Archive for the ‘Sports & Entertainment’ Category

The date is December 10, 2014, I am up late watching the Late Night Show with David Letterman, up to the stage comes, my now favourite rapper, J. Cole and he is performing an improvised verse as an introduction to one of his songs on the now critically acclaimed 2014 Forest Hills Drive Album. The entire verse was a hard hitting social commentary on the state of affairs in America, particularly amidst the uproar following the controversial police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. It was powerful, but the part that stood out for me was his assessment of the Presidency of one Barack Hussein Obama aka number 44. His Obama report card read as follows:

“I’m so elated, we celebrated like Obama / waited until his last day in office / to tell the nation, brothers is getting their reparations, hey! / A man can dream, can he? / No disrespect, in terms of change / I haven’t seen any / Maybe he had good intentions / But was stifled by the system / and was sad to learn that he actually couldn’t bring any/ That’s what I get for thinking this world is fair, they let  a brother steer the ship and never told him that the ship was sinking…”

The sentiments in that performance echoed one of the many thoughts I too had about the impact of the Presidency of Barack Obama, which at its inception seemed (at least to some) to beckon a new day in America and perhaps the world, yet at the end or nearing it one can’t help feeling disappointment. Ever since that day and that performance I have been writing this blog post on the legacy of Obama on and off in my mind. A lot has happened since then and the nature of the mental essay has shifted back and forth many times, but seeing snippets of President Obama’s farewell speech and watching a video of him spending one of his last days in office serving a meal to his White House Staff alongside his family has reinforced how all over the place my feelings regarding his legacy are.

The mental essay on this day has stopped at a point where my mind sees many Obamas, in fact what I initially thought were three Obamas has now manifested as four in my mind:

  • Candidate Obama
  • Symbol Obama
  • President Obama
  • Barry O the person(a)

What will follow are my incoherent and summarized attempts at explaining what I mean by these Obamas and what each means for his legacy.

Candidate Obama

A politician is a politician is a politician and generally we don’t speak positively about politicians. In Jamaican vernacular – “dem a wicked” or so most people would like to believe. But something about this well-spoken young Senator representing Chicago seemed different not the least because when had what many considered a funny sounding name. Candidate Obama just seemed to resonate with everything that is positive and what one would want from a new breed of leadership. He was young and naïve enough to think differently from established norms even to a fault. He embraced young people and embraced them where they were through seemingly unprecedented use of social media. He created a message of hope for the future and the possibility of positive change all while sounding like the most engaging spokesman or dare I say preacher in the process. Put even simpler, Candidate Obama was a joy to see at work and to listen to. Also key to the appeal of Candidate Obama was the potential of him becoming a powerful symbol – the First Black President of the United States of America.

Symbol Obama

Election night November 4, 2008 is here, the ballots have been counted and the formerly unthinkable has indeed happened. Independent since 1776, the land of chattel slavery and Jim Crow elected a black man, a black man named Barack Hussein Obama to its highest office. A black family was to take residence in that big White House that was actually built by slaves. No wonder, that from Washington, to Kingston to the Motherland, black people all over the world were overcome with emotions. Along with the lifting of the US Embargo on Cuba or the granting of reparations as a result of the transatlantic slave trade, America having a black President is one of those things that “they” said would never happen in my lifetime. I am typing, but my words by no means can capture the genuine feeling of accomplishment, euphoria and pride many persons felt with the breaking of this impossible barrier.

But the pride and the symbolism did not end just with the victory for the past eight years, and especially in the wake of the nasty under belly of the 2016 election campaign, the luster of this lovely family residing in the White House, showcasing for the world to see that the impossible can be possible and all persons no matter who they are can aspire to be what they want to be. All while exuding class and elegance.

President Obama

Honeymoons don’t last forever though, and the luxury of being a hopeful candidate that is a monumental symbol had to give way to governance. Back to the J. Cole song. Many persons, particularly the African American community almost bestowed a messianic hope on the shoulders of Mr. Obama. Undoubtedly persons with such lofty expectations were bound to be disappointed as a man is just a man and even more a politician. Even more than that I have come to the conclusion that the Institution of the President of the United States is bigger than any one of its holders and like J. Cole I honestly feel Mr. Obama may have been constrained from being any revolutionary change agent by this reality.

So in his farewell speech he listed his achievements and they are clear, the ship was sinking in many respects not least the economy. Whatever measure may choose without getting into graphs and charts, under his watch the US emerged in a good position on the other side of the worst economic recession since the 1920s. In terms of domestic safety and security, the statistics suggest America is safer than it has ever been. “Obamacare” was passed and depending on who you ask that has been positive as well. For others “marriage equality” is also seen as a positive.

