Jamaica — Christmas Or Crimemas?

Faced with the racist treatment that was meted out to black people in America, Festus Claudius “Claude” McKay, the Jamaican writer and poet, who was a seminal figure in the Harlem Renaissance was prompted to write the well-known poem titled, If We Must Die.

He wrote:

If we must die, let it not be like hogs

Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,

While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,

Making their mock at our accursèd lot.

If we must die, O let us nobly die,

So that our precious blood may not be shed

In vain; then even the monsters we defy

Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!

O, kinsmen! We must meet the common foe!

Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,

And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!

What though before us lies the open grave?

Like men, we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,

Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

McKay words still ring true today, albeit within the Jamaican setting where criminal gangs have apparently been set loose upon the land killing, robbing, shooting, and maiming people without impunity.

The fact is criminal activities have left people cowering in fear and leaders of the country spinning in circles wondering what to do next.

The government is now 30 days into its zone of special operations (ZOSO) activities and is today busily engaged in curfews in the West end, while criminals are busy on the other side of town making “duppies” out of other people.

It is no wonder then that the question that occupies the minds of most people is when will the bloodletting stop or where are the defenders of the defenseless?

The question is rather apt as the Christmas holiday season approaches, many people now fear that if the crime wave continues they may not live to see this Christmas or another.

The fact of the matter is crime usually peak during holiday periods, and historically Jamaica has always shown a bounce in the crime rate particularly at this time.

It is therefore important for the leaders to get it right by flushing out the criminals by any means necessary.

People have the right to live in peace and to go about their normal activities as free citizens.

At the same time, the government has the responsibility to fulfill their mandate by providing security and protection for its citizens.

Afterall, the prominent citizens of the country and government ministers have their security details all worked out by their bodyguards, live in gated communities, and moreover are the proud gun owners.

The onus, therefore, rests with the government to ensure that the people at least have a Merry Christmas this year and not a melancholy “crimemas!”

Yvad Billings, Readers Bureau, Fellow

Edited by Jesus Chan

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