2016: Year in Review

And just like that, it’s 2017 already. Every year we say that the year went by quickly, but for me, 2016 really and truly felt like it just flashed by.  As I usually do, I’ve rounded up the trending topics for the year.

Let’s dive right into it.

Jamaican men seemed to have lost their minds.

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As the end of the year approached, there were quite a few cases of men seemingly snapping and brutally murdering their lovers (in some cases ex-lovers).  It all seemed so unreal, but domestic violence is very real.  I urge you to look out for your friends and family members.  Be on the alert for signs of abuse and don’t turn a blind eye.  You could be the difference between them living or dying.

It wasn’t only Jamaican men who seemed to lose their minds; the American police seemed to have gone crazy too.

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It became common (too common) to see broadcasts about civilians being killed by the police in the United States of America. More often than not the victims were Black, and the officers’ actions were questionable.  Watching playbacks of the shootings often made me stop and wonder how in 2016 we were seeing such cruel and seemingly racist behaviour. How did we revert to this?


And in other news in America, Donald Trump became President of the United States.

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Were you surprised? I was. Why? He made such crass and racist comments yet still he had such a large following.  That in itself made me realize a sad truth.  What do you think?  Did Hillary Clinton not do enough during her campaigning efforts to encourage the public to vote for her?  What were Hillary’s downfalls and what were the things that worked in Trump’s favour?

Fallen icons

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We bid farewell to even more musical legends in 2016. I read a tweet that said we should lock the remaining musical greats in a vault to ensure their safety because we can’t afford to lose anymore. Agreed! Prince, George Michael and David Bowie all left us. Prince, he just seemed immortal, didn’t he? Sigh. We also lost actor Alan Thicke. I remember watching him on Growing Pains. I used to love that show. This year we also said goodbye to Fidel Castro; perhaps one of the most controversial figures of all time. Right as we were ready to close 2016, Carrie Fisher and right after, her mother Debbie Reynolds left us too.

Right here in our homeland Jamaica we were reminded that longevity is promised to no one.

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Tears flowed for St. George’s College football captain Dominic James who collapsed while playing the game he loved, and was pronounced dead at the hospital. Whether you knew him or not, you couldn’t help but feel emotional. I think we all joined in mourning with his coach Neville Bell, his George’s family, parents and other loved ones.  We were plunged into mourning again at the stabbing death of Jamaica College student Nicholas Francis.  Over what? A cell phone.  This child’s life was taken because of a simple cell phone.  Another tragic occurrence was the plane crash in Greenwich Town which resulted in the deaths of Jonathan Worton, Dansheer Gilmore and Ramone Forbes. I didn’t know them, but I really felt it, and seeing posts from friends who actually knew them was very sad.

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Delus, there is no way I could go on without acknowledging you. I didn’t know him either but when I read that he had committed suicide I couldn’t sleep. I happened to encounter him once and I very well knew who he was when I was walking past but I continued along as if I didn’t.  He gave me a big bright smile (which I guess is what I remembered when I couldn’t sleep) and said, “Gwaan like yuh doe wah smile.”  It wasn’t said conceitedly; it was all in good fun, and at that point we both burst out laughing.  As Chronixx sings, ‘They see me smile but they don’t know what I feel inside.’

I’d like you all to acknowledge that depression is real.  It is not something made up and it is not a sign of weakness.  We all have our troubles and sometimes it’s harder for some of than others to overcome them.  If someone is brave enough to open up and talk to you about something, don’t trivialize their problems.  Don’t dismiss them and tell them that someone has it worse than they do.  Whether that’s true or not, their problem is still just as important and very real to them.  It doesn’t disappear just because ‘someone else is worse off.’  Hear them out.  Also, don’t just throw a ‘pray about it’ or a scripture at them and send them on their way.  They’re struggling. They need more.  Why not offer to pray with them?  Someone opening up to you is a big step for them, and how you respond can either help or make the situation ten times worse.

For everyone we lost, whether named here or not, rest in peace.

We figured out Kartel’s secret.
On a lighter note….Yes!  We finally figured out how Kartel is still managing to put out music and rule the airwaves.  Okay, actually, the world may never know Adi’s secret but take a look at this video.  It was too funny not to share again.

