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Ah man called Jericho

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DE PAST STUDENT Association of St Joseph Convent Marriaqua Secondary School (SJCMSS) hosted an Awards Ceremony last Friday evening, bringing down de curtains dat brought to ah climax de Institution’s 50th Anniversary celebrations.

De high point of de evening was de presentation of three deserving Awards, two former teachers, de late Git Francis; Ms Pratt, ah US Peace Corps; and ah past student, now ah successful businessman, Arlington Thomas.

And den dey was ah surprise presentation. Cohost Michael John, ah past student, invited on stage all of his siblings present, who had attended the SJCMSS. De stats began to unravel in a shortly worded Citation from Michael himself. His Father Jericho John, was twice married, had 14 children, of which 11 of dem attended and successfully completed Secondary Education at de SJCMSS. Dat has to be a record and no one needs to challenge Jericho in these hard E-con-ah-mek times.

Five of de 11 siblings were present: Michael, Rueben, Grenville, Cecilia and soca star Hance, who later teamed up wid Bomani and thrilled de audience.

And so de John clan, (good and bad Johns), decided as ah mark of Gratitude, Respect, and Appreciation to dis noble Catholic Institution, to “give back something” to dey Alma Mater. It’s an Annual Award to de Most Disciplined Graduating Student and will include a trophy and $500 cash. Dey requested dat de Award be named in honour of their beloved father, Wesdtfield “Jericho” John.

And who is dis Jericho John? Ah remembered ah was engaged to settle ah boundary dispute between Jericho and his near-bar.

De name Jericho sounded like ah brick wall, and everybody ah asked about de man had one description of him: “He not easy to deal wid!” He was not dey when we arrived on de job, even though ah had sent him an Official Notice thru de Post Office, to appear.

So de workmen began to clear de boundary. But dare he was, standing on ah bank looking down on us. He was very short and stocky, strong looking ole fellar, wid his cutlass in hand. Ah greeted him, introduced me-self, den ah asked him if he got de Official Notice. Unfortunately foh me, de Notice was still at de Evesham Post Office. He cuss me left, right and centre. Some hut-full words, calling me ah all kind ah dounce, how ah ate my school fees. Inspite of de cussing ah got, I apologized to Mr Jericho, packed up and left.

Bright and early next morning he was at my office door waiting foh me. Ah tell me-self he come foh to finish me off. All decked foh official business, he greeted me politely wid: “Brother Alexander, I am waiting here for you since morning,” he said.

He sounded like ah Jericho whose walls had tumbled down. He explained dat he came to apologize foh blasting me off his land.

“Man I went to my Lawyer (Doctor Kenneth John) for you yesterday, but he told me you were ah decent Surveyor and I should come and speak wid you.

So I came to apologize to you!” De next day ah completed de survey wid much assistance from Jericho.

But Jericho ah Hard Wuker, Banana Farmer and Carpenter, who built from house to coffin and ah Nay-shun Builder. Best of all he had faith in ah rounded Education. And 30 years ago, it must have been challenging foh dis Humble Black Man, to send all his children to Secondary School, including de 11 who attended SJCMSS. Jericho had Vision and Wisdom. His son Rueben told me dat his dad made dem all work foh de tuition and food.

He uses to wake dem up ah 4:00 and 5:00 a.m. to go cut and carry Bananas before going to school. He literally brainwashed dem wid de opening chorus line from Sparrow’s Kaiso: “Children go to school and learn well, otherwise later on in life yuh go catch real Hell!” Dey have all become role models in de society.

So on Friday night ah related to Jericho’s son Ben, an Accountant, my encounter wid his father.

But Ben has ah better story dan mine. His dad was in ah bad mood one morning, and his near-bar, ah respected Public Servant and Educator, came across to pacify Jericho, who by den was way out ah control. “My brother,” Jericho said, “I respect you as an Educated man, but Education is not all dey is to life, yuh have to have looks wid yuh Education, therefore yuh doh have de authority to come hey and tell me how to run my life!” Embarrassing, but still, nuff respects to ah man called Jericho. And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

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

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