Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Dread at the Control and The Township of Squatters Ville

“Dr Horace Chang, Former Minister of Water and Housing, stated that one-third of the people in Jamaica are squatters”

ClovisToon: Residential communities being held at ransom by Squatters and the Government not doing a thing about it

Our backyard extends behind the back wall, down the slope and across to the other side of the gully, beyond the gully is a couple acres of open land. The gully is vital to residence living on the hill it controls the flow of rain water and should be kept clean to prevent flooding.

One morning we woke up to find a rasta-man had moved on to the land and started building a shack, on land he did not own. The people living on the Avenue became very concerned and convened a meeting of the Neighborhood Association to determine the faith of the dreaded squatter. Some were concerned that the presence of a squatter in an upscale residential neighborhood would have a negative effect on property values and others were concerned about the possibility of increase in crime.

A suggestion was made that the Squatter should be removed from the land, as no good could come of this. This started a heated debate as some people accused others of being “Elitist’, fighting against the poor and downtrodden just because the man was black and was a rasta, “louw di dread, him naw trouble nobody” shouted some. The social barriers like the Berlin wall was coming down and there was nothing anyone could do about it (“Release the Kraken!”). At the end of the meeting the forces defending the “Poor, Downtrodden Rasta man” was victorious, the decision was made to take no further actions against the lowly dread. He was now part and parcel of a community, living on land and in a neighborhood he could not afford.

At first everything was normal everyone went about their business not even remembering the dread was living back there. One day I decided to investigate so I climbed up on the back wall to see what was happening back there. The once forested land was converted into a small farm as the dread planted rows of banana, yam and various produce utilizing even the part of the land that belonged to my family. His hut also got bigger to reflect his new found wealth and fortune.

The dread even climbed up on our back fence to offer us some of his produce and to have a chat with grandma as he assured her that he was looking out for everyone. Slowly people started accepting the Dread, we would go out in the back yard in the mornings and hear him behind the wall tending to his crops on our slope and would shout sometimes “Morning Dread!” and the Dread would shout back with “Morning…” and then something about "Haile Selassie I"…

As Days turned into weeks and weeks into months and months into years we noticed a transformation, the squatter’s settlement grew from one dread and a farm into a small community with no farm. Then into an immovable voting block the township of Squatters Ville as the dread started charging rent to other squatters to build shacks and settle the land that he did not own.

Now I know how the Native Americans must have felt when the white men started squatting on their land. After a while crazy things started happening, it started small at first, you would came home to find one or two boys in your yard and up in your mango tree. Imagine watching a nice big East Indian Mango for days knowing that when it’s ripe, it is going to be so juicy and delicious and then one day you come home to find 2 boys/man in your yard, up your tree eating your mango! That must have been how Cypress Hill felt when they wrote and sing the song …“How I could just kill a man”. Then one day we found a man walking around the yard, why I don’t know since separating the Dread’s capture land and our yard was a very wide Moat like Gully, an upward slope and a 7 feet high wall with spikes and broken bottles on the top.

It was not long after that when items of clothing from various yards on the Avenue started going missing from the clothes line. I used to drive around looking for the boy in my “Chams De Baron” top. One morning we woke up to find the car on 4 blocks, wheels stolen... Okay so now I cannot drive around looking for the boy in my “Chams De Baron” top. We held a meeting with the Dread, who was now speaking from a position of power, it was as if we were squatting on his land. After a healthy debate he finally promised to reign in his band of squatter tenants but nothing really changed, crime went up, cars and house broken into, produce stolen from fruit trees, yards was still being used as walk way to and from Squatters Ville.

The people on the Avenue was forced to cut down various fruit trees (mango, Ackee, Apple, Banana) trying to remove temptation and the squatters cursed out  the home owners for doing it… as one squatters woman shouted loud enough for all to hear … “a so dem uptown people gwan … always a fight gainst black man”... My Neighbor next door was forced to discharge his weapon on two occasions when his car and house was broken into, he later sold and move further up the hill. Not only that, but the residence of Squatters Ville started dumping their garbage and human waste in the gully, this was reported to the MP of the area and the KSAC started a cleanup campaign with a promise of garbage pickup to a place that have no documented address.

According to the Member of Parliament for North East St Andrew, Delroy Chuck, squatting had also become a problem and has been contributing to the drainage and flooding woes.

