I got a partial answer to my question about Jamaican satire: life’s too funny to need it acted out. Just a few random examples from recent weeks.
Just a few days ago, a clearly frustrated mayor of Savannah la Mar in western Jamaica, Bertel Moore, blurted out that police should now “shoot first then ask questions later” when dealing with suspected criminals. He’d reacted wildly to a fast growing problem of shootings and murders in his parish, Westmoreland. Jamaicans have not all lost their marbles, and many, including local police representatives quickly condemned his position. Jamaica already has an unenviable reputation for ‘extra judicial’ killings by the police. The Gleaner wrote a stinging editorial condemning the mayor. Jibes about the “wild West” soon shot out.
We had a prominent MP, Mr. WARmington, giving signature advice to environmentalists to “go to Hell” for their temerity In trying to urge that the environment be protected in considerations of where to locate a proposed logistics hub. Not warm, at all. Really, too charming, I’d have to say. The tranquil Goat Islands are not bringing out the best in people.
Ordinary people also have their moments of silliness everyday. We met a security guard at the hospital yesterday, who was so quick to flaunt her political colors–green for the Jamaica Labour Party, pointing to her coloured uniform badge. She had no time for our joking that we were former PNP prime minister, “Patterson, P.J.”; “Not my Prime Minister,” she boldly stated. Then she sang the praises of the current JLP (“Jamaica Loving Party”, she chanted) leader, Andrew Holness: “Andrew, all the way!”. She’ll do all she can to see he prevails in the coming battle for leadership, especially if she can vote as in other elections. She proudly declared that she’d voted five times at the last general election, dancing a gleeful little jig as she told us that. If she’s typical, it’s hard to understand how apparent low turnouts occur.
Not making light of the real tragedy, how do you not marvel at Kingston’s public bus company, Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), when a second bus burst into flames in a matter of two weeks? We’d heard that the first one did not carry working extinguishers, and passengers would be well advised to travel with water, just in case. I liked it that an on looker had to tell the bus driver that the back of bus was ablaze: locals know the buses often belch out a lot of smoke, so it would’ve been hard for the driver to notice.
This during the same time when several high schools decided to discipline students for not following dress codes by sending them home, or for lateness by locking them out of school. I hope they didn’t have to take one of the JUTC buses. Talk about wanting to fire up the youths.
Police this week searched the jail cell of Vybz Kartel, a well-known dance hall artiste, and found it had ‘contraband’–and that’s not a backing group. Naturally, the banned items included cell phones 🙂 Really? But, also thumb drives and DVDs. Where are the good old thumb screws, cigarettes, files and pliers?
Why make things up, when life offers such rich material? We clearly don’t need sketches on TV or theatre when we have brilliant comedy surrounding us. Now that YouTube is rampant, it would be better for the government to give every citizen a smartphone and let them record these incidents for submission to the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) could then circulate them with an official seal of ‘MAD in Jamaica’ and circulate them to the world. Have to think of innovative ways to sell brand Jamaica.