Dem fi lef Andrew house alone


andrewholnessA20150730GTMi shame fi di PNP. Wa mek dem a tek set pon Andrew house? Ascorden to di headline a one Gleaner story weh publish last Monday, ‘Andrew’s mansion talking point on PNP platform’. Mi never know dem wuda stoop to dat. Better dem talk bout weh dem do fi Jamaica people fi di last four year! Tings well bad wid dem if dem ha fi a talk bout Andrew house.


Hear wa Peter Phillips im seh last week Sunday eena Portmore bout di PNP leader Portia Simpson Miller: “No one in a fi har party can ask her nuh question how she build nuh house with wall that cost billions and billions and billions of dollars. We have a leader we can trust. We have a leader Jamaica can trust.”

By di way, unu see seh a nuff, nuff Patwa Peter Phillips a chat deh so. Wa mek im no chat laka dat eena Parliament? Fi wi Jamaica language no good enough fi official business? It ongle good fi cuss off political opponent an look vote? A time wi start fi tek wi language serious an gi it proper respect.


Anyhow, back to di house wall. It no cost no ‘billions and billions and billions of dollars’. Dat a lie an story. Peter Phillips well an know seh dat a pure foolishness. A wine im a wine up di crowd. An im mout slip. Wall cyaahn cost so much. No matter how fi wi dollar devalue. Better im did seh million an million an million a dollar.

No get mi wrong. A nuff cut-stone wall all round di house. Di front wall taller than di house. An di house no small. Mi wonder if di architect never draw no picture fi show Andrew an Juliet how di big wall wuda look front a di house an all bout di yard. Mi tink dem mek mistake. But a fi dem business. Still for all, it no right fi Peter Phillips a tell lie pon dem.

peter_phillips_0Next ting. Peter seh wi can trust Sista P. Pon di odder hand, im mek it sound like seh wi cyaahn trust Andrew. Becau it look like seh people inna fi im owna party a aks im question bout how im build house wid wall that cost “billions and billions and billions of dollars”. Serious ting.

It come een like seh Andrew an Juliet cyaahn answer no question bout weh di money come from fi build di plenty-billion house wall. An Peter no even mention di cost a di house. A so-so wall im a talk bout. If im put on di house price pon top a di wall, a nuff more billion. An nuff more question.


Then a who tell Peter Phillips seh wi can trust Sister P becau she no build no house wid no big wall? Perhaps wi no trust her fi odder reason. All like how she tek Dr Ferguson outa health ministry an gi im one next big job. Dat no mek wi feel confident fi trust Sista P judgement.

If Dr Ferguson cyaahn manage health ministry, a how im a go deal wid Labour an Social Security? Dat no mek no sense. Sista P shoulda send im go sit down pon back bench. But no! She build high wall round Dr Ferguson fi protect im. An it mighta cost her thousand an thousand an thousand of vote.


Mi shiem fi di PNP. Wa mek dem a tek set pan Andrew ous? Azkaadn tu di edlain a wan Gleaner stuori we poblish laas Monde, ‘Andrew’s mansion talking point on PNP platform’. Mi neva nuo dem uda stuuup tu dat. Beta dem taak bout we dem du fi Jamieka piipl fi di laas fuor ier! Tingz wel bad wid dem if dem a fi a taak bout Andrew ous.


Ier wa Peter Phillips im se laas wiik Sonde iina Portmore bout di PNP liida Portia Simpson Miller: “No one in a fi har party can ask her nuh question how she build nuh house with wall that cost billions and billions and billions of dollars. We have a leader we can trust. We have a leader Jamaica can trust.”

Bai di wie, unu si se a nof, nof Patwa Peter Phillips a chat de so. Wa mek im no chat laka dat iina Paaliment? Fi wi Jamieka langgwij no gud inof fi ofishal bizniz? It ongl gud fi kos aaf politikal opuonent an luk vuot? A taim wi staat fi tek wi langgwij siiryos an gi it prapa rispek.


Eniou, bak tu di ous waal. It no kaas no “billions and billions and billions of dollars”. Dat a lai an stuori. Peter Phillips wel an nuo se dat a pyuur fuulishnis. A wain im a wain op di kroud. An im mout slip. Waal kyaahn kaas so moch. No mata ou fi wi dala divalyu. Beta im did se milyan an milyan an milyan a dala.

No get mi rang. A nof kot-stuon waal aal roun di ous. Di front waal taala dan di ous. An di ous no smaal. Mi wanda if di aakitek neva jraa no pikcha fi shuo Andrew an Juliet ou di big waal wuda luk front a di ous an aal bout di yaad. Mi tingk dem mek mistiek. Bot a fi dem bizniz. Stil far aal, it no rait fi Peter Phillips a tel lai pan dem.

julietholness20111114cNeks ting. Peter se wi kyan chros Sista P. Pan di ada an, im mek it soun laik se wi kyaahn chros Andrew. Bikaa it luk laik se piipl iina fi im uona paati a aks im kweschan bout ou im bil ous wid waal dat kaas “billions and billions and billions of dollars”. Siiryos ting.

