Welcome to the isle of slackness

Published: Sunday | June 4, 2006

Kevin O'Brien Chang, Contributor

Where Do 'Baby Daddies' come from?
The OED lists baby-daddy and baby-mama as 'colloquial, chiefly African-American' variants of the Jamaican terms baby-father and baby-mother; its first citation for baby-mother hails from the Kingston Daily Gleaner in 1966. Reggae songs using the terms made their way to the U.S. By the late '90s, baby-daddy and baby-mama were appearing regularly in American hip-hop. These days Baby-daddy is the new bling. Baby-mama has even made inroads in Japan. Salon recently called Tom Cruise 'Katie Holmes' baby-daddy' even though the couple is engaged.
Slate ­ May 7, 2006

Grenada's Education Minister says Passa Passa -; loud night till dawn street parties with lots of dancing which originated in Jamaica - is not welcome in Grenada. 'There is no merit in Passa Passa dances where young ladies expose themselves half naked in public and let DVDs be made of them.
­ BBC. May 2006

Barbados police on Saturday banned gatherings known as "passa passa" parties.

­ Pravda. April 15, 2006

JAMDOWN IS without doubt the world's leading per capita exporter of slackness. Brand Jamaica really stands for 'anything goes,' and our true national motto is 'Do what feels good and don't worry.'

Which is what, deep down, most of humanity aspires to. Hence all the 'Live each moment as if it were your last' and 'Seize the day' self-help book clichés. But, only Jamaica has the 'carpe diem and damn the consequences' courage of its convictions. Plenty of places talk about 'no problem'. But, we practise what we preach and make it a way of life.


Visitors from more restricted lands - which is just about everywhere else - generally love this exhilarating isle of unshackled passion. To them, and most inhabitants of planet earth, life is constant cost-benefit analysis.

But Jamaicans do what they want whenever they want, and let the future take care of itself. Over 85 per cent of children born out of wedlock and the world's highest murder rate are apparently prices well worth paying for the ecstasy of emotional freedom.

Sir Richard Burton claimed that 'He noblest lives and noblest dies, who makes and keeps his self-made laws'. Well, this must be the noblest of nations, for it admits no social norms whatsoever. The only real taboos are 'Don't get caught with an underage girl' and 'Don't be openly homosexual'. Otherwise you're free to live by whatever rules you please, and nobody bothers you.

Eight children for eight different men and not yet 30, as a lady recently told me of her sister. No big deal, since your family or the latest baby father will mind all of you. Sure, things might get tough at some point, but nobody starves in Jamaica and basic health care is almost free and nearly all children get through school somehow. Married five times, or 11 children with seven women? Maybe we should consider making you a national hero.

Religious it may be, but this is a nine commandment nation. As the recent STAR polls confirmed, 'Thou shalt not commit adultery' doesn't apply here. According to respondents - who likely judged from their behaviour - the average man has three women and the average woman two men, and only 20 per cent of males and 30 per cent of females are faithful to their partners.


Politicians regularly make ostentatious 'children are our future' and 'watch out deadbeat dads' speeches. But it's just mouth talk. No one is proposing legislation with firm penalties for men who neglect their offspring, and words alone change nothing. Some thought a woman Prime Minister might champion family value laws, but the 'mother of the nation' seems just as comfortable with the status quo as her male counterparts.

Judges want fathers charged with children's crimes, yet few care about putting fathers' names on birth certificates. What excites the media and public is scandal and homosexuality. So what if only about three per cent of men are inverts while 58 per cent of Jamaican children don't have a registered father? Stop trying to interfere with a woman's prerogative to 'jacket' who she wants, and mek dem show we de tape!


The Slate article above is proof again that the closest parallel to the Jamaican lifestyle - where you have children with whoever you want and move on whenever you feel like - is Hollywood. We may not have the income, but otherwise we are truly a 'lifestyle of the rich and famous' country.

In most places you have to be wealthy and powerful to have lots of offspring. Here, seemingly any determined man can have as many children as he wishes. Forget money or looks or talent. I know a guy with more than 20 baby mothers who has no front teeth and can barely read and write or feed himself.

We males have no idea how females choose the men that impregnate them. But contraceptives are cheap and conception by rape is rare. What kind of women have willing unprotected sex with men? AIDS might, eventually, sort out this syndrome.

Talking heads are forever pontificating about 'leadership'. But had Lee Kwan Yew become Prime Minister of Jamaica, instead of Singapore, he would probably have ended up with six baby mothers and raided the treasury to support his mistresses. It's no accident that by far our most popular Prime Minister was a legendary philanderer, especially with his friends' wives and girlfriends.

Countries get the governments they deserve, for successful politicians give the people what they want. And the Jamaican populace seems to have demanded and got the minimum amount of laws and productivity needed to keep this island from figuratively sinking into the sea. As my friend 'Happy' Chen once remarked, this is the most efficient country in the world. Where else do people live so well with such little mental and physical exertion? And where else do they laugh so easily and often?

A direct hit by a Category 5 hurricane might bring fundamental change. But even then hardships would be attributed to 'the Almighty's will' and not a glaring lack of national disaster planning. And attitude changes would only last till men had enough money to start looking women again. Then it would be back to 'living on the edge' business as usual.


But hey, who's complaining? Maybe a few radio hosts, but clearly not the masses. Sure people grumble. But where's the desire for real change? Palpable governmental incompetence has caused a severe cement shortage and thrown thousands out of work and markedly cut GDP growth. But the minister in charge remains and we still love Sista P and things cool.

Certainly no one is protesting. Let the French and Thais and Nepalese march in thousands to force governmental action. Apparently, in Jamaica man still have more phone and more car and more woman and everybody happy.

Not everyone is totally enamoured with Jamaica's 'eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die' lifestyle. But what cannot be remedied must be endured. And we who love this country despite its faults and have no desire to live elsewhere might as well stop beating our heads against a wall. If you can't beat them ...

Email Kevin O'Brien Chang at changkob@hotmail.com.