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Things Jamaicans Love

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Things Jamaicans Love

Things to Be Thankful for This Christmas

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tessanne
 

1.      That Tessanne Chin shell dung The Voice to rubble and reminded the world that, despite all our troubles, Jamaica is still a nation of world beaters.

2.      That the Prime Minister travels so often.  After all, she could be at home mashing up di country instead.

3.      That curry chicken back with white rice tastes so gooood!  After all, it’s the only thing most of us can afford this Christmas.

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Why did the Chicken Cross the Road? A Jamaican Response*

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chick road
Everybody knows the old joke “Why did the chicken cross the road?  To get to the other side”.  Everybody also knows that if you ask a Jamaican a stupid question you’re bound to get an interesting answer. Being curious folks, TJL.com traveled the length and breadth of Jamaica to ask a wide variety of persons their views on why the fowl crossed the road.  Here are their answers:

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Some Common Misconceptions About Jamaicans

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weed

1.      We do not sit and around and smoke weed all day long.  Of course we could, if we wanted to, because we grow lots of really really good weed but weed is not free and we are a poor 3rd World Country.  Only rich Americans can afford to sit around and smoke weed all day, which is why we export it to you.

2.      We do not listen to Bob Marley’s music all day long. We listen to his sons’ music all day long. (Bob had several sons, most of whom are musicians. – Damian “Junior Gong” Marley, Steven Marley, Ziggy Marley, Julian Marley and Kymani Marley.)

3.      We do not say “yeah mon” in every sentence.  You’re pretty sure you heard your Jamaican friend in the cubicle next to you say those very same words just a few minutes ago?  Well, yeah mon, I’m sure he did but he was probably just making fun of you.

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Tips on How to Live/Survive in Jamaica

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surviving in Ja

Those tv ads for various Jamaican all-inclusive hotels do a fabulous job of making Jamaica seem like an unspoiled island paradise where life is always slow and easy. Those of us who live here know better. Jamaica is a beautiful and unique corner of the earth but its not always the easiest place in which to live and you’ll need to know the “ins and outs” if you’re going to survive and maybe even prosper. So, if you’re determined to live here, or have no choice but to (because you’ve recently been deported, for example) here are some practical tips for living in Jamaica Land we Love:

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Complicated Family Trees

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You’re not really Jamaican if you’ve never had an experience something along these lines: You’re a child attending a family gathering of some sort with your mother in the country.  During the event she calls you away from where you’re playing jacks/marbles/stucky with your cousins and says “Charlie, come meet yuh Aunt Silda!”

You reluctantly abandon your game and slouch over to where your mother is standing with an elderly lady who smells faintly of bay rum and ginger: “Charlie, this is your Aunt Silda.  You don’t know Aunt Silda-Mae Brown from Chalky Hill?” 

Your polite (but disinterested) response is: “No mummy”

Undeterred she presses on: “Lawd child yuh don’t know yuh family?Aunt Silda-Mae is Mas Joe’s daughter.”

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Being Thrifty

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thank_u_momMy mother believes that being thrifty is the key to heaven. That’s the only way I can explain why a woman who’s been comfortably middle class for quite a long time still has an almost religious belief in frugality. And its not because I haven’t tried hard to understand from whence this passion comes. I’ve wondered whether it may have been instilled in her as a poor child in the 1950s (she was the 8th of 11 kids) when she grew up in a rural community in the hills of Clarendon and every shilling was the meagre reward for her father’s back-breaking labour on a small plot of farmland. Whatever the reason, one thing I can tell you for certain is that my mother is an absolute fiend when it comes to being thrifty.

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Things That Drove Us Crazy in 2010

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It seems to me that it’s not the big things that cause ordinary people to lose their minds and wind up as permanent, straight-jacket-wearing residents of Bellevue Hospital. In fact, every day, large numbers of people work their way through divorces, redundancies, deaths of loved ones and manage to get on with their lives. The things that are most likely to drive us insane are those little, repetitive, exasperating things that happen over and over again and slowly drive us mad. We all put up with a lot of those things last year and, because venting is supposed to be good for one’s mental health, here’s my list of things that (almost) drove me crazy in 2010:

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Jamaican Motor Vehicle Collision Etiquette for Beginners

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In other countries, when there has been a traffic accident, the drivers involved know that they are required to exchange their particulars and immediately report the matter to the police. In Jamaica the procedure is slightly different. Having been involved in a collision anywhere on the roads of Jamaica you should:

