High Time Fi Woman Bishop

Two spelling systems are used for the Jamaican language below. The first, which I call ‘chaka-chaka’, is based on English spelling. The second, ‘prapa-prapa’, is the specialist phonetic system designed by the Jamaican linguist Frederic Cassidy. It has been updated by the Jamaican Language Unit at the University of the West Indies, Mona. After the two Jamaican versions, there’s an English translation.

CHAKA-CHAKA SPELLING

Look how long woman a run church a Jamaica! An it tek two thousand year an more fi di Anglican dem inna England decide dem mind fi mek woman turn bishop. Wat a sinting! An some a di man dem – an all woman too – bex, bex, bex.

Unknown-1Di bishop dem claims seh dem a tan up inna one long, long line weh go right back to Jesus an im twelve disciple. From man to man come down. Dem call it ‘apostolic succession’. Dem seh Jesus never have no woman disciple. A so-so man. So a man fi run tings ina di church. Woman no business fi waan turn no bishop. Unu tink it easy?

Di Anglican church do have woman bishop inna odder country laka Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Merica an Swaziland. But no inna England. Dem a hold on pon ole-time sinting. Some a di man priest dem so harden, dem seh if a no man bishop ordain dem, dem no ordain fi true. Wat a way dem backward! Mi sorry fi dem.

WOMAN LUCK

Tings an times a change. An all who naa change a go get lef. Anyhow, it look like seh di one dem weh waan bring een di woman bishop dem a try see wid dem odder one weh no ready. Dem no waan di church mash up. So hear wa dem a go do. All who no waan no woman bishop can aks fi one man.

imagesMi no know how dem a go manage if half a dem waan man an di next half waan woman. Dem mussi a go end up wid two bishop inna di one district weh dem call ‘diocese’. Then mek mi gi unu lickle joke. Di word bishop come from Greek: episkopos. Di epi part mean pon top; an skopos mean fi look. So bishop a overseer.

See ya! We done know bout overseer. Not a nice sinting fi a beat people fi work out dem soul case fi nutten. But dem ya holy-holy overseer supposen fi a look after wi soul an wi soul case. So wat happen to woman soul an soul case? Wi a no smaddy? Wa mek wi cyaan oversee fi wi owna soul an case? An fi di man dem to? Wa mek a ongle man can oversee?

Then through di Anglican church a di official church a England, di woman-bishop vote ha fi go a Parliament. An if it pass deh so, then di woman dem gone clear. An member seh it never easy fi woman turn priest. A no til 1994 dem ordain di first woman priest dem. Mi no understand wa mek it so hard fi Christian see seh man an woman supposen fi have di said same rights.

Old-time people seh, ‘woman luck deh a dungle heap; fowl cratch i out’. Dat simple mean seh good luck can drop pon woman anywhere. All inna dungle. Mi naa seh Anglican church a dungle. Mi no waan no overseer beat out mi soul case. But it look like seh nuff cratch-cratch a gwaan inna dat deh chuch fi root out some a di man dem an mek space fi woman. After all!

PRAPA-PRAPA SPELIN

15anglican-master315Luk ou lang uman a ron choch a Jamieka! An it tek tuu touzn ier an muor fi di Anglikan dem ina Inglan disaid dem main fi mek uman ton bishop. Wat a sinting! An som a di man dem – an aal uman tu – beks, beks, beks.

Di bishop dem kliemz se dem a tan op ina wan lang, lang lain we go rait bak tu Jiizas an im twelv disaipl. Fram man tu man kom dong. Dem kaal it ‘apostolic succession’. Dem se Jiizas neva av no uman disaipl. A suo-so man. So a man fi ron tingz ina di choch. Uman no bizniz fi waahn ton no bishop. Unu tingk it iizi?

Di Anglikan choch duu av uman bishop ina som ada konchri laka Aaschrielya, Nyuu Ziilan, Kyanada, Merika an Swaazilan. Bot no ina Inglan. Dem a uol aan pan uol-taim sinting. Som a di man priis dem so aadn, dem se if a no man bishop aadien dem, dem no aadien fi chruu. Wat a wie dem bakwod! Mi sari fi dem.

UMAN LOK

Tingz an taimz a chienj. An aal uu naa chienj a go get lef. Eni-ou it luk laik se di wan dem we waahn bring iin di uman bishop dem a chrai si wid dem ada wan we no redi. Dem no waahn di choch mash op. So ier wa dem a go du. Aal uu no waahn no uman bishop kyan aks fi wan man.

Mi no nuo ou dem a go manij ef aaf a dem waahn man an di neks aaf waahn uman. Dem mosi a go en op wid tuu bishop ina di wan dischrik we dem kaal ‘diocese’. Den mek mi gi unu likl juok. Di wod bishop kom fram Griik: episkopos. Di epi paat miin pan tap; an skopos miin fi luk. So bishop a uovasiya!

100_9513_midSi ya! Wii don nuo bout uovasiya. Nat a nais sinting fi a biit piipl fi wok out dem suol kies fi notn. Bot dem ya uoli-uoli uovasiya sopuozn fi a luk aafta wi suol an wi suol kies. So wat apn tu uman suol an suol kies? Wi a no smadi? Wa mek wi kyaahn uovasi fi wi uona suol an kies? An fi di man dem tu? Wa mek a ongl man kyan uovasi?

