Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tirade on Economies, Markets and Crime

Crime blooms where there is a vacuum in law and order. This space is filled by the informal organizations known as gangs. These gangs do not exist because of poverty but as a power structure to control resources. Poverty does not cause crime but the lack or law and order coupled with poor management of economies. Markets it must be noted can not be controlled due to the many variables that encompass it both internally and externally hence government can fix economies not markets. Thus with strong economies the pressures of the market can be statically forecasted which will lead to complex derivatives and commodities futures. Derivatives are really just complex futures as well.

These futures markets becoming planning tools that can change the policy of any nation hence the market control the policies, the policies control the economy and the economy is controlled by private and public sector. If a gap develops in this, entire population will be disenfranchised as is the case in inner cities around the world and especially here in Jamaica . As the flight of capital retreats from areas because the policy for these areas are not realistic for the development growth of formal markets, public and private sectors will also retreat as any investment must show a return on investment (ROI). This ROI can be tangible or intangible return but a positive return none the less.

As our garrisons in Jamaica has become disenfranchised the government past and present has allowed the financial sector to black list these areas. This is not a unique anomaly for Jamaica but the norm around the world especially third world where informal settlement ie squatting communities exist. Crime exists because the people here are at the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid. The social and economic fabric of communities are gone hence a battle for scarce resource which most times are controlled by political and criminal forces.

The government has the ability to end this blacklisting and informal settlement by using the full force of the state to enforce law and order. It has the ability to ensure that a titled property in the inner city is considered an asset vs a liability by banks, insurance companies and the owners of property themselves. It has the power to define clearly land ownership whereby a person can not be force out of their capital because of criminal elements as this is duress. The rule of law and not politics or fear should apply. If land owners consider these properties as valuable assets which the capital market recognizes as assets then a move to destroy the garrisons can begin. But when a free for all is allowed to operate with this basic resource informal organizations are cultivated as a means of self preservation hence the ultimate pariah for a government to control is born and that is the informal economy which policy cannot control or direct thus giving power to the informal organization as a revenue generator is in place to fund their activities with no regard to law and order.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Written By Carol Lawton

In the timeline of history one thing holds true in regards to governments, liberation movements and paramilitary groups and that is they wrestling for power within the state. These struggles between the factions may be covert, overt or collaborative. But the end result is always the same as the formal structure now has to deal with the dynamics which will always lead to social unrest.

In the development of dictatorships, it is the state failure to control and maintain society because of the compromise given to the factions. Democracy is a scaring concept if the parties involve are not willing to safe guard it. Theocracy in of itself cannot be avoided as in any society one religion will be dominant but with this dominance it must allow all to seek their own enlightenment in the belief of a higher being. Socialism is an artificial state because of the availability of limit resources yet unlimited wants and the difference in talents and ability between people. Capitalism in its pure state is by far the best but pure capitalism without safeguards to protect the weakest of society will lead to corruption and social unrest hence no system is superior.

What is striking is the balance needed between them all. The strong arm of the state while give the citizen the choice to choose which opportunity to purse to build wealth while protecting the weakest to allow them to have access to the capital that they need to survive. Such a system is the ideal but where to the system begin or end.

To have seen democracies where there is none. Socialism in Capitalism is a paradox. The ism of government is an illusion as good governance is about making decisions based upon the need of the state. Hence to allow covert or overt groups to develop system above the platform of government will lead to strife and the eventual takeover of government. In war torn region, it is the warlord who governs not the state, in inner city fiefdom it is the don through the collection of gains from transaction (unofficial tax), in war, the military rules the ground while the insurgency rules the night, and then the terrorists who rule by fear due to their ability to strike without regards for damage human or material.

The state of government can only exist in peace. Hence peace is the objective of all government in the end regardless of the form. So when a state foster insurgency groups or terrorists with agenda against another state. They have entered into a formal war under the veil that they are in the country as unknown participants. Functionaries of the state will always have access to the information hence it will always move information up the chain of command and the objective is the survival of the state and information is key. So when a country like Lebanon allows for Hezbollah to organize, finance, set support social systems and military logistics system it should not be surprise that if Hezbollah cannot destroy its enemy, it will turn against its host like a parasite as it has already undermined the state in that an entity can wage war against sovereign nation and undermine the state ability to protect its borders and deploy diplomatic policy that leads to peace. Woe be unto a state that believe that it can exist in peace while pseudo governments exist within.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Written by Carol Lawton

Liberty is nothing less than willingness to compromise my rights for the rights of others. Hence for societies to be free there has to be boundaries of the state, the citizen, and the government. The long standing premise of rights has been long discussed as too the responsibility of states but much has not been discussed about the health of the economies. In the globalization of states in world economies where a tree falls in the jungle and it’s heard in the financial markets where do small states fit into this process.

Small States economies are barely the size of a small multinational but with the full responsibilities of sovereign states. The functions of these states must be dependent on the human capital to expand the reach of the state. The citizens’ development and ability to produce acts as a force multiplier which in the end impacts the taxes need to make a small state viable. We all want our countries but do the citizens know what is required to hold this sovereignty.

