Sunday, October 18, 2009

Buju Banton's Gay Inquisition

Sitting here wondering whether to have another cup of this wonderful brew i brought back from Costa Rica. Just the packaging alone is a joy to behold, and the coffee itself is decidedly superior.

Yes, we do have the most expensive coffee in the world in Jamaica but it's a tad too delicate for me, and considering that you have to use twice as much to get a decent tasting cup, its even more expensive than you think. Also i do wish Jamaican companies would invest more in package design; the Costa Ricans could really teach us a thing or two there. I mean the burlap bag is a cute idea but when you remove the tinfoil pouch from the little jute sack there is nothing to identify what brand of coffee you're drinking and it's very hard to keep track of changes in taste, quality and so on unless you happen to scrawl the name of the coffee on the blank tinfoil.

Jamaica Coffee Roasters

Wallenford Blue (16oz) - 100% Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Whole Beans

See what i mean? Two different Jamaican companies, Wallenford and Coffee Traders, both using jute bags but when you discard the bag there's no way to distinguish one tinfoil pouch from the other! The Costa Ricans on the other hand print the tinfoil pouch itself with a super attractive, brightly coloured depiction of the landscape the coffee was grown in. There were so many different varieties available at the airport, all in brightly coloured packages. Fortunately there were also coffee salespersons available to advise. Now there's a country that takes its coffee seriously.

Ok, i know this is a bit of a leap, but trust me I won't let you fall. One of the things that caught our attention here in the last week or two was what you might call Buju's Gay Inquisition in San Francisco. The so-called meeting produced the following photograph which was widely distributed and reproduced showing a serious-faced Buju surrounded by a group of gloating individuals who one presumes are gay rights activists.

Buju Bows, screamed headlines in Jamaica, "bow" being the local term for the subjection of a person to humiliating defeat at the hands of someone far more powerful. A comprehensive account of the meeting was carried in The Star.

The Jamaica Observer carried the responses of the local gay rights organization
J-FLAG which actually disagreed with some aspects of the strategy employed by the group in San Francisco. J-FLAG's position is that no "tangible results" had ensued from the meeting nor were likely to.

"The Jamaican society has not necessarily increased its tolerance towards homosexuals over the last five years according to J-FLAG," (says the Observer article). I beg to disagree. Change is a process, a time-consuming process that can neither be bullied or "bowed" into existence. This was vigorously discussed in the comments section of my recent post Eyeless in Gaza (Gully). Sometimes the comments section is almost better than the post itself, check it out.

I marvel at the naivete of the gay activists who demanded at the meeting that Buju "hold a pro-gay town hall meeting and sing pro-gay lyrics". Yeah right, the Jamaican public is going to listen and learn from a castrated Buju when he tells them he has recanted and they should all follow suit by becoming 'pro-gay'--whatever that means.

They need to listen to Mutabaruka for the best expression of the Jamaican view on the matter (on his radio programme Cutting Edge). Not only is it a thorough and lucid exposition of local views on the subject he actually recieved a call from Buju Banton in California during the programme to discuss the latter's much-hyped meeting with gay groups in San Francisco (about 15 minutes into the recording). Incidentally I don't agree that Buju is being hounded only for his early 90s song Boom Bye Bye that was written in response to a widely reported man/boy rape case in Jamaica. It has been alleged that in 2004 he was part of a group of who brutally beat six men believed to be homosexuals at a house near Buju's recording studio.

Muta's discussion of the San Francisco meeting neglected to take into account the above incident and more recent pronouncements from Buju on the subject of homosexuality. Still, if you listen to the audio provided below you'll hear Muta criticize DJs who threaten gays with violence during their stage performances (towards the end of the recording) and he has often said that he wished DJs would speak out as vehemently against the various forms of violence and criminality plaguing society as they do against the free expression of a person's sexuality. His is a considerably more nuanced view of homosexuals, homosexuality and homophobia in Jamaica than the campaign of foreign gay rights groups would have you believe; And one that is representative of quite a few prople here. The campaign's weakness lies in not having either an informed strategy or grasp of the local ground and mindset. So like Napoleon Bonaparte in Haiti approximately two hundred years ago, they may win the battle of the moment but they will lose the war. Is this what they want?

Here is the excerpt from Mutabaruka's Cutting Edge. You will need to know some Patwa in order to understand the audio fully.

Buju Meets with Gays - Mutabaruka

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A few of my favourites...

In lieu of having anything amusing, meaningful or useful to say at the moment I'm going to present a selection of videos, blogs and articles i find totally worth recommending.

First, on the tail of my last post did you know that there is soon going to be a movie version of Bashment Granny? Click here for the Bashment Granny movie trailer which certainly looks promising. The film boasts good production values which bodes well for what might soon become an important new chapter in Jamaican film-making.

And the region is beginning to produce world-class animated shorts as well. Check out this absolutely charming flick about rivalry between street vendors of different nationalities in the republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The innovative cartoon focuses on the jostling between an African sno cone vendor and an Indian 'doubles' man. Featuring hilarious dialogue and a creative plot, the two resort to karate moves to settle their argument. The film won Animae Caribe's 2009 Most Oustanding Caribbean Animation Award.

Another innovative video offering from Trinidad and Tobago features Gabi Hossein, a lecturer at UWI, St. Augustine. A dedicated activist Gabi has employed her formidable creative skills to produce a video blog called "If I Were Prime Minister..." in which she mercilessly lampoons and takes down the political directorate of TnT about the absurdities that pass for governance. In the process Gabi also slyly parodies the aggrieved, aggressive posture of young male rappers. There are only two video so far but i look forward to regular instalments.

Gabi's introductory shot:

and her latest volley in which she deconstructs poll numbers:

And from further afield I really like this Zina Saunders portrait of Michael Jackson, done originally for The Progressive. What do YOU think?

Also check out the Booman Tribune for the best response to all the criticism of President Obama, it looks like a great blog which i'm going to try and check regularly.

And on the increasingly dismal Literature Nobel an excellent post by the Akhond of Swat:
Who, or why, or which, or what, Is the Akond of SWAT? well click on the link and find out!

Now to wind up, here's a despairing post from a schoolteacher in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. They are beginning to feel the kind of violence that we have become inured to here and Abbott, who is a powerful and eloquent writer vividly captures the sense of being drowned by a crime tsunami. Is this the way small islands crumble?:

"For the past month or so, SVG has been suffering from one of the most belligerent heat waves that I’ve ever experienced. My headaches, which had all but disappeared due to my quitting smoking and putting myself on a strict health regimen, are slowly becoming a constant irritant again. The other day, one of my students stripped off his shirt in class because the room where all my classes are held is a two by four plywood box that holds heat like a Pyrex dish. I allowed him to carry on simply because my own shirt was moulded to my body like I’d just been in a wet dress-shirt contest or similar. “Me skin hat” is a Vincentian Creole expression that goes further than just saying, “I feel hot”. It implies that the heat is so oppressive that your very skin feels as if it is peeling away from your flesh, the way an envelope peels open when it is steamed. This is the kind of heat we’re facing here."

And if you need a pick-me-upper after that read the latest Letter from Jamaica on what five years in Ja has taught the author: "1. White people who live in the ghetto are apparently either: (i) NGO workers (ii) crazy (iii) 'wutless' or (iv) German roots reggae singers."

Finally Heart of a Pirate, a novel about Anne Bonny by Pamela Johnson, the female pirate who once inhabited these shores, is now available in local bookstores.