Ruel Reid Better Tek Up Police Work

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.

 

CHAKA-CHAKA SPELLING

41HuQHM0IILKei Miller, one a fi wi top-ranking writer, win big prize inna April fi im novel Augustown. Same so him spell it. One word, one ‘t’, like how wi pronounce it. One Caribbean Media sponsor di prize: 10,000 US dollar! Di Bocas lit fest inna Trinidad & Tobago gi di prize to di best writer outa three category: story, poem an essay. Inna 2014, Miller did win first prize inna di essay category fi im book, Writing Down the Vision.

Inna Augustown, Miller still a write down di vision. An im sight di way Babylon system inna Jamaica fight down black people culture. Look how long teacher an police a tek set pon black people hair! If it no comb down flat-flat, it no civilise. It ha fi trim. Worse if a dreadlocks. Inna di first chapter a di novel, Ma Taffy a wait fi her grandson Kaia come home from school.

See di first sentence ya. An a judgement too! “Blind people hear and taste and smell what other people cannot, and what Ma Taffy smells on this early afternoon makes her sit up straight … . The smell is coming down John Golding Road right alongside the boy-child, something attached to him, like a spirit but not quite.”

 

‘DRY-EYED TRUTH’

 

 

Ma Taffy smell a ‘autoclaps’: “She asks her grandson in a careful and measured way, ‘Who has done this to you, boy? Tell me now.’ She asks it so calmly that Kaia too forgets to cry or blubber as he had been doing earlier. He reports the simple dry-eyed truth. ‘Is the teacher, Grandma. Is Mr Saint-Josephs who cut off my dreadlocks.'”

An a no Kaia one. Police arrest Ras Clarky fi nutten. An dem let im go without charge im. But not before dem cut off im dreadlocks. Oonoo know how long it tek fi grow one full head a locks? An wat locks mean to Rasta? An police dis cut off big man locks swips? Fi nutten? No, not fi nutten. Fi put Rasta inna dem place. Mek dem know seh dem a no smaddy.

Bob Marley gi strength to nuff Rastaman, Bongoman, Congoman, Binghiman an uman an pikni fi resist gainst di system:

“Keep your culture!

Don’t be afraid of the vulture!

Grow your dreadlock!

Don’t be afraid of the wolf pack!

Rastaman, live up!”

 

‘NOT HAIR POLICE’

 

thGleaner publish one article by Christopher Serju pon Friday, June 16 wid disya headline, ‘Not hair police – Ministry will still allow latitude with school grooming policy’. Ministry of Education a go lef di police work to di school dem. But all a di school dem no private. Dem can’t do weh dem feel like. Ministry supposen fi educate dem bout wa dem can an can’t do.

Hear wa Mr Saint-Josephs did tell di principal bout Kaia hair: “Dreadlocks! Like some little dirty African from the bush, and sitting right there in front of me, so brazen with his hairstyle. No, no, no! I will not tolerate it.” Ministry not supposen fi tolerate teacher lacka Saint-Josephs.

Inna one next article by Christopher Serju weh Gleaner publish pon Saturday, June 17, im report seh im ask one student, Alnast·zia Watson, bout wa Ruel Reid seh.  See di answer ya:  “‘We are really calling on the minister to intervene because you can’t leave it to the schools’ discretion to come up with these policies. Somebody (else) needs to review them,” Watson argued, adding that most of the sanctions are ridiculous.

“‘You can’t deny students the right to an education and lock them out of school for half an inch off the skirt. Oftentimes, some of them (teachers) go outside with tape measure to measure the skirt. If you need a tape measure to measure, then it couldn’t be that bad. So we do want the minister to intervene and for some amount of consultation with students because, when consultations are being made, they are made with parents. My mother and father aren’t the ones wearing the uniform. I am the one wearing it!'”  Ruel Reid better tek up di police work, if im know wat good fa im an di school pikni dem.

