Big Up Dr Zuma and Mr Obama!

Dr Zuma

Dr Nkosazana Zuma

Last Thursday, the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies hosted two distinguished visitors. Yes, two! Not just United States President Mr Barack Obama. A couple of hours after his uplifting town hall meeting, another speaker of equal stature, Dr Nkosazana Zuma, chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), delivered the 8th Lucille Mathurin Mair public lecture.

The first woman to chair the AUC, Dr Zuma has broken barriers of gender that seemed as insurmountable as the stumbling blocks of race that have been put in Mr Obama’s path. I will never forget the euphoria of attending the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States. On a very cold January morning, I stood in line with hundreds of others for more than two hours just to get on a train to the Capitol.

But I almost turned back when the train got more and more crowded as we approached Washington, D.C. My sister, Donnette, had to remind me that I’d come all the way from Jamaica for the inauguration and couldn’t miss it. When we got to the Capitol, I was glad I hadn’t given up. To be part of that massive crowd on that historic occasion was truly awesome.

I felt a similar sense of awe as I heard Dr Zuma tell her heroic story of the struggle for gender equity on the African continent. As the African Union website notes, “She was born on 27 January 1949 in KwaZulu-Natal, a time when black women’s career expectations did not go beyond domestic work”.

As a medical student in South Africa, this politically engaged young woman became an underground member of the African National Congress. In 1976, she went into exile in the UK where she completed her degree. On her return to South Africa, Dr Zuma was appointed as minister of health and introduced reforms that made basic healthcare free. In the spirit of much later Obamacare! Dr Zuma also served as minister of foreign affairs and minister of home affairs.

SEMAJ TAKING BETS

Quite early in her lecture, Dr. Zuma used the vivid image of the hoe to symbolise the difficulty of life for many women on the African continent.Women farmers have long been complaining that the backbreaking work of digging the ground with a hoe makes them age rather quickly. A woman of 40 begins to look like 60.

By the way, according to Dr. Leahcim Semaj, this prematurely aged woman would definitely have to stay in her lane. No ‘ageable’ man is going to want her. Then would you believe that Dr. Semaj is taking bets on his Mind Spa blog that no ‘ageable’ man is going to look me? “The bird will soon learn” is how he puts it. What a prekeh!

https://thesemajmindspa.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/maturing-in-our-relationships-as-we-age-the-bird-will-soon-learn/

Seriously, though, the AUC has make a commitment to ensure that women farmers have access to new technology that will make their lives far easier.

Womenintechnology-templateOne of the big issues Dr Zuma addressed was the effectiveness of quotas in increasing the number of women in representational politics. At a “Phenomenal Women” breakfast on Friday, she told the amusing story of how the AUC handled negative responses to the decision that each of the five regions of the Union should send two representatives, one male, the other female, to the Commission.

Only two regions complied. The other three claimed they could not find any qualified women. They were told that their quota of women would be given to other regions. And they would just have to explain to their constituents why they couldn’t find appropriate female representatives. All of a sudden, suitable women appeared, seemingly out of nowhere.

BOY/GIRL EQUITY

Dr. Zuma also settled the non-issue of “token” women. Some pompous women, opposed to the quota system, keep saying they don’t want to be seen as “token” women. But, as Dr. Zuma put it, “quotas and merit are not mutually exclusive”. Quotas force men to acknowledge the existence of qualified women who are routinely overlooked for leadership positions.

This indisputable affirmation of the value of quotas reminded me of the easy way in which Mr Obama applied the principle of gender equity in his fielding of questions at the town hall meeting. Simple alternation: boy/girl. But this is not the usual practice in the ‘real’ world of male domination! Men don’t usually like to share power.
imagesIf only we could apply this boy/girl system in all areas of public life. At the University of the West Indies, for example, we could institute the principle of quotas to ensure gender equity. Boy Chancellor, followed by girl Chancellor; boy Vice-chancellor, girl Vice-chancellor. On and on, all the way up and down the University’s hierarchical systems. And we could put in place term limits. So more people would get the opportunity to provide leadership.

Dr Zuma’s visit has received very little coverage in the local media. She has been overshadowed by Mr Obama. But for those of us who knew she was here, her presence has been a most welcome affirmation of woman power. Twenty years after the Fourth World Conference on Women, convened in Beijing, the African Union has declared 2015 as the African Year of Women. We in the Diaspora must join forces with women on the continent to claim our full of quota of rights.

