Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Ghosts of 'New PNP' Are Haunting Us

“Ghosts don't haunt us. That's not how it works. They're present among us because we won't let go of them."
"I don't believe in ghosts," I said, faintly.
"Some people can't see the color red. That doesn't mean it isn't there," she replied.
~Sue Grafton, M is for Malice
Twenty-something years ago, in the mid 90s the so-called New PNP emerged. PJ Patterson’s PNP a machinery efficient at the grassroots level but bereft of socialist ideology and teeming with neo-liberal ideas and globalization as there buzzword. Economic divestment abounded, and as such government sold Air Jamaica and JPS to suit the New World Order. Today, his political heirs are hesitant and ambivalent to consider or re-inject socialism into Party from living up to its history. At stake is opportunity to capture the Zeitgeist and the possibility that the PNP will lose more elections and be out of step with international academic thought, which has seen a resurgent socialism globally.

A fundamental battle for democracy is in progress—a conflict over whether to reduce the power of delegates which outweighs and is out of step with the will of the electorate. That struggle is set to reach a threshold soon as delegates push into power their friend who benefits them… delegates fight for spoils and scarce benefits, despite the hopes of party supporters and the electorate. Hence we have an upper echelon in the PNP listening to delegates who to a great extent do not represent or understand the plight of the electorate… and while it is delegates who give MPs and Councillors strength and position… it is the electorate who actually gives them power. So while the party listens to sycophants and minions, it risks the real prospect of alienating true party supporters and the electorate.

To understand the PNP Party’s current internal battle lines and what’s at stake, it’s important to know how we got here.

After a few years of awful Labour government, where Edward Seaga's policies left us in the maw of the United States and the IMF. Then P.J. Patterson emerged and proved to be just the type of rhetoric for the average citizen, “black man time now!” and in terms of action proved to be the politician neoliberalists loved. Patterson settled into office in the early 90s as the leader of path breaking New PNP. This wasn't you grandma's socialist PNP it was populist in every way. Many media outlets hailed him as a visionary statesman who had overcome left-leaning socialist Manley left in his wake and set the party straight.

Those days Patterson seemed a youthful and articulate, breath of fresh air and boost of collective confidence after a long colonial experience and the repugnant politics of calling a people “black scandal bag” as Mr Seaga had seem to have done. Yet for all his rhetoric Mr. Patterson was down with corporate power—not as far down as today's Government, but nevertheless in the thrall of big business and the big banks.

Patterson's neo-liberal policies went over big with moneyed interests, its policy pursuits would end up driving a wedge between the PNP Party and the working class. Of course the guys driving Patterson's economic train loved the North American Free Trade Agreement. Why wouldn’t they? Workers were costs, not people. Corporate trade deals were profit boosters. Downsides and job cuts rocked Jamaica while local production and manufacturing tool a hit.

Weeks after joining NAFTA Jamaica's milk began to spoil. Go watch “Life and Debt”.

This is the point at which the electorate truly would diverge from the PNP, though Mr. Patterson would woo the public every few years at election time, he had to continuously court a people who new he had switched. The PNP no longer cared for the proletariat nor new what the word meant.

The PNP newcomers ushered in by Mr. Patterson “are don’t-rock-the-boat” types, and they are exactly what private sector and transnational business types. A far cry from yesterday's PNP socialism. Now socialism is experiencing a tremendous resurgence in the 21st century due to the growing economic disparity, anger at the establishment and charismatic older socialist politicians like Bernie Sanders in the U.S. and Jeremy Corbyn in the U.K. who gathered massive support from the young. A new wave of socialist thinkers is also beginning to emerge that looks to distance the movement from the historical stigma to formulate a new socialism that speaks to the challenges of today.

The Ghosts of the new PNP and how they behaved in office—and the electoral disasters that ensued are grimly acute. Until the wave of socialism is endorsed in some way by the PNP they will not excite the imagination of the youth and the electorate. However I suspect that this PNP more concern with playing PR and social media catch up with the JLP whilst maintaining an image of success and air of professionalism.

Now, the New PNP and those walking in their footsteps are battling to retain control of the party and the government. The agenda of the new PNP best serves in the long run to choke off democracy as much as possible, lest the riffraff get away with undermining the ruling elites. Let’s face it: Democracy is dangerous to the powerful who rely on big money, institutional leverage and mass media to work their will. The insurgencies of this decade against economic injustice—embodied in international movements like the Occupy movement and then Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign—are potentially dire threats to the established unjust social and economic order.

For those determined to retain their positions in the upper reaches of the PNP Party hierarchy, democracy within the party sounds truly scary. And inauthenticity of the party—and its corresponding heavy losses of seats from Parliament to the councils—don’t seem nearly as worrisome to the PNP party elites as the prospect that upsurges of grass-roots activities might remove them from their privileged quarters.


About the author: Yannick Nesta Pessoa B.A. is Jamaica’s first blogger, a Community Activist and Law Student at Utech Western Jamaica. Follow Yannick on Twitter at @yahnyk | yannickpessoa@yahoo.com



Thursday, July 26, 2018

Who I Am!

“De pain and the fight, the hate and the lies… Pain and heartbreak, supm inna it weh mi love, all a mi life experiences build me up as thug.”
Alkaline (Juggernaut)

When the valley couldn't hold me, they throw me in the river, Thinking I would drown, but man, ah, good swimmer, whoa, When the river didn't drown me, they throw me in the fire, But the fire just cool, I could never burn, oh

Major Lazer (Believer)

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17 (Bible)

My journey to me starts in 1919… why because it is where my mind has a definitive anchor in history. That is the day Dorothy M. Thompson was born, my mother’s mother, I would spend 33 years of my life imbibing her life and that of her children and grandchildren. When I say imbibe her life experiences, imagine what it was like for me as a child in a pitch black room at nights with your granny’s voice recanting her life experiences, in the pitch black when you can’t see your own hand so you feel disconnected from your body. The black room become your own mindscape and that voice and those experiences become stitched in and meld with your own, when it is as though that voice inhabits your psyche now till this present moment… then my life can seem at times to start 1919… in the midst of history and milestones.

