Thursday, 28 January 2016

Whey de Chikungunya gone?
Me dey ah Jamaica and ah like ah one swarm ah mosquitoes hit the country. One minute, yo na hear nutten bout Chik-V, the next thing yo know, it pon all the news stations right throughout the Caribbean and even some in America. One news pon the Jamaica TV show d mosquitoes in Portmore big like helicopters. It was so dramatic when in the midst ah the broadcast, you see the reporter ah kill mosquitoes. The worse part is when dem show you a homeowner sweep them up in ah heap. Yes in ah one big heap. Me never see that yet. Most times, mosquitoes buzz ah yo ears and if yo lucky fi catch one, that is when yo ah go see it.

Me ah hear businessmen ah complain how production job because workers ah call in sick since the mosquito drop. Principals, teachers and school pickney out ah school, Pain up from the Chik-V attack. Is like d whole ah Jamaica mash down.

Ministries start to try help d problem. Dem ah fog and ah beg ppl fi implement some strategies like removing tyres and anything that catch up water. Use yo mosquito repellants  dem say, me even haffi send one ah school with me child.

People ah speculate whey dis mosquito come from. And me ah ask meself the same thing? Is this the last days when there will be rumours of wars and pest and diseases etc? Some ppl believe that is ah biological weapon, ah population control that some first world country ah try fi implement. Dem ah test it pon we. What a conspiracy!

Me never want believe, but now me affi wonder, where the chikungunya gone? Did the mosquito evolve into the one them now ah call ZIKA whey ah mek babies born with some sort ah deformity. Ah whey it gone? Did we goverment put een some very effective mosquito eradication programme? Ah whey it gone? Is it that we develop some farm ah immunity? Ah whey it gone? Did d people who dem say mek e biological weapon an release it pon we, send out ah  chemical to kill dem off and now dem ah test ah different one? Ah whey e gone? Somebody tell me how come the Chik-V just drop down pon we dry dry so and dem it left we and send it cousins. Ah whey d chikungunya gone?

Education Revolution or Stagnation? No more come Collin, Come Pam!

Image result for too much homework assignments
This morning, I had a conversation with my brother who was quite concerned about the magnitude of school work his 7 years old was taking home as homework assignments. The concern was more so the fact that my nephew, who is quite intelligent and generally performed in the top 3 of his class, could not read or understand some of the words and language and so would not be able to effectively execute the assignment without assistance from his parent. You may say, nothing is wrong with that, but it raised a number of questions and issues that I have been pondering on and even discussed with some colleagues some time back. One of the major questions stemming from this is what if the parents are unable to assist their child/children?What is they are illiterate?
I cannot understand the objective or vision of those who sat down and wrote the syllabus for primary school children that cannot be finished within the terms allotted which have led to them either doing after school classes or having a GREAT amount of homework assignments. Why so much homework? This is not a St.Vincent thing because I have seen it right here in Jamaica. What exactly is the vision of those within the educational system, the decision makers? What structures did you put in place to support your vision? What I am observing is a structure that supports the middle class and the rich and continues to widen the gap of those who are poor; those who cannot afford to hire a private tutor or to spend on after school lessons or to teach their children to read and write. Some of them cannot even afford to buy books.

If you are a teacher, you will understand this other issue depending on the level of the school you are teaching. I have taught for a number of years at the Intermediate High School, Kingstown St.Vincent and one of the major barriers to teaching students Geography was that they could not read. If a student, cannot read then we have a multitude of other problems to deal with. Attempts were made to add some remedial sessions, but it was ineffective for a number of reasons. For one, it is hard for anyone to be doing remedial work while at the same time trying to complete a syllabus. The system was not set up so that the slow students are screened and given a workload suitable for them. It could not be set up like that. Too many students in too small a classroom and we have to be making space for those who are coming in.

