Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Letter for 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Waine Kong Family. 2012 was very exciting year for my bride and I. For starters, Stephanie and I have a new baby. Her name is ZOe. We started a Pediatric practice in Thomaston, Georgia. Even though we started the practice on the promise of support from the hospital, that financial support never materialized so Stephanie and I know FIRST HAND what "Trusting in the Lord to meet all your needs" mean, as we assumed the financial support of the practice and all the employees. My wife is one hard working woman and I am the guy who never pass up an opportunity to promote ZOe Peds. I believe that Stephanie and I have been preparing for this for all our lives. Stephanie is such a blessing to the community. The practice name is ZOe Center for Pediatric and Adolescent Health. ZOe (pronounced Zoway) is Greek for God's Blessing. We have endless stories of positively impacting on the lives of our patients. This year also saw the Home Going of my mother Violet. Our family has her for 89 years and she passed quietly in her sleep in February. She was remembered fondly by all her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I miss her Sunday dinners. In my retirement, I was able to spend a lot of quality time with her and I wouldn't trade those visits of memories for anything. Jill's thriving immigration practice in Phoenix continues to grow. Mackenzie is a full fledge teenager, a vegan and a budding scientist who is interested in biomedical engineering. It just seems like yesterday that she was this toddler that traveled the world with her Nanna and Poppop. Would you believe she wrote a proposal to a community Foundation and got her project funded? Brooks has a black belt in Taekwondo and a gifted writer. Freddy and Tracy have two wonderful children who shower us with hugs and kisses on a monthly basis. Kai is quite the athlete. He loves to climb anything and is frequently caught on the highest limb of a tree. Hailie is known as Hail Storm the Drive by kisser. She runs to everything and then stops to kiss you and she is off again. She truly channels her "Gandma" Stephanie. Melanie has expanded her business Play Connections. Her waiting list of students continues to grow and her business is thriving. Our granddaughter Audrey is a budding philosopher and continues to be a great "Big" sister to Vincent. She loves to share jokes with her Pop Pop. Vincent is six and is still very BIG on negotiating everything. The Great Northwest continues to be very good to them! Aleron is finishing his residency in internal medicine and is now interviewing for full time employment as a hospitalist. For those of you who have seen him grow up, he is quite the handsome man and is an excellent clinician. All my prodding to entice him into a cardiology fellowship has not paid off yet, but I will keep on trying. Stephanie’s 60th Birthday party at the Tradewinds Hotel in Tampa was simply marvelous. The entire family showed up and all the grand children performed for her. When our family get together, we hug and catch up, tell jokes, play games, lounge in the sun and swim in the ocean, most importantly, we dance! It was a really great party for a really great lady. Hint, hint, I turn 70 next year! These annual reflections are very meaningful for Stephanie and I and we appreciate your presence in our lives. In our celebrations, I hope you don’t overlook the reason for the season. We are celebrating the 2012th birthday of our Messiah who came to establish a new order of love for our fellow travelers on our planet. “And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans--and all that lives and move upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused--and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.” (Sigrid Undset) Waine and Stephanie

Monday, November 5, 2012

Jamaica speak

Observations on our Culture Expressing Ourselves Basil Waine Kong Some of the interesting observations I have made about how we speak are that: 1. Any part of the body below the pelvic region is your "foot" and any part of your limbs below the shoulders is your "hand". 2. We love to repeat words for emphasis. We love a little something extra, added or brata as exemplified in our tautological descriptions. While Americans may say: "where are you---at?" “Déjà vu all over again", "free gift", "over-exagerate", "forward planning" or even "planning ahead" or "first introduced." Typically Jamaicans will say: “reverse back”, "Rock stone", "cry eye water", "mad crazy", "rain shower", "lamb meat" and my favorite, "I am all by myself, alone.". 3. We do not have very in our language. So, we just repeat the word as many times to emphasize how serious the circumstances are. I can be sick or I can be sick, sick, sick, or I can be close to dieing, when I am sick, sick, sick, sick, sick, sick. The daughter can be pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, or she can be pretty, pretty, pretty... 4. If someone in Jamaica ask you for a "drive", we are not asking to drive your car just to get a ride. 5. While Americans emphasize results, Jamaicans reward effort. Instead of "get dressed", we say "put on your clothes". In the United States, we wash coffee beans before we put them out to dry. In Jamaica, "we swim them." Farmers are planters. A rest stop is a "lay by" and a speed bump is a "sleeping policeman". A bright student is "bulby" as in a bright light bulb. If you want the driver to go faster, you would say "speed up" and Jamaicans say "mash (the gas pedal) e flat" putting the emphasis on the action rather than the desired outcome. You do not hang out clothes to dry, you put them out to sun. "Just be quiet" says Americans or "Resist the temptation to say something you will regret later." We say: "Don't let them pull yu tounge." 6. It is no big deal for the son from a wealthy family to succeed but we celebrate Horatio Alger stories of a phoenix rising from the ashes. We value remarkable effort regardless of the outcome. You can succed by failing in Jamaica if you try hard. 7 A Jamaican will not say "I don't know" or "I cannot do something". He or she will at least tell you something else that he knows. "I cannot tell you how to get to Woodlands but if you wanted to go to New Market..." And we will try to do anything as nothing defeats failure like a try.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My apologies!

