#AtoZChallenge Zika and zaniness

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In a wonderful demonstration of a random act of kindness, energetic activist and sometime blogger, Susan Goffe (@suezeecue), has kindly written about a mosquito-borne scourge that is affecting the Americas in a major way. Her zeal has kept public awareness high on range of issues, both in detailing the events but also putting the issues into policy context. Thank you, Susan!
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Six months ago, most Jamaicans had never heard of the Zika virus. If we had, we thought of it as ChikV & dengue’s little cousin, a mild virus with symptoms that didn’t rise to the level of these more debilitating diseases. If we had been through the terrible Chikungunya virus/ChikV epidemic that swept Jamaica in 2014, we certainly didn’t need to worry much about Zika. Then in the final months of 2015, the news began to emerge from Brazil about the increased numbers of babies being born with microcephaly during the outbreak of Zika there. Like the rest of the region, Jamaica began to pay more attention to this mild disease. On January 18, the Ministry of Health issued an advisory recommending that women delay pregnancy for 6 to 12 months, the usefulness of which was questioned in a country in which more than 50% of pregnancies are unplanned. On January 26, the first case of Zika was confirmed, that of a 4-year-old child, who had returned earlier that month from a trip to Texas, USA. The timing indicated, however, that the child had been infected in Jamaica, rather than in Texas. Then, rather inexplicably, there were no more confirmed cases for 7 weeks, after which 5 more cases were confirmed over the course of a few days.

This week, two more cases were confirmed, bringing the total so far to 8. Jamaica’s chief epidemiologist reiterated this week that between 50-70% of the population are expected to become infected with Zika, though only 20-25% of those who are infected will show symptoms. She said that already there may be far more than 8 cases of Zika in Jamaica and that those being seen in health facilities will represent only the tip of the iceberg (or is that the probe of the mosquito?). She reminded pregnant women that it is important to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

The Ministry of Health’s Director for Disaster Management noted that once Zika is here, it is here to stay, that like ChikV and dengue, it will become endemic. This means that our focus must be on reducing the population of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is the main insect spreader for Zika, and the most effective way of doing this is not by fogging, but by getting rid of the breeding sites. The virology lab at University of the West Indies (Mona) is now certified by the World Health Organization (WHO) to test for Zika, the only lab with this certification in the English-speaking Caribbean, other than CARPHA in Trinidad. This means that we can get test results far more quickly now, allowing for public health measures to be implemented rapidly in communities where cases are confirmed. It is ironic, though, that while scientists around the world rush to develop a vaccine, and while there is talk about using genetically modified mosquitoes to reduce the Aedes aegypti population, the advice being given is really time-tested advice that has been with us for generations. Reduce breeding sites and avoid being bitten. Mosquito nets, for example, are making a comeback, as well as the routine checks around our homes for standing water in which mosquito larvae may be found.

It is ironic, though, that while scientists around the world now rush to develop a vaccine (even though the virus was discovered in the late-1940s), and while there is talk about using genetically modified mosquitoes to reduce the Aedes aegypyti population, the advice being given is really time-tested advice that has been with us for generations: reduce breeding sites and avoid being bitten. Mosquito nets, for example, are making a comeback, as well as the routine checks around our homes for standing water in which mosquito larvae may be found.

Jamaica has had the Aedes aegypti mosquito for hundreds of years; the first recorded outbreak of yellow fever (also transmitted by this mosquito) was in 1655. When it was realized, hundreds of years later, how the dreaded yellow fever was transmitted, mosquito eradication became the focus, and in the first decade of the 20th century, the last cases of yellow fever were recorded in Jamaica. Although Zika doesn’t have anything like the mortality rate of yellow fever, the association with birth defects in babies and with Guillain-Barre Syndrome are of great concern and an additional reason for us in Jamaica to once again ramp up our anti-mosquito measures. After all, “Wi nuh waan ZikV!”

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No story in 2016 seems as zany as the events surrounding the death of ‘Timmy’ (aka Roosevelt Thomas). He was the man alleged to have killed his 3-year-old daughter, went into hiding, then surrendered himself to the police in Montego Bay. We then heard he’d escaped during questioning, by jumping through a window, while handcuffed, landing on the road some 15-20 feet below, and then leaving ‘breathless’ police officers in his wake as he escaped. What?!?!

