"We haffi support all a man like that because him a do what the Government naa do fi wi"

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 05/24/2010 - 00:32.

The NYTimes reported today that "The Jamaican government declared a state of emergency in portions of Kingston, the capital, on Sunday after supporters of a gang leader who is wanted in the United States on gun and drug charges attacked three police stations in an attempt to pressure the government to let him remain free, officials said." The Jamaica Observer offers more local perspective: "The political fallout, however, appears to be of little consequence to the women of West Kingston who seem more concerned with the fact that Coke has been a benefactor for many years, a man who, they said, ensures their safety, is mainly responsible for sending their children to school and putting food on their tables."

I love capturing slices of life and local news in the Earth's most distant lands via their local newspapers... and most places on Earth have long had English language local newspapers, and now have local English language news portals - why get your news anywhere but from local sources.

Reading the New York Times, you may learn "Both of Jamaica’s major political parties have fostered ties with neighborhood gangs, which turn out the vote in exchange for political favors", but only by reading the Jamaica Observer do you learn "When I see them with guns, it's like a normal, everyday thing, but is some a dem same guy dey who support we and mek we feel good, send the pickney dem go a school, gi wi money fi do we hair and nail and protect we."

Reading further on the Observer about "The women behind the dons - They see benevolence rather than crime" you realize the situation underlying the violence in Kingston is not so different than at the roots of much urban crime in Cleveland, if you know urban Cleveland....

"When times tough wid we, is the same man dem go a road go rob so that we can eat food too," one woman from a Central Kingston community said. "We inna de ghetto nuh get nuh ratings from the people who live a Norbrook, Beverly Hills and Cherry Gardens. Dem think seh nobody good nuh come from the ghetto. We cyaan get nuh good work, and so if di man dem inna we area start do some juggling fe help we, everybody from outside just a come dung pon we so."

That mindset, as well as last Thursday's pro-Coke demonstration are not surprising to Anthony Harriott, professor of Political Sociology and head of the Department of Government and the Institute of Criminal Justice and Security at the University of the West Indies.

According to Professor Harriott, women will always benefit from the work of dons and area leaders if their agreement is kept.

"The one yesterday (Thursday) was special in that it is a garrison relationship," Harriott said in an interview Friday. "The women would have enumerated those benefits, being safe from rapists, etc. Plus there are other traditional benefits like free light, etc, so there are tangible benefits.

"The politics of the day would explain yesterday. It is a communal thing and there is a common identity -- one benefits simply by being a member of the group," he argued.

"There are privileges and obligations, one of which is to protect," added Harriott. "If the don makes money and doesn't let off, then the contract is broken. As long as the don upholds his end, there will not be a problem."

One woman from the South West St Andrew constituency, represented in Parliament by Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller, echoed similar sentiments.

Play your role and co-operate, she argued, and you will get support when the time comes.

"Inna this area we feel safe, because man from outside and even dem whey live ya cyaan come in and rape we," she said. "If any rape a gwaan, a when we go out a road and man try a thing. "Up ya so nuh come een like a place like over Seaview (Gardens) where them don't have no don in charge and everybody do as them like. Up ya so we have a one man who run things and when anybody bruk the rules, we report him and the boss deal wid him.

"We haffi support all a man like that because him a do what the Government naa do fi wi," she said.

The source of the don's benevolence is never an issue, as when the women are asked where they believe he gets all his money in order that he can help so many people and do so many things, the answers are usually: "Me no business wid that, boss"; "Den you nuh see seh him have him wholesale and him truck and taxi dem"; and "Him mek nuff money offa him business dem."

Only one woman with whom the Sunday Observer spoke admitted that the dons' funds were derived from the trade in illegal drugs and guns, and even then she sought to downplay its significance.

"Lickle a dat gwaan, but dem man dey nuh mek much money offa dem things dey," said the woman who lives in Spanish Town.

"A because some a dem man dey run good business mek dem can support the woman dem so," she added.

