Mrs. Sonia King, retired Head of the Paternity Testing Unit at the University Hospital of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica, has written a wicked little book in which she reveals some of the truly entertaining cases she worked on for more than three decades. This is edutainment at its best!
In Jamaica, the term ‘jacket’ is used to describe a child whose alleged father is not, in fact, the biological father. Surprisingly, given the extent of false paternity in the society, the Dictionary of Jamaican English does not have an entry on this colourful term.
I’m not sure of the origin of the image of the ‘jacket.’ But it does suggest the straitjacket that many a man is forced to wear when a woman fingers him as the father of her child. ‘Jacket’ also suggests the formal dress code of British ‘respectability’ that the man is required to submit to.
Of course, in some instances, men who consistently ‘fire blank’ are quite proud to claim children they could not possibly have fathered. So, in this instance, the jacket allows the man to ‘brandish’ sexual potency. There are jackets and jackets.
In the very first chapter, “Whose Jacket?,” Mrs King tells the sad, but also very funny, story of how she got the title of the book. It came from a man who had done a paternity test to prove to his doubting wife that his ‘outside’ child was really his. She had had a child before they had married but her husband had not been able to impregnate her. So she had long wondered about his fertility. They lived in England and she couldn’t understand how he suddenly became fertile after a holiday in Jamaica.
Mrs. King relates the story of giving the man and his wife the test results: “I explained that each child inherited exactly 50% of his or her genetic material from each parent. So although we did not test the mother (because she refused), our test system was still reliable in determining paternity. The biological father must give a match at each genetic point examined. The mother would have provided the other marker observed at each point. A man who did not match at even one point would be excluded as the father, even if all other genetic points showed a match. There must be a match at every single point.
“I then proceeded to point out the different genetic points on my worksheet and there were many ‘no match’ areas. All of a sudden I became aware that the silence had become deafening. Before this stage there had been a lot of animated chatter. Needless to say, this man was devastated, as he had spent quite a lot of money over the years caring for ‘his’ child. The child had attended prep school (not primary) and all his financial needs had been taken care of. As I turned to look at the couple, the husband remarked, ‘Miss King, dat a no jacket! Dat a full suit!!!’”
Jacket . . . Or Full Suit? Paternity Testing From a Jamaican Perspective will be launched this Tuesday, December 7, at 6:30 p.m. at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. The venue is the Undercroft of the Senate Building. The public is invited to attend and admission is free.
Jamiekan Vorzhan: Jakit . . . Ar Ful Suut?
Mrs. Sonia King, shi did hed op di Paternity Testing Unit a UC. Shi ritaiya nou. An shi rait wan wikid likl buk bout som a di ded-wid-laaf kies dem shi wok pan fi uova torti ier. Dis a miks op an blenda fi chruu: edikieshan pan tap a plenti bos-beli juok.
Ina Jamieka, ‘jakit’ a wan pikni huufa riel-riel faada niem no kaal. A wan neks man get di pikni. Wi ha so moch jakit ina disya konchri, mi soprais fi si se Dictionary of Jamaican English no ha notn fi se bout dis ya bouns-aal-roun wod.
Mi no nuo a huu kom op wid di jakit pikcha. It soun laik di striet-jakit wid di lang sliev, we dem tai bak a mad piipl fi huoI dem doun. A so di uman dem tai doun di man dem wen dem paint finga pan dem, se a fi dem pikni.
Pan tap a dat, jakit soun laik jres op kluoz – jakit an tai. Yu nuo ou di Ingglish piipl dem lov fi wier jakit an tai – aal ina son hat – chruu dem fiil se di jakit mek dem luk laka smadi.
Stil far aal, som a di man dem we a faiya blank, dem wel an glad fi kliemz di pikni dem. Di man kyan gu a striit go brandish im jakit. Mek piipl nuo se im a lik shat. So a no aal jakit no fit dem uona.
Ina di fos-fos chapta, “Huufa Jakit?,” Mrs King tel wan sad stuori – bot i foni tu – bout ou shi get di taikl fi di buk. A wan man we du wan patorniti tes fi pruov tu im waif se a im a di faada a im ‘outsaid’ pikni. Di waif neva biliiv se a fi im pikni. Shii did av wan pikni bifuor dem did marid. An aal di taim dem marid, shi no get pregnant. So a lang taim shi a wonda bout di man. Dem did liv iina Ingglan a shi kudn andastan ou im go get pikni aal af a sodn aafta im kom a Jamieka im wan pon halidie.
Hier ou Mrs. King tel di stuori bout wapn wen shi gi di man an im waif di tes risolt: “Mi eksplien tu dem dat pikni get haaf a dem strokcha fram dem muma an di neks haaf fram dem pupa. Wi neva tes di muma (caa shi se shi naa dwiit). Stil far aal, di tes a go tel di chruut. Di riil-riil faada ha fi mach pan evri wan a di paint dem pon di tes. Di mada uda mach pan di res a di paint dem. If di man no mach pan wan dege-dege paint – no mata omoch ada paint im mach pan – a no im a di pupa.
“Mi staat fi paint out aal a di paint dem pon di piepa, an nof a dem no match. Aal af a sodn, di plies kwaiyat, kwaiyat. Nobadi naa chat, chat. Di puor man haat sink. Aafta im spen so moch moni a luk aafta di pikni so lang, a no fi im. Di pikni go a prep skuul – no praimeri skuul. Evriting di pikni niid, di ‘pupa’ gi im. Wen mi tun an luk pan di man an di uman, di man dis gi out se, ‘Miss King, dat a no jakit! Dat a ful suut!!!’”
Jacket . . . Or Full Suit? Paternity Testing From a Jamaican Perspective a go laanch disya Chuusde, Disemba 7, a 6:30 p.m. op a Yuunivorsiti a di Wes Indiiz, Muona, Jamieka. Di venyu a di Aandakraaft a di Senit Bildin. Di huol a unu fi kom. An unu no ha fi pie notn fi kom iin.