But serious shortcomings are there as well especially on the international front. The exponential use of unmanned drones as a war tool and the deaths of many innocents and non-innocents, the devastation of Syria and Libya are things that can be laid squarely at the feet of this administration. On the home front, whether his fault or not , it seems the killing or brutal treatment of persons of colour by members of law enforcement with almost impunity has skyrocketed, with many detractors feeling as though the president has lent his voice to other issues far more than the plight of primarily the black community.

On balance, as a non-citizen of the US that has to live in a world where the US is the major super power, I cannot in good conscience say I believe the Presidency of Barack Obama has significantly affected us in the developing world in  a positive manner. Many persons may see this as too kind an assessment as by many measures the world could be worse off.

Barry O the Person(a)

Unequivocally, I am not a fan of President Obama. Perhaps that is why, I have developed this Multiple Personality Disorder for him because I cannot shake the guilt of wishing I could hang out with him though. Barack Obama the person or at least the persona that we see publicly is so cool, so smooth on so many levels. He is seemingly down to earth, he is au fait with the latest Music, he is able to have meaningful conversation about the latest sporting event, he uses local slang when he travels and even more admirable he appears to not lord over the “small people” that he is “The Leader of the Free World.”

What is perhaps the cherry on top is the public relationship he has with his wife and children. The man never ever misses an opportunity to “big up” the love of his life and their children. He appears to be a serious family man that puts his family before even the stresses of Presidency.

As I said before, as a basketball fan and knowing his love for basketball as well, despite all my misgivings about Barack Obama I can’t shake the feeling that it would be an honour to play a game to 21 against Barry O and talk about life.

Legacy

A lot has been said above without being able to say all that was meant but ultimately in 8 days the White House will again revert to its more natural hue, though with a tinge of orange. Feels like the “Change We Can Believe In” days were just yesterday but alas time waits for no man and Mr. Obama’s fate is with the history writers now. I’m sure like Fidel Castro it is his hope that history will judge him fairly and positively. He has marks on both sides of the score card probably more on the failure side if I am totally honest. But his other manifestations, particularly Symbol Obama and Barry O the person(a) have left an indelible mark and I have no doubt in my mind that under the current political circumstances, even his harshest critics, myself guiltily included, will miss him and miss him sooner than we think… like within a week we will miss him BIGLY.

The part of this song quoted above can be seen at around the 2:35 mark. (No copyright infringement was intended and “Reasoning With The Cunning One” does not own or take responsibility for the content  of external links. – ALWAYS WANTED TO SAY THAT LOL)

 

Happy New Year to one and all.

Normally at the beginning of the year I would be at pains to compile a year in review blog. The closest I will come to saying “New Year, New Me” is to deviate from that annual rite. I am starting the 2017 “reasoning” with the views of someone else. Not a 100% sure how the etiquette goes but this is the first guest blog featured on “Reasoning With The Cunning One.”

What follows are the Guinness Stout inspired words of one of my greatest friends Mr. Ricardo Perkins who explores, in brief, the tensions between the society at large and the police with dancehall music and the dancehall space. As the cliché would have it…the views expressed do not NECESSARILY represent the views of the management of “Reasoning.”

 

“I have always been a great fan of Bounty Killa; by no means does this translate to him being the perfect role model. However, one must acknowledge, the awesome talent he is and the many times that he has stood up for what is right: and by doing so have made most of us proud! There is no doubt that he loves dancehall music, and there’s absolutely no doubt that dancehall is important to the PEOPLE OF JAMAICA.

If you are from what we call a ‘garrison’, you know that ‘corna dances’ mean that peace is upon us. Persons can move more freely with a reduced fear of being caught in the right place at the wrong time. Maybe, this perspective has biased me and has forced me to think about the (maybe little good) in something that was laden with negatives. What am I talking about- one of the best performances I have ever seen! And it was FREE! On December 29 (3am) Bounty ignited the crowd at the weekly PepperSeed. After about a 20 mins wait to apparently call some police for the show to continue, the permission came and the Killa flourished- with some of what I think are his greatest music, those from the 90’s. The crowd was moving, the performer having fun, no worries as we all enjoyed ourselves. I am sure- Beenie man fans (in fact, I think he was in attendance), Kartel fans, Movado fans were present, but this night we were all attuned to the Killa. Then midway the flourishing, the bad news came- police are back and they want the music stop! Terrible idea. I mean really terrible idea.

