A life beyond Thunderdome

“Out of the ruins; out from the wreckage; can’t make the same mistakes this time;

We are the children, the last generation; we are the ones they left behind;

And I wonder when we are ever gonna change;

Living under the fear, till nothing else remains;

We don’t need another hero; we don’t need to know the way home;

All we need is life beyond Thunderdome.”

— Tina Turner 1985.

Jamaica is currently in the Thunderdome, the centre of “assumed rule and brutality” as portrayed in the movie of the same name. Knowledge has been destroyed, and the uneducated orphan survivors attach themselves to warlords who prey on families too scared to defend themselves and who try to build impregnable living enclaves. Power is vested in scarce benefits and spoils, and patronage. Doesn’t this reflect the Jamaica we live in?

Jamaica does have choices going forward but we may be underestimating the destruction that we have brought on ourselves. It is so severe that it may be akin to the devastation of a nuclear weapon on the survivors. We close our eyes to violence, murder, rape, in an effort to erase the images of a war raging around us; that is until we are too close to pretend to be blind; and then we run away.

Independence has done little to negate the strong admonitions we had from two of our leading minds in 1962, namely Edward Philip George Seaga, and his political rival the late Dudley Thompson in that year of our total self-governance. These were wise counsel on the future.

Edward Seaga: “Mr President, Independence has come upon this country in a rush… We are now going forward into Independence and there are still vast areas of the country that do not quite know what Independence means or what it should mean. To them it is a word, and it is a word that has been connoted with freedom. But what else does it mean, for it must mean more than this. There are still sections of the country that fear the word Independence. They fear it because to them the freedom does not mean the free power to create and to build, but freedom to destroy.”

Dudley Thompson in the Senate replying to Senator Grant on joining the IMF and the World Bank: “I accept my honourable and learned friend’s statement that there is great merit in being able to borrow millions of pounds but we know from history that where there are facilities to borrow, we have a duty to repay.”.

These two wise statements came from men with the foresight and ability to follow logical, sociological, and legal outcomes based on flawed premises. It seems like a tragedy that their political tribalism thwarted their ability to think together. We may have been a lot better off today.

The concept of heroes has recently involved the “dissing” of Miss Lou in the tablecloth statement. It aroused so much angst that even killing of children took a backseat. Similarly the UWI dilemma with the new Marcus Garvey bust promulgated a one-day protest in Papine and forced a rethinking of that project. Such energy and resolve need to be extended to a practical recognition of the philosophy of Garvey, not only his likeness.  From time to time the consideration of Bob Marley, Michael Manley, Usain Bolt, and some other less well-known names as National Heroes has created much controversy.

Even the USA has joined the controversy. The Confederate flag, the Confederate Generals, Nazi symbols, known racists, and Columbus, are open areas for criticism and removal. Religious symbols are also under attack, and yet there are few signs of amelioration or resolution.

We seem to be more concerned with simply naming heroes than in emulating their good deeds and avoiding their mistakes. At the same time the euphoria of the arguments obscures the reality of our surroundings. Heroes are our LSD and Opium, hard drugs that give us a brief respite from the madness of the Thunderdome.

Politicians promise, athletes perform, the circus is in town, the dancehall booms, liquor is consumed, ganja is smoked, and Facebook and selfies transport us to the vicarious life of being superstars in our own imaginary worlds. But beware; Jamaica is not Wonderland and we are not Alice! We cannot simply click our heels.

I feel awkward every time I say I am a strong supporter of Marcus Garvey, and I don’t believe that should be the case. Marcus Garvey was not an exclusionist, his ideas were not racist, and his economic philosophy is perhaps the most relevant to Jamaica. I feel like an outsider because I am a mixed Jamaican and I don’t have locks, and I have worked hard to achieve education and some success. But in doing these things I have gained some credibility and success, and I believe that this was a Garvey push towards self-reliance.

Garvey suggested that to aim for poverty was not an admirable goal, but rather to strive for wealth that would encourage others to respect you was a goal for our people from Africa. Science and technology as the foundations of our progress, and respectable and upright lives with our families were equally important.

Then came vote for me and I will look after you. We love the poor, but do little to allow them to help themselves; not empowerment and encouragement, but a different type of enslavement; a hiding place behind Most Honourable and Honourable; a deception to maintain power for the few and misery for the many. We are becoming another Haiti; manipulated for reasons beyond our shores.

We are awaiting our reparations with the sloth that encourages us not to work as we will win the lottery. Till then, relax and after that relax again. It is the choice of the mendicant, the uneducated, and the exploited. Those who seek representation are not focused on service, but rather on power, and the nearer they get is the more it seduces and corrupts. It is a no-win for the people.

I attended a funeral last week of a very popular porter at UHWI who passed suddenly after over 35 years of service. He lived in my rural area. His eulogy recounted that after a hurricane left the mountain road impassable, a young lady went into labour and there was no way to the hospital. He trekked through the rain on the slippery road in the dark night and delivered the baby safely. That, to me, is a hero.

Yes Jamaica; “we don’t need another hero, we don’t need to find a way home, all we need is a life beyond Thunderdome”.

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