Social Commentary

The Upcoming Revolution most people didn’t expect: The Tambourine Army

 

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There is a revolution brewing in the most unsuspecting of places, the hearts and minds of our women. I have been observing these past few weeks, especially on social media, a renewed sense of urgency to stop violence against women and children. The co-founders of this movement, notable advocates Ms. Nadeen Spence and Ms. Latoya Nugent, have managed to galvanize support from women young and old across the Jamaican society.

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To provide some context about this movement, it all started when one of the co-founders, Ms. Latoya Nugent, who goes by the alias Stella Gibson was featured in the media in January 2017 for using a Tambourine to assault, then president of the Moravian Church, Paul Gardner, who was also subsequently charged with carnal abuse. It was this incident that spawned the idea to start an activist group to tackle gender-based violence which came to be known as the Tambourine Army.

Since these women launched their challenge against the system, I’ve observed strong support as well as strong opposition from both men AND women on the issue. Most people, especially the women, seem to be fully behind the cause and have taken to social media to break their silence and speak up! The opposing minority however seems to be indifferent towards the methodologies used and have even gone as far as to question the motives of some behind this movement. They seem to be of the view that the force and aggression will do little for the movement and are suggesting a more balanced, inclusive approach to get a larger buy in from other stakeholders of society.

While in theory that approach should work, in actuality that hasn’t been the case and I commend the women of the Tambourine Army for finally accepting this and choosing to be BOLD FOR CHANGE. There are many issues like gender-based violence affecting us as a nation that we spend most of our time writing letters to the editor about, talking on the radio/TV about or posting on social media and then get frustrated when these methods produce little to no results. Maybe this approach was wrong, but that is something we will have to wait and see as time passes. However, we must acknowledge the courage of these women for trying and fighting; a lesson we all could take away and apply to our personal fights.

I would never pretend to understand or even relate to the pain these women must be feeling; especially the survivors. The overwhelming anxiety for change and the strength to bear that pain and keep it subdued, while the system considers their plight. At some point enough will be enough, and it is not our place to judge them for taking this position now if they feel, the time is NOW.

To my brothers reading this I want you to imagine for a second, you were born into a world where society counted you as inferior before you were old enough to understand what it meant. And imagine a superior group of counterparts whom are knowledgeable of the perceived limitations placed upon you and take advantage of you in the worst of ways to further their agendas of greed, power and pleasure. I’m not certain if that fully captures it, but I’d imagine that’s how our women have felt all these centuries. Centuries of psychological, physical and emotional abuse that constantly gets overlooked because the people beyond this social glass ceiling are all men; looking amusingly at the woman’s effort to try and break it.

This nuh feel right and I would hate for the situation to get bloody before oonu Jamaican people realize this! This issue affects me personally, because I have witnessed for myself the emotional, physical and psychological abuse of the women I grew up with by men who were suppose to be my father figures. Not knowing what to do as a young boy I silently shared their pain, cried with them and prayed with them for better days until I was old enough to know better and to do better! I have been blessed with two beautiful little sisters that I’m worried about honestly. I’m worried they will be forced to pay a gruesome price for their beauty, and have to stifle their potential to fit into a society that fails to see the value in allowing them to just be. This isn’t just a fight for our women and children, but a fight for Jamaica’s sake. We all have a part to play, because we all are affected by this issue; in one way or another.

If the women behind this Tambourine Army believe they have exhausted all avenues of “proper” ways to advocate that they taught us in their schools, then I say do what you must to maintain the fight. If you must shout, then shout; if you must march, then march; if you are attacked with force, fight back with force; but please don’t give up the fight. Your courage and nationalism is not unnoticed and my children and the children of ALL MEN will thank you dearly for your service to Jamaica. History will absolve you.

 

-G.B

 

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Business, Investment and Economics

My Two cents: What really is the purpose of the Economic Growth Council (EGC) of Jamaica?

