Jamaica just celebrated its 46th year of Independence from Britain and several bloggers marked the occasion with posts that ranged from thoughtful critiques to excited celebration…
To put the milestone in its proper context, YardFlex.com began with a brief history lesson, while Abeng News Magazine published the full content of the Prime Minister's Independence Day message, part of which alluded to the challenges Jamaica is facing:
These 46 years have produced varied results. There have been successes and failures, positive achievements and disappointing setbacks. We must take time to take stock of ourselves. We must resolve to build on the achievements we have made and to make up ground where we have fallen behind….for the dream and hope that inspired us at independence, must never die.
Stunner's Afflictions, however, was not one to get on the merrymaking bandwagon:
I am not so big on Jamaica's Independence. Don't get me wrong, I am proud of my country and do feel a sense of patriotism as do most Jamaicans. However, based on the current state of our country and the developments it has made since gaining independence I often wonder if… well think I might have been a better country if we were still a dependent of Britain.
He goes on to justify his position:
We are one of the worst Caribbean countries economically, we have a very high rate of illiteracy and very few professionally trained people in our dwindling work force, and of course one of the highest crime rates in the region (and the world). Our country's infrastructure, legal system and political guidance (are) much less than to be desired for the most part.
We have the examples of other islands that did not seek independence, such as Cayman, and they are doing a whole lot better than our country! They have facilities close to a first world country like the United States and their citizens enjoy certain luxuries most Jamaicans only dream of. On the other hand though, there are other Caribbean islands that have gained their independence, but have been successful and…escaped the quagmire that we have succumbed to. A good example is Barbados, which has one of the strongest economies in the Caribbean.
This makes one wonder, what is the problem with Jamaica? Why did we fail?
Dennis Jones, a Jamaican living in Barbados, was thrilled to be back in his homeland during the Independence Day celebrations, but agreed that:
Forty-six years on, we should have a country that is truly grown up. Many would argue that the country's development has been one of stunted growth, if you look at the way that the economy, with its potentially strong base of mining, mineral processing, agriculture and tourism has struggled to produce enough wealth and jobs to really nurture the majority of the people.
Still, he found a lot to praise:
Jamaicans have much to be proud of in their political systems. We have justifiably enormous pride in our cultural achievements since independence, including…gracing the world with a completely new musical form in reggae. We have founded a new religion in Rastafarianism. Connecting those two phenomena we have, of course, Bob Marley. We can take immense pride from our sporting prowess. We produced many heroes in the region's favourite sport, cricket. We led the region in soccer status by getting a place in the World Cup Finals and not looking too out of place.
We have cultural icons in literary and intellectual fields…to me, “Miss Lou” (Louise Bennett) stands out the most. We have beauty and grace. I remember the thrill as a pre-pubescent boy in London when I heard that Miss Jamaica (Carol Joan Crawford) had become Miss World in 1963, right there in London's Lyceum Hall. Things like that put your little country more visibly on the world map…
But noting those achievements only seemed to underscore Stunner's point:
Jamaica is a country that has been blessed with so many resources, best coffee, bauxite, reggae music and has such a strong presence in the world, there is no way our country should be in the state that it is in. We are a great nation with awesome power, but it seems we just do not know how to use it to better ourselves.
Those sentiments did not dampen the spirits of either Moppet On The Go or Living in Barbados, who quoted the National Anthem:
Knowledge send us Heavenly Father,
Grant true wisdom from above.
Justice, Truth be ours forever,
Jamaica, land we love.
Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica land we love.
In the end, Stunner's Afflictions remained hopeful:
Hopefully, Jamaica will do better and be a stronger country when 47 comes. Have a great independence Jamaicans both home and abroad!
MAJESTIC STRONG AND STEADFAST BE
THROUGH WAR AND PEACE
AND ALL DIVERSITIES
LIKE THE ROCK OF AGES
YOU CARED FOR ME
YOU MOULD ME
YOU FILLED ME
THEN SET ME FREE
NOW STEEPED IN HISTORY
AND CIVIC PRIDE
THE SPIRIT OF MY YOUTH
SHALL ALWAYS ABIDE…