Actually, the Ides of March were on Friday, March 15, just two days ago. We often hear the phrase “Beware the Ides of March,” without even understanding the sense of it. Blame Shakespeare. As a former student of Latin language and literature, I can assure you that the Romans were a highly superstitious lot, and very fond of omens. Reading animals’ entrails, birds, the weather, and all that. This period was not short of prophets of doom – and we have a few of those around ourselves, here in Jamaica.
It’s true that things are not looking rosy, in general. We were overwhelmed this week (and we knew it was coming) by the broadcast of a documentary on AXS TV on the “lotto scam,” narrated by Dan Rather, who visited Jamaica earlier this year. Segments were aired on CBS News and NBC News, and it was heavily publicized through Mr. Rather’s (and others’) social media outlets. Segments were, of course, aired on local television – including an interview with a young scammer in Montego Bay, who ran away when the journalist revealed that they were U.S. media. His face was clearly shown. I am not sure if you can download the full program somewhere – I’m not finding it online.
I understand that Mr. Rather is planning further investigations, so this may not be the end of this negative publicity. National Security Minister Peter Bunting had a sense of foreboding about this one, and rightly so. Since the testimony, and the documentary, there has been much discussion about the impact on so-called “Brand Jamaica.” Now, to me, Brand Jamaica is a fabrication of the politicians and tourism officials. How attractive is Brand Jamaica to ordinary Jamaicans, one of my friends asked on Twitter this week – “that is the real measure.” Indeed, but that is for another discussion. The government has naturally been scrambling to do “damage control,” according to local media. No reported “fallout” – yet.
But, why do the Americans have to clean up our mess again, other Jamaicans are asking? There are odd echoes of the “Dudus” affair… The same level of discomfort and a kind of humiliation. We are the bad guys, again. We are a very small nation, and we feel it. Yes, we take it to heart, even if we pretend not to.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, headed by Democrat Bill Nelson of Florida, sat on Wednesday to consider the matter, at the urging of advocacy groups such as the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Minister Bunting had submitted written testimony. The recorded conversations between the criminals in Jamaica (what else can you call them?) and their sad, distressed elderly victims in Maine and other U.S. states; and the television interviews with them and their families – all made me cringe. It was very, very uncomfortable to watch and hear. A feeling of collective guilt infused many of the discussions on the matter – on radio talk shows, many expressed shame and at the very least, embarrassment. “Jamaica, the Nigeria of the Caribbean” was one online comment. We wondered how these old people could be so lonely, happy to hear the sound of a human voice even if it was that of a stranger with evil intent (I actually do consider the scammers evil, not a word I use lightly). Some called them “gullible” and “suckers” which I find unkind. Elderly people are vulnerable, almost like children.
My questions are: Why was the lotto scam allowed to continue for five or six years without any effective action being taken by the Jamaican government? Was the legislation – which the Senate will debate next week – only put together at the behest of the U.S. government? Who was/is benefiting from the lotto scam? Local politicians, businessmen, who exactly? Will they be brought to book? We all knew that Montego Bay has been booming for the last few years…How long will it take to extradite even one Jamaican – and how many are actually involved? Was someone “higher up” orchestrating the whole thing? Will the IT/call center business ever recover? Why was the local media, with some exceptions, unwilling to investigate over these past few years – were they under pressure?
According to at least one Opposition member, tourism is already in decline, even without all this unpleasantness. This is not good for our foreign exchange inflows, and I had heard that stopover visitors are seriously lagging behind cruise ship arrivals, even in the current winter tourist season. Suggestions are that cultural issues and environmental degradation are having a negative impact on visitors. Brand Jamaica is a tarnished mirror, in which we can hardly see ourselves any more, no matter how hard we try to wipe it clean. Let’s forget it.
There is no doubt that the lotto scam comes under the heading “organized crime” and must be dealt with accordingly. Extradition to the United States is fine in my book, so long as they are given a fair trial and brought to justice. And talking of organized crime, what is going on in west Kingston, the former domain of the aforementioned extraditee Christopher “Dudus” Coke? I hear rumblings that a new power structure is in place. If you visit Coronation Market regularly, you may have seen the signs.
Meanwhile, the police have taken a Kingston businessman into custody and he could face numerous charges, including murder and money laundering. But he doesn’t have a name – so he must be a “big man.” I am sure if he was from Arnett Gardens or Denham Town, we would all know his name, address and aliases right away.
Talking of foreign exchange: some local manufacturers are among those complaining about a shortage of foreign exchange. Former head of the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association Omar Azan says the banks have waiting lists, and he was not able to get all the U.S. Dollars he needed to import raw materials. If this is a growing trend and it continues, there will be layoffs as production is cut. Opposition Finance Spokesman Audley Shaw already notes a “thriving black market” - he has been banging on about this for some time. More doom and gloom (if possibly exaggerated…in Audley Shaw’s somber tone…)
Do we need to be reminded of the “Cuban light bulb scandal”? It occurred during the previous People’s National Party administration, resulting in a corruption trial that is still not concluded. But hey! The program to provide free energy-saving bulbs from Cuba to poor households through Minister Phillip Paulwell’s energy ministry is back! That’s all we needed. Former junior minister Kern Spencer (who cried in Parliament when his Opposition counterpart accused him) has had his trial successfully postponed a number of times; he was first arrested over five years ago.
Well, I was on television myself last week. I appeared on CVM Television’s “Live at Seven.” I hope some of you were able to watch the program, which focused on whether pregnant teens should be “excluded” (in other words, kicked out) of high school or allowed to continue their education before and after giving birth. As Chair of Eve for Life Jamaica, I am firmly of the latter view. Education is empowerment, and many of these girls have suffered from rape, abuse, incest and are being punished for it. My co-panelist, the President-elect of the Jamaica Teachers Association, suggested that everything was fine and the girls can, at principals’ discretion, return to school (or a different school) afterwards. He also said that the state-funded Women’s Centre of Jamaica was most effective in supporting these vulnerable girls. In other words (as is often the case in these discussions on the media) one would be led to believe that all is hunky dory, and the system works perfectly… Unless one knew better, of course. In columnist Barbara Gloudon’s words, “It is the girl who must pay the price.” See her take on the issue, below…
More on this in another blog. Suffice it to say I was nervous as hell, this being my first television appearance; but I was impressed by Mr. Simon Crosskill, host of the program, and his great young production team. An excellent program. You can find the latest edition online here:
- updated daily.
A young lady I know and think highly of was also a guest on Power 106 FM’s youth program yesterday. Ms. Kemesha Kelly, who comes from a humble family in rural St. Ann, is a former Miss Jamaica Festival Queen. She is highly intelligent, enthusiastic and a terrific role model for girls. As usual, Ms. Kelly was overflowing with energy during her interview, discussing the “SWAG” (Something Worthwhile a Gwaan) initiative that she spearheads at the Marcus Garvey Youth Information Centre in St. Ann’s Bay. (A common refrain among youth is “Nutten Naah Gwaan” (nothing is going on). The project needs more funding support; if you are a local business or individual who would like to help, get in touch with Kemesha (or me).