Joke as I will, did we just discover a branch of super humans on our north coast? Who could this Ras Spiderman be? Leap buildings at a single bound?

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From where did ‘Timmy’ get those powers?

 

The Jamaica Constabulary Force have a credibility problem. It seems to be oblivious of what that is, or knows but chooses to just row on blithely. Yesterday, a spokesman, SSP McGregor recounted on the radio how the man had escaped. He added that the man had fallen on some awning, before landing on a passerby, then hitting the street. He noted that the story had been met with skepticism. You don’t say!

This story should be shopped to Hollywood and used to put juice into our claims to be supporting ‘creative industries’.

Jamaica is known to practice ‘jungle’ or ‘vigilante’ justice, especially when heinous crimes are concerned. So, a man ‘escaping’ who is later found killed is not so surprising. Accidents happen, but they are avoidable. Deliberately ‘setting the bait’ is not nice. However…

Part of the lack of public belief is how after many mishaps little seems to change to stop them happening. Is that willful neglect? The fact that all this took place at Barnett Street raises many eyebrows. Remember Mario Deane, who was alleged to have been killed there by fellow inmates, but six police officers on duty at the time have since been indicted. That spurred the Ministry of National Security to issue new guidelines about the care and protection of arrangements for the ‘care and protection of persons in police custody‘.

Timmy’s miracle escape spurred a critical editorial in today’s Gleaner, entitled ‘A Stench From Barnett Street‘, which speaks for itself. As it notes, this series of ‘unfortunate’ events is associated with many other police stations in Jamaica:

We hear little of the outcomes of the internal investigations that the constabulary’s bosses announce at the time of these embarrassing episodes. No one knows if anyone is ever held to account, which should include the regional line managers and the top bosses themselves? For the whole thing reeks of incompetence – or worse.

When police high command ask for the help of the public in their ‘fight’ against crime do they really believe that they have done much to create public trust?

#AtoZChallenge You must decide your future


You, the people of Jamaica, what kind of country do most of you want?

I would be delighted to wake up and go out and see a transformed country. It does not have to be like Switzerland, or Washington DC, or Paris, or London, or Casablanca, or Lagos, or Singapore. But, it should be somewhere that I can look at proudly and say “That’s my homeland.” My standards may be high, but I’d like to think that the best of all I’ve seen in other countries could be right here on my doorstep. I have had the great misfortune of having been forced to travel to lots of countries to deal with the economic problems that countries fall into on a regular basis. I’ve also travelled for my own pleasures.

My standards may be high, but I’d like to think that the best of all I’ve seen in other countries could be right here on my doorstep. I have had the great misfortune of having been forced to travel to lots of countries to deal with the economic problems that countries fall into on a regular basis. I’ve also travelled for my own pleasures. I’ve seen countries drag themselves out of dire situations and make amazing progress in 10 years, and here we are, 50 plus years after Independence, still bumbling along. It won’t do!

I’d love to walk in open areas that were litter-free, with places to sit and flowers, shrubs and trees to look at and enjoy. Yes, I have parts of Hope Gardens or Devon House or Emancipation Park, but they fit the bill as rarities.

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Devon House, reminder of what one man’s effort led to and something many wished they could emulate

 

My streets in the capital should not need the visit of a foreign dignitary to signal the time to clean, and repair, and make good. That’s a blasted insult!

I’d love service that came with a smile and courtesy, not a snarl and rudeness as if I needed to feel sorry that I had a problem with the goods I’d bought or the service for which I’d paid. Why won’t you look me in the eyes when I explain, for the nth time why I am dissatisfied with what you have given me? Why do you think saying “Management told me to…” is any kind of answer to my question? Why is the height of your aspiration shoddiness? Why?

I’d love to see taxis that are driven by people who prided themselves on providing a clean, orderly, safe service for their riders. I’d love for other private providers of public transport to do the same. Why should the trips be like a visit to a night club, or a mad-dash roller-coaster ride? Why should I fear that the vehicle will end up as a mangled mess of metal? Why should I feel that the drivers don’t understand how they endanger lives with their recklessness? Why?

I’d love to see public buses moving with care and less speed, not careening along the roads like they are in Grand Prix races, articulating and weaving like giant caterpillars out of control. Why are all those people crushed into the buses, their bodies pressed together? One accident, many deaths waiting for the inevitable sorries and another stern warning? Why?

