Tag Archive: Jamaica


Fire Fenton Fast

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I don’t know Fenton Ferguson personally. I have seen him at perhaps two social gatherings and he appears like an affable, decent, older man, not dissimilar to many of my own relatives. He apparently likes to dance and seemed polite in his dealings with people at the occasions where I observed him.

That’s all nice and good.

However, Minister Fenton Ferguson, as we have come to find out as Jamaican citizens, is an abject failure in his capacity as guardian and manager of the health of our nation. Ferguson has been tasked by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to administer and preside over a difficult and underfunded health ministry at a time when the IMF has mandated belt tightening which impacts all spending on social services. In fairness, not an easy task.  It would be a challenge to any able and competent individual. However, the absolute level of failure, mismanagement and incompetence shown by Ferguson in his handling of the portfolio puts the very survival of every single Jamaican residing in the island in jeopardy.

The audacity of his denial of the existence of a Chik V problem and the prior failure to adequately inform and prepare a public help policy to help to minimize the impact of what was internationally accepted as an inevitable occurrence, cost Jamaica hundreds of lives and billions of dollars. The actions of the ministry led to mistrust, confusion and total chaos as people sought out cures and explanations for a plague that swept the country.  The failure to inform the populace of necessary prevention protocols led to thousands of Jamaicans feeling close to death’s door and in some cases putting many through that door.

Fenton’s shining moment and penance  was his public wish that he too could catch the disease and experience the pain and suffering  felt by so many us

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/I-want-ChikV–says-health-minister

Utter neglect. Utter failure. Utter disgrace.

The huge list of major negative occurrences and issues occurring in our health sector during the tenure of Minister Ferguson has no precedent in modern Jamaican history. That may very well be a matter of bad luck and saltness for the minister. However, his handling of the various situations and the overall decline in the standard of health care are all him and his doing.

The inadequate administration and maintenance of hospitals, the buck stops with him.

The poor ordering and monitoring of supplies for the institutions in the sector, the buck stops with him.

The inability to ably inform and prepare the public for the issues surrounding the Riverton fires and mosquito   infestations, all him.

The failure to move on the critical  issues brought to the fore by Dr Alfred Dawes of the JMDA in May of this year and the subsequent deaths of innocent babies as a result these very same issues is a national disgrace. All Fenton.

The lack of accountability and the blatant hiding of the full results of the internal audit of the health sector has lead to a further loss in confidence and moral within the medical fraternity. All Fenton.

Late reaction and information regarding Hand, Foot and Mouth disease affecting many early childhood institutions islandwide, whose fault? Fenton Ferguson.

The truth is that a good, intelligent leader will seek qualified internal and external advice. A good, competent leader inspires confidence by his actions and statements. A good, sensible leader is forthright and true to the task at hand and leads from the front.

And most importantly, a good leader and true public servant will recognize when a task is greater that their abilities and competence. And though hard to accept, that leader must graciously remove themself from the position of the embarrassment and disgrace of absolute failure.

Fenton it seems  is not such a leader.

We as residents of Jamaica have absolutely no other choice. We have to act.

For the sake of the health and safety of all Jamaicans, old and young, Fenton and the cast of characters that have allowed the further deterioration of an already troubled system must go.

And they must go now.

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Why do Jamaican men love fat women? And when I say fat women I simply mean women whose BMI(Body Mass Index) is outside of the upper proportions dictated by conventional western medicine. The variation and determination of  what is “fat” varies so much and is skewed by class, race and even in some cases even age group. But like many of our African brothers who still reside on the continent, a big strapting woman is also a  desired entity for many Jamaican men. Perhaps deep in our subconscious, big body women signify abundance, fertility and wealth.

Many men who have a preference for slimmer women have said that they have gone out of their way to “tackle a big ting properly” because,like Everest, it is just one of those challenges that you have to take on. The degree to which Jamaican men especially of our fathers’and grandfathers’ generation obsess over fat woman is very prominently displayed in all our music forms. Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae and Dancehall have all had big tunes glorifying and speaking about our fatty fixation. So, in this our 50th year I must tribute all the big body woman dem!

Here are my top 10 tunes in praise of fatty in no specific order.

There was a strain of reggae/Jamaican music that first came out in the early 70’s that myself and some of my  friends affectionately call Big Belly Brownman Rumbar Reggae.