Den chruu di Anglikan choch a di ofishal choch a Inglan, di uman-bishop vuot a fi go a Paaliment. An if it paas de so, den di uman dem gaan klier. An memba se it neva iizi fi uman ton priis. A no til 1994 dem aadien di fos uman priis dem. Mi no andastan wa mek it so aad fi Krischan si se man an uman supuozn fi av di sed siem raits.

Uol-taim piipl se, ‘uman lok de a dongl iip; foul krach i out’. Dat simpl miin se gud lok kyan jrap pan uman eniwe. Aal ina dongl. Mi naa se Anglikan choch a dongl. Mi no waahn no uovasiya biit out mi soul kies. Bot it luk laik se nof krach-krach a gwaan ina dat de choch fi ruut out som a di man dem an mek spies fi uman. Aafta raal!

ENGLISH

UnknownWe’ve had women in charge of churches in Jamaica for so long! And it has taken more than two thousand years for the Anglicans in England to agree that women can be bishops. What a thing! And some men – and even women, too – are quite angry.

The bishops claim that their authority was established with Jesus and his twelve disciples. From man to man right down the line. They call it ‘apostolic succession’. They say Jesus did not have any female disciples. Only men. So it is men who must be leaders of the church. Women should not even want to be bishops. Can you believe it?

The Anglican church does have female bishops in some other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the U.S. and Swaziland. But not in England. They are hanging on to tradition. Some of the male priests are so stubborn they argue that if they are not ordained by a male bishop, their priesthood is not legitimate. They are so backward! Too bad for them.

WOMAN’S LUCK

Things and times are changing. And all those who don’t want to change are going to be left behind. Anyhow, it seems as if those who support the proposal to make women bishops are trying to compromise with those who don’t. They don’t want the church to break up. So this is what they’ve decided to do. Those congregations that don’t want a female bishop can request a male.

I don’t know how they’re going to manage if half of them want a man and the other half want a woman. They’re going to end up with two bishops in one diocese, as they call the district for which a bishop is responsible. Then this is so funny. The word bishop comes from Greek: episkopos. Epi means above; and skopos means looking. So a bishop is an overseer!

Look here! We do know about this overseer business. It’s not a nice thing to have to beat people to exhaustion, body and soul, forcing them to work for nothing. But these sanctified overseers are supposed to look after both body and soul. So what’s the story with woman’s soul and body? Aren’t we human? Why can’t we overseer our own soul and body? And the men’s as well? Why is it that only men can be overseers?

ANGLICAN-master675Then because the Anglican church is the official church of England, the issue of female bishops has to be put to the vote in Parliament. And if it passes there, then the women would be free to take up office. And, remember, it wasn’t easy for women to become priests. It wasn’t until 1994 that the first female priest was ordained. I don’t understand why it’s so hard for Christians to accept that men and woman are supposed to have equal rights.

Traditional wisdom declares, ‘woman’s luck is in the garbage heap; the fowl scratches it out’. That simply means good fortune can fall on woman anywhere. Even in the dump. I’m not saying that the Anglican church is a dump. I don’t want to be beaten by any overseer. But it seems as if a lot of digging up is being done in that church to uproot some of the men and make space for women. After all!

On Guard Against Lagarde

img_53b00b821b2cdLast month, as I listened to Christine Lagarde lecture at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, I felt a rush of old-fashioned feminist pride. Here was a woman who had made it to the top of a decidedly patriarchal institution, the International Monetary Fund (IMF). And that wasn’t all.

Forbes magazine ranks Lagarde as the fifth most powerful woman in the world! I wondered how much clawing and scratching, or worse, she’d had to do. Or if men yielded gracefully once they recognised her commanding abilities.

novelettegrant_1Unfortunately, in some quarters, it’s still news that women are capable of leadership at the very highest levels of both public- and private-sector organisations. Like the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). I certainly hope Assistant Commissioner Novelette Grant is on the list of possible replacements for Owen Ellington, who has retired so precipitously. It’s as if he just fell over a precipice.

ACP Grant has paid her dues and she’s ready for the top job. She can definitely do far more than just assist. She can take charge. That loaded word, ‘charge’, is of French origin, meaning ‘burden’. Women can assume the responsibilities of leadership if they are given the opportunity. But the JCF is, unquestionably, a male-dominated institution.

CLOSING GENDER GAP

UnknownIn 1999, the University of the West Indies Press published a book by Sergeant Gladys Brown-Campbell titled Patriarchy in the Jamaica Constabulary Force: Its Impact on Gender Equality. She’s the first policewoman to earn a law degree, building on the foundation of her bachelor’s degree in English. I had the pleasure of teaching her at UWI and I’m quite proud of her accomplishments.

