Dec 6

WHERE IN THE WORLD?

 

WHERE IN THE WORLD?

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“Today…was that day” (well Saturday gone to be precise)!

 

I heard my dearly departed mother’s voice, loud and clear… (in my head).

 

“Just wait until you have children of your own…then you will understand”…

 

For those of you that are parents, the parental milestone I am about to outline will likely resonate with you, or, if your children are younger…in the coming teen years.

 

So back to ‘that day’ that I mentioned.

 

My son, now 14yrs old, asked to attend the fete at Kingston’s Immaculate Conception high school on Saturday, with a friend from his school. The plan was that said friend’s mother would ‘drop off’ and I would ‘pick up’. Easy enough. I was cool with that…though I had to quash some spontaneous thoughts about a potential ‘incident’ that could arise at a school fete. But then I chided myself for being a ‘worrier mom’. As a mother, I may not be able to take him out to ‘hunt the lion’, but I sure can send him out into the ‘jungle’…right? I can do this. It’s time to let go. The very night before I had discussed my son’s making his transition to manhood and my need to release the reigns somewhat and give him latitude to venture further from the safety of the nest. All the text book stuff that his uncles have been guiding me on in recent years. They went off looking very dapper.

 

A CHANGE OF SCRIPT

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Then, THE call came in…”Mom, can we walk to the bowling alley at Manor Park and you pick us up there in a few hours?”

 

Silence. As God is my witness I…the calm, optimistic, divinely protected, look-on-the-positive-side, law of attraction, ‘your thoughts create your reality’ spouting optimist…PANICKED! My heart started pounding and my head started swimming…in the background I could hear the chattering of excited teens, the giggling of girls and the extra-base voices of teen-boy laughter. I was on the spot!!!

 

His firm (to impress those around him no doubt) voice still possessed the pleading quality of my little boy. In it I heard the unspoken, mommy, please say yes…the other teens are waiting to hear if I can go or not. Hurry and please don’t ask me one million questions to break my cool!!

 

I stammered, I hummed and awed…torn between the desire to let him fly free, to go with his mates to the very well populated bowling joint AND the dread that raged through my mind as images of Khajeel Mais…Nicholas Francis popped into my mind. “Moooommmmm!” Came the demand again from the anxious Prince. In a split second, he wanted an answer. Wait. Stall. Let me call the mother of the other young man. Maybe I can transfer, I mean share this onerous decision. I needed back up! Having an older son and being more knowledgeable of the route and venues in question, back-up mom reassured me that she was fine with it, but (which sent me into indecisive mode again)…”follow your gut feeling” she finished. I calmed my flip-flopping gut and engaged my left brain for the split second needed to decide to allow and trust!

 

OK son…YOU CAN GO! (I’m sure I heard the theme tune from the Rocky movie).

 

He contained his clear exuberance and said a cool, in his new deeper voice… Thanks Mom!

 

I did it.

 

That’s when I heard my mother’s voice. Clear Clear!

 

Each time I, or my teen brother would go out my mother would be at the window, unable to sleep, until we came home. When I asked her why she didn’t go to bed, she spoke those prophetic words…”Just wait until you have children of your own…then you will understand.”

 

Boy do I understand!!!!

 

SAFE?

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The reality of this story is that it is becoming more and more difficult to think of a place in this world where one can be certain of the safety of a child. I had made the conscious decision to raise my son in Jamaica, as opposed to England, where we were both born. There are a myriad of reasons, but the main one, which is now very relevant in the post Brexit and post Trump age, is his safety (emotional as well as physical). The realities of being a young boy of African descent in a predominantly Caucasian populated country I knew only too well. Yes, I know I am a female, but I witnessed the disparities in treatment and justice second hand, in the treatment meted out to my own brother and his friends, while growing up in Great Britain in the 70’s/80’s.

 

So here we are in Jamaica. With its own peculiar challenges, but a historical record of protecting children. There…I said it…historical. Sadly so, in the wake of the recent atrocious child deaths. My maternal senses are heightened. I find myself asking the question again…”Where in the world is it safe to raise a boy child?”…any child for that matter?

 

I guess, the answer for each parent might be different, but at the end of the day, we can only protect our children to a certain extent, while in the meantime, equipping them with as much ‘street smartness’, awareness and confidence as possible. As it was in my teen years…parents will continue to worry, regardless of the country, social dictates or reassurances from the inexperienced teens themselves.

 

INSURE FOR YOUR CHILDREN’S SAKE

 

While you ponder these thoughts parents, you can consider securing Personal Accident Cover, Health Insurance, Pension Plan or even a Life Insurance Policy through us at Sarifa…just to cushion any ‘blows’ that might fortuitously arise while we love and protect our offspring.

 

As well as our good parental advice, it is a good idea to arrange some financial cushioning for their present or future.

 

Nov 7

DEMOCRACY…AT IT’S WORST?

 

DEMOCRACY…AT IT’S WORST?

 

Democracy is defined as ‘a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives’. So, in theory and in short, the whole population decides who runs things.

