by Ken Ali
You know you have reached hell when a Jamaican could lecture you on your murder rate.
JA saw 1,287 killings last year, although that was a 22 per cent decline from 1,641 of the previous year.
For most of the last decade, the Jamaican murder toll has been around 1,600 each year, and in 2005, the Caricom country had the highest homicide rate, per capita, among non-war zone countries.
Jamaica’s current murder rate is three times higher than the average in Latin America and the Caribbean and eight times the global average.
Violence is the second leading cause of death in the 35-45 age group.
Reggae artiste Buju Banton was bothered, of course, when he wondered aloud: “What is going on in Trinidad? All this murder!”
Buju is a Caribbean man, a renowned and accomplished artiste with powerful influence on youths.
He comes from a land that was in a virtual civil war a generation ago, mounted on furious PNP-JLP political rivalry.
Many of the current crimes are founded on the illegal drug trade and on antagonism against the gay community, with some attacks on tourists.
Against that scorecard, Prime Minister Andrew Holness is providing decisive leadership on national security, as he is doing with respect to the economy, having earned kudos from International Monetary Fund.
Holness has announced strategic measures, has spoken of “a unity of purpose” and has held meaningful discussions with the Opposition.
He is leading from the front, building capacity, challenging the gangs and moving to control guns and ammunition.
“The criminal elements still retain the capacity, capability and the intent,” he recently admitted.
Jamaica’s biggest anti-crime resource may be the focused and decisive leadership of the well-regarded Prime Minister Holness.
He heads a country with tremendous national fervour, which is manifested in their passion and support of their athletes and entertainers.
In Trinidad and Tobago, nine people were slain on the weekend Buju sang about peace and love, and there have been almost 160 homicides over the past 100 days.
Buju’s angst over T&T’s murders should remind us – yet again – about the crime hellhole in which we live.
Along with that, there is a higher than 90 per cent chance that you would literally get away with murder in this country.
The number of murders solved is nothing to talk about.
A revolving door of anti-crime personnel and tough-sounding slogans, crusades and media campaigns and public relations shenanigans have not dulled the crime spree.
Our murder factories continue to churn out wild, trigger-happy youths with no appreciation of life – yours or theirs.
And now Buju, a huge youth-influencer, could voice anguish over “not just regular murder but butcher shop murder.”
What next in this crime-burdened land?
Cry the beloved country.