Dear Jamaica: 5 types of Jamaicans you meet living abroad
First, let me say that this article is based solely on my experience living abroad. I have lived in two different countries outside of Jamaica in the last five years and have met many of my countrymen and women from all walks of life. From these encounters, I’ve noticed is that though many of us are proud to fly the flag during the Olympics games or when someone mentions Usain Bolt, there are some Jamaicans who are not so proud of where they come from. These are the 5 Jamaicans I’ve met while living overseas.
1. The “everybody fi eat a food” Jamaican
This Jamaican is a true patriot who doesn’t hesitate to share his good fortune with his fellow country man/woman. He maintains strong ties with family and friends back home and is always happy to share links and any info to help them get a piece of the pie. He doesn’t deny the challenges his home country is experiencing but is keen to create a balanced view of life in Jamaica.
2. The “me nuh want too much a dem up here” Jamaican
This Jamaican wants to keep all the spoils of “farrin” to himself. As far as he/she is concerned, too many Jamaicans coming to the adopted country means less of the pie for him/her. He is not too happy about the idea that Jamaicans from the alieu hills of Manchester may have to share these opportunities with Jamaicans from the sugar cane fields of Westmoreland. Family and friends in Jamaica won’t hear from him until he needs something done. Moreover, he tries to deter other Jamaicans from migrating to the adopted country, and avoids sharing details about employment opportunities or the immigration process. He/she is hesitant to make friends with other Jamaicans living in the immigrant country but don’t mind having other people’s contact information just in case he’s lonely or needs a favour.
3. The “Usain Bolt” Jamaican
This is the Jamaican that celebrates the success of Usain Bolt, Bob Marley and every other Jamaican celebrity. He will wave the black, green and gold during the Olympic games and anytime there’s a Jamaican success on the world scene. However, he doesn’t want to identify with anything else Jamaican. He’s not keen to be an ambassador or share the Jamaican culture with those around him. He is more interested in putting on the Jamaican colours if it will earn him favours, free gifts and recognition.
4. The “foreign minded” Jamaican
For this Jamaican, everything about their adopted home is better than their native country. They are quick to bash Jamaica and won’t hesitate to join in discussions that portray the country in a negative light. When they do visit home, they return to their adopted country with tales of how “backward” Jamaica is and insist that they could never live there again. They celebrate foreign cuisine and publicly shun traditional Jamaican food like jerk chicken and rice and peas. This kind of Jamaican will often avoid socializing with other Jamaicans living in same country with the excuse that they are “ghetto” or “too Jamaican”, preferring instead to hang out with natives of their adopted country and other foreigners.
5. The “what is patwa?” Jamaican
This Jamaican goes out of their way to avoid speaking patois/patwa. They will only speak English in public, and may even pretend that they don’t speak or don’t understand patois when they’re around other Jamaicans. On the contrary, they like to show off their cultural diversity by offering to teach foreigners to say popular patois phrases, and aren’t shy about blasting the latest dancehall tunes. If a random foreigner approaches you and says “bumboclaat” they probably learnt it from this Jamaican. When speaking about patois, he will often use phrases like “they say…” in reference to fellow Jamaicans, instead of “we say…” as a way of distinguishing himself from the ordinary Jamaican – making sure to point out that “he doesn’t speak this way”. The main thing about this Jamaican is that he/she wishes to identify with the language of Jamaica’s colonial past, rather than the patwa language that most ordinary Jamaicans speak. Even when living abroad, he sees himself as part of the “uptown” ilk, and doesn’t want to jeopardize his fragile social status by daring to speak patois in public.
I’ve probably appeared as any one of these descriptions at some point in time so this article is not an attempt to criticize or bash anyone, but these are the five types of Jamaicans I’ve met while living abroad. How about the Jamaicans that you’ve met overseas?