By Romell Eubank
Jamaica has a rich history. Our political history, cultural history, and many other aspects of our history are filled with intrigue. We have had many outstanding individuals who have played a significant role in building our nation as it relates to politics, music, education, entrepreneurship, and many other areas. Unfortunately, we are only taught a little over five pages of history about Jamaica. We don’t get the opportunity to learn much about our history unless we watch certain specific television programmes that appear once or twice per year.
We often wonder why young people don’t care much about politics when sadly, they are not aware of our political history. They are taught watered-down versions of our political history tainting our past political leaders, while leaving out the remarkable impact they have all made. We wonder why they prefer music from other countries when we fail to educate them about the history of our own genres. We need to be reminded of our history, and we need to be given the undiluted, untainted version of where we came from.
I believe our leaders and historians should work together to create compilations of our history and place them in easily accessible formats such as books and websites. While we do this, I believe that legitimate and straight forward versions of our history should be available. This means a team of people should be employed to coherently obtain and put together information related to our history. This is to ensure that we do not visit, for example, a historical website and end up seeing a particular piece of data, only to visit another site and encounter a different version of the same history. This would be a recipe for confusion. Even in the case of books, we need to have a certified version of our history that has been thoroughly investigated and proven legitimate.
After we have compiled our history, I believe we should develop unique history courses/subjects at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels and make it compulsory for individuals to participate in these courses/subjects in order to advance from one level to the next. In the same way that a knowledge of Mathematics and of the English language are required at all levels we should also make History a core requirement. Schools have been provided with a few materials that outline elements of our history, for example, a short version of the Christopher Columbus story and a few elements of our road to freedom.
This is not enough. Our young people need to learn about each and every major individual involved in our road to freedom. They need to learn about all the individuals who helped to build our culture. They also need to learn about each political individual’s role in our development – not just their mistakes but also their positive impacts. We need to learn the mistakes made in the past so that we won’t repeat them, especially in regards to politics. We need to learn the positives from our past so that we can use them as a guideline going further.
Marcus Garvey in one of his famous speeches stated: “People without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” Our people need to know their true history. I believe when we teach our young people about our true history we will be able to have more patriotic citizens who are passionate about nation-building.
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