It was also clear to me as a teacher, the frustration that the students suffer. Often times, they 'skull/bun' (do not attend) classes and end up in fights and other terrible activities because they lack interest in school. What are the root causes for their lack of interest? I am quite certain that if we investigate further, we will realize that some of these students are fearful that they might be picked on to answer a question and end up looking dumb, uncomfortable to be in a class where they are not learning anything and embarrass at their own lack of knowledge, while others are succeeding.  This is even worse when the teachers and other students call them dumb/ 'dumsey head'. Still, I recognized that there were students who, if you ask them a question associated with the subject area, they may answer and get it right. Put it on an exam, they FAIL! Why? They cannot read!
I asked myself recently, is learning still fun or is it a burden? No more come Collin, Come Pam. Just homework assignments to get the best grades possible. Let them get into the best high school and set their 12 subjects while taking their dance lessons, their swim lessons, sports and of course, they must learn an instrument. Get your 12 distinctions in both business and science subjects so that I can stick my swell nose in the air as I read the newspaper and let my colleagues and friends know that my child is going to be both a doctor and a businessman. Surely, there must be a reason behind parents and teachers encouraging their children to do 12 subjects. Is learning still fun? Are kids having fun? Do they have a social life separate and apart from books? Are they enjoying reading?

I looked at my own life and the life of many influential business men and women, doctors and lawyers and many do not have more than 8 subjects, but it seems like something was wrong with that. Many can look back at their childhood and relate memorial experiences that have shaped them because they had a life outside of books. Many will reminisce on some funny stories that they read growing up and I wonder are these children stories still funny. Still, it seems that there is need to push our children beyond so that they can live their life and ours. Or maybe it goes back to those in the educational system, who wants to make a name for themselves and instead of putting structures in place for where the system is broken, they decided to change it all together and mess it up more than it was before.

I want to end by saying that, at the age of 1, my husband collected our daughter from daycare and was given a booklist to purchase 2 books valued about JA$2000. each. I was shocked, but even more so when she comes home one evening with homework. What!! While some of it involved simply colouring, others involved making a map of Jamaica, getting pictures of national heroes etc. I thought to myself, she is only 1. Now she is 2, I am scared. Where are we going with our education revolution as a Caribbean people?

Sunday, 10 January 2016

How to please your wives?

It is generally felt that  men cannot understand women. It is argued that we are complex, we drop hints instead of just saying what is on our minds and that we have terrible mood swings. All these I believe are quite true because I have met and spoken to women who, even I find hard to understand. I however wish to address the things that men can do to please us.

There are some men out there who are complicated by their own laziness. They do not even try or want to so that even if we plaster what we want on our faces, they will still ignore it because they lack the desire to please. The saddest part of any marriage is when one partner is working very hard for the betterment of their marriage and the other one is just laid back and believe that bringing in the money is enough. Some of the upsetting statements they can make during this time are, 'You should be happy', 'Some women/men well want what you have'. Truly, there are women/men out there who always desire what you have without really taking the time out to examine it. All that glitters is not gold.

So men, if you want to please us and have a happy marriage, here are just a few pointers on the things that makes us happy:

