Wah Sweet Nanny Goat

Wah Sweet Nanny Goat a go run him belly…. The popular Jamaican proverb is one that Jamaicans can recall being told,  as we’ve heard it said many times by our relatives whenever we do things that they don’t approve of.  The proverb when translated means  that the things that seem fine to you now can hurt you later. This plays provides a great example of why we should be careful of the choices we make in life.

Being a patron of the play was a memorable experience and as a cultural enthusiast this was another play that highlighted the societal problems Jamaicans are exposed to.  Teenage pregnancy, statuary rape and single parent households. A stereotypical factor that is attributed to persons from low socioeconomic households and children that are considered troubled.

However, many of us while living this life never take into consideration that some of these issues can ever happen to us. This perception was what we were first introduced to  when Janet, Angel’s mother was in dialogue with a church sister about a child in the church who got pregnant while still in high school. Like any parent who is lucky that their children is not associated with that “mix up”. She begins to talk negative things and swear that her Angel would never do something like that.

With the introduction of Dainty (Angel’s aunt), we begin to have a better understanding of how the household is run as there is no presence of a father; here one may begin to question his absence. As the play progresses, we see the life of Janet’s sweet Angel play out, after convincing her mother that she is the sweet daughter that she raised her to be (even though her aunt doesn’t buy it). At school, that persona is nonexistent and this is where she meets her friend Prada who like her is all for the hype. Unfortunately, she’s not too bright but compliments the personality of Angel; what Angel lacks in street smart, Prada has the answers.

The relationship between Tyrone and Angel to the audience leaves us in dismay and disgust as we know what the end result will be between the two. He fills her mind with all the things she wants hear to get what he wants in return. Many of us whether directly or indirectly have been exposed to that situation where someone enters our life giving us hope that there is  indeed love. At times we may notice things and speak up, but we are greeted with lies to cover the truth.  In the end we are left hurt; some of us are able to move on while others remain in the same spot for years. This latter reaction at times promotes a cycle where more men and women are victims to these perpetrators.

The irony of the relationship between Angel, Tyrone and Prada makes you attentive to see what the next action in the play would be. Though the two girls both aim to live the high life; Prada though not as smart as Angel was the only person who was able to question the actions of Tyrone.  Hoping that Angel would notice that maybe he was not the one for her. Unfortunately she was blinded by the need to secure her relationship with Tyrone, who was already in a relationship with his “wife”. She was unwilling to entertain the idea of the truth.

Tyrone’s reaction to her pregnancy was evidence of the lie that she was living . Many times we meet people in our life whose only intention is to abuse us and feel no remorse as they are only trying to fulfill their own needs. Totally oblivious to the mental, emotional and physical abuse that the victims may face in these experiences. The unfortunate result of this treatment is that they go around and do this to other persons increasing their body counts of the damaged people living in our society.

In the play,  Fabian Barracks captured the range of emotions that came when Angel had to reveal to her mother that she was pregnant. The dimly lit room with Janet dressed in black like the grim reaper, hearing the background music as the anticipation builds.  Your heart is torn in two when you watch as Janet’s façade as the uptight and prim church woman disappears and disowns her daughter. This reaction can be expected, as we can imagine she boasts about the progress her daughter has made as she unconsciously lives her life through her. Angel getting pregnant is Janet loosing her dreams.

Later on we learn that Angel is literally Janet in her younger days as she herself was a teenager who was tricked by a “jokester”. Janet tried to run from her past and created a new one to make things better. By extension she tried to create a new life through her child.

From this revelation we learned that to start the healing process, we must forgive those who have hurt us and make life better for ourselves.Though we are trying to better ourselves we should forgive but not forget.

We should use our experiences to ensure that we do not allow for others to be hurt the same way that we received that hurt. Forgetting or running from it is never the best option, as it tends to find us and the repercussions may be worse that the first time we were exposed to the problem.

All in all, the play was worth the money spent and I say congratulations to the playwright Fabian Barracks (Charter President for the Royal Optimist Club of Kingston) for the work he produced and I wait patiently for the other story that he will create soon.