Understand I was with Dorothy in Rock River Clarendon, when she went to vestry, when John took her to the UNIA, when she ate Milly mango in Diamond, when she met her husband Allan Thompson, when they came to Montego Bay, from Gravel Lane to Tate Street… when she met Howard Cooke, when she became the PNP matriarch, when she worked at WoolWorth, till she got her tuck shop up at Cornwall Regional Hospital, when she became the pillar of the community in Paradise Acres. Through all her pains and heartbreak, joys and suffering… what I didn’t glean in the dark room I would live to see in action myself.

I am my parents… I am my father, when you see me being an entrepreneur… no matter how I may fail or flounder, it is an instinct that comes from having imbibed his life and am still imbibing it. Everytime, I draw I am my father, for the gift came from him, and everytime my daughter or her classmates, or children in the community look at things I draw or paint, when they look at me as some hero, it's because my father drew me out of a thousand school projects and was my hero. And even though I haven’t become a millionaire just yet, every dollar earned from that talent, is what he gave me in a manner of speaking. Plus so much more. For I was with him when he grew up in Four Paths in Clarendon, catching water in the early mornings before dawn, with his brother. I was with him going to Glenmuir, I was with him when he came to Montego Bay, when he met my mother, when he wooed her, when he married her, when he sold insurance, when he became an entrepreneur, when he made his life and forged his own path.

I am my mother… who I inherited social activism from. I am her quiet nature, I am her silent strength… the fortitude it takes to go through long suffering and go the distance. Yannick is a hebrew name that means, the grace of God, and if there is any grace in me I am sure it came through her. She taught me children and family over career… not through speech but her choices and actions, and I have seen much value in it. When I write poetry it is the amalgamation of my parents… their love affair with the English language, her social sensitivities and keen sense of emotional observation, his concubines… a green websters dictionary with a tree on it, Reader’s Digest, Time Magazine and National Geographic.

I am my community which manage to teach me in the 80’s that it takes a village to raise a child. For it was as simple as this, “all wah mi do and don’t do, dem tell mi granny.” So now I will forever fight to return the community to that type of communal love. For I am also the community’s victims of that lost love… I am Gully, I am Delano, I am Little Dread, I am Goosey, I am Sticky Bean, I am Baboo, I am Warface, I am Marley, I am Andrew Bailey, I am Joab, I am Zuggy, I am Jooky, I am Stumpy, I am Sweaty, I am Stubba, I am Goodfy Jeffrey, I am Umpa, I am Jigs, I am Wiz/Alkaline, I am Delly, I am Kerris, I am Shorty, I am Hulk, I am Jevaughn James, I am Danny, I am Warrick, I am so many more fallen soldiers. I am the best of my community, I am E. T. Webster, I am Tappa, I am Jimmy Cliff, I am Cecil Donaldson, I am the Youth, I am the Senior Citizen, I am the community heroes like Venise and Tash… I am I-crus, I am the elder, the mechanic, the shoe repair man, the upholster, the shopkeeper, the selector, the Juta Driver, the artisan, the labourer, the mason, the carpenter.

I am my teachers, I am Mr. Mcpherson, I am Co-Hall, I am Ms. Gordon, I am Ms. Nelson, I am Mr. Barnes at Cornwall, I am Mr. Miller, Rev. Myers, Mr. Maddans, Mr. Haughton, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Clarke, Ms Daze/Wilson and Reverton Bailey. I am Aggrey Brown, I am Roxanne Burton, I am Earl McKenzie, I am Tunde Bewaji, I am Dr. Bamikole, I am Jalaani Niaah...



I am more than a slim natty in a 5’11 frame. I am Pan Africanism, I am Rastafari, I am Socialism, I am African Spirituality, I am Afrofuturism, I am tomorrow, I am that which makes you uncomfortable, I am science, I am arts, I am metaphysics, I am human, I am supernatural, I am God, I am man, I am community, I am football, I am basketball, I am cricket, I am mistakes, I am failures, I am success, I am unstoppable, I am unbreakable, I am indomitable and my name is Yannick Nesta Pessoa.

I Am a Believer

“Don't underestimate the power of your vision to change the world. Whether that world is your office, your community, an industry or a global movement, you need to have a core belief that what you contribute can fundamentally change the paradigm or way of thinking about problems.”
~Leroy Hood

“Be brave to stand for what you believe in even if you stand alone.”

~Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

As a child I thought belief was the stuff of fools. Science and knowing was the way of reality. Soon as a youth infused with science and pan africanism at an early age, I divorced God at age 10. I remember it like yesterday, I was in Sunday school at Hillview Baptist Church, when my Sunday school teacher says while discussing Revelation that “God will give Jews a second chance on Judgement day and Gentiles will be judged immediately!” This godly bias didn’t sit well with me, for if God prefered a people that was not my own, as a young pan Africanist then this could not be my god. Worse he could not stand up to the rigor of scientific reasoning, and he didn’t stand up for my people then, I couldn’t stand up for him. I had lost spiritual conviction.

It changed me somewhat. I was still a person who believed in good, and treating people how you wanted to be treated. However the world was a dark place, the prospects of an afterlife removed, I had no psychological cushions, I was left to drift in space and to face cold hard material realities. As a result I became more stoic and less emotional. I was bracing for death and all the adversity life had to offer. I floated and wafted in this oblivion, obsidian like outerspace place with no anchor to life beyond science and pan Africanism with threads of socialism grasping me. I was intellectually lonely most of high school, for this wasn’t a topic friends wanted to broach, God was definite for them.Who didn’t recoil at the mention of the possibility of no God and run in fear of me, simply looked at me like “why do you think about these grown up topics, don’t you want to live and be young?”

