Upscale foodies nyam and jam at GoldenEye

Untitled-1It was the name of the festival that seduced me. I wondered who would choose the word ‘nyam’ for such an exclusive event: The NyamJam Jamaican Food & Music Festival at the GoldenEye resort. The entrance fee made it clear that this was not a jam for people who normally use the word ‘nyam’. In fact, if you were the type of person who loves to nyam, you probably wouldn’t fit in.

The opening event on Friday, November 13 was billed as the ‘Fleming Villa Dinner hosted by Chris Blackwell and Mario Batali’. The cost was US$250 per person. This, I suppose, is modest by some people’s standards. If you were a guest at GoldenEye, you wouldn’t think twice about it. And the maestro Ernest Ranglin was performing. I would have loved to hear him.

CT0XvXXUsAAxQ5WOn Saturday, there was the NyamJam Culinary & Music Bazaar. It offered “20 booths from local and international chefs, speciality purveyors and Jamaican artisans showcasing their handcrafted works and wares”. The entrance fee was US$150 for adults and US$50 for children under 12. Angelique Kidjo, one of my all-time favourite artists, was headlining the jam. So I contacted the festival press office and arranged for a pass to cover the bazaar.

The big event of the festival was a five-course Celebrity Chef dinner on Saturday night, which cost US$350. That ticket allowed you to attend the bazaar. My press pass didn’t include dinner. But I didn’t mind. As a vegetarian, I didn’t expect much. It would take a lot of nyamming to get my money’s worth if I’d bought a ticket.


I was amused to see on the NyamJam website that “[t]he name is derived from the local Patois for ‘snack’, which is nyam.” Of course, nothing nuh go so. But soon it will become ‘fact’! There’s actually an October 8 Observer story, ‘Setting the Stage for NyamJam’, which uses nyam with this new meaning.

Reporting on the launch of the festival in New York, the Lifestyle writer enthuses: “The group socialised over rum punch cocktails by Bacardi, Red Stripe beer and a selection of nyams … .” So there you have it. A nyam is really and truly a snack. How we love to imitate our imitators!


So what does the word nyam actually mean? And where does it come from? The Dictionary of Jamaican English informs us that “the source is multiple: both verb (eat) and noun (food, or specific foods) existed in a number of W[est] Afr[ican] languages, and many were bought to Ja[maica]”.

Some of these languages are Hausa, Efik, Fula and Twi. The dictionary confirms that the “resulting multiplicity has in the course of time become sorted out so that, in general, NYAM is the verb, NINYAM a noun (food), and NYAAMS a specific food (YAM).


For me, the best of the chefs were the Rousseau sisters, Suzanne and Michelle. Their food was ninyam fi true: rundown, turned cornmeal, pick-up salt fish, baked dumplings, pickled herring, fried breadfruit, roasted eggplant, coconut chips and crispy corned pork with green bananas. I got a vegetarian version of that dish which originated with the Maroons.


Suzanne proudly told me that they wanted to highlight local dishes that do not usually appear in fancy restaurants: the delicious staples in Jamaica and across the Caribbean. The Rousseau sisters lived in Trinidad so their mix of foods reflects their sophisticated cross-cultural palate. Another big hit at the bazaar was Stush in the Bush, owned by Lisa and Christopher Binns. Their condiments are superb.

Some of the patrons who paid the US$150 entrance fee were not all that happy. They had expected to do more nyamming. The small Styrofoam plates used by all the chefs ensured that nobody could nyam dem out. And lots of little bits of this and that don’t usually add up to a satisfying meal. You just run the risk of getting colic. And talking about Styrofoam, I was surprised that GoldenEye resorted to this ecologically unfriendly material.


Even for the patrons who were disappointed with the ‘nyams’, the musical jam was definitely filling. As one man said, Angelique Kidjo’s performance was worth 80 of his 150 dollars. Much better than the Jazz and Blues Festival, he added. NyamJam does have the potential to be a big tourist attraction. And it was widely promoted in the US media: Vanity Fair, Departures, Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, The Miami Herald, Caribbean Journal. And even in India – The Economic Times.

All the same, there weren’t that many bodies on the ground. I would guess well under a thousand. One of the sponsors of NyamJam was the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB). I wondered how the level of support for this new festival compares to that for long-established brands like Rebel Salute, which attracts a massive local and international audience.


NyamJam is a very good concept: eating Jamaican. And especially in these times of austerity imposed by the International Monetary Fund, we must nyam what we produce. Unfortunately, the word nyam has negative connotations.

The Dictionary of Jamaican English notes that it means “To eat, esp[ecially] roughly or voraciously. (The word has never been an elegant one; its natural use today marks the most conservative speakers).” Nyamming has gone upmarket at GoldenEye. What a thing!



Dem fi lef Andrew house alone

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.


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.