Never Mind Yaw, Novelette!

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

No teck it personal, mi dear! Di man dem no ready. Dem no waan no woman commissioner. Dem no have di balls fi dat. It look like seh dem fraid woman a go put dem out a commission. Dem done know seh nuff time, di best ‘man’ fi di job a one woman. An it stick inna dem craw. Dem cyaan tek it. Wi gweh ha fi go wait one long long time fi one woman turn commissioner a police inna disya country.

Novlette-But yu set di pace an wi proud a yu. A no fi yu fault mek yu no get di work. Yu do everyting yu suppose fi do. Yu go a university. Yu study hard. Yu pass all a yu exam dem. Yu join police force becau yu know eena yu heart a heart seh yu can do di work. Yu understand di system. From top to bottom!

Ongle ting, yu never born wid no baton. Sake a dat, yu can form like seh yu a commissioner. Yu can act good-good. But dem nah gi yu di real-real commissioner work. Wat a piece a liberty! An plenty a di man dem weh born wid baton, dem cyaan do di work good like yu!

Dem tek woman fi eedyat! Dem tink seh dem can fool wi up. An wi no know wa a gwaan. Di lickle acting work nah hold wi. Wi done know how dat go. A consolation prize. A con dem a try con wi. Dem gi yu consolation before dem tek weh di big prize. Dat a after dem done build yu up, mek yu feel seh yu well qualify fi di work. If it fly go a yu head, yu all figet seh yu no got no nightstick. Yu start tink seh yu have a chance.

‘BET ON NOVELETTE’

All Gleaner get ketch! Pon February 19, dem publish one front-page story wid disya big-big headline, ‘Bet on Novelette – Acting police commissioner poised to be appointed to lead the force full-time’. A no Caymanas Park wi deh! Dis a no horse race. Dis a police work. Wi no ha fi a bet! Yu well qualify fi di job an yu suppose fi get it. Anyhow, hear wa smaddy tell Gleaner wid dem goat mouth:

“‘Ms Grant was appointed to act in the post but it appears that it was a test run and she has passed with flying colours,” one source told our news team.

“‘She has always enjoyed the respect of her colleagues, but in the time she has been acting she has convinced most persons that she has the mojo for the job.'”

mojo-header-logo-080310-dr

Well, Ms Novelette, yu mighta got ‘mojo’. Dat a one African word fi obeah. But still for all, yu no got no baton. An di way di ting set, fi yu obeah cyaan beat di man dem inna disya time. Dem got big stick over yu.

Mi glad fi si seh di woman organisation dem big yu up eena one letter weh Gleaner publish last week Tuesday: ‘Women laud Novelette Grant’. Dem seh, “As a woman who is one of the highest-ranking officers in a traditional male-dominated organisation, the JCF, yours is without a doubt a monumental achievement, and we hold you in the highest regard.”

A no ongle woman ‘laud’ yu, Ms Grant. Nuff man wid conscience know seh yu well deserve di commissioner work. Yu coulda more dan manage it. Never mind, yaw! Time longer dan rope.

PRAPA-PRAPA SPELIN

No tek it porsnal, mi dier! Di man dem no redi. Dem no waahn no uman komishana. Dem no av di baalz fi dat. It luk laik se dem fried uman a go put dem out a komishan. Dem don nuo se nof taim, di bes ‘man’ fi di jab a wan uman. An it stik ina dem kraa. Dem kyaahn tek it. Wi gwehn a fi go wiet wan lang-lang taim fi wan uman tun komishana a poliis ina disya konchri.

Bot yu set di pies an wi proud a yu. A no fi yu faalt mek yu no get di wok. Yu du evriting yu sopuoz fi du. Yu go a yuunivorsiti. Yu stodi aad. Yu paas aal a yu egzam dem. Yu jain poliis fuors bikaa yu nuo iina yu aat a aat se yu kyahn du di wok. Yu andastan di sistim. Fram tap tu batam!

Ongl ting, yu neva baahn wid no batan. Siek a dat, yu kyahn faam laik se yu a komishana. Yu kyahn ak gud-gud. Bot dem naa gi yu di riil-riil komishana wok. Wat a piis a libati! An plenti a di man dem we baahn wid batan, dem kyaahn du di wok gud laik yu!

Dem tek uman fi iidyat! Dem tingk se dem kyahn fuul wi op. An wi no nuo wa a gwaahn. Di likl aktin wok naa uol wi. Wi don nuo ou dat go. A kansolieshan praiz. A kan dem a chrai kan wi. Dem gi yu kansolieshan bifuor dem tek we di big praiz. Dat a aafta dem don bil yu op, mek yu fiil se yu wel kwalifai fi di wok. If it flai go a yu ed, yu aal figet se yu no gat no naitstik. Yu staat tingk se yu av a chaans.

