Are Mugabe’s statements really untrue?

Jamaicans are outraged at statements attributed to Robert Mugabe
which portray Jamaican men as weed-smoking, liquor-drinking bums who
idle their time away while the country’s women are busy graduating from
colleges.

The government said Mugabe’s statements were rude. The
ordinary man on the street was seething with anger, but why? For the
last two decades, the ratio of female college graduates to male college
graduates has skewed dramatically in favour of women. In that same
period, the number of young men considered at risk has also increased
significantly. Just take a walk out into the streets one day and you
will see the number of young men smoking weed, cleaning car windows,
begging for some small change, and you will see just how at risk our
young men are.

So again I ask, why are we upset with what the Zimbabwean
president said? Is it because he took over a once, thriving economy and
it has been destroyed since? Or is this just another case of the country
not willing to face the realities that face this nation?

judgement

What I find with Jamaica is that its people like to pass
judgement on everything, but when it is time for us to be judged, we
don’t want to hear what other people think of us and our ways. We like
to curse out politicians like Damion Crawford, who, notwithstanding his
questionable approach, is trying to make a difference in his community.
We love to criticise our athletes when they do not perform up to our
expectations, but the minute we find ourselves under the microscope, we
take umbrage.

Now, Mugabe’s statements painted in broad strokes what many
people across the world believe about Jamaica. The sentiment is that we
are laid-back, lazy, and spend our days smoking weed and drinking Red
Stripe beer. Now, we know that for the most part, that perception is not
true – not entirely. However, are there kernels of truth in what Mugabe
said? Of course there are! Only, we don’t want to hear it.

Those of us willing to embrace the truth recognise that it was
only a matter of time before the world started calling us out on our
behaviour. Jamaicans are skilled, smart, and innovative, but a large
number of us tend to want to use those attributes for get-rich-quick
schemes because we want instant gratification. I suppose people could
argue that we don’t want to work too hard for too long as then, we can
spend more time going to parties, lazing around, and smoking some good
weed.

The Zimbabwean president also mentioned that everybody in Jamaica
wants to sing. This again is further evidence of our get-rich-quick
mentality as there is the perception that entertainers become the stars
they are overnight. Every day we hear about another entertainer who
‘buss.’

mediocre talent

Every year, the crowds for Digicel Rising Star, get
bigger, so too Magnum King and Queen of the Dancehall, as well as
Dancing Dynamite. Everybody wants to be a star, but what I see is
mediocre talent coming out of these competitions, very little quality.
Some of these
talent-challenged entertainers would be better off trying to get into
school, building a solid résumé, getting a decent job and perhaps one
day starting their own business.

And let me say I do understand the challenges with regard to
getting a job. It’s rough out there. Government has no clue about how it
will enable the environment to be one in which jobs can be created by
the private sector, so there is a sense of desperation among the
populace. However, this does not mean everyone can become an
entertainer. We have to do a better job of empowering our people.
Government and the private sector need to lay the foundation from which
Jamaica can take off into the future. We have to educate our people so
that they can throw that creativity that has gone into making the lotto
scam a major dollar-earner for people right across this country into
more positive pursuits that can generate good-paying legal jobs.

If we can do these things, maybe people like Mugabe wouldn’t have
so much to say about Jamaica. But in this instance, instead of looking
into ourselves, we seek to crucify the
messenger.

Send comments to levyl1@
gmail.com

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