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!

 

 

 

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.

Chris Gayle too sexy for his own good

26090FDA00000578-2966545-image-m-39_1424778583761I feel sorry for Chris Gayle. It must be so hard to be a sex symbol. Women always throwing themselves at him! Perhaps, even men, too. With all that attention, it’s easy to see how Gayle could start to think of himself as irresistible. So much so, he dared to stroke his ego on national television in Australia. Flipping the script, Gayle ‘put question’ to Mel McLaughlin, the female journalist who was interviewing him.

Gayle is not the first athlete to get carried away in Ms McLaughlin’s glamorous presence. In 2012, Australian soccer star Tim Cahill stepped up to the mike to be interviewed by the journalist and gave her a completely unexpected kiss on the cheek. Ms McLaughlin looked flustered. She was clearly taken by surprise. Perhaps she blushed. But she kept her cool. She gave a half-laugh and said, “OK.” But was it?

As far as I can tell, not a bit of a fuss was made about that Cahill kiss. There was no talk of sexual harassment at the workplace. No fine. No call for a worldwide ban on Cahill. No bogus story that Cahill had exposed himself to an anonymous female who wandered into a male dressing room. Cahill is white and Gayle is black. Is that the difference in the treatment of the two athletes?

WELL OUT OF ORDER

Don’t get me wrong. Gayle was well out of order to be asking Ms McLaughlin out on a date. Talking about looking into her eyes and calling her ‘baby’! What is so puzzling is that the interview started off quite professionally. Ms McLaughlin congratulated Gayle on his performance and then asked, “Were you just not in the mood to run today?” He said he was cold and then went on to talk about the rhythm of the game – hitting the first four and wanting to entertain the crowd for the last game.

Then Ms McLaughlin gushed, “Incredibly aggressive approach for you, too! Looks like you absolutely just smashing this innings.” (sic) That compliment seems to have been Gayle’s undoing. He gets tongue-tied: “Yeah, definitely, ahm, I mean.” And next thing you know, out of the blue, Gayle head tek him.

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He then makes the now-infamous confession, “I want to come and have an interview with you as well.” This is punctuated by loud sniggering coming from the Channel TEN studio. Gayle continues, “That’s the reason why I’m here. Just to see your eyes for the first time. It’s nice. So hopefully we’ll win this game and we can have a drink after. Don’t blush, baby!”

Denying that she was blushing, Ms McLaughlin efficiently steers the interview into less troubled waters. After a little stumble, her next question seems to cut Gayle down to size: “Ahm, did you, any injuries? Did you have any?  The boys were saying maybe you picked up a bit of a twinge in your hamstring.” Is this injury wishful thinking? Does the twinge stand for impotence? Or, worse, castration? Gayle is not fazed. He cockily  says it’s back pain, he’ll do physio and hopefully he’ll look into Ms McLaughlin’s eyes again.

EMMETT TILL

Chris Gayle doesn’t seem to know the story of Emmett Till. The place was Mississippi and the year was 1955. A 14-year-old black boy, Emmett Till, was accused of flirting with a white woman. He didn’t even speak to the woman. All he did was look at her. Or so they said. And he was murdered by two white men protecting the honour of the white woman. The men were tried for murder but were acquitted by an all-white, all-male jury.

TILL MOBLEY

This family handout photograph taken in Chicago, date unknown, shows Mamie Till Mobley and her son, Emmett Till, whose lynching in 1955 became a catalyst for the civil rights movement. FBI officials planned to begin exhuming Emmett Till’s body Wednesday, June 1, 2005, after a morning graveside service for the slain civil rights icon’s family at the Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Ill. The U.S. Justice Department announced in May 2004 that it was reopening the investigation into the 1955 murder. (AP Photo/Mamie Till Mobley Family)

Gayle is lucky. He’s not likely to be murdered for flirting with Mel McLaughlin on national television. But his career might take a hit. The Australian cricketer Ian Chappell is calling for a worldwide ban on Gayle. This punishment seems completely out of proportion to the offence. Gayle made a stupid mistake. But to ban him from cricket forever?

