Are we really proud Jamaicans?

February 05, 2016
File The Imperial flag of Ethiopia was placed alongside the Jamaican flag at the statue of Bob Marley on Arthur Wint Drive, St Andrew.

Many Jamaicans claim they are proud of their country. They say they are proud of its music, people, especially athletes and musicians, and they are also proud of its food.

Many Jamaicans travel to all parts of the world and expect to be served Jamaican food. It's like in the back of their minds Jamaica is the world, not a tiny speck of an island in the Caribbean.

In many ways, Jamaica is the world. Our music is extremely popular, world over. Wherever you go, you can always hear people trying to mimic the way we speak. I remember once travelling overseas, after being introduced as being from Jamaica, the person I was being introduced to responded with outstretched arms while declaring, "What a gwaan mon? Jamaica. No problem, mon."

I didn't find it particularly funny, but, at least, he was paying homage to my country of birth where I have lived for most of my life.

These days though, Jamaica continues to be known for other things I am not particularly proud of.

Just this week I was reading something titled, 'Nine Popular Tourist Destinations with Surprisingly High Murder Rates'. Take a guess which country was atop that list? If you guessed Jamaica, you would have been right on the money.

According to the article, Jamaica has 45.1 murders per 100,000 people and gets about 3.5 million visitors. We have a higher murder rate than Mexico (22 murders per 100,000 people and 25.8 million visitors), South Africa (35.7 murders per 100,000 and 9.5 million visitors).

Mexico is ranked eighth and South Africa is third. It is interesting to note that Trinidad and The Bahamas are also on the list, ranked fourth and sixth, respectively.

DISTURBING

What was even more disturbing was that the most violent towns are listed. Whereas Kingston and Spanish Town are not surprising, or would not be surprising to many, the fact that Montego Bay was should be of particular concern.

I once read somewhere that Montego Bay was the jewel of the Caribbean in tourist destinations and it's also the tourist capital of Jamaica. It was once the quaint little city along the North Coast that has been immortalised in song, "Come take me down to Montego Bay, oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh oh".

These days I wouldn't want to go there, not with the explosion of lottery scammers that reside in and around the city and the spiralling number of murders that have resulted from the scam.

One would have thought that for a country that depends so heavily on tourism, respective governments would ensured the integrity of our tourism product is not comprised by anyone or anything.

In other countries, people fight to protect their bread and butter. In Jamaica, not so much.

We really don't fight for anything important and it's why we have this mess on our hands now.

If we say we are proud to be Jamaica and really believe we are, these things should not be allowed to happen. We shouldn't be losing our hold on things intrinsic to this country.

A number of countries have taken our reggae music and improved upon it even while Bob Marley is still our biggest cultural icon. Our beaches are being stolen from right under our noses and our once shiny city of Montego Bay is now a town battered and bruised by crime and violence.

Would proud people allow these things to happen?

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