We talked about hunger for a little bit. He said that life is hard sometimes because people can’t find money to buy food to eat. I asked him if he could bear hunger? He said yes! I asked him how he did it. He said you just hold on until you get something to eat.
I thought why should he have to develop this “skill”. He is 14 yrs old. How early do we have to practice baring hunger?
I didn’t know what to say after that. After a while he called me and asked me for $100 to buy something to eat. I paused to think. Should I give him money? I don’t want him to be hungry. Maybe he is hungry. But I don’t like the idea of giving money like this it looks like I have money to give. But I have given so much money here and there already. Giving money like this doesn’t fix anything.
I decided to give him $50 instead. As I reached for the $50 I had a second thought. I have $3000 in here should I give him $1000 and ask him to take $100 and bring back the change? I decided to stick with the original decision. Give him the change I had. I was uncomfortable. I needed some space to work out why I felt like this.
There is a line in the song “who knows ” by Protoje and Chronnix where Protoje says “Food Deh Pon di tree while the youths Nuh have don’t have nuttin to eat” .
I thought about how many times this hasbeen my reality. Except I can just go to the supermarket. It wasn’t until recently that I really understood self-reliance. I should be able to feed myself. I should be able to provide myself with basic nourishment. I live in Jamaica the land of wood and water with a lot of sun so anything can grow.
I have started to learn how to grow things. My greatest success has been learning to grow escallion and add flavour to my food based on the seasoning that I can grow in a garden like ginger, pepper, escallion and thyme. To be self-reliant I need to grow more food so that I am not dependent on cash to eat.
A few months ago my father asked me what my plans were for the rest of the year. I told him I wanted to reduce my dependency to where I didn’t really need a supermarket. To my surprise he replied with a story about how much food he had around him growing up in Portland and that all they needed at the shop was salt.
“Begging” for money to buy food is not a good thing. Needing a job to get money to buy food to eat is not a good thing either.
Youths are looking at life and seeing hunger. People can’t find food to eat because they have no jobs or no way of earning money or they eat very little because they earn very little or they eat poorly because they live on cheap foods. I used to think that a “cup a noodles” and some tin foods was a cheap good way to have something to eat when times were tuff. It was all I thought I could afford so I eat it knowing it had very little nutrition.
We have all been sold something which has taken us so far away from ourselves it has made us dependent and turned the population into markets for cheap food items distributed widely through Chinese wholesales shops in the capital city of Jamaica.
I was talking to a group of sistren in St. Thomas one time and they said to me “food deh Pon the tree yes but suppose you feel like you want something else to eat today? You must get tired of eating the same thing”. I completely understood what they mean and this is another thing to look at.
In Bahia Brazil I was excited and surprised to see a how many different things you could make with coconut and banana and similar to Jamaica just how rich the land was. We can create variety. Our great grandmothers and their grandmothers also wanted variety and they made many of the things we still enjoy today.
All the spaces that we occupy should be growing food. It is an essential practice. It won’t be easy in 2017 because as Ras Takura points out is a “Food war we a fight”. But we need to consider the youth and the future. We have to provide a example for being independent and self-reliant. We have always needed to.
How do you give someone dignity?
Dignity is acknowledging your humanity. You are a human being with the capacity and capability. You possess the ability to experience life fully. Maybe we can create an environment which encourages people to feel that there is trust in their capacity. Maybe if we created using our own ideas and resources it would help us to restore our dignity. In many ways this is what Marcus Garvey was showing us;the descendants of Africans at home and abroad, Confidence in self.
Confidence in self maintains dignity. Do we still believe in our ability? Much of our confidence has been removed systematically and we have been made dependent on Governments or a political system that abuses power and monopolizes the wealth of the country to maintain itself. We have been manipulated away from ourselves. In this process losing our dignity.
People can choose to reclaim their dignity or leave it for dead and continue living.
We all have to choose how we want to live. Some choices are harder than others but all our choices add up.
We should not try to choose a life for anyone. No matter what the situation. We have to make our own choices.
Many community projects or development projects are not designed with an understanding of how dignity or choice work.
Di ISL is a not a community or development project but i have learnt that living in a “community” or working in a collective requires understanding choice. This removes the gap created by expectations that people will act according to some ideal within the community. Understanding choice allows us to pursue goals collectively.