When we were kids it was the type of reggae that would get good play on the radio as well as being very palatable for uptown social gatherings. It however really found its natural home in jukeboxes in the bars where copious quantities of rum were being consumed. It is the type of music that made some big seriousfaced gentlemen allow themselves  to do some little skanking. Something that they would never do to the more grassroots sounding reggae of the day.

It was a particular type of production that was bass heavy but with more chord changes than the hardcore dub reggae  sound that was running the 70’s. The horn arrangements were  more sophisticated and more dominant in the mix than the non-brownman reggae. As a child it seemed to me that the horns and bass facilitated for a kind of  dance move that was easy for non-dancers to do after a few Q’s of  White Rum. It was great music then, but age has actually given me a whole new appreciation of the humour, themes and overall production that went into these tracks.

So without futher ado, for Jamaica 50, here are my 10 favourite Big Belly Brownman Rumbar Reggae tracks in no special order. Please feel free to comment and let me know your favourites of the genre.

On the afternoon of October 14 1983, the course of reggae music was changed in the most unfortunate way. While  in a car on Grants Pen Road with an 18yr old aspiring reggae artist called Delroy Jr. Reid seated beside him, one of the brightest talents and true prodigies in Jamaican music was gunned down and killed.

His name was Hugh Mundell.

Mundell was 21 years old when he died but left behind a legacy of at least 5 albums and numerous singles. He recorded as a singer under his given name and recorded many of his DJ style songs under the alias Jah Levi. He was born in 1962 into a firmly middle-class East Kingston family. His father was a  lawyer. At age 13, with the help of singer/musician Boris Gardner(who appears to have been a neighbour at some point) Mundell recorded his first song for producer Joe Gibbs. He was attending Ardenne High but was already firmly rooted in Rastafari, Pan Africanism,  Black Consciousness and non-violence. I can only assume that this unlikely progressive thought for a middle-class child was rooted in the availability of conscious literature and consistent exposure to news and issues in his household. I have never been able to speak to anyone close to Mundell to give me the full picture. Augustus Pablo was saddened when I brought up the topic and said we would speak another time. Pablo passed before we had the conversation. Jr Reid who was Mundell’s protege and in the car with him when he was slain is a friend of mine, but the subject still seems hard to broach. Whatever his inspiration, Ardenne student Hugh Mundell aka Jah Levi in 1978 at the age of 16 recorded what is arguably one of the greatest roots reggae albums ever made.

Africa Must Be Free By 1983 received a maximum 5 star rating from Rolling Stone Magazine. Mundell’s smooth wailing vocal innocence paired with Pablo’s supreme production plus a cast of  legendary musicians and engineers had created a classic.  The album is included in Tom Moon’s 1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die.  And yes. The album is that good. With its dub mixes of all the songs, Africa Must Be Free kept my meds firm through many dark and difficult situations. I humbly suggest that if you are a lover of good  music you give the album a listen. In this our 50th year,  Mundell would have been 50 years old and could have potentially evolved into our next Marley.

Gone but not forgotten. Hugh Mundell.

Presidential Protocols

So Christopher “Dudus” Coke, past student of Ardenne High, Don of Western Kingston has been sentenced to the maximum term of 23 years.

The President will not be in the residence at any point in the near future. West Kingston and eventually the greater Jamaica will come to terms with what this absence will mean and the benefits and negatives that will become apparent over time.

The fact that I said that negatives may exist will rub some people the wrong way. Please feel free to be so rubbed. Unless you have some understanding of the complex dynamics of Jamaican Culture, Politics, Economics and Society in this our 50th year it is pointless for me to try and explain.

Perhaps some of the nuances of power, peace, war and money are best explained by Christopher Coke himself. The balancing act that exists a society that is built on a constant battle between warring factions fighting for scarce benefits and spoils is best told and explained by those who live it.

This is a wiretap of Dudus from around late 2006. He is speaking about Cowboy one of his top soldiers who has been accused of perpetrating criminal acts in the vicinity of Coronation Market. Dudus discusses the cost of war, the heaviness of the crown, ghetto justice and why he  spared Cowboy’s life.

Four years later, Cowboy was one of the three new witness that gave testimony against Coke that possibly resulted in his receiving the maximum sentence.

Mattathais Schwartz, who I have interviewed in my previous posts got access to this phone evidence which was available in the NY Southern District Court.

If you understand Jamaican patois and know Jamaican street culture this is probably one of the most interesting pieces of audio you may hear. Download it here.