‘BET ON NOVELETTE’

laughing-goat

Aal Gleaner get kech! Pan Febieri 19, dem poblish wan front-piej stuori wid disya big-big edlain, ‘Bet on Novelette – Acting police commissioner poised to be appointed to lead the force full time’. A no Caymanas Park wi de! Dis a no aas ries. Dis a polis wok. Wi no a fi a bet! Yu wel kwalifai fi di jab an yu supuoz fi get it. Eniou, ier wa smadi tel Gleaner wid dem guot mout:

“‘Ms Grant was appointed to act in the post but it appears that it was a test run and she has passed with flying colours,’ one source told our news team.

“‘She has always enjoyed the respect of her colleagues, but in the time she has been acting she has convinced most persons that she has the mojo for the job.'”

mojo+2Wel, Ms Novelette, yu maita gat ‘mojo’. Dat a wan Afrikan wod fi uobia. Bot stil far aal, yu no got no batan. An di wie di ting set, fi yu uobia kyaahn biit di man dem ina dis ya taim. Dem gat big stik uova yu.

Mi glad fi si se di uman aaganazieshan dem big yu op iiina wan leta we Gleaner poblish laas wiik Chuuzde: ‘Women laud Novelette Grant’.

Dem se, “As a woman who is one of the highest-ranking officers in a traditional male-dominated organisation, the JCF, yours is without a doubt a monumental achievement, and we hold you in the highest regard.”

A no ongl uman ‘laud’ yu, Ms Grant. Nof man wid kanshens nuo se yu wel disorv di komishana wok. Yu kuda muor dan manij it. Neva main, yaa! Taim langa dan ruop.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

NEVER MIND, YOU HEAR, NOVELETTE!

Don’t take it personally, my dear! The men are just not ready. They don’t want a female commissioner. They don’t have the balls for it. It seems as if they’re afraid women are going to put them out of commission. They do know that lots of times, the best ‘man’ for the job is woman. And they can’t get over it. They just can’t deal with it. We’re going to have to wait a very long time for a woman to become the commissioner of police in this country.

But you set the pace and we’re proud of you. It’s not your fault you didn’t get the job. You did everything you were supposed to. You went to university. You studied hard. You passed all your exams. You joined the police force because you knew deep down that you were qualified to do the job. You understand the system. From top to bottom!

thThe only issue is you weren’t born with a baton. So you can pretend as if you’re a commissioner. You can act very well. But they’re not going to appoint you as commissioner. That’s just outrageous! And lots of the men who were born with a baton can’t do the job as well as you!

They think women are idiots! They think they can trick and we won’t know be any the wiser.  The acting job won’t cut it. We know what that’s about. It’s a consolation prize. They’re trying to con us. They gave you consolation before you lost the main prize. That’s after they sang your praises and made you think you were very well qualified for the job. If you made it go to your head, you would even forget that you don’t have a nightstick. You would start to think that you really stood a chance.

‘BET ON NOVELETTE’

Even the Gleaner was caught out! On February 19, they published a front-page story with this huge headline, ‘Bet on Novelette – Acting police commissioner poised to be appointed to lead the force full-time’. We’re not at Caymanas Park! This isn’t a horse race. It’s police work. We don’t have to be betting! You are well qualified for the job and and you’re supposed to get it. Anyhow, here’s what a source told the Gleaner, putting a jinx on you:

10-flying-colours-logo.jpg“‘Ms Grant was appointed to act in the post but it appears that it was a test run and she has passed with flying colours,” one source told our news team.

“‘She has always enjoyed the respect of her colleagues, but in the time she has been acting she has convinced most persons that she has the mojo for the job.'”

Well, Ms Novelette, you might have ‘mojo’. That’s an African word for obeah. All the same, you don’t have a baton. And the way things are, your obeah can’t beat the men in these times. They’ve got a big stick over you.

I’m glad that a coalition of women’s organisations honoured in a letter published by the  Gleaner on April 18: ‘Women laud Novelette Grant’.  They said, “As a woman who is one of the highest-ranking officers in a traditional male-dominated organisation, the JCF, yours is without a doubt a monumental achievement, and we hold you in the highest regard.”

It’s not only women who ‘laud’ you, Ms Grant. Many men of conscience know that you truly deserve the job of commissioner. You could have more than managed it. Never mind, you hear! All things in their time.

Chanting down greedy hoteliers

Last week’s post, ‘No Beach For Local Tourists’, touched a very sensitive nerve. I got so many emails from both Jamaicans and other Caribbean citizens who are very concerned about the way in which hoteliers dominate the conversation about public access to our beaches.

crb-24-diana-mcaulay

Diana McCaulay, CEO of the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), highlights this troubling issue of special interests in her excellent article, ‘The Problem of Beach Exclusion’, published in The Gleaner on Wednesday, January 11: “In 1997, the NRCA [National Resources Conservation Authority] began work on a beach policy to address issues surrounding public access and a Green Paper was drafted which proposed open access. There was immediate pushback from the tourism industry”.

