Law, Order, Discipline and 50 Years of Independence
by Valerie Dixon
(Spur Tree, Mandeville, Jamaica)
Military Band Photos Courtesy of Colonel Alan Douglas
Click Individual Images To Enlarge
Fifty years after being given Independence by the British, many Jamaicans, especially those under the age of forty have no clue as to what law, order and discipline means.
Primarily because those who took the reins of power after the colonials left thought it was wise and prudent to throw away everything that represented colonialism.
They failed to realize that law, order and discipline were embedded in the institutions of colonialism.
As a result we are now inclined as a society, to be lawless, out of order and indisciplined.
However, one of the colonial institutions that was not thrown away was the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and its musical arm, the Jamaica Military Band.
The JDF and its band, from the highest ranked officers to the rank of a private, represent the epitome of law, order and discipline.
I spoke at length with Colonel Allan Douglas who wrote the article "A Flash of Colour - The Zouave Military Uniform", and asked him to share how the JDF and its band have been able to remain such an example to the rest of the nation, in terms of law, order and discipline.
His view is that on Jamaica attaining Independence, and with the formation of the JDF, a British Joint Standard Training Team was put in place and a corps of British officers remained to transition and guide the newly appointed army leaders to uphold the high standards of integrity and accountability and the sound values and attitudes that are still imbued throughout the entire rank and file of the JDF.
This, he said, was underpinned by the Jamaican officers being exposed to high leadership training gained at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst in England, and other training such as the annual military exchange training exercise ... the Calypso Hop.
Another important point he raised is that the leaders of the JDF are loyal to the Jamaican Constitution first and foremost, and this loyalty over-rides and is bigger than any individual’s ambition.
He compared this to the fact that native political and civilian leaders were never involved in any transition exercise and were never exposed to or allowed into the Board Rooms.
So after Independence, political and civilian leaders were just left to “run wid it” … the Jamaican way of saying "to do as one likes – regardless" … and the rest of the society followed their example.
He emphasized the fact that aside from being highly trained musicians, the band members are highly trained combat soldiers enlisted in the JDF.
They are trained to soothe ‘troubled hearts’ with music during peace time and to fight with weapons, if and when it becomes necessary.
The Military band is particularly unique and intriguing. It has direct descent from the first of the West India Regiments, which was formed in 1795.
The band’s uniform was first worn by the Zouave, a body of French light infantry of North African origin. Queen Victoria had the uniform copied and introduced into her army.
The composition of the uniform is intriguing because of its Moorish background, making it unique in the Western World.
Colonel Douglas is of the view that the Jamaica Youth Service should have a non-combative component of military training to instil law, order and discipline, along with proper leadership skills.
He suggests that like the JDF, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) should aim to train the majority of their Officer cadre outside of Jamaica, and that the JCF needs to re-introduce the marches and drills that were an integral part of the discipline and training during the colonial past.
A famous and infamous Senior Superintendent in the JCF always advocated for this type of discipline and training.
Law, Order, Discipline and the Zouave uniform have survived and flourish in the the JDF and the Jamaica Military Band.
Unfortunately, I am not sure I can say the same about law, order and discipline in the wider society, 50 years after Independence.