I’d love our culinary delights to be so well-known that they tripped off the tongue as readily as those from places most people don’t know. My mackerel rundown should be jockeying for attention with moules marinières; my jerk chicken should rise as high as jambalaya. Who calls escargots or hamburgers ‘ethnic food’? We say “no one is better than us”, yet we let our culture take second place, at best, and to what? I know the world has much to offer, but why are we content to offer the world so little, even when it’s oozing out of our veins? I was almost driven to tears when I read articles the other day asking if we had under used Usain Bolt’s legacy. Yes, we did and do!

When I visit a tourist ‘sight’ it should be a memorable event for its setting and service and the pleasure of the experience. I don’t want to remember the haggling with vendors, or the stench of the toilets (if there are any), or the awful road that I had to pass to get there. Why is the relic of our slave past hidden and disregarded? If we feel pain, let people see why and explain? If we feel shame, let us look closely and try to understand why that is. Why should I drive along our north coast seeing overgrown relics of sugar mills, as if they were nothing at all? My ancestors are enshrined there.

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Ashamed to embrace our past?

 

Our lives shouldn’t be a list of complaints, with the constant rider “That’s how it is.” If that’s how it is, it’s how we’ve let it become.

We shouldn’t read ridiculous-sounding reports of suspects handing themselves in to the police, but then escaping in handcuffs and leaving ‘breathless’ police officers in their wake. We should never read the next day (as I do, while writing this) that the suspect was found dead. We should never read of people dying in police lock-up. Never!

I shouldn’t have to shudder as I open a newspaper and read about another barbaric act of human destruction of other another human’s life. The mounting toll on those left behind to grieve! The waste of potential! The senselessness that is so often at the root.

When I was growing up in England, it was common to see people venting their anger. Often, it was by kicking a machine for not giving the goods paid for; it was almost a national sport, like football. We vent our frustrations by killing. Where did we learn that?

Our lives should not be marked by the landmarks of unfulfilled promises made by politicians to get our votes or to keep us docile. People should not have to live for decades without water, or a road safe to travel, or send their children to schools with only put latrines. That shouldn’t be where we are now. When we were slaves and readily abused by our masters, maybe that was life, but not in the time that we have been our own masters.

But, all of these things are so woven into the fabric of our national life that many have no idea that it can be any other way. In the same manner that Michael Lee-Chin explained that generations of Jamaicans only know of a low-growing, struggling economic landscape, with few job opportunities, if you don’t want to be a vendor or a taxi driver, many Jamaicans don’t know of a life without carnage and wasted blood on a daily basis. Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 6.13.14 AMTalk about Paradise Lost!

Much as I love Jamaica and believe that the vast majority of Jamaicans don’t want the life we now have as our daily existence, I’m at a loss to really understand why it’s become this way.

I have to look back to a place where I lived and work to get some understanding. When I was the IMF Resident Representative in Guinea, I saw much the same situation, minus the senseless violence. A country spoiled for natural riches. Its mineral deposits were immense: bauxite, gold, diamonds, iron. But, it was clear that Guinea did not manage to make any of that count for the benefit of most people. A country blessed with the source of some of Africa’s major rivers. Yet…

The country had some of the most stunning landscape you’d wish to see, but it had an airport that saw barely one flight a day. No one really wanted to go there.

The country had malaria (mosquitoes thrived in the natural heat and dampness), poor electricity supplies, poor water supplies, poor health facilities, and disjointed political arrangements, which meant that no sooner had the PM seemed to get into a good relationship with the IMF than the President would remove him and bring in a replacement. Similar fates often befell the finance minister or the central bank governor or the minister of mining. In fact, almost any post that had a handle on the main flows of money was a slippery slope. Yet, the population lived in a state of tolerance of all this in a way that was hard to fathom. I was almost as if they yearned to be no better. I was used to seeing minivans filled to bursting with people commuting to and from the capital, in sweltering heat or pouring rain during the long summer wet season, on journeys that often last two or more hours. Brutal! Yet, crime was hardly a problem. Amazing! Crime existed, but it was often pathetic, such as when someone stole the plastic chairs from outside my house. It had to be an ‘inside’ job. My house had a 24-hour security detail at the front; the rear faced the Atlantic Ocean, with a steep rocky wall leading up from the water. The thief was caught quickly and fired from the security company. Plastic chairs were money: social events in most areas were outdoor events and supplying chairs was good business.

