Though it had happened some months ago, it was only this week that Macaroni’s Ill-fated drive across a storm-drenched road in Portland all but broke the internet in Jamaica – the audio from that initial video lifted and transposed on all kinds of other accidents with hilarious effect. Questions abounded. Who is Macaroni? Where can we find him? Which all seemed a little unfair – this sudden infamy – when all we knew from the original video is that the driver of the crashed bus was not in fact Macaroni, but ‘one ole man!’
Here is the original video:
Poor Macaroni! There is such a sense of disbelief in an accident that seemed completely avoidable. One man is heard asking ‘A somebody a direck him?’ The woman whose voice is most prominent in the clip has no sympathy to give (‘All him fi wash weh!’) and cannot understand why he was on this side of the road when he clearly should have been on that side of the road. Or better yet, he might have just waited like everyone else.
The question of who is Macaroni was even answered by some clever graphic artist who produced this:
But maybe Macaroni’s fame, or his infamy, rested precisely on the fact that he is never seen, only imagined. The lack of a corporeal self is not a lack of substance, but the exact substance of myth, which is what Macaroni becomes – a sort of myth easily coopted and re-imagined into other stories and adventures. Macaroni: the mythical driver of every ill-fated vehicle.
First it is just the landscape that changes. Macaroni is still imagined as the driver of a white coaster bus, but things and times have taken him to North America. Now instead of navigating flood-water and potholes, he is trying to navigate snow and ice.
Soon he is imagined as the captain of a ship:
In some videos Macaroni tries to ride a bike, or in this video he tries (unsuccessfully of course) to land a military helicopter.
Even when Macaroni is destitute and his only carriage is his own two feet – even then, motor-less, Macaroni cannot manage basic motor skills:
If nothing else, the misadventures of Macaroni provided Jamaicans with some much needed levity, distracting us if even for a few seconds from the more grievous issue that had been dominating the news circuit – Prime minister Andrew Holness’s unprecedented decision to appoint an Acting Chief Justice when a clear vacancy was there. To many raised eyebrows, Holness declared that the Acting Chief Justice would have to prove himself, before he (Holness) made his position permanent. But perhaps in another light, the adventures of Macaroni were not so much distractions as they were useful parables and metaphors for the Prime Minister’s actions – another ill-fated driver taking more misdirections than directions, who drives on dis ya side when he should be over there on dat deh side!
Because it was the Opposition party that initially raised questions about Holness’s actions, for a time the fiasco got unfairly labelled as just another petty political squabble, as if, for once, the PNP wasn’t standing on solid philosophical principle, as if they had remembered themselves and were finally opposing something that really ought to be opposed.
The matter really was not a petty one at all, nor a silly partisan squabble, but spoke to the most fundamental ideas about how democracies work, the principles that uphold it which ought to be vigorously defended. Those who dismissed the debacle as unimportant or who saw the extraordinary measures taken by the islands judges in bringing the justice system to a crashing halt for a day as unnecessary or even trifling, are those unmindful of Granny’s warning ‘gi dem an inch, dem take a mile!’, unmindful of how easily autocracies are formed when the various arms of government don’t do their job to check and balance each other’s power.
What is extraordinary about Holness’s actions is that this is not the first time he has reached across and tried to unduly influence another arm of government. In 2015 another constitutional crisis arose when Arthur Williams challenged Holness’s use of undated letters of resignation to oust Christopher Tufton and himself from the senate. Holness had found a way to make the legislative arm of government beholden to him. If they acted in any way that displeased him, he could have them removed at once. Perhaps as he was only Leader of the Opposition at the time, he felt this overgrab of power wouldn’t set off alarms. But the Jamaican Courts would have none of it. His actions were ruled to be unconstitutional. In essence, the judges had cried with one voice, ‘A weh Andrew Holness a guh!???
it is somewhat incredible then – perhaps incredulous- that the very arm of government (the Judiciary) whose job it was then to mildly slap him on the wrist, is the very arm of government he has now turned around to try to control and influence in 2018. His methods are always the same – threatening job security, if not with a resignation letter then by withholding a proper contract all together.
The passage of three years has not added depth or insight to Andrew’s reasoning. On both occasions he grumbled about having received what he took to be good advice from his attorneys. (Recall now the disbelieving voice from Macaroni’s video: ‘somebody a direck him??’). On both occasions he moaned about the heavy burden of leadership and that he has to find effective ways to get people to do their jobs. But on both occasions he overstepped and tried to manage jobs that were not his to manage. Even if we accept that these blunders were done with the best of intentions, they leave Holness too open to the accusation of being a little despot in the making, a power hungry leader anxious to accrue unto himself or to assume more power than is rightfully or constitutionally his to have.
We have been reminded over the past two weeks that the Jamaican government is a three laned highway. Andrew Holness as Prime Minister drives in the middle lane – the Executive lane. He must stay his course. He must know his lane. And when he swerves his white coaster bus to the left, into the legislative, or to the right, into the judiciary, then it is our duty as onlookers to shout in disbelief, but a weh Andrew Holness a guh!!???