Butuism in Jamaica – The Palace Amusement Episode

13 04 2008

Recently I read an article by Lloyd B. Smith in the Jamaica Observer entitled “Butuism is alive and ugly” and I had to chuckle through every paragraph. He is right….BUTUISM, “which can best be defined as a deliberate distortion or wanton disregard of the true Jamaican culture in order to display and bring out the worst in us”, is really alive and well in Jamaica. Please do not confuse the definition with utter disrespect for those in lower socio-economic circles, because the biggest butus live uptown, more so now than ever before. The general crass behaviour from the streets to the formal dining area is wanting. Each week I have a 3 hour class and in between there is a coffee break where we have 2 sandwiches, one unit of pastry and a refreshing juice drink. Each week I have to bear the 7 men barring the 5 women from being served first, while inhaling 4-5 sandwiches and 3 units of pastry and if we’re not careful, we are left with a teaspoon of drink. Finally I mustered up the courage to speak about this behaviour in the class and how uncouth it looks. To my horror, most said “ah nuh nutten”. These so called educated people see nothing wrong with their actions and behaviour and proclaimed that they don’t eat like that in public…..as if we are not in public. It clearly indicates that “education doesn’t make a man”…..I mean with all the elocution and etiquette seminars that UWI offers on a Thursday, it is clear that none of these people bothered with such courses.

Anyway, while Smith has written about “butuish” type behaviour examples, such as stopping in the middle of the road to chat to friends, honking of the horns, the perpetual lateness of Jamaicans (Jamaica time), the inappropriate gesture towards the Duchess of York, Lady Hall being addressed as “honey” and “sweetheart”, he should have been there to experience what I experienced at Carib 5 last night. A friend and I decided to go to an early movie yesterday so that we could get home early and not have to deal with the late night crowd. We paid for our Box Seats and proceeded to same. Before the movie started, a group of young men jumped the rope and seated themselves in the Box Seat section. My friend and I looked at each other and shook our heads. The usher appeared and shone the flashlight right in their faces and said “go back down deh fi mi please”. The problem started with 3 young ladies sitting at the end of our row, who, from the moment they entered were on top of their lungs. Ok….we thought “the movie hasn’t started so they can bellow all they want”……were we in for a surprise. All through the National Anthem these 3 women (not ladies) were laughing and chatting with their feet placed squarely on the back of the chair in front of them. Throughout the entire movie they chatted and even when the volume was extra loud they raised their voices above it, which in my opinion is a great feat since Carib theatre’s sound system is VERY loud.  We could hardly hear what the storyline was about. In fact one of them had the audacity to answer her cell phone and speak on top of her lungs in the theatre. When people started giving her the evil eye, she toned down the conversation for a moment and then it was back to competing with the movie sound.

During intermission I went to an usher and asked them to speak to the patrons as it was very disturbing to be sitting a few seats away from them. He indicated that he would come up to speak to them, but alas, he didn’t show. I then turned to one of them (cell phone user) and asked that she and her group tone it down as it was very disturbing. She looked at me and shouted “Who yuh a chat to? Yuh hear mi and mi fren dem a chat?”. I just ignored the imp as she could never be addressing me. She asked her friends if they were chatting and they said “afta dem cyan hear wi. look how di movie loud”. On that note she stood up and said “Go suck yuh mumma! Ah soon sail di juice in a mi han’ and mi bag over inna yuh face”. I just looked at them and laughed to myself. Why am I telling this story? It is because I rarely go to the movies and when I do, it is usually Carib 5 because Sovereign is WORST than this. Now I have every reason never to return. In the past Carib has had problems with patrons and the noise and it has even been documented in the newspaper. Even the gossip columns have hinted to them to do something about this kind of behaviour. But, the truth of the matter is, Mr. Lloyd B. Smith better get used to the fact that it is BUTU time now and they are everywhere. From now on I will await the DVD. Carib 5: your ushers need to be more vigilant! Remember, the woman told me she would have sailed some liquid from her bag into my face because I asked her to tone down the chatter. Well that’s it for me as I leave this type of behaviour to fester and become the norm. I won’t be beating them and even worst: JOINING THEM!

