Happy Birthday, Jamaica !

We take great pleasure in extending to all our Jamaican Sistren and Brethren our thunderous Birthday Greetings, on the occasion of the 55th Anniversary of Independence of their homeland.

We share in their joy and heartily endorse their right to express their pride in Jamaica’s many achievements and its outstanding international reputation for excellence in Sport, Music, Cuisine, Dance, and Sculpture.

It is a passing coincidence that the results of the ongoing World Athletic Championships, in Rio de Janeiro, do not adequately reflect Jamaica’s dominant position in international athletics. This year’s results must be the exception that proves the rule.

That rule was being cited in oratorical intonation by no less a person than the Most Honourable Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica. He pointed out in his Independence Day Message that :

“It is fortuitous that we are celebrating our independence at the same time that our athletes are in Rio, all set to bring glory again to this small nation, an athletic superpower.

Our athletic prowess is one indication of our excellence as a people. It is a metaphor of our distinction…[It is an indication of distinction that] a country with a population of approximately two point eight million people can have the fastest man and woman in the world.”

That reference to the record-breaking achievements of Usain “Thunder and Lightening” Bolt in the 100, 200 and 4×100 metres relay speaks to the inspirational status of Jamaica’s pantheon of international superstars.

Another superstar in that pantheon is Bob Marley. His inspirational status is at one and the same time musical, political and philosophical and is also world-wide and multi-generational.

On this subject, Prime Minister Holness had this to say about the success of Marley’s liberation-themed music:

“…[Jamaica has]  produced an artiste, Bob Marley,  who’s single One Love the BBC could have designated “theme of the millennium”; and whose album ,Exodus, Time magazine could have voted “Album of the Century” is, indeed, thrilling.”

Rounding off his appeal to Jamaicans’ national pride, the Prime Minister summed up the positive impact of Jamaica on the global community in three sentences:

“We are the people who have produced the world famous Blue Mountain coffee and have given the world the all-inclusive hotel concept.  We have produced world-class scientists, intellectuals, entrepreneurs and statesmen. We are a people of distinction, with an illustrious history.”

 

Lest he be accused of turning a blind eye to his country’s failings, this Caribbean leader was brutally honest in his recognition of his country’s chronic inability to maximize its full economic, social and governance potential.

His key regret was the fact that Jamaican youth could see no concrete evidence of sustained economic growth and prosperity.

Jamaicans, and indeed all of their Caribbean cousins, need to find the hope and the determination to move forward. They need to put in the hard work and commitment to produce the success of which they are capable.

Most of the desired indicators of such success that the Prime Minister evoked in his Independence Day Message are relevant to all countries and still elude most industrialized countries today:

 

  • “Scientific and technological innovativeness, characterized by rising levels of investment in research and development.
  • A dynamic, creative SME sector that is avant-garde and nimble.
  • A facilitatory, customer-focused public sector.
  • An energy-efficient economy with heavy emphasis on renewables.
  • An equitable, efficient , simplified and production-driven tax system
  • An economy with strong and  growing backward and forward linkages  which  foster a virtuous circle
  • Protection of our physical environment and promotion of environmental sustainability.”

 

Most important of all, that recipe for socio-economic progress did not stop at the provision of health, education, housing and a social safety net for all.

For that attainment of socio-economic development to have its full meaning, it must also serve to satisfy the country’s political goals. True nationhood can only be built on economic independence.

In that context, the Prime Minister concluded, independence and emancipation are two sides of the same coin.

Happy Birthday, Jamaica !