Monday, December 28, 2009

Our Economic Crisis

Why don't the rich fix it?
Published (Jamaica Gleaner): Thursday | December 31, 2009


While I am not surprised that The Gleaner's editorial of December 28 called for the resignation of Mr Shaw, I am surprised that the call did not include several other ministers. Why just Mr Shaw? Are the ministers of health or foreign affairs doing any better?

My suggestion is that Mr Shaw should ask Mr Golding to resign. I believe Mr Karl Samuda once said: "Di whol' a dem (JLP) don't mek one good comrade!" Mr Samuda is a wise man indeed.

While Jamaica is on the precipice of economic and social collapse, sufferers are looking to our 'rich man' Government to take us forward. As Mr Golding and Mr Shaw have ready access to the 'big men' of Jamaica, who are reaping record profits even in hard times and not paying their share of the taxes, can I suggest that our leaders use their access to persuade them to save the country? What a wonderful statement it would make!

Monuments for 'generosity'

We could offer them 'instant immortality' by creating a monument to these 'generous' individuals who came to the aid of their country in this our hour of need.

Why must the poor always foot the bill? Ladies and gentlemen, you may be able to take it with you to the United States and Canada and further ruin the country but, in the final analysis, you cannot take it with you.

According to Mrs Portia Simpson Miller: "Many of the rich and powerful in Jamaica have never heard of the Sermon on the Mount, the story of the Good Samaritan or Psalms 41:1 (Blessed is he who considers the poor)."

Obviously, our perception of the rich is that they are callous people who are only looking to exploit every opportunity to make more money. As we speak, they are lurking in the shadows and waiting for the opportunity to pounce on good deals when the Government unloads the people's prized assets to cover our bills.

Piranhas of society

Will they continue the reputation of being the piranhas of society?

As we sit on the edge of disaster and brace ourselves in these uncertain times, just for a moment, ask not what your country can do for you and contemplate the heroic things you could do right now to save Jamaica.

We readily admit that 50 of you can hurt our economy, but we are also hopeful that you will be mindful of your legacy.

Messeurs Golding and Shaw, you can rise to the occasion, not by trying to squeeze blood from our turnips, yam and callaloo, but demonstrating the transformational and exceptional leadership needed to inspire the rich in Jamaica to stand up and be counted. Call 50 of them and ask for a billion dollars each. Poor people vex.

I am etc.,

Basil Waine Kong, PhD, JD
Response to My Letter

(Mark Wignall)

(Dr Edward Johnson)


I have just finished reading the Sunday Observer and I have noted where Wignall is punching you up because you say the rich must fix things-help to do so-in Jamaica. And he even used the Bible to help him. As I see it, the mentality, morality and spirituality that drove the rich in society then and which is what the bible in its allegorical manner addresses, is essentially the same one that drives the politicians and the rich in our society now. So, if any change is to come in society, outside of the politicians, it must come from those who can do it best, afford it - and that is not the poor man, but the rich. And in fact it is they who have paid for in our society, the triumphing of one party over the other.

If the spitituality of the rich is to use money to help others to be more productive and not to look for the highest returns now - 15% on their money in our poor society, rather than perhaps 5% as occurs in your rich corner of the world , then in fact they would be helping in the matter and fixing it! The poor man does have his place - not seeking hand-outs, but the rich has more power now than the poor to do it peacefully. The poor can certainly storm the streets, but then that has all sorts of complications, particularly when it comes to our security - yours and mine when we are sometimes there, and for him most of his time, as I think he resides there ful-time. But then if he patronizes the right people at the right time, he will get his social space and be okay.

Like as how he has called your name, you will have to talk to him my friend. I am here, master, in my little corner listening to you and him. Just had to dip into the argument - but I am gone now,so take care and stay well.


(Mr. Mike McKenzie)

My Brother:

Thanks for letting me realize that I am not the only dysfunctional mind, who believes that the wealthy have the moral responsibility to help the poor. Just imagine if they invested just 10% of their wealth in social nation building, the 10% that would not change their lifestyle one iota, but just imagine the impact on illiteracy, crime, needless suffering it would have.

I saw Mr John Issa (Superclubs, Hedonism hotel chain owner)in a television interview saying how happy he was that the Government was able to find the US$25 million to advertise for them after 911, and then in the same breath he wished more could be done for social programs for the poor like housing and education.

Brother Basil, I wanted to reach into the tv and while choking him ask, what are you doing for the poor with your US$250 million wealth? My conclusion is that greed is a pathology, its just an illness we have no incentive to cure. I don't know how their minds operate, but when I pass a mother on the street with a baby on her lap begging, I wake up at night unable to sleep thinking what can I do to help out that situation. How they rest comfortably and wake up the next day contemplating how to accumulate more wealth that they could never possibly spend in this lifetime, is beyond any rational I can conceive. Anyway I have been too long winded as it is, but my brother if you can figure out a way to more equitably redistribute the peoples wealth, I think at this point I would be willing to devote my life.
Walk good.
Mike McKenzie

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Success Strategy for Economic Development

A Success Strategy for Jamaica
Basil Waine Kong

One finger may not make much of a difference, but fingers coming together as a fist can be a formidable weapon. There is no doubt that Jamaica needs a unifying direction and a winning strategy. The list of our woes get longer with each passing day. So far, we have allowed the tyranny of the urgent to prevent us from implementing prevention strategies. Imagine that we are sitting on the banks of a river. We look out and to our horror we see babies drowning. I would hope that we would make every effort to rescue and revive these children, but we cannot afford to stop there. We must also quickly run upstream and stop the man from throwing the babies off the bridge. Mediocre doctors only diagnose and treat disease. Superb doctors also prevent disease. Our government is stuck on crisis management with no investment in long term solutions.

1. A prevention strategy. Intellectuals and politicians try to solve problems; geniuses prevent them. The number one killer in the Caribbean is heart disease. It is a disgrace that so many of our grand parents succumb to this disease when it is a lifestyle problem and entirely preventable. Crime, poverty, motor vehicle deaths are also preventable if we can be smart enough to implement the strategies that will address these problems adequately. When we were implementing half day schools for our children, couldn’t we have predicted that with ten hours of idle time on their hands young people would form gangs, get into sex, drugs and crime? In situations of crises when many quick fixes and simplistic solutions are tempting, considering all the angles with an eye to prevention, can help avert disastrous decisions.

As social theorist John Ruskin reminds us, “Punishment is the last and the least effective instrument in the hands of the legislator for the PREVENTION of crime.” Of course, it’s necessary, but we should be mindful that when we get to the point of punishment, at least as regards that one individual, that’s an opportunity we have ALREADY missed. I would rather focus on preventing crime than catching criminals. Each Government Ministry should be asked to come up with an effective prevention strategy.

2. An educational strategy. We can solve a great deal of our problems if we properly educate our people. I am ashamed of the fact that a third of our people cannot read a newspaper. Not investing in education is a predictable way to prepare our people for failure, poverty and crime. Japanese children are in school for twice as many hours as Jamaican children. As the educational level of any population increase, uncivil conduct decrease, health status increase and wealth is less concentrated in the hands of a few. Our English-oriented educational system dictates that we concentrate our resources on the talented tenth. The difficulty with this model is that most of the beneficiaries of this educational investment leave the country and you can find them contributing significantly to American, Canadian and European societies. Ninety percent of our nurses, doctors and pharmacists live foreign.

3. A change strategy. We cannot continue to react and keep going back to watering holes that have dried up while squandering new opportunities. This is a new world reality that cannot be ignored. In 1998, Spencer Johnson wrote a parable entitled: “Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life”. From this little parable, he points out that:

(a) Change Happens: We cannot continue to make typewriters, horse drawn carriages and buggy whips when the demand for these products is gone. While there is strong demand for our athletes, music and entertainment, alcohol, coffee, honey and our unique tourist product, interest in our sugar, bauxite and bananas are waning.

(b) Anticipate Change: The only thing that is certain is change. We must anticipate what products will have value in the future and start offering them even before the demand peaks. Jamaican banks have a bad reputation for not loaning money for innovative ideas and will only lend money to support tried and true business ideas whose usefulness may have passed. The government has a huge coordinating responsibility to develop new business ideas.

(c) Monitor Change: We need good data and have our eyes and ears open so we can anticipate the winds of change. Someone needs to have their ear on the train track to let us know what is coming. But with so much data available on the web, it is not difficult.

(d) Adapt to Change Quickly: The quicker we adopt, the more competitive we will be. How many Jamaican businesses are going after the huge solar energy market?

(e) Engineer Change: Instead of becoming victims of change, we can become agents of change. We can develop and market new products. Health tourism, alternative energy and call centers are huge industries. Wouldn’t Americans prefer to come to an English speaking country right next door for these services than go to India if they had confidence in our skills and customer service? We must produce goods and services that will be attractive, replace imports and obviously export more than we import. We continue to chase after markets in the United States, Europe and Canada when there are tremendous markets in Africa and Asia. Why don’t we have a direct flight between Jamaica and Nigeria?

(e) Be ready to change and enjoy the ride! Our legal system, our government bureaucracies and banking systems are not business friendly and need to be updated to address the reality of a changing world. Our civil servants should support and facilitate business not hinder them. We should have an ethical, educated and motivated employee pool to support our various enterprises. We will have no difficulty attracting foreign investments, particularly from our various foreign nationals if we become more business friendly. Right now, the World Bank ranks us 75th in the world for doing business. A simple procedure of paying business taxes in Jamaica require that business entities spend 17 days in lines and make 72 tax payments per year to meet their tax obligations. I congratulate Trinidad and Tobago for their extremely efficient handling of this detail. We should learn from them.

(4) A nation building strategy. Rather than attacking each other politically, we need to find common ground and a shared vision. We need to recognize that we are in this boat together and a rising tide will lift all boats. There are tremendous opportunities in Jamaica where we can find synergies to improve the welfare of all our citizens. Let us set aside the differences that separate us, stop blaming each other and focus on the bonds that unite us. I believe we all love Jamaica. We just need to be a little less selfish and share the wealth.

