20, 2011

Local Body Foreign Mind

A public relation company came to Jamaica back in the late 70’s and performed an experiment, they invited some ladies to look at two sets of brassieres, one set marked made in Jamaica and the other set marked made in the United States.

All the individuals taking part came to the same unanimous decision that the Bras marked made in the United States was of better quality, hands down, they went into details, showing superior stitching work, the professional quality of the bras that was made in the United States as oppose to those made in Jamaica, which they said was poor workmanship and lower quality, not good value for money and will not last long. No matter how many time they switch the labels between the Bras, the one with the label always wins.

 At the end of the showing when all votes were cast, they were then told that the labels on the brassieres had been switched and that the ones marked made in the United States was in fact made in Jamaica and those labeled made in Jamaica were actually made in the United States, to their shock and awe.

Some years ago the Gleaner published a letter from a woman complaining about the state of Jamaica’s 911 emergency services. No wonder she was having such bad luck because at that time in Jamaica we called emergency services using the number 119 and 911 did not exist. Her body was definitely local to Jamaica but her mind was clearly in North America.

At the start of the 1980’s the new Government embarked on a process of trade liberalization, the flood gates opened to what was primarily one way traffic of imports as we embarked on the era of the three V’s, “Volvo, Video and Venereal Disease”, the latter associated with the revival of the tourist industry. Before this the previous Government had restricted imports to essential items and non- essential items using a quota system. As such Jamaicans could only imagine what certain things look like or taste like (An American apple was like gold to anyone who could sneak them through the airport), they also restricted importing foreign television programs and instead promoted local productions as well as imported education materials such as documentaries. Needless to say we became experts of history and world affairs. I remember a mass protest against the Government where a lady shouted that she wanted to see Kellogs cornflakes and Champagne on the supermarket shelves even if she could not afford it, we should still use hard earn foreign exchange to import it.

Over time Jamaicans began to equate Freedom and Democracy as well as Economic and Social development with the ability to import and consume foreign items regardless of their ability to afford them. It did not take long for the television stations, supermarkets and the use of satellite dish systems to start exposing Jamaicans to all things foreign, it was now common to sit in your home and watch adverts for 99 cent burger or the latest top of the line consumer items thus increasing the Jamaican zombie like hunger for all things foreign, their body was trapped in Third World Jamaica but now their minds was wondering the streets of New York, Miami and LA, London, Paris. It was not surprising then that even after the Government of the 1980’s delivered them from the bondage of the 70’s that migration increased from 20% to 64% by 1988, if the mountain of goods won't come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain of goods.

As I said in a previous Blog successive governments began to create budgets around imports, give the people what they want and they will vote for you, make them happy regardless of the cost, this was done under the guise of Freedom and Democracy and to tell you the truth Jamaicans do not care where the money come from to support their buying habits, they pay lip service to the mountain of debt but they really do not care how the government go about financing/securing the funds to support this habit. Our government became master illusionist as they try their very best to maintain the illusion of prosperity of "first worldliness". I remember back in 1988, I was asked to generate two reports, one showing import and the other showing export for the entire year, I remember the guys from the operation room delivering the boxes containing the reports. The export box was half full and imports required two boxes, the subtotal for consumer goods versus that of non-consumer goods was staggering. 

As soon as the 2012 Range Rover Evoque was advertised in North America it was being unveiled at the ATL Autohaus office in Bogue Montego Bay complete with showgirls. The article states ‘RACKING up sales even before it landed in the island, the Evoque is finally here in the "flesh" (make that Victoria Beckham-designed interior, coupled with rugged Land Rover pedigree).” By the time this bad boy gets to the consumer it should cost about US $120K, who need schools and healthcare?

I read with disbelief RJR reporter referring to the JDF helicopter that Prime Minister Patterson was flying in as Air Force One. I see now that it has become fashionable to refer to the wife of the Prime Minister as the first lady, when that title does not exist and if it did then it would refer to the wife of the Governor General. For a long time a certain road in Jamaica was being called I95 and I read the mayor of Kingston referring to a certain shopping area in downtown Kingston as Time Square, not Three Finger Jack square or Breda Anansi Square to give it a Jamaican flavor and part of Portmore is now called Portmore Pines to match the various Pines in Florida. At the rate we are going Jamaican culture and history will soon be forgotten. 

