Jamaica Red Cross Wisely Guarding Peach Beach

Last Friday, I called the Jamaica Red Cross to get an update on Peach Beach. Community groups in Discovery Bay are still fearful that one of these days they’ll wake up to find that the beach has been leased to the Guardsman Group. And privatised, just like Puerto Seco Beach! Then, even more dolphins will be excreting in the bay. In spite of all the scientific evidence confirming the destructive consequences of setting up a dolphin prison in the calm bay, greed has taken precedence over environmental protection.

When I called the Jamaica Red Cross, I kept on getting disconnected. I wondered if the humanitarian organisation was deliberately cutting me off in a vain attempt to avoid answering my questions. It turned out that the problem was not the Red Cross. It was the inhumane organisation, Flow/Columbus Communications Ltd., doing its usual unconscionable thing. I am tired of complaining about the bad service from Flow.

You’re in the middle of a conversation and, after a few minutes, you realise that you are talking to yourself like a mad person. I cannot believe that in the 21st century, Jamaicans cannot expect basic telephone service that actually works. Why do we have to keep paying for substandard service? And the competition isn’t any better. Switching from Flow to Digicel is like swopping white dog for monkey. And, yes, monkeys do come in white, as well as black.

LIVING IN A FOOL’S PARADISE

Incidentally, Flow is owned by Michael Lee-Chin, a man living in a fool’s paradise. In his capacity as chairman of the Government’s Economic Growth Council (EGC), he recently told a Gleaner reporter, covering the quarterly meeting of the EGC, that we must do “everything” to attract and keep foreign investors. I wonder if that includes prostitution.

It that wasn’t enough folly, Lee-Chin made this pronouncement at the EGC meeting: “We in Jamaica need to develop a culture of saving. We don’t save. We dis-save; we consume.” Who is this “we”? Is Lee-Chin including himself? As chairman of the National Commercial Bank, he is, supposedly, in a good position to know how little/much Jamaicans save.

But big banks, bought on the cheap, don’t tell the whole story about how Jamaicans manage the little money we have. Lee-Chin seems to have forgotten about the partner system that poor people have used for centuries to save money and pay school fees and other essential bills. From his lofty position as a billionaire in foreign currency, Lee-Chin can afford to diss poor Jamaicans who are barely managing to survive.

And, clearly, he is speaking to a very small sector of the society when he commands Jamaicans to invest in stocks and businesses. He gives more advice: “Own assets, own a home, pay down on something, pay down on a piece of land, join up in a partnership and do that.” How can someone scraping by on the minimum wage own any assets at all?

minimum-wage-1Two Saturdays ago, a man at Papine Market gave me a message for “dem.” I suppose he meant the politicians. It went something like this: “Miss Cooper, like how yu write inna newspaper, beg yu tell dem dat we don’t want Michael Lee-Chin fi run di country.” He didn’t elaborate, but I think I know why he said that. Lee-Chin no know wat a gwaan. Poor people a suffer. Dem naa no money fi invest!

YOUTH DEVELOPMENT

Mrs Lois Hue, Deputy Director General of the Jamaica Red Cross, reassured me that the organisation was not going to lease Peach Beach to the Guardsman Group or any of the other commercial enterprises that have been trying to get their hands on the property. Peach Beach was a gift to the Jamaica Red Cross from the Kaiser Bauxite Company. It was intended for youth development.

Since acquiring the property in 1976, the Red Cross has hosted youth camps; taught first aid, sign language and art and craft; offered swimming lessons; and given water safety training; A whole range of developmental activities! The main building on the property was damaged in a hurricane and this has somewhat hampered activities. The structure has not been repaired because of limited resources.

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Discovery Bay community groups are willing to assist with restoring the building and maintaining the property. On Labour Day last week, the Community Development Committee (CDC) and the Swimming Club did a major cleanup of the beach. They are committed to ensuring that Discovery Bay has a public beach that is in excellent condition. And the Red Cross wants to keep the beach open to the public.

Instead of giving away Jamaica’s beaches to foreign investors who export their profits, the Government should be ensuring that Jamaicans have access to public beaches. Poor people in Jamaica don’t have the means to invest in stocks and businesses. But they should be able to afford leisure.

Then there’s the whole other issue of how Kaiser came to own the beach in the first place.  If successive governments don’t stop selling off Jamaica’s prime assets to foreigners in the name of development, there won’t be much left for future generations.