Dear Readers of My Blog: I was getting along just fine posting my comments and celebrating my Jamaican roots and culture when Google suddenly changed everything. So, until I can muster the motivation to learn the new rules or get one of my children to teach me, I am lost. As you can see from my last two posts, it is a garbled mess that I cannot figure out. I am at a loss to understand why Google made these changes. At a time when there is so much to write about, I am not able to post them. So, until I figure it out, my apologies and much appreciation for your support and patience. In the meantime, I will obey gravity. What a great moment in time to be a Jamaican! Basil

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Basil Waine Kong “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” (1 John 3:16) There can be no greater love. So, to manifest this love on mother earth, God gave us mothers to protect, nourish, and endow each of her children with caring and love. The definition of motherhood is that she willingly gives unconditional love, sacrifice herself (if necessary) to keep her children from harm and to create positive opportunities for them. A mother wants children to be everything they can be. That’s what she also doesn’t tolerate foolishness. This is my first Mother’s Day without my mother and I am feeling lonely---reflecting on those wonderful moments when she was particularly nurturing, funny and wise. I would have liked to hug up on her, shower her with poems, flowers, gifts and well wishes today but she is not here to receive them. So, for those of you who still have mothers, I hope you take the opportunity today to acknowledge her for her many sacrifices and give her roses while she can smell them. Oh what a beautiful morning! We are visiting with our Son Freddie and wife, Tracy, and two of our six beautiful and talented grandchildren, Kai and Haillie. It is a perfect morning. Freddie is Steph’s frist born and who made her a mother, so she is particularly emotional to share this day with him and his family. Their children are just wonderful and loving. They love that I chase them around the house and throw them from one end of the pool to the next. Freddie served mimosas and coffee as soon as we woke up and as I write this is fixing breakfast---fritata, bagels and lox, etc., etc. He is an excellent cook. Happy Mother’s Day! I guess I will have to adopt my aunts today but no one could substitute for my really great mother! A Mother's Love (Helen Steiner Rice) A Mother's love is something that no one can explain, It is made of deep devotion and of sacrifice and pain, It is endless and unselfish and enduring come what may For nothing can destroy it or take that love away . . . It is patient and forgiving when all others are forsaking, And it never fails or falters even though the heart is breaking . . . It believes beyond believing when the world around condemns, And it glows with all the beauty of the rarest, brightest gems . . . It is far beyond defining, it defies all explanation , And it still remains a secret like the mysteries of creation . . . A many splendored miracle man cannot understand And another wondrous evidence of God's tender guiding hand.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bless Be the Tie that Binds

Ladies and Gentlemen: I awoke this morning with a dream for the development of rural Jamaica. My idea will engage the Diaspora like never before, increase rural employment and go a long way to develop rural communities across Jamaica. I start with the premise that every community in Jamaica has had phenomenally successful people who got their broughtupsy in small communities. For example, in Woodlands District in St. Elizabeth where I grew up, I can count several doctors, lawyers, accountants, teachers, engineers and business men and women who remember the village that raised them but who owe much of their success to the values learned at their Granny’s knees. They all share, as I do, a love for the people of our district and want to stay connected. I love going back and worshiping with my people, hugging on them and helping in any way I can. So, what if we: 1. Organize a Board of 12 community people (from each district) to plan and build a building to accommodate: a. 12 motel rooms b. A restaurant c. A hall for social functions (weddings, Saturday night dances, club meetings, political meetings, etc. d. A retail outlet to sell items produced by those who live in the community e. Organize domino, table tennis and cricket clubs 2. Ask those who can afford it both here and abroad to invest in the building and its management. 3. The clear advantages to the Diaspora investing in this project a. A place to stay and visit with the “old people” b. Interesting and entertaining things to do when they are there c. A place to eat and drink and socialize when they visit d. A profit center In the old days, towns competed against each other in cricket and dominoes. Now “nutten a guan”. Out of these domino tournaments and cricket matches, talent could be identified and nurtured. In terms of its impact on the economy, tourists would be motivated to visit these non-resort towns. No matter how far we may travel from yard, if we were born in Jamaica, we will always be interested in our heritage. Let us go about bringing in new money, strengthen the ties between the people who reside here and the “beento” people who are spread out around the world. What a great way to spread our love, our music, our dance, our sports and culture! Yea Mon.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

On Her Way

Basil Waine Kong

She had passed six subjects and was one her way
It was just dusk and drizzling
She wondered whether there was going to be weather
She was on her way to her Granny’s house
With brown stew chicken, macka yam and callaloo for supper
Her long legs freshly rubbed with coconut oil protruding out of her short dress
He came over the hill playing his guitar and singing as loud as he could:
“Tan de Mr. Goosie, tan de
Tan de till a mawnin”
She smiled in amusement and stopped to listen
He sat under the breadfruit tree and played the songs she liked
As she placed her hands under her chin and wind up her waist
With a great big smile he said: “Come ya Gal, Mek mi love you up no?”
She said: “No, I have to go. Mi bringing supper for Granny”
“You look so pretty and nice, mi love you u know”
She said NO
He would not take NO for an answer
She said no again
He caressed her around her thin waist and kissed her
Her knees went weak and she shivered in his arms
It was now wet
She no longer said no and he didn’t stop
And as the earth moved under her bare feet
He planted his seed and bigged her up
He went on his way and was nowhere to be found
She was caught in a storm
And no longer on her way

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Seeking Justice, Freedom, and the Right of Every Human to the Pursuit of Happiness.

My Attendance at the Amnesty International Annual General Meeting
(Friday, March 30 – Sunday, April 1, 2012)
Basil Waine Kong

(First of all, I need to apologize that I have not posted anything on this blog since the death of my mother. That event triggered a great deal of lethargy and procrastination that I did not anticipate. I felt unmotivated and everything I forced myself to do was a chore. Rather than writing, playing golf, traveling, dancing, visiting with friends, reading and being my jocular self, I found myself watching mindless hours of television and movies. It also took a minute to probate my mother’s will and wrap up her affairs. I am motivated again---probably triggered by an invitation from my oldest grandchild to accompany her so she could take advantage of a scholarship to attend the Annual General Meeting of Amnesty International.)

Due to my granddaughter’s passionate advocacy for gay and immigrant rights and her participation in several demonstrations as well as her letters to decision makers around the world, she was offered a scholarship and the enviable opportunity to attend the convention. She is mature beyond her years (14 years). In her brief life, she is already one of the unsung heroes who speak up and put her body on the line for various causes. While she bubbled over with enthusiasm and anticipation, her parents would not allow her to attend by herself. She needed chaperones. Her parents had to work, so retired Pop Pop and her Nana to the rescue. It was entirely our pleasure.