Historically in Jamaica we had our own holidays that represented us as a people, Labor Day, Independence Day, Emancipation Day, National Heroes Day, New Year's Day and Boxing Day however just like how we import consumer goods we now also import American holidays, sports and a host of other stuff.  It is now very common to find Jamaicans celebrating July 4th the American Independence day as they shout God Bless America and decorate their houses with the old stars and stripes while inviting people over for 4th of July dinner and party. They go all out for this as if the year 1776 represented an historical event happening in Jamaica, there are Jamaicans who have more pride in American independence than in Jamaica’s independence from the British, well by the last poll most think we should have remained a colony.

When I was growing up Halloween was not a big deal, it was not on our calendar and we just did not care for it, we had better things to do. Not so these days, Halloween celebration and trick or treating is now a yearly event as returning and traveling Jamaicans try to show other Jamaicans just how Americanized they have become. One person remarked after spending only a few years in America, “it is what I am use to”... use to!! Lets see you are 36 and you spent 4 years in America ...mmmm. So everybody plays dress up and keep parties and send their kids out to Trick or Treat, ....ohhhh how cute ... “look weh mi live fi come see, a whole bunch a neva see come see”. The least I expected is for the these people to dress as characters from Jamaica’s folklore, nothing scarier than a Junkanoo, rolling calf, anansi and obeah priest but no sah, even the characters are imported as they fly to Miami to buy them. In these hard economic times who have money fi waste carving pumpkin, a pumpkin is something we use to make our Saturday soup with cart wheel dumpling not carve face into it.

The biggest imported holiday by far is Thanksgiving, the May flower must have stopped in Kingston Habour after leaving Plymouth, England and before heading to Plymouth, Massachusetts because Jamaicans have taken to this American holiday like fish to water. As I write this several people I know are planning massive Thanksgiving dinners and parties, it is such an important part of the Jamaican holiday calendar that the daily news papers write articles on how to prepare your thanksgiving meals, complete with the picture of the Tom Turkey surrounded by American plums and garnish and I must wonder why? Could it be that the problems that we have in Jamaica are not being solved because the minds of the people are not in Jamaica, they are wondering the virtual landscape of North America. Personally I will never understand American Holidays, imagine eating and drinking Christmas day and night and then returning to work the next morning, where is the day to get over the previous day, to lounge on the beach with friends and relax. The hard build up to Christmas and then bops it just done so, you back at you desk.

Super bowl/World Series parties are now also common yearly event, Jamaicans gather to impress upon others their knowledge of this sport. They prepare for this event with commitment, as if they were in America or a Jamaican team was taking part. They go out shopping for the super bowl, buying the required treats and decorate their houses with team flags, wearing their team’s Jersey and I am still wondering why. This is Freedom and Democracy at work, at the expense of Nation Building and the Jamaican society.

Soon we will officially get rid of the Jamaican Calendar and start using the American Hallmark version, it is obvious that the people already have these pinned to their kitchen walls, only the Government is lagging behind.  

Will The Rich and Well To Do Ever Say Thank You:
The other day I was watching program where American millionaires were being interviewed about how they came to be so rich. During the program I noticed a certain trend, they all make a point in asking God to Bless America and declared that only in America and if it was not for America they would not be who they are today.

I have never heard the rich and well to do in Jamaica ever asking God to bless Jamaica or declare that if it was not for Jamaica they would not have achieved such wealth and comfort. Jamaica’s rich it seems thinks that Jamaica is not anyway shape or form responsibility for their good fortunes, that it is they who made Jamaica and that Jamaica did not make them. Where would Butch Stewart be without Jamaica, who would he be, in any other country he would just be another face in the crowd, in Jamaica he was not and so who he is today is because of the unique set of circumstances that existed in Jamaica at that time.  The last statistic I saw on income distribution showed that 46% of total income is earned by the richest 20% of the population, the richest 10% makes 30% of total income. I think the rich in Jamaica thinks that they did not become rich because of Jamaica but in spite of Jamaica but I wonder where they would be if their ancestors did not find this goldmine of an island that made them possible(you ungrateful wretch!).