I believe that this answer is no as a balance is not there between the services offered by the state and the consideration rendered by the citizen. The state has become the mule on which the citizen depends yet many are unwilling to produce to enable the mule to survive. Jamaica is for Jamaica but given a chance most will migrate as it has become our prison as well. Governments are not machines but made up of the human element.

Countries are not land alone but people bounded by a common history, language and culture. Hence for productive government and countries to function the common factor is the people. In a sense the state is the creation of the people. Why then should we be puzzled by the state of Jamaica? The balance is what is missing. Money, Policy, Planning is for nothing if the mass is unwilling to offer the state their all thus expanding opportunities for development and the expansion of the gross domestic product.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Revolution Evolution and Devolution of Jamaica

Written by Carol Lawton

Jamaica! What is it really to the people? We are in the time of Olympics and Independence where all eyes are glued to the track including myself and party out from last week. Have we evolved from the plantocracy or have we devolved into a mess of garbage that even we don’t know who we are, where we are going or where we are at. Many young speak of revolution but to what purpose whether it is social, economic or political what will it benefit us if we are unable to channel that energy to building a nation. All a revolution will due is adding more chaos to this volatile mix.

Here it is a bare face materialism with nothing tangible holding it together other than the fact that we are stuck on a rock in the sea. First world plans are just that plans, that will remain a myth to keep the population dreaming of a world to come when it is here. And while this may sound angry or aggressive, I would I would yes and no . I am not angry or am I aggressive in simple language I would say I am piss off has I am tired of this drawn out saga of words that lead to nothing. Why tell the youths about 2030 for First World . When up town or Mobay it’s at your fingertips. Why tell them 22 years for it when we can fly to it in less than a hour in Miami or Cayman? I will be 60 when that day arrives in Jamaica. I lived it, worked in it, and got educated by it as did many like myself. Why should we wait on this plan? This first world does not mean that you have to live abroad but the use of systems that make life easier. That’s first world!

But our system has failed us and is flatling on life support through loans for overseas and remittance. As a Trinidadian told me this week, do business in Jamaica is a foolish move just get a container of goods and market it, they will consume anything, that’s how you make money here. And he is right as even simple products are now imported into the country. Labor does not want to work because of the hustle paradigm of the black market and capital does not want to invest as the risks are too high. Our economy has devolved to nothingness as we have evolved to a nation of dependents live on remittances which is even figured into the GDP.

Public administration has failed us and that a fact as that is the only constant as government change but the civil administration remains the same. Its failure is placed at the feet of one man as a woman has not held that position has yet. Mr. Governor General it is you would is in charge of the Civil Service. You have the power to fire, hire and change. Get some political balls and do something as this figurehead deal is wearing thin on this generation. You don’t seem to be fulfilling the responsibilities that the constitution says. So either this guy works to help in the evolution and stop the devolution of the governing system so that aggressive elements do not respond with senseless revolution to leads to nothing as they have no common vision of what they want!

So to end this tirade by being brief, revolution in what, we are already killing each other as one just has to look at the murderer rate. We are killing each other by having so many functional illiterates in our mist. We are killing each other as there is no bond between country and self as symbols, folklore and history, constitution and rights are not known by masses. So where are we at in this process is the final question to you all that read this tirade as we have a 2030 plan that no one has ever seen, the masses don’t know where they fit into it, the middle class already living it and the rest want to fly a hour to it or live it through the cable TV. In order for Jamaica to evolve, devolve, or have a revolution, it has to have vision and our leaders can’t seem to relate that to us.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Capitalism, Socialism, and Development

Written by Carol Lawton

The market is pure and the market will correct itself is a premise I adhere to. Now as it states you will say Capitalist and I will say no. The wealth of the nation cannot be held by a few but should be for the welfare of all stake holders in equity. Now you will say Socialist and I will say no. Development of the nation can be realized by objectively analyzing key sectors using statistics and other analysis tools. I will again say no, but why these entire no? Too long have we stuck to the idea of measuring the correct course as far as social equity, capital development and national development using philosophies of centuries pass without acknowledging how far the systems have evolved?

Let again be frank and wipe the slate clean. Most economies were developing because of human farming heritage. The rich and the poor have always existed and man have sought various ways to determine equity for each other based upon many factors such as race, .status(citizenship), class, skills, education. For this we will use the latter four as this is where the world is at now. Most nation states as we know them today are political creation of less than 200 years. I will say less than 200 years because of the wars that were fought to secure or give up land to form the borders. Hence the stake holder of a nation may share numerous borders as these borders secured by might and political decisions. So we created a mess.