Of course, there was pushback! Hoteliers don’t want open access to beaches because this will reduce their control of valuable resources. Their all-exclusive hotels would become much too inclusive for their liking. They want to erect barbed wire fences, stretching into the sea, to keep out the locals.

We cannot sit back passively and allow our beaches to be captured by greedy hoteliers, irresponsible politicians and all those who benefit from the current state of affairs. We have to take action. We, Jamaicans, like to think of ourselves as militant. We boast about our Ashanti warrior heritage. But we don’t always put up a fight for important causes. We need to follow the example of our uncompromising Caribbean neighbours who refuse to be shut out of their beaches.

VIRAL PROTEST

I got an inspiring email from Antigua. Here’s an excerpt. I’ve deleted the name of the hotelier: “A few years ago, [a Jamaican hotelier] tried to get the Government of Antigua and Barbuda to ‘allow’ him to turn one of our most visited and, by far, favourite beaches – among locals and visitors – into a private enclave for his guests. The protests from the locals and nearby residents were not only unrelenting, but in your face. Some of the protests even went viral. He eventually backed away and the Government did not have to intervene … the people with the power had spoken.”

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One of the most outspoken warriors in the fight to keep Caribbean beaches out of the grasp of hoteliers is the Barbadian calypsonian The Mighty Gabby. His 1982 calypso, “Jack”, was a classic piece of throw word confronting Jack Dear, chairman of the Barbados Tourist Board. Dear, who was certainly not dearly beloved, had declared that hotel owners had the right to develop their property up to the waterfront of the island’s beaches.

This is how Gabby launched his counterattack:

“I grow up bathing in seawater

But nowadays dat is bare horror

If I only venture down by the shore

Police telling me Ah can’t bathe no more

Cause Jack don’t want me to bathe on my beach

Jack tell dem to keep me out of reach

Jack tell dem I will never make the grade

Strength and security build barricade

Da can’t happen here in this country

I want Jack to know dat di beach belong to we

Da can’t happen here over my dead body

Tell Jack dat I say dat di beach belong to we”.

Gabby knows that the barricades are all about the tourist dollar. And he’s not prepared to sell his birthright:

“Tourism vital, I can’t deny

But can’t mean more than I and I

My navel string bury right here

But a tourist one could be anywhere

Yet Jack don’t want me to bathe on my beach”.

Gabby’s use of “I and I” is an assertion of Rastafari consciousness. It empowers him to chant down the forces of oppression.

BIG UP WI BEACH

Tourism is now vital to our economies across the Caribbean. But we have to find a way to balance the requirements of the tourist industry and the needs of citizens. We can’t just fence in tourists and fence out locals. Many hoteliers assume that their property is like a cruise ship. And the ship is the destination. But some tourists actually want to escape the all-exclusive prison. They want to meet the people outside the barricades.

Diana McCaulay shows us the way forward: “It is true that harassment is a problem for the tourist industry – or indeed for any visitor to a Jamaican beach. But the response cannot be exclusion. The response has to be commitment to a set of articulated principles – frequent access points; provision of well-managed public beaches, including the requirement for behaviour by beach users that does not present a nuisance or threat to others or to the beach itself”.

thThis week, the Jamaica Environment Trust launches ‘Big Up Wi Beach’ on Facebook. It’s an open forum for debate on beach access and related issues such as beach erosion. Readers are invited to post images of their favourite beaches and to write about their memories of great beach outings.

JET is also developing a petition to the Government advocating a definitive policy on beach access for all Jamaicans. I trust that the Urban Development Corporation will support the petition. I won’t hold my breath. I still haven’t gotten an answer to my email to the director of corporate communications about access to Pearly Beach. And I hope Jamaican musicians will create a song in support of the campaign. Like Gabby, they simply must chant down greedy hoteliers.

Who’s Stuck in Dr Semaj’s Boxes?

unimaginative_by_xrniborI got so many amusing responses to my column, “Mi No Want No Woman Look Mi”, published on March 22. It’s amazing how a hot headline can motivate people to read Jamaican. If I’d even used only the ‘prapa-prapa’ writing system, that wouldn’t have stopped too many readers from trying to figure out what the column was about.

One of the first emails came from an unimaginative man: “Can you please define ageable genkleman (age group)? I fit all other criteria as stipulated in your article. Your response to my question will let me know if I have a chance:=)”. He was not too happy with my answer: “Remember, age is just a number. But you also need a recommendation from your last woman”.

That’s not an original line. It’s from a vintage calypso:

“She tell me to bring a letter from mi last woman

With she signature stating why we done

Bring two passport picture of the woman to

Ah want to know how much children weh she have for you”.

It wasn’t the letter of recommendation that bothered my would-be suitor.   It was my imprecision about ‘ageable’: “You contradict yourself by saying that age is just a number. Your article clearly spoke about an ‘age-able man’”. Yu see mi dying trial! The man picking quarrel with mi already an mi an im no deh. That was the end of that.