Free health care in Jamaica

2 04 2008

It seems like everyone is blogging about this issue and sentiments are mixed. My own view is not one of optimism because I believe that FREE SERVICES = POOR SERVICES. Mark you, they didn’t promise good services. What’s your view on the notion of “free health care”? This morning I heard Edith Allwood Anderson saying she needs 5000 nurses in the system to “start”, yet services are being given away freely (my words). Something is wrong with this picture. Nurses are short for many reasons (decline in nursing enrollment, migration etc), so how can we afford to give away free services if one labour component is short? I am waiting to see what will happen…..how about you?

Earth Hour

28 03 2008


Ok…every news site I visited today had a piece on this special hour called “Earth Hour” which is supposed to be tomorrow night (March 29) at 8pm your local time. I listened to City News from Toronto and every other report was about either Earth Hour, energy conservation or waste management. I was in awe as it appeared that every citizen interviewed in the street, from the womb to the grave had some knowledge on the importance of saving energy. One child said her school practiced today and had classes without electricity for an hour. Amazingly this little child was able to speak about the meaning of having energy saving bulbs. Then I looked outside and wondered just how many Jamaicans will switch off tomorrow at 8pm for an hour. However I think the bigger picture is EDUCATION. It takes education (and a whole lot of it) to appreciate the value of electricity, gas emissions, global warming etc. I was wondering if we will ever reach a stage in the Jamaican education system where these kind of issues are given priority in the school curriculum.

 For Jamaicans, the notion of waste disposal is tearing the wrapper off an item, stuffing it in a garbage bag loaded with fruit skins, bottles, eggshells, used batteries, milk cartons, paper, containers made from all sorts of material, then we pray the garbage truck arrives. When it arrives, we expect it to collect our waste and transport it straight to Riverton City dump (in the case of Kingston), then lighting a big bonfire and “bun down di place”. When will we start thinking about separating our garbage and being more responsible for our waste products..and when I say WE I mean all Jamaicans inclusive of the government.  Not to mention finding an alternative source of energy by encouraging people to install solar panels on their rooftops. When are we going to really take these things seriously?

 Anyway, back to Earth Hour…..are you turning off your lights tomorrow at 8 pm? I hope JPS at least makes an announcement in case we become conscious and turn off the lights at 8pm and all decide to turn it on at exactly the same time after the hour…..just in case the grid fries!

Air Jamaica Strike!

26 03 2008


I had no reason to comment on this issue but after reading the Jamaica Observer editorial today, I felt compelled to say something. The editorial is entitled “Those misguided Air Jamaica flight attendants” and it basically lambasted them for taking strike action and reference was made to one customer’s letter of disgust with the industrial action.

 Ok…well I am no flight attendant, never was and never will be. However, I like to look at things from the “underdog” perspective. As Karl Marx said, the only thing workers have is their ability to sell their labour from one owner of the means of production to another. Doesn’t that make sense? That is why one is able to get a job, paid a wage and when another wage buyer comes along with an offer, we can make that ultimate decision: to stay or not to stay. We are paid a wage for our loyalty as well as insurance that our needs are somewhat satisfied and we will have no need to overturn the place where we work and take over. That is reality. But back to the flight attendants’ issue, while I do not know the intimate details other than what the media has decided to share, I can say that the best way to get some action is to strike unannounced. It is non-effective if people are given notice. There have been threats of strike the world over…..but nothing beats the element of surprise. It says “since you don’t value my work, safety, input, salary, or whatever  my case is, see what it is like in the absence of my services”. I totally agree.

It is human nature to think of self first then others after. Do you think about your boss when your house is on fire? You’re abnormal if you do. Therefore, for the Jamaica Observer to call these people selfish, unpatriotic, misguided or uncaring is just plain ridiculous and unfortunate. Should I care if the cost of a barrel of oil rises for my job or for my pocket when it affects both? Should I be thinking of the economic and social implications of a strike when I can’t buy food or I have to work under the conditions they claim they are? Let’s get real! The point is, people always think of themselves first and their problem is the biggest problem to them as opposed to others.

