FLOW Have Nerve A Raise Price

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

FLOW+2012+NEW+LOGOIt look like seh Garfield Sinclair lik im head. Im a di man in charge a FLOW Jamaica. Im no see seh di bigger boss dem fi Liberty Global, weh own FLOW, a gi im basket fi carry water? Seh dem waan mek more money offa wi. Di amount a customer weh a bawl bout FLOW bad service! An Liberty Global coulda a set fi wi, a plan fi raise price? No sah! Nutten couldn’t go so.

Mek mi tek dat back. Nutten shouldn’t go so. But dem have di handle an wi have di blade. So dem can do anyting dem waan. An nobody cyaan do nutten bout it. Yes, wi can switch to Digicel. Ih-ih? Oonu no hear seh Digicel owe so much money dem a look money fi borrow fi pay off di money dem owe? Debt top a debt. Digicel cyaan help demself, much more wi. Dem a raise fi dem price to. Watch out! No better pork; no better barrel.

Mi waan know wa Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) a do bout FLOW an Digicel. An by di way, mi no work fi OUR. Mi tired fi people a email mi a complain bout FLOW an Digicel. All mi can do a write bout it. Oonu fi email OUR. An call dem. An carry on bad. Oonu fi go demonstrate outside a OUR office. Mek dem know seh oonu serious. Oonu waan justice!

Hear wa smaddy email an tell mi last week. Im seh FLOW gi im bout 2 week notice seh dem a go raise dem phone rate from $2.99 to $3.99. Digicel gi im 2 day notice seh dem a go raise fi dem rate from $2.95 to $3.95. Oonu see seh FLOW an Digicel a sing di same Sankey!

 

MI NO SORRY FI DEM

 

Den ascorden to one Gleaner article weh publish pon May 17, ‘FLOW Jamaica hikes cable rates amid losses’. FLOW lost 533 million dollar fi di first three month a disya year. Mi no know a weh dem go put down dat deh whole heap a money careless mek dem go lost di whole a it. Mi no sorry fi dem. A wi mi sorry fa. FLOW a depend pon wi fi gi dem back all a di money weh dem lost. Anyting coulda go so? A no wi response.

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Mek mi tell oonu bout fi mi FLOW cable service. Mi cyaan even get TVJ! Most a di programme dem mi waan watch off di air. Yu see all Stephen Colbert show. Dat a one wicked comedy show. A pure politics im deal wid. When im done wid di poppyshow weh a gwaan eena Merica, yu weak. Talk bout tek bad tings mek joke! Dat deh channel, 123, gawn. Mi ha fi a wait so til next morning fi ketch Colbert pon di Internet.

An a no like seh FLOW a cut dem price fi mek up fi all a di channel dem weh gawn. Dem a raise di price. Dem no ha no conscience. John Crow nyam it out. So now, wi ha fi go pay more fi less? If FLOW tink seh dem a lost money now, mek dem wait so til wi go pon strike an stop buy dem bandooloo cable service. A den dem a go lost money. Mi can get TVJ fi nutten. Mek FLOW gweh! Garry Sinclair better tell di higher heads seh wi tired a di advantage tecking. FLOW ha fi do better dan dis. Or wi go a block dem up!

 

PRAPA-PRAPA SPELIN

 

It luk laik se Garfield Sinclair lik im ed. Im a di man in chaaj a FLOW Jamaica. Im no si se di biga baas dem fi Liberty Global, we uon FLOW, a gi im baaskit fi kyari waata? Se dem waahn mek muor moni aafa wi. Di amount a kostama we a baal bout FLOW bad sorvis! An Liberty Global kuda a set fi wi, a plan fi riez prais? Nuo sa! Notn kudn go so.