Pearly Beach a no fi poor people

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

Last week Tuesday, January 17, di director of corporate communication fi UDC answer back mi email weh mi did send pon January 3. It tek whole-a two week. Anyhow, mi lucky fi get answer. Unu done know how dem govament office stay. Mi did aks wa mek Pearly Beach private; an which part inna St Ann have public beach weh yu can carry een yu owna food.

pearly-beach-entranceHear weh UDC seh: “Pearly Beach was developed by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) in line with the needs of our customers which were derived from market research. Consequently, the facility allows for group excursions ranging from corporate gatherings to parties, weddings or any group event. There continues to be a high demand for this type of offering.”

Mi no know a which market UDC do fi dem research. An mi no know a who a fi dem customer. Dem no talk to nobody weh waan go beach wid dem fambily? Wen mi call di St Ann Development Company, mi find out seh di cheapest price fi go a Pearly Beach a $87,375.00. Dat a fi from one smaddy up to 70.

From 71 to 100 smaddy, dat a $116,400. From 101 to 200 smaddy, dat a $174,750.00. An from 201 to 1,000 smaddy, dat a $291,250. Pon top a dat, yu ha fi pay security deposit. Dat a $30,000 fi all a di group dem. Dat no fair.

‘FREE FROM DISCRIMINATION’?

See one next part a UDC email ya:

“It must be stated that public access does not mean free or unrestricted access as nominal fees are collected from patrons for all beach facilities that the UDC operates. As it relates to Pearly Beach, please be advised that access to the recreational facility is available to all and refers to accessing same, free from discrimination and preserving the right to book once the facility is available relative to other public bookings.”

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A no true seh UDC price fi use all a dem beach “nominal”. Di four a wi weh did a drive up an down St Ann pon New Year’s Day a look beach wuda ha fi pay $21,843.75 – one, one – fi go a Pearly Beach. Pon top a dat, UDC can’t seh “access to the recreational facility is available to all and refers to accessing same, free from discrimination”. Wid dem deh high price, UDC kuda never expect poor people fi go a Pearly Beach. UDC a discriminate gainst poor people.

An mi no know a how UDC price di different-different group dem. Di lickle group dem pay more fi one smaddy dan di big group dem. Dat no right. Seventy smaddy pay $1,248.21 fi one.  One hundred smaddy pay $1,164 fi one. Two hundred smaddy pay $873.75 fi one. An thousand smaddy pay $291.25 fi one!

UDC better wheel an come again. A no so-so big event fi keep a Pearly Beach. It fi open every day fi everybody. An UDC wuda mek nuff money offa all a wi weh waan go a good beach. An unu fi sign di petition to Prime Minister Andrew Holness pon change.org weh di Jamaica Environment Trust launch: “Better Beaches For All Jamaicans.” Di whole a wi!

PRAPA-PRAPA SPELIN

Laas wiik Chuusde, Janieri 17, di director of corporate communication fi UDC ansa bak mi iimiel we mi did sen pan Janieri 3. It tek uola tuu wiik. Eniou, mi loki fi get ansa. Unu don nuo ou dem govament afis stie. Mi did aks wa mek Pearly Beach praivit; an wich paat iina St Ann av poblik biich we yu kyahn kyari iin yu uona fuud.

market-researchIer we UDC se: “Pearly Beach was developed by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) in line with the needs of our customers which were derived from market research. Consequently, the facility allows for group excursions ranging from corporate gatherings to parties, weddings or any group event. There continues to be a high demand for this type of offering.”

Mi no nuo a wich maakit UDC du fi dem risorch. An mi no nuo a uu a fi dem kostama. Dem no taak to nobadi we waahn go biich wid dem fambili? Wen mi kaal di St Ann Development Company, mi fain out se di chiipis prais fi go a Pearly Beach a $87,375. Dat a fi fram wan smadi op tu seventi.

Fram seventi-wan tu wan onjred smadi, dat a $116,400.00. Fram wan onjred an wan tu tuu onjred smadi, dat a $174,750. An fram tuu onjred an wan tu wan touzan smadi, dat a $291,250. Pan tap a dat, yu a fi pie sikuoriti dipazit. Dat a $30,000 fi aal a di gruup dem. Dat no fier.

‘FREE FROM DISCRIMINATION’?

