Bit­ten by mos­quito pol­i­tics

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - Daniel Th­waites

“NOW, EV­ERY sin­gle Ja­maican, Port­more, I am speak­ing to you – if a mos­quito has ever bit­ten you in your life, do not vote for the PNP.”

Those words by Ken­isha Allen, JLP can­di­date and for­mer coun­cil­lor for the Span­ish Town di­vi­sion, have stirred up a fair amount of rib­aldry and en­ter­tain­ment. I think she meant it as a com­ment on the man­age­ment of pub­lic health, but many heard it as a throw­back to a stark di­vi­sion be­tween all things Com­rade and all things Labour: “Dung to de mos­quito dem inna Port­more is PNP!”

Ev­i­dently, that’s how Ever­ton Fisher, for­mer PNP mayor of Black River, heard it, be­cause he con­tended in re­ply that: “We can­not, at this time in our na­tion’s history, be talk­ing about whether PNP mos­quito or JLP mos­quito.”

You sure? It seems like that’s ex­actly what we’re do­ing.

I think if you re­ally look into what she is say­ing, the can­di­date has clearly been study­ing her folk po­etry. So she de­cided to folk up de place: Maskita one, maskita two, Can­di­date jump inna hot Mala­hoo I mean callal­loo. It’s just that I miss the good old days when Mala­hoo was the re­li­able source of these types of say­ings.

Ba­si­cally, Ken­isha’s mes­sage was that Angela Brown Burke can galang wid har PhD. Ken­isha is so clever that she has given her­self a PhD in political mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy af­ter ar­riv­ing at the stun­ning dis­cov­ery that the mos­qui­toes of Port­more are PNP. Look here, from an­other an­gle, y’know, it’s full time now we cel­e­brate the dis­cov­er­ies of these young sci­en­tists and give them a chance.

And to be fair, if Ken­isha was al­lowed to elab­o­rate, maybe we would learn that af­fil­i­a­tion is based on which gar­ri­son the mos­quito hails from. Or it might be the mos­quito’s gang! There might be some One Or­der mos­qui­toes and some Klans­man mos­qui­toes. The key is­sue there is that one should never try to swat any of those spe­cial ones, for they are al­ways ably de­fended by even larger sting­ing in­sects in the courts.

WAN­ING PRAC­TICE

Any­how, to peek back­wards a bit, there was a time when it was proudly an­nounced “dat dung to de dawg inna mi yard is Cum­red!”, or “dung to de puss inna mi house haffi seh Showa!” But the gen­eral con­sen­sus was that this was a wan­ing prac­tice. The whole trib­al­ism thing was sup­posed to be passe, outa fashion, so yes­ter­day, last week, last year, and all that.

And I think it is a prov­able fact that there are fewer political dogs and cats roam­ing the streets and lanes of the is­land, and if you are un­lucky enough to be growled at, barked at, chased, set upon, scratched, bit­ten, or even (God for­bid) mauled, the first in­quiry wouldn’t nowa­days be about the political af­fil­i­a­tion of the an­i­mal.

At least I thought that was the new way of see­ing things, even though I’ve no­ticed that the new sys­tem has showed some strains. For ex­am­ple, let’s not for­get the ca­nine that marched in sup­port of Dudus. He was a fresh re­minder that we’re al­ways on the verge of a throw­back. Also, I just get a sneak­ing feel­ing that that dawg is some­where wait­ing to emerge again.

Se­ri­ously, this sort of thing is not what any­one was tun­ing into the lo­cal gov­ern­ment de­bate to hear. I thought we were shak­ing our col­lec­tive heads at the USA where you can get a man like Trump drop­ping these sorts of clas­si­fi­ca­tions. Or is it that we have a Trumpian com­mu­ni­ca­tor?

If so, let me sug­gest the next ma­jor is­sue af­ter the in­sects: “We’re gonna build a wall, and Tivoli is gonna pay for it!” To be hon­est, based on the sto­ries I’m read­ing about po­lice­men pinned down again, and based on the video be­ing posted ev­ery­where with the gun­shot weh a lick inna Tivoli, a wall doesn’t sound like the worst idea at the mo­ment.

EVEN THE AN­I­MALS DI­VIDED

But back to the is­sue. Fact is, for all we know, the an­i­mal pop­u­la­tion of the coun­try may be hope­lessly di­vided by political af­fil­i­a­tion. We don’t speak their lan­guages very well and the me­dia haven’t made it a pri­or­ity to find out what their ideas are, or what their pref­er­ences are in terms of gov­er­nance.

That’s not to say that they don’t give us hints. For ex­am­ple, I’m now con­vinced that the jack­ass pop­u­la­tion is pretty evenly di­vided be­tween the two camps.

But more to the point, I re­mem­ber when Andrew was re­quest­ing for Por­tia to come and walk the streets of the gar­ri­son with him. That plan ob­vi­ously isn’t go­ing to work if when even a likkle bee­nie mos­quito juk some­body, the first ques­tion is go­ing to be: “Is a PNP or Labourite mos­quito dweet?”

Have we also con­sid­ered that maybe it’s all this talk of elim­i­nat­ing them that’s caus­ing the mos­qui­toes to act up? Like the scam­mers, they clearly have more political clout than would at first ap­pear. Look at how they have in­jected their is­sues into the national con­ver­sa­tion.

Re­al­is­ti­cally, I’m guess­ing most peo­ple who heard the mos­quito com­ment im­me­di­ately thought to them­selves: “An an­noy­ing in­sect that feeds off of oth­ers and needs to be re­pelled be­fore it gets into your house and com­mu­nity!” That’s my coun­cil­lor! That might be the first thought. But most level-headed peo­ple would have put that thought aside as un­nec­es­sar­ily cyn­i­cal.

Ex­cept that when the de­bate de­volves into who got bit­ten by a PNP or JLP ver­min, pest, or in­sect, you can’t blame the pub­lic for grow­ing ever more cyn­i­cal. Espe­cially if the political young are hatch­ing a new in­fes­ta­tion of what is recog­nis­ably the same old set of dis­eases.

Daniel Th­waites is an at­tor­ney-at-law. Email feed­back to col­umns@glean­erjm.com.

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