When asked about the main challenges for Jamaican youth, Kemesha noted employment opportunities (lacking); crime and violence – youth are so often the victims and the perpetrators; and access to higher education, which she considers crucial. She is an aspiring human rights lawyer. I wish her all the very best…
More young people doing great (amazing) things: Over the last few days, the hotly-contested 103rd ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Championships has taken the National Stadium by storm. Records broke left right and center, to the deafening sound of vuvuzelas (yes, they are still in use over here, unfortunately – we could hear them from our house!) Many congratulations to Calabar High School, who again came out on top, with two other Kingston boys’ schools, Jamaica College and Kingston College hot on their heels. The girls of Holmwood Technical High School overtook Edwin Allen High School, with St. Jago High School girls in third place – all, interestingly “out of town” schools in Manchester, Clarendon and St. Catherine respectively. Many, many congratulations to all! As someone observed, our successful athletes always rise above the divisiveness of Jamaican society. Do we care what political party they support, or which area of Kingston they come from? Of course not! They have transcended that political tribalism that breeds nothing but mediocrity.
And congratulations to all the winners of the Prime Minister’s Youth Awards. Special congratulations are due to Kimroy Bailey, a young engineer and fellow (award-winning) blogger who is highly focused on alternative energy. Let’s encourage those young people, in the sciences and other fields, who are doing the hands-on stuff and trying to raise awareness! We need those ideas. And action.
P.S. Just a word to journalists, especially the younger ones who are sometimes a little hurt when they are criticized. “Everyone tells us how to do our job,” one complained last week. Well, I for one will continue to criticize. As purveyors of the media product, you should also listen to what we – your consumers – have to say! I still maintain that there are far too many errors of spelling, grammar and pronunciation (some of them really embarrassing). And I also feel that browsing through the social media, commenting on what so-and-so is saying about such-and-such and reading it out, doth not good journalism make. It’s different if you are organizing feedback on a specific issue; fine. Otherwise, it looks like you are wasting time, and it’s irritating. It’s also not news – unless you suspect that the social media is more newsworthy than what your own radio/television station or newspaper produces?
This has been another week of terrible grief. The killing of three family members (including a fireman) in Westmoreland has traumatized the community where they live – and where they were setting up a small business, a cook shop. Residents of the lovely town of Lucea were horrified by a terrible murder/suicide (the suicide taking place in a busy public shopping plaza) which seems to have been the result of a woman trying to end an abusive relationship. My deepest condolences to the families, friends and neighbors. Whole communities in shock. We will all need group counseling, soon…
Omario Bryan, 17, Havannah Heights, Clarendon
Winston “Charlie” Dawkins, 63, Osbourne Store, Clarendon
Sean Powell, 31, Spanish Town, St. Catherine
Shane Stanley, 37, Green Acres, St. Catherine
Unidentified, Dyke Road/Portmore, St. Catherine
Unidentified, Dyke Road/Portmore, St. Catherine
Cameka Duhaney, 23, Lucea, Hanover
Sydney Smith, 43, Lucea, Hanover
Killed by police
Andrew Brydson, 28, Shrewsbury, Westmoreland
Tristan Brydson, 24, Shrewsbury, Westmoreland
Kingsley Green, 38, Shrewsbury, Westmoreland
Related articles: Local blogs in purple
Live at Seven on teen pregnancy/March 12, 2013: CVM Television
Police Federation awaits word from Cabinet: Gleaner
Cops kill fireman, brother and cousin: Jamaica Observer
Murderous rampage in Lucea: Jamaica Observer
Defense attorney troubled by lottery scam law: Gleaner
Government pushes public awareness on lottery scam impact: Jamaica Information Service
Government dismisses claims of being slow in addressing lottery scam: RJR News
Opposition supports extradition of scammers: Gleaner
United States Senate Special Committee on Aging – Hearing on Lotto Scam: http://www.aging.senate.gov/ – Video and audio here:
Doubletake: First Mattathias Schwartz, now Dan Rather – what ails Jamaican media? anniepaul.net
Dan Rather talks about investigating the Jamaican lottery scam: chatychaty.com
Americans continue to clean our house: Letter to Gleaner
Make the scammers’ lives hell: Observer editorial
Debate on lottery scam bill to continue on March 21: Jamaica Information Service
Lottery scammers are not operating alone: Mark Wignall column/Sunday Observer
Eradicate the culture of impunity around the lottery scam: Claude Robinson column/Sunday Observer
Dudus Part#2 – The Jamaican Lotto Scam extradition requests. (commonsenseja.wordpress.com) Dudus Part 2: The Jamaican lotto scam extradition requests: commonsenseja.wordpress.com
DPP advises police to charge World Wise operators: RJR News
Jamaica waives visa requirements for Eastern European tourists: caribjournal.com
Gangster country: Letter to the Editor/Gleaner
Cops fight at police station: Jamaica Star
Businessman held in money laundering, murder probe: Sunday Gleaner
Help needed: West Kingston’s plea: Sunday Gleaner
Fears of a child trafficking ring dismissed by police: RJR News
”Baby Madda” story come back again: Barbara Gloudon column/Jamaica Observer
An open letter to Caribbean men from Caribbean women: rhrealitycheck.org
Nicola Hamilton on a mission to empower women: Gleaner
Do homosexuals have a place in Jamaica? Jaevion Nelson column/Gleaner
Men beaten for “funny behavior”: Jamaica Star
Haitians were treated fairly: Letter to the Gleaner from Jamaican immigration chief
New China road deal: Gleaner
Tourism in major decline: Concerns about crisis: delanoseiv.wordpress.com
Rural St. Andrew water sources fall short of WHO guidelines: RJR News
Residents say bills too high: Gleaner
Controversial Cuban light bulb project to be reintroduced: RJR News
Growth in export earnings: Jamaica Information Service
Only 25% of NHT contributors have benefitted in 37 years: Jamaica Observer
Too many hypocrites in Jamaica: Letter to the Editor/Jamaica Observer
68-year-old killed in shark attack: Jamaica Star
Turning trash into treasure: Biochar oven: Gleaner
Trip to Chavez funeral no cost to government: RJR News
Politicians must sacrifice too: Francis J Mafar op-ed/Jamaica Observer
Manley-Duncan: Shift to a “sacred place”: Jean Lowrie-Chin column/Jamaica Observer
Change is possible and change is happening: All Woman/Jamaica Observer
What can we do when the “mother” school system fails? Tashion Hewitt op-ed/Jamaica Observer
The wisdom of Old Folly – St. Ann residents unite for model community: Gleaner
Michael “Freestylee” Thompson exhibits at the University of the West Indies Museum
Christopher John Farley keeps an open mind in life and art: Tallawahmagazine.com
During a visit to the tourist resort of Negril in Jamaica several years ago, I ventured out in a glass-bottom boat. Snorkeling and diving make me claustrophobic, so this is the only way that I can really see what is happening under the surface.
I had hoped to see glowing, flourishing and healthy coral reefs; I saw very little of that. However, we did see, for a beautiful instant, a sea turtle. He (or she) sparkled in the fractured sunlight, like a freshly painted toy, suspended from an invisible string. I wondered how he/she survived in an environment that seemed almost devoid of fish. But it was an exquisite moment that I will never forget.
At a meeting last month with representatives of the United Nations Environment Programme‘s (UNEP) Caribbean Environment Programme in Kingston, we heard from Alessandra Vanzella-Khouri, Program Officer for the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) treaty – the only regional and legally binding biodiversity treaty for the Wider Caribbean. I noted in my first article that the Wider Caribbean includes all the coastlines bordering on the Caribbean, including the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, it is four million square kilometers of deep water basins, estuaries, islands, sandbanks and coral reefs. SPAW is concerned with the life that exists in this beautiful, but far from pristine environment.
