The opening match of the Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007 takes place on Tuesday 13 March, at Sabina Park, here in Kingston. Throughout the last year, the complaints and criticisms of the organization of the event have dominated all discussions about the World Cup — lack of Internet access for pre-booking tickets, closure of public roads to facilitate cricket traffic, cross-cultural clashes between Jamaican and Chinese construction workers, poor drainage and seating facilities at Sabina, … the list goes on.
The least tangible, but most persistent comment is the cynical remark about the government finding money — that it previously claimed to lack — in order to improve infrastructure that benefit the CWC directly, and local communities only indirectly, if at all — for example, doing a complete repair and resurfacing of the road that leads from the airport to the cricket ground, and that road alone. The fact that the road passes communities that have never previously had pavements shows that it is an exercise in window dressing — even the gutted shells of abandoned buildings downtown have got a new coat of paint!
Where does the money come from? That’s about as clear as the coconut milk used in the tasty rundown sauce mentioned in this post’s title. One thing is sure, it’s going to add on to the already huge levels of debts owed by Jamaica (Read more …).
The motivation for the panicky activities of the last few days is to avoid embarrassment, whatever the cost. And I have to admire the way that the workers are working round the clock to lick things into shape. Each time I’ve passed Sabina these last few weeks, I’ve been impressed by the improvements in the immediate area (street signs, road surface, tree planting), all done at incredible speed. Now, as the realization grows that we are not going to make complete fools of ourselves, so people are beginning to relax and feel more positive about, and even proud of, hosting the World Cup.
The contrast with the previous months’ sniping and carping is striking, and made me realize how often Jamaicans tend to run themselves down and accentuate the negative. The “tall poppy syndrome” that exists in other countries is far more prevalent here. One infamous example was the death of popular windscreen cleaner, Richard Grant, who, through hard work and a positive attitude, had saved enough to buy a second-hand car. This created such envy among his neighbourhood peers that they murdered him. His sister still works the same crossroads by Devon House, and is just as charming with a friendly smile and a T-shirt with the text, “May I wash your windscreen, please?”
Envy abounds. No one gets ahead on merit, imagines the popular mind; it comes through patronage and unfair advantage, which is an attempt to excuse the failure of the envious to move forward. The result is a culture of victimization and distrust that is completely counter to the carefree image presented to tourists; the reality is that, for most people, “Jamaica No Problem” is just a slogan on Chinese-imported souvenir T-shirt.
But I’m not going to give in to the Jamaica rundown today. I’m writing this post in the hope that people will take a break from the negative and latch on to the affirmative, at least for a short while.
Fowaad selecta![audio:Johnny Mercer – Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive.mp3]
Maybe Shaggy could do a version and make it the CWC anthem. He-he