Gayle says it was an innocent joke. I’m inclined to believe him. And he made the pass out in the open on television. It was on show! To me, this makes the flirting less troubling than it might have been in private. But the image of an athletic black man flirting with a white woman remains threatening to ‘the boys’, even in the 21st century. That seems to be the real issue.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Of course, sexual harassment on the job is no laughing matter. And it’s not only women who are harassed. Men are also harassed by both men and women. The workplace ought to be a safe environment in which both men and women can work in peace without fear of unwanted sexual advances.

6a00d8341bfc6e53ef0176164e8349970c-piAnd though the global condemnation of Chris Gayle’s flirting with Mel McLaughlin on the job seems over the top, the controversy over the incident is a welcome reminder that there are lines of propriety that should not be crossed.

I’m sure Chris Gayle will now think at least twice, if not more, about inviting any woman to have a drink with him. And certainly not on TV! But, hopefully, he will continue to enjoy the pleasures of appropriate flirting. After all, if he stopped, it would be such a waste of a deliciously sexy man.

 

Stage show in Heaven for Lady Saw

Marion Hall’s recent decision to get baptised again won’t surprise anyone who has been following Lady Saw’s flamboyant career. In a 1998 interview in the Uncensored series on FAME FM, the deejay frankly announced, “Lady Saw is a act.”

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She describes her 2014 album, Alter Ego, in this way: “It’s Marion Hall with a touch of Lady Saw.” The deejay’s spectacular performance of the role of Lady Saw is not usually seen by her detractors as a calculated decision by the actress Marion Hall to earn a very good living on the dancehall stage.

This self-possessed artiste has always claimed the right to privacy and freedom to escape her public image. In that interview almost two decades ago, she draws a straight line between her job and her true-true identity: “I’m a nice girl. When I’m working, you know, just love it or excuse it.”

Many critics just can’t love Lady Saw’s performances or excuse her transgressions. So she’s usually censured for being far too slack. Or worse, she’s dismissed as a mere victim of circumstances, mindlessly playing the expected role as sex object.

SEXISM IS THE ISSUE

Crotch-grabbing-collection-WooHoo-michael-jackson-12121433-804-1200In that FAME FM interview, the deejay was questioned about her body language: “Lady Saw, you do things like, yu grab yu crotch onstage … .” Her answer makes it clear that sexism is the real issue: “Uh-huh. Michael Jackson did it and nobody say anything about it.”

The interviewer persists: “And you gyrate on the ground. I mean, do you think this is acceptable for a woman?” Lady Saw responds boldly: “Yes, darling. For this woman. And a lot of woman would like to do the same, but I guess they are too shy.”

Lady Saw is absolutely right. Her female fans enjoy her daring. They would like to act like her. But they are trapped in roles of respectability. So they leave it to her to speak and gyrate for them. And she simply brushes off criticism: “I think critics are there to do their job and I am here to my job … . To entertain and please my fans.”

Even those critics who would never admit to being fans are often mesmerised by Lady Saw’s brazenness. They are caught between self-righteous condemnation and open-mouthed fascination. For example, Papa Pilgrim, a radio disc jockey in Salt Lake City, in his 1993 report on Reggae Sunsplash Dancehall Night, published in The Beat magazine:

“Then came a performance that was more vulgar than any I have seen from anyone anywhere! Her name is Lady Saw, and as a Jamaican friend commented, you cannot put enough Xs in front of her name to adequately describe what she did. To quote from the August 3 Gleaner, ‘She went to the bottom of the pit and came up with sheer filth and vulgar lyrics which made Yellow Man at his worst seem like a Boy Scout.'”

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NOT ONLY SLACK

There’s always been another side to Lady Saw. She knows her Bible. At 12, Marion Hall was baptised in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. And that upbringing has left its mark on her alter ego. Lady Saw can be as pious as ever.

