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Text Box: Crying  for Posterity
Valerie Dixon, “The Ships are coming” produced below, is a call for social duty of a Nation, which, according to the writer, is not listening, but focusing on ephemeral matters, like fashions, celebrity gazing and succumbing to infectious greed. Clearly the writer thinks she is battling against a never ending tide of materialism and self-interest, which ‘have got hold of even the very young’.
Valerie is of a different social era, where ‘manners and respect for self, guardians and the elderly’ meant a great deal. She seems to be tempted to say the sacrilegious, even at this juncture when we are commemorating the passing of Britain’s Abolition of the Slave Trade Act of 1807. The writer is tempted to acknowledge that the oppressed did gain some benefits from the oppressor – ‘discipline’, if nothing else.
The writer should console herself that this ‘bling’ culture is not unique to the ‘paradise’ Island of Jamaica. It is a phenomenon that is found where Western values are found in the extreme, and it will be here for a while.
However, the writer seems not able to recognise  the inevitable consequences of ‘social evolution’. Things change. Even the vast historic ice caps of the world are changing, filling the seas and oceans and creating ecological havocs on our Planet. It is interesting that the writer used terms like ‘tidal wave’ and ‘tsunami’. In using these terms Valerie understood the ecological implications. Society must also evolve. Those who are used to tranquil past will mourn the loss of that past – real or imagined. However current generation- our children and grand children, must find their own levels at which to be able to survive and function. The world has become a relatively small village, with internet connections in the most isolated of places.
The writer, in presenting this work to the wider population, no doubt hopes that those who read it, will consider their behavior and the possible future consequences. But, like global warming, how many of us are changing our life styles to save the Planet? We are told by scientists that we might have only forty years to make drastic changes before we reach the point of disaster. Selfishness and greed are strong – very strong, within the human psyche.
 “The Ships are coming” is largely mirroring society. The work is vintage Valerie Dixon, a humanitarian, crying in advance for the people. Those who can see ahead, as Valerie can, will always carry the ‘burden of sight’. ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’.
Thank you Valerie. Keep on reminding us. With any luck we should change for the better.
Self-Help News
17 February 2007

