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'It's a Jamaican thing!' Awards 2009

Published:Sunday | February 21, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Kevin Obrien Chang, Contributor

IT ALMOST seems a waste of time discussing Jamaica's problems anymore. Everyone knows what they are and what the solutions are. But no one, from top to bottom, seems interested in doing what has to be done.

After four and a half years of interacting with three different prime ministers and people from all walks of society, former British high commissioner Jeremy Cresswell concluded thus:

"Whenever you look at any of the issues that face Jamaica, whether they're economic, whether they're political, whether they're social, the changes that need to be made are out there. They're often discussed, many solutions have been proposed, many speeches have been made, but it seems sometimes quite difficult to actually achieve change. In every country and society, change is difficult. But across the board, it seems to be really quite difficult for Jamaican society to move forward."

Jamaica's record 2009 murder count of 1,682 gives us a murder rate of over 62 per 100,000, which is more than 10 times that of the United States and nearly 40 times that of the UK, and possibly the highest in the world for a country not officially at war. Our average economic growth rate over the past two decades of about one per cent ranks near the bottom internationally. Yet poor and violent Jamaica not only does not seem to want to change, it somehow ranks number three on the Global Happy Planet Index!

This makes absolutely no sense. But then, not much in this country does. At times it appears that the laws of reason have been suspended here, and that the phrase 'Jamaican logic' is somehow a contradiction in terms. But whatever else may be the case, we are never short of humour, intentional or otherwise. So here are some of the crazier things said and done by Jamaicans last year, the 'It's a Jamaican Thing!' Awards 2009.

  • The 'Almost Being Killed by a Jealous Husband is Just Part of Life' Trophy

Here is a report from
The Star
, October 5, 2009:

"[Major Mackerel, a 1980s dancehall star] was hospitalised in Brooklyn Sunday after he was attacked by a jealous husband wielding a two-foot samurai sword ... was slashed across the head and hand during a fight ... suffered a severe cut on his left palm during the scuffle. He was somehow all smiles when he walked out of Kings County Hospital seven hours after the attack.

"'I don't feel bad,' said Mackerel, still wearing his hospital gown. 'These things happen. It's a Jamaican thing'."

Who can argue with the man?

  • The 'True Love Means Having a New Girl Every Night' Cup

Here are some lyrics from Adidja 'Vybz Kartel' Palmer's big 2009 hit
Love Dem

"Shorty catch mi last night

Wid a fat brown gyal a stand pipe

And she fling up afta me with a knife

Mi hug har up and seh that's all right cah

You know you are the love of mi life

Nuh worry cah you are mi wife but

Mi haffi have new gyal every night

She hear bout Kim and a ask me why

Mi neva mean to, You haffi believe me

Anotha girl. Gonna have a baby

You know you are mi everything

Mi nuh need no otha

But a bag a gyal a run dung di Gaza Youth

Weh you expect mi fi do?"

Once I heard a young lady happily singing this song and asked her if she wasn't offended by such lyrics. "It's just a nice song," she laughed, "and I like it." Well, if the women enjoy it, why shouldn't the men?

  • The 'Even Slackness Must Have Decorum' Shield

Vybz Kartel's repertoire of violent and sexually explicit songs is probably unsurpassed in quality or quantity,
Tek ... Gyal
Ramping Shop
being two of his more infamous creations. But when videos of deejay Lisa Hyper (formerly Lisa Hype) supposedly performing oral sex began circulating, he issued the following statement:

"Lisa Hype is no longer a part of the Portmore Empire. The members of the Empire have unanimously agreed to end our professional relationship especially in light of certain 'developments' that have come to our attention regarding her overall conduct, conduct that is not consistent with the decorum expected of a member of the Portmore Empire ... she no longer fits in with our organisational goals." After all, standards have to be maintained!

  • The 'I'll Keep You Safe, If the Price is Right!' Stakes

"Mere moments after his conviction on a charge of corruption ... Superintendent Harry 'Bungles' Daley said he was available to assist with law enforcement in Jamaica" [
Jamaica Observer
, December 21, 2009]. We'll get back to you after we stop laughing, Harry.

  • The 'What Me Worry About 13 Years of Failure?' Handicap

During Omar Davies' tenure as finance minister from 1994 to 2007, the Jamaican economy grew by an average rate of less than one per cent and inflation averaged over 10 per cent. It's doubtful that any other democratically chosen finance minister anywhere with such a dismal record would have been allowed to stay in office so long. But this probably unprecedented 13-year reign of failure had not stopped Dr Davies from calling for current Finance Minister Audley Shaw to resign after barely two years in the post. You have to wonder if politicians ever stop talking long enough to listen to how ridiculous they sound.

  • The 'It's Only Wrong When They Do It' Challenge

This labour party administration rightly castigated former Finance Minister Omar Davies for the outrageously excessive contract given to former Bank of Jamaica governor Derrick Latibeaudiere. But when challenged to defend the $2.7 million per month fees being paid to sugar divestment consultant Aubyn Hill, they put off the matter in Parliament, and have not yet to my knowledge given any reasonable justification for what seems to be an excessive amount of money for probably one-day-a-week work. Mr Bruce Golding's fine words about transparency and accountability are never going to convince anyone when they are so blatantly at odds with his party's actions.