The 'buttus' vs the rest of usFriday, February 26, 2021
Some years ago, the late Professor Emeritus of The University of the West Indies Rex Nettleford hit the nail on the head when he quipped that “a buttu in a Benz is still a buttu”, no doubt seeking to highlight a new breed of Jamaicans who, by virtue of their material wealth ('bling bling'), ostentatiously and rudely foist their antisocial behaviour on the society.
But “buttuism” is not only to be found in upscale Jamaica. In fact, it has pervaded the entire nation to the extent that it can be referred to as endemic.
For those who may not know, a buttu is an individual who consistently behaves in a crass, undisciplined manner, paying scant regard for established social norms such as politeness, tolerance, respect for law and order, common courtesies, not be a loud-mouthed moron who is selfish and constantly in your face.
Some time ago, while driving along a busy street in Montego Bay, I had to halt for some minutes while a colourfully dressed young man, with his pants almost below his knees, hopped out of his “crissas” in the middle of the road in order to go and talk to a friend who was driving an equally expensive vehicle in front of me. Needless to say that if I had reprimanded him for holding up the traffic in such a selfish manner he probably would have abused me in the worst possible way. This is but one of the many examples of 'buttuism' that are to be found on our roads, where numerous “hurry-come-up” motorists flaunt themselves in a most despicable manner.
Of course, this profile fits so many of our men nowadays who, by virtue of being able to drive a crissas, feel that they are above the law. They are usually well “bleached” with an unkempt hairstyle and possess a vocabulary that is primarily laced with four-letter words, including what to do with one's mother. At other times, a ganja spliff is seen hanging out of the side of the mouth and the bizarre wardrobe is oftentimes 'complemented' by socks and slippers on their spangly feet.
Another buttu-type behaviour is the honking of horns the moment the traffic light changes from red to green. It is as if these impatient drivers expect you to take off like a jet the moment the light changes. And as if that were not enough, if you dare to proceed with caution you are cussed out and told to “tek yuh [warra it] self outa di road!” I once saw an elderly woman almost have a heart attack when the driver of this huge trailer truck behind her honked his horn so vociferously loud that she panicked and ran into the back of the vehicle before her.
These days, too, protocol is many times not observed in even the most formal of situations. Invariably, functions start late without an appropriate apology, as in Jamaica the “soon come” mentality prevails as accepted.
To put it bluntly, buttuism is the tyranny of the minority at work, because the majority of Jamaicans are not buttus. The harsh reality, though, is that too many of us have become cowards and so prefer to go with the crowd. Isn't it time the true, real Jamaicans stand up and tell the buttus among us to 'tek weh dem self'?
Jamaican reggae music has been used outside of Jamaica to inspire, motivate and uplift peoples of the world. In its homeland, it is oftentimes used to promote promiscuity, violence, intolerance, and bigotry. The Broadcasting Commission is struggling to help us define what is decent and prudent on air, but the popular view, it seems, is that “anyting is anyting”. To hell with standards, to hell with values and attitudes, let mediocrity and poor taste be the order of the day.
Well, this is one Jamaican who will never subscribe to buttuism, even if it costs me my life. Of course, there will be those who will hasten to suggest that “anti-buttuists” like myself are really acting in a manner based on class prejudice. Rubbish! There are thousands and thousands of Jamaicans in the lower socio-economic bracket who continue to behave courteously and kindly to everyone they come in contact with, and whose mannerisms and cultural practices reflect the true Jamaican spirit. In other words, most of us are civilized, God-fearing, decent, patriotic individuals, but we are being overshadowed by the buttus who have captured a large section of the media in their bid to create a Jamaica in which anything goes.
What ever happened to good taste? What ever happened to chivalry? What ever happened to having an appreciation for the finer things of life? And one does not have to be rich and famous to acquire these attributes. Lest we forget, “The essence of culture is the consideration for others.” The Jamaican culture is one of the richest and most attractive in the world. That is what attracts the thousands of tourists who come here every year, not just for the sand, sea, sun, and other “esses”, but to bask in the legendary warmth and hospitality of the Jamaican people. That is our greatest asset. However, must we reserve and preserve this national treasure only for the tourist?
Almost daily, many well-thinking Jamaicans bemoan the massive deterioration in standards and taste, yet these voices remain, for the most part, like John the Baptist in the wilderness. Regrettably, if not tragically, buttuism is being passed on to the current younger generations of Jamaicans as the norm. They have been made to believe that to be bad is good. And if you don't believe me, travel on a minibus with schoolchildren, or get your hands on some of the videos that have gone viral featuring our teenagers.
Once again, it must be stressed that it is the responsibility of every concerned Jamaican to stand up against this rampant buttuism. This country is being overrun by too many rats — bureaucrats, technocrats, kleptocrats and fat cats who have opted to be 'buttucrats'!
Regrettably, even in the hallowed halls of Gordon House, where our political leaders congregate, there is continuing evidence that many of them have chosen not to lead by example, but oftentimes descend into unacceptable patterns of behaviour by virtue of what they say and do. Indeed, between our politicians and entertainers our youngsters are being encouraged to emulate buttu behaviour because it is part of our “kulcha”, according to some so-called learned apologists. In essence, we are being asked to big up our bl…dc…t self!
Lloyd B Smith has been involved full-time in Jamaican media for the past 44 years. He has also served as a Member of Parliament and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. He hails from western Jamaica, where he is popularly known as the Governor. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or email@example.com.
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