The revolution is here and it won’t be televised. These words are familiar to us all, but in some ways it is an abstract thought. Why, you might ask? Well, for one thing, with the recent events of September 11th, war as we know it has been revolutionized, from newspaper articles to radio announcements, and now it is televised. The war on terror, ladies and gentlemen, (some might say revolution) is up front and in our faces, televised!
But there has been a more quiet revolution brewing right under our noses, one that is not televised. It is a revolution to undo four-hundred years of slavery and colonial rule. This might not be your typical coup d’etat, South Africa, or a raging war in the streets of Somalia. No, this is the Jamaican soft revolution, a revolution of words.
As Ras Desmond Williams notes in the preface of Jabari Authentic Jamaican Dictionary of the Jamic Language, “word + sound = power (W+S=P).” And, if Ras Dennis Jabari Reynolds has his way, all Jamaicans will posses the power over the bastard words used to describe how his people talk. He notes, “As an independent [Jamaica] it should be made clear that we have a language of the people, for the people. We do not speak Broken English, Patois, or Creole…”
That is a significant statement when one considers the context and premise of Jabari’s aim. If word plus sound equals power, and Broken English, Patois, and Creole represent the word within the equation, of course, uttering these words represents the sound, which together as word and sound represents the manifestation of power within those words. To comprehend further, one must understand the root meaning of the word ‘broken’. According to the New Webster’s Concise Dictionary of the English Language, broken means,
“shattered; fractured. Not working; out of order. Violated; disregarded: broken oaths. Not continuous; interrupted. Incomplete: a broken set. Disordered; disrupted. Rough or irregular. Crushed, as in spirit. Weakened; infirm. Tamed; trained. Imperfectly spoken: broken English.”
Then it is safe to infer that, those who gave the name Broken English, Patois, and Creole to the way individuals speak hold the power over those individuals self-determination.
Coming out of the era of slavery and Colonial rule, a fair question to ask, are Jamaicans shattered, incomplete, tamed, trained, crushed, as in spirit or a broken set? It is highly doubtful that Jamaicans would see themselves in such a light. To prove this point further, Jamaican publisher, Wellesley Gayle, published “Interesting Facts on Jamaica” where he noted that,
1. Jamaica is the first Caribbean country to gain independence.
2. Jamaica stands strong in 3rd place on the list of countries to win the Miss World titles the most!
3. Jamaica was the first country to impose economic sanctions against the apartheid regime of South Africa.
With accomplishments like these, it would be incomprehensible to see Jamaicans as “infirm.”
With such a degrading word as ‘broken’, it is no wonder that Ras Jabari wishes to change the view of his people and give them power over those words by proposing the usage of the word ‘Jamic’ as apposed to Broken English, Patois, or Creole when referring to the way Jamaicans speak.
The Jabari Authentic Jamaican Dictionary of the Jamic Language is the first of its kind. It features a pronunciation guide, over three-thousand entries, idioms, variants, word usage, cross references, Iyaric (Rastafarian Argot), and a host of other features. With creations of this nature, Jamaicans are well on their way to freedom from mental slavery.
It was Robert (Bob) Marley who popularized the words “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; None but ourselves can free our minds.” To free oneself from mental slavery, first one must have self-determination by not allowing others to dictate how one speaks or behaves.
What Jabari seems to be implying in the Jabari Authentic Jamaican Dictionary of the Jamic Language is word + sound = power, which demonstrates that words tend to be powerful enough when spoken to have a mental hold on an individual and if one has been called a fool long enough, then that person will eventually begin to act like one. To state the point more clearly, Cogito, Ergo Sum (I think, therefore I am). If one thinks his or her language is broken then those individuals who continue to accept such a terminology will become broken or behave like a ‘broken set.’
In conclusion, Jamaicans have too much to be proud of to be allowing others to refer to their language as broken. There is nothing broken about Jamaicans. So, the Jabari Authentic Jamaican Dictionary of the Jamic Language will be yet another praise for the country as the first Caribbean to effectively name their language, thus securing their self determination. This is a ground breaking moment for all Jamaicans and this dictionary should be in every household. Jamaicans be proud!