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 |

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 |