Get what? Jamaica loves to poke itself in the eye.

Jamaica is full of people who act as if they ‘don’t get it’.

Yesterday, the nation celebrated its National Heroes Day. In keeping with traditions established by our colonial leaders, people in the community are honoured for deeds or services of note. It’s prestigious. But, a friend alerted me to something very distasteful during the live broadcast of the ceremonies. ‘Normal service’ was resumed. The broadcast was interrupted for the live drawing of the daily lottery. I’m sure that’s due to a contractual obligation. But, please don’t try to convince me that it has to be shown live. I don’t know if the broadcast was also interrupted to show scheduled adverts. Someone mentioned that similar interruptions had occurred during the broadcast of the state funeral for a Roger Clarke. Truly insensitive and dripping with hypocrisy.

During the weekend, Louis Farrakhan visited the island to lead his commemoration of the 19th anniversary of the ‘Million Man March’. He said a lot, which I did not hear live, or even rebroadcast, but read instead. He talked about how Jamaican governments over the years had not adequately built on efforts made by the country’s national heroes to create an independent Jamaica. I have an idea what he means, in terms of our not using the opportunity of Independence to forge for ourselves a clear path.

But, have we ever been really blessed with enough people who saw that to be free of our past, we really needed to start afresh, not just tack on to what we said we were leaving behind?

I’m a believer in the adage that you are what you tolerate. We are reaping that now, with out tolerance of filth and unsanitary conditions. Yes. we’ll have the usual funereal wailing about how government has let us down, and it’s our neighbours, and a whole lot of hogwash that denies personal responsibility. People will start to act for a few days, maybe even weeks, but enough of the habits are so ingrained that reversion to them is really easy.

I read a headline over the weekend that had me gasping for air: ‘Jamaica Too Dirty For NSWMA! Garbage Agency Short Of Money And Trucks To Keep Nation Clean‘. It was full of lamentations that more money was needed so that garbage trucks could be fixed. We generate approximately 1.6 million tonnes of garbage generated by Jamaicans annually. On any given day, only 110 of the 274 trucks needed to prevent a pile-up were available to the NSWMA, and Kingston and St Andrew need most of those trucks. The talk about needing more money is, though, a smokescreen. The money is not what’s needed. It’s management that’s been missing.

One cannot work straight from the individual to the collective. But, if my house is full of my accumulated trash, I do not need more money to get it clear. I need to stop throwing more onto the pile. Then, I need to start moving what I have amassed. The NSWMA management does not speak to the first type of action. So, it accepts (or leaves to others to address) the fact that we are nasty and careless people. It does not exhort the public to be more careful in their disposal of trash. It just wants more money to clear it away.

The move from individual to collective is important, because people have jobs dependent on clearing trash, and that means they want pay, and vehicles need fuel, etc. But, still, I say, the message is wrong. It does not start at the beginning, and it will end badly.

Sadly, that approach is symptomatic.

Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)

3 thoughts on “Get what? Jamaica loves to poke itself in the eye.”

  1. An excellent commentary, Dennis, if somewhat depressing. How appalling that they interrupted the National Heroes ceremony for the lotto draw! I had no idea… That is really quite shameful and utterly disrespectful in my view. As for the garbage situation, I ran out on the street yesterday, money in hand, to pay a man with a truck to take our disgusting pile of uncollected garbage – over two weeks’ worth. He was an entrepreneur and I am not waiting for NSWMA. This is what we have come to! I recall when we had two collections per week! Meanwhile, passers by continuously throw garbage under some pretty palm trees our neighbors have planted over the road. I just went out again and picked it up. Inexcusable, in my view…


    1. The lotto intrudion is really offensive, worse during the funeral.

      On garbage, we could privatize it. Done with that!

      Interesting, that anyone with a weedwhacker is now fully employed as we ‘discover’ cleanup.



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