 

I’ve tried as much as possible to resist writing about the imminent US Presidential Election, but with just one day to go, I’m giving in to the urge to state my opinion. I won’t keep you long, because I know you have most likely reached saturation point on the issue that has been painfully milked by all media houses, satirists and your average man/woman on the streets around the world.

 

Now the first thing I want to make clear is that my views are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the views or opinions of Sarifa Insurance Brokers Ltd. Good. With that disclaimer out of the way…hear me now!

 

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FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, file photo, Hillary Rodham Clinton is seen in New York. Hillary Rodham Clinton has so far kept a low profile this year, something that’s starting to change as she heads toward her expected 2016 campaign for president. Clinton was to speak Tuesday at a Silicon Valley women's conference, her first U.S. speech of the year. It opens a stretch of public appearances in the next month ahead of an all-but-certain launch of her bid for the Democratic nomination. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

 

 

What a farce! What an embarrassment! What a poppy-show of democracy unhinged!

 

A recent New York Times article spoke of the ‘disgust’ of the majority of American citizens over the behaviour, conduct and continually unfolding character of the two contenders for leadership. The situation exists for many where their real choice is no choice. They believe that neither candidate stands up with the required level of integrity, sound character nor metal that is synonymous with the ‘Commander in Chief’ role. Americans feel they are being made a global laughing stock, and they are right. The interesting mocks come from America’s cousins in England and Canada. The gloating is tangible as media houses, television personalities and even Ministers of Government, criticize the live ‘reality show’ that the US elections have become.

 

Meanwhile, back on US soil, what seems to have been laughed off as a joke, with the Donald Trump nomination, has now turned into the worst nightmare for many. Democracy opened the door. Free and fair elections will provide the platform. The masses of US citizens that actually support ‘The Donald’…make it possible, within 24hrs, for him to be sworn in as PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

 

Let that sink in for a while.

 

THE BEGINNING OF A NEW ERA…OR THE END?

 

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The unexpected backlash of true democracy is still a bad taste in the mouths of many Europeans, with the Brexit vote in the UK earlier this year.  It struck me at that time that the once Great Britain, was on the verge of crumbling, staggering from a self-inflicted wound. The immediate downturn in the economy, the still sliding pound and the shattered confidence of foreign investors that were poised to set up shop in the UK. The historical relationship between Britain and her close ally and cousin America is not a coincidental circumstance. One wonders if indeed these self-appointed superpowers, built on monies from slave trading, genocide meted out to indigenous peoples, theft of jewels (Queen’s crown included) and subjugation of the peoples trodden on to build their empires…were now folding in on themselves after years of bullying other nations.

 

INDIA, CHINA AND AFRICA…RISING

 

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The economic rise of resource rich countries, the talk of re-unification of the colonially dissected countries of Africa, underpinned by a gold dinar led currency and the outcry from environmentalists to save mother earth are all compounding the global beating the USA is getting. Countries like India and China are developed and ready to retake their spaces in the world. Do your own research. The media houses of the super-powerful rarely show the footage of the rise of the competition. Notwithstanding, the advent of social media has meant that the ordinary man and woman around the world is now privy to truths behind the starting of wars, the real wealth of so called developing nations and the internal injustices faced by the citizens of these nations. The Dakota Pipeline issue is one such blatant injustice, unfolding for the world to see.

 

It is time for a change. I, for one, welcome the current reshuffle of world powers. My hope is that in the new dawn, men and women of integrity, love, honesty and responsibility to the planet, will take the place of leaders seduced by billionaire corporate interests.  I know, I sound like MLK Jnr, right? But I do have a dream. For the sake of the children, my son, I dream of a future that will stand up to the test of decency and life enriching custody of our world.

 

 

THE DAY OF RECKONING!

 

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Let’s see what unfolds for Trump…Clinton and the whole world that is watching this historical political war.

 

Oct 3

3 H’s…Hurricanes, History and Halloween

 

This month of October 2016, is certainly shaping up to be an action packed month!

 

HURRICANES 

 

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I’m writing this from within my concrete fortress, awaiting the ‘real’ coming of Matthew…the hurricane that is. Yet Matthew is acting like a man that has announced he is on his way home, but ‘stop a’road’, keeping his lady (read Jamaica) waiting…in anticipation! It seems that by giving these weather conditions names, they actually take on human characteristics.

 

Even before my first visit to Jamaica in 1989, I was familiar with the devastation that hurricanes can cause, because my original travel date (in 1988) was cancelled because of the big bad Hurricane Gilbert!

 

Being from the insurance sector, I had naively assumed that Lovindeer’s song…’Wild Gilbert’ was alluding to the claim settlements from insurance policies, when he sang of “mi colour TV…a Gilbert gi me”. It only occurred to me quite recently, while conversing with a friend, that Lovindeer may actually have been referring to looters availing themselves of furniture items from vacant homes, devoid of roofs! I’m such a believer in the good side of human nature! Lovindeer, I will await your confirmation.

