march. Our West Indian spring. The familiar shower of yellow and pink on
hot, dusty days.
critics: The ones who leave; the ones who dismiss us; the ones who look
pityingly at us who stay. They say all sorts of things.
say we are racially divided; that we are lazy; that we are never on time;
that we donít deliver meetings, goods, calls, letters when we say we
will; that we donít save; that we donít develop; that we continue to
be a trans-shipment point for drugs whose victims are boys who sell,
steal, kill and get shot for it.
say we have gangs where the more you kill the higher the honour. They say
our country is rotting from the inside because our utilities, our water
pipes, our phone and electricity lines, all our public service systems are
creaky, rusty, neglected; that it will all burst or come apart one day.
They say we live one day at a time.
grimly cite murder, kidnapping, arson.
shrug. Maddeningly. As if we know something they donít. We do. They even
say we are unpatriotic and partisan but we know this whole place is under
our skin, football, savannah, ole talk, music, endless festivals, cricket,
sunshine, carnival, bacchanal, roti, callaloo, crab and all.
donít know how it happened. It just did. Blind love? So what? Love is
even those who have fled remember the quality of our addiction to our
sweet country. They are not as indifferent as they would like us to think.
They just need to remember the flare of the canary yellow flowers on our
hills, the quickening of the pulse of air the week before Carnival, the
reclaiming of childhood exuberance, of unselfconscious abandoning their
bodies to the sun and music.
they forgotten our rivers? Yes, rivers of singing, dancing, humanity,
tumbling, flowing along our streets?
other countries, rivers of blood flow while they bomb and cutlass and land
mine one another. Darfur, Iraq, Israel and 30 countries at war.
critics are at it again. We hear them as we would a far-away voice. Now
they are saying we are not prepared for a global pandemic in which
anything from 7.4 to 150 million people could perish.
again? They said that about HIV/Aids, and havenít we survived although
we have the second highest incidence of the virus after Sub-Saharan
flu, they call it.
warnings to prepare for a worldwide endemic have turned increasingly
urgent as the deadly H5N1 strain has spread to Japan, Nigeria, and at
least ten European Union countries including France and the UK. US
scientists are saying that only a military style approach can contain
are saying that an endemic is more likely now that itís spread from
poultry and infected humans in seven countries: Vietnam, (42 deaths 93
cases) Thailand, (14 deaths 22 cases) Indonesia (18 deaths 25 cases)
China, (eight deaths 12 cases) Turkey, (four dead 21 cases) Cambodia,
(four deaths) Iraq, (three deaths).
are saying only the prepared will survive. They tell us in news bulletins
how First World countries prepare: ďThe French health minister Xavier
Bertrand said on January 11 that the country will have spent $844m (£477m)
between 2004 and 2006 on preparing for a flu pandemic.
is stockpiling large quantities of Relenza as an alternative to Tamiflu.
Its order, for 1.7 million units, reportedly exceeded the global sales of
the drug for the past four years
British government is spending £200 million to buy 14.6 million doses of
Tamiflu. It is also purchasing two metre treatments of bird flu vaccine to
treat key workers.Ē
had been particularly worried about bird flu arriving in poor and
developing countries. They say the consequences in poor, small, developing
and unprepared countries could be ďtruly catastrophic.Ē
Our currency is happiness not vaccines. We flow with rivers of tinsel,
pivot our hips with style in time to the rhythm of the music, believing we
are safe. We donít exchange oil for vaccines, we exchange it for the
music, the dance, the good times now.