Before I tell you about our first meeting up with her in Denver, I need to provide some background. She once asked me: “Pop, Pop, what’s the evilest thing you have ever done?” I answered honestly. I told her that ten years ago I was attending a meeting at the San Antonio Marriott where there are two banks of elevators. While waiting for an elevator on the third floor to go up, there were three ladies waiting to go down. The Devil made me do it and I blurted out: “Ladies, if you want to go down, you will have to take the other bank of elevators as these only go up”. I couldn’t believe that they took my word for it, thanked me and walked across the hall to wait at the other bank of elevators. I spent the next three hours laughing in guilty pleasure and contemplated how anxious people are to follow directions without thinking. Even now, I take great joy in recalling the incident but reminding myself how much evil there is yet in my soul. As I am reminded by my wife: “God is not finished with you yet.” Anyway, back to the AI convention.

My grand daughter traveled from Phoenix and made her way to the hotel. We arrived on Friday while she was already attending a session. She answered her cell phone and said she would meet us shortly. After the smiles, enthusiastic hugs and greetings, she said: “I could have come sooner but some of the elevators at the Marriott only go down.” Is she a chip off the old block? We enjoyed a good laugh. I then took the opportunity to establish some ground rules. Her Nana and I were there:
1. to support her and facilitate her participation and not to interfere.
2. to accompany her to some of the sessions.
3. for her safety so we needed her to send us a text every so often.

Throughout the three day meeting, except for our early morning work-outs and swim each day,(she is an excellent swimmer)we were not able to spend nearly as much time with her as we anticipated because she took her attendance VERY seriously. She never missed a session! So ”If Muhammad will not come to the Mountain, the Mountain must come to Muhammad.” I dutifully joined her in sessions, had our faces painted with “Rise Up” and accompanied her to a large demonstration for Immigrant Rights. Even though I struggled with some of the logic of the presentations as well as the two mile walk, I enjoyed the passion in which she repeatedly shouted the various slogans. “Immigrant Rights is Human Rights!!!”

In answer to her questions, I was proud to tell her that I was one of those who went to jail for illegally demonstrating against Apartheid in front of the South African Embassy many years ago in Washington DC as well as my civil rights and anti-war activities during the Viet Nam era.

She is a vegetarian and I took the opportunity to visit all the restaurants in a four block area to evaluate menus to determine if they could satisfy her dietary preferences. She enjoyed the Indian Restaurant immensely. Her Nana and I had to plan our meals around her schedule. Stephanie and I took some time to drive to Colorado Springs to visit the famous “Garden of the Gods” and tried desperately to entice her to come with us. However, Mackenzie reminded me that her primary duty was to attend the sessions. The trip to Colorado Springs was stupendous as my wife and I enjoyed a lovely visit---fantastic place!

Some of the training sessions she attended included: “How to Lobby”, “How to Research a topic and debate issues” as well as “Tactics that Make a Difference”. So, like a butterfly flapping its wings in a meadow that eventually starts a hurricane, she now believes that she can be a force for change on society and the world---a passionate advocate with the right cause is a majority.

Presentations included: Adotei Akwei, Managing Director for Government Relations (AI); Nada Alwadi, a journalist from Bahrain; Joe Baker, Vice President for Causes and Advocacy (AI); Shane Bauer, Journalist, who was captured by the Iranian security in 2009 along with his friend, Sarah Shourdand Josh Fattal and released in 2011; Max Berger, an organizer for the Occupy Movement; Snajeev Bery, Advocacy Director for the Middle East (AI); Savio Carvalho, Director for Demand Dignity Program (AI); Colonel Morris Davis, a military attorney who was the Chief Prosecutor for the Military Commissions at Guantanamo Bay; Antone De’Jaun Davis-Correia, death penalty abolitionist; Attorney Sarah Deer, a Native American lawyer; Dr. Tarah Demant, a Stop Violence Against Women activist; Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford; Amy Goodman, Journalist and host of “Democracy Now!”; Ken Gude, Chief of Staff for Center for American Progress; Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP; Halima Kazem, a journalist from Afghanistan; Claire Levy, a member of the Colorado House of Representatives; Kung Li, an attorney for the Southern Center for Human Rights; Asmaa Mahfouz, co-founder of Egypt’s 6 April Youth Movement; Joseph Margulies, an attorney with the Roderick MacArthur Justice Center; Kica Matos, Head of the U.S. Reconciliation & Human Rights Program at The Atlantic Philanthropies; And many others. No wonder that we didn’t see her very much! This was a feast for any passionate advocate for human rights. The audience was very loud, enthusiastic and supportive of the presenters.

One evening when she returned from one of her sessions, we were watching a lecture being presented by a fascinating physicist who was encouraging the United States to resurrect our space program as a strategy to advance innovation in society in general. She took a glance at the screen as said: "That's Neil deGrasse Tyson. I read several of his books. He is a really great writer." She then sat down to watch the rest of the program with us. I was blown away. How many fourteen year olds have read Tyson?

As I have a special interest in Zimbabwe, I was impressed with the work being done there to re-establish democracy. Having visited four times, I experienced Zimbabwe singing the Bob Marley Zimbabwe song when it was grand and again when the society had deteriorated. Their life expectancy went from 70 to 40 in just ten years. Eight of us visited Victoria Falls seven years ago and found an economic disaster. The cost of dinner for the eight of us at the hotel was in excess of $1,000,000 because the exchange rate was $7,000 Zim dollars for one American Dollar and the people were devastated. Interestingly enough, the paper money had expiration dates on them. I pray that Zimbabwe will recover and find their glory days again.