Chávez Duppy Dream Sista P

Frederic Cassidy

Frederic Cassidy

There are two spelling systems used for the Jamaican language below.  The first, which I call ‘prapa-prapa’, is the specialist phonetic system designed by the linguist Frederic Cassidy.  It has been slightly amended by the Jamaican Language Unit at the University of the West Indies, Mona. The second, ‘chaka-chaka’, is based on English spelling.  After the two Jamaican versions, there’s an English translation.

Prapa-Prapa Spelin

imagesChávez dopi bierli riich evn an im disaid fi lef kom luk fi Sista P.  Im a no wan a dem man we lov logzyuri.  Im naa go waahn liv no ai laif op a evn, a waak pan ruod mek outa guol, an a sing an daans an plie aap, an a jrink milk an oni, an im wel nuo se nof piipl pan ort naa notn fi hiit an jrink. An no bada taak bout patuol!  Aal inna Jamieka.  No, sa! Chávez a wan a di wan-an-fyuu palitishan wid kanshens.  A it mek im dopi disaid fi flai doun kom taak tu Sista P.  Ier we im tel ar se.

Portia Simpson Miller

Portia Simpson Miller

Querida Portia, mi glad fi si yu kom a mi fineral.  Rispek dyuu!  Bai di wie, yu fi taak tu di Prezident a yu Senet.  Im no redi.  Mi no laik ou im dis di Jostis Minista.  Bot dat a wan neks tuori.  Yu don nuo mi lov Jamieka.  Luk ou mi gi unu wan gud-gud diil pan di ail.  So yu wuda a fi kom a mi fineral fi sen mi aaf inna stail.  Bot so moch a unu?  Wa mek yu antaraaj so big an braad, Sista P? Yu a gwaan laik se yu a wan a dem bran niem DJ.  A we unu get di moni fi di uol a unu kom magl a mi fineral?  Mi ongl uop a no Ouzn Chos.

Life and Debt

Peter Phillips

Peter Phillips

Beg yu tel Peter Phillips fi tek im an outa puor piipl pakit! Ouzn Chos moni a fi bil ous fi puor piipl.  A no fi bil op bojit.  If di bojit pap doun, Peter a fi go fain wan neks wie fi kach it op.  Mi a waan unu.  Wa staat bad a maanin kyaahn kom gud a iivnin.  Fram unu staat nyam out Ouzn Chos moni, tingz a go go fram bad tu wos tu wosara.  Wa a go apm wen it don?

Mi nuo se IMF a kwiiz unu nek.  Bot a fi unu faalt.  Wa mek unu gaan go rap op bak wid dem? Luk ou lang Michael Manley shuo wi se wi ha fi lef dem out!  Sista P, yu neva wach Stephanie Black flim, Life and Debt?  Lisn mi!  Wen yu ier wat Michael Manley se inna dat de flim, yu wuda nuo se Jamieka supuoz fi waak faar fram IMF.

http://www.lifeanddebt.org/

Yu nuo di big prablem wid Jamieka?  Unu ches tuu ai; an unu yai tuu big.  Unu a gwaan laik se unu a wash doun wid ail laka Venezuela an Trinidad an Tobago.  An iivn den.  Wa mek so moch farin fuud inna suupamaakit?  Wa rang wid Jamieka fuud?

math symbols_2Unu mout gluobal; an unu moni luokal.  An it kyaahn wok, Sista P. Unu a fi wiil an kom agen.  Mi naa se unu fi gu bak tu di aad life inna di sevntiz. Bot unu mos kyahn fain a wie fi liv pan di likl moni unu a mek.  Yu don nuo, mi an di American dem no plaahn no gungo a lain.  Bot mi a fi agrii wid Bill Clinton: “It’s arithmetic”.  A no suo-so palitiks.

Chaka-Chaka Spelling

Chávez duppy barely reach heaven an im decide fi lef come look fi Sista P.  Im a no one a dem man weh love luxury.  Im naa go waan live no high life up a heaven, a walk pon road mek outa gold, an a sing an dance an play harp, an a drink milk an honey, an im well know seh nuff people pon earth naa notn fi eat an drink. An no bodder talk bout pothole!  All inna Jamaica.  No, sah! Chávez a one a di one-an-few politician wid conscience.  A it mek im duppy decide fi fly down come talk to Sista P.  Hear weh im tell har seh.

