Moving Back to Jamaica

A blog about my Move Back to Jamaica after 20+ years of living in the US. Most of the articles focus on the period from 2005-2009 when the transition was new, and at it's most challenging.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Certain Vehement Pride

This entire episode regarding Parliamentarians and their dual citizenship has driven up a certain kind of Jamaican pride that I am ambivalent about.

The sentiment is a typically forthright Jamaican one.

"Anyone who run tings a yard must be Jamaican."

To this all Jamaicans would undoubtedly agree.

However, things get murky when we add on other stipulations regarding which other citizenships they are allowed to hold to still be allowed to run for office.

For example, here is what it seems to current law tells us about the eligibility of Jamaicans with overseas immigration privileges.

Those who CAN run for office:
-- a Jamaican who has lived all their life in the U.S. or Canada but never bothered to get their new citizenship
-- a British/Indian/Barbadian citizen whose grandparent was Jamaican, and has just claimed their Jamaican citizenship last week

Those who CANNOT run for office:
-- a born Jamaican whose parent took out US citizenship for them when they were children (as is the case of Daryl Vaz) and who might never have left the country for a day
-- a US citizen who has become a naturalized Jamaican or claimed citizenship through a parent/grandparent, but has not explicitly renounced their US citizenship

The situation is quite unclear, and in some cases it can be argued that it's unfair.

But the reaction of some Jamaicans has been a proud, reactive one -- no-one should be running the country who is not Jamaican. It's just that the definition of "Jamaican" has become murky indeed.

Before independence 1962, there was not such thing as a Jamaican, as everyone born on the island was British (without all the rights of a British subject.) Jamaican citizenship is a relatively new invention.

The recent court challenge has shown that the original 1962 definitions are inadequate for the complex, interconnected world we live in. When our own laws disqualify people like billionaire Michael Lee-Chin from ever becoming a parliamentarian, it must give us pause for thought.

Who exactly are we, in our pride, trying to exclude?

Obviously, we don't want, for example, a Cuban who has only spent two weeks in Jamaica to be able to run for office.

Also, we DO want to wholeheartedly encourage all Jamaicans to be eligible.

It's just that we need a 2008 definition of the word "Jamaican" in our constitution to match the world we live in.

Those Jamaicans who want to return should involve themselves in this debate, and in the Constitutional changes that are likely to come. As major stakeholders and providers of remittances that exceed earnings from tourism and bauxite combined, their future is woven into the future of Jamaicans living back at home. They are the umbilical cord that has kept the economy afloat.

I wonder if, in our vehement pride, we might alienate them, discourage them from coming home with their expertise, turn them off from sending their remittances and lead them to conclude that Jamaica is turning its back on them?

If so, that would be tragic, and we would all be worse off.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Dual Citizenship and the Jamaican Diaspora

This article asks why Jamaicans abroad don't care more about the ruling that Daryl Vaz cannot serve in Parliament while being a dual citizen.

Click here to be taken to the article in the Jamaica Observer

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Friday, April 25, 2008

An Interesting Poem

I read the following poem emailed from a friend and I thought that it captured the essence of how small our country is, and how much of of a blessing that it is, in many ways.  (It's alos something else, but that's a topic for another post.)

A mouse looked through the crack
in the wall to see the farmer and
his wife open a package.

What food might this contain?"
The mouse wondered - - -
he was devastated to discover it
was a mousetrap.

Retreating to the farmyard,

the mouse proclaimed the warning :

There is a mousetrap in the house!
There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The chicken clucked and scratched,

raised her head and said,

"Mr.Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern
to you, but it is of no consequence
to me. I cannot be bothered by it."

The mouse turned to
the pig and told him,

"There is a mousetrap in the house!

There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The pig sympathized, but said, I am
so very sorry, Mr.Mouse, but there
is nothing I can do about it but pray.
Be assured you are in my prayers."


The mouse turned to
the cow and said

"There is a mousetrap in the house!

There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The cow said, "Wow, Mr. Mouse.
I'm sorry for you, but it's no skin
off my nose."

So, the mouse returned to the
house, head down and dejected,
to face the farmer's mousetrap . . .

That very night a sound was heard throughout

the house -- like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey.

The farmer's wife rushed to see
what was caught.   In the darkness,
she did not see it was a venomous
snake whose tail the trap had caught.