Si wan neks paat a UDC iimiel ya:

“It must be stated that public access does not mean free or unrestricted access as nominal fees are collected from patrons for all beach facilities that the UDC operates. As it relates to Pearly Beach, please be advised that access to the recreational facility is available to all and refers to accessing same, free from discrimination and preserving the right to book once the facility is available relative to other public bookings.”

A no chruu se UDC prais fi yuuz aal a dem biich ‘nominal’. Di fuor a wi we did a jraiv op an dong St Ann pan Nyuu Ierz Die a luk biich uda a fi pie $21,843.75 – wan, wan – fi go a Pearly Beach. Pan tap a dat, UDC kyaahn se “access to the recreational facility is available to all and refers to accessing same, free from discrimination.” Wid dem de ai prais, UDC kuda neva ekspek puor piipl fi go a Pearly Beach. UDC a diskriminiet gens puor piipl.

An mi no nuo a ou UDC prais di difran-difran gruup dem. Di likl gruup dem pie muor fi wan smadi dan di big gruup dem. Dat no rait. Seventi smadi pie $1,248.21 fi wan. Onjred smadi pie $1,164.00 fi wan. Tuu onjred smadi pie $873.75 fi wan. An touzan smadi pie $291.25 fi wan!

UDC beta wiil an kom agen. A no suo-so big event fi kip a Pearly Beach. It fi opn evri die fi evribadi. An UDC wuda mek nof moni aafa aal a wi we waahn go a gud biich. An unu fi sain di pitishan tu Praim Minista Andrew Holness pan change.org we di Jamaica Environment Trust laanch: “Better Beaches For All Jamaicans.” Di uol a wi!

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

PEARLY BEACH NOT FOR POOR PEOPLE

Last Tuesday, January 17, UDC’s director of corporate communication responded to my email sent on January 3. It took all of two weeks. Anyhow, I’m fortunate to have got an answer. You know how government offices operate. I’d asked why Pearly Beach is private; and where in St. Ann there are public beaches to which you can take your own food.

Here’s UDC’s response: “Pearly Beach was developed by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) in line with the needs of our customers which were derived from market research. Consequently, the facility allows for group excursions ranging from corporate gatherings to parties, weddings or any group event.  There continues to be a high demand for this type of offering”.

I don’t know in which market UDC did their research. And I don’t know who are their customers. Didn’t they talk to anyone who wanted to go to the beach with their family? When I called the St. Ann Development Company, I found out that the lowest entry fee for Pearly Beach is $87,375.00. That’s for from one to seventy persons.

From seventy-one to one hundred persons, that’s $116,400.00. From one hundred and one to two hundred persons, that’s $174,750.00. And from two hundred and one to one thousand persons that’s $291,250.00. In addition, there’s a security deposit. It’s $30,000.00 for all of the groups. That’s not fair.

“FREE FROM DISCRIMINATION”?

Here’s another bit of the email from UDC: “It must be stated that public access does not mean free or unrestricted access as nominal fees are collected from patrons for all beach facilities that the UDC operates. As it relates to Pearly Beach, please be advised that access to the recreational facility is available to all and refers to accessing same, free from discrimination and preserving the right to book once the facility is available relative to other public bookings”.

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It’s simply not true that the UDC fee to use all their beaches is “nominal”. The four of us who were driving up and down St. Ann on New Year’s Day looking for a beach would have had to pay $21,843.75 each to get into Pearly Beach. In addition, UDC can’t claim that “access to the recreational facility is available to all and refers to accessing same, free from discrimination”. With those high entry fees, UDC could not expect poor people to be able to afford to go to Pearly Beach.   UDC is discriminating against poor people.

And I don’t quite understand how UDC costs the different categories of fees. The small groups pay more for each individual than the big groups. That’s not right. Seventy persons pay $1,248.21 each. One hundred pay $1,164.00 each. Two hundred persons pay $873.75 each. And one thousand persons pay $291.25 each!

UDC had better wheel and come again. It’s not only big events that should be kept at Pearly Beach. It should be open every day for everybody. And UDC would make lots of money from all of us who want to go to a good beach. And you all must sign the petition to Prime Minister Andrew Holness on change.org that the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) has launched: “Better Beaches For All Jamaicans”. All of us!

No Beach For Local Tourists

pearly-beach-entranceOn New Year’s Day, a carload of us drove up, down and around Ocho Rios looking for a public beach. Our first stop was Pearly Beach. The name sounded promising. But we might as well have gone to the Pearly Gates. St Peter would not let us in. The security guard said it was a private beach managed by UDC (the Urban Development Corporation). It could be rented but it was not open to the general public without prior arrangements.