This atheistic thinking putting in more problems than I knew. My mother was most distressed. I didn’t even try to mention it to my grandmother. My father who planted some of the seeds for me to be on this path, as the more scientific of my parents. Sunday evening in a debate with my atheist Uncle Tommy and devoutly religious Uncle Monty, they asked my father to weigh in and his response was “God can be very well Jewish mythology like Zeus dem a Roman mythology!” The women round the house were in an uproar. So imagine one day my father and I end up reasoning and he comments on how great God is and the care or skill it took to create the gait of man, as scientists have such a hard time mastering it in robots. I responded by saying “well if I had all eternity at my disposal to do it as God did, I would get it right too, I am not impressed by such a feat.” Woaheee who tell mi fi seh so… the don was most appalled and livid. So as it went even who I had thought would get it, was not out there with me on this one…

The first dent in the armor science had built around me to religion came with a guidance counselor at Cornwall College who interrogated my atheism, but seeing that I had really given the bible a real read and shake, he pointed me to the esoteric aspects of the bible and pointed me to the Maccabees, and the book of Enoch. It never budged me in my stance one bit. However I did realize my investigation and interrogation of religion was not thorough nor complete. My battles with science and belief would tussle and tumble into the year 2000 or Y2K as some of you may remember. It carried on with me at the UWI, Mona… where atheism would put me into a major debate with a young lady named Kadene under the then Arts(Humanities) tree. Where she would brand me a devil worshiper and the crowd would dub her Ms. Kitty. So even at the institute of the most free thought my thoughts are under siege. But I would meet a subject call philosophy, the mother of all subjects and the love of wisdom. It would carry me to topics that would rip through science which had become my religion so to speak. These courses were logic, epistemology, etymology, philosophy of science and most crucially metaphysics.

Metaphysics showed me that I had been living under the science delusion. It is the belief that science already understands the nature of reality in principle, leaving only the details to be filled in. This is a very widespread belief in society. It’s the kind of belief system of people who say “I don’t believe in God, I believe in science.” Science is a method of investigation and not a world view. But because of inherently human biases today we refuse to use science to investigate thing which we think we already understand. Yet the world is filled with a magic and wonders science has yet to explain or investigate to truly answer.



Where is the mind, is it in the brain, is it the same as the soul? How does science explain will power, which is proven to exist? Telepathy, telekinesis? The floodgate of unanswered questions, the quest, the journey, beliefs and a need to know pulled me from outer space and rooted me to today, to yesterday, to tomorrow. Why? Maybe because Y has a long tail, maybe because why is a long tale, maybe Y is the first letter of my name. I all I know is that has injected me with belief, when what I sought was knowledge and to know. So now I know that belief brings purpose. I believe in His Imperial Majesty, I believe in Montego Bay, I believe in Jamaica, I believe in my community, I believe in the youth, I believe in people, I believe in tomorrow, I believe we are the substance of God, I believe in love, I believe in life, I believe there is more to know, I believe we can be better, I believe Montego Bay can lead Jamaica to tomorrow, I believe in my daughter, I believe in my mother and father, I believe in my brothers and my sisters, I believe in my wife, I believe in hope, I believe in hope against hope, I believe in RCGBS, I believe we as a people can lead the planet and show them a better way to live, I believe we are greater than we know, I believe in family, I believe in friends, I believe in Rastafari, I believe in Africa, I believe in magic, I believe in Marcus Garvey, I believe in Sam Sharpe, I believe in everyday heroes, I believe in you, I believe in belief, I believe in ME.

About the author: Yannick Nesta Pessoa B.A. is Jamaica’s first blogger, a Community Activist Entrepreneur and Law Student. Follow Yannick on Twitter at @yahnyk | yannickpessoa@yahoo.com

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A Jamaican Introverts Lessons on Stoicism



"it has always been easy to get to my heart. there is no other way of stating it. the best poets are lovers, are receptacles for pain, joy, injustice and the innocent smiles of children... we read potential in the countless faces of evil, we carry many, many wounds... to always be this way, to care too much can damage one's spirit yet... "
~ Haki R. Madhubuti, A Poet's Call

Do you know what the secret of every stoic is? Do you know root of why a person would want to remain as a statue or mannequin in anger and in happiness? Stoic people are introverts... well kind of. Stoics are cold mechanical robots or unfeeling egotist trapped in vain self adoration... no, nope, naah! I tell you the secret. They are ultra sensitive empaths, subject to all of the feelings and energies around them. As a consequence of not wanting to become overwhelmed with emotion and the vulnerability that comes with displaying emotion and letting people know too much about your feelings, psychological weaknesses and triggers. Yes the stoic is sensitive to emotion and his or her environment and very aware of the risks and opportunities for exploitation that portraying emotions and being betrayed by emotions can bring.

As a child... I had always admired Data and Mr. Spock for their stoicism but never knew what the word was to describe the trait, it wasn't I was reading a Captain America comic and as the Red Skull continuously confounding him but he remained un-irritated by his assault and onslaught and pressed on relentlessly in pursuit of the Red Skull. The Red Skull then asked how did he remain so stoic... he then went on to tell him his presence was ubiquitous. Both words were too much for a Grade 6 student at Mt. Alvernia prep, I consulted my Mother who then sent me to consult the dictionary. My mind was then forever emblazoned with the meaning of stoic and stoicism as a philosophy. I also learned Ubiquitous but we are talking about stoicism.

