All the Way

There’s definitely no logic
to human behaviour
but yet so irresistible
they’re terribly moody
then all of a sudden turn happy
but, oh, to get involved in the exchange
of human emotions is ever so satisfying

there’s no map and
a compass
wouldn’t help at all
Human Behaviour, Björk

The grey hair, just north of my right temple showed up just like that the other day. It just popped out of the curly fro that grows under my locks. Like it was saying hello. So I said hello back and let it be and it’s disappeared somewhere into the mass of hair, as if my brain was trying to test my reaction.
I managed not freak out, which is a disturbing sign that I might actually be becoming a real certifiable adult.
This past week has also been the first time in as long as I can remember that I haven’t caught the pre-birthday funk, probably because there just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to factor in being miserable about getting older on top of all the other mischief I manage to get up to.
Aside from it being the week before Carnival and my birthday, today also marks the climax of weeks of social and political activism around the world known as the World Social Forum.
It’s the kind of hippy lefty event that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and today I’ll be down in Couva with the residents of Pranz Gardens who are currently making their own statement about not wanting Essar’s steel plant in their backyards.
And as I’ve prepared for today, I’ve thought about just how the lives of people who try to get involved in social change are reflected in the events and actions they get involved in.
Another thing that I can blame on my mother, is she raised me in a house that was always full of writers, activists and other assorted undesirables who gave me a distorted sense of the normalness of wanting to be involved in everything.
To this day I can’t pinpoint exactly what motivates people to get up from their beds in the morning and decide they can change the world? What gives them the right to think they are that powerful?
I don’t have a clue, but I keep getting up every morning and thinking that I can find a way to make a difference.
And the older I get, the more I feel that I have the right to stake ownership of my wanting the world to be a better place. I’m bored of the self-effacing way that this society makes you think you have to act in order for you to be somehow acceptable.
Because the unfortunate thing about thinking you can make a difference is that most people have a problem with that, unless of course you have corporate sponsorship or reside in some politician’s rectum.
People don’t like you to challenge their own laziness. They resent that you tell them good morning or ask them not to litter. They don’t want you to criticize their SUV aspirations and they certainly don’t want you to tell them anything about any blasted trees.
People would rather send me letters eloquently describing to me how much of a self-serving hypocrite I am than mentoring a child. Which would have caused confusion in the younger me.
But the grey hair I believe I have earned through years of adventures that one day I might actually tell my mother, gives me a new level of I really don’t give a toots.
Because every morning I get up and I know that today I can be more than an insignificant little columnist on a tiny corrupt little island.
The good thing about getting older is that its suddenly become so much easier for me to be wholly uninterested in what people think about me or the descriptions they spend a lot of time coming up with (the best one of these I’ve seen in a while was ‘Hanky-headed Negro’).
The grey hair is under no threat of being pulled out, hidden or dyed. I’m actually looking forward to rocking that whole platinum dread look a la Toni Morrison, even if I don’t win a Nobel Prize or any prize at all.
It’s the race that counts though and I’m running all the way to the finish.

A Condom in every schoolbag

What going to happen
If the music stop?
Nobody know
Nobody know
—Wham Bam, David Rudder

