Apart from having a welcoming and enticing environment in which to do business, a very common and significant hindrance takes form in language barriers. Our current Prime Minister, in response to criticism of her frequent flying across the globe, said that she merely seeks to engage in several business opportunities for Jamaica and the government which have presented themselves. She further stated that in conducting business, especially of this nature, one has to meet with a business partner in hoping to secure these deals. To me, that goes both ways, because business is never a one-way street. However, I shall not stray from the matter at hand. Whilst journeying to, and even meeting potential business partners, one will come across a plethora of cultures and a variety of dialects. If there is a break-down in communication, at any point in time, more often than not, it results in a break-down of the partnership. There won’t always be a translator available whether home or away and this is why it is important for simple linguistic skills to be treasured. I would never say that we must learn every language possible, that would be fool-hardy and an immense waste of time.
First off, since early 2013, China has taken over as the world’s largest economy with signs of significant growth still ahead. Mandarin is the language spoken by a surplus of that country’s population. The Chinese also partake in a lot of industrial, commercial and athletic business overseas. Having a basic understanding of their language would be a very wise choice and investment. Obviously sensible choices need to be made when undertaking any business venture, but my premise is that in seeking to ease the flow of business in Jamaica, having a strong language base would ease that effort further. Hence, what seemed far-fetched or unattainable in certain respects may seem possible or much closer. With the intrigue in our shore potential to multiply capital, we have seen quite a vast amount of foreign investors from this region of the world. A major reason why they also carry their own workers instead of employing locals for more than 60% of the project work-force is that, coupled with the training and work etiquette of their workers, there are also no barriers while communicating to their workers. Even though we may overlook them, these are some of the things foreign investors take into account before ‘setting up shop’ overseas. Jamaican produce and products also have major market potential in Eurasia. How are we to effectively market, sell and deliver if there is no language base?
As a nation we gained independence in 1962, and set aside from being heavily dependent on imports we still have not established a Jamaican schooling system, a Jamaican Emergency response system, Jamaican defense mechanisms and the list goes on. It was recently brought up that English should be taught as a second language in schools; as the saying goes ‘better late than never.’ Still with the introduction of that policy, it simply means that greater emphasis will be placed on our Jamaican Dialect. I guess this means that it will finally take the gold and that Mrs. Louise Bennett Coverley’s efforts to have the dialect receive international recognition were not in vain. It would also mean that we have finally begun to take steps in giving precedence and priority to all things Jamaican. Not even Vincent Van Gogh can illustrate how elated I am about this. Apart from recognizing the prestige of our dialect we should also honour those of old which have been practiced for generations before independence was even thought of. I refer to those languages used in Europe and more specifically Africa. I have noticed that in Portia’s many travels she has not once stopped in Africa, except to bid farewell to freedom-fighter, Nelson ‘Rolihlahla’ Mandela the Great. Why is this? Is it that we do not have potential business partners and potential business opportunities in the Motherland? I think not. With this being said, and in reference to the gist of this article, we should also seek to introduce African languages into the schools in earnest and hopes that students may see Africa as a place to work, raise families, and also do business.
When African diplomats and high ranking businessmen venture to our shores we should welcome them with soothing sounds of their own dialect as well as our warm-heartedness. Some say, the Africans in the East today refer to those in the West as ‘children-of-slaves.’ Nevertheless, I believe that the psyche behind the slave-trade should have been abolished with it. We need not dwell, mentally on the blood-lines of those who traded and were traded. This in itself is another form of mental enslavement. Yes, I do acknowledge that being physically enslaved has repercussions of such a nature, yet it is high time we recognize the importance of unifying our efforts wherever necessary. Again, teaching these languages can do no harm, if anything it would increase benefits and the mutual respect we share on an international level. I am not saying it must take place overnight. I am simply asking that more languages be taught, especially in the public domain, especially the ones immediately applicable to employment and business opportunities overseas. Even as a trial run, especially with the pending construction of the Logistics Hub.