1. Bring your car to a screeching halt in the middle of the road.

2. Jump out of your car leaving the door open and engine running.

3. Race over to the other driver/rider, gesticulating wildly and screaming abuse at them (even if you’re at fault).

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TJL's Favourite Jamaican Slangs/Sayings of 2010

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Who on earth can keep up with Jamaican slang terminology? As far as we’re concerned only 14 year olds and dancehall DJs have that special gift, but despite that, we’re still fascinated by the brilliantly inventive, lightening-quick, non-stop evolution of popular speech in Jamaica. Here are some of our favourite slang words/phrases of 2010:

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Driving Like Maniacs

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road_rageI’m addressing this post to all the drivers of buses, trucks and taxis in Jamaica. Now I’m not attempting to single you out for ridicule or persecution but you’re the persons who spend the most time on the road and are, from my observation, responsible for most of the madness that passes for driving these days. And no, I’m not going to simply dismiss you as homicidal morons as so many others have done before. Instead, I’m going to offer you some free advice because, in my heart of hearts, I know you can change for the better. So, please take careful note as I point out some of the more annoying things you do on the road:

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TJL's Easy Guide to Dealing with Political Scandals

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for_dummiesSo the news has broken and your name and picture are all over the newspapers, airwaves and television. Your phone is ringing off the hook and your political enemies are calling for your head. You’ve been accused of the worst kind of skulduggery and, this time, there appears to be no easy way out. Don’t panic Mr. Minister/Senator/MP, these things happen when you are doing the nation’s work. Luckily for you, thingsjamaicanslove.com has created an easy and effective guide to dealing with political scandals – a sort of Political Scandals for Dummies if you will. All we ask is that you follow each of the steps below carefully (and that you remember us when the juicy contracts are being handed out later).

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Calling to Women as They Pass by on the Street

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cat-calling

Like football, cricket and drinking white rum, calling to women as they pass by on the street is something of a favourite pastime for Jamaican men. Let’s take as an example the experience of an attractive female friend of mine who recently had car trouble in New Kingston. While sitting in traffic her car had made a strange coughing noise and immediately shut off in the middle of the road. My friend is not mechanically inclined (she says she thinks the car had a heart attack) and had forgotten her cell phone at home so she had no way of calling a mechanic. Being the intrepid sort, however, she decided to lock her car and walk from Knutsford Boulevard to Old Hope Road where her mechanic was located. She describes that walk as one of the most “intriguing” of her life. The number and variety of comments that were directed at her by bus drivers, vendors, taxi men, construction workers and just random men sitting on walls was astonishing. She shared some of the more memorable comments with me:

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Inventing New Ways for Jamaican Men to Address Each Other

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greeting

Two American men run into each other on a busy street in New York City. They are old friends. How do you think they might address each other? Well, they might say something like this: "Hey there Todd. How're you doing old friend/old buddy/old pal. Long time no see". Surely there can't be that many terms of address which can be used when two men greet each other? Of course there can. This is Jamaica and we have a 100 ways to say even the most ordinary things. It’s fascinating to observe the large number of terms of address used in Jamaica and equally fascinating to note the rapidity with which they are invented, accepted into popular usage and often discarded. It suggests a dynamic, constantly changing culture and a people with tremendous natural creativity. (Or a people with a lot of free time on their hands) The following is thingsjamaicanslove.com’s attempt to compile a few of the many terms Jamaican men use/have used to address each other:

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Mispronouncing Words

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mispronounceJamaicans have a rare talent for mangling the English language.  One of the many ways we do this is by gleefully mis-pronouncing even very common words. Consider the short list of words below and their mispronunciations. (Note: If you are not seeing why these are mispronunciations please seek immediate assistance.)

Anthony: An-tunny or H’antonny.  You’ll note that Jamaicans have a love/hate relationship with h’s.  We love to put them where they are not needed and hate to use them where they are necessary. A great example of this is found at public events when one hears the national anthem beautifully sung in chorus: “H’eternal Fah-der bless H’our land, Guard H’us with your mighty ‘and…”

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World Cup Football

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Persons who don't follow football (i.e. Americans, Canadians and space aliens) may have noticed instances of what may appear to be unusual behaviour in their Jamaican acquaintances these last few weeks. This unusual behaviour is as a result of an illness commonly known as World Cup Fever. World Cup Fever manfiests itself in many ways:


1. Firstly, you will notice that many offices and places of business in Jamaica are deserted during World Cup matches and staff members can only be found in canteens, lunch rooms and offices where televisons are located. Please postpone your business till the match is concluded. (It is considered very bad form to ask people to actually work during World Cup matches.) Please also note that if the team supported by the persons at the office you are visiting loses, work may be suspended for the rest of the week as employees come to grips with the tragedy.

