So, no one knows who killed Yetanya? Bull manure!


Tuesday, September 04, 2018

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I have family members living in three African countries. In each country, I am told, there are several tribal dialects. There is, however, one proverb which can be found in all of these dialects. The advice is that a child does not belong to one parent or home. Or the upbringing of a child is the responsibility of the community.

Whatever the translation, the message is “It takes a village to raise a child”. This is a well-known African proverb that Hillary Rodham Clinton borrowed to title her 1996 bestseller, It Takes A Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us.

The 'Village' is what we would call a community. And communities in Jamaica are suffering. The main reason is that one of the cornerstones of community life is a stable family. Many of our families are now dysfunctional. The children are a very important part of community life. But they are bused out of most communities at daybreak to attend schools in other areas and return at sunset, learning things their parents know nothing about along the way. Friendships are formed, not in the neighbourhood, but in bus parks and shopping malls and some other very scary places. So ties to the communities in which they live are tenuous at best.

Where am I going with all this? Some days ago, 14-year-old Yetanya Francis was raped, murdered and her body partially burnt in a section of Arnett Gardens known as 'Zimbabwe'. As accustomed as we are to cruelty and violence, this one seared the national consciousness. Somehow it seemed just a little more cruel and heartless.

Some residents claim that they 'heard someone crying for rape', others heard screaming. Others still smelt burning flesh. But no one raised an alarm or investigated. No one bothered to call the police. Why? As the chatting continued, they spoke of the darkness in the area as persons 'shot out the street lights' and 'someone' was raping women in the area.

Whenever I attempt to speak positively of the Tivoli Gardens I knew a little about before the security forces “cleaned up” the community, I am shouted down. But what I call the “Tivoli experiment” was an excellent example of inner-city community life. Very young children walked the streets very late at night, unafraid. People had their doors wide open very late at night, unafraid. The likelihood of anyone shooting out street lights was unthinkable. And rape? But as I said, somebody decided that Tivoli had to be “cleaned up'. Now it is so 'clean', anything is possible.

Over the years, others have come and tried to replicate the Tivoli experiment. Perhaps they did not have the benefit of a sociologist. But what they produced was little more than votes in sardine cans. That notwithstanding, are 'Zimbabwe' residents going to stand there with a straight face and suggest that strangers came into their area and shot out street lights, leaving the area dark and vulnerable? Are 'Zimbabwe' residents telling us that a stranger entered their community, dragged this girl scratching and screaming, raped her, made a fire and burnt her body in the same community, then hopped on a bus and headed home? Permit me to climb to the top of the highest building in 'Zimbabwe' and shout to these residents, at the top of my voice, BULL MANURE!!! YOU TEK BIG PEOPLE FI FOOL?

This is exactly why people come together to live in communities. Some of these garrisons may have been constructed with no other aim but to create safe parliamentary seats. But one unintended advantage is that they are extremely difficult for outsiders to penetrate. Come on, 10th Street.

Zimbabwe, the police station is now open. Jamaica is waiting outa patience.

— Glenn Tucker is an educator and a sociologist. He can be reached

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