PRAPA-PRAPA SPELIN

 

BocasKei Miller, wan a fi wi tap-rangkin raita, win big praiz ina Iepril fi im novl Augustown. Siem so im spel it. Wan word, wan ‘t’, laik ou wi pronouns it. One Caribbean Media sponsa di praiz. 10,000 US dala! Di Bocas lit fest ina Chrinidad & Tubiego gi di praiz tu di bes raita outa 3 kyatigori: stuori, puoem an ese. Ina 2014, Miller did win fos praiz ina di ese kyatigori fi im buk, Writing Down the Vision.

 

Ina Augustown, Miller stil a rait dong di vishan. An im sait di wie Babilan sistim ina Jamieka fait dong blak piipl kolcha. Luk ou lang tiicha an poliis a tek set pan blak piipl ier! If it no kuom dong flat-flat, it no sivilaiz. It a fi chrim. Wos if a jredlaks. Ina di fos chapta a di novl, Ma Taffy a wiet fi ar grandson Kaia kom uom fram skuul.

Si di fos sentens ya. An a jojment tu! “Blind people hear and taste and smell what other people cannot, and what Ma Taffy smells on this early afternoon makes her sit up straight. … The smell is coming down John Golding Road right alongside the boy-child, something attached to him, like a spirit but not quite.”

 

‘DRY-EYED TRUTH’

 

Ma Taffy smel a ‘autoclaps’: “She asks her grandson in a careful and measured way, ‘Who has done this to you, boy? Tell me now.’ She asks it so calmly that Kaia too forgets to cry or blubber as he had been doing earlier. He reports the simple dry-eyed truth. ‘Is the teacher, Grandma. Is Mr Saint-Josephs who cut off my dreadlocks.'”

An a no Kaia wan. Poliis ares Ras Clarky fi notn. An dem let im go widout chaaj im. Bot nat bifuor dem kot aaf im jredlaks. Unu nuo ou lang it tek fi gruo wan ful ed a laks? An wat laks miin tu Rasta? An poliis dis kot aaf big man laks swips? Fi notn? Nuo, nat fi notn. Fi put Rasta ina dem plies. Mek dem nuo se dem a no smadi.

Bob Marley gi schrent tu nof Rastaman, Bongoman, Congoman, Binghiman an uman an pikni fi risis gens di sistim:

“Keep your culture!

Don’t be afraid of the vulture!

Grow your dreadlock!

Don’t be afraid of the wolf pack!

Rastaman, live up!”

 

‘NOT HAIR POLICE’

 

Gleaner poblish wan aatikl bai Christopher Serju pan Fraide, Juun 16 wid disya edlain, ‘Not hair police – Ministry will still allow latitude with school grooming policy’. Minischri a Edikieshan a go lef di poliis wok tu di skuul dem. Bot aal a di skuul dem no praivit. Dem kyaahn du we dem fiil laik. Minischri supuozn fi edikiet dem bout wa dem kyahn an kyaahn du.

intoleranceIer wa Mr Saint-Josephs did tel di principal bout Kaia ier: “Dreadlocks! Like some little dirty African from the bush, and sitting right there in front of me, so brazen with his hairstyle. No, no, no! I will not tolerate it.” Minischri nat sopuozn fi talariet tiicha laka Saint-Josephs.

Ina wan neks aatikl bai Christopher Serju we Gleaner poblish pan Satde, Juun 17, im ripuort se im aks wan styuudent, Alnast·zia Watson, bout wa Ruel Reid se.  Si di ansa ya:  “‘We are really calling on the minister to intervene because you can’t leave it to the schools’ discretion to come up with these policies. Somebody (else) needs to review them,” Watson argued, adding that most of the sanctions are ridiculous.

“‘You can’t deny students the right to an education and lock them out of school for half an inch off the skirt. Oftentimes, some of them (teachers) go outside with tape measure to measure the skirt. If you need a tape measure to measure, then it couldn’t be that bad. So we do want the minister to intervene and for some amount of consultation with students because, when consultations are being made, they are made with parents. My mother and father aren’t the ones wearing the uniform. I am the one wearing it!'”  Ruel Reid beta tek op di poliis wok, if im nuo wat gud fa im an di skuul pikni dem.