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Mek mi tek dat bak. Notn shudn go so. Bot dem av di angl an wi av di blied. So dem kyahn du eniting dem waahn. An nobadi kyaahn du notn bout it. Yes, wi kyahn swich tu Digicel. Ihn-ihn? Unu no ier se Digicel uo so moch moni, dem a luk moni fi bara fi pie aaf di moni dem uo? Det tap a det. Digicel kyaahn elp demself, moch muor wi. Dem a riez fi dem prais tu. Wach out! No beta puok; no beta baril.

Mi waahn nuo wa Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) a du bout FLOW an Digicel. An bai di wie, mi no wok fi di OUR. Mi taiyad fi piipl a iimiel mi a komplien bout FLOW an Digicel. Aal mi kyahn du a rait bout it. Unu fi iimiel OUR. An kaal dem. An kyari aan bad. Unu fi go demanschriet outsaid a OUR afis. Mek dem nuo se unu siiriyos. Unu waahn jostis!

Ier wa smadi iimiel an tel mi laas wiik. Im se FLOW gi im bout 2 wiik notis se dem a go riez dem fuon riet from $2.99 to $3.99. Digicel gi im 2 die notis se dem a go riez fi dem riet fram $2.95 tu $3.95. Unu si se FLOW an Digicel a sing di siem Sankey!

 

MI NO SARI FI DEM

 

Den azkaadn tu wan Gleaner aatikl we poblish pan Mie 17, ‘FLOW Jamaica hikes cable rates amid losses’. FLOW laas 533 milyan dala fi di fos chrii mont a disya ier. Mi no nuo a we dem go put dong dat de uol iip a moni kielis mek dem go laas di uol a it. Mi no sari fi dem. A wi mi sari fa. FLOW a dipen pan wi fi gi dem bak aal a di moni we dem laas. Enting kuda go so? A no wi rispans.

tvjMek mi tel unu bout fi mi FLOW kiebl sorvis. Mi kyaahn iivn get TVJ! Muos a di pruogram dem mi waahn wach aaf di ier. Yu si aal Stephen Colbert shuo. Dat a wan wikid kamidi shuo. A pyuur palitiks im diil wid. Wen im don wid di papishuo we a gwaahn iina Merika, yu wiik. Taak bout tek bad tings mek juok! Dat de chanel, 123, gaan. Mi a fi a wiet so til neks maanin fi kech Colbert shuo pan di Intanet.

An a no laik se FLOW a kot dem prais fi mek op fi aal a di chanel dem we gaan. Dem a riez di prais. Dem no a no kanshens. Jangkro nyam it out. So nou, wi a fi go pie muor fi les? If FLOW tingk se dem a laas moni nou, mek dem wiet so til wi go pan schraik an stap bai dem banduulu kiebl sorvis. A den dem a go laas moni. Mi kyan get TVJ fi notn. Mek FLOW gwe! Garry Sinclair beta tel di aiya edz se wi taiyad a di advaantij tekin. FLOW a fi du beta dan dis. Aar wi a go blak dem op!

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

FLOW Has Nerve To Raise Prices

It seems as if Garfield Sinclair isn’t thinking straight.  He’s the man in charge of FLOW Jamaica. Can’t he see that his superiors at Liberty Global, who own FLOW, are asking him to do the impossible? Insisting that they want to make more off us.  There are so many customers complaining about FLOW’s bad service! And Liberty Global could actually be targetting us for a price increase? No sir! That simply couldn’t be true.

Let me take that back. That shouldn’t be true. But they have the handle and we have the blade. So they can do whatever they want. An nobody can do a thing about it. Yes, we can switch to Digicel. Really? Haven’t you heard that  Digicel is so deep in debt they’re trying to borrow more money to pay off their debts?   Debt on top of debt. Digicel can’t help themselves, let alone us. They are raising prices too. Watch out! We’re stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea.

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I’d like to know what the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) is doing bout FLOW and Digicel. And by the way, I don’t work for the OUR. I’m tired of getting emails  complaining about FLOW and Digicel. All I can do is write about it. You all have to email the OUR. And call them. And make a lot of noise. And demonstrate outside the OUR office. Let them know you’re serious. You want justice!