Here’s a bleak fact: 76 per cent – over three-quarters – of all species in this region are threatened by habitat loss or changing habitat. Over-fishing, unplanned coastal development and pollution (which I discussed in the first article) are wreaking havoc on our marine life – fish, sharks, lobsters, whales, dolphins and all the much tinier creatures too. All six species of sea turtles in the Caribbean are endangered, largely because people collect their eggs from the beaches where they nest.
Let’s go back to the United Nations’ SPAW Protocol for a moment. The Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife to the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region was adopted at a conference in Kingston, Jamaica in 1990 and entered into force in 2000. Ambassador Don Mills (Jamaica) was elected President of the conference. How many countries in the region have signed and ratified the agreement? Sixteen so far, as indicated on the map.
You will notice that the name of Jamaica, the conference host in 1990, is not among the sixteen. You will also note that Cuba, the Dominican Republic and most of our Eastern Caribbean neighbors have ratified it. But there are benefits to be acquired – tangible benefits. It’s more than just a piece of paper. The pluses to ratifying the agreement are greatest in the field of the Marine Protected Areas, where there is much work to be done. In fact, Ms. Vanzella-Khouri revealed that there are eighteen protected areas from the Caribbean recently listed under the SPAW Protocol to be included in a regional cooperation programme. There are over 300 marine protected areas established in the region.
As Ms. Vanzella-Khouri pointed out, it is “increasingly difficult” to raise funds from the UN and elsewhere for local projects, as long as Jamaica is not a party to the agreement. The lack of ratification appears to indicate a lack of commitment to the goals of the Protocol and an unwillingness to co-operate as an important player in the region; or that is how I see it.
Some projects are under way; there is a sustainable management project on Pedro Cays, including training and capacity building; there is a Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan and a Manatee Action Plan. But if Jamaica were to ratify SPAW, so much more could be achieved. Jamaica could obtain training; sustainable tourism and fisheries programs; technical co-operation with regional partners; funded participation at all SPAW meetings and workshops; access to specific guidelines, materials and research in order to meet the requirements of the Convention on Biological Diversity and other international agreements; and all kinds of support, (including financial) for much-needed conservation, awareness, community participation and best practice programs.
Jamaica is out on a limb. It is not a part of this international network of knowledge, co-operation and most importantly – action projects that will benefit us all.
As I noted in a previous blog post (and this seems so obvious to me) the beautiful Caribbean Sea, on which much of our livelihood and wellbeing depends, needs our love and nurturing. It is our birthright. And what is hugely important is that all those nations that border on the Caribbean, whether large or small, must co-operate and support each other to protect this precious jewel that we have inherited. Its waters lap all of our shores. We are all inter-connected.
There is “a lot at stake for Jamaica in SPAW,” said Ms. Vanzella-Khouri with a note of slight frustration in her voice. Jamaica can become part of this regional network of co-operation; at the moment it is not benefiting. There are no financial obligations required on Jamaica’s part, and it is already meeting some of the objectives of SPAW, she added.
You may say: Look, Jamaica is in a crippling economic crisis, with almost non-existent growth and low productivity; so why should “environmental issues” be of any relevance, right now? We have bigger fish to fry, metaphorically speaking.
Well, I would suggest that the environment in the Caribbean has a particularly important bearing on its economy. There is the Great God of Tourism, to which our governments bow. How can tourism thrive when the seas are polluted with untreated sewage, and snorkelers and divers can only find dying coral reefs with a scattering of small fish? There are over 20,000 fishermen in Jamaica according to the Food and Agriculture Organization; how many are now struggling to survive, with some turning to illegal ways to make a living? And how much more could our citizens – and generations to come – benefit from a healthy environment?
And here are some figures to back this up: The total value of Jamaica’s ecosystems is an estimated US$245 million, according to a 2009 report by the World Resources Institute (WRI) in Washington, DC (do check out their fascinating and informative website). The value of dive tourism, fishing and coastal production is between US$3 – 4.6 billion per year. And in the past twenty-five years, Jamaica has lost US$1.3 billion in revenues from reef fisheries, says the WRI.
So why, you may ask, has Jamaica not taken advantage of these benefits that have been on offer for thirteen years or so – at no cost to the Jamaican government? We have heard this phrase many times before: “Lack of political will.” In other words, our leaders, stuck in their short-term thinking, don’t really care. That is just my view.
But we Jamaicans must care, mustn’t we?
P.S. I must stress, again, that the Caribbean Environment Programme office can provide journalists. researchers and anyone interested in the environment with a wealth of information, statistics and analysis of all these issues and much more, related directly to Jamaica and the Caribbean. Don’t hesitate to contact them! They would welcome your interest.
Contact info: Alessandra Vanzella-Khouri, Program Officer, SPAW: firstname.lastname@example.org. Ms. Pietra Brown, Communications Officer/United Nations Volunteer Email: email@example.com. UNEP CEP, 14-20 Port Royal Street Kingston, Jamaica. Tel. # 876 922 9267 Fax # 876 922 9292
Related articles and websites:
SPAW Protocol: UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme website
UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme website
Pollution Flowing from Land to Sea: The UN Caribbean Environment Programme, Part 1 petchary.wordpress.com
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle petchary.wordpress.com
Happy World Wetlands Day! petchary.wordpress.com
Two new environmental films by Jamaican filmmaker Esther Figueroa: petchary
A softer blue: The Caribbean Sea: petchary.wordpress.com
Our beautiful Caribbean Sea: petchary.wordpress.com
Coral comeback: Reef ‘seeding’ in the Caribbean miamiherald.com
Charity of the Week eastaltonrotary.blogspot.com
Sea Turtle Conservancy website
World Resources Institute website
New Analysis: Coral reefs provide great value to Jamaica’s economy: WRI press release
Coastal capital: Jamaica – WRI Special Paper
Food & Agriculture Organization Jamaica Country Profile/Fisheries
Government losing billions: Denise Dennis report/Jamaica Observer
My apologies! Yesterday proved to be such a busy day (including a slight hangover from our delicious trip to St. Elizabeth the day before) that this post eluded me.
This week is beginning with a heightened state of nerves over another national broadcast this evening. This is unusual, in that it will be a joint broadcast by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Finance Minister Peter Phillips. It springs from the visit of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) team to Jamaica; the team arrived almost a week ago, and some members have since departed. The remainder will leave on February 15. Meanwhile, the address was recorded yesterday. What does it contain, and why is it a joint address? One talk show host believes the ministers will announce that the administration has abandoned the prospect of an IMF agreement. My concern, too, is that I don’t get the sense that any of the “prior actions” - which Minister Phillips has hinted are problematic – have been achieved, or are likely to be. I did hear that the Minister traveled to Washington, DC on Friday – but nothing more. Did this actually happen? Also, I thought I heard the Prime Minister comment recently, as an aside, that perhaps Jamaica might not sign an IMF agreement, or words to that effect. Did I hear correctly? If not, please let me know, dear readers.
The broadcast will take place on all media at 9:00 p.m. Jamaican time and on CVM Television at 11:00 p.m. The video will be available on the Jamaica Information Service website at
. Fingers crossed… But I don’t have a good feeling.