I was used to seeing minivans filled to bursting with people commuting to and from the capital, in sweltering heat or pouring rain during the long summer wet season, on journeys that often lasted two or more hours. Brutal! Yet, crime was hardly a problem. Amazing! Crime existed, but it was often pathetic, such as when someone stole the plastic chairs from outside my house. It had to be an ‘inside’ job. My house had a 24-hour security detail at the front; the rear faced the Atlantic Ocean, with a steep rocky wall leading up from the water. The thief was caught quickly and fired from the security company. Plastic chairs were money: social events in most areas were outdoor events and supplying chairs was good business.

The country had some of the most stunning landscape and its rivers were the source of major waterways in Africa, yet none of that nature could be harnessed to the benefit of most people.  Yet, poverty was so widespread. The country had been the breadbasket of west Africa several decades before, but now it depended on imported rice. Fresh fruit and vegetables were plentiful all year round and I’ve never eaten pineapples do sweet. What a place to raise a child!

Yet, my youngest child is the way she is because she grew up free from fear, even if much around her was pure poverty. We were amongst the lucky ones. But, my friends who are Guineans say they are lucky, too. Must she now adjust to a world that seems ready to threaten her simply because she’s a girl? Many men think of women as property and prizes that are theirs for the taking? I can’t let that happen. No!

The national path had been set for Guinea when it decided to become independent from France, and its first president, Ahmed Sekou Touré said “We prefer poverty in liberty than riches in slavery.” So, it was!  They chose that path, and most people for most years took it.

Our national motto of ‘Out of many, one people’ can’t mean much to those who seek to dwindle our many with the chop of a machete or the trigger of a gun. It can’t matter much to those who seek to keep money for themselves and not pay for the things they owe: run off and make your money and then don’t pay your taxes. Make us all the poorer, while you sit in splendour. I’m not surprised most young Jamaicans want to leave, to go anywhere. What do they feel they are being offered? We make groaning noises about caring about children but it’s hard to find a country that abuses children so much and in so many ways.

Jamaica, did it choose a path, or has it stumbled into the brambles and now finds itself pricked every day, every way? Lost in a maze that we’ve built and to which we keep adding?

#AtoZChallenge X…marks the spot

Barely two months ago, we were in a nail-biting state wondering if we would be in Jamaica’s version of the ‘hanging chads’ saga that consumed American political attention during the recounts for the 2000 US Presidential elections. Our Electoral Commission (EOJ) was trying to resolve voting questions after our national election. Many rumours swirled about whether spoiled or rejected (or even stolen) ballots would be important and if the marks used would come into question. In our system, an X is the commonly accepted voter mark. The EOJ’s instructions are clear:

‘Once you have been issued a ballot by the Presiding Officer, go behind the voting booth and CLEARLY mark an X for the candidate of your choice in the space provided. Please also be sure to use the pencil provided in the voting booth.’

They even offered a nice little cartoon to help those who found the words alone insufficient.

But, the case laws on such matters show that you only require that a mark is clear and voter intention is unambiguous. So, tick marks against a candidate’s name would be acceptable, but a large X on the whole ballot paper would be rejected. Fortunately, such issues did not determine any outcomes, but the possibility got some people quite excited.

X is for exports. In standard economics, exports are one of the key components of economic growth as in Y=C+I+G+ (X-M) (income equals private consumption plus private investment plus government spending plus net exports (exports less imports). Keep your eyes open for how that X becomes more important in getting the country to the new plateau of economic growth promised by the chairman of the newly-formed Economic Growth Council (EGC, not be confused with heart-checking ECG):

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Michael Lee-Chin will have his hand on the fast growth tiller…

 

“I pledge as the chairman of the EGC that the EGC will work tirelessly and passionately to achieve a GDP growth rate of five percent over the next four years, which is 10 times more than what we have seen for the last 20 years, which is 25 times more than we have seen over the last 10 years.”

