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My Christmas Cocoa tree


Wid all ah de rains we been having lately, ah kept my distance from de countryside. But finally on Wednesday, ah got de courage to go to Cane Hole Mountain, Three Rivers, to value ah piece of Agriculture Land foh ‘Crookie,’ Mr Clarke Cruickshank, an ambitious young farmer. From de moment we got out de jeep and started to climb up de mountain, de skies got dark; but Crookie, courageous as ever, assured me not to worry: “Way we going got nuff place to shelter rain,” he said. Finally we were on his small farm wid mixed root crops eg ginger and dasheen, ah few Bananas, but de Cocoa crop caught my attention.{{more}} Close to ah hundred trees, about five years old, between four and six feet tall. Practically all of these trees are laden wid beautifully yellow Cocoa Pods, looking like Christmas Tree lights. De sky was now overcast and de hillside dark but dem yellow Cocoa pods formed a bright back-drop and gave ah glow to de surroundings.

Same time it started to rain. “Hold on ley me go mek ah umbrella fey all yuh” Crookie said. He disappeared and in ten seconds he was back wid two ah de broadest Banana leaves ah have seen foh ah long time. One foh my wife’s nephew, a young doctor/Anesthetist at de POS General Hospital, he up hey foh a few days break and to visit South Rivers way his future in-laws originated. Ah need not mention how impressed he was wid de mountain-side, clean streams, fresh aroma, de smell of bush and herbs. Ah think he was also impressed wid de confidence of Crookie and his bearing Cocoa Trees.

By den de rain was pouring “Cats’n’Dogs” but we were well covered under our Banana umbrella and de branches of de Cocoa Trees. And dis supports de calm-pain dat de Officials at de Forestry Division pushing on are among local Farmers, legal as well as illegal: “Protect de Forests, plant more trees and tree crops.”

De rain held back de wuk but it gave Crookie time to tell us of his vision. Right now he is harvesting his Cocoa which he sells to no middleman. He dries de beans, parch dem on coals fire, grind dem manually on his traditional corn-mill, and finally he rolls out his Chocolate Sticks to mek Cocoa-Tea foh de brakfast table. Crookie speaks of ah Co-op among his farming friends. But my assignment was to value his land and crop so dat he could get ah small loan to improve de quality of his life. Croookie in his own rights, is ah humble nation builder, an asset to dis country. He is self employed, toiling hard like hell in de mountains on ah piece ah land dat his father passsed on to him. It’s is painful when we hear how Infestors are given our Lands foh peanuts wid red carpet treatment, all sorts ah concession, tax free, duty free, some not paying dey wukers, dey getting Wage Free, NIS Free, dey not even paying Vinlec so its Electricity Free, next we could hear Water and Telephone Free. De Bigman at Buccama ran out de country wid his business owing de Go-venom-mint over seven million dollars in Taxes and NIS; de electricity at de Resort was disconnected $1.6 million outstanding. Dis is not new, it is not so long ago when we had Dr Roll-yah and de corruptshun at de (NDP) Ottley Hall Marina project. What an embarrassment foh dis country’s Tour-is-him product when de electricity at de Buccama Resorts was disconnected, guests who done pay dey money left stranded, more or less kicked out.

Man until de Go-venom-mint gets “Hard on Crime” as dey promised, where white collar criminals are made to defend dey act-shuns in Courts, no pull-it-tel-all interferance and under de table settlements; these people are criminals and should mek ah Jail. Let dem plant Cocoa Trees at Bell-lie Prisons.

In de meantime ah want ah few Cocoa Tree planted close to de house; Sam Barnwell, before he died had given me ah Cocoa Plant but it is too far from de house. De Yellow Pods is all de decoratrions necessary to light up my Christmas Cocoa Trees. And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

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