Reinvigorating Our Talawah Factor

One of our rarely heard but insightful proverbs states
Wan finga can’t kill louse

This proverb challenge our sense of collaboration and cooperation.
In this our 51st year of independence, we have lots of lice to kill.

  • We have the louse of broken families
  • We have the louse of stubborn , chronic unemployment.

  • We have the louse of diminishing job opportunities in major diaspora centers.
  • We have the lice of scare healthcare and educational resources.

    So is there any hope? What can fuel our path to a more secure future?
    The secret could be discovering the power of our talawah factor.Yes we little but we talawah needs to be personalized. We need to get beyond cheer-leading for our great athletes, and invest personal skin in the game of nation building.

    Yes we need to re-energizing our social, cultural and spiritual resources to be total talawah to give fresh catalyst to our future possibilities. So before we shake, bake, and gulp, let us take a few reflective moments and resolve to unite in common purpose for the greater good.

    So happy 51 independence celebration Jamaica. Lord help us to refuel our hearts and minds with a fresh determination to dedicate ourselves and unite our efforts to realize our full Jamaican destiny.


    Is this Jamaican the Usain Bolt of Value Creation?

    Let’s face it, we idolize Usain Bolt. We can remember where we were when he blazed into atlethic immortality last August in London.
    I was travelling into the hills of St. Catherine to visit a long lost cousin, Dorrett. My aunt Lema and I were the only ones on the road, listening on the radio in anticipation to see if Blake would dethrone the king. I remember those zippy moments following the race when the community erupted into a blare of horns and gleeful shouts as to the one – two Jamaican finish. In 9.76 seconds, this man caused our spirits to soar, and added new chapters to our collected national pride.

    Contrast that scene to an office, filled with books and clean, desk, and a phone. It is as quiet as prayer closet, but a call or an email from this man can have rippling implications
    to the world economy, wiping the smile off your face caused by Usain Bolt, or enabling a life dream for your child’s education loan.

    Yes, you are in the office of Peter Henry
    Peter Who? you may say. Why should I care? Peter a Jamaican born dean of New York University’s Leonard Stern School of Business, the youngest person to hold this position.

    His influence goes beyond setting the educational framework for the value creators on Wall Street.
    His expertise as a guru of the global economy is well regarded.Debt relief impact on emerging economies is just one of his specialities.
    He was chosen to lead the Obama transistion team to review the IMF and the World bank.
    He has been called to testify to the US sente on monetary issues.
    He has advised the governments of Ghana and Jamaica

    This past Sunday, he gave an interview that you may want to check out.

    In a world where billions of dollars of transaction happen before Usain Bolt leave the starting block, we better reframe our thinking on value creation and follow and champion others whose decisions will have lifetime consequences on your family’s future. Peter has a book to be published in mere weeks, entitled, TURNAROUND: Third World Lessons for First World Growth. Stay tuned!


    Pinch me twice, breakthrough on crime reduction happening in Jamaica?

    I went to the event with the hope of a stage 4 cancer patient going to a faith healer. My presence was driven more by obligation and catching up with the regulars who frequent our embassy occasions. Well after the greeting and grazing period, we settled into our seats readied for a pedestrian presentation. The lead off lecture on the history of human rights had the high level of intellectual content expected from Senator Golding. He clearly has a full grasp on the components of a viable justice system and have formulated a policy and deployment plan to modernize and upgrade the system, and provide needed leadership to consider the changing mores that are affecting the nation.

    I was however hitching to hear the national security story as I view this as the major catalyst to fire all the engines of a prosperous Jamaica. The Honorable Peter Bunting was a new name to me, and his finance background only further stoke my skepticism. His opening statement of being the guy to do the dog and pony portion of the presentation did not provide any comfort to the growing doubting Thomas syndrome I was experiencing. If that was not enough, he peaked this syndrome by making the audacious statement of guiding Jamaica to a violence level similar to that of any developed country. I immediately scribbled my first question, led by a uppercase what followed by a pi series of exclamations! What global metric would be be using to deliver this miracle? I know his name is Peter, but walking on water only happened once?

    Well, being the gracious guy that I am , I decided to humor him and allow the bouquet of his idea to develop. He must have been reading my mind as he provided a wide vista to frame this national security issue, and showed how embedded solving this issue was to our future viability. The economic frame was most compelling. Jamaica’s economic growth had taken a 3 – 10 times hit due to the lack of an solution to the violent crime albatross. He then proceeded to chronicle the investments we had made over the years and how these investments stacked up with other Caribbean and Latin American countries. The blood-stained number of murders/100K of population was the metric used to standardize the tragedy.