In the ‘Introduction’ to the book, Brown-Campbell outlines her objectives: “To investigate the extent to which patriarchy informs women’s opportunities for career advancement and to discover the extent to which biology influences notions of (in)equality in the organisation.” She comes to an unsurprising conclusion: Men discriminate against women in the JCF. And, even worse, women often sell themselves short. Not wanting to antagonise their male colleagues, they settle for less than they’re worth.

A decade and a half after the publication of that book, some progress must have been made in closing the gender gap in the police force. But is it enough? Are we ready for a female commissioner? And if not, why not? Why can’t a talawa Jamaican woman lead the JCF? Queen Nanny has long been a compelling model of female military might. It’s not enough that she’s a national hero. Her true legacy is the value we place on women’s abilities today in all spheres.

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

imf-logoI have to admit that the hot flash of pride in Lagarde did cool down quite quickly. Because of the IMF. An apparently powerful woman who leads a patriarchal organisation like that can only do so much to transform the culture of gender inequality. And we can’t assume that such a woman actually wants things to change. She can so easily get sucked into the politics of divide and rule. She can end up thinking she’s made it because she’s an ‘exceptional’ woman. But all women have the potential to be ‘exceptional’, given the right opportunities.

slavery_2849118bGender politics aside, what made me put my guard back up was Lagarde’s troubling message. After all, she’s the rather pleasant face of the heartless IMF. What we’re being told repeatedly is that one of the major planks of Jamaica’s economic recovery is devaluation of the dollar. I’m no economist. But as I understand it, here’s how the argument goes: A weak dollar will attract foreign investors who will make a killing. We’ll be so grateful for the jobs they bring, we’ll work for next to nothing. Been there and done that! So we’re not going back there if we can help it.

Furthermore, a weak dollar will make imported goods so expensive we’ll just have to do without them. We’ll be forced to produce more. But this is where it gets tricky. Production costs, such as imported energy, will continue to increase as the value of the dollar decreases. So businesses will collapse and jobs will disappear. And there will be less money in circulation. We’ll be right back to where we started. Pauperised.

imagesInstead of deliberately weakening the dollar and reducing the buying power of Jamaican consumers, we need to launch a public-education campaign to help us wisely spend the little money we do have. Why do we need so many foreign goods? And when are we going to start placing high value on our natural resources? In this stifling season of drought, we’ve all been feeling the power of the sun. Why have we taken so long to harness this free source of energy? Yes, the infrastructure is expensive, but it will quickly pay for itself.

images-1From the luxury of her job as managing director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde can tell us with great authority that more poverty is the route to economic security for us. We know better than that. Nutten no go so. Lagarde is the Fund’s guard. That’s what her name means. We had better watch over our lickle money.

Twenty Years Of Reggae Day

Last Tuesday, July 1, was International Reggae Day. One of the highlights of the celebration was a huge video installation projected on to the exterior wall of The Jamaica Pegasus hotel. From Emancipation Park, it was quite a sight. Reggae posters from across the world were displayed, demonstrating the magnetic power of Jamaican popular culture, especially our music.

5-taj-francis-jamaicaI overheard a woman complaining with typical arrogance: “Mi a see picture from all bout an mi naa see nothing from Jamaica.” Mi naa lie. As soon as she said it, Taj Francis’ brilliant poster of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, the Upsetter, appeared with a big flag of Jamaica beside it. Seet deh! My lady laughed contentedly.

The moral of this little story is that we’re often so nationalistic we just can’t appreciate the global impact of Jamaican culture. It’s quite ironic. The fact that so many of the reggae posters came from outside Jamaica should be a cause for pride, not complaint.

We don’t seem to realise just how far Jamaican popular music has spread. We take our creativity for granted and we rarely stop to think about why so many people from such diverse cultures are attracted to the music produced on this little rock. And it’s not just the beat and the lyrics that fascinate foreigners. It’s also the academic value of the music.

ROOTZ RADICALS

Just last Friday, I got a telephone call from Christian Moll, a graduate student specialising in English/American studies and music at the University of Regensburg in Germany. He was trying to find an external supervisor for his thesis on dancehall. Moll is also a reggae artiste who has been performing for over a decade. His band, Rootz Radicals, plays original music, both roots and dancehall.

http://rootzradicalzsound.wix.com/rootzradicals

Of course, I’m going to take on the project. It sweet mi so til! Twenty-five years ago, this month, I presented my first academic paper on dancehall at the annual conference of the UK-based Society for Caribbean Studies, ‘Slackness Hiding From Culture: DJ Rule’. I am indebted to DJ Josey Wales for the title. That pioneering work has inspired a younger generation of scholars, both local and international, to take dancehall culture seriously.

So we’ve given reggae music to the world. But sometimes we act as if reggae was stolen from us. We conveniently forget that the roots of reggae run deep into other black musical traditions. African-American R&B, fused with jazz and mento, produced ska – Jamaican jazz! Ska evolved into rocksteady, then reggae, and now dancehall. And we hear the riddims of religious revival music in dancehall.

Jamaican popular music is a ‘mix-up an blenda’ of musical traditions, both sacred and secular, that take us straight across to the continent of Africa. We don’t ‘own’ the music. Of course, this certainly does not mean that individual creators of song lyrics, melodies and riddims are not entitled to claim all the benefits of their intellectual property.

