I’m happily snapping photos on the grounds of what once was a sprawling sugar cane plantation in Jamaica, altogether oblivious to the fact of this freedom.
Many a day is passed in this self-imposed ignorance, quite content to assault my sensibilities with other limitations. The lack of money, the lack of time, the lack of resources. Always the lack of.
It’s funny how my thoughts of freedom now have more to do with the catharsis associated with visiting a plantation. Taking time to look at the architecture, the magnificent view, all without a schedule. In the merriment, a sobering thought crossed my mind: how will I ever repay the bond that allowed me to be here?
I suppose on this Emancipation holiday, many a Jamaican will spend their time unshackling in their own way. A sizable portion of us will take to the westcoast and revel in what has become a calendar staple. ATI, RTI, whatever temptation we want to convert our island into, is the current currency of emancipation for a generation seemingly far removed from concepts of slavery and racism. Gone are the days of wondering about whether ‘Massa’ would be pleased or daily rations would be enough. Realities removed are realities forgotten, and so many of us, while still lacking firm goals to which to aspire, no longer have realities we’d like to escape from. And so we create vicious cycles of self-victimization, stuck in cycles of poverty and criminality and yet claiming independence and emancipation.
Many call for leadership in an effort to find a resolution to the current quagmire. The truth probably rests somewhere outside the formal construct of governance, however. It sits within the hearts and minds of a people still shackled in trends, social constructs and formal systems. A people afraid or unwilling to unleash their personal or collective powers because of an imposed mental slavery. We recite the words of the Robert Nesta Marley song with impunity, not realizing the power of its prophecy.
Daily we find creative ways of banishing the words of wisdom in their various forms from our midst. Killing our entrepreneurs, raping our future leaders and devaluing the premium on life and liberty. The change rests not within the hands of a chosen few but in the collective consciousness. A consciousness that should become intolerant of its tolerance of the wrong things. A consciousness that speaks with no action and makes utterances with no meaning.
Our reality, unfortunately, is of a free people with a shackled existence. A people in need of introspection as opposed to cathartic release. The indictment for all of us, including the blogger on the soapbox, is to make the day of celebrating Independence and Emancipation meaningful to someone — and that someone includes yourself.