Here’s an email I got last week. The writer said FLOW gave him  about 2 weeks notice that  the phone rate was going to be raised from $2.99 to $3.99. Digicel gave him 2 days notice that their rate was going up from $2.95 to $3.95. You can see that FLOW and Digicel are singing the same tune!

 

I’M NOT SORRY FOR THEM

 

Then according to a Gleaner article published on May 17, ‘FLOW Jamaica hikes cable rates amid losses’. FLOW lost 533 million dollars in the first quarter of this year. I don’t know where they could have carelessly placed all that money so that they’ve lost all of it. I’m not sorry for them. I’m sorry for us. FLOW is depending on us to get back all the money they’ve  lost. How can that be? We’re not responsible.

Let me tell you about my FLOW cable service. I can’t even get TVJ! Most of the programmes I want to watch are off the air. For example, the Stephen Colbert show. That’s a  wicked comedy.  He deals with just politics. When he’s done with all the nonsense that’s going on in the U.S, you’re weak. Talk about making fun of a bad situation! That channel, 123, gone. I have to wait until the next morning to catch Colbert on the Internet.

2012021556no_to_conscience-crAnd FLOW isn’t giving price cuts to compensate for all the missing channels. They’re hiking prices. They  have no conscience.  It’s completely eaten away. So now, we have to pay more for less? If FLOW thinks they’re losing money now, let them wait  until we go on strike and stop buying their erratic cable service. That’s when they’re going to lose money. I can get TVJ for free. Later for FLOW! Garry Sinclair had better tell his bosses that we’re tired of being exploited. FLOW has to do better than this. Or we’re going to block them up!

 

FLOW’s stagnant channels

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Last January, I wrote a column with the headline ‘FLOW + LIME = minus zero’. One of the most humorous responses was this: “Your LIME/FLOW equation must be the most accurate since Einstein’s famous solution!” What Albert Einstein discovered is that energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. And so his revolutionary equation: E=mc2.

You don’t have to be a genius like Einstein to know that something is fundamentally wrong with phone service in Jamaica today. The energy it takes to make a simple call is massive. And you certainly can’t do it at the speed of light. There is nobody I know who is not having some sort of trouble with telephone and Internet ‘service’.

For the last month or so, my old LIME line has been out of commission. First, there was a terrible, crackling sound when the phone was answered. If I was lucky, I could figure out who it was and ask the person to call back on my FLOW line. After a few days, even the crackling stopped. Complete silence!

I’ve called that dead number several times just to see what happens. The phone rings and then you get the voicemail prompt. But LIME voicemail is a thing of the past. I keep getting this recording, “This number does not subscribe to a voice mailbox service. Please try your call again later.”

I did subscribe to this service for which LIME charged a fee. But the service has been withdrawn without explanation. I would call 958-5858 to retrieve calls as usual and the number would be constantly busy. And when I call my LIME number on my FLOW phone, I can hear that the phone is not, in fact, ringing! There’s no service. No calls out; no calls in.

WHITE DOG FOR MONKEY

As for FLOW’s cable service! One-third of the channels, I occasionally watch have not been available for quite some time – including TVJ. What appears on the screen is this message: “Temporarily off the air. Please check back later. …” I just love that ellipsis, those three dots which mean that there is an omission of words.

punctuation-marks-ellipses

This is how Wikipedia defines an ellipsis: “Depending on their context and placement in a sentence, ellipses can indicate an unfinished thought, a leading statement, a slight pause, an echoing voice, or a nervous or awkward silence. Aposiopesis is the use of an ellipsis to trail off into silence – for example: ‘But I thought he was …’ When placed at the beginning or end of a sentence, the ellipsis can also inspire a feeling of melancholy or longing.”