PROTECTING THE FUTURE

Unknown-1One of the tragedies of our music industry is that so many of the pioneering artists were cruelly exploited. Not by foreigners, but by unconscionable Jamaican producers who knew that for some never-see-come-see artistes, just hearing their tune on the radio was enough of a reward.

Leading up to International Reggae Day, there was an excellent conference held on June 30. One of the sessions focused on ‘Copyright Term Extension: Preserving the Past and Protecting the Future’. No matter how many of these conferences are convened, there are still so many players in the creative industries who do not know their rights.

Another session examined ‘Social Design: The Power of Art to Transform Space’. Like the exterior wall of the Pegasus hotel! Thanks to Michael ‘Freestylee’ Thompson, founder of the International Reggae Poster Contest (IRPC), art moved out of the gallery and into public space. Phase Three Productions, one of the sponsors of International Reggae Day, provided technical support for the video installation.

reggea-poster-map-1The 2012 IRPC attracted 1,142 entries from 80 countries. In 2013, there were 1,100 submissions from 78 countries. The 2014 contest was launched on International Reggae Day, and within hours entries came in from Slovenia, the UK, India, Portugal, Croatia, Spain, Greece, Japan, Venezuela and, of course, Jamaica – as that anxious woman in Emancipation Park will be pleased to hear.

Andrea Davis, founder of International Reggae Day, must be commended for her grand vision. Two decades ago, she recognised that the globalisation of reggae should be acknowledged and celebrated. It hasn’t been an easy journey. Sometimes, vision isn’t enough. You also need plenty backative.

I think it’s most unfortunate that six years ago when the bright idea of a Reggae Month came from out of the blue, somebody forgot that we already had a Reggae Day. It would have been so sensible to build on the foundation laid by Andrea.

134_imgaWe could easily have dubbed July Reggae Month. It would now fit so well into the Government’s plan for ’90 Days of Summer’. There’s Sumfest, which, like its predecessor Sunsplash, helps to fill empty hotel rooms in the slow summer season. But we always have to keep on starting from scratch. We forget that protecting the future also means remembering the past.

A Tale of the Magical Calabash

imagesOnce upon a time, three friends, Colin, Kwame and Justine, set out looking for treasure.  Not quite.  They weren’t children playing in the sand.  They were adults who understood that treasure isn’t something you just find.  It’s what you create.  And they certainly knew about creativity:  Colin Channer, the novelist; Kwame Dawes, the poet; and Justine Henzell, the producer of events from scratch.

So they conjured up this international literary festival and set it in an improbable location, Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica.  It would add a whole new dimension to Brand Jamaica!  They named the festival ‘Calabash’.  And they invited the world and his wife to attend.  Mateys were welcome too.  And admission was free.  Whosoever willed could come.

photos_1But why this quirky name?  Well, the festival was going to be held at Jake’s Hotel in Treasure Beach.  But that’s not a single beach.  It’s a string  of fishing villages: Billy’s Bay, Frenchman’s Bay, Great Pedro Bay and, yes, Calabash Bay.    Colin chose the name to honour the location of the festival.  And calabash also suggests creativity.  As we say, turning our hand to make fashion.

res1_07aThe hardy calabash, from both the tree and the vine, is very versatile.  It has several practical and artistic uses.  In many cultures of the world, the hollowed-out gourd is a water vessel.   And musical instruments are also created with calabash.  For both the sitar from India and the kora from West Africa, calabash is used as a resonator.  So the multi-functional calabash is a brilliant image for a homegrown literary festival that includes musical performance.

‘GLOBALICIOUS’
The twelfth staging of the Calabash International Literary Festival, a month ago, was dubbed ‘globalicious’ by Kwame Dawes, the programmer for the event.  And it certainly was both global and delicious.  The calabash was full to the brim and running over with both literary and musical delicacies.

Calabash2014Logo-300x256The writers came from twelve countries:  Antigua, Barbados, Belarus, England, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago, Scotland and the USA.  And the musical performers were from Haiti, Jamaica, the UK and the USA.

For me, the most engaging writer/reader was Jamaica Kincaid.   She “shell down di place”, as one of my friends put it.  We’re now so attuned to the culture of the gun that excellence in all spheres of life is celebrated with a gun salute – whether verbal or literal.  A real pity!  Blame it on the military and all those Hollywood movies that big up gun violence.

boutique-hotel-Jakes-Hotel-Villas-and-Spa-St.-Eli-1-8-3-2-thumbA very close second was Salman Rushdie who turned out to be quite different from what I expected.  He was very cool; not at all stuck up.  As another of my wicked friends said, “nothing like a fatwa to keep you real”.  After the festival, I stayed on for a few days at Jake’s.  And the young man who carried my bags announced with quite a flourish that Salman Rushdie had stayed in that very cottage.  I must admit I felt like a groupie.

ngugi_wa_thiongoThen I was so looking forward to hearing Nguigi wa Thiong’o read.  He’s one of the stalwarts of the anti-colonial war on the African continent. Unfortunately, his daughter, Wanjiku, stole the show.  Literally.  She read for forty-five minutes, instead of her allotted twenty.  And her brother Mukoma read for thirty minutes.  So the Big Man had to be cut off soon after he began.  And it was such a powerful story he’d started to tell about coming home from boarding school to find that his village had disappeared.

