Is Jamaica part of the Anglosphere

Daniel Thwaites, Contributor

It seems like the worldwide coverage of our bobsled team has the whole world going Jamaican! See? We're doing our part to keep the world happy. But while I'm fully in support of members of the British Commonwealth (some call it the 'Anglosphere') entertaining and delighting each other, Canada is taking it a bit too far.

Check out Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Even though other linkages and connections between Jamaica and Canada may fray at the governmental level, he's doing his bit to keep the transnational bond of obscenity alive and well.

If you haven't seen it yet, Toronto's mayoral truck crash has been recorded venting against his enemies in Jamaican Patois. He's obviously drunk or high, probably both. For marketing purposes, I hope it will emerge that he took a metaphorical 'trip to Jamaica' as his drug of choice, rather than stuck with his old mistress, the crack pipe.

Last year, video surfaced of him smoking crack with gang members, and so initial denials went up in a plume of cracksmoke. He eventually admitted to smoking crack "probably in one of my drunken stupors". So you would think he might want to avoid drunken stuporing. Not so. He's back, and with an RC bang.

This time, Ford's ever-faithful brother denied that the new footage was recent, because they're peddling the story that he's a changed man whose drinking days are done. But then Ford himself admitted that he had had a few and was "talking to some friends".

It sure looks as if his "friends" were simply other random patrons of the fast-food joint. In any event, somebody posted the video on YouTube pretty quickly, so he needs to choose his crack-buddies more carefully.

Drunk catastrophe

Anyway, one of the patrons sidled up alongside the drunk catastrophe and proposed that he should be the new prime minister of Canada. I don't often agree with the ramblings of an arbitrary Steak Queen patron, but in this instance, I say, "Good sir, we can only pray!"

Inevitably, Ford responded to the compliment, meekly noting that he was a "straight shooter". Oh, Lord! I say, another one of those: the fabled straight shooter keeping it real who doesn't talk with water in his mouth or beat around the bush and tells it like it is. I wonder why these guys are inevitably drunk, high, or cursing?

So Ford's latest incarnation is Jafaikan, working the crowd with signature belly-popping, wild gesturing, and whining, but this time in a Rasta accent. He's clearly off the diet, off the wagon, off his mind, and off on a rant with an impressive number of bcand rcin a distressingly short piece of footage.

I actually lived on the outskirts of Toronto for a few years, but true to form, I missed all the fun. I remember Canadian politics (and politicians) as stable and relatively boring, just like it should be. I definitely don't remember there being a dope-fiend mayor who had the munchies after a night out, so transformed into a yardie at the local grease joint.

The Canadian press seemed fascinated with the mayor's knowledge of a strange dialect, leading to attempts to decode the magic of BC and RC. It's known that curse words tend to reference either religion or sex and other bodily functions. Blasphemy isn't our bag, so Jamaica's preferred obscenities go straight for the body's working tools. Translating our expressive nukes does raise some interesting questions though, because the literal 'toilet paper' and 'sanitary napkin' just doesn't do justice to the rich heritage of BC. First off, 'b' should be like 10 different words, not to mention 'r', which has a protean mutability and expressive range that must make it one of the most productive words in usage anywhere.

No question Ford received some training, but he's still a novice. You can always tell, because a Jafaikan says 'clot', while the yardie lingers on the 'aaat'. That said, Ford has the basic emotional apparatus for a lot of our cursing - a firm sense of his own righteousness and a dismissive contempt for the persecuting bastards.


All told, I was sorely tempted to begin this newspaper column as a personal letter to Mayor Ford.

"Dear Mayor Ford:

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you! You have vindicated me against every one of my Canadian friends who ever suggested that I was the one from a banana republic. OK. Maybe I am. But courtesy of your outstanding efforts, I say: 'Touche!' You, Sir, are a one-man army of vengeance against the people of Canada."

Still, I want Canadians to know this. While we haven't unearthed actual footage of politicians smoking crack, most Jamaicans would agree that quite often - and recently - we have politicos who sound like they could be. So I'm not judging! I'm just enjoying this. In any case, rumour is that Jamaicans were allegedly wickedly robbed of our own alleged video scandal when alleged tapes of alleged politicians and others indulging in another kind of illegal crack at Ambassador Peter King's house was allegedly suppressed. True or false? Throughhhhhhhhhhh! Justice wi need! Mi seh wi waan justice!

Rob Ford should familiarise himself with another Jamaican word: 'buttu'. For foreigners: a buttu is an uncouth and coarse person, one who engages in beastly behaviour. For instance, a buttu is the kind of person who encamps in front of the cash register at a Steak Queen and jus' cuss-up beer cl.

In fact, a regular saying among Jamaicans is that 'a buttu in a Benz is still a buttu'. Well, since we're talkin' all Jamaican now and keepin' it real, Ford has reminded us that buttuism isn't about weh yuh come from (social class) but about how yuh gwaan (behaviour), and that a buttu in a mayor's suit in a Ford is still a fat bcrackhead. Cho, man!

Daniel Thwaites is a partner of Thwaites Law Firm in Jamaica, and Thwaites, Lundgren & D'Arcy in New York. Email feedback to [email protected]