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It doesn’t take an economics pundit to see through the fluff which surrounds the Economic Growth council of Jamaica. Its membership for one, right off the bat, tells you that this isn’t a unit seriously concerned about the ECONOMIC GROWTH of our country; but rather the LOOK of there being a special machinery in place for our economic growth. Let’s take an actual look at the council itself:

  1. Michael Lee-Chin, OJ Chairman, EGC
    Chairman, National Commercial Bank
  2. Ambassador Dr. Nigel Clarke Vice Chairman, EGC
    Dep. Chairman & CFO, Musson Group of Companies
  3. Hugh C. Hart, OJ Senior Partner, Hart Muirhead Fatta
  4. Patrick Hylton, CD Group Managing Director, NCB
  5. Noel Hylton, OJ, CD Noel Hylton and Associates
    Former Chairman, President and CEO, Port Authority of Jamaica
  6. Paula Kerr-Jarrett Director, Barnett Limited
  7. Pat Ramsay Cultural Consultant and Development Director
  8. Adam Stewart CEO, Sandals Resorts International
  9. Senator Kavan Gayle
    Representative from Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions
  10. Phillip Gore Owner & Executive Chairman of Gore Developments Ltd.

You’ll notice, for the most part, it’s nothing but a group of businessmen, lawyers and Investors. And if you’re wondering about Dr Nigel Clarke, he has a doctorate in mathematics (not economics). Another thing which stands out for me is the lack of youthful exuberance on this council. If it’s expected that the youth of Jamaica are to be the successors of any efforts coming out of this project, then why aren’t we represented? Where’s the young economics student to offer a different (and more contemporary) perspective to the discussions on growth? And if this Council is in place then what then was the purpose of creating a Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation? Aren’t we kind of repeating ourselves here? hmm

There are a few people in society today that I’m surprised weren’t tall enough to get on this ride either. Dr K’adamwe K’nife, lecturer of entrepreneurship at the UWI Mona and sustainable development specialist would make sense as an addition to me; Dr Peter Phillips MP, former Minister of Finance and Planning (who also holds a PhD in International Political Economy and Development Studies I might add), and the only man who could offer insight on our growth over the last 4-5 years; Dennis Chung, CEO of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica to guide offer insight on the structuring of that public/private partnership; Professor Trevor Munroe, Executive Director of the National Integrity Action (NIA) to advise the proper preventative measures for corruption control in the grand scheme of growth; and the list goes on.

What also concerns me is the overarching mission of this council with their “five in four plan” i.e 5% growth over the next 4 years. Is this even possible? Are they saying 5% cumulative growth by the year 2020, or in the year 2020 they expect to achieve growth of 5% after any given quarter? Below is a graph showing Jamaica’s economic growth trajectory over the last 4 years:

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As you can see for yourself, According to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica on a quarter-on-quarter basis, the GDP expanded 1.6 percent. GDP Annual Growth Rate in Jamaica averaged 0.58 percent from 2003 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 4.30 percent in the fourth quarter of 2006 and a record low of -4.50 percent in the second quarter of 2009. So if you really think about it, if they can replicate what was done between 2003 and 2016 and add 0.30%, 5% “growth” is possible. But will this really translate to socio-economic development? Rather, is this council AT ALL concerned with the socio-economic development of Jamaica or just boosting the numbers on paper? Because they are basically promising another 4 years just like the last 4 years (only a little bit better to account for the extra 0.30%). Is that what the Jamaican people would consider as growth?

A more believable approach to this would have been to extend the trajectory to about 15-20 years with a memorandum of understanding between the two political parties and civil society groups that just like the vision 2030 development agenda, this growth agenda would remain untouched. Notice also, that the current administration’s campaign for government was hinged on the promise of economic prosperity (growth) for Jamaica if elected. Also notice, that this 5 in 4 plan will conveniently conclude just in time for election season again? *hint*hint*

Finally take a look at the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) and the newly convened Economic Growth Council (EGC). Notice any similarities? Why did they recreate the wheel that was the EPOC instead of adopt and reform it? Why is the chair of the EPOC, Mr Richard Byles, not even an honorary member of the EGC? *sips tea*

I want to end my rant with a word of advice to the powers that be reading this and may be feeling uneasy with the revelations: get over yourselves. The growth and development of Jamaica Land we love should not be a tactic to retain power and/or boost the aesthetics of the party which forms government; but rather a social partnership between ALL stakeholders of Jamaica (Rich, Poor and Young ) committed to the long term agenda for economic growth and prosperity. I would also implore the EGC going forward, to dialogue with the youth of our country and get them directly involved in this mission for economic growth. After all, whatever progress or decline that comes from this initiative will be OUR responsibility as youth to carry on. So it makes sense to give us a seat at the table.

