Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 30th 2013 Contents A31
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It was Barbadian novelist and
essayist George Lamming whom
I d heard say it best many years
ago: "The people of the Caricom
are already united, it s just their
governments who don t know it
This was uttered at a time
when Caricom, as a mechanism
to promote regional integration
and economic co-operation,
appeared to flounder hopelessly.
The people of the region contin-
ue with the intent of this body,
albeit at an informal level.
Very little has changed and I
suspect that the average
Caribbean citizen if asked,
couldn t answer with any confi-
dence what Caricom is meant to
The debate was rekindled with
the recent diplomatic snafu
caused by the refusal of entry by
immigration officials of 13
Jamaicans at Piarco airport.
Early, one-sided media reports
which carried the emotive
remarks of the rejected sparked
an incendiary response in their
country of origin.
Reading through online reac-
tions, some Jamaicans insisted
that we Trinis "never like"
Others, more aggressively sug-
gested that the Jamaica defence
force should be sent here to put
us "small islanders" in our place.
When I read those comments I
was both saddened and elated. I
was elated because I realised that
Trinidad holds no exclusive
rights to the expression of ill-
informed and extraordinarily
myopic and sub-educated
remarks in public fora. Pound for
pound, the Jamaicans easily
"out-stupided" Trinis; at least
on this issue.
I was saddened because the
contention that Trinis dislike
Jamaicans seems fairly pervasive.
It is completely untrue and any
Jamaicans in our midst would
have to concede this point, with
a modicum of further reflection.
Trinis love Jamaica and
It is owed entirely to our
admiration of Jamaican culture
that our soca artistes suffer from
identity crises, not knowing who
the hell they really are or what
they are actually supposed to
When I stop at rural shops to
purchase invariably lukewarm
de-freshment, what music do I
hear? There is never any calypso
or soca; only reggae or the
unbearably vile dancehall music
rattles the galvanise roof.
Beenie Man, Elephant Man,
Ninja Man and men of incalcula-
ble varieties travelled from
Jamaica to perform for more
than modest crowds in T&T over
We tolerate mediocre jerk pork
and counterfeit Jamaican patties
locally that should be stripped of
their titles, simply because they
are the closest we can get to the
So let s get this straight:, the
suggestion that Trinidadians do
not like Jamaicans is nonsense.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Win-
ston Dookeran must bring about
some détente with his Jamaican
counterpart lest our block-
dwelling youth are reduced to
the indignity of smoking locally
Minister of National Security
Gary Griffith, while indicating
that the immigration scandal is
being investigated, revealed that
there are approximately 17,000
Jamaicans living illegally in this
country. Mr Griffith was at pains
to point out that because they
are not registered and pay no
taxes they are benefiting from
government expenditure such as
our gridlocked, pockmarked
roads and our "kill and cyar
cure" health sector.
It got me to thinking about the
many immigrants living and
working quietly in our midst.
Recently, I walked up to a secu-
rity booth and asked to be
directed to a particular office.
The willingness of this guard
to help was very unnerving, his
easygoing manner and cheerful
demeanour I found very unset-
tling. I usually steel myself for
utterly useless interactions with
security guards in this country.
Even without having detected
any accent, it was immediately
apparent that this young man
smartly wearing his uniform was
one of these bloody illegal,
pleasant and helpful immigrants.
He just did not have the "hog"
training which is standard among
the local insecurity guards. With
a little prodding, he fessed up to
being a Jamaican.
One thing I will say about
Jamaicans, they don t seem to
have a sense of humour. I hon-
estly thought it was funny that I
pretended to write down his
name in an official-looking note-
book; he certainly didn t seem to
I guess it s just one of those
things that get lost in rasclat
translation. Were it not for the
many illegal immigrants working
as domestics, or security guards;
doing the jobs that most Trinis
now think beneath them, we
might find ourselves in a tight
So I ask of my Jamaican
brothers and sisters: forgive us
our foibles---and we will forgive
you for passa-passa.
ISLANDS IN THE STREAM
Minister of National
Security Gary Griffith,
while indicating that
scandal is being
that there are
illegally in this country.
Mr Griffith was at pains
to point out that
because they are not
registered and pay no
taxes they are
expenditure such as our
roads and our "kill and
cyar cure" health
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