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.
Long time now fi wi politician dem a seh Queen a England not suppose fi bi di head a Jamaica. A pure chat dem a chat. Look from when wi claims seh wi ‘independent’ an Missis Queen still a rule wi! Wa mek wi a heng on pon her frock tail? Shi an di whole a fi her generation dem no cyah if wi live or wi dead. Wi better study wi history.
Jamaica people did a suffer after Emancipation. Wi nuh get nuh land, money, nutten fi mek life. Dem did plan fi work out wi soul case same way pon di plantation dem fi lickle or nutten. Di plantation owner dem get nuff-nuff money fi mek up fi wa dem lose offa wi. An wi no get nutten at all, at all. Ongle bad name seh wi wukless an wi no waan work. Work fi nutten an wi ‘emancipate’?
Nuff pressure drop pon wi inna 1865. Nuh rain nuh fall an dutty tough. By di way, ‘dutty’ a no ‘broken English’ from ‘dirty’. A one good-good word from Ghana. A di Twi language; ‘dutty’ mean ‘ground’. Life so hard, some strong-heart smaddy inna St Ann decide dem mind fi write letter to Queen Victoria an beg her fi gi dem land fi work. Shi deh a England an own nuff-nuff land a Jamaica. Di land sit down deh nah do nutten. Dem all tell her seh dem woulda send food fi her weh dem grow.
ONE WICKED-WICKED LETTER
Queen Victoria send back one wicked-wicked letter. A nuh she write it. A Henry Taylor. Im did work inna di West Indian Department inna di Colonial Office. A same so smaddy inna Queen Elizabeth office write di fool-fool answer to Oprah Winfrey interview wid Meghan an Harry. It nuh matter if a nuh di queen dem directly write wa Buckingham Palace put out. Dem a defend white power same way from generation to generation.
Queen Victoria letter seh dat “the prosperity of the Labouring Classes, as well as of all other Classes, depends, in Jamaica, and in other countries, upon their working for Wages, not uncertainly, or capriciously, but steadily and continuously, at times when their labor is wanted, and for so long as it is wanted; and that if they would use their industry, and thereby render the Plantations productive, they would enable the Planters to pay them higher Wages … .” A who tell wi seh wi coulda work fi wiself?
Queen Victoria letter mek Jamaica people blood boil. An dem rebel. A she response fi di Morant Bay autoclaps. Soldier kill off more than 400 freedom fighter. Nobody nah go dead sake a wa Buckingham Palace write bout Meghan an Harry interview. But some a di country dem weh Queen Elizabeth a rule a go shake her off. Dem no want her an her governor general fi control dem. A high time Jamaica fire di Queen.
Lang taim nou fi wi palitishan dem a se Kwiin a Ingglan nat sopuoz fi bi di ed a Jamieka. A pyuur chat dem a chat. Luk fram wen wi kliems se wi ‘independent’ an Misiz Kwiin stil a ruul wi! Wa mek wi a eng aan pan ar frack tiel? Shi an di uol a fi ar jinarieshan dem no kya if wi liv ar wi ded. Wi beta stodi wi ischri.
Jamieka piipl did a sofa aafta Imansipieshan. Wi no get no lan, moni, notn fi mek laif. Dem did plan fi wok out wi suol kies siem wie pan di plantieshan dem fi likl ar notn. Di plantieshan uona dem get nof-nof moni fi mek op fi wa dem luuz aafa wi. An wi no get notn at aal, at aal. Ongl bad niem se wi woklis an wi no waan wok. Wok fi notn an wi ‘imansipiet’?
Nof presha jrap pan wi ina 1865. No rien no faal an doti tof. Bai di wie, ‘doti’ a no ‘broken English’ fram ‘dirty’. A wan gud-gud word fram Ghana. A di Twi langgwij; ‘doti’ miin ‘grong’. Laif so aad, som chrang-aat smadi ina St Ann disaid dem main fi rait leta tu Kwiin Victoria an beg ar fi gi dem lan fi wok. Shi de a Ingglan an uon nof-nof lan a Jamieka. Di lan sidong de naa du notn. Dem aal tel ar se dem wuda sen fuud fi ar we dem gruo.
