Di emperor new house cost lickle or nutten?

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.


Alexandra-Anansi-1024x414.jpgUnu member di story bout di emperor new clothes? A one a dem parable weh tell yu di truth bout human nature. Like Aesop fable. Or fi wi Anansi story. Di emperor story come back to mi couple week aback when mi read Gleaner an see seh ‘Holness saves big on house – Opposition leader outlines benefits of hands-on approach to home construction’.

Mi seh to miself, dat a whole heap a ‘hands-on’. Andrew seh im do mason work an woodwork fi di house. So a how much dat save? Im wuda ha fi do nuff-nuff mason work fi help build dat deh hell of a wall front a di house. An im wouldn’t have no much more time lef fi do no odder work.

Wen mi tink bout it, inna disya time, fi wi lickle dollar no worth nutten. Fifty-two million dollar fi build dat deh house? Dat a lickle or nutten! Di blind can see seh dat a one expensive house. So wa mek some a wi can’t seet?


emperors_new_clothesAnyhow, hear how di emperor new clothes story go. Im did love fi dress up inna pretty clothes an moggle. Two bandooloo tailor decide fi tek im mek poppyshow. Dem go a di palace an tell im seh dem can mek one suit fi im outa cloth weh so light an fine, lickle most yu can’t seet. In fact, if yu fool-fool an incompetent, yu can’t seet at all.

Di emperor seh to himself a now mi a go find out who inna di empire nah do no work an dis a form di fool. So im gi di tailor dem one bag a gold fi start build di suit. Couple week after, im send im prime minister fi go see how di suit a come on. Di tailor dem show im di cloth. Im can’t see nutten.

Im no know how fi go tell di emperor. Cau dat mean seh im incompetent. So im tell im seh di cloth pretty-pretty. Wen di tailor dem done an bring di suit an di emperor tek off im clothes fi fit it, everybody look pon di naked man an seh how im birthday suit lovely.

Di tailor dem so wicked dem tell di emperor seh di people dem outa road hear bout di cloth an waan seet. An di fool-fool emperor lef im yard naked, naked. An chruu di people dem hear seh if yu dunce, yu can’t see di cloth, everybody bawl out seh di cloth pretty.


A ongle one lickle pikni, weh no ha no big job fi protect, so im no mind if people tink seh im incompetent, a im bawl out seh, ‘di emperor no got on no clothes!’ Im father tell im fi shut up. An drag im weh. But di people dem see seh a true di pikni a talk. Di man no got on no clothes. An di emperor shame-shame. But im decide fi brazen it out till im ketch back a im yard.

Wi a wait fi one lickle pikni bawl out seh di emperor house cost nof, nof, nof, nof money? So wa mek wi a gwaan like seh a no so? Wi fraid people tink seh wi fool-fool an incompetent? Wi can’t see an blind an hear an deaf. Wi ha fi talk di naked truth.

An by di way, mi know seh plenty people a build house a Jamaica wuda love fi get line a credit fi building material. But dem no lucky laik Andrew an Juliet. Jackass seh di world no level. Mek mi lef it. Mi no waan nobody seh a bad-mind an grudgeful mek mi a talk bout di house. Jack Mandora mi no choose none!


handsonUnu memba di stuori bout di empara nyuu kluoz? A wan a dem parabl we tel yu di chruut bout yuu man niecha. Laik Aesop fiebl. Ar fi wi Anansi stuori. Di empara stuori kom bak tu mi kopl wiik abak wen mi riid Gleaner an si se ‘Holness saves big on house – Opposition leader outlines benefits of hands-on approach to home construction’.

Mi se tu miself, dat a uol iip a ‘hands-on’. Andrew se im du miesn work an wudwork fi di ous. So a omoch dat siev? Im wuda a fi du nof-nof miesn work fi elp bil dat de el ev a waal front a di ous. An im wudn av no moch muor taim lef fi du no ada work.

Wen mi tingk bout it, ina disya taim, fi wi likl dala no wort notn. Fifti-tuu milyan dala fi bil dat de ous? Dat a likl ar notn! Di blain kyahn si se dat a wan ekspensiv ous. So wa mek som a wi kyaahn siit?


Eniou, ier ou di empara nyuu kluoz stuori go. Im did lov fi jres op iiina priti kluoz an mogl. Tuu banduulu tiela disaid fi tek im mek papishuo. Dem go a di palis an tel im se dem kyahn mek wan suut fi im outa klaat we so lait an fain, likl muos yu kyaahn siit. In fak, if yu fuul-fuul an inkompitent, yu kyaahn siit at aal.