(5) A self reliance strategy. Not only should we develop a food policy that will have us eat what we grow and grow what we eat, there is so much more we can do to reduce importation of foreign oil and dependency on imports. We can be a reliable source of food because we have a twelve month growing season, lots of available land waiting to be put into production, ample rainfall, good soil, expert farmers and inexpensive labour. There is no reason why we cannot feed ourselves. With regard to energy, we have wind, the sun, redundant cane fields that can be converted to grow avocado pears and other vegetable matter that can be easily converted to diesel fuel. We must think outside the box to survive. It is not going to be business as usual.

It is imperative that we develop a new way of thinking for the changing world in which we live. This proposed five-finger strategy is a start. If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Tipping Point

My Blog is Off and Running

Basil Waine Kong

In Michael Gladwell’s book: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, the author describes a tipping point as the stage when the momentum for certain phenomena becomes unstoppable and rise in popularity. Over the past month, this blog has experienced these phenomena. There is no simple explanation, it just took off. For the first year, the blog averaged twenty five hits per day. That has grown to several hundred (up to 600 sometimes) per day and growing. I couldn’t be more pleased. My pursuit is to celebrate my Jamaican heritage, my relationships and to be healthy, wealthy and wise. If that is also your goal in life, visit often and I promise to make it worth your while.

The primary audience for my blog is Jamaicans and the Diaspora. I have published over fifty articles grouped as follows:

1. My current experience as a Jamaican who returned to Jamaica after spending fifty years in the United States. If you are contemplating returning, I can be your canary in the coal mine.

2. Childhood stories from my first fifteen years growing up in Woodlands District in St. Elizabeth in the fifties. I would like very much to share with you the best childhood any boy could have---much better than Huck Finn.

3. You will also enjoy my Jamaican jokes, poetry and short stories.

For those of you who visit my site, I ask you to:

1. Leave a comment or send me an e-mail ( Let me know your thoughts;

2. Tell your friends and family to log on;

3. Liberally use whatever you find on the blog;

4. Contribute (if you can) to improving access to healthcare for heart patients, particularly the children who cannot afford this care. The Heart Institute of the Caribbean Foundation (HCIFoundation) is registered with the State of Georgia and the IRS as a fully tax exempt not for profit foundation. It is also registered as a Non Governmet Organization charity with the government of Jamaica. Website:

Finally, my wife and I wrote a prayer for Jamaica. Prayer changes things. If each of us recite the prayer, particularly in our houses of worship, God will bless us in a mighty way. We need relief from crime and violence. We need heroes. Let us pray.

Basil Waine Kong Ph.D., JD
Heart Institute of the Caribbean Foundation
23 Balmoral Avenue
Kingston 10, Jamaica
Telephone: 876-906-2105
US Cell: (678)325-9255
Jamaica Cell: (876) 291-1506
Fax: 876-906-4413

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Psalm 151: A Prayer for Jamaica

Good Has Never Lost a Battle to Evil
A Responsive Reading
Basil Waine and Stephanie Hisako Kong

Leader: O LORD God of hosts, how majestic and magnificent is Your name.
Congregation: Our father, strong and mighty, incline Your ears and hear our prayer.
Leader: We stand in awe of Your miraculous creations, particularly the splendour of the Island we call home. You are our light and salvation.
Congregation: In our distress, we cry unto You because our souls are hungry for Your wisdom, guidance and intervention.
Leader: Trouble is everywhere and we are consumed with grief. The wicked kill innocent men and women. Our land is polluted with blood. A stubborn and rebellious generation who do not keep Your commandments torment us.
Congregation: All night long we flood our beds with weeping and drench our pillows with tears. Our eyes grow weak with sorrow.
Leader: We are desolate and afflicted as desperate violent men have united against us.
Congregation: Leave us not to our oppressors. Deliver us quickly out of the hands of the wicked and declare Your glory among the unbelieving. But instead of turning your hand against our adversaries, we ask that you forgive them and turn their hearts and minds from wickedness and crime.
Leader: Let those who hate You submit to Your commandments. Let them be born again, never to return to folly.
Congregation: Bring us out of our distress. Have compassion on Your affliction and deliver us Almighty God, We put our trust in You.
Leader: You have never failed to keep your promises Almighty God and You said the needy will not be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted perish. You are a refuge for the oppressed, the ever present stronghold in times of trouble.
Congregation: Your promise is a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our paths. Your words are sweeter than honey to our mouths!
Leader: You promised that You would never ignore the cry of the afflicted and that those who know Your name will never be forsaken.
Congregation: We shall wait on You and not be weary. We shall be of good courage as we lift our hands to You in supplication. Let not evil triumph.
Leader: Almighty God, many are our foes that rise up against us. In their arrogance, wicked men hunt down the weak who are caught in the schemes they devise. They compass us about like angry bees and wasps.
Congregation: As a nation, we have become corrupt. Criminal gangs have joined with gunmen to do abominable deeds. Their mouths are full of curses, lies and threats. Their victims are crushed under their strength.
Leader: How long shall our enemies be exalted over us?
Congregation: As our rock, our fortress, our deliverer and our strength, we call upon You to save us from our enemies.
Leader: Make the wicked come trembling from their garrisons. While we seek no personal revenge as You proclaimed with righteousness: “Vengeance is mine!”
Congregation: While You pledged unfailing kindness for your anointed, Iniquities prevail in all of us. You know our reproach, shame and dishonor. We pray therefore that You purge these sins from us.
Leader: Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy loving kindnesses. Remember not the sins of our youth. But according to thy mercy forgive us for our many transgressions.
Congregation: We are merely strivers to be pure in heart, trying to keep ourselves from sin and to live by Christian principles.
Leader: We acknowledged our own sins against You, and our iniquity we will not hide. We confess these transgressions with the faith that you will now forgive us.
Congregation: Forsake us not O Gentle Savior. Teach us to do Your will and lead us into the land of uprightness, integrity and truth so that sinners will walk from darkness into the light and become gracious and full of compassion for our fellow citizens.
Leader: Watch over the righteous, bless us and surround us with your favor as with a shield and make the nation our inheritance.
Congregation: Defend us from those who rise up against us. Place a shield around us and restore glory on us so we can lift up our heads.
Leader: Order our steps in thy word and let not any iniquity have dominion over us. Deliver us from the oppression of sinful men.
Congregation: Let the lying lips of the wicked be silenced and call them to account for their sins so they may terrify us no more. Let those who dig holes fall into the pits they make. Let the trouble they cause recoil on them. The violence they perpetuate come down on their own heads.
Leader: For those of us who have done evil. We ask thy forgiveness and mercy. We repent of these sins.
Congregation: Take away, O Lord, the desires and propensities of the wicked to be violent and the unrighteous to give thanks unto Your name. They are also our sons and daughters and You are the father of us all. But what has a man gained if he owns great wealth and loose his soul?
Leader: O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure.
Congregation: Give us relief from our distress and be merciful. Let the light of Your face shine upon us and give us peace.
Leader: We lay our requests before You and wait with expectation.
Congregation: Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
Leader: If You be for us, who can be against us? You only are the strength of our lives. If we trust in You, who shall we fear?
Congregation: From You come blessings and deliverance from wickedness. We will give thanks and sing praises to You, our LORD Most High, for You have kept Your promises and dealt bountifully with us.
Leader: We make a joyful noise unto You and come before You with thanksgiving. Your mercy is everlasting; and Your truth endure forever.
Congregation: May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be forever pleasing in Your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer.
Leader: Though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, for You are our constant companion. We promise to never let go of your hands.
Congregation: You prepare a table before us in the presence of our enemies, exalting the righteous.
Leader: Save Your people, and bless our inheritance. Feed us until we want no more. Turn our mourning into dancing.
Congregation: Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us. We put our faith and trust in You. Put off our sackcloth, and gird us with gladness. We will join all those who are upright in heart to sing a new song and shout for joy.
Leader: Let truth, peace and prosperity return to Jamaica so that the land may yield her increase and our children inherit a bountiful land.
Congregation: You water the land and provide us with a rich harvest of fruits, vegetables and grain.
Leader: You cause the grass to grow for the animals, they multiply greatly and herb for the service of man that we may bring forth food out of the earth. O LORD, how manifold is Your works! The earth overflows with riches. So is the great sea that caresses us, full of Your bounty,
Congregation: From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. May Your mercy endure forever.
All: Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen. Amen. Amen.

Dr Kong: This is awesome. I wish everyone on earth could read and understand and follow these words. This Canadian loves the Jamaician people and your country , all the best. JR Thornton

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Politics in Jamaica

A Jamaican Story as Told by Ralph Thomas

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above ground elevation of 2,346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.

"She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be a PNP. "I am,"replied the man. "How did you know?" "Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically
correct. But I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me."

The man smiled and responded, "You must be a Labourite. "I am," replied the balloonist. "How did you know?" "Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you are going. You've risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but somehow, now it's my fault."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Life is Grand

My Last Thirty Days
Basil Waine Kong

Life does not get any better than this. While "Thanksgiving" is not a national holiday in Jamaica, it is a day Americans set aside to celebrate and give thanks for our blessings.

I have been on a great adventure with my loving, forgiving and accommodating wife (Stephanie). We are perfectly matched. We are both blessed with excellent health and strength, enjoy the company of ALL our children (4) and grand children (5.5). We also work as well as work out together daily. Each monring when I check my e-mail, there is always a note from my wife. The note this morning reads as follows:Good morning my love and I wanted to be the first to greet you with a big smile and big hug. I love you my darling and you are my hero. All your gestures assure me that you are in love with me as well. You are a true reflection of the love of God and I am blessed among all women to have you as my husband--the one person who I look up to and look forward to loving. I love you beyond measure in this moment. I cannot wait to be back in your arms tonight. Your Wife.

Over the last thirty days, we visited Grand Cayman for three days (It rained every day but we met wonderful people, toured this small Island where the first civilians were certified as scuba divers) and we saw a wonderful performance by Cuban acrobats, dancers and singers; we attended the 35th Anniversary of the Association of Black Cardiologists in Las Vegas, (where I received an appreciation award for serving as their CEO for 22 glorious years). I also attended the Centers for Disease Control National Forum on Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention in Atlanta where I serve on the International Committee on behalf of the "Heart Institute of the Caribbean Foundation". We saw a Broadway show in New York (FILA) where we also attended the 65th birthday celebrations of a dear friend (Obie McKenzie) and visited with another close friend (Josh Weinstein) who we do not visit with nearly enough.