Text Box:  By Valerie Dixon, Our Caribbean Correspondent
Rt. Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey’s  (1887-1940) , Jamaica’s First National Hero, message of self- pride is still misunderstood by many Jamaicans. Little interest has been expressed in the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the ending of the Atlantic slave trade this year. 
One morning as I opened my eyes to greet a new day, the words 'the ships are coming' tumbled out of my mind. It was an 'aha moment', because I could not find an appropriate title for this article that was taking shape in my head. 
Well, from what I can see and from what I have experienced, it seems that the Jamaican society is reverting to what it must have been like in Africa, just before the slave ships arrived. Not many people are familiar with the term 'gormandiser', but those of us who are into farming and gardening can probably see where this argument is heading. 
The vast majority of Africans brought to the New World came either as prisoners of war, or were the docile ones who put up no resistance and were easily captured, or were brought here at gun-point. I place some of my ancestors among those who would never have been captured, but who unfortunately had no answer to the 'firing sticks' of the slavers. I am also placing some of my ancestors among those of noble birth who had pride and high self-esteem, but who just happened to be alive at the end of the Moorish civilisation. 
Spain exiled many 
It has been almost 600 years since Columbus set foot on our north coast (Rio Nuevo, close to Seville in St. Ann) and some time after, Spain exiled many of the Moors and Jews who were not executed during the Spanish Inquisition, to her newly founded colonies as slaves. It's a pity that many of the descendants of these black people (Moors) are in denial, or don't know about their glorious history, and prefer to believe that they are merely the descendants of cattle-herders. History writers seldom recall or record the history of the vanquished. Then in 1655, after bungling their original naval mission, the British 'thieved' Jamaica from Spain. 
It was mainly the British who engrafted their culture and way of living upon the droves of Africans who they brought to Jamaica and elsewhere and renamed them 'slaves'. This engrafted culture thrived under the watchful eyes of the whites. Many came mainly from England, and to a lesser degree, Ireland and Scotland and even lesser from Wales, as indentured servants and petty criminals sent to the islands as a form of punishment. A few came as the illegitimate sons of noblemen, who were proving to be an embarrassment to the 'noble' households. 
A few were given large tracts of land as commissions for favours done to the Crown in one way or another. Still others came to establish ownership of their sugar plantations, as the world was becoming 'hooked' on sugar. These would exercise dual citizenship and became known as 'absentee planters'. 
Every time that the Africans tried to assert themselves and their diverse cultures, like the gormandiser shoots on an engrafted tree, they were quickly and brutally cut down. On an engrafted tree, the engrafted portion is kept alive by the roots of the original tree. The ruling class used 'extreme and resolute measures' to ensure that their engrafted culture and comfortable way of life were kept alive. 
By 1962, we were declared independent, and the watchful eyesight of the British faded; but the Jamaican civil servants, bureaucrats and technologists were carrying on valiantly in the footsteps of the British. Jamaica was a relatively safe and beautiful place as law and order were still intact. 
Our teachers' colleges turned out graduates who could command respect from students and the wider society, and the teachers had good command of the English language. Doctors, lawyers and highly placed civil servants, persons in the media and all other professionals practised their calling with the high professional standards that they maintained from the recent colonial era. 
Up to this point, for the most part, clerks in shops and stores were mannerly, properly dressed and trained, and it was a pleasure to do business with the invisible owners of these business establishments. There was a fairly high degree of stability in families, even 
if parents were in common-law marriages, mainly because women had pride in themselves and it was not uncommon for a woman to have all her children by one father. Sunday school was a 'big thing' for children, regardless of financial constraints. It was here that children learnt the Ten Commandments, especially the one which says "Thou shalt not kill." Crime was there - but not rampant and horrendous as it is today. We were admonished by pastors who read from the Bible that we should love our neighbours as much as we love ourselves. Very few black people are conscious enough to love themselves, so most of us are only moved for nine days when our neighbours wind up 'dead like daawg.' So what really happened? It seemed that we reverted to being the tree that was engrafted. 
By 1968 a tidal wave of ideological and intellectual unrest and discontent washed over some of us, and by 1972 a tsunami of charisma broke loose upon the land and the engrafted limb of law and order snapped under the pressure from these two happenings. (I witnessed both.) Those who became our leaders and policy makers have taken us right back to what we were in Africa before the ships came - living in disunity, discord and disharmony. 
We are now, more so than before, deeply entrenched in tribes, mainly red and green, uptown and downtown, rich and poor, bleached and unbleached and many more in between. Back in Africa, many tribes lived in enclosed villages called 'kraals', (pronounced - crawls) to keep out their enemies and wild animals, today they are called 'gated communities' in affluent areas and 'garrisons' in the poverty stricken areas. These tribes have been described as being "perpetually at war with each other, fighting for scarce benefits and spoils." 
As Jamaican singer and song writer Ernie Smith asks in one of his songs "Are we building a nation or are we building a hut?" Love them or hate them, the British gave us something that we could have used to galvanise us into a great little nation - their language. By now we could have been trading with the whole world because the whole world has access to English.
 Marcus Garvey had this vision, but black people of his day, imitated the attitude of the white ruling class and ridiculed him as an 'uppity little black man'. His Black Star Line ships would have been taking 'Brand Jamaica' exports to the far corners of the Earth. Instead, our current leaders and policy makers (who are unable to 'vision' anything) feel that we must all belong to their tribe; because they believe it is best for them form the government and live in the great houses and rule the rest of us forever and ever. 
The ships are coming and have been coming for a long time to take some of us away to economic freedom and opportunities, especially those who are highly educated and/or highly skilled. Unfortunately, the ships that many of us will be sailing on, will take us deeper and further into mental slavery. Many of us are so steeped in corruption that we have become slaves to greed and the other vices and no amount of bling and money can wash us clean. 
Some of us have become prisoners-of-war - we have lost the will to continue to fight for a better life and have resigned ourselves to slave for wages to buy phone cards and to pay utility bills and taxes. So most of us cower behind our burglar bars clutching our Bibles and singing "Steal away to Jesus"; hoping that the ships will come and carry us home to glory. Still the politically and genetically linked and those who have high interest rates to collect on their government papers are also praying - praying that the ships will pass them by as Jamaica is the only heaven that they are sure of. 

Valerie Dixon is an educator and may be contacted at: valeriecdixon@ubol.com
Your comments may be posted to: feedback@ubol.com 
Text Box: The Ships are coming
Text Box: Other articles by Valerie Dixon can be read here

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“All faith is FALSE, all faith is TRUE.

TRUTH is the shattered mirrors strewn In myriad bits; while each BELIEVES

His LITTLE BIT the whole to own.”


From “The Kasidah of Hji Abu el-Yezdi”, as translated by Sir Richard F. Burton