Even though the theme of the conference was “Rise UP!” It could just have been: “Rise Up, Stand Up for Your Rights!” In this case, let us stand up for each other. I, for one, have been inspired with a renewed commitment to be more active in building advocacy coalitions and adding a Voice in the interest of the Vulnerable in Jamaica. Words have power.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I Am A Motherless Child

Basil Waine Kong

I am feeling sad and lost. I awoke this morning to the news of my mother’s passing. My feelings are great sadness of this significant loss but mixed with the celebration of a long meaningful life. My mother would have been ninety on her next birthday in December and we had promised her a big party as something to anticipate. In my last visit with her last week before I left for Jamaica, my Uncle Ronnie marveled at how she perked up and engaged me in a wonderful conversation. As was my custom, I would enter her home with a thunderous: “Whe mi Mumma Dey?” “Mi Daya”

Even though I have been physically separated from my mother for long periods, I have never been a motherless child. My mother has been my anchor, my lifeline and the force that shaped my life. When she was nineteen years old, she delivered me at Kingston Jubilee Hospital, where I fell to the floor as none of the nurses or doctors responded to my mother's repeated cries for help. While I survived the fall, it was nonetheless a rude awakening! She named me for Basil Rathbone, an English movie actor and I was off to see the world.

My brother Earl joined us a year later and we lived together in a house at 15 Jacques Road in the Mountain View section of Kingston until I was four years old. When she migrated to the United States, she left us in the care of her mother (the greatest Grand Mother the world has ever known) in Woodlands District (St. Elizabeth) and we saw our mother infrequently over the next ten years. During this time, however, we wrote to each other often. Her letters assured us of her love and inquired about our health and well being. We, in turn, would just beg her to send us something or other. In her absence, I adopted and regarded all my Aunts as my mothers and all my uncles as fathers.

We were, however, never out of her thoughts. She sent a $50 money order each and every month and a parcel with clothes and toys about six times per year. The members of the community would see us carrying these packages from the Springfield Post Office and jealously comment that more "bregede" had arrived. One of the exciting items in one of the parcels was a gramophone. It was a marvel that attracted a great deal of attention as people wondered how the musicians got into the box to make the sound. One day, my brother’s curiosity got the better of him and he broke it looking for the people inside. That was the end of our musical interludes.

I remember my granny marking our feet on paper, cutting and sending the imprint to my mother so that she could send shoes. When the shoes came, if they were too big, I would stuff them with paper until I grew into them. If they were too small, we would fill them with dry corn and dipped them in water. As the corn expanded, so did the shoes. Not many people had shoes and those who did often carried them until they got to church before putting them on. The remittances my mother sent for our care also went a long way to support the community as well.

I left the people I loved most and the village that raised me to go to 'merica on April 3, 1959. The day we arrived in New York via Avianca Airways, it was cold and snowing. Meeting my new father and brothers for the first time signaled that there were going to be a lot of adjustments in our thinking and experience. Our other brothers (Robbie and Kevin Johnson) had to get used to sharing Mom, their rooms, toys and clothes. At least for the first three months, Mom was extremely attentive and showered us with her time, her cooking, her guidance, and tutoring. In addition to all the ice-cream, Jell-O and cakes we could eat, movies and bowling, she tended to the concerted cultivation of our skills and talents.

I ate in a restaurant for the first time when she took us to see, hear and feel the pulse of New York City including seeing it from the Empire State Building. This was both exciting and intimidating. Our necks ached as we could not stop looking up at the tall buildings. I was impressed by the lights on Broadway, the man smoking camel cigarettes, the George Washington Bridge, the Lincoln Tunnel and the number of automobiles reminded me of an ant's nest. I had come a long way from Woodlands.

When we started attending Morristown High School, we only spoke deep country patois that no one understood and we obviously could not decipher what Americans said either. We became exhausted having to repeat ourselves to no avail as people continually asked: “What did you say?” and we responded: "a wa yu a say?" One of my teachers asked me if I believed everything I read and I said yes. Why would they write something that wasn't true? I reflected on my experience at the Denbeigh Show when I watched a weight lifter with the body of Adonis reached a weight that he could not handle but after he went to a Guinness booth and heartily drank a stout, he returned to easily hoist the stubborn weight over his head to great applause. I have been trying to get that magic strength ever since by consuming lots of Guinness. I remember that an argument could be easily won by just showing your opponent that it was written in the Gleaner or the Bible. In fact, I believed the Gleaner was the Bible.

My mother recognized our severe educational deficits and hired a language teacher, a piano teacher, a math teacher and a writing teacher---we were kept busy. She even sent us to a Psychiatrist to help us with our adjustment when wata come a wi eye and we both demanded to be sent back to the idyllic life we remembered in Jamaica. What we missed most were a community of people who cared. Other than our immediate family, we felt like no one else in America cared.

In the mornings, we got dressed, went to school, participated in sports after school and then to a tutor before coming home, eating, doing the dishes and our homework and going to sleep exhausted. Mom's strategy was to keep us busy and out of trouble. She was a constant presence at our athletic contests especially wrestling. She sometimes brought fried scallops in paper bags for the entire team. The wrestlers described what they were eating as pieces of meat that tasted like fish. Mom told me that the scallop is a shellfish that looked like the Shell Gasoline symbol. Having to starve ourselves before these wrestling meets, we welcomed this treat. Even now, when I run into one of my old team mates, they always recall the scallops and my mother's kindness.

We went to the YMCA often and learned to swim, do gymnastics, play basketball and play with other children. I once fell on my head doing the rings in Gymnastics class---no problem. I have been developing a hard head from the moment I was born and from the school of hard knocks. While I was otherwise a talented athlete, I never got the knack of basketball or football. However, there was never a time when I was not involved in varsity sports. I lettered and excelled in track (set a 400 meter school record in 50.3 seconds), soccer, cross country and especially wrestling. The Kong brothers were both district champion wrestlers. I wrestled at the 122 weight class and my brother Earl weighed 114 pounds at the time. I have gained one pound each year since then.

