DR. BARRINGTON CHEVANNES recently gave a most interesting lecture on the subject of the Jamaican male. A lot of us have been concerned about the comparative superiority of Jamaican women in many areas of our life in Jamaica, and especially in the area of education. Dr. Chevannes had much of value and interest to say on the subject.
He made the point that, his researches showed that the Jamaican male was reasonably attentive to his baby-mother during pregnancy. I found it odd, however, that he gave us no figures as to the attentiveness of the male after pregnancy, both to the children and to the ladies in question. The fact is that people have far more children than they can afford to look after properly, and
when it comes to the men they are too poor in this country to support the considerable number of women with whom they have relationships or the considerable number of children whom they father.
Dr. Chevannes is well aware of the irresponsibility of males in many respects and he proposed a number of possible cures.
There is one cure, which quite obviously, is not feasible for him to mention. This is, of course, a good war. If we could afford to put our young men in uniform, put guns in their hands and send them out as little heroes to kill the "enemy" we would see a remarkable transformation in our statistics of crime. Our young men would be winning medals instead of death sentences.
I am not being altogether flippant. During the Second World War in England where I spent most of it, England was never so peaceful and crime-free. Even on the darkest of nights during the blackout people could walk the streets without ever getting mugged or robbed. The worst thing that could happen to you was to collide with a lamppost. It has been from their wars and army
services that the males of England have learned punctuality and discipline and also the necessity to take care of their women.
Unfortunately, we are far too poor in Jamaica to go to war, to say nothing of the fact that we have not got a suitable "enemy". In theory, of course, we could be the Mouse That Roared and declare war against the USA in an event which would come to be known as the First Banana War. We would, of course, lose, but we could hope that during the hostilities our enemy would erase large areas of Kingston and St. Catherine with guided missiles. The USA is very generous when it comes to paying reparations to defeated enemies. Think of what the Marshall Plan did for Germany. Our city could be splendidly rebuilt and capital could be found to revive our industries. Ha! This is, of course, all fantasy but I am simply trying to make the small point made by Juvenal who observed of Rome, "Now we are suffering all the evils of long continued peace. Now more ruthless than war it broods over Rome".
But Juvenal also observed, "Poverty, bitter though it is, has no sharper fang than this, that it makes men ridiculous".
Lotto and the capitol
The admirable newsletter, Insight, has been saying for a long time that we should use Lotto money or anything else we can scrape up to build ourselves a fine capitol which would include, among other things, a splendid House of Parliament. I usually find myself in agreement with Insight, but I feel that this suggestion is another example of the palace building syndrome that has brought not only our financial sector but also our economy as a whole to its knees.
I have no doubt that a splendid capitol would be a great thing to have one of these days. But not yet. It will have to wait until we learn to earn our own living. At the moment I think that Gordon House is quite good enough for the riff-raff whom, with notable and honourable exceptions, have managed to get themselves elected over the years. It is all very well to be grand if you are rich, but grandeur is out of place for church mice.
Talking of poverty reminds me to mention the sad subject of Haiti. If you have been watching events there you will notice that the worthy Aristide is gradually working himself back via his political party to returning, ultimately as a dictator, although he will, at first, make a brave show of restoring democracy. In all its two centuries of history Haiti had neither democracy nor any
understanding of it and both the Caribbean and the USA are wasting their time trying to establish it.
As I have written many times, the best thing to do with Haiti is to leave it alone. If that country is to develop into anything worthwhile it has to do it by itself.
If my masters will not be annoyed with me, I would like to commend a column in the "Observer" entitled, "How we use English" by Ian R. Ball. The writer exhibits astonishing erudition and seems at home in many languages. It is a most entertaining and instructive
* Morris Cargill is The Gleaner's most senior columnist, and has been writing for over 46 years.