CaribZone Commentary: Aubrey Campbell –Monday, October 17th

Folks, it’s another day to be thankful. I will not call it ‘Manic Monday’ because it could be worse. Dirty, nasty, nauseating politics aside, I had a conversation with a number of colleagues on the weekend and not surprisingly, they all came to the same screeching, conversational halt…the Jamaica Diaspora movement is going nowhere, fast! Not only that, they have jumped ship. And what is interesting is that these are folks who were once fixtures in the captain’s cabin.

The straw that is weighing down the Camel’s back is the silence of the governmental Lamb, on the staging of the 7th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, due next June.

His Holiness, Prime Minister Andrew, came, saw, spoke to a multitude of eager ears and left, nary a word on the much looked forward to ‘talkfest’. His deputy essential, the much pedigreed Kamina, remains tight-lipped like the virgin politician she is!

So, we are left with Her Excellency, Audrey, who has returned to the ‘hill’ for her second tour of duty and CG designate, Trudy, to share what they know, as soon as their gag orders are lifted. And here, I am pointing fingers at the USA Diaspora, my primary focus, since I am domiciled here. And further, without fear of contradiction, the Diaspora subsets in the UK and Canada are better organized.

Folks, June is just around the corner, and this is no jive on the Jamaican EPS, now known globally as GPS. June is seven months away and all that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade is prepared to say is that the government is working on a National Diaspora Policy (NDP), 12 years in the making! My math might be off but not by much!

…working on a National Diaspora Policy. Is that to be interpreted as, there was not enough time since taking office to be effectively engaged in planning for a calendar event? And is there any truth that the government has asked Advisory Board Members (ABMs) in the three USA regions – NE, SE, MW – to hold on/stay on, until such time that they can deal with the matter?

There is supposed to be a Diaspora Foundation, headquartered in Kingston, and whether or not a national policy is in place, the movement has been working with some set guidelines, including those governing recommendation/nomination/selection/election of ABMs.

Persons with a vested interest in Jamaica’s national development and who want to contribute through a structured program, are frustrated and concerned that a fractured and seemingly partisan, politically driven Diaspora movement, will not ‘cut it’. It’s not something that they are prepared to run with! One of the remits of the Foundation should be to provide for a smooth, seamless transition across governments…Hello?

So, why no word on a Diaspora conference, up to this point, and why no election to remove and replace the current ABMs, thereby jettisoning the current malaise that has set in?

With some haste, it seems the ambassador has lent her good office to a trailblazer award ceremony in New York, no doubt the epicenter of the NE sector and I can tell you from way down here in the deep South, this ‘awards’ have folks speaking in some very colorful tongues!

In June, there was a conference in Queens, NY, closed out with an awards ceremony hosted by that larger than life funnyman, Oliver Samuels. Four months later, the same folks are at it again, as if enough scamming is not taking place already in the universe of alumni associations!


What would be a better option, planning another awards ceremony or working to shore up the sagging fortunes of the NE sector, by putting together a nominating committee and preparing for elections? In a previous conversation in this forum, I asked if the NDP will be available for discourse and debate prior to the conference, so that at the conference, it would be just a matter of ratification and signing, knowing all too well that if such a government document is to be discussed on the conference floor, it would be playing right into ‘just another talkfest’ with no actionable outcomes!

To date, I have had no takers.

What all of this is doing is allowing for business as usual, Jamaicans doing what they want to do in the name of ‘national development’. So that, for example, the outstanding work being done by the education subcommittee, headed by Leo Gilling, insurance executive and radio personality, will never get the recognition it deserves. Same goes for the efforts of Team Jamaica Bickle, which jumped into action last week to secure defibrillators for schools in Jamaica, in the wake of the tragic death of St. Georges’ College Manning Cup schoolboy football player, Dominic James.

Say what you want to say about Irwin Clare, Sr., he’s no political fool but yet he has his heart in the right place. Imagine what it would do for a Diaspora Movement to have been able to secure those critical medical devices for schools in Jamaica, considering that we all gravitate to and can relate to high school sports, back home?

Brethren, your OD is ‘over deserving’, all things considered! Those who are not criticized are those who do nothing, and I mean absolutely, positively nothing! And in the same breath, best wishes with your upcoming 5K Run for health and wellness.

So, where does all this talk leave us? Still without a voice and a face while we toil by the riverside, here in Babylon. Let Jah arise…!


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