When my sixteenth birthday approached, she learned that I never had a birthday party. So, she decided that she would give me a special party. The problem was that I had just arrived and did not know anyone other than family and the few neighbors on our block. So, I invited everybody I encountered at my high school. On the night of the party, hundreds of kids showed up and she had to bar the door and only allowed 20 people to come at a time while very upset kids who were asking for the free food I promised and lingered in the street in front of our house. On that memorable birthday I received my first ever birthday presents: a briefcase, a Webcore tape recorder and a Phillips transistor radio.

Mom was active in the civil rights movement. In addition to supporting the movement, she worked with a group to integrate rental properties. She even invited me to speak up in these living room gatherings. The Black women would try to rent homes and was told that it was rented but when the white women applied, they were accepted and offered the same appartment. Their activities lead to equal housing legislation in New Jersey.

My mother personally taught us to drive her 1957 Chevrolet and took us to caddy at Springbrook Country Club on week-ends. We had to save everything we earned. I learned to play golf at sixteen when a member gave me an old set of clubs and we were allowed to play on caddy day (Mondays). I now play regularly to a 14 handicap. I am frustrated that after playing golf for fifty years, this is as good as I get. I am told in Jamaica that "golf doesn't live in any body's yard".

My step-father, Arthur Johnson, worked for Ford Motor Company, had a generous heart and always drove the latest model Cadillac. He took us fishing, to the race track, taught us to pitch horse shoes and a baseball. He played poker with us and we often enjoyed a beer together. To my mother's disgust, he would never ask for directions and we were always lost in our travels but he was good at fixing cars and appliances. He regaled us daily with his World War 11 stories and reminded us about how we could achieve great things in America if we put our minds and hearts into whatever we wanted to do. He wanted me to play professional baseball as he once played in the Negro baseball league.

Marcus Garvey’s “Back to Africa” movement was in full swing when my mother was born on December 16, 1922 to William and Rosella McKenzie. In the eyes of all who knew her in her later years, she was no longer the little meaga gal from Woodlands. “She big shot”, “Big Stuff”, “Big cheese”, “Big Mama”, “Big Heart”. At 89 years old, she was in reasonably good health, owned her own house and managed her own affairs. Independence was important to her. So, while she made me her guardian, I never interfered with her decisions as her mind is like a steel trap that could recall everything.

She had strong opinions and was regarded as the mother of our extended family. Newlyweds or the recently arrived from Jamaica or England furnished their homes from the abundance of furniture, appliances and utensils from her house. And she enjoyed the love showered on her by family and friends and she in turn, adored her brothers (John, Randall, Keith, Ronnie and Elton) and worshiped her sisters (Myrtle, Elva, Madge, Edna, Sylvia and Myra). I called the sisters the “Black Widows” as all of their husbands died many years ago. She is devoted to her children (Basil, Earl, Robbie and Kevin); especially love her grandchildren (Roberto, Ricardo, Christopher, Jill, Melanie, Freddie, Aleron, Devin, Aaron, Keisha and Tiffany); And love, love, love, love her sweet, beautiful great grand pickny dem (Jessica, Tina, Mackenzie, Audrey Violet, Kevin, Maurice, Books, Vincent, Kai, Hailie and more coming). She lived a successful life. There is nothing that her daughters-in law, Stephanie, Carol and Toshimi wouldn't do for her and she was pampered by her nieces and nephews Patty, Carla, Yvonne, Hugh, Neville and Babs.

In 1938, after leaving Springfield School, she was sent to Kingston to live with her Sister Myrtle and find work so she could help support her siblings after her father (William McKenzie) died suddenly. She soon buck upon Chan Kong with whom she had two children. When Chan unexpectedly returned to China, she had to "turn hand and make fashion". She took her two boys to live with her mother and went off to the United States. When a gentleman in Kingston found out that she was going to America, he gave her a bottle of Appleton over-proof rum to give to his friend who lived in New Jersey. Soon after arriving in New York, she diligently made her way to New Jersey and delivered the rum.

Upon their meeting, Mr. Arthur Johnson immediately became intoxicated by her beauty. They fell in love and in a world wind of activity, were married ten days later on May 26, 1948. The union produced two more boys (Robbie and Kevin). Arthur and Vie lived happily together for 50 years. Unfortunately, because Arthur was a heavy smoker, (a habit he picked up from receiving free cigarettes as a soldier in Uncle Sam’s Army during World War II), he died from lung cancer in 1997. When he was asked if he knew how to play Bid Whist, he is fondly remembered as saying: “Who do you think put the bid in Whist?”

When I was graduating from Dickinson Law School, My mother's comment was: “Son, you know how proud I am for all you have done with your life, but aren’t you concerned that lawyers can’t go to Heaven?”

My brother Earl studied architecture in New York for two years after high school but ended up joining the United States Air force and served in Taiwan for two years. He married Carol Gatchell from the Willamette Valley region of Oregon. He graduated from Oregon State with a degree in Forestry and after a successful career as a Forester with the State of Washington, retired in 2008. He authored a book and now works as a consultant. Earl is a philosopher, poet, a superb nature artist, knows the names and uses of all the trees, flowers, berries and stones one would encounter in the forest. He fights forest fires and can fix everything. While I didn’t pay too much attention, Earl had apprenticed with Arthur Johnson and is now a great brother, son, husband, father and grandfather. As a consultant to the Eskimos on the management of their forests, he allowed my wife (Stephanie) and me to accompany them to Alaska to see the running of the salmon, the eagles, the whales, the black bears, the sea lions, eat smoked salmon and caviar, as well as to fish for 100 pound halibut and meet the people. It was an incredible.

In addition to the gift of gab, Robbie was magnificent on the trumpet, played in a swing band and was nicknamed “Sugar Lips Johnson.” He went on to start and manage several successful small businesses including used cars. Unfortunately, due to smoking, uncontrolled high blood pressure and stress, he suffered a stroke at fifty years of age and still making adjustments. He has three sons who are all absolutely dedicated to him.

