Month: August 2016

West Indies finally seeing the light?

Twenty one years, a generation, for that length of time the nations of the English speaking Caribbean have witnessed the slow decline of our cricket. Sixteen years since that magical afternoon when Courtney Walsh took the record for the most test wickets, we have been witness to what looked like an irreparable and terminal slump in our cricket, most whispered that it may die off soon and that the regional team would be replaced by the individual national teams.

Then came the brilliant victories in both the T20 World Cup, the U19 World Cup and the Women’s World Cup. From bums to triple champions in a year, an amazing feat indeed. Some may snipe that it’s just T20, or that they only perform when money is on the line and while those arguments hold some merit we fail to notice that they won, especially the senior mens team, with the WICB allegedly undermining them. The West Indies of the past twenty years would have thrown in the towel, especially the senior stars as witnessed in the abandoned Indian tour. This team instead did the opposite, they held there nerve and apart from some comments by Sammy focused on the cricket and pulled off what many supporters knew to be possible, a brilliant win after which they revisited the issue of the contract dispute with the WICB. That I think is a real glimmer of hope.

Then came the ‘meat’ the ‘real cricket’ and the Indians came to tour. The first test brought us back to a reality of sorts and we were handily beaten, embarrassed even and people were back to saying here is the real West Indies, ill prepared and hindered by a serious lack of talent. The second test however showed us that there is more to this current test side than meets the eye, that there is more than hope for this test team but also potential.

After a dire start with India dominating the first innings and the West Indies staring down the barrel of yet another embarrassing defeat something happened. The bowlers clicked and played it very well and the batsmen showed a maturity and intelligence that they rarely show. In dramatic fashion the team earned a more than respectable and impressive draw. The second test showed that the West Indies are back, maybe not to the heights of the 70’s-80’s vintages, rather they are a team filled with talent and potential rather than a team of journey men with a few stars thrown in, yet another glimmer.

Things are starting to look good for the West Indies, but we need to tread carefully. The senior stars who mainly make up the stellar T20 team need to understand that while the WICB has been wrong on many occasions, that other players in the region need to be able to make a living from cricket. The senior players must bear in mind that once upon a time they were unknowns and try and settle the contract dispute amicably. To the talented youth that make up the test side, they need to apply themselves. They have talent and they have skill as was seen in the second test, they must now master there skill and fulfill there potential in each game because nothing less should be acceptable. Finally the WICB must stop acting like this is the 30’s where the regions cricket was administered by an old boys club, cloaked in mystery and dogged by controversy. The board must come off there high horse, they must adapt to the times and they must reach out to the senior stars while showing faith in the talented youngsters.

It is tricky and I don’t expect to see the fruits overnight. But if the board and the players get it right then the West Indies could be about to see a purple patch within the next few years. The fans are watching, the sacking of Sammy the  T20 winning capitan may cost the board some brownie points because it stinks of politics and the collapse in the third test has again put a damper on the test side and shows that they need not only more experience but also better concentration. But the green shoots are there, the question is will they be watered and tended to so that they can flourish or will they be allowed to whither?

Minority rights? Must be a joke

The letter in the Gleaner dated August 12, 2016 made a comment on the public defender and there wish to named in the suit challenging the buggery act. The letter writer states that since the majority of the population supports the law, OPD is at best wasting her time or at worst not doing her job properly. That line of thinking is juvenile at best and stupid when you really think about it. With that logic why are we so hard on Hitler? After all the majority hated the jews. What’s so bad about Jim Crow? The majority in the south enjoyed and supposed it. In fact, what was so with North American slavery? The majority (white folks) greatly supported it? Heck, even the genocide committed in Rwanda was done by the majority, so where is the problem?

The examples above I feel show how backwards that type of thinking is. Democracy means that the majority rules, but, and this is the key part, minority rights are not infringed on. That is why for example Jews, Muslims and Jehovah’s witnesses can recuse themselves from communal (school) devotion and not be stoned. To say that majority rules and ending the argument there is scary and something we have seen end badly on many an occasion like the Armenian genocide (or massacre if you are Turkish). Besides, in the end, if we do not defend minority rights, are we really any better than the despotic nations that commit these crimes? 

So kudos to the public defender who is defending the public (yes gay persons are actually members of society) and doing her job. We may not like homosexuality, we may not like the sight of same sex love and that is ok, that is your right. However we have no right to alienate these people and try to put up obstacles towards justice. Majority or minority, all are members of society and we should be looking to defend the interest of both. To do otherwise would make us bedfellows of history’s nastiest pieces of work, and as a nation and people I should hope that we would want to be on the right side of history which can be an unforgiving mistress (just look Governor Eyre or James Buchanan if you need proof)

Good job Andrew, onto the harder stuff

Andrew Holness seemed set to have a difficult time after the elections, what with a one seat majority and a bag of promises, but much to the pleasant surprise to the majority (bar the real diehard comrade) he has been performing well. With the ‘payday’ somewhat implemented, auxiliary fees ‘banished’, a local government cleanup and some ‘transparency’ in government he has some successes to speak of.

However more needs to be done as most low hanging fruit has been picked or is in the process of being picked. Let us move on to more meaty matters, ones that will decide not only your legacy but also shape the future of the nation. Start the implementation of legislation that limits the terms a prime minister can serve or implement a retirement age for politicians, this is especially necessary seeing as how we have some elders on both sides of the aisle who refuse to go quietly off into the night. Maybe implementing that policy for internal JLP officers so that they may get accustomed to and eventually support the policy in parliament.

Jamaica’s prison issue is also one that needs immediate attention. Jamaica’s two major prisons are a shameful legacy of our colonial past, are hundreds of years old (not necessarily a bad thing), are beyond repair and just not up to the task of what a prison is for, rehabilitation. With the prisons so overcrowded and with little to no rehabilitation taking place for want of decent centers we have a vicious cycle of persons entering prison bad and returning to society as hardened and learned criminals. With the JLP having opposed the prison deal with the UK while in opposition, the hard question is if, how and when will G.P and Spanish Town prison be a thing of the past?

The rebuilding of Port Royal and downtown Kingston as a whole should also be high up on the agenda. This I place in the ‘hard stuff’ category because for my entire lifetime we have been waxing lyrically about beautifying downtown and it still looks like some post war scene in areas. Fixing downtown and Port Royal would be a boon for the economy and the people of Kingston proper. It would give them access to decent and affordable housing which would instill in the inhabitants a sense of pride. The renovation of the two would also spell jobs in both the short and long term, short term with the construction jobs that would be on offer and long term with the tourism sector that should theoretically be in place for Port Royal (see the at least half dozen proposals for tourism in the area).

Education while getting a shot in the arm at the secondary level needs more investment. Primary education should be the main priority of any future education drive, because simply put if a child leaves primary school unprepared odds are high that the child will struggle in high school. 

Family planning needs to be looked into again. Too many young persons are having children and persons who cant afford children have multiple kids that end up more often than not remaining trapped in a cycle of poverty and criminality.

Finally the government and Andrew must address the homelessness that is stalking this land. In downtown alone you have scores of persons mentally ill, finsaced, sick, unemployed or rape victims running scared who need our immediate attention and help. The local government minister Desmond McKenzie in his incarnation as mayor of Kingston spoke of opening a home for them some years ago, the plan must be revisited because these people need our help.

None of the mentioned are easy or have quick solutions but they need to be done. We have the answers to the questions as we have been repeating them in unison for a quarter century, the time now is to act and act methodically. If not then we may very well be wasting the best opportunity for a real change since the seventies.