By Dr. Hume Johnson 

Usain Bolt of Jamaica starts in the men's 200 metres heats during the world athletics championships at the Olympic stadium in Berlin, August 18, 2009. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler (GERMANY)
Usain Bolt of Jamaica starts in the men’s 200 metres heats during the world athletics championships at the Olympic stadium in Berlin, August 18, 2009. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler (GERMANY)

Usain Bolt is now most surely the greatest athlete who ever lived. Named among sporting greats such as Mohammed Ali, Michael Jordan and Pele, the Guardian newspaper calls him ‘a colossally potent figure in sport’s modern history’. For the rest of the world, Usain Bolt is an icon, simply a legend.  Though world has claimed him, Jamaicans will always be proudest to say he is Jamaican.

As a scholar of nation branding, Usain Bolt’s “Jamaicanness” – from his daring to achieve the greatest and grandest goal he had set for himself, hard work, discipline and focus to his dance moves and braggadocio on the track to  as well as his charisma is important because it reveals to the world an insight into the superlative power and potential of “Brand Jamaica”. Jamaica is changing, achieving new levels of recognition internationally, thanks to Usain Bolt. How can Jamaica capitalize on its growing national image and international fame and glory brought about by Bolt to establish its competitive identity in the world, and communicate a good, believable, coherent and positive image of itself to the outside world? How can Jamaica properly honor and truly celebrate the magnitude of the achievement of its latest global superstar, it’s national hero?  I immediately have some ready answers, options which I believe are open to the Jamaican authorities:

  1. Make Usain Bolt a National Hero: Without question, Bolt already is a national hero but Jamaica must move to formally declare Usain Bolt a National Hero. Jamaica has 7 named National Heroes so far – Marcus Garvey, Sam Sharpe, Paul Bogle, Norman Washington Manley, Sir Alexander Bustamante, George William Gordon, and Nanny of the Maroons. These Jamaicans collectively fought to secure our freedom from 400 years of British slavery, assisted in the early decolonization movement and were architects of modern Jamaica, creating the nation we have today. Their contribution to Jamaica from the 17th century up to 1962 when Jamaica’s achieved its independence from Great Britain is unquestionable. So what of the heroes of modern Jamaican from 1962 onwards – those who propelled us onto the world stage, and sustained our competitive identity in the creative cultural industries and in sport, whose body of work keep the nation relevant in the global arena. Usain Bolt is undoubtedly one of these heroes of the modern era. Yet, Jamaica was internationally famous before Bolt came along. Indeed, he stands on the backs of others equally deserving of National Hero Status such as Bob Marley, Michael Manley and Louise Bennett. Jamaican authorities must provide the nation with historical continuity by immortalising contemporary achievers of greatness. It must give young people modern heroes to learn from, and model. To recognize him as a National Hero is not about his winning a few gold medals at the Olympics but for what it represents. We must understand that formal slavery is over, so outside Bob Marley who fought against mental slavery (and who deserves to be equally rendered a National Hero), there shall be no more heroes of that sort. Our modern heroes are and will be of a different ilk. They will make immense contributions that are other than fighting slavery. Our current National Heroes fought for our freedom so that we can now go out and transform our society and the world. Freedom now means to impact your society, and the world. Modern heroes such as Usain Bolt (as well as Bob Marley) have transformed the Jamaican society, compelling a new national self-confidence, nudging  us to see ourselves differently, greater. Because of Bolt, we stand even taller, stand more confident in the world. Usain Bolt has transformed Jamaica’s outlook, his industry and has left an indelible and enduring mark on the world. What he has achieved for himself has become a superlative Jamaican asset. He has become among those we hold up as a marker of our greatness as a country. We cannot now limit our definition of what a hero is, and reduce Bolt’s contribution to Jamaica to simply winning a few races and Olympic medals. His contribution is more. It comes from what he represents in symbolic global culture. His heroism comes what he represents, and the enduring nature of his impact on Jamaica and the world.
Jamaican bank note featuring former Jamaican Prime Minister, Michael Manley.
Jamaican bank note featuring former Jamaican Prime Minister, Michael Manley.

2. Depict Usain Bolt on Jamaican Currency:  Usain Bolt is deserving of recognition on the Jamaican currency to reflect the athlete’s great impact on his nation and the world. A weak Jamaican currency notwithstanding, appearing on a bank note of your country is one of the most distinguished recognition any citizen can get. I am unclear as to the Bank of Jamaica policy on who gets to be depicted on Jamaican currency. This honor should be reserved for any Jamaican who actually makes a uber distinguished and marked contribution to Jamaican development. US civil rights leader, Harriet Tubman recently broke the paper ceiling as the first African American to be depicted on a US currency. This comes after a popularity poll and much lobbying of the US Treasury Department. South African hero Nelson Mandela – who led South Africa out of a vicious apartheid rule, was also honored with his depiction on the South African currency, the Rand. The new 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 rand notes, featuring the smiling face of Nelson Mandela, went into circulation in 2012. Currently, some of our national heroes are honored on a Jamaican bank note, others on coins. Sam Sharpe’s image graces the $50, Nanny of the Maroons is on the $500 note, and though not yet a National Michael Manley is on the $1000 note.  A new bank note depicting Usain Bolt is an appropriate honor for the athlete.

stadium
Jamaica’s National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.

3. Rename National Stadium in his honor: This is place he began his sprinting career during the National Boy’s Athletics Championships, and from which he catapulted into the world’s fastest man. The stadium should carry the name of Usain Bolt and also recognise in other creative ways, the many legends of Jamaican athletics who have graced its – from Arthur Wint, Herb McKenney and Merlene Ottey to Veronica Campbell-Brown.

9 metre Bronze Statue of Nelson Mandela at Union Building in Pretoria.
This is me hugging a massive 9 metre Bronze Statue of Nelson Mandela at Union Building in Pretoria, South Africa.