X-men. The new government has done something more than a little interesting in trying to make good on its electoral mantra of ‘From Poverty to Prosperity’. It is early days, hardly two months in office, but they are clearly going for growth (see the previous point). But, they have begun the march in an intriguing way, by creating what seems like a League of Jamaican Growth Superheroes. How so? The Cabinet is led by the PM, Andrew Holness, who is also the Minister of Economic Growth and Job Creation. He also has two ministers without portfolio (in the office of the PM) in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation (Dr. Horace Chang and Daryl Vaz). He has also a Cabinet-level Minister of Finance (Audley Shaw), who is supported outside the Cabinet by a Minister of State (Fayval Williams), and their ministerial portfolio covers all matters to do with economic policy, so enhancing growth is subsumed in that. So, on that basis alone, the ‘growth’ agenda seems to be on track, with a plethora of economic growth ministers. Now, we’ve just had added the EGC with its stated accelerated growth mandate. But, it is topped off by a new Ambassador Plenipotentiary for economic affairs, Nigel Clarke, who is also heading the EGC’s planning committee, and who is ‘expected to represent Jamaica’s interests with bilateral, multilateral and international partners, and to promote investment and trade’. He mentioned on the radio, yesterday, already having had a role in negotiations with the World Bank. That’s even more interesting, given that it seems to predate a formal appointment, but let’s move along. With the best wishes in the world for more jobs and more activity and prosperity for all, I cannot see where all of those cooks can get space in the kitchen without stepping on at least a few of each other’s toes.

 

#AtoZChallenge Why keep talking? #KeepChildrenSafe…

Jamaicans find it difficult to talk openly about many sexual issues. Adults and professionals in the field can usually navigate issues with more assurance and with broader experience than children. That point came out during questions, when a schoolgirl asked about how to build self-confidence. Importantly, the forums have been places where young people, including victims of sexual abuse, have felt able to talk about their experiences and problems faced in dealing with such abuse. Yesterday’s topic was about online exploitation, touching on cyber crimes in general, cyber bullying, online sexual grooming, parental guidance, family interactions on social media, trust, and more.

Recent forums on the topic of #KeepChildrenSafe have been well attended, so a full room yesterday at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston was no surprise. This forum was again carried live on Jamaica News Network (JNN). Again, we heard of many instances of abuse, this time with examples of the new power of online access, especially its speedy spread of information. We were reminded of its many positives, but also sadly of its many negatives. 

Discussing the online world was well suited to a younger audience, and several schools were well-represented. The general view is that children know this world better than adults, many of whom are struggling to keep up with the fast-multiplying  new ways of interacting electronically. Some adults (perhaps fearful of their own ignorance or just overwhelmed by the speed of change) have abandoned all hope of guiding and controlling and advising children about appropriate use. Others try to stay up to speed and be the eyes, ears, and conscience of children, with all the attendant problems that come with that.

In the fourth and final forum, we heard police officers recount actual cases of abuse, which had been initiated through online contact, but also worsened by online means. 

In hearing about abuse cases, we often get evidence of how extensively victims are blamed. One case recounted yesterday was vivid for its victim-blaming, where a girl had been gang-raped, but then kicked out by her parents and expelled from school. For that reason alone, not talking may seem important for self-protection.

Several school girls spoke about friends who’d found themselves in sexual relations as minors and then been abused by offensive pictures of themselves being circulated, or not allowed to address their problems because the perpetrators threatened violence if the victims informed anyone.

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Moderator Terri-Karelle Reid talks to a group of schoolgirls


Some people have wondered about the value of talking about these issues
. My views are clear, as I expressed to UNICEF Jamaica, and were repeated in a post on Twitter. It offers more protection for each and all. But, I also sought the views of some professionals in the area of child protection. The following points are theirs.

We have to talk because the children cannot. They don’t vote, don’t lobby, don’t fund election campaigns, don’t walk the corridors of power, can’t always pick up the phone and make phone calls…nothing. So if we don’t talk who does? And if you notice in Jamaica the people who talk the loudest and the longest get attention. If children’s issues aren’t talked about how do we get change?

“We have to talk because child abuse perpetuates in silence. Abusers actively cultivate silence and depend on it. They coerce, twist, cajole and every other adjective you can think of just to keep people quiet. We have to talk because it is exactly what they do not want us to do. The more the threat is the removal of the cultural is silence the more likely we are to have the perpetrators afraid to do anything because they WILL be found out and acted upon.”

If we keep talking we help children understand that there is somebody somewhere who may care. For those who are suffering in silence alone, if even one child feels brave enough to speak up then all this talking will be worth it.”

“We have to talk because people don’t realize their actions are abuse and some don’t know how to help children. By talking we help people to help themselves and others. We take our knowledge for granted.”

“We have to keep talking until there is change because what is happening now is completely unacceptable. We need change in culture. We need change in the State and its actions and resources etc. we need change everywhere.”