A stoic in philosophy is a proponent of a school of thought, from in 300 up to about the time of Marcus Aurelius, who holds that by cultivating an understanding of the logos, or natural law, one can be free of suffering. In ordinary terms it means a person indifferent to pleasure or pain... I wouldn't meet Marcus Aurelius until I was doing a philosophy degree and coincidentally met Xeno and Socrates... both said to be stoics. Before that Socrates has just been a learning game I played and a Brazilian footballer I admired in the 80s but I digress...

I adopted the concept of stoicism upon meeting it, but not known its name when I grafted it from Data and Mr. Spock. But as a student of stoicism I know why I thought I needed to adopt it... it was as a response to relentless teasing and assault on my psyche, by an aunt who told me I was ugly when I ate, who told me I was an underachiever, I would walk and sell newspaper on the roadside, who said I dig my nose constantly and I was ugly when I did it, an aunt who blamed me for even her own child's errors sometimes. I realized quickly in some way that she seemed to enjoy my sadness or unhappiness and when she reprimanded me it seemed to embolden her when I wilted. Stoicism the approach that Data and Spock seemed the only answer. To remained stone faced and unflinching in spite of emotions.It then seemed the only response to my problems with my father. For when it seemed to me like my ideas, my expression of honest thoughts, and expression of self was something that seemed to anger him, irritate him and annoy him. And so in the interest of avoiding conflict, to avoid confrontational situations I defaulted to stoicism around him, I feared my least opinion would offend him, I wouldn't say much or do much, simply to be compliant. I know now that maybe, that tactic may have done some harm, as my stoicism was interpreted as being, nonchalant, antipathy, apathy, egotism and maybe an attempt to put a rift between us, when my only intent was to avoid disagreement. I haven't figured out perfectly the nuisances of navigating that relationship and ones like it. For the women in my life with the exception of my daughter I think stoicism has probably subtracted some of the warmth that may have been injected into our relationship. For my wife stoicism and years of practicing it means I never let myself be fully lost in the feeling of being in love or high on love, for to love too much is to invite the greatest potential for pain... it means to be forever grounded in reality and never wholly lost in the clouds or the moment, to anticipate disaster even when it may never come.

For my mother it will mean in response to not wanting to pine for her as child as it was hard to have her at my disposal. She was the emotional reservoir for everyone in the family, it seemed she was either being my grandmothers pillar of strength, my aunts assistant, the family accountant, the shoulder to cry on for every child in the family and all my cousins. It led to me not wanting to lean on her and so never really employing her as my secret bearer or pillow. It meant that having to see her surround in bed by everyone and no room for me... meant practicing to not need that comfort of mother. For her it meant interpreting it as a he is strong enough to do without that much attention as everyone else. It meant maybe I wouldn't be as huggy and kissy as she would like... it meant that my emotions for her would be penned up in some cranial chamber and whenever they ran free they would appear as letters on her desk.

As much as I had watched Star Trek, I realized I had been seeing the stoicism, but as I had needed it as an tool to filter my constant emotional sensitivity and an empathy that would allow me to feel for everyone. A weakness that could be exploited. However after years of re-watching Star Trek I realized Data was made emotionless and was on an eternal quest to become emotional and understand emotions, which filled him with a child like wander and awe at humanity. Mr. Spock was half human and half Vulcan which was a logical race averse to emotions yet they had the mind meld which was meant as a mechanism to facilitate greater and deeper communication with each other. Also in one of the major Star Trek movies Spock gave his life to save his ship in some radiation chamber etc... but his justification for the act was the utilitarian concept "the good of the many out weighs the good of the few" and went on to commit what he logically saw as necessary, yet to me it was a selfless act no matter how masked as logic it was, it had been driven by the emotion of love or and care.

This concept took me into something I read by another philosopher and Poet... I will close with Khalil Gibran who posited... "But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully."

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

FREE PALESTINE

The history of Jamaica is littered with the legends of a pioneering people, hence it ought to be no surprise Jamaica has had a groundbreaking part in the fight to dismantle the evil regime of apartheid. Yep, this little island was the first country in the western hemisphere and second in the world to India which officially banned trade and travel with the fascist apartheid Government which practiced a brutal form of racism in South Africa. Former Premier Norman Manley officially banned trade and travel with South Africa in 1956 when Jamaica was still a colony of Britain. Our involvement began in 1901 when Pan-African committees were set up in various parishes by Robert Lowe and began to hit out against the trials of the South African people and educated Jamaicans about the Boer war. Our leadership was of such a bold and daring caliber at one time we drew the ire of then American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for our refusal to condemn Angola's independence which was won in January 1975 when the Portuguese Government, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, and the National Liberation Front of Angola signed the Alvor Agreement. So then when I see a similar crisis not the same crisis but similar one, unfolding in the Middle East, in Palestine, and I can hear not even one voice of descent in our media today, I wonder where our revolutionary vim and vigour has gone.

The Jewish and Black communities have long danced around one another, at times feeling solidarity and at others, opposition. Both groups have developed a self-understanding rooted in a history of oppression and struggle, often in solidarity with others in need. Jamaica has a history with Jews starting not more than three decades after Columbus’ arrival here. As a matter of fact Jamaica was sanctuary for Jews fleeing Spain and Portugal because of the Spanish inquisitions.Jamaican Jews include the Matalon family, Gleaner co-founders, Jacob and Joshua de Cordova. Jacob went on to found the city of Waco, Texas. Common Jewish surnames in Jamaica are: Abrahams, Alexander, Isaacs, Levy, Marish, Lindo, Sangster, Da Silva, De souza, DeCohen, De Leon, Barrett, Babb, Magnus, Marley, Messado, Pessoa, DeLisser, Codner, Decosta, Henriques, Tavares and Rodriques.