It kom iin laik se Andrew an Juliet kyaahn ansa no kweschan bout we di moni kom fram fi bil di plenti-bilyan ous waal. An Peter no iiivn menshan di kaas a di ous. A suo-so waal im a taak bout. If im put aan di ous prais pan tap a di waal, a nof muor bilyan. An nof muor kweschan.


Den a uu tel Peter Phillips se wi kyan chros Sista P bikaa shi no bil no ous wid no big waal? Paraps wi no chros ar fi ada riizn. Aal laik ou shi tek Dr Ferguson outa health ministry an gi im wan neks big jab. Dat no mek wi fiil kanfident fi chros Sista P jojment.

If Dr Ferguson kyaahn manij health ministry, a ou im a go diil wid Labour an Social Security? Dat no mek no sens. Sista P shuda sen im go sidong pan bak bench. Bot nuo! Shi bil ai waal roun Dr Ferguson fi protek im. An it maita kaas ar touzn an touzn an touzn a vuot.



I’m ashamed of the PNP. Why are are they paying so much attention to Andrew’s house? According to the headline of a Gleaner story published last Monday, ‘Andrew’s mansion talking point on PNP platform’. I didn’t think they would stoop to that. Better they talk about what they’ve done for the Jamaican people over the last four years! They must be very desperate if they have to be focusing on Andrew’s house.

Here’s what Peter Phillips said last Sunday in Portmore about PNP leader Portia Simpson Miller: “No one in a fi har party can ask her nuh question how she build nuh house with wall that cost billions and billions and billions of dollars. [No one in her party can ask her any questions about how she’s building a house with fence walls that cost billions and billions and billions of dollars.]  We have a leader we can trust. We have a leader Jamaica can trust.”

imagescaribhelloBy the way, you see that’s a lot of Patwa Peter Phillips is using there. Why doesn’t he speak that language in Parliament? Our  Jamaican language isn’t good enough for official business? It’s only good for cursing political opponents and getting votes? It’s time we start taking our language seriously and give it proper respect.


Anyhow, back to those walls. They certainly don’t cost ‘billions and billions and billions of dollars’. That’s pure fabrication. Peter Phillips very well knows that’s nonsense. He was just whipping up the crowd. And his mouth slipped. No wall could cost so much. No matter how  much our dollar has been devalued. Better he’d said millions and millions and millions of dollars.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of cut-stone wall all around the house. The front fence wall is taller than the house. And the house is not small. I wonder if the architect didn’t do any drawings to show Andrew and Juliet how that huge wall would look in front of the house and all around the property. I think they made a mistake. But that’s their business. All the same, it’s not right for Peter Phillips to misrepresent the cost.

Another thing. Peter says we can trust Sister P. On the other hand, he implies that  we can’t trust Andrew. Because it seems as if members of his own party have been questioning him about how he’s managed to build a house with fence walls that cost “billions and billions and billions of dollars”. That’s a very serious charge.

It’s as if  Andrew and Juliet can’t answer that question about the source of the funding for the multiple-billion fence wall. And Peter didn’t even mention the cost of the house. It’s only the walls he highlighted. If he adds the cost of the house to the estimate of the fence walls, that would be lots more billions. And lots more questions.


images-1Then why is Peter Phillips so sure we can trust Sister P because she hasn’t built a house with huge fence walls? Perhaps we don’t trust her for other reasons. Look at how she’s taken Dr Ferguson out of the ministry of health and given him another big job. That doesn’t inspire any confidence whatsoever in Sister P’s judgement.

If Dr Ferguson can’t manage the health ministry, how is he going to deal with Labour and Social Security? That move makes no sense at all. Sister P should have sent him to go sit on the back bench. But no! She’s built a high wall around Dr Ferguson to protect him. And it might cost her thousands and thousands and thousands of votes.

Bearing false witness at St Hilda’s

bigstock-cartoon-fish-wrapped-in-newspa-15120257It’s now stale news. In September, Jade Bascoe’s appointment as head girl at St Hilda’s was swiftly terminated on religious grounds. Jade certainly knew what the job entailed. But the principal arbitrarily decided that Jade would not be able to carry out her duties because they conflicted with her religious principles. According to school records, Jade was a Jehovah’s Witness.

The big guns came out in defense of religious freedom: The Ministry of Education, the Office of the Public Defender, opinion-makers of all stripes, the man and woman in the street and on social media. Jade was reinstated as head girl at St Hilda’s. She clearly should not have been dismissed because of religion.

Even though it looks like a happy ending, there are lingering issues. Why does St Hilda’s insist that students declare their religion? What is the purpose of this requirement? To separate the sheep from the goats? In the case of Jade Bascoe, her mother’s written statement that she was a Jehovah’s Witness became a weapon to cut her down.

It didn’t matter that in all her years at St Hilda’s, Jade performed her civic duties in an exemplary manner. All the same, she was labelled and excommunicated. As it turns out, Jade wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness after all. Someone had borne false witness against her. But who? The principal? The guidance counsellor? Her own mother?