She has quite a few hymns in her repertoire, celebrating divine guidance. For example, Glory Be to God:

When I remember where I’m coming from

Through all the trials and the tribulation

Yes, the hardship and the sufferation

I have to go on my knees

And sing praises to God

Glory be to God!

Praises to His name!

Thanks for taking me

Out of the bondage and chains.

Lady Saw knows she has a duty to help liberate young women from the bondage and chains of unwise choices. In that Uncensored interview, she was asked, “What would you say to a young girl now out there who wants to be nothing but just like you?” It’s Marion Hall who answers: “I tell them all the time them come to me with it: ‘I want to be like you, Lady Saw.’

“‘Like me? You choose suppen else.’ I can tek my consequences dem right now. I don’t know if she strong enough to deal with what I’m dealing with. So I don’t encourage them to be like Lady Saw. Sometimes they say, ‘I love all yu songs.’ I seh, ‘Yu try listen to the good ones, not the bad ones.'”

FEMINIST EMANCIPATION

Heartbeat-6-1Marion Hall’s conversion inspired a typically witty response from Ninja Man, aka Brother Desmond: “A di greatest move anyone ever mek in the history of dancehall. Lady Saw don’t need a pound of flour. She don’t need a pound of sugar. She don’t need nothing. All she need now is God. God bless her and put her which part she fi reach. And she feel that is time now.

“She do her time wid di devil. Now is time to serve the Lord. In the name of Jesus … . As the Bible tell yu seh, yu know, when one gi im soul yu know, Heaven bruck loose, yu know. So yu know a stage show up there last night.”

I’m going to miss Lady Saw. She’s been a model of feminist emancipation from sexual repression. I hope Marion Hall will find a way to keep her alter ego in the church.

Pure white dolly fi Christmas

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, mi go a one uptown pharmacy an mi buck up one a mi fren. She a nyam up herself bout di whole heap a white dolly. She carry mi go look pon di shelf dem full a dolly. Outa many, not one degeh-degeh black dolly.

So mi go aks di manager a who a buy di white dolly dem. Im seh a black people an a dem same one a bleach. Mi glad im see seh di white dolly dem have suppen fi do wid di bleaching. But dat nah stop di pharmacy from sell di white dolly dem. Money a money. An wen di bleacher dem skin burn up, a di said same pharmacy dem ha fi go fi get treatment.

Yu see dis dolly business! A serious ting. Dolly mek fi force gyal-pikni fi look after baby. It no natural. A fi brainwash di poor lickle pikni dem. An a no dolly one. Dolly live eena house wid kitchen: stove an fridge an pot an pan an plate an cup an saucer. Dat a fi mek di gyal-pikni dem know seh a dem ha fi cook.

An dolly house have bed fi mek up an floor fi sweep. Nuff, nuff housework. Wa mek wi no gi boy-pikni dolly fi play wid an dolly house fi look after? Becau man tink a dem run tings an a so dem set it. Certain work dem nah do. An it look like seh di fuul-fuul man dem no understand a who run di kitchen run di world. Mek dem keep outa kitchen. Dem ha fi nyam anyting dem get.

Pon top a dat, wen yu gi one black gyal-pikni white dolly fi look after, a set you a set her up fi mind other people pikni wen she grow big. Weh she a go get white baby fi herself? She mighta find one nice white genkleman fi gi her baby. But dat deh baby still nah go look like di white dolly dem. An di baby nah go look like di muma to dat.

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BIG UP ZACKS!

One next problem wid di white dolly dem a di tall hair. A di dolly dem mek so much black woman eena Jamaica a buy false hair. Well, some a di hair a real-real hair. But a no fi dem. Di woman dem did play wid white dolly wen dem a pikni, an dem waan look like di dolly. It grieve mi wen mi find out seh Jamaica a spend one billion dollar every year pon foreign hair. Billion, mi seh! Wi no have nutten else fi do wid all a dat deh money? No sah, mi cyaan believe it.

