With the Jamaican economy in shambles and as we go through this IMF austerity program, the level of hopelessness and despair increases. The dreams and ambitions of especially the young are thwarted as the general lack of jobs and opportunity prevent us from earning a reasonable wage to put plans into action and achieve our full potential. With these issues on the mind of the young, migration is seen as a solution to these issues.
This is seen in the long lines outside the US Embassy on a daily basis as people line up to vie for a visa to gain entry to the land of “opportunity”. There is also the drive to migrate to Canada spurred on by the Canadian Government who is seeking the best of our educated and skilled workforce to come there and help improve their already good economy.
We Jamaicans are a hard working and industrious people and are willing to put in the work just so long as we are paid fairly for the effort that we put in. As it is right now however, most of the Jamaican workforce is not being compensated appropriately, due to a myriad of reasons, one of which has already been mentioned. This reality coupled with the possibility of leading a better life abroad, has many Jamaicans thinking of migration and the potential benefits however, is migration really the solution?
There are quite a few expatriates from around the world who have taken up residence in Jamaica and have become naturalized Jamaicans. These naturalized Jamaicans are living very good lives compared to their home grown counterparts which begs the question, what are they doing differently than us the locals? Is it really that they are better professionals and better business people than us? Or is there something more sinister behind their relative success in this country? Take for example, the Chinese that have seen generations come and settle in Jamaica. Most if not all come with little to no possessions but after putting in the work, are able to live a very comfortable lifestyle. This is partly due to the unity in the Chinese community, who always seek to help each other by sharing resources whether it be shelter, shop space or even sharing the cost of goods and utilities which greatly helps them to not only save money but keep money within the community and build each other up. This can also be seen in the Indian community here as well as they too seek to help each other to become successful. The unity displayed in these communities is what seems to be lacking among born and bred Jamaicans and is stifling the potential growth and development of Jamaicans and Jamaica overall. We show unity only in times of international sport competitions such as track and field, football and entertainment but outside of that, we are quite disunited as a community.
This is very evident in our politics, as that is one very divisive line that most Jamaicans seem to not be able to cross as some of the populace believes that there are spoils to be gained by supporting a particular party and whoever speaks out against their particular party of choice is threatening their chances for prosperity. This is a belief that affects the highest to the lowest parts of the social strata, as the choice jobs and business opportunities are reserved for the party loyalists. These loyalists then laud the spoils of their allegiance over the rest of the community and this builds resentment amongst the people who have been disenfranchised. This phenomenon not only occurs in our politics, but it takes place in our schools, government institutions and businesses as well, which negatively affects the productivity of the nation as some of the “highly favoured” are either not qualified for the job, or have no interest in effectively carrying out their duties. This favouritism and nepotism has become the order of the day, which breeds our good friend, corruption.
If Jamaica is to overcome the economic malaise that it is currently in, Jamaicans on a whole need to learn to love one another and seek to help each other become better off in life and overall better citizens. If this is done and each and everybody gets a fair shot at opportunities available, whether it be jobs or business opportunities, then you will find a more united country with less envy and resentment towards each other and a decreased instance of corruption, resulting in a more productive and economically sound country. This will most definitely eliminate the need for our brightest and talented from having to migrate in order to realize their true potential.