But let’s suppose that Jade Bascoe was, in fact, a Jehovah’s Witness when her mother made that fateful declaration several years ago. Does that mean she was permanently stuck in the past? Certainly not! The 2011 Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms confirms that “every person shall have the right to freedom of religion including the freedom to change his religion”.

sexistLanguageHeaderBy the way, the sexist language of the Charter needs to be revised. Why should we passively accept the outdated convention that “every person” is male? Women must assert our entitlement to full representation in the language of the Charter. Especially since it’s supposedly designed to guarantee equal rights for all.


So how did the guidance counsellor make the mistake of ‘outing’ Jade as a Jehovah’s Witness? The very next day after she was appointed head girl, Jade gave the vote of thanks at morning devotion. According to the account of the incident published in the report of the Office of the Public Defender, ” . . . the head girl spoke of Jehovah”. That single word made the guidance counsellor suspicious. Jade’s file was located and the incriminating evidence was found.

imagesBut does the word Jehovah belong exclusively to Jehovah’s Witnesses? Is use of this word absolute proof that the speaker is a Jehovah’s Witness? Not at all! Growing up as a Seventh-Day Adventist, I heard the word Jehovah all the time. It was just another name for God. One of the anthems the senior choir at my church enthusiastically sang was about Jehovah. I can’t remember all the words, but the chorus went something like this: “Honour Jehovah Jireh, whate’er betide He will provide”.

This belief in Jehovah as provider is widely accepted in Jamaica. And it’s not about being a member of any religious group. Last Wednesday, I had a chat with Mrs Claire Crosby who owns the Jehovah Jireh Restaurant & Catering Services located at Kings Plaza. She is not a Jehovah’s Witness. She bought the business four years ago and kept the name because it means “God will provide.”

And the people she bought the business from were not Jehovah’s Witnesses either. They, too, knew the value of the Jehovah Jireh brand. But I have a feeling that the guidance counsellor at St Hilda’s would jump to the conclusion that the use of the word Jehovah, in combination with Jireh, must prove that the proprietors of the restaurant are Jehovah’s Witnesses.


The Anglican Church has long enjoyed a privileged place in Jamaica. For centuries, it was the official religion, funded by the State. The first Anglican Church was built soon after the British colony was established in the 17th century. Understandably, the Church defended the status quo.

In his history of the Anglican Church in Jamaica, J. B. Ellis notes that “the eighteenth century was not the brightest in the history of the Church of England at home and there were peculiar difficulties in the way of the Jamaica clergyman. The Assembly, on whose vote the emoluments of a clergyman depended, consisted almost entirely of slave-owners or of sympathisers with slavery”.

There were Anglican clergymen who supported the abolition of slavery. But the Church of England only very gradually accepted any responsibility for ministering to the black population. It was an elitist institution. I hear echoes of this elitism in the arrogant statement issued by the principal of St Hilda’s on the dis/appointment of Jade Bascoe.

“[T]he head girl, as the leader of the student government is required to perform duties supportive of tenets of the Anglican tradition, which are deeply embedded in the operational policies and procedures of this educational institution”. Not all Anglican traditions, however ancient, are worth sustaining. And certainly not religious intolerance! At St Hugh’s, another Anglican school, I learnt a hymn that teaches an important lesson: ‘New occasions teach new duties/Time makes ancient good uncouth’. St Hilda’s must bear witness to this enduring truth.

Culture clash at Bath Fountain

When chik-V attacked me last September, I started going to the Rockfort Mineral Bath every week. The water was therapeutic, but it wasn’t warm. I kept thinking I really should go to Bath Fountain where the water is extremely hot. But it was a long drive away. So I just settled for Rockfort.

On one visit, I met a woman who told me an amusing story about her experience at Bath. She had gone with a group of friends and, as soon as they arrived, they were swarmed by a large number of aggressive guides, eager to take them to the fountain.


Bath Hotel

She did wonder about the chaotic approach, especially since she thought there was an established hotel at Bath. Anyhow, her group trustingly set off over a bridge and along a narrow path up the hillside. It seemed quite precarious, but she decided to go with the flow.

They continued up and then down to a stream, which was not what she expected. At this point, I said, “Then you didn’t ask where the hotel was?” We both laughed. Anyhow, as I remember it, she and her friends had the full spa treatment: mud pack, massage and water therapy. They hadn’t negotiated a fee for the service and it was at the time of payment that she realised her mistake.

She was given an exorbitant bill, perhaps because she’s white. She cuss some breed of Jamaican bad word and the price came down rapidly. Her guides had assumed she was a foreigner and would pay the tourist rate. She certainly set them straight.


There was a time when Bath Fountain was a major international attraction. It still gets a fair number of foreign visitors, but not on the scale that it should. The people of St Thomas could be bathing in money if this natural resource could be developed to its full potential.

According to oral history, it was a runaway from plantation slavery, known only as Jacob, who discovered the healing fountain. He had been suffering from sores on his legs and, after soaking his body regularly in the water, he was cured. Foolishly or not, he told his ‘master’, Colonel Stanton, about the magical water.

Bath-Fountain-plaqueIn 1699, Stanton sold the property on which the spring was located to the colonial government. More than a thousand acres! By the early 18th century, the healing waters attracted major private-sector investment. Wealthy patrons built homes nearby and the village of Bath was soon established. A hospital, lodging house and billiard-room catered to the elite who visited the fountain.