We have always been a globalize world in vision as empires always though their empire was the world. Alexander the Great may have started the model we now use as he left in tack the ruling class of regions that fell to the Hellenist. The Romans would further push this as one could be a Roman but never see Rome thus the creation of a borderless citizen. With massive military machines, the works to support them became more complicated even utilizing many of the principle of Adam Smith to produce their stock piles. Let’s not forget a to thank China for the printing press which open the minds of people in Europe which lead to the Reformation and yes ‘paper money’. By the time the Union Jack came to fly at its might, the development of the isms had began with mercantilism being the word of the day. The French with their revolution would bring about the vision of all citizens being equal and the removal of heredity rights and the spread of the vote. It must be noted that it was the French who removed barriers of religion as a requirement of citizenship to assimilate their Jews and colonial residents. Liberty was then the word of the day which caused fear among its neighbors hence small nation states forge a national unity with other nation state (Germany) to counter the might of France and its new equalitarian government. The next great moves was the Industrial revolution and humans move to rethink how he fits into a capital model that was not dependent on land hence the isms to understand the ideals (Capitalism, socialism, Marxism). It was also the time of Max Weber and the development of bureaucracy. A model that most do not give much credit to but allowed all this to take place as it is the only model to create segmented with using skills and intellect as a capital element. But all this took place over 1000s of years and not in the timeline of 30 years, the internet changed all this. The world is one for Global in reach, local in action and global in response.

Capitalism and Socialism fought to see each fighter knocked out by their own might. When the USSR went down we all cheered of boo. Now the USA is in a mess with 42% of its debt held by other countries, its money value help up not by gold or silver as the pass but good faith hence invisible which allowed for the development of a credit system which created the world largest consumer nation. With a war on the field and the credit system see the extent of its ability to grow a country without production. It went against the very principle on which Wall St stand and that is management and the not so invisible hand. The riskiest would be the hedge funds and the derivatives. Basically Derivatives are simply fancy futures which can be as silly as there will be a hurricane in Montana where people bet, hedge, and conduct arbitrage with billions of dollars that belong to other people. Coupled with lending to people with low capital base to maintain a mortgage and a inflated real estate market the market had to correct itself as it has gone too far right. Now 700B to correct it is nothing for what most should look at is the connection of all world market, multinationals, national lending/borrowing and movement of goods and services. If the greatest capitalist state does not act like a socialist it will cause a global collapse of the system affecting food and other commodities, travel, “what is considered money”, social services, housing, and an increase in poverty as there will no doubt be a transfer of wealth to those who have from those who were merely grabbing for the dream.

The real winner here is China but they will have to decide the development worth it as the intangible cost of the environment will bear down on it. China a socialist country with a capitalist mind set is streaming along to develop but its cost will be the environment. But since I really hate long tirade I would like you to consider one point where all countries are trying to sort out as we speak. Is it worth it to be listed as developed when the price is the physical environment, the interpersonal relation of people vs. machine, eating organic vs. not, paying for H2O a price higher than gas or milk, increase materialism where life has no value. It is the intangible factors that will determine if countries like Jamaica is considered develop as well as balancing the need for the market to do its work with the need for the people to find equity and balance. Basically all this is about is work hard and be productive, expand markets, PAY YOUR TAXES TO SUPPORT THE SERVICES, protect the environment (JOB ONE) and be human beings who can empathize and sympathize with each other. That is the long and short of Capitalism, Socialism and Development.( how humans relate to each other and their environment). That my definition of development without the technical support systems diving into it.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Written by David Chen

Jamaica - over the years - without a doubt is one of the most popular destinations worldwide...

Actively, VOICING FOR JAMAICA and other think tank lobby group have realized that the BRAND JAMAICA is larger and more IMPORTANT than we think.

Since this current journey to Jamaica - 99% of Jamaicans who we have lived with across the island - believe that more can be done to brand JAMAICA positively.

Our natural resources is one that is being "used and abused"

Have you visited St Thomas recently? If you are not familiar with the parish St Thomas - from a natural point of view - without the westernized hype - St Thomas and other Eastern parishes on the island - need major assistance as to where development is concerned.


Admit tingly - over the past 6 weeks - we have been experiencing serious rain - and the heavy water settling on the roads - this has made the driving conditions - even worse than it was - before the hurricane season kicked in.

The Jamaicans have even turn a bad think into a joke - where it is now being said that every Jamaica hold a PHD - ... in this PHD term - it means that every Jamaican is a POT HOLE DODGER...


It is sad to say that many youngsters between the age 7 - 14 - can expect to hear from their parents - "sorry, you can't go to school today - because I haven't got the money to send you this morning"


If you are familiar with Jamaica - you will agree that there are many wasted land across the island - the question being asked at the moment - is "How wise is it to build more community centers across the island?"


This is an issue that needs attending to - with immediate effect!


The roads across the island is an eye sore with pot holes - at times - it takes the residents and local businesses to assist greatly with the repair of the roads...

See the website
You can contact us directly on 001 876 505 9186 or 001 876 864 1113

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tirade On Youth Constitution And Rights

Written by Carol Lawton

There are fundamental right that all human beings have that can not be intruded on except in cases of dire emergency of the state. Today I still see why we are backward in the respect of human rights. Call it whatever you will. Soft hearted, criminal hugging, fighting against authority but there are limits and when these limits are overstepped that is where the rule of law comes in with the highest being the constitution which govern the land.

Our children learn at an early age not to read. Yes not to read. Reading requires a yearning for knowledge and explanation in facts not word of mouth. The first thing a good citizen learns is what is the rights and responsibility of the individual to the state. Thesecond is state’s functions and accountability to the citizen. The first persons to feel this intrusion of their rights are not the upper class or the middle class who have the luxury of the legal profession to answer their calls and question and lash out like a morey at all who intrude, it is the poor. The Nazis did not start with the rich they started with the poor.