Well, I’m definitely feeling melancholic about those suspended channels. I’m longing for them to come back. But it looks as if that’s not going to happen any time soon. I’m paying for a service I’m no longer getting. It’s on-air robbery. And it seems as if FLOW feels absolutely no melancholy about cutting off these channels.

There’s just awkward silence. FLOW is offering no discount on the fee it charges for its stagnant channels. It’s quite a stink. The problems are widespread in my neighbourhood. And there’s nothing we can do about it. Except to switch to Digicel. And that’s swopping white dog for monkey, as I’ve been hearing. Same old problems!

MURKY DEALINGS

Then one of the edgy comedies I watch now and then, Modern Family, is no longer available. What comes up is this message:

“Dear Customer,

Due to broadcast restrictions, we are unable to air the current program on this channel. Please check your local listing to determine the availability of this program on another channel. Thank you for understanding.”

modern-familyThe modern families include a male couple parenting a little girl. Did one of our right-wing Christian groups lobby the Broadcasting Commission to take the show off the air? I could almost hear the fire and brimstone consuming Sodom and Gomorrah. But the restrictions had nothing to do with the commission.

During a call to FLOW last week, I was told that they do not have the broadcasting rights for the programme. Had FLOW been illegally selling a service all along for which it had no rights? What kind of murky dealings was the company engaged in?

And FLOW needs to come clean about all those stagnant channels. They are not temporarily off the air. Well, it depends on how FLOW defines temporary. For me, a day or two is temporary. Not an entire month. It looks as if these channels will not be flowing any time soon.

There’s another mess FLOW needs to clean up. More than a month ago, one of those huge backhoes tore down electricity and cable lines in my neighbourhood. Within a day, electricity was restored; and, soon after, cable service. But the old cable wire is still lying in the street. There must be at least 200 feet of cable. Why has FLOW not bothered to remove the waste? It’s not a good sign.

Unlike so many of my neighbours, I’ve not had too many problems with Internet service. I’ve been very lucky. It should not be a matter of luck. Consumers should get what we pay for. All the time! But it did strike me that after posting this . . .

Time to ban Styrofoam containers

12657408_1548330095477145_2094982700033069835_oLast month, I took part in a cleanup of the beach along the Palisadoes strip. There were about 50 of us and we collected 60 huge bags of garbage in just about two hours. We left the toilet and microwave oven that someone had deposited on the beach. What kind of person would do a thing like that?

I was really surprised at the amount of Styrofoam littering the beach. There were clean white plates that looked as if they had recently blown away before use. And then there was a whole heap of dirty Styrofoam that must have been left ages ago. A total mess.

Styrofoam is the brand name of a petroleum-based plastic that does not biodegrade. It breaks apart into bits and pieces that keep getting smaller and smaller until they turn to dust. But Styrofoam doesn’t disappear. It lingers on and on for centuries! That’s no exaggeration. You just can’t get rid of it.

So-called ‘disposable’ Styrofoam food and drink containers are not actually disposable. They are disposable only because they are thrown away after a single use. What a waste! Just think how many Styrofoam containers we dash weh every single day in Jamaica. And where do they go? To the dump, taking up valuable space.

Masses of Styrofoam containers also get away into the sea. Fish eat the Styrofoam. And we end up eating the fish. We might as well gobble down the Styrofoam container along with the food. Because the Styrofoam is already in the food chain!

DUPPY WHISPERER

I keep thinking of the good old days of the ‘shut pan’. Or ‘shet’ pan. The Dictionary of Jamaican English describes it this way: “A vessel of tin or other thin metal, cylindrical, with a cover having a flange that usually fits inside the upper edge and makes a tight closure; the cover frequently has a small fixed handle. The shut pan is chiefly used to carry food.”

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Note chiefly! The Dictionary states that the shut pan was also used to catch duppies. Seriously! Talking of which, mi nearly dead wid laugh the night I went to see Patrick Brown’s ‘Duppy Whisperer’ at Centerstage. It was a benefit performance for my friend Scarlette Beharie, a vibrant theatre practitioner fighting Stage Four cancer. Scarlette made a brief appearance and told us to enjoy the show despite the serious cause. And we certainly did.

