Tag: Respect

Modern day feudalism and Jamaica

Modern day feudalism and Jamaica

The world is always changing nothing remains the same. We see this in technology medicine however one thing remains the same, the way we humans interact with each other. We see this from all stratas of society, human beings have seldom changed and the more one looks at it the more the situation reads like an awful novel.

Feudalism is alive and well in this society, though we all seldom speak on it for fear of losing secure jobs and possibly one’s life. We see this played out throughout the society but one example that I feel cements us in the mode of politics is the relationship between the area don and the girl children. The don (since he protects the area) gets ‘jus primae noctis‘ providing the masters with the right of being the first one to sleep with a womanThis phenomenon is not new to Jamaica, it has been going on since the inception of the garrison and yet we as a society, for the most part, remain silent as that type of madness, barbarity and utter backwardness continues unabated.

This feudalism in the nation can be found some more in the garrison where persons live the lives of twelfth-century serfs, beholden to the Lord of the land. We see this in the way that the don of the area is able to (usually by coercion) get the loyalty of the persons living in his ‘city state’ and they go off to war merrily to fight for him, for the spoils that will be divided and for the indulgences from the don, in the same manner as the Popes of old led the world to Crusade after Crusade. We see this neo-feudalism in the city centres and parish capitals as a crude ‘tax’, ‘protection’ or if you will just plain extortion is played out on a daily basis. Much like the feudal lords of the past who would take their share of the harvest (the best of course!) because the serf was unlucky enough to have been living under ‘patronage’ so we have the modern don taking the hard earned money of business persons and higglers who are unlucky enough to be in their zone of influence.

The political system while not explicitly built around the feudal line is clearly operated along the line that would make any feudal lord pleased that the trend continues. The political system that we currently have in breeds patronage and the creating and holding of fiefdoms (or garrisons in Jamaican parlance) and the handing over of that fiefdom to the chosen heir. Nowhere was this more open and blatant than the recent election to replace Dr Omar Davies in his ‘Jungle’ garrison constituency when he openly called for and endorsed Mr Mark Golding to be his eventual successor (and we see the tradition continuing with Portia Simpson-Miller openly endorsing Dr.Angela Brown-Burke).

Again much like their feudal spiritual ancestors, the politicians practice a serious form of nepotism that would be hilarious if the results weren’t so harmful to the nation. Just look at the current parliament and one is shocked at the blatant nepotism, Andrew and Juliet Holness (husband and wife), Peter and Mikael Phillips (father and son), Pearnel Charles and Pearnel Charles Jr (again father and son), and that is just those who have immediate blood connections and are currently serving. If we were to add the second and sometimes third generations that are in our parliament and senate (such as Minister Johnson-Smith and Mr McNeill then most people would agree that nepotism is the order of the day when it comes to politics, I mean for heavens sake (and I admit this is a slight stretch), Bustamante, Manley and Shearer were all from the same family branch and all three took turns (Alexander, Norman, Hugh then Michael) running the country consecutively from ’44-92 with a brief interlude of 48 days during the tenure of Sir Donald Sangster and the premiership of Edward Seaga which lasted from 80-89, does that not strike you as some feudal politics?

It is not just the political system and the dons that function or are run in a feudal or neo-feudal way, society, in general, seems to operate in a way that is shockingly reminiscent of feudalism. The way that businesses operate and treat their employees (just take a look at any wholesale and you will see individuals working in conditions that can only be described as modern day feudalism), they are tied to the companies just as the feudal serf was tied to the land. Be it the cash advance that the company forwards to you, the loan with the unseemly interest rate that your job offers you (some call centers offer this treat) or the fact that you owe them for things such as travel and education (all of which sound reasonable until you see the unreasonable interest rates) one sees where this type of thinking and operating runs like a river throughout our society.

This just seems to be the runnings of things in this nation, we the citizens have allowed it to be so but it can change. The change won’t be easy but it can be done and is being done slowly, be it groups like NIA that are (trying at least to) calling out corruption or CAPRI, JFJ and the active social and political groups which in their own way seek to liberate peoples minds which is the beginning of the end of feudalism. This oppression in the nation will end, whether it is replaced by a totally new form of oppression or a system that is more just, fair and equitable is to be seen but it will end.

