My Writings. My Thoughts.
Before you start, this post is pretty fragmented and sometimes disparate. I may re-word it in a follow up post, if you choose to continue, please comment after.
Anthony B said it best in his song “Raid the Barn”. Sometimes I really think we need a genre for conscious music, Reggae swallows this whole in Jamaica.
Today is Labour Day in Jamaica, labour day is supposed to showcase the importance of labour to the development of Jamaica. Most will probably just treat it as a holiday, citing that they work hard each day & need a break. That’s the worrying part, what is it we are all working to achieve?
How many times have you heard the story, “pay attention in school, work hard, save money and you will be OK in life”? It is false. Much in the same way we grew up watching cartoons, movies & other media painting this fairy tale way of life that will never exist. Think about it, who told you these things? Parents who had regret about where they were in life and creatives who wanted to paint a fantasy land to get lost in. Alternatively you have Universities and Banking Institutions which are foundations of society that don’t have adaptive products for a rapidly changing world. In business, if you fail to adapt, you fail; but universities are subsidised and are mass marketed, they will not fail, just fail to achieve. Anyway, getting off point. My generation will be the first generation to grow up hearing all of our lives that Jamaica has gone too far downhill. Forget that along with the other things I mentioned before. Now consider something else.
As you fete, sleep at home or relax in some way this labour day (Kudos to the few who will actually do work), consider what you can do to contribute each day. Yeah yeah, I know the whole “Jamaica not doing anything for me speech”. What have you done for Jamaica for it to do something for you? Jamaica is not a person, it’s not a government, it owes no favours. Jamaica was built on a system that failed and then failed to adapt.
“Who you ago blame it pon when it is a next man you a depend pon?”
Fine, migrate, ohhh wait, does overseas living seem harder? Because it is. In developed countries you have to work to make it, except their governing systems are developed, over hundreds of years, to benefit contributors. So back to Jamaica, do you make an effort day to day? We are depending on foreign debt to support a failing system. The failing system is not government, the government is elected by the people and is a reflection of their wishes. *insert random oh snap*. Yes there are some making massive contributions to improve Jamaica, but what is our motto? “Out of Many One People” can also apply to the fact that we need to work together, in unison. Did we all forget the pledge we made countless times as kids?:
Before God and all mankind, I pledge the love and loyalty of my heart, the wisdom and courage of my mind, the strength and vigour of my body in the service of my fellow citizens; I promise to stand up for Justice, Brotherhood and Peace, to work diligently and creatively, to think generously and honestly, so that Jamaica may, under God, increase in beauty, fellowship and prosperity, and play her part in advancing the welfare of the whole human race.
How many of our problems do you think we would solve if we each followed that pledge?
So yeah, about the fact that Jamaica isn’t doing anything for “us”. As a people we have to help ourselves, stop waiting for bailouts, handouts, leniency, sympathy. We aren’t getting any. We all have power to change and do what is morally right, we also have the following:
- Economic power – Control what we spend our money on
- Political power – We each have a vote and a right to be represented
- Intellectual power – to use our mind for innovation and productivity (currently commonly used for corruption)
- National Pride
I tweeted this morning about bad crops, we reap what we sow and we have been sowing weeds. Our crop is not our people, we are farmers of our land. Our crop is what we have invested in, including our thoughts. We need a paradigm shift of productivity, we need to dig out the weeds instead of just cutting them. We also need to work together and not just have a few work and then we all fight over the little that grows.
Really and truly I could go on and on, maybe I should have done a video instead, but my point is:
Before complaining about Jamaica, think what have you done for Jamaica lately? Then think what you can do for Jamaica every day. Go out and be a Jamaican, the Jamaican you pledged to be.
Spread the message. Thanks.
Hey everyone, my good friend Kathryn Chin See wrote this guest post, give it a read and comment below:
“I want to #eatJamaican” was the opening line of a conversation that led to this post. Dmitri decided that he wanted to create a meal plan for 30 days that would include only Jamaican grown livestock and crops (see his previous post – Eat Jamaican for 30 Days). I told him that this was an easy task and began to list out the things that were available to us, grown locally. I shared my experience of buying a great quantity of fruits and vegetables from the Coronation Market in Downtown, Kingston, how inexpensive it was… and the fact that Jamaica really has no reason to import food items. His response was “well, let’s prove it”…
Jamaica has been blessed with vast land space and fertile soil with which we may grow and harvest crops, and raise livestock as food. Beef, Chicken, Pork, Fish and seafood of many types… Fruits, vegetables/ground provisions, including nuts, herbs and spices… all grown right here in Jamaica, available to us all on the local market. So… the question is – why do we import food items?
To this day, it still baffles me… WHY does Jamaica import bananas? …bananas? REALLY THOUGH?
Some will use the excuse that local farmers are unable to supply enough to satisfy local demand, others may tell you that the imported goods are of a better quality. While these arguments may hold some truth, the reality is that we are greatly influenced by what First World cultures do, and because North America eats strawberries, blueberries, cottage cheese, Hillshire Farms deli meat and all sorts of other things… we have to ‘keep up with the Jones’.
Buying locally gives farmers the opportunity to make a larger profit to invest in more land, machinery and labour to produce larger volumes for the local market. The colloquial phrase ‘one hand wash the other’ comes into play here – consumers demand more from local farmers (increase purchases), local farmers then need more resources to supply increased demand, more jobs are created as labour is needed, these newly hired labourers take away from the unemployment rate and contribute to the circular flow of income in the country – everybody benefits, TRUST ME!
