As with his father, the answer may not lie in what he knew, but whom. “This person who they’re demonizing was very very good friends with every politician that I know,” says dancehall artist Spragga Benz, whose new album Shotta Culture pulls no punches in documenting the harsh realities of Kingston street life. “They came to him at some point to move forward their agendas. So why is this person a demon now and you are not?”
With Dudus out of the way, Prime Minister Golding is looking to create an economic boom. He has institued new “uncompromising measures,” and the murder rate has dropped in the country by some 15 percent (although human rights groups charge that extrajudicial killings by police are on the
rise). Meanwhile, the Irish-owned firm Digicel, the Caribbean’s leading cell phone company, has recently broken ground on a one-billion-Jamaican-dollar waterfronthigh-riseheadquarters, just a short walk from Tivoli. And it must have interested the U.S. State Department to learn that the People’s Republic of China is helping finance Jamaica’s new Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in downtown Kingston. China is also reportedly negotiating with the Jamaican government to invest some $6 billion to gain control of Kingston’s shipping ports.
Just weeks before the incursion, representatives of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica flew to London and Houston to solicit bids to explore for oil and natural gas. “Geological studies of the island and surrounding waters find that the area has significant oil and gas potential,” reads a 2004 issue of The American Oil and Gas Reporter. “Possible reserves have been placed at 2.8 billion barrels of oil and 10.6 trillion cubic feet of gas.” Of course everything will be regulated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which recently refinanced Jamaica’s $1.27 billion debt.
“We have a golden opportunity now,” says Miss Kidd-Deans, back at her office, right next door to the Digicel tower construction site. “And it is hoped that some good can come out of what happened, that the incursion will not be in vain. The only way is through housing, employment and continuing with the cultural and sports program to occupy the people’s time. It’s like a patient enters the hospital, and you have an emergency. I’m humbly submitting that West Kingston is traumatized.”
In the midst of their trauma, Tivoli residents can find some comfort on the playing field as their football team is currently ranked No. 1 in the Digicel Premier League. In a decisive game against Sporting Central Academy, Coach Bailey replaces starting striker Devon Hughes with Owen Powell. Watching from the stands, Seaga, founder of Tivoli’s Football Club—seems concerned about the substitution. “Boss, it’s not going to be pretty all the time,” a Gleaner reporter overhears the coach telling him.
Withjustthreeminutestospare,Owengetsthe ball. The young striker, who was forced to run sprints for his life just months ago, is now running for Tivoli, for his people. Owen pounds in a goal, breaking a 1–1 tie.
“The team all right yunno,” Powell says. “We ah go win this one for the people dem. Make them feel good.”
For Dudus and the community he once led, the future remains murky. But on this day, at least, Tivoli claims a victory. -Rob Kenner & Rob Marriot