Ironically, this wealthy resort sprang up because of a runaway. I don’t know if Jacob was ever rewarded for sharing his knowledge. And, in a sense, the class divide between Jacob and the elite patrons of the fountain in the early years is evident in the culture clash today between the informal guides and the official operators of the government-owned fountain.


Two Sundays ago, I went to Bath. And, yes, I did go into the hotel. But I had the usual experience in the public parking lot. Before I could get out of the car, the guides descended. One of them even followed me into the hotel’s parking lot, offering his services.

It seems as if these unconscionable guides do not want anybody to visit the hotel. They waylay patrons and try to spirit them away. Close to the police station in Bath, which is still a little distance from the hotel, a woman who said she worked at the fountain offered her services. I doubt she’s really a hotel employee. And from as far away as Port Maria, informal tour operators have the system locked.

e_29The hotel’s general manager, Mr Desmond Blair, has been desperately trying to find a way to peacefully coexist with the informal guides. There are about 40 of them, and he knows they make a decent living. He doesn’t want to box bread out of anybody’s mouth.

And some visitors do like the outdoor experience. I’ve been to the stream and it does have a vibe. But you have to be careful about unskilled masseurs. A woman called the hotel complaining about back pain. She had done a hot-stone treatment and got quite a hot blow from a stone. Of course, all Mr Blair could tell her was that she had done the massage at her own risk. And she wasn’t even a hotel guest.


Water-ChemicalI thoroughly enjoyed the hot water in the wide, deep private bath in the hotel. Some poor patrons don’t even know about this option. They don’t get a chance to choose. And the price of the bath is really quite reasonable. It’s only $500 for 20 minutes in the potent water.

What Mr Blair is proposing is that there should be two quite separate attractions, the hotel and the stream. About half a mile below the present hotel entrance, a bridge could be built across the river, creating a route directly down to the stream. Tour guides would be given training and licensed to do business.

The informal operators are not likely to agree to this system. They wouldn’t be able to capture patrons going to the hotel. It’s the same old story: a clash between short-term benefits and long-term development. We need a bath to heal this dysfunctional culture.

Dr Ferguson’s premature ejaculation

unnamedI’m no Mark Wignall. But I’m predicting that if the prime minister does not immediately fire her minister of health, the PNP will soon be voted out of office. In his column published last Thursday, Wignall prophesied, “It is more likelihood than possibility that after the next election, the people of this country will still get to call Portia our prime minister.”

It depends on what she does about Dr Fenton Ferguson. The ill-fated dentist is an ominous symbol of all that is wrong with the present PNP government: incompetent, arrogant, stubborn, hard-ears. Why is Fenton Ferguson still minister of health? After all of his errors of judgement and his repeated failure to protect the health of the nation! Why is the prime minister still upholding him?

Last Wednesday, one of my friends asked if I’d heard what Ferguson said about the dead babies. My cynical answer was, “That is not him did kill them?” I cannot forget the prime minister’s ill-considered response to repeated calls for the removal of Jennifer Edwards from her post as executive director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority.

As the fires raged at the Riverton dump, this is what the prime minister said in a bumbling interview on CVM TV: “I’m sure she wouldn’t set the fire. If she had set the fire, she would be gone! But I’m sure because she wasn’t there; she was nowhere near there until when they heard that the place was on fire. So I don’t know why anyone would be calling for her head to roll.”


Wayne-J-Chikungunya-Well, Fenton Ferguson has definitely set several fires and his head has not rolled. The most deadly conflagration was his mishandling of the chik-V epidemic. No notice given to unsuspecting victims about the impending disaster, despite the many warnings issued by the Pan American Health Organization. Total denial of the true scale of the epidemic. And no serious attempt to count all the deaths resulting from the impact of chik-V on chronic illnesses.

Refusing to listen to the clamour of voices demanding the resignation of the minister of health, the prime minister unilaterally declared that Dr Ferguson had done nothing wrong. But what he had done right? Given the widespread trauma caused by the chik-V epidemic, Ferguson himself should have had the decency to resign. But he knew he had the backing of his prime minister.

I wonder if this is how she justified her decision to stand by him: I’m sure my minister of health is not a mosquito. And he did not bite anybody. If he had bitten anybody, he would be gone! But I’m sure because he wasn’t there; he was nowhere near where people were getting bitten. And he even wanted an infected mosquito to bite him, so he could feel the pain of those who had been batter-bruised by chik-V. So I don’t know why anyone would be calling for his head to roll.


tiny-hand-of-premature-babyDr Ferguson has now set off another firestorm with his incomprehensible ejaculation that premature babies are “not babies in the real sense”. I use the word ejaculation here to mean something said hastily without any thought. Not the act of discharging semen.

But Dr Ferguson was addressing Parliament. He should not have been ejaculating. He ought to have carefully considered his words. I know that Dr Ferguson is neither an obstetrician nor a gynaecologist. He’s a dentist. He’s an expert on the oral cavity. So he really should be much more cautious about how he opens his mouth. The discharge can be nastily explosive.