‘DI RIGHT SMADDY’

A rather clever man made his “application fi hart occupancy” in Jamaican. And he had no difficulty understanding ‘ageable’. After giving some lovely compliments, he proceeded “to di meat a di matta”, as he put it: “mi a di right smaddy fi look yu. Self praise really anuh good recommendation but mi tink mi a one ‘nice, ageable genkleman’. Mi anuh young bwoy nar old man cau mi a jus fifty-four even dou mi easily look thirty-four.

“Mi did marry one time but mi fine out seh di ooman a Delilah genaration an mi ave fi tek weh miself fast, fast. Mi bun fish-tail wicked so yuh woan ave nuh concern deh so.

images“Mi feel mi can read an write well cau a intallect dem call mi. A one teacha gi mi di name wen mi did deh a primary school because she seh me always a read wen all the odder pickney dem a play. All a mi teeth dem inna mi mout an none a dem nuh ratten. Mi feel mi well qualify fi de position. Please shortlist me an sen mi a email”.

I had to laugh though I wasn’t so happy about the fish-tail burning. A ‘real’ man doesn’t have to call down hellfire on gay men to prove he’s not one of them. But this man did give a good account of himself so I shortlisted him and sent an email. Incidentally, the condition of one’s teeth is a good indicator of overall health. And literacy is a sign of access to a world of books.

SEX FANTASIES

The most elaborate response to my column came from a psychologist, Dr. Leahcim Semaj. He was definitely not putting in an application for my hand or any other body part. In fact, he was casting me into outer darkness – a lonely place of total manlessness. In a guest column published last Sunday, Dr. Semaj prophesied that I would have “a long wait” for a suitable man. Bright!

By the way, I hadn’t said in my column that I was looking man. I was simply stating the desirable qualities of any man who might want to look me. There’s a difference. Mi no want no young boy fi work out mi soul case. An no old man fi go dead pon mi. Dr. Semaj concluded that my desire for an ‘ageable’ man was a sexual fantasy that wasn’t likely to be fulfilled.

The headline of his column was intriguing: “Ageing And Lovesick? Don’t Chase Sex Fantasies”. But what is sex without fantasies? Especially if you’re stuck with a boring partner who is trying to box you in! To be fair to Dr. Semaj, that was not his headline. It was the editor’s. But it did capture the essence of his argument.

imagesThe goodly psychologist constructed some neat little boxes in which he tried to trap young, middle-aged and old people. I was amused to see that, with typical male vanity, Dr. Semaj proposed that women age faster than men. So young boy ends at 35 years of age; but young woman ends at 30. The ‘ageable’ man ranges from 35+ to 50. The female equivalent starts at 30+ and pops down at 45. The old man starts at 50+ and, presumably, keeps going. It’s all over for the old woman at 45.

Dr. Semaj clearly does not take into account the sex appeal of the ‘nice big-woman’. That’s how I was greeted last week by a young-boy ‘ductor leaning out of a Coaster bus. And Dr. Semaj doesn’t distinguish between biological age and chronological age. People age at different rates depending on how well they take care of their teeth.

Dr. Semaj insists that people must ‘stay in dem lane’. Young with young; middle-aged with middle-aged; old with old. Nothing no go so. Sexual desire is unruly. It makes people veer out of lanes.   It’s only Dr. Semaj who’s stuck in his little box.

If Lloyd D’Aguilar Is Right …

imagesLloyd D’Aguilar has become a much-ridiculed character since he was banished from the West Kingston commission of enquiry. In cartoons, editorials and newspaper columns, on talk shows and social media, he’s portrayed as an egomaniac, hungry for attention. All because he stood up for principle!

Admittedly, he not only stood up. He spoke out rather loudly for a very good cause: condemning the “kangaroo court” that’s not likely to hand down justice, in his opinion. D’Aguilar should have tried a lot harder to restrain himself when he saw how the enquiry was set up. But it was never going to be easy.

Before the enquiry even started, D’Aguilar applied for “standing”. This is a legal term meaning recognition of someone’s right to participate in a case because of a clear connection to the matter at hand. As convener of the Tivoli Committee, D’Aguilar seemed eligible for standing.

images-1But he was informed that the decision would not be made until the day of the enquiry. This was a problem. The Tivoli Committee would not have time to prepare witnesses and assure them that their interests would be protected. But there was nothing D’Aguilar could do about this arbitrary ruling.

The Tivoli Committee was, in fact, given standing. But there seems to have been some misunderstanding about exactly who was permitted to speak on behalf of the committee. Miguel Lorne, the attorney employed by the Tivoli Committee, was missing in action at the very start of the enquiry.

I PUT IT TO YOU

In the absence of the committee’s attorney, D’Aguilar exercised what he thought was his right to speak. That was the beginning of the end. In his opening remarks, D’Aguilar raised several pertinent issues. In email correspondence with me, he outlined them: “(1) how to deal with language; (2) rules of evidence; (3) visiting Tivoli; (4) compensation”.