I must thank Jamaica, because growing up in Jamaica I remember:
  • At the start of every school year we use to get free material to make school uniform, I remember lining up  with the rest of the school to collect my free khaki material, God Bless Jamaica, I will be forever grateful.
  • Every now and then the school would give out free products, sometimes it was flour, or cornmeal or milk powder or sugar, sometimes all three, this was given free by the tax payer to help assist parents. God Bless Jamaica, I will be forever grateful.
  • I remember when the Government introduce free school lunch, it was stated that children cannot learn on empty stomachs and needed a balance diet, this lasted from Primary school to high school and consist of free soy box milk, free veggie patty or veggie meat loaf with soy crust. God Bless Jamaica, I will be forever grateful.
  • My cousin suffers from an inherited condition that requires constant care, this he got free of cost from the University Of the West Indies Hospital, Medical Research Council, not only was the treatment and medication free but they would send a bus to pick him up from home or school and return him after they were done. God Bless Jamaica, I will be forever grateful.
  • All of my education in Jamaica was for the most part free, from Primary school to high school. God Bless Jamaica, I will be forever grateful.
For a small third world island we did not do so bad, we are able to provide free healthcare and education which enabled most of us to be the productive masters we are today, so join me in saying Thank you Jamaica, I will be forever grateful.

SO Mobile... SO Fab! ...Oh So Tacky!

There is nothing "Well-To-Do" Jamaicans like to do more than to flaunt their Over The Top wealth, to be seen above the lesser beings, the plebs, is what they live for. Take this article from the Jamaica Observer “SO Mobile... SO Fab!” where the paper interviewed some of the richest woman in Jamaica about what they drive and why. It’s like watching Rome burns while Nero fiddles. Yes they are rich, yes some of you are well educated but most of you certainly have no class, it is traditionally considered bad manners to flaunt ones wealth, especially in light of Jamaica’s economic statistic and unequal wealth distribution but even the upper class are now behaving like uneducated gangsters rappers and dancehall entertainers from the ghettos.

The educated middle class and upper class are no longer engaged in the Nation Building process, no longer have any use for it, they are too busy being selfish, greedy and self serving to care. We are a society consumed by our own self importance... We pay lip service to problems simply because it makes us feel important but it is only part of the profile process and serves the same purpose of the big SUV. Most of our organizations and NGO groups advocating this and that only exist to play dress up while keeping lunch and dinner functions, not to solve any problems but to be seen and heard, a social circle.

The more education the educated class acquire, the more they distance themselves from society because the purpose of their education is not to build a nation but to set themselves apart from the rest of society, it too is a part of the profile process and serves the same purpose as the big SUV, look at me I went to such and such school in the States or in England and these are the string of letters I can now attach to my name but it is all show and no substance.

We achieved Workers Rights, Universal Adult Suffrage and Independence because at that time the educated middle class was fully engaged in the process. They mobilized the masses and led the process, now they have achieved Colonial Master Status which may have been their only intention and care only about the collection of material things and nothing about Nation Building, in fact they prefer not to build anything, instead maintaining the status quo.

Jamaica is a country experiencing both social and economic stagnation simply because these are the bubble head people who are suppose to lead it out of bondage. So do not expect any real progress anytime soon, simply because progress for the masses is not their intention. They love the way things are at the moment, they are on the top of the food chain and the rest of the plebs are there to be used.

"With the Wealth Auto Show slated for Saturday, November 26 and Sunday, November 27, SO shares Girls' Talk from around the steering wheel. Take note Garth Walker and Leighton Davis we're a serious force to be reckoned with. You might wish to pass the word around that there's need for more female representation on the sales floor."


  1. Amazing that the same article really upset me too! What really gets me though is not the "foreign mind" so much - with so many Jamaicans waking up hungry every morning (and going to bed hungry) it is the display of crass materialism and greed, which really has nothing to do with "foreign." It is just unbelievable, and shows up the HUGE gap between the haves and have nots in Jamaica.

  2. Its a virus more wide scale than aids. everybody living like they in america. I think it comes down to lack of genuine educated opinions - everybody seem to have become wagonists.

  3. the author, Jamaican till he/she dies, CHOSE to be educated overseas....

  4. Excellent article. Never appreciate what we have till it's gone. The same mindset that is about to tear America apart seems to be what we want to import, but when happiness is measured by material posessions, this is the result. Competition over cooperation. Sad times