OPEN MIKE, MAIN STAGE

 One of the highlights of the festival always is the Open Mike.  There are so many entertaining surprises.  Like the farmer and fisherman whose stage name is “The Incredible Steel”!  He rode 48 miles on his bicycle from Jerusalem, Santa Cruz to perform his poem, “The Voice”, in tribute to Tessanne Chin.  He got a standing ovation.  Then there was the cosmetologist, Venise Samuels, who performed a brilliant poem about unconscionable taxation.  So much talent!

Treasure Beach Sc_bc_TreasureB28The only disappointing aspect of Calabash is the lack of comfortable accommodations.  Of course, there’s very little the organisers of the festival can do about that.  After all, Treasure Beach, is a fishing village.  But some of the people in the rental business have rather grand names for very basic lodgings.  ‘Villa’ is a most pretentious word for a small four-bedroom house.  And there are ‘resorts’ that bear absolutely no resemblance to their upscale namesakes.  All you can say in their favour is that they are a last resort if you absolutely can’t find anywhere else to stay.

calabash-2007-stageBut all you really need for Calabash is a place to crash.  If you try to keep up with the programme, you would go non-stop from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. the next day!  And even if there are not too many villas and resorts in the fishing village, there is always the sea.  It’s a magnificent backdrop for the main stage.  I can’t imagine that there’s any literary festival anywhere on Earth that has a better setting.  It’s all in the magical calabash.

 

Gomes No Gone No Weh

Two spelling systems are used for the Jamaican language below.  The first, which I call  ‘chaka-chaka’, is based on English spelling.  The second,  ‘prapa-prapa’, is the specialist phonetic system designed by the Jamaican linguist Frederic Cassidy.  It has been updated by the Jamaican Language Unit at the University of the West Indies, Mona. After the two Jamaican versions, there’s an English translation.

CHAKA-CHAKA SPELLING

JamaicaforJusticeB20080815C

Carolyn Gomes

Wednesday gone, mi see big-big headline pon front page a Gleaner: ‘Gomes goes’. An mi seh to miself, “Ah weh shi gone?” Ongle fi find out seh ah no gone shi gone. A resign shi resign from di board a Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ). Cho! Whosoever write dat deh headline tek alliteration ketch mi. Dat a one a dem tapanaaris English word weh come from Latin.

Alliteration simple mean yu a mek style. Yu pick couple word weh start off wid di said same sound an join dem up. Gomes goes. Dem sound nice together. No matter if di niceness confusing. Pon top a dat, di second sound inna dem deh two word sound same way. Dat a di o. An dat a assonance. But mek mi lef di literature lesson. Back to politics. A wa mek Gomes resign?

BackdoorYu mighta tink a shame shi shame bout di back-door sex education weh Jamaicans for Justice leggo pon di pikni dem inna di six private home weh supposen fi a look after pikni weh no got nobody fi mind dem. No, sah! From wat mi get fi understan, Gomes go because shi bex wid dem odder one inna Jamaicans for Justice. Dem mek mistake go seh dem sorry seh bandooloo sex education get weh pon di poor pikni dem.

Ee ee now, Spanish Town! Unu no know wa dat mean? Unu a figet unu kolcha! Dat a wa yu seh wen smaddy get inna trouble. An yu flash finger fi show seh dem a go get beatin. ‘Spanish Town’ stand fi prison. An dat a metonymy, one next style. Mi sorry fi Jamaicans for Justice. Dem inna big trouble wid Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC).

NUFF BACKATIVE

Mi a wonder bout dem ‘Vulnerable Communities’. A wa ‘vulnerable’ mean fi true? Mi know seh ‘vulnerable’ a one next English word weh come from Latin. ‘Vulnus’ mean one chop or one lick fi hurt yu. An ‘vulnerable’ mean seh it easy fi people do bad sinting to yu. Lacka di poor man weh di dutty man dem rape. Mi hear seh im kill imself. Mi ongle hope a no true.

941504_532759043426665_1166567449_nCarolyn Gomes an fi har people dem weh a defend ‘Vulnerable Communities’, dem no vulnerable at all at all. Dem big an bad. An dem got nuff backative. A yard an a farin. Plenty powerful smaddy wid nuff money a defend di Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition. Wat a sinting! An member seh a CVC gi JFJ money fi put fi dem sex education inna di children home dem. An yu done know seh who pay fi di sound system, ah dem run di dance.

So Jamaicans for Justice no got no chat. Who tell dem fi go seh dem sorry bout di sex education autoclaps? Carolyn Gomes seh dem chat too quick. Dem shoulda wait an tek advice. An a it mek shi wheel out. Shi gone lef JFJ. But shi a head cook an bocklewasher fi CVC. Six a one, half dozen a di odder!

grange-hanna2

Lisa Hanna and Babsy Grange

An mi no like how Babsy a point finger pon Lisa. Dis ya one a no fi Lisa fault. JFJ dis slip een di sex education undercover. Di said same ting coulda did happen wen Babsy a minister fi yute. So shi fi memba seh a no party politics wi a defend. A di pikni dem. An a dem vulnerable fi true!

