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Opinion: “Dunce Culture” in Present Form, Not the Underlying Cause of Crime and Violence in Jamaica

by The Professor

SOUTH FLORIDA – The dunce culture “billboard” portrayed on the backpacks of youth may be a bit unsettling for the faint of heart.  Especially in a country like Jamaica, well renowned for our academic and professional achievements, many of us would like to distance ourselves from that image.  However, Jamaica has long been plagued by “dunce culture”.  It is nowhere close to being, an overnight phenomenon.

“Dunce Culture" in Present Form, Not the Underlying Cause of Crime and Violence in Jamaica

Elections in Jamaica

People have been beaten and killed for drinking the wrong color beer in the midst of political turmoil.  Certainly, we cannot attribute these types of behavior to “intelligence”?  Elections have been won utilizing “curry goat politics” for years.  Intelligent behavior?  I don’t think so.  Recently a reporter accosted a woman en route to a JLP rally?  The reporter questioned the woman as to what she expected to hear from the rally? What issues were important to her?  Her response was that she was attending the rally “to hear Andrew talk the things them”.  The reporter subsequently asked her what “things” she was referring to.  To which she replied “you know, the good thing dem, the good, good thing dem”.  Dunce culture?  It certainly passes the “smell test”.

Jamaica’s Music Industry

Dunce culture” has allowed our recording industry, once the cornerstone of multiple powerful genres of music.  Music that is loved, appreciated, and imitated worldwide.  In recent years, Jamaica has lost a substantial share of that worldwide market.  We have lost the “patent” on our music, our entertainment style, our creativity that was uniquely Jamaican.

In times gone by, there used to be contingents of 30 plus singers, DJs, selectors embarking upon European Sunsplashes, Japanese Sunsplashes and many other shows across the world.  Live at the Montreux (in France) has been one of the documented signature shows across the years.  Now, if you go to Japan, there are artists, who sound like, whose mannerisms and personalities very much mimic those of a Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Buju Banton.  What is most shocking, is that this phenomenon did not occur overnight.  It should have been able to be predicted. However, we saw the trend and did nothing to reverse it.

I liken it to someone piloting a vehicle with a destination of Morant Bay.  An hour or so into the trip one may come upon the realization that they are descending Mount Rosser, instead of nearing Yallahs. AND subsequent to this discovery, the person instead of utilizing GPS, instead of consulting a map, instead of stopping at a bar to ask directions, continues to proceed in the same direction.  We continued to proceed in the same direction, that is why we Jamaica is no longer the autonomous, dominant force it once was in Reggae Music.  Sorry for those who were disappointed that the white Reggae group (from Virginia) SOJA, won the Grammy for best Reggae Album.

An argument can be made that Air Jamaica’s frequent practice of “retiring” pilots at the mandatory age of 62, and then “assigning” them “no show” jobs as (i.e.) as head of  baggage, and continuing to pay them constitutes “Dunce Culture”.

The Jamaican obsession with anything from foreign (products) that has persisted for many year is disturbing, arguably “dunce culture”.  Junior Reid very eloquently stated “Worry dem a worry, dem a worry, dem a worry dem farin mind, a blind dem mussi blind”.  8-10 years ago Mutabruka cited a statistic.  Jamaica at that time, with a population of 2.6 million people was exporting to Trinidad, who had roughly half the population, goods totaling 1 million USD annually.  Jamaica was exporting from Trinidad over the corresponding period, 100 million USD. Dunce?  Most definitely!

Lack of Unity

Our inability to properly mobilize, unify, and work together is easily distinguishable amongst Jamaicans in the diaspora.  In comparison with Mexican, Haitians, and other nationalities, we lack the cohesion that many others enjoy.  We see amongst other nationalities, a bona fide desire to work together, to live amongst each other, and to uplift one another.   Is the same widespread spirit of cooperativeness not possible in the Jamaican community?  For example, there are many takeaways (“hole in the wall” for lack of better phrase) Jamaican restaurants scattered across South Florida.  However, how many well established restaurants boast accommodation of formal dining for 45 or 50 patrons.  How many places are there where one can expect great food, great service, ambiance, and even possibly entertainment?

Lottery Scamming

It is very paradoxical that the activity most easily associated with crime in the last 12-15 years in Jamaica is lottery scamming.   Many of the youth (probably not a majority, but many) are university educated or have left high school with five or six subjects.  They are not dunce.  It is their inability to obtain gainful employment (in many instances) that lead them into lotto scamming.  It is oft the inability of the “brilliant” ones in government and the private sector to provide opportunities, which has prompted the former to scam.

So although I, like any well intentioned nationalistic Jamaican, agree that Jamaica should discourage this latest, present form of “dunce culture”.  However, it is not the youth who have originated it.  It was in the 70’s, that Peter Tosh said “you cannot blame the youth”.  It is the elders who have taught the youth, the dunce culture.


Commentary: Dunce Culture in Jamaica Root of Crime

South Florida Caribbean News

The Team provides news and information for the Caribbean-American community in South Florida and beyond.

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