Let me first be clear- I despise the noise abatement act and its particular quest to put a dent in dancehall, maybe, because it is too ghetto. But, I won’t get much into that because that is another debate. Back to the Killa- and the moment I applaud. He refused to stop performing…and yea, yea, he should respect the law, the police, blah blah blah… All this is true, but we should be willing to accept what he was saying, shouting angrily, crossly, miserably had many truths. Picking out a few; “offica a chrismuss, mek we hav some fun”; “offica, we nah do nutten wrong”, “offica, a tings like this why people nuh coordinate with unu”. All of this while continuing to perform as patron relish at the graceful distaste shown to not just the police that were present, but POLICE. In the midst of this ‘angry’ outburst aimed at the police qua killer of peaceful vibes lie some truths. The need for police to actually be attentive to situations, and be willing to adjust where the gain would be much more that the lost and missed opportunity.

I can only imagine the ‘forwards and pull-ups’ the gentle police officer would have gotten if he had come on stage and said something like “people listen up- the time pass and unu haffi leave, but guess what- a chrismuss and we affi be kind to one anotha. Turn to u bredrin and sistren beside u a sey merry christmuss and mek we work together to change the new year. We all in this thing together. So u see tru a christmuss, unu hol da 25 mins ya- Killa u see you, the poor people governa, dem ppl ya listen to you. So me waa u tell dem fi stop wid the bag a foolishness and stop kill the ppl dem. U know waa me know unu a video- tek the supe numba- don’t start type enu, we know unu nuh waa ppl think unu a informa, so just record the video and when nuh baddy nah look ( but show u pikney dem) write it down and call me when unu know anything- see it ya, Bounty a me witness, me nah go call nuh name when unu shout me. Gwaun tru Bounty and mash up the place. But memba 25 mins. We agree to that?

Can you imagine what would have been the reaction of the crowd and the possible gains in the right direction for the police if it had gone this way instead of Bounty force performing, resenting the police, while speaking out against the many bad things going on, including the recent rise (or at least reported) crime against females? Imagine that video going viral, many getting the number of this Superintendent- it might not be a lot, but it would be a step in the right direction. Of course, there would have been icing on the cake if the police buss two lyrics.

This incident should call us to reflect on what we can do moving forward, it is clear that we need innovative ways fighting crime. And if we are serious, we must be willing to give people more opportunities to have the feeling that we are in this together. Maybe allowing a peaceful dance attended by ‘big people’ is a step in that direction. The fact is, we are really in this together. But I guess- the question is, of how much more importance is stopping a little noise in areas where little-to-no-persons are gravely affected match up to an actual desire to fight crime.

Big up the Killa, the people that stuck it out, the police for doing what is their current job, the soup man, the jerk man, the man dem whey a park, all hustlers.  Peaceful New Year! ”

 

 

Ricardo Perkins is a Graduate of Kingston College and the University of the West Indies. He is also a Jesuit and is currently studying Philosophy and Applied Ethics at Loyola University. He also states his claim to fame as dominating “The Cunning One” on the basketball court.

The year of our Lord Two Thousand and Sixteen is upon us and well underway. A Happy New Year To all. Before we dive into another year of “Reasoning” it is only right that we look back at what has been an eventful year that has departed from our company. Rather than looking back at 2015 from a personal point of view, I feel the need to present a compilation of what to my mind were the years’ biggest stories in news and sports.

With that in mind what will follow will is a list of the:

  • Top 10 news stories Jamaica
  • Top 10 news stories in Internationally
  • Top 5 sports stories Jamaica
  • Top 5 sports stories in Internationally

Disclaimer – these stories are what came to my mind most readily and it is hoped that once read persons can suggest additions and subtractions as we all collaborate to remember the year that was 2015…

Top 10 News Stories of 2015 in Jamaica

  1. The “Dead Babies Scandal” – http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20151023/timeline-deadbabiesscandal-how-hospitals-responded
  2. Election False Start – http://nationwideradiojm.com/pm-waiting-for-the-masters-touch/
  3. Unsigned Senate Letter Saga – http://nationwideradiojm.com/court-rule-against-holness-in-removing-williams-from-senate-details/
  4. Obama Visit – https://cunning1jm.wordpress.com/2015/04/10/barack-on-the-rock-a-few-lessons-learned-from-the-visit-of-president-obama/
  5. David Cameron Visit – https://cunning1jm.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/cameroninja-removing-the-scab-from-eternal-wounds/
  6. Another Riverton fire – http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/commentary/20150319/march-2015-riverton-fire-%E2%80%93-disaster-historic-proportions
  7. Severe Drought – http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20150702/outlook-grim-no-relief-sweltering-heat-and-drought-any-time-soon
  8. Crawford/Pryce Out –http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/commentary/20151024/editorial-might-party-delegates
  9. Ganja decriminalization – http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20150422/pros-and-cons-weed-decriminalisation
  10. CCJ Debate – https://www.panmedia.com.jm/news/201510/marlene-malahoo-forte-vs-aj-nicholson

Honourable Mention

The emerging “Bad Gas Scandal” –

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Tell-us-who-s-selling-bad-gas-_47383