Even the blind can now see that D’Aguilar was absolutely right to raise the issue of language. The legal profession is a secret society. And lawyers speak in code. I put it to you that the language of the law is deliberately designed to be confusing. That is why we have to pay lawyers to translate the code words into everyday language.

In addition, the official ‘everyday’ language of Jamaica is English. But the mother tongue of the majority of Jamaicans is not English. Call it what you like – dialect, Patwa, Creole, Jamaican, ‘chat bad’ – it is a distinct language. Most of the words of this language come from English. But the pronunciation, word order and grammar are not English.

UnknownSo here we have a commission of enquiry that is interrogating witnesses in a language the people don’t understand. And that is justice? Confusing ‘rubble’ with ‘rebel’ is just one of numerous examples of the breakdown of communication between witnesses and interrogators.

When the enquiry resumes, professional translators must be employed to ensure that witnesses completely understand the questions they are asked; and interrogators completely understand the answers they get. Failure to acknowledge Jamaican as an official language of the enquiry is a grave injustice. Speakers of the language are dismissed as social rubble. And they will rebel.

‘A POLITICAL HACK?’

I think it’s really wicked that Lloyd D’Aguilar has been dismissed from the enquiry. He has done so much work to ensure that the enquiry take place at all. When a lot of us shamefully forgot about the massacre of civilians, D’Aguilar and the Tivoli Committee kept the issue alive.

Sir David Simmons, chairman of the commission, cannot possibly understand why D’Aguilar was so disturbed by what he perceived as harassment of witnesses by insensitive attorneys for the security forces. All Simmons can see is an upstart – who is not even a lawyer – daring to challenge his authority.

It was certainly not polite of D’Aguilar to call Simmons “an enemy of the people of Tivoli Gardens” and “a political hack”. Simmons, naturally, took offence. In his own words: “This strikes at the heart of my statutory duty.” But it is also Simmons’ duty to take into account the possibility that D’Aguilar could ‘purge’ himself, as the JDF attorneys wanted him to do. With castor oil, perhaps? D’Aguilar should be given a chance to prove that his bowels of compassion are not shut up.

WAS DUDUS IN TIVOLI?

images-2The question I’d like the enquiry to ask is this: Who really believed that Dudus was in Tivoli at the start of the incursion? That might seem like a foolish question. Of course Dudus was in Tivoli. Why else would the security forces go there to look for him? But why would Dudus have sat in Tivoli waiting to be captured? And where was he caught? On the Mandela Highway, in a car with the Rev Al Miller, far from Tivoli!

Was the incursion nothing but a B movie, designed to show the US government that we were really trying our best to find Dudus? There are lots of extras in movies. Sometimes, according to the script, these extras get killed. Did the people who said they would die for Dudus expect play-play guns? The tragedy of the Tivoli incursion is that many people lost their lives. Fi real. They weren’t acting. That’s a very high price to pay to find one man who, perhaps, wasn’t even there.

No Corporate Partying This Year!

weight_of_the_worldLast Sunday, I saw a senior citizen walking on Monroe Road in Liguanea. She looked so weary. She was carrying a bag and it seemed as if it was the weight of the world. I just had to offer her a ride. As we drove off, I asked her how long she’d been walking. She had no idea.

She’d gone downtown to pick up a few things at the market and didn’t have enough money for bus fare. So she’d walked all the way, one step at a time. And she’d stopped frequently to catch up herself. I learned that her name was Joyce. And she told me she’d had a hard life. At one time she had been homeless. But she was now living with her daughter.

I couldn’t help asking Joyce how old she was. As it turns out, she wasn’t all that senior. Chronological age and biological age are sometimes quite different. I was alarmed to find out that Joyce is younger than me. Hard life old yu up fi true! As we parted, I gave her some money. But how long could that last? I knew my small gift was nothing but a Band-Aid for a deep wound.

“WHY THIS WASTE?”

There are so many more people like Joyce in Jamaica today, barely surviving on next to nothing. Those of us who have houses and cars and jobs don’t always stop to see the suffering that is all around us. Things are very, very tough these days for a whole heap of people.

Cynics will tell you that’s just how life is. So wi come an find it. An wi a go dead an left it same way. Can’t do nutten bout it. No one somebody can’t solve the problem of poverty in our society. So just hold yu corner and do the little you can. And live yu life without guilt.

280px-Jan_van_Scorel_002Even fundamentalist Christians have a way of getting ‘philosophical’ about poverty. They quote Jesus: “The poor you will always have with you.” But that’s just half of the sentence. Jesus wasn’t proposing that we do nothing about poverty. He was actually trying to teach his disciples a difficult lesson about getting their priorities straight.

They were annoyed because a woman had anointed Jesus’ head with expensive perfume. So they said to him, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” Jesus answered them with a question: “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.”

WORSE THAN SLAVERY?

It grieves me to admit it. But I speculate that many Jamaicans today are worse off than our enterprising ancestors in the days of slavery. Believe it or not, enslaved Jamaicans had opportunities for making their own money. There was a long-established practice of cultivating provision grounds in their ‘free’ time. And they reaped the benefits of their own labour, selling excess produce. This became the foundation of a very profitable market system.

