Sun | May 19, 2024

Gordon Robinson | Constitutional and cricketing disappointments

Published:Tuesday | March 28, 2023 | 12:33 AM
Sabina Park
Sabina Park

Gene Autry, The Beast and I were sitting around the domino table hoping to scrounge up a fourth.

Haemorrhoid, whose nickname was based on frequent complaints about “piles and piles” of files on his desk, was present but knew not dominoes which he believed to be birds with long, thin legs he called “domingoes.” But Haemorrhoid, a world famous raconteur, saw the Beast’s excited anticipation; advised caution; and filled the time with a shaggy dog tale:

“The physiology class took a spot quiz.

One question was ‘What part of the human anatomy expands to ten times its normal size during periods of intense emotion and excitement?’

Professor selected a rather overdressed Miss Gracie in the front row to answer. She heard the question but stammered with embarrassment: ‘I’d rather not answer that question.’

Professor said ‘That’s all right, Miss Gracie, you don’t need to answer it. Anyone else?’ He noticed an interested face in the back. ‘Mr. Hawkins!’

Hawkins said ‘Yes, Professor, it’s the pupil of the eye that expands to ten times its normal size during periods of emotion and excitement.’

Professor: ‘That’s correct, Mr. Hawkins.’

Then he turns to Miss Gracie. ‘Young lady, two things are obvious from your reaction to this question. One, you haven’t studied this week’s assignment; Two, I’m afraid marriage is going to be a disappointment to you’”.

As soon as Haemorrhoid finished we heard, wafting on the breeze “If a macca mek it jook yu!”

The Dunce!

Haemorrhoid said to The Beast “Toldja!”

My intent was to relate this story to Jamaicans overly excited at the long awaited Constitutional Reform process’ start. Their disappointment at the constitution (pun intended) of the Committee appointed to advise the way forward must’ve been palpable. Co-chaired by a Military Man/Government Minister and including four parliamentarians and at least ten lawyers, eyebrows were raised as to its true purpose.

The Minister’s repeated rationalization that the Committee’s work is “high level” can only mean its work is considered above ordinary citizens whose input won’t be required but whose lives will be directly affected. Need I say anything more about this dog and pony show?

But another excitement likely to lead to disappointment caused me to kick that can down the road. I recently retold a story, from a 2022 Vaniesa Baksh Trinidad Express Article, sent to me by a regular reader. The story claimed Sabina Park, located on Sabina Park Pen, an old estate, was named after a slave woman who committed infanticide to prevent her son becoming a slave.

Immediately another regular reader sent The Old Ball and Chain a link to a 2018 Observer article written by one Marcia Thomas telling a different story. According to Marcia, Sabina Park was named after the estate (owned by a “free black woman” named “Bella” Hall) and not the slave woman. She wrote:

“In 1809, the proprietor of Sabina Park Pen was Isabella Hall. She was born in 1762 to a free black woman, Elizabeth Pinnock, and a white man, Oliver Hall. Isabella was the partner, “housekeeper” of Robert Rainford Sr, born in England possibly in the 1750s. He was a merchant and slave trader living in Kingston, Jamaica….”

I thought “interesting” and moved on.

But, apparently, Marcia took umbrage at my retelling Veniesa’s story. I’ve received TWO irate e-mails from her accusing me of perpetuating a myth (wow, a slavery myth, there’s a new thing). She insisted: “This story about Sabina Park’s name cannot be verified and is quite likely untrue.” Well, so are many slavery stories including one about a National Hero.

She named a former Jamaican politician as Vaniesa’s main (unnamed) source and who Marcia claimed “made up” the story and, allegedly, lots more “dubious history information”. Then she correctly accused me of not reading a follow-up article by Vaniesa.

Oh dear. How’d I become Marcia’s target for her slings and arrows? If she thinks I plan to argue with her she’ll be disappointed. History is replete with stories based on myth. If this is another, fine. I still prefer Vaniesa’s myth to Marcia’s because it gives me literary licence to make my point about mental slavery which remains the real issue.

Who knows what really birthed Sabina Park’s name? I wasn’t there. As Marcia herself wrote “This Sabine legend could have inspired the name Sabina Park. Is it possible that Rainford saw Bella as his Sabine woman?” So my unsolicited advice to Marcia is to take it up with Vaniesa. I’m out!

Peace and Love.

Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Send feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.