4. Erect a Statue of Usain Bolt: As we seek to restore Jamaican monuments and unveil new ones that tell the story of the Jamaican people, about our history, our struggles and our achievements, a statue of Usain Bolt is in order.  I understand a statue is in the works to be erected in the parish of his birth, Trelawny. On a recent trip to South Africa earlier this year, I went to visit the 9m bronze statue of Nelson Mandela (weight 3.5 tonnes) which looms over Union Buildings (the political offices of the South African President) in Pretoria. It is a tourist attraction. A statue of Usain Bolt (of this same size and magnitude) would be a constant reminder for Jamaica to always strive to maintain the Jamaican values which made Usain Bolt a success – perseverance, discipline, courage and hard work. His statue will remind Jamaicans of his superb commitment to country and his contribution to world athletics and Jamaica’s global image.

5. Celebrate “Usain Bolt Week” – from August 21- 30: Usain Bolt can also be celebrated through a “Usain Bolt Week” which would stretch from the athlete’s birthday on August 21 to  August 27 each year. This would be an occasion for Jamaican authorities such as the Government through its embassies and consulates, Diaspora organizations, schools and colleges to celebrate Jamaica’s sporting brand, unveil programs to promote fitness and wellness, and athleticism where athletes develop their sprinting technique using the signature “Boltian Sprint Technique”. This week of activities should also aim to address issues of sport and social transformation and building a viable sports economy.

bolt
Usain Bolt at Rio Olympics 2016

6. Establish a National Sports Museum (with special Usain Bolt Exhibit): Finally, Jamaica’s unique contribution to international athletics should be articulated in a National Sports Museum, with a special Usain Bolt exhibit. This exhibit should include a robust catalogue of digital and physical artefacts honoring the life and work of the legendary sprinter – world and Olympic events, training, interviews with the athlete, his Jamaican teammates, his rivals, coaches, family, endorsers etc. The exhibit should include official documents ( tweets, emails, handwritten notes); personal belongings (such as gear Bolt would’ve used during each Olympics, etc,) photos and other articles that trace his journey from schoolboy to legend).

Finally, I’ll say this: The balance of power in world athletics has well and truly shifted, in Jamaica’s favour, and we have Usain Bolt to thank for that. Since he bolted to victory in the 100m and 200m for three consecutive Olympics, Usain Bolt (helped along by historical contributions from his compatriots such as Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Merlene Ottey and others) has become the marker of Jamaica’s sporting success. Track and field has become a core pillar of Jamaica’s national and international identity – how the nation sees and talks about itself, how the nation positions itself in the world; how it expects other people to see and talk about the nation. Usain Bolt is a symbol of Jamaica’s soft power, and its enduring relevance in global sport, and the indelible mark he has left on the world.  Usain Bolt therefore deserves to be recognized in a way which is equivalent to his stupendous contribution to the nation, and the world.

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Dr. Hume Johnson is a brand consultant, and a Professor of Public Relations at Roger Williams University, Rhode Island, United States. She can be reached at humejohnson@gmail.com

By Dr. Hume Johnson

Nowadays, personal branding simply cannot be escaped. We are living in the age of the self and of selfies – more photos taken by ourselves rather than by a photographer – of self-promotion and personal celebrification helped along by social media platforms, too numerous to mention. What we are witnessing is a rise of brand image as the new currency for people as much as it is for products and corporations. But your personal brand is much more than a few selfies and posts on social media. One of the most popular definitions of personal branding out there today comes, from founder of the popular online shopping site, Amazon, Jeff Bezos who declares that “Your brand is what people say about you when leave the room”. But do you have control over how you are perceived when you leave the room. The short answer is YES.

Personal Branding is simply how you come across to others, it’s the image you project to others, how you choose to present yourself to others and the world; your distinctiveness, what differentiates you from others. Personal branding is therefore, fundamentally, about managing your name, image and identity, in short, taking control over your public image, on the internet, on paper, or in person. It is about unearthing your best qualities and presenting them in an appealing way to the world. What is the benefit of managing your image in this way? Read on, as I tell you the six TOP reasons why it is a good idea to discover, build, shape up and sharpen your personal brand.

  1. Establishes Reputation and Credibility: Personal branding will, first and foremost, enhance your recognition as an expert in your field, showcase your skills and assets, as well as raise your perceived value to potential clients or employers. Personal branding will earn you a good and positive reputation that people will admire. But it is 100% about sincerity. You have to be authentic by showcasing exactly who you are and what you can deliver. Otherwise you run the risk of being exposed as a fraud.
  1. Wins Steady stream of clients: Personal branding increases your value and the value of the skills, products and services you have to offer. The visibility you acquire from branding yourself in turn creates opportunities for advancement and success. Customers will become increasingly aware of your products, skills and services, and will want to purchase from you.
  1. Helps to Stay Competitive: Personal Branding will help you to remain competitive in your industry. It’s all about marketability for your products, skills, services and any offerings you provide. Personal branding gives you the unque opportunity to create differentiation, and stand out in the marketplace, to show what makes your product and service better, or different than your competition.
  1. Builds Rewarding Relationships: There is nothing more helpful to your personal brand building than being able to develop strong and rewarding partnerships with influential people in your industry. These are folks that are already successful and have the clout to help you to mentor, advise, and make things happen to thrust your business forward. They may be folks that you would like to collaborate with, or being employed by. To position yourself as a player in your field is a great way if gaining the visibility you need to succeed.
  1. Promotes Confidence: I can tell you from personal experience that the quickest way to build your confidence is to get noticed for what you do best. No one is going to seek you out, and come find you and figure out what you are good at, and hire your skills. It is your job to position yourself in a favourable light, through careful and strategic promotion of your skills and assets.
  1. Can Restore Your Image: Finally, personal branding can also be used to restore your image if it is inconsistent or out of control. Something may have happened in your life and career which may have put a damper or negative light on your image. It is not the end of the world. Opportunities to display your positive characteristics, positive behaviour and positive leadership abound when you can build and sustain a positive and credible personal brand. Reshaping your personal brand will help you to position yourself in the way you want to be recognized and gives you the visibility you need to repair and restore your public identity..

