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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Jamaica_Johannesburg

The two places are inextricably linked by the memory I have of Jamaica’s unwavering support in calling for an end to the apartheid regime and for the release of Nelson Mandela. Growing up in Jamaica, I had gone to see Archbishop Desmond Tutu and remember shaking his hand as he greeted thousands at the National Heroes Circle in Kingston. I have even fonder memories of seeing Nelson Mandela when he visited Jamaica not long after his release. That was 1991.

Fifteen years later, I think about how much South Africa has undergone since then as they struggle to emerge from their history of segregation, stereotypes and stigmas. Both Jamaica and Jo’burg are suffering from the unwanted notoriety of having the first and second highest murders per capita in the world respectively. These stats are more closely tied to the continued unequal distribution of resources giving rise to great disparities in economic opportunities and wealth. But the similarities that Jamaica and Jo’burg share go way beyond intersections of poverty and crime but extend towards a new nexus: that of HIV/AIDS and murder.
To be continued. See upcoming article Jamaica_Jo’burg II.

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