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This Is The Land of My Birth!

August 6, 2010

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August 6, 2010 marks 48 years since Jamaica gained independence from Britain. My grandfather sometimes refers to my mother as an “Independence Baby” because she was born in the year 1962.
If you know me, you’ll know that I”m a patriot 365 days a year. But there’s just something about August 6 that brings out the patriot in all Jamaicans. Maybe it’s the music that’s played on local radio stations or the festivals and events that are being put on this time of year. The JCDC is really doing an excellent job of preserving our culture.
This post is just about me being a Jamaican and being proud, despite the hardships that we face as a country.
I remember being ten years old at St. Theresa Prep and having the opportunity to participate in the JCDC dance and music festivals. It was an awesome experience for me, to be able to learn ‘ole time’ Jamaican dances and songs as well as being able to watch other persons perform these songs and dances. I vividly remember the bright strips of cloth being woven into intricate patterns on the maypole. I remember my quadrille costume; and how I was forced to wear a crenoline petticoat under my skirt, to give the illusion of hips. I remember Mommy combing my hair and fixing my makeup and how nervous I was before going on stage. (Mind you, I can’t actually dance).
I remember going away for a year and being severely homesick. I would miss simple things that I took for granted before. For example, the “Gleaner man” that would ride his bicycle in my community on Sunday mornings, shouting “Gleeeanah! Observah! Sundeh ‘Erald!”. Usually, I would be asleep and his voice would wake me up. I’d jump out of bed, grab some money and go outside (barefoot) to purchase a Gleaner, for the Jamaica Observer was not allowed in my house. But no, in Northamptonshire, your Sunday newspaper was delivered quietly through the mail slot in your front door.
During the weekdays, Daddy would turn the radio on at about 5:00 and I’d wake up hearing Alan Magnus rambling on about God knows what; I would also hear the RJR jingles. It wasn’t the same listening to Jamaican radio stations via the internet, although it helped to alleviate my homesick-ness.
It really pains my heart to see Jamaicans who are unable to appreciate their country. Constantly complaining about how poor we are, about our God-awful politicians and our crime rate. Please remember, hardships there are, but the land is green and the sun shineth.

Jamaica is blessed with many things, including a diverse group of amazing people. I’m not talking about just Bob Marley and Usain Bolt, either. Just this morning, I read an article on Ramone Williams, a 21 year old Jamaican recipient of the Gates Cambridge Scholarship (sponsored by Bill and Melissa Gates), currently well on her way to finding a cure for triple negative breast cancer. There are many more like her.

What makes us so impressive is that we’re able to excel despite the many challenges we face. Usain Bolt didn’t have access to any first world training equipment while he was growing up, yet now he’s the fastest man in the world. Consider also, the inner city youth (whose name I cannot remember) who studied by candlelight with gunshots in the background. He is now pursuing his PhD and is currently a motivational speaker for young men facing similar circumstances that he faced, fifteen years ago. Think about the mother, facing all sorts of adversities, who does her very best to ensure that her child is fed, educated and safe.

This is the attitude that is prevalent among us. Life rough, but we will manage.

Honestly, I cannot imagine permanently living anywhere else. I hear a few of my peers talking about “jumping ship” because our country is a “lost cause” and is going nowhere. Who will change this if not us? A genuine love and passion for your country is necessary to ensure your country’s progress. I feel obligated to help bring about this progress, in my own little way.

I’ve said it many times, I’m not an optimist, nor a pessimist. I’m a realist. I’m not looking at anything through rose-coloured glasses. I genuinely think that a better Jamaica is coming; slowly, but surely.

Happy birthday, Jamaica. I love you!

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