Mon | Sep 28, 2020

Daniel Thwaites | Dis Kari goh bring come

Published:Sunday | November 17, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Are leaders expected to behave better than the general public? It’s an interesting question, but not one I thought applicable to our situation where I believe it’s firmly established that we expect our leaders to behave worst than the average man.

But that may be changing. Because from what I’m gathering, the chorus is saying that Councillor Kari Douglas shouldn’t have gwaan bad uppa Busta. From where I sit, I’m hesitant to criticise her too much, because all of this happened while she was cradling a feverish child in a country riven by a dengue epidemic.

But I also understand why people are doing it. The Government is investigating. The PNP is investigating. The hospital is investigating. No doubt the trade union is investigating. This could very well be the string of badwud that launches a thousand investigations!

So the clash between the councillor and the doctor has entered Jamaican popular culture and history as a thing. I guess that’s what happens when people far up the societal ladder, both with lots of social and political capital and the ability to yolk powerful people and organisations to support them, ketch up inna quarrel.

How many times have you heard that when elephants fight it’s the grass that suffers? It’s an African proverb or something. Well, far be it from me to say that’s not true. But let’s not forget that the grass is also massively entertained by the licks that the elephants can inflict on each other. It’s BOOMBASTIC!

Just look at what’s happening to Mr Boombastic himself. As I watched Shaggy on the telly explaining how hurt he is that his heroic efforts to raise money for Bustamante Hospital for Children is occasioning public criticism and causing him grief, I thought this was a fine example of one of life’s most important lessons: no good deed goes unpunished.

On the other hand, bad deeds are also punished, or at least that’s what I was taught, even though I’m yet to really see the evidence of it.

Anyway, it’s a steady feature of social dynamics that the further up the social ladder someone is born into, or climbs up to, is the more he will be subjected to sniping from those further down.


So let me snipe a little bit at Chris Tufton. In reality, I have a lot of time for him, because I think he’s a government minister with a decent mind, and I think he is doing especially great work in the ‘Wellness’ portion of his portfolio responsibility.

Don’t take Tuffy’s galloping around in every 5k race for granted. He’s leading by example, showing that active wellness is the best contribution we can each individually make to the health system. More specifically, lots of exercise keeps us out of the healthcare system, which is a very good thing, because becoming enmeshed in it is generally very bad for your health.

Still, Tufton knows yuh cyaan Kari two face under one hat, so he has to take responsibility for the parts that are failing too. And sadly, in terms of diagnosis, I think we can safely conclude that the health system is way past simple HIV infection and gone into full-blown AIDS. Perhaps it’s because Tufton has been given basket fi Kari wata, but it’s still his basket.

The funny part is that according to her own account, Kari got through “quickly” and made out pretty well. Just this past week I was made familiar with the case of Jeovonni Cleary, a six-year-old from Rae Town in Kingston who attends St Aloysius Primary. Well, actually, he used to attend St Aloysius Primary. I’m not prepared to say that his case was mishandled, but he was taken with a fever up to Busta, and he’s no longer with us.

Councillor Douglas wanted care for her sick child. To every mother, her child’s sickness, whatever it is, is an emergency. But in a completely overstressed system, doctors are forced to make strategic decisions. That’s how Dr Bogle revoked the Douglas child’s healthcare visa without explanation.

The details matter so much here if we’re really to judge. Otherwise it’s pure Kari goh bring come, my dear, which brings misery. For example, a doctor could tell me that my child’s condition isn’t an emergency and do it so kindly that I might believe her even though I was petrified. However, if she did it with a sneer, or even with a hint of dismissiveness, I might just go Old Testament up in that place.

But the point everyone seems keen to emphasise is that no matter how you’re treated, you have no right to lock up a doctor and chip no ends of klaat after them, which, let’s face it, is a lot to ask of our populace. We’re not the most compliant set, and from very early on our grannies teach us that “Yes yes neva Kari man ova mountain”. I just didn’t know how pointed and specific the aphorism was.

Pretty soon after the incident, Kari issued a statement. There were elements that explained her frustration. She was herself ill and distressed, which probably explains a lot.


But, also, there was a curious little detail that sorta flew off the “page” and into one’s eye.

She wrote: “Two JLP Government operatives attempted to assist by calling the head of the hospital to inform of my planned visit.”

Waaaaait a minute! Two what? Well if you want to excite resentment and retaliation from line staff anywhere, just have two ‘operatives’ call ahead and tell everyone you’re coming. Their immediate response will be: “then who de hell is you?”

Quite predictably, that’s precisely what happened:

“I am reliably informed that the doctor, along with several nurses on duty were not happy that they were called to render any special assistance to a politician (which is fine) however, seems to have eventually led to my child being sabotaged.”

“Reliably informed?” Kari, do remember that “the same bird that Kari news come a di same bird dat tek it back”. The unreserved apology was the right step, now that we’re apparently slowly evolving to expect better behaviour from our leaders than we would likely be willing to enact ourselves.

- Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to