Coronation Market

Coronation Market

The historian Robin Blackburn reveals in his book, The Making of New World Slavery, that: “The growing proportion of internal commerce and currency in the slaves’ hands was another development encouraged by the provision-ground system which neither planters nor officials could halt.” Blackburn records the estimate that “a third of Jamaica’s currency was in slave hands by the 1770s”.

Almost 250 years later, how much of Jamaica’s currency is now in the hands of the descendants of enslaved Africans? Certainly not one-third! What really happened after Emancipation? And why are we spending so much of the little money we do have on imported food? Instead, we should be supporting the producers of high-quality local provisions.

PIE IN THE SKY

Chik-V has pauperised us even more than usual this year. So many of us mash up! With productivity down and the cost of everything skyrocketing, it’s going be a very ‘salt’ Christmas for most Jamaicans. I suppose a lot of corporate parties are still being planned. I’m suggesting that all the big companies cut the revelry this year and use the substantial savings for a good cause.

pie-in-the-skyInstead of catering for the employed, who really don’t need a Christmas party, corporate Jamaica could feed a lot of people who don’t have the bare necessities. All the upscale caterers and suppliers of expensive food and drink will not be so happy during this season of austerity. But they can still be employed to provide much more economical food baskets that could be distributed through primary schools and churches.

And if, as individuals, we put on one less party, we could also contribute to the cause. Yes, I know it sounds like pie in the sky. But one step at a time, we all can keep moving in the right direction, if we choose. The only images I want to see on the ‘Who’s Who’ pages this holiday season are scenes of collective social responsibility.

‘Outameni’ One Next Crosses

JLUTwo 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

Wa mek Govament tek poor people money go buy Outameni? Dem no got enough crosses? Dem waan more? Housing Trust claim seh dem buy Outameni fi build up Trelawny. Di people dem weh lucky fi get Housing Trust house no got plenty place fi go breeze out. So a dat mek Housing Trust turn tour operator? No sah!

No get mi wrong. A no ongle foreigner fi enjoy wi nice-nice country. Jamaica people supposen fi walk bout all bout fi wi owna yaad. Wen mi a pikni, a one time fi di year wi go pon church outnin! One time! Wi lef Kingston go a Porto Seco beach. An if wi lucky, wi go a Castleton Garden couple time. Nuff a wi lef Jamaica gaan a foreign an wi no know di whole a fi wi lickle island. Dat well bad.

‘The Outameni Experience’ did set up fi mek money offa di tourist dem weh come a Falmouth pon cruise ship. But Outameni never get nuff foreign tourist. An some a dem weh do go fi di ‘Experience’ no like it to dat – ascorden to Trip Advisor website. Ongle seven smaddy write wa dem tink bout Outameni. One seh ‘excellent’; two seh ‘very good’; two seh ‘average’; one seh ‘poor’; an one seh ‘terrible’.

‘A RIP-OFF, A SCAM, A SHAME’

outameniHear wa di ‘terrible’ smaddy seh: “The $36 admission price per person is the first red flag. The attraction had hoped to take visitors through the “History of Jamaica”, and that it does…. [sic] As a High School Project for “Jamaica Day”, [sic] but to invite the public to come and pay US$ 36.00 is a rip-off, a scam, a shame. At $10-$15, it may be more palatable, and get more visitors.”

Dis a wa di ‘excellent’ smaddy seh: “During a recent visit to Jamaica, some friends of mine who live on the island took me [on the] Outameni Experience. I was amazed and moved at what I saw – especially as the daughter of a Jamaican father. I cried and laughed and danced and felt so connected to my culture. It was an awesome experience and a must see for everyone!” Look like da woman ya never ha fi pay di 36 dollar.

Di ‘terrible’ smaddy mek one good point: “I did note that although 2 Cruise ships were docked in Montego Bay, and 2 Mega Cruise ships were docked in Falmouth, Outameni had only myself and a bus-load of pre-school children. And Pre-school, and primary school children is [sic] exactly what Outameni would most entertain. The Jamaican Ministry of Education should take note of this, and encourage more school visits … .”

So it look like seh Housing Trust buy Outameni fi set up school! Housing Trust money fi build house. Mek Trelawny people go walk bout Jamaica as dem please! Housing Trust can’t force nobody fi go a Outameni. It nah go work. Housing Trust a sell out poor people. Dat a one next “rip-off, a scam, a shame”. An wi a talk bout nuff-nuff more money than 36 dollar!

PRAPA-PRAPA SPELIN
Wa mek Govament tek puor piipl moni go bai Outameni? Dem no gat inof kraasiz? Dem waahn muor? Ouzn Chros kliem se dem bai Outameni fi bil op Trelawny. Di piipl dem we loki fi get Ouzn Chros ous no gat plenti plies fi go briiz out. So a dat mek Ouzn Chros ton tuor aparieta? Nuo sa!