In golf, I won a golf tournament in Jamaica (Kingston Hilton Open), played the famous East Lake Country Club and otherwise play an average of four times per week with wonderful friends whose company I thoroughly enjoy. Two weeks ago,I shot under par for the front nine at Caymanas with three birdies. Don't ask about the back nine.

I spend a great deal of time reaching out to others particularly with my eighty seven year old mother. It gives me a great deal of comfort that I am not a motherless child. The people of Woodlands District in St. Elizabeth, particularly the children, are a priority. We went to Hellshire Beach to swim and eat fish and festival, the Myrie’s in Kingston for soup on Saturdays after golf as well as play dominoes, swim, sing and dance whenever we have the opportunity. I have seven writing projects that are taking shape. In all that I do, I pray as if all depended on God and work as if all depended on me.

So, when anyone ask me, how I am doing, instead of saying “not so bad”, “could be better”, “I am still above the ground”, or some other cliché that shows how little we expect from life, I now respond:

I am complete. I am perfect. I am happy. I am dynamite. I am lovable, loving, getting lots of good love. I am well off and doing well. I have it all together. I am basking in the riches of life. I am prospering right here and right now. I am being richly rewarded, even in my sleep. I am a miracle worker expecting a miracle right now. I am peacefully peaceful. I am walking the walk. I am talking the talk. I am claiming the victory right now. I am successful. I am wealthy. I am living in pure grace. I am a believer. I am standing on faith. I am on my way to the top. I am what I am because I just can’t help myself.” (Iyanla Vanzant, “Acts of Faith: Daily Meditations for People of Color”, Simon & Schuster, 1993, December 7)

My wife and I can look backwards with joy and look forward with hope. And how are you doing?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Why I Support Portia Simpson Miller

Why I side with the PNP
Basil Waine Kong, Ph.D., JD

I believe that People’s National Party President, Portia Simpson-Miller, is a rare gift to Jamaica and to humanity. She is charismatic, astute, a visionary who cares deeply about the people and the future of Jamaica. She is an unselfish leader who never places personal ambitions ahead of her public duty.

This talented and gifted leader is restrained from letting her light shine because of bad-minded and prejudiced people who oppose her because she is a strong woman in a chauvinistic society. She is also held up to ridicule by uptown people because she is one of the few politicians who consistently advocate for the poor and down trodden. She persist in proposing changes that would “lift all boats” and the defenders of the status quo just as consistently attack her for her advocacy. According to Marcus Garvey: "If one wants to do good for the masses of Jamaica, 'Big Brains' will plot, conspire, and do everything to destroy you and your name." It is a callous and a sad commentary on those who say: "Portia loves poor people so much, she wants to make everybody poor."

According to Party Leader: “Many of the rich and powerful in Jamaica have never heard of Psalm 41:1 (Blessed is he that considereth the poor), the Sermon on the Mount or the story of the Good Samaritan.” She envisions a kinder, gentler nation recognizing that we are all in the same boat. "How we treat the least of us, the poor, the old and the infirmed is a reflection of our moral conscience. This generation, must be mindful of our place in history.
" She quoted Nelson Mandela as having said: "The generosity of the human spirit can overcome all adversity. Through compassion and caring, we can create hope."

"Our country will be judged by how we treated people in need and what we did to educate, house, feed, clothe and provide economic opportunity, prosperity and security for ALL Jamaicans." All she strives to do is provide a gateway for ALL Jamaicans, meet our citizens where they are (not where we would like them to be), equip them to be better participants in society, and empower them to build a good life for themselves, their families, and their communities.

In contrast,she said: "The Jamaica Labour Party is only invested in complaining that their fellow citizens aren’t further along, setting them up to fail, and drawing the walls and fences higher around themselves. Their agenda for Jamaica is for the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."

It was been a great privilege for my wife and me to sit down with Party Leader and hear at length what she is about. I hope it does not surprise people to know that our Party Leader has a substantial knowledge of a wide range of subjects but also very humble and engaging. She can walk and talk comfortably with Queens, Kings, Presidents, Prime Ministers and Ministers of the cloth as well as the good citizens of Jamaica. Sister P cares.

I asked her the question that is on the minds of many: ”Is Sister P ready to run the country? Can you take us forward?“ She said with confidence, "I do not shrink from this responsibility, I welcome it. I have assembled the most marvelous talent that will help me to move this ship forward. But while I have great faith and trust in my advisors, my imprimatur is to do what justice, humanity, and reason tell me I must do. The People of Jamaica are my masters. My contract is between those who came before us, those who are living and those yet to be born. I do not want to make slaves of future generations by burdening them with debt on funds that were not used to create economically viable assets. I recognize that we cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong, increase wages by ruining those who pay the wages or help the poor by destroying the rich. We also destroy character by doing things for people that they should be doing for themselves."

"Maybe the greatest difference between the JLP and the PNP is that we believe in preventing crises and the JLP believing in trying to deal with disasters after the fact. The truth is that we can do a great deal more to prevent unemployment by preparing our citizens for productive work on the one hand and expanding business on the other. We can significantly reduce how much we spend on health care by promoting healthier lifestyles and we can accelerate our use of alternative energy like the sun, the ocean and the wind on the one hand and more fuel efficient automobiles on the other. Preventing crime and violence is certainly more effective than crating environments that promote criminal behavior, arresting, and then having to feed, cloth and otherwise provide for their needs at great public expense.”

When we parted, my wife and I each got one of her famous hugs that also told us about her kindness. I am now among her strongest supporters, and was pleased to be formally introduced in her speech to the delegates at the PNP Annual Conference in October, 2009. The more I get to know her, the more convinced I am that Jamaica would be in great hands under her leadership and what Jamaica needs right now is to change the party in power.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Is the Sun Rising or Setting in Jamaica?

Mawnin! Basil Waine Kong

I am in a Jamaican state of mind. As I position myself to get the best view of each lovely sunrise with a cup of Blue Mountain coffee in hand and each sunset with a rum punch or a Red Stripe, my teeming brain, crawling with thought, often wonder whether the future of this romantic place we call Jamaica is represented by the coming up or going down of the sun. Is this the real deal or a fool's paradise? Are our best years behind us or in front of us? Were our best years under colonial rule or maybe the early days of independence when we were celebrating and feeling free from colonial domination? While we continue to squander many opportunities and have badly mismanaged our resources, I am going to believe with as much optimism I can muster that we are represented by a rising sun. While it is not shining very bright at the moment, I believe in my heart of hearts that it will be morning again in Jamaica. Challenges come to make us, not break us.

We are a wealthy but badly managed country. Our abundant variety of flowers, vegetables and fruit trees leads me to believe that God has blessed us in a very special way. Our wealth include rich and abundant soil, lots of rivers and fresh water, talented and hard working people, a pleasant climate, sunshine and rain embraced by the Caribbean sea. Most of all, we have brand Jamaica. In addition to our sprinters, our music and entertainers, we have the best coffee in the world, the best beaches, the best rum, the best beer and the best honey (logwood). We are a land of unlimited possibilities. Japan has no natural resources except the drive and talent of their people and they are the second largest economy in the world. Nevertheless, our progress as a society should not only be measured by big houses, fancy cars, super highways, big buildings and money in the bank but rather the welfare of ALL our people.

Over the past two years, I have been despairing about our increasing problems: Unemployment is at an all time high. Our health care system is in shambles. Eighty five percent of our children are born out of wedlock. Our imports are up and our exports are down. More and more of our annual budget is committed to servicing our formidable national debt. We have Garrison Dons and Gunmen who are out of control. Our prisons are full. We have politicians, public servants and policemen taking bribes to compromise the public trust. Deaths from automobile accidents are outrageous. If our high rate of accidents and homicides are not enough, criminals have now taken to kidnapping our children. A third of our citizens cannot read. Our children have half day school so half of our children cannot pass their CXE and suffer from lack of parental guidance as most of their mothers are in other countries taking care of other people’s Pinckney. The list of these negatives continue to expand with each passing day.

I remind myself that the way of truth and love has always prevailed when societies are plagued with criminals and a bad economy. God is just. He will not sleep forever. Criminals may seem invincible, but in the end, goodness always triumphs and evil fails. The future is our permanent address so time is on our side. History teaches us that time is on the side of law abiding citizens who just need to recognize that we are blessed with brilliant opportunities disguised as insoluble problems. My interpritation of the ten commandments is to express goodness.

Let us stop this conspiracy of silence and form a coalition of the law abiding so we can persistently fight crime on our streets and communities. Each of us has a choice to make. Every member of our society has the power to act in the interest of good. When someone is not afraid to die, they immediately become powerful. No one can make you do anything without your consent. Each of us must commit to a future when evil will not feel at home in our country. One man or woman with a cause, courage and God becomes a majority.

Since we all know that power concedes nothing without a struggle, sometimes it requires that we put everything on the line and fight for our personal integrity, dignity, self esteem as well as a cause in which we are invested. Let’s start by saving the children.

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. You cannot have crops without ploughing up the ground and you cannot bake a cake without breaking some eggs. We should never surrender to the menace of evil in our society. Let’s have no truce with criminals. They are the people who are invested in preserving poverty and promoting the rule of the jungle rather than the rule of law. Is that what you want for your children? If they continue to do their worse, let’s double our efforts to do our best. There is nothing wrong with Jamaica that what is right with Jamaica cannot fix. Let us be excellent to each other. More than cleverness, we need kindness and courage.

If you are kind to your neighbours you will feel good, if you are cruel, cover up the evil deeds of others and don’t do the right thing you feel bad and haunted. If you live by Christian principles you will be blessed, not only because God will bless you but because other people want to associate and do business with people who are honest, sincere about their promises and helpful in their moments of need. Whatever you do, you will be successful because others will wish you well and offer help another good and faithful servant.

On the other hand, people will avoid and show disdain for those who are evil. Why would anyone want to associate with someone who lies, become violent and hurt other people? They realize that regardless of the very temporary availability of money that a criminal lifestyle sometimes offer, it is only a matter of time before a criminal will turn against those who associate with him or her. Most of the murders in Jamaica were friends of the perpetrator. So, stop hiding the criminals in your community.

