Let’s hear it for Juk Bois!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

It’s not of­ten we find our­selves in a po­si­tion to brag about be­ing the first to ac­com­plish some­thing in the OECS, let alone in the whole Caribbean. But sud­denly, there we are, with enough ev­i­dence to con­vince the worst skep­tics, ready to say with­out fear of con­tra­dic­tion, that we in­vented the fak­e­news phe­nom­e­non, al­beit by an­other name. Oh, fully ex­pect the con­fed­er­acy of dunces to say “dah mahn eh know what de hell he talkin’ about.” And it wouldn’t be the first time they mis­cal­cu­lated. That’s what dunces do; they mis­cal­cu­late. Be­sides, when the blind and ig­no­rant have noth­ing with which to counter in­dis­putable fact, they for­get about the song and turn on the singer. They, at least have a rea­son­able ex­cuse, if you get my drift.

I mean, who in their right mind would deny that long be­fore there was Fox News and Bill O’Reilly; long be­fore any­one had ever heard of fat Han­nity and Rush Lim­baugh, Saint Lu­cia al­ready had Juk Bois— the liv­ing breath­ing one-man equiv­a­lent of the men­tioned un­holy trin­ity. Nat­u­rally, we never gave Juk Bois his due. Just as we’ve never quite been able to give due credit to Derek Wal­cott—though we pre­tend to once a year, maybe out of shame and em­bar­rass­ment. We are proud Looshans, and that’s what proud Looshans do. We pre­tend our broth­ers and sis­ters are ex­actly like the rest of us—tal­ent­less, with noth­ing worth­while to of­fer . . . un­til of course some for­eign coun­try lays claim to what’s re­ally ours. Ask Daren about that. Bravo, too. We pre­fer to hand out awards to for­eign crooks and “se­rial rapists in our midst!”

Let’s face it, for count­less years most of us dis­missed Juk Bois as, well, a roro fac­tory. We said he was an en­ter­tainer (when we re­ally meant to say he was a clown!). We said he ex­isted just to bring light re­lief to the es­pe­cially un­e­d­u­cated; to give them some­thing to laugh about when ev­ery­thing around them was mis­er­able and grow­ing worse by the minute. (Of course we know now that Juk Bois is and has al­ways been as much en­joyed by the na­tion’s rich best brains as by the de­pressed and de­prived, though they wouldn’t ad­mit it un­less you handed them such sums as only the likes of Walid Juf­fali can pay!)

Rather than giv­ing the lo­cal boy due credit for his in­ven­tive­ness and his unique imag­i­na­tion that knows no bound­aries, we did ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to get him the hell off the ra­dio. He moved from sta­tion to sta­tion, yes, but that did not mean he was ever off the air. We laughed about how he couldn’t put to­gether an English sen­tence, let alone re­port a mur­der case en langue mama noo—which ev­ery­one knows com­prises no more than a dozen or so dodgy words un­der­stood only in Haiti and in Do­minica, which some­one with a UWI de­gree once de­scribed as “the two poor­est and most ig­no­rant na­tions in the world!”

Of course, the char­ac­ter re­spon­si­ble for that sting­ing put­down was wrong—on all counts. As poor as reg­u­lar Haitians and Do­mini­cans may ap­pear to the jaun­diced eye, those who truly know what the rest of us re­ally don’t know will tell you the lead­ers of the men­tioned two ter­ri­to­ries have salted away in var­i­ous bank vaults around the world more dol­lars than the com­bined trea­suries of the whole OECS. In the sec­ond place, re­gard­less of the scant num­ber of en­tries in your Cre­ole dic­tio­nary, that had never been a prob­lem for the sil­ver-tongued Juk Bois. If no one had yet coined a Cre­ole world for “ses­qui­pe­da­lian” or “vi­cis­si­tudes,” no prob­lemo. Juk Bois sim­ply cre­ated his own, kinda like Humpty Dumpty who fa­mously said to Lewis Car­roll: “When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean. Noth­ing more, noth­ing less.”

What did it mat­ter if the folks at Bois Patat and Morne Ser­pent and Barons Drive and Der­riere Morne didn’t quite get what Juk Bois was say­ing? Bet on it, they all imag­ined they un­der­stood him per­fectly. And count on them to spread the word, in their own pe­cu­liar style, with its mind-bog­gling twists and turns.

Be­fore you knew it, news was be­ing made—whether or not you chose to call it roro. Let’s not for­get to credit the reg­u­lar sta­tions that treated what­ever Juk Bois said as gospel, un­wit­tingly le­git­imiz­ing roro—to­day de­fined in the Ox­ford dic­tio­nary and by Google as “fake news” and “post truth.”

A small di­gres­sion: More than ten years ago, while driv­ing a lady friend home from work, Juk Bois came over the ra­dio. For a full fif­teen min­utes he re­ported on a court trial that I’d ear­lier at­tended and he had not. Let me tell you, I was as­tounded by all Juk Bois claimed had oc­curred in the court­room. (Then again, per­haps I just didn’t get him right!) I could not re­sist telling my friend the truth, de­tail by shock­ing de­tail. She lis­tened in silence. But af­ter she had dis­em­barked near her house, she turned around and said: “I hear you, you know. But I be­lieve Juk Bois, even though he does lie!” As they say, case closed. Here’s hop­ing Juk Bois lands a statue or some­thing in Con­sti­tu­tion Park, for spe­cial ser­vices to ed­u­ca­tion in Saint Lu­cia!

Leur e bon dee e bon: Is Juk Bois Saint Lu­cia’s most un­der­rated na­tive son?

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