When I left Jamaica I was twenty years old. On the 29th of December this year it would have been five years since I left the island of Jamaica as an adventurer in search of fame and fortune. The events that led up to me leaving the island are clear in my mind as if they were yesterday. Diminishing returns meant that at the end of my second year of university I wasn’t doing as well as I had done in my first year. There was friction within my family over my vision at the time and how I wanted to achieve it. I was also in love, young and stupid. I left Jamaica feeling despair. I felt as if staying would have closed off the possibilities which were open to me. I was arrogant, I thought Jamaica wasn’t big enough for me. I believed at the time that I would rather live my life as a homeless person on the streets of London than be a top class reporter in Kingston. This is the first time I have publicly stated the choice I made mentally back in 2009. I still have the cans of food I took with me which I kept as symbols of my resolve and determination.
I believe that we leave the Caribbean because we have to. The choice we each had was merely an illusion. Given all the factors affecting each of us in the diaspora our decision was, in hind sight, inevitable. We leave because our countries need us, but not in the way that we think. We need to grow and our countries need to grow too if we are both going to be the right fit. The process of leaving might seem random from above, who leaves, why do they leave. But there is reason to it. Those reasons are deeply personal and may hold the map of our journey which eventually leads to our homecoming.
I have learnt that none of us can stand alone. I learnt that the hard way struggling under the lash of the mental whip of an all seeing foreign master. I realized that what I left behind was greater than the sum total of the money we all had, whether it was much or little. I have realized that my strength in Jamaica and in the United Kingdom sprung from the strength of the institutions I was a part of. Whether it was the university or the church or the family, it was the act of being a part of a body that kept me alive.
I intend to go home. But it would not be for nothing that I left. I will return with capital of the cultural, financial and social kind. The most important jewel in my accumulated treasury will be a message which I will deliver to the highest institutions of the Caribbean. This message I hope will unite us whether we are at home or abroad. I hope that my message will inspire both young and old to speak the truth to power and explore the world for better ways of living. I hope that my message will help build a Caribbean that we will all be proud to retire to. If you are reading this stationed in a Caribbean colony overseas then your countries need you. If you are reading this from somewhere within the homeland then the world needs you. How you can be of use to the world and your home simultaneously will be laid out in a comprehensive plan which I will unveil in the New Year. It will require individual action and it will require collective action. As a managing director of a first world multinational company I stand ready to lead this action. My leadership will not only be symbolic and verbal but practical and far reaching. There is still a lot of work to be done but I can assure you that if we rise then the whole world will know who we are. Keep watching this space.
My name is Peter Campbell, reporting from my station in London United Kingdom and I’m coming home.