Perhaps the most dubious endorsement for Jamaica’s new Prime-Minister Elect, Portia Simpson-Miller, came from a woman who proudly declared, ‘All mi dog a seh Portia!’
Yes, apparently even her flea-bitten mongrel had fallen captive to the Portia Fever that was sweeping across the island, a fever which I confess I fell captive to as well – even if a little late, and even if only in response to the disgraceful tactics that some members of the JLP had begun to employ towards the end. The woman’s dog however had gotten onto the bandwagon early, and instead of his usual haruuff haarruuuff harrruuuufffs against thieves, this unlikely mascot had become far more eloquent and was now saying to one and all, ‘Portia! Portia!’
Incidentally, it is worthy of note that this ‘Portia Fever’ did not register on any poll, as if it was simmering, but ever so quietly.
Now it is hardly the first time that a dog has been used to campaign for people or for causes in Jamaica. Why, even on Election day yesterday there was a fresh picture circulating of a green man and his green dog on a green bike, going out to vote for the JLP.
And then, how could we forget the stand-off in Tivoli Gardens over a year ago when the community came out to protest the warrant that had been put out for their don and leader, and they brought out one prophetic dog who carried the sign, ‘Jesus die for Us/ We will die for Dudus!!!’ (My friend, Annie Paul, might point out that the clear rhyme scheme in this little sign helps us to pronounce ‘Dudus’ correctly — not the incorrect Doodoos’ that has become popular.)
Anyway; we know of course that 72 men eventually did die for Dudus, but I’ve always been curious as to what exactly happened to the dog. (for some reason police never report on canine casualties)
With the help of the Observer’s cartoonist, Clovis, Portia gained another unlikely mascot in her election campaigns – that of the ‘faggot’. And I mean to say that word in all of its crassness – in the way that it even bears the echo of the word ‘nigger’ – in the way that it is supposed to connote a people who are not really people at all, but strange, abominable creatures whose opinions or votes should never be taken into account. For that is what Clovis’s cartoons were trying to depict – and the loud message from his sketches was clear: look Jamaica – it is not only the ‘dogs’ that are saying Portia, but also the ‘faggots’!
And I gather this was supposed to discredit Portia, because, of course, who in Jamaica would want to keep company with these less than human beings.
At three months, Andrew Holness has become Jamaica’s second shortest serving prime-ministers. Donald Sangster set the still unbeatable record by dying 6 weeks into the job. At least Sangster got an airport out of it. We probably can give Andrew a bus park or something.
Upon Young Andrew’s ascendency (much has been made about the fact of his youth) he promised a politics that was going to be new and different. Ironically, in this promise he became the same as every other politician before him. I have to confess I have never liked the man. Despite his youth he seems one of those who has become old before his time – one of those strange men who have decided that a certain measure of sobriety plus a constant scowl on one’s face not only connotes intelligence but indeed *is* intelligence. Now he is by no means a fool, or at least he doesn’t seem one to me; rather he is a man of moderate intelligence – a man with a capable mind, but nothing special. I have never heard anything particularly inspiring or savvy come from his lips. And when he was made Minister of Education he embarked on a policy of censorship for godsake! You couldn’t make it up! He decided in his own sanctimonious way what literature was sufficiently sanctimonious for a Jamaican classroom. While the religious right wing cheered, it was a scary lesson to everyone else on what is likely to happen when a small-minded man gains power.
The sad thing of course is that Young Andrew must hardly believe himself a small-minded man; the small-minded rarely do. And he must not be aware of the limits of his limited and limiting intelligence – one of its limits being the inability to fully appreciate its limits. And so it was, three months ago when he became Prime Minister, he preached in his uninspiring but sanctimonious way the usual tripe about new and different politics, and he probably sincerely believed that he *was* committed to something new and different. Ah bwoy. Poor limited man.
In fact, the only thing new and different in the elections came from an older woman – from Portia Simpson-Miller, who took the perfectly reasonable and hardly earth-shattering stance that she would select a cabinet based on people’s abilities and that she had no interest in what happened in their private bedrooms. [See the short clip below. Well worth it!]
For this single comment, she won the ire of the cartoonist Clovis who gave her her unlikely mascots, and of certain members of the clergy who encouraged their congregations to punish Portia for daring to be compassionate, and of course, of members of the JLP who launched a sudden gay-hate campaign that was hardly new and different but in fact so old, that it was reminiscent of the kinds of campaigns that Hitler had organized in Germany to whip up unthinking nationalistic support around a cause that excluded niggers, faggots, dogs and others who supposedly were a danger to all that the nation stood for. And poor limited Andrew who sanctimoniously promised a politics that was new and different, who parroted the usual words of how fed up Jamaicans were of the old-style, bigoted, hate-mongering petty campaigning tactics of yesteryear, said hardly a word when his compatriots began to deliver just that.
I wonder if Andrew even knows how many votes changed to the other side in the end, and were people saying, ‘we really, really *are* tired of it all, the lowness of it, and how you always insult our intelligences!’ I for one did not care to see Portia back in Jamaica house at the beginning of the campaign, but bwoy mi glad fi see her there now!
Still, Jamaica today seems properly stunned that Portia indeed, despite her unlikely mascots, not only won last night’s election, but won by a landslide. But you know – despite wanting something new and different, sometimes we must listen to what old people say. For my granny did tell me, every dog have him day, and every puss him 4 o clock.