My thoughts published in the Jamaica Gleaner, August 6 2015
Kelly McIntosh: August 6 in the land of my birth, Jamaica, marks 53 years of Independence from Great Britain. Fifty three years ago we sang our own national anthem and raised our own flag. ‘Jamaica 53: Proud and Free’ is the theme this year. Really? Who says?
There are two Jamaicas: One where the schools are clean and quiet and teachers speak respectfully to students. And there is one where children crowd into noisy, hot classrooms and are expected to learn.
There’s one Jamaica where you get justice if you have the money to pay for it. There’s another Jamaica where you are tossed roughly from side to side inside the bowels of the justice system and hope for the best. You often don’t get it.
There’s a Jamaica that’s filled with boat rides to Lime Cay and outings to the movies, and another Jamaica where you hang out on the corner to grab a little cool air. There’s one Jamaica that moves about in high-off-the-ground air-conditioned vehicles and another Jamaica that moves around in tightly packed public buses, fighting to keep sane on your way to work and school, and where you long to get home in the evening just to do it all over again in the morning.
There’s the Jamaica where you dare not get ill on a Saturday evening or public holiday. There’s one Jamaica where we lock up tightly in gated communities or behind high walls, where security codes are a way of life and private security companies are on speed dial. Then there’s the other Jamaica where four-year-olds instinctively roll under the bed at the sound of a gun-shot — and they know the difference between gun shots and ‘clappers’.
I cannot ignore the two Jamaicas. And it is the reality of these two Jamaicas that gives me pause on our 53rd anniversary.