If you’re around me a lot, you know I love Stephen Marley, Capelton and Sizzla Kalonji and their song, Rockstone. The song has fascinating lyrics, and also a good video.
When I listen to it, I recall how often Jamaican artistes have put into song the plight in which they see their countrymen. What has struck me for sometime now, is why they have not taken aim at what some would see as an easy target for blame–the IMF, and more generally, the international financial community.
Look at some of the lyrics:
Rock stone was my pillow…
Couldna find place fi sleep
Pot dem empty, we haffi find food fi eat
That’s abject poverty being described. But, look where the finger points:
Everyday we terrorize
By soldier and police…
From dem a play cowboy,
And Indian, and chief
The eyes don’t turn outside and do not see evils flowing down from afar. The down pressing is from within. And from where should solutions come?
One thing in a we mind…
Haffe trample the beast
And make it in a life,
And inherit as the meek…
Self employed, cannot get lay off
Mount a work mi have
Can’t even get a day off
This is the cry for self-help, not ‘handouts’ in any form. This way, each will be unyoked:
One by one we stepping out ah Babylon
With God’s help:
Help us Jah
Take us from the slum
But the life of poverty has its clear source:
What we face in the ghetto,
Nowhere else can you find
Hunger, poverty, a system so unkind
Alright, ‘the system’ is not defined, so it could include all of the pieces of government and governance of the people, and within that, all of the seemingly negative structures that people can say are part of the processes that keep them from a life better than they have. Within that one could include the IMF, etc. But, Jamaicans are not usually so indirect in facing their adversaries. So, why would we take it that they revert to being so, especially when it’s not an agency to which they have any obligation. On the contrary, it’s so easy to blame ‘foreign influence’.
I’ll leave the thought out there, pregnant.
It makes interesting thinking if one looks abroad to the UK elections, that were held yesterday. One of the things that was clear was who was being made out to be a scape goat. One party, UKIP, tried to paint foreigners and immigrants as THE problem. That really didn’t resonate in England. However, in Scotland, where nationalist hopes seemed dashed by a referendum months ago voting against independence, the nationalist party was able to paint ‘all of the other parties’ as not being for Scottish interests, and won resoundingly. (It’s a bit more complex, in that the ‘natural’ party of Scotland, which had been Labour, could equally be painted as having betrayed Scottish and labour interests, which were more closely entwined than in the rest of the UK.)
Jamaican politicians who are not in government have been trying to play the IMF ‘card’ and my feeling is that the bugaboo idea isn’t working. That tends to suggest that people look to decades of failed policies by Jamaican politicians as their real problem. The country’s having to go to the IMF is a manifestation of that. To some, it’s clear that the IMF programme has not changed some of the malodorous behaviour of people for whom many have voted. Take your pick of the recent ‘scandals’ that have involved politicians and political appointees to see that the ‘elephant in the room’ has an address in Jamaica.