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Jamaicans need to reject skulduggery

Monday, March 25, 2019

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Brer Anancy, the supreme con man, has long been a hero in Jamaica's folk culture, and his followers are everywhere.

From the street corner where a man will befriend another while picking his pocket, to corporate offices where lawyers and accountants help their clients elude the tax man, Brer Anancy is alive and well.

For all the public denunciations of corruption — real and perceived — at all levels of society, there exists an unfortunate, underlying admiration for the 'ginnals' and hustlers who bend the rules, the law, to breaking point in order to 'eat a food', whether big or small, without getting caught.

It's not for nothing that Jamaican politicians and political parties down the years, perceived by ' j ohn p ublic' to be guilty of corrupt practices, are often returned to power when elections are called.

In that regard, the current Administration — struggling with horrendous corruption scandals over the last year or so, including the latest which has triggered the ousting of Education Minister Ruel Reid — may well take consolation from history.

That apart, there were three stories in yesterday's Sunday Observer which highlighted the problems posed by 'anancyism'.

We refer firstly to the report of two young women who have apparently disappeared after leaving home for promised job interviews in Montego Bay. The report has prompted Labour and Social Security Minister Ms Shahine Robinson to warn that there are unscrupulous people carrying out employment scams “targeting vulnerable job seekers”.

And while the case of the job seekers may well reflect 'innocents' being preyed upon by unscrupulous people, the case of unqualified people carrying out dental procedures, including the installation of braces, is an entirely different matter. Here are cases in which people are partnering with Brer Anancy — subjecting themselves to obvious health risks because it's cheaper to do business with a 'fake' rather than a qualified and certified dental practitioner.

Then, of course, there are the corrupt cops. We are told that police personnel are turning up at late night dances to extort money from organisers — threatening to shut down targeted events under the Noise Abatement Act if money is not paid over.

One unnamed dance promoter is quoted as saying that: “For this event we set aside in our budget a total of $100,000 to deal with the police because we know that they are going to come and harass us. We appoint one person to deal with the police and that person keeps the money (to pay police) at all times.”

In other words — it seems to this newspaper — in this case, the victim of the police scam is very prepared to be an accomplice.

There lies the crux of the problem. For as long as Jamaicans are prepared to look the other way in the face of 'ginnalship' and dishonesty, for as long as they are prepared to actively participate in such practices, Brer Anancy will continue to thrive to the detriment of the nation and its people.

Somehow or other, Jamaicans will have to find a way to fall out of love with Anancy.

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