The minister’s lunatic claim that premature babies are “not babies in the real sense” is a reckless attempt to evade responsibility for the disgraceful condition of our hospitals. His cowardly line of defence is to blame the innocent victims. It’s the babies who caused their own death. It is true that the compromised immune system of premature babies makes them vulnerable to disease. But this is precisely why they need to be given high-quality medical care.


Dr Ferguson’s apology for his public ejaculation is an insult to the intelligence of the Jamaican people. He simply repeats the fact that premature babies are susceptible to infection. But he admits no responsibility for the failure of the hospital system to protect these babies. It’s business as usual, masquerading as an apology.

And, what is even worse, all that the prime minister expects of Dr Ferguson is this: “I hope that the Ministry of Health and the minister will look at the present system to see what needs to be done to ensure that what happened will never, ever happen again.” Another excuse for failure.

imagesLast Sunday, after witnessing the brilliant trial of Governor Eyre in Morant Bay, I set out for Bath Fountain. On the way, I passed Dr Ferguson’s constituency office. And I had a revelation. The minister of health has survived disaster after disaster because he has access to a regular supply of ‘oil of Portia can’t fire me’.

Fun and joke aside, no oil from St Thomas is more powerful than the collective will of the Jamaican people. In theory, we have the right to choose our leaders. We can vote. But for who? The real tragedy of our times is that our politicians are certainly not public servants in the real sense.

With friends like David Cameron …

15808680-Smiley-Emoticons-Face-Vector-Cunning-Expression-Stock-Vector-emoticon“I do hope that, as friends who have gone through so much together since those darkest of times, we can move on from this painful legacy and continue to build for the future.” There’s an aspect of David Cameron’s cunning statement that nobody is talking about. It’s the arrogant presumption of friendship.

Unlike so many foreign words that have sneaked into the English language, the word ‘friend’ is hard-core Anglo-Saxon. That’s the name of both the language and the people who lived in Britain from about the 5th century. They migrated from continental Europe and their culture and language were adopted by the natives.

The word ‘friend’ is ‘heartical’. It’s not high-sounding. It’s neither Greek nor Latin. It comes directly from Old English ‘freond’ and goes all the way back to the German roots of the Anglo-Saxon language. According to the Online Eytmology Dictionary, it means “one attached to another by feelings of personal regard and preference”.

How the backside we get to be ‘friends’ with David Cameron? A man who has no regard for us, and whose preference is to disregard the prolonged consequences of our enforced attachment! Cameron’s deceptive use of ‘friends’ is a confidence trick. Like the MoBay scammers, the British prime minister is hoping to con us into dropping our guard.


All confidence tricks share the same basic elements. The trickster understands human nature. S/he knows many of us are gullible, believing we deserve to get something for nothing. The trickster pretends to give us something to win our confidence. We fall for it. When the bigger bait is set, we grab it – hook, line and sinker. And that’s when the switch is made and we lose everything.

free-cheeseSo here’s Cameron’s con. He shares our pain. It’s part of his legacy, too. All the same, he doesn’t need to acknowledge who caused that pain. And it all took place in the Dark Ages when, presumably, no one was keeping track of who caused how much pain. Nor who profited from that pain. This is the 21st century. We’re friends now. So let’s just move on. “Those darkest of times” are over. It’s a simple as that. As for reparation, forget it!

David Cameron would like us to believe we’re on the same team. And it’s a friendly match. We’re really Britons and, of course, Britons never, never, never shall be slaves. Again. The Queen of England is our head of state; we’re part of the British Commonwealth.

And our court of last resort is still the Privy Council. By the way, ‘privy’, as adjective, means ‘private’. But as noun, it means ‘latrine’. Since private business was done in the outhouse, it came to be known as a privy. And that’s where we’re outsourcing justice!

We used to play cricket but now cricket plays us. We speak English, sort of. But even the British are now learning Chinese, the language of the new global empire. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the UK last week to discuss multibillion-pound nuclear power deals. David Cameron took him to a pub for fish and chips. They should have had a curry. It’s the new national dish of England. That’s what happens when the British empire’s colonial subjects come ‘home’ to roost.


At Emancipation, the principle of reparation was established. But here’s the scam. Reparation was paid to the plantation owners for the loss of their ‘property’. Human beings, who were reduced to ‘livestock’ in accounting ledgers, received not a red cent to make a new start as free citizens! The British Government paid a total of £20 million in compensation to plantation owners for the loss of enslaved labour. That sum was one quarter of the national Budget!

Scam-AlertApproximately half of the money stayed in Britain. Researchers at University College London are engaged in a project that has been tracking where this money went. They note, “Despite the popular enthusiasm for abolition, slave owners had no compunction in seeking compensation – apparently totally unembarrassed by this property that had been widely constructed by abolitionists as a ‘stain on the nation’.”

One of the most shameful aspects of the reparation enterprise was the requirement that emancipated Africans should pay compensation to plantation owners for their freedom. That’s what the ‘Apprenticeship Period’ was all about. It was just another scam to force black people to continue working for nothing. Why would you need to become a ‘prentice’ to keep on working for backra?

