Columns

Tessanne's advent: the true nativity

Franklin JOHNSTON

Friday, December 27, 2013    

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AND in those days the world was racked with pain and suffering. The sons of man wrestled the beast of "global crisis" which consumed hard work, small investors, the poor and disadvantaged, and no one knew how to tame it. The beast wreaked havoc on small states; people lost hope, and there was no saviour. And the lands of the Carib were mired in its detritus. They could not lead or drive, but did cut and carve. They looked for hope and consolation in the ruins of their economy and there was none but hard graft.

Jamaica, the beloved, beautiful yet disconsolate, was sorely tested, for she was wayward and strong of head and saw not one iota of prosperity as her people had been led astray. Life was hard, much scar tissue and most were desensitised; cauterised as they had suffered a lot and could feel hurt no more. Many were as stones, and some were predatory on their suffering neighbours and kin — no conscience.

Yea, even Barbados — led by prudent men and had decades of plenty — was in dire straits. Their currency pressured, their reserves near depleted, some said "Let us go unto the IMF," but others said "No, let us band together as our parents did in past times, lest we become as Jamaica". For thus it was.

And it came to pass that years ago Christine and Richard Chin gave birth to Tessanne and both were musical; he of the drums, song and the lineage of big band man Kes Chin; and she of vocals, trumpet, of the lineage of WAP's XLCR bandstand on Mountain View, and both performed. And Tess, a mere slip, grew in favour, talent, and from youth was mentored by Cathi of the clan of Levy Players. She grew supple and strong with good parents, for they had Byron of the House of Lee and of Dragonaires as guide; voice coaching and rehearsals were many and she set off bound for England on the cusp of teenage; ripped from friends, she found solace in writing lyrics. And in due time, by prophecy, "a Star will rise!" She returned, joined a band, covered tunes, but nothing happened. She toured with Jimmy of the tribe of Cliff, paid more dues, but nothing happened. While many ran to "cut a tune" she was 20 years in preparation; school, studio, writing, the UK, USA, but nothing happened! And the faithless said: "Cho nuttin nah gwaan, she nah duh nuttin!" But the mills of God grind sure, and something did happen.

How would Tess fare in a nation mired in failure? It had reneged on one IMF contract; but wiser men took charge and traversed it to an IMF staff-monitored regime. Yet people were not moved to any great acts to save themselves; not to Greek style self-help, as they did not have a mind to work and the leaders were content to pander to feckless indifference so most thought of failure as normal, but not Tess.

Now it was the habit at a certain season to promote jollity, to "let-off", keep the massive cool lest they see their condition and take it into their hands to remedy things; so rulers gave them sops. And it came to pass that in the fullness of time in the land of opportunity to the North there was a Voice. For it was their custom once a year — on the Dutch model, also copied in Asia, South Africa, UK — to crown a winner from their own who would rule the Realm of Voice until another was chosen. And no Greek, Socan, Dancehaller, or Iranan had ever ruled the Voice — just as no Yankee ruled our "Rising Star" contest. And in the thirteenth year of the millennium in the Fall, signs and portents were seen and Tessanne was called to the 5th season of the Voice. Yet few were moved, as we were oft favoured by proximity to the USA, and many duals had been called but few chosen. It was also a season of "rip-offs", of excess and jollification; of "bolo work" and patrimony, to salve the hurts of the commoners whom the State had failed over the year. In this year, even the Golden Macca Fat fruited; private balm for public pain. A sign from God!

And Tessanne toiled in the Realm of Voice as the nation was bowed down with passing IMF tests like a wayward child doing GSAT in old age. And her spark became an open flame; not by the masses, or Government, nor might nor power, but by a talented slip of a woman — Tessanne! She lit the darkness.

And Tessanne was comely, full of lung power and vocal nuance. She spoke English as well as the Patois — with a midtown accent — and displayed verve in every round. But some opined "dem a go teef har", but she was loved, not a "leggo beast" who spewed nastiness. And her prowess grew round to round. Hope and belief also grew and people were between agony and ecstasy as the ballot boxes were beyond our usual stuffing tactics. Even unbelievers warmed as Tess got with two iTunes firsts and Digicel forged a voting booth with USA partners. Government marvelled as, like our many triumphs, they had no part in it. The people caught the scent of a winner and they tweeted, texted and Facebooked. And she was chosen by the American judges and 17 million viewers who voted. As it is written, "no champion is valued in her own land except the foreigners choose her first!" On December 17, a spark ignited decades ago lit the nation — a blazing comet! A star was born — Tessanne! Pray she stays and becomes a legend.

And it came to pass in this same season, wise men went to seek a brighter star and all of us full of hope as a promise made was to be fulfilled "for unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given and the governance shall be upon His shoulders and His name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace!" And behold, when the island awoke it was unto Christmas Day, and "while shepherds washed their socks by night," the angel appeared "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour which is Christ the Lord!"; anticipation over, socks washed, sins forgiven; the Nativity. Jesus is in the house!

And the prayer for Jamaica in 2014 is "we will not eat the bread of idleness nor drink the cup of levity, we will put away evil, study war no more, and we will work, prosper our land if our leaders lead." And the evening and the morning was the new year and so we shall see what we shall see. Selah!

Dr Franklin Johnston is a strategist, project manager and advises the minister of education. franklinjohnstontoo@gmail.com

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