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Going to Church - No matter how unpleasant the experience (or Why Pastor Johnson Hates Going to Church)

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churchGoooood Morning, brothers and sisters! Isn’t it wonderful to be alive on this beautiful Sunday morning? Being here to fellowship with you and to see your happy faces is truly a blessing. Hallelujah!

This morning I want to talk to you about why I hate going to church. Now, you’re probably asking yourself “Why on earth would Pastor Johnson choose a topic like that?” Well the truth is friends; I was walking through the supermarket the other day when, just by chance, I heard someone use the expression "Easy like Sunday morning". It was just a random comment brothers and sisters but the truth is, it struck me like a thunderbolt! I said to myself, what the hell is easy about Sunday mornings in Jamaica? And the more I thought about it the more I realised that the answer was: Nothing is easy about Sunday mornings. Not. One. Blessed. Thing! In fact, Sunday morning is the opposite of easy if you grow up in a typical Jamaican home.

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Making up Our Own Names for Things (Medical Conditions)

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pressure

So you’ve just graduated from an expensive overseas medical school having spent many long days and nights learning all the arcane secrets of the medical profession. You’re full of pride at becoming a doctor and are bursting with eagerness to put your hard-earned knowledge to good use. Then… you get assigned to a clinic in deep rural Jamaica or one of Kingston’s ghettos and you start to realise that you don’t know quite as much as you thought you did. Much to your distress, patients frequently come into the clinic complaining of strange conditions and illnesses you’ve never before seen mentioned in a medical textbook. Don’t panic, young healer, Jamaicans have their own names for everything. Luckily for you ThingsJamaicansLove.com has compiled a brief list of Jamaican names for some common illnesses/medical conditions:

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More Things Jamaicans are Afraid of

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croaker

After our first “Things Jamaicans Fear Most” article was posted a couple months ago, many of our readers were kind enough to take the time to give us the details of several other things that terrify them. We had no idea unnu so coward! But anyway, many thanks to all the fraidy-fraidy readers who took the time give their feedback and suggestions. Your input has inspired us to write another article about the things that scare the bravest people in the world…

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Investing in Ponzi Schemes (or "Why Investing in a Ponzi Scheme Made Perfect Sense at the Time")

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ponzi-scheme

Yeah, I did it. And no, I’m not sorry. Now that the “ponzi schemes” have gone belly-up and their founders are facing more criminal charges than Dudus and Bernie Madoff put together, many people have come forward to pontificate about the greed of the persons who invested in them. They heap scorn on the naiveté of investors who believed that rates of 10% per month were endlessly sustainable and they make it seem as if even a retarded six-year old should have known these schemes would fail. Well, I’m no child, I’m a hardworking man who invested in what seems to have been crap, and I lost my shirt. But hold on, I’ve thought it through and I’m satisfied that I made a reasonable decision based on the facts that were available to me. Lemme tell you why investing in a ponzi scheme made perfect sense at the time…

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New Year's Resolutions

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We make them at the start of each New Year and then promptly break half of them by the end of the first week. Indeed, New Year's resolutions are made to be broken. Since we are at the start of 2010, Thingsjamaicanslove.com has produced the following resolutions that we believe are worth adopting and keeping and may even make a difference in the average Jamaican’s quality of life in what is shaping up to be a challenging year:

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Christmas!

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IMG_3375Never mind all the talk of IMF Agreements, budget deficits, tax increases and the like. Jamaicans have a passionate and abiding love for Christmas and year after year they enjoy the yuletide season to the fullest, despite the trials and tribulations they've experienced all year... That is, of course, once certain basic things are in place. The "basic things" required for the full and proper enjoyment of a Jamaican Christmas, include:

1. Ham. You MUST have a ham for Christmas dinner. Even if it’s the size of a chicken wing. Even (God forbid) if it has to come out of a tin.

2. Sorrel mixed with lethal amounts of white rum is a must. (In some homes the sorrel is entirely optional. The “Whites” is all that's needed.)

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Nicknames

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chubbyA Jamaican man walks through the shopping plaza with his wife and children on a busy Saturday afternoon. Out of nowhere comes a loud, piercing voice that seems to reverberate off the walls near him: "Yow Lippy! LIPPY!!! Backside, a you dat Lippy?”

