Sun | Feb 14, 2016

Colonialisation in reverse

Published:Monday | February 4, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Super Bowl ad featuring Jimmy Cliff.

The Soloist, Contributor

Miss Lou must be turning cartwheels in her grave. Her poem titled 'Colonialisation in Reverse' spoke volumes about Jamaicans flocking to Britain in the early post-colonial days. Today, we see more subtle forms of 'colonialisation', but Miss Lou told that story (like all others) in dialect. Patois (patwa) is our language of thought, our mother tongue, but the language we despise and try to shun ... until others like Volks Wagen (VW) make it sound cute in a prime time TV ad for yesterday's Superbowl!

Can you believe it. There are close to 200 countries in the world but, for this ad, Jamaica was chosen for its colourful and lyrical language. Millions have watched it, but the best some can do is quarrel and cry racism. But wait, we are not the ones crying foul. Others who presume to think for us are the one's running up their mouths. Lighten up, I say. I can still see the tourism minister doing cartwheels in his office and praying that it continues to be shown.


I am happy about the ad for selfish reasons too. Perhaps now we will stop all this arguing over a patois Bible. It has its place. My only issue with it is that not everyone can read written patois. So the 'lost sheep' they hope to reach through a patois translation will remain hopelessly so. Then there are the illiterate people who don't know their ABCs, let alone their 'aaii sah', 'but see yah' or 'cho man!'

Yeah mon!?

The other little point worth noting is that I still have not met the true, native Jamaican who says "yeah mon" and no one made a fuss about that contrived phrase. The truth is, foreigners (white or otherwise), say what they hear. So let them continue to rape us and all we should do is cut the wretched talking and, like them, find creative ways to make money from our own assets. I wonder what they will steal from us next?

You know, we really are a stupid lot. We quarrelled at length about the crazy money on the London Olympics in the hope of reaping benefits from it ... in tourism no less. Now that VW has turned the spotlight on us again, we are wasting time arguing.

When I was a child, each time I shouted patois loudly while at play outdoors with my friends, my late grandma would shout, "speak properly child." Dutifully my "Gimmie pass" or "Lawd ha massey" became "Excuse me" or "Lord have mercy." Her correction gave me an early understanding that English is the official way to express myself. Today, it remains the world's language of business and commerce and I have no allergies to it.

We are little, but our reputation is large, let's not be stupid about it.

Si yuh layta (see you later).