We wondered if we should forget about finding a decent public beach and just go to one of the hotels. So we stopped at Jamaica Inn. Unfortunately for us, but not for them, they were at full occupancy. And their policy is not to issue day passes when the hotel is full. The view from the hotel lobby showed hardly anybody on the beach. But hotel policy is hotel policy.

We asked the receptionist if there was a public beach nearby and we were told about one in the centre of Ocho Rios. That’s not a beach. It’s a port. Back on the road, we kept looking for a public beach and we were sent to Sugar Pot beach. That’s not a beach. It’s a wasteland. We were well salt.

‘NO FOOD & DRINKS’

We decided to try our luck at Bamboo Beach. The sign at the entrance boldly announced that this was PRIVATE PROPERTY. And there was a long list of rules and regulations including: No drugs, no firearms or weapons, no ganja smoking, no profanity, vulgar language or loud behaviour and no soliciting. All very well and good!

But we were not amused to find that food and drinks were prohibited. The gate hostess informed us that the car would have to be searched and if we did have food and drink there were two options. We could either eat and drink before going on the property. Or we could leave our food with the security guard. Neither option was appetising.

img_2248The last item on the sign read: “Please call management to report any questions or concerns”. We got voicemail. So we kept going. By now, we had wasted a lot of beach time looking for a beach. We decided to try Shaw Park Beach Hotel. For US$65 each we could access the beach and get lunch. Or we could pay J$1,000 each to go to the adjacent White River beach, entry to which was controlled by Shaw Park.

We decided on the latter option since food and drink were not prohibited. But, alas, the White River beach was not a beach. The river had been in spate so the water was muddy. The beach was dirty. There was a dog roaming around. We quickly ate our food in less than ideal circumstances.

On the way out, I complained to the manager of the hotel. He was surprised that we had been sent to the beach because he knew it was not in a good condition that day. And he cheerfully refunded the entry fee. That was some consolation. But after all of that upping and downing, we still hadn’t gone to the beach!

HELD HOSTAGE

On Tuesday, I called the UDC office in Kingston to ask about access to Pearly Beach. I was advised to send an email to the director of corporate communications, which I did. I proposed that one of the priorities of urban development ought to be ensuring access of all Jamaicans to public beaches in ways that are consistent with local cultural values – for example, self-catering. Patrons should not be held hostage by beach operators who attempt to force them to buy food and drink on the property. UDC has not yet responded.

The Jamaican Government needs to take lessons from Barbados. All beaches in Barbados are, by law, national parks and cannot be privatised. Every citizen of Barbados has access to all beaches. One of my favourites is Accra Beach, named after the capital of Ghana. Both locals and tourists enjoy the beach which reminds me of Hellshire. Full of vibes!

hellshirebeach

Hellshire Beach before and after erosion

By the way, if the Government doesn’t move quickly to build back the reef at Hellshire, the beach will die. Imagine, Kingston is sitting on the seventh largest natural harbour in the world and we don’t have a single beach in the city. We have turned the harbour into a cesspool.

There’s been a lot of talk in the news lately about record visitor arrivals. We welcome these foreigners. But we simply can’t forget about local tourists who also want to enjoy the beauty of our homeland. We have to launch a national campaign to take back Jamaica’s beaches from private operators. In the 1970s we used to say we’re more than a beach, we’re a country. Now, we need to claim our beaches. They should belong to all Jamaicans. Not just a few hoteliers.

And the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) needs to look carefully at its ads for the North American market. There are hardly any black tourists! It seems as if even Jamaicans in the diaspora who come home often are not recognised as tourists. We only want their remittances! The issue of beach access may not just be about locals. Perhaps, for the JTB, the ideal tourist is really not black.

Mek Sista P tek her time!

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

Wat a way certain people a run down Sista P fi call election! A wa mek? Ascorden to Constitution, election no ha fi call so till way down a April. 2017! Di way me seet, since Sista P never call election last year, she might as well tek her time decide her mind.

5237368-cunning-smiling-red-devilDem a throw word pon Sista P seh she no know weh she a do. She dis a wait-wait an dem no know a wa she a wait fa. She mek dem know seh she a wait pon God. An a it mek dem a tek her mek poppyshow. If plenty a dem odder politician did wait pon God fi tell dem weh fi do, tings mighta plenty better fi wi. It look like a devil a tell some a dem weh fi do.