The hysterical nature of the headlines suggests that we’re still suffering from I never thought.The twelve year old pupil who was found with condoms in her school bag should in fact be commended for taking steps to protect herself. Because we close our eyes to it doesn’t mean our little precious children aren’t thinking about and acting on their sexual urges.
Because we live in a society where we’d rather hang people than create a more equitable distribution of the nation’s wealth maybe our children are having to develop their own survival mechanisms.
And a condom is a symbol of that desperate holding on to life.
How many stories about children being born out of incestuous alliances have you heard about? Endless.
How many teenage girls have you heard are minding their families on the money they get from an older man? Plenty.
How many young girls are taking cytotec and permanently destroying their chances of having children in the future do you know? There are whole wards dedicated to them in our nation’s hospitals.
It’s wining season and all around we’re doing our fertility dances and reveling in the freeness.
Meanwhile our children are wandering the streets with condoms in their bags.
And my gut reaction is thank Jah for that.
Which is not to say that I want 12-year-old girls to be having sex.
But if this child or whoever she’s being abused by has the good sense to ensure that she has some sort of protection, then that is a good start.
In spite of all the studies, in spite of all the reports, the pleadings, we still can’t quite seem to get our heads around the fact, jeezanages our children are having a lot of sex.
We can’t continue to deny it, whether for sheer enjoyment or because they are being pressured into situations with older men and women who should know better.
Still, I wonder if it would have been more appropriate for 12-year-old boys to be found with condoms.
Because the macho nonsense about men somehow having more of a right to explore their sexuality than women still applies and that really pisses me off.
So if we’re encouraging our boys to have sex, who the hell are they supposed to have sex with?
And it’s not just when you’re twelve. Women are expected to miraculously remain chaste and pure while our men are actively encouraged to have a few women. And then when the time is right all the men look for a nice hymenally gifted church girl to give the diseases of their wild youth to.
But my friends who work in sexual and reproductive health tell me that even the church girls know the trick of keeping the hymen intact but doing every other possible thing, including unprotected anal sex.
So what. What are we going to do about condoms in school bags? Are we going to start searching school bags now to find another way to make young girls feel alienated, ashamed and deathly afraid of their sexuality?
Is it that we don’t want our children to have sex? Is it that we want to protect our young women from being preyed on by older, richer men who lure them away from innocence with promises of a snack box or a pair of school shoes? Is it that we want our women to continue to exist in this schism of sexy innocence?
Because, as I told my own 12-year-old niece the other day, after she related to me the scare-mongering that passes for sex education for girls, it’s not sex that is the problem but how you take responsibility for your body and your actions.
And if your body tells you that it’s ready for sex then the next thing your mind should think is how do I protect myself from all the unwanted complications?
And if we’re not arming our children with the information to make these kind of informed decisions then we are doomed to continue to cry for our young women who continue to top the HIV statistics.
Instead of getting hysterical about it, maybe we should be putting condoms in all school bags.

And then came Machel


get someting and wave


Sean Paul is on stage and I’m still in the line trying to get in, because when you go to a fete through general admission, you really need to prepare for at least half hour’s worth of standing in line.

I think I’ve been through faster and easier security checks at Heathrow just after a terrorist alert. And although there’ve been more murders than there are days in the year, I wonder who we’re trying to protect ourselves from.

If there are terrorists in your midst, should you be feting? Should you be wining like you never christen, trying to deny that we are an angry, frightened little nation?

The guard dogs on the periphery bark and flail, with spittle dancing on their jowls, ugly reminders of our crime statistics and the fact that we now need to protect ourselves from ourselves.

The line moves slowly and patrons grumble as the just comes try and muscle their way in.

In the line there are all sorts. The uptowners and tourists who I guess can’t be bothered to pay the exorbitant VIP entrance fee. The young girls leaving little to the imagination. The fashion dreads and the really interesting weaves. The gold lame tops and the skinny jeans and fur lined boots.

I’m getting claustrophobic in the press of bodies. And I’m hoping the man jammed up behind me doesn’t think I’m trying to cop a feel every time I reach for my back pocket to make sure my camera is still there.

The women’s line moves as slowly as the men’s. There are butt cracks galore up ahead as women bend over to detach themselves from their shoes.

It’s good that there is now equal opportunity searching and women are considered as much of a threat as the men. Finally we have some real indications of advancement for women in this country. It’s definitely up there with having so many women in parliament. When it’s finally my turn at the top of the line, the only thing the nice lady in the uniform who asked me to take off my washicongs didn’t ask me to do was naked star jumps.

It’s a First World airport moment for real. Like I’m begging to enter this promised land but first I have to strip down to my bare soul and smile and say the right things in order to be deemed worthy.

I hop away on the damp grass, washicongs in hand feeling a little criminalish, relieved to be finally in the fete but not sure if I can enjoy it anymore.

Police in riot gear stalk through the fete, unmoved by the criminal machinations of the waists of women, looking for the bad behavers. But how can you tell who is behaving bad from who isn’t? And who determines what is good bad behaviour? I mean, isn’t that what we’re here for? To get on bad, dutty, crazy, delirious?

They say Carnival is about freeing yourself of your inhibitions, about letting go of every day worries. But if you come here to forget, why are there so many reminders?

I guess because badjohns like to fete too and I don’t suppose they have an off switch for their badness.

I take my mind off the unbelievably boring performance from Sean Paul by meditating on my other fears.

I’m scared that some woman in those murderous looking spike heeled boots will damage my toes.

I’m nervous about the level of the music and what havoc I’m wreaking on my hearing.

I fear that there is nothing about Carnival that is liberating anymore.

And then Machel comes on and the fears that have kept me arm-folded and barely moving seem to disappear.

The people around me are transformed and I get the sense that they too are forgetting the police and their tight shoes and the fact that these days you could spend more in a fete than most people take home in a week.

What manner of man is this that can command a crowd and make them do exactly what he wants them to do without holding a gun to their heads?

Maybe they should hire him as a consultant for the Ministry of National Security.