And the financial analysts – such as Ralston Hyman on CVM Television – continue to stress the importance of things like productivity for our economic bottom line. What are we doing about that?
Meanwhile, we heard that last Tuesday, the House of Representatives’ session lasted just 45 minutes. “Guess there is nothing that really needs their attention at this time,” observed one of my online friends with just a hint of sarcasm. And why only 45 minutes? An investigative journalist should take this up and see how many hours the people we elected to represent us have actually spent working on the nation’s business – say, since the Christmas vacation. What about those important pieces of legislation (DNA, lotto scam, libel/slander laws, etc) that are pending? Let alone private members’ motions and so on. It would be fantastic to have a complete breakdown from each ministry of pending legislation and the status thereof, with timelines for completion. Or are our lawmakers just coasting down towards April 1, when the new budget year begins?
I do not understand the inertia. As another online friend tweeted last week: “Why does it take us so long in Ja to DO anything?
#perplexing.” Perhaps this question, which I have often asked, has answered itself. As a former U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica commented many years ago, I prefer to applaud achievements, not announcements. Action needed, please!
Meanwhile, I hear at least one government minister is visiting the fair isles of Trinidad and Tobago this week… Yes, Carnival time is here! But then, as we say in Jamaica, their bread is buttered…on both sides.
They also say that empty barrels make the most noise. Certainly, the rumblings over the “Enemy of the State” comment by our Prime Minister subsided last week. Ms. Simpson Miller put her foot down, and strongly (and I mean strongly) rejected any suggestion that she should apologize for her remarks – which suggests that they may well have been scripted. “Apologize for WHAT!” our fearless leader snapped at a broadcast journalist. She also issued a press release suggesting that “leaders should be careful with their statements.” OK. I tell you what… Let’s move on. I commend to you my fellow-blogger Damien Williams’ comments on the topic. See link below.
Another discussion that continued to rattle on last week was the VW ad that aired during Superbowl – remember, the one with the Jamaican accent (not patois)? Two schools of thought emerged. The largest school was that it was all great for us, as it portrayed our culture in a positive light and helped promote “Brand Jamaica” - some discussion too, around what Brand Jamaica really IS. A second school of thought, to which I belong, suggested that the ad perpetuates the “Everyt’ing irie, mon” stereotype of the happy Jamaican sitting under a coconut tree, lazing the day away. Those in the first school accuse those in the second of being miserable, negative and possibly unpatriotic. I have started a third school, called “Enough already!”
University professor Dr. Carolyn Cooper, who writes frequently on cultural issues considers this car ad a “reminder, yet again, that Jamaica is a cultural superpower.” The colonial oppressors are gone, and Jamaica rules the waves with reggae and champion sprinters. And as she says, “it’s all in good fun.” OK then, let’s lighten up a little – but let’s not expect millions of U.S. dollars to flow into the country’s coffers as a result of one TV ad, either. One of Dr. Cooper’s colleagues is not so amused by a British policeman, former Assistant Commissioner of Police Les Green,whose comments in the UK press on the inefficiencies of the Jamaica Constabulary Force continued to reverberate last week. Not good for Jamaica’s image. But those Jamaicans who don’t live in ivory towers seem to fundamentally disagree with Dr. Orville Taylor’s anti-colonial fulminations, accusations of racism etc. They claim Mr. Green is speaking the truth! The truth. Ah, where art thou, truth?
An online commentator noted: “We keep harping on the achievements of or artistes and athletes as a benchmark for performance. Where are the scientists, inventors, innovators?”
So much for the aftershocks. Last Tuesday was a pretty serious day for the residents of Majesty Gardens, a deeply impoverished community which has been represented by the Prime Minister for the past thirty years or so. The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), which is seeking to “regularize” the many thousands of squatters who have never paid an electricity bill, moved into the community that day and disconnected 2,857 illegal connections. TV footage showed light poles festooned with “throw ups” - illegal wiring – like spaghetti. Only three legal connections were found. Three! The residents protested and mumbled and said they were willing to pay something, but… The overriding, undeniable factor in this is, of course, poverty.
Talking about energy, media reports have been so conflicting and confusing that I, for one, would love someone to explain to me what is going on. Where is our energy plan, Minister Paulwell? I am afraid that, at this point, I am rethinking my enthusiastic endorsement. I am disappointed. Something has gone wrong – quite out of sync. I hope that we will hear more – specifics! We need to know where we are going in terms of alternative energy and so on. The prospects of cheaper electricity in the near future look increasingly bleak.
I continue to enjoy the CVM Television program “Live at Seven,” hosted by the very sharp Simon Crosskill. Last week I caught a report and discussion on the state of the Pedro Cays, where, according to the Jamaica Environment Trust, six hundred Jamaicans live! With no sanitation or amenities, these tiny islands have become a mini-slum of zinc and cardboard shacks and piles of garbage. Government officials (who, as usual, haven’t got it quite clear which of several agencies is responsible for this appalling state of affairs) told Mr. Crosskill last week that they have a plan for managing the cays. After twenty years they are just coming up with one. But hey, surprise! there is now no money for implementation of the plan!
One more thing has been bugging me since last week. Twenty-seven Haitian men, women and children arrived on our shores (in the eastern parish of Portland, as usual) in a rickety boat. They obviously intended to flee to the United States but ended up in Jamaica instead. Instead of discussing asylum and other issues, our government speedily “processed” the refugees (a word normally used when young men are rounded up and finger-printed by the police in inner-city communities). Within three days, they were shipped back to Haiti on a Jamaica Defense Force coast guard boat. One understands that the small rural community where they landed had no resources to house or support the refugees, and I know we have enough problems of our own, but… Isn’t Haiti a fellow-member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) where there is supposed to be freedom of movement? In fact, isn’t Haiti the current chair of CARICOM? Don’t the refugees have any rights to a hearing? Would Cuban refugees be treated the same way? The United Nations High Commission on Refugees has expressed concern. And Haitians are also the only CARICOM citizens that have to obtain a visa to visit other CARICOM nations. Is this right?
Throwing some bouquets… To my community of fellow-bloggers in Jamaica. They are becoming stronger, and more outspoken, and just more interesting altogether! Keep up the good work. And please, Jamaicans, do not steal the ideas and language of bloggers and reproduce it as your own original thought! This happened recently with a blogger I know, whose work was shamelessly plagiarized and repackaged into a letter to the editor. The sharing and amplification of ideas is one thing. Theft of another’s creative expression is a different thing entirely.
I am impressed by the work of the Road Safety Unit and the National Road Safety Council. They have been doing quiet work to stem the madness that stalks our highways and byways in the form of speeding vehicles of every description. And they are getting results! Take a look at the Council’s excellent website:
. Fatalities on the road were considerably lower than the targeted 300 last year, and are 12 per cent down so far this year. Keep up the good work!
The Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre (WROC) partnered with the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition (JCSC) and others last week for the first in a series of seminars on budgeting for gender equity. Tonight they will meet at the Trench Town Community Centre. Listen in if you can’t make it – Nationwide News Network, which does sterling service in live-broadcasting these democratic forums, will be airing it. I will write more about this worthy effort soon. Congratulations to all concerned, including the 51% Coalition that seeks to empower women and strengthen our democracy through increased participation for all. And it’s not only gender equity, but equity for all Jamaicans, which the JCSC seems now to be focused on. Excellent!