Suppose Sista P have big plan weh she naa tell nobody? Member seh a February 26, 2006 she beat out Peter Phillips fi turn leader a di PNP. Mi wonder if Sista P a consider fi step down after 10 year. If she do dat, PNP ha fi pick a new leader fi carry di party go eena election. An dat a go tek lickle time.

Sista P no gi mi no message fi gi unu. An God no reveal nutten to mi. Mi a no no prophet. Mi dis a wonder. An all me know, Sista P no ha fi fret bout fi her legacy. It safe. Di first woman fi turn prime minister eena Jamaica! Dat kuda never easy. An all who like gwaan like seh Sista P a eedyat, mek mi aks dem a who a di eedyat dem weh mek her turn prime minister?

DEM TOO RENK

Den mi can just see di runjostling fi tek over from Sista P. Di best candidate me tink, a di said same Peter Phillips weh Sista P did dust out fi turn party leader. Im have sense an im work hard. An it no easy fi deal wid IMF an ha fi a carry pure bad news come gi wi. Well lickle good news to. But not to dat. Fi wi dollar pop down. An it look like seh it naa go ketch up itself fi now.

If Sista P gi up di prime minister work, she have nuff tings weh she can do. Di first ting mi wuda like see her do a fi write one book bout her life. No ongle wa deh pon Wikipedia. Bill an receipt. She can get one duppy writer fi help her write di book. An she no ha fi shame fi get help. Nuff cebrelity wid book, a duppy write di book.

PortiaA20160127RBAn wen di book come out, Sista P can go lecture all bout. A yard an abroad. Michael Manley dweet. P.J. Patterson same way. Eddie Seaga. Wen politician lef office, dem no ha fi siddung a dem yard naa do nutten. Sista P have fi her Portia Simpson Miller Foundation weh set up eena 2010. She can gwaan divel it up.

Sista P no fi mek none a di man dem shub her out a office. Dem too renk. A chruu she a woman mek dem a tek liberty wid her. Look how much old man deh eena Parliament! Anybody a tell dem fi go a dem yard? An Sista P stronger an dem. Mek dem wait! God wi tell Sista P when a di right time fi fly di gate. Time longer than rope.

PRAPA-PRAPA SPELIN

Wat a wie sortn piipl a ron dong Sista P fi kaal ilekshan! A wa mek? Azkaadn tu kanstityuushan, ilekshan no a fi kaal so til wie dong a Iepril. 2017! Di wie mii siit, sins Sista P neva kaal ilekshan laas ier, shi mait az wel tek ar taim disaid ar main.

Dem a chruo wod pan Sista P se shi no nuo we shi a du. Shi dis a wiet-wiet an dem no nuo a wa shi a wiet fa. Shi mek dem nuo se shi a wiet pan Gad. An a it mek dem a tek ar mek papishuo. If plenti a dem ada palitishan dem did wiet pan Gad fi tel dem we fi du, tingz maita plenti beta fi wi. It luk laik a debl a tel som a dem we fi du.

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Supuoz Sista P av big plan we shi naa tel nobadi? Memba se a Febieri 26, 2006 shi biit out Peter Phillips fi ton liida a di PNP. Mi wanda if Sista P a kansida fi step dong aafta 10 ier. If shi du dat, PNP a fi pik a nyuu liida fi kyari di paati go iina ilekshan. An dat a go tek likl taim.

Sista P no gi mi no mechiz fi gi unu. An Gad no riviil notn tu mi. Mi a no no prafit. Mi dis a wanda. An aal mii nuo, Sista P no a fi fret bout fi ar legisi. It sief. Di fos uman fi ton praim minista iina Jamieka! Dat kuda neva iizi. An aal uu laik gwaan laik se Sista P a iidyat, mek mi aks dem a uu a di iidyat dem we mek ar ton praim minista?

DEM TUU RENGK

Den mi kyahn jos si di ronjaslin fi tek uova fram Sista P. Di bes kyandidet mi tingk, a di sed siem Peter Phillips we Sista P did dos out fi ton paati liida. Im av sens an im wok aad. An it no iizi fi diil wid IMF an a fi a kyari pyuur bad nyuuz kom gi wi. Wel likl gud nyuuz tu. Bot nat tu dat. Fi wi dala pap dong. An it luk laik se it naa go kech op itself fi nou.

ghostwriterIf Sista P gi op di praim minista wok, shi av nof ting we shi kyahn du. Di fos ting mi wuda laik si ar du a fi rait wan buk bout ar laif. No ongl wa de pan Wikipedia. Bil an risiit. Shi kyahn get wan dopi raita fi elp ar rait di buk. An shi no a fi shiem fi get elp. Nof sibreliti wid buk, a dopi rait di buk.