 

 

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Higglers

The play set in the downtown area of Kingston provides the life that most higglers in Jamaica experience on a daily basis.

We are first introduced to Girlie who we can assume is the leader of the turf that she shares with Pearl and her nemeses Tony. Girlie who shows dominance in the group we later find has a troubled past. Where she is exposed to the harsh realities of life of an unfaithful father who shows no remorse for his exploits with her other nemesis Devine.

One could go further to assume that the name is a reflection of who she really is. A woman who like many other women is capable of being a softer version of herself; once she meets someone who treats her well. Fast forward to the current situation where she finds comfort in an abusive relationship with the bad boy Trevor. Who also is in relations with her friend Pearl and other higglers in the market.

Her responses are another example of her defence mechanisms to survive in her environment. Such instances are her convenient devotion in the morning to ward off evil spirits, her dismay of lost clients with her stinging answers and her childish behaviour at another higgler’s attempt to win customers. In which she gets rowdy and when she’s not able to get her way calls for her man Trevor. Who is her defender when she feels overpowered or like any woman can’t get her way.

Her friend Pearl may be considered the peace maker of the group as she does her best to cool down the area when when things get heated in the brawls between Tony and Girlie and other conflicts that may arise. Though she is the more subdued of the two, she is able to lure her way in the view of Trevor to be tricked into thinking that he is the only one for her.

For these two women, they represent the time when Dancehall was the new ‘in ting’ and image meant everything. As higglers your appearance can help to draw the crowd. One thing you learn from them is you have to be sweet with your words or else you loose the customer completely. By extension, not only are their words sweet but sexual appeal is what helps to get them selling. As they appeal to the egos of the men and women that traverse the arcade.

On the flip side you’ll be met with negative utterances that are just defense mechanisms for the potential sale they would have. These utterances are examples of the pride they feel working as higglers. Your decision in preventing a sale is impeding on their time to make money. An example of this is with Girlie’s interactions with Devine. Who is unable to understand the fact her husband Tony  truly enjoys his job in the arcade. As her thoughts are clouded by the assumption ( which later turned out to be true) that he wants to see Girlie.

Tony on the other hand provided a different perspective on selling as a higgler and this brought a wave of magnetism with it and he honed his craft. As he observed his crowd and made his findings worked for him.  This level of thinking we learn at times may cause those around us to resent us. As we are above their level and in a sense ‘show dem up’ on their inabilities. Unfortunately some of these disagreements turn in dangerous situations that may not only involve the aggressors but also their families and friends.

With the love situation that ensues in the play; Tony is Girlie’s night in shining armour. Her recognition of him after she was robbed is evidence of this. They later realized that the disagreements they had were barriers to a match made in heaven. Soon after Girlie’s behaviour changes and just like a happy child her perspective of the world changes.

Girlie represents the many young girls that live in our system who fall victim to many forms of abuse. Who have to  wear their body armour to defend themselves from the evils of this world. Unfortunately, not all women are blessed to meet people who are genuine and partners who treat them like a lady should be treated. They find themselves in a cycle that is repeated by generations to come. Until we decide to work for higher heights and strengthen communication and represent our peers. We will always feel sad, dejected and mistreated by the system. A system that if you’re not careful can kill you- literally.

HEART Trust/NTA

The Human Employment and Resource Training Trust, National Training Agency known to most Jamaicans simply as ‘HEART’ is a key driver on Jamaica’s road to development. Formed in 1982 and restructured by the amended HEART Act in 1991, the Organisation focuses primarily on stimulating economic growth and job creation. This can only be achieved through the creation of a highly skilled, productive and competitive workforce.
The HEART Trust/NTA operates 27 Technical and Vocational Education and Training locations which focus on providing a variety of training options to ALL Jamaicans seeking to advance their career options. With programmes geared at transforming the lives of school leavers as well as employed persons who require training and certification, HEART Trust/NTA is active in engaging members of the society.