Rev Stanley Redwood,President, Jamaican Senate

Rev Stanley Redwood,
President, Jamaican Senate

Querida Portia, mi glad fi see yu come a mi finaral.  Rispek due!  By di way, yu fi talk to di President a yu Senate.  Im no ready.  Mi no like how im diss di Justice Minister.  But dat a one next story.  Yu done know mi love Jamaica.  Look how mi gi unu one good-good deal pon di oil.  So yu woulda ha fi come a mi fineral fi send mi off inna style.  But so much a unu?  Weh mek yu entourage so big an broad, Sista P? Yu a gwaan like seh yu a one a dem brand name DJ.  A weh unu get di money fi di whole a unu come moggle a mi finaral?  Mi ongle hope a no Housing Trust.

Life and Debt

images-5Beg yu tell Peter Phillips fi tek im hand outa poor people pocket!  Housing Trust money a fi build house fi poor people.  A no fi build up budget.  If di budget pop down, Peter ha fi go find one next way fi cotch it up.  Mi a warn unu.  Wa start bad a mornin kyaan come good a evening.  From unu start nyam out Housing Trust money, tings a go go from bad to worse to worserer. Wa a go happen wen it done?

Stephanie Black

Stephanie Black

Mi know seh IMF a squeeze unu neck.  But a fi unu fault.  Weh mek unu gone go wrap up back wid dem? Look how long Michael Manley show wi seh wi ha fi lef dem out!  Sista P, yu never watch Stephanie Black flim, Life and Debt?  Listen mi!  When yu hear wat Michael Manley seh inna dat deh flim, yu woulda know seh Jamaica suppose fi walk far from IMF.

Yu know di big problem wid Jamaica?  Unu chest too high; an unu yai too big.  Unu a gwaan like seh unu a wash down wid oil laka Venezuela an Trindad an Tobago.  An even den.  Wa mek so much farin food inna supermarket?  Wa wrong wid Jamaica food?

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton

Unu mouth global; an unu money local.  An it kyaahn work, Sista P. Unu ha fi wheel an come again.  Mi naa seh unu fi go back to di hard life inna di seventies. But unu must kyah find a way fi live pon di lickle money unu a mek.  Yu done know, me an di American dem no plant no gungo a line.  But mi ha fi agree wid Bill Clinton: “It’s arithmetic”.  A no so-so politics.

Chávez’s Ghost Visits Sister P

images-7Chávez had only just got to heaven when he decided to leave and visit Sister P.  He’s not one of those men who love luxury.  He wouldn’t want to live on easy street, walking on gold, singing and dancing and playing the harp and drinking milk and honey, knowing full well that there are so many starving people on earth.  And don’t even talk about potholes!  Especially in Jamaica.  Not at all! Chávez is one of the small number of politicians with a conscience.  So that’s why he decided to come back to earth to talk to Sister P.  This is what he told her.

images-8Querida Portia, I was so glad to see you at my funeral. Rispek due!  By the way, you should have a word with the President of your Senate.  He’s not on top of things.  I didn’t like the way he dissed the Justice Minister.  But that’s another story.  You know I really love Jamaica.  That’s why I gave you such a good deal on the oil.  So you would have had to come to my funeral to send me off in style.  But so many of you?  Why was your entourage so huge, Sister P? You’re behaving as if you’re one of those brand name DJs.  Where did you get the money for so many of you to come and profile at my funeral?  I only hope it wasn’t from the Housing Trust.

Life and Debt

wrong-trackPlease tell Peter Phillips to take his hand out of poor people’s pocket!  Housing Trust funds are to be used to build houses for poor people. Not to build up the budget.  If the budget isn’t viable, Peter will have to find another way to prop it up.  I’m warning you:  if you go down the wrong track, it’s hard to get back on course.  Once you start plundering the resources of the Housing Trust, things will go from bad to worse. What will happen when it’s all eaten up?

I know that the IMF has you by the throat.  But it’s your fault.  Why have you gotten mixed up with them again? So long ago Michael Manley showed us that we should avoid them!  Sister P, didn’t you watch Stephanie Black’s film, Life and Debt?  I tell you.  When you listen to what Michael Manley said in that film, you would know that Jamaica should have nothing to do with the IMF.

You know what’s Jamaica’s big problem?  You all are much too vain and greedy.  You’re behaving as if you have huge oil reserves like Venezuela and Trindad and Tobago.  And even so.  Why is there so much imported food in your supermarkets?  What’s wrong with Jamaican food?

3d-silver-math-symbolsYour taste is global; and your currency is local.  And that can’t work, Sister P. You have to go back to the drawing board.  I’m not saying you should return to the hard times of the seventies. But you must be able to find a way to live within your means, however meagre.  You very well know that the Americans and I don’t see eye to eye.  But I have to agree with Bill Clinton: “It’s arithmetic”.  It’s not just politics.