For quite sometime now, I’ve nursed a dream to return to Jamaica, the place I was born. It wasn’t one I shared easily as many people, my family included, worried. They questioned how I’d manage, how I’d deal with a place I haven’t lived in for more than 30 years. But I knew it was something I had to do. I knew Jamaica was somewhere in my future. That future is now.
Like me, Jamaica has changed but not always for the better. With a population of nearly 3 million, its rate of economic growth is estimated at only about 2.5%, inflation just under 12% and unemployment stands at nearly 12%. And though it recorded its lowest crime rate since 2003, it is still at worrisome levels.
One doesn’t need an advanced degree in sociology or economics to explain why this is. Whenever the gap between those who have and those who don’t becomes an ever widening chasm, there will be consequences.
The reality is that the Jamaica that a visitor sees is not the one I will live in. But reality becomes secondary to what the soul wants.
What I know is that Jamaica is the only place on earth that grounds me, makes my heart sing and makes me feel whole. It grabs my heart, infuriates me and makes me scream sometimes. But it is where I feel I have a voice. I can’t easily ignore the problems without wanting to do something about it, though I have no idea what.
As I wrote on my About page, I’ve longed to explore this place, touch its heart and find its soul. So for the next few months, I’ll be writing almost exclusively about Jamaica and sharing my experiences with you.
On August 6th next year, Jamaica will celebrate 50 years of Independence from Britain. I mourn what we’ve lost but I’m curious to see how we’ve grown, what we’ve accomplished, what we’re proud of. Most importantly, I want to be there to breathe it, to see and hear it, because Jamaica is more than a country, it’s a clash of contrasts. It’s an experience.