An wen di buk kom out, Sista P kyahn go lekcha aal bout. A yaad an abraad. Michael Manley dwiit. PJ Patterson siem wie. Eddie Seaga. Wen palitshan lef afis, dem no a fi sidong a dem yaad naa du notn. Sista P av fi ar Portia Simpson Miller Foundation we set op iina 2010. Shi kyahn gwaan divel it op.

Sista P no fi mek non a di man dem shub ar out a afis. Dem tuu renk. A chruu shi a uman mek dem a tek libati wid ar. Luk omoch uol man de iina Paaliment! Enibadi a tel dem fi go a dem yaad? An Sista P chranga an dem. Mek dem wiet! Gad wi tel Sista P wen a di rait taim fi flai di giet. Taim langa dan ruop.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

LET SISTER P TAKE HER TIME!

Just look at how certain people are trying to force Sister P to call elections! Why? According to the Constitution, elections don’t have to be called until way down in April. 2017! The way I see it, since Sister P didn’t announce the date last year, she might as well take her time to make a decision.

They are undermining Sister P, claiming that she doesn’t know what she’s doing. She’s just waiting, waiting and they don’t know what she’s waiting on. She let them know she’s waiting on God. And now they’re taking her for a joke. If a lot of those other politicians would wait on God to tell them what to do, things might be much better for us. It looks as if it’s the devil that’s telling some of them what to do.

editorsforumj20130620rmWhat if Sister P has big plans she’s not telling anybody? Remember that is was on February 26, 2006 that she beat Peter Phillips to become leader of the PNP. I’m wonder if Sister P is considering stepping down after 10 years. If she does, the PNP would have to pick a new leader to take the party into elections. And that’s going to take time.

Sister P hasn’t given me any message to deliver. And God hasn’t revealed anything to me.  I’m not a prophet. I’m just wondering. What I do know is that Sister P doesn’t have to be concerned about her legacy. It’s safe. The first woman to become prime minister of Jamaica! That could never have been easy. And as for all those who like to insist that Sister P is an idiot, let me ask them who are the idiots who made her prime minister?

THEY ARE TOO RUDE

Then I can just see the infighting to decide who is going to replace Sista P.  I think the best candidate is the same Peter Phillips Sister P defeated to become party leader. He’s sensible and hard-working. And it’s not easy to deal with IMF and have to bring us only bad news.  Well, a little good news too. But not so much. Our dollar has collapsed. And it doesn’t seem as if it’s going to recover any time soon.

If Sister P gives up the job as prime minister, there are lots of other things she can do. I think her first project should be writing her autobiography.  Not just what’s on Wikipedia.  But the whole bill and receipt. She can employ a ghost writer.  And she doesn’t have to be ashamed of getting help. The books of many celebrities are written by ghosts.

TIME+100+Gala+TIME+100+Most+Influential+People+qwSYDPRKYtZlAnd when the book is published, Sister P can do lecture tours all over. At home and abroad. Michael Manley did it. P.J. Patterson as well. And Eddie Seaga. When politicians leave office, they don’t have to sit idly at home.  Sister P has her Portia Simpson Miller Foundation that was set up in 2010. She can continue to develop it.

Sister P shouldn’t make any of those men force her out of office. They are too rude.  It’s because she’s a woman, that’s why they are are taking liberties with her. There are so many old men in Parliament! Is anybody telling them to go home? And Sister P is fitter than them. Let them wait! God will tell Sister P when it’s the right time to make the call. All things in their time!

 

 

 

Bombarding Tivoli Gardens and New Orleans

Last Tuesday’s Gleaner reported a “Tivoli Bombshell”. According to the testimony of an anonymous soldier, “two policemen, without provocation, fatally shot two unarmed young men while they were bound and seated in a detention area, before marching a third man to a nearby house.”

