Say the name Jamaica and the word “indebted” comes immediately to mind. No, not to you? Well it should do, because Jamaica is one of the world’s most indebted nations; we are indebted to it for the invention of rum, and for reggae, and especially Bob Marley, its greatest exponent; for Rastafarianism, and especially Bob Marley, its greatest exponent; for Grace Jones who I am told I should have heard, and not just heard of, but I’m afraid I haven’t; for any number of 100 metres and 200 metres sprinters, those who did use performance enhancing drugs as well as those who did not; for boxer Lloyd Hannigan and cricketers Devon Malcolm and Courtney Walsh and Chris Gayle (the truly great cricketers all come from Antigua or Barbados); and hundreds of writers and artists of whom no one has ever heard outside Jamaica; and no less than three Miss Worlds - Carole Joan Crawford in 1965, Cindy Breakspeare in 1976 and Lisa Hanna in 1993 if you really want to surf for photos of them, though Naomi Campbell looks better than any of them.
Sadly Jamaica is also one of the world’s most indebted nations the other way around, and while you may go and take a holiday in some of the world’s most luxurious hotel resorts, the staff who are employed in them go home at night to some of the world’s least luxurious ghetto-slums, and they are the lucky ones, because they have a job, or at least a form of vassaldom and serfdom, which is what employment at a hotel resort amounts to (and that’s just the way the guests treat them; I am not speaking about the hotel management here).
Since independence from Britain in 1962, power in Jamaica has alternated between the social-democratic People's National Party and the conservative Jamaica Labour Party. So says the BBC, so it must be true. The current Prime Minister is Portia Simpson-Miller from the People's National Party, elected in 2011. With a name that combines Shakespeare and the Home Counties, you would expect the good lady to be pro-British, but in fact she has called for Jamaica to break with the British monarchy and become a republic; not a banana republic, as Jamaica is not a major producer of bananas; perhaps a sugar republic, which was the previous form of vassaldom and serfdom in Jamaica; perhaps a bauxite republic, for Jamaica is rich in bauxite, aka alumina, aluminum and aluminium. Probably Jamaica’s best chance for economic success is to offer itself as a modern Marathon, and build vast athletic stadia to host the Olympic Games permanently, and surround the stadia with statues of all the many men and women who have won medals in the past without cheating – this absence of statues will also allow room for Jamaica’s other best chance, which is to turn the island into an open-air music studio. It already is? Oh well, future bright with prospects then, so long as the police can get a hold on the world’s largest per capita murder rate, alongside those other drug-free centres of political stability and utopian housing Colombia and South Africa.
Marks For: 40,000 - the number of people who filed past Bob Marley's coffin in Jamaica’s National Arena, after he died of cancer (brain, liver, stomach and lungs) on May 11, 1981, aged thirty-six.
Marks Against: Unknown - the number of Jamaican athletes who have won a medal at any level of any sport without cheating.
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