Overall, you are a brand whether you know it or not, or whether you like or not. To therefore establish your competitive identity, you truly have become the CEO of your own “me” corporation, the chief marketer of the brand called YOU. In the same way big names such as Coca Cola, Digicel, Louis Vittion, Red Stripe, Nike and Apple present a unique and positive image of themselves in the marketplace, thereby influencing our shopping habits, you too need to sell yourself, exhibit your finer qualities, talents and services, and be recognized as a quality individual, especially if you are to experience professional or business success. Remember its never too late to reinvent yourself and unleash your personal power.

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Dr. Hume Johnson is a brand consultant, speaker and executive trainer. She is currently a Professor of Public Relations at Roger Williams University, Rhode Island, United States. She can be reached at humejohnson@gmail.com

By Dr. Hume Johnson

I talk a lot about personal branding, personal power and about success often. I get a lot of emails per week from people asking me what do they need to do to experience success, or to say congratulations on all your successes. But sometimes I have to take pause, to reflect on what they are talking about. This is because many people view success in terms of personal prosperity, money in the bank. But success is more.  Take a look what my notion of success in this short video. Feel free to comment and share with me what you think success is, and to share your story of success:

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Dr. Hume Johnson is a branding consultant, and Professor of Public Relations. She can be reached at humejohnson@gmail.com

 

By Dr. Hume Johnson

Photo Credit - michaelhyatt.com
Photo Credit – michaelhyatt.com

In a constantly changing and competitive job market and business environment, positioning yourself well is a fundamental imperative if you are a professional looking to reinvent yourself, advance your career, and access professional and personal opportunities. By discovering and building your personal brand, you will be able to project your best self  – the sum total your values, capabilities, skills and assets – to improve your professional prospects, design a new future and achieve success. There are 5 main steps to discovering and developing your personal brand:

  1. Reflect: The first step in brand is to reflect on who you are, what you have accomplished and how you wish to present yourself to the world. Two of the important questions that will help you to define your brand: What do you want to be known for, and What are you good at?
  2. Define Your Personal Brand: At this stage, your approach should be based on differentiation, simply standing out in the crowd by focusing on your unique gifts and what makes you different.
  3. Create Your Brand: The third principle is marketability: becoming visible, getting yourself out there. Creating an active social media presence and a personal website are all elements that you can embark on to get your brand off the ground.
  4. Connect to Others: It’s superb to have a personal brand but you also have to establish visibility in the arenas in which you want to acquire success. Get endorsements from respected colleagues, attend industry events, and network, to bolster, sustain and lend credibility to the brand that you are marketing to the world.
  5. Be Able to Deliver: Finally, and importantly, you have to show that you deliver results. The ability to not just “talk the talk”, but also “walk the walk”, demonstrate your skills. This is what authentic personal brand is what about and what you should aim for.

Yes, it is really this simple. So go ahead – Reflect on your brand, create it, market it. Connect with others and show that you can deliver. Remember, the success of personal branding depends on how well your audience understands your vision, and what you do best, as well as your authenticity. Good luck in building your brand!

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Dr Hume Johnson is the Founder of Hume Johnson Consulting. She is a brand consultant, Professor of Public Relations, a Speaker and Media Trainer. She helps people to build and discover their personal brand, and to communicate their messages with confidence, clarity and credibility. Hume can be reached at humejohnson@gmail.com

 

 

By Dr. Hume Johnson

Media Relations PicMany spokespersons make the job look easy. They are able to express their points in a compelling way, are natural, authentic, credible and memorable. But no successful spokesperson gets in front of a reporter and simply rambles off random thoughts. They are trained media performers and you can be one too. Here are my top tips for becoming a great spokesperson:

  1. Develop Your Key Messages: These are the main points that your organization or client wants its publics to know. When reporters come calling, they usually arrive armed with an agenda. Have yours too. In other words, be prepared. Do not take the interview for granted. Figure out what you wish to communicate to your publics? Jot down at least 3 or 4 key messages (or main points) using simple language that everyone – even an 8th grader – can understand. As a side note, try to find out what kind of program or publication it is, what is the nature or format of the interview, who is the primary audience and what kind of story the reporter is doing, so that you can tailor your messages accordingly. Indeed, the more prepared you are, the more comfortable you will be with the process.

2. Be Conversational: So you have your key messages written down? Yes? Now practice to communicate these messages in the most conversational, believable tone you can muster. Talk as if you are communicating with a friend you respect. Do not use jargons. Keep it simple. Don’t forget your key messages, they are your best friend. Every response to a reporter’s question should be guided by your key messages. In other words, try to reiterate your key points throughout the interview, in a concise and upbeat manner.

3. Prepare for Hostile Questions But Do Not Meet Hostile Questions with Hostility. Instead, acknowledge the question and “build a bridge” to your key messages. How do you do this? Use transitions such as “One of the things to remember is” or “Let’s put it this way…” are great ways to bridge to your key messages.

Below is a spokesperson training session I conducted with public relations students at Roger Williams University. They faced tough questions about their college but were trained to keep plugging away at their key messages:

4. Give Reporters the Headline, then Tell the Story: Some people love to tell stories so much that they become lost in the story. While many reporters may be interested in the story you tell, they simply may not have time in an interview for it. To guard against rambling on and on, give your audience the headline – a summary of your point, then given sufficient time, feel free to explain. If the reporter has to cut your response, at least you gave your audience the key points or messages you wanted to make.

5. Be Enthusiastic and Engaging: I cannot stress this enough. Look and sound like you are delivering important information. Media practitioners wish to rapport with a confident person. For radio interviews, your voice must be strong and clear and exhibit personality or else listeners will get bored and switch channels. So remember to project your voice. For television, be an enthusiastic participant in the interview. Even for serious topics, you do not want to seem bored. You still need to look and sound alert and engaged. Gesticulate (not too much)  and make sure your body language is relaxed.