 

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Social Commentary

My two cents: x6 murder trial – Who is the real victim here?

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I remember I was in lower 6th form at Wolmers when I heard of Khajeel Mais. Though the circumstances upon which I heard of him were unfortunate, one thing was apparent was the level of respect and appreciation he commanded from the teenage community at the time; especially the girls. The details of his alleged murder at the time was unclear to me, and at one point seemed like a rumor with the amount of theories that surfaced. One theory which I can recall was that he (Khajeel) exited the taxi and attempted to provoke the driver (Patrick Powell) and a struggle ensued which led to his subsequent death. Another theory is that there was another person in the BMW X6 which was reportedly the son of Patrick Powell, and the son being familiar with Mais engaged in a verbal brawl which prompted Powell to exit the vehicle and try to intimidate Mais with his firearm; and somehow through intimidating Mais to retire his anger the gun fired off.

So many theories, but none of which point to the truth. One truth we know though is that Patrick Powell is a notable businessman, of what particular trade I wasn’t able to identify but he is presumed to be successful and legitimate in what he does. Powell had fled the island for the United States following the altercation with young Mais, and according to their defense attorney Peter Champagnie, was “lured” back to the island recently following the detainment of his son, Jhanai Powell, for his involvement in the assault of a man in 2009. According to clerk of court Hansurd Lawson in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate’s Court, it was the influence of the youth’s family that had been preventing his arrest for so long. Peter Champagnie,  in his defense of Powell dismissed this claim and asserted that he had not been arrested all along because the complainant had given a vague statement to the police.

What this highlights to me is that the Powells both have a tendency to solve their disputes in less amicable ways (allegedly) and that these men are part of a very powerful and influential family; with the kind of influence that can potentially pervert the course of justice. Criminals and Dons have used their wealth and influence to capture justice before, and with the Police Force being perceived to be one of the most corrupt institutions in Jamaica, it’s not a hard theory to prove. But against all these facts, “facts” and allegations what we know for sure is that: 1) Khajeel Mais is dead 2) eye witness accounts put Patrick Powell at the scene of the crime 3) Powell is a wealthy and influential businessman 4) The media has been sensationalizing this issue to paint Mais as the only victim 5) Witnesses from the scene in 2009 who indicated an interest to cooperate at first, have now been diagnosed with amnesia conveniently dating back to the day of Mais’ death.

There is clearly more to this story that meets our eyes, and as hard as it is to be objective we must try our best in the name of Justice. Let’s watch this case keenly and make conclusions after all the facts have been gathered and presented, and not from personal bias. Personally, I am leaning towards Mais being the victim and the possibility that a struggle did in fact happen between them which led to Mais’s death; but that’s just my theory. I’m still giving Powell the benefit of the doubt because believe it or not, we could all be wrong.

 

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Social Commentary

At what point should your relationship become social? (if at all)

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I used to be all over social media with my girlfriend. This was back then when I was young and foolish, I remember I’d write on her wall and she’d write on mine or make suggestive status updates with the intention of catching hers and my friends attention. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), we’re not together anymore, for varying reasons WHICH I WON’T GET INTO. However, I will admit to social media having an impact on that relationship; both negatively and positively, and it’s from that experience in particular that I learnt how to handle myself and my emotions on this new platform of expression (and the various platforms that followed Facebook). For me, in terms of positives it taught me the value of self respect, boundaries, privacy and really appreciating my partner in an unconditional way. On the flip-side, it highlighted a very dark irrational side to my psyche that only seems to surface in an emotionally pressuring environment and it took away my attention from where it should have been initially: on her; it distracted me. If you’re reading this, I’m sorry.