 

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

RUEL REID HAD  BETTER DO  POLICING

 

Kei-Miller-wins-700x400Kei Miller, one of our top-ranking writers, won a big prize in April for his novel Augustown. He spells it just like that. One word, one ‘t’, like how we pronounce it. One Caribbean Media sponsored the prize: 10,000 US dollar! The Bocas lit fest in Trinidad & Tobago awards the prize to the best writer out of three categories: fiction, poetry and non-fiction. In 2014, Miller won first prize in the non-fiction category for his book, Writing Down the Vision.

In Augustown, Miller is still writing down the vision. And he ‘sights’ the way Babylon system in Jamaica fights down black people’s culture. For so long, teachers and police have consistently attacked black people’s hair! If it’s not combed down flat, it’s not civilised. It has to be trimmed. Worse if it’s dreadlocks. In the first chapter of the novel, Ma Taffy is waiting for her grandson Kaia to come home from school.

Here’s the first sentence. And it’s a judgement too! “Blind people hear and taste and smell what other people cannot, and what Ma Taffy smells on this early afternoon makes her sit up straight … . The smell is coming down John Golding Road right alongside the boy-child, something attached to him, like a spirit but not quite.”

 

‘DRY-EYED TRUTH’

 

Ma Taffy smells an ‘autoclaps’: “She asks her grandson in a careful and measured way, ‘Who has done this to you, boy? Tell me now.’ She asks it so calmly that Kaia too forgets to cry or blubber as he had been doing earlier. He reports the simple dry-eyed truth. ‘Is the teacher, Grandma. Is Mr Saint-Josephs who cut off my dreadlocks.'”

And it’s not Kaia alone. The police arrest Ras Clarky for nothing. And they let him go without charging him. But not before cutting off his dreadlocks. You know how long it takes to grow a full head of locks? And what locks mean to Rasta? And the police cut off a grown man’s locks just like that? For nothing? No, not for nothing. To put Rasta in their place. Let them know they are subhuman.

bob+marley+dreadlocksBob Marley gives strength to many a Rastaman, Bongoman, Congoman, Binghiman and woman and child to resist against the system:

“Keep your culture!

Don’t be afraid of the vulture!

Grow your dreadlock!

Don’t be afraid of the wolf pack!

Rastaman, live up!”

 

‘NOT HAIR POLICE’

 

The Gleaner published an article by Christopher Serju on Friday, June 16 headlined, ‘Not hair police – Ministry will still allow latitude with school grooming policy’. The Ministry of Education is going to leave the policing to the schools. But all of the schools are not private. They can’t do what they feel like. The Ministry is supposed to educate them about what they can and can’t do.

Here’s what Mr Saint-Josephs told the principal about Kaia’s hair: “Dreadlocks! Like some little dirty African from the bush, and sitting right there in front of me, so brazen with his hairstyle. No, no, no! I will not tolerate it.” The Ministry should not tolerate teachers like Saint-Josephs.

In another article by Christopher Serju, published in the Gleaner on Saturday, June 17, the response of student, Alnast·zia Watson, to Ruel Reid’s statement is quoted:  “‘We are really calling on the minister to intervene because you can’t leave it to the schools’ discretion to come up with these policies. Somebody (else) needs to review them,” Watson argued, adding that most of the sanctions are ridiculous.

consult_3“‘You can’t deny students the right to an education and lock them out of school for half an inch off the skirt. Oftentimes, some of them (teachers) go outside with tape measure to measure the skirt. If you need a tape measure to measure, then it couldn’t be that bad. So we do want the minister to intervene and for some amount of consultation with students because, when consultations are being made, they are made with parents. My mother and father aren’t the ones wearing the uniform. I am the one wearing it!'”  Ruel Reid had better do policing, if he knows what’s good for him and the schoolchildren.

‘Leggo Beast’ Tamed At School

vauxhill2

On May 30, three male teachers at Vauxhall High School allegedly held down a schoolboy against his will and forcibly assaulted him. No, it was not sexual exploitation. But it was certainly a demeaning abuse of power. The adults violently cut the child’s hair while he kicked and screamed in protest.  Why did these authority figures feel entitled to act in this shameful way?

I suppose they had determined that the student was a ‘leggo beast’ and it was their duty to tame him. But it is their own behaviour that is beastly. No adult should ever turn a child into an animal by robbing him of his dignity. Especially over a hairstyle!