The snake bit the farmer's wife.

 The farmer rushed her to the hospital,

and she returned home with a fever.

Everyone knows you treat a fever
with fresh chicken soup, so the
farmer took his hatchet to the
farmyard for the soup's main

But his wife's sickness continued,
so friends and neighbors came to
sit with her around the clock.

To feed them, the farmer
butchered the  pig.

The farmer's wife did not get well;

she died.

So many people came for her funeral,
the farmer had the cow slaughtered to
provide enough meat for all of them.

The mouse looked upon it all from
his crack in the wall with great sadness.


So, the next time you hear someone
is facing a problem and think it
doesn't concern you,

remember ----

when one of us is threatened,
we are all at risk.

We are all involved in this journey called life.

We must keep an eye out
for one another and make an extra
effort to encourage one another.


REMEMBER. . . . .





One of the best things to hold
onto in this world is a FRIEND ! ! !


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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pets and Moving Back

One of the practical questions that seems to be often asked is whether or not pets are allowed to be brought into Jamaica.

Apparently, our research is showing that only cats and dogs from the U.K. are allowed to be brought in, without undergoing a 6 month quarantine. They only need to undergo a 14 day quarantine.

This not good news to those who want to move to Jamaica with pets, from parts of the world outside the U.K. For some, it's a deal breaker, as these rules will prevent them from coming to Jamaica in the short term, as they are unwilling to leave their pets behind.

I spoke to a friend of mine who is a veterinarian here in Jamaica to verify the above facts. Here is a link from Expat Exchange to view a discussion on the topic:

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Disadvantage of Jamaicans as Dual Citizens

To Jamaicans everywhere, the news that Daryl Vaz was declared ineligible to be an M.P. should come as good news.

And I say this speaking as a dual citizen, born in Falmouth, Massachusetts, but a child of Jamaican parents. (I was granted both citizenships without having a say.)

The first is that we have clearly demonstrated that the rule of law is paramount. Regardless of our opinion about the value of this particular law, it does demonstrate that we can be governed by what is constitutionally ordained. This brings us well into the company of civilized countries.

It also has allowed our country to breathe a collective sigh of relief as our new chief justice shows her mettle, courage and wisdom in this very public way.

A this benefit is that it forces us to confront our constitution, and its growing weakness as it increasingly departs from present-day practice and common-sense. We have all meant to reform it, and now we simply must do so.

It is crazy that we have more stringent requirements for political office than the US, Canada and the UK. We are tremendously talent-challenged, over 2 million Jamaicans live outside the country and we are hardly likely to go to war with another country anytime soon.

It's a time to put practicality over pride.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Technical Issues and a Free e-book

I have been battling a series of technical issues related to moving my company website, while launching a new time management product... so Moving Back to Jamaica has received little or no attention lately.

The good news is that the readers of Moving Back to Jamaica will receive a benefit, in the release of an e-book that is the first of its kind.

My wife and I have been focusing our efforts on an e-book of resources that are useful to those who are thinking about moving to Jamaica. We have written it for everyone -- for expats moving to Jamaica for the first time to work, Jamaicans returning to live at home and for those who just want to come and explore for several months, while living as a local.

To be sure, the content is directed towards those who have never lived in Jamaica before, so it may not be for those who have been away for a short time. We are hoping it has broad appeal, however, and fills a gaping need for information.

This free e-book will be available for download in the next few weeks, so stay tuned to this space.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

First Magazine

This excellent little photo-magazine is difficult to subscribe, but the quality of the photography is top-notch.

I have only been able to ever see two or three issues, out of the five that have been made.  It makes me, and probably a whole lot of others, want to grab up a camera and do something artistic!

See First magazine at:

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Coming Home with a Bomb in His Luggage

I thought the story of the Jamaican returning home with a bomb in his luggage a joke at first.

But as I read more details in the upcoming days, I felt very sad for this ex-US soldier, who was now being referred to as a "Jamaican national" rather than an ex-Gi.  That is, an ex-GI who had been driven insane by a combination (and coincidence) of his war experience and his mother being violently killed.

I felt quite sad, because it's clear that this particular has not achieved the American dream, and may even have felt guilty that he left his mother vulnerable while he was in Iraq "fighting terrorism."  Of course, I am speculating here...

