Letters to the Editor

Take advantage of the opportunities

Wednesday, August 08, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

The infectious celebratory spirit of Jamaicans and the love for heroic achievement, in any sphere of endeavour, seems to be a human quality exemplified in Jamaicans that may be equalled, but unsurpassed anywhere.

The events of the past week where our athletes, now trained at home, have brought such energy, and an almost fairy-tale ambience to the track and field sector of the London Games, are a case in point.

We also love heroes, and it did not escape notice that our major champion, Usain Bolt, was under severe pressure. Several questions were asked: Was he fit? Could he repeat? Why was he hiding before the 100m dash for glory? Could the Americans or Blake upset him? When the "big man" powered through the tape in 9.63 seconds on Sunday, it was almost pandemonium and then all-night party at Jamaica House in London - a fitting gift for the Independence and Emancipation celebrations.

However, I may be alone in this, but I have never thought that basing emancipation celebrations around the name "Emancipation" does justice to the Jamaican people. Our leaders could have found some other more dignified name or spin to put on this. Why celebrate around the name of a legal document or action which did us no favours?

In fact, the document glorified the worst in human nature by providing compensation for kidnapping, murder, rape, and centuries of forced labour, to those responsible for such acts.

This also gives the impression that we were "given" freedom by the magnanimous British, when in fact the driving force was the resistance movements which made the industry unprofitable. Given this and the massacres needed to be carried out by the planters to keep the slave rebellions from overwhelming themselves, the abolitionists in England were increasingly listened to.

In fact, in one of the common paradoxes of human life, when the shoe was on the other foot, and the Nazis were threatening to break down the defences of England, they called on manpower in the former slave colonies for help. If Hitler had had his way, he would have wreaked far more havoc and humiliation on England than William the Conqueror , despite brave resistance.

If the ex-slaves had even been offered a fraction of the £20 million in the 19th century, there would have been a basis for economic recovery after so much unpaid hard labour. However, I am not one to wallow in the past, and we may consider that the English eventually did the right thing and paid us reparation in the form of allowing immigration rights to many thousands of Jamaicans, regardless of the motive. Today, relations between ourselves and the English are growing fast in cordiality and mutual respect, and it is up to the Jamaican Brits to make full use of their opportunities, in one of the most historically respected countries in the world.

Cathy Brown






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