Wednesday, September 19, 2007

We likkle but we tallawah...

Went to Takoradi in the Central Region this weekend for a training workshop and saw this sign - of course had to take a picture! The sign made me wonder of course - was this something started by a Jamaican? If no, what was the affiliation to Jamaica and why? Pity they didn't have a contact number, would have been sure to call and find out. An interesting story waiting to be told I am sure.

Flashes of Jamaica are everywhere you can imagine, from the flags on the taxis and the back of tro-tros to other random signs that you will see along the road. These flashes extend to music as well from the ragga influences on hip-life to the Bob Marley renditions given by live bands. The patois speaking Ghanaian dreads at La Beach (and elsewhere) provide another insight as to the extent of that influence - at least on a particular part of the society. Most Ghanaian men who studied or lived in London for any extended period of time, will proudly tell you that they dated a Jamaican girl and proceed to relate to you the ins and outs of Jamaican cuisine (rice and peas being a favorite) and life style plus the stubbornness of Jamaican women! That needs a post in itself to say the least!

I always feel chuffed to be recognized as Jamaican. It is always a pleasant surprise to see how positively people react and how much people want to know. Have never been asked so many questions about my dreads, if I am related to Bob Marley (also because of my dreads), if most Jamaicans wear dreads plus numerous questions above movies like 'Dancehall Queen' or 'Third World Cop' that people assume gives an accurate reflection of Jamaican daily life.

It doesn't only happen in Ghana, but basically anywhere on the continent! I remember going to Nairobi once and the immigration officer asked how long I would be staying for. When I told him a week, the man protested and said no, I am Jamaican and therefore I need to stay for longer, after all ' Jamaicans are their brothers' and proceeded to give me two months! My other colleague who I was traveling with - and no I won't say where he is from - got the exact time his ticket was valid for!

One of the funniest incidents was being asked by a Ghanaian taxi guy if I knew 'Strench Town' in Jamaica. At a loss as to what and where was 'Strench Town' the guy patiently explained "you don't know the place that Bob Marley sing about in his song lady?". Finally the 'a-ha' moment came - he was referring to Trench Town! Lost in translation? I wonder.

Feels good to be a part of the positive reinforcement of one's country and to know that persons still very much appreciate Jamaica for the good things and not just know about us for the negative ones. As we would say in Jamaica, we little but we tallawah (aka sturdy, strong, not to be underestimated; tough, stubborn)
* - fi true!
* definition from dictionary of Jamaican English

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