The prime minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson Miller, has reacted vigorously to recent comments by the president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe portraying Jamaican men as chronic drunkards and unambitious marijuana smokers.
In a statement on Thursday, Simpson Miller said, “The government can confirm that exhaustive checks by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade indicate that President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, on Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at the launch of a 2012 Research and Intellectual Institute Expo, in Harare, made certain uncomplimentary remarks about Jamaican men.”
These remarks, she said, regardless of whether they were spoken “in jest” as was stated in Wednesday’s edition of the New Zimbabwe Newspaper, were grossly unfortunate, misguided and untrue.
“We are confident that the remarks of President Mugabe do not represent the sentiments of the people of Zimbabwe, other African countries, and the rest of the world,” Simpson Miller said.
“Our confidence is predicated on the fact that there are many outstanding and globally accepted examples of the character and contribution of Jamaican men, who have set the benchmark as exceptional achievers,” she added.
Any such remarks, Simpson Miller said, must be therefore dismissed as untrue and disrespectful to the hundreds of thousands of Jamaican men who are excellent fathers, professionals and outstanding citizens.
In apparently unscripted asides during a three-hour speech last week Mugabe said Jamaican “men are always drunk,” have no interest in higher education, and people freely smoke marijuana.
“The men want to sing and do not go to colleges, some are dreadlocked. Let us not go there,” Mugabe told the crowd at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare.
Over the years, Mugabe has repeatedly made disparaging remarks about dreadlocked Rastafarians.