LACK OF CARE CREATES UNSAFE COMMUNITY
“Taking Cover Like A Warthog ”
Jamaica, crime and community desperation in focus
By Valerie Dixon,
Manchester, Jamaica. November 7, 2009
During a conversation with my son, he said something that I thought was quite profound. He said “Vindication is better than Victory”.
Every article that I have ever written points to the glaring inequalities that abound in the Jamaican society. In my articles I try to underpin my opinions with a historic perspective- some people like it, some people don’t like it and it causes some people to have “some regret”.
What I believe my articles accomplish is that they give psychic space to many journalists, commentators and contributors to newspapers and others, by giving them “grist for their mills”.
Based on the comments that I received, I realized that I was reaching quite a number of persons and was actually making them think about current events and happenings in Jamaica in a way they were not accustomed to doing before.
This was obviously a very dangerous thing to do because there are powerful people who remain powerful because everyone else outside of their circle is deliberately kept weak and ignorant.
Anyone who dares to challenge their power, by disturbing this status quo must be dealt with in one way or another. I obviously have disturbed some status quo as I have already been “dealt with”, but thank God they left my brain unshackled and when one door closes, others will open.
In recent weeks the house slaves and ‘bacra massas’ have decided to take up arms literally against the field slaves and I think it is prudent for all sensible bystanders to “take cover”. I plan to dive into my cover like a wart hog.
In one of the local newspapers, the headline read “Citizens Take Fight to Gunmen”. Excerpts from the article said that a group of business operators from this central parish, apparently fed up with the State’s lethargic response to the growing crime wave here, have formed their own security squad called M-Central Watch.
The members say that the squad will be comprised of well-armed and highly trained firearms experts who will be “going after criminals in the parish who have been preying on business people and their families”. The members of the squad hold firearm licenses. What could have precipitated this move?
Formation of the squad comes two weeks after the kidnapping of the twelve year old son of businessman and politician, Paul Lyn and at a time when the Manchester police have reported an increase in serious crimes, including robberies and break-ins.
Vindication is better than victory. I have been writing it and saying it ad nauseum, but did they care, read or listen? For five hundred years the inequality in the society was moulded, whereby a few have everything and the rest have little or nothing in comparison.
People who have nothing - have nothing to lose and are usually not even afraid to lose their lives. To conscious and forward thinking people it did not have to remain this way, especially since we are supposed to be ‘emancipated’.
I made a promise to myself that in the few years before my retirement date, I would serve as a Guidance Counsellor/Teacher in a challenged community as my way of ‘turning thanks’ by giving back to my country that gave me so much. I went to a grammar school (pre Independence) then on to University on more than one occasion and my education was paid for by the taxpayers of Jamaica.
In this economically and socially challenged, heavily tribalized community, I see the poverty and desperation on a daily basis. Here is the interesting part. This squad of business men who are “well armed and heavily trained” are some of the same persons I approached to help me with my project to train some of the young men in skills to make them employable.
What is the usual response from most of these business men ? – the recession is on; times are hard; they have no money to waste ‘pon dem tiefing bwoy’; they pay enough taxes and the excuses go on and on.
Yet these men are willing to buy any amount of ammunition and pay for world class training as marksmen and pay for gun licenses in order to take the fight to the criminals. The young men in my project are tagged as criminals mainly because of their address.
I will admit that some in the community are indeed criminals, but I believe the law should take its course; citizens regardless of how powerful they may be, should not take the law into their own hands.
For the past four years I stage- with the help of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, the UNIA (Marcus Garvey’s organization) and the Resource Citizens Association and some faithful sponsors- the Marcus Garvey Fair. This year I approached some of these businessmen seeking sponsorship and again, the excuses came fast and furious. But many other members of the community and faithful sponsors rallied behind me and the Fair was very successful.
Patrons and the stall-holders were not disappointed and the Fair is growing from strength to strength, as it endeavours to enlighten patrons and members of the Community about the life and legacy of Marcus Garvey. It is hoped that soon we will establish a state-of-art museum, cultural and learning centre in this community where Marcus lived for a few months and was embraced by the citizens.
Funding is being sourced as I write, but it is so hard to come by. Today our local community, like most rural communities, languishes for want of development and employment opportunities.
One of these businessmen said that as soon as we ‘kill off’ the criminals then everything will be just fine in Jamaica. What a dilemma- as many criminals are equally skilled at using their weapons. The killings to which the businessman referred are unlikely to be one sided. I am very happy to know that our Chamber of Commerce has disassociated itself from this squad.
I wonder if these businessmen would buy into the museum/cultural and learning centre project that can create job opportunities and sustainable development, instead of buying guns and ammunition and so avert a potential killing spree?
Sponsorship for the Fairs in former years has assisted in the erection of a much needed Post Office. Work will soon begin to erect flush toilets for the Basic School children; ages 3 – 6 who in the twenty-first century are still using a pit. (Yes there is water). It is hoped that proceeds from sponsorship for next year’s Fair will assist in enclosing the school yard of another Basic School.
More Jamaicans have become poorer. As a result, many will have to continue to be thankful for remittances and hand-outs. I am trying to teach people how to fish rather than throw them a fish. Some modern ‘bacra massas’ and house slaves would rather return the island to the institution of slavery or just simply get rid of some of the modern field slaves who, because they can’t find employment that can sustain them, in most cases, turned to a life of crime and resorted to taking up arms. This is not a positive alternative.
I truly believe, like so many positive thinking Jamaicans, that the majority of those citizens currently carrying illegal arms, generally referred to as “gunmen” , would put down their arms if they were pointed to positive alternatives.
Those alternatives seem not available. It is reasonable to believe that crime involving violence will not vanish over night.
We are now told that individuals will be taking the law into their own hands and ‘take the fight to the ‘criminals’ - gun violence against gun violence. Hopefully, good sense will prevail and members of the ‘squad’ will abandon their intention to "take the fight to the criminals", especially in light of the criticisms they are currently receiving.
If good sense does not prevail, I intend to take cover like a warthog. I am sliding into my burrow - feet first and leaving my head out so that I can kotch and watch our modern plantation, Jamaica, in operation and hope and pray I will be given the chance to pull in my head when “shat start fi bus” (the guns begin to fire.) Vindication is indeed better than victory.
Valerie’s e-mail: email@example.com
Other articles by Valerie Dixon can be found here