Happy Independence Day, Jamaica!



"Nationhood is the only means by which modern civilization can completely protect itself. Independence of nationality, independence of government, is the means of protecting not only the individual, but the group. Nationhood is the highest ideal of all peoples"  

The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, Or, Africa for Africans. Compiled by Amy Jacques Garvey. Dover: Majority Press, 1986.

These words of Marcus Mosiah Garvey are still true, and it is no wonder that Garvey is Jamaica's first national hero. Marcus Mosiah Garvey was a man of determination, and he believed in the principle of success. As Garvey said in a speech in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1937, "At my age I have learnt no better lesson than that which I am going to impart to you to make man what he ought to be—a success in life. There are two classes on men in the world, those who succeed and those who do not succeed" (Marcus Garvey: Life and Lessons, xxv). So, on this day of  the celebration of our nationhood, what does Garvey's life mean to Jamaica in the face of beheadings, political corruption, and a seeming loss of faith that we may be heading toward being defined as a "failed state"?

No doubt, many Jamaicans will be going to church tomorrow and they will listen to various speeches about this and that, platitudes that balm a cancer. Commentators will have answers to every question under our beautiful sun. But the real questions that we should be asking ourselves are ones that I pose to the characters in my fictions: Who are you? What do you want? How will you get what you want?

I never begin a first draft until these questions are answered, Then, I make a rough outline of the plot with an inciting incident, lock-in, first culmination, main culmination, and what I think will be the third act twist, where the hero makes a discovery--which surprises the audience and the hero--or something/someone reminds the hero of who she really is. Whether she has the courage to act on what she knows, means that that I will be writing (in the broadest sense of the terms) a tragedy (she fails to achieve her goal) or a comedy (she achieves her goal). Once I know these elements, I begin writing. I never begin writing before I know how the story will end.

As far as the short [her]story of Jamaica goes, we've been through the inciting incidents of resistance, lock-in of Independence, first culmination in the exodus of the 70s, and main culmination in the recognition of the Diaspora. I don't know what the third act twist will be. If our story will be a tragedy.

But we do have the wisdom from our heroes and a wealth of courage in our people But how will we answer the question: Who are you?

When the "right time comes,"--which is always now-- I hope as Brother Bob says, "when the preaching and talking is done, " we will "live up/ Cause the Father's time has come" ("Survival').

Surprise me, Jamaica

Garvey, Amy Jacques. The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, Or, Africa for Africans.  Dover: Majority Press, 1986.

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