Before the play started, I got into a little situation with the mother of young woman whose hairstyle was blocking my view of the stage. She had natural hair, swept up and out into a huge ball. It was like an Afro on steroids. I gently told her that her inconsiderate hairstyle really wasn’t appropriate for the theatre, especially our makeshift venues that are not purpose-built.

The rows are all on the same level instead of being graded. And the seats are not staggered. You look directly into the ‘head back’ of the person in front of you, rather than to the side. The mother was unimpressed by my frankness and told me I was against her daughter’s hair because it was natural! I was lucky to be able to switch seats.

CONSTANT WASTE

The shut pan for food, not duppies, was an excellent idea. It was certainly not disposable. There was no constant waste of containers. The pans had compartments stacked on top of each other that allowed food items to be kept separate. I’m not sure how these shut pans came to Jamaica. It may have been via India where they are known as tiffin boxes.

bombay-tiffin-250x250The old-time shut pan is no longer in fashion. But there are new models all over on websites like Amazon. Instead of buying cooked meals served in Styrofoam, why can’t we carry our own reusable food containers to takeaway restaurants?

Another option is to replace Styrofoam with biodegradable containers made from materials like sugar cane, wheat and corn. These are much more expensive than the cheap plastic products. But the cheapest almost always turns out to be the dearest.

There was a local company that used to manufacture truly disposable containers, facilitated by a government subsidy on imported materials. But the subsidy was cut and the cost of making the ecofriendly products was just too high. And that was the end of that.

NUH DUTTY UP JAMAICA

The Palisadoes cleanup was organised by the Japan International Corporate Agency (JICA), in partnership with the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) and the ‘Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica’ campaign. Cleverly billed as ‘Garbie Walkie’, the cleanup combined exercise and public service. We had a lot of fun.

As I was leaving the beach, I heard a woman say, “I don’t want to use Styrofoam ever again!” She admitted that she couldn’t say she absolutely wouldn’t. Sometimes you just don’t have a choice. Supermarkets pack fruits and vegetables in Styrofoam containers. But if enough of us decide we’re not going to buy products packed in Styrofoam, things will change. Consumers do have power.

NDUJ_logo_AW-01And as for the campaign to stop duttying up Jamaica! It’s an uphill battle to persuade some people that garbage is everybody’s business. They think that when they fling rubbish out of a bus or car, it’s no longer their problem. They are so short-sighted. That’s how you end up with a toilet on the beach. Pure crap!

FLOW + LIME = Minus Zero

Robocall-02On Christmas morning, a telephone call woke me up at 5 a.m. It was FLOW reminding me that payment of my monthly bill was overdue. It must have been a robocall from a very badly programmed robot. No self-respecting human being would call anyone that early on Christmas morning to run down money. Mi just kiss mi teeth and go back to sleep.

This kind of insensitivity is typical of the new FLOW or the old LIME. As people out a road say, all FLOW means is ‘Following LIME’s Old Ways’. And LIME was well sour. So the marriage of LIME and FLOW is nothing but double trouble.

Proverbial wisdom warns that ‘marriage have teeth’. I like to add, “and bite hot”. But I know there’s another side to this seemingly cynical piece of advice. Cleverly used teeth can give lots of pleasure, not pain. It’s all about technique. A cold, hard bite or an edgy, hot caress!

HIGHWAY ROBBERY

In the case of the marriage of LIME and FLOW is pure hot and painful biting for customers. I suppose the merger was a win-win deal for the two companies. Dem must know why dem married. Love of money. But I’m really not concerned about the effect of the marriage on the primary partners. Dem can nyam up demself for all I care.