How are we going to then ensure that local farmers get more business, since their biggest competitors are imports? If the government banned (*not taxed higher, but made illegal) the importation of goods that are grown/produced locally, then people would stop trying to live above their means and would be forced to #buyJamaican. Think about the money you would save buying locally, not having to pay the import duties and taxes that are tacked onto those goods, and how much healthier you would be by not consuming the chemicals and preservatives if you #eatJamaican.
There’s also an economic benefit to #buyJamaican #eatJamaican – in this time of ‘recession’ or economic struggle in Jamaica, great effort should be places of increasing exports, decreasing imports and encouraging investments from foreign entities to decrease our trade deficit (Balance of Trade – the monetary difference between imports and exports, essentially). Over time, ceasing importation of food items, and increasing exports of local produce, will aid in achieving a trade surplus and give the country the ability to pay its debts without burdening tax payers greatly… essentially working towards economic growth.
No, it’s not just theoretical – putting it into practice will work. But, who is going to implement such a practice?
Where is the labour force going to come from to practice farming?
People put themselves in debt constantly because of university fees, because society now dictates that we all need to achieve a higher learning – associate, bachelors, and master’s degrees. Why? North American and European influence of course… again, we all have to ‘keep up with the Jones’. Nothing wrong with achieving higher learning, but what benefit is it to you or to your country if there are no jobs for you to put your degree to use, no way of earning the money to pay your student loan?
Every industry has its place in this country – banking, manufacturing, telecommunications, farming, tourism, you name it…but we need to strike a balance between industrial and corporate, allocating our human resources appropriately to the various industries that make up our economic activities. If everybody’s a doctor, a lawyer, a banker or the IT guy, who is going to grow/produce the food we need to sustain our bodies for those jobs?
We can’t all be corporate and that’s the reality.
An education is vital. I believe that all Jamaican should have access to primary and secondary (including 6th form/CAPE) education. However, university/tertiary education requires a certain level of mental and financial preparedness that many of us simply don’t have. As a result, I think half of the experience is wasted. Just because we complete the 3-4 year programme and graduate with a degree, to me, doesn’t mean that we received all that we were intended to take from the experience.
Honestly, I have no problem putting my Actuarial Science degree programme on hold, going to Clarendon, getting a piece of land and establish a farm on it, and learn those skills – learn about soil and irrigation, climate/environment control for optimized growth, operation, maintenance and repair of equipment, etc. – grow food for my family, my community and eventually the wider local market, until I can produce large enough volumes to supply the export market.
All those things require knowledge and skill, and human resource. Jamaica is full of employment opportunities, way and means of earning an honest living – but everyone wants to be a suit and tie.
Help your pockets. Help your health. Help Farmer Joe in St. Bess. Help Jamaica…
Kathryn can be contacted on Twitter: @KathrynChinSee or via email KathrynChinSee (at) Gmail.com
Recently I put serious thought into how much of our every day foods we import. Surprisingly my day to day diet incorporates a wide range of imported products. I would like to eat more Jamaican. This does not necessarily mean Jamaican style recipes, after all our famed ackee and saltfish uses imported fish. However I mean consume only locally grown foods. I think imported seasoning and spices are ok though.
Based on this I will have to exclude some items, such as flour and it’s byproducts, rice, maybe even cheese. I will try to document it as much as possible.
In the interim, does anyone have meal ideas? Please be as detailed as possible, I’m not exactly a chef who can fill in the blanks.
Thanks for the recipes!
For those who don’t know. The Government of Jamaica has announced that it will add 16.5% tax on the sale of all books. Today the Book Industry Association of Jamaica warned that the overall new tax package including the added sales tax, could cause the price of text books to increase by 25%.
After much debate online, options to remedy the situation included rolling back the new tax, rejuvenating the National Library Service and pursuing digital distribution of books. I strongly support the digital distribution option, however since we are not quite ready yet I think a more practical means is necessary.
The suggestion of using the Library is a good one, however most don’t loan books on a long term basis (not good for students) and it requires quite a bit of resources.
Being socially minded I think we should look at a social book lending system. To be honest I could prototype one in the time it takes me to write this article, but I prefer sharing ideas first. Measure twice, cut once right?
So here’s the Idea:
Create a website that allows people to share books with each other. For free. It doesn’t really matter which book or the content type. Everything is based on ISBN number of the book (Usually the barcode number). The website will feature two interfaces, books needed, books to donate.
Communication and interaction
Using a channel, whether by tweet, sms (text message) or the website. A user can post on the site that they have a book to donate, they enter their location and the book’s ISBN number. A user can also enter a book they need, their location and book ISBN number. The site will cross reference the two and match people. That’s the simple part.
Ideally, to reduce the carbon footprint of the project, books would be shared within the same town. For security reasons the site would be limited to adults only, so sexual predators do not target our children. Ideally there should be no direct person to person contact though. Additionally I would suggest as a marketing tool for the Book Industry Association of Jamaica, to speak with their members, to have book stores be central drop off and pickup locations.
No I am not crazy, when was the last time you went into a book store? If you had to go into a book store to get a free book, hey! you have made it there. It’s up to them to convert you into a customer.
The concept is pay it forward, you read a book, finished with it? Let someone else read it. Also book stores should allow people to buy new books to be entered in the program, great for individuals and companies who want to help develop Jamaica.
Do I really need to list the benefits?
Would you like to see this developed? Please let me know in the comments below or tweet me @utenjm.