There is a revolution coming. It will not require violence and violence will not stop it. I am a Jamaican. Hear me roar. The virtuous people in our communities can be a powerful army if they ae pushed to the wall. We are now up against the wall. The good people of this country will rise up and act when they recognize that our society is currently organized to oppress, murder, rob, and degrade them—with our hopes not realized and our promises not fulfilled. Is your ambition to work your way up from nothing to extreme poverty? Some politicians and leaders of our country believe that enough is done for the people at the bottom rung of society if you are allowed to live at all.

The time has come. Every country has the government they deserve and the community we want. Equal opportunity, fairness and justice are ideals for which we should be prepared to die. If you refuse to accept evil, you will get what you want. There are a lot more good people than bad people. Have a positive impact on the world. Don’t end up having just visited and walked the earth. Help to make Jamaica free for honest people to enjoy. “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds” (Bob Marley) This is our Island in the sun that deserves your salvation.

In spite of the few criminals, I believe that Jamaicans are really good at heart who just wants to show love and kindness to others. You cannot believe the kindness I have received at the hands of perfect strangers in Jamaica. This is no time to keep the facts from our people to keep them complacent.

My motivation for sounding this alarm is not to panic but to seek action from an aroused public. What we are famous for doing is understand and participate meaningfully in all the countries of the world. What we do worse is understand and invest in our own country. Every little bit you do helps a little bit.

Use your time on this earth. Resolve to be reduced to ashes rather than to be dust under anyone’s feet. Go out in a blaze if you must rather than compromise your dignity. Earn the respect of your fellow man by becoming a man and women of action. Don’t be scared. A man must live with purpose, not just to compromise with the devil. Use your time wisely and be a force against evil. Our only hope is for the rich and poor to come together for the good of the country. My fear is that it will be too late when the rich finally reach out to the poor, they may find that the poor has turned to hate.


I am the author of "A Struggle to Walk with Dignity"-The TRUE story of a Jamaican-born Canadian. I am very inspired by the words of Dr. Kong's writings, and I am proud to be a part of your web family. As a thinker and writer myself, it is as if Dr. Kong's thoughts on Jamaica are connected through my brain. I could not have said it any better, and clearer than Dr. Kong. He shows me the brilliance of the Jamaican mind and the possibility of great accomplishments that Jamaicans are capable of. The future of Jamaica is in the hands of it's people, as we all wish that Jamaica after Colonialism could have been another Singapore. Gerald A.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Heart Disease

Jamaican Children Should Know Their Grandparents
B. Waine Kong, Ph.D., JD., and Stephanie H. Kong, M.D.

In addition to Earl Woods (Tiger Woods’ father) who never met his beautiful grand childen, the lives of more than 200 people who live in the Caribbean are cut short each and every day by a preventable disease. While we are over-concerned about violence, accidents, AIDS and Cancer, Cardiovascular disease, including heart attack (myocardial infarction), brain attack (stroke), and heart failure (weak heart muscle) is responsible for the demise of half of our grandparents. Unfortunately, all our families have tasted the bitter fruit of a loved one leaving us too soon due to heart disease.

Imagine that a group of us were having a picnic lunch on the bank of a river when we look out and see babies floating in the water. I imagine that that some of us would jump in, rescue the babies and take heroic steps to revive them. More importantly, however, I would hope that some of the really smart members of the group would run upstream to stop whoever is throwing babies off the bridge. We must obviously provide great care to those who already have disease but we must teach and motivate those who are not yet affected to prevent disease as well as reduce individual risk factors.

Children deserve to know their grandparents so they will become GREAT grandparents. When you board an airplane, you are advsed that, in case of emergency, put the oxygen mast on yourself first and then take care of othes. If you are unable to function, you will not be able to take care of people who depend on you. Even the heart pumps blood to itself before sending it to the rest of your body.

If we are ever going to solve our social problems (juvenile delinquency, unplanned teenage pregnancies, underachievement, unhealthy habits and the crisis in our relationships) we need more grandparents in our communities. A child is only a grandparent away from growing up to be a healthy, happy, contributing member of society. Other children around the world take for granted that they will grow up knowing the nurturing and wisdom of their grandparents, and even their great grandparents, but, due to the high rate of deaths from cardiovascular disease, accidents and violence, children in the Caribbean are fortunate if they have one grandparent (almost always a grandmother) by the time they celebrate their 21st birthday. Who will pass on our legacy to our youth? An African proverb says: “When a grandparent dies, an entire library goes up in flames.”

While heart disease has been viewed as unavoidable in the past, we can now shout from the rooftops that it is preventable. Dying from a heart attack or stroke is no longer a fact of life that we have to accept. Diabetes, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol and other chronic conditions consume too much of our health care expenditures. Preventive care reduces needless suffering and premature death, improves the quality of care, enhances the quality of our lives, and lowers costs. Yet, comparatively very little of our healthcare dollars are spent on “prevention”.

By following our “Seven Steps to Good Health,” you can live with the confidence that heart disease will not interfere with the quality of your life. You can’t live forever, but you can dramatically reduce the chances that heart disease or stroke will be the cause of your demise. Our success will, however, depend on a radical shift toward prevention and public health, even for those who are already overweight and have other risk factors. It is never too early or too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

While we all subscribe to the adage that “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” we still allow the tyranny of the urgent (drowning Babies) to prevent us from taking wise steps to avoid disaster. So, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and a ton of trouble. Those who usually wait until the horse is out before closing the barn door should realize that, with heart disease, your first symptom is often your last. Half of all people who experience heart attack or stroke symptoms die before reaching a source of care.

The basic unit of life is a cell. Our body is made up of billions of them. Each one requires a constant supply of oxygen and other nutrients to stay alive, multiply and continue to do the jobs that Nature assigned them. Whenever the cells burn energy (oxygen) to accomplish their various tasks, they create waste. So, each cell also needs to have its “garbage” picked up. Cells are grouped to form organs which help us to move, taste, smell, think and do our work. The reason we get tired when we work or exercise is that we are using our oxygen faster than it is replenished. We catch up when we rest, catch our breath and re-establish input-output balance.

Most people, even cardiologists, associate the heart with love, bravery, cowardly behaviour and heart ache. We could go on and on about various characterizations of the heart in religious texts, art and literature, but we don’t have the heart. However, the function of the heart and blood vessels is really to deliver the oxygen and nutrients to each cell, pick up waste, cleanse and enrich the blood before sending it out again. This is a closed system that repeats itself about 70 times per minute, 24 hours a day, and 365 days per year for our entire lives. Our heart never takes a break, pumping 2,000 gallons of blood per day. As the good book says: 'We are fearfully and wonderfully made!’

Heart disease represents an “interference” with blood flow. This commonly takes the form of an obstruction such as atherosclerosis (gradual build-up of plaque in the blood vessels what we use to call “hardening of the arteries”) or an embolus (a clot), a haemorrhage (bleeding from a rupture at a weak area of a blood vessel), a spasm, or blood that is either too thick or thin to be pumped properly. Cardiovascular disease prevents our vital organs from getting all the blood that is needed. This can occur in the heart, in the brain or in an extremity like a toe or leg. When these parts of the body do not get enough blood, the cells simply starve to death.

Arteries take blood from the heart and veins return blood to the heart. With every beat, blood is pumped out of the heart and travels through the large arteries which branch out like the limbs of a tree until the arteries meet a network of arterioles connected to venules (capillaries). As blood passes through the capillaries, oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the cells, the waste and carbon dioxide are picked up and the blood flow continues through the veins. As blood passes through the kidneys, the blood is filtered and many of the impurities leave the body as urine. Once blood returns to the heart through the veins, it is pumped to the lungs where a great exchange takes place: carbon dioxide for oxygen. Carbon dioxide leaves the body as we exhale and new oxygen enrich the blood as we inhale. The oxygenated blood travels back to the heart, and once again is sent on its way to all the cells of the body.

If some of the cells of your heart do not receive enough oxygen because the blood supply is compromised, these cells die, possibly causing a heart attack. The chest pain you may encounter when the heart is starving for oxygen (angina) is the heart muscle screaming at you to send blood. If the heart muscle becomes flabby or is damaged (like an old girdle) and therefore not strong enough to pump the blood from the heart efficiently, you have heart failure.

The early warning signs of a possible heart attack are: tightness, pressure, squeezing or a burning sensation in the centre of the chest that may radiate down the arms; nausea, shortness of breath and sweating. If you experience these symptoms, seek the care of a medical professional (preferably an emergency room) immediately. At a moment like this, you will be ill-advised to drive your own automobile as there is a chance that you will black out before reaching the hospital. Here are the seven steps to Good Health:

1. Be spiritually active. An important study from the University of Texas tells us that people who attend church regularly, live seven to fourteen years longer than those who do not go to church. Apparently, the fellowship, good will, meditation, inspirational words and singing together increase our ability to cope. According to Dr. Malcolm Taylor: “If you have God, family and friends, you may stumble, but you will never hit the ground.”

2. Take charge of your blood pressure. Despite steady progress over the past thirty three years, uncontrolled high blood pressure is projected to increase by 60% over the next twenty years. Tell your doctor you want to keep your blood pressure as close to goal (120/80 mm Hg) as possible.

3. Control your cholesterol. Keep your HDL high (>1.0 mmol/L), and your LDL low (<3.4 mmol/l), and total cholesterol low (< 5.0 mmol/L). High cholesterol leads to plaque, which restricts the flow of blood. Diet, exercise, and statin therapy are the keys to maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.

4. Track your blood sugar and maintain ideal weight. Obesity and diabetes track each other. As the rate of obesity goes up, so does diabetes. If you are overweight, you run a high risk of developing diabetes which increases your risk of heart attacks, strokes, blindness, amputations and impotence. Why must sugar and fats accompany every expression of love and every celebration? By reducing obesity, we are taking a swing at diabetes. Three out of four diabetics will die from heart disease and stroke. If you have the following symptoms, you should consult a doctor: Fatigue, blurred vision, excessive thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss and non-healing wounds and sores. These may indicate that you have diabetes.

5. Enjoy regular exercise (30 minutes per day-every day), follow a sensible diet and get a good night’s sleep! Move those muscles. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, reduce fats and sugars, but most of all, eat less. Every little bit you do can ether help or hurt your health a little bit. Twenty years ago, 50% of children walked to school. Don’t be a fat maker by insisting that others eat more of what they do not need and resist being a victim of a fat maker also. Let’s be more creative about demonstrating love for each other than to force feed the ones you most care about. If you don’t sleep well, get a sleep study and then follow your doctor’s advice. Sleep apnea, a significant contributor to hypertension and heart disease, is more common among those who are obese.