WAN WIKID-WIKID LETA
Kwiin Victoria sen bak wan wikid-wikid leta. A no shii rait it. A Henry Taylor. Im did wok ina di West Indian Department ina di Colonial Office. A siem so smadi ina Kwiin Elizabeth afis rait di fuul-fuul ansa tu Oprah Winfrey intavyuu wid Meghan an Harry. It no mata if a no di kwiin dem darekli rait wa Buckingham Palace put out. Dem a difen wait powa siem wie fram jinarieshan tu jinarieshan.
Kwiin Victoria leta se dat “the prosperity of the Labouring Classes, as well as of all other Classes, depends, in Jamaica, and in other countries, upon their working for Wages, not uncertainly, or capriciously, but steadily and continuously, at times when their labour is wanted, and for so long as it is wanted; and that if they would use their industry, and thereby render the Plantations productive, they would enable the Planters to pay them higher Wages ….” A uu tel wi se wi kuda wok fi wiself?
Kwiin Victoria leta mek Jamieika piipl blod bwail. An dem ribel. A shii rispans fi di Morant Bay aataklaps. Solja kil aaf muor dan 400 friidom faita. Nobadi naa go ded siek a wa Buckingham Palace rait bout Meghan an Harry intavyuu. Bot som a di konchri dem Kwiin Elizabeth a ruul a go shiek ar aaf. Dem no waant ar an ar govana jineral fi kanchruol dem. A hai taim Jamieka faiya di Kwiin.
TIME TO FIRE HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN
For a quite a long time, our politicians have been saying that the Queen of England should no longer be Jamaica’s head of state. It’s nothing but talk. Look how long we’ve been claiming that we’re ‘independent’ and the Queen of England is still ruling us! Why are we hanging on her coattails? She and her entire lineage do not give a damn if we live or die. We had better study our history.
The Jamaican people certainly suffered after Emancipation. We didn’t get any land, money, nothing to make life. We were expected to continue working sacrificially on the plantations for little or nothing. The plantation owners were granted substantial compensation for the loss of our labour. And we got absolutely nothing. Only a bad reputation as worthless and unwilling to work. Work for nothing and we’re ‘emancipated’?
Jamaicans fell on extremely hard times in 1865. There was a long drought and ‘doti ‘ was very tough. By di way, ‘doti’ is not ‘broken English’ from ‘dirty’. It’s a perfectly good word from Ghana. It’s the Twi language; ‘doti’ means ‘ground’. Life was so hard, some brave people in St Ann decided to send a letter to Queen Victoria begging her for land to cultivate. She was all the way in England and owned so much land in Jamaica. This land was idle. They even said they would send her some of the produce.
A TRULY WICKED LETTER
Queen Victoria sent back a truly wicked letter. She wasn’t the one who wrote it. Henry Taylor did. He worked in the West Indian Department of the Colonial Office. In the same way, someone in Queen Elizabeth’s office wrote the flimsy response to Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Meghan and Harry. It doesn’t matter that the queens didn’t actually pen the releases issued by Buckingham Palace. They’ve been upholding white power just the same from generation to generation.
Queen Victoria’s letter said that “the prosperity of the Labouring Classes, as well as of all other Classes, depends, in Jamaica, and in other countries, upon their working for Wages, not uncertainly, or capriciously, but steadily and continuously, at times when their labor is wanted, and for so long as it is wanted; and that if they would use their industry, and thereby render the Plantations productive, they would enable the Planters to pay them higher Wages … .” Why did we presume that we could work for ourselves?
Queen Victoria’s letter enraged the Jamaican people. And they rebelled. She’s responsible for the Morant Bay catastrophe. More than 400 freedom fighters were slaughtered by the military. Nobody is going to be executed as a consequence of the statement issued by Buckingham Palace about Meghan and Harry’s interview. But some of the countries for which Queen Elizabeth remains the head of state are going to reject her. They no longer want her or her governor general to exert control over their affairs. It’s high time for Jamaica to fire the Queen.