Top 10 Stories in International News for 2015

  1. Middle East – EU Migrant crisis – http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34131911
  2. #BlackLivesMatter/Police brutality in the US – http://edition.cnn.com/2015/12/28/us/tamir-rice-shooting/index.html
  3. US – Cuba re-establishment of diplomatic ties – http://www.euronews.com/2015/07/20/us-cuba-diplomatic-relations-formally-restored/
  4. Iran Nuclear Deal – http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/03/18/snap-poll-is-the-iran-deal-good-for-your-countrys-national-security/
  5. The Presidential Candidacy of Donald Tr(ch)ump – http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/donald-trumps-most-surprising-outrageous-and-newsworthy-moments-2015
  6. US Federal Gay Marriage Ruling / Ireland Gay Marriage Referendum – http://www.dallasnews.com/news/local-news/20150628-same-sex-marriage-ruling-resonates-globally.ece
  7. Syrian Airstrikes/ Russian involvement/ Turkey shooting down jet – http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34882503
  8. Boko Haram becoming #1 terror org in the world – http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/19/world/africa/boko-haram-ranked-ahead-of-isis-for-deadliest-terror-group.html?_r=0
  9. “Grexit” from the EU averted – http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-eurozone-bonds-spain-italy-idUKKCN0PQ0Y520150716
  10. Al shabab attack on Kenyan university – http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-32169080

Honourable Mention

  • Nepal Earthquake – http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-32701385
  • Bill Cosby Scandal – http://www.etonline.com/news/154160_timeline_of_bill_cosby_sexual_assault_allegations/

Top 5 Sports Stories of 2015 in Jamaica

  1. Danielle Williams’ 100m Hurdles Gold medal at the Beijing World Athletics Championships – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a65YrzyTdSw
  2. Usain Bolt defends his Gold medals X 3 at the Beijing World Athletics Championships – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-WBKfnqBHM
  3. Women’s 4x4oom relay triumph at the Beijing World Athletics Championships – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbsmA7tG4hE
  4. Reggae Boyz defeating the USA in the CONCACAF Gold Cup Semi- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtVQdKiYFTUfinals
  5. Simon Dawkins Campaign saving late strike vs Nicaragua – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImaLuBAocaQ

Honourable Mention

  • Schoolboy Football season 2015 – https://www.schoolboyfootball.com/index.php/component/joomsport/venue/3?Itemid=101
  • MVP exodus – http://www.trackalerts.com/Articles/day-morrison-out-of-mvp/14579/?fb_comment_id=761097617333591_761197697323583#f4f4ac6d

Top 5 Sports Stories of 2015 Internationally

  1. FIFA corruption – bans for Blatter and Platini – http://www.espnfc.com/blog/fifa/243/post/2765839/sepp-blatter-and-michel-platini-given-eight-year-fifa-bans
  2. Russian  Track & Field Doping Scandal/Ban – http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/nov/26/russia-full-indefinite-ban-world-athletics-doping-scandal
  3. IAAF corruption –the fall of Lamine Diack – http://www.bbc.com/sport/athletics/34782521
  4. Usain Bolt vs Gatlin: good vs evil – http://www.the42.ie/bbc-bolt-gatlin-discussion-2296462-Aug2015/
  5. Mayweather vs Pacquiao Disappointing Dud – http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/05/03/floyd_mayweather_wins_tame_fight_of_the_century_highilghts_from_his_boring.html

Honourable Mention

  • New England Patriots Deflategate saga -http://espn.go.com/blog/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4782561/timeline-of-events-for-deflategate-tom-brady
  • Golden State Warriors and the Rise of Steph Curry – http://hoopshabit.com/2015/06/18/golden-state-warriors-title-caps-historically-great-season/

As previously stated these were the stories for the year 2015 that jumped out at me. What have I left out? Feel free to share.

To conclude this first of hopefully many more posts for 2016 I leave you with a New Year’s Quote I found quite interesting for some reason:

The Old Year has gone. Let the dead past bury its own dead. The New Year has taken possession of the clock of time. All hail the duties and possibilities of the coming twelve months! ~Edward Payson Powell

PS – Apologies re: some of the article links not being hyperlinked

”I Pledge My Heart:”
I pledge my heart forever
To serve with humble pride
This shining homeland, ever
So long as earth abide.
I pledge my heart, this island
As God and faith shall live
My work, my strength, my love and
My loyalty to give.
O green isle of the Indies,
Jamaica, strong and free,
Our vows and loyal promises
O heartland, ‘tis to Thee.

 

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE TO ALL JAMAICANS WHEREVER YOU MAY BE!!!!
As I scrolled through my various social media accounts to see the standard independence days discourse(s) I was inspired to break my blog writing slump. Par for the course on independence day are two sets of reactions that I find troubling i.e. the “over celebration” of the all inclusive parties and the “we are not independent so what are we celebrating” crowd.