JLP wins

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The Jamaica Labour Party emerged victorious in the February 2016 general election.  Some persons felt that the PNP spent too much time focusing on Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ house versus real issues at hand. What are your views? Whatever the case, I can’t say I’ve ever seen such an interest amongst the younger persons in the population to go out and vote. I hope this trend continues. It was good seeing young people getting involved and making their voice be heard.


X6 Murder Trial

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This case gained much public outcry, and even became a trending topic on Twitter.  Quite frankly I don’t even know where to begin to comment on this trial; it all seemed like such a fiasco.  All I will say is rest in peace Khajeel.


Spice served it up hot and spicy.
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In honour of our athletes’ outstanding performance at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, the Government held a reception for them; the Sports Gala and Awards Ceremony, which took place at the National Indoor Sports Centre.  It wasn’t Asafa’s green suit that stole the show, neither was it Usain’s or Julian’s dance moves that left us talking.  No sir, it was dancehall artiste Spice who gave us a performance we will never forget.

For the full story, check out this link for my blog post on Spice’s performance https://shamzsays.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/too-spicy-for-you/


Portia Simpson Miller announced she is stepping down.

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People’s National Party Leader Portia Simpson Miller gave the surprising announcement that she will not be seeking re-election as party president next September.  Here’s an excerpt from the Jamaica Observer – Many, including the youth arm of the party, Peoples National Party Youth Organisation (PNPYO), have since called on her to resign.  PNPYO has
called for a change in the political vision being presented to the public, beginning with her as leader, as “the premier political movement in Jamaica, finds itself at a crossroads, where the noble institution has lost the faith, trust, and confidence of the majority of Jamaica’s people”.  Remember when she said she was waiting on God to give her a sign for the date of the 2016 general election. Do you think she waited on a sign from God to step down too? Hmmm.


Photos of Gully Bop and 50 Cent had us wondering what’s going on.

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As the older folks say, ‘What nuh dead, nuh dash weh.’  Gully Bop came on the scene looking like this.  See picture below (apologies for the picture quality).

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He skyrocketed to fame after a YouTube video of him singing. He was ‘cleaned up’ by Ms. Chin and that was quite a dramatic romance. As you all know, they are no longer together, but it was good while it lasted.  Gives me hope too. Maybe there’s a Mr. Chin out there just waiting to scoop me up lol.
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Anyway, this year, photos of Bop and none other than 50 Cent surfaced and needless to say we were all shocked. There is speculation that ‘Fiddy’ will be casting Bop in his hit series ‘Power’ or that there is a collaboration in the making.  Well let’s see if the big reveal happens in 2017.

Mia-Skye captured our hearts. #prayforMia

I’m guilty of wasting time on Instagram.  Are you? It starts off with looking at just one picture, and before I know it I’m scrolling through tons more.  It was because of this however that I came across a little girl with a personality ten times as big as she is; Mia-Skye.  Sass, precociousness, charm, wise beyond her years are just a few of the words that sum her up.  I can always count on an amusing post to make me crack a smile or burst into full out laughter.  As you can probably guess, I’m about to launch into an epistle about Mia.  Just a short paragraph would never suffice for this shining star. I hope that in sharing her story, you’ll be encouraged to help her in any way you can.

Recently, Mia was involved in a serious car accident which left her near death.  As explained by her mother, Sasha, this is damage to several parts of her brain.  She had half of her skull removed in order for the doctors to remove a blood clot and bleeding in her brain.  Can you imagine your child or another loved one having to go through that? The part of the skull that was removed was placed in her abdomen in an effort to preserve it.  Due to complications she will instead have to get an artificial acrylic bone made to replace the part of the skull that was removed.  She may have to undergo more surgeries in the future as the artificial bone won’t grow with the rest of her head.

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Going back to the hospital yesterday was such a reminder of how good God has been to us. Kids that we left there who weren't as critical as Mia, were still there when we went back…sigh… As her tummy was being dressed yesterday her doctor kept saying "mommy I hope u know Mia is a miracle baby… Patients who come in, in her condition rarely make it to this point"..I told her its the prayers… and I know that God worked thru her as she tried to save her life. I remember hearing the doctors telling me that first night what it is they need to do and thinking " dear God a it dis.." But u see faith… It can truly move mountains! And the God we serve… Is a wonderful, merciful, forgiving, healing, miracle working God. I DOA know bout anybody else but I know I'm not deserving of all that He has done for me. I keep looking at all the posts I've made since all this and I keep thinking.. Bam yuh nuh see everything we beg God fi do di Boss just a come all the wayyy thruuu for u!! Mi wuda wicked if mi Neva talk… So we prayed that everything was OK at her evaluation and it was. Surgery date set for the next 2 weeks. GOD IS GOOD!!!! So let's pray that within the next 2 weeks she doesn't get sick and her body doesn't absorb anymore of the bone in her tummy… Thank u Jesus! Thanks #teamMiaSkye mi love unu… All the persons who send me their own personal stories with similar injury.. Unu give me hope. Thanks as always for the prayers and msgs… #prayforMia #justiceforKhajeelMais