6. The Reporter is Not Your Friend: Neither are they out to get you. But please understand, in an interview, the reporter’s loyalty (even if you are close pals) is to the story, not you.  So do not get too comfortable and forget your key messages, and utter things you may later regret. At the same time, reporters are not out to get you. They genuinely want to hear your views or organization’s perspective. They will press you for details, or challenge you if you perceive you to be less forthcoming. However, your job is to articulate the main messages that you want your public’s to know. My advice is to be yourself. Don’t try to reinvent yourself in an interview. You will not come across as credible. And don’t lie to a reporter. EVER. Don’t fake an answer if you don’t know it. Admit that you are stomped but you will find out. Further, don’t be afraid to pause. Taking a few seconds to think is not a crisis.

In summary, have your key message prepared, can exhibit confidence, maintain your composure in the face of tough or hostile questions, and communicate in an enthusiastic and engaging manner. Finally, practice aloud, do role playing with a friend or co-worker. Questions to ask yourself: Are your message points coming across? Are your answers concise enough? Are you believable? Professional athletes and actors train rigorously and rehearse before facing the public. Don’t treat your own challenge lightly.

Keep these tips in mind when you face your next media interview!

-ENDS –

Dr. Hume Johnson is a communications trainer and consultant. She teaches Public Relations at Roger Williams University.

By Hume Johnson, PhD

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Dr. Hume Johnson

I’ve learned many lessons, over the years, in my pursuit of success and self-actualization. I am no great sage, nor have I acquired some cosmic wisdom from the Universe in my pursuit of becoming. These lessons I am about to share come from my own experience of living, of chasing my dreams, of achieving some successes, and my inevitable encounter with failure. These secrets are not, by any means, new, but I hope that they provide you with an opportunity for reflection, for personal transformation, for switching things up, for changing the way you operate in your life. Most importantly, these 10 secrets are – as they have been for me-  a call to action, a commitment to live a life of purpose and to continuously design a new future – one that leads to even greater success and personal empowerment:

  1. BE THE CEO OF YOUR OWN LIFE: Take charge of your life. This means having a vision of what you would like your life to be, and set about to make this vision a reality. This means becoming intentional. Write down your goals as intentions. For example, I intend to buy a house, make a record, lose weight, start a non-profit, go back to school. Then devise the steps you will need to take to make those intentions real. If you become the CEO of your own life, then you won’t wait on others to make this happen for you. You will take charge, begin making small (and large) steps towards your goal, confident that you will get there.

2. BE CONFIDENT: Confidence, for me, is a state of mind, a trust in my ability to succeed. Confidence comes from feeling a sense of well-being; it’s a belief in your own ability, skills and experience  and, importantly accepting your limitations. No one is confident every moment of everyday. Some days you will feel more confident than others. Sometimes we feel low confidence because of fear – of failing, of criticism from others or of the unknown. But many times, we feel a lack of confidence because we are simply not prepared, or we may have experienced failure before and frightened we will again. This is normal. The following techniques have helped me at moments when I wasn’t feeling at my strongest:

  • a). maintain positive thoughts no matter what. Psychologists say our lives move in the direction of our most dominant thoughts so watch what you say about yourself, and try to keep a positive outlook on things.
  • b). know your strengths and weaknesses – accept yourself while working on what can be improved is a key to gaining confidence.
  • c). Use criticism as an opportunity to grow, not to feel bad about yourself, and
  • d). Life is tough but always try to maintain a cheerful countenance.

3. STAND OUT – BE DIFFERENT: Discover your personal brand. Your personal brand is essentially how you come across to others. It’s also your distinctive characteristics and a combination of your values, strengths and talents. Figure out what makes you stand out. Accentuate these attributes and communicate them.

4. HAVE A SET OF CORE VALUES TO LIVE BY: What are your core values? What do you believe in? Trust, integrity, honesty, keeping your word? It is important to have a set of principles that you live by. These are guideposts that will help you to make important or difficult decisions, will earn you respect. In other words, strive to be a person of quality, one who is respected for having integrity, being trustworthy, a great person who builds positive relationships effortlessly. Living a life of purpose and principles is essential to success.

5. HAVE A SURVIVAL INSTINCT At some point you are going to fail, or make a mistake. You are going to have setbacks, feel pain, disappointment and loss. But you will survive. Know that you will be OK. Develop a capacity to pick yourself up, and go on. ‘

6. FAIL FORWARD: This is among Apple founder, Steve Job’s famous life principles. Fail forward gives meaning and purpose to failure. Your failure needs to mean more than disappointment. Whenever I have failed (and I’ve failed many times), I’ve never given up. So fail forward. See failure as an opportunity to grow, improve, do better, to go forward. See failure for what it truly is – a gateway to success.

7. CULTIVATE POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS: Many of the successes I have had stem from having a strong supportive network of family, friends and colleagues who were always rooting for me. Surround yourself with positive people who share your values, are strong supporters of your dreams and goals, and who are well-adjusted and strong in character, who will be there for you when you succeed but importantly when you fail. At the same time, to cultivate positive relationships means first that you need to be a positive supportive person yourself. Treat others in the same you wish to be treated. These relationships help to strengthen us when we are weak and gives us the courage to also help others from a loving supportive place.

8. BE ALWAYS GROWING: It is vital to not get stagnant. Take a new course, learn a language, take a different route to work, start reading on a subject of interest, watch the news, travel to a place you have never been to. Find ways to expand yourself. Be always growing if you wish to experience success.

9. SHARE WHAT YOU KNOW: I strongly believe in paying it forward. We are obligated to the species, so to speak. Leave people better than you found them. It is enormously important to pass on what knowledge you have gathered on your own journey to others. Be a mentor, give advice, teach a class if you can. Seize any and each opportunity you get to pay it forward.

10. BE GRATEFUL: Finally, always give thanks. It’s in gratitude that we expand our bounty and increase in blessings.

-ENDS –

Dr. Hume Johnson is a political scholar and communications consultant. She teaches public relations at Roger Williams University, Rhode Island, USA.