Vauxhall High School has a dress policy that includes strict rules about how boys’ hair must be groomed. I gather that hair must be the same length all over the head. So no funky hairstyles are allowed. In addition, hair can’t be more than two inches high.

How did the powers that be arrive at that arbitrary figure? Why would another inch of hair not be acceptable? This regulation seems to be a direct attack on black hair, which grows up and out, not straight down. Is the two-inch rule equally applied to all kinds of hair?

BORN TROUBLEMAKER

I haven’t had a chance to talk to the student who was attacked by the very people who should have been protecting him at school. I would have liked to ask him what his hairstyle meant to him. I’m not assuming he has a grand philosophical reason for wanting his hair to grow past the two-inch limit.

Perhaps, the student was just plain unruly. I was told that he’s a bleacher and wears tight pants. As if those are clear signs that he’s a born troublemaker! But why did this young man feel so passionately about his hairstyle that he had to break the rules? I guess he’s a stylist for whom image is important. Why shouldn’t he be able to express his sense of style at school?

creative_hands_edit-960x480Students whose creativity is highly developed are inclined to be unruly. They are also likely to become the filmmakers, musicians, fashion designers, hair stylists, entertainment lawyers, etc, of the future. They need special care, not abuse. I think all high schools should identify creative students who can be allowed some freedom of expression.

Dress codes, for example, could be flexibly applied to these students. It is pure folly to cling to the superstition that wearing a school uniform and following all the grooming rules will guarantee academic achievement. In fact, all students could be allowed to dress casually one day per month. It just might enhance creativity.

SCHOOLS FOR THE ARTS

We keep talking about the creative industries as an essential component of economic development. But we don’t seem to understand that we have to nurture creativity. School should not be an institution that forces all students to fit into the same mould. There should be room for individuality.

It’s time for the Ministry of Education to establish schools for the arts that would allow creative students to learn in an environment that suits their temperament. There should be at least one school in each parish that would produce talented students, ready to contribute to national development through the creative industries.

Last Friday, I was fortunate to see the University Players’ brilliant production, ‘Garvey the Musical, Roots Reggae Rock’, written and directed by Michael Holgate. It was a special performance for students from Brooklyn College and The Queen’s School.

 

Garvey-The+Musical

Holgate, who is tutor-coordinator at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, writes a mythic story. Garvey comes back to life and is alarmed to realise that black people still have deep-rooted issues with identity. Skin colour remains a perplexing issue as young black people say they hate black skin.

One of the most intriguing characters is Jonathan, who refuses to answer to that name. He prefers to be called Scrubs, for obvious reasons. He’s a committed bleacher and a DJ who is dying to ‘buss’ like his idol Vybz Kartel. And, by the way, I keep making the point that if there had been a recording studio at Calabar and if deejaying had been on the music curriculum, Adidja Palmer might not now be imprisoned in the role of Vybz Kartel. Instead of ‘sculling’ school to go to studio, he might have gone to university as well.

The conversations between Garvey and Scrubs are most entertaining. When Scrubs hears the story of Garvey’s two wives who were once best friends, he calls the national hero a “gyallis”. It’s a struggle for Scrubs to understand Garvey’s assertion of an ‘African’ identity. As a youth in Jamaica, Scrubs knows that Africa is a continent of shame. Eventually, he comes to understand Garvey’s message of race pride with the help of the ancestors.

Frederic Aurelien, a freshman student at Brooklyn College, told me that Garvey’s Pan-African vision was still relevant for Americans. And Amelia Smith, a grade nine student at Queen’s, said that Garvey’s message was applicable to her today. This inspiring play should tour the country as one of the premier events for Jamaica 55. And Garvey’s empowering message must again resound across the world: “Up, you mighty race, accomplish what you will!”

Unstylish Ejection From VIP Seat

StyleWeek+Logo+II

It all started with an email from our MP to the citizens’ association offering tickets to a StyleWeek event last Sunday. Gifts from politicians usually come with lots of strings attached. The exchange often goes like this: I’ll give you $5,000 wrapped up in a designer T-shirt and you’d better vote for me. Or else! But this wasn’t election season. So I took the MP’s email at face value:

“Complimentary tickets are available for FashionBlock. When: Sunday, May 28th 2017, starting at 8pm. Where: Knutsford Blvd. Please email me to let me know how many tickets you need. Thanks.” I didn’t have anything planned for that evening, so I decided to take up the offer. I was rather surprised to see on the ticket that admission was free.