Di empara se tu imself a nou mi a go fain out uu ina di empaiya naa du no wok an dis a faam di fuul. So im gi di tiela dem wan bag a guol fi staat bil di suut. Kopl wiik aafta, im sen im praim minista fi go si ou di suut a kom aan. Di tiela dem shuo im di klaat. Im kyaahn si notn.

Im no nuo ou fi go tel di empara. Kaa dat miin se im inkompitent. So im tel im se di klaat priti-priti. Wen di tiela dem don an bring di suut an di empara tek aaf im kluoz fi fit it, evribadi luk pan di niekid man an se ou im bortdie suut lovli.

Di tiela dem so wikid, dem tel di empara se di piipl dem outa ruod ier bout di klaat an waahn siit it. An di fuul-fuul empara lef im yaad niekid, niekid. An chruu di piipl dem ier se if yu dons yu kyaahn si di klaat, evribadi baal out se di klaat priti.


A ongl wan likl pikni, we no a no big jab fi protek, so im no main if piipl tingk se im inkompitent, a im baal out se, ‘di empara no gat aan no kluoz!’ Im faada tel im fi shot op. An jrag im we. Bot di piipl dem si se a chruu di pikni a taak. Di man no gat aan no kluoz. An di empara shiem-shiem. Bot im disaid fi briezn it out til im kech bak a im yaad.


Wi a wiet fi wan likl pikni baal out se di empara ous kaas nof, nof, nof, nof moni? So wa mek wi a gwaahn laik se a no so? Wi fried piipl tingk se wi fuul-fuul an inkompitent? Wi kyaahn si an blain an ier an def. Wi a fi taak di niekid chruut.

An bai di wie, mi nuo se plenti piipl a bil ous a Jamieka wuda lov fi get lain a kredit fi bildin matiiryal. Bot dem no loki laik Andrew an Juliet. Jakaas se di worl no levl. Mek mi lef it. Mi no waahn nobadi se a bad-main an grojful mek mi a taak bout di ous. Jak Manduora mi no chuuz non!



Do you remember the story about the emperor’s new clothes?  It’s one of those parables that tell the truth about human nature. Like Aesop’s fables. Or our anansi stories. The story about the emperor came back to me a couple of weeks ago when I read a Gleaner report that said, ‘Holness saves big on house – Opposition leader outlines benefits of hands-on approach to home construction’.

I said to myself, that’s  a whole lot of ‘hands-on’. Andrew said he did both masonry and woodwork for the house. So how much did that save? He would have had to do lots of masonry in order to help build that massive wall in front of the house. And he wouldn’t have had much time left over to do any other job.

When I think about it, these days when our weak dollar isn’t worth much. Fifty-two million dollars to build that house? That’s little or nothing! The blind can see that that’s one expensive house. So why can’t some of us see it?


Anyhow, here’s how the story of the emperor’s new clothes goes. He loved to dress up in pretty clothes and show off. Two trickster tailors decided to take him for a ride.   They went to the palace and told him they could make an outfit for him out out cloth so light and fine that it was almost invisible.  In fact, if you were idiotic and incompetent, you wouldn’t be able to see it at all.

The emperor said to himself now I’m going to find out who in the empire isn’t doing any work and just  forming the fool. So he gave the tailors quite a lot of gold to start making the outfit.  A few weeks later, he sent his prime minister to see how the clothes were coming along. The tailors showed him the cloth. He couldn’t see a thing.

He didn’t know how to tell the emperor. Because that would mean he was incompetent. So he told him that the cloth was very beautiful. When the tailors finished the outfit and brought it and  the emperor took off his clothes  to fit it, everybody took a look at the naked man and said how lovely his birthday suit was.

The tailors were so wicked, they  told the emperor that his subjects had heard about the cloth and wanted tp see it. And the foolish emperor went out of the palace start naked. And because the people had heard that if you’re a  dunce, you wouldn’t be able to see the cloth, everybody exclaimed that the cloth was pretty.


Emperor's+new+clothes.pngIt was only one little child, who had no big job to protect, so he didn’t mind if anyone thought he was  incompetent, who cried out, ‘the emperor doesn’t have on any clothes!’ His father told him to shut up. And dragged him way. But the people saw that the child was speaking the truth. The man was naked.   And the emperor was very ashamed. But he decided to put on a good face until he got back home.

We are waiting for a  little child to cry out and say that the emperor’s house costs lots and lots and lots of money? So why are we pretending that it’s not so?  Are we afraid it will look as if we’re foolish and incompetent? We can’t see and pretend to be blind and hear and play deaf. We have to speak the naked truth.