By Hume Johnson, PhD

pnp_logoWith its defeat at the 2016 polls, the time is apt for the People’s National Party (PNP) to review and revise its approach, not just to electioneering but also to governance. The current dilemma confronting political organisations large and small is how to remake themselves and remain relevant in changing times. For the People’s National Party to remain viable and relevant in changing times, it has to be extremely concerned with its image perception and brand quality among its voting publics, and more so among those not convinced of its legitimacy. The failure or success of any political party is increasingly tied to its brand quality – how it positions itself in the electoral market place, how it is seen and perceived by voters; and the quality of its leadership and policies. The key elements of a political party brand – the party, its leader and key policies – are highly interrelated in the minds and memory of voters. The credibility and personality of its leaders, and the party’s perceived integrity and credibility in fulfilling its promises are key elements which will directly impact on citizen-voters overall assessment of a political party and how they will vote at an election. How do Jamaican citizens perceive the PNP?

Current Perceptions of the PNP

There is a troubling perception among the Jamaican citizenry that the brand image of the People’s National Party has undergone a decisive and unwelcomed shift in posture from its early socialist beginnings. Conceived in September 1938, only months after the historic Labour rebellion – in which the Jamaican working classes sought improved working conditions, wages and a better way of life – the People’s National Party was well positioned to be, as its name suggests, the ‘people’s party’. For the next several decades, the PNP actively manifested this people-centred politics by consistently and historically introduceing policies that are responsive the needs of the poor, premised on principles of equity and social justice. These principles continue to resonate deeply with Jamaican voters.

Yet, current perceptions of the PNP are unenthusiastic. Many citizens believe the PNP is distant, disconnected, arrogant, and not overly concerned with accountability and transparent governance. By and large, the consensus is that the PNP has drifted away from the philosophical principles and core convictions that Party was founded on, and as one observer remarked morphed into an ‘anything goes’ organisation. If the party is to restore its brand quality, its own credibility and the confidence of the voter-citizen, it is obliged to revert to its original core values, behavioural codes and policies. These include integrity, real concern for the poor, and a belief in education as an important key component that can move the masses out of poverty, a stable social order and concern for the disadvantaged. A political party, which is not anchored in any strong convictions or operates without clear goals and purposes, will become the option, not the people’s choice it imagines.

Review and Regroup

The PNP has a lot of work to do to improve its brand image. Indeed, its electoral defeat should serve as a timely wake up call for the Party to return to the core image that once made its brand strong, respected, envied and seemingly indestructible. It must continue be proactive rather than reactive to social conditions and circumstances impacting on the disadvantaged in the society. Among the strongest features of Brand PNP is the consensus that it boasts an efficient political machinery and some of the shrewdest strategic thinkers and political campaigners in the Caribbean. As an organisation, it’s always appeared to be less bifurcated than its main competitor. Indeed, part of the success of the PNP’s political brand is that by comparison, it is seen to be a better team, better organised and more team-oriented; it speaks with one voice and is supportive of whomsoever is elected to lead. This image has appeared less so in the past few years. A transition in leadership is inevitable, but this must be civil

Former PNP President and Jamaican Prime Minister, PJ Patterson
Former PNP President and Jamaican Prime Minister, PJ Patterson

The PNP is also seen to have a competent crop of second tier leaders; indeed, the Party appears to be very supportive of younger members of the party, elevating them to positions of leadership and offering them greater responsibilities in the Party and in government. Yet the young must illustrate that they have new fresh ideas and genuine capacity for leadership, not merely shallow mock-ups and stand ins for those retiring.

In other words, the PNP must build on these positive elements of its political brand. It must appeal to younger voters by taking advantage of the new technological platforms and spaces for political contact, connection and deliberation.The Party must also appeal to the disenchanted middle and professional classes, the so-called “articulate minority” whose perspectives and concerns often ignored in the desperate stampede to pander to the grassroots. The middle classes must feel a strong sense that the Party is working in their interest as well.

The entrenchment of the PNP as the ‘people’s party’ cannot be taken for granted. Nor can it be presupposed that people will always vote for the PNP. The instances of smug display, self-righteous contentment and arrogance must be replaced by respect for the people, inclusiveness and a commitment to integrity and accountability. The practice of open government where frank, honest and sincere communication, especially when crises occur, must take precedence over secrecy and a seeming desire of the Party to protect its own. This is the only way political trust in the PNP will be rebuilt.

All in all, the PNP’s political brand remains strong and viable despite the elements of disintegration, negativity and disapproval, which surround it. Thanks to its powerful, proud and respected history, the brand image of the Party is well established and convincing. It has a rich tradition of landmark achievements in governance and a socialist heritage, which constantly imposes upon it an obligation to work for social betterment for the poor and disadvantaged. This gives the Party credibility and authority. As a result, the organisation is much more able to bounce quickly from obstacles and incidents which may tarnish its image. The PNP has proven enduring, resilient and vibrant because it was founded upon values that remain perpetual.

Yet it has to derive fresh vision to respond to the new challenges the Jamaican society confronts. The Party has to be a thriving, vigorous opposition, and see itself as active catalysts for change. Most importantly, It must become self-critical, hold itself to account, and to the scrutiny of the people, pause to take stock of fundamental global and domestic challenges and enact policies that create the enabling environment vital for the nation to advance to the quality society (where people can live, work, play and invest) – it once pledged to achieve…. Once more, the Trumpet sounds.

Dr. Hume Johnson is a political scholar. She teaches at Roger Williams University, Rhode Island, USA. She can be reached at humejohnson@gmail.com

By Dr. Hume Johnson

P1010122This semester, as part of a Community Partnerships Project at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island where I teach, I engaged students taking my media relations course in a project with the Town of Coventry, RI. Their job was to help town officials raise the profile of their town and promote tourism by telling positive stories about Coventry’s history, arts, culture and business. My students met with town officials, attended town council meetings, toured the community to experience all it has to offer and interacted with residents of the town to hear about their ambitions for the town. Thereafter they pitched stories to local journalists (NBC 10, Fox Providence, Providence Journal etc.) to gain media coverage about the town.