This tirade is based upon the role of school once the child is out of school in their uniform but it is just one of many where the state or private entities in Jamaica invade the constitutional rights of Jamaicans. To the best of my knowledge all Jamaican including teens have a right of freedom of movement. How is it then legal for a school to force children out of a supermarket because they are in their uniforms. The students come from the poorest areas. The supermarket offers the cheapest prices hence the large number who purchase from the supermarket. The supermarket did not even care until a “representative from the school “showed up forcing them out. If that was my business I too would sue them for loss of earning from potential customer based upon their directives. Can a school override the individual right of freedom of movement just by virtue of the student putting on their uniform or does the rules of the school end at the gate or does the constitution only cover those above a certain age or with enough money to care about intangible as rights. As old rules are applied to a new generation, they will rebel unless given compelling rational reasons that empower them to respect rules that are intrusive to their every day activities.

Frankly, most young are thinking that the law or rules don’t apply at this age hence the disorder we face in present Jamaica where the majority is under the age of 35. These are not the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s, even the meekest is aggressive now for a simple thing as their rights. The hardest part of the whole thing is to take the illogical argument that its for their own good to give up right to a higher group hence the aggression as the higher group usually does not have a good moral argument as to why only we said so.

Personally if they were my children, I would get it in writing and sue the school. I would not even follow to even have a discourse because as educators they should also be teaching the students what are their rights and responsibilities in order for them to become functional citizens of Jamaica . Defend your rights at all cost is how I was brought up. Some may term it aggressive; some may term it uncompromising or even rude. But the moment the door is open for the abuse of your rights it’s a slippery slope. We love to talk about caring for the children but personally its all talk. Build their minds to understand who they are, what they are, where at in the globalize world, how the rule of law exist to create equity between the rules of society and the constitutional and natural rights of the citizen of the state. Teach the constitution in High School as Mandatory.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


by Fiona Whata

Like all young girls, I grew up fantasising about a Prince Charming coming to sweep me off my feet to a fairytale wedding and a happily-ever-after marriage. Now that I’m older I would like to believe that I have a more mature and realistic perspective of matrimony. However, not having yet entered into this institution, I can’t deny that I still retain a little of my girlhood idealism regarding marriage. I suppose it is this optimism that despite discouraging reviews from those within, ensures that so many young women eagerly apply for membership to join the marriage club.

Pretty much all of the reviews I hear about married life are negative. The only time I hear or read about anyone praising their partner and recommending marriage is in romance fiction books and in movies. In real life all I hear is complaints - the last one from a cousin of mine. “Do me a favour”, she sighed to me in exasperation, “don’t get married. It is hell”. She told me she often seriously contemplated hooking up with a white man instead. Her main grievance on this occasion was that she felt her husband was oppressing her, and refusing to regard her as an equal. This wasn’t an isolated incident either. Whenever I am around any gatherings of female relatives or just black women in general, this is a complaint that is reiterated the most and takes precedent over any other problems.

“My husband is too controlling”.

“My husband expects me to wait on him hand and foot”.

‘My husband wants me to show deference to him all the time.’

The opinion has slowly taken hold in my mind that black men tend to have a problem with viewing black women as their equals. To make it clear: I don’t think all black men are like this, just some. So why am I singling out black men? Well it’s just that I have noticed that there seems to be a greater number of black men who are in the ‘some’ category than men of other races. If you’re a black guy who treats your woman as an equal and does not seek to dominate her, there’s no need to feel attacked on reading this. For me, it’s ‘some’ black men I am referring to. I’ve had acquaintances with married white women and while they might moan about husbands being addicted to sports or not being romantic, I rarely, if ever, hear them complaining that their men deny them equality in their marriages. I’m not saying that there aren’t any non-black men who don’t treat their women as equals, but oppressiveness doesn’t appear to be a trait that afflicts them in the epidemical proportion evident among certain black men. I could be wrong, but it does appear to me that there are more black men than white who are threatened by sharing power in a relationship. I wonder why this is so and if it is possible to have a truly equal relationship in black partnerships, in terms of decision-making, responsibilities and power.

Coming from an African environment, I am acquainted with the traditional roles assigned to women. Wives are the homemakers; they tend to the housekeeping chores and look after the children. It is the husband who has a job, brings home the bacon and makes all the decisions which the wife complies with and plays no role in. Good wives submit to their husbands and serve them. This traditional role expected of women is not restricted to just Africans of course, but it appears to persist more in the African culture than it does in Western culture. While this master-servant like relationship is not a rule that is strictly adhered to the letter in this day and age because women have jobs and aren’t literally servants to their men; it is still a rule that however loosely applied, is expected to set the dynamics of partnerships. Normally husbands have no problem with their wives working and don’t treat them as slaves, it is only when they find themselves battling to overrule their wives regarding a decision or when she starts earning a salary equal or surpassing their own, that power and equality suddenly becomes an issue. “The trouble with women”, they’ll lament, “is that they don’t know their place”, or “the trouble with women of today is that they have become too westernised and want to be on an equal footing with men”. The number one reason these men give for refusing to treat their spouses as equals is that “ is our African culture.’ Even in places away from Africa like the UK, some black men defend their stance similarly: “as black people this is our culture”. It is however, difficult to take these men’s comments seriously upon the observation that they don’t appear to be all that devoted to other aspects of African culture, like wearing traditional African clothing or worshipping the ancestors of their forebears. The culture card that is whipped out is, I suspect, simply an excuse and the real answer lies elsewhere.

