It falls on civil society to help

Jamaicans have been regarded as among the most undisciplined, ungovernable people on this planet, yet Mr Christopher Coke, in the short period he has been on this earth, has managed to establish in a small corner of the island an area of discipline and order. How did he achieve this? By studying and understanding the Jamaican psyche. Jamaicans will respond to firm, uncompromising leadership, as long as it is accompanied by benevolence, respect and kindness.
   I am advised that Mr Coke ran a tight ship – brooked no departure from his rules of governance, but saw to the welfare of all his subjects. As a result, for example, no children were to be seen on the streets after 8:00 pm, no doors needed to be locked, lunch money, books, bus fares and school uniforms were denied to no one in need, and mothers who applied such generosity to “bling” were summarily reprimanded, hence the outpouring of support on the streets of West Kingston were not necessarily staged. His departure will therefore create an ominous void, with attendant resentment, which must be filled quickly.
   It is the task of government to provide and impose firm, even-handed discipline, but the government cannot afford the largesse. It therefore falls to civil society, at home and abroad, to provide that benevolence. The entire world echoed with the cries of horror that went up from the Jamaican diaspora over the events of last week. Now that an uneasy calm has returned, we cannot and must not allow ourselves to slip back into apathy. In December 2009, I proposed the launch of a worldwide fund geared towards the restoration of the city of Kingston.
   The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica is comprised of some of the best financial and business minds in the country – they have demonstrated the authority they can wield, judging from the prime minister’s reaction to the outcry they spearheaded recently. They should be persuaded to monitor the selection of a Board of Trustees (from here and abroad), as well as the collection of the donations and finally identify and supervise the areas of expenditure. They alone are capable of encouraging Jamaicans, wherever in the political divide, to donate as they are able. Let us see the city of Kingston, our pearl of the Carib-bean, bustling again with signs of commerce and business, small and large – let the revival of the old begin and new ones come to life, and let this be the beginning of the end of all garrisons everywhere, as we truly be-come our brother’s keepers.
   Howard Hamilton is an attorney-at-law.

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