Last week, the U.S. Embassy brought another inspiring African American scientist to Jamaica in recognition of Black History Month. Her name is Mae Jemison and she was the first African American female astronaut in space. She has visited Jamaica before (the last time was in 1998) but this time the aim was for her to inspire students and young people, scientists and educators to promote the importance of science in the country’s development. I had planned to attend – Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson’s talk at the U.S. Embassy recently was fascinating – but could not make it. However, I understand that Dr. Jemison got people fired up.
And I am so pleased that the University of Technology (UTech) have taken the bull by the horns and instituted a campaign for tolerance on campus. Some students may shrug their shoulders and say it is not needed, but – yes, it is. And what harm can it do to encourage all students to treat their fellow Jamaicans with respect and decency? After last year’s nightmarish experience (the mob attack and beating of an alleged homosexual student on UTech’s campus), the university administration has clearly taken a sober look at things. The aim is not just to rein in homophobic attacks, but it is a broader campaign. A very good move, and an example that the other two main tertiary institutions – the University of the West Indies and Northern Caribbean University – might like to follow. They are by no means immune, as I know that similar “mob rule” behavior has taken place there, too.
And the mindless violence continues. For some, it seems, praying and going to church is the only answer. With so many churches per square mile, it is ironic that we have the third highest murder rate in the world. How is that possible, when we are all so “God-fearing”? I leave you with a comment from Sunday Gleaner columnist Martin Henry, who concludes his weekly column thus: “It is certain that Jamaica will not progress well without a stronger adoption of the virtues of religion.”
Really, Mr. Henry? Really? Shouldn’t we already be virtuous enough? No, more hours in church needed, it seems. Oh. Do read Mr. Hilaire Sobers’ column, below, for clarification.
My deepest condolences to the family and friends of all those who were killed in the past week. I feel saddened that the list at the end of each week’s post appears to be getting longer (seventeen by my count, which means two or three murders daily), while the police killed seven Jamaican citizens last week. Minister Bunting, is your policy of “there will be more shootouts” really working? And what happened to “community policing”?
Omar Bailey, Portmore, St. Catherine
Tafari Harvey, 17, Bog Walk, St. Catherine
Oneil Ormsby, Spanish Town, St. Catherine
Tyreena Gayle, 24, Spanish Town, St. Catherine
Damion, Denham Town, Kingston
Unidentified man, Milk Lane, Central Kingston
Unidentified woman, Milk Lane, Central Kingston
Lloyd Williams, 48, Molynes Road, Kingston 10
André Roberts, 26, Maxfield Avenue, Kingston
Unidentified man, Deanery Road, Kingston 3
Omar Myers, 31, Eastwood Park Road/Half Way Tree, Kingston 10
“Starry,” Standpipe, Kingston 6
Unidentified, Frome, Westmoreland
Alvin Rochester, 43, Greenvale, Manchester
Kevin Haughton, 36, Montego Bay, St. James
Lennox Campbell, 22, Lilliput, St. James
Gladstone Smith, 50, Epsom, St. Mary
“Slaughter,” Caledonia Meadows, Manchester
“Sekou,” Big Lane/Central Village, St. Catherine
Nicholas Mitchell, 27, Norwood, St. James
Unidentified, Norwood, St. James
Unidentified, Norwood, St. James
Unidentified, 27, Alexandria Road, Central Kingston
Jonoye Glaze, 20, Brighton, Westmoreland
Related links (local blog commentary highlighted in maroon)
Prime Minister and Finance Minister to address the nation: Jamaica Information Service
Native Tongue: Speaking with a Caribbean accent: repeatingislands.com
Superpower Jamaican accent for the Superbowl: carolynjoycooper.wordpress.com
That VW ad – Jamaica No Problem: Offensive or good exposure? newsandviewsbydjmillerja.wordpress.com
Our dual natures: Tamara Scott-Williams column/Sunday Observer
Why brand Jamaica won’t work for us: Henley Morgan op-ed/Jamaica Observer
Tell what you know: Holness tells residents to expose child killers: Jamaica Observer
From London to Jamaica: The real “Death in Paradise” policeman: Daily Mirror, UK
”I am not surprised”: JFJ’s Goffe backs Les Green: Jamaica Observer
Les Green’s comments on the police racist? Letter to the Gleaner from Colin Campbell
Was it worth it? Orville Taylor column/Sunday Gleaner
Denham Town victim campaigned for peace: Gleaner
Reach out to at-risk youth: Letter from Boys’ Town to Gleaner
Help me out please, Prime Minister: Mark Wignall column/Sunday Observer
Take offense or take action: Andre Wright column/Gleaner
Who is (the) Enemy of the State? dmarcuswilliams.blogspot.com
PM Simpson Miller says leaders should be careful with their statements: Jamaica Information Service
Parliament called upon (again) to work harder: newsandviewsbydjmillerja.wordpress.com
Driver shot for not stopping: Jamaica Star
Of darkness, and bears: petchary.wordpress.com
Man crushed to death, woman raped at Kingston funeral home: On the Ground News Reports
Lotto scammer sends threatening messages to U.S. woman: On the Ground News Reports
Let us stop demonising gays: Javed Jaghai letter to the Jamaica Observer
Jamaican gay activist challenges buggery law: On the Ground News Reports
Buggery law review promise was a political sham: Mark Wignall column/Sunday Observer
UTech launches project to increase tolerance: RJR News
The facts about homosexuality: Cynthia Burton op-ed/Sunday Observer
Female astronaut encourages scientists to soar above expectations: Gleaner
Haitians sent home: RJR News
Haiti could take CARICOM-imposed visa restrictions to CCJ: RJR News
UNHCR concerned about repatriation of Cubans, Haitians: RJR News
Work, work, work…instead of pray, pray, pray: Letter/Jamaica Observer
Dalley moves to support Public Defender‘s office: RJR News
IMF team in Jamaica: Gleaner
Tough measures expected in joint address to nation: RJR News
Computer hacker breaks into DPP’s files: RJR News
Lights out at Palmyra: Sunday Gleaner
JPS removes 2,587 illegal connections in Majesty Gardens: Jamaica Observer
Blame government for high JPS bills – OUR boss says high energy cost is political leaders’ fault: Gleaner
Renewable energy data now available on PCJ’s website: Gleaner
Over 1,000 eye surgeries performed under Jamaica/Cuba program: Jamaica Information Service
UNDP donates to dengue control program: RJR News
Busy Signal faces more charges over passport fraud: Gleaner
Olint investors want money back: Gleaner
Reason and faith are like oil and water: Hilaire Sobers op-ed/Gleaner
Religion and development: Martin Henry column/Sunday Gleaner
Road Safety Unit reports reduction in traffic fatalities: RJR News
Pollution flowing from land to sea: The UN Caribbean Environment Program, part 1: petchary.wordpress.com
Yes, today is World Wetlands Day. A very last-minute reminder!
The Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Anada Tiéga, reminds us this 2013:
Our focus this year is the chance for all of us working for wetlands to convince those who manage water that wetlands are not competitors for water but rather they are essential components of water infrastructure, providing a clean source and store of freshwater.