All the same, to think that Cable & Wireless started off as a monopoly, gouging out the eyes of defenceless consumers. And now it has lost even its name to a former competitor! It just goes to show. I can still remember the days when we used to have to beg and beg and beg Cable & Wireless to get a landline. We had to plead for the privilege of paying for the service. It sometimes took years to get a phone.

WhatGoesAround_MarkWard_1000_1_1000And as for mobile phones! Remember when we actually had to pay to receive a call? Both the sender and the receiver got jacked up. It was highway robbery pure and simple. Now, free phone call giving away left, right and centre. Serves Cable & Wireless right! What goes around comes around.

But mi no business wid fi dem business to dat. The real victims of the marriage of LIME and FLOW are the innocent customers of both companies who had no say at all in the transaction. We are the ones who’ve been bitten. Twice. And it’s no honeymoon. We’re stuck with whatever the new FLOW dishes out.

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE

imagesLast Wednesday, I spent almost an hour trying to get information about purchasing an iPhone 6S. According to the FLOW website, the company was offering phones “starting at $7,249.58+GCT with sign-up of select postpaid plans”. This seemed too good to be true. My ancient iPhone 4, a gift from LIME, cost 10 times that. The price of nothing goes down in Jamaica. So I wondered if the postpaid plans cost an arm and a leg.

The FLOW website lists 16 stores where the phone can be bought. But not one single phone number. How strange! A telecommunications company that refuses to communicate with customers by phone! So I went to the online Yellow Pages.

There were numbers for the corporate offices and for the customer care centre. Don’t get me started on ‘customer care’. The system takes you through a long list of automated questions until, finally, after waiting and waiting and waiting you actually get the chance to talk to an agent.

TOTAL FRUSTRATION

On the Yellow Pages site, I did find telephone numbers for some FLOW stores. The single page of numbers is headed ‘FLOW DEALER LOCATIONS cont’d’. Continued from where? Nothing comes before the continuation. Does nobody at FLOW realise that the Yellow Pages listing is messed up?

imagesUnfortunately for me, the ‘continued’ list of five Kingston stores did not include a single location that sold the iPhone 6S. In total frustration, I decided to call the corporate offices to complain. The operator said she couldn’t put me through to the CEO’s office. I bit my tongue. I called back a little later and was permitted to leave my name and number.

I did get a voicemail message from the CEO’s office, but when I returned the call, the person who had called me was not in office. So I called back Thursday morning. I had no luck getting through. I just gave up. Buying a phone shouldn’t be so much trouble.

BAIT AND SWITCH

The only alternative to the new FLOW is, of course, Digicel. Salesmen from the company were in my neighbourhood recently trying to persuade me to switch. They were offering lower rates than FLOW for three months. Quite frankly, I was sceptical. This sounded like swopping white dog for monkey! Digicel’s rates would probably increase way past FLOW’s soon after I took the bait and switched.

Then Digicel is purchasing its off-island capacity to provide Internet service from FLOW! So FLOW and Digicel are not competitors. They’re sweethearts. We’re getting screwed in the polygamous marriage between LIME, FLOW and Digicel. Jamaican consumers deserve much better than to be bitten by all of those teeth.

Captain Boycott Loses War Against Poor People

IrelandBoycottCharles Boycott, the son of an Anglican priest, was a most unfortunate man. He’s the brand name for a very effective type of social protest. But he was on the wrong side of the struggle. Boycott was born in England in 1832 and served in the British Army. After retiring, he worked as a Iand agent in Ireland. Lord Erne, an Anglo-Irish peer, politician and absentee landlord, employed Boycott to manage his estate.

In 1880, harvests were very poor so Erne reduced his tenants’ rent by 10 per cent. But they were not satisfied and demanded reduction to 25 per cent. Erne refused. Boycott tried to evict 11 protesters. When word got out, the tenants took action.

They were guided by the advice of Charles Stewart Parnell, an Irish landlord with a conscience. He was the first president of the Irish National Land League, founded in 1879. Their mission was to advocate for land reform: reducing extortionate rents, ensuring that tenants could not be unfairly evicted and enabling tenant farmers to purchase land.