The events leading up and subsequent to the May 24, 2010 Tivoli incursion taught me many things about Jamaicans and Jamaica. Some of them were sad confirmations of things that I had long suspected but would never have dared to verbalize in good company.

One of the things I confirmed was that a significant number of our populace have goals that extend only to eating their next meal. Regardless of the extent of systematic  abuse meted out to them or their loved ones, the lure of an immediate meal, hustle or even a promise of  “soon come” is often enough to keep them loyal and hoping.

I also confirmed that the social, political and class divides that Edward Seaga and many others spoke of over four decades ago are as pronounced and perhaps even more rigid than they have ever been, regardless of the superficial proclamations of “Out of Many One People” which has become a meaningless mantra.

I saw how misguided political agendas by both parties caused potentially great Jamaican statesmen to become liars, in some cases to become spies and informers for imperialist powers and others  complicit in ignoring the murder of innocent civilians. All in the name of politriks.

But honestly speaking, the most important thing I learnt was the extent to which the value of a Jamaican life is determined by how far above or below HWT one resides.

Just over 70 persons were officially acknowledged to have been killed in West Kingston during the operations to capture Christopher Coke by the security forces. I have heard from numerous sources, some of whom I have very strong belief in their integrity, that the actual dead may have numbered closer to 120. And to this day, almost 2 years later, not one iota of justice, recompense, reconciliation and even respect has been shown to the bereaved.

The understanding or acceptance by Jamaican society is that all these casualties were simply combatants hell-bent on the protection of their don and got their just deserves.

That is not the truth.

I am not going to fabricate fairy tales that every person killed was a churchgoing choirboy who was brutally murdered by evil security forces. The law enforcement officials came under severe fire and whatever means that they deemed appropriate to save their own lives and accomplish their mission, I as a law-abiding well-meaning Jamaican was in complete support.

The real problem is that they did not stop there. The truth is that many innocents were executed. Handcart men, vendors, mechanics, just regular working men who looked like they could be in some way connected to the Presidential System were put onto the ground and shot in their heads. Jamaican men were dragged from their homes and killed. Without charge, trial or jury…..they were shot like dogs.

Some were dumped in shallow graves in May Pen Cemetery and there are people claiming that others were burnt in furnaces over the old Public Works grounds.

The real dilemma is that no one cares. The mistake of the Jamaican populace is their largely held belief that everyone who lives in such an area, who did not leave, was a supporter of Coke and therefore deserving of death.  The real tragedy is the popular sentiment that ghetto Jamaican lives are cheap and plentiful.  Their deaths really amount to nothing but a relief to society, as we, the legitimate and proper bearers of the title “Jamaican citizen”, have merely gotten rid of a current or a potential criminal.

So when the TVJ news poll during the week of May 24 asked viewers “Should Tivoli residents be allowed to bury their dead?” it all became perfectly clear to me. No one can or will ever have to give me permission to bury my dog. I live uptown, I have my tings, mi have mi rights or so I would like to believe like Keith Clarke probably did.

But those 2 legged dogs in Tivoli need to get approval from us before they are allowed to bury the other two-legged dogs that we have killed. Michael Sharpe read that poll on TVJ and was seeking the public’s answers with a perfectly straight face. What we as a society fail to recognize is that the same knife that stick sheep will stick goat. When any human life within a country is undervalued, it undervalues all lives in that country. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. When anyone of us can be killed by the state without accountability, then all bets are off.  Regardless of what side of Half Way Tree one resides.

So herein lies the purpose of this blog post—- There was one article in the media which stood out and somewhat humanized the overall situation and the loss of life which took place in the Tivoli incursion.

It was not done by our local media. It was a piece in The New Yorker Magazine by a young white non-Jamaican male by the name of Mattathias Schwartz. He did the story that every Jamaican journalist should have been interested in doing. He did the piece that spoke to many of the issues that us as a society should have been concerned about subsequent to the incursion. Sadly we were too busy asking whether or not the dogs should have been allowed to bury their dead.

Here is a two part interview that I did with Matt. I simply wanted to find out a bit more about the opinions of the outsider who probably has done the single definitive piece on the Tivoli Incursion of 2010.


Had you ever been to Jamaica before? If so, what were your impressions?