In giving service to the Town of Coventry and working alongside community members, my students were engaged in what is called “service learning”. Service learning is a form of experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs. Many colleges and universities across the world now embrace the concept of service learning as a legitimate and beneficial means to allow students the opportunity to effectively learn through the practical experience of serving the community in one way or another.

I believe this kind of experiential education, of learning through service or “unpaid community work” would be especially beneficial at all levels of the education system in Jamaica. Growing up in Jamaica, I got a small glimpse of what community service and civic engagement was about. When I was a 16-year old student of Ferncourt High School in the rural hamlet of Claremont, St. Ann, I was involved in a full range of community work and civic activity. For example, I was a member of the Claremont Police Youth Club, which provided space for deeper interactions with the police in the community and a much broader understanding and appreciation for law enforcement and role the police in the community. I was a member of the Claremont Community Development Action Committee (CLARECODAC), a group comprised of community members and leaders tasked with developing strategic plans for the development of the community.

Community involvement was easy for me, as at Ferncourt, I was already an involved student, serving as a member of the school’s Debating and School’s Challenge clubs the student representative on the School’s Board, and Valedictorian. Indeed, among the many awards I received at the annual prize-giving ceremony, I was proudest of the award for “Best Community Spirit”. By the time I was 21 years old, I was serving on a Youth Advisory Council of former Jamaican Prime Minister, PJ Patterson, and later, as a post-graduate student in New Zealand, I volunteered at the Hamilton East Women’s Refugee Centre and worked as a poll clerk during New Zealand national elections. This continuous experience of service to community has had a lasting impact on me. It helped to build my character, made me civic-minded, broadened my understanding of my civic responsibility, and developed in me a keen awareness of, and a commitment to the community and nation around me.

Service Learning Will Improve Values and Attitudes in Youth

photoWhy is service learning so vital for Jamaica? First, Jamaica desperately needs to build social capital and improve values and attitudes particularly among the youth. The increase in violent crime, incivility and coarseness on the roads and in the media, as well as a general aggressive and impolite culture suggest a need for social renewal. In 1994, a values and attitudes Campaign, begun under the PJ Patterson administration, as a mode of transmitting positive values, was crippled not necessarily because, as some commentators suggested, it was sponsored by the Government, but because it relied largely on public education campaigns through the media, and not an entrenched institutionalized programme in partnership with schools and civil society organizations and groups, and activated through actual projects where young people could learn better attitudes by being involved, learning-by-doing so to speak. For example, research has shown that volunteer community work, learning through the giving of service service is one way to improve character and values and see responsible behavior. In service learning projects, students learn how to be respectful towards others and protect rather than destroy public property, and generally become more aware of ethical behaviour. They learn how to work collaboratively as a team, illustrate leadership, show initiative and also to work independently without supervision. They also learn respect diversity and to become tolerance as they work with others from different parishes and communities, various intellectual abilities and socio-economic background.

Service learning can promote social and emotional skills.

Furthermore, service learning is associated with positive outcomes such s lower levels of delinquent behavior, improved social skills, improved cooperation skills in the classroom, improved psychological well-being and a better ability of students to set goals and exercise the discipline to accomplish those goals.  There are also research which indicate that participants in service learning activities have lower levels of out of school suspension, rule non-compliance, incidents of profanity and obscenity as well as vandalism.

Service Learning Can Promote Civic participation and Strengthen Communities

In his inaugural address, Prime Minister Andrew Holness spoke to revitalising volunteerism. Service learning is one way the Government can establish an institutionalised program of voluntary community service as part of the school curriculum. In other words, learning through service can become part of a broader thrust of civic engagement and volunteerism. Service learning works because it is really a strategy of teaching and learning which tries to integrate meaningful community service with in-class instruction with the aim of teaching civic responsibility, and strengthening communities.   Indeed, it can help to address some of the important challenges Jamaican communities face. Planting a food crop, volunteering in a kindergarten, painting a building, cleaning a beach, engage an anti-litter project are all positive service learning projects that should be integrated into the education curriculum for credit or end of term grades. These activities are great opportunities for civic engagement – volunteer opportunities for students, teachers, staff and community members. The Church (which already engages in numerous in house projects), non-profit and community organizations, for example, can be avenues through which volunteer projects can be developed alongside the school system.

Service Learning Can Foster Connectedness and Commitment to Community

UWI graduatesResearch has shown that quality service learning programmes will not only promote students’ civic knowledge but also foster in them a commitment to continue contributing to their community and the society as a whole. It is important for our young people to feel a sense of connectedness to the community and to the society. This means feeling that they are also responsible for the welfare of the community, not just the government, having pride in one’s district or parish, exhibiting a higher tendency to take action for the benefit of the community versus waiting on the government to do it. Service learning can foster a real ‘government of the people’ in a context such as Jamaica where Governments cant and wont do everything. Service learning can also boost self-esteem as those involved in community work tend to feel and are more valued by community members.

Learning through Service Can Improve Academic Outcomes

One of the things I’ve realized from my experience engaging students in service –learning projects is that their academic performance have improved overall. Research has also indicated that students engaged in high-quality volunteer projects, service learning experiences that meaningful and relevant, and which includes interaction with the community over a reasonable period of time, and which offers time for reflection on their experience working in the community, have made gains academically, and on standardized tests. In addition, students have shown greater interests in learning, increased attachment to school, greater attendance, and are more engaged and motivated.

Overall, a service learning effort in the Jamaican school system has the potential to be a very effective programme through which social capital can be generated and values and attitudes improved.  Within the context of a fierce lack of trust in public institutions, deficits in leadership and the absence of a national vision, learning through service will open avenues for volunteerism in which young people can become ambassadors for their schools and communities, foster community, promote civic engagement among our young people, and may prove to be a boon for a new national self-image.