6. Don’t smoke. Nobody argues with this any more, not even smokers. Smoking constricts the arteries, increases carbon monoxide, lowers the good cholesterol, and is the primary cause of lung cancer. According to Benjamin Waterhouse (1754-1846):
"Tobacco is a filthy weed,
That from the devil does proceed,
It drains your purse, it burn your clothes,
And makes a chimney of your nose."

Smoking is our most preventable cause of premature death.

7. Access better health care, get a check up and faithfully take your medication as prescribed. It is no longer acceptable for the most vulnerable among us to receive the worst care. Just because some of us are poor does not mean that we should be relegated to poor care. All members of society deserve to receive respectful health care. If you are dissatisfied with the care that you are receiving, then seek care elsewhere. More importantly, it does no good for you to be evaluated by a physician, have your condition diagnosed and medication prescribed if you do not then fill the prescription and take it as directed.

It is difficult to imagine that with all the sunshine, ocean, open spaces, and such a strong sports tradition, that 20% of children living in the Caribbean are overweight. All aesthetics aside, being fat ought not to be perceived as anything other than unhealthy. Obese children become obese adults who run the risk of dying from diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. Since 1980, we have seen a 50% increase in the incidence of obesity every decade. This dramatic rise in obesity is inevitably accompanied by an equally critical rise in diabetes, resulting in over 20% of Caribbean adults suffering from this awful disease. How has a society where we use to “walk and talk”, succumb to this plague of inactivity, diabetes and obesity?

The United States has taught the world that there isn’t enough money to pay for all the disease caused by obesity, lack of exercise, cholesterol, smoking and diabetes. However, the United States spends 20 cents of each dollar collected as revenue on health care. Still, the life expectancy of an average African American male is less than the life expectancy of Caribbean men. The United States has a so-called ‘state-of-the-art’ healthcare system, yet they are way behind the rest of the world in promoting health and well-being. When a patient has a disease, we treat the disease; similarly, when a large segment of our people has a disease, treat the country. If you want to reduce violence, crime and unwanted pregnancies, let children have the opportunity to know their grandparents---free from obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

The Caribbean needs a system that promotes health and not an expensive “healthcare system” that only treats disease. In a country like Jamaica, where the average household income is less than US$4,000 per year, we cannot afford to provide invasive and expensive medical services to treat illnesses that can and should have been prevented. A “System of Health” emphasizes prevention, while a “health care system” places emphasis on the treatment. By being proactive instead of reactive, we can inspire people to take health promotion and disease prevention seriously.

The Caribbean is composed of islands of sunshine and cool breeze. Europeans and Americans come to our islands to lose weight through exercise and heart healthy eating, so why can’t we take advantage of these home grown remedies? If we consider the fact that most of the disease that plague us and cost so much can be prevented, it becomes apparent that promotion of heart health and exercise would allow enormous savings for the health care system. In fact, just about all the heart attacks, heart failure, strokes, diabetes, kidney failure (diseases that kill 50% of us) could be prevented by making simple adjustments to our lifestyles. Being proactive in health can add 10 more years to enjoy the company of our grandchildren and guide them to a happy, healthy and productive life. The nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty is illustrative of those who lazily sit on walls only to have great falls and heart attacks that no physician, no matter how skilful can put them together again. If Humpty was not sitting around watching television and playing video games, his risks of heart disease would have been reduced. We can take an important message from this nursery rhyme by understanding that no matter how good our reactive plans in medicine and surgery may be, it will never be as good as prevention. A good doctor cures disease, a really great doctor prevent disease. If you are sick, you are not making money, you are spending it. Healthy people are much more likely to be wealthy people.

As far as the health and welfare of people living in the Caribbean is concerned, the challenges are unprecedented. But our greatest challenges present our greatest opportunities to excel. While our governments struggle daily with how to allocate our limited resources, it should be recognized that it would be a good investment to spend more on prevention. At present, less than 5% is spent on in this area and we need to increase our spending here to at least 25%. We should train “Community Health Advocates” for every community in our country and perhaps even identify the healthiest and most at risk communities. This way, we can educate and motivate our citizens to maintain good health.

The health of our peple is in perril. Just as it would be unconscionable not to have an infectious disease program, it is unacceptable not to have a cardiovascular disease prevention program. At the end of the day, we want a System of Health that actullly promote wellness, not just a healthcare system. Every citizen must recognize that if they do not take time to implement the seven steps to good health into our daily life, they will prematurely succumb to disease and abandon our grand children. God made us to be strong and physically fit, and by choosing to be “fat and lazy”, we will pay the price of dieing prematurely.


From: gabriella kadar
Sent: Tue, February 23, 2010 11:31:07 PM
Subject: Heart disease and Jamaicans

Good evening Dr. Kong,

I am a dental surgeon working and living in Toronto, Canada. Back in 1981
when I graduated from dental school I moved to Trinidad and worked in San
Fernando for 2.25 years. Partly because of this experience I've always kept
an eye on what goes on in the West Indies. I've travelled relatively
extensively around and my most recent trip was back to Grenada (sep.2009).
The last time I was there was May 1982!!

Toronto Trinis always ask me about when I'm going 'bakome'. I've been
'assimilated'......LOL. (I spent a day in Trinidad this time.)

I've been keeping my eye on this for quite some time:

Take a look at Olympic medal stats. Jamaica just suddenly went wild at the
Beijing games. Usain Bolt was born in 1986. You've got an entire generation
of young adults with intact dentitions. Interestingly Jamaica is the only
country where ONLY fluoridated salt is available. Elsewhere people have a
choice. Only in Jamaica is there such a huge improvement in dental health.

Jamaicans have always been exceptional. read: Jamaican Paradox.

When human beings possess a full set of teeth that function well they are
robust. There is a huge neuro-muscular-skeletal advantage provided by well
developed jaws, well developed face, wide nasal passages and a full

Jamaicans have just started 'kicking Olympic butt'. Watch out world!!!!

I've read your blog in regards to heart disease. I'll hazard a guess that
people who have well developed robust physiques probably live longer and
have healthy hearts. They sleep better, recover from physical exertion
better, oygenate better, have stronger neck muscles and back muscles.....
there's a whole lot of positives acruing from well developed facial and
masticatory muscles.

Jamaica has always had a very strong physical education/sport culture. What
has changed to make Jamaicans into Olympic champions? Salt fluoridation.


Dr. Gabriella Kadar
360 Bloor Street West, Suite 503
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1X1

416 924 3522

Monday, August 31, 2009

"Jamaica Farewell" is a magnificent production

See This Play
Basil Waine Kong

Last night, my wife and I were in Atlanta and took the opportunity to attend the fabulous one woman show titled: "Jamaica Farewell" staring Debra Ehrhardt and Directed by Francis McGahy. It is funny, it's original, well rehearsed and went off without a hitch. I could readily relate to the story line about a Jamaican girl who dreams of escaping to America during the Turbulent Seventies. Through many daring and hilarious twists and turns (Jamaican style), she averts disaster and achieves her goal. For good belly laughs and inspiration mixed with a great deal of back-home inferences, you will want to make every effort to see this magnificent production. I absolutely loved it and I am sure you will as well. Ms. Ehrhardt deserves an Oscar. To learn about play dates, please go to: Your soul will be enriched.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

USAIN BOLT: Our Dancing Star

The performance of Jamaican athletes including the ones who represent other countries at the Berlin Track and Field World Championships was the greatest week in athletics since creation. How could a country with a population of less than three million people place second out of 200 countries in the world in gold medal standing ahead of China, India, Japan, Germany, Russia, England and all of South America. Never mind that during the same week, there were seven murders in Kingston. Let us hope this phenomenal demonstration of athletic prowess will trigger some magic to bring us together as a society. We should never doubt that we are a great people.

According to Prime Minister Golding:

“The performance of our athletes at the Berlin Games and the victories they have brought to our country almost on a daily basis confirm that this is country is destined for greatness. We are blessed, our people are blessed and we now need to translate this energy, this determination, discipline and drive into all spheres of our lives. The athletes have outdone themselves bringing with them a nation that is busting with pride and joy beyond words.”

The superlatives about Mr. Bolt in particular are endless. The world is seven billion years old and some 70 billion people have walked the face of the planet. Mr. Bolt is the fastest human being that has ever lived. Usain is truly the GOAT---the Greatest of All Time.” One of the media people said: “He must be from another planet”. “Yes, he is from planet Jamaica.”

I love the fact that Usain is an all–Jamaica man who takes care of business but still does not take himself too seriously. You certainly can shake your booty and shake the word at the same time. To hell with all the old time, British oriented emotional cripples who criticize him for his exuberance. This is not the Jamaican style! I find very little about the British worthy of emulation. Let us develop our own values, expressions and personalities. Let us define ourselves and leave the English to define themselves. Jamaicans enjoy spicy food, great music, and exuberance for life; the English have manners, hot water bottles and afraid to show us how they feel---a stiff upper lip and all that! That does not work for me. So, enjoy yourself Usain. Do not let anyone steal your joy. I love you just the way you are. Great human beings never lose their exuberance and great Jamaicans never lose teir zest for life.

One thing for sure, the Jamaican National Anthem has been indelibly written on the souls of people around the world. It was played so many times on the world stage that non-Jamaicans can now sing it by heart. They at least can sing boldly the last line: "Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica land we love!" We can all unabashedly bask in the glory of our athletic heroes. Can you imagine that Jamaica could win more medals that all the 200 countries of the world except the United States who came in just ahead of us because of the Jamaicans on the American team. In case you missed it: 7 gold, 4 Silver and 2 Bronze for a total of 13! The Mighty United States won 22.

Aleen Bailey, Usain Bolt, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Simone Facey, Shelley Ann Fraser, Michael Frater, Brigitte Foster Hilton, Delloreen Ennis-London, Shereefa Lloyd, Steve Mullens, Asafa Powell, Shericka Williams, Noviene Williams-Miles, Rosemarie Whyte, Kerron Stewart, Kalliese Spencer, and Malanie Walker are all Jamaican sports heroes.