So why do some black men who complain so much about the inequality and oppression their race has faced in the past, insist on inequality and oppressing their own women? One would have thought that being black, they, of all people, would be repulsed by the idea of oppressing anyone themselves. The only answer I can think of is one I base on logic. If a man is secure in himself, he doesn’t feel the need to go around constantly over asserting himself to show that he is a man. It is only an insecure man who seeks to dominate and control those around him to cover up his insecurity. In marriage, this would explain a man’s need to control and oppress his wife. It is only an insecure man whose ego is so fragile that he finds any notion of equality a threat to his masculinity and can only deal with women if he places them in an inferior position to him.

The men, who seem to bleat on the most about women ‘not knowing their place,’ are those from an older generation who grew up in times when racial discrimination was most rampant. Perhaps these men felt so oppressed and powerless in society that the only way they could feel like men, was to place themselves in a superior position to women by being controlling with their wives. And perhaps the black men of today that have problems sharing power in relationships have subconsciously picked up the idea from their fathers that the only way to be a real man is to suppress and rule over women. It would explain why there are more black men than white who are threatened by sharing power in marriages. All this is just speculation on my part of course, and I am aware that it is a flawed theory. The traditional role of the wife was in place long before the white man came to Africa, so fragile egos created under the oppression by white society cannot be the main reason why some black men today can only handle playing a superior role in marriage. It is however the only theory that makes the most sense to me at the moment. Perhaps I might have a better idea of the psychological motivations of these dominating men if I were to marry one of them.

From the viewpoint I have now, I can only conclude that it is insecurity, not dedication to culture, that drives some men to be so repulsed by women who challenge them as equals rather than meekly submitting to them. I am not criticising traditional partnership roles in general; there is nothing wrong with women being homemakers and men being the sole breadwinner, but it would be nice if women could play a role in making decisions if they wish without a fuss from their men.

Because not all black men deny equality to their wives, I would like to believe that my optimism in the institution of marriage is not misplaced. Hopefully there are a number of Prince Charmings’ out there who will respect their black wives enough to have an equal relationship with them.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


(One Dance Won’t Do)

By Myrna Loy

He stood there against the wall, dressed in a silvery-grey suit, razor sharp seams, toes turned outwards; silk socks and crocodile shoes. He was standing in between his two bredren - one arm hugging his waist while supporting the elbow of his other arm so that his fingers could stroke the stubble on his chin. He was rocking his head to the music – a leather cap tilted precariously on one side of his head. From a distance it looked like he was sneering. He closed his eyes slightly, raised an eyebrow, and looked straight at me. I rolled my eyes but couldn’t help grinning. Just look at him I thought: “ ‘im tink him nice - who stands up like that these days? I said to myself, while another part of me was thinking... he’s too cute!

I saw him lean back his head as if he was saying something to one of his bredren. I knew his type - the type that had not evolved; the type who had not moved with the times; the type who probably had a 30 year old BMW or a Cortina outside that was his prize possession and had the nerve to say: ”me have a bimmer outta back.. you whan come ride wid me?” with every pun intended. Why did I always attract this type? And the weird thing is, something about them fascinated me against my will.

I wanted to choops, and look for someone ‘I could take home to mother’ but that wasn’t happening in this club, not now.. not tonight.

We had established eye contact and connected with a smile, which was a fatal combination in the dance arena. I knew he would be confident now to walk over - and true to form he does:

”W’appen baby?” he says, in a deep Barry White voice. My eyes scan him swiftly. Hmmm, diamond in left ear, clean hair cut, smooth skin, a goatie, big hands, clean nails - I can’t help smiling back. “Yuh waan rub a dub to dis chune yah?” His choice of words perturbs me a little, but I think, what the heck, it is only a dance!

Derrick Harriott was singing “some guys have all the luck” in the background, the treble is high, the base is low - a wicked chune. I would be a fool to let this dance pass me. I accept, praying he can ‘rub-a-dub’ so that I am not disappointed.

That is the thing about a dance – with the right partner and the right music, it has a magnetic effect. I mean, a dance should just be a social interaction between two people, however, in a rub-a-dub dance, integrate it with a the right song, the right riddim track and the right person, it becomes a fatal prescription for a love affair.

I wanted to dislike him because of his outdated stance, and unsightly gold chains around his neck, but he pulled me towards his hard frame and I am just the right height to rest the side of my head on his shoulder and that was it. His cologne mesmerised me - it should be a crime to smell so good! I wanted to find an excuse to dislike him. I found plenty but they weren’t enough to make me refuse him: he wasn’t articulate, my parents would not approve of his earring and gold tooth, but when he cupped my back with his strong hands; pressed his nose in my neck and breathed hot air down my chest throughout the dance - that was it - my knees went, literally.

