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 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.
Yes, a Samson an di liar. No Delilah. Dis a no di Bible story. A Jamaican reality mi a chat bout. Di play weh put on a Little Little Theatre. By di way, mi see seh mi fren Michael Abrahams a wind up nuff a unu wid im column dem bout Massa God an di Bible. Some a dem Bible story no pretty fi true. Massa God a God, so im do anyting im feel like.
Look pon all poor Job. Di man a gwaan good-good a serve God. An di devil go to God an seh, “Boss, yu done know seh di ongle reason Job a serve yu a chruu im have life easy.” An hear wa God tell di devil: “Mi a gi yu power over Job. Do anyting yu waan do to im. But no bodder kill im.” Dat sweet di devil. Im mash up Job life. Im kill off Job pikni dem, im mek people thief all a Job cow an donkey an camel. Im sheep dem burn up. An wen Job hear, all im seh, “Massa God gi an Maasa God tek weh.”
Dat bex di devil. So im go back to Massa God. An God boast off pon im: ‘See mi tell yu seh Job naa diss mi!’ An di devil seh bet anyting if im sick bad im a go cuss yu. An God seh, ‘Gwaan, but no kill im.’ An Job get one piece a leprosy! Till all im wife tell im fi dis cuss God an dead. An im neva dweet. An wen God done enjoy imself a tek bet pon Job wid di devil, im dis gi back Job more pon top a wa im did have. No sa! Mi no kyah who bex. Dat a one wicked story.
FULL A JOKE
Anyhow, back to Samson an di liar. Dat a one story weh Winston ‘Bello’ Bell did start fi write. Im a one actor turn parson, so im know bout Bible story. But fi im story no wicked lakka Job. Two man a live eena one bus shed eena New Kingston. Downtown crosses gone uptown! An di man dem act out dem life inna di play.
Tony ‘Paleface’ Hendricks an Ricky Rowe tek Bello story an devel it up. Hendricks a Samson. Im get dip from England chruu dem seh im set fire pon im owna house an kill off im wife an pikni. An Ricky Rowe a di liar, Earsring. Im did love fi bet lakka Massa God an devil. But im lose. Wife an house. An chruu Massa God neva tek no bet pon im, im no get back nutten. So im deh outa road. Samson a music teacher an im a write opera bout fi im life. An Earsring a DJ. Nuff talent. So im an Samson put together an mek up song an perform fi money right deh so inna di bus shed. Di play full a joke.
Yes, a Samson an di laiya. No Delilah. Dis a no di Baibl stuori. A Jamiekan riyaliti mi a chat bout. Di plie we put aan a Little Little Theatre. Bai di wie, mi si se mi fren Michael Abrahams a wain op nof a unu wid im kolom dem bout Maasa Gad an di Baibl. Som a dem Baibl stuori no priti fi chruu. Maasa Gad a Gad, so im du enting im fiil laik.
Luk pan aal puor Job. Di man a gwaahn gud-gud a sorv Gad. An di devl go tu Gad an se, “Baas, yu don nuo se di ongl riizn Job a sorv yu a chruu im av laif iizi.” An ier wa Gad tel di devl: “Mi a gi yu powa uova Job. Du enting yu waahn du tu im. Bot no bada kil im.” Dat swiit di devl. Im mash op Job laif. Im kil aaf Job pikni dem, im mek piipl tiif aal a Job kou an dangki an kyamel. Im shiip dem bon op. An wen Job ier, aal im se, “Maasa Gad gi an Maasa Gad tek we.”
Dat beks di devl. So im go bak tu Maasa Gad. An Gad buos aaf pan im: ‘Si mi tel yu se Job naa dis mi!’ An di devl se bet enting if im sik bad im a go kos yu. An Gad se, ‘Gwaan, bot no kil im.’ An Job get wan piis a leprosi! Til aal im waif tel im fi dis kos Gad an ded. An im neva dwiit. An wen Gad don enjai imself a tek bet pan Job wid di devl, im dis gi bak Job muor pan tap a wa im did av. Nuo sa! Mi no kya uu beks. Dat a wan wikid stuori.
FUL A JUOK
Eniou, bak to Samson an di laiya. Dat a wan stuori we Winston ‘Bello’ Bell did staat fi rait. Im a wan akta ton paasn, so im nuo bout Baibl stuori. Bot fi im stuori no wikid laka Job. Tuu man a liv iina wan bos shed iina New Kingston. Dountoun kraasiz gaahn optoun! An di man dem ak out dem laif ina di plie.
Tony ‘Paleface’ Hendricks an Ricky Rowe tek Bello stuori an divel it op. Hendricks a Samson. Im get dip fram Ingglan chruu dem se im set faiya pan im uona ous an kil aaf im waif an pikni. An Ricky Rowe a di laiya, Earsring. Im did lov fi bet laka Maasa Gad an devl. Bot im luuz. Waif an ous. An chruu Maasa Gad neva tek no bet pan im, im no get bak notn. So im de outa ruod. Samson a myuuzik tiicha an im a rait opra bout fi im laif. An Earsring a DJ. Nof talent. So im an Samson put tugeda an mek op sang an pafaam fi moni rait de so ina di bos shed. Di plie ful a juok.
Yes, it’s Samson an di liar. Not Delilah. This is not the Bible story. It’s Jamaican reality that I’m talking about. The play that was on at the Little Little Theatre. By di way, I see that my friend Michael Abrahams has been provoking a lot of you with his columns about God and the Bible. Some of those Bible stories are quite unappealing. God is God, so he does as he pleases.
Think about poor Job. He was doing alright just serving God. And the devil went to God and said, “Chief, you do know that the only reason Job is serving you is because he’s had an easy life.” And here’s what God told the devil: “I’ll give you power over Job. Do anything you want to him. But don’t kill him.” That really pleased the devil. And he made a complete mess of Job’s life. He killed Job’s children, and he allowed all of Job’s cows, donkeys and camels to be stolen. His sheep were all burnt up. And when Job heard, all he said was, “God gives and God takes away”
That angered the devil. So he went back to God. And God was rather boastful: ‘See, I told you Job wouldn’t lose faith in me.’ And then the devil said ‘I bet you anything if he gets really sick he’s going to curse you’. And God said, ‘Go ahead, but don’t kill him.’ And Job was struck down with leprosy! So much so that even his wife told him to just curse God and die. But he didn’t. And when God finished enjoying himself at Job’s expense, taking bets with the devil, he gave back Job more than he’d had before. No way! I don’t care who gets vexed. That’s a really wicked story.
Anyhow, back to Samson an di liar. That’s a story Winston ‘Bello’ Bell started to write. He’s an actor turned parson, so he knows about Bible stories. But his story isn’t as wicked as Job’s. Two men are living in a bus shed in New Kingston. Downtown troubles have gone uptown! And the men act out their lives in the play.
Tony ‘Paleface’ Hendricks and Ricky Rowe took Bello’s story and developed it. Hendricks is Samson. He got deported from England because he allegedly set his own house on fire and his wife and child burned to death. And Ricky Rowe is di liar, Earsring. He loved to gamble like God and the devil. But he lost. Wife and house. And because God wasn’t betting on him, he lost everything. So he’s out on the street.Samson is a music teacher and he’s writing an opera about his life. And Earsring is a DJ. Lots of talent. So he and Samson join forces and compose songs that they perform for money right there in the bus shed. The play is very entertaining.