Tue | Sep 26, 2017

Young gal business control Jamaica - but how low will we go?

Published:Thursday | January 12, 2017 | 1:00 AM
Chaka Demus
Cocoa Tea
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As the case with the Moravian pastor and the 15-year-old girl in St Elizabeth unfolds in the court of public opinion, which is (as always) well ahead of the legally constituted court system, I am reminded of a few of the many Jamaican popular music songs which engage this matter of 'young gal'. For, make no mistake about it, it is pervasive in our society. I once read a statistic that has stuck with me long after the publication it was in, had faded from memory. It said that when a child under the age of sexual consent gives birth, on average, the father is three times her age.

Do the math - 10 multiplied by three is 30, 15 multiplied by three is 45.

In his 1980s song on the same rhythm as Super Cat's Mud Up and Little Harry's Anorexal Body, deejay Chaka Demus puts on musical record the extended equivalent of the Jamaican saying: "De olda de moon, de brighta it shine; de younga de gal, de sweeta she wine."

In the introduction, Chaka Demus invites, "Now all big body girls back out, and all slim body girls spread out." He then rides the rhythm with the inevitable connection between young girls, 'big men', and finances. Interestingly, though, he puts the dominance in the relationship, the 'control', on the youngster's side. He deejays: "It name young gal business control Jamaica/Gal a rule man whe drive BM an Mazda/Gal a rule man whe drive Benz an Jaguar/Gal a rule man whe drive Toyota Corolla."

 

Too Young

 

Chaka Demus states a situation, rather then expresses a preference or an age limit. In the decade after Young Gal Business was released, it is Cocoa Tea and Buju Banton who set an age cap above the 16-year-old legal age of consent. In the song, Too Young, Cocoa Tea sings, "Girl, won't you go home/Go home to your Nana/Go home to your Nana/If you're to be my lover, you must be 18 and over."

Buju Banton then introduces the legal consequences, deejaying, "Woman you pretty, but de dread no response/What him looking at is a life sentance/Woman you fat, but de dread no cater/You big inna body, but young like a wha."

This stance is consistent with a public rejection of grown men having sex with girls under the age of consent. And, apart from the man embroiled in the case being a pastor, that Christian leadership role exponentially increasing public reaction, what we are seeing is a general Jamaican reaction in line with that legal stipulation. There have been some calls for allowing the law to take its course, there has been the infamous attempt by the Hampton High head to block a news camera at the accused's bail hearing, but questioning the age of consent has been absent.

So Jamaican popular music reflects a widely held stance created or reinforced by the legal framework. But there is another Buju Banton song which questions, "how it a go go", in which there is an unstated but ominous fate for those who go under the age of consent - way under:

"How it a go go

Head haffi go roll

If a man a moles' mi five year-ole

How it a go go

If me get col'

An me nah stop till me achieve me goal."

melville.cooke@gleanerjm.com