Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Diversity in T&T, not Jamaica


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IN August 1962, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago became the first two British colonies in the English-speaking Caribbean to gain independence thereby embarking on a path to chart our own destiny.

Since then both countries have enjoyed excellent diplomatic, economic and cultural cooperation. As young nations we continue to forge an impressive mark on the world in many areas including sport and culture.

As a Jamaican who considers Trinidad and Tobago my second home, I feel compelled to add my voice to the "ethnic stocking" debate.

The United National Congress youth arm, in responding to the Jamaica Observer's editorial, stated perfectly on December 14 (what T&T has done but Jamaica has completely failed to do) "Evidence of the Government's practice of equality and inclusion is seen from the very top, where the Cabinet of T&T comprises a diverse group of individuals, all coming from different ethnic groups, religions and cultural backgrounds."

Indeed, after 50 years of political independence, the Republic of T&T is clear on its vision for the promotion and preservation of arts and multiculturalism to celebrate all its peoples.

In T&T all ethnic groups, religions and cultural strands have equal opportunity to participate in state functions, direct and strategic.

Where was the Jamaica Observer when Prime Minister Simpson-Miller was "stocking up" her Christian friends on state boards and to the presidency of their senate?

In the land of "Out of Many One People" where are the Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Maroon, Rastafarian and Buddhist representatives on state boards or serving as Independent Senators? In the land of "Out of Many One People" it is customary to have Christian scripture readings at state functions; why not include readings from other minority groups (as was the case at the Thanksgiving Service for Heritage Week 2012) and expose Jamaicans to our small but diverse ethnicity?

Where was the Jamaica Observer when successive governments appointed known Pan Africanists to sensitive positions, particularly the Ministry of Culture? If nowhere else that's where our diversity should be represented and promoted.

Am I to conclude that there should be an amendment of the Jamaican motto to "Out of Many One Christian People" or Out of Many One African People"?

Like Ministers Suruj Rambachan and Dr Roodal Moonilal in Trinidad and Tobago, I call on the Jamaica Observer to apologise to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and to stop throwing stones when Jamaica lives in a glass house.

Andrew King