A recent study has now estimated that nearly 424,000 Jamaicans are descendants of Jewish (Sephardic) immigrants to Jamaica from Portugal and Spain from 1494 to the present, either by birth or ancestry. Then there are theorists who contend that West Africans are a tribe of Israel that fled west and if Jamaica’s African population came from West Africa, then we have a possible double connection. Consider now that Haile Selassie is said to be the 225th descendant of King David, and Ethiopia is home to Jews sometimes called Falashas… it seems we are more bound to the Jewish story than we knew. Now imagine the other day when I went to the Kosher Restaurant on Gloucester Avenue, there was a picture of Andrew Holness praying at the Wailing wall in a Jewish cap.

Now with all that has been said above, throw this next but of info into the mix. The origins to the conflict can be traced back to Jewish immigration, and sectarian conflict in Mandatory Palestine between Jews and Arabs. It has been referred to as the world's "most intractable conflict", with the ongoing Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip reaching 51 years.No wonder there are as many positions on Israel within the Jewish community as there are Jews, including many who adamantly oppose the country’s treatment of Palestinians or its erection of the security barrier. On Tuesday 6 June 2017 edition of the Independent a UK publication, in an article title “The Israeli Occupation is a Jewish tragedy – it's our responsibility to make sure it comes to an end” a Jewish writer penned the following: “The Occupation is systematic. It necessitates daily indignity and violence towards Palestinians in order to maintain a status quo that prioritises Israeli sovereignty. It’s numbingly bureaucratic, overwhelmed by permits, checkpoints and court orders. It’s a 99.75 percent conviction rate of Palestinians who are tried in the military courts. It’s Israeli teenagers in uniforms with rifles, roughing up elderly men who just want to live on their land. This is not the Israel I learnt about as a child; these are not supposed to be the actions of ‘the most moral army in the world.’ But it is the reality.”

Sometimes it seems in the mass media that to critique Israel or to disagrees with Israel is to court allegations of anti-Semitism. To be clear, this is not about hating Israelis, or hating Palestinians. It isn’t down to individuals, though often this conflict feels deeply personal to some of us as most of Jamaica’s major religions are Abrahamic in origin. But at the end of the day, this is about systems. Systems that create a dual state of the powerful and the powerless. Again, it is a structural problem. So know that you and I are part of that broken system when we fail at moral courage, when we just shut up and keep our head down; especially when we do not speak truth to power, and worse we don’t get power to acknowledge the truth.

I was surprised by the amount of Jamaicans who thought Israel was in heaven or thought so when they were small. Israel was always a place on Earth in my understanding at all times. Maybe that is why Israel seems so surreal or ethereal in the Jamaican psyche. When I was born 1981, I came into a world where it seemed war was eternal. Jamaica was n political and tribal wars. JBC used to have a news intro that would whisper names like Yitzhak Rabin, Saddam Hussein, other names that quickly occupied my world were, Qaddafi, Anwar Sadat, Idi Amin, Yasser Arafat, Ariel Sharon, Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin and others. So for the better part of 4 decades, I have been watching wars and hearing rumors of wars. I say this to say one simple truth thing. The conflicts in the middle east have run long passed  a reasonable length of time. It is time to simply FREE PALESTINE!

Guntego Bay 2017 The Economics of Violence Guns and Murder

"Yuh nuh have no weh fi run, when mi rise up mi demons and shoot dung di sun"
~Tommy Lee Sparta
Welcome to Guntego Bay; city of luxury killings... We pull up in criss cars and slippers and shorts with criss guns, nonchalant and with blatant disregard for those around, we pull up at gas stations and execute, at Moscino or at the court house, or simply leaving a funeral... we are the murderous legends. Monsters unleashed!

In a crime climate like this I wonder how is it the police or government expect to end crime in Jamaica with a NEW LAW and rushed bills and special zones. They shrink away from their political responsibility to fix the economy the heart of our social lives. It takes cash to care and the people have no mney anywhere. Haven’t felt the increasing beg-xtortion in the communities. If the political leaders don’t fix the economy there will continue to be a void or zone or habitat where there is an economic imperative that says money at all costs (get rich or die trying) and a system that fostered a thinking that worked out this logic: I can buy rifles and the biggest and hottest guns in foreign fresh and crisp in a plastic for below $500 US as the real US Market prices are actually very cheap! An AK, Glock or Berretta, can all be bought for less than $500 US, yep that cheap for that much firepower. After which I can send this gun down to Jamaica disassembled and packed in hair gel, in computers, appliances etc and when they get to Jamaica I assemble the guns and sell them for upwards of $1200 US. With super profits on death dealing and selling and warmongering, what economic imperative or logic do people and the profiteers have to stop this new deathly economics? Fear and economics rule the day and the death dealer is now the economic master.

The arithmetics of criminal commerce is a better bet than Cashpot and Just Bet… Guns for drugs and Haiti are the least! Do you really think a man in Montego Bay is going to try to peddle guns for drugs everyday down in Clarendon and Vere and Portland for rusty gun from Haiti, when his filthy scamming lucor can buy him a visa and a ticket to fly out, buy guns throuh Scamazon and E-bay, or some dispossessed and down on his luck US citizen, then finally ship the weapons to Jamaica, then keep some and sell the rest. After that it’s just $$$$$$$$$$$$$$!

What I am trying to get you to understand is that crime can't be solved by a new law or bill to fix crime and our social circumstance we must fix the economy and reinvigorate our authentic Montegonian and Jamaican culture.

Now we hear of civic pride and social fabrics... Only when the killings get absurd! We mourn the death of community groups and civic activism... Only when there is an execution in front of the court house. Now Jamaica looks at us with the 9 day memory and  microscope, will zoom and then soon forget the disasterous epidemic of crime in Montego Bay. Where was the media while Zuggy died last year rifle shots middle road in Paradise by youth carrying rifles in umbrellas... After years of the efforts people put in Youth club, Residents Association, Senior citizens association, etc. The government puts honest everyday heroes and trying citizen them have to jump thru hurdle and loops to get anything done due to bureaucratic red tape, policies unfriendly to small business, to citizens cooperatives, community cooperatives.