I  was a HEART Trainee working for the SAGICOR. I remember the day that I was called and asked if I was interested in starting the programme, as they already had my resume in the system for a job that I applied for before but was not successful in the interview. I declined. As far as I was concerned, I have a degree, wah mi a do wid dat? 

I declined and told the rep that I’ll pass on this opportunity. It was as if God was talking to me right after. All I could think of was yah eediat? You only have a degree showing academic qualification but you can only get call centre work? Getting this would make job applications a bit easier for you.

So Jermaine decided to call back and I got the details for the interview. This was the first time in which I prayed so much to God for something I want. As far as I  was concerned, this is an opportunity I had to have and doing this could take me places.

On the day of the interview, while waiting to see the panel, I received another phone call from another company who wanted to do an interview for another call centre. The confidence I displayed during the phone call got me another one for the following week after the one I had that day. I was high for 10 minutes.

I walked into the interview at Sagicor and spoke with a level of confidence I tend to express alone in my room. They called me to start the next day……I cried.

My transition from a call centre to an office was and still is an interesting one. I had a culture shock where I was told it was OK if I had to leave to conduct business and go over my lunch hour (once i don’t abuse it). I’ll still get paid. I got the weekends off, I had my own desk and office items.

Then there was the negative side, not everyone was happy at my transition from one company to the next and the fact that I was a HEART trainee. As the stigma is still attached that you can’t do much with their certificate. Employees were shocked when I told them that I am involved in club activities, I write blogs and I was then the VP for my Optimist Club.

When I think about where I was before Sagicor and after I’m happy I made the decision to leave. Most of the persons I’ve met here started just like me and now hold permanent positions. So why can’t it be the same for me? 

There are basics to administrative duties that I didn’t know where important. Through the Business Administration programme I also received on the job training and I am able to make my experience here a better one. Most importantly, if you want to move up you HAFFI work. The more you know and apply yourself, the better it is for you. This doesn’t mean I have forgotten my previous jobs, as they have helped shape who I am. They have helped me to move out of my comfort zone and work to improving myself while here at Sagicor.

This new job has been a humbling one for me,  I have come to respect the HEART Trust NTA for what they have been doing over the years, to provide skills training to those who seek it. 

It has taught me that I should not limit myself to learn, I have grown in more ways than one and have had the opportunity to meet some wonderful people. Even if my contract was not renewed ( it has). I can be assured that the experience gained from working with Sagicor can take me places.

 

Dear Young Girl

I’m sorry that you are at a stage in your life in which you question who you are and why this had to happen to you. 

I’m sorry that the media has placed too much emphasis on this unfortunate turn of events and cast your accuser as somewhat a victim.

 I’m sorry that you are not receiving the protection you believe you would get, as society is too caught up on protecting the image of a man who seems to make sleeping with girls a skill than that of a pastor.

I’m sorry that you are another statistic; another young woman who will develop trust issues unless she received counselling for what happened to her and justice is served in the end.

What I can say to you is to be happy, why? You have opened a door to a dark place which people thought would always be closed. People have wanted to burn, shoot and damage that door. The same door that was opened for you. 

Pay attention at this time as secrets will now be stories and positions will be revoked to fix the problem of elderly men believing it is their right to sleep with younger women.

I don’t know what your mother or father was thinking but at no point should you be the victim of such a crime. A matter of indulgence for an older dried up Fart. 

I hope you gain strength from this experience. One in which if you were to this said man you would smile and move along. As he did not break you but made you stronger. 

Use this new voice that you will develop to encourage other women and young girls out there to speak up and rid this nation of men who believe that they have a right to take from the cradle. 

I’m a Boxer 

I feel that this year I’ll do more of what I want to do.

Years ago, I was this child filled with greatness and as the years went by I had allowed comments to guide my actions.  Not understanding then that people aren’t perfect. We are all guided by our experiences and at time strongly believe what comes out of our mouth.