 

Not gonna spend too much time on the Negril and Ochi ravers except to say that’s not for me. But the people that really draw mi out are the latter set. “Jamaica is this and Jamaica is that and we don’t have this and we don’t have that so how can we be celebrating independence.” Or even worse ” we depend on other countries for this and that so duh that goes against the meaning of the word independence.” I am honestly so sick of this line of reasoning. let us start by clearing up the semantic disagreement i.e. what we mean when we say we are celebrating “independence.” What we commemorate on August 6 every year as Jamaicans is not the dictionary concept of total autonomy and the freedom to do whatever whenever but simply what is called “internal self government or internal self rule” i.e. we have our own parliamentary and governmental structures  and we pass our own laws and institute our own policies. We commemorate becoming a sovereign nation that collects and spends its own tax money and can enter into its own international relations. NOTHING MORE NOTHING LESS. And even if we wanted to focus on the dictionary meaning of “independence” show me the truly independent nations in our global community? The first two names that may come to mind are the two largest economies in the world…the USA and China but guess what the relationship that those two countries have with each other and the rest of the world very much shows how much they are dependent in some way shape or form, so even that part of the debate is not as strong as some would have you believe.

 

Now lets get tho the “we suffering and we nuh reach nuh weh so why we celebrating” part. Now don’t get me wrong, I am as disillusioned as anyone with the path that the two “P’s” have taken us on and I also agree that in terms of pure potential, we as a nation have squandered so much and even tho just merely 53, which is probably a teenager in relation to some of our more “developed” counterparts, we really should be farther along the path to “development.” But that reality does not preclude me from celebrating that which is infinitely positive about Jamaica Land We Love. Therefore, i actually don’t have a problem with us talking, harshly even about our national underachievement, but a balance must and can be struck. we must celebrate all the individual and collective positive achievements that Jamaica has sprung forth. We are a strong little island that has punched above its weight in the global community in true “likkle but tallawah” fashion. we have been at the forefront of global movements like the anti-apartheid movement, the push to reintegrate cuba into hemispheric affairs and many others. We have produced some of the greatest academic and cultural/creative minds and athletic bodies, we have lent the world a religion and at least four musical genres. We are a cultural epicentre.

 

But we are equally a disappointment. To borrow from a previous post of mine, Jamaica is my paradoxical paradise where success and failure are next door neighbors that coexist everyday. So what independence day means to me is the balance between acknowledging with great pride all that we have accomplished so far but simultaneously and solemnly contemplating where we have gone wrong and what steps we as a people are going to take to assist in getting us where we want to go.

 

So yes I acknowledge all the folly that inundates my paradoxical paradise but at least for today if I had to choose I would err on the side of celebrating where we have done well and hope that this will inspire us to build upon that legacy. ETERNAL FATHER CONTINUE TO BLESS OUR LAND…AND GIVE US VISION LEST WE PERISH
PS – hold some tune bigging up this land that we love so much.

Today has been an interesting day. All around the world people acknowledge February as Black History Month – A time where the achievements of “ye mighty race” are commemorated and revered. Among black intelligentsia there is a sort of love hate relationship with black history month and its usefulness and I too grapple with both sides of the spectrum and probably fall more on the love side but that is for another day.

Back to today being an interesting day, whilst February is known worldwide as Black History Month, Jamaica Land We Love is biting off a piece of that ethos and zeroing the focus on perhaps Jamaica’s biggest gift to the world and that is REGGAE MUSIC. Today becomes interesting as it is the Birthday of the undisputed King of Reggae: one Robert Nesta Marley, but you can call him Bob. The commemoration of his birthday this year has taken on the feel of the unofficial launch of Reggae Month celebrations. (Special mention to the legendary Bunny Rugs of Third World who also would have celebrated his birthday today and the Crown Prince of Reggae Dennis Immanuel Brown whose earthstrong was on February 1)

Feeling a real roots rock reggae vibe today I have spent much of the time listening to music from The Wailers and Bob Marley and the Wailers as well as reading their story and examining their discography in detail. This has led me to several conclusions:

1)The catalogue of the Wailers and Bob Marley and the Wailers is probably unparalleled in the world across any genre for absolutely classic songs.