One morning we woke up to loud screams from the squatter compound, it seemed a white lady from America moved into the Dread’s shanty town shack with him. It must have all been very romantic for her at first but after living on squatters land for some time she decided enough was enough and wanted to leave but the dread was not having it. He tore up her travel documents and started putting some licks on her, the beating, argument and screaming continued until she was rescued by the Neighbors on the other side and I heard taken to the US Embassy. My grandmother had no sympathy for the woman it was then that I first heard the phrase “Water Find Its Own Level” for the first time, stating that the woman was just as “wotless” … (worthless) as the dread she shacked up with.

In all my years of living in that Neighborhood, I have never heard or seen one Neighbor curse out another Neighbor, if there was tension I would not know about it but not so in Squatters Ville, they were not afraid to cuss and trace out each other with the most disgusting words, something had to be done.

We had to endure all this because some idiots thought that the rights of a Rasta-man to squat on land he did not own and have no business being on, superseded the rights, safety and security of law abiding people. We gave the Dread an inch and he took more than a yard, the dread run-wid-it as he embarked on a process of “ghettofication” of the Neighborhood. I have heard that the squatter compound was visited by various politicians over the years looking for votes, so the likelihood of evicting the squatters at this stage is next to none. Unless some politicians or a big shot buy the land from under the unwanted residence. Not just anybody can evict these people since they now have political “backitive”, you must be in a position of power able to offer the political class something in return.

As a result we were forced to increase the height of the back wall from 7 to 12 feet with many more spikes, broken bottles, razor sharp wire and motion detecting lights and as a result the yard began to look like a medieval castle preparing to repel the invading Germanic Hordes. We have also walled off the slope behind the back wall, all the way down to the gully, another obstacle in the way of the invading force and removed all agricultural produce from that area, giving them one less reason to scale the new wall.

Almost everyone on the Avenue was forced to make this extra investment, all that remains is for us to erect lookout towers, manned by 24 hour armed guards but I assume before we do that, we would probably do what others have done, even the so called defenders of the poor and downtrodden…. sell and move further up the hill and leave the area to the advancing Zombie like army. In the end some well connected people in the Neighborhood organized a series of police raids and intimidation tactics and I think they got the message that they were making it bad for themselves, we managed to bring the situation under control but just.

Squatting is another area where Politicians can be hypocritical, paying lip service to tough actions against squatting when they are in Power. While doing nothing about it and blocking any attempt to evict squatters when the courts orders their eviction when they are in Opposition. Since they need to appear as the defenders of the poor and down trodden in order to get re-elected.

and Read More: Eviction deadline extended for Beeston St squatters

Informal settlers occupying lands along river banks in Portland continue to ignore warnings from the Portland Parish Council and various environmental groups about the danger posed to them during torrential rainfall and storm surges. Read More: Squatter settlements increasing in Portland

Selling and Moving further up the hill – Gentrification vs. Ghettofication
Gentrification is not a Jamaican Concept, we hear all over the world where places that was once poor and run down is being gentrified, rebuilt, revalued and live again. But I never hear of such a thing happening in Jamaica. Jamaicans it seems do not rebuild and revalue they abandoned and “lef it fi dead”. Jamaicans don’t stand and fight we retreat leaving behind barren waste land of what use to be prime real estate. Soon the people in upper St. Andrew will retreat over the Blue Mountains and into Portland and St. Ann in their attempt to get away from the zombies (I love Walking Dead).

A Nation of Free Loaders and Beggars!
We have become a nation looking to live free at the expense of others, a free bun and cheese mentality and we are not afraid to use poverty to justify it. The ability to call down poverty and persecution, to look pathetic while demanding to live free as everyone else slave away, is what is wrong with our society today. People want free light, free water, free land and the University of the West Indies students want to be allowed to take exams while not meeting any financial requirements, regardless of the fact that other students sacrificed to make sure their financial house was in order.

It is this same mentality that we also use to extort remittance money from relatives abroad. Our begging is scripted like an actor in a Broadway play. Selling hard life and the hard luck story pays and as long as it pays Jamaicans will continue to do it. I once heard a man in Port Antonio describing his life to a tourist who was almost brought to tears, in the end he got lunch and money to feed a family who may or may not exist and take care of a situation that I doubt existed but it pays, it worked.

