Bob Marley was almost assassinated in Jamaica in 1976. He quickly fled to London but was invited to return to perform at the One Love Peace Concert, which was held in April of 1978. The genesis of the concert came in a prison cell in which two rival gangsters proposed the event in a bid to unite the country. By all accounts, Jamaica has always been a country riven and cleaved by political polarization. This was especially so during Prime Minister Michael Manley’s (People’s National Party) rule. Opposed by the Jamaican Labour Party’s Edward Seaga, politics split families, neighbourhoods and created impenetrable borders. So the concert was suggested as a means of unifying the country, with Marley being seen as the only one who could achieve this. This picture is a moment during the concert when Marley performed “Jammin” and brought Seaga and Manley on stage and raised their hands in unison.
The concert did not have the catalyzing effect people had hoped for. Indeed, the two gangsters who organized it were killed two years later.
Political polarization remains a problem here. YOU works in neighbourhoods in which there are literally physical boundaries based on party affiliation that people will not cross. Family members do not speak to one another and violent arguments can erupt when political discussions get too heated.
This morning at YOU, I was witness to the passion that politics draws out here. In fact, many mornings I try to follow these debates among the staff. Fortunately, they are not so much about partisan issues that pit people against one another. Rather, they are passionate commentaries on current events during which people yell and exchange ideas and views at a rapid pace.
Today, it was about the accessibility of the National Stadium. I tried to follow, but I get lost very easily, especially with how fast everyone talks. I wish I could weigh in- there is nothing better than a political debate for a nerd like me. Hopefully, I will continue to get used to the language. I am loving the passion of the people. At first, I was always certain that fisticuffs would break out, but now I see that people just like to air and test their opinion, anywhere, anytime and at any volume. It is so different from the polite, gentle Canadian debates in which sorry is a featured word.