Have you ever danced with a man (or if a man is reading this, have you ever danced with a woman) and your legs start to tremble uncontrollably? Well, that was me on the dance floor - and then it was not only my legs that were trembling uncontrollably, it was my body too, but in sync with the riddim, so hopefully no-one noticed, except him and me.

The man could dance - his body navigated mine with such expertise, it was as though he was teasing out sensations with his meandering. One dance led to another as the DJ selected one nostalgic chune after the other. I am sure we must have danced through 7 records without stopping.

“You know how fe move eeeh?” he whispered hotly in my ear. I winced at his accent combined with his choice of words, but smiled without meaning to. I didn’t approve of the sensations that were going through my body with just a dance, they were taking me down a road I had no intention of travelling.

“So what’s your name? “ he continued.

“Susan” I lied, “What’s yours?” [I always called myself Susan when someone asked my name at a dance, probably because I am expecting them to realise that it is not my real name] but they always fell for it..

“My name is Denton Walker”, he said with a wide grin; the light catching the gold tooth, causing it to sparkle.

Denton Walker?? You can’t get more black than that I thought.

“I used to know a Susan,” he continued.

“So what?” I felt like blurting out, “... as if I want to know all the Susan’s he’s slept with!”

“She beautiful jus like you.. she have a nice smile jus like you, and she dance nice jus like you..” All of a sudden, the dance didn’t feel so sweet again, I withdrew from him and told him I wanted to use the ladies’ room.

“Bloody cheek!” I thought as I reached the woman’s room, flushed and with no desire to pee. Fancy asking a woman to dance and then talking to her about another woman, as though I am supposed to be flattered or interested! But then I thought: “hole up.. hole up… you don’t even know the man so why you getting in a tizzy? It was true. Why was I getting so wound up about a man I hadn’t known for more than 30 minutes. Did the 7 consecutive dances licence me to be jealous or have a claim on him?

Yes, I guess in my mind they did. A man doesn’t dance with a woman 7 times and it don’t mean anything. Besides, rub-a-db dances could lead to love, long-term relationships and sometimes marriage. It was the reggae dance law that if you danced consecutively with someone 4-5 times, an implied contract was formed. It would be inappropriate for him to ask anyone else to dance and the woman would not dance with anyone else either - unless of course, you were fool enough to leave the man/woman to go to the bathroom before you secured the digits, and spent longer than 10 minutes in there like I did, then the impled contract was broken (although not irretrievably). If you were lucky, you might find your dance partner when you come back, that is if s/he hasn’t been whisked away by someone who can dance just as good as you

I realised that I was giving Denton permission to breach the Reggae Dance Law by staying away so long, so I eventually got myself together and wondered why I had reacted so possessively. I figured that even though I had only just met him, we had made a connection through the dance. The riddim spoke on our behalf and we consummated the relationship through the vibes. So, what had happened between Denton and myself was more than a dance - it sounds crazy, but I can’t think of any other explanation, can you?

I patted my nose with a powder puff, reapplied my lip gloss, puffed up the side of my hair which had been flattened by the dance, composed myself and went back into the dance hall. Denton was dancing with someone else.

“Well, it didn’t take him very long did it?” I said to myself angrily. I stood there trying not to look annoyed. I started dancing by myself to signify I didn’t care, although secretly I felt uncomfortable. I wished that someone would pull me for a dance so I wouldn’t feel so conspicuous. I wanted to be in a position where I could ignore him and I could do that if I was dancing with someone else.

I started looking for the two girls I had come in with. One of them was brukking her back with this tall guy. I don’t know how she wined like that. She was like a snake, and her protuberant bottom swished from side to side - it was very noticeable in the clingy fabric she was wearing. My other friend was engaged in conversation (while dancing), with some guy she had just met.

As I walked over towards them, one short, fat man with acne and large framed spectacles, pulled me for a dance. “Be careful what you wish for came to mind!” He had on one of those dogtooth jackets, a black shirt and a white tie and white trousers.

I eyes fell to the floor, he had cream shoes on. How the hell can you wear white trousers and cream shoes? His face was shiny too, which was probably why he had acne! If this was my knight in shining armour then I preferred to do without! Just as I was thinking of an excuse to decline the proposition, I felt someone tug my arm gently from the other side. When I looked up to see who was, it was Denton - gorgeous by comparison. So even though I wanted to be spiteful, refuse or at least give him a taste of his own medicine, I couldn’t. I saw the woman he had been dancing hovering around, with her lip hanging down, hair mash up where she too had rested it on his shoulder - looking as though she wanted him to dance with her again, so even though I didn’t want her left offs, I did not want to refuse just in case he danced with her again. I rationalised it by convincing myself that since he only danced with her once and had danced with me 7 times in a row, he obviously liked me better! Besides, the alternative was to dance with someone who was not only height-challenged, but unattractive. I allowed myself to be pulled into Denton’s confident arms, which seemed more forceful this time around!

