Columns

Bunting, Roper have 'dissed' the ambition of an entire nation

James Moss-Solomon

Sunday, March 11, 2018

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It is a sad moment in the history of Jamaica when we finally have to realise that the crass politics and their accompanying utterances leave very little hope for natural evolution.

The two by-elections are over and the results are not any different to those that were expected, so congratulations to the victorious candidates, and thanks to the losing candidates for enabling a contest.

The lead-up to the events was interesting. The retirement of former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller started some dialogue with the selection of her successor by edict. This led to some internal party wrangling. In the recent contest, former Member of Parliament Derrick Smith was a bit peeved that his own party rejected the 'royal ascent' of his son to be the candidate for St Andrew North Western. Two strikes on the scoreboard. One attributed to either side. A draw was awarded in the by-election in St Mary for stupid statements.

However, the Peter Bunting and Rev Garnett Roper dialogue was the icing on a poorly prepared cake and has caused indigestion across the entire nation. In the face of the nature of the comments, both men should have known better, based on their upbringing or religious tenets. They have offended the concept of the “Jamaican dream” in which families used to feel that education was a means of distancing themselves from slavery and poverty. It was a national ambition that has propelled many to migrate when it seemed that this goal was not attainable at home.

Our Diaspora is equally incensed. Two men who have the privilege of higher education should be the last to “diss” the ambition of an entire nation. These educated men have failed to grasp Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Cuba, the USA, Canada, and Britain, and the important roles of leadership that Jamaicans gave and continue to give as they seek the benefits of education that we have failed to provide for them.

We, as a political collective, should be the persons vilified for carrying forward careless policies that have failed to facilitate this ambition. Do these educated men even remember the “Windrush”? To claim otherwise could call into question the quality of education they received.

If they will look back at our political history both political parties have been recipients of individuals of higher education. The People's National Party has had Norman Manley and Ronald Thwaites as Rhodes scholars, and David Coore as a Jamaica scholar (and a drafter of the constitution). The Jamaica Labour Party had Anthony Abrahams (Rhodes) and certainly some others that may have escaped my memory.

Nearly every lawyer over 60 years old in each party has been educated overseas.

Many great national leaders have had none or few degrees behind their names and have been remembered as individuals who have served with distinction, including prime ministers Sir Alexander Bustamante, Hugh Shearer, Michael Manley, Edward Seaga, P J Patterson, Portia Simpson Miller, Bruce Golding, and the young Andrew Holness.

The supposed criticism of Dr Nigel Clarke's proper speech should not be seen as other than a real effort by his parents to provide a sound basis for further education. The very same accolades should be made to Burchell Whiteman. Perhaps we should call for more attention to speeches in Parliament, where bedlam takes over in our very colourful but sometimes abusive Jamaican language.

Yes, Dr Clarke is a black man, a Jamaican among 97 per cent of a black population, and his prowess will no longer be judged by his history, but now depends on his performance. So let us judge him by that future performance and not by education, or race, but rather the results of his deeds.

Jamaica needs leaders with impeccable credentials of honesty and integrity regardless of their party, race, religion, and education. To try to belittle individuals who wish to serve is a non-starter.

Peter Bunting, please remember the comments at your time: “Rich man come fi buy out true Comrades.”

“Di same knife dat stick goat stick sheep.”

— Reprinted from the current edition of Public Opinion www.publicopinion.news

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