TO VOTE OR NOT TO VOTE – POLL

This anonymous poll is for members of the To Vote Or Not To Vote – Cayman Discussion page on Facebook. To my blog followers, drop in and visit sometime!

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The Caymanian Voice

In spite of popular belief, it doesn’t sound like this anymore, my dearest friends.

Isn’t it sweet?  Doesn’t it bring back beautiful memories?  But is this the sound of your thoughts?

Not if we are honest with ourselves.  The sweet wail of the fiddle and the gently drawled out words of the young days of our lady nation are good and gone.

This is more representative of the Caymanian today.

Now now now… don’t lie.  This is a safe place.  No need to be playin fool to ketch wise with me.  I speak your language and I hear your livid screams.  Don’t hide behind the “well bred colonized position of polite timidity“.  Not wit me bobo.  Not.  Today.  Bobo.

This is the tone of voice you save for the hammock in your Granny’s yard.  This is how you speak about your supervisor or your lecturer or that sonofabitch police officer that beat up your first cousin to your friends.  This is how you see the sale of land and the exploitation of immigrated and local people.

Now that you are revealed gorgeous, powerful and naked, what do you do?

A Gathering of Old Men

A Gathering of Old Men by J.A. Roy Bodden

Over the past few weeks I have been engrossed in a project.  I was asked to introduce and to review the newly released book by J. A. Roy Bodden, a man who has served our nation as a teacher, a parliamentarian, a Minister of Education and the president of our local university and who has served me as a mentor and a family friend.

It kept me up at night.  I encourage every person who shares in the Cayman experience, the colonial experience, the experience of the fight for justice, the experience of the battle for identity, or simply the human experience to read this book.  It tickled me with its brutally direct language and the depiction of the Caymanian sense of humor and it haunted me with its lament of values lost, land sold for three pounds an acre, and lives exploited.

I laboured to do justice to the book for the entire morning, chewing on how to present it and capture the flavour with authenticity.  I wrote out and re-wrote my speech.  Below is the final product with coloquialisms highlighted in the colours of the sea to be read in your head with a Caymanian accent.  After being introduced by education and profession with names of institutions and letters behind my name, I stood up and said…

“Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce A Gathering of Old Men as an introduction to myself.  You will know by now my name, where I went to school, what I studied and where I work.  You may or may not know (and may or may not be offended by) the fact that I have never voted, and consider myself to be apolitical.  I do business with people all over the world.  I have lived in three major cities of the West.  I am the child of a Caymanian woman and a Jamaican man.  I hold a British passport.  I hail from Bodden Town.  And, as you may have guessed, I speak the Queen’s english.

That is who I am on paper.

In my granny’s hammock underneath her wild tam’rin tree in Bodden Town I am someone quite different.  I am Ninik, eldest grandchild and daughter prized much like Pearly in How Pearly Lost Her False Teeth.  My grandfather may well have sailed with Pompey and lived through the helpless exploitation of The Coincident. I am the Caymanian woman who in The Gathering Of Old Men Circa 1953 was predicted to live a life unprotected and demeaned by her countrymen in the coming – present – sale of our nation’s land and culture.

I, like Carolina in The Card Cutter, and probably every Caymanian woman my age, have lost a man to a “papaw-skinned, straight-haired woman” whose first language was not english.

Like The Advocate, Mr. Wilfred Agustus Conrad McFarlane, I sat my dinners at the Inns of Court in London, had regular Sunday drinks with Lord Justice Ward, and on returning home it was said of me that “You wouldn’t want to trust your money to that local lawyer”.  Worse still, I was told by a complimentary expatriate co-worker that I am Cayman Royalty because I can read and write.

One grandfather would have climbed the main mast on the Lady Lucy in the hurricane seas on the Voyage to the Miskita Cays.  He too was put to sea, much like the young Cleavey, at a tender age to support his newly widowed mother and siblings.  My other grandfather was Theodore Brown, given a slave name but sent off at his death in a Nine Night much like the one held at The Passing of Theophilus Brown.

I have borne witness to the struggle to marry up. which usually means blond and blue eyed like Pearly’s match.  In fact, an old woman in my district instructed me not to come home from University in England widdout a good white man.

