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.
Corrupt officials foolish enough to get caught: It’s not the fact that someone is a crook that we hate. We readily accept that there is, and probably always will be, corruption in the government, police force, customs, etc. It’s the fact that the person is a crook and was dumb enough to get caught. Remember, Jamaicans are a people weaned on Anancy stories. We admire people clever enough to “beat the system” and get away with it. What we don’t admire is stupidity. And when a corrupt official gets caught, they put their stupidity in our faces and remind us all that it’s really our money that they’ve attempted to steal. In effect, being dishonest and smart is tolerable. Being dishonest and stupid is unforgivable.
IMF: Jamaica had a borrowing relationship with the International Monetary Fund between the 1970s and late 1990s. During that time, particularly in the 70s and 80s, harsh IMF conditionalities caused considerable hardship to Jamaicans. Even persons who were born in the 80s and who don’t remember the details of the Jamaica/IMF relationship have a vague notion of the IMF being a kind of “Great Satan” hell-bent on oppressing struggling black people. The result is that recent suggestions by the Government that it may renew its relationship with the IMF have been met with howls of protest. It should be interesting to see whether the IMF has changed or if IMF still means “Instigating Misery and Famine”.
Homosexuality: That there is widespread abhorrence of homosexuality in Jamaica is well known. Our Prime Minister, for example, recently stated in a BBC interview that there was no room for homosexuals in his cabinet. The average Jamaican will go even further and tell you there is no place for homosexuals in their cabinet, dresser, break front or what-not. The question is what explains the fact that Jamaicans seem to have a much stronger negative reaction to homosexuality than most people? Is it because Jamaicans are a religious people and we are guided by biblical proscriptions against homosexuality? Interestingly enough, there are actually few direct references to homosexuality in the Bible. Genesis 19:4-8 suggests that homosexuality was one of the sins which caused the destruction of Sodom. Additionally, Leviticus 18:22 reads “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; it is an abomination” but beyond that, and a few other references, the Bible doesn’t make a big hoopla about it. But Jamaicans certainly do.
Equally interesting is the fact that the ten commandments (see Exodus 20:2-17) make no reference to homosexuality, but its probably not unfair to say that the average Jamaican feels more strongly about homosexuality than they do about adultery, stealing or lying (Commandments nos. 7,8 and 9). Maybe its more true to say that Jamaicans are, in some ways, a very conservative (as opposed to religious) people and that the dislike of homosexuality is influenced by Christian teachings?
Nah, that explanation is way too “intellectual”. Like crime, teenage pregnancy and slackness, let’s just blame it on Dancehall music. Even though Jamaicans probably always had some level of dislike for homosexuality it seems that at some point that dislike crystallised itself in the popular consciousness (i.e. it became popular fi talk bout b#tty bwoys mus’ dead). This “crystallisation” may have first manifested itself in songs like Shabba Rank’s “Mama Man” (1988) and Buju Banton’s “Boom Bye Bye” (1991). Once these songs publicised the notion of “Jamaican homophobia” it gave people a reason to write, talk and sing about it. And, sure enough, the more people wrote, talked and sang about it the more it seems to have become accepted as a part of being Jamaican?
Informers: It doesn’t matter if you’re the sole eyewitness to the murder of a priest by a notorious gun man. And it doesn’t matter if you can identify said killer in a line-up. And it definitely doesn’t matter if you’ve been brave enough to ignore the threats on your life if you talk. Jamaicans don’t deal wid informers. Remember “Walk and live. Talk and b#mboclaat dead”? This sentiment is so pervasive it might as well be our national motto. Forget “Out of many, one people”, let’s just go with “Keep yuh chatty-chatty mouth shut” instead.
Joining lines: As far as Jamaicans are concerned only a fool would stand behind 14 other people and wait for two hours when you can simply “bum rush” the door and get your business done right away.
People who cut in front of us in a line: Never mind the comment about joining lines above, once Jamaicans have made the sacrifice of joining a line DO NOT CUT IN FRONT OF THEM. “Boring” the line is one of the quickest, surest ways to guarantee severe bodily harm in Jamaica. If you want to see the “darkness” come out in a Jamaican, just bore in front of someone who has been waiting in line for 2 hours at the tax office.
Not enough gravy: If you don’t frequent “cook-shops” or office canteens you might not understand the consternation of the hungry man who has ordered a baked chicken lunch with rice and peas and “nuff gravy” only to have it come back “dry as chip” and likely to cause death by choking if consumed in that arid state.
Taxes: Let me see if I understand you. You want me to work like a donkey six days a week for wages that would embarrass a child labourer in a Pakistani garment factory and then, before I even touch my money, you help yourself to a third of what I’ve toiled and slaved for? Having helped yourself to my money, you say you’re going to use it to maintain roads, build schools and provide utilities? But as far as I can see, the roads are full of potholes, the schools have 60 kids to a class, and every summer I have water lock offs and power cuts. And this is why I should pay taxes? I must be slow, explain it to me one more time…
Wutless man: Hmm… Maybe it’s not true to say this is something Jamaicans hate? It may be more true to say this is something Jamaican women hate? My question is: if yuh hate wutless man so much, why yuh keep marrying them? And why yuh keep havin’ their babies? If you ask me, is di woman dem wutless…