“The wider the conversation, the more we push against the tide that seeks to normalize child abuse.”

“The more frequently people hear the messages, especially of victims’ experiences, the more likely that other victims will recognize that they are not alone. They just may come forward. This will start the healing process for them and can lead to a child abuse being taken off the street.”

The more we speak up, the more assured children become that there are people willing to create nurturing and safe environments for them and help them to realize that their lives do matter.

“The more we speak and engage with others about #KCS, the more others get an avenue to be a part of the solution/come up with workable ideas.”

The organizers have noted some clear results from the forums. More people are still saying things like “I had no idea.” The prevalence of abuse has shocked many, and also highlighted that vulnerability is not confined to few groups and selected areas. 

People are realizing that negligent parents and adults are everywhere, not just in ‘ghettos’. That said, people seem more shocked when they hear of abuse associated with so-called ‘prominent’ schools. But, as the moderator said yesterday, violators don’t care what school children attend. They may even feel better targeting such schools, in the belief that people there feel they have more ‘status’ to protect.

We have seen more children come forward. More are standing up and telling us what has happened to them or friends. 

The number of volunteers has increased. Considering these initiatives aren’t really new, talking has helped mobilize. 

Are those bad outcomes?

Funding specialist agencies and getting them better equipped to help those who are abused and need support is important. Getting professionals to treat all cases with equal seriousness is important; dismissiveness is crippling. But, the agencies would get nowhere if no one was willing to share what they know

Decision-makers, intentionally or accidentally, often make others feel that only they have the answers. Our culture has much deference at its core. More voices and more conversations will help many understand that answers lie in many places, and often not far from home.

So, keep talking, and use your voices well. 

#AtoZChallenge Verily, I tell you…

In the same way that P has almost taken over Jamaica, so too has the letter V.

Viruses. Oh, boy! Dengue was rough on many people, but no one was ready for chikungunyah in 2014 (including our ministry of health), which comes from the Makonde word for “that which bends up”! We were bent literallly and figuratively, out of shape, by some of the incompetence show by our health policy officials. Thankfully, in good Jamaican fashion, we make a joke of it, as did Wayne J, with his song

But, all things pass. What? We are now in 2016, having to worry about Zika virus, with its birth defect worries? We’ve had very few confirmed cases of the disease, but that’s no reassurance, given that 80 percent of sufferers show no symptoms. Top that with the fact that we have serious problems with reporting by doctors, and testing of samples, even though we now have the capability to do the virology work here (rather than in our beloved Trinidad :)).

Things going viral (as in videos, tasteful and tasteless). YouTube has become standard viewing.

Vexation (or just plain vex) lives in our veins. Let the Gleaner cartoonist Las May deal with that in his own way. Pull it up, selector!

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This won’t go away in a hurry… (Courtesy, Jamaica Gleaner, April 20, 2016)
Vision (as in ‘give us, lest we perish’). Run with that one as your biases dictate, and you will soon reach its opposite point, visionless. We have Vision 2030, but if 2020 vision is perfect, then 2030 must be

far sighted?

Violence. 😦 “Murderer! Blood deh pon your shoulder…”

Our western parish of St. James has been on such a killing spree that it’s now not unusual to joke that living in Kingston (once dubbed the ‘murder capital’) is now safer. Take it away, again, Las May!

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Courtesy, Jamaica Gleaner, April 25, 2016
The lyrics of Buju Banton’s songs are often haunting, as they should be:

“Your insides must be hollow
How does it feel to take the life of another?

Yes, you can hide from man but not your conscience
You eat the bread of sorrow 
Drink the wine of violence

Vae Victis in Latin means ‘Woe to the Vanquished‘, as in the quotation ‘To the victors go the spoils, and woe to the vanquished’. To the electoral victors the spoils…well, not quite yet. The new JLP government is still finding its way…To their vanquished opponents, the PNP and are still arguing over where to go and raking over the coals of defeat: I’ve renamed them the PMP (the post-Moreen party). Will their president vacate her position? Why should she? After all, she retorted to questions about possible election resutls by saying “I look like a loser to you?” 

Leicester City need one more victory to make football history. If that happens, Jamaica would rejoice when its national team captain, Wes Morgan, hoists the trophy.