And by the way, I know that lots of people who are  building houses in  Jamaica would love to get line of credit for building materials. But they’re not as lucky as Andrew and Juliet. Jackass says the world isn’t level. Let me leave it alone. I don’t want it to be said that I’m mean-spirited and envious and that’s why I’m talking about the house. That’s the way the story goes!

Dem fi lef Andrew house alone

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.


andrewholnessA20150730GTMi shame fi di PNP. Wa mek dem a tek set pon Andrew house? Ascorden to di headline a one Gleaner story weh publish last Monday, ‘Andrew’s mansion talking point on PNP platform’. Mi never know dem wuda stoop to dat. Better dem talk bout weh dem do fi Jamaica people fi di last four year! Tings well bad wid dem if dem ha fi a talk bout Andrew house.


Hear wa Peter Phillips im seh last week Sunday eena Portmore bout di PNP leader Portia Simpson Miller: “No one in a fi har party can ask her nuh question how she build nuh house with wall that cost billions and billions and billions of dollars. We have a leader we can trust. We have a leader Jamaica can trust.”

By di way, unu see seh a nuff, nuff Patwa Peter Phillips a chat deh so. Wa mek im no chat laka dat eena Parliament? Fi wi Jamaica language no good enough fi official business? It ongle good fi cuss off political opponent an look vote? A time wi start fi tek wi language serious an gi it proper respect.


Anyhow, back to di house wall. It no cost no ‘billions and billions and billions of dollars’. Dat a lie an story. Peter Phillips well an know seh dat a pure foolishness. A wine im a wine up di crowd. An im mout slip. Wall cyaahn cost so much. No matter how fi wi dollar devalue. Better im did seh million an million an million a dollar.

No get mi wrong. A nuff cut-stone wall all round di house. Di front wall taller than di house. An di house no small. Mi wonder if di architect never draw no picture fi show Andrew an Juliet how di big wall wuda look front a di house an all bout di yard. Mi tink dem mek mistake. But a fi dem business. Still for all, it no right fi Peter Phillips a tell lie pon dem.

peter_phillips_0Next ting. Peter seh wi can trust Sista P. Pon di odder hand, im mek it sound like seh wi cyaahn trust Andrew. Becau it look like seh people inna fi im owna party a aks im question bout how im build house wid wall that cost “billions and billions and billions of dollars”. Serious ting.

It come een like seh Andrew an Juliet cyaahn answer no question bout weh di money come from fi build di plenty-billion house wall. An Peter no even mention di cost a di house. A so-so wall im a talk bout. If im put on di house price pon top a di wall, a nuff more billion. An nuff more question.


Then a who tell Peter Phillips seh wi can trust Sister P becau she no build no house wid no big wall? Perhaps wi no trust her fi odder reason. All like how she tek Dr Ferguson outa health ministry an gi im one next big job. Dat no mek wi feel confident fi trust Sista P judgement.

If Dr Ferguson cyaahn manage health ministry, a how im a go deal wid Labour an Social Security? Dat no mek no sense. Sista P shoulda send im go sit down pon back bench. But no! She build high wall round Dr Ferguson fi protect im. An it mighta cost her thousand an thousand an thousand of vote.


Mi shiem fi di PNP. Wa mek dem a tek set pan Andrew ous? Azkaadn tu di edlain a wan Gleaner stuori we poblish laas Monde, ‘Andrew’s mansion talking point on PNP platform’. Mi neva nuo dem uda stuuup tu dat. Beta dem taak bout we dem du fi Jamieka piipl fi di laas fuor ier! Tingz wel bad wid dem if dem a fi a taak bout Andrew ous.


Ier wa Peter Phillips im se laas wiik Sonde iina Portmore bout di PNP liida Portia Simpson Miller: “No one in a fi har party can ask her nuh question how she build nuh house with wall that cost billions and billions and billions of dollars. We have a leader we can trust. We have a leader Jamaica can trust.”

Bai di wie, unu si se a nof, nof Patwa Peter Phillips a chat de so. Wa mek im no chat laka dat iina Paaliment? Fi wi Jamieka langgwij no gud inof fi ofishal bizniz? It ongl gud fi kos aaf politikal opuonent an luk vuot? A taim wi staat fi tek wi langgwij siiryos an gi it prapa rispek.


Eniou, bak tu di ous waal. It no kaas no “billions and billions and billions of dollars”. Dat a lai an stuori. Peter Phillips wel an nuo se dat a pyuur fuulishnis. A wain im a wain op di kroud. An im mout slip. Waal kyaahn kaas so moch. No mata ou fi wi dala divalyu. Beta im did se milyan an milyan an milyan a dala.