Please enjoy these photographs (mostly from my own archives taken by me over the past few years during our travels) and explore the links below for further information on World Wetlands Day…
Some articles and websites of interest:
Ramsar Convention website: World Wetlands Day 2013
Mason River Protected Area declared World Ramsar Site: National Environment & Protection Agency
World Wetlands Day: Earth Times
World Wetlands Day: Wetlands and Water Management (ecopostblog.wordpress.com)
Caring for wetlands takes care of water (sciencelens.wordpress.com)
Hunter estuary leads the way on World Wetlands Day (abc.net.au)
Protecting our Fish: Earth Day, Part 1 (petchary.wordpress.com)
I am not very fond of the “Year in Review” thing. Most of the time, we don’t want to be reminded of the famous people who died; the inevitable (and increasing number of) natural disasters; the wars; the politicians.
So I just thought I would list (for myself and for you all, if you are interested) some of the things I enjoyed in 2012 – including happy memories of our five-week visit to England in the autumn. It is good to acknowledge and recall all these moments, these things that you have treasured. In no particular order (and I have probably missed out a lot; so much to be thankful for).
My book list is books I have read and enjoyed this year. Music and movies include some new, some old, and some I have loved for years now! And birds are just special.
I haven’t added any photos. This is just a plain list. But I plan to add a photo from each “favorite thing” in the sidebar, each day – starting from the top. Plus, I am going to work on some long-overdue 2012 photo albums over the next few days…
If you are not already celebrating, Happy New Year to you all!
∞ Earth Day with Jamaica Environment Trust. This year’s event was with Jana Bent, who read, sang and danced along with her book “The Reggae Band Rescues Mama Edda Leatherback” – thoroughly enjoyed by the children
∞ Looking up at the mountains from my front gate
∞ Picking blackberries alone, on a hillside in north Cornwall
∞ “Gangnam Style”: Yes, the video is sort of tacky, but it makes people dance, laugh and have fun and that can’t be bad
∞ Bill Maher‘s “New Rules”: Bill is outrageous at times but when he is really wicked and smirks, he makes me shout with laughter
∞ Café Cody: Online radio station (cafecody.com) that plays superb chill out music, a bit of jazz, soul etc… “From Mallorca, Spain“
∞ Walking through the autumn fields in Sussex, England with my brother
∞ Walking along Cornish lanes, studying wild flowers and butterflies and eating blackberries, with my husband
∞ The big guango tree in our yard, hardly touched by Hurricane Sandy, always filled with birds and draped with purple vines and bougainvillea
∞ Delighting in the Pre-Raphaelites exhibition at the Tate Gallery with my husband. Favorite painting: The Scapegoat by William Holman Hunt
∞ Singing “Hotel California” with my family, brother playing guitar, by the fireside
∞ The bright children at Trench Town Reading Centre planting seeds in pots
∞ Family wedding on Teesside in England, the bride’s veil bathed in sunlight
∞ Capital Pork (yes, that’s the name) at China Express restaurant in Kingston
∞ Sharing serious but empowering conversations on violence with women (and men) at Women’s Media Watch/Prana event
∞ Bill Hader playing “Stefon” on Saturday Night Live: “And the hottest thing in New York is…”
∞ Very cold soursop juice
∞ Deepak Chopra’s “21-Day Meditation Challenge”
∞ Walking aimlessly round the streets of London as darkness falls and the streets light up
∞ Palm fronds getting in the way
∞ Going through old family photos at my sister’s house in England
∞ Watching a fox fast asleep in the sun, on the lawn of our friends’ home in London
∞ Garnier Dark Intense Auburn hair color
∞ Mist, drifting cloud and deep green hills in Mavis Bank, Blue Mountains just before Hurricane Sandy
∞ Holding hands with an old gentleman at JN Foundation’s Christmas treat – Golden Age Home, Cluster H, Vineyard Town
∞ Re-connecting and meeting with old friends, thanks to the power of Google and Facebook
∞ “Homeland” with the infuriatingly chin-wobbling, tearful Claire Danes
∞ Sunday morning breakfasts at Café Blue with my husband
∞ Café Latte at Café Blue; strong black coffee at home
◊ Jonsi and Sigur Ros: “Go” and “Valtari” (respective albums). This music is so sublime it is impossible to pick out one favorite track. The ethereal, earthy sound of the Universe according to the Icelandic post-rockers.
◊ Bon Iver: “Holocene” from “Bon Iver” and “The Wolves” from “For Emma, Forever Ago”
◊ Youssou N’Dour and the Fathy Salama Orchestra: “Shukran Bamba” – one of many beautiful songs on “Egypt”
◊ Wilco: “One Sunday Morning” from the album “The Whole Love”
◊ Kurt Elling: “Blue in Green” from “The Gate”
◊ Jimi Hendrix: “1983…A Merman I Should Turn to Be” from “Electric Ladyland”
◊ Salif Keita and Cesaria Evora: “Yamore” from “Moffou”
◊ Puccini: “Tosca” (from start to finish)
◊ Gregg Allman: “Blind Man” from “Low Country Blues”
◊ Frank Ocean: “Thinking About You” from “Channel Orange”
◊ Tedeschi Trucks Band: “Midnight in Harlem” from “Revelator”
Birds (special section, bear with me):
♦ Of course, the Petchary: Our summer visitor from South America is noisy and imperious
♦ The Black-Throated Blue Warbler: Bright, beautiful, always close to the house – and close to me when I am in the yard.
♦ All the other warblers: Sweet, charming, occasionally singing delicate, whispering songs – our winter visitors.
♦ The White-Crowned Pigeon or Baldpate: Big, glossy-black, shy and regally beautiful
♦ Mockingbird or “nightingale” in Jamaica: singing his heart out every day, patrolling the front yard.
♦ Jamaican Woodpecker:
♦ Robin: Its sweet, wistful winter song haunted me in the English countryside
♦ Sparrow: The regular chirping of sparrows in the eaves reminds me of my childhood in London – instantly
♦ Blackbird: Its alarm cry in the hedges of the Sussex countryside at evening time is such a nostalgic sound
♥ The Stories of John Cheever
♥ The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
♥ The Rules of the Tunnel by Ned Zeman
♥ Bird Cloud by Annie Proulx
♥ Where I’m Calling From: Selected Stories by Raymond Carver
♥ The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea by Philip Hoare
♥ Death of the Adversary by Hans Keilson
♥ The Sly Company of People Who Care by Rahul Bhattacharya
♥ The Magician King by Lev Grossman
♥ The Festival of Wild Orchid: Poems by Ann-Margaret Lim
♣ Blue Valentine with Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams
♠ All Good Things with Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst – my two favorite actors
♣ Marie Antoinette with Kirsten Dunst
♠ Batman movies with Christian Bale as Batman – he’s just right
♠ Flight with Denzel Washington
♣ The Band’s Visit with Ronit Elkabetz
♣ Everything is Illuminated with Elijah Wood and Eugene Hutz
♠ The Big Lebowski with Jeff Bridges and John Goodman
♣ That last Spiderman movie
♣ Ten Canoes with David Gulpilil and Crusoe Kurddal
♣ And Daniel Craig is delicious in everything
I know that we city-dwellers (or most of us) have been spoilt. After Hurricane Sandy whisked across the island, tearing up trees and tearing down light poles, we have been the lucky ones (despite our loud complaints that we didn’t get power back the following day…) Now it is a week away, and after our determined attempts to sweep up the yard it now looks reasonably tidy. Garbage and forlorn piles of foliage now fringe Kingston’s roadsides. We are not expecting a garbage truck any time soon. There are only twenty for the entire city, says the government agency. I suppose they weren’t expecting a hurricane? No warnings?