 

THE WAITING GAME

 

I personally witnessed the lingering, taunting behaviour of Ivan in September 2008, which played with us throughout what seemed the longest night of my life! Hearing but not seeing the menacing visitor was the worst part.

 

The wait! From the many social media posts today, that is what is challenging most folk at the moment. When you are poised and ready for action…any prolonged delay can frustrate! The coming and going of the heavy rains merely serves to taunt us some more.

 

STOP EAT OUT DI SUPPLIES!

 

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Another issue caused by this delay is the gradual depletion of emergency food supplies, before any emergency! The cupboards look so ‘fat’ with their snacks and surplus ‘bounty’ that I’ve had to remind my teen son to take it easy! Bare cupboards when Matthew does eventually drop in on us wouldn’t be pretty!

 

What about that eerie silence, indicating that the animals are well aware of the impending onslaught…which is what it will likely mean to the smaller species on the island. Where do all the birds go during a hurricane? Have you ever wondered?

 

Anyway, My Dear Fellow Jamaicans, I hope that when these few lines reach you, they will find you dry…with a roof on your home and in the best of health!

 

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HISTORY

 

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Also, in this hemisphere, we recognise February as Black History month along with the big brother island, USA.  I was a little confused when moving to Jamaica, having lived all my Black History months in England, during the month of October.

 

BLACK ‘JAMAICAN’ HISTORY

 

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This relatively small island has some rich history of its own, which, while indelibly mixed with influences from various other peoples, recalls its most prominent historical era as the African slave trade. In spite of the unspeakable evils and latent damage caused during/post this era, I like to celebrate the resilience of a strong and tallawah people, boasting the greats like Marcus Garvey, Nanny of the Maroons, Paul Bogle, Sam Sharpe and other heroes that resisted and led the struggles that liberated and uplifted the majority peoples of our beautiful island.

 

Let’s remember their sacrifices and bravery on this coming Heroes Day…17th October 2016. On that day, let us remember and honour all seven of our national heroes.

 

HALLOWEEN

 

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The end of the month also sees some of our tropical island folk adorning themselves in ghoulish or ghostly garments and celebrating the ‘Halloween’ Festival on 31st October. Many think that these ghostly traditions started in the United States of America, but in spite of the huge commercialized celebrations each year across the USA, the origins of Halloween or All Hallowed Eve, are actually European. The Celts, who were a European tribal group that existed during the Iron Age (6th Century BC), are apparently the ones to blame…I mean credit.

 

What started as a Celtic festival celebrating their 1st November New Year, was based on the belief that the souls of the dead would be ‘available’ on this 31st October date. For what? Don’t ask me.

 

But why the dressing up?

 

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The Druids, who were the teachers, philosophers and judges within the Celtic religious system, celebrated Samhain, the original name for the festival, by sacrificing animals, lighting huge bonfires to encourage the sun not to ‘vanish’, danced to keep evil spirits away and left their house doors open in the hope that the spirits of their loved ones might join them around their firesides. You a’hear me?!

 

Think about it…Jamaicans, that traditionally use every trick, practice or ploy in the book to keep spirits OUT of their homes…following a foreign cultural practice that is inviting them in? No sah! Tape measures over doors, bible open to a Psalm, passing a child over the grave of a deceased relative…you name them, we, to this day, still practice ‘protection’. Hocus pocus or not, Jamaicans don’t take chances with this ‘duppy’ thing! And why does this Halloween thing smack so much of Obeah?

 

Anyway, back to my point about the dressing up. The Celts wore animal heads and skins as costumes because it was believed that spirits would either be entertained by the living or find a body to possess for the incoming year. By dressing up, they thought the ‘duppies’ would bypass them! Don’t laugh! Belief kills and belief cures…right?

 

So, now that you know the origin and traditions of the Halloween celebrations…do you still want your children dressing up in ghost, devil and witches costume? I hear many guffawing and saying it’s just a little harmless fun. Or is it that we, like the Celts, are unconsciously trying to avoid being possessed by the ghosts that are conjured up on this All Hallowed Eve?

 

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In my humble opinion, without sounding too much like a Halloween party pooper, it’s not every tradition or cultural expression that should be adopted from the apparently ‘developed world’, especially when the tradition comes from a very ancient, primitive and un-developed era in that world. Or maybe we aren’t afraid of foreign duppies? Can you imagine our kids dressing up as a rolling calf (clad with clanking chains) or in an Obeah man costume, school pencil behind an ear, in the pitch black night…walking around knocking on the door of the average Jamaican? The story might very well end up with neither trick nor treat! ‘Jamaican duppy know who fi frighten’.

 

THE 3 H’S CONNECTION

 

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It might just be that as we sit awaiting the restoration of power by JPS over the next few ‘hurricane’ days, we might just find ourselves in that rare, technology starved family huddle, telling some candle-light ghost stories. While we do…let those of us that partake in Halloween, also reflect on the roots of our 31st October rituals and consider…does this practice correlate with who we are? Ourstory? The story that we celebrate during the month of October (in the UK), as Black History Month!

 

Stay dry, stay focused…stay safe!