This is who I am in my Granny’s hammockThank you Mr. Roy Bodden for re-introducing me to myself.

 It has been easy for Caymanians of my generation to become disconnected and to remove ourselves from the Caymanian story.  We are now citizens of the world.  It has been easier to step away than deal with the hurt caused by the antics and the displays of ignorance and opulence and the corrupt and self-serving behaviours of representative after representative of the Queen and of the people.  But it is only easy for people of my generation to do this because we have forgotten or we have never known WHO WE ARE.

This is the purpose of A Gathering of Old Men.

In preparing for this introduction I myself battled inwardly between the silent position of old Knowles who knew trouble was brewing with the Custus in The Death of Artimetra Johnson and McFarlane the fearles and undaunted Advocate.  It has been a fight between the well-bred colonized position of polite timidity and the bold rage that simmers in one form or another in every. single. caymanian. of my generation.  No exceptions.  One side is gracious and forgiving, taking people as they come and playin fool to ketch wise but the other side quakes livid as new stories unfold around old themes of racism, colonialism, entitlement, corruption and plain ole badmind and wickedness.

In reading A Gathering of Old Men I was confronted with my responsibility.  Registering to vote for instance.  It is not for us to wait for wicked people to die bad.  We have been doing this for generations – waiting for wicked people to die bad.  It is our duty to steer the ship the best we can where we are now and to write the next chapter of stories with the naked frankness that Mr. Roy Bodden has employed in A Gathering of Old Men.

Thank you Mr. Bodden for stirring the salt-water in our blood and thank you for listening to my reflections.”

Poke me if you would like to know how to get hold of a copy of this book.

Weekend of the {RED}EEMER

The weekend was much anticipated.  Volunteers met, paid for their T-shirts, were trained in their tasks, and were told what time to be there on what day.  The YAG was fully engaged and many of us left work to be on time to work together with over 100 volunteers who put their names down to be part of this event.  We were bringing Nicole C. Mullen to town.

The Cayman Islands Baptist Church is quite new – just over 5 years old.  We’ve only been in our building for about 3 years.  Our YAG is only three months old.  But our mission, to be a Community of Love, is what led the missions committee to bring Dove Award winning artist Nicole C. Mullen to our island and invite every human being within the water borders of our islands to come FREE to listen to her and share in her worship.

Hearts were touched.  Lives were changed.  And pictures were taken.  This is the story they tell.

A volunteer designed this flyer. It was put in every mailbox, hung on every door, and used as the profile picture on facebook, bbm and twitter by volunteers for weeks leading up to the concerts.

Finally the day came and our Pastor and the Missions Team greeted Nicole on the tarmac at the Owen Roberts International Airport

The event organizer, Pastor Randy, and Nicole at the Airport with the Cayman Islands flag

Nicole took to the stage in our church with Andrew Thompson, her backup singer. The church was full to capacity but we had two massive screens set up with bleachers across the street in the park and more than 1200 people came the first night with a similar turnout on the second. The park was a truly festive place to be with a jerk chicken stand, hot dogs, cupcakes and ice cream on sale - as well as Nicole's CDs and {RED}EEMER T-Shirts

The YAG came out in force - several of us volunteered as greeters, parking lot attendants, merchandise volunteers, garbage collectors, a part of the prayer team that was praying through each concert upstairs in the church. I'm somewhere in here but the only thing you can see is curls 🙂

This gracious lady and her team members (one of them on the far left) signed autographs until everyone was gone. EVERYONE. Not one person who wanted a photo or an autograph was turned away.

On the second night (there were TWO free concerts) Nicole did things differently, going acoustic on a few songs and telling more of her story. The two nights were very different and both were amazing!

At the last song the backing track failed. We've had some trouble with our sound board for some time now but... right in the middle of "I KNOW MY REDEEMER LIVES"? Nicole didn't miss a beat. She sang that powerful song acapella and sent goosebumps up every spine within the sound of her voice!

We are so grateful that Nicole and her team were willing to come and share with us. The event brought our church family together even closer than we were before (which was pretty close!) and you have given our community a gift that will never be forgotten

These two ladies, one of them a YAG leader, worked TIRELESSLY to make this thing happen and pulled it off without a single hitch (sound board excepted but God knew what He was doing with that!) They are a blessing to us.