The man pretends that he is not the one being called - not with THAT nickname and certainly not twenty years out of high school… And definitely not in public, with the family in tow. Finally, turning around, he looks carefully at the person calling to him. He vaguely remembers the face but the voice that continues to speak is unmistakable: “Lippy… how tings man? Bwoy, all ah now you nuh grow into dat lip yet, eh?”

And the humiliation continues.

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Childhood Do-It-Yourself Toys/Pastimes – Part 1

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“Woe be unto the youth that cannot live without his Wii” - Author Unknown

Remember the games we played as youngsters? Now the youngsters I’m referring to here are the generation of Jamaican kids (including myself) that grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. Before this era I wasn’t alive to comment and after this era I was totally hijacked by the video game phenomenon. Before the video games, however, I had another life. One where I built my toys and games from scratch; from the things that lay around the house, things that were meant to be discarded, or from the fruits of Mother Nature. Now, I look back at the ingenuity that went into these play-things and wonder, who first came up with each of them? Some of them are not unique to Jamaica, but for others you really have to think that only Jamaicans could come up with such inventions.

For the benefit of those who may not know these homemade Jamaican toys or for those who know them and remember them fondly, here's a list of some of them:

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Exciting Exclamations!

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backside
The French say “Merde!”, the Spanish say “Madre de dios!” and Barbadians say “Cheese-on-bread!”.  Every country/culture has distinctive expressions that are used to convey shock or surprise. Jamaicans are no different. Well… actually, I think we are different. My guess is that we have a greater number and wider variety of ways to express shock or surprise than anyone else in the world. The sheer number and unusualness of Jamaican exclamations would be sufficient for a Phd thesis.  We won’t even get into the numerous exclamations that end with “claat”.  Those would provide sufficient material for a year-long university course (Perhaps it could be called: “R.A.S.S. 101: Basic Studies in the use of Invective and Diatribe in the Jamaican Vernacular”?). The following is just a sample of the numerous exclamations found in the Jamaican vocabulary:

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Things Jamaicans Fear the Most

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duppy

In the early 1970s Ernie Smith recorded a now legendary song called “Duppy or a gunman”. In that song he describes a romantic, late-night encounter between two young lovers which is brought to an abrupt end when something/someone sneaks up behind them and says in menacing tones: “Don’t move!”  The response of the terrified young Casanova, who assumes the voice is that of a ghost or thief, is to instantly forget his sweetheart and immediately take flight. Apart from just being funny, however, the song tells us a little bit about the things that strike terror into the hearts of ordinary Jamaicans. But what else terrifies Jamaicans? This article takes a closer look at a few of the things that frighten a nation of people who take pride in the fact that they don’t scare easily.

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Patties

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Recent tests by chemists (apparently with lots of free time) on US currency in circulation, made the stunning revelation that over 95% of the money had traces of hard drugs affixed to it. As amazing as this fact is, it would not compare to what a similar analysis would reveal about Jamaican money – which is that every single dollar contains significant amounts of microscopic patty crumbs and the powdery flour residue from coco-bread (that same examination would also, I suppose, reveal similar quantities of that sugary substance from the Jamaican favourite, the bag juice, but that’s another article).

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Things that will piss Jamaicans off

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Jamaicans have a well-deserved reputation for being among the most volatile people in the world. Our contention, however, is that it’s really only very specific things that will trigger the fury of ordinary Jamaicans.  If you avoid these “triggers” Jamaicans are some of the most loving and docile people on earth. (That one made me laugh too, when I wrote it). Anyway, here a few things that are guaranteed, as they say on the street, to “bring out the darkness” in Jamaicans:

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Freenis

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There is a universally accepted adage which states that there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving. Though this may be true, it certainly seems that in Jamaica nothing compares to the immense joy of receiving something of value absolutely free of cost – a phenomenon commonly referred to as ‘freenis’.

Jamaicans love freenis and we have mastered the art of putting ourselves in the position to be the beneficiaries of free stuff. Thus, we will immediately jump at an offer of a free ticket to a movie, concert or even a high school barbeque. Similarly, glimpsing free t-shirts or mugs being given away at a party will make some of us slice through a crowd, straight to the source with ninja-like dexterity. And some would even consider a free igloo set the deal maker when deciding to buy living room furniture!