2)Reggae music puts one in a calm and reflective and insightful place in a way that I think no other type of music can come close

3)Reggae Music, and Jamaica by extension has had such an enormous impact on the world that we have yet to even come close to fathoming

4)It is probably the biggest shame in music history that the Original Wailers: Winston McIntosh, Robert Marley & Neville Livingston did not end their careers making great music together. Although without their parting we may have been robbed of some of their great individual successes as well as the emergence of the “three little birds”

5)Besides the obvious, that Bob Marley is an exemplary candidate to be Jamaica’s next national hero the most significant thought I had about the great Bob today is that there are several reggae musicians that did individual things better than him and may have been even more talented than him. Tosh was a sharper “stepping razor” of a rebel. I personally believe Dennis Brown and Freddy McGregor may have had the smoothest voices in Jamaican Music. Some may have done social commentary better and some may have done lovers rock better. But if one thing is certain Bob epitomised better yet epitomises the quintessential total package who can go toe to toe with anyone in all these realms and in my mind that is what solidifies his greatness.

As I sat here trying to gather my thoughts I expected them to be wax far more poetic and profoundly, but I guess I was not blessed with the lyricism of our reggae greats of which Nesta was the paragon. so rather than ending with my incomplete thoughts I will depart with the musical genius of the man himself. i.e. My Favourite Bob Marley song ever (which changes frequently) and my favourite Bob Marely Music Video ever. Also a few words on the man from those he would have had the greatest influence on even from the afterlife – His Children.

Give Thanks

The first Facebook status I wrote for the year Two Thousand and Fourteen clearly was a foreshadowing of things to come. The status read: 2013 was a Good Year, Have a feeling 2014 will be a special one but no matter what i and i still COUNTING MY BLESSINGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And as we begin 2015 I and I still counting my blessings and I can definitely affirm that despite some trying times personally, nationally and for the whole world 2014 did turn out to be a very significant year, perhaps even the most significant of this 27 year trod so far.

So many things happened that it would be impossible to do them all justice in a blog post but what I am going to do is break it down into three categories – News, Sports & Personally *insert azonto music* – and highlight some of the major occurrences.

News

Kartel Trial
Whether some persons want to admit it or not, I think easily the undisputed number one story in Jamaica for the year 2014 was the trial of Jamaica’s most notorious musician ever, one Adidjah Palmer aka Vybz Kartel aka the teacher aka World Boss. Totally capturing the minds of a nation for a history making 64 days, many of us spent days at the edge of our seats getting the latest updates from our favourite courtroom source. Special mention must be given to the likes of Ms Live tweet aka Emily Crooks, Dara Smith, Anthony Miller and Abka Fitz-Henley. These people truly brought this courtroom into our respective living rooms.

And so it went on and on and on. The verdict – “Babylon seh jail for [The Teach]” 35 years for murder. Sad on so many levels however the irony must be that the most popular deejay in the country seems to have become even more popular and more prolific in recording since being behind bars…but that’s another story for another blog.

Chik V
One panadol, one panadol
One panadol, one panadol
Cho!
Mosquito one, Mosquito two
Mosquito jump inna hot callaloo…
Mosquito bite me, Mosquito bite you
Mek me tell yuh what a mosquito can do. – Wayne J

If any story/issue is going to rival Mr Palmer for the biggest thing to happen locally it MUST be the monster that was/is Chikungunya. Chik V shocked the nation, never mind that we saw the effects of this crippling disease on our Eastern Caribbean, it was a shock as we didn’t know what to expect and lets just say the government response was not the best. Definitely felt like 90% of the society contracted the disease which kicked off in the east and buzzed its way all the way across the island. Everywhere we turned we saw people hobbling at a snails pace and if that wasn’t bad enough Chik V must hold the world record for relapses and explanations for its “real” cause, because “mosquito alone cudn’t mash wi up suh.”

Eventually, persons getting the Chikungunya will be as mainstream as the flu or pink eye but this 2014 outbreak will forever go down in infamy in the annals of Jamaican history. In the now immortal words of the young Wayne J we all know now what a mosquito bite can do.

US/Cuba Relations
For most people, particularly, people of colour and people of the Caribbean, there are two things that we thought we would never see in our lifetime – a black president and the restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States of America. So imagine the surprise when these two things intersected as President Barack Obama made the announcement out of left field that his administration was about to begin the process of reinstating diplomatic relations with Cuba, a sworn Cold War enemy with whom ties were severed in 1961 in the wake of the nationalisation of US owned businesses under El Comandante Fidel Castro Ruz.

However as ill health meant Raul became the head Castro in charge and with gradual appeasement measures under the Obama Administration in its early stages, maybe this rapproachment should not be as surprising as previously mentioned but still this moment towards the tail end of 2014 must be hailed as one of the most monumental moments in global history. But time will tell, this is an executive action so the next president could reverse it, also it is congress that controls the maintenance of the trade embargo and that will be a far tougher nut to crack. But whatever happens, the lame duck US president has made the next few months an interesting time in global relations.

