Call to address youth issues
BARBADOS COULD BECOME like Jamaica in terms of crime and social alienation within the next 15 years if its youth issues are not quickly addressed.
This is the view of Catholic priest and Jamaica-based social worker Monsignor Gregory Ramkissoon, who drew this conclusion after studying and visiting Barbados over the years and viewing the local documentary film, Youth Voices – What Are We Fighting For? The video was screened today at a discussion to mark International Day for the Eradication of Poverty at United Nations House.Saying he would try to get the film screened on Jamaican television, he noted, “this is embryonic as to what will take place in the next 15 years if we don’t cauterize it very quickly. From what I see here, I can see some signs of what I saw in Jamaica 34 years ago.”Saying back then he was teaching at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies, Ramkissoon said in those days one could walk at night to the squatters’ area of Mona Common. “Now, try it! We didn’t have a documentary like this to see where this thing was going to move. Mona Common is still there but the crime has escalated that you cannot believe. And if we don’t watch it, ladies and gentlemen, this could be Barbados’ inner city. Thank God we don’t have an inner city in Barbados yet in a serious way,” he told the cross-section of leaders of social support organisations.
He recalled that 34 years ago, there were “two Jamaicas” and the society did not make the connection between education and development, but saw the latter only in terms of Gross Domestic Product and numbers while overlooking basic human development.
“In Jamaica we saw the growth of alienation, and I notice in Barbados that [parliamentary secretary Patrick Todd] spoke about social deprivation and marginalization as drivers of poverty,” he said. “When you alienate a group of people, a power struggle starts, so when people feel disenfranchised, they have to create their own system of governance.”
He said he also noticed that the language of youth in Barbados was changing, and also likened it to what he called “neuro-linguistic programming” in Jamaica. “If you keep using the language, you become the language, and I saw this in Jamaica. The word ‘war’ was very prevalent, so even when they were on stage they were warring with their tongue,” he said, noting this had also triggered conflict between musical artistes like Vybz Kartel and Movado, leading to gang warfare between the Gully and Gaza communities.
Ramkissoon, who also shared the spotlight the meeting with social development specialist Reverend Guy Hewitt, UNDP programme manager Marsha Caddle and Todd, also said the final frontier of development for the Caribbean must be the youth. (RJ)