  • Help with the kids- No one can truly understand how burdensome raising children is until you have. It has nothing to do with the love for your kids. In fact, you love them to death, but it is not easy. Raising a child is a two parent job so when all the responsibility falls on only one parent,  that parent may become highly frustrated if they cannot find time for themselves. I only have one child whom I love dearly and after I left work tired, I still have to give her mommy time and I am super grateful to my good husband who helps out tremendously. There are times when she only wants me and I have things to do or I just need a little breather. Do you know where I escape to? The bathroom, and I have to lock the door, but even there, I cannot escape because she will find me and knocked the door while shouting mommy until I open it. Again, I only have one child. Yet, my date life is practical nil because family is not close and money not 'tun up' to allow me to hire a baby sitter in the night when I am already paying for one in the day. So again, men you need to recognize this and help out.
  • Dates and surprises do not end with marriage- It is very hard if, during courting, you use to go out pretty often or often enough to feel satisfy, but then you get married and it cuts down a little, then there and kids and everything ends to the point that sometimes even your anniversary is forgotten. There are some men who becomes so caught up in career and education that they forget they have a wife at home and they seemingly believe that their wife should only find happiness in the lovely home that they have provided with the lovely kids that they have given. They no longer take you out nor do they attempt to plan a little surprise. Instead, they work long hours, come home expecting food and sex and think that all is well. Wake up! Time to spice up the marriage.
  • Help out with the domestic chores. Now some men believe that the wife's role is in the home. Maybe this was so in traditional times, but time has changed. The little pocket money some jobs give as salary cannot pay bills and take care of the home, so it needs pocket money from two persons to run things. In other words, both the husband and wife are working and so when you come home tired, do not assume that your wife has done less work at her job and so can take on another. Pull your weight. If I am cooking, maybe you can help prepared the juice or the vegetables or bathe the kids. Why should a woman finish cooking, share the dinner for you and still have to get the kids ready for bed? In addition to this, you know how hard wrenching it is for a woman to be at work all day return to her home and the husband who was home all day, did not pick up a broom or put on a pot. Now we ladies know that if we have a day off, we are not only cooking, but cleaning and washing on top of that. Sometimes, there is not even any time to sit down and watch a movie, because we just cannot sit in a dirty home, but a man can be home all day and all he needs is a remote, sports channels and some dry food. Another little thing I appreciate about my husband, is if he is home, even if he does not cook, he might have folded the clothes and clean the house and he does cook at times. It is those little things that please us. 
  • Compliment us and say little words of appreciation from time to time- We are not asking you to habitually say I love you so much so that it comes like a ritual, but from time to time say something positive. Sometimes, you may look at a man and he appears to be aging like fine wine, while we are struggling with body images especially after giving birth. Fat might be poking out from places that were once slender and smooth. This by itself might not be such a big deal, but when coupled with not going out, working in a job and at home, having a husband who is hardly home and seem not to appreciate all you do, then that is grievous.
  • Listen and Act- I leave this one for last because I know there are many wives who are very strong willed and super argumentative and do not listen, but we have men who also do not listen. They may act as if you have nothing of worth to say and may even use the fact that you are strong willed as their defense. I always say to people that my husband has the final say, but I also appreciate the fact that the final say at times end with him agreeing with me because he listens to reason. He does not make any decision without including me. We will discuss and at the end, he makes a  reasonable decision. When a man does not listen and his wife has no input in any decision, it is as if you do not have any worth beyond a certain point.
Let me end by saying, there is a difference between contentment and happiness even though they are times used synonymously. I however see contentment as being satisfied and believe that you can be satisfied with your life, maybe because you have wonderful children, a nice home and your bills are paid, but unhappy because you are still lonely within your marriage, you feel as if you are just going through the motions and you think you have missed out or are missing out on the finer things in life. Notwithstanding, there are times when the husband has nothing to do with how a wife may feel and cannot stop them if they want a divorce. However, husbands where you can do more, do it. A simple question that you can ask yourself, as corny as it is, what if the shoes were on the other feet, how would I feel? In other words, put yourself in your wife's shoes. 

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

The Chris Gayle Saga: Identifying the deeper Issues

Hot on the social media sites is the whole of issue on Chris Gayle making what was deemed as 'inappropriate' and 'unprofessional' when he made a pass at the interview by asking her on a date. I viewed several media clips and I  too must agree that there is a time and place for everything and Chris Gayle, that was not the time nor the place. When I first visited Jamaica, I was a bit appalled by the forwardness of the men, overtime I understood that it was a part of their culture. There was no need to get offended by the 'babes' and 'honey' because that is how some Jamaican men speak to ladies, but regardless, these men need to understand ALL are not Jamaican and what appears normal for you, can be deemed quite distasteful and rude by others. Still, what got me is the comments following many of the videos on the social media sites and also some of the statuses, which in some cases, I found appalling. Let me briefly highlight and expand on a few:

1. The differing opinions of the men versus the women- When I reviewed some of the comments made by men versus the women, I was a bit shocked that while some men could have said that Chris, you are wrong. You have to learn the definitions of the when and the where, there were some women out there wondering what Chris Gayle did wrong. They did not see anything wrong with it at all. They missed the point completely. People it is not about whether he chose to ask an attractive reporter out, but when/where he chose to do it.

