In today’s Monday Musings, we feature the second of the top three entries in our Independence/Back-to-School Essay Competition as our posts. The 2nd place essay was written by Mickella Anderson, a lower sixth form student at the Wolmer’s Trust High School for Girls.
Flanked by her teacher, Samuel Derby, 2nd place winner, Mickella Anderson, receives her prize from diGJamaica.com Content and Community Specialist, Tracey-Ann Wisdom
August 6, 1962, the National Stadium, Prime Minister Bustamante decked out in formal wear, 20,000 people looking on in much awe; this was the scene that marked the commencement of Jamaican independence and the movement from colonialism to self-government. For many of us, that moment when Union Jacks were lowered and the Jamaican flag unveiled for the first time symbolised new beginnings for our country. We became an independent nation, to be governed under a system of democracy in which the people had power to choose their leaders. Fifty-one years later, with the country is on the verge of political backlash, one may now question the faithfulness of Jamaica as a true democracy. Indeed, general elections are held in order to have the people put their leaders in power and our laws are in limits set by the constitution. However, other than election day, the voice of the Jamaican people remains very limited, acceptable action in regards to their plights is seldom taken by leaders and it seems the only way to be heard is to stage onerous protests and plead to the authorities.
The term ‘democracy’ is defined by the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary as a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually by periodic elections. How much of this is true of the Jamaican democracy? Certainly, the supreme power is in no way vested in the people. Yes, we are able to choose our leaders but what happens after the general elections, do we still have the supreme power? According to the official blog of diGjamaica.com, in an article entitled “Is Jamaica really a silent democracy?” posted in December of last year: “unless a referendum is called or a by-election is held, the voice of the masses is reduced to a whisper with the most vocal of us venting on the airwaves.” The blogger then goes on to lament on the fact that our nightly news is laden with cries for justice, basic commodities or just a listening ear from the relevant authorities. In recent years we have seen Jamaicans march, block roads and even chain themselves together in Half Way Tree Square in demand of their right to be heard, a right which is essential for the formation of public opinion and is the cornerstone upon which the very existence of a democratic society rests. Attention is only given to these plights when controversy strikes, which is in no way true of a democracy.
At 51 years old, our country is globally known for its undying dynamics of culture, beauty and people. We are a nation of greatness and under a system of democracy, the public voice ought not to be so often overlooked. Our leaders must now take a step forward into public intervention to ensure good governance and to safeguard the future of the Jamaican people.
*Note: Essay has been edited.
Tagged with: democracy, Independence, Jamaica
Engaging Jamaican youth in the fight against corruption
“Say NO to Corruption” campaign poster signed by the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt.
Contractor General, Dirk Harrison, talks to Jamaican students about corruption and how it can negatively affect their future.
Youth panel participants present examples of corruption and the negative consequences it has on Jamaican society.
Jamaica’s public anti-corruption campaign highlights student-designed poster.
This was just one of the events that the Canadian High Commission in Jamaica supported in 2015 in partnership with national organizations in a campaign to increase awareness and encourage youth involvement in efforts to fight corruption.
"Non-participation is not an option; we must stand against corruption!"exclaimed Jamaica's Contractor General, Dirk Harrison, to students at the #YouthAgainstCorruption event at Edith Dalton James High School in Kingston, Jamaica on December 10 - the International Day Against Corruption.
Ending corruption – key to a flourishing democracy
No country is entirely free of corruption. However, if corruption is deep enough it can hinder economic growth and good governance, and decay the fabric of society.
“Corruption robs citizens of their rights, undermines the rule of law and reduces economic growth.”
Canada’s High Commissioner to Jamaica, Sylvain Fabi
Spreading the word with influential youth
The High Commission supported Jamaica’s Office of the Contractor General to hold their first conference on corruption in government. The conference featured a half day of activities for youth, including a presentation by the Jamaican Youth Theatre which dramatized acts of corruptionthat take place in everyday life.
In partnership with Jamaica’s Office of the Minister of Sport, the High Commission ran the campaign "Champions don't cheat - say no to corruption" at the Boys and Girls Track and Field Championships - one of the largest high school level athletics event in the world. The world’s fastest man and woman, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser Price endorsed the theme of the campaign.
The Contractor General’s Anti-Corruption Essay and Poster Contest
Youth from across Jamaica entered into an anti-corruption essay and poster contest that highlighting both the ways in which corruption can manifest in everyday life and the negative effects it has on society. The High Commission was pleased to participate in the awards ceremony.
The winning poster submissions were featured during the Canadian Regional Education Fair in Kingston and Montego Bay. The fair gave Jamaican students from more than 40 high schools across the country an opportunity to meet with the Contractor General. At the fair, students discussed corruption and were encouraged get involved in anti-corruption efforts in their communities.
To mark International Day against Corruption, the winning poster was also included in a public advocacy campaign coordinated by the High Commission and the Contractor General. The design and anti-corruption message was included on billboards and public transport in both Kingston and Montego Bay.
Canada strongly supports international efforts to combat corruption. The fight to stop corruption is a long one, but worth the effort.
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