37031249

Castleton Gyaadn

No get mi rang. A no ongl farina fi enjai wi nais-nais konchri. Jamieka piipl supuozn fi waak bout aal bout fi wi uona yaad. Wen mi a pikni, a wan taim fi di ier wi go pan choch outnin! Wan taim! Wi lef Kingston go a Porto Seco biich. An if wi loki, wi go a Castleton gyaadn kopl taim. Nof a wi lef Jamieka gaan a farin an wi no nuo di uol a fi wi likl aislan. Dat wel bad.

The Outameni Experience did set op fi mek moni aafa di tuoris dem we kom a Falmouth pan kruuz ship. Bot Outameni neva get nof farin tuoris. An som a dem we du go fi di ‘Experience’ no laik it tu dat – azkaadn to Trip Advisor websait. Ongl sevn smadi write wa dem tingk bout ‘Outameni’. Wan se ‘excellent’; tuu se ‘very good’; tuu se ‘average’; wan se ‘poor’; an wan se ‘terrible’.

A RIP-OFF, A SCAM, A SHAME

Ier wa di ‘terrible’ smadi se: “The $36 admission price per person is the first red flag. The attraction had hoped to take visitors through the “History of Jamaica”, and that it does…. [sic] As a High School Project for “Jamaica Day”, [sic] but to invite the public to come and pay US$ 36.00 is a rip-off, a scam, a shame. At $10-$15, it may be more palatable, and get more visitors”.

Dis a wa di ‘excellent’ smadi se: “During a recent visit to Jamaica, some friends of mine who live on the island took me [on the] Outameni Experience. I was amazed and moved at what I saw – especially as the daughter of a Jamaican father. I cried and laughed and danced and felt so connected to my culture. It was an awesome experience and a must see for everyone!” Luk laik da uman ya neva ha fi pie di 36 dala.

Di ‘terrible’ smadi mek wan gud paint: “I did note that although 2 Cruise ships were docked in Montego Bay, and 2 Mega Cruise ships were docked in Falmouth, Outameni had only myself and a bus-load of pre-school children. And Pre-school, and primary school children is [sic] exactly what Outameni would most entertain. The Jamaican Ministry of Education should take note of this, and encourage more school visits … .”

So it luk laik se Ouzn Chros bai ‘Outameni’ fi set op skuul! Ouzn Chros moni fi bil ous. Mek Chrilaani piipl go waak bout Jamieka az dem pliiz! Ouzn Chros kyaahn fuors nobadi fi go a Outameni. It naa go work. Ouzn Chros a sel out puor piipl. Dat a wan neks “rip-off, a scam, a shame”. An wi a taak bout nof-nof muor moni dan 36 dala!

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Why has the Government used poor people’s money to buy Outameni? Don’t they have enough troubles? They want more? The Housing Trust claims that they bought Outameni to develop Trelawny’s infrastructure. Those people who are lucky enough to get a house through the Housing Trust don’t have a lot of entertainment venues in the parish.  So that’s why the  Housing Trust has gone into the business of operating tours? No, no!

falmouth-jamaica

Falmouth

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not only foreigners who should enjoy our beautiful country. Jamaicans should take in all the sights. When I was child,  we used to go on annual church outing!  Once a year!  Wi would go from Kingston to Porto Seco beach. And if we were lucky, we would go to Castleton Gardens a few times. Lots of us have travelled abroad and we haven’t been to all the parishes of our small island.  That’s a real shame.

‘The Outameni Experience’ was set up to make money off cruise ship passengers coming into Falmouth. But Outameni didn’t attract that many foreign tourists. And some of them who did go for the ‘Experience’ didn’t like it all that much – according to the Trip Advisor website. There are only seven comments about Outameni. There’s one ‘excellent’; two ‘very good’; two ‘average’; one ‘poor’; and one ‘terrible’.

‘A RIP-OFF, A SCAM, A SHAME’

Here’s the ‘terrible’ comment: “The $36 admission price per person is the first red flag. The attraction had hoped to take visitors through the “History of Jamaica”, and that it does…. [sic] As a High School Project for “Jamaica Day”, [sic] but to invite the public to come and pay US$ 36.00 is a rip-off, a scam, a shame. At $10-$15, it may be more palatable, and get more visitors.”

Here’s the ‘excellent’ comment: “During a recent visit to Jamaica, some friends of mine who live on the island took me [on the] Outameni Experience. I was amazed and moved at what I saw – especially as the daughter of a Jamaican father. I cried and laughed and danced and felt so connected to my culture. It was an awesome experience and a must see for everyone!” It looks as if this woman didn’t have to pay the 36 dollar entrance fee.

4038221-7476578304-35885The person who gave the ‘terrible’ review did make a good point: “I did note that although 2 Cruise ships were docked in Montego Bay, and 2 Mega Cruise ships were docked in Falmouth, Outameni had only myself and a bus-load of pre-school children. And Pre-school, and primary school children is [sic] exactly what Outameni would most entertain. The Jamaican Ministry of Education should take note of this, and encourage more school visits … .”