In addition to his great intellect and oriental cooking skills, Kevin was the tall, handsome athlete who was a football and basketball star in High School. He married his childhood sweetheart (Shuggie) immediately after graduating from high school and joined the Air Force. After his discharge, he moved to Seattle and worked for the State of Washington developing business opportunities in the Far East for Washington based business interests. He can speak and write Japanese fluently and received the equivalent of an MBA studying in Japan. He has a black belt in Karate. His talents are deep as he can beat us all in everything, pool, tennis, ping pong and basketball. He has two children and two grand children and currently works for the State of Oregon in Portland. His current wife is Toshimi.

When Mom's nephew from Mile Gully, Manchester (Errol McKenzie), wanted to study in the United States, she took him to her friend, Congressman Frelinghuysen, who got Errol a student Visa. She also encouraged me, as I was an Assistant Professor at the University of the District of Columbia to help. Errol went on to earn a master’s degree in Business Administration and subsequently became Senior Vice President at “Sagicor”---a strapping success!

I am a great advocate for organ transplantation and talked my mother into signing her driver’s license authorizing doctors to harvest her organs if and when she died. While she eventually agreed, her initial response was that it is clearly un-Christian to be buried without all your organs. "What if", she said, "Lazarus had donated his organs when he died and the Lord came and commanded: 'Lazarus, raise come!' Lazarus would have fi say: 'mi can't come you know sah. What mi fi do? They take everything.' And the Lord would have fi say: 'Dog nam yu supper Lazarus. Sorry fi you'"

Whether it was the house on Carlton Street, Spring Street, Phoenix Avenue, Mt. Freedom in New Jersey or Lawrenceville, Georgia, my mother always has a welcome mat out. When someone called to inquire about her health, her typical response was: “Me still above the ground and taking nourishment.” If you wanted to hear a good joke or catch up on what was going on with the extended family, she was the person to call. If you wanted really great food, she made the best crab dip, pea soup, curry chicken, rice and peas and escovitched fish. She also gave good hugs. I will miss that very much. Because I was always encouraging her to exercise, she once invited me to walk with her around the block. She then produced a one inch child’s block and placed it on the floor and them said: “Let’s go!” She was very pleased with her wit. When the phone rang at night she often used a Man’s voice to discourage unwanted guests.

My mother has truly been blessed by God because her “Big Heart” that overflowed with love for her children, family and friends. She has been trying to bring a little bit of Heaven to earth because those of us who are lawyers may never get there. Through her aches and pains, she found time to attend church, laugh and to enjoy special moments with friends and family. At her funeral,one by one, those who came to celebrate her life told of our mother's kind heart, dedication to family and, of course, her sharp mind. Many of these recollections drew howls of laughter from the crowd.

Thank you Mom. God is pleased with you. So, have a blessed rest. You can sit down happy.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Tragedy - 2 students drown on school trip

Tragedy - 2 students drown on school trip

I am upset and angry to learn this morning that two more yuths and a bus driver drowned yesterday. Everytime I hear or read about children drowning in Jamaica (and it is a frequent occurence) I beg the Minister of Education to please, please, please make swimming part of the curriculum. In a country of wood and water, ninety percent of our citizens cannot swim. It is a tragedy waiting to repeat itself. All my children and grand children could swim by the time they were three years old. Almost everyone can learn to swim in 30 minutes! This should be part of our literacy program.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Our Annual Christmas Letter

Christmas 2011

Another year has passed and I am blessed to say that Stephanie and I are well and enjoying my retirement, our children and grandchildren! Stephanie and I were delighted to host Thanksgiving and were joined by Melanie, Don, Audrey and Vincent from Portland Oregon; Freddie, Tracie, Kai and Hailie from Orlando as well as Aleron, Great Grandmother Violet, Uncle Ronnie and several of Aleron's friends.

This year has been full of travels, golf, reading and writing, help the Association of Black Cardiologists with our annual banquet, and to work with the People’s National Party (PNP) contributing what I can to develop a New Vision for a New World Reality for Jamaica. I am putting the final touches on my first novel, “The Bad Boy From Country” which conveys a lot of my recollections and life lessons. My bIog, continues to be a source of sharing my thoughts, I have now read “The Complete Works of Mark Twain” (100,000 Kindle pages). In addition to being a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha, I became a Master Mason and enjoy unraveling the mysteries.

Stephanie continues to grow her consulting business as well as her skills as a practicing pediatrician. 2012 will be the year we will start her private practice. She plans to invest 5 years helping sick children get better. She delights in all her grandchildren and is still able to travel to Jamaica with me. She continues to chronicle her spiritual journey at her blog and my love and appreciation grows for her daily. We are enjoying this time of our lives very much and I thank God that we delight in each other’s presence. As long as we have our Kindles, we are good to go!

Jill has a thriving immigration practice in Phoenix and she and Brian continue to stimulate the lives of her two gifted children. Mackenzie has enrolled in a Science High School and has found her niche. She rubs elbows with children that have curious minds on a daily basis and has a cadre of friends with similar interests. She adopted a vegetarian lifestyle and found her voice for social causes and Amnesty International. She has committed herself to learn every word in the English language. Her brother Brooks continues to excel as a Little Leaguer and has taken up Taekwondo. He has earned his green belt. Both Mackenzie and Brooks spent some time with us this summer in Orlando and Atlanta. Brian is very involved in the lives of his children and can be found on Saturdays carting Brooks to games, Mackenzie to violin practice and joining Mackenzie during her protests. To our amazement, both Kenz and Brooks were able to swim 60 laps in an Olympic size pool without stopping.

