One could also argue that we cannot truly celebrate our independence because we are not! How else can we explain the national debt? How else can we explain why we import more than we export; and we can but we do not feed ourselves? How else can we explain why we still have only two reservoirs when our population has quadrupled since they were built and are purported to have massive cracks that robs them of their storage capacity? How else can we explain the high cost of producing electricity when we have a constant supply of wind and perpetually abundant sunshine that other countries long for? These are the fundamental areas of development for any country.
Yet, there are many things to celebrate. Here, I list a small portion of the things we ought to celebrate:-
Things we have pioneered over the last 50 years, such as, the drug for Asthma, the Ortanique fruit, a unique breed of cattle and there are a lot of other “firsts”
We could also include some of our failures which some might argue as disputable: the bauxite industry, sugar, FINSAC, Trade Unionism, Civil Disorder and Unrests, etc.
There could also be the staging of public fora on broad political as well as landmark issues, such as, the future location of Gordon House, Constitution, The Privy Council, Rights of the Child, Youth Empowerment, Tax Reform, Land Reform and various other reforms. In addition social & security issues since independence, such as gender, technology, the Farm Work Programme; the JDF, the JCF and other national institutions could also be among the issues for this type of national discussion.
Ah yes, I can hear some people saying, we just do not have the money for all this, but a small entrance fee of $200 could be charged at some of these events which could help to discharge some of the costs, provided that these events are properly advertised, in particular, a calendar of events. There could also be the staging of Public Forums, Photographic Exhibitions staged in major halls and public libraries around the island, e.g. showcasing some of the social commentaries in newspapers over the years and snap shots of previous Jamaica Independence celebrations, should be a crowd puller and very nostalgic; a Special Independence Expo at the National Arena, ending with a Special Town Hall Meeting. I believe that these would help tremendously to educate the youth of this country as to what independence really means and begin to sensitize them to embrace the 2030 Vision.
The Diaspora, as well as, friends of Jamaica, such as world leaders and world organization heads, should be specially invited, especially those who have not been back to Jamaica at all for 25 years or more to come and see how we have grown, for grown we have and no one can deny that. Advertisements should be out already for the ordering of souvenirs in the local media and the Diaspora. This is where souvenirs could be an additional source of income, as well as, a banquet and other forms of social engagement could be staged. Can we achieve any of this in the next three months? Who will answer the call and rise to the occasion.
Contributing Author: Ms. Cecelia D. Ferguson