Jamaica, the year in its contradictions

I don’t do lists, but I enjoy looking at things in random and varied ways. The year is ending and I look back, as many do. But, I’m going there based on what my memory throws up.

Jamaica is a land of fantastic contradictions. We have all nature could bestow, yet cry that we have nothing.

I’m going to try to focus on Jamaica but may drift.

Because of recent utterances, I have former Public Defender, Earl Witter, in my sight. Like the wise old owl he seems to be, Witter wooed. Whom did he woo? Mukulu. Having wooed and won, Witter was filled with woe. Why? Regrets, he’d had a few. He had to purge himself. I remember his saying in public about a process not having been sufficiently “purgative”. Well, he can disembowel himself, publicly. It’s not a pretty sight.

Tivoli is having its navel investigated again. Ironically, Witter was into that too. He took nigh on four years and delayed delays to get his report issued. The new Enquiry has already created fireworks like the gunfire that took so many lives. Lloyd D’Aguilar sees issues others only imagine. Poor, Sir David Simmons, Bajan to his core, got hit by Lloyd full bore. “Political hack!” Sir David fired back his slingshot at Lloyd the Goliath. “Get out!” Is who run things? Cheese on bread! Not Lloyd, who has no current insurance policy. Abandoned and cast away to sea.

Who put the nation in a spin? What? you mean. Chikungunya…Chik-v. “One Panadol, quick!” As fast as Bolt out of the blocks, Yardies got down to sweep like our sprinters. ‘Dutty’ was not confined, nicely, to Berry or, rudely, to Labourites. Though our health minister, Ferguson, was slow on the uptake, his leader said he’d done nothing wrong. Well, let’s differ on that. Jamaican love of ‘soon come’ affects all, despite stripe. Mrs. Simpson-Miller got down in the gutter with her shovel and glove and once in the gutter, she showed her love for “my people”. She looked at peace in the gutter, and her parliamentary colleagues know this well.

But, Panadol was scarce for many. Papaya leaf, bitter as gall, could work for some, if not all. Coconut water to wash out your heart, said Chronixx, but save some to hydrate those aching and creaky joints.

Where did this Chik-v come from? Mosquitoes? No way! America sent it in a crashed plane off Portland. It’s a plot to wipe out black people. Only JLP people were infected. Strange, that.

Ground as hard as crisp for most of the year. Dams that had no reservoir of water. People in Mona moaning at empty pipes. Out with the drought. But some had the front to buy private water and have fun and laughter at wet fetes. Wet feet. What a feat!

The rains were late, as befits Jamaica. Unfashionable, as ever. Crying shame on our public servants, who’ve planned so badly for the inevitable. Still, nature saved us, again. So much rain came later that we had floods. All our troubles seem so far away. Yesterday…

Like a Bolt out of the blue, Usain went to tilt in a kilt in Glasgow. He hadn’t run, yet, but had caused the biggest stir by being misinterpreted as dissing the event. What happened to that reporter? What was her name? What of the fame? Gone up in flames.

Jamaican men did not need him to do what we now do. We win 100 metres golds, 1st string or 2nd. Swooping to sweep, 1-2-3, our ladies made history in the 400 metres. Bolt came out to do what was expected and scorched the track in the 4×100 relay. Commonwealth record, too. Gone clear!

This was the year when those who dared speak were in the spotlight. Some thought this very un-Jamaican. The kings of chat? The politician who uttered the infamous “articulate minority” remark will have his place in history.

History is replete with people who tried to make speaking out an offence. Historic evidence is that, when they succeeded nations suffered for being silenced. I’m not going to elevate the utterer to the position of those whom history condemned, but sit in silence at your peril. You have a brain and a voice? Use them! No matter how many Bobbies we have, we do not live in a police state.

Jamaica is never dull. I can’t even find space to deal with the latest whirlwind of nothing-to-something fame. Gully Bop mashed up Sting 2014, a few days ago. But, in a flash, was dropped by his management company like a hot potato. He hadn’t even had time to fix his dentures or crash his new Benz. Choose better, your friends.

While Gully bopped then flopped, other artistes clashed on stage, then crashed. Sting is a sting. We fall for it as some cultural expression but it’s WWF Jamaica-style. That’s wrestling, and hurtful words with people who should be friends. But, so it ends.

What made me laugh the most should be saved for last.

Was it NHT trying to make fools out of many Jamaicans? Easton Douglas or Lambert Brown? Which would I choose to be a godfather? Don’t rush me. Sometimes, slippery like okra applies to things other than roads.

Was it our paying J$4 million for first class seats in a private jet for Abu Bakr to return to Trinidad? That was a hoot? Whose plane was it? Abu was such a man to say boo and frighten us? Minister Bunting went hunting for reasons to avert treason? Someone went crying all the way to the bank.

Was it politicians who got swiped because they did not know how to save money with Skype? They went roaming in the gloaming and racked up such silly bills. Silly Billies. What’s a million dollars between us? Front up and pay out of your pocket. Doing the nation’s work, with no care for cost? Get lost! That’s what I call a deficit…of intelligence.

My man of the year is Peter Phillips. The rock on which Jamaica will rebuild its economy. Test him! He passes with flying colours. Now, he stumbled when trying to hoodwink us with a little bank tax. But, the articulate minority and others called foul and he recanted. We did not budge. He had to do better budgetting. Peter, a one time Rasta, is faring well with the IMF. It’s no longer Manley’s fault. Everything Irie, my friend–the new IMF.

We’re getting growth but the dollar is making us holler. It’s ending 2014 around 113; it’s on its bended knee. Let us, therefore, pray for its health and more strength in 2015.

Jamaica! Jamaica! Jamaica, land we love.

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. :)