A post shared by Sasha Sepaul -Brown (@badgyalbam) on

There are many things that Mia has had to relearn – seemingly simple things that we take for granted; holding a pencil, walking, etc. I don’t personally know Mia or her mother, but I check Sasha’s account (@badgyalbam) daily for updates on Mia.  I then share the posts on my Facebook page because there are so many other people who have fallen in love with this little girl just as I have, and want to know how she’s doing.  My Facebook friends message me thanking me for keeping them updated.  See, I’m telling you; she’s a special little girl.  It’s amazing to see the outpour of love, prayers and support from all over the world, and just as me, they don’t even know her.  She just has an indomitable spirit that captures you.

There are days I read Sasha’s posts and celebrate right along with her for victories whether big or small, and other days it breaks my heart when I see that Mia is experiencing a setback.  If I feel sad and down, I can only imagine how her mother feels.  This is her child, her baby girl, and there is no break from this ordeal. This is 24/7 for her.  She has had to go from watching her lie unconscious to undergoing surgeries and pretty much having to re-learn everything.  I am sure she wants to take her pain away but she can’t.  All she can do is be there for her.  Sasha is what I view as the epitome of strength.  Even through what must seem like the darkest of times, she still holds the faith and manages to keep it together for Mia.  Compare me to Mia and Sasha, and I just seem like a real wuss. I can be a really big complainer. When things don’t go the way I want, I’m often guilty of feeling all ‘woe is me.’  I look at this little girl and her mother and how positive they remain, and it is nothing short of amazing.

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I love u *kiss* ur ma best friend in the whole wide world. I love u * kiss* ur ma best friend in the whole wide world OK?… I love her soooo much!! I will NEVER stop praying for u! I will NEVER give up or lose faith!! U are my everything… I will do anything needed to have u back to ur usual self. I will sacrifice anything… I will give up everything! She's just 4… She looked at me and said "u sad?" And I sed " gweh nuh man u see nobody sad?" And she say "come here man"…. And I turned on the video…. I wud give my life in a heartbeat to take away all that you are going thru right now. I pray I can be as strong as u are one day… Even with all that u face, u see tears in my eyes and can comfort me…. God u see mi tears…. Oh God u hear mi cries… Sigggghh… But mi Nah stop pray Meemz.. Team Neva give up! Team affi stay strong! Team must have victory!! #GodAlone! #prayforMia

A post shared by Sasha Sepaul -Brown (@badgyalbam) on

I’m asking, as well as encouraging you to say a prayer for Mia and Sasha, and to donate towards Mia’s medical expenses if possible.  As you can imagine, her medical care is very expensive and she needs all the help she can get.  If you would like to donate, please see the below information:

Scotia New Kingston Branch
Account # 000946761 
Branch # 50575

Go Fund Me
www.gofundme.com/Mia-skye

What moments in 2016 stood out for you?

S.O.C. – Save Our Children

Save our Children

We have made outcries for justice and peace in the past, but it seems that we need it now more than ever. Why are our headlines plagued with stories about gruesome acts being committed against our children? A crime against an adult is in no way, shape or form trivial; our hearts break for them too but there is a different part of our being that is rocked when we hear about children being victims of crimes. Our sweet, innocent children are being raped, they are being murdered. Once upon a time it was rare to hear of a case like this, but today it is becoming commonplace. On April 19, 2015 the headline in the Gleaner was ‘Killing our kids – At least twenty-four children murdered across the island since the start of the year.’ Read that slowly and let it sink in – children…murdered…24 of them…it is only the beginning of the year. This is Jamaica, land we love. Where is our love for each other?