A complimentary ticket is not quite the same as a free ticket. Usually, a complimentary ticket is given as a courtesy to attend a paid event. Not a free show. Getting a complimentary ticket for a free event from an MP was a lot like feeling obliged to be grateful that politicians are actually doing the job for which they are elected. And for which they are paid!

Anyhow, I put aside my reservations and headed to New Kingston. I parked at the lot at the corner of Barbados and St Lucia avenues, where some young men had a good hustle charging $200 for entry. I firmly pointed out the fact that this was a government parking lot, which should be free on a Sunday evening. They apologised, waved me in, and kept right on charging other patrons.

 

THE MORAL OF THE STORY

 

I went to the closest entrance to the Fashionblock event, at the corner of Knutsford Boulevard and Barbados Avenue. Unfortunately, I hadn’t read my complimentary ticket carefully enough. That entrance was only for VIPs. My free ticket said: “out barrier, restaurant side.” And it was standing room only.

Umbilical-Cord-Baby-Website-1200-x-683

Now I am not one of those people whose navel string is buried under a VIP tree. But there was no other seating. And I had no intention of standing up to watch “Jamaica’s Biggest Fashion Event Ever”. By the way, that tag line reminds me of Sean Spicer’s ‘covfefe’ declaration that Donald Trump’s inauguration crowd was the biggest ever. Period.

I asked if I could get a VIP ticket, and a nice young man went off to find out. He returned with a young woman who let me in and ushered me to a seat. But she didn’t give me a ticket. About half an hour later, before the show had even started, she came back and told me she was at risk of losing her job. He had broken the rules by putting me in the VIP section. So I had to go “out barrier”.

I asked if there was no one who could allow me to stay. She said no. The lady she would have to ask was not around. Earlier, Dewight Peters, who was putting on the show, had greeted me in passing. I don’t suppose the young woman thought she could ask him to give me a VIP ticket. She escorted me to the exit and I headed straight home.

This story has several morals: 1) beware of ‘freeness’ from politicians; 2) always read the fine print; 3) do not ask for and accept favours from powerless people; 4) know when to retreat; 5) always remember that where bones are not provided, dogs are not invited. In this instance: Where VIP tickets are not provided, certain people are not invited.

 

‘ARTS IN THE PARK’

 

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Earlier that day, I’d gone to Arts in the Park at Devon House. That was an excellent event for which neither a free nor a complimentary ticket was needed. It’s a pity it didn’t seem to have been well advertised. Lots of young artists were exhibiting their work and there was live music. A small exhibition from the JCDC art competition is at one of the shops. The main show is located at the Jamaica Conference Centre.

The National Gallery hosted a panel discussion on the Jamaica Biennial 2017, which closed that day in Kingston. The exhibition at Gallery West in MoBay goes on for another month. A very contentious issue came up. VIP artists are invited to exhibit. Less-important artists have to submit their work for evaluation. If they’re lucky, they get picked. Hopefully, this unfair system will soon be phased out. All artists should have an equal chance to be accepted or rejected.

From Devon House, I went to The Pantry on Dumfries Road, where the artists Philip and Marcia Henry were hosting ‘The Gathering’, an exhibition featuring masters like Alexander Cooper, George Rodney and Ireko Baker, as well as many younger artists. Philip’s Ambokele Vibration drummers and guest artists were in full flight. It was a beautiful marriage of art and music.

There is so much creative energy in Kingston: music, art, literature, fashion and a whole lot more! Last Monday, Jamaica’s first Centre of Gastronomy was launched at Devon House. This Friday, Caribbean Fashionweek starts at Villa Ronai in Stony Hill. With its lush sculpture gardens, the venue was a premier destination for cruise ship passengers coming into Kingston Harbour in the 1960s. In spite of our social and economic challenges, Kingston is a capital city. And not just for VIPs!