Now, for a real-glocal-cleveland.com-kinda-experience, go to the Jamaica Observer on-line and read the reader comments after this article, which are clearly by local readers in Jamaica, just like folks post here in NEO, and feel right at home in the land of the Rastafarian...


mike daley
@Clara Brooks. You are either an apologist for Dons & slackness, misguided or both. Ramon Castro is dead on "It is really a sad indictment of BOTH political parties." We are not looking 4 answers from gov't! We are looking 4 change! We vent on this blog mostly because we are frustrated, not fools. Is your ramblings about the Westminister Pol Sys offering answers? The reality NOW is we have 2 parties that have long promoted a climate that has garrisons "left on their own economically, socially and sexually" as you put it. But it does not justify just accepting Donmanship and all the ills that come with it. Your 1st commentary appear to embrace a get "food by any means necessary" mentality. That breads anarchy & chaos...poor ppl from 1 area get kill by poor ppl from another. Westminister is not perfect but it is a better alternative. We need to hold gov't accountable, but replacing it with Dons creates a type of leadership that is even more self serving & destructive..COM'N!
Richie L
This is a treasure trove of intelligence. If a journalist can get all this information, the Jamaican police should be able to do so. We need intelligence to go after these criminals. We need to know where the guns are stashed.
I see too many gunmen being killed by police; I think if they are brought in, they will provide much needed information on the goings-on of their cronies.
That is why need to have plea bargain. If a suspect can plea bargain then he would be able to provide valuable information if he wants less prison time.
mike willy
"When I see them with guns, it's like a normal, everyday thing, but is some a dem same guy dey who support we and mek we feel good, send the pickney dem go a school, gi wi money fi do we hair and nail and protect we,"
This means that they will die for the same guys by taking up arms and defending them. Things must change, Its just a matter of time.
Mel Lisa
Wow! What a sad story. I feel sorry for the women who are caught up in these situations and don't even have enough common sense to know that this is not normal behaviour.
Like someone else wrote...I have a hard time understanding why women go ahead and have multiple children usually for multiple partners and cannot take care of them. When I watch programs like world vision and see all the children suffering I wonder what is preventing the mothers from stopping after 1 or 2, and its the same thing here in JA. You have one and the father split and life hard, no have no more. To me it seems simple, but obviously its not that simple cause too many women seem to fall into that trap then they want someone else to take care of them and their children. SAD!
Danavan smith
The female species is more dangerous than the male, to brake the back of crime it begin with the female, they know what going on, just friend a woman from any of these inner-city communities , and once she gain your trust she will tell you all the runnings. and the majority of these woman are good woman they just want a brake in life. CIRCUMSTANCE CIRCUMSTANCE MAKE THING WHAT IT IS.
Paul Lewis
Self-preservation is the key characteristic at play here and in most situations like this. The question now becomes what leads us to this and why have we allowed it to take hold....leading them to become socialize to it. Garrisons and Dons were created and fostered as poliltical necessities by polilicians bent on perpetual control. A feast or famine situation is created solely based on the Party in power...so when your Party was in the Opposition, you are required to enrich yourself by other means....thus ti became an unreliable means of support. The Drug Trade became the equalizer, no longer would they need to depend on Politicians for bread...now the Politicians are the ones begging for succor. Generations have been raised on with this mentality of not having to work but are fixated with vanity....so those raised in this mind-set have never thought of work but have the attitude of being entitled to do or live however they want at any cost to the Nation. This has to stop.

paul m
OK Jamaica ..enough talking we are all to blame for what is happening ...yes the politicians are corrupt ...the police are corrupt..but didnt the police and the politicians come from the general populace....mmmm...that means we are reaping what we sow...if we did not support the corruption would it be as prevalent as it is today...I am curious as to when a policeman accepts a bribe who is more guilty , the police for accepting or the person for offering?...mmmm or are they equally guilty.....Also when we sit back and know that our politicians are corrupt and hence control even the police and therefore crime and we sit back and accept it because " a so the system set" are we not just as guilty...i say enough chatting...LETS TAKE BACK JAMAICA!!!


Small world, isn't it!