Our friend, David Cameron, wants to con us into forgetting all of this history. But the “painful legacy” of “those darkest of times” persists. The repercussions are long-lasting. In order for us to “build for the future”, the British government must make restitution for crimes against humanity. In his heart of hearts, Cameron must know that friends don’t enslave friends. Friends don’t colonise friends. Friends don’t scam friends.

In his satirical song, ‘Reparation’, Vybz Kartel declares, “Dem call it scam/ Mi call it reparation.” I think Adidja Palmer very well understands that reparation isn’t about fantasies of wealth and power: “Every ghetto yute fi a live like Tony Montana/ Presidential like Barack Obama.” Reparation for enslavement is a far grander enterprise than mere scamming. But it does demand the unmasking of those who feel entitled to scam us.

Di ancestor dem a bawl

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.


imagesLast week Sunday, mi go a Stony Gut fi tek part eena di march go down a Morant Bay. Nuff a wi deh deh fi celebrate wa Paul Bogle do 150 year aback, pon October 11, fi lead im people dem outa sufferation. Governor Eyre kill dem off. An wi naah figet. African people teach wi seh, yu no dead, dead, dead so till nobody no member yu. An wi naah stop member fi wi warrior dem. Man an woman!

To tell di truth, mi never directly walk from Stony Gut to Morant Bay. Mi left town late, so by di time mi ketch pon di Stony Gut road, march left out already. Wen mi a go up, dem a come down. So mi wait till dem pass an mi go a Stony Gut fi see weh Paul Bogle did live. An mi drive back down eena motorcade, backa di marcher dem. One long line a vehicle.

Irie FM eena di motorcade a broadcast all wa a gwaan. Dem carry dem ‘Running African’ programme outa road. Mi seh, mi ha fi big up Kabu Ma’at Kheru. Andrea Williams Green change her name fi suit her livity. A 25 year now she a run ‘Running African’. It come een like church fi nuff a wi. Every Sunday morning wi ha fi tune een six o’clock fi hear wa a gwaan eena Africa – pon di continent an all over di world. It no easy fi keep up one radio programme fi so long. Respect due to Kabu!


Lickle before wi ketch pon di main road, rain start fall. Big rain. Di marcher dem wet up. Dat nah stop dem. Dem gwaan same way. An pon di radio, mi hear Prof Verene Shepherd seh, di rain a di tears a di ancestor dem. A true. Di ancestor dem a bawl. Fi joy an sorrow. Dem glad wi member dem. But dem sorry fi dem backward one dem weh no waan look back fi true. Dem dis waan move on an figet bout wa gwaan long time aback. Dem no business wid no talk bout reparation. Dem no waan fix up wa mash up.

Prof Shepherd a di chair fi di National Commission on Reparation fi 2012-2015. An a di Commission sponsor di IRIE FM outside broadcast. Next week Sunday, wi a go back a Morant Bay fi ‘The Trial Of Governor Eyre’. Dat a one play weh Bert Samuels write. Im a one lawyer an im deh pon di National Commission on Reparation. An a Michael Holgate direct di play. Im teach a University of the West Indies, Mona.

If unu cyaahn come a Morant Bay, unu cyan ketch di trial pon IRIE FM. It a go start eight o’clock a morning. An a di National Commission on Reparation a sponsor di play an di broadcast. Dem a do nuff work fi mek wi know bout reparation. But wi cyaahn siddung a wait pon Commission fi do evriting. Wi ha fi help wiself.

Wi ha fi send letter go a newspaper. Wi ha fi call radio station an mek di case fi reparation. Wi ha fi aks Govament an Opposition weh dem a seh an do bout di issue. Wi ha fi put reparation pon di election agenda. Wi naah vote fi who naah vote fi wi. An wi ha fi tell CARICOM fi send off di letter weh dem a siddung pon fi demands reparation. An wi ha fi go a British High Commission go demonstrate. Mek dem know seh wi know seh a fi wi people dem shoulda get reparation eena 1834. No fi dem. Wi naah joke. Time fi seckle di score.


Laas wiik Sonde, mi go a Stony Gut fi tek paat iina di maach go dong a Morant Bay. Nof a wi de de fi selibriet wa Paul Bogle du, 150 ier abak, pan October 11, fi liid im piipl dem outa sofarieshan. Govana Eyre kil dem aaf. An wi naa figet. Afrikan piipl tiich wi se, yu no ded, ded, ded so til nobadi no memba yu. An wi naa stap memba fi wi wariya dem. Man an uman!

jFJ0_rIRTu tel di chruut, mi neva dairekli waak fram Stony Gut tu Morant Bay. Mi lef toun liet, so bai di taim mi kech pan di Stony Gut ruod, maach lef out aredi. Wen mi a go op, dem a kom dong. So mi wiet til dem paas an mi go a Stony Gut fi si we Paul Bogle did liv. An mi jraiv bak dong iina muotakied, baka di maacha dem. Wan lang lain a viikl.