Tell yu di truth, mi did put een extension couple time. Mi get ketch wid tall hair. Mi grow pon white dolly. Mi have one sweet-sweet picture wid me an mi lickle bredda an mi white dolly. Mi right hand round mi bredda shoulder, an mi white dolly prims up eena mi left hand. Mi a look after di two a dem same way.

But mi grow out a white dolly an tall hair. Mi done know seh some a dem tall-hair woman an dem deh man weh love tall hair tink seh all like me no got no ambition. A walk bout wid mi ‘dry’ head a gwaan like seh mi have hairstyle an mi tink mi nice. Well, mi ha fi big up fi mi barber Zacks. Im shop deh a Pulse pon Trafalgar Road. Wen im done style fi mi ‘piki-piki’ head, not one a dem tall-hair woman hotter than me!

PRAPA-PRAPA SPELIN

Laas wiik, mi go a wan optoun faamasi an mi bok op wan a mi fren. Shi a nyam op arself bout di uol iip a wait dali. Shi kyari mi go luk pan di shelf dem ful a dali. Outa meni, nat wan dege-dege blak dali.

So mi go aks di manija a uu a bai di wait dali dem. Im se a blak piipl an a dem siem wan a bliich. Mi glad im si se di wait dali dem av sopn fi du wid di bliichin. Bot dat naa stap di faamasi from sel di wait dali dem. Moni a moni. An wen di bliicha dem skin bon op, a di sed siem faamasi dem a fi go fi get chriitment.

Yu si dis dali bizniz! A siiriyos ting. Dali mek fi fuors gyal-pikni fi luk aafta biebi. It no nachral. A fi brienwash di puor likl pikni dem. An a no dali wan. Dali liv iina ous wid kichin: stuov an frij an pat an pan an pliet an kop an saasa. Dat a fi mek di gyal-pikni dem nuo se a dem a fi kuk.

An dali ous av bed fi mek op an fluor fi swiip. Nof, nof ous work. Wa mek wi no gi bwai-pikni dali fi plie wid an dali ous fi luk aafta? Bikaa man tingk a dem ron tingz an a so dem set it. Sortn work dem naa du. An it luk laik se di fuul-fuul man dem no andastan a uu ron di kichin ron di worl. Mek dem kip outa kichin. Dem a fi nyam enting dem get.

Pan tap a dat, wen yu gi wan blak gyal-pikni wait dali fi luk aafta, a set yu a set ar op fi main ada piipl pikni wen shi gruo big. We shi a go get wait biebi fi arself? Shi maita fain wan nais wait jenklman fi gi ar biebi. Bot dat de biebi stil naa go luk laik di wait dali dem. An di biebi naa go luk laik di muma tu dat.

BIG OP ZACKS!

Wan neks prablem wid di wait dali dem a di taal ier. A di dali dem mek so moch blak uman iina Jamieka a bai faals ier. Wel som a di ier a riil-riil ier. Bot a no fi dem. Di uman dem did plie wid wait dali wen dem a pikni, an dem waahn luk laik di dali. It griiv mi wen mi fain out se Jamieka a spen wan bilyan dala evri ier pan farin ier. Bilyan, mi se! Wi no av notn els fi du wid aal a dat de moni? Nuo sa, mi kyaahn biliiv it.

photo(1).jpgTel yu di chruut, mi did put iin ekstenshan kopl taim. Mi get kech wid taal ier. Mi gruo pan wait dali. Mi av wan swiit-swiit pikcha wid mii an mi likl breda an mi wait dali. Mi rait an roun mi breda shoulda, an mi wait dali primz op iina mi lef an. Mi a luk aafta di tuu a dem siem wie.

Bot mi gruo out a wait dali an taal ier. Mi don nuo se som a dem taal-ier uman an dem de man we lov taal ier tingk se aal laik mi no gat no ambishan. A waak bout wid mi ‘jrai’ ed a gwaahn laik se mi av ier stail an mi tingk mi nais. Wel, mi a fi big op fi mi baaba Zacks. Im shap de a Pulse pan Trafalgar Road. Wen im don stail fi mi ‘piki-piki’ ed, nat wan a dem taal ier uman ata dan mii!

