Imagine Jamaica 50

Imagine Jamaica

January 8th

Dear Aunty,

It is impossible to describe the sensations and thoughts that prompted the tears that flowed down my cheeks at the recent swearing in of the MOST Honourable Portia Lucretia Simpson Miller as the Prime Minister of Jamaica in this our year of Jubilee.   It is her’s… truly her’s I thought. The title ” Mother of the Nation” for truly at the ripe age of 69, she can well be a grandmother to many of our youth.  Being in Jamaica at election time, my first opportunity since the 1970s, has allowed my dreams of a thriving, happy and civil Jamaica to come to full bloom.  At the polling station I observed (Unofficially I must add — since the diaspora are not included in any Official observer Mission that I know of)  Outside Agents  in their orange and green, working diligently to ensure our democracy.  The day was calm. Civility reigned!  And as I stayed glue to the TV Coverage all day – it became clear – Jamaica was growing up.  The trigger may have been  the blaspheme of those who promised to die for Dudus (who is looking well fed courtesy of the NY Taxpayers).  Or maybe it was the prayers of the multitude who truly have had enough.  Whatever the trigger – this election signals a shift in our collective consciousness.  We are not afraid!  We know who we are!  We are empowered!  The decisive win of Sister P—now Mama P – has shown that the average Jamaican is a thinking Jamaican.  For even those who did not vote, and that numbers some 40%, were heard to say – they did not vote in order to send a message to both  parties that they are fed up with business as usual.  (The third Parties got less than 1% of the vote).

The solemn but festive mood of the inaugural festivities at Kings House yesterday – people being mindful to leave their pot covers and horns at home – showed that my people have come of age.  Political overtones were relegated to orange tones in shirts and ties and blouses and suits and hair styles. The pride was pungent.  As one lady said –  ‘Sister P mek we woman from the inner city know that we can mek it’.  Not since Marcus Garvey has the masses of Jamaicans had someone who proves that we can all make it.  No matter the valley, zinc roof, or zinc fence yard from which we come.  Allelulia! That is the gift of the ascension of Mama P at this juncture in our history. Who among us does not like a Come-Back Story?  The poise and elegance and grace of the redeemed Portia is a dream realized for many if not all Jamaicans.  She is the embodiment of our hopes for who we can become as a people.  Men and Women of Jamaica across class and color lines know that if Portia can make her dream come true with her demonstration of self-knowledge, self-confidence, and resilience, under stiff and unrelenting opposition –  SO CAN WE!   We have only to hold fast!  One old woman from her constituency gummed – ‘Sister P don’t mek no man – no one – hold her back or hold her down’.   They said – she marches to her own drum.  She dances to her own music!  Maybe she does carry Nanny as a familiar spirit.  That being the case, we must all pour a libation to Grandy Nanny who taught us the power of the dream – and the power of guerilla warfare.  In fact, I have gotten word that per my 50th Birthday wishlist,  there is already a Monument to Grandy Nanny in Portland, but I understand as a Shrine, it is incomplete.  Annual Celebrations are held under tents and tarpaulins.  A proper Visitor’s Center complete with auditorium and library and gallery is needed. Maybe Maroons in the Diaspora will see to the construction of such a shrine. Is such a thing possible?  I think it surely is.  Honoring our heroes by telling their stories over and over and doing  our best to ensure that their struggles were not in vain, is certainly one way to ensure the dream of Jamaica—Land we Love.

Walk Good,


About the author

Dr. Claire Nelson

Dr. Claire Nelson has been actively engaged in the business of international development for more than twenty-five years. She works in the area of project development and management, with a particular focus on private sector development. A renaissance woman, she has been described as a Social Entrepreneur, Futurist, and Change Leader.

The first Jamaican woman to earn a Doctorate degree in an engineering discipline and the only black in her graduating class, Dr. Nelson holds Industrial Engineering Degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo, Purdue University, and a Doctorate in Engineering Management from George Washington University. She has served on numerous boards and committees including: US Department of Commerce US/Caribbean Business Development Council Advisory Board; Black Leadership Forum; DC Caribbean Carnival Association; International Think Tank Commission on Pan-African Affairs, Office of the Prime Minister of Barbados; African-American Unity Caucus; National Democratic Institute/Carter Center Election Observer Mission to the Dominican Republic; Black Professionals in International Affairs; and the International Committee of the National Society of Black Engineers-Alumni Extension.

Dr. Nelson is sought after as a speaker on issues pertaining to economic development, globalization, and issues concerning the Caribbean and its peoples. She is a frequent guest on the television talk show CARIBNATION seen on cable TV in the Washington D.C. area, as well as CARIBBEAN EXCHANGE on WEAA, Morgan University Radio. Her speaking engagements have included: National Association of Security Professionals; Congressional Black Caucus Conference; Harvard University Black MBA Association Conference; Women & Micro-enterprise Conference, African Development Bank; Florida International University; Cincinnati Women's Chamber of Commerce; US Black Engineer of the Year Annual Conference; Howard University; Sacramento State University; National Council of Negro Women; and National Congress of Black Women.

Dr. Nelson has been a frontrunner in the challenge of placing the topic of social exclusion and diversity on the agenda of the multilateral development assistance institutions. As a result of her pioneering work, she was invited to the Salzburg Seminar as a Fellow in 1997 and 1999 of the Seminars on Race and Ethnicity, in 2000 and 2003 to the Fetzer Institute Advisory Group on Moral, Ethical and Spiritual Leadership; and as Faculty at the Seminar on Leadership Across Geographic Borders and Cultural Boundaries. Dr. Nelson was also a participant in the Bellagio Consultation on the UN World Conference on Racism (WCAR) organized by the International Human Rights Law Group, and was active on the Working Group on Globalization and Transnational Corporations.
Dr. Nelson is Ideation Leader of The Futures Forum which provides strategic foresight and development futures consulting practice. An award-winning writer and performance artiste, Dr. Nelson's OpEd pieces have appeared in media outlets such as Morning Edition, National Public Radio; WEAA FM and WHUR FM; and CaribNation TV.

1 Comment

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