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Views of a Non-Tribal Jamaican

A few months ago, a gentleman we shall call Lancelot Murray (not his real name) telephoned me. He said he heard me on TV and looked up my number in the phone book. He described himself as someone who loved politics and followed it closely. We had a long talk, and then I said, "Your views are very interesting. Why don't you write down all you are telling me and have me run it as a column?" He agreed. Things take time, and this week he sent it to me. So me get it, so me give it.

A Democratic Tipping Point

West Indies cricket once conjured up memories of halcyon glory. Nowadays, it usually means shameful humiliation. But, what one win can do. The Windies' victory over Australia on Wednesday put a smile on everyone's face and once again sportscasters waxed deliriously about the 'glorious uncertainty of cricket'.

Fairy Godmothers, Sheep and Goats

It's human nature to seek truth, or at least plausibility. So when we hear about fairy godmother multi-nationals flying from abroad unasked to donate US $585,000 with no strings attached, the natural response is 'bull shoots'. Trafigura won't be history until Jamaicans hear a convincing explanation from the Prime Minister. Nowadays not even eight year olds believe in fairy tales. And governments that take voters for fools get laughed at on election day.'

Broken Promises, Purposeless Opposing

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

Mout' Mek Fi Talk!

Question: Will Jamaica ever experience a people-power revolution à la Tunisia and Egypt? Answer: Yes, when hell freezes over. Since the first in 1944, Jamaica has held 13 universal adult suffrage general elections. Six of these were won by the party in power, six by the opposition, and in 1949, the incumbent party won the most seats but lost the popular vote. There have been no assassinations, coups, or revolutions. Not once has the legitimacy of an elected government ever been challenged. Post-World War II, no country on the planet can boast a better democratic scorecard.

How Stable is Jamaica?

Since becoming independent in 1962, Jamaica has remained uprising free, suffered no major political assassination, adhered to the rule of law, maintained a free press, and held regular multi-party elections in which the incumbent party has been voted out more than once. This might seem a rather common-place achievement. But over the past 46 years, few of the over 150 nations with more than a million people can make such a collective claim. In fact you can count them on fingers and toes: Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Finland, Norway, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Jamaica.

Obsessing About Sex, Ignoring Murder

Slackness has always been present in Jamaican music. Mento, for instance, was as sexually obsessed as you can get. Obeah was not the main theme of 'Healing in the balmyard'! And while Rampin' Shop may be more to the point, its focus is no different from tourist staples like "All day all night Mary Ann, down by the seaside shifting sand", and "The big bamboo stands up straight and tall, and the big bamboo pleases one and all".

Audley and Omar: Good Sense Prevails, but ...

Jamaica has its problems, but for the most part our political system works pretty well. The Budget Debate so far has been a case in point. Finance Minister Audley Shaw's almost-excellent presentation was countered by Opposition spokesman Dr Omar Davies almost-excellent critique.

Are Garrisons a Form of Social Control?

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines garrison as 'a body of troops stationed in a fortified place'. However, Jamaican garrisons like Tivoli and Jungle are inhabited not only by 'armed fighters', but also by ordinary citizens trying to live normal lives. Trying is the operative word. For collectively, our garrisons have a higher violent death rate than most places officially at war.

Guided Democracy or Palace Coup?

"Ladies and gentlemen! It's the big rematch all Jamaica has been waiting for since March 2006 - the battle for the undisputed leadership of the People's National Party, Round Two! In the St Andrew South West corner wearing yellow, is the defending champion, Portia 'Grass-roots Girl' Simpson Miller! In the St Andrew East Central corner wearing traditional orange, is the number one ranked contender, Peter 'Dr Drumblair Establishment' Phillips! Let's get ready to rrruuummmbbbllleee!"