I traveled to Jamaica as a tourist. Then I met someone in Kingston who told me about aspects of the Tivoli/Coke story that hadn’t made it into U.S. media, and I got started reporting. To some extent, Jamaica reminds me of Philadelphia—corrupt politics, insufficient housing, lots of murder, lots of exploitation by an entrenched power elite. Jamaica is what you would get if you put Philadelphia on an island in the Caribbean and left it alone for twenty or thirty years.

 How long were you here while doing the Tivoli story?

Eleven weeks, spread out over three trips.

What were your impressions of Tivoli as a community? What were some of the more memorable moments and characters?

 There are lots of “eyes on the street” to borrow Jane Jacobs’s term for informal public surveillance. If you come in from outside of the community, you need to be prepared to explain yourself and your reasons for being there to residents. “Unity” is a word that you hear a lot when Tivoli talks about itself, and it is true that the community has a great deal of spirit and unity and identity as a neighborhood. Tivoli is very closely knit.

What was your impression of Dudus’ role in the community?

It is hard for me to say with certainty. I wasn’t actually present in the community during the time that he was in charge so what I know comes from documentary sources and interviews with people who were there—police and residents. Among residents, there is a lot of love for Dudus and a lot of fear as well and sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between the two.

You must have heard an abundance of stories in your research that you eventually culled down for piece, did you get the impression people in West Kingston lied a lot?

Jamaica is a small country—about 2.7 million people the Internet tells me. So when you are looking into an event with as much impact as the Coke extradition and the Tivoli Gardens incursion, it is hard to find someone in Jamaica—let alone West Kingston—who doesn’t have a direct connection to the event. And when you or someone close to you is involved in an event, that makes it harder to give an honest, complete account when some reporter who just met starts asking you questions.

What was the most surprising/shocking discovery you made during your research?

I would meet an individual who claimed that they had never had any involvement or relationship with Dudus or his father. Then I would later learn, from another source, that they had a rather close relationship with one or the other. Or I would meet an individual who would claim that they had a relationship in the distant past that was now over. Then I would turn up a piece of evidence that the relationship was far more current than they had let on.

The first part of my answer to this question does not apply to the dead of May 2010, however. I remain convinced that Radcliffe Freeman, Andre Smith, and dozens of others who died during the incursion were innocent noncombatants killed in cold blood by the Jamaican security forces during the incursion. I have published a great deal of evidence to this effect, evidence that was vetted with great care by myself and the magazine’s factcheckers. I challenge anyone in the Jamaican government or elsewhere to produce evidence to the contrary.

Were you surprised that no Jamaican media had really done a comprehensive piece on the Tivoli Incursion?

No, I was not surprised.

Why weren’t you surprised?

Well, let me modify that slightly. Some of the Gleaner’s coverage—bothprint and video—immediately after the assault on Tivoli was very good.And the Observer has at least two columnists who have worked hard tokeep questions surrounding the civilian casualties in the publicconversation. When you ask why there was no comprehensiveinvestigative piece in the Jamaican media, and why I was notsurprised, it’s difficult for me to say exactly. I do think that thereany many excellent and honest journalists in Jamaica, and that they covered this story as well as they could, given the resources that they had.

Have you been approached by any human rights organizations, charities, judicial organizations about your piece?

I came into contact with some organizations like these, such asAmnesty International and Jamaicans for Justice, during the reporting process.

Did you actually speak to any Jamaican politicians?

I assume you mean during the process of reporting the story … if so,the answer is yes, I spoke with numerous Jamaican MPs as well as other politicians and government officials.

What were the US impressions to your article? What did your editor think? Was it a popular story?

I wish that there had been more outrage in the U.S. regarding the story, particularly given the fact that a U.S. citizen was killed and the U.S. government assisted with the operation. The U.S. public certainly wouldn’t stand for something like this occurring in a U.S. city. I am frankly surprised how easily the Jamaican public appears to have written off the killing of dozens of Jamaican citizens by their own security forces.

Here is part 2 of the interview


So this post is going to be one of many. It’s a nice easy series because they are so many degenerates in our culture that have their own special attributes that make them uniquely Jamaican and notable. Some of the degenerates I know personally, some I know of, and some are random sightings on my journey through life.

Don”t get me wrong, as somewhat of a degenerate myself I have a special place for all these people.  Most times I see things in them that are so disgusting that the spectacle of their existence sickens my stomach while it warms my heart.

So without further ado, introducing to di werl, catty like  Miss Nicky Black.

Please note, this is not fit for airplay or prudish ears.

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