No get mi rang. A nof kot-stuon waal aal roun di ous. Di front waal taala dan di ous. An di ous no smaal. Mi wanda if di aakitek neva jraa no pikcha fi shuo Andrew an Juliet ou di big waal wuda luk front a di ous an aal bout di yaad. Mi tingk dem mek mistiek. Bot a fi dem bizniz. Stil far aal, it no rait fi Peter Phillips a tel lai pan dem.

julietholness20111114cNeks ting. Peter se wi kyan chros Sista P. Pan di ada an, im mek it soun laik se wi kyaahn chros Andrew. Bikaa it luk laik se piipl iina fi im uona paati a aks im kweschan bout ou im bil ous wid waal dat kaas “billions and billions and billions of dollars”. Siiryos ting.

It kom iin laik se Andrew an Juliet kyaahn ansa no kweschan bout we di moni kom fram fi bil di plenti-bilyan ous waal. An Peter no iiivn menshan di kaas a di ous. A suo-so waal im a taak bout. If im put aan di ous prais pan tap a di waal, a nof muor bilyan. An nof muor kweschan.


Den a uu tel Peter Phillips se wi kyan chros Sista P bikaa shi no bil no ous wid no big waal? Paraps wi no chros ar fi ada riizn. Aal laik ou shi tek Dr Ferguson outa health ministry an gi im wan neks big jab. Dat no mek wi fiil kanfident fi chros Sista P jojment.

If Dr Ferguson kyaahn manij health ministry, a ou im a go diil wid Labour an Social Security? Dat no mek no sens. Sista P shuda sen im go sidong pan bak bench. Bot nuo! Shi bil ai waal roun Dr Ferguson fi protek im. An it maita kaas ar touzn an touzn an touzn a vuot.



I’m ashamed of the PNP. Why are are they paying so much attention to Andrew’s house? According to the headline of a Gleaner story published last Monday, ‘Andrew’s mansion talking point on PNP platform’. I didn’t think they would stoop to that. Better they talk about what they’ve done for the Jamaican people over the last four years! They must be very desperate if they have to be focusing on Andrew’s house.

Here’s what Peter Phillips said last Sunday in Portmore about PNP leader Portia Simpson Miller: “No one in a fi har party can ask her nuh question how she build nuh house with wall that cost billions and billions and billions of dollars. [No one in her party can ask her any questions about how she’s building a house with fence walls that cost billions and billions and billions of dollars.]  We have a leader we can trust. We have a leader Jamaica can trust.”

imagescaribhelloBy the way, you see that’s a lot of Patwa Peter Phillips is using there. Why doesn’t he speak that language in Parliament? Our  Jamaican language isn’t good enough for official business? It’s only good for cursing political opponents and getting votes? It’s time we start taking our language seriously and give it proper respect.


Anyhow, back to those walls. They certainly don’t cost ‘billions and billions and billions of dollars’. That’s pure fabrication. Peter Phillips very well knows that’s nonsense. He was just whipping up the crowd. And his mouth slipped. No wall could cost so much. No matter how  much our dollar has been devalued. Better he’d said millions and millions and millions of dollars.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of cut-stone wall all around the house. The front fence wall is taller than the house. And the house is not small. I wonder if the architect didn’t do any drawings to show Andrew and Juliet how that huge wall would look in front of the house and all around the property. I think they made a mistake. But that’s their business. All the same, it’s not right for Peter Phillips to misrepresent the cost.

Another thing. Peter says we can trust Sister P. On the other hand, he implies that  we can’t trust Andrew. Because it seems as if members of his own party have been questioning him about how he’s managed to build a house with fence walls that cost “billions and billions and billions of dollars”. That’s a very serious charge.

It’s as if  Andrew and Juliet can’t answer that question about the source of the funding for the multiple-billion fence wall. And Peter didn’t even mention the cost of the house. It’s only the walls he highlighted. If he adds the cost of the house to the estimate of the fence walls, that would be lots more billions. And lots more questions.


images-1Then why is Peter Phillips so sure we can trust Sister P because she hasn’t built a house with huge fence walls? Perhaps we don’t trust her for other reasons. Look at how she’s taken Dr Ferguson out of the ministry of health and given him another big job. That doesn’t inspire any confidence whatsoever in Sister P’s judgement.

If Dr Ferguson can’t manage the health ministry, how is he going to deal with Labour and Social Security? That move makes no sense at all. Sister P should have sent him to go sit on the back bench. But no! She’s built a high wall around Dr Ferguson to protect him. And it might cost her thousands and thousands and thousands of votes.

