What do these men see and know about Jamaica that others don’t?

(From left) Butch Stewart, Lascelles Chin, Dr Winston Adams

What do Butch Stewart, Las Chin and Winston Adams know that many others
in Jamaica do not know? What do they possess that our political,
religious, business, educational and social institutions – and many of
the people who lead them – have lost? What value do they see in Jamaica,
a country from which upward of 80 per cent of the populace would flee
if given a visa to their country of choice?

I ponder the question each time I see the Sandals brand displayed in one
of those alluring advertisements on international cable television.
It’s as if this totally home-grown global brand has become the public
relations engine for Jamaica and the Caribbean. Influenced no doubt in
part by my love of fine cars, my admiration for Butch Stewart and his
progeny deepens when along Oxford Road in New Kingston I see acreage
(Mas Camp) where people once wiggled their bodies to music until the wee
hours of the morning, being transformed into a multi-million dollar
multi-brand automobile dealership. What is it that he sees and knows
that far too many Jamaicans are blind to?

I ponder the question more when rising out of the ground along the
roadside at Twickenham Park in St Catherine, I see mammoth structures
that are to house – not another church, not another office to
accommodate government bureaucrats, not another paper-shuffling
institution pretending to be creating wealth, but facilities that will
produce products bearing the name of another great Jamaican brand,
LASCO. Does Mr Las Chin not know that the eulogy of the Jamaican
manufacturing sector has been written and that its demise is now riveted
in the national psyche? Has he not kept track of Jamaica’s worsening
standing as a country of choice to do business and the declining
business confidence? At a stage of life when most men would think it
reasonable to rest on the laurels of past successes, one must ask him,
what is it about Jamaica that you know and see that others are blind to?
Almost every day I drive past the impressive structure going up on the
main campus of the University College of the Caribbean along Trafalgar
Road. This one is interesting for another reason. The time it is taking
to complete the project may cause the cynics to see an unfinished
building and be blind to the vision of a knowledge society being created
with the help of private investment in tertiary education. Even now,
ambitious knowledge-seeking people hungry for success and wanting to be
infected with the germ of unbridled optimism should be pouring through
the gates in preference to institutions committed to maintaining the
status quo on the back of government subsidy. While labouring to make
the vision a reality, Winston Adams took time to pursue and complete a
doctoral degree at a prestigious American university, the type he no
doubt wants to model in Jamaica. This, as the words of a popular song
say, is no ordinary love. It is extraordinary love for God and country.
I have been privileged – no, blessed – to occupy a front-row seat to the
unfolding vision in the heads of these great Jamaican sons. From that
vantage point I can say, the drive comes not solely from
entrepreneurialism; risk taking towards creating greater personal
fortune or from glib lines spoken by motivational speakers. It’s more
than that. In each case I detect an over-belief in this line from the
Jamaican National Pledge: “So that Jamaica may, under God, increase in
beauty, fellowship and prosperity, and play her part in advancing the
welfare of the whole human race.” The combination of nationalistic
fervour, business acumen and an indomitable will to succeed causes them,
I think, to press forward in spite of government intransigence in the
face of looming economic adversity, a suffocating bureaucracy, and
cynics shouting discouragement from the sidelines.
Junior Lincoln, a product of Father Hugh Sherlock’s Boys’ Town and one
of those people credited with the export of Reggae music and culture to
Europe and Africa, has joined that rare species: those who see in
Jamaica something of value that others are blind to. He has a vision of
Trench Town being a cultural village and leading tourist destination.
The vision is encapsulated by the phrase: Trench Town – The Maker
(Mekka) and Mecca of Reggae. An aspect of the vision is to develop the
long-abandoned Ambassador Theatre on Collie Smith Drive in the community
to be “The Apollo” of Jamaica. On Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 7:00
pm, history will be made when the Ambassador experiences rebirth with a
mega show: Jamaica Music Institute (JaMIN) at the “Bas”, featuring
golden legends like Bunny and Skully, Ken Boothe, Jimmy Tucker, Derrick
Harriott and Lloyd Parkes; newer artistes like Alaine, Prophesy, Nezbeth
and Mr Myaz; and those ready to burst on the scene, the 10 finalists in
the JaMIN Song Competition.
As the scripture declares, there is none that is blinder than he who
has eyes that work but yet cannot see the wonders that are happening
around him. Jamaicans are fast losing the ability to see beyond
negotiation of IMF loans, annual throne speeches, reading of national
budgets, and government promises to rectify decades-old problems. Let’s
pray for and support those among us who retain the amazing ability to
know and to see those things that are possible in Jamaica, land we love,
but to which others are blind.
hmorgan@cwjamaica.com
Jamaicaobserver.com 
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