When I think hero, I think of the people before me who fought for the freedoms and privileges that I often take for granted today. When I think hero, I think of people who, despite the odds, at the risk of death and persecution, fought for the rights of their fellow man and woman. When I think hero, I think of leaders past who stood up for the rights of all mankind.
So today, Monday 19th October, (for the first time on this blog) I have decided to honour our National Heroes: Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Samuel Sharpe, Sir Alexander Bustamante, Norman Washington Manley, Paul Bogle, George William Gordon and last but certainly not least, Nanny of the Maroons a woman who repelled bullet with the muscles of her buttocks and serves as inspiration to all Jamaican women that we are powerful beyond our expectations.
On this day I implore you all my fellow Jamaicans to reflect upon the sacrifices made by these great people and stand proud in the fact that without them, we would be in worse problems than we are today.
I often think to myself, in this day and age it seems as if the fire and determination that drove our heroes have burnt out of us. As if the young men and women of today are more concerned with money, the dancehall or bunning weed than with effecting changes which will benefit our country as a whole.
I think of our ancestors and wonder if they are proud of what they see, a country that now seems consumed with greed. The few good being outweighed and outshadowed by the plethora of bad and/or indifferent.
It seems as if we as the future of Jamaica have become complacent with our "emancipation" and "independence", as if the struggles of our forefathers (and mothers) meant nothing; as if slavery was nothing but a dream.
There are many who argue that Bob Marley should be made a National Hero. That it is his face that should be on the new $5000 bill. I don't like to get involved in debates of that nature because as far as I am concerned, Bob Marley, as great a musician as he was, didn't risk his life, and didn't die for the liberty and freedom of the Jamaican people. So how then can one compare him to those who did and even more so, want to place him in the same class as them?
Sure, he sang of love, peace and emancipation but what did he DO? Did he effect any changes within Jamaican society that we can look back on and say, "Wow, Bob Marley was a patriot and he died in defence of our rights"? (And yes I am well aware of the One Love Peace Concert where he joined the hands of Manley and Seaga. I am also aware of his exodus following said concert).
I know there are many who will not agree with my opinion and that is your right. But today, whether or not he is a hero is of little if no consequence. What is important today is that we honour the memory of those before us who stood up (and died) for their beliefs.
I hope that one day I can have even an ounce of the conviction that propelled these great people. As a "Jamaican ambassador" in Japan I spend day after day teaching, clarifying and edifying aspects of Jamaica and our culture to anyone who asks. As I'm sure the other ALTs in Japan do as well. It is with this consistent patriotism that chose to I write this blog today.
So often we forget the lessons learnt in Prep and Primary Schools about our 7 National Heroes (some children nowadays probably don't even know that we have 7). I am sure the children in Jamaica can quote a Vybz Kartel lyric off the top of their head but no one remembers poor Marcus Garvey.
Let me not get started on the education system in Jamaica right now because this post is already too long. But I will leave you with this. Those of you who have children (of your own or young siblings) what will you teach them, in the future, about Jamaica? Will you remember to speak of the sacrifices of our ancestors? Will you teach them to walk in pride? to be proud of their roots and their heritage???
Jamaicans (yard and abroad) need to start sowing the seeds of patriotism within the minds of our youth. When I look at certain aspects of Japanese society I can see why crime is so low here and so high in Jamaica. When will we start garnering pride in our nation and stop perpetrating indignation and indecency?
I am not professing to have any answers, Jamaica's problems are an enigma of catastrophic proportions, but there's one thing I know. For as long as I live on this earth, I will never forget Our Heroes.
proud to be Jamaican