Relationships, children, love and marriage have been initiated by a single dance. Audrey Hall definitely knew the meaning behind the song: “One Dance Won’t do”.

Monday, March 1, 2010


I was reading Deborah Gabriel’s book “Layers of Blackness” – Colourism in the African Diaspora, and the first thing that came to mind as I read, was does colourism really exist today?

Deborah Gabriel, apart from being the author of ‘Layers of Blackness’ is a teaching professional and a journalist. The book was inspired by a feature Deborah wrote about skin bleaching in 2005, which followed a documentary about skin bleaching by a black female filmmaker and by the failure of mainstream writers to discuss the psychological and historical factors associated with skin bleaching. The primary aim of her book, despite its connotations of shades of colour is, she says: “to unite, not divide people of African descent”.

The thing is, from my perspective, the word ‘colourism’ is a divisive word. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, it is, in blunt terms, when someone says “no badda tawk to him – him too black” or, “don’t go out into the sun my dear, you will get too dark!” Colourism (according to Wikipedia) is a form of discrimination in which human beings are afforded differing social treatment based on skin colour. The preference often gets translated into economic status because of opportunities at work. Colourism can be found across the world and the term is generally used for the phenomenon of non-white people discriminating within their own ethnic group!

Yes, in plain talking it means blacks discriminating against blacks because of their colour, which is why many of the darker-skinned people have opted for bleaching creams to make their complexions lighter. I read on the website that in India, Fair & Lovely, which is a bleaching cream, have cornered 70% of the bleaching cream market! And there is a video on the internet made in Egypt which claims “if you want to be successful and attractive, bleach your skin white”. It is this kind of misrepresentation that gave rise to many tragic mulattos in the early 1900s. How many of you saw “Imitation of Life” by Fredi Washington who played Peola, a tortured self-hating bi-racial girl who said to her Negro mother: “Don’t come for me. If you see me in the street, don’t speak to me. From this moment on I am white, not coloured. You have to give me up!” Wanting to live as white because she was tired of being treated as a second class citizen ‘that is being treated like a 1930s black American’. She passed as white and begged her mother to understand, which along with the 20th century advert cited above, implies that success comes with skin colour. So in answer to my initial question, does colourism still exist today – yes, sadly it seems that it does!

In order to understand the present, we need to refer to the past, so let’s have a look at the possible reasons for colourism. Most of us know that light skinned Negroes were the ones kept in the house, while dark skinned Negroes were made to work in the fields. Did this imply that the light-skinned slaves were more superior to the dark-skinned or was it because the mulattos (as mixed-race were called back then) were the product of rape and therefore the slave masters felt some paternal loyalty to their offspring? Did the perceived preferential treatment adversely affect dark-skinned female slaves, or could it be that because the light-skinned slaves were remnants of their offspring,, they were happy to see them being given an opportunity to enjoy a marginally better lifestyle? We will never know. All we know is how it has been translated to us through the centuries, that lighter is brighter and blacker is slacker – but is that true?

There is an argument in the United States that on average, African-Americans score 7 to 15 points lower than European-Americans on IQ tests. Many conservatives believe this is because blacks are genetically inferior to whites. But liberals believe that the IQ gap is the result of nearly three centuries of slavery and yet another 130 years of segregation and institutionalized racism.

Hume, Krieger, Sidney & Coakley and many others have tried to state that the lighter you are, the higher your IQ level. Have you ever heard such a load of tosh!? If that is the case, why is Professor Geoffrey Palmer, DSc, OBE whose skin tone is dark, one of three people in the UK who has a Doctor of Science? A Doctor of Science (DSc) for those of you who do not know, is conferred on a member of the university who has a proven record of internationally recognised scholarship. Professor Geoffrey Palmer OBE is such a member and as such, was required to submit a selection of his publications on Grain Science, to the board of his faculty, which decided that he merited this accolade, along with Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, a white Scientist and radio astronomer who discovered what turned out to be neutron stars, also called pulsars.

When I interviewed Professor Geoffrey Palmer who is the author of “The Enlightened Abolished” on my radio show in March of this year, he told me that the reason he accepted the OBE the day before his mother died (apart from his mother telling him he should) was to show that he was as competent and as intelligent as anyone else on the planet, and that is of course regardless of colour (shade or otherwise)!

So let’s put this colourism to bed and end it with the famous words of Marcus Garvey:

The appeal I now make is: "For God's sake, you men and women who have been keeping yourselves away from the people of your own African race, cease the ignorance; unite your hands and hearts with the people Africa, and let us reach out to the highest idealism that there is in living, thereby demonstrating to others, not of our race, that we are ambitious, virtuous, noble, and proud of the classification of race.

Monday, February 1, 2010


By Charles R. Saunders

In the eastern Canadian province of Nova Scotia, an unsung branch of the black diaspora persists. The history of the black Nova Scotian community is a singular story of survival that is all-too-often overlooked. It shouldn’t be; it involves not only one small province, but also two continents.

People of African descent have been part of Nova Scotia’s history since the beginning of European exploration and colonization – and, perhaps, before that. A black man named Mathieu Da Costa was part of a 1608 French expedition. Da Costa served as an interpreter between the French and local Mi’kmaq people. His knowledge of the Mi’kmaqs’ language suggests that he had prior experience among them.