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Leicester City are just a few points away from a victory of monumental proportions in the English Premier League

Verisimilitude: It’s all the fault of the Budget process, which was not invented yesterday, and had to be gone through soon after whichever new government took office. Therefore, if it’s blocking progress and slowing things down, someone hadn’t been paying attention. It’s delayed the PM filing his financial declaration, which was due by December 31 last year, and he promised in February would be ready by March 31, and he’s requested more time because of the budget burden. It’s the reason why ‘job letters’ have not been prepared. One wonders if dinner hasn’t gone into the oven yet, on the same basis.

#AtoZChallenge Uncertainty, or ‘Where’s the money?’

If we know one thing since Jamaica’s last general election, it’s that the new government doesn’t know what it thought it knew when its members were in opposition. The main thing that remains unknown in the local political calculus is the one thing people were promised would be coming by April 1–a tax refund payday for a sizeable chunk of citizens. Not knowing usually worries people more than knowing that something will happen and if it’s good or bad; uncertainty opens the way to bad possibilities, and people like that much less.

I guess we were all too focused on the process of the February 25 election and its drama that we ignored the fact that April 1 is traditionally the day for pranks. The BBC is famous for its quite believable April Fools jokes, such as the report of flying penguins. Well, if pigs can fly….Another famous lark was its report of spaghetti harvests. 

BBC report of spaghetti harvesting
People are often shocked by their own gullibility, but many organizations depend on this human weakness. Politicians absolutely thrive on it. How else could they keep making incredible promises and people believe them.
 

The promised tax break wasn’t a real wheeze, but how it was to be financed was the stuff of fairy tales. Now, the tinsel has gone, and the glistening tree is just a ragged old bush tarted up for a fete. 

So, should people start to think that they were being yanked around to get their votes? 

Funnily, in that not haha sense, a new political era was ushered in around a popular song called ‘My dream’. Many people relate to its aspirational element. But, will dreams turn into nightmares? 

It’s often a useful gauge of how people view your promises when they get turned into stock phrases or lampooned. The ‘poverty to prosperity’ mantra had great allure. However, I noted yesterday that one of our major companies used the absence of the promised $18,000 tax break as a full page advertising ploy in the Sunday papers, offering a near $18,000 price cut on some higher-end smart phones. Guaranteed. Really! I nearly cried. Jamaicans love their cell phones. It suggests that this may be the only smart option if you want that extra money in your hands. 

Lasco lampooning the government?

People have been told to await the Budget presentation in mid-May to learn the details of the still-to-happen tax cuts and how they will be financed. A few weeks is not a long time, except that when you keep dangling a carrot the hungry donkey sometimes just snaps at your finger or kicks out with its hooves. That’s a metaphor for a coming backlash. 

So, let’s remain fair and live with the uncertainty until….

While Waiting for the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry Report

May 24 will make 6 years since the 2010 joint security operation in West Kingston, which resulted in the death of more than 70 people, and by all indications the report of the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry will be submitted to the Governor General before then. It isn’t yet clear, however, when the report […]

https://rightstepsandpouitrees.wordpress.com/2016/04/21/while-waiting-for-the-west-kingston-commission-of-enquiry-report/

#AtoZChallenge Tan deh!

I wouldn’t expect anyone without Jamaican roots to understand “Tan deh!”; it means stay there. But, it’s not just stay there for no reason, but for many reasons. For instance: 

  • stay, if you want to defy my request to leave (and see what wrath I’ll bring on you)
  • stay, when I’ve told you I am leaving (and I’m not waiting for you) 
  • stay right there; don’t move (command)

The difference is communicated through the tone of the phrase. You need to hear the expression in several settings to get this. As with many Jamaican expressions, repeating part of it gives (h)emphasis. So, something very big is ‘big big’; something very small is ‘likkle likkle’ (little little). So, if you’re told to ‘Tan deh deh’, you really must (or, really, you ought to go, for your own good). 

Watch this episode from The Ity and Fancy Cat Show, about a ‘country helper. You get it? No? Tan deh!  

 

#AtoZChallenge Serendipity

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The choice was not mine to be born here; just lucky.

The choice was not mine to leave here; my parents made me do it. But, I enjoyed being there. 

The choice was not mine to come back here; my wife told me to do it. But, I had enjoyed living there. 

 Now that I am back here, having been there, I have no regrets. 

 I’m lucky that I’ve had so little choice, Jamaica, land I love. 😊