So from all of that right now where I am, I have learnt to gauge social media usage like a thermometer and use it for what it was originally intended to be: a channel. Just another channel of socializing with the aim of bringing us closer together as a world. I don’t believe posts, tweets and mentions should be the tool for keeping your partner happy; even if it is, it should be kept at an absolute minimum. Also, lest we forget that humans are innately bad-mind, vindictive and “red yiye” in nature and the same way they don’t want you to do anything personally or professionally progressive, is the same way they don’t wanna see you happy (subconsciously of course). So to avoid those energies coming my way and the hearts of so many good people in the world becoming filthy on accord of our human nature, I keep my thing on a level.

But I thought it would be interesting to hear the views of others on this; because it is a hurdle we all have to cross at some points in our relationships. At what point should the relationship become social? (if at all). Here are the views of some Jamaicans:

Makeda:

Ahhm depends on the person, I saw on an episode of Steve Harvey’s talk show that people give and receive love is 5 different ways.
Days gone by relationships on a whole were much more private but the world was smaller, overall it is an understanding of yourself and partner that determines how much you post
 So back in the day holding hands and kissing aka PDA was huge, now posting who your with on social media is the “new platform” to show love.
So if yahll are private it’ll play a minor role to your comfort, if unnuh have more public, bold personalities, possibly a bigger role but at the basis people need to understand the dangers of social media and use it to their liking accordingly.

Jaye:

“..personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with you know letting the world/ people know that you love someone.. but there shouldn’t be a ‘relationship’ made of it. If you get what I’m putting down 🤔”

Nick:

“We live in the era where social media is more deeply rooted as a platform for expression, so understandably people feel the need to share their affairs with the world. I think it’s still okay to make your relationship status known on social media as you choose. However, the affairs of your relationship should not be over social media, that’s the part you keep private.

So to answer the question now, I think your relationship and social can share a connection within certain boundaries. Why boundaries? You simply don’t want your relationship to become everyone else relationship, so you keep those boundaries observed.”

Brodey:

“..social media should not have any integral parts in my relationship other than communication… itz merely a conduit for keeping the link with your significant other or loved ones or it is used to establish a link (look a girl to have a relationship with)… if social media is used more integrally, such as showing affection and so forth, it may lead to damaging repercussions. Posts that reflects affection towards another (girl in my case) may provide ammunition in times of turbulence, especially if you a deal with another girl( the other girl snooping and then may start page the wifey or vice versa). The other one is that once those affectionate posts and blogs are publicized,  it can be saved and later used against somebody who don’t want to remember or have any evidence coming to the forefront of them ever dealing. Also the less ppl know about your business, the more you’re better off… so no post to explicitly show affection, for me..”

Fuju:

“Relationships shouldn’t be influenced by what we see on social media. Often times we just see stills/pictures,but we don’t see the bigger “picture”. We don’t see the sacrifices that it took to get to that place of love that we see displaying in front of or eyes. And on the flip side we don’t see beyond the facade, we can’t see the girl physically abusing her bf and him verbally abusing her. We can’t see the abortion that she did without consulting him on the matter.

Relationships on social media should not be taken as “gospel” or instructions on how to live your life, or the type of relationship you should have. It should only serve as an example that love exists.”

Melzetta:

“Being that im a private person i keep most of my intimate moments private. I use my SM accounts to talk about issues that affect me or people around me. You wont find me posting relationship arguments etc. However its a good spying tool lol but im also not that person to lurk on my significant others page loool I dont think SM should play a major role in the relationship as it can be considered private space – my partner still has the right to being his own individual. “

What stands out from these responses for me is this notion that social media is a spying tool, and for those reasons I guess some don’t believe their relationship should get social any at all. And I don’t blame them, cause both men and women are guilty of this; guilty of blowing something small and innocent into epic proportions of nonsense. Why is that me mentioning or retweeting a certain person more than I do my other followers should suggest unfaithfulness? Why can’t I post a picture with a friend of the opposite sex without the usual comment “A she that mi boss? *cool face emoji*”? Why can’t I make a random, emotional paragraph post without that awkward “is there something we need to talk about?” conversation before bed? when since we get so petty  and dependent on social media for assurance? My God.

