SATURDAY’S CHILD – Everywhere is war
MY TRINIDADIAN friend rang me and said, “War going on.” Normally this does not have anything to do with an openly declared state of organized violent conflict typified by extreme aggression, societal disruption and high mortality.
Most of the time “war” is an abbreviation of the word “what”; so when you hear a Trini say, “War happening?” or “War you think you doing?” or “War kind of nonsense you talking?” you interpret the “war” as “what” and answer accordingly.
“Not much,” I replied. “War about you?”
“Listen,” he said. “What I am trying to tell you is that war going on, real war.”
“Of course,” I responded cynically, “I watch BBC too and apart from Iraq and Afghanistan, they have war in Libya and they have civil war in a bunch of other places.”
“I am not talking about them,” he expostulated.
I interrupted him, “You hear Jay Leno last week? He said America is now fighting three wars and asked people to imagine how many it would be if Obama hadn’t won the Nobel Peace Prize.
“Yeah,” my friend said, “and Jimmy Kimmel took on Sarah Palin. Kimmel said, ‘Sarah Palin continues to make significant contributions to the English language. She asked, ‘Is Libya a war, an intervention, a squirmish? What is it?’ Squirmish is how I feel every time I hear Sarah Palin talk.”
I was feeling squirmish myself and asked, “Well, what war is this you talking about?”
“The one between Jamaica and Bardados,” he replied, satisfied that he had now got my attention.
“You crazy,” I retorted. “There is no war like that.”
“There is now,” he said and proceeded to tell me what he knew of the story. It seems that a Jamaican woman travelling to Barbados on March 14, 2011, was subjected to a search by a female immigration officer, who (it was claimed) placed her finger in the private parts of the woman while ostensibly searching for drugs.
The Jamaican woman, Shanique Myrie, who took her plight to the Jamaica Observer, alleges that she was subjected to two demeaning cavity searches by a female immigration officer, who continuously spewed venom about Jamaicans.
Although no contraband was found on Ms Myrie, she claims she was refused entry into Barbados and detained by officers before being sent back to Jamaica on the following day.
Ms Myrie gave an extremely graphic account of her experience to the media.
The first thing that the Barbadians supposedly did after sending Ms Myrie back to Jamaica was insist that she was lying. At a Press conference a few days later, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Maxine McClean told reporters: “There is absolutely no truth to a story carried in a Jamaican newspaper on Thursday, March 24, that a female citizen of that country was body-searched by immigration officers on arrival at the Grantley Adams International Airport.”
Despite this, the governments of both countries were holding high-level meetings to seek to resolve the issue peacefully.
When I heard my friend’s summary, I was, of course, aghast, appalled and alarmed but not at the incident so much as the possibility that war would break out. The last war that started in the region was precipitated by an anatomical issue.
In 1731, just off Havana, Captain Robert Jenkins supposedly insulted the Spanish captain, Juan de Leon Fandino. For this insult, Fandino used his sword to cut off one of Jenkins’ ears.
In 1738, before a committee of the House of Commons, Jenkins reported the incident and exhibited his severed ear. In this report, he said that his ear was “cut off in April 1731 in the West Indies by Spanish coast guards who had boarded his ship, pillaged it and then set it adrift.” Thus began the War of Jenkins’ Ear.
If a war starts between Barbados and Jamaica about Ms Myrie’s experience, I wonder what they would call it.
Tony Deyal was last seen saying that he passed through the Barbados Airport last week but sadly nobody fingered him for any offence. He did tell a customs officer, when asked, that he had no food with him because he did not want her pawing through his buns.