“Most of the keepers and teachers of our culture, our heritage, our values and our attitudes took flight. These were mainly the people described as the ‘middle class’ and they had maintained the balance between the “haves and the have-nots” so that neither grass-roots culture nor up-town top ranking culture dominated.”
Recently I attended a Workshop and the presenter played what he said was the most popular song on the hit parade. The title of the song is “Romping Shop”. Many of us expressed shock and disgust at what we heard and I sat and said to myself we are a nation of hypocrites.
I thought that Independence would mean that we would lead and direct our own affairs in such a manner than when our former masters return to Jamaica for a visit, they would be amazed at how well we are doing economically and socially. I am very disappointed in the direction our black leaders have taken.
I was truly disappointed when a former Prime Minister told his supporters that under his stewardship “….more man have car, more man have cell phone and more man have more gal.” He obviously is an advocate for romping shops. No one therefore has any right to express shock and dismay at what is happening in Jamaica today. We either saw or were aware of the change that was unfolding and many foresaw that this change would not augur well for the future (which is now.)
We can hark back to the mid-seventies, when those who were brave enough to speak out, were simply told that if they did not like the impending change, then they should simply leave on one of the five flights a day to Miami.
Most of the keepers and teachers of our culture, our heritage, our values and our attitudes took flight. These were mainly the people described as the ‘middle class’ and they had maintained the balance between the “haves and the have-nots” so that neither grass-roots culture nor up-town top ranking culture dominated.
A small band of the middle class people remained and they fought valiantly to keep Jamaica on an even keel. Many members of this band became middle class entrepreneurs who were able to create employment without much interference from Government and it seemed like Jamaica was poised to take off economically.
But something went very, very, wrong and the debate about what went wrong is still being hotly argued. The side proposing that it was bad-minded, greedy and envious policy-makers seems to be gaining ground, but the winner is still undecided.
As these entrepreneurs collapsed (some literally), many business folded and workers had to be cut loose from employment. It seems fair to say that as more and more former employees became ‘hustlers’ and beggars of blighs and hand-outs, the society became more and more depraved and deprived.
Many men who were once proud bread-winners continued to have children and many simply forfeited on their sense of responsibility towards their family and in many cases multiple families.
People became so preoccupied trying to eek out some sort of existence, that they either paid no attention to raising children properly, or had no time in which to do it and many left it up to the school to raise their children. (In any case most of the teachers of good values and attitudes were long gone; most of the good ole primary school teacher and grammar school teacher and training college lecturer who were given solid ole time training at a very high standard were also gone.)
Many of the children were therefore raised on blue movies, and crime and violence movies as many came home to their friend and baby-sitter, the television set. We sowed the seeds twenty to thirty years ago and Vybz Kartel and Spice are now bringing home the harvest.
But Vybz Kartel and Spice are not new or unique- the romping shop was around from the very first African princesses and queens set sail for the islands and became chattel or slaves. From we were on the slave ships coming across the Big River, white slavers had been dragging our princesses and queens into their romping shops. White men also raided the slave villages and the barracks raping the Black women. Why? Because not many well-thinking or decent white woman would take the voyage aboard one of those stinking ships and risk getting scurvy; or have to dine on mouldy biscuits; or battle hurricanes and not to mention the dreaded water-borne diseases like malaria to be faced when she finally came ashore in the colonies. So the majority of white women who came were not from the gentry; but we are talking about romping shops.
This explains the high percentage of “brown” ruling class folks, especially in Jamaica. As the mulatto girls (mother Black, father white) grew into womanhood, they would mate with white men and strive to get children closer to looking white rather than black. Those closer to white, would take pride in declaring themselves as being quadroon or octoroon. But why ‘rape’ and not ‘love’? We are dealing with chattel (possessions) as black people were not considered to be human beings.
If it were love, our biased historians would have quickly recorded how white absentee planters took their Nubian brides home to England to meet the mammas and the papas of the ‘noble gentry’ and I can’t find that page in my history books. (So much has been deliberately left out.) Maybe one or two such marriages did take place.
The romping shops of this early period in our history set the tone for the society and in so doing it seemed to have destroyed the sanctity of the sex act. The Black man was encouraged to become a stud and sire many baby-slaves with many different women, especially after 1807. The mulatto babies (however) were raised, especially the boys, to oversee the plantation for their absentee planter fathers- Jamaican hero George William Gordon is a prime example.
In the 21st century, very little has changed. What has changed is the colour of the men who now enter the romping shops. Black men with money like Vybz Kartel and those of his ilk now control the romping shops. Women like Spice have turned their lack of pride and self esteem into big money, as they boast about how they are experts at ‘quinting’ up their Kegal muscle (my words) and what this action can do to a man’s ‘organ’.
I don’t have a problem with Vybz Kartel and Spice doing whatever they want to do in their romping shop- that is their business. What I have a problem with is the media. When the presenter of the Workshop said that the song “Romping Shop” was played on a certain popular radio station, I could not believe it.
I have been told that it was the “edited” version that was played. This makes it even worse on the part of the media because the mere fact that the song had to be “edited” means that the person who did the editing knows that the song is not fit for airplay- if words are so gross and graphic that they have to be ‘bleeped’ or ‘edited’ out.
These ‘editors’ obviously have been born during the time when clean values and attitudes migrated from the shores of Jamaica and Jamaica has now become one big ‘in your face’ romping shop. I am now convinced that our ancestors must have taken an oath before God and we have broken that oath so now a curse is upon the land, because it says in Nehemiah 10 that God’s people made an oath, vowing to follow all the commands, laws and regulations of the Lord. This oath was so serious that they were willing to accept the curse of God if they failed to keep these commandments.
Some of us have failed to keep every commandment, we have broken every law and regulation and we are now “shocked” to see the state of affairs that ensues in our land. There are so-called intelligent people who are giving lectures about how to solve Jamaica’s problems ‘scientifically,’ as if science made the mess so science must clean it up. Many of us know who made the modern-day mess, some have died but many are still alive and walk among us. Many are policy-makers and up-town and down-town top ranking people.
It was thoughts and choices that have brought us to this juncture. So please don’t ask me to condemn Vybz Kartel and Spice because of the lyrics of their song. Many people who are greatly admired and are highly respected for their intelligence and learning are doing just the same or worse than what is being done in Romping Shop. The media keep those exploits quiet and many who are jumping up and foaming at the mouth and want to expunge Vybz and Spice, must first take the mote out of their eye before taking the beam out of another person’s eye (Math 7:3).
Vybz Kartel, Spice and others of their ilk know that we have become a more illiterate, ignorant, deprived and depraved society and that its all about economics – if the society didn’t demand it, then Vybz Kartel and Spice would not have supplied it.
In a depraved society, straight or bent, nastiness sells.
Valerie Dixon can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Other articles by Valerie Dixon can be read at Caribbean Correspondent
By Our Caribbean Correspondent