Dr. Hume Johnson is a political scholar and journalist.  She is a Professor of Public Relations at Roger Williams University, Rhode Island USA. She can be reached at humejohnson@gmail.com

By Hume Johnson, PhD

Ramone Rousseau is a 23-year-old Jamaican student at the University of Pretoria, located in Gauteng Province of South Africa. He is a Political Science Major enrolled in a 3-year degree programme, which he recently completed in November 2015, and has great ambitions to be a Minister in the Jamaican Government. For Ramone, living and studying in South Africa has been an amazing journey, in which he learned many lessons and undergone experiences, which he says influenced his growth into manhood and altered the way he interacts with people, and the world. Ramone encourages students in Jamaica, and elsewhere, to choose South Africa for study abroad. However, in order to enjoy your study abroad experience, survive in a radically new culture, and do well in your studies, Ramone suggests 10 things potential students should know:

Jamaican, Ramone Rousseau, studies Political Science, at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.
Jamaican, Ramone Rousseau, studies Political Science, at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.
  1. Expect Communication Barriers & Find Ways to Overcome Them: Language and communication barriers were perhaps the biggest challenges, Ramone says, he had to overcome as a new student in South Africa. “Communication, relating to people, even using my own language of English used in Jamaica, was a big hurdle. They didn’t understand some of the words I was using, or for them, it had a different interpretation.” South Africa has 11 official languages, the two dominant of which are English and Afrikaans, and nine tribal languages, all of which are used by South Africans. Ramone advises students not to be afraid to ask questions, as many people speak English as well as their tribal language and can generally understand enough to help.
  2. Getting Around is Not So Easy: Public transportation in South Africa is definitely not adequate and does not make for easy commute. Instead of buses as you would have in Jamaica, the country deploys minivans as taxis which carry the majority of commuters from various townships into the city centres. “I was always scared of getting lost, and I was so nervous taking the taxi. Transportation is not nice; taxi drivers speak their native language; People drive their own car or use taxis which ply certain routes regularly so you can get by but you have to learn to navigate this aspect,” says Ramone.
  3. Education is in English: Although there are 11 main languages spoken by South Africans, at South African Universities, English is the language of instruction, so students from English speaking countries, studying abroad in South Africa will be able to adjust quite easily. At the University of Pretoria where Ramone was a student for the past three years, test and exam papers, he says, were delivered in both English and Afrikaans. Ramone was not in agreement with this, stating that the tertiary education system tends to privilege only two of the country’s 11 main languages and ignored the many tribal languages spoken by the people. “Many students from Zulu tribe for example, use their tribal languages; many of them do not speak English or Afrikaans, and they have to struggle to write in English or communicate.” For Ramone, the system could also be more diverse: “Most of the lecturers are white; I had only two black lecturers, and they used European texts mostly.” He believes it is important that the perspectives of black scholars should find more space in the South African education, especially at the University level.
  4. There is a strong similarity to Jamaica: South Africa is an emerging economy and it shows in the infrastructure, from road networks, telecommunications, and the availability of global consumer goods and services that are farther advanced than Jamaica’s.  But for Ramone, because the population is mostly blacks, Jamaican students, Ramone believes, will feel at home in South Africa. “Being a Jamaican, I am very popular at school. I always have a Jamaican kerchief, or wearing a Jamaican sweater, things that indicate that I am Jamaican and students always come over to me and show me love. This experience has made me a real ambassador of Jamaica”. Ramone says many students think weed is legal in Jamaica although now a small amount has been decriminalized. There is also the assumption that all Jamaicans have dreadlocks, so he says “ I constantly have to be correcting myths about Jamaica.”
  5. Prepare to adjust to a Colder Climate: Ramone noted that he had to make a major adjustment when it comes to the weather when he first arrived in South Africa. Summer came in December to February and Winter is from May to July, with the temperatures still cold even in September. “Winter is very cold, and it was my first time living in a colder climate, so that was a major adjustment for me.”
  6. Be open to local cuisine: It is important to be open to other cultures. Says Ramone, “I eat pap, the main South African dish. This is the staple of the majority of black South Africans although Afrikaaners, Indians  and Coloured people also consume it. It is made from maize (white cornmeal). I also have a bit of western fish and chips, and meat pies.”
    Ramone Rousseau at the University of Pretoria.
    Ramone Rousseau at the University of Pretoria.

     

  7. Be conscious of Racism: Ramone had a negative, racial encounter with a white security guard once which has made him more alert to racism in South Africa. “He thought I was a criminal and scolded me for driving in and out of the shopping centre. He assumed I was Nigerian, so he said “Go back to Nigeria”. Ramone explains that this shopping centre is located in a predominantly white community, and the security company has a predominantly white staff, which represents the old Afrikaaner guard, and most of the incidents with this company involves black youth. Ramone continued: “I believe he approached me to intimidate me so that I would not come back to the mall; to scourges the area of black people, so my advice to students coming here is “Just be conscious of it.”
  8. Don’t Take Your safety for Granted: Ramone says although he is fortunate to have had no experience of crime in South Africa, he advises students coming here to study, to be alert to danger.  “South Africa has a very high crime rate in the world so one has to be alert to their own security”, says Ramone. He advises students to be careful of drugs traffickers who peddle drugs in areas where students might reside. “For example, there is the highly addictive drug nyaope, and the trafficking of it is very prevalent in low income areas adjacent to the University of Pretoria that I attended. The areas have massive low income housing so a lot of students rent rooms there as this is what they can afford and they can be exposed to drugs. Robberies are also frequent”.
  9. Be open to all groups of people: Like Jamaica did with slavery, Ramone adds that there is a strong history of black resistance to apartheid and black oppression that Jamaicans will be able to relate to. At the same time, he says South Africa is an open society and is abhorrent to all forms of discrimination whether it is gender, race, or sexual orientation. Ramone admits coming from Jamaica where there is a strong disagreement to homosexuality, he was wary of gays and did not want to relate to gay people. “But since being here and attending University, I relate to all peoples regardless of colour, or sexual orientation; they foster that type of tolerance here and I have come to respect it.”
  10. Jamaicans are adored in South Africa: Ramone says his most positive encounter in South Africa is the tremendous love for Jamaicans among the South African people. “Being in Africa, being on the African soil, being a black man, being here, is an honour, getting the love from people, being a Jamaican, there is love in abundance, its crazy.” “This is something I would like all Jamaicans to see and experience; how far the South African and South Africans have come and the complete respect and love they have for Jamaica.”

