You can’t imagine how “evil” garrison politics is; that is impossible. You must, rather, live it, experience it, to understand it. Of course, not all garrisons are the same and even where the worst manifestations of this phenomenon is practiced, things have improved, somewhat.
Jamaicans are skeptical /cynical of politicians. We have a right to be. Over the years (pre and post-independence), politicians have given us ample evidence and reasons to entertain a healthy skepticism. Just look at how poor and divided they have made us. It is therefore not surprising that some will question the sincerity and usefulness of the prime minister’s offer and/or invitation to the opposition leader for them to both walk in each other’s constituency. But the fact of the matter is peace marches do work, sometimes, if the motive is sincere. I can remember as a child in the 80s walking with neighbours to Wilton Gardens (Rema) from Arnett Gardens (Jungle). It was a very eye opening experience, to say the least. The curious (from Arnett Gardens) were equally as shocked as were the members of civil society who toured Downtown Kingston, some years ago. The level of poverty and depravity was shocking, even worst than our own. Unfortunately not much as changed in nearly 31 years. Many residents of Wilton Gardens still do not have flush toilets or access to clean running water or proper housing. During the course of that peace walk, expressions of amazement where etched on the faces of the then labourites- Rema residents. Some actually said that Arnett Gardens/Jungle “look like foreign”. Bear in mind, that many of these residents were setting foot on each others turf for the first time in their adult life. The distance between Rema and Jungle doesn’t exceed 100 meters in most places. What an indictment against garrison politic!
Notwithstanding the aforementioned, the peace march was a resounding success! From that day forward, people could once again drive freely and walk along Collie Smith drive without apprehension, the fear of being arbitrarily shot whilst traversing “no-man’s-land” was permanently removed. Yes! By all means, walk! in order to brake down the zones of political exclusion and/or enslavement. And I hope the peace of Jesus remains and abide with us forever, even into eternity.
-- Carlos King