We thought 2011 would be the year Freddy and his family relocated to Atlanta but as fate would have it the company gave him a promotion and he was able to stay in Orlando which as it turns out in this down economy was a blessing as it would have been a challenge to sell their home. Stephanie and I were so looking forward to having a set of our grandchildren nearby! Kai is a blossoming three year old and continues to delight both Stephanie and I. He is a very loving grandson, son and big brother to Hailie. Hailie is a little Stephanie; a whirlwind of energy that can light up a room with her smile. She has two speeds, fast and faster and has already declared her love of dolls and frilly dresses. Tracy continues to be Freddie’s anchor as she juggles a career and two active children. They are in a good place in their lives.

Melanie has 16 employees and is a Small Business owner! Her business “Play Connections” has taken off and she has tripled the number of children benefitting from the services she offers. There is a waiting list of parents who want their children to receive the personal care that her company provides to children with Autism Spectrum disorders; check out her web-site Audrey has blossomed into a beautiful young lady and on a recent trip to Atlanta went shopping with Nana which delighted Stephanie to no end. As it turns out Melanie and Don have a fashionista on their hands. Vincent is five and is very BIG on negotiating everything. He is a bundle of joy with thick brown wavy hair and OPINIONS. The Great Northwest has been very good to them!

Aleron is a 2nd year Internal Medicine resident at Grady Memorial Hospital which keeps him busy and sleep deprived. He continues to build his life as a physician and has settled into his chosen field. He has a VERY active social life and Stephanie and I continue to be amazed at how this young man has matured and found his calling. We are truly blessed.

My mother Violet will be 90 next year and still lives in her own home and delights in being able to manage her own affairs. Although she suffered some strokes in 2019 and 2010, she is fully recovered and get around on her walker. Stephanie and I are able to have Sunday dinners with her and I am able to regularly get spoiled by her lunches and jokes.

Although we didn’t usher in any grandbabies, weddings or graduations this year it was still very FULL as we are continually blessed to have our health, celebrate the health of our children and grandchildren and to have you as friends and family. Best wishes for a wonderful new year.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Inauguration of Portia Simpson Miller

Prime Minister of Jamaica
Basil Waine Kong, Ph.D., JD

On January 5, 2012, I was on hand and beaming with unbridled pride as, The Right Honorable Portia Simpson Miller, took the oath of office as the Seventh Prime Minister of Jamaica pledging sovereignty, economic prosperity and social transformation. I believe more than ever that Portia Simpson Miller represents the truth and the way forward.

It was a momentous moment and a dramatic day. Pride mixed with high expectancy was in the air as the 10,000 people filed into the grounds of Kings House, as well as millions more around the globe who watched on line and applauded enthusiastically as PM repeatedly struck the right notes such as when Mr. Andrew Holness was introduced as the “Leader of the Opposition”.

I am sitting about 20 rows from the platform thinking and marveling: “What’s the difference between a small farmer and a doctor?” What is the difference between one woman from Wood Hall, Trelawney living on modest means, and the Prime Minister of Jamaica? Ladies and Gentlemen, the answer? One generation. I am glad that I live in a country where the Portia Simpson Miller story is not even unusual. No matter how difficult the circumstances, we rise. We rise because the prevailing value in Jamaica is that our children should exceed their parent's achievements. When I was thirteen years old, if you had placed both my mother and father in a police lineup, I could not have recognized either one of them . And yet, this little bare foot boy from country (Woodlands, St. Elizabeth) became a lawyer and traveled to 100 countries AND more importantly produced four children who are all more successful. It was worth pondering.

Three years ago, I sent the following letter that was published in the Gleaner (October 17, 2009) that proved to be prophetic.
Why I Support Portia Simpson Miller
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 persists 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, clothe 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.


A cross section of Jamaican society (the people who elected her, members of parliament from both parties, the judiciary, religious leaders, foreign high commissioners and other diplomats, etc., etc., etc.,) were present when she came up from the shadows, up the stairs into the light to further fire up the crowd with a marvelous message of hope for our troubled economy that is plagued by a high rate of poverty, illiteracy, crime, homelessness and increasing foreign debt.

The set up for her speech was The Most Honourable Sir Patrick Allen’s challenge to the country to support the new government now that the people have spoken. He also quoted a Chinese Philosopher who professed that when a great leader retires and hang up his/her spurs, the people will proclaim that, “WE” did it. This is at the core of what our Prime Minister believes. Her practice is to consult and obtain consensus before embarking on new ventures.

It was a magnificent speech. She said she came through the fire and is now a much better person and a much more patient and thoughtful leader for having endured the slings, arrows and everything else that was thrown at her in an attempt to defeat her spirit. It only made the victory that much sweeter and her resolve to advance “Brand Jamaica” as a good place to do business, visit, raise healthy families and where individuals can be all they want to be.

We can and must do better to be civil and uplifting of each other. She is committed to restore the breach in the eyes of the world. This will be achieved by eliminating corruption, increasing transparency and establishing meaningful partnerships with the people. With all hands on deck, focused and determined, we will rise and we will shine. Importantly, to great applause, she pointed out that the time has come for Jamaica to be established as a true republic without supervision from Britannia.

We owe a gold star to whoever arranged for the entertainment. If you think Jamaica’s talent is deep in sprint races, I hope you saw it all. Our talent is even deeper in entertainment. In every instance, I clamored for more. The Glenmuir Choir was great, The Tivoli Dance Troupe was wonderful, Shaggy was bombastic, and the Jamaica Regiment Band was absolutely professional, especially when they accompanied Shaggy when he sang: “Strength of a Woman” pointing directly at our Prime Minister who thoroughly enjoyed the moment. My favorite, however, was the Mona Preparatory School Speech Choir. The Speech Ensemble recited Marcus Garvey’s speech: “No Master But God” in grand style. How do I get to see them perform in a full concert? They looked good, moved good, spoke good and walked good. These boosey boys so reminded me of me when I performed in a similar choir at Springfield All Age School in St. Elizabeth in 1958 under the direction of Ms. Mavis Smith!