Let us honour them! Let this be the beginning of a great transformation to end injustice, ignorance and poverty in our country.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Our Family Reunion

A Blessed Week with my Wife, Mother, all my children and their families
Basil Waine Kong

If you currently live in England, Canada or the United States and plan to retire back to Jamaica, this may serve as your “planning” guide. Just because you have decided to return to your birthplace, you should be acutely aware of how family obligations become a part of what must be considered. My four children and grandchildren live in Orlando, Florida, Portland, Oregon, Phoenix, Arizona and Atlanta. Weddings, funerals, graduation ceremonies, birthday parties, major holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, family reunions and other not to be missed family celebrations, should be anticipated. We schedule additional visits just because my wife and I want to spend quality time with the grand children. However, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

My wife and I celebrate our birthdays a week apart in July. It seemed like a good time to invite my 87 year old mother, my Aunt Madge, our four children and five grand children to spend a week together in Montego Bay.

The Columns Villa across from the Half Moon Hotel was absolutely the most ideal property for this initmate celebration. The Columns is a grand structure on five acres of land on a hillside overlooking the blue Caribbean. We saw the rising of the sun as well as bid farewell to it each evening in the midst of red, yellow and blue ribbons in the sky while our oldest granddaughter, Mackenzie and her brother Brooks serenaded us with violin concerts.

A huge bonus was the mango tree beside the swimming pool which delighted each grandchild and their Pop pop to no end as each had a never ending appetite for this sweet fruit from the gods. Like the story of the widow in the Bible whose oil supply increased with each act of kindness to her guests, each day everyone would eat mangoes to their heart’s content and each day I would replenish the basket with the fruit that had fallen during the night. During mango season, many households in Jamaica can turn their cooking pots upside down.

The family members ranged in age from 1 year to 87 years and were 16 strong. The cook at the Columns was feeding a football team every day and my wife swore we were going to eat and drink through an elephant in terms of tonnage.

On the first evening, we celebrated my wife’s birthday with a lovely dinner, cake and Champagne. The next day, we went by chartered bus to Woodlands District in St. Elizabeth where I grew up---my roots. I particularly wanted to show the grand children where I spent my childhood. We walked from house to house visiting people I know, visited the family graves and the Springfield Moravian church, where I worshiped. I particularly wanted the children to meet the children at Springfield All Age School where I attended but school was on summer recess. We barely survived the badly Neglected road from Moco to Woodlands.

Now, one of the purposes of going to “country" was also to buy meat, vegetables and fruits for the week. St. Elizabeth is not known to be the bread basket of Jamaica for nothing. We were offered a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and because I love carrot juice, I bought 50 pounds and enjoyed them at every meal. Carrot juice with stout and condensed milk is absolutely the best tasting and most nutritious drink in the world.

All of my family made prior visits to Jamaica. However, one of the things we like to do is to visit Dunn’s River Falls and for some of my grandchildren, this represented the first time they could climb on their own. Because of the large crowd, the safe route up the falls was not accessible, so we had to take riskier routes and as a result, had a few cuts and bruises. It was certainly an exciting day at one of Jamaica’s most revered attractions.

We tried to go rafting down the Martha Ray but while the river experience may be wonderful, of all the tourist attractions in Jamaica, I will readily rank this as the worse run and most in-hospitable. We gave up out of frustration and made our way back to the Villa for good food, good libations and a swim by the pool.

The next day, we got passes to the Water Park at the Hilton in Montego Bay. They also have a wonderful beach. The grandchildren enjoyed the inner-tubing and my sons and sons–in-law really enjoyed the pool bar. We all enjoyed snacks at the beach and an afternoon siesta. Just another day in paradise.

The best beach in Jamaica is Doctor’s Cave. It is gorgeous! White sand, palm trees, lovely restaurants and clear blue water. My wife and I love this wonderful beach. We were able to snorkel with our oldest grandchild and there was no end to the wonderful sea life available right on the beach.

During the afternoon of the same day, some of us went to play golf at the Half Moon Course and waved at our family sitting by the pool at the Columns when we passed the fifth hole. They did not bring us lemonade as requested. You cannot get good help these days. As the sun was setting, the children enjoyed running down the fairways, rolling down the hills and just had a marvelous time with the open space at the golf course. Throughout the week, we were busy, busy, busy with conversation, singing, playing dominoes, bid whist, gin rummy and board games. Frolicking in the pool was, however, everyone's favorite thing to do. To the delight of my grand children, I jumped into the pool fully dressed durng the last night's festivities?

The staff at the Columns is headed up by Mrs. Bernard (Ms. B), is a superb cook and we sampled every conceivable Jamaican dish---curry goat and rice, escovitch fish, curried lobster, bamie and fried fish, brown stew chicken. With the complement of staff at the Villa, a very memorable time was had by all; in fact one grand child refused to leave the Villa and wanted to stay with his grandparents. There were so many first memories for all of us to cherish as the weeks and months go by, one grand daughter learned to swim, two found sympathetic and enthusiastic audiences for their nightly violin concerts. We all found love—love for Jamaica, love for each other and love for God and our eternal gratitude for our health, prosperity in challenging times and for providing the opportunity for all of us to spend this quality time together. WE are family and u is half of us!

On our final evening together, in addition to my birthday, Stephanie and I agreed to renew our marriage vows with family and friends as witnesses. With the grand children in tow, we made the wedding arch from Coconut bows and the abundant flowers on the property and a May-Pole for the children to enjoy. A local disk jockey provided the music for six hours of dancing and we rocked the night away. As the Villa is not close to any neighbors, there were no noise issues. Taurus Riley was our favorite artist as I serenaded my wife to “She is a Queen” and she danced for me with Beyonce and told me to “put a ring on it” and indeed I did!

This was my pledge to Stephanie:

"You are so captivating, so breath taking, so glorious, such an independent woman of substance, so passionate and so powerful, and that is just the way I like you. Your eyes, your form, your voice, your spirit, your soul and the life you live profoundly encapsulates the definition of what is beautiful with exciting possibilities and mysteries yet to be explored. You are a lovely queen whose presence delights my soul.

You are tender but also a beautiful determined warrior. And when you fight for us, we win. I stand in awe of you. I am amazed. Like a gorgeous Jamaican sunset, you bring beauty to the world. Your alluring charms invites, inspires, comforts and nourishes with the promise of the Heaven to come. You are a vast wonder to be enjoyed. I accept the invitation that your beauty extends. I want to enter, explore, partake and feast upon it. You are food for my soul.

I want to be worthy of your great love. You inspire me to be a better man and awaken my desire to be your hero.

We are building something grand and I need you desperately. You belong in my arms and on my arm. You will be forever precious to me, desired and wanted as my wife. Our lives are meant to be with each other. There is nothing that inspires me so much as you. Your beauty is so deep; it haunts and pierces me with longing when I am not with you. You are the source of my great joy today. I promise to love, honor and cherish you.

Beyond the blue horizon and the beautiful Jamaican sunset is a brilliant rainbow curling above signifying a great adventure and an even greater love story for us. As I renew my vows and take you again to be my lawful wedded wife, it is time to say good bye to hurt, pain and everything that was ever imperfect between us.

With this new ring, I hereby re-commit myself to be your lawfully wedded husband. I will love you, comfort you, honor and keep you in sickness and in health; forsaking all others and keep only to you from this day forward and for as long as we both shall live.“

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My Letter to the Gleaner

PM's lame force majeure excuse(Published: Tuesday | August 4, 2009)

The Editor, Sir:

For Prime Minister Bruce Golding to assert force majeure as an excuse for our financial crisis, he must show that the JLP took reasonable steps to minimise this crisis.

Prime Minister Golding recently used 'force majeure' to explain that there was nothing he could have done to prevent our crime, unemployment, housing and particularly our economic crises. Is this a reasonable claim or an excuse for poor planning and even more importantly, poor performance?

Force majeure is a French term that that literally means "greater force". When this term is found in a contract, it excuses a party from liability if some unforeseen and overwhelming event beyond the control of that party is the cause for non-performance of the contract.

Typically, force majeure clauses cover natural disasters or other "acts of God", war, or the failure of third parties - such as suppliers and subcontractors - to perform their obligations to the contracting party. It is important to remember that force majeure clauses are intended to excuse a party only if the failure to perform could not have been avoided by the exercise of due care by that party.

The Golding administration is attempting to explain, excuse and free his government from fault, explaining that the extraordinary circumstances caused by the global financial meltdown just over-whelmed Jamaica and prevented our government from fulfilling its obligations.

What I think Golding is forgetting is that this clause cannot be invoked as an excuse for negligence, as his party could have reasonably avoided the degree to which the financial crisis has impacted Jamaica.

Before we were able to predict hurricanes, ships lost at sea could have invoked the force majeure excuse, but now if the Government does not warn seagoing vessels of an impending storm, or if the captain does not check the weather before taking passengers to sea, the predictable disaster could not be said to be an act of God. Clearly, our current weather forecasting technology should have predicted the impending disaster if procedural or reasonable preventive steps were followed.

In the old days my grandmother blamed a crop failure on the will of God. Now that we have so much more information about what will ensure a good harvest, a force majeure excuse cannot be invoked if the planter did not select the right crop, planted the right time of the year, watered the plants, fertilised and sprayed for insects and disease. It does not mean that we should pray any less but we should apply the knowledge that experience and science have provided - praying as if all depended on God, but planning, implementing and working as if all depended on us.

From my perspective, in order for government leaders to invoke a force majeure excuse, the citizens of Jamaica must judge whether the problem could have been helped or avoided. Did our government contribute to the crisis or was this crisis unavoidably caused by external forces? If the crisis was foreseeable, could the sitting government have taken reasonable steps to mitigate the crisis?

Running the government like a perpetual crisis machine leads to bad policy and public fatigue. Borrowing and spending our way out of debt is madness. We cannot solve our debt crises by more borrowing and spending recklessly like we drive. This will only lead to bankruptcy and the further ruination of our country.

In our hearts, each of us already knows this and no amount of wishing will make it go away. Common sense should tell us that rather than providing a better and brighter future for our children, we are saddling future generations with this humongous debt that will effectively enslave them to our creditors and place our country into economic servitude.

For Prime Minister Bruce Golding to assert force majeure as an excuse for our financial crisis, he must show that the JLP took reasonable steps to minimise this crisis. Was this foreseeable, and did the Government appropriately give us data so we could have mitigated our losses? This is like not exercising, living on a diet of patties, jerk pork and doughnuts and then claim force majeure when the inevitable heart attack strikes.