One woman stated that 'they' (I guess referring to the public) are behaving like if he committed a crime. I am hoping that she does not mean that something like this should not be a 'big deal' and should be swept under the carpet. Clearly, it is a big deal because of the international platform where our Jamaican brother, who is quite aware that there are many negatives things out there about Jamaicans and Jamaican men that we really do not want to add. Surely, Chris Gayle knows that his good looks and international record does not give him a free pass to ask out any woman he feels like, whenever he feels like it and where ever he feels like it. Surely he knows that if someone of his status can do something like this, it is going to look bad on all Jamaican men because that is what people do, they brand a country and its people by the acts of one. Sad, but true and instead of saying, who gives a darm, let us gives a darm when it matters.

Other women commented, some with expletives, about it being a joke and also how much of a hero Chris Gayle would have looked like if he was a 'batty' man. Apparently, if he was a homosexual and make a pass at the reporter, he would have been a hero. To this, I say, when you look at a video and read other people's comments and you are about to write one that will simply highlight your stupidity, shut up. Old people say what is joke fi pickney ah death fi crapo. You run jokes with your friends, your brethren, people that you know can take it and smile... if it is a joke that is. You do not run joke on public television with a stranger. And about the homosexual comment...really!

2. My second point has to do with the whole empowering of women that has been used in statuses relating to the Chris Gayle's behaviour and I agree, women need to be empowered, but I think these days  we are so much focus on the women that we forget our males. As I stated in an earlier blog, " A call for Male Empowerment", we are moving from one extreme to the next. We are forgetting our males. Now, I listened to the response of the reporter to the Chris Gayle's situation and she handled it well and seems very empowered. At the end, she stated she just wanted to move on. Yes, she appears somewhat uncomfortable when Chris Gayle made the statement, maybe more so out of shock and also having to maintain her temperament on public television. Who needs empowerment to me were the women who were agreeing with Chris Gayle's behaviour and found absolutely nothing wrong with it. Conversely, I am calling for some focus on our males. Let when gender is mentioned, we do not just simply think about women even though there is a recognition that we still have a long way to go as it relates to gender balance. Our young males lack proper role models and when they grew up to act in certain ways, we deal with it in a closet as if it has to do simply with the individual, in this case Chris Gayle and what he has said. I do think there are wider societal issues that we are missing. The lack of proper male heads in the home, the high crime rate with men leading, the high male prison population, the ratio of males to females at the tertiary levels, the number of males drop out at the secondary level... It seems to me that our young males need some form of empowerment, role models, mentorship etc Someone needs to teach them how to approach women, timing and how to deliver the few love words, the little courtesies that one should consider rendering and so on.

There are many things that have been said and can be said about the Chris Gayle's saga. In fact, the situation has made him quite 'famous' and may remained that way in the next few days, but then it will pass as have other things. Let us not forget, in that passing wave, the underlying societal issues that may give rise to this form of behaviour. Let us remember our males.

Monday, 4 January 2016


Talk to Jazzy: DOWNTOWN KINGSTON: THE REAL JAMAICAN EXPERIENCE: I often say to people that you have not really visited Jamaica unless you have gone to down town Kingston and I am sticking to my words. ...

Saturday, 2 January 2016


I often say to people that you have not really visited Jamaica unless you have gone to down town Kingston and I am sticking to my words.

When I first visited Jamaica as a student, there were several places that were mentioned in a bleak, dark way because of the crime rate. Downtown Kingston was one. While some persons just asked that you be cautious and vigilant, others rake fear into you as if it something bad always happened there. So when I visited downtown for the first time, I was quite nervous and anxious. I jumped in fear if someone brushed passed me and I tried earnestly to shop very quickly and get out. Two more visits in the bargaining center of Jamaica finally led to a different conclusion. Downtown Kingston has a culture of its own and to me, it is a true representation of the heart of the Jamaican people.