Sports

LBJ returns to Cleveland
The latest episode in the life of the NBA’s biggest hero/villain is without question the biggest story in basketball, and perhaps all US sports for the year 2014. Lebron James from Akron Ohio, was the hometown sensation for the Cleveland Cavaliers for a 7 year stint which saw him win multiple individual accolades and become arguably the best player in the NBA. On the collective front however the Cavs were always bridesmaids and never the bride. Then he moves from hero to zero when he “took his talents to South Beach” and joined the Miami Heat. Jerseys burned, boos whenever he returned, King James he was hated.

Fast forward to 2014, four years later, the San Antonio Spurs just ended the two year championship streak of the Heat, Lebron James is again a free agent…which is the one place you think he would never end up? Well here we go, the King Returns, forming a new “Big 3” with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. This mega team was to be the conqueror of all conquerors in the eastern conference. It hasn’t been materialising this way but the hype and the big concert that accompanied the return of The King makes this one of the major highlights of 2014.

2014 World Cup
THE BEAUTIFUL GAME – that is the name that football or soccer goes by and the biggest sporting event in the world i.e. the FIFA World Cup was undoubtedly the major event on the year’s sporting calendar. Brazil, arguably the spiritual home of football, was the host nation and the spectacle was one for the ages. What made this World Cup special to me was the barrage of surprises that emerged from this tournament.

The first major surprise was the demise of the defending champions, La furia roja of Spain. They were pummelled in their first game by the Dutch and it was downhill from there. This was even more shocking as Spain had been easily the best and most dominant team in world football for almost as far back as one can remember. Their downfall was truly a revelation.

Another shocker, but more positively, was the success of the Costa Rican team. Representing the unfancied CONCACAF which is home to our underperforming Reggae Boyz, Costa Rica truly punched above its weight TOPPING the supposed “Group of Death” which also contained Italy, England and Uruguay – all major footballing powers. They actually made it to the Quarterfinals where they were only defeated by The Netherlands 4-3 on penalties after a tough 0-0 draw in regulation and extra time. No world cup is complete without a Cinderella story and Costa Rica shone in this role.

Germany won the tournament but by no means was that the major moment of the tournament. Rather the flat out embarrassment of Brazil, the football kings, by the eventual champions and the national mourning that ensued was hands down the top moment. 7-1 in favour of Germany on Brazilian soil must be the most unimaginable result in football history. Watching this game was a surreal experience as every single German attack felt as if a goal would ensue and by the score you can see that was almost the case. Perhaps even more amazing than the result was the largescale mourning that followed. Tears flowed more that the water in the sea at the Copacabana beach and people even feared for the safety of the remainder of the tournament.

As expected the World Cup lived up to its billing as the greatest show on earth and although its hard to admit I miss hearing the silly world cup song and the stupid ads that accompanied the local coverage

Arsenal Football Club FA Cup Glory
Now as we segue from sporting events to events in my life that were special in 2014, this moment truly fit into both categories. Since my beloved Gunnerz of Arsenal Football Club beat a certain Manchester club in the 2005 FA cup the intervening years have been nothing short of suffering. AFC has become synonymous with trophyless campaigns as perennial “nearly men.” But the FA Cup final in May was to be a watershed moment in the life of us Gooners. Now my experience of this glory moment was quite interesting. I was at the wedding of a dear friend thus unable to see the match except through frequent twitter scrolling (don’t judge me). So imagine my conflicted feelings whilst enjoying the “funnest” ceremony ever whilst getting the news that my team was 2-0 down almost immediately in the game that was supposed end this 9 year nightmare. Well 2-0 became 2-1 and eventually 2-1 became 2-2 and then one Aaron Ramsey finished off the incredible fight back and once again the Gunnerz were FA Cup Champions. By this time I was at the wedding reception silently screaming with delight. But before you judge me some more just note that I had to stay updated as even the groom asked me what was up.

My Life

Got engaged
2014 got off to a quick start in terms of major events in my life. On January 4, 2014, the greatest (I don’t wanna brag) proposal ever took place. Rather than bore you with the details lets just say yours truly re-created, in detail, the first day of my relationship with the Lovely Remone Nelson. This concluded with Ms Nelson being brought to the spot of our first kiss where some meticulously placed cue cards were found which were full of lyrics that eventually directed Ms Nelson to the ring that was hidden in the cars glove compartment. Ms Nelson didn’t say yes but the ugly crying suggested we were getting married. More on this to come.