My sense is that our sitting government has no substantial plans in place to address our financial crises other than to borrow more funds to pay debts. If Mr Golding did not look both ways before he crossed the street, could he use a force majeure excuse when a truck runs him over?

I am, etc.,

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Jamaicans, We are Everywhere

The Impact of Jamaicans on the world
Basil Waine Kong

I left Jamaica in 1959 when I was fifteen years old and returned after I retired on reaching my 65th birthday in 2008. During my lifetime, I have been fortunate to experience all the major cities of the United States as well as over 100 countries. Wherever I may roam, I can depend on two things: I will hear Bob Marley’s music and find Jamaicans making a positive contribution. The list is endless but would obviously include Will.I.Am, the creative genius of Black Eye Peas, the gentlman from Lauderhill, Florida (Joel Waul)who made the giant ball with rubber bands and sold it to Ripley's Believ It for Not for a large amountofmoney and th USA Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice. Last week-end was no exception.

I was in Orlando attending my Grandson’s (Kai) first birthday and as is my custom, I read the local newspaper. The Sunday Highlight was the story of an Attorney from Jamaica (Wayne Golding) who chairs the Bi-racial Committee for the Orange County Schools. He was pictured standing proudly in front of portraits of his two heroes, Marcus Garvey and Bob Marley. His committee is responsible for maintaining racial balance in the Orlando public schools and promoting racial harmony. He migrated to the United States 28 years ago, married and is the father of two children. You make me proud Mr. Golding.

I recall the story that during one of the Olympic Games, the Prime Minister of England and the Prime Minister of Canada were sitting together when the Canadian Prime Minister remarked that England won more medals only because there were more Jamaicans in England than in Canada. Jamaican men and women are the fastest human beings ever to walk (and run) on this earth and the most gifted overall.

We are a remarkable people. Never doubt that a small group of talented committed people from a little Island can change the world. The question remains whether a group of talented committed people can change Jamaica. We know many of you living foreign are doing great things but what are you doing for Jamaica and what is Jamaica doing to promote your return. If Jamaica is to overcome poverty, crime and educational and health care disparities, we must shed the “old” Colonial mentality and embrace the power of ingenuity and invest wisely in our future. Your home country could use some help in this, our hour of need. Leaders in Jamaica could also use a healthy dose of humility in accepting your talents. Come no man. Put your hands and shoulders to the wheel for Jamaica! We cannot just complain about the current government without a brain trust to replace those who continue to promote old ways of thinking that prevents true progress.

I have always been impressed that Japan has no natural resources, (no oil, gold, silver, bauxite, diamonds, wood, steel,etc). They are the third leading economy in the world because they buy natural resources from other countries, add value and sell it back to the world at a mark up. This is people power! They buy steel, build cars and sell them back on the world market at a tremendous mark-up. Are they smarter than Jamaicans? Absolutely not. We just sell our most talented and gifted people to the world cheap.

We need more people to be part of the solution and fewer to be part of the problem.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Land Reform in Jamaica

Can Jamaica become a major food exporter?
Basil Waine Kong, Ph.D., JD

If Jamaica is to ever to achieve prosperity, security, freedom from dependence on foreign aid and dominance from abroad, we must seize the opportunity to forge a strategy for ourselves and for future generations where the rule of civil law, not the rule of the jungle governs the conduct of our people. To this end, it is our duty to try novel social and economic experiments that allow Jamaicans to reap economic benefit from the sweat of their labour. One such “experiment” may be to bring our agrarian expertise into full swing by promoting the growth of exportable agricultural products to the world.

An abundance of vacant, fallow land is available in Jamaica and can be used to plant exportable crops and to decrease the amount of food that we buy from other countries. This precedence effectively addresses many of our social and economic ills. The planting and reaping of profitable harvests by putting more land into production with available workforce will decrease the number of Jamaican citizens who are idle in our cities. My grandmother was fund of saying: “Idle hands become the work of the Devil.” This is borne out in the high crime rate that plagues us.

It is in the best interest of Jamaica to implement significant land reform for the purpose of increasing food production and reducing poverty. The purpose of a proposed land reform should be to bring about a more equitable distribution of land ownership and access to land. This can be brought about by changes in laws and regulations as a scheme to increase the acreage under cultivation, increase output, meet the growing shortage of food worldwide and at the same time reduce poverty and crime in Jamaica? A land of abundant rainfall, sunshine, fertile soil, expert cultivators, access to huge markets and relatively cheap labor is ripe for a guided agricultural revolution. I was impressed that as a boy we could just stick a limb from a tree into the ground and it would grow into another tree.

The contrast between rich and poor in Jamaica arises mainly from the mal-distribution of land ownership and the lack of access to land by poor Jamaicans. As a result, many Jamaicans do not have access to land that would promote self employment. So, both land and an able bodied labour force are idle, kept apart by outdated laws, customs and bad tax policy. The land certainly should be taxed (site value rating) but not the improvements made to the land and the products reaped from the land for the 1st year of usage. We need to take the incentive out of keeping land out of production and create a graduated taxation or tariff on production after the immediate needs of the farmer have been considered.

Due to extremely low real estate taxes coupled with the increasing value of land, it is currently profitable for entrepreneurs to buy land, take it out of production, pay very little taxes, and eventually resell the land at a significant gain. Baring capturing the land, current landowners have little incentive to either develop their property or make it available for agricultural production or industrial development. On the other hand, potential farmers do not have access to arable land for cultivation. In their desperation and frustration, many of them move to urban areas, survive under deplorable circumstances or turn to crime to subsidize their livelihoods.
The goals of the proposed program are to:

1. Increase the acreage of land that is used for food productions.
2. Increase the number of Jamaicans willing to be farmers.
3. Provide subsidies to cultivators for seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and farming equipment.
4. Increase food production (Eat what we grow, grow what we eat) and provide an avenue for market access to farmers to sell their produce.
5. Increase food exports (a government body would guarantee the prices of various food items and prepare and package them for export).
6. Promote the production of canning and packaging plants.
7. Reduce unemployment and promote self employment through farming and provide jobs in the packaging sector.
8. Increase home ownership of the land that is used for farming.
9. Reduce crime by employing young men and women who are now idle in the urban areas.
10. Increase the quality of life for unemployed Jamaican workers through employment and financial empowerment.
11. Increase taxes after subsidizing these farmers for three years.

Further, I recommend that we examine existing laws, regulations and customs relating to land ownership and land tenure. Preventive legislation needs to be removed and new incentive based legislation introduced to:
1. Increase taxes on land that is not being used to incentivize landowners to at least rent the land so it can be productive.
2. Take land where taxes are more than three years in arrears.
3. Relocate unemployed citizens from urban ghettos by reallocating them to land that is laying waste and providing adequate housing to incentivize unemployed citizens to relocate; (Food for the Poor has demonstrated that adequate housing can be built on 10 acres of land for less than J$500,000 per unit. How much does it cost to keep a man in prison?)
4. Adjust Real Estate taxes so that existing homesteads are not adversely affected;
5. Monitor recipients of these land grants to make sure these opportunities are not squandered.
6. Favor married couples.

We have before us the opportunity to forge prosperity for ourselves and for future generations of Jamaicans. A key strategy on our war on poverty is to help individuals to own something and have an investment in a lawful society so they will have an investment in protecting the property and interests of their fellow citizens. The true test of our compassion is in the way that we care for our most vulnerable citizens. We can have a true democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both. The same law for the lion and the lamb is oppression. In order to treat some people equally, we must treat them differently. This is not a gift or a hand-out; it is an investment in our citizens.

To this end, I recommend that our government form a task force to explore the merits of this proposal immediately. The more we are able to put forth realistic ideas, the more of a chance we have for a true reformation and referendum of the current economic policies that is failing our country and our people. In the words of Franklin Roosevelt: "I see on-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished...The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."

This land is our land. Let's put it into production! While I believe that property rights must be carefully safeguarded, I also believe that poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Something Amazing Took Place Today

Today’s Testimony: Basil Waine Kong

I am one of those people who believe that I live under the guiding hand of our Heavenly Father. Throughout my lifetime and daily, I can point to divine intervention in my personal life. I am inspired to write this note because something remarkable occurred today as my wife and I were returning from our daily work-out.

I am living in Kingston, Jamaica but happen to be in Atlanta this week. Since moving back to Jamaica a year ago, I have developed some very bad driving habits as is the norm there. I speed, cruise through stop signs and don’t always wear my seatbelt. This does not go un-noticed by my wife who frequently reminds me about it. Well, just to be funny, I decided to show off to her what a good driver I am this morning, so, even for a two mile journey home, I dutifully buckled my seat belt, obeyed the 30 miles per hour speed limit, put on my turn signal, came to a complete stop, and cautiously made my right turn and came almost face to face with a police officer who was monitoring the traffic light close to our house. On any other day, I would have been nabbed. Today, I was in the protection of the Almighty. My wife reminded me that she never travels on the road without asking for God’s traveling mercies and protection specifically from tickets and accidents. When she is driving, and most of the time much faster than I would, she has never received a ticket or been in an accident for 40 years.

This incidence today reminded me of other Divine Interventions. Once having lost an important document, in total frustration, I called my wife and explained that the document was on my desk the day before and now I have searched high and low to no avail. She responded, “Darling, just stop and let’s pray about it”. I lowered my head and prayed together. As I opened my eyes, there was the document on the floor under my desk. I just hollered, “Thank you Jesus!”

Just two weeks ago, I became upset about how my portfolio was being handled and ordered by broker at Wachovia to sell all my stocks and send me a check so I could transfer by account to another brokerage house. Since then, the stock market has been down and I avoided the loss. Now, I am able to reinvest at a lower basis. You wouldn’t just call that luck, would you?

There are instances in my life that the direct hand of God has steered me or a family member out of harm’s way into a blessing. The blessings come in all shapes and sizes and are only limited to my faith which I hope is bigger than a mustard seed.

