The most beautiful name for Jamaicans right now is Bolt, the legendary sprinter superstar who has raised Jamaican pride to a new dimension. So what’s in a name? A name can lift a nation to the mountaintop to see the promised land in just one day when it seeks and earns international respect and on the other hand a name can swamp it in mire with one dishonourable act.
We have exotic and beautiful names for our villages like Coulibistrie, Rosalie, Calibishie, and perhaps your own village. We may even have a contest as to the most beautiful of all, however the problem is most of the names came to us from colonialism. Yet one of the most exotic and exclusive names to my ears is the one created by the mighty Kalinago people of old. These valiant warriors stood against terrible violent odds and defended their right to their way of life.
Indeed they only succumbed through trickery including one event that lives in infamy when they were conned into attending a ‘truce’ meeting and there at Massacre were brutally-yes- massacred by the British soldiers. To give our Emancipation Day or Independence Day more meaning there could be an enactment of that reprehensible act somewhere in the Massacre area, lest we forget. A little diluting of the pure ‘sewoing’ will do good to the national spirit.
These Kalinago people of old who understood that the land and the people are one, looked upon this stunning God’s gift, with soaring peaks like fingers pointing toward what the preachers bold facedly tell us is Heaven gloved in unbelievably luxuriant shades of green, circled by bouquets of clouds and were inspired to call it one name only- Waitikubuli (Tall is her body.)
I had the privilege and honour of doing a voiceover on video for promoting our tourism and the opening words on the script were “Waitikubuli –Tall is her body.” As soon as the words left my lips, I was overwhelmed by the impact of circumstance and knew this was no longer just a job, but a mission.
Our imagination is the unconquerable final frontier and God’s way of allowing us to see beyond our humdrum realities. It is in this mode I placed the delightfulness of the name and envisioned a place of unspoken bond between man and beasts. The name spoke to me of immensity, grandeur yet a place of peace, love, beauty, and a humble people beaming in the awareness and gratitude of what had been given.
I could see this name of power and wonder attached to verse, song, dance, art, classical cultural things and matters of genuine purity and upliftment of spirit. A name that would engender thoughts of its residents as a people of compassion, who laugh and cry in season, who face eternity with clean hearts and are not afraid to stand for freedom. I could never imagine one day that the name Waitikubuli would be attached to passport scandals, passports with false and strange names including diplomatic passports to fugitives, a veritable sales event of blue books stamped officially with the Columbus imposed European Spanish name- Dominica.
Waitikubuli belongs to us, donated by the Kalinago people, to cherish, to love, to shout about and as an anchor to our treasured indigenousness. Most of the other names have come down from the colonizers, and even our new stadium is called ‘Windsor Park Stadium’ even though built by the Chinese. A new wine in an old bottle.
We may comment that this does not really matter and cannot understand my harping on about a name. “What’s in a name?”
Well try praying to Jesus by some other name, or to address a letter to someone in a city of streets with no names or in a room of people calling out to a nameless individual.
Our roots are important features of the post-colonial era especially with the effects of neo-colonialism whether by China, or ALBA. Roots convey ideas about heritage, background as well as race and culture and it is a time of gloom when the danger is clear and present that our people will lose these identities. That is why the’ in your face’ sale of our passports willy-nilly even to crooks and vagabonds for selfish reward is a case of not seeing the tree because of it’s fruit, Our Anthem sings of us as one people, sons and daughters of this land beyond compare “full of Godly reverent care”. Where is reverent care when we need to care about the prostitution of our passports? Like in the words of Gabby Douglas the African American winning gymnast 2012 Olympics, “You’ve got to go out there and be a beast,” for protecting our nationality.
In Dominica the colonialists had changed the official language of the Kalinago and the language of our slave ancestors to English and dissed many different customs. The Jesus we serve came with and from them; our African roots have long been placed on the side burner and replaced with new standards of behaviour and we were like a conquered people. But our pride was energised on November 3rd 1978, that first Independence Night when we watched the flag of Britain come down as the Sisserou went up the flagpole despite the vigorous local attempts of Eugenia Charles and the Freedom Party to prevent Independence happening.
When after all this we transfer out our pride which is a most profound part of our nationality for nothing more than private selfish bowls of dollar porridge, we dishonour the journey. At Independence time we have a feast of slogans mostly celebratory, but perhaps this year we could have one focused on our real and immediate problem like, ‘PROTECT THE PURITY OF OUR NATIONALITY. ON YOUR MARK, SET, JOURNEY NOW START ‘
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