So it seems as if the Housing Trust has bought Outameni to set up a school!  Housing Trust funds are to be used to build houses. Let Trelawny residents tour Jamaica as they please! The Housing Trust can’t force anyone to visit Outameni. That can’t work. The Housing Trust is selling poor people short. That’s another “rip-off, a scam, a shame”. And we’re talking about far more than 36 dollar!

Funny Degrees No Joke

6a0120a669d297970c016765b2c037970b-320wiLast Sunday’s column, ‘University fi stone dog – seet deh!’, has stirred up quite an ants nest. And Baygon can’t deal with it. Incidentally, we know that nuff ants inna ants nest. So, logically, it can’t be singular. Ant nest? In English yes, but not in Jamaican. I spent quite a bit of time last week following the trail of ants.

I got a distressing email from a graduate of the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI): “Your article … has renewed my concern and worry as I might just be in that same boat rowing to nowhere!” The email was published in The Gleaner on Tuesday, August 26 as a letter to editor: ‘Accreditation limbo at CMI’.

Proverbial wisdom warns, “Wat is joke to you is death to me.” And is true. I got another email from someone who is clearly not rowing in the same boat with that concerned and worried CMI graduate: “Prof, this article is great. I never laugh so before while reading an article … Blessings.” We certainly know how to tek bad tings mek joke. But this business of bogus degrees is no laughing matter.

NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT?

dont-worry-be-happyI contacted both the CMI and the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ) on behalf of the graduate. I discovered, much to our relief, that the degree programme in question, the BSc in logistics and supply-chain management, has, in fact, been submitted to the UCJ for review. If the programme is accredited, the graduate will have nothing to worry about. The UCJ will issue a statement of equivalence indicating that the old degree is up to the standard of the new.

Although the CMI graduate now seems to be rowing to somewhere, it may not be smooth sailing after all. The UCJ has confirmed that if any unaccredited programme turns out to be substandard, the institution issuing the degree may implement measures to have the graduate complete the new requirements for the accredited programme and provide the relevant certification.

I don’t like the sound of that ‘may’. It ought to be ‘must’. What if the institution fails to do the right thing? Who is going to ensure accountability? Graduates of the unaccredited programme would have been conned into buying a worthless piece of paper. I suppose they could put their case to the Fair Trading Commission. Or take legal action to recover their fees and seek compensation for lost time and opportunities. But at what cost? And at whose expense?

WATCHDOG WITH TEETH

The tertiary education sector simply must be regulated. But that’s not the job of the UCJ. Regulation and accreditation are distinct functions. The UCJ is an external quality-assurance agency. As stated on its website, “The mission of the University Council of Jamaica is to increase the availability of tertiary-level training in Jamaica through a robust quality-assurance system that ensures excellence, transparency, integrity and adherence to standards.”

Unknown-3Quality assurance is all very well and good. But what we desperately need is a regulatory watchdog with teeth. The Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission (J-TEC) is supposed to be that bad dog. But it is muzzled. Last week, I asked the commissioner/CEO, Mrs Maxine Henry-Wilson, what was being done to protect naive students who don’t seem to know they must make sure their degree programme is accredited. Before they register!

In 2006, as minister of education, Mrs Henry-Wilson initiated a strategic plan for regulating tertiary education. The very first strategic objective was the establishment of a regulatory body for the sector. But the wheels of government bureaucracy turn rather slowly. It was not until 2011, under the leadership of Andrew Holness, that some movement was made towards setting the legislative framework for the regulatory body.

THE IMF’S BIG STICK

The Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission was finally established in 2012. Within nine months of the appointment of Mrs Henry-Wilson, the legislative framework was completed. It has languished for two years in the office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel. It’s stuck in a long line of other financial proposals. And with the IMF’s big stick over our heads, only God knows if funding will be approved.

As things stand, dog and all can set up university. There is no legislation to prevent it. So-called universities don’t even have to be registered with the University Council. It’s a free-for-all. If J-TEC gets its legal mandate, all this will change. Every tertiary institution will have to be registered. And a quality audit will be done to determine the appropriate name for the enterprise.

At present, the UCJ has a policy of assessing degree programmes to determine their readiness for delivery. But in carrying out its core accreditation function, the UCJ can evaluate only programmes that have completed a full cycle and have produced the first set of graduates. Accreditation is based on evidence, not on plans or intentions.

birds-rush-owls-album-covers-alex-lifeson-geddy-lee-neil-peart-fly-by-night-1280x960-hd-wallpaper-400x250If we don’t clean up the tertiary education sector, the quality of all degrees across the board will be compromised. It won’t be just the fly-by-night operators that will have to close shop. All universities will be in trouble if Jamaica becomes known as a market for bogus degrees. Soon, none of our local degrees will be recognised internationally. And dog a go nyam wi supper.