Thursday, April 25, 2024

SATURDAY’S CHILD – Spear me the details


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There are conventions and conventions, as well as something called the conventional wisdom.
The term “conventional wisdom” is easier to dispose of. It is not what you learn in a Catholic Girls’ Secondary School run by nuns, or even in the abode of the nuns themselves although there is something called a “conventicle” and even people called “conventiclers” that sound worse than they are spelt. 
Conventional wisdom refers to ideas or explanations that are generally accepted as true by the public or by experts in a field. When I was growing up the conventional wisdom was that dew fell and if you went outside in the night without a hat “dew will fall on you”.
Many years ago the conventional wisdom was that smoking was not harmful, the world was flat and that if God intended people to fly he would have given them wings.
In terms of conventions, there are political conventions like the one held by the Democratic Party of the United States where the Trojan condom company was reputed to have set up a booth and were planning to hand out thousands of their products. They were expecting Bill Clinton. 
These conventions are really large formal gatherings of groups with shared beliefs, aims or objectives. Then there are international legal agreements called conventions like the ones on terrorism, the rights of the child, against torture, the elimination of all kinds of discrimination, promoting the rights of persons with disabilities, climate change, corruption, human rights and human trafficking. 
In fact, even though Trinidad has a convention centre as part of the Prime Minister’s residential complex and another within the old American naval base, neither of these, or both together, will have enough room to hold all the conventions that Trinidad has signed. This is true for most of the other Caribbean countries.
Recently there was a lot of talk about taking action against human trafficking, yet there are many women from Latin America and the Dominican Republic working in most of the countries as prostitutes who, when caught by immigration authorities, perhaps because someone did not pay their dues on time, claim to have been lured or tricked into coming to the country and then forced into prostitution. 
In a recent case in Trinidad, three women from Venezuela were found guilty of “illegal entry” – a term that might have been as appropriate to their clients as it was to them. The women claimed that they came by boat from Venezuela with the intention to work.
Their attorney said his clients were victims of a hoax and that the incident “speaks to the exploitation of vulnerable women”. He lamented that they took the proverbial chance and fell prey to the circumstances.
What makes this form of human trafficking a regional disgrace is that the women are hauled before the courts but not the owners of the places in which they work, the boatmen who bring them, or the people who buy and sell them like the sardines they are in a sea of bull sharks.
Then there are conventions like the ones on hospitality that I mentioned in relation to the passage of Hurricane Earl last week in Antigua. I had said that Guyanese and Trinidadians, though not as hospitable as Eskimos who shared their wives with guests, or some Pacific Islanders who provided a young woman as a substitute for sexual services to men whose wives were pregnant, were among the most hospitable people on earth. 
However, a report in the Zimbabwe Telegraph, disputes my claim. A Swaziland journalist named Clyde Chokupeta, in an article headlined The Swazis Are The Most Hospitable In Africa, referred to my article and its effect on Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, to whom he refers as “Bob Raw Butt”: 
“It being winter and having read Deyal’s rumblings, Bob Raw Butt decided to go down Swazi for a visit. Many men are contemplating checking on the credibility of King Mswati’s hospitability . . .”
One of the interesting conventions cited by Mr Chokupeta concerns the Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania or the Karamajongo in Uganda, who are known for being very hospitable indeed:
“When a man visits a village and happens to arrive at the homestead of a contemporary who was circumcised in the same period with him, he just pins down his spear and enters the hut freely to partake of the warmth offered by the wife. 
“If the man comes back and finds the spear outside the main bedroom, he finds somewhere else to spend the night. He knows for sure that one of his contemporary mates is visiting. That is hospitality.” 
I would think that even in Africa, where the spear is the conventional weapon, one would exercise that right sparingly and not spearingly.
I know that we are very hospitable people in the Caribbean, but here that kind of behaviour would justify the “hospital” part of the word “hospitality”. 
The man would end up being circumscribed as well as circumcised, and would fittingly illustrate for all those unbelievers the truth of the adage or conventional wisdom, “spear the rod and spoil the child”.
• Tony Deyal, having already acquired visas for Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Swaziland, was last seen, spear in hand, on an African safari with Bob Raw-Butt.


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