    Like an orchestra maestro, he did not keep up lingering in the dark foreboding, but directed us to a transcending movement, filled with new unusual instruments that caused my heart to swell with a hallelujah ah ah!

    I could hear a whole new set of sounds from these newly deployed tools – deeper leveraging of strategic partnerships, erasing artificial force boundaries, migrating the job description of the police from an adversarial force to a community service, engaging the entire community to own the issue , creatively countering the entertainment types who wrong-headedly glorify crime, deepening the deployment of intelligence through the use of data. Wow! This is certainly thrilling theory for the intellectual types, but show me the results.
    Folks, there is good news! A seven (7%) reduction of all major crime stats was achieved in 2012, and this as accelerated to 20% year to date in 2013! The spirits of all in the room was lifted, as we burst into applause.

    The Q & A segment followed, and folks were able to explore further their particular angst. The lottery scam and keeping in check the deportee criminal element dominated the discussion. The chief of police was stalwart in his assessment of the achievement.

    The role the diaspora in this effort was soft-pedaled and handled with too quiet a politeness given the hope-filled breakthrough . Dr. Claire Nelson , our pioneering leader of the Institute of Caribbean Studies rose to her feet and brought the essence of the evening into sharp focus by challenging the audience not to miss this crucial opportunity. She had recently returned from a 10 week stay in Jamaica and was keenly aware of some of the on the ground initiatives that will need to support of the diaspora to sustain and accelerate the green shoots of hope. Our time, talent, and yes treasure will be needed to ensure that the promising possibility does not get strangled by lack of nutriments.

    Can you imagine a security profile in 2017 of only 12 murders/100k down from the present lead leading 40/100k?

    We maybe on the fence with the possibility of this solution, but let us remember that there is a huge cost to our skepticism. Folks, breakthrough can happen . This fledging new culture will need our nurturing.
    Our engagement today will make the difference for the next 50 years!


    Novel Funding Means for a Novel

    Alana - our innovative writer

    Writer with a novel twist

    It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention. In a tough economic environment where raising funds to power our dream is as prevalent as pretty of a crow.

    Banks have ridiculous requirements.
    Venture capitalists threshold is equally as challenging.
    Where is a small dreamer supposed to do?

    Well, a new funding source has burst on the scene that is propelling both the dreamer and the investors. It is called crowd funding.
    Crowd funding is the funding of a company by selling small amounts of equity to many investors. Investors are given something for their money – so in a legal sense, they have paid for and received something.

    Crowd funding is being experimented with as a funding mechanism for creative work such as journalism and film making.
    An enterprising young lady, Alana Wellington had a dream of using her vast imagination to bring fresh vigor to the eternal struggle of good and evil through the lens of faith.
    Listen in our how she plans to his and use mechanism of crowd funding to seed and fuel this possibility.

    This funding source will continue to grow as the funding landscape changes and access to traditional funding sources dry up. Consider get involved and supporting this effort. You will not only help a fellow Jamaican, you will also become experienced in gaining funds to power your next dream!


    Lawd, How do we get Jamaica on the right list?

    I am definitely a sucker for reports especially those dealing with trends. I was settling in wowing and awing about this report on the impact of mobile technology and then I came to page 99.

    There we are, in an infamous place like a criminal in a line up .There is Jamaica showing off itself as the Bolt of debt, racing towards oblivion.

    Ok, we came in second, but apart from Greece, we are the only developing country in the top ten! The source of this data is the bank where we have set up house and home, the IMF.

    The real price tag for being in this major debt league has a consequential generational legacy. Debt servicing crowd out and choke off the life investments needed to create a dynamic Jamaica in the foreseeable future.

    Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I would wear rose tinted glasses to most situations. So me raising this issue connotes the serious situation we face that should give us pause before we mindlessly plunge into orgies of Olympic and independence celebrations. I now fully appreciate the past prime minister’s soberness in his independence address a few years back.

    The task of any leader will be to spark the enterprising nature of Jamaicans into a Bolt-like fervor to escape the hungry debt lion.

    The global gloom as scrambled and soften the commitment of previous strong alliances. Charity begins at home is the growing chorus and home-bound development will limit investments abroad by the developed nations. Yes, we have entered the G-Zero world, to reflect the balance of leadership and power. Before we had the G8, led by the US, but the burdens of this leadership is given way to restoring each developed country job and wealth capacity.

    This new reality has given rise to a new vocabulary, where developed countries are segmented into two categories, shadow states, or Pivot states. Figure 2 illustrates the parameters that determine how nations are categorized.

    Thankfully, Jamaica has not being placed on any of these charts in a public way.

    If you were going to place Jamaica on this list:
    • Where would you place her currently?
    • What is your personal horizon to get her to pivot state status?
    • What means would you sue to get us there?
    We can treat this as the best of times or the worst of times.
    Our determined action focused in a unified direction can create our Pivot state!