So, my husband whipped up a little something over the weekend, which went down very well. My dear brother and his Australian wife recently gave us a marvelous cookbook, “Bill’s Sydney Food: The Original and Classic Recipe Collection.” I refer you to page 25: Sweet Corn Fritters with Roast Tomato and Bacon. Well, we skipped the bacon, but… for a first attempt, it was pretty darn good. The cookbook also does lunch and dinner recipes too, so we plan to delve further into its yummy depths..
Why Bill’s, you may ask? When we were staying in the great city of Sydney three years ago, in the cozy neighborhood of Darlinghurst, the bohemian-chic little hotel we were staying at referred us there for breakfast. We had just arrived, at six in the morning, after a twelve-hour flight from San Francisco. We were feeling light-headed and slightly crazed after the longest flight we had ever taken, on the largest plane we had ever seen. Bill’s breakfast brought us back down to earth, deliciously. We stuck with Bill’s the day after, and the day after that. The freshness and simplicity of the food, and the cool but light-filled restaurant and pleasant service easily seduced us. We were good for our days of sight-seeing.
More on post-Sandy pleasures in my next post!
(Bill’s marvelous website)
(Bill’s Sydney Food)
This story may sound familiar to some of us. Many Jamaicans have the unfortunate habit of talking very loudly on their cell phones, no matter where they are or who they are with. We have to endure all the details of their gossip, latest purchases, family issues, boyfriend/girlfriend issues, etc., whether we like it or not. Of course, Jamaicans love talking (and talking on the phone) of course; cell phones were an absolute godsend when they arrived on the island – both for rural dwellers who were virtually cut off before, and for the poseurs who want us all to see and admire their latest model phone. And of course, to hear their very uninteresting conversations, which often sound more like a monologue (I sometimes wonder if there is someone on the other end of the line at all…)
Anyway, I came across this delightful piece in the Sunday version of the Zambia Daily Mail. I think it will make you chuckle… (and of course, we all know what a vuvuzela is – again, whether we like it or not)…
(I’ve added a few links to other news from Zambia below. And I’m sorry, I don’t know what the African words are in the article below…although I can take a guess at some of them…)
MY THOUGHTS ON SUNDAY with CHARLES CHISALA
A READER called me a few days ago and asked me to write about showy commuters and other travellers who have the habit of talking loudly on the phone while travelling on public transport without caring about the feelings and rights of the other passengers.
I am sure you have also travelled with such uncultured and backward passengers, who know nothing about public place etiquette.
The reader narrated how a minibus she was travelling on recently in Lusaka from the city centre to one of the townships picked up a woman on one of the numerous stops that dot the route. As soon as the woman got on the bus, the reader recounted, all hell broke loose.
“Charles, can’t you write about these people who broadcast their personal affairs while on public buses without any regard for the other passengers? It’s just too much! Why are some people not ashamed to disturb the peace of the other passengers, who are total strangers, by talking loudly on their mobile phones for long periods?” she complained.
“Immediately this woman got on the bus she started dialling one number after the other. She managed to get through to one of the numbers and started talking with the other person at the other end of the line at the top of her voice, shouting and laughing all the way from Kamwala to Chilenje South. I was very disappointed with that woman because she kept talking even when it was clear that most of the other passengers were angry with her,” she said.
The reader said several passengers looked at her angrily to express their displeasure, but the caller was not bothered. One would have expected her to read the facial expressions of her fellow passengers, but she didn’t care.
One young man who was unfortunate enough to sit next to her grimaced, frowned, grunted, snorted, fidgeted and even clucked his tongue in a futile attempt to help the woman realise that she was being a nuisance to the other passengers, but she just kept yapping, non-stop.
First she asked the other person how she was, then changed the topic to groundnuts, pumpkins, cassava and God knows what. When she ran out of farm produce to talk about she started gossiping about another woman and her husband.
Unfortunately, there was no-one courageous enough on the bus to challenge her. All the other passengers could do was look at each other, glare at the talker, murmur and pout.
Someone should have boldly told the uncultured woman that she is an ifontini or umututu. Who was interested in her cheap banter?
I remember one incident when I was forced to use public transport because I did not have fuel in my personal motor vehicle. I boarded this minibus at Melisa shopping complex in Kabulonga going back to the city centre.
There was this young man who kept making one call after the other talking and laughing as if he was the only passenger on the bus. And no-one was courageous enough to intervene except frown and murmur.
When we reached the Longacres bus stop, the bus stopped to allow some passengers to disembark and pick up others. All the while the bus was stationary the boy kept talking. By the time it started off again he was still shouting and laughing into his handset.
At Hotel Intercontinental I was so annoyed that I could no longer remain silent. The fool was seated just a seat ahead of me and I couldn’t just allow him to continue assaulting our ears.
“Bakalamba, I think we have had enough of this nonsense. You can’t be shouting all the way from Melisa without any respect for the other passengers. Can you call your friends or whoever you are talking with after you have left the bus?
“If you continue I will have no choice but to confiscate your phone and only give it back to you when you leave this bus.”
Several voices spoke out in support of me. Even the conductor who had kept quiet despite complaints from passengers about the exhibitionist caller joined the chorus.
“Kwati pali ka foni balelangisha (what a cheap phone to show off),” he quipped triggering a cacophony of contemptuous laughter across the entire bus. “Someone must have donated it to him,” I rubbed it in, and there were more sniggers as people looked at me gratefully.
The twit turned to look at the person who had just spoken and was about to mouth something silly, but froze when he saw my posture and physical build. I was ready to take him on. After all I had the support of all the other passengers and the crew.
But for the rest of the journey he just kept quiet, sulking.
I needed not remind that unmannered chongololo that in all the years I was a police detective I was a respected karamoja sprinter and purple belt holding Taekwondo karateka. I still have those skills and am ready to use them whenever necessary. He therefore did a wise thing to keep quiet because I was ready to kick and punch the bad habit out of him.
Another reader told me she is a cross-border trader based in Lusaka. She complained that every time she boards a bus at Nakonde on her way to Dar es Salaam there is a male trader from Ndola’s Masala market who talks like a machine. I have withheld his name but I am sure those who have travelled with him know the person I am talking about.
She said the man will talk all the way until he falls asleep, and when he wakes up he resumes the non-stop talking until he falls asleep again.
“The man is such an embarrassment,” the sister complained. “He will tell everybody how much money he is carrying, how much he has in the bank, how much he has left with his wife at home, what words he spoke to her when giving her the money and the latest household property he has bought.”
The sister said at first the other passengers used to just laugh at this talkative man, but he has now become a big nuisance.
Please, my fellow Zambians let us not make fools of ourselves by talking loudly on our mobile phones while in public places such as funerals or public buses. No one is interested in knowing your private affairs.
If you are travelling on a public bus and you want to make an important call make it short. Equally, if you receive a call and feel compelled to answer it, be brief.
But to some primitive people it is an opportunity to let all and sundry know what the call is all about without realising that they are actually being a nuisance. Don’t you people know that the people on that bus have different reasons for travelling?
Some of them are going for funerals of their loved ones, some for job interviews while others are going for weddings. So they are in different states of their minds and need peace so that they can introspect on their respective missions.
Who are you to disturb your fellow passengers with your silly phone conversations? Let me hear you again!
