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Are dey Bull-or-Man?

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I was elated when Mr Burgin, the Head-teacher at Kingstown Anglican Primary school invited me to talk to the Grade 6 students last Monday.

Dat’s de Common Entrance Class, over one hundred 10 to 12 year oles, one lickle girl said she was nine years. The ole stone masonry building is still standing, close to 100 years ole, rich in character and history. How well ah remember as ah lickle youth going to Met-dis school – it was an ole timber structure with shingle on the outer face- dey was keen rivalry among de three Guv-ah-mint schools in Kingstown, Anglican, Met-dis and Cat-ah-lic Schools, headed by stalwarts like GCH Thomas, Cadman Fraser and Mother Ender respectively.{{more}} De big battle every year was foh two Guv-ah-mint schols foh de whole island, and six Town Board schols foh children within the suburbs ah Kingstown. Head teachers spent hours after school preparing dey best horses foh dat big event, de Derby. And if by chance ah head-teacher got transferred suddenly, s/he was not leaving his/her top students behind, dey transferring wid dem too. Alfonso Dennie was one head who made no bones about dat, ah think Doc Fraser was ah protégé of Dennie, such was de passion ah de Educators of long ago. No booth-lickers! In dem days ah Head-teacher in de rural areas performed many roles, most ah dem were Lay-preachers, JP’s, family counselors; letter writers. Illiteracy was on de rampage back den, so dat when ah fellar wanted de hands of ah lady in marriage, he had to write ah strong letter to her parents, stating his intentions; and who was better able foh dat task dan de Head-teacher? De I-run-he was if and when de girl’s parent had to respond, again it was de same Head-teacher doing de honours.

But on Monday afternoon, just standing in front ah dem kids brought home de message more clearly, dat we de adults, got ah lot ah wuk to do, primarily to protect our lickle ones. I threw ah open question at dem, asking wha’ plans dey ha’ foh de future. Lawyers and Doctors got de least response, ah lot ah dem wanted to be Pastors; ah don’t know if dey wanted to mama-guy dey teachers, but ah lot ah dem chose Teaching. Ah discovered ah good many of dem read de local Newspapers. When ah asked what was de head-lines in last week Searchlight, dey all saw it “Ah pregnant girl” dey said. One lickle fellar actually said it word foh word, “eleven 10-14 year ole girls pregnant”. At dat precise moment, all eyes were on me, ah could ah feel it, 100 lickle 10 – 12 year ole boys and girls staring me, as ah read de innocence and helpless look on dey faces, de message dey were sending was clear: “ Why are dey doing this to us, Please stop dem from hurting us”. When ah got home ah asked my girl Lie-Za to tell me how ah should go about dis sudden collapse in sinfulness. Her first answer was: “You asking me if dey are Bull-or-Man, well dis is no time foh nice words”. Den she said dat if eleven under-age girls got pregnant, den some way out dey is eleven fathers who should be charged foh rape, but instead, dey walking bout freely, preying on dey next victim. Ah reminded her bout de possibility dat our lickle ones could ah been playing Baby House, member dat ole game: “I is de mammy and yuh is de daddy”. She looked guilty, den she smiled like it brought back some pleasant memories foh her, she said: “Tell me bout dat, me and dat worthless Lie-Owe, is he spoil me! But dat is another problem dat has to be dealt wid differently”. Passionately she spoke about our lickle boys: “We don’t know way to tun next. In de house ah de Lord, dat is supposed to be de safest place foh children, is no longer safe, is like way refreshment dey giving dem, putting ah Bull-in-Dem, when dey grow up, hard to tell if dey’s Bull-or-Man.” Still fired up, she continued: “Yu send dem school; yes yuh might expect to hear de odd case ah boy and girl having sex in de toilet. But ah thinking ‘bout me lickle Lie-Fill who ah trying to guide and protect, explaining to him dey’s ah lot ah animals playing human, hoping he will spot de difference between Bull-or-Man. Ah does warn him to keep from idle conversation, to abstain from talking to much B.S., most of all keep far from anyting or person wid Bull-in-Dem. Lo and behold, big headlines in de Newspapers wid allegations about male teachers wid ah “Bull-in-Dem” messing up de lickle boys literally Bully-in-Dem”. Den she asked me what ah have to say. Ah explained to her dat over de years, I have learned to respect people foh who dey are and de choices dey make; I have no authority to condemn any one foh dey preferred life-style; dey’s ah greater Power dat will judge us all. But ah tek strong objections to individuals, professionals, Drugsman, Teefman, be he Bull-or-Man as she calls it, using dey privileged positions to Bully-in-Dem lickle ones. Maybe Ralph and Collin should stop provoking de people wid de foolishness say de Amending Bills, and come up wid some serious penalties foh dem sex predators, pee-defile, infant destroyers. She looked at me and said: “Is nuff ah dem out dey, how yuh go know who is Bull-or-Man”? Not me and dat Lie-Za. And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.