But it all seemed to very, very sad.  Will he be thrown in jail, or will he be let off off by pleading diminished capacity, or insanity?

In either case, his friends and relatives have been reported here in the press saying that this was not the Kevin Brown that they knew. 

I bet it wasn't.

I imagine that he might feel betrayed by both his home and adopted countries, and without his mother, more than a little lost in this world.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Manifesto for a New Time Management

I have sometimes made the point that my coming back to Jamaica has brought with it a spark of creativity that has infused all aspects of my work (and life for that matter.)

One tangible result is a manifesto that was published yesterday at, that I authored. This was the end-result of two years of hard work on the topic of time management, inspired by the challenge of moving back to Jamaica. While I have had a passing interest in the topic, I never imagined that I would get this far until recently, when I realized that the thinking I was doing was not just specific to life here in Jamaica, but in fact had a universal application.

I had started out just trying to invent a system that would work for me in my new environment.

The 21 page pdf is entitled "The New Time Management: Simply Focus on the Fundamentals, and Toss Away the Tips."

Claim a copy by clicking on the graphic above, or by visiting the following link:


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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Think Before Migrating

The following letter appeared in the Gleaner:

Think before migrating
published: Friday | March 28, 2008

The Editor, Sir:

I am not a teacher, but I'm a professional living abroad for over seven years and I still grieve about the loss of job satisfaction and acceptance. Monetary gain may be realised, but peace of mind is not here. There is this overwhelming feeling of uncertainty about your job and your effort cannot be recognised.

Every output is measured against the almighty dollar. If I am not careful I will return worse off financially than how I came with my mental faculties irreparably damaged. Any teacher or nurse should consult all family members before embarking upon this risky transition.

Weigh all the pros and cons and think deeply about what one writer said: What good does it make to gain the Yankee dollars and sacrifice a family?

I am, etc.,


Via Go-Jamaica


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Monday, April 07, 2008

Tantie Talks on "dis internet busines"

The word 'Tantie" in Trinidad means "Auntie" and this recent  article from  the writer of this excellent weekly had me in stitches.

It's not Jamaican patois, but I think the sentiment comes through nonetheless.




Allyuh know how dis Internet business does confuffle mih head sometimes,
and ah does have to ask de gran-chirren to explain ah lot ah tings to me

Is like it have some new ting everyday and de old ting does get cast out
  like yuh trowing corn fuh de fowl in de yard. Doh mind dat dem old
ting was only tree months old, it seem dat dis Internet is ah set ah
short-lived fads.

Well yuh know ah was reading in de Gazette dat how de Government say dat
dey giving laptop to all dem Parlimentarian to use in dey wuk. Dey say
dat dey could use it for research and to have more connections wid de
electorate like you and me.

I say dat is a good idea in trute, I could email mih Councillor and get
him to send de dustcart to collect dat barrell dat mih neighbour cousin
sen from Brooklyn wid de ham last Christmas. Yuh know dat BWIA leff de
ting in de airport and like it begin to live again, fuss it rotten. So
dem wutless people jes trow it in de road and it dey since Christmas.
Like dey feel de rainy season go wash it away.

Anyway back to de 'tory. Mih granddaughter say dat is not Councillors
who getting laptop but dem big pappy Parlimentarians. So is not small
problems dat dey go respond to, is fuh big policy decision like wha
kinda jet to buy for Patos and how much fuh a short drop in de water
maxi-taxi when it reach.

But de chile tell me to mash brakes and doh get to excited about how
tings go be better, because it always have some kinda confusion when we
people get involve in a ting.

She tell me dat she was on some kinda Hotface chat someting, I forget de
name, but it does let yuh put up yuh life story on de Internet and let
all yuh pardnahs and dem write dey comments and ting too. It seem dat de
young people does use dis ting to arrange which fete dey going on de

Well if yuh hear Tantana, it seem dat de chile login to she Mybook
account and it had some new teenager talking up she self on de girl
GooBlog. No-one know how she get de access but it seem dat yuh does
collect Friends and mih grand daughter have like eight tousand friends
in dis business. Doh mind she never meet one ah dem and she cyar tell me
what dey Parent's name is and eef dey grow up in Belmont and which
school dey went and eef dey use to be in de Presbyterian Church. But dem
is she frens.

