Let's do the right thing

Barbara Gloudon

Friday, January 18, 2013

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Is it my imagination, or am I the only one who has discovered that the Cabinet retreat has come and gone and the IMF agreement has not been signed? And "or else" has not materialised... yet?

Since making this amazing discovery, I have been trying to find the hiding place of Chicken Little, the children's storybook character who ran around squawking: "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!". A lot of water has passed under the metaphorical bridge since I first tried to make sense of Chicken Little's questionable powers of prophecy. The last time I looked up the sky was still there, however, doing what it is supposed to do... which should be reassuring for us.

Our IMF agreement drama is another falling-sky chapter. People have been watching and waiting for the next move to be made. Will the sky really hold up? Is that the real reason for the threatening noises? Even Chicken Little must know by now that we will have to face the music sooner than later, like it or not, and it is going to take more than a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down. (More clichés can be added whenever you wish.)

It is time to stop the melodrama. Even the dumbest of the dumb should be getting the message by now — "Waan roast corn, finger haffe bun". Whether corn-roasting is as widely known as it used to be is not the point. It shouldn't be so hard to understand what the old proverb is saying. It's not as if we haven't been burnt before. Get it?

Our preoccupation with very small things continues. Did you catch the one about whether the tail of a one-time Air Jamaica plane should or should not remain at the round-about leading to the Norman Manley International Airport? The "souvenir" has been there for some time, with no public comment, up till recently. Why it is of importance now is one more puzzle to solve.

It has attracted attention from those who have publicly advocated its removal while others want it left right where it is. It seems that in the eyes of the beholder, the remnant of "the little piece of Jamaica that used to fly" revives memories of the sad ending to the Lovebird story and so should be hidden away.

A counter-proposal from another source called for the souvenir to be kept in memory of what we once achieved. Up to the time of writing, the Lovebird reminder was still at the round-about inciting comment.

As to Air Jamaica, inevitably, the question was asked "Why couldn't we have kept it alive? Would it have survived if we — government, citizens, everybody, had been prepared to try harder?" We may never know the answer, but one thing sure, the tale — and the tail — of the little piece of Jamaica which flew in and out of some of the world's best-known landing fields, will long be remembered.

Jamaicans in exile in cold lands didn't hesitate to make long journeys to airports far from their homes just to see that distinctive bird logo and the Jamaican flag, and to be able to tell anyone who cared to listen "Is my Air Jamaica that!" Would they be prepared to try again?

A valiant band of the former Love Bird crew took the challenge to heart and spent the past two or more years working hard-hard to fulfil the dream of seeing the name "Jamaica" in the air once more. Out of the cunny-bud spirit (Hard bud fe dead) has emerged Fly Jamaica.

The modest start-up (one aircraft but a plan for expansion) does not tell the full story of the hunt for capital and the endless bureaucracy to be overcome at home and abroad. Lesser mortals might have said: "What the hell" and moved on. Not this lot. Led by the amazing Captain Lloyd Tai, the team never stopped working and working.

And so on Wednesday evening at Devon House, the hometown launch of "Fly Jamaica" took place. If the team was prouder, the posse of the indomitable women who wore the label of "higglers" quite proudly, distinction gained for their years of flying with the Lovebird, were on hand to big it up.

There're looking forward to flying a piece of Jamaica again, as were other well-wishers, who could have sung with Jimmy Cliff, if the occasion called for it: "We can make it if we really try". Yes, we can.

Coming home again: Ghislaine Lewis is one of a small number of Jamaican students studying at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. It's a long way from There to Here but she made it, to visit and do research for her doctoral thesis in media and communication.

From faraway lands, what does she hear people saying about Jamaica? "The culture, almost exclusively, reggae and the beaches and all that." What has she seen since she got here last week after two years' absence? "Strange, how little has changed. We're still arguing about the same things which remain to be done".

So, what's new? "Never seen on the road so many flashy, expensive vehicles, makes I've never even heard of. Then there are the parties, so many in the media. Confusing."

By end of month she'll be heading back to school to complete the project, the aim of which is to examine "the role of the online newspaper during the political and social crisis which ensued as a result of the extradition of Christopher 'Dudus' Coke and the impact it had both on newspaper journalism and public life in Jamaica. How many of us still remember when we were there?

By a turn of history, Ghislaine is here in time to see another chapter being written in the amazing story of 'Dudus'. The State is making moves to have his assets seized, after being frozen on order of the courts. Who would ever have imagined a day when Presidential Click Promotions Ltd, one of the most powerful businesses to emerge in Kingston's inner city, would disappear? No doubt about the message being sent... something about crime not paying. Whatta story! Welcome home, Ghislaine.

ANOTHER THING: Have you been following how President Obama has been handling the campaign to control the big, bad guns which have been used to take so many lives in the USA? What are we doing about gun control here? They're barking with distressing frequency. And did you know that the name of Jamaica was tacked on to the list of countries which are labelled as the highest users of guns in the world? Poor we! Black-eye again!

CODA: Another bright soul gone... the irrepressible educator Dahlia Repole, former principal of EXED Community College and St Andrew High, a devoted contributor to UNESCO, Jamaica. The battle for life was tough but she kept smiling. Respect to the family.





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