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Only White Dolls For Christmas

Two weeks ago, I ran into one of my friends at an uptown pharmacy. She was carrying on about all the white dolls.  And she took me to have a look at the shelves of dolls.  Out of many, not one single black doll.

So I asked the manager who was buying the white dolls.  He said it was black people and they are the same ones who are bleaching their skin.  I was glad he made the connection between the white dolls and skin bleaching.  But that’s not stopping the pharmacy from selling the white dolls.  It’s all about money.  And when the bleachers’ skin gets damaged, they will have to go right back to the pharmacy for medication.

This doll business is a very serious issue.  Dolls are designed to condition little girls to care for babies. It’s not natural.  It’s to brainwash the poor little children. And it’s not just dolls. A doll lives in a house with a kitchen:  stove and fridge and pots and pans and plates and cups and saucers.  That’s to make little girls know it’s their duty to cook.

And a doll house has beds to be made and floors to be swept.  Lots and lots of house work. Why don’t we let boys play with dolls and look after doll houses?  Because men think they’re in charge and that’s just how things should be.  They’re not going to do certain jobs. And it seems as if these foolish men don’t understand that whoever is in charge of the kitchen rules the world.  Let them stay out of kitchen.  They will have to eat whatever is dished out.

Then when you give a white doll to a little black girl, you’re telling her that when she grows up she’ll have to look after other people’s children. How will she get her own white baby? She might have a child with a caring white man.  But that child won’t look like the white dolls.  And the baby won’t resemble the mother all that much.

BIG UP ZACKS!

Another problem with the white dolls is the long, flowing hair. It’s the dolls that have caused so many black woman in Jamaica to buy false hair.  Well, some of the hair is a actually real.  But it’s not theirs.  As children, these women played with white dolls. And they want to look like the dolls.  I was appalled to learn that Jamaica imports one billion dollars’ worth of foreign hair every year. A billion!  Don’t we have anything else to do with all of that money?  I simply can’t believe it.

photo-8I have to admit that I’ve put in extensions a couple of times.  I got caught with this long-hair fashion. And I was raised on white dolls.  I have a lovely picture of myself, my younger brother and my white doll. My right hand is around my brother’s shoulder, and my white doll is sitting pretty in my left hand.  I’m looking after both of them in exactly the same way.

But I grew out of white dolls and long hair.  I do know that some of those women with long hair – and those men who love long hair – think that women like me have no ambition.  Acting as if our short, natural hair is stylish and we know we’re attractive. Well, I have to big up my barber Zacks.  His shop is at Pulse on Trafalgar Rd.  When he’s finished styling my natural hair, not one of those women with long hair is hotter than me!

 

 

 

 

 

How to be black in Negril

logo-343x903Last Sunday, I had a most peculiar conversation on the beach in Negril. I had gone to the Reggae Marathon as a spectator. As I was taking my early-morning walk, a man called out, “Hello! Good morning!” I returned the greeting. And kept walking. That was my first mistake. I should have stopped.

When I didn’t, the man followed me and aggressively said he was talking to me. So I paused. I wondered what he was selling. After all, this was Negril. He then asked if I wanted to go on boat ride. I politely refused his offer. As he walked away, he said, “Black people!”

I didn’t even bother to ask what he meant. It was such a lovely morning on that beautiful stretch of beach, I decided not to prolong the conversation. It could have got very ugly. The man’s angry body language suggested that “black people” was definitely intended as a term of abuse. And since he himself was black, I would have ended up in a big kas-kas about mental slavery.

imagesAs I moved on, I did start to wonder if, perhaps, I’d jumped to the wrong conclusion. Suppose all he’d meant was that he knows many black people can’t swim. And so I wouldn’t want to be going out on any boat ride with him. In my case, he would have been quite right. And, funnily enough, if he had said “Jamaican people”, I would have sympathised with him. We don’t always do well as dry-land tourists.