I visited downtown almost every other Saturday for the last 3 years and I enjoyed every experience. The sales are quite good, although quite recently, possibly due to the increase traffic and comfort of persons in downtown, prices have been on the rise or can be described as quite similar to uptown. Still, there are bargains to be had on the streets and even in the stores. Sellers are prepared to give you a discount and to add a little 'brawta' to products that you may buy whether onions, oranges, potatoes etc. Downtown Kingston is indeed one of my favourite places in Jamaica and it is not because I love drama.  I simply love the atmosphere and the culture of the people. Jamaicans know how to hustle and they are not lazy. The streets of downtown will, on a Saturday, be lined with males, females and children just selling clothes and shoes. They will clap their hands, jumped and shout the prices at you as you pass. The atmosphere is filled with shouts of 'undred dollar, come get yo look good pants, sale out etc etc. Stores compete with each other with music and DJs announcing bargains and I just simply love their spiritedness of the people. Downtown has a culture of its own which I truly appreciate. So when my brother visited me recently, I had to take him to downtown Kingston because to me, it is a true depiction of the Jamaican people and their culture. His response was, 'Now this feels like Jamaica'.

Downtown is where you see the strength and joy of the Jamaican people in the midst of their struggles. It is clear that life is quite hard as persons travel on foot with their clothes or use hand carts to go around the town and sell.

Persons sell just about every and anything and do it with great pleasure. Men selling panties and shoes, some selling bag juice, make-up, soap powder, colgate etc and not in any large amount. Often times, you will meet persons only selling one type of item.

These vendors also have to contend with issues relating to use of space. While they wish to sell their goods where the pedestrian traffic is high in areas such as Beckford Street, and will often spread blue tampoline  and lay their items on top, this is an illegal practice and often times they have to take speed when police approaches to avoid losing their goods.

The best vendors are in downtown. You may enter a store and cannot leave without buying something because the persons are willing to drop the price or are just simply good at convincing you to get an item. Sometimes you are walking the street and can only glimpse the goods quickly to prevent them from drawing you in with "Me nar charge yo fi look" because if you get closer to properly examine their items, they will use their tactics to convince you to buy. Indeed, you are not being charged to look.

You can also get your hair, nails and eyebrows done right in the heart of downtown, right on Princess Street. This is where all the fashionistas are and you will recognize them as soon as you see them. Not simply because you will see the service being rendered, but mainly because of the lighter complexion, colourful, complex hairstyles and long eyeslashes and painted nails of these service providers.

Then there is the language fuelled by their strong Kingstonian accent. When a foreigner visits Jamaica, we are often fascinated with the strong Jamaican accent. I remember when I was in high school on the small island of St.Vincent, we were told that we were going to have a Jamaican Literature teacher. We were all excited as Jamaica has some wonderful short stories that we simply loved, but when we were introduce to the teacher and she addressed us, she quickly saw our disappointment. She explained that she was from uptown Jamaica and the people there had a different accent. It was the first time, I learnt about uptown and downtown, but for certain, I was disappointed. That was not a Jamaican accent! Imagine my excitement when I visited downtown Jamaica and I listen to the stress in the names and the words as the downtown Kingstonians speak to each other. I will listen to the men talk and it intrigues me...Soon Forward, Soon Come, eeeeeee, ah that me ah pree, Yea Mon, likkle more. To many Jamaicans, this is normal and they may even avoid it as they rise to high society. However, to foreigners like myself, this is true 'Jamaicanness'. It marks the uniqueness of the Jamaicans from others simply through language. It is a product for tourism development as while some may not understand what is being said, they are still fascinated by the Jamaican language. It is strange the little things that are at times taken for granted.

An article like this can never really appreciate the beauty of downtown Kingstown, which is also illustrated in the rich cultural heritage seen in the buildings. So to give you a little glimpse, this article is also fill with pictures and  a shortvideo that I took while in downtown this Christmas season.

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