Fri | Nov 16, 2018

The more things change (in politics) ...

Published:Saturday | February 20, 2016 | 12:00 AM


When I was growing up in my rural community in St Ann, education was the means of upward mobility. We were largely farmers who used to help each other. When my parents butchered a goat, we had to go to various houses to give neighbours some of the meat. Then, the village literally helped to raise the child.

We had no mortgage. Then, people started small. They worked, threw partner, maybe got some help from relatives in 'foreign', bought a lot if they didn't inherit, bought the materials over time, helped each other to build and later to expand. Your house was your haven and it could be any size you could afford.

Then, we had a good idea who voted for whom in our area. The worst that would happen was that when a party won, the voters on the winning side would use brooms to 'sweep out' the others. This was largely done in fun. Maybe next time, the others would get a chance to sweep.

Then, we would leave our doors unlocked most of the time. The only 'taker' in our community was a painter who would occasionally 'take' some paint and if you asked him, he would bring it back. Then, when the police went after gangs, the force would be searching for one gang at a time ... . Sandokan, Natty Morgan etc. Those were halcyon days.

Then came the seventies. I still remember the fear, I felt when strangers who had come to work in the community began trying to find out who voted for which party. In Brown's Town, where I went to school, roving young men made it known that those who had houses, livestock and money would have to share it with them as it was socialism time.

Banks were robbed, people were murdered, truth became relative, propaganda reigned and all hell seemed to be breaking loose. One day, during the state of emergency, I was sitting in my yard talking with my mother and cousin when five JDF soldiers ran in toting M16 rifles. They were asking for a young man whose house overlooked the main road, which was a good quarter of a mile from the 'bush' where we lived in.

My 60-plus-year-old dad who was shaving at the side of the house looked out to see what was happening and the five big, burly men went and held guns on him asking about the "man who had just run down into the garden". My little mom then took charge and advised them to go search wherever they wanted, including under the beds, but they should leave us alone.

On election day in 1976, about a dozen strangers were discovered hiding in an old house which was on a hill above one of the polling booths. Although people were not supposed to assemble, the men from our community were able to administer some good punches before the police arrived to take them away.

Recently, when I heard the kerfuffle about Mr Holness' house, it hit me that it is the same people from the seventies who are still in power. The more things change, the more they remain the same.


Ontario, Canada