The first major presence of blacks in the region came in the wake of the American Revolution. Lord Dunmore, royal governor of Virginia, offered freedom to African slaves who joined the British in their battle to suppress the rebellious American colonists. Blacks were faced with a choice between rebels who desired freedom for themselves but not their slaves; and a colonial power that promised freedom for the slaves.

Many blacks chose to join the British before the Americans belatedly promised freedom to slaves who fought for the rebellion. After the British lost the war in 1783, they resettled most of the blacks who had fought for their cause in Nova Scotia – which had opted out of the revolution. About 3,500 Black Loyalists, as they were called, migrated northward – along with 1,200 slaves held by Loyalist whites who had also fled the newborn United States.

Like the whites, the free blacks were promised land and provisions as a reward for their loyalty to the Crown. Unlike the whites, the blacks received less than they were promised – and sometimes nothing at all. Even so, a group of Black Loyalists founded Birchtown, the first free black settlement in North America. Angered by the lower wages the blacks were forced to accept, whites from neighboring Shelburne stormed Birchtown in North America’s first race riot.

In 1791, John Clarkson, a British agent for the settlement of freed slaves in the West African colony of Sierra Leone, came to Nova Scotia to recruit Black Loyalists for a “back-to-Africa” migration. The blacks’ experience in Nova Scotia had been far from idyllic. Racism was making a mockery of their freedom. Thus, about half of the Black Loyalist population set sail for Sierra Leone in 1792. The half who decided to stick it out in Nova Scotia – along with another group of freed African-American slaves who arrived after the War of 1812 – formed the ancestral core of the province’s black community.

That community remained small and scattered. Some blacks lived in Halifax and other cities and towns; others in isolated rural communities built on those early land grants. African Nova Scotians have struggled against the same racism that besets blacks throughout the diaspora. Within the context of that struggle, some black individuals from the province have made their mark in the wider world. Here are some examples:

William Hall, son of freed slaves, was the first black person and first Nova Scotian to earn the Victoria Cross, in service with the Royal Navy during the Indian Mutiny of 1857.

George Dixon became the first black boxer to win a world championship when he took the bantamweight title in 1890.

Sam Langford, a 5-foot-7 pugilist who started his career as a lightweight and ultimately competed successfully at heavyweight during the early 1900s, was so feared that no champion – not even the great Jack Johnson – was willing to give him a title shot.

Portia White was an opera and concert singer of the mid-20th century whose voice was favorably compared with that of the legendary Marian Anderson.

Daurene Lewis became the first black woman mayor in North America when she was elected in Annapolis Royal in 1984.

More recently, poet George Elliott Clarke won the Governor General’s Award in 2001, for his book Execution Songs. Kirk Johnson fought for a world heavyweight title in 2002. And in 2006, Mayann Francis was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia.

Over the centuries since 1783, the core black community has been augmented by newcomers from other parts of Canada, as well as migrants from the United States, the Caribbean, other parts of the diaspora and Africa itself. But the population remains small, and black people continue to face racism in the education, economic and justice systems.

Still, the community perseveres and progresses, keeping alive the heritage of ancestors who took a chance on a hope for freedom during a time of slavery.

By Charles R. Saunders is the author of the Imaro novels.

To learn more about his work, visit

Monday, January 4, 2010


By Fiona Whata

Whoever we are, we are all the same. We all want the same things in life: happiness, fulfilment, not just in our lives, but also within ourselves. What makes us happy, what motivates us? As no two people are alike, the desires and goals of people are varied. Yet, through whatever walk of life, through whichever era, some common themes tend to emerge of what drives us through our lives: who are we? Why are we here?
Spiritual wholeness is an eternal quest for the human race. The two most common pathways to this goal are religion, which I define as an organised system that believes in the spirit world and adheres to a specific set of practices designed to bring them closer to God, and what I call spiritualism, which has the same goal as religion but without its structural aspect. Attending church regularly would fall under the category of religious, while I would regard reading tarot cards and exploring one’s psychic potential as spiritualism. The aims of the two are the same, yet there is a curiously uneasy relationship between the two. In trying to understand why this is the case, we may understand ourselves better.

Christianity’s hostile attitude towards all things psychic is well acknowledged. The King James version of the Bible states in Leviticus, ‘A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.’ Deuteronomy further elaborates,
‘There shall not be found among you….anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD.’

However, what the Christian faith has failed to acknowledge is that the construction of its own religion appears to heavily rely on psychics, and that the chronicles of its saviour reveals him to have been, perhaps, the greatest psychic who ever lived. The Bible, in particular the Old Testament, is full of prophets. An online dictionary defines a prophet as an authoritative person who divines the future. In modern day parlance, this would be a psychic. Holy men such as Moses, Isaiah, Samuel and Daniel either spoke with God, saw visions, predicted the future, or all three. The psychic gifts of clairaudience, clairvoyance and fortune telling are clearly at work here, and the display of psychic activity become more abundant when Jesus makes his appearance in the New Testament.