By Chelsea Campbell-Ellis
Following last week’s display of political parish carnivals, Jamaica recorded one of its highest spikes in a single day – 98, to be exact.
Notably, the numbers are still rising significantly. The health authorities have declared that these cases are reflective of the Independence holiday period. I refuse to believe that the numbers for any such celebratory activity by irresponsible and recalcitrant Jamaicans exceed that of the political mass gatherings we saw, courtesy of the media. Now, if a smaller number of individuals caused such a spike what will our numbers record as a result of nomination day’s proceedings?
It is safe to conclude that the permitted widespread flouting of COVID-19 protocols on the nomination trails in the presence of the leaders, revealed not only their twisted logic but it has confirmed in the eyes of many what really matters. Of course, choosing political advancement over the nation’s health is a clear indication of how much the leaders love, value and care for the masses. Are we doomed?
Well, if hospitals are running out of space after an influx of 98 cases and an additional 56 following, what say you? Considering, especially, that the parish of St. James has for its central health facility a skeletal hospital that is prone to flat line at any time?
The enabling of breached health protocols by caring politicians and their pursuit for power on nomination day is tantamount to homicide by cultic actions and cannot be ignored. Who would have thought that the very mouths that beseeched citizens for months to ‘tan a dem yaad’ would remain closed after scores of people suffused the streets on nomination day. And why was this necessary? To satiate the traditional desire to have party supporters play their most important role in the electoral process which is obviously to parade themselves and to gyrate uncontrollably ensuring that the spectacle status of the process is preserved and glorified.
If for no other time, during the long walk to democracy, political leaders were expected to excavate some strength of leadership and character and definitively caution and rebuke the political puppets whose mental faculties, certainly, on such a day were clouded by colored mental brain fog. So in an effort to protect the people, sweeping hemline was hoisted to reveal Bolt’s signed footwear. Others who felt that fashion urge just co-mingled, unmasking rehearsed dance moves and who can forget the foreboding symbol of supporters falling prostrate at their leader’s feet to wipe their shoes. Undoubtedly, the ground is not alone in being trodden upon. What is befuddling to me is that since the intrusion of COVID-19 absolutely nothing has remained normal.
Let me enumerate just a few transformed services. All organizations that engage the public in transactions have modified their operations drastically to facilitate physical distancing. Some of these include banks, tax offices, RGD offices, doctor’s offices and supermarkets, just to name a few.
Some of these organizations deny individuals who refuse to comply with the health protocols access to their businesses yet neither of the party leaders had the requisite mettle of leadership especially in this pandemic to dissuade their followers’ wild and irresponsible conduct. Yes, one’s health should be one’s responsibility but old habits die hard especially when the subjects have been punctual puppets for decades. In lieu of using a megaphone to encourage the sea of supporters to return to their homes, they hugged them and danced, totally disregarding the very breaches that resulted in some places of business being closed.
Such double standard is appalling.
The reckless behavior of supporters was screaming for a stern warning from any authoritative figure including the police, to contain the situation but the spirits clearly were too high and attention had to be given to the more urgent priority of entertainment, and not health.
It is rather despicable and disconcerting that leadership is a switch that is only turned on at their behest. Much to my chagrin in this matter, is the ‘slap on the wrist’ responses from some persons who should know better. Have these persons forgotten the non-discriminatory nature of the virus? Could it be that in an effort to pursue politics and the need to honor the ‘ole a vibe’ syndrome, lives are going to be lost? Could it be that the leaders of this country have tested negatively for wisdom?
The proverbial expression ‘fire deh a mus mus tail him think a cool breeze’ stamped its dominance all over the island on nomination day. If nomination day was a dress rehearsal for election day, then COVID-19 will be vacationing in Jamaica for a much longer time than we can afford. On nomination day, the wagons pulled the horses and the power starved political stallions enjoyed the ride.
Chelsea Campbell-Ellis is an educator and an author.
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