YoxHmd8JSNyjmTz3bKGs68_9Tum7jPGe23IBGIrngRhCZUYtpRdNAbjtsQIKaI5VsfmFdXQkBUfrKzi4a0g47o0JRO7QWEuX06eWQ1RMW57--dgLbMw2J8Q91rgBGXbwdBGwtEsA4RufF5LIVUUS5w=s0-d-e1-ftWhy is this a “bombshell”? There are two quite distinct symbolic meanings of this explosive word: first, “an overwhelming surprise or disappointment”. The second meaning is “a very attractive woman”. Makes sense. Attractive women are dangerous. They tend to make men explode. If this happens too quickly, it can really be an overwhelming surprise and a shattering disappointment.

The Gleaner’s Tivoli bombshell is definitely not a very attractive woman. And, by the way, Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, disguised as a woman, was certainly not a bombshell. It was a surprise that he was caught in the company of a man of the cloth. But as Michael Abrahams has so wickedly reminded us in his recent columns, God does move in a mysterious way his wonders to perform.

Fun and joke aside, is it an overwhelming surprise that unarmed young men were allegedly shot dead by the police without provocation? It happens all the time. Not only in Tivoli. Just think of the murder of black men by the police in the US. It’s truly an overwhelming disappointment that the lives of black men seem to have so little value.

SOAP OPERA

soap-operaThen, I wonder if any anonymous policeman or woman is going to testify that he or she saw soldiers fatally shooting defenceless young men. Is the Enquiry going to turn into a soap opera about good soldier versus bad police? I suspect that both police and soldiers are equally guilty of unprovoked assault. Power breeds terror.

Of course, there was provoked assault as residents of Tivoli attacked members of the security of forces in defence of their community. But who provoked first? Where did it all begin? When politicians got in bed with drug lords? When politicians gave youths guns to defend garrisons? When the youths got smart and realised that they could cut out the politicians and run tings?

The Government is spending a lot of money on the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry. In these times of austerity, the budget is J$410.4 million. I wonder what the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Inter-American Bank think about this expenditure. Will the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth ever come out? Or will it all be a terrible waste of money? But justice must appear to be done. Especially if it is not!

DISTINGUISHED UWI GRADUATE

So what do Tivoli Gardens and New Orleans have in common? Just ask Dr Nadia Ellis, a professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. She’s a distinguished graduate of the University of the West Indies, Mona. Dr Ellis gave a brilliant keynote lecture at the conference, “Community Uprising: Katrina, Resilience, Resistance & Culture After 10 Years”, convened last month in New Orleans and hosted by the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies.

Dr Ellis’ lecture focused on the militarisation of both New Orleans and Tivoli Gardens after natural disaster (Hurricane Katrina) and manmade catastrophe (hunting Dudus). I wonder how many people still believe – if ever – that Dudus was in Tivoli waiting for the security forces to come looking for him. Was there much more at stake in the invasion of Tivoli than finding Dudus?

tivolia20100531wIn her summary of the lecture, Dr Ellis noted that, “In the wake of the disasters wrought by Katrina in 2005, security forces descended into the city creating a show of force that did little to aid those most affected by the storms. Indeed, cases of extra-judicial killing by the police were alleged and investigated. Five years later in May 2010, Jamaican security forces descended on the community of Tivoli Gardens in an attempt to apprehend a drug lord: 76 civilians were killed. In both these cases communities that were perceived from the outside as hyper-autonomous, culturally problematic, and politically unmanageable were subject to military-style incursion.”

BIG FREEDIA QUEEN DIVA

Dr Ellis also highlighted the therapeutic function of music and dance in both New Orleans and Kingston. Like dancehall, New Orleans bounce music helps partygoers recover from the daily stresses of survival. The Katrina conference included a bounce concert by Frederick Ross whose stage name is Big Freedia Queen Diva. It was quite an event.

In a 2013 interview with OUT magazine, Big Freedia explained that “Whatever makes my fans comfortable—to be able to call me ‘he’ or ‘she,’—I’ll allow. I let them have the freedom to choose either one . . . . A lot of people just can’t accept the fact of calling a man ‘she.’ I totally understand that, and it’s never offensive to me, because I was born a man, my preferred pronoun is she—but it’s not a big thing to me.” That’s where the similarity to dancehall stops for sure.

I recently had an unsettling conversation with a bright young man from Trench Town. He said there’s no law and order downtown since Dudus was extradited. He thinks things were much better when the don was in charge. God help us if that’s true. And I don’t mean the temperamental God of the Old Testament.