Anyway dis yute start to say dat how she fadder is one ah dem Government
Ministers and dat how he does use de computer to help de people dat vote
he in. He say dat is a new day dawning once de people could contact dey
MP by email.

He say dat he ent voting no party line no more, once it have a debate he
  go vote what de majority of de people on de BlogBook say to do.

When is Budget time, allyuh have to do is go on de TeeTeEbay chatline
and say how much tax yuh willing to pay and he doing dat jes like how
yuh want.

Eeef yuh find dat de Civil Servants giving yuh horrors jes send ah email
and yuh done know dat dey going for Training de nex day.

Like is a whole new way ah government, no more ah dem Minister sleeping
in dey chair in de Parliament, we go have it live and direct!

Dis way he did say we could do away wid de whole idea of adversarial
politrics, because we doh need dem Opposition Boys to jes oppose fuh de
sake of opposing, it go have 41 Representatives in de House who hook up
to de ressa away by de e-vote.

We ent go need no Speaker and all de bachannal dat going on wid dat. In
fact is de present Speaker who jes cyar see de value, he feel dat laptop
is jes for porn and chatrooms. Not at all! We stepping forward to true
2020, de Government run by de people, and only de People dat voting.

Well chile I real feel dis idea could wuk. And all it does corst is 41
laptops! In fact wid de advances in email, dem boys doh even have to be
in de Red House, dey could all cool dey herbs by Pigeon Point wid ah
wireless hookup. Pa Pa Yo!

Suddenly we go transform de Nation from a load of dunderheads in de
House who only want to play games wid we heads, to a setta fellas who
wukking for de people, drawing on de Voice of de People, and following
up on all de tings dat dey does say dey want. Because eef dem
politrickians only miss ah beat we voting dem out tomorrow and rolling
in a nex one, we could have Elections every Friday afternoon!

Sign me up now! I all fuh dis in trute.

It only have one small problem, mih grandaughter ent kow which Minister
it is so I ent know who to contact to give mih support. All she could
tell me was de screen name of de daughter...she does call she-self Avril

.....crick, crack

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Rabbits Afoot

Awhile back my wife and I were driving through Russell Heights when a rabbit ran in front of our car.

A grey, wild rabbit.

Here in Kingston.

Apparently he didn't get the memo -- we don't HAVE wild rabbits in Jamaica.  We hope.

Wild rabbits are apparently causing havoc in Australia, where they have no natural predators.

I suspect that they would have none here either.

Strangely enough, my wife was shopping in a major grocery store and saw... you guessed it... rabbit meat for sale.  Not local rabbit meat, but imported.

We hope!

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Cyclist Dying

Recently a fellow cyclist died in a collision near Port Royal.  An allegedly drunk, license-less, insurance-less driver fell asleep at the wheel and plowed into a group of my friends, killing the one and also harming several others, sending seven to the hospital.

(I apparently rode with him a few times, and he even went to my high school, but I can't recall him from the pictures I have seen.)

Shortly after it happened the phones started ringing.  I was vacationing on the North Coast with my wife, and after we got the news our friends started calling to make sure that we weren't involved in any way.  While we hardly ever ride on Saturday mornings, we have done so from time to time, so their fears were not without basis.  Calls kept coming in until Monday, at least, just to make sure that were, indeed, OK.

It struck me how different things would be if the same incident had happened in the U.S., when I lived there.

The truth is, it's a pain in the ass to deal with the small size of Jamaican society in some respects, with all sorts of people knowing your business, and anonymity a thing of the past.  However, the number of people that called caught us by surprise (including my wife's manicurist who magically got her cell number.) 

It really felt as if lots of people from all over our lives actually gave a damn... and I can distinctly remember that feeling in the U.S. of being ignored, overlooked and forgotten, even by "friends" who turned out to be only  acquaintances.

Back then, I sometimes wondered if it was because I was Black.  I also wondered if it was because I spoke with an accent.  Neither explanation seemed to satisfy.

Now, I just think it's a "small country thing," similar to a "small town thing"   versus a "big country/city thing."

Here on this little island, with not that many of us around, we pay REAL attention to those around us, in some cases turning slights into wars, fights and murders.... but at other times we pay attention and it comes out in ways that show we are caring for each other in ways that are quite remarkable.

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