   “I don’t see you as that type of person”

   “You? ??!!! LOL”

   “You can’t dance”

   “No!!! Dat no soun ‘ good” (me trying to         sing and started wrong)

Oh the fuck yous and bashed in heads I have for you. Yes, I’m short tempered that’s why I’m on the reserved end of the vocal spectrum. The many years that I’ve been in this ring called life taking hits from those considered amateurs and heavyweights and boy some of these boxers were annoying in their approach. 

I will never forget when I visited my ailing grand cousin and when asked to pray for my mother (she was a pastor in her day), she looked at me and spoke. What she said unfortunately I can’t remember. I thought it was a mistake, and thinking about it now it was God’s way of showing me that he did not forget me. That he was still and always watching over me. 

My “relationships” have been interesting but I won’t ever say that I regret them but I know now that I’ve grown from then til now. There are few loose strings that need to be cut and that will be soon. 

I’ve reached a point where I’ve realized that I’ve been living for people and have not truly lived for me. That ends now. How can I be an adult if at 24 I’m still concerned about what people have to say? None a unno cyah beat me; the most you can do is get upset and malice me. You do that, I can get a break from you for a while. I won’t be the one affected. There are moments in which they’re advice would count but not always. 

I’m learning to be my true self and I like it. You can deny yourself for so long but eventually it will affect you immensely. 

Evidence of what I can be was first noticed on my leadership challenge for the Blue Mountains. There were moments where I wanted to give up but motivated myself on the fact that I couldn’t tell people that I was there as I never made it to the top. Plus the mountain kept croaking in the dark. Another instance was being president for  my Optimist Club. Right now, I have no idea what I’m doing, but the reassurance of my exec team, members and other Optimist members have me pushing to make my year a good one. 

My beauty is an factor that in my reflection I’m taken aback.Why are you intimated by me though? You see immense beauty and all I can look it how strong my genes are. I see my father his brothers and his mother in my face- to me that’s not cute. They’re family (cracking up as I write this).

I’ve been been belittling my own self using past experiences of when people told me no. Another year is approaching and I intend to do more and talk less. To think highly of myself and try rather than assume that because someone has done it and it didn’t work for them, I’ll also have that same response. 

My ramblings may not mean much but it’s helping me as I complete this blog. I’m in a fragile state now. If I answer you in a way that surprises you. I’m currently renovating.

Christmas Time: The search for Happiness 

It’s Christmas Time !!!

A time for togetherness and remembering the birth of Jesus Christ for those who are spiritual persons. 
This morning, most of us have that one or few relatives that can cook and would have had the ham ready and cakes baked with the presents under the tree. 

I’m currently in bed and happy that I don’t have work for two days because we’re observing Christmas and Boxing day Monday and Tuesday respectively. 

With all this excitement and Digicel not giving us anything free because they know we’ll use it hard on Christmas day. We have to consider another aspect of the festivities. The homeless and those living in private and state run homes. 

Recently, I have been thinking about the homeless and how some of these people find their way on the streets. Some look more decent than some and you can tell that they’re new to the area. I remember seeing this elderly lady at the Transport Centre in Half Way Tree, who asked if I could help her fill her prescription. When I heard her plight, I recommended using what was left of the card to buy what she needed and return another time. She stated that my suggestion wouldn’t work. I left and told her that I wasn’t able to offer my assistance. Weeks passed and in passing the same centre I saw the woman again.

Another instance was Friday, where a man who they said had cancerous tissues damage one of his nostrils leaving a hole in his face was begging money on Ruthven road. I wanted to stop and give him money -it’s Christmas. However the other side of me said not to as he may ‘tek set’ if he should see you again (it soun a way- mi kno).

Then there are the children who live in state run homes. They are excited to see new faces and are content with you interacting with them; real interactions like playing games, reading to them, letting them play with your phone or just sitting with them and returning on other occasions. I’ll never forget the last visit my Optimist Club (Royal Optimist Club of Kingston) made to Glenhope Nursery and one child fell asleep on a volunteers lap….

For those who have had the opportunity to visit on a regular basis to any home. They will agree that all these individuals want is attention. If this is the response from them in the homes imagine that of our own families that we hardly talk to?