Lusting After Lisa’s Legs

57223lisa_hannaI really don’t know what all the fuss was about. The minister of youth and culture goes to the beach to cool off after the reggae marathon. She’s wearing a very youthful bikini and a very cultural tee shirt. A perfect photo op for the Jamaica Tourist Board! The minister’s son captures the image and it ends up on the Internet. And, far and wide, both old and new media dissect the meaning of this act.

Even Germany’s highly regarded political magazine, Der Spiegel, carried the story. Spiegel means mirror and Lisa Hanna’s image was held up to public scrutiny: “Debatte in Jamaika: Wie sexy darf sich eine Ministerin zeigen?” (Debate in Jamaica: How sexy may a Minister present herself?). Thanks to my friend Ellen Koehlings, co-editor of Germany’s reggae/dancehall magazine, Riddim, for that translation.

I decided to keep out of the non-debate. Then, out of the blue, a conspiracy theory came unto me like an urgent message from a gossiping angel. These were not glad tidings of great joy. The ratings of the Government are so low, Lisa’s lovely legs were let loose in cyberspace as a deliberate distraction. It was a lust for power, a plot to keep us talking about foolishness instead of important social and political issues.

Just think about it. Class prejudice has been vulgarly displayed at the West Kingston commission of enquiry. The downtown witnesses don’t always understand the uptown language of the commission. I also wonder if any soldiers and police are going to be put in the witness box to be interrogated by the public defender.

Then the prime minister has failed to discipline the minister of health and the chairman of the National Housing Trust. It’s just business as usual. Despite all the calls for the resignation of both men, the prime minister has turned a deaf ear. She must be taking a leaf out of Eric Williams’ book. As prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Williams would shut off his hearing aid when he couldn’t be bothered to listen to his critics.

MALE SEX OBJECTS

I don’t suppose the legs of Ronnie Thwaites, Bobby Pickersgill, Peter Phillips, Raymond Pryce, Fenton Ferguson and Lloyd B. Smith, for example, would have excited lust. In general, Jamaican men don’t do well as sex objects. What is good for the goose is not always good for the gander. Men expect women to be buff. But they don’t usually consider it essential to keep themselves fit.

sexObject01Perhaps, Mikael Phillips, Peter Bunting, Julian Robinson and Wykeham McNeill might have stood a chance in the best-PNP-legs contest. But I don’t know if they’ve had much experience in the sex-object business. So female legs were the right choice. But whose?

I think we would all agree that it would have been far too immodest for the prime minister to parade her legs in public. And I haven’t seen the leggy attributes of Ms Denise Daley, the Hon. Natalie Neita-Headley or the Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams. So I don’t know how well they would have stood up on the hot legs platform.

Of all the female PNP parliamentarians, Lisa Hanna obviously has the best legs. So she became the chosen vessel. That’s why the picture was posted via the ministry’s Twitter account. It was official business. As a former Miss World, Ms Hanna has had lots of experience showing off herself. Shes comfortable in the role of sex object. She knows she’s hot and she’s not afraid to blaze a fire. Lust comes with the territory.

SINFUL SEXUAL DESIRE

There’s not a thing wrong with honest, old-fashioned lust. That word has a most unfortunate history. Originally, its meanings were perfectly respectable. Lust was simply desire, appetite, pleasure; sensuous appetite. A lust for life! Its the translators of the Bible who are to blame for making lust sinful.

In 17th century English, the biblical expression, lusts of the flesh, turned the pleasures of the body into something quite dirty. And it wasn’t just sexual passion. I John 2:16, King James Version, declares: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world”.

In Fundamentalist Christian Jamaica, Lisa Hanna’s hot picture certainly excited lust of the eyes. But the passionate intensity of some of the self-righteous judges who called down damnation on her head makes me suspicious. Could it be that underneath all the apparent disgust there was actually quite a lot of pleasure in the view?

images-1Take for instance S. Hare, whose letter to the editor was published in The Gleaner on Friday, December 26: “The saga of Lisa Hanna’s bikini is thought-provoking, and one must ask, what’s next? A picture of her posing in her lingerie going to bed”? How did Hare get from bikini to lingerie? And did the provoking thoughts stop there? Once you get to bed, the next logical step is . . .

Desire is a very slippery slope. The real issue isn’t that innocent photo. It’s the fundamental hypocrisy of those conflicted souls who both disdain and crave the lusts of the flesh. And as for that damning conspiracy theory! The Government’s sinful plot is only a short-term fix. Not a lasting pleasure!