    Ingredients for a new Jamaican Success Stew

    50 years minus one years ago when the independent Jamaica was a mere baby, the gust of freedom was blowing in many places. Other nations were also sensing the gust of freedom from colonial rule. This was been done in a back drop of the cold war in Jamaica’s back yard, where alignment with the west was critical in light of the bay of pigs (The US attempt to dislodge communism from Cuba in 1961). The gust for freedom was also very evident in the birth of the civil rights movement. On a sweltering summer day in August of 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., gave the seminal speech of the 20th. Century that provided the vision, drive and momentum for this movement’s monumental achievements.

    Key milestones and anniversaries provide us with reflective moments to determine our future destiny. In the recent past, I was painfully reminded of our increasing sense of uncertainty beyond the pride in our Olympic prowess, and performing art skills. We have discovered that freedom has its cost. In 2011, a survey of Jamaicans revealed the stark ling fact that the majority of Jamaicans would prefer return to British rule. The choking debt servicing situation is dashing the hope of independence and raising the temptation of seeking a sugar daddy. The continuing global economic situation makes self development even more critical. The ghost of our own Greek tragedy is a rising specter for many thoughtful Jamaicans.

    Mindset certainly makes a big difference. King’s speech was a catalyst to connect hearts and minds in a focused determination to change the fortunes of a stifled people. Like a pebble disturbing a stagnant pond, the stirring of the Jamaican community is needed to tackle our deepest challenges. Fresh thinking will allow us to set in motion a new wave of actions to amplify the success factors needed for this new era.

    Let’s imagine that our current leader decided to take the upcoming Independence period to address to nation about its prospects in light of the multitude of challenges. She wants to squarely meet the challenges, but frame them in an outlook of possibility.

    Your job should you decide to take it is to provide two elements that we will include in an info-graph of fifty (50) elements to give shape to Jamaica’s imaginative future. It will be called
    Elements of Jamaica’s Future Success Stew

    You may want to frame your response in light of the expectation of the growth of nations.

    Please submit your entry here by June 30, 2012.
    Our collaboration expressed in this manner is the first tiny step we can take to shape a glorious future.


    The Secret Sauce of Jamaica 2.0 – Part 1

    Recently, I was invited to lend my expertise in digital technologies to help combat some damming condemnation at a long-term Caribbean celebration. This annual event attracted over 400K people and generated millions of dollars in revenue to the affected merchants. The sensitive stage of this deliberation does not allow me to be more detailed, but I share this story to say that as impressive as these numbers are, the community leaders even in a tough economy chose to support the new set of neighbors (complaints) rather than the old neighbor’s traditions.

    The city leaders did some community calculus and perceived a docile, diffused Caribbean community, and so they felt comfortable making their decision without any political cost. Yes, change is constant, and we have much work to do to engage, educate and renew our community base to restore its vibrancy.
    When we consider our broader world, we clearly see a rapidly changing world both demographically, and technically.

    Lots of Caribbean communities are still reeling from the global recession. Mainstay enterprises are now shuttered and the landscapes of our lives are washed with the constant tsunami of change. So how do we cope and thrive? Where do we Jamaicans go find relief and renewal?

    As creatures of habit we usually reach for our cultural pacifiers. Our music, athletic prowess, delicious foods, and celebration become important touchstones. We are about to get a double dose of thrilling Olympic feats and joyous celebrations from our 50th. Year of Independence. It is good we have these but what will we do come September? What will we do when the cheering is over and the parades are silent?

    A nation on a mission is a terrific tagline, but how is that mission being realized? Do they have the industrial, no digital strength to pole vault us into a new era of break through possibility?

    Those of keen discernment and future vision are telling us that we have entered a new era , one where mind power matter is our most precious resource. Innovation and new value creation will be the bolt-fuel we will need to escape the orbit of a developing nation status.

    To create our future reality, we will need to deploy the power of our collective inventive imagination stitch a game plan together through the super glue of social trust and have a sustainable conviction to make it happen. This will be a tall order that will demand be practice a higher discipline beyond the commodity practice of “no problem man” . It will demand from us a dedicated effort to deploy a new alchemy to deliver the higher value required.

    Chew on this and let your expanding mind consider the possibilities. In part II , I will share series suggestions that we may want to deploy to use our existing icons, and invest them with new value to fuel a new future. Start mind chewing!


    Luckiest Jamaicans outside of Jamaica?

    Happy St. Patty’s day and the luck of the Irish to you! Ireland has a growing community of Jamaicans who are making Ireland their away home.

    Jarish charm?

