Julian ‘Jingles’ Reynolds | Where goeth Jamaica? – Part 1
IT’S GREAT seeing my old friend and colleague, Professor Don Robotham, continuing the ‘struggle’ in his recent article in The Sunday Gleaner titled, ‘Jamaica as a developmental state’. But there’s a massive prevailing fracture to the Jamaican society – prejudice – and until this is addressed effectively to either remove or decrease it from the Jamaican psyche, Jamaica will show no gain, yes, some “growth”, but little or no “development”.
I have been aware of this from I was an infant and able to understand what my father, Edmund Reynolds, nicknamed ‘Churchill’, drilled into me regarding the 1938 struggles for the rights of cane farmers, port workers, and others of the working class and peasantry in Jamaica. The struggle, as recorded in Jamaican history, was led by Alexander Bustamante, St William Grant and Aggie Bernard. It was witnessed and experienced by my father, then a 23-year-old port worker in Kingston.
The Jamaican prejudice is so distinct and imbedded that St William Grant had to reach out to ‘Busta’. It was because of the near whiteness of Bustamante’s skin colour, perceived by the other leaders of standing that he had a better chance of getting an audience with the ruling administrative class, and gaining some changes to their predicament from the ruling authority of white men.
GOVERNANCE BY CLIQUES
The prejudice has mushroomed from colour and wealth to include other factors – education, marriage, where you live, church you attend, and sexual preferences. It has become governance by cliques. I have written several articles over 56 years on social, economic, cultural, and political issues that have confronted Jamaica and stymied its development, the majority of which appeared in The Sunday Gleaner. In one piece titled ‘Kingston’s value as a cultural tourism destination, and its relevancy to the development of Jamaica’, first presented to the Downtown Kingston Rotary Club on March 15, 2016, I wrote the following; “National growth and development will succeed only with a non-partisan approach by engaging the entire nation to unite in the quest for success. It involves much more than indices, and political posturing, but economic, social and psychological principles to adhere to.”
I have always stressed development over growth. They are not the same, as many politicians and economists will mislead you into believing. Growth is a quantitative measurement that focuses on the macroeconomic changes in a country: optimisation of existing resources, an increase in real output, GDP, incremental changes in a country’s economy.
Development, however, focuses on qualitative and quantitative changes: the optimisation of resources with emphasis on untapped resources, standard of living, human capital, infrastructure, transportation, education, health, and security. In a few developing countries there will be some economic growth, but no development that impacts the lives of the vast majority of the citizenry.
This is so in countries such as Ethiopia, Rwanda, Nigeria and Zambia. The eminent Indian economist and philosopher, Amartya Sen, states, “Economic growth is one aspect of the process of economic development.”
In articles such as, ‘Will Jamaica ever learn’ published on Sunday, March 6, 2011, I wrote: “I will not here reiterate my proposed ‘Develop Jamaica Initiative’, but, suffice it to say, to move Jamaica away from its people sinking deeper into poverty and exposing more of the gross inequities in the society. A development czar must be introduced to the economic landscape to marshal the mobilisation of the Jamaican workforce and take charge of making the number-one priority for the country, increased production and productivity – someone with the zeal, the commitment, the passion, the high energy, the creativity and command for respect that Robert Lightbourne brought to Jamaica’s industrial development, Carlton Alexander and Mable Tenn to GraceKennedy, Gloria Knight to the Urban Development Corporation, Ray Hadeed to manufacturing, Tony Hylton to the shipping industry, Herbert McDonald and Herb McKenley to athletics, Theodore Sealy to journalism, Mike Fennell to sports, and Danny Williams to the insurance industry and philanthropy.”
FIT TO RESPOND
In ‘Growth – more action, less talk’ published in The Sunday Gleaner on August 3, 2014, I wrote, “I have responded to proposals from the European Union, writing business proposals to the National Investment Bank of Jamaica, Development Bank of Jamaica, and Ex-Im Bank putting forward projects to transform Spring Garden, a unique and historical area, into an agro-industrial park, producing nutraceuticals, and as an agro-tourism attraction. Never able to convince them to make low-interest financing and grants available to accomplish any of these. In several articles between 1989 and 2012 appearing in The Gleaner , I called attention to the millions of dollars Jamaica loses from not having its mangoes entering the US market, presumably because the country has not effected ‘the hot-water treatment’ to eradicate the dreaded Mediterranean fruit fly disease to gain US entry. Only once, when the issue was first raised 25 years ago, has any government official saw it fit to respond.”
My interest stems from investments in Anything From Jamaica Ltd, a Portland-based company I headed involved in bottled spring water, Mekyah, and exporting nutraceuticals, and processed foods to the US. A former business partner and boyhood friend remains active in the industry and informed me that much promising things occurred in 2021-2022, but 2022-2023 was a disaster for the promising mango business.
In ‘Which would best serve Jamaica’s growth and development’, appearing on Wednesday, June 1, 2016 in The Gleaner I re-presented my Develop Jamaica Initiative, a nine-point programme I am confident would transform Jamaica, placing it on a development path removed from excessive crime and violence, excessive suffering that is more and more heading likely into a violent confrontation as is depicted in my novel A Reason For Living, 80 per cent of which was written over 50 years ago.
Part 2 of this article will be published on Thursday, June 15.
Julian ‘Jingles’ Reynolds is a novelist, documentary filmmaker, journalist and social entrepreneur. He is president of Fiwi Productions, New York, and chairman and CEO of Sounds & Pressure Foundation, Jamaica. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org