Irie FM iina di muotakied a braadkyaas aal wa a gwaahn. Dem kyari dem ‘Running African’ pruogram outa ruod. Mi se, mi a fi big op Kabu Ma’at Kheru. Andrea Williams Green chienj ar niem fi suut ar liviti. A 25 ier nou shi a ron ‘Running African’. It kom iin laik chorch fi nof a wi. Evri Sonde maanin wi a fi chuun iin 6 a’klak fi ier wa a gwaahn iina Afrika – pan di kantinent an aal uova di worl. It no iizi fi kip op wan riedyo pruogram fi so lang. Rispek juu tu Kabu!


Likl bifuor wi kech pan di mien ruod, rien staat faal. Big rien. Di maacha dem wet op. Dat naa stap dem. Dem gwaahn siem wie. An pan di riedyo, mi ier Prof Verene Shepherd se, di rien a di tiirz a di ansesta dem. A true. Di ansesta dem a baal. Fi jai an saro. Dem glad wi memba dem. Bot dem sari fi dem bakwod wan dem we no waahn luk bak fi chruu. Dem dis waahn muov aan an figet bout wa gwaahn lang taim abak. Dem no bizniz wid no taak bout riparieshan. Dem no waahn fiks op wa mash op.

Prof. Shepherd a di chier fi di National Commission on Reparation fi 2012-2015. An a di Commission spansa di IRIE FM outsaid braadkyaas. Neks wiik Sonde, wi a go bak a Morant Bay fi ‘The Trial Of Governor Eyre’. Dat a wan plie we Bert Samuels rait. Im a wan laaya an im de pan di National Commission on Reparation. An a Michael Holgate direk di plie. Im tiich a University of the West Indies, Mona.

If unu kyaahn kom a Morant Bay, unu kyan kech di chraiyal pan IRIE FM. It a go staat 8 a’klak a maanin. An a di National Commission on Reparation a spansa di plie an di braadkyaas. Dem a du nof wok fi mek wi nuo bout riparieshan. Bot wi kyaan sidong a wiet pan Commmission fi du evriting. Wi a fi elp wiself.

Wi a fi sen leta gaa nyuuzpiepa. Wi a fi kaal riedyo stieshan an mek di kies fi riparieshan. Wi a fi aks Govament an Apazishan we dem a se an du bout di ishyu. Wi a fi put riparieshan pan di ilekshan agenda. Wi naa vuot fi uu naa vuot fi wi. An wi a fi tel CARICOM fi sen aaf di leta we dem a sidong pan fi dimaans riparieshan. An wi a fi go a British High Commission go demanstriet. Mek dem nuo se wi nuo se a fi wi piiipl dem shuda get ripariershan iina 1834. No fi dem. Wi naa juok. Taim fi sekl di skuor.



Last week Sunday, I went to Stony Gut to take part in the march down to Morant Bay. Lots of us were there to celebrate what Paul Bogle did 150 years ago, on October 11, to lead his people out of prolonged suffering. Governor Eyre executed them. And we’ll never forget. African wisdom teaches us that you never truly die until no one remembers you. And we will always remember our warriors. Men and women!


Kabu Ma’at Kheru

To tell the truth, I didn’t actually walk from Stony Gut to Morant Bay. I left town late, so by the time I got on the Stony Gut road, the marchers had already set off.  I was on my way up as they were coming down. So I waited until they passed and then went to  Stony Gut to see where Paul Bogle lived. And I drove back down in a motorcade, behind the marchers. A long line of vehicles.

Irie FM was in the motorcade broadcasting the event. They took their ‘Running African’ programme on the road. I tell you, I have to big up Kabu Ma’at Kheru. Andrea Williams Green has changed her name to reflect her way of life.  It’s now 25 years that she’s been running ‘Running African’. It’s like church for lots of us. Every Sunday morning we have to tune in at  six o’clock to hear what’s going on in Africa – on the continent and all over the world. It’s not easy to keep a radio programme going for so long. Respect is due to Kabu!


Just before we got to the main road, it started to rain.  A lot of rain. The marchers were drenched. That didn’t stop them. They just kept going. And on the radio, I heard Prof Verene Shepherd say, the rain is the tears of the ancestors. It’s true. The ancestors weeping. For joy and sorrow. They’re glad we remember them. But they are sorry for those backward ones who don’t want to look back in truth. They just want to move on and forget about what happened a long time ago. They can’t be bothered with any talk bout reparations. They don’t want to repair what has been damaged.

Prof Shepherd is the chair of the National Commission on Reparation for 2012-2015. And it’s the Commission that sponsored the IRIE FM outside broadcast. Next Sunday, we’re going back to Morant Bay for ‘The Trial Of Governor Eyre’. That’s a play written by Bert Samuels. He’s a lawyer and he’s on the National Commission on Reparation. And it’s Michael Holgate who’s directing the play. He teaches at the University of the West Indies, Mona.

If you can’t come to Morant Bay, you can catch the trial on IRIE FM. It’s going to start at eight o’clock in the morning. And it’s the National Commission on Reparation that’s sponsoring the play and the broadcast. They are doing a lots of work to educate us about reparation. But we can’t just sit back and wait on Commission to do everything. We have to help ourselves.