A twenty-three month old baby was found stuffed in a barrel amidst clothing and food items, an infant seemingly a week old was found at the Riverton dump, a two year old was shot and killed along with her mother. We are beyond having a problem. We are in crisis mode. Every country has its struggles with violence but this really is unacceptable. It needs to stop. Children are disappearing, their bodies later being found in bushes. In two recent (separate) cases the post mortems revealed that both girls were pregnant. They were only fourteen years old. To make matters worse, they were impregnated by grown men. What kind of man gets involved with a little girl, sexually involved at that, and then viciously murders her? What kind of man shoots three teenage boys execution style? What kind of man ties up a seven year old boy and sodomises him? What runs through your veins and what do you have in place of a heart, because it doesn’t seem you can be human to look at another living being and do that. It breaks my heart to see the photos of the crying family members in the newspaper. How do you console them? What words give them peace?

I have to wonder though how we continue to be careless even though we see what is happening. I was driving out of the gas station the other day and had to pause right where I was because something disturbing caught my eye. There was a boy of around seven dressed in his khaki uniform and he was holding not books, but a baby wrapped in a blanket. Behind him was a little girl who seemed to be around four years old. She too was in uniform. I’m assuming that they were all siblings and that the boy was charged with the responsibility of dropping off the baby at a nursery (or relative, etc) and to also walk his little sister to school. I was further alarmed because he was not watching his sister keenly. She was straggling along behind him. Anything could happen to her and he would not know (but this is a child in charge of a child; he is not at fault). Thankfully he paused and motioned for her to walk up and she was soon in stride with him. Tell me now, how as a mother do you feel comfortable to make such a young child responsible for his siblings? The boy himself needs protection and should not be alone, much less the others. I drove off and found that I was very emotional about it. I called my mother with tears in my eyes and told her what I had just seen. It bothered me that this little boy was seemingly the man of the house and that these children were being exposed to so much danger and that what I had seen was quite possibly a daily routine. When I got to work it was still heavy on my heart.

Just today I heard a little girl singing at the top of her lungs as she passed my gate. My dogs don’t even like for people to whisper while walking by my gate so they made quite an uproar. I looked out and saw a little tot no older than five looking like she should be in her crib but there she was in uniform and ribbons in her hair. This poor child could have been happily singing one moment and snatched the next. Please tell me if these parents watch the news. If nothing stirred in you before to be wary of letting your young children walk the streets alone, with all these terrible headlines we’re seeing now, come on! At one point when I was in University I learned that there was a shuttle that passed within walking distance of my neighbourhood. I started taking it to and from school and as old as I was my mother would walk with me to meet the shuttle and in the evenings I would call her when I was nearby and we would walk home together. That is a mother’s love.  This was before all the madness we’re seeing now, but she ensured she would not be a mother who held her head and said, “If mi did know.”

Children are also being mistreated on another level. Just this year a sickening case was brought to our attention. While it was a nineteen year old woman, and she is therefore considered an adult by law, in my eyes she is but a child. She is disabled and was found living under inhumane conditions in the cellar of the home belonging to her father and stepmother. When I watched the policeman cradle her in his arms and carry her out (she could not walk according to reports), it was very touching because that small act was maybe the first time anyone had shown her any form of love in a long time. I remember the officer who spoke to the reporter coming across as being very shaken by what he had seen. It was indeed a tough one to swallow.

We are quick to reprimand the government and to make the wrongdoings in society their problem. We take to the streets with placards reprimanding our political representatives for not doing enough, but next time before stepping foot into the streets take a moment to stand within the walls of your own home and see what may need attention there. This is where we need to start. The persons who are preying on our children come from within these very same walls. Parents, it is your responsibility to instill discipline in your children and to watch them keenly. Stop turning a blind eye to their wrongdoings. The seemingly trivial misconduct turns into behavior that inflicts pain and bloodshed in the future. Also, do not leave it up to the teachers to do your job. Do your part parents.

‘Dear Mr. Jesus’ – is there a more fitting song? ‘Please don’t let them hurt Your children,’ the child sings. I remember sitting one o one with Ms. Cathi Levy at a piano learning this song for a performance. We performed it as a group number and I doubt that any of us really understood the magnitude of what we were singing about. We of course knew it was something sad but as young children we maybe didn’t fully grasp the enormity of it. Looking back now I can imagine it was a heart-wrenching piece for the audience. We were dressed in full white and seated on the stairs of the Ward Theatre stage and there was darkness all but for the spotlight that shone on us showing our sad faces. We sang, exit the stage and that was it. Now that I am older however, the song resonates so much more with me and it pulls at my heart listening to it. It tells a sad truth.

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