I am not saying that there are not people in Jamaica who are truly suffering, I am saying it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify people who are genuinely suffering and need help. Even the simple greeting in Jamaica is engineered for begging, even if the person saying it is not looking for a handout.

You meet a friend … hey jack how tings… “Boy looking at you the better one, yu no have nothing fi gi di poor”… Even though the person is not asking for something, everyone tries to dumb down their situation “just-in-case”...

All our Governments have also tapped into the Power of selling Poverty, Persecution and Begging, they have mastered this fine art in order to finance the Wants of the people, I can imagine the Minister of Finance responding to the greetings of the IMF negotiators … “...Boy looking at you the better one, yu no have nothing fi gi di poor… say about US $1.2 Billion”… The let off Mentality is alive and well in Jamaica.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do:
A druggist from the ghetto bought the open land on the hill and proceeded to build his settlement. A four house compound in which he moved himself and his family. Now the problem is not that these individuals moved uptown, the problem is that the individuals failed to conform to life on the hill as they proceeded to recreate the ghetto, similar to a virus infestation trying to take over the body.

On a daily basis massive amount of people would hangout, inside and outside of the druggist compound, his posse and extended posse would stand around watching each and everyone as they go about their daily business, some would smoke weed  while others would shout things at passing cars, they were truly some of the worst cut throats I have ever seen.

Then the druggist started keeping regular dancehall events, at first we thought it was a one off thing but later realized he had a fix schedule, Wednesday and Saturday nights was the norm. Music so loud that one could hear the glass and plates rattle and vibrate in the cabinet. With people shouting rubbish over the microphone, it was also very hard to sleep during this "dutty-rubbup" event. A delegation from the neighbourhood association decided to have a word but the druggist would not have it. He had more money than God and felt that he could do what ever he wanted, where and when ever he wanted and no one could stop him.

It was then that the power brokers on the hill decided to up the ante with a series of well organised raids on the druggist compound by the security forces. This went on for a while as the druggist and his multitude of followers came under the microscope. These raids turned out not to be conducive to his druggist activities and in the end both he and his followers were forced to move back from whence they came. The compound was later sold to families who understood the meaning and importance of Peace, Quiet and maintaining ones Property Value.


  1. Very enlightening. And Scary

  2. bwoyyyy it rough eeh. Seems like you have to live behind very high walls anywhere to be safe...and maybe not even then.

    Sad that is the drug dealer though that can afford the house on the hill and not the hardworking middle class folks.

    What is the solution to squatting though if the government so slow on making lots of varied real jobs paying real money pop up on the landscape? People have to survive from they are alive, they not just going to lie down in the elements and tek whatever...

    Really tough situation.

    What is a shame is that people get a bly and instead of try to be like the rest of the community since dem waan LIVE like the rest or in the area of the rest...they bring the dutty ways come. And don't realize that that is what makes the ghetto the ghetto...not the size of the buildings but the class and resulting behaviour of the people in it. As noted by the ghettofabulous results of a big money drug dealer moving next door. Is one thing to have a once or twice a year big party on a weekend but every Wednesday like is Passa Passa dis?

    Naw man me'd a vex to. smh.

  3. A sad reality in this country, where squatters have more rights than land owners. And am not talking the slavery, backra massa family landowners, because I think our politicians have sucessfully implanted in the minds of our people that's it's ok to squat. Am talking about our hardworking parents, grandparents and greatgrandparents who worked their asses off to lift themselves from the most abject poverty acquire their parcels on the rock.

    In Jamaica we've become a people who no longer know the distinction between right and wrong, and the state and their agents continue to validate that. Fraud and corruption, specifically in our legal system when it comes to land issues has been legitimised.

    Our court systems is absolute shit. And we've got civil servants who are still holding on to the image of the civil service of yesteryear. I had reason to talk to one of the higher ups of the National Land Agency, and when I made remark that a title had been torn out of their big book, I was pretty much told that I was chatting crap. Mind you, our case was in the courts and this came out in the court.

    I blame it all on the silent middle classes, we've let the f*ckery go on for far too long, not realising that if we as a group collectively started to participate in the goings on in society, we would be the ultimate power brokers.

    Jamaica is a country that makes it extrememly hard to love it, but because you do, it's very hard to give up on it