All the same, I felt I was trying too hard to give this man the benefit of the doubt. His “black people” throw-word seemed to compress a whole heap of frustration. And there was an implied contrast with “white people”. Unlike some black tourists, many white people are very adventurous. They go for boat rides even without life vests. And they know it’s their civic duty to patronise all the self-employed people who proposition them.

Black people, especially if we are not real-real tourists, don’t hand over our money easily. I got into idle conversation with another man on the beach who was selling fruit. A tiny sweetsop was US$2, a baby pineapple was US$6, and a very thin slice of melon was US$4. I told him those prices were very high. He patiently explained that none of the fruit was local. He had to pay a lot to bring them in. And he was very nice to me. He didn’t say, “Black people.”

KABAKA PYRAMID & VYBZ KARTEL

At the awards party after the marathon, as I was enjoying Kabaka Pyramid’s cool performance in the broiling sun, a man approached me from behind. He didn’t want to dance. He had come to reprimand me. I can’t remember his exact words, but it was something like this: “Is artistes like that you should promote instead of Vybz Kartel.”

Yu see mi dying trial! Why do Jamaican men feel entitled to tell women what to do? In any case, this man was not informed. I had invited Kabaka to speak at the University of the West Indies. He gave an excellent talk in a series earlier this year that opened with Jimmy Cliff and closed with King Jammy. In-between, there was IbaMahr, Notis (Wayne ‘Unga’ Thompson and Jason ‘Big Bass’ Welsh) and Chronixx.

Jimmy to King Jammy

Demi Moore poster

When I asked my disciplinarian if he had listened to any of Kartel’s lyrics, his response was, “I can’t get past the bleaching.” The man’s mind was closed. He couldn’t distinguish between the message and the messenger. I suppose he would have dismissed Kartel’s intriguing explanation for his skin bleaching which he gave at his infamous UWI lecture:

“Many people talk about Garveyism, black pride, etc. I have no problem with black pride and I can assure you that my skin alteration has nothing to do with self-hate or opposition to blackness and Garveyism … . I maintain that bleaching now doesn’t mean the same as bleaching 25 years ago. Today, we are a much prouder race who know that we can do what we want as far as style is concerned. We dictate styles and regard them as just that. Styles.”

UPTOWN BLEACHERS

Not everyone will be persuaded by Kartel’s argument about style. But it is true that people do all sorts of dangerous things in the name of style and fashion. And bleaching comes in all shades.

Uptown bleachers call it toning, brightening, clarifying, etc. Their products may be different from what’s downtown. But the intention and effect are more or less the same. And, for all he knows, that man who couldn’t bring himself to listen to Kartel’s lyrics because of the bleaching may very well be living with a woman who is toning.

Dr Petra Robinson, a Jamaican educator, completed her PhD dissertation on ‘Skin Bleaching In Jamaica: A Colonial Legacy’ at Texas A&M University in 2011. She highlights the fact that skin bleaching is a global issue. She quotes a Japanese proverb, “White skin makes up for seven defects.”

Dr Robinson’s brilliant dissertation should be published. And it ought to be required reading in all Jamaican schools. The conversation about colour and identity in Jamaica must be continued in the home, in school and in the media. It can’t be left on the beach in Negril.

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Too African to be human?

Reggae_Jamaika8For a small city, Kingston is quite cosmopolitan. And this has nothing to do with our deceitful national motto. That’s a whole other story about large-scale self-deception. Out of which many? Jamaica is a nation of African people with a minority of other racial groups.

And as for those black Jamaicans who don’t want to be African, Peter Tosh sets them straight:

“Don’t care where you come from,

As long as you’re a black man

You’re an African.”

So what’s cosmopolitan about Kingston? It’s all those cultural events every single week. And many are free. Our colleges and universities offer so much: public forums, film screenings, book launches, concerts, theatrical productions. And foreign embassies provide regular opportunities to explore other cultures.

