Tuesday, April 22, 2008
In my discussion on the dreaded dependency of Jamaicans on their government and other "good Samaritans" to provide for them how could I have possibly forgotten the most disgraceful evidence of large-scale/nationwide dependence....the tower of Tourism.
I refer to it as a tower, because of it's looming presence and control over an economy and thus an entire nation of people.
"Over the last six years many of Spain's largest hotel operators have established hotels on Jamaica's north coast, thus establishing the country as one of the Caribbeans leading tourism destinations" (Jamaica Observer Friday, April 18, 2008).
Yipeee! this is supposed to be a good thing? Many of you will jump down my throat and try to convince me that it is, "we're sacrificing ownership for employment", someone once said. I implore you to look at the bigger picture...
We talk of dependence and what exactly we can do to change this, we laugh when Agriculture Minister Christopher Tufton asks us to plant Cassava and tells us it is the way forward. I would like to alter his statement a bit, I say, dig up all of the hotels AND THEN, plant Cassava (or any other crop that could provide self-sustenance for a nation and reduce it's reliance on the import of foods for survival).
This is no joke, not only are these "profitable" hotels sitting on fertile soil (with a new one popping-up each day), but on the inside of these institutions it's a modern-day slave plantation. This comes from my own experience as a front desk clerk in a Hotel, and being asked to "fetch" rednecks water, being called "Sheila" when my ridiculous name tag clearly states JARMILA, and being the subject of a particularly hurtful and eye-opening letter of complaint (written by a tourist) stating how lucky Jamaicans are that we are being supported by their money, and how much we need to better show our appreciation.
Do not mistake this for pride, we ARE heavily reliant on the tourism industry to provide employment as well as foreign exchange, and it is especially the first of these which bothers me most. We import everything from pills to bananas (though we grow so much of our own), we sell everything, from our culture to now our Sugar Estates (are we gonna have to buy sugar from ourselves now). Pills, yes, pills are made from plants, consider the unsuspecting white periwinkle (pictured above); Research into the plant was prompted by the plant's traditional medicinal role and resulted in the discovery of a large number of biologically active chemicals, including vincristine, a lucrative agent useful during leukemia chemotherapy.
"Periwinkle alkaloids have been used in the treatment of leukemia, Hodgkin disease, malignant lymphomas, neuroblastoma, Wilms tumor, Kaposi sarcoma, mycosis fungoides, to improve cerebral blood flow, and treat high blood pressure.
The most well known of the “vinca” alkaloids derived from C. roseus are vinblastine (vincaleukoblastine, Velban) and vincristine (leurocristine, Oncovin), which are now widely used pharmaceutical anticancer agents. An extensive body of literature exists on the clinical uses of the various purified alkaloids of Catharanthus." (Drugs.com).
Ofcourse there is processing involved to extract specific chemicals from the plant, but it is only one of the many plants growing wild on this Island which can be used, in it's natural or processed form for medicinal benefit.
The Carambola (star fruit), for example is good for the treatment of nausea and pain. More focus on Agriculture could secure employment for farmers, provide self-sustenance in terms of food, and even medicine. Decreasing drastically our dependence on outside sources. Our only real need is knowledge of the value of our land.