PRAPA-PRAPA SPELIN

Wensde gaan, mi si big-big edlain pan front piej a Gleaner: ‘Gomes goes’. An mi se tu miself, “A we shi gaan?” Ongl fi fain out se a no gaan shi gaan. A rizain shi rizain fram di buord a Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ). Cho! Uusoeva rait dat de edlain tek alliteration kech mi. Dat a wan a dem tapanaaris Inglish wod we kom fram Latin.

Alliteration simpl miin yu a mek stail. Yu pik kopl wod we staat aaf wid di sed siem soun an jain dem op. Gomes goes. Dem soun nais tugyada. No mata if di naisnis kanfyuuzin. Pan tap a dat, di sekan soun ina dem de tuu wod soun siem wie. Dat a di o. An dat a assonance. Bot mek mi lef di lichricha lesn. Bak tu palitiks. A wa mek Gomes rizain?

marka-yoneticisinin-ozellikleri-720x320Yu maita tink a shiem shi shiem bout di bakduor seks edikieshan we Jamaicans for Justice lego pan di pikni dem ina di siks praivit uom we supuozn fi a luk aafta pikni we no gat nobadi fi main dem. Nuo, sa! Fram wat mi get fi andastan, Gomes go bikaa shi beks wid dem ada wan ina Jamaicans for Justice. Dem mek mistiek go se dem sari se banduulu seks edikieshan get we pan di puor pikni dem.

Ii ii nou, Spanish Town! Unu no nuo wa dat miin? Unu a figet unu kolcha! Dat a wa yu se wen smadi get ina chrobl. An yu flash finga fi shuo se dem a go get biitn. ‘Spanish Town’ stan fi prizn. An dat a metonymy, wan neks stail. Mi sari fi Jamaicans for Justice. Dem ina big chrobl wid Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC).

NOF BAKATIV

Mi a wanda bout dem ‘Vulnerable Communities’. A wa ‘vulnerable’ miin fi chruu? Mi nuo se ‘vulnerable’ a wan neks Inglish wod we kom fram Latin. ‘Vulnus’ miin wan chap ar wan lik fi ort yu. An ‘vulnerable’ miin se it iizi fi pipl du bad sinting tu yu. Laka di puor man we di doti man dem riep. Mi ier seh im kil imself. Mi ongl uop a no chruu.

strengthCarolyn Gomes an fi ar piipl dem we a difen ‘Vulnerable Communities’, dem no vulnerable at aal at aal. Dem big an bad. An dem gat nof bakativ. A yard an a farin. Plenti pouwaful smadi wid nof moni a difen di Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition. Wat a sinting! An memba se a CVC gi JFJ moni fi put fi dem seks edikieshan ina di chiljren uom dem. An yu don nuo se uu pie fi di soun sistim, a dem ron di daans.

So Jamaicans for Justice no gat no chat. Uu tel dem fi go se dem sari bout di seks edikieshan aataklaps? Carolyn Gomes se dem chat tuu kwik. Dem shuda wiet an tek advais. An a it mek shi wiil out. Shi gaan lef JFJ. Bot shi a ed kuk an baklwasha fi CVC. Siks a wan, aaf dozn a di ada!

An mi no laik ou Babsy a paint finga pan Lisa. Dis ya wan a no fi Lisa faalt. JFJ dis slip iin di seks edikieshan aandakova. Di sed siem ting kuda did apn wen Babsy a minista fi yuut. So shi fi memba se a no paati palitiks wi a difen. A di pikni dem. An a dem vulnerable fi chruu!

ENGLISH TRANSLATIONalliteration

Last Wednesday,  the Gleaner’s front page carried a huge headline:  ‘Gomes goes’. And I wondered, “Where has she gone?” Actually, she hadn’t gone anywhere.  She’d resigned from the board of Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ). Cho! Whoever wrote that headline caught me with alliteration.  That’s one of those highfalutin English words that come from Latin.

Alliteration simply means you’re making style. You pick a couple of words that start with the same sound and join them up. Gomes goes. They sound nice together. It doesn’t matter if the niceness is confusing. And the second sound in those two words is identical. That’s the o. And that’s assonance. But let me cut the literature lesson. Back to politics. Why did Gomes resign?

back_door_open_300x200You might think she was ashamed about the back-door sex education  programme that Jamaicans for Justice let loose on the children in the six private homes that are supposed to be taking care of abandoned minors.  Not at all! As I understand it, Gomes went because she was vexed with the other members of the board of Jamaicans for Justice.  They made the mistake of apologising for the unapproved sex education programme that the children were exposed to.

Ee ee now, Spanish Town! You don’t know what that means? You’re forgetting your culture! That’s what you say when someone gets into trouble. And you flash your fingers to show that they’re going to be beaten. ‘Spanish Town’ stands for prison. And that’s metonymy, another literary device. I’m sorry for Jamaicans for Justice. They’re in big trouble with the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC).

