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Book sales a pleasant surprise for Patterson

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WHEN retired Prime Minister PJ Patterson launched his autobiography My Political Journey on December 12 last year, he was open-minded.

Just over six weeks later, he is pleasantly surprised that the publication has done so well and now the second phase of the marketing and sales effort is being implemented to handle the demand of the document, which sells for around US$75 per copy.

“It has exceeded my expectations by far,” Patterson told the Jamaica Observer during a one-on-one interview last week at the St Andrew property that he has called home for over 50 years.

“I knew I had to do it (write book). I thought I owed it to history, to the Caribbean society, to the background of the families from which I come because I am not the only one, certainly in the Caribbean who, coming from the background of church and education, ended up in the political process, but I had to tell my own story. But the response has been simply great.

“It was printed in batches and the first batch that came for the publication is completely out. We are getting some more shortly and the fact is that in today’s world people don’t carry a lot of stock — inventory — so we are printing by demand. There is an e-book too … Amazon is taking it. We are going to be doing other signings in Montego Bay in a fortnight, then in New York earlier in the year and, Brexit permitting, in London in early April,” Patterson outlined.

Later, the book, which traces the former Senator and Member of Parliament’s life from birth to when he retired as Prime Minister in 2006, after marking 13 years as Jamaica’s sixth and longest-serving prime minister, will take on additional significance, with the spotlight shining on the populous continent of Africa, from which Patterson’s and the fore-parents of a majority of Jamaicans emerged.

“I already have requests and invitations in Nigeria and Ghana, in particular. But what I think has to be appreciated is when we were elected officers of the party — Michael Manley as president and me as vice-president, and Robert Saunds, who was then a candidate for the party — did a tour of Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Kenya and Ethiopia, just before the introduction of the rod in the campaign, we had always felt that we have had a symbiotic relationship between the people on both sides of the Atlantic. And also remembering that some of our ancestors went beyond the Caribbean and ended up in North America, there has always been a special relationship with the African community, and it became very evident in the works of Marcus Mosiah Garvey.

“Martin Luther King wrote most of his inspirational sermons and speeches right here in Jamaica, because it was probably the first time and the only space where he could come and see black people in control and in authority of running the Government. And certainly within the Commonwealth within the Non-Aligned Movement, within the LOME framework, our relationships with Africa have been very close, standing up for principles of liberation, racial equality.

“There is quite a bit in a section in the book that deals with the international arena, particularly as it was in the 1970s and through to the end of my tenure. In international relations Jamaica was punching well above its weight. As we have excelled in the fields of music, sports and entertainment, so too have we done in terms of leadership in the international economic community — both at the political level, in terms of heads of state and ministers, but also at the technocratic levels. I mention some of the outstanding public servants — Edgerton Richardson, Herbert Walker, G Arthur Brown, Frank Francis, Carmen Parris, Pat Durrant, Angella King, Lucille Mair, among others; and in addition to Michael Manley at the political level there was Dudley Thompson,” the Calabar High School graduate remarked.

And with lots of research material left over from the publication, a second edition has not been completely ruled out, although that is not on the agenda for anytime soon.

But does Patterson have regrets that he didn’t get in certain information in his My Political Journey from all that body of material that was collected?

“Every now and then, particularly for people who work close to me, I get a comment, ‘why didn’t you include this’, or ‘why didn’t you elaborate on that’? There are some areas in which you had to make a writer’s call as to what you put in. There’s just a limit. I don’t know whether I will be tempted to write a second edition. Perhaps after I have finished these series of launches I might take a look at some of the things I have done since my retirement — like the report on governance in West Indies cricket, the Rhamphal Commission on migration development in the Commonwealth — I was chairman of that group I presided over a Commonwealth committee established by heads of government looking for criteria for membership in the Commonwealth.

“It is on the basis of our recommendation that Rwanda was accepted as a member, because under the old criteria it would not have qualified. I have been engaged in that. Then, of course, there is Haiti and the work when I was asked to serve as special representative of the heads of government to help in the recovery.

“We have also watched how the global situation has reflected and some of the complex issues which have not been resolved and some which are deserving of immediate attention and action, and particularly global warming and climate change,” Patterson asserted.

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