Friday, January 10, 2003

Both the Gleaner & the Observer in their editorials today address the new visa requirement for Jamaican nationals wishing to visit the United Kingdom.

"The decision of the British Home Office ... carries with it a sense of inevitability," says the Gleaner. "It was not so much if the requirement would be imposed but when."

The Observer is more blunt:

... in the final analysis, Britain has the right to do what it thinks it must to protect its borders and its national interest — including insisting that Jamaicans must have visas if they want to enter the country. That's the cold, hard fact.

There is a lesson somewhere there for Jamaica and Jamaicans. One is that we have our problems and have to fix them.

A second is that we have to disabuse ourselves of the notion of a special relationship upon which we can ride and come to an understanding of a commonality of interests. When these interests do not converge, we ought not to expect a bligh.

Here, then, is the ultimate lesson: we have a problem and it is ours to fix.

But not everyone sees it that way; look at this letter to the editor from today's Gleaner:


Once again "Jamaicans" are the cause of all the ills of Britain. We are less than five per cent of the population yet blacks are responsible for the swathes of violence and high availability of drugs! When are we going to stand up and say enough is enough and stop accepting the punishment of the many for the sins of the few?

As slaves we were forced to bow our heads, we are now free individuals and should insist on being treated as such. Jamaicans hold your heads up high, you have nothing to be ashamed of as a nation.

Finally Mr. Knight, for years the British government has wanted to introduce visas for Jamaicans visiting its shores, Jamaicans did not bring this upon themselves, it was imposed upon you, all part of a prior plan.

I am etc.,


St. Anns, Nottingham
United Kingdom

"We are now free individuals and should insist on being treated as such." And as free individuals must accept responsibility for the consequences of our actions — that's part of the package deal. Vague references to sinister "prior plans" do not relieve us of that responsibility. But try explaining that to the L. Clarkes of the world. "None but ourselves can free our minds," eh?

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