 So yes Jamaica Observer, it is clear that the thoughts of the flight attendants were entirely of themselves and not that of Jamaica……and?

Who exactly is Jesus Christ?

21 03 2008


This morning I decided to watch a “Good Friday” movie or 2…..actually I am on the first one. Halfway through the film a thought came to me. Who is Jesus Christ? Most movies I have seen depict Him as blond-haired, blue-eyed guy, with shoulder length hair with a little flip in the back. Thanks to Hollywood, Jesus Christ has an American accent and speaks as if he is really on the frontier of a western movie. The language and gestures are very American .  So I decided to Google Jesus Christ images and again, came up with images as described above. Even a Black Jesus Christ came up as a “browning”……Herod, Pontius Pilate etc are all caucasian men….and the few darkies in these movies are……slaves, who use palms to fan their kings and queens…….

So….who is Jesus Christ?

Happy Easter!

Jamaica – So “not ready” for the world stage!

26 02 2008
Every time I start to think about writing on this topic, I quickly calm down and forget about it. However, tonight I was thinking how not ready Jamaica is to run business the way it is done on an international level. You know what makes my blood boil? All these “franchises” which have sprung up in Jamaica over the last 10-15 years. And if it’s not them, it’s the local companies who TRY to run their business like a “foreign franchise”. These types of businesses are all about standardisation. If you don’t believe me, read the “McDonalization of Society” by George Ritzer. This sociologist has it down to a tee when he discusses how these multi-national companies are more or less “cookie cutter” businesses where everything is exact leaving very little waste. Anyway, these large companies who like to sell burgers and pizzas and everything unhealthy, have scripts or some sort of hybrid script that their staff must follow….but this is not to be in Jamaica. Some of these places have staff that make you feel like you’re bothering them by simply appearing at the door. In fact I don’t think you can get a free pizza anymore in Jamaica, if your order isn’t ready within 30 minutes. I suspect it’s because they know they would have given out their entire stock free of cost. On Saturday night I ordered 2 medium pizzas for a get together and when I arrived at the pizza house only one pizza was done. I even arrived later than the time they stated the order would be ready and it still wasn’t ready. When I asked the supervisor what the problem was, she simply said “It soon ready”. Of course I protested and told her I had called 45 minutes ago and was told 20 minutes. She claimed I called 42 and 45 minutes ago….oh please!
Then the other set of people who annoy me are my cable providers. They have this so called emergency number which is never answered when I call. One Sunday morning I was without cable for 6 hours and even missed my favourite show. I started to call the emergency number from 7 am and even up to noon, nobody answered. So, I made it my point of duty to call the emergency number at 2pm to find out exactly when was considered to be emergency hours. The gentleman said that an emergency is between 9 am and 9 pm daily! Now shouldn’t I just switch providers just for that? I am still thinking carefully about it. As for my local supermarket……I keep punishing myself by shopping there frequently due to the close proximity, but I am tired of hearing cashier woes and why I must join a line where an individual has half the supermarket’s stock in their cart, when I need to cash 2 items.
Jamaica is just not ready to do business the way business is done on an international level. Our people still believe that to give service is to be servile. We know nothing about service and this is why it surprises me that this is exactly what we would like to sell and call ourselves COMPETITIVE!!

Kern Spencer in hot water!

26 02 2008


Well mi dear ma and pa…..oonu hear the news? Ex-Junior Minister of whats it nots it inna HAT WATA! Mi nah mek bad ting mek laugh nor am I passing judgement….It is very unfortunate that someone as young as himself can consider himself finished in the political arena. But what struck me as odd was that all this bulb prize giving, mi neva get even a one watt bulb fi miself! But it seems that what is in the darkness must come to light……Here are some lessons from this story:

  – when yuh start tief small yuh will grow and tief big

  – Don’t apply for any job as any assistant to any official and then watch them TIEF and not say a word….yuh gwine jail to!

– The same knife weh stick goat stick sheep

– Tit for tat: You lock up my people and I’ll lock up yours! Even if it takes 18 years!

What’s your view?


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