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Social Commentary

My two cents: Andrew Holness, the “Champion bwoy”

 

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Now, I had my doubts about Andrew’s leadership capabilities at first, just like everyone else did I would imagine. I mean, those undated resignation letters last year highlighted a very impulsive and arrogant opposition leader that I couldn’t picture as my Prime Minister. Then the general elections came along, and a transformation was made that I dare say is probably unprecedented in our political history.  Andrew’s image moved from being this stiff, impulsive, emotion-less juvenile politician to a very calculated, controlled, fervent and mature-looking leader whom consequently won the hearts of the Jamaican people.Upon victory, he proclaimed himself the champion boy, a direct reference the Dancehall artiste Alkaline’s hit single “Champion bwoy” which the electorate gobbled up cravenly.

He seemingly has also won over the respect and approval of his naysayers within the Jamaica Labour party, as challenges to his leadership these days seem to be a thing of the past. It’s still early, so we can’t say anything too conclusive about his leadership as yet, but the bangarang unfolding within the Peoples National Party (PNP) in recent months has definitely made him more favorable in the eyes of the electorate; a fact which his publicists exploit every chance they get.

He has made some good moves recently, I’ll agree; especially in delivering on some of his promises that we were anticipating; particularly his $1.5 million tax break. But there’ still a lot more that needs to be done before he gets assigned a passing grade. Public relations are on point yes, but that alone won’t translate into votes 3 and a half years from now. I’m still waiting to see how he will address unemployment (especially among youth) with more sustainable fixes and not another call center. I’m very interested to see how he and his economic council will handle the IMF programme which I might add was under excellent management by the former Minister of Finance, Dr Peter Phillips. Crime and violence in our country is climbing like a wildfire, and I’m eager to see the plans he has up his sleeve to remedy this problem. You see, being young, likable and good with communicating to the people is only 40% of the job. The other 60% is governing the country. Let’s watch how he governs.

 

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Lifestyle

Who dives first (if at all)? He or She

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Is oral sex still a taboo in Jamaica? is it slowly becoming a norm? or is it a normative practice already but still facing resistance from a few stubborn traditionalists? Well, to me in any society, culture is the driver of norms and value systems and I think it’s safe to say our culture has accepted oral sex as a part of conventional intercourse, but to an extent. Unfortunately for our trying culture, this acceptance is embraced on the heels of a double standard hell-bent on standing firm, “’cause badman nu bow”. So maybe it’s the men, some of them at least, whom are holding back culture from fully leveling the playing field. But have you ever stopped to think that maybe the women, some of them at least, have something to do with this as well? I think some of the women actually encourage this double standard and here’s why I say it.

When Dancehall artiste Vybz Kartel, whom I would credit for being the instigator of this cultural revolution, came out with the hit single “freaky gyal”, at first it was met with mixed reviews. Of course the men praised him for coming out so bold and machismo with it, but most women were either quiet about their opinions or vaguely rejected the song.  After a time now, when the song started to climb the radio waves and dominate the radios of every taxi and coaster bus, women sneakingly started to change their minds; this started with quiet nods of their heads to the song when it was being played in the party, taxi, bus, anywhere; to now where women gyrating with conviction to this anthem of  sexual liberation.

The way the woman is portrayed in these song lyrics, seems to be very empowering to some (though submissive) and I beg to argue that the female community have actually come to appreciate this (subconsciously). But, let’s bring the discussion back to where it was intended to go, which is to have some discourse on the aforementioned title: who dives first? Maybe next time we can explore this double standard more in length.

For all my intelligent readers out there, by “dive” in the title of this piece I am inferring oral sex; and based on the social context I have just set, I am also assuming both parties are comfortable, capable and willing to perform such practice on each other. I decided to take this one to the streets of social media and whatsapp, and asked a few people the question, Who dives first (if at all)? He or She? Here were their responses:

Lee-Ann*, 22 y.o, stage actor:

“..Isn’t that a part of foreplay? That question makes me think there’s hesitation on both parties part. I guess whoever enjoys giving oral.”

Thanto*, 25 y.o, recording artiste:

“..Dependent on the dynamics. The aggressor should initiate OS then the other, based on the understanding, return or get into penetration mode. But sex is very complex because the aggressor might not be a bowaz and would want the other to get it going. Its weird caz sex varies from person to person.