Mexico Trip
June 2014 probably saw the most exciting moment of my professional life as I was selected to represent the Government of Jamaica at a seminar in Mexico City. I have done my fair share of travelling in life for which I am forever indebted to my parents, but this was different, this was not a run of the mill destination. It was just a four day trip but I will never forget it. The seminar itself was brutal – long working hours, translators who coughed in the mics and were clearly tired, a HORRIBLE hotel with staff that only new the word tip in English (slight exaggeration but you get the idea) and last but not least we were conned as we never got our per diem until the end of the trip. Notwithstanding all of the above, as a tourist it was lovely. We were in the heart of the capital and we saw many beautiful historic sites and enjoyed a open top bus ride through the city which was perhaps a few minutes too long. Mexico City was a interesting mixture of the developed and developing world where high rises and modern architecture shared space with makeshift cardboard and tarpaulin homes, a mixture of European and Aztec/Mayan histories. The only disappointment was that the trip to the Aztec Pyramid temples happened before my contingent got there. Mexico City oh I will never forget this trip.

MARRID
Since 2012 November has become a month of milestones in my life. In 2012 I got my first non-academic employment. In 2013 I got a new job in a more senior post. So November has been a time of new jobs so I guess it was appropriate that perhaps the most important and challenging job of being a husband came about in November 2014. Yes I and I in the words of Protoje “walked the plank.” To continue the Protoje references, this moment was a long time coming as we exceeded the 7 Year Itch and made it an 8 Year Affair. Remone Nelson – my beautiful, strong, beloved lady became the newest Mrs Cunningham. Best day of my life doesn’t quite say it but alas the English language limits the way we are able to express ourselves. And the day itself was a blend of stress and outright fun. My wife is clearly a blessing and the preparation and execution of the day was also a clear reminder that good family and good friends are truly a blessing and a blessing that I have received in great measure. So keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I trod on to forever hand in hand with my forever lady. BIG UP DI TEACHER – di chemistry one still not some guy.

So 2014. I’ve heard many a commentary on how 2014 was a horrible year and so many people wishing it good riddance and perhaps with good reason – the world and local economies are still in a negative place, crime is still occurring at alarming levels, governance in Jamaica is not really not showing many signs of improvement. However, and perhaps selfishly, for me it might rank among the best years I’ve ever had. For that like all things I will conclude by simply and repeatedly uttering the most important phrase in life in my opinion:

GIVE THANKS

No matter how badly some “go against the grain” people moan and groan, the 64 day trial of the most polarising figure in Jamaican music since Bob Marley back then has been THE single most watched story for 2014. Many of us spent days at the edge of our seats getting the latest updates from our favourite courtroom source. Special mention must be given to the likes of Ms Live tweet aka Emily Crooks, Dara Smith, Anthony Miller and (can’t leave out the Fortis) Abka Fitz-Henley. These people truly brought this courtroom into our respective living rooms.
So what has this Kartel Trial taught me?

1. Whatever praise we wish to heap on our current commissioner of police, it is patently clear that a level of unprofessionalism at best, and corruption at worst still reside in some sections of the force. So many examples emerged, notebook(s) lost, almost seemingly “embellished” evidence etc. but what really solidified it for me was the scant regard which arguably the most important evidence was treated. Really? Officer dem really so desperate for free nights that them use the evidence whilst in custody. Even more than Kartel, the ineptitude of some of our Police officers was on trial and some judgement need to be handed down quickly

2. There is large section of society that no matter what the evidence was wanted Kartel to be locked away and the key to disappear like the plane… (too soon). No matter if the defence was able to raise the most gaping holes in the prosecution case “di bwoy fi get lock up.” Not a big fan of the convicted either but I am not 100% sure if I feel comfortable with how all aspects of this case went. At the same time I think he did it so it’s like arriving at the right answer in a math equation with the wrong “working out.” Either way people must look into themselves and decide is Kartel the root of all evil and by extension is dancehall the root of all evil

3. On the other hand and even more disturbing at times is the #FreeWorldBoss crowd. The “I don’t care if he did it as long as mi artiste can do road and buss two chune” crowd. Can’t even put properly into word the degree to which this crowd irks me. It started with “free buju” maybe even “free jah cure”. If a man does a crime I think that outweighs my love for their music and they should suffer the consequences of their actions. It saddens me that LIVES (cause most people forget that there were two cases) don’t matter to some as much as a “bubbling tune” from di teacha.

4. Unemployment or underemployment must be higher than reported. I might be exaggerating, but the amount of persons who had the time to in the streets whether in support of or anti-Kartel was mindboggling.

5.When the old people tell you watch the company you keep, or you reap what you sow, they know what they are talking about. This case was sad as I honestly saw no good guys. Lizard was not a saint. We accept that a life is a life and the loss of any life is sad but His death and the conviction of his alleged killers should sound a warning to all. You can’t live in folly and escape negative repercussions.

Now it’s time to sit back, wait on the circus to continue as there will be sentencing, appeals perhaps a law suit by Shane Williams and endless coverage and social media conversation. My only hope is that everyone’s interest in Justice and fairness does not die out with the cooling off of this story.