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- African Postman: Turning Mangoes Into Money (petchary.wordpress.com)
- Watch out IKEA! Paddy Power launch giant vuvuzela attack on London’s Swedish landmarks (mirror.co.uk)
- African Postman: International Year of the Rhino (petchary.wordpress.com)
: Photos and video of baby Sumatran Rhino
- After A Rash Of Vuvuzela Injuries, We Must Ask: Is The Pope Safe? [World Cuppage] (deadspin.com)
- Record ivory heist at Zambia wildlife HQ (terradaily.com)
- Zambia launches 2nd securities exchange firm (times.co.zm)
- Zambia Closed chess tourney on (times.co.zm)
- Zambia inks water sector deal with MCC (devex.com)
- Record ivory heist at Zambia wildlife HQ (terradaily.com)
- Zambia launches 2nd securities exchange firm (times.co.zm)
Wow. Well my dear readers, another kind fellow-blogger, the Wanderlust Gene, has nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! So I am considered both versatile and inspirational, which is very nice. Thanks so much to my friend half-way across the world on another tropical island – Sri Lanka. You can read her blog at
. It’s wonderful – the photos and descriptions are stunning.
According to the rules, I am now supposed to list seven deeply fascinating (?) things about myself, so here we are:
- I have long, red (not natural) hair. It’s the first time I have had long hair since I was 20 years old, and I’ve always wanted to be a redhead.
- I have a passion for the Icelandic “post-rock” band Sigur Ros. They don’t know it, but I am their biggest fan.
- I love very tall trees, and have one in my yard in Kingston, Jamaica. In Australia, I fell in love with all the trees.
- I have a brother and a sister, both younger than me. Always hated being the oldest.
- The first reggae song I ever heard was Gregory Isaacs, “Soon Forward.”
- I love dark (bitter) chocolate and strong black coffee.
- I am tired of watering the garden every day during this never-ending drought
Not sure if the last one really counts, but it’s true!
Anyway, I hereby nominate the following for various reasons as the blogs that have inspired me the most recently:
- In Search of a Life Less Ordinary: Adventures in Making a Home Away from Home:
. Reflections of a young Englishman living by the sea in Sydney, Australia – a great city which I have visited.
- Mirth and Motivation: Motivate. Elevate. Laugh. Live Positively…
Elizabeth Obih-Frank’s blog is full of amazing quotes, images and thoughts. She calls herself an international nomad, teacher, trainer, motivator.
- Lady Romp: Truly one of my favorites, this blog explores the lives and achievements of women globally – from Margaret Thatcher to Winnie Mandela, and many others less famous.
- Time to Be Inspired: A lovely, fresh and optimistic blog with a great design and beautiful photos.
- Informed Comment: I have learnt so much from this blog, a daily item of news on the Middle East“with an occasional look home at American politics” by Professor Juan Cole of University of Michigan.
With a liberal slant.
- Crazy Train to Tinky Town: I adore this blog – the adventures of a single woman living in Turkey. It makes me laugh, and it’s so vivid.
- Alice’s Bucket List:
Alice is a sixteen-year-old girl who has had terminal cancer for the past four years. Her motto is: You only have one life, live it!
Thanks to all. This is a nice idea, and I love my ever-expanding blogging community!
Today’s African news item is about the Seychelles. Now, we may not realize that this string of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean is, in fact, a part of Africa, to the north-east of Madagascar. It has a population of just over 86,000 – the smallest in Africa – but is highest in the Human Development Index. It achieved Independence from the British in 1976. Now its President, James Michel and his administration are seeking to bring the islands into the “information age” with a fiber optic cable connection to the African mainland. What about the people? Well, there were no indigenous people, so all its inhabitants are descended from emigrants – from Africa, England, France, China, India and a few other countries. English and French are the principal languages, alongside French Creole. The article below is from
The event was also attended by the Minister for Natural Resources and Industry, Peter Sinon, the Principal Secretary for Information Communication Technology, Benjamin Choppy, and the Principal Secretary for Presidential Affairs, Lise Bastienne, the Cable & Wireless Chief Executive Officer, Charles Hammond, and the Airtel Seychelles Managing Director, Tsiresy Randriamampionon, together with dignitaries, partners in the project, school children and engineers.
“It is not every day that history is made. And today we are making history, with the arrival of a revolutionary connection of the Seychelles East Africa System.
It is a milestone in our country’s proud history as an independent nation in the global communication village. It is a special moment which has the potential for transforming our economy and our way of life for the better,” said President Michel in his address following the arrival of the cable.
President Michel noted that this week marked the first anniversary of his second term in Office and that as the Seychellois people elected him on the platform of his commitment to build a New Seychelles, assuring that he would not waver nor be distracted in the pursuit of this goal.
“The transformation of the New Seychelles rests on a knowledge economy, on a knowledge-based society, stimulated by our youth, who live and thrive through IT innovation. Without the proper tools and resources at our disposal, we shall not succeed in our venture.
The arrival of this fibre optic cable is one of the many pillars that will raise the edifice of this New Seychelles, and provide the opportunities for its development….Its connection to our shores today heralds yet another transformation in our society… new opportunities for e-commerce, faster communication as well as business and technological innovation.”
Mr. Michel recalled that Seychelles had become connected to the world for the first time by a telegraph cable some 120 years ago, when the cable was laid between Zanzibar and Seychelles and Aden, and that since then, the major communications technology developments had all propelled the country into societal change in the way that people lived, learned and conducted business.
“We may be living on islands in the Indian Ocean, a thousand miles away from the closest continent, but our information ‘connectivity’ has assured that we steadily become closer to our neighbours, closer to our far-flung relatives and friends, and just a ‘click’ away from every corner of the earth.”
The President also applauded the ‘formidable achievement’ of the country in ICT, as Seychelles won this year’s United Nations Award for E-Government as the number 1 country in Africa, which he described as “testimony to the determination of our public service IT professionals to excel in this field. It is also testimony to the success of the New Seychelles.”
The President congratulated and thanked the Vice-President, Danny Faure, and the Principal Secretary for ICT Mr. Benjamin Choppy, as well as the staff of the Department of Information Communication Technology, the staff of Cable and Wireless and Airtel, and their international partners ZANTEL and Alcatel-Lucent for their hard work and excellence in the delivery of this cable.
“This is a striking example of successful public-private sector partnership, which is a model for sound economic development. We are also most grateful for the strong support of the European Investment Bank and the African Development Bank for this project.
“In the coming weeks Cable and Wireless and Airtel will have the great challenge of delivering faster Internet services to our homes and workplaces.
“Naturally, we have great expectations from the Internet service providers to deliver the new and improved services and affordable outreach as a result of this cable connection. I wish you every success in the development of these services for the benefit of the people of Seychelles.”
Mr Michel called on the Seychellois people to work hard to empower themselves with the new IT tools that this broadband project offers, to develop the technical expertise of business and public services professionals, as well as train young people and encourage them to take up careers in the IT sector.
The cable project, which links Seychelles to Tanzania, is a three-party public private partnership, with the participation of the Government of Seychelles, Cable & Wireless (Seychelles) and Airtel (Seychelles).
The project is costing approximately Euro 27 million to implement and this has been financed through equity from the three shareholders and loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The first telegraph cable was laid some 120 years ago between Zanzibar and Seychelles. In 1945 the first radio broadcasts started.
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: Seychelles leads Africa in ICT development