Look at all that... Then consider the struggles of black businesses; extortion, taxes, thieves etc.. then we wonder about crime and scamming. The weakness of the black business community and crime are directly related. In MoBay it’s about a Freezone for foreigners, a Duty Free area for Indians, Chinese businesses get tax free breaks hence the out break of supermarkets, but what of black business… No Free Business Space for the Black community with robust support and help. Vendors are criminalized, bureaucracy and red tape stifle the poor man in business. When one considers the prospect that we are bound to slim incomes in MontegoBay FreeZone, in Supermarkets, in Inbond stores and Hotels in a world of inflating billls and expense. The rumour that crime doesn’t pay seems a myth as flashy scammers or gun traders and drug dealers pass you in flashy cars and captivate the women, and throw up impressive concrete castles. What is the resut we see today… a nation in chaos and havoc. A city beseiged by crime. How do we escape the economic algebra of crime with its lucrative commercial dimensions???

About the author: Yannick Nesta Pessoa B.A. is Jamaica’s first blogger, a Community Activist and Law Student at Utech Western Jamaica. Follow Yannick on Twitter at @yahnyk | yannickpessoa@yahoo.com


Pot Holes: Filling in the Gaps



Infrastructure investments lead to jobs. And quality of life starts with a good job.
John Hickenlooper 
When I am driving my car down the street, I try not to go down the potholes.
Philip Green

The potholes in the roads are a problem, the political ones, the metaphorical ones, but I'm talking about the literal ones now… they are one of if not the biggest headache we have right now on the road. It seems like every year we complain that potholes seem worse than they have ever been. But this year, they really do seem worse than they ever have been. I haven't seen any part of the city, or peripheral town or village that is immune to pothole pox, and the rains of the last few months has really made for brutal rides on many many roads. It seems that the busier they are, the worse they are, particularly because the city has been cheap with their paving budgets. Even though Jamaicans depend on this infrastructure to go about their daily lives in safety, our mayor has been relatively quiet on the need to revitalize the city’s roads, bridges, sewers, dams, and water treatment plants.

I am not saying we need an ambitious and expensive plan to modernize their city’s infrastructure, however, a competitive city simply cannot have sewers backing-up into basements and streets flooding every time it rains. The savvy voters and taxpayers in Jamaica today are looking to get the biggest bang for their buck when it comes to the cost of government. That includes the cost of building and repairing streets. For that reason alone, our municipality should require bids for both asphalt and concrete pavements. And those bids should include a life cycle cost analysis for road construction or repair projects. Doing so helps them determine whether using asphalt or concrete materials is the more cost-effective, sustainable investment.

Alternatives 

A possible solution could be, using old vehicle tires as a long term solution for patching the number of potholes on roads across the city and possibly the country could easily be piloted in Montego Bay. The process of using rubberized asphalt to pave roads has been working well in the US and Canada. This process can fix both the stress and damages caused by the poor quality of the roads and cut down on the large quantities of old tires. Rubberized asphalt is made from asphalt concrete and mixed with crumb rubber from recycled tires. The city can look into at taking our old tires, which is another headache to us, and turn them into rubber the steel and the fluff from the tire itself it can pave the roads. The roads become softer and you wouldn’t skid or slide on the roads. Maintenance solution waste removal solution, safety solution, financial solution… all rolled into one. It can work. We can take our tires and turn them into crumb rubber and pave the roads with them. There is so much more use for old tires. It is for our municipality, our city to decide the way forward, not follow the tides of time as usual and get left behind.

Experts claim the road requires less maintenance and still allows for drainage, while tyre recyclers claim the technique will also save money because the new material is thinner than standard roads. Rubber roads were first built in the 1960s in the US, where today there are 20,000 miles of road made of recycled tyres. Rubber roads are also popular in China, Brazil, Spain and Germany.
Another solution that came to me is tied to social enterprise. Wikipedia defines social enterprise as an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in financial, social and environmental well-being—this may include maximizing social impact alongside profits for external shareholders. So what do potholes have to do with social enterprise? Well I have been thinking… why doesn’t the municipality hire the men who already go around patching the roads informally as a side hustle to officially operate as road maintenance personnel. I think it ought to be fairly easy for the municipality to employ them give them a minimum wage stipend, negotiate with the chamber of commerce or the hardware businesses directly to provide them with propatch asphalt and cement to help alleviate a road crisis, at the same time encouraging motorists to donate to the cause by tipping the road patchers. The social benefit is the road patchers receive official pay and employ, the road is not as bad for motorists and commuters, improved safety, a good public relations look for the municipality. Maybe the plan could be tweaked in some places but you get the picture we need to be more innovative about the road that lies ahead, it is filled with ruts and potholes, to fix them and navigate them require a new outlook.

Future Change 

Our city needs an intensified island-wide road works programme. You would think that with all of the technological advancements we have seen in our lifetime, someone would have figured out a better way to fix damaged roads. There is a ton of money to be made, and I'm sure the insurance companies and municipalities that pay out claims for damaged vehicles would be happy to see it. Of course, the municipal corporation could spend more money on routine maintenance and paving that would prevent a lot of these problems, but that ship has obviously sailed. I can only hope that one day someone in public office might begin to take responsibility for genuinely solving this problem, as they say nowadays “own it”. If not and we continue to dither, delay and propose inadequate measures , we will leave a bigger problem for Montego Bay’s children.

