“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey
That’s exactly what Jamaica is becoming if not already there, a tree without roots. Not only will it soon be without roots, it will be without a trunk or branches, just a bunch of stems and leaves blowing in the wind. A country with no idea where it is coming from, no idea where it is going; a beautiful island ravaged with crime, violence and poverty. A far cry for the “One God. One Aim. One Destiny” taught to us by Marcus Garvey.
A country that was willing to turn its back on the fertile land, farming and farmers. Forgetting the days when we would farm the land and take our products to the markets to sell and barter. The days when “grow what you eat and eat what you grow” was more than a slogan, it was a way of life. The days when every child in primary school would read the Evan Jones’ poem “Song of the Banana man”. The poem spoke of a white tourist who met a farmer at a market in Portland and the tourist started looking and talking down to the farmer. The farmer put the tourist in his place by letting him know how proud he was for farming his land and providing for himself and family.
Today, Jamaica has turned its back on that farmer man in the poem in order to appease the white tourist in the poem. So instead of a land of farming we have become a land of tourism. Yes, cleaning up after Europeans and North Americans is how the average Jamaican eats his/her bread. We no longer eat what we grow, we eat what we import. Go into a mega-mart in Jamaica and it is exactly like a Wal-Mart in the United States.
Jamaica has turned her back on her great leaders like Marcus Garvey and forgotten all that he taught us. Jamaica has allowed the world to tell her who her greatest leaders are, instead of the other way around. In a recent post, a lady commented that she has traveled the world from France to Australia and every time she tells someone she is from Jamaica, their response is “Bob Marley, One love”. That’s great but are Jamaicans when in these situations, taking the time to say, “do you know that One Love phrase is actually from Marcus Garvey?” There is nothing wrong in letting the world know about other great Jamaicans. The late Whitney Houston’s greatest song ever is “I will always love” but a white American will be quick to tell you that it was written by Dolly Parton. Why? Because they are proud of their Dolly and rightfully so.
Why isn’t Jamaica equally proud of Marcus Garvey? After all, this is the great Marcus Garvey that told us to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, because while others can free our bodies, only us can free our minds. Could it be that subconsciously, Jamaica don’t like being represented by a man like Marcus Garvey because of some of the things he said, that would surely make the average potential tourist uncomfortable?
Vybz Kartel had a song where he said he felt “nice like Jamaica in the seventies”. The reason why Jamaica was nice in the seventies is because farming ran the country at that time. Tourism has destroyed Jamaica. Now Jamaica has the most bleaching per capita because Jamaicans want to look like the tourists. They have grown to be ashamed and afraid of their melanin. Now young, strong men don’t want to farm the land because they are playing hide and seek with the sun; and they can’t use a machete and fork while holding an umbrella over their heads.
Jamaica has to get to the point where farming is the primary source of our economy and tourism is secondary. We have to learn to be self sufficient and self reliant. If we cannot or if we refuse to do that, then we all know what Marcus Garvey said would happen:
“…if you are not prepared to do it then you will DIE. You race of cowards, you race of imbeciles, you race of good for-nothings, if you cannot do what other men have done, what other nations have done, what other races have done, THEN YOU HAD BETTER DIE.” – Marcus Garvey