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Lawyer Jemalie John speaking at the New Democratic Party's "Hope for Youth Rally" in Campden Park on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023.
Lawyer Jemalie John speaking at the New Democratic Party’s “Hope for Youth Rally” in Campden Park on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023.
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The chorus of Jamaican artiste Govana’s song, “Champ” should be more than just lyrics for Vincentian youth, says lawyer Jemalie John.

John urged young people at the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) “Hope for Youth Rally” in Campden Park on Saturday to change the government at the next general elections.

“And so, as Govama says, we want to be smiling to the bank right now. Not just foreigners turning profit, and not paying taxes,” he said, quoting one of the headline artistes at the event, which also featured Etana, another Jamaica entertainer, as well as local acts.

“We want our people, our people, ‘ghetto yutes fi have tings’. And so, I’m saying to you tonight, young people, this is our time, this is our moment. And when the time comes, you have to stand up and be counted. And let them know that we are here to ‘get it done’,” he further said, quoting an NDP rally slogan.

“So, ensure that you change your reality and the reality of the country that you are living in, because we want to have that goal, that vision, that dream so that the next time Govana comes to St. Vincent and he sings ‘smiling to the bank right now’, It will be more than just a song,” John siad. 

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“It will be our reality here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. So, make that change, young people, and elect Dr. The Honorable Godwin Friday to be the next prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

John said that in preparing for his speech at the rally, he looked up the lyrics of “Champ”, adding that sometime, when listening to music, people simply enjoy the vibes and do not pay attention to the lyrics.

He quoted the chorus of the song, which says

“Man feel like a champ right now (yeah) / Smiling to di bank right now, / Mansion inna di plans right now / Start up di Bimmer and drive out, yeah / So me haffi give thanks seh di worst pass / Every time me touch di plane now a first class.”

John said:

“When he started that song, he said something that resonates with me. He says at the start of the song, ‘Ghetto yutes fi have things’. Ghetto yutes fi have things. Yes, man, Ghetto yutes fi have things.”

John told the rally that every young person must have a vision for themselves.

“You must know what kind of life you want to live. And you have to be able to articulate that vision, just like Govana did for himself.”

He further noted what Govana sings that he was his finances, housing and vehicle and travels.

“When I put that lifestyle, that vision, up against the reality of Vincentian young people, it is a pity. Because we are faced with a reality of unemployment and underemployment,” John said.

“We are faced with a reality of surging crime so that we can’t even do the basics of keeping our young people safe.

“We have a reality of climbing poverty in St. Vincent and Grenadines, a stagnant economy and a healthcare system that we know we cannot rely on. And so, we have to ask ourselves, what kind of life do I want to live?”

John said he recently met one of his former school mates who said that at aged 29 he felt that he would have been further ahead in life.

“His sentiment is the sentiment of a lot of young people in St. Vincent: getting older every year and feeling that they’re somehow falling behind, slipping behind, not hitting the milestones that they want to hit when they want to hit those milestones,” John said.

“And so, we have to ask ourselves, ‘What kind of life we really want to live?’ and ‘What are we going to do about the fact that many of us are not living the dream that we have for ourselves?’”

He said that every young person in SVG must also be able to articulate the kind of country they want to live in and their role in creating that country.

“And so, I could talk for myself. I want to live in a St. Vincent and Grenadines where I have a proper healthcare system if I get sick. We have politicians who will come to you and say we have a state-of-the-art healthcare system, best in class, but every time they get sick, they fly out,” John told the crowd. 

“And so, I’m saying tonight, if it ain’t good enough for you, it ain’t good enough for me either.”

He said many Vincentians are dying “because they have a healthcare system that is failing them.

“These people, they are your parents; they are your children; they are your neighbours and your friends, and we have to bid them goodbye to an early grave unnecessarily.”

The lawyer said he wants to live in an SVG, “where a government puts forward education but education actually means something.

“We live in a country today, where we have the education and we have the skills but the most important qualification for anybody today is a party card. And so, you have to ask yourself, ‘what then, is the value of your education?’”

John said he principal recently told him of the pushback after inviting an opposition MP to address the school’s general assembly. 

“…  they got a telephone call to say ‘Well, way you bring he fah? There are people from among our ranks, we you cudda call to give the speech.’

“And I am saying to you, if we are living in a St. Vincent and Grenadines where an MP from the opposition party cannot even go and speak to young people at a general assembly, how are you going to get a job?” John said.

“How are you going to get a promotion or an appointment, if simply speaking at an assembly is an issue?” he further stated, adding that people who promote this type of politics would stand on a platform and say leaders must lead.

“But if I’m a leader, and I’m leading a secondary school, and I make decisions, way yo calling me fah?” he said, partly in the Vincentian vernacular.

“So, I want to live in a St. Vincent, where people who are trained can actually do their job. And the reality is, our public service is the worst it has ever been. That is how low they are operating in St. Vincent and the Grenadines right now,” John said.

“I want to live in a St. Vincent, where we have accountability and transparency. And I’m happy to see that the NDP is proposing a real youth council; not a society where one person handpicks people who they want, where they have no independence, neither in terms of finances or their ideology.

“I want to live in St. Vincent that is inclusive, because I know it is not enough for just some of us to prosper,” he said.