David*, 19 y.o, CARIMAC student:

“Hardly think it matters. I’d hope two adults having sex are doing so because they want to both enjoy themselves and please each other. Similarly, I assume anyone giving oral sex wants to do it so I doubt it is as calculated as “who goes first” in most instances. Whoever wants to go first should I suppose. A part of the beauty of sex is the element of surprise/spontaneity.”

Felix*, 30 y.o, teacher:

“I don’t think the responsibility to initiate oral sex should be that of one partner. Both parties should initiate whenever they please. Speaking from the heterosexual framework which I think this question was posed from, the culture of some Jamaican male is to not engage in oral sex and as such the notion is that females should initiate and be the only ones who do it. A power play dynamic is always present…. The lens is broader tho and I stick to my first point, the responsibility to initiate is not the job of only one party”

Janice*, 30 y.0, accountant:

“it depends on the feeling, and it depends on the persons and what each person is feeling for at that time. caz sometimes yuh have a man who just wants to eat! and the woman doesn’t want to return the favor then if that case he wud initiate. But what if the girl has been thinking about sucking his dick all day and he’s not thinking along those lines then she would be the one to initiate.”

Rodney*, 25 y.o, herbalist:

“gyal dem fi start it off bredda, cause without a proper erection sex will not be sex; but just two people fooling around. I think it should be the duty of the woman fi clean the rifle and kick off the game, cause a wet front from me giving her head won’t get my dick hard. there can be moments though when the man step up to the plate and kick it off; me personally like fi deal with it when me see seh she come home tired and moody; and mi deeven ask fi nuh sex after. But you see anytime mi do that G, next morning under the sheets me wake up with it inna her mouth; a just how the thing set. Cause my girl good like that. is a give and take sometimes, but by right woman fi kick it off under normal circumstances.”

Camille*, 22 y.o, writer:

“Listen, I don’t care who does it first all I know is I love sucking my man’s dick; and I think other girls would once they give it a shot. My man used to be one of those dudes acting all tough like him don’t waah do it too, but after I did it once and told him he wouldn’t get it again unless he did it to me, nigga wake me up one night and sucked me dry lol. And best believe, my man is a gangsta according to society’s standards. But I guess when you’re in a relationship compromises can be made, and this business about who dives first becomes trivial. I still love giving it to him though, first or second it don’t matter”

Well, there you have it. Ordinary Jamaicans young and old giving their views on who should dive first. Some believe it doesn’t matter, and that sex should be allowed to flow in the direction it wants to go; others are adamant that someone has to start the oral for the sex to actually happen. Personally, I say before getting into that position with someone try to have some constructive dialogue with them about it; play devil’s advocate and test your partner’s tolerance level before getting into the sheets with them. That way when you guys go to bed, there are less uncertainties because you know what turns to take on your way to the promise land. Oh, and practice safe sex everyone. Peace.

*Disclaimer: identities of respondents were changed for security reasons.

-GB

 

 

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Lifestyle

My Two cents: for the Broke, Unemployed and Ambitious young Jamaican

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Student loans to payback, work experience, first car, first apartment, first million….do these terms look familiar to you? I mean there are others but these seem to stand out in the minds of most millennials. These are the terms that haunt us every day in the shower, on the treadmill, while driving, while cooking, having sex (sometimes lol) and while doing just about anything these days. It’s nerve wrecking isn’t it? Especially when you’re based in Jamaica where all you see on the news is incremental increases in unemployment and promises of more jobs which for some reason all seem to be linked to the opening of a new call center. Hmm.

Well here’s my two cents: if opportunities are lacking in Jamaica, try maths up a visa and get out. No, I’m not encouraging you to emigrate, but do it more so personal and professional development; especially if the options locally seem nil for you. It’s nonsensical to spend thousands/millions in school to settle for opportunities that only offer a fraction of that investment. The fact that our politicians have royally flushed the country down the drain over the years with their  corrupted politicking should not be your burden to bear. Go into the world and claim better for yourself.

-GB

 

 

 

 

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