Do we love our women?

Life as a woman is not easy, and life as a woman in Jamaica is especially hard. This is a nation where we men claim to love ladies and women but that for the most part is a lie and that can be seen in the actions that our men and society in general take towards women. We claim to love them but for quite a few men that is truly not the case as one can’t love something without showing respect or humility, without showing the decency and respect that one deserves for being a fellow human being let alone a potential love interest.

Women in this country must run the gauntlet on a daily basis and the outcome is never a sure thing. Take for example cat-calling, something that a lot of men in this country see no problem with. Cat-calling in this country is not a subtle and romantic ‘hey baby you are looking fine’ or something along those lines but is instead a crass, vulgar string of words about the ’roundness’ of the lady, the mans sexual prowess and how he (in most instances) intends to work her sexually. This is meant in the mans warped world as a compliment and if the woman does not reciprocate or worse still verbally spurns him then she is open to a torrent of abuse, mainly verbal, but sometimes physical. Women live with this fear everyday they walk the streets and frankly this is something that we men need to clean up, it is crass and the furthest thing from the sign of infatuation and is instead the sign of a mind that has little respect for women.

The pressure for sex is also a battle that our women face on an almost hourly basis if i may exaggerate (or is it?). Imagine for a minute being out with a man who has at least eighty pounds on you, who is a little boisterous and drunk and he is asking, nay demanding you as a woman for sex. Is it any wonder that we have so many women who would rather live alone than chance it with the modern Jamaican man who is so heavily influenced by the thug culture? Men, it is time that we stop pressuring our women for sex. It is time we stop with the line ‘if you love me you’ll sleep with me’, that is not love, that is emotional blackmail and the taking advantage of someones feelings, it is wrong and is in no small part leading to our women slowly closing themselves off from the opposite sex.

The threat of rape is one of the unspoken factors of being a woman in Jamaica, and while concrete data is hard to come by, anecdotal evidence tells us that rape and sexual assaults are a frequent enough occurrence for us individuals to know of at least one story personally. We as a society in general and men in specific seem to have little to no issues with sexual violence when it comes to our women, we see this in songs that glorify rape and the ways that our courts treat cases of sexual assault and rape, we see where sexual violence is the order of the day whether uptown or downtown and it needs to stop now. The formation of the Tambourine Army in many ways is very heartening as women seek to empower and liberate themselves from the way that society perceives and treats them but they cant do it alone. Men we need to stand up, be counted and demand that this straight up disrespect towards our women, mothers, aunts and sisters stops, if not who I ask do we expect to bring forth life or be life companions?

The onus however is not just on men only, this is a societal issue and one that can only be tackled and cured once we are open and honest that we as a society have created these norms where women are treated like chattel and are treated with little or no respect. While women’s education, rights and empowerment has come a long way we still treat our women as lower class citizens and expect them to play the role. We as a society put a premium on a woman having babies, which leads to families living in abject poverty. We teach our girls to be kept and looked after and then we are shocked when a woman is killed for having a main man and six ‘boop’s’ one of whom finds out and is none too pleased. We see this warped teaching when we teach our young women that the only way to keep or get a man is through the vagina and then we again act shocked when we read stories of girls at sixteen having had over fifty sexual partners.Don’t be surprised or show faux shock and anger, ones sows the wind and reaps the whirlwind.

The Jamaican society must change how we view our women and we must change how we treat our women. Everyone came from a woman, everyone has a mother or and the vast majority of this nation were raised by a woman, be it granny or mummy so how can we allow  these atrocities to continue towards our women? Women deserve our love and respect, not just because they provide life or because they look good when all dolled up, but for the simple fact that they are humans with feelings and emotions. Let us try to aim for a better way in how we treat our women and girls, because at the end of the day i’m sure that most if not all of us would be very ‘dark’ if what happened to women on the street happened to our mothers or sisters.