Screen-Shot-2015-07-01-at-8.09.23-PM-942x600We have to send letters to the newspapers. We have to call in to the radio stations and make the case for reparation. We have to ask the Govenment andOpposition what they are saying and doing about thei issue. We have to put reparation on the election agenda. We are not going to vote for those who are not voting forusi. And we have to tell CARICOM to send off the letter they’ve been sitting on, demanding reparation. And we have to go and demonstrate at the British High Commission.  We have to let them know that we know that it is our people who should have gotten reparation in 1834.  Not theirs.  We’re dead serious. It’s time to settle the score.

Captain Boycott Loses War Against Poor People

IrelandBoycottCharles Boycott, the son of an Anglican priest, was a most unfortunate man. He’s the brand name for a very effective type of social protest. But he was on the wrong side of the struggle. Boycott was born in England in 1832 and served in the British Army. After retiring, he worked as a Iand agent in Ireland. Lord Erne, an Anglo-Irish peer, politician and absentee landlord, employed Boycott to manage his estate.

In 1880, harvests were very poor so Erne reduced his tenants’ rent by 10 per cent. But they were not satisfied and demanded reduction to 25 per cent. Erne refused. Boycott tried to evict 11 protesters. When word got out, the tenants took action.

They were guided by the advice of Charles Stewart Parnell, an Irish landlord with a conscience. He was the first president of the Irish National Land League, founded in 1879. Their mission was to advocate for land reform: reducing extortionate rents, ensuring that tenants could not be unfairly evicted and enabling tenant farmers to purchase land.

Parnell recommended that when tenants took farms from which others had been evicted, the newcomers should be isolated. No violence; just leave them severely alone. Parnell’s tactic was first used against Captain Boycott. Workers went on strike.   Local suppliers of goods and services declined to do business with Boycott. Even the postman stopped delivering mail.

Boycott couldn’t get anyone to harvest the crops and, in the end, 50 members of the Protestant Orange Order volunteered to do the reaping. Even though there was no threat of violence, they were escorted by 1,000 police and soldiers. The cost of protection was much more than the value of the crops. It would have been cheaper to just give the tenants the 25 per cent reduction in rent.



James Redpath

Boycott’s name soon entered the English language, both as a verb and a noun. James Redpath, a journalist with the New York Tribune who went to Ireland to cover the Boycott story, was the first to use the new word in the international media. In an article published in the Magazine of Western History, Redpath tells how the word was coined:

“I was dining with Father John O’Malley and he asked me why I was not eating. I said that I was bothered about a word. ‘What is it?’ asked Father John. ‘Well’, I said ‘when a people ostracize a landgrabber we call it excommunication, but we ought to have an entirely different word to signify ostracism applied to a landlord or land agent like Boycott. Ostracism won’t do. The peasantry would not know the meaning of the word, and I can’t think of anything.’ ‘No,’ Father John said, ‘ostracism wouldn’t do.’ He looked downward, tapped his forehead, and then out it came. “How would it do to call it ‘to boycott him?’”

The rejected word ‘ostracism’ wouldn’t have been all that difficult for the peasantry to understand if they had been educated about its origin. It comes from the Greek word ‘ostrakon’, meaning ‘tile’. The Online Etymology Dictionary notes that ostracism was “a method of 10-year banishment in ancient Athens, by which the citizens gathered and each wrote on a potsherd or tile the name of a man they deemed dangerous to the liberties of the people, and a man whose name turned up often enough was sent away”.  Pity we can’t banish some of our politicians in this way.



Jamaican hybrid

There were some amusing responses to my column last week, “Time to Boycott Britain!” BobbieP wrote, “And to get this Boycott off to a smashing start, Carolyn Cooper has just announced that tomorrow she will publically [sic] demolish her prized British Jaguar sports car using a sledge hammer! From now on, she will only drive an authentically Jamaican vehicle, a pushcart. Now that is putting your money where your mouth is, Carolyn!”

I decided to respond: “Tata Motors, an Indian company, owns Jaguar. And I don’t drive one. But facts don’t matter when people get emotional about issues like reparations”. BobbieP wasn’t the least bit fazed by his/her errors.   S/he gave a half-hearted ‘sorry’ and then pressed along mocking the proposed boycott:

“Sorry for my mistake, Carolyn. I was positive that was a Jag you were driving at UWI. Jaguar may me [sic] owned by Tata, but it is still headquartered in England. Designed and built in England. If you want us to get serious about this Boycott, you need to come up with a more robust definition of ‘British’. Even the Queen isn’t British, [sic] her family is actually German! Most major brands are now owned by multinational corporations, so your simple rule about ownership won’t work”.

Even in an age of multinational corporations, my supposedly ‘simple rule about ownership’ has validity. Take, for instance, the case of the Volkswagen Group. Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Audi, Porsche, SEAT, Škoda and Volkswagen are all owned by the company, which has both automotive and financial services divisions. The company operates in approximately 150 countries and has 100 production facilities across 27 countries. VW has two major joint ventures in China.

As a result of the recent diesel emissions scandal, there have been calls to boycott VW. Consumers understand their collective power. And they know what ownership means. It’s a pity some of us can’t ‘own’ the right to reparations.