About the author: Yannick Nesta Pessoa B.A. is Jamaica’s first blogger, a Social/Community Activist and Law Student at Utech Western Jamaica. Follow on Twitter at @yahnyk. Reply to yannickpessoa@gmail.com

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Crying for the Nation

"Weeping is but a cleansing of the soul"
Rev. Donovan Myers 


"Battles of kings, and of fools, And changes in ways he once knew, As pages of days fade away, He's lost in time...Cry for the nations."
Michael Schenker Group



I have a confession to make… many times I am up writing, thinking, meditating, crafting, drawing, studying… something happens. I become overwhelmed with thoughts on the state of things as they are and tears stream down my face. My heartaches for the world and sometimes it make me bitter because I think it is the Prime Ministers, members of parliament and councillors who should be crying in the night, weighted by the ills of this world and the injustice in which they have had a hand in. Crying because of their lack of imagination. Crying for their spinelessness in the face of world leaders. Crying because they can only cry when it’s PR time or when they are forced to resign or lose an election. Do you cry? Not for your own personal suffering, but out of empathy and sympathy for your fellow human being, DO YOU?

I remember a situation a few years back, there was  a power cut in Norwood. Norwood being Norwood, I was following my mind and jamming at the shop I was at, because I wasn’t feeling the energy to navigate the dark to my yard. It so happens a little girl, no more than eight years old passes heading up Top Road, then turns back, and comes to the shop. I assume she scans the crowd there and then says to me “Sir, can you follow me up the road, I am afraid something might happen to me if I walk home alone.” Now I wonder to myself “Why me?” Anyway I take false bravado and say “Of course, sure”. Anyway we set off up the road, it turns out the child is a chatterbox, but I am paying her very little mind as “mi eye a peel out the dark” in case of any possible trouble. It then dawns on me life is wretched, what is a child doing going to shop after 8 pm and why does she need an escort and all the evils that could befall her suddenly become my greatest concern, then I became moved and honored that she would sense absolutely no danger in me as a stranger, and ask me to walk her home.

In the dark of that night walking this child and stranger, I was moved to tears. Honestly, enuh! And I am glad it was dark so the child ‘wouldn’t see seh mi so big and fool fool.” Anyway, when we reach close enough, the child stops me and says “Sir, mi go haffi ask you fi stop here, caah if mi mother see me a walk wid big man or stranger she go kill me!” So I ask her if she is certain to which she says “Yes, and if you come no further she go see you.” So I comply and bid her goodnight and she said thanks. I lingered and watched her turn a corner, wait to hear anything funny, and made my way home. However on my way home it struck me again that her mother could really possibly think something negative of me walking a child home in the dark. It stung on a personal level, but rationality lets me know on some level a parent would and should be truly worried about such a scenario. And I had to wonder was the child wise, was she silly to have risked a stranger as escort? Should she have walked alone in the dark? Should she have waited indefinitely at a shop full of unfamiliar folk?

When I think of the Trinidadian pedophile who video himself with a 5 year old and I cry. I think of all the young girls and boys in Paradise before 20, I cry. I think of the elders and innocents that died in Paradise as collateral damage in the battles of boys, I cry. When I think of my community in decay and the councillor is my cousin, I cry. When I think of Africa and a continent being exploited, I cry. When I think of India with the most poor people in the world, I cry. When I think of the U.S.A. and that on average the police there kill one black male roughly every 28 hours, I cry. When I think of the Earth that my daughter will inherit, I cry. When I think of a people slaved for 500 years without pay, I cry. When  When I think of the regime of apartheid that Israel has wrought on Palestine, I cry. When I think of how long I have despised the way Israel operates in Palestine only to learn Yannick is a Hebrew name and Pessoa is a Spanish/Portuguese Jewish name, the irony makes me cry.

I see my nation wracked with sickness from its head to its feet and in need of healing. I won’t put the headlines in front of you at this time. You read the news and already know the great social, economic, moral and spiritual issues facing Jamaica. “How will we continue to live?” Will you be overwhelmed by social change and sin and give in what the majority feel is acceptable? Or will you continue to stand firm in your convictions and try to live by a logic or your spiritual belief?

The world is changing. Jamaica is not the same nation it once was. I can only present the case to you.


About the author: Yannick Nesta Pessoa B.A. is Jamaica’s first blogger, a Social/Community Activist and Law Student at Utech Western Jamaica. Follow on Twitter at @yahnyk. Reply to yannickpessoa@gmail.com

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Struggles of Being Jamaica's First Blogger!

Preamble


Way back in 2004, not too long after hurricane Ivan, the word blog had just begun really floating around the Internet a mere four years before, not reaching buzz level till maybe 2003, I was a young Carimac student who had switched to Philosophy and about to soon finish with academia and step into the world. Look how the years roll by... back then people in Jamaica and the Caribbean were like... "What's a blog?" "What's a Blogspot?" "What does one do with a philosophy degree?" What can that do?"

The trials a young Philosopher and Jamaican blogger face are monstrous things. One has to face them with few resources, struggling with confidence and a preponderance of haters, scouring for that rare gem of genuine good commentary or criticism as we make unique contribution to the ethereal or even surreal realm of cyber space...

In the early days I didn't have my mind wrapped around a solid idea as to what blogging was and could do. It was just a way to vent, rant, store ideas for later re-use... post musings, etc... It also played a role in being an alternate platform for my readers when I was a columnist for The Western Mirror... for covering the diverse facets of the second city... my city Montego Bay... but as time ebbed on and readership, following, feedback and vibes waned... I increasingly questioned the validity of this blog, my blogs, blogs in general. Was I even the first blog... was Afflicted Yard the first blog, even though he never endorsed the word till after 2004, was his inspirational website the first blog? Nope... Worse with the limited finances related to blogs, blogging and writing... my disenchantment and quasi-depression worsened. I had tried 'ad words', 'ad-sense', and a myriad of advertising systems. MONETIZE MONETIZE MONETIZE... Up until this day I am yet to receive a Google cheque. I followed Silicone Caribe, stayed abreast of Ingrid Riley, yet nothing seemed to spark beyond maybe a rare and small newspaper feature. Wrote a few article for international papers, did some cartoons for papers, was a finalist in the Gleaner/Star cartooning competition.