The after inaugural reception at the Wyndham Hotel capped off a perfect day, toasting, meeting new friends, reconnecting with the old and making plans with the current. While I was disappointed with the sound system that only half the audience could hear, our Prime Minister graciously accepted the congratulatory comments heaped on her, made informal remarks and I enjoyed one of her famous hugs. It was everyone’s consensus that “The Right Honourable Portia Simpson Miller”, Prime Minister of Jamaica, is an easy person to support! She is now a highly respected Woman for all seasons.

While my MP is Julian Robinson, On Friday evening, I had occasion to attend one of Andre Hylton’s victory celebrations and was most impressed with his people skills. He is well known for his passion for cars and voluntarism driven by his passion to serve. His philosophy is to do as much good as he can to serve the people. This will be a hard working member of parliament. It was very enlightening for me to engage his supporters in a wide range of topics relating to improving the lives of Jamaican citizens.

I am proud to be asked serve the administration as a member of the Prime Minister's “Think Tank” to analyze problems and plan future developments. While the Planning Institute of Jamaica is already charged and committed to leading the process of policy formulation on economic and social issues and external co-operation management to achieve sustainable development, in our two hour meeting with her at Jamaica House on Thursday (January 12), she charged us to develop innovative ideas and review contemplated initiatives (JEEP) for their impact on all the segments of our society. Our group of 12 (disciples) is phenomenally enlightened and accomplished individuals, who, I believe, are up to the task.

As for my personal priority, ever since I read Professor Don Robotham’s dire warnings of the dangers of frustrating the talents and ambitions of our youth that I would even go so far to characterize this as country suicide. Other than the urgency of fixing the economy, we must move quickly to set our youth on a course of achievement and prosperity.

According to the Professor Robotham, the more than 670,000 persons in the 20-29 age group, about 400,000 are either unemployed or not in the labour force. Nearly 60 per cent is jobless. But worse, more than 80 per cent of the unemployed 19-29-year-olds have stopped looking for work. Add to this dismal picture the fact that nearly 90 per cent, or more than 220,000, in the 15-19 age group are neither in school, nor have jobs. This is a crisis of great proportion.

May God Bless our Prime Minister and May God Bless Jamaica. Mi joyous!

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Poor Does Not Have to be With Us Always

Can We End Poverty in Jamaica?
Basil Waine Kong

I was amused to learn recently that the winners of the US$250,000,000 Powerball lottery were three millionaires (asset managers) in Connecticut. It started me thinking about how and why the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. I am also thinking of the gentleman who prayed fervently but futilely every day for God to bless him so he could win the lottery. Finally God had to speak directly to the gentleman: “If I am going to help you win the lottery you should at least buy a ticket. I can only help those who help themselves.”

A year ago, a country gentleman told me that his father advised him that going to school was a waste of time and that as long as he could dig a yam hill he would be fine. So, for fifty years, he has been cutting cane and planting his ground on an acre of land he rents---never expecting to own his own land. Not even in his dreams could he see himself owning adequate tools of his trade, a house, a tractor or even a bicycle. I now learn that illiterate persons will no longer be allowed to participate in the Government's overseas farm work program. According to Minister of Labour, Derrick Kellier, persons applying to pick fruit and plant beans in Canada must know how to read, write and do arithmetic. What is the future of the twenty percent of Jamaican citizens who cannot read or write? Do we just blame the victim and move on?

My fervent prayer is for the poor to get richer. But my wise friend and golfing buddy insist the rich have all the luck. I tell him that that the harder I practice and work at my game, the luckier I get. While it is a common occurrence for rich children to turn out to be worthless bums and a few children from poor families become accomplished heroes and stars. In the absence of people with extraordinary talent and discipline, as a rule it doesn’t happen often. Babies of the rich are fed delicious and nutritious meals with silver spoons, exposed to the movers and shakers of society as they grow up, go to the best schools, have access to effective healthcare, get tutors to help them learn how to handle their knife and folk, play a musical instrument and to excel in sports, travel, learn to speak eloquently, dress to impress, have their choice of employment from their extensive network of family connections and then they win the lottery. On the other hand, the poor child face daily struggles to get a plate of food each day in single parent households, crime, may or may not go to school, survive by catering to the rich, sleep on the hand ground with a rock stone for their pillow, hustle to make a living and die ten years before his rich counterpart only because he was born at the wrong address.

Will the poor always be with us? Several countries including several the size of Jamaica (Singapore, Botswana, Bermuda, Kuwait, and Oman) have now wiped out poverty. That’s right---no poor people. Everyone has a floor they can comfortably live with. What do these countries have in common?

Two Harvard professors (Acemoglu and Robinson) did an analysis of two cities and wrote:
“In Nogales, a city cut in half by the Mexican-American border fence. There is no difference in geography between the two halves of Nogales. The weather is the same. The winds are the same, as are the soils. The types of diseases prevalent in the area given its geography and climate are the same, as is the ethnic, cultural, and linguistic background of the residents. By logic, both sides of the city should be identical economically.

And yet they are far from the same.

On one side of the border fence, in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, the median household income is $30,000. A few feet away, it's $10,000. On one side, most of the teenagers are in public high school, and the majority of the adults are high school graduates. On the other side, few of the residents have gone to high school, let alone college. Those in Arizona enjoy relatively good health and Medicare for those over sixty-five, not to mention an efficient road network, electricity, telephone service, and a dependable sewage and public-health system. None of those things are a given across the border. There, the roads are bad, the infant-mortality rate high, electricity and phone service expensive and spotty.”

The key difference is that those on the north side of the border enjoy law and order and dependable government services — they can go about their daily activities and jobs without fear for their life or safety or property rights. On the other side, the inhabitants have institutions that perpetuate crime, graft, and insecurity.”

Jamaica has fourth-highest poverty rate at 43.1 per cent compared with our 23 regional neighbours and according to the IMF over one million Jamaicans live on less than US$2.50 per day. Is it possible for our politicians to accept the fact that what we have been doing is not working and our government and bureaucracy is causing poverty? Can we join together and establish a national mandate to reverse it?