If you would like to read more about the miracles in my life, I invite you to access: “My Seven Near Death Experiences” on this blog. The lesson is: Because I live a blessed life, whenever I find myself on the ropes, in trouble, confused, desperate or otherwise in need of diving intervention, I smile and confidently put it in the hands of the Almighty. I have only come this far by my faith and God’s grace. As my praises go up, showers of blessings come down. He has never failed me. I wish the same for you.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Racism and Classism in Jamaica

Race Related Myths of My Youth
Basil Waine Kong, Ph.D., JD

According to Steve Biko (1946-1977), one of the heroes of the South African revolution: “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” It would clearly be an uncontested statement to say that if England did not invent racism, they certainly were the purveyors of it. They were not only geniuses at controlling large slave holdings with a few soldiers and plantation owners but were also experts at convincing various black populations around the globe about their inferior status and how civilized it was to adopt the ways of the conquerors. Here is the expressed mission statement for England: “Come, bright improvement on the car of time and rule the spacious world from clime to clime.” I genuinely respect a people who can enslave a population, brutalize them and then get them to love them and hate our own, adopt their culture, envy and fight their wars for them. How did they do that?

One of the strategies employed by the British was the “Test Match” between England and Jamaica as a test of loyalty to the crown. Operatives were strategically placed in the crowd to identify people who applauded the English team and criticized the Jamaican team. In other words, only those who identified with the oppressor were chosen to be teachers and offered leadership opportunities. So, our government and educational institutions became overwhelmed with those who celebrated the ways of the British and devalued anything Jamaican as butto (Bantu). If the English devalued Black people, so did the black people who were placed in power. It didn’t matter how smart, skillful, eloquent and charismatic you were, if you did not speak the Queen’s English or didn’t know how to use your knife and fork you would be excluded.

According to Cathy Brown (Gleaner Editorial, Sept. 12, 2011)): "Exploitation of caste, race, class, tribal animosities, and so on, was used selectively, along with the iron fist of military force, and massacres, among other things, to cow larger populations as needed. In all of this, the English made sure to have a mole-type, privileged elite embedded in the target populations, which acted as influential Anglophile resources on which they could rely to sway popular discourse, behaviour, and decisions. That is why until this day, we see this tactic of selective elitism which ensures that some people would almost die for England."

Another important strategy for control was the development and use of the "Justice of the Peace" in each community of Jamaica. The opportunity for opening a bank account, get into a school, get a job, join the arm forces, get out of "trouble" was greatly reduced if you could not get a recommendation and sign off from your local JP which ordinarily meant that you had to have been good little boys and girls. How does one become a JP? You cannot qualify or apply for the job. It is an appointment by the Queen's representative, the Governor General, based on the recommendation of other JPs.

After 300 years of occupation, the English convinced us of our inferiority and held the prize. We were told that if we didn’t want to be second class or buto, we had to speak and dress Western style, learn English manners, poetry, history and music,dance the quadrille,adopt Christian names, use your knife and folk correctly, deny your own being and transform yourself into an Englishman. Only then could you be worthy of respect. With this brainwashing, I will never extricate myself from this mindset from my love of poetry, being properly dressed for every occasion, cricket, afternoon tea and properly using my knife and fork. We are never allowed to have our own ideas, language, dress, music, dance, religion, values or culture. A better life is to migrate to England, Canada or the United States even if you end up working at the most humiliating and menial jobs. Our station in life is to serve the white man.

While Jamaica was granted Independence in 1962, Britannia continues to rule. It seems that no one is willing to challenge English traditions even when they make no sense in Jamaica. Our judges still wear wigs, a few of our ladies still wear seven layers of clothing like Queen Victoria and some of us continue to believe in the myth of white superiority. While we probably will always drive on the left, speak English, use the Gregorian calendar, play cricket and even enjoy afternoon tea, the one remnant that I wish we would disavow is classicism and racism. We certainly can be better off without being better than anyone else. It boils down to valuing our own, respecting each other and having a little compassion for our less fortunate fellow citizens. I am confident that we can make this change. I often observe how waiters snap to when a white customer enters compared to the poor service received by our own citizens. Do you serve the broken biscuits and crackers to your own family while saving the best for your guests? Is your living room reserved only for important guests? Who should be treated like royalty in your household? The Queen of England or your own husband or wife?

More than a few Jamaicans I have encountered, particularly those with authority, view our British traditions and practices with sanctimonious reverence---too sacred to be tampered with. If our society is to maintain these antiquated regimens, we might as well require our people to wear the clothes that fitted them when they were children. We must grow up and wear garments that suit our purposes. You have got to wear your size. While the British moved on, we continue to hold on to the antiquated practices of our slave masters.

As children growing in rural Jamaica, we played hard. When I was ten years old, I came home from playing with my shirt torn, hair disheveled and dirty from wrestling around in the mud with the other pickney dem. Even though I had never seen a Rasta man, when my Grandmother told me that I looked like a Rasta, I cried because the reputation of Ratafarians were that they were all ganja smoking, lazy criminals who had uncombed hair that harbored insects. During the fifties, politicians delighted in demonstrating to the public how brutal they could be to Rastafarians. India had their untouchables and Jamaica had Rastafarians. They were the hated out-group that mothers would run from with fear, taking their children, when approached by any Rasta, male or female.

I finally figured out that this was another self fulfilling prophecy. They were undesirables and untouchables so none were eligible for a job nor could they participate in any legitimate form of commerce or social activity so they could only earn a living by doing things that did not depend on their government or the good will of the greater society. So they turned to the herb, art, music, writing, philosophy, meditation, religion and kept to themselves. Out of this experience, a marvelous thing happened. Bob Marley and the Wailers became the most popular band in the world and for that matter in the history of the world. Their (our) music is more popular and appreciated around the world than Michael Jackson, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Beethoven, Brahms, anybody! They single-handidly saved the Jamaica economy and brought in more revenues to Jamaica than tourism and the bauxite industry.

Even though they do not vote (unfortunately), they became the darling of politicians and mothers who now wanted their daughters to marry one and their sons to grow their hair and participate in this money machine.

The demand for their ital diet and Reggae music and musicians continues. I have traveled to over 100 countries and there is not a corner of the world that does not love Bob Marley. Dreadlocks are now accepted and prized throughout the world by rich and poor. In addition, the heart and soul of Jamaica is now revealed by Rastafarian artists, playwrights, poets, dancers and singers. While there is still more than a little resistance to the Rastafarian lifestyle, I am now complemented when I am told that I have the Afro-centric soul of a Rastaman. The Rastas I have known are proud men for whom I have great respect.

Even in Jamaica, I also grew up with the myth and was told in no uncertain terms that White people were better than Black people and the closer you are to being white, the better you were---"nutten Black no good". In my public speaking, I often ask groups of people to estimate the percent of white people in the world. I often get estimates as high as 80%. The actual percent is less than 18%. A friend went to the Congo many years ago to work as a physician at a medical mission. In the process of settling in, he interviewed several men to manage his house. After one interview, he asked the gentleman if he would like to work for my friend. The prospective employee responded: "Yes, if the white man wants me." As my friend is unmistakably Black, he asked one of the other white physician what that was about and was told that in the Congo, if you are a physician, you must be white. Who ever heard of a Black physician?

Except for the White House of the United States, wherever we roam, the guys in charge are white and the powerless tend to be Black. I am always impressed that even in Black countries of Africa and the Caribbean, the principle holds…brought about by white oppression. In addition to Louis Bennett’s famous: “Every John Crow think dem pickney white”, even in 2009, I have had two incidents that literally shocked my sensibilities. In one incident, I overheard a white looking student excitedly telling her headmistress that she was getting married. When the headmistress heard who her intended was, she advised the student very boldly and without hesitation: “You are too good for him. Him too black.” I was shocked and advised her in no uncertain terms that she should stop perpetuating this myth. In another, as a criticism of PNP political leadership, a very famous Jamaican gentleman said very boldly to the group of us: “Black people should run but should never run anything.” There is a poisonous assumption in majority Black British Commonwealth countries that getting important things done requires a white man or nearly white man with a whip.

The truth of the matter is that other than color and the way we are raised, there is no difference between Black human beings and a white human beings, black dogs and white dogs, black horses and white horses, black cats and a white cats, white rabbits and black, multicolored, pink, yellow or grey rabbits. If you have control over any of the above, you can train them to perform magnificently or horrendously. Japanese fighting fish can be trained to kill each other just by taking turns feeding one and not the other. In my travels, I have had the pleasure to see the “Flying Horses of Spain”. Suppose you saw the marvelous feats of one of these highly trained white horses and then they brought out untrained black horses to compete against the white horses, would you conclude that white horses are better than black horses?

Why isn't differences shoe size, eye and hair colour significant determinants of exclusion and inclusion?

If we treat white members of society like they were God’s gift to the world and from birth, cater to their material needs, make Black helpers available to them, take them on grand travel adventures, send them to the best schools and provide them with strong role models? On the other hand, if some Black children always have to be concerned about their survival needs, compelled to cater to white role models and bosses, attend the worse schools, have no access to computers and even books, and never travel outside the country, who is likely to be the most effective scholars, leaders and experts?

And yet we rise. It is a tribute to our genes, talents and our resilience that we can overcome great odds to excel in every field of human endeavor. We have conquered our struggles to become the greatest leaders, business owner, the greatest athletes, musicians, writers, scientists and human beings. Barrack Obama is the greatest leader the world has ever known. There is nothing that Black people cannot run.

Comment: ------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dr. Kong: I see you have been the victim turned purveyor of mis-education. You think being black means being Jamaican. The Englishman or the Jew or the Irish or the African who were forcibly brought here all became Jamaicans. People like you who had the benefit of education would have us believe otherwise. You are so blinded, as to ascribe unto the mighty Obama greatness when he has done nothing as yet to warrant it...much like the Noble Prize people who were only too glad to patronise him!
The English did not brutalise a population as you suggest..they established a colony, brought in slaves, and would not, in the main, have brutalised them as they were valuable assets at the time. I am sure that some brutality took place, and is still taking place among us right now.
If we could only set our minds to doing what is right and stop wallowing in the evils past, real or imagined, it would be a better use of our talents!
While I could agree with you that some of the lesser, what appears to be meaningless pageantry could be dispensed with, they are still a part of our culture. Why don't you rail against the automobile, the aeroplane, and get rid of the PhD behind your name?
I wonder what is your take on black on black supremacy as played out in Biafra and Rowanda in recent times. It is not really a race thing it is a human condition.

Carlton Reynolds, Jan, 2011