"NO, I can't believe it - that can't be true!" This was Coconut Grove MP's Ed Moxey's shocked reply in May 1974 when a news reporter called to ask what he thought of a report that government had planned to build a replica of his Jumbey Village at Fort Charlotte. If true, this meant that the tourist dollar would remain on Bay Street and not flow to little businessmen Over the Hill where it was sorely needed. Mr Moxey knew that any development of Fort Charlotte would be in direct competition with Jumbey Village.
The whole idea of Jumbey Village -- built in 1971 on the reclaimed City Dump -- was to create a community centre with arts, crafts, music, a school, library, clinic, and social centre. It was to be an area, created by an indigenous people who hoped through their cultural programmes and craft work to attract tourists with their dollars to the village. When Mr Moxey was elected to the House in 1967, his belief was that the PLP was dedicated to providing a government "of the people, by the people, for the people."
In January 1975, Cat Island MP Oscar Johnson was to pour scorn on his government's "rich members who had forsaken over-the-hill" to dine on Cable Beach at the PLP's eighth anniversary celebrations. He reminded his party that over the hill was "the source of the PLP's strength." He warned that it could also be its eventual undoing.
In 1974, Mr Johnson told the PLP that 90 per cent of "black staff" working in the hotels lived over the hill, and from experience it was known that a "man with a toothache cannot smile." These were the areas, he said, that needed social change -- a change envisioned in the community concept of Jumbey Village.
That year, Mr Moxey and several (PLP) government members criticised their government in the House of Assembly because funds for the completion of Jumbey Village and the planned community youth programmes had not been included in the 1974 Budget. Nor was Jumbey Village included in the Ministry of Tourism's Goombay Summer programme -- a programme the Coconut Grove MP had suggested in 1972 should be held in Jumbey Village. His protest resulted in him receiving a personal letter from Prime Minister Pindling firing him as Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Culture with responsibility for community development.
Mr Moxey said that government's efforts to "suppress" Jumbey Village resulted from petty jealousies of individuals who believed that only they should be involved in certain activities of national importance.
In 1973, Mr Moxey had written a letter to then Deputy Prime Minister AD Hanna demanding a retraction and apology for statements Mr Hanna had made about him using slot machines for fund raising. Mr Moxey found his statements "maliciously designed to discredit me in the eyes of the public." Mr Moxey got no apology. Nor was his letter acknowledged.
And then a rumour was started.
"For months now," said Mr Moxey, "political elements have gone around in my constituency whispering about misconduct on my part when I was handling the birth of Jumbey Village. They talk about money. Well, the Ministry of Education and Culture investigated the matter and have found every single cent accounted for. The report was sent to Minister Livingston Coakley. For four months I have been asking him to release the report in order to clear up the matter. He has refused to do so."
Mr Moxey, like Carlton Francis after him, was a marked man. He had become too popular and, therefore, had to be consigned to the political graveyard. Jumbey Village eventually followed.
When government funds earmarked for the Village, but not fully used, were frozen, parents, teachers, and schoolchildren raised $90,000 to complete the museum.
"It would be a gross insult to them," Mr Moxey said, "to now duplicate a museum at Fort Charlotte."
Not to be left out, the late Wenfred "Sife" Heastie added his two cents to the debate. Mr Heastie was not only a staunch supporter and major financial contributor to the PLP, but he was also deputy prime minister A D Hanna's uncle.
"Ed," he said, "is the only man who did something personally in his district. He built a community centre and a day-care centre in his district and he built Jumbey Village out of the dump. They are jealous because the rest of them don't have a damn thing to show, except the new houses they moved into in the east and in the west."
He said the PLP government cut Jumbey Village from the development budget because "to get Ed Moxey out of the picture they have to let Jumbey Village die a natural death. If they cut off everything this will die and Ed will die. And to speed up matters, they're going to Fort Charlotte to build their own version of Jumbey Village."
In July, 1987 Jumbey Village cultural centre was torn down to make way for the proposed National Insurance Building.
Mr Moxey tells his story on a DVD -- soon to be released-- entitled "The Price of Being a Man -- the Quiet Revolution and the undoing of Jumbey Village".
<<< The birth and death of Jumbey Village: ...the story of what might have been, and what in fact turned out to be Edmund Spencer Moxey's greatest triumph as well as his biggest disappointment... the creation of a place called Jumbey Village, and his struggle to secure the ideals that would have guaranteed the progress first envisioned as part of the quiet revolution>>>
<<< In all honesty, the idea of urban renewal cannot be claimed as being the brainchild of either the Christie or Ingraham administrations... It preceded both by many years... In fact, Urban Renewal in the broadest sense of the word was the brainchild of Sir Stafford Sands, the creator of this country's tourism and financial industries>>>
March 26, 2012