by CLAUDE MILLS
Jamaicans always feign embarrassment and horror at the stunning level of violence that happens daily in the ‘Mad Island’. But people, I say to you, be ashamed no more! I say, let us celebrate our violence, embrace our cultural peculiarities and idiosyncracies, heck, let’s market it!
Forget about bauxite, the haemorrhaging Business Process Outsourcing sector, the bludgeoned banana sector, and other areas of the anaemic agricultural sector. With a little elbow grease and brainpower, we can initiate a new sector with the potential to earn US mega-bucks called (drum roll please) ‘Vio-tourism’.
Americans are always in for crazy stunts such as sky-diving, sky-boarding and bungee jumping. These blokes court disaster just for the thrill of it, the mere adrenaline rush of the moment. Why not let them do it here? We have over 1,000 murders each year, and we vie for the dubious distinction of having the highest murder rate per capita in the world. So why not turn our crime into a cottage industry?
For one, crime is one of the few growth industries that we have. There are pockets of war and guaranteed bloodshed all year round, plus we have the wickedly wonderful combination of the aquamarine waters of the Caribbean sea, palm-fringed, white sand beaches and of course, reggae music. Think about it people. We may have hit up on a hot formula: sun, sand, sea, sex and simulated violence. It’s beautiful.
You’ve seen the headlines, people come here to die all the time, we ought to find a way to get paid for it. Our population has a fatal love affair with death, they hang themselves, shoot and overdose themselves with such flair and enthusiasm that it would be scary if it weren’t so potentially lucrative. Even our casual conversations between friends are tinged and coloured by phrases like: ‘mi wi stab yu’, ‘hey bwoy, who yu a chat to?’ and offensive references to people’s mothers.
We could kick off our advertising blitz under the tagline: ‘Who wants to live forever? Come party with us!”.
The ad could read: ‘Are you lacking excitement in your life? Do you need a pick-me-up? Come check out Jamaica’s ‘vio-tourism’ special. Attend a dancehall party and maybe get COVID, maybe get shot, or not? Who cares? Stay at an Air B n B in a guaranteed crime hotspot. Date a Lotto scammer. See the ‘shottas’ trade bullets with cops in living colour. Bulletproof jackets are available on rental. Come to Jamaica, let your hair down. Jamaica. Violence. No problem’.
An added plus could be a tour of infamous spots which would provide for excellent material for an organized tour schedule. We have places like the site of the Green Bay massacre, the Gold Street killings, the Braeton Seven Killings, the Kraal murders, and of course, scenic strongholds like Tivoli Gardens, Flankers, Spanish Town. We could arrange tours of Tivoli Gardens and tell the tale of the Tivoli incursion which largely took place over 24–25 May 2010, and killed at least 73 civilians and wounded at least 35 others. It’s a potential goldmine!
We could sell photos, news-clippings and other memorabilia, and hawk t-shirts with slogans like ‘I Survived a Jamaican dance’ or ‘I Stayed in a Kingston Ghetto and Lived to Tell the Tale’, you know, stuff like that. There could even be a ghetto-style reality series version of ‘Survivor’ right here on the Mad Island.
We are a murderous, unruly set of people, and it is clear that the cops are overwhelmed, the government is bankrupt of concrete ideas to fight crime and some shadowy powerful figures are benefitting from the gun violence, or else why would it be allowed to continue? Let’s flip the script, and let us ALL start actually earning money from it.
According to data compiled by World Population review, Jamaica has experienced a decline in its murder rate over the last three years. In 2017, Jamaica’s homicide rate was 56 per 100,000. In 2018, the homicide rate dropped to 47 per 100,000, but remained three times higher than the average for Latin America and the Caribbean.
According to the statistics presented, the decade between 2000-2009 saw the highest number of murders committed locally, with 13,418 persons being killed, while 7,621 murders were committed between 1990 and 1999.
The years 2005, 2009 and 2017 were the bloodiest single years, with 1,674, 1,673 and 1,647 respectively. Since then the murder rate has dropped to 46.2, which though a continued decline, remains an unhealthy figure on the global stage.
As the Christmas season slips into high gear, the anecdotal accounts of robberies suggest that they are on the uptick, plus there has been a spate of shootings at illegal parties all over the island. Last night, two men were shot at a party in Cane River, Bull Bay. No one can stop these parties, and the violence seems inevitable and routine at the moment – it remains a great untapped resource.
Jamaica, the clock is ticking. Think about it.