LOTS OF BACKING

Latin-imageI wonder about those ‘Vulnerable Communities’. What does ‘vulnerable’ really mean? ‘Vulnerable’ is another one of those English words that come from Latin. ‘Vulnus’ means ‘wound’.  And ‘vulnerable’ means it’s easy for people to abuse you. Like that poor man who was raped by those vile men. Rumour has it that he has killed himself. I only hope it’s not true.

Carolyn Gomes and her colleagues who are defending ‘Vulnerable Communities’ are not at all  vulnerable. They’re big and bad. And they’ve got lots of  backing. Locally and internationally. Many powerful people with lots of money are defending the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition. What a thing! And you must remember that it’s CVC that funded the JFJ sex education programme for the children’s homes.  And, as you know, he who who pays the piper calls the tune.

images-1So Jamaicans for Justice don’t have a voice. They had no right to apologise for the sex education scandal.  Carolyn Gomes argued that they’d apologised prematurely.  They should have waited and taken advice. And that’s why she walked out. She’s left JFJ. But she’s the a head cook and bottle-washer for CVC. Six of one, half dozen of  the other!

And I don’t like the way Babsy is pointing fingers at Lisa. This one really isn’t Lisa’s fault. JFJ just slipped in the sex education programme undercover. The very same thing could have  happened when Babsy was the minister of youth. So she should remember that we’re not defending  party politics.   It’s the children. They are ones who are truly vulnerable!

 

Men Who Have Sex With Men and Women

There’s a very vulnerable group of women who don’t seem to be on the agenda of Dr Carolyn Gomes and her Caribbean Vulnerable Communities (CVC) Coalition.

LogoSmallAccording to their website, CVC focuses on “Caribbean populations who are especially vulnerable to HIV infection or often forgotten in access to treatment and health-care programmes. These groups include men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who use drugs, orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV, migrant populations, ex-prisoners, and youth in especially difficult circumstances”.

Since sexy acronyms are now fashionable, let’s call this forgotten group WSMSMW: women who have sex with men who have sex with men and women. Yes, it’s a mouthful. But it’s only words. It could be far worse. There’s a big difference between WSMSMW and MSM. Obviously, men who have sex with men know what they’re doing. By contrast, most women who have sex with men who have sex with men and women are totally ignorant of the fact that they are in a very messy situation.

doubt_diceIn this instance, ignorance is definitely not bliss. It can be deadly. These vulnerable women may suspect that they are sharing their partner with a matey. But they naively assume that the matey is a woman. There are some women who do have their doubts about their husband’s sexuality. But they are afraid to face the truth: Ah so im lie an wicked? No, sah! By the time these women discover that their matey is a man – if they’re so lucky – it’s much too late for informed consent. Their partners have robbed them of their right to choose; or, much worse, infected them with HIV!

PERFECTLY PAIRED

jack-sprat-mother-goose-nursery-rhymesMost men who have sex with men and women (MSMW) deliberately and methodically deceive women in order to pass for straight. The woman becomes a front or a beard, as it is more popularly known, protecting the MSMW from exposure. In some cases, the role play is consensual. The wife is a lesbian and the husband is gay, and they choose to be each other’s beard. Like Jack Sprat, who could eat no fat, and his wife, who could eat no lean, the gay man and the lesbian are perfectly paired. There’s no fighting over beef.

I have a lot of respect for MSM who don’t bother with the fiction of getting married to a woman. Disdaining pretence, these courageous men just brazen it out. They don’t hide under the frock tail of women. They accept themselves for who they are and just gwaan bout dem business. And they take the necessary precautions to protect their health. I do sympathise with vulnerable young men who are embarrassed about buying condoms and lubricants. As a teenager, I was quite distressed about buying sanitary pads. Everybody in the shop knew it was that time of the month.

But you grew up and just accepted the course of nature. Admittedly, this is often much harder for MSM. All the same, when you hear the propaganda spouted by Dr Gomes’ Coalition, you would think that no MSM are sensible enough to take care of their health.

This is the way the Coalition’s argument goes: The buggery law stigmatises MSM. Therefore, they are afraid to buy sexually sensitive health-care products. Furthermore, criminalised MSM are unable to get medical care because they are afraid their doctors will report their illegal sexual activities. The only solution is to repeal the buggery law.

SHOCK OF THE FIST

imagesLike many clever Jamaican higglers, Dr Gomes’ Coalition is trying to ‘marry’ goods of unequal appeal. You know the trick: If you want scarce produce, you have to also buy goods that are in plentiful supply. Everybody wants treatment for HIV/AIDS to be readily available for all. But not everybody wants the buggery law to be repealed. So the price we have to pay for HIV/AIDS care is repeal of the stigmatising law.

I have no objection to getting rid of the law. What consenting adults do in the privacy of their home is none of my business. Nor should it be the business of the State.

stop-stigmaBut the stigma associated with anal sex will not magically disappear once the buggery law is repealed. The Jamaican word for MSM vividly expresses the disgust associated with anal sex. The body part stands for the whole man. Some sexual practices are quite distasteful to the uninitiated. But that’s not a good reason for criminalising them.

