Portia Simpson-Miller : A Genuine Caribbean Nation Hero
The Caribbean Is One Nation.
|Mrs. Portia Simpson-Miller|
“Social justice and commonsense alike dictate the need for a systematic programme of legislation and institutional modification to the end that women take their full and equal part as direct and involved participants in society and contributors to the process of change. Laws must be revised to remove all traces of discrimination, training programmes must be devised and job opportunities scrutinized to ensure full equality of opportunity . Economic development must be planned with the needs of women in the employment area fully in mind. In this way, one will simultaneously satisfy the principle of equality and release to the use and benefit of the society, the enormous reservoir of energy and talent that is locked away in the female half of the population. Jamaica must work consciously towards a situation in which women paly a full part in every aspect of national life, bringing to bear their equivalent general abilities together with the special qualities of commonsense and patience which they seem to acquire as part of the preparation for and the experience of motherhood. In any event, it is impossible to conceive of social justice unless the decision-making process at every level of activity in society reflects the female equally with the male viewpoint. Each sex views reality from the perspective of its role in the family relationship. Each, therefore, compliments the other and policy proceeds most wisely where it represents a resolution of forces as between the male and female perspectives.” Michael Manley, The Politics of Change pages: 195-96 (1974)
It is most interesting that the former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Michael Manley, a true Caribbean visionary, made this observation about two years before Simpson -Miller entered the Jamaica Parliament. She will eventually rise to spend over three decades in that august chamber and serve two periods as Prime Minister of Jamaica under a Peoples National Party Government (PNP).
There are many outstanding achievements of which Mrs. Simpson-Miller can be extremely proud. She did not spring from the upper echelons of Jamaican society and in her brilliant political career, endured the nastiness of those who found immense pleasure, in referencing her "lack" of intellectual standing and “class” origins. We note that she entered Parliament with a high school certificate and subsequently earned a university diploma.
In a society, as steeped in classism, as any in the Caribbean, this achievement certainly dumfounded those who often elevate intellectual prominence above pure, natural political instincts. She can therefore take credit for defeating the social, intellectual and political snobs who are known to frequent the region, in considerable numbers.
The Mahogany Coconut Group therefore declares, Mrs. Portia-Simpson-Miller an outstanding Caribbean hero for her undeniable efforts and success in the collective goal of exposing “false prophets” and dismantling social, intellectual and political classism/snobbery throughout the Caribbean Nation. We wish, our sister Portia, all the best in the future. Well done!
We share with you, this editorial of the Jamaica Observer
Jamaica Observer Editorial, Thursday July 06, 2017
Jamaica Observer Editorial, Thursday July 06, 2017
Mrs. Portia Simpson Miller has called a halt to her truly remarkable political career lasting forty-three years — remarkable because of the length of unbroken tenure as a Member of Parliament starting in 1989.
Even more remarkable is the fact that with her formal education limited to high school level, belatedly given the veneer of a university education, she rose through the ranks of a People's National Party (PNP) dominated by highly educated upper-middle class men.
She broke the proverbial “glass ceiling” for women to become the president of the PNP and the first female prime minster of Jamaica. She is the first person from the working class to have achieved this and to rule with an 'iron fist' over men, including some who supported her in hopes of manipulating her.
Her removal of Dr Omar Davies from the position of minister of finance showed “the strength of a woman”. She had what none of them had since Mr Michael Manley, namely charisma. Some happily supported her because she could keep them in government while they indulged in social derision. Her advantage was an innate political acumen that knew who was genuine. Her great asset was her abiding concern for the poor and working class.
Mrs Simpson Miller consistently did her best, and better than expected, but many questioned whether her best was good enough, arguing that long service is not necessarily to be confused with good service.
The limited improvement in the condition of her constituency, St Andrew South West, is a serious indictment because it remains one of the poorest urban ghettos in Jamaica. It is not enough to point to cases of transformation of individuals who benefited from her personal charity, which is commendable, but does not rise to the level of social and economic transformation.
She has had the courage to walk away from politics with a fair amount of urging from within and outside the PNP. Perhaps she took a bit too long in giving the baton to Dr Peter Philips.
Mrs Simpson Miller handled her departure with immaculate comportment, her inimitable style and self-assured dignity. Her exit shows the courage which should be a signal to older politicians in both the PNP and the Jamaica Labour Party to leave after they have run their leg and have little left to contribute at that level.
Her legacy is a mixed one because she has proven that social mobility does happen in Jamaica for exceptional people and there are no limits for Jamaican women. She loved the people and they recognised her for that humane quality.
But love of the people is not enough in a country with our kind of problems. Leadership has to be made of more technical stuff in today's complex world. Hugging and kissing is an endearing quality but this does not advance Jamaica's international agenda. Not being culpable in financial corruption is admirable, but she may have delegated too much to those well-educated middle-class gentlemen.
We salute Mrs Simpson Miller and thank her for her sterling service to the Jamaican people and wish her well in her future endeavours. We know that she will find other ways to be of service other than in the political arena.
We hope that as a Fellow of the university, she will document her remarkable life in a tell-all book.