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Dr. Hume Johnson is a Jamaican. She is a journalist and Professor of Public Relations at Roger Williams University, Rhode Island, USA. She writes extensively on Jamaica’s international image and identity. Dr. Johnson is the Founder and Chairperson of the nation brand think tank, The Re:Imagine Jamaica Project. She can be reached at humejohnson@gmail.com

By Hume Johnson, PhD

Tribute to Mandela erected at entrance to Apartheid Museum

Today, I cried as I walked through South Africa’s Apartheid Museum; so moved I was by the striking presentation (including temporary and permanent exhibits and audio visual works), of the rise of fall of the Apartheid regime – a system of racial segregation enforced through legislation by the white-only National Party which ruled South Africa from 1948 to 1994. Opened in 2001, and acknowledged as the preeminent museum in the world dealing with 20th century South Africa, the Apartheid museum takes you on an emotional journey through the vicious and brutal apartheid regime under which black South Africans were forced to exist.

Experience Apartheid Upon Entering Museum

segregation sign at entranceBlacks in South Africa were not were considered to be citizens in a real sense, and lived a life of complete segregation from whites. On entering the Apartheid Museum, you get to experience first hand what it was like living under the Apartheid system. Each visitor is given entrance tickets randomly selected according to race (whites and non-whites). At the white entrance, visitors can view the national identity card that were distributed to white South Africans. This card had their names, photo and ID number and clearly indicates that they (whites) were citizens of South Africa.

passbook - womanHowever, at the entrance dedicated to non-whites, one can view the identity documents or dompas (translated from Afrikaans to English, it literally “dumb pass”) that black South Africans were required to carry when outside their homelands and designated areas. On the passbook for blacks, it carried their name, photo and tribe. Interestingly, the line that indicates citizenship was left blank. This is significant because it underscores the idea of blacks as not part of the nation.

The Exhibitions

Quotation - The white man as Master
This quotation is just one of many put forward to justify apartheid. It is erected at entrance of Apartheid Museum.

Walking through the museum, the exhibit seeks to capture seminal points and events in South African history, from the Land Act of 1913 which confined non-whites South Africans to designated areas across the country to how Apartheid was enforced and maintained, the struggles mounted by Nelson Mandela and others against this oppressive regime to its final demise as a legal system of government with the release of Nelson Mandela, who emerged as the symbol of the struggle, in 1990 and his election to President in 1994.

Mandela and dompas
Mandela preparing to burn his dompas in the Defiance Campaign in the 1960s.

Included in the museum display are video interviews of Nelson Mandela, and other key persons in the struggle against Apartheid who were forced underground, and later imprisoned; weaponry that was used by those who were resisting the Apartheid and those charged to uphold it; the recapture of the Rivonia trial of the key figures of the struggle against Apartheid and a exhibit dedicated to Nelson Mandela. There is also a cinema showing the confrontations between the regime and the people in the streets of South Africa.

As I  walked through the museum and watched the brutality meted out to the people, I felt a deep sadness and despair. The struggle faced by blacks in South Africa was immense. The dompas was a key tool in maintaining segregation. Blacks could be thrown in jail simply for not having it. The museum ably captures how devoid of empathy and compassion the period was. I couldn’t help but reflect on how painful and difficult life must have been living on such a repressive system in your own country. I could not help but me moved by the suffering by my fellow Africans.

Liliesleaf

liliesleaf
Liliesleaf Farms at Rivonia, South Africa.

Overthrowing such a system must’ve required careful and covert planning and strategic actions. So I had to visit Liliesleaf to see how this was done.  LiliesLeaf was the nerve centre of the liberation movement. In the early 1960s, Liliesleaf was an old farm property which served as a safe house for many leading figures of the liberation movement. People from diverse backgrounds with a common vision met here to plan, debate and discuss political policy and military strategy for  South Africa’s emancipation from an oppressive apartheid regime.

The covert operation and  underground activities of Liliesleaf were ultimately exposed.  In a dramatic police raid on July 11, 1963,  members of the military arm of the ANC, the MK high command, were captured while meeting to discuss a contested strategy to overthrow the government. The raid took them completely by surprise. The police seized hundreds of  liberation struggle documents. They had in their words, ‘hit the jackpot’. For the apartheid government, the event was a coup. For Nelson Mandela and the liberation movement, it was a crippling blow.

Many of those arrested at the raid on Liliesleaf were later tried at the famous Rivonia Trial and sentenced to upwards of 25 years in prison. The events of Liliesleaf and the subsequent trial of all the accused changed the course of South African history, and thrust South Africa’s struggle for democracy on the international stage.  Today Liliesleaf recounts these conversations, and is truly a journey of enlightenment.

Lest We Forget: South Africa’s Commitment to Remember its Past

Liliesleaf and the Apartheid Museum are important repositories of the South African story; its struggle for justice, equality and freedom.  Designed to recollect and memorialize the past, they serve to connect the South African people to their history, and permit them to always hope, always fight for a democratic future. Arthur Chaskalson, Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Africa (2001-2005) puts it best when he said: “We need to record our history… to heed the lessons of the past, [lest] we slip back into practices that contradict the ideals that underpinned the struggle for freedom and justice in our country”.

lililieaf 2, entrance
The entrance to Liliesleaf in Rivonia, now a museum dedicated to the struggle to apartheid.

I was thoroughly impressed with South Africa’s Apartheid Museum, and Liliesleaf. Recounting the past is essential. I therefore could not help but lament the absence of such monuments designed to memoralise the Jamaican struggle against British slavery and colonisation, and the continued fight for equality, peace and justice in our society; the absence of  visual national markers that recollects our people’s triumph over oppression, celebrate our symbolic culture and many contributions to the world. In the words of Jamaica’s national hero, Marcus Garvey: “If we don’t remember the past, we are bound to repeat it”.

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Dr. Hume Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Public Relations at Roger Williams University, Rhode Island, USA