2010 Articles

Mutty and John: a Conflict of Visions

(This is an excerpt from the book Jamaica Fi Real: Beauty, Vibes and Culture).

The best proof that all points of view are given free rein in Jamaica are the contrasting outlooks of two doyens of local journalism, Wilmot 'Mutty' Perkins and John Maxwell. While Maxwell remains a more or less unreformed leftist, Perkins has become somewhat of a right-wing anarchist. Ask the two former friends anything, and you are likely to get completely contradictory answers.

Broken Promises, Purposeless Opposing

Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller is clever enough not to make specific promises.

Generational Politics

One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.

Norman and Busta; Edna and Gladys

This is an extract from 'Jamaica Fi Real: Beauty, Vibes and Culture' by Kevin O'Brien Chang. Published by Ian Randle Publishers, available at the end of this month.


Though they had a common grandmother, Alexander Bustamante and Norman Manley were very different. Bustamante was a rough and ready man of the people with little formal education, and made no major mark on the world until he had passed 50. For Manley, achievement of excellence was the norm. He was an outstanding high-school athlete, Rhodes scholar, decorated First World War-military hero, prize man of Gray's Inn, acknowledged as the Caribbean's finest legal mind and the first Jamaican to appear before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Can the JLP Learn from History?

In september 2007, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) triumphed in a contested general-election victory for the first time since 1980, and tasted real political power for the first time since 1989. You would think that droughts of such durations would make Labourites wary of falling into the same traps that kept them so long in the wilderness. But recent events make you wonder.

PNP Unity, JLP Rift and a Generational Divide

To those who believe that a strong democracy requires a strong opposition, last Sunday's vibrant People's National Party (PNP) conference was a very edifying sight. There was a large and enthusiastic crowd, it was incident free, and Portia Simpson Miller gave perhaps her best-ever public performance.

A Battle for the Soul of the JLP?

An old British political joke goes like this: An old hand invites a newly elected member of parliament to sit with him in the front bench for the opening of Parliament. As the opposing party files in, the newcomer mutters, "Here comes the enemy!" The veteran sharply upbraids him. "Not so, young man! That is Her Majesty's loyal opposition!" And with a quick glance over his shoulder, he remarks "The enemy is behind you."

Miss Lou: Mother of Jamaican Culture

Louise 'Miss Lou' Bennett is undisputedly the most universally loved personality this nation has ever produced or likely will ever produce, engendering unabashed feelings of pride and affection in Jamaicans of all ages, colours, classes and creeds. For more than 50 years, she tirelessly championed Jamaican folk customs on stage, radio and television. Yet apart from being our most celebrated entertainer, Miss Lou is also the most popular poet in this island's history, outselling all others put together. Her impact on the national psyche was perhaps even more important than her artistic legacy, for she almost single-handedly gave Jamaicans pride in their cultural heritage.

A Cultural Transformation?

We may not be as prosperous or educated or as peaceful as we would like to be, but the recent 'Emancipendence' celebrations once again made all who watched proud to be Jamaican. Many hopes and wishes rose with the black, green and gold flag on August 6, 1962, but who could have dreamed then that this tiny, newborn island would, in 2010, be a world cultural power?

Betrayed - Politicians Fail People Again

Those who say the recently ended state of emergency (SOE) served no real purpose must place little value on human life. From January 1 to May 31, Jamaica experienced 737 murders, or 4.8 per day. Between June 1 and July 19 there were 137 murders, or 2.8 per day. That is an over 40 per cent drop. Had the January to May rate continued, June and July would have seen 238 murders. This means probably 101 Jamaican lives were saved over 49 days.