The first time I heard about fisting, I was alarmed. A man makes a fist and puts it up another man’s anus, all the way to the elbow! I quickly recovered from the shock when I realised I didn’t need to empathise with the fisted anus. It wasn’t mine.

In some cultures, MSM don’t practise anal sex. They use their thighs. Remember how, as children, we would bend our elbow, squeeze and there would be a fairly good imitation of female labia! Same principle with the thighs. There’s no fooling around in the anal canal. The female partners of these MSMW do not risk HIV infection.

Having failed to acknowledge the special needs of vulnerable WSMSMW in the Caribbean, Dr Gomes and her Coalition now need to take extra lessons on inclusiveness from Professor Brendan Bain.

‘Man To Man Is So Unjust’

I recently heard an alarming interpretation of the first line of Bob Marley’s song Who the Cap Fit.

The proverbial statement, ‘man to man is so unjust’, is now being decoded as a condemnation of male homosexuals. Or, to use the politically correct term, men who have sex with men (MSM). Incidentally, the ‘homo’ in ‘homosexual’ does not mean ‘man’. It’s not Latin; it’s Greek. And it means ‘same’.

So, technically, ‘homosexual’ refers to both men and women; and, more recently, to all other genders who have sex with each other. These days, sexuality is not a straight-forward business at all. Queer sex is not always a simple case of ‘same’ sex. Some sexual combinations cross multiple lines. And new sexual positions require sophisticated acrobatic skills – both literally and psychologically.

Bob Marley knew his words could be distorted. In an interview published in Everybody’s Magazine in 1981, this is what he said about the Kaya album: “You have to play it and get your own inspiration. For every song have a different meaning to a man. Sometimes I sing a song, and when people explain it to me, I am astonished by their interpretation.”

deceptionSome inspired interpretations make absolutely no sense. There’s no evidence in Who the Cap Fit to support the ‘same-sex’ interpretation of that opening line. The song is not about sexuality. It focuses on trust, hypocrisy and deception. Admittedly, these issues do come up in sexual relationships across the board. But the song is not about condemning men who have sex with men.

IRRATIONAL HOMOPHOBIA

Jamaica is back in the news for our irrational homophobia, as evidenced in that astonishing misinterpretation of Marley’s song. UK Channel 4 has done an exposé on outcast youths who are living underground. Here’s an excerpt from the promo for the documentary which aired last Friday:

“Jamaica has a reputation for intolerance of homosexuality. Male gay sex is punishable by 10 years’ hard labour and violent hostility is entrenched in the island’s culture. Unreported World meets one group of gay and transgender people who are now living in a gully, which is usually designed to carry flood water and rubbish from the city.

“It’s hot, crowded, infested and filthy. But it’s the only place these 25 people are able to call home. There are no facilities: cooking and washing-up are done in the gutter. Water comes from a broken pipe under a road bridge. And it’s not in a poor part of town, but in the middle of New Kingston, the capital’s business district.”

outerdarknessThis is a complete disgrace. Not on the homeless who have taken refuge in the gully; but on all us who live somewhere! We cannot self-righteously keep on singing the same old Sankey from the Book of Leviticus. We have to move past the rhetoric of abomination and change our inhumane attitudes to queer people. We cannot continue to cast them into outer darkness.

UNJUST GAY-RIGHTS ACTIVISTS

We also have to challenge unjust gay-rights activists when they misuse their collective power and victimise others. The recent termination of the contract of Professor Brendan Bain, director of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training (CHART) initiative, is a complicated case of competing rights.

The press release issued by the Office of the Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies states: “The issue in question arose about two years ago in a high-profile case in Belize in which Caleb Orozco, a gay man in Belize, challenged the constitutionality of an 1861 law that criminalises men having sex with men (MSM).

“Professor Brendan Bain provided a statement on behalf of a group of churches seeking to retain the 1861 law. Many authorities familiar with the brief presented believe that Professor Bain’s testimony supported arguments for retention of the law, thereby contributing to the continued criminalisation and stigmatisation of MSM. This opinion is shared by the lesbian, gay and other groups who are served by CHART.”

I speculate that many of Professor Bain’s detractors have not read his now-infamous statement. There, he clearly affirms that he was “given no instructions by any party”. He makes no reference to the contested law. Professor Bain gives well-documented scientific evidence on public-health issues relating specifically to men who have sex with men.

53108bainprotestj20140521ng_300The UWI press release comes to a disturbing conclusion: ” … It has become increasingly evident that Professor Bain has lost the confidence and support of a significant sector of the community which the CHART programme is expected to reach, including the loss of his leadership status in PANCAP [Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV& AIDS], thereby undermining the ability of this programme to effectively deliver on its mandate.” That’s not a good reason for firing Professor Bain.

I do support repeal of the Belize law that criminalises “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person or animal”. But I am appalled by the decision of the UWI administration to bow to belligerent gay-rights activists, bringing down disgrace on a distinguished academic who has done so much to protect the health of MSM. Man to man is so unjust. Who di cap fit, mek dem wear it.