 Every time I see them on the streets and in these homes, I always wonder what their story is. For those on the street; what happened for them to be in this situation?  Were things that bad where their families gave up in them? Did they live a good life?  Are they at a stage in their life where they don’t want to return to the “normal” life? 

Then there are those who have to sell to make their Christmas and even the New Year better. I respect their hustle and try to support when I can. What saddens me is when everyone including children have to sell to make a profit. To them it may be the norm but I can’t recall doing it as a child. Though they set up shop anywhere to catch the eye of interested shoppers, causing a nuisance to law enforcement officer and your walking space. We should support them in their efforts.

How many of us can say that we’ve made a shopping list that included items for those living on the streets and in homes? Did you stop to give money to the Salvation Army before entering a store? Are you more concerned about what you’ll get for Christmas than the current state of your relationships? Did you consider purchasing  less presents than multiple items per giftee this year to create an ease for your pocket? How many of you contacted your loved ones and friends today to wish them a Merry Christmas?
On the other hand I’ve always asked myself, when am I giving too much?
These are the things that we should reflect on during the Christmas holidays. This season is about giving, which means we should not limit ourselves to just our families. However, extend a helping hand to those whose families have disassociated themselves from them, those whose families have died,  those who don’t know their families. Those who wish they were in our shoes. 

This Christmas season, never forget to be appreciative and truly thankful for what you have and the thought of the things you will receive. Life is too short to mulling over the little things and harboring thoughts of malice and condoning petty behaviour. 

Growing up RICH

outdoor-bathroom-at-belmond-khwai-river-lodge-botswana-conde-nast-traveller-26jan15-prBathing while overlooking  vast acres of land layered with sugarcane, and cows grazing in the open fields. Waking up to the sound of the wind and other exotic creatures. Picking cherries, guava, tamarind,  starapple,  guineps and other fruits during the summer time to snack on. Watching grandma make marmalade and cherry jams from scratch and adding Pineapple Lasco to oatmeal porridge for lunch. Waking up to Johnny cakes, dumplings,  eggs, bananas, bread and other foods that were in season at the time for breakfast EVERY morning.  Watching cornmeal and potato pudding being baked over a coal stove. This is how I spent holidays spent at my father’s parents house.

My days after school were spent creating plays and stories and reading books that I couldn’t understand the plot. Eating syrup and crackers to pass the time because grandma’s method of cooking was not easing the level of gas in the stomach.My grandfather died years before I was born so my experiences with him are non existent.  This was at my mother’s parents house.

I am a dry land tourist. I’ve been to every parish for sight seeing, special assignments through work (mostly with daddy), anniversary getaways and school trips.

Living in Kingston has exposed me to the finer things in life. Retreats and conferences out of town,  courtesy calls at King’s House, lunch with executives etc.

However having these experiences doesn’t mean that I have not seen bad times. I’ve seen my mother fashion chicken back in more ways than one. I’ve had cornmeal porridge so many times that on one of my most recent visits home, I asked mommy for cornmeal porridge only -she thought that I was joking. I had my first try at sweet and savory chicken foot one Sunday evening when that was the only thing in the house for dinner.

I’ve learnt to be appreciative of what I have, years after learning in University that I wasn’t rich. However I’ve been blessed to have hand me downs, that I’ve learnt to fashion to my suit. Spending summers at relatives because my mother had to turn up the hustle. To be blessed with a godmother who did and still does her best to provide for not only me but also my younger brother and mother and reminding me that I should live my life for ME.

My house is no vacation house, but it has a vast history. My experiences living and even visiting are those I’ll always cherish,  even if they weren’t always good. I’m now willing to accept it as my dwelling. Once it clean you cyan go wrong. Who wants to clean a huge house?

I’m not rich, but I’ve been blessed.  I continue to be blessed. With these experiences,  they are building me for the life that I want. One where there is less judgment,  where I understand the need to hustle and I am appreciative of what I have. Most importantly I’m happy with who I am.