Raping Virgin Territory

jamaica“Hold down an tek weh.” That’s exactly what it is. Protected lands on Long Mountain that, by law, should remain virgin territory for the benefit of all Jamaicans, for generations to come, have been captured and are about to be deflowered by the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ).

The Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) and the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) are mandated to protect conservation lands. Instead of carrying out their mission honourably, it would appear that the NRCA and NEPA have ganged up and held down the virgin so that the HAJ can have its way, back and front. It’s an all-too-familiar scenario.

images-1According to a report published in The Gleaner on Thursday, May 23, the HAJ “posted an environmental bond, valued at between $30 million and $40 million, as part of the preconditions” in order to get a permit for further ‘development’ on Long Mountain. Of course, no environmental bond would be needed if there was [sic] no threat of environmental degradation.

I refuse to use the antiquated subjunctive ‘were’ for ‘was’. I am in no mood for grammatical niceties. The environmental problems with ‘development’ on Long Mountain are decidedly not hypothetical. They are very real. All of the environmental impact assessments (EIAs) for the area have clearly identified the risks. It’s not a case of ‘if’ there are going to be problems. And it’s definitely not future tense; it’s present.


images-3Just ask the leader of the Opposition, Andrew Holness, and his wife Juliet who are building what appears to be a fortress in Beverly Hills. They seem to know something that the rest of us don’t: Armageddon must be nigh. In the recent rains, an avalanche of stones from their property rolled downhill, propelled by the flood waters spewing from the Long Mountain Country Club into Beverly Hills and the Pines of Karachi.

Instead of feeding the aquifer, rainwater from the housing scheme runs off the hill and goes to waste, damaging roads along the way. This specific problem was forecast in the EIA for the country club that was done in 2000. But the unwelcome findings were simply ignored. And now there’s the threat of a new ‘development’ that will only compound existing environmental dangers.

12945495986xm08TThe $30m-$40m bond will, I suspect, prove completely inadequate to fix the environmental damage the new scheme will cause. It’s like those television ads promising cures for all sorts ailments. When you hear the side effects of the miracle drugs, including death, you wonder if you’re not better off with the original disease. In the case of Long Mountain, it’s even worse. The fertile land is healthy. It should be left exactly as it is. There’s no need to manufacture an environmental problem in order to try to solve it.

Furthermore, this new development below the country club is even closer to the Mona Reservoir. The 2000 EIA for both the country club and the additional 30 acres or so that are now up for grabs predicted that “[a]dditional storm water will be discharged into existing drainage channels to increase erosion on the lower slopes facing the reservoir … . From field observations, there are a number of drainage channels on the lower slope that are capable of carrying storm water laden with sediments directly into the reservoir during periods of high rainfall.”


Mona Reservoir and Long Mountain

The EIA also warned that if a sewage line from the proposed development is broken, gravity will feed the waste directly into the reservoir. Even worse, the lift station for the new development is to be located right across from the reservoir. In the event of an earthquake or even a burst pipe, sewage is likely to flow freely into the reservoir. And sewage from the country club has already been flowing freely into some homes in the Pines of Karachi.


images-7The Gleaner story on the HAJ permit reports that “[t]he subdivision, which should initially have seen the development of 54 residential lots on just over 29 acres of land, came under public scrutiny more than two years ago after its upscale neighbours – the Pines of Karachi and Beverly Hills – raised concerns over how it would impact them”. That’s not the whole story. And it’s not a class issue: ‘upscale’ versus ‘downscale’. I expect that the potential investors in the new development are quite ‘upscale ‘.

The impact of ‘backlash’ development on existing communities is, indeed, an understandable concern. For example, as far as I can tell, no new access roads are going to be built for the proposed development. This will increase traffic congestion, especially since one of the access roads on the approved plan for the Long Mountain Country Club was never built. How the developer got away with it, I don’t know. In any case, Pines of Karachi and Beverly Hills have been forced to accommodate additional traffic that would have used the missing road.

images-6The much bigger picture is protecting the environment. The most recent EIA, commissioned by the HAJ, admits that “the proposed development site is zoned for public open space in the 1966 Confirmed Kingston Development Order for Kingston while in the emerging Kingston and St Andrew Development Order, 2008, the proposed zoning is public open space/conservation”. But the two-faced assessment observes that “there has been in the past a relaxation of the zoning restriction”. So because there have been breaches in the past, we should just keep on turning conservation areas into housing!

images-8All is not lost. There is still one last wall of defence against the encroaching development: The Cabinet. That’s where the final decision will be taken. I hope Prime Minister Simpson Miller and her Cabinet will find the courage to halt the ravaging of Long Mountain. It all started with another PNP administration. They need to make amends. “Wat gone bad a-morning can come good a-evening.”