Jamaica is always a trying place

Jamaica isn’t somewhere that is never having a trying time.

  • People are trying to con you: “Bossy, you cyan len’ me a money fiya food?” I give the man $20; he complains that he wants $50. I ask him to give me back my money. He says it’s alright.
  • You are trying to get things done simply: “General, buy disya bungle a greens fram mi, nuh?” I wanted callalloo and drove past the first seller, who already was serving someone, to the next, but the first seller chase my car to come and try to ‘steal’ the sale from his competitor…
  • We try to be understanding, but sometimes we fail: I was trying to park my car, where there were two rows of parking, to right and left. One car was parked, straddling two spaces, to my right. I could not get in to manoeuvre even to park in the left lot. When I managed to do, eventually, I went to the parked car, whose driver was having a conservation with another driver. “Can’t you see that your blocking the parking spaces?” I ask.parking badly “Why you a stress me, suh? Is di cripple gentleman mi did let aff an mi jus a chat. A nuh park me park…” Suffice to say, there was not a meeting of minds, as I strenuously told him that he was not yet stressed as he was still sitting in his car and not lying on his back in the car park 🙂

But, that’s just a little slice of Jamaican life.

This has been a trying week for dealing with facts and figures. If I listen to some JLP (Opposition) politicians, we have a chikungunya epidemic. Why? Because, the official figures cited by the government for confirmed cases is 24 and doctors and others have been saying that there are many more cases. Fine. There are many more cases. In a population of nearly 3 million people that ‘many more’ needs to be a very large number to be called an epidemic. We have around 140 confirmed cases of dengue fever at the moment. People are complaining of flu-like symptoms, and if they are not chikungunya or dengue sufferers, then their numbers are probably higher and so we may really have a flu epidemic. That’s not something to sneeze about.

The dictionary tells me that epidemic is ‘affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time’. Unless, someone can prove that, them please stop using that word. Why? It frightens people. Now, we may need fear to get people’s attention, but not because it’s the simplest way. Fear often leads to panic, and that then leads to lots of other undesirable consequences. In a country that has about 3 murders a day, we have a murder epidemic, for sure. Now, if only the gusto turned on the unarmed, but dangerous, aedes aegypti mosquitoesaedes aegypti could be turned on armed and deadly criminals in our midst, I’d be amongst the first to say a hearty thanks. But, swatting and fogging are far easier than dealing with pesky people.

But, despite the downs when you want to be up, Jamaica still stands head and shoulders higher than many places in trying to do the right thing for other people who struggle. The High Commissioner for South Africa reminded her audience of that–our role in fighting against the Apartheid regime–when she hosted a cocktail reception celebrating 20 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. “Viva, Jamaica!”

Senator Nicholson and High Commissioner Joyeni
Senator A. J. Nicholson and High Commissioner Mathu Joyini

Beyond the cocktails, there was a workshop of drumming and art at the Edna Manley College for the Performing Arts, yesterday, and  free concert this evening at Emancipation Park, featuring Hip Hop Pantsula from South Africa.

Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)