The Alliance Francaise recently screened a brilliant documentary, Trop Noir Pour Etre Francaise?/Too Black To Be French? It’s framed as a question. But the implied answer is definitely affirmative. The filmmaker, Isabelle Boni-Claverie, was at the screening and generously answered questions.

trop-noire.pngIsabelle was born in Ivory Coast and at four months went to live in France. She returned at eight and had a hard time fitting in. Her classmates mocked her accent and decided that she was stuck up. She was too French to be Ivorian and too black to be French.

Isabelle’s 2015 documentary starts with her privileged family. She’s the granddaughter of Alphonse Boni, a distinguished jurist from Ivory Coast who became the first French magistrate of African origin. When Ivory Coast became independent, Boni was appointed as minister of justice and then president of the Supreme Court.

Isabelle’s grandmother, Rose Marie Frederique Galou, was a white law student from rural France. Her grandparents’ marriage in 1931 took place at midnight in complete privacy. In racist societies like France, class privilege cannot protect black people (and their white companions) from constant abuse.

WORKING LIKE A NIGGER

Too Black To Be French? widens its perspective to include other voices reflecting on what it means to be black in France. The documentary was provoked by a rather stink remark made on national television in 2010 by the perfume maker Jean-Paul Guerlain. Talking about a new product, Guerlain casually said, “I worked like a nigger. I don’t know if niggers have always worked like that, but anyway.”

Demonstration-against-Jea-006Talk about adding insult to injury! Isabelle was enraged. She launched an Internet-based campaign against Guerlain and, along with other protestors, organised demonstrations outside Guerlain’s flagship store in Paris. But many nice and decent French people couldn’t see what the fuss was about. Working like a nigger was just a common expression. All the same, Guerlain was convicted in court for his racist insult and fined €6,000. Small change!

Two other films by Isabelle were screened in Kingston last weekend, thanks to David Morrison. Her 1998 short film, Le Genie d’Abou/Abu’s Genie, explores the issues of race and sexuality in a murderously disturbing way. Her 2004 film, Pour La Nuit /For The Night, beautifully shows how Muriel and Sam, total strangers, comfort each other the night before her mother’s funeral and his wedding.

Speaking of being cosmopolitan, for the last 15 years, David has been showcasing foreign films on Friday and Saturday nights, first at Redbones, then at the Liguanea Club. He’s now at an intimate venue, 3 Stanton Terrace. There’s no admission charge. David welcomes contributions to offset costs.

OTA BENGA

Last month, the Africa World Documentary Film Festival was held at the University of the West Indies, Mona. Twenty films were screened over three days. Admission was free. I was surprised that Ota Benga was not included. The curator of the festival, Professor Adeniyi Coker of the University of Missouri-St Louis, explained that since he co-directed the film with Jean Bodon, he didn’t think it appropriate to select his own work.

OtaBengaI understood his reservations, but I persuaded him that we needed to see the film. It was screened as a brawta to the festival. The film sensitively tells the traumatic story of Ota Benga, a man from the Congo, who was put on display at the 1904 World’s Fair in St Louis. Things got rather worse for him.

On Sunday, September 9, 1906, The New York Times published a story with the headline, “Bushman Shares a Cage With Bronx Park Apes”. The article did admit that “some Laugh Over His Antics, but Many Are Not Pleased’. It added, “‘Something about it I don’t like,’ was the way one man put it.” We don’t know who this man was. But he did have a conscience.

The next day, black clergymen met at Harlem’s Mount Olivet Baptist Church to strategise. That afternoon, they went to the zoo to see for themselves. They confronted the zoo’s founding director and curator, William Hornaday, who insisted that the exhibition was all in the interest of science! By the end of September, more than 220,000 visitors had viewed Ota Benga. The zoo had never made so much money so quickly.

national-museum-african-artProvocatively billed as “From Ota Benga to President Obama”, the film had its world premiere on November 1 at the National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC. How much has changed over the last century? Just think of those demeaning cartoons of Michelle and Barack Obama as apes. The White House is certainly not the preferred cage in which diehard racists would like to see them.