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Things Jamaicans Hate

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taxes

What are the similarities between the things Jamaicans love and the things Jamaicans hate? Well, Jamaicans can be equally passionate, loud and utterly unreasonable about both. Having devoted a lot of attention to the things Jamaicans hold dear, we thought it was about time we looked at a few of the things Jamaicans hate…

Badmind: Badmind is a typically descriptive Jamaican term which generally refers to any kind of hatred, envy or ill-will. If the average Jamaican is to be believed, badmind is the source of 99% of all problems in their life. So if you’ve lost your job, it’s not because you came to work late a record 37 days in a row. It’s because your badmind supervisor hates you because you’re black and wants to stop your progress. If your husband leaves you for another woman it’s not because he was an unfaithful bastard with a roving eye. No, is because yuh badmind matey tief yuh good-good man.

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A Barrel from Farin (Foreign)

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Just for a second, imagine Santa’s big red bag of gifts in the form of a fibre drum. This I dare say is the true representation of a shipping barrel to many Jamaicans – it’s Christmas in a corrugated cardboard container! Indeed, the arrival of a barrel is often a joyous occasion no matter what time of year it comes, since it means that the cupboards will now be stocked and your old belongings upgraded.

The practice of packing and sending a barrel is a Jamaican tradition. It's a tradition that sometimes doesn’t end even when the intended recipient(s) in Jamaica feel that they are now well-off or that they could make better use of the money their relatives are spending to pack and ship that barrel. So, don’t even bother telling that uncle of yours not to send anymore barrels of tissue, rice, tin mackerel and that whole cow worth of bully beef, just because those items are sold in Jamaica.  That would be plain ingratitude.

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Giving our children made-up names

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Jamaicans have always a been creative people. Witness our many contributions to the arts: In music we’ve given the world reggae, dancehall and ska. In literature we’ve produced Roger Mais, Claude McKay and Louise Bennett. In the visual arts, Edna Manley, Barrington Watson and Albert Huie. Sometimes, however, I wonder if all this unbridled creativity doesn’t need some “curbing”. So, for example, there’s the issue of made-up names…

More and more I’m noticing persons with names that seem to be, how do I put this politely, invented, concocted or just pulled out of thin air! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it should never happen (ok, I don’t think it should happen much) and I’m not saying the names are necessarily unattractive either. I’m just fascinated (ok, and a little disturbed too) by the thought processes behind some of these inventions. So, for example, one common approach seems to be to just add “ique” or “nique” to an existing name and, voila! The result is the likes of Sashanique, Veronique and Junique.

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Hot Guinness

Fred Sandford, George Jefferson and Mr. T

Being militantly homophobic

LOUD Dancehall music

Fat girls

The Death Penalty

Violent feuds between dancehall artists

Hardough bread

Bulla an pear

Michael Jackson

Pretending to embrace the rastafarian culture

Not locking off the dance at 2am

Cussing America while keeping green card in a vault

Having a 'link dung a warf'

Good weed

Tax avoidance

Inept Politicians

Good Hair

Any tonic/potion/drink that promises improved sexual performance

Bleaching

Rambo

Sending greetings from farin at Chrstmas time

West Indies Cricket Team and the Reggae Boyz... when they are winning...

Dances that only a few people know how to do

Praedial larceny

Beating a praedial larcenist

Beating thieves in general

Six-a-side football

Cell phones

White rum

Dominoes

Having the reputation for being the most violent people in the world

A good "kickers" (martial arts movie)

A barrel from farin at christmas time/easter/new years/labour day...

Rims, spoilers, loud mufflers and other things that usually cost more than the car itself...

Buying licence

Patties

Fried chicken with curry goat/stew beef/ox-tail gravy

Cass-Cass

Weave

Scandal bags

Hockey and saltfish

Cawn pork

Banana flitters

Unquestioning devotion to either of the 2 major political parties

Migration

Freenis

Stew chicken for breakfast

Hot Red Stripe for breakfast

Thursday/Friday/Saturday/Sunday night street dance

Sky juice

Bag juice

Kisco pop

Souls (soul music)

Giving kids made-up names

Duppy Story

Nine Night

Country funerals

Goat feed

Banging pot covers at football matches/track meets/political rallies

Blocking roads

Demanding "Justice"

Cussing JPS

Tiefing light

Beating nations 20 times our size in a variety of sports

Jumping Fence

Threatening to apply "monkey lotion" on our female rivals

Hustling

Christmas breeze

Turning 20ft. shipping containers into homes, offices, restaurants and studios

Fry dumpling

Controversial radio talk show hosts

Sucking chicken bones after a meal

Running a boat

Milo

Horlicks

Disputes with family members about "Dead lef"

Devon House ice cream

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