Parnell recommended that when tenants took farms from which others had been evicted, the newcomers should be isolated. No violence; just leave them severely alone. Parnell’s tactic was first used against Captain Boycott. Workers went on strike.   Local suppliers of goods and services declined to do business with Boycott. Even the postman stopped delivering mail.

Boycott couldn’t get anyone to harvest the crops and, in the end, 50 members of the Protestant Orange Order volunteered to do the reaping. Even though there was no threat of violence, they were escorted by 1,000 police and soldiers. The cost of protection was much more than the value of the crops. It would have been cheaper to just give the tenants the 25 per cent reduction in rent.

BANISHING POLITICIANS

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James Redpath

Boycott’s name soon entered the English language, both as a verb and a noun. James Redpath, a journalist with the New York Tribune who went to Ireland to cover the Boycott story, was the first to use the new word in the international media. In an article published in the Magazine of Western History, Redpath tells how the word was coined:

“I was dining with Father John O’Malley and he asked me why I was not eating. I said that I was bothered about a word. ‘What is it?’ asked Father John. ‘Well’, I said ‘when a people ostracize a landgrabber we call it excommunication, but we ought to have an entirely different word to signify ostracism applied to a landlord or land agent like Boycott. Ostracism won’t do. The peasantry would not know the meaning of the word, and I can’t think of anything.’ ‘No,’ Father John said, ‘ostracism wouldn’t do.’ He looked downward, tapped his forehead, and then out it came. “How would it do to call it ‘to boycott him?’”

The rejected word ‘ostracism’ wouldn’t have been all that difficult for the peasantry to understand if they had been educated about its origin. It comes from the Greek word ‘ostrakon’, meaning ‘tile’. The Online Etymology Dictionary notes that ostracism was “a method of 10-year banishment in ancient Athens, by which the citizens gathered and each wrote on a potsherd or tile the name of a man they deemed dangerous to the liberties of the people, and a man whose name turned up often enough was sent away”.  Pity we can’t banish some of our politicians in this way.

EMOTIONAL ABOUT REPARATIONS

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Jamaican hybrid

There were some amusing responses to my column last week, “Time to Boycott Britain!” BobbieP wrote, “And to get this Boycott off to a smashing start, Carolyn Cooper has just announced that tomorrow she will publically [sic] demolish her prized British Jaguar sports car using a sledge hammer! From now on, she will only drive an authentically Jamaican vehicle, a pushcart. Now that is putting your money where your mouth is, Carolyn!”

I decided to respond: “Tata Motors, an Indian company, owns Jaguar. And I don’t drive one. But facts don’t matter when people get emotional about issues like reparations”. BobbieP wasn’t the least bit fazed by his/her errors.   S/he gave a half-hearted ‘sorry’ and then pressed along mocking the proposed boycott:

“Sorry for my mistake, Carolyn. I was positive that was a Jag you were driving at UWI. Jaguar may me [sic] owned by Tata, but it is still headquartered in England. Designed and built in England. If you want us to get serious about this Boycott, you need to come up with a more robust definition of ‘British’. Even the Queen isn’t British, [sic] her family is actually German! Most major brands are now owned by multinational corporations, so your simple rule about ownership won’t work”.

Even in an age of multinational corporations, my supposedly ‘simple rule about ownership’ has validity. Take, for instance, the case of the Volkswagen Group. Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Audi, Porsche, SEAT, Škoda and Volkswagen are all owned by the company, which has both automotive and financial services divisions. The company operates in approximately 150 countries and has 100 production facilities across 27 countries. VW has two major joint ventures in China.

As a result of the recent diesel emissions scandal, there have been calls to boycott VW. Consumers understand their collective power. And they know what ownership means. It’s a pity some of us can’t ‘own’ the right to reparations.