Columns

Mama IMF is coming

Barbara GLOUDON

Friday, June 20, 2014    

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THE boss lady of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Madame Christine Lagard, is on her way here to check our copy books and see what lessons we have been learning -- or not. Mama IMF is a stern teacher. In her class, you are not allowed to form the fool. Think of her as the banker in your "pardnah". If you want to take out, you have to put in. When your time come to "throw your hand" don't joke. Mama IMF is impatient of excuses.

When IMF says "Tighten belt", pull together, even if it hurts. Mama IMF should be here this time next week. She is a real live female, the first to reach the top of the ladder which until recently was controlled by men in suits. She wears them too when it suits her. Don't be confused that because she comes from Paris, the fashion capital of the world -- sorry it's not "Kribbean" Fashion Week -- it is not likely that she will be giving interviews on her choice of designer or prêt a porter (off the rack). People who know will tell you, this Mama IMF means business.

What does she hope to find here? She knows already that we owe her money -- nuff money at that. The good news is that we've been paying our dues, even if it hurts. Mama likes that. So, besides meeting the big boys -- and some big businesswomen too -- what if she were to decide that she wants to go out on the streets to test the mood of the people, to see what they are up to?

The IMF has invested so much in us, over time. There should be no surprise if she wanted to see what we've done with it. What will she find? First thing, she would notice the "plentitude" of shiny new vehicles on the roads. No bruck-down jalopies. We go for the best in name brands. We see nothing wrong in "poor show great". We will have to teach her the native tongue to understand better when we explain that time here is hard but we "nah gie up". She will soon find out that dress-up is our favourite pastime -- even if not necessarily in good taste. Tasteful Parisian style is too dull for us. We go for the bling, do or die. As for les autos (the French for cars), we like them flashy and shiny even if we have to mortgage ourselves into eternity. What Jamaicans want, Jamaicans get.

What kinda reception will she get from the powerbrokers? Serious talk. We always want a better deal. She will be wined and dined because "Ah so we stay". We like to entertain visitors when they come into our space, even if all we have is some sugar and water. We will do much better than that. There's more to learn if she really wants to know exactly where we are. "Water more than flour... Rain a fall but dutty tough!" We can explain it all to you, Mama IMF. Don't panic. We can teach you what we mean when we say, "No problem." Believe that Mama, and you can believe anything from now on.

Be advised, for every solution, we have a problem, instead of the other way around. We know she's smart but we still "haffi try a ting, yuh know". This column would be pleased to assist her in understanding the reality behind the unreality. Look out for the "puss inna bag", which some will try to sell you, Mama IMF. We know you are a hard sell, but we will still try. Welcome, just the same.

One thing I would not like Mama IMF to see... our tamarind imported from Thailand while our local crop is rotting under trees. So, what's with all the talk about "eat Jamaican"? Visit a certain supermarket and hear what people are saying. "Somebody should apologise for this one."

"Disrespect," said another.

Open season in education

The annual education showdown is underway, teachers vs the ministry, or so it seems. No matter how nicely it is put, the ongoing guerrilla warfare has become tiresome now. The generals might be proud of the hit-and-run tactics, but civilian casualties are mounting. Families are bothered and bewildered more than ever about the big bag of books that are hardly ever used. While potshots are being taken in the battle of the ego, students trudge to and from school, bent beneath the book load like little beasts of burden, while parents, especially the poor, holler and bawl at hard-earned dollars tied up just so. Where is the money to come from?

Back-to-school will not be until September, but already the parents are facing another harsh reality. By this time next week, the next concern will be the annual ritual of trying to get students transferred, preferably to name-brand schools. After all the years of haul and pull, which nearly every minister of education has experienced, we still haven't solved the placement puzzle. How many name-brand schools can we possibly have?

Former minister of education/prime minister now Opposition leader has declared that we need to build more schools. "Build more schools". Comment: "But that will cost money." Said he, without laughing "It's when you don't have money that you build so you can get rich"...Nobody said he was a stand-up comic...

Football fever

Who is going to take home the World Cup -- one of the most sought-after but ugliest-looking trophies in the sports world? Don't believe me? Look closely again, next time you see it. Nobody is worrying, however. It's not aesthetiques which concern the world. This is not the proudest time for Brazil. What with rioting still popping up, unthinking citizens protests could deprive the country of the anticipated returns from tourism, but tourists don't like civil unrest. They either return early or don't come to visit at all. Then, there's the shakiness of the national team. To lose would be to pour oil on fire. What's a World Cup without a Brazil? Nobody wants that to happen. Let's hope for the very, very best. Oh that we could return to the 'Age of Pele'! Now, that was football. Alas, it had to end some time...

Stormy weather

The Supreme Court injunction that Professor Bain should return to the HIV and AIDS research project at the UWI has not appeased some of his supporters, who believe that there's still some demonstrating left to be done. A new group has announced its intention to keep on marching. They must know why. With the goodly Professor saying little or nothing and with all the various levels of complexity it could be a long time yet before the curtain goes down on this drama. It seems we ain't heard nutten yet.

gloudonb@yahoo.com

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