Letters to the Editor

Everyone wants a 'bly'

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

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Dear Editor,

Thousands of words have been written or spoken about the problem of corruption in our society. It can almost be considered a part of our culture. “Ginnalship”, “Anancyism” and “one-upmanship” are all regarded as noble arts instead of dishonesty.

Closely linked to these systems is a truly Jamaican word which I think has no equivalent in any other language. It is a word called a “bly”. A “bly” asks for an excuse, a chance, an ease up, a let-off even, and that someone looks the other way.

Too many Jamaicans want a bly, and are respected for the extent to which they are able to get it or facilitate one for someone else. One is highly regarded if he/she knows someone, who knows someone, who knows someone who can effect a bly. And, while this may have started quite innocently with the aim of bypassing societal red tape, it has grown to become a cultural thing which manifests itself in many ways; peaking at the level of lotto scams, Ponzi schemes, and outright fraud.Whereever and whenever a queue is formed at a bank, post office, or tax office, you will find someone who is willing to 'sell' a space and someone who is willing to 'buy' one to get nearer to the head of the line. Many students at university level are willing to plagiarise the work of others to improve their grades, while there are teachers who will steal and sell examination papers, and those who are willing to buy. Lawyers have been known to misappropriate funds belonging to their clients, while ministers of religion have conned old widows and robbed them of their savings. Some doctors are even known to supply false illness certificates at a cost. The 'bly' system also includes businessmen who seek to get their cars passed at the examination depot without actually attending, and learner drivers and their instructors know how to get a driver's licence without actually passing a test. The police get in on the action with their infamous “lef'” or “write” which is commonly understood when a traffic violation has been committed.

I love to quote the late Percival W Gibson, founder of Kingston College, who said: “Sow an act , you reap a habit. Sow a habit, you reap a character. Sow a character, you reap a destiny.”

Seeking a bly is a very poor habit. We should try to erase the word from our vocabulary and its concept from our psyche, and hopefully reduce corruption in the society.

Ronald R Fagan





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