The progression and regression is cataloged here in the archives. The years, the trips, the jobs, the highs, the lows. Try and bare with me as I recant for the sake of remembering, for the redolence in me these days... for the history of me, the history of Mobay, for the history of Jamaican blogging. Or simply recording the world swirling in my head.

The Early Days! 


Life back then huh... aaah I was dreaming... dreaming of my ideal life, I've never ever wanted to work in an office if it wasn't my own, the cubicled life is not for me... I like to think I am or was outside the box. I’d wanted to do all of my work from my own laboratory like office in a cozy domicile... a hobbit like future tech earth-ship. I would always think about which Montegonian or Western Jamaican, neighborhood I’d like to live in once I starved and saved enough money (note this is before the harsh realities of the 2007 economic crisis...not that I didn't see it coming) as well as got my entrepreneurial groove in full swing, I lived then as I do now in constant coveting for culture, consciousness, content, creativity and calmness.

The Days of Plain Old Blogging

I usually blogged at night... that's when the energy comes, or in twilight hours of the wee morning, then I cackled with grand ideas of Rastafari in the 21st Century, things like what it would mean to be the new Caribbean citizen, the cultural mixing pot of all the promise and stuffed that fluffed up my dreams at UWI, reconciling Noam Chomsky, Walter Rodney and Arundhati Roy with Selassie, Marcus Garvey, Leonard Howell, Planno, Communism, Ujaama, science, spirituality, technology, ecology, sustainability and all my other cosmologies, theologies, philosophies into a comprehensive world-view, then retiring in Hanover overlooking my city Montego Bay, in my bush bungalow, with solar power and a little windmill, making art, sipping fine wines, drinking teas and roots, smoking herb... writing poetry, drawing painting, and finish my opus magnum... and all the grand literature burning in my soul. Yep... those were the good old days when I was a tech savvy but naive newby who wasn't keen on SEO and just wrote to my hearts content. The days when people huddled at my blog or stumbled upon it simply because I had something to say, it was an era before the spell check Nazi and acolytes of Grammarly arrived to rip blogs and bloggers apart because of bad grammar, no 'pinnable' pictures, no keywords, no tags and hashtags and bad SEO. Sigh*

In that time the ideal bungalow locales of my mind-scape were only based on location, aesthetics, and environment and not practical reasons like if I can actually afford it. Ideally, I’d like to work from home, play with my daughter, make more children, and be able to spend more time on this blog shtick - sharing and musing, poetry and politics, digital parlance and palaver with y'all, cleverly constructing intellectual highs, chock full of pretty and mellifluous words, packed and layered with meaning, keep it consistent and watch my growing an audience... that my dear friends and readers, is easier said than done in the second city in Jamrock on a thin budget...

The Imminent and Eminent Now!


As a world-weary academic, disillusioned by the failed promises of the ivory tower and its pretensions to inevitable success, especially if you buy into the image promulgated by KGN, the hype of entrepreneurial success and small business mega stories. Theses days after so many moons in the digital trenches... after the rise of the rest of Jamaica's digerati and technocracy... after the hype of Jamaican social media and all the buzz worthy folk... after days in Montego Bay trying to find all kinds of angles to make it and coming up short I am more than a little burnt out. I always have topics on hand, ideas a plenty to blog about, but I don’t have time to blog as often as I would like... the rigors of evolving into a parent... an ever more active community activist... amongst all the various dilemma and vagaries that plague the human condition. There are days when I pray the ideas and musings will come back to me when I don’t have the baby in my lap or hounding me with a million questions as I write or work...

I try to stay abreast of the latest blogging tips etc and the notions of 'Eye-Catching Titles', Call Outs, Shout Outs, Stock Imagery, Infographics! I get it and I try not to get caught up, but it happens. I find myself leaning that way. As I sit here typing this I constantly glance at the bottom left corner at the “Word Count”. Why do I continue to look at it? Because the Western Mirror and Google likes 700-1000 words for articles and posts. I miss the good old days of blogging I really do. No pressures, just networking, making friends, and writing about our lives (even to my family’s chagrin). The good old days... As I realize my position as a pioneer in Caribbean blogging,I wonder are there new bloggers out there that are doing just what I did back in the day? Are my experiences of any value to them???

I've been writing this post for more than a year now... Watched Novembers rolls into Decembers, observed weather changes, the days still have that blaring sun, but you feel the temperature in the tradewind. What I can do, however, is ruminate frothily on the rigors of the present, which is exactly what I’ll do now. See, things are different for this writer these days. It’s a brave new world full of great reward and buzzsaw peril — trod upful and you’ll have laurels heaped upon your head, but step like a fool and you’ll find your testicles cut off with a 3 star ratchet knife.



Thursday, March 30, 2017

Bag Juice Debacle: A sweet argument

Jamaica land of the bag juice debates and debacles... sugar is an issue since JLP botching healthcare on a whole so they push the burden to the patients who now must contend with taxes and government nagging you about your lifestyle eating choices and depreciating fluffy self esteem by interpreting fat people as an economic burden and expense on our health budget. If you can't smell the fumes... then no one notices that not one health food store at any hospital in JA and hospital serves starches to diabetics... bag juice local and dem can't chump up big money to lobby to be left alone like the Pepsi distributers etc...  Murder bag juice entrepreneurs... same so dem make cigarette cost more than weed at 70 dollar a cigarette and den act like is a good thing an spin doctor it like the weed fifty bag nah shrink since the price of fifty bag fixed due nature of the name... dem gi Jamaica inna one hand and tek it back wid the next! 6 for a 9... ScAmdrew Whole-Mess

Wah some a dem hot girl weh live pon bag juice and cheese trix a go do, wah go cool dem dung after cup soup and tin sausage breakfast?