By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.
Each time I am in the Grays Green Community a deep sense of frustration - and even - anger - grabs me... holds on to me and sometimes... chokes me up and makes my eyes moist!
The area is still undeveloped! Still high in crime! Still high... very high unemployment! Still high levels of drop outs! Still a lot of garbage around the streets! And the gutters... still... well... very smelly!
Unemployed young and old men hang out on the corners... still. As a matter of fact... many of the adult men... in their forties... were students of mine at the Greenbay School! Many of their children are now hanging out on the opposite sides of the corners that their dads hang out on... or just around and behind Knuckle Block!
Their fathers are unemployed. The children are undereducated and unemployed! And many of them are drug users and alcoholics... or both.
Historically, over 40 years ago the ALP leader decided that he would purposefully ignore Rural West... and even though they won the seat several times... ALP did nothing for the community. Absolutely - unequivocally nothing.
Forty years later, we have a new dispensation... where the leader of the new era... not only lives in the area... but is a product of Greenbay... born and bred! And we are proud of him.
In the new sunshine dispensation, we expected that a new era would have been ushered in where, for the first time, the people of our community would be first in line. First in line after having been taken for granted for forty years. First in line because we had been purposefully and vindictively dissed for forty years.
But forty years later... and five years after the Prime Minister of the new dispensation took the reins... the same Prime Minister who was born and bred there... nothing... absolutely and unequivocally nothing has happened!
Now... yes... I heard the Prime Minister outline what he says he has done. A clinic in Grays Farm. A mini-clinic in Five Islands. School meals program at both schools... Greenbay and Five Islands! A few roads here and there!
Yes... Mr. Prime Minister... those have been done! But, they amount to absolutely and unequivocally nothing. In the context of the last forty years: Nothing! In the context of the vindictiveness of the ALP regime: Nothing. In the context of what the people of the Community expected: Nothing.
In the context of the years of blind support that they gave to you Mr. Prime Minister... what you have done amounts to ZERO!
Now I know that you explained that your portfolio is that of Chief Servant of the the whole nation. Fair enough! But we put you there. Your Chief Servant status came as a result of the people of Rural West putting you in a position to be elevated. How long have we supported you knowing that your party would not win? But the people of Rural West never abandoned you! Indeed, you deserved our support! Indeed, you had been a good steward of the community. Not only were you good... you were faithful! And so we were faithful to you!
But today, the community still looks abandoned! It still looks left behind! Unemployment is very high... under-employment is even higher! Crime is high... sky high! The housing situation is atrocious. The health situation is precarious. Poverty is a constant reality.
After the last election, when the Sunshine Government was ushered in... people had a new look in their eyes... the look of hope... the look of anticipation that the Agenda for Change was a manuscript that spelled a changed agenda for Rural West!
Now five years later... hope - like the look in the people's eyes - has dimmed!
Now I heard the Prime Minister ask the people to be patient... Patient? After forty years? Patient because he has the whole nation to think about? What about the people who put you there... year after year after year... And just when you triumphed... you seemed to have forgotten... Now you ask for patience.
I heard your plans... and promises on Sunday night. And I can tell you... as I stood there... the tears were not far away... Because I have heard them before... promised by ALP politicians... who had no intention to deliver... I had heard them before... and I knew then they were empty... And I even heard them before... from you... in 2004 and hope sparkled then only to be dimmed now.
I do not accept, Mr. Prime Minister, your excuses... that you were busy... that you had to take care of Rural East... they were well taken of by their just-come - turn-coat politician. You said that you were busy with - well all the others... so busy that you forgot your own.
Well... no more promises.
I no longer live in that community. But that is where my heart is. That is where I lived for 34 years of my life and where my home was for 45 years. That is where I taught. That is where I played. That is where I coached soccer. That is where I learned to dog paddle. That is where I climbed my first coconut tree. That is where I caught my first fish. That is where I dug into a crab hole and got pinched! That is where... well... that is where all my firsts are! I am emotionally and spiritually attached to Perry Bay, Tinning Village, Greenbay, Grays Farm, Hatton, Cooks Hill, Donovans, Christian Street... Just like you are...
Or just like you used to show that you were.
Get back to your roots, Mr. Prime Minister. Get back to the community that birthed and bred you. The community that you served and served well in a lot of capacities. The community that you spent endless hours making important contributions. Get back to the community that supported you... through thick and thin... and that will continue to support you...
Let me be clear! People like me will not support ALP. There is nothing that ALP can do to get my vote... or the vote of people who think like me! And taking money from the Pirate of the West Indies... will not help the ALP get any more votes. Not in Rural West! I ... and people like me... will continue to make sure that the history books are closed on ALP - in Rural West and everywhere else. They will not win another election... not in Rural West! And no amount of money can buy our votes!
However, Mr. Prime Minister that does not mean that you can take us for granted. Not for another five years... not for another minute! As a community... as a family... your family... we still support you. But we are tired of being taken for granted... by anybody... particularly one of our own.
Your first duty is to the your community - YOUR community! No more patience! No more waiting! No more promises!
So when we re-elect you... Mr. Prime Minister... take your community from the back burner put it on the front burner... front and center... your number one priority... First in line!
This is our time... for change! And we will once again elect you to be the deliverer!