It’s Time to Talk

From 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world. The international campaign originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991.

In 2016, the UNiTE campaign strongly emphasizes the need for sustainable financing for efforts to end violence against women and girls towards the fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

One of the major challenges to efforts to prevent and end violence against women and girls worldwide is the substantial funding shortfall. As a result, resources for initiatives to prevent and end violence against women and girls are severely lacking. Frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals, which includes a specific target on ending violence against women and girls, offer huge promise, but must be adequately funded in order to bring real and significant changes in the lives of women and girls.

To bring this issue to the fore, the UN Secretary-General’s campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women’s call for the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence in 2016 is ‘Orange the World: Raise Money to End Violence against Women and Girls’. The initiative provides a moment to bring the issue of sustainable financing for initiatives to prevent and end violence against women to global prominence and also presents the opportunity for resource mobilization for the issue.

In support of this period of activities I’d like to share my experience. In my time of reflection I have made some interesting choices. However, with the treatment that I have received from this type of behaviour it should never be accepted.

I met a man who at first I thought was interesting and it was at a time in my life when meeting him I thought that he was nice. Things started well between us and I began to think that we were going somewhere. In my plight to make the relationship work, I found myself going above and beyond to ensure that I was doing the “right” thing. I now understand there should be comprise in a relationship. However what I did was give too much of myself and lowering my standards just to be accepted. I was in a phase where I wanted so much to please him that I disregarded my values and the image I was painting of myself because he would be happy

There were moments where I felt uncomfortable with what he wanted me to do and at that time, I was afraid that if I didn’t he would end it….I believe he noticed that because he would threaten to do it if I didn’t do what he wanted.

There were other instances where he would make decisions that affected us both without consulting me and when questioned, he got defensive and said that I don’t have to worry I just control the situation. When I decided not to follow through- he got annoyed.  Other moments occurred when I stood my ground at his requests, provided an alternative and he called me crazy for what he claimed he was saying what I had been rambling about all along – Mi ‘ead tough.

My time for redemption came when I did something wrong and that got him very upset. The request he made was his way of making things right but at that very moment, I remembered something my father said to me once “Hold yuh head high”. It was then I realized that my current situation should never be and that if I want to go I can always do so. I’m not tied to him, he doesn’t own me.

I ended it . 

Months passed and I fell for his charm again, then I realized that this second time wouldn’t work. Days after hearing him apologize and reassuring me that things would be different, he went right back to his old ways. The blatant disregard displayed for what he did in an incident that took place, was a sign that I would not be happy. I remember explaining how I felt about the past and was told that I was the reason why he was acting like that. It’s my fault.

Ending it again, I went through months of ignoring his messages, blocking him to ensure that he could not contact me after conversations that went nowhere. I must say that reflecting on what happened he did have a point; he was just being himself. I was the one that wanted so much to be someone else than myself. Since I was willing to do- what’s the issue? With this new information, I was willing to fully accept that he was NOT the one. I learnt that all that glitters is definitely not gold and I should never lower my standards to just be happy in a relationship.

With this negative experience I can say that I have grown, I’m not perfect but I’m no longer interested in him. That is one road that is impassable. I remembered our last conversation where in his plight to win me over, I was degraded. During this conversation he told me:

“You can’t afford to take care of me”

“You’re just a country girl, you’re nobody”

“The only reason why I’m talking to you is just cuz no one else is awake at this time”

If I am a girl that was conditioned by Disney to find my Prince Charming why should I settle for someone who thinks less of me? Where is the love? Looking back at that conversation I have achieved many things. Keeping those remarks in my mind I vowed then and still continue to be the best version of myself. You nah go more dan me.

I don’t  hate people  and I try not to malice either, there’s no progress to be had from that and life is too precious to waste time doing things like that.

It takes two persons to make a relationship work, as I said before I am not perfect but it doesn’t mean that I should be subjected to such treatment.

 

Sources – See more at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/take-action/16-days-of-activism#sthash.qiqWOrla.dpuf