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Zulu Publications.

Last up-dated  2011

Text Box: JAMAICA, JAMAICA. Our beloved Jamaica.
Where are you heading?



By Valerie Dixon

In my recent readings, I came across a story which gave me a totally different perspective from which to view the devastation that has occurred, as a result of the recent flood rains and hence the peculiar heading for this article.

By now everyone knows of the grief and stress that now walk the plains, hills and valleys of Jamaica, following the torrential rains of tropical storm Nicole that lashed the island at the end of September, a month that is in the middle of the hurricane season.  Once again we are reminded of the many floods that have plagued us in recent memory since 1963.  According to Mark Wignall in his October 3, 2010 Observer newspaper column:  “Much has been revealed about the terrible state of our roads and the drainage system.  We have lamented on it in the past and we seem doomed to live this past again.”  Why can’t we learn from the past, why are we doomed to live this past again and again?  To use badgers and foxes as analogy, we could say it’s because the badgers have long since left Jamaica; or have retreated to live in small enclaves and the foxes have taken over.

In his book ‘We are not alone,’ Robert Marsh relates how someone explained to him why badgers and foxes cannot live together in the same neighbourhood or community.  He is told that badgers are maligned creatures because they are seldom seen and those who malign them, don’t understand the work they do and in many instances cannot replicate or duplicate what they do.  Badgers are very clean, ordered and orderly creatures; they do not soil their nests (which are called ‘sets’) with their droppings and they do not pollute their environment with their garbage.

Another characteristic of these creatures is that they are diligent and gifted “engineers”.  They excavate marvellous chambers, roadways and other infrastructure under the earth where they live.

The fox on the other hand is a totally different creature.  We are told that the moment he arrives on the badger’s scene, he leaves his droppings any and everywhere.  He litters his uneaten carcasses all over the area and because he has infiltrated the badger’s territory, the badger gets blamed by the farmers.  But in comparison to the badger, the fox is a very dirty animal.  The badger cannot live in a dirty environment and he must leave when the fox moves into his territory because the stink is more than he can bear.  Another unfortunate characteristic of the fox is that he is unable to dig his own set and so he lazily relies on the badger to do this for him, or he digs inferior holes.  Therefore when the badgers leave, the neighbourhood sinks into squalor and becomes degraded.

Wignall points out that ‘Nicole’ has exposed roadways that were already suffering from deliberate and perennial poor workmanship and third rate substrate.  I will not say that this is a shame and disgrace because of my newly acquired knowledge.  These roadways and other infrastructure were obviously built by ‘foxes,’ who were granted enormous political contracts and because foxes can’t build, shoddy workmanship must be the end result.

So where are the badgers –the graduate builders and engineers?   Some left and returned home after 1962; some migrated during the 1970s and some are still leaving as we speak.  The condition of our roads, bridges and other infrastructure, the condition of our utilities (electricity and water supplies) after the passing of ‘Nicole’, which relatively speaking was a minor hurricane, tells us that the foxes are now in charge.

The ancestors who built the Flat Bridge, over the treacherous Rio Cobre, at a time when there was no steel and cement, must be turning in their graves; because their progeny have become foxes.  They have morphed into foxes because from Fus A Augus mawning 1838, lip-service and promises are all they get as far as their ‘education’ is concerned.  The same large percentage who could not read in 1838 is the same large percentage who cannot read in 2010.

So no matter how the environmentalists talk, preach and try to teach, many Jamaicans continue to behave like foxes and soil their sets (nests) and litter their communities with garbage.  Here we have a chicken and egg situation.  Some say it’s the authorities who do not provide for proper disposal of sewage and garbage; others say it’s the citizens who do not dispose of their sewage and garbage properly.  In my opinion, it’s much of both.  Garbage is dumped in drains, canals, rivers and gullies and when the rains come, these waterways are blocked and nature dumps disaster in our laps.  When will we ever learn?  Garbage continues to be thrown from motor vehicles onto the roadways and flood waters take these items eventually to the sea, as most of the garbage is plastic that will never rot.  So our news headlines tell us that fishermen are “Fishing in garbage…literally”.  In the same newspaper another columnist, James Moss-Solomon, states that Nicole has exposed our soiled underwear.  He says… “The current situation could have been lessened by proactive and realistic planning…”  Oh when will the foxes ever learn?

It seems therefore that badgers are an endangered species all over the world; the foxes have taken over in every sphere of our lives. In Jamaica, the badgers have left the airwaves and good grammar is hardly heard on radio or television and we complain that our children cannot pass English examinations, to prove that we are an English speaking country.  I speak perfect Jamaican Patois, but I can speak perfect English too.  Over the past 30 years, many badgers have left politics, education, and entertainment and are almost non-existent in the areas of production.  As a result, Jamaica has become very unhealthy and therefore unattractive to would-be-investors.  It seems that would-be-investors are like certain birds.  These birds instinctively know when a tree is unhealthy and will not invest their time building nests in unhealthy trees because at the slightest ‘breeze-blow’ or thunder-storm, the unhealthy tree will come crashing to the ground.

In the meantime, badgers are still living quiet and decent lives in enclaves all across Jamaica, but they are ever vigilant as they sniff the air for foxes.  They know that as the foxes move into their neighbourhoods they must move, not because they hate foxes (although some do), but because they know that the foxes will bring noise, garbage and other pollutants to “flood them out” of their once nice neighbourhoods.  So if we are not careful and vigilant, Jamaica could soon be described as a country that was once close to being Paradise.

Other works by Valerie Dixon can be read here

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“Communal self-help equals self-sufficiency”

Picture by PACE Television

Valerie Dixon

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