    First, let us get a bead on Ireland. Ireland is a country adjacent to England. It has a population of 4 million people with a third of the people live in the Dublin area.

    When most people hear the word Ireland and still think of bombs and the peace process. Ireland is really two places – Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The Republic is the South, the 26 counties where peace has reigned for 90 plus years. The goings on up North do not affect the South save as a daily drumbeat of background news. Northern Ireland has definitely changed. A political settlement has been reached. Peace reigns and normality is, finally, normal.

    As to immigration, a brand new green card system was put in place in 2007. Under this system, if you have a job offer with an annual salary of €60,000 or more, you’re welcome. Between €30,000 – €60,000 per year only people with in-demand skills qualify. We’re talking jobs like computer programmer, nurse or medical practitioner or technician, archtitect, engineer, materials surveyor, and the like.

    We caught us with one of the Jamaican community leaders, Dr. Livingstone to get a down home sense of life for Jamaicans in Ireland.
    Click to listen

    Joining of our Cultures

    A watched kettle never boils.
    Irish Proverb


    An Old Secret Sauce Of Jamaicans we Need to Revisit

    Dreams and visions are what give us hope and purpose in life. All the important moments of our lives whether it is education achievement, a home, a wedding, a church building, a funeral needed resources to power them to a satisfactory achievement.

    The Passion of our lives

    Most of us however are faced with the short money month syndrome, where the month is always whipping the duration of the money. Well, although this may seem to be a modern challenge, our for-bearers invented an ingenious means to use community collaboration to overcome the money challenge and realize the dream.

    A Pardner is an agreement among people to save collectively. Usually an established member of a community manages the pardnership and is referred to as “the banker”. The pardners contribute a regular sum on a time basis decided by the pardners. At the agreed upon time frame, one member of the pardner receives the total amount contributed by the pardners over that period., less the equivalent of one contribution, which is given to the banker as payment for the banker’s services. The banker determines the order in which members can make their draw.

    Deanne Heron, author of Pardner Money Stories

    Deanne’s website

    You can then imagine my excitement when I saw the newly published book, Pardner Money Stories by Deanne Heron. Deanne possess two important ingredients of great writers, passion and skill. Maybe you have seen some her many stories published by the Jamaican Observer. Well in this new work she skillfully uses the social contract of the Pardner as a backdrop to share the richness of Jamaican family life in Britain.

    Deanne was kind enough to enter into a conversation with us and share what motivated the publication and what pleasure we can expect to gain from it.

    Click to listen to her wisdom.

    Maybe you like me can trace your success journey to a pardner. Many times, it was the pardner monies that paid my tuition to Howard University. It was vital in my parents acquiring their first home. My mom was a banker and I clearly remember the many envelopes dropped through the mail slot.

    O if we could just restore this level of social trust on a broad basis. New dreams and visions will be realized instead of festering like raisins in the sun. I would highly recommend getting a copy of Deanne’s fine work and give your dreams a fighting chance.


    What Does Jamiacan Diana McCauly, Charles Dickens, and Mark Twain have in Common?

    Which books shaped your moral sensitivities in high school?

    Sure the Bible of course, but were there other authors whose work fired your imagination and caused you to read by flashlight or a lamp, when everyone else was asleep?
    Charles Dickens and Mark Twain, were two authors who took me on the journey of Victorian living and the rugged demands of living in that era.

    Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Bleak House, The Pickwick Papers were just some of the novels that molded by imagination about being a young man.
    Then there was Mark Twain. Huck Finn, and Tom Sawyer took me on many boyish adventures.

    The Novel- feeding your imagination

    Ah, the power of the novel to shape our thinking. The novel is a fictional piece written in a narrative style. They tell stories, which are typically defined as a series of events. The novel has been a part of human culture estimated over a thousand years. This powerful literary device has been used to cleverly emotionally move the reader in ways not possible with a full frontal delivery of truth.

    The stratification of the Jamaican society is reflected in its language, and skin color dilemmas, but there are treated as the elephant in the room that no one seem to notice.

    Diana McCaulay , Jamaican writer

    Well Diana McCaulay has entered the orb of the novelist by deploying this literary device to bring us to a place to deal with some of our unspoken societal issues. In her first novel, Dog-Heart, she skillfully deals with the complexities of race and class in Jamaica.

    We had the distinct opportunity to catch up with her and understand the motivation behind her award winning novel.
    Click to listen to Diana’s wisdom.
    Find out why her two national awards are much deserved.
    This her debut novel, Dog-Heart, won a highly commended award in the National Book Development Council of Jamaica’s National Literary Awards in 2006, a Gold Medal in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s National Creative Writing Competition in 2008 and was published by Peepal Tree Press in March 2010.

    Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
    Albert Einstein