Those “Nasty” People

February 17th, 2020

I have read several conversations recently on social media regarding the physical state of our communities and the environment in which people live and work. For urban areas, that means the streets, the sidewalks (if any), the drains, the gullies, and so on. There seems to be less focus on rural areas; although many are aware, for example, of the practice of dumping solid waste (old appliances, construction waste) in tucked-away places. Other forms of pollution – from a nearby bauxite plant or a sugar factory for example – are far from unusual. These actions are rarely investigated or prosecuted. They just continue, and the people suffer.

Many Jamaicans suggest that the reason for the bad state of our less prosperous neighborhoods (the “ghetto,” the “garrisons,” or whatever label you wish to use) is because the residents are, in a word – “nasty.” They have no civic pride, they are dirty, and they need to just stop it and fix their own problems. Yes – they are lazy too, many would say, because they don’t fix their own potholes and gullies, neglected for decades. If they don’t have the resources to do so, that is just too bad.


Yes, I will concede that citizens should take action, in many situations, to improve their surroundings – provided they have the human and financial resources to do so. This is one of the ideas behind Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica’s Community Cleanup Network. An awful lot of “nasty people” applied for the slots (only thirty) across the island, so that they could clean up their communities in a safe and organized way, with the proper equipment. Indeed, for each slot there were ten applicants! Does that tell you something?

The Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica community cleanups start this month. Part of the goal is to encourage Jamaicans to take responsibility for their garbage, and importantly, to come together and collaborate as a team to improve their neighborhood as best they can. Cleanups should be a communal effort – and should hopefully start a habit (in particular, among young people) of taking care of their surroundings. Not just their own yard, but beyond. And remember, “Many hands make light work.”

Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica Cleanup Network coordinator Kiwanis Club Of St. Thomas loves where they live and will be cleaning up Southhaven, Yallahs in St Thomas on May 23, 2020. Photo: JET

Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica Cleanup Network coordinator Kiwanis Club Of St. Thomas loves where they live and will be cleaning up Southhaven, Yallahs in St Thomas on May 23, 2020. Photo: JET

Let me ask, though: What is the responsibility of the Government in all this – local government, specifically? Are government agencies found wanting, just once in a while, or are they doing a grand job? What are we all paying our taxes for, if the government cannot see it fit to collect our garbage once per week? Or if potholes grow bigger and bigger, breeding mosquitoes whenever it rains? Or if a gully that is broken and damaged deteriorates? And what about the persistent leaks of sewage onto streets and even into homes on occasion? Should those “nasty” residents get together and fix the issue? Or is it something a particular government agency should be attending to?

No wonder people go out on the street with placards.

Wait a minute, though! In some of these areas, help is coming. Elections are in the air, and new roads are miraculously appearing! A bulldozer is coming soon to an impoverished community near you…possibly with a politician at the steering wheel.

I am sure you get my point, by now. It’s the responsibility of citizens and government to play their part in creating clean, safe and healthy communities. And to keep them that way.






Tags: , , , , , , ,

The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner.
The Gleaner reserves the right not to publish comments that may be deemed libelous, derogatory or indecent.
To respond to The Gleaner please use the feedback form.

4 Responses to “Those “Nasty” People”

  1. John Wyatt says:

    A great article from the author, and yes it is definitely a joint effort. We need local government to do it’s part and keep streets and gullies clean and to mend leaks. Non Gov initiatives like ‘Nuh dutty up’ and ‘Clean Up’ are crucially crucial too!

    And then you and me an all the “nasty people dem”: is wi mus keep our yaad clean and likkl bit of neighbourhood.

    However what the author does not point out is that poverty is a downward spiral, and that includes pride in self and pride in place. If people feel downpressed the spark needed to “clean up” goes out. A “Why bother” attitude takes over. Of course we would like smart homes, of course we would like pretty yaad, but, why bother, nobody is going to help wi, yu nuh heah dem? We is nasty people, so, cho that is how wi gwine behave!

    Government should work together, not patronisingly, organisations should start to help us back to stan tall. Give people the reason to have respect for themselves and slowly we might get a better Ja.

  2. EmmaLewis says:

    Dear John: Thank you for your interesting response. Yes, I am afraid you are right – it’s all too easy for that “vicious circle” mentality to set in, especially if one side of the equation is not playing its part (and the government side of things is simply not stepping up to the plate). It’s very depressing. Self-respect is a huge part of it and yes – I did not address the mind-numbing impact of poverty in this respect. No one cares about us, so why should we care? It’s not apathy so much as self-pity. We will just somehow ALL have to summon up the energy, as the 30 communities are now doing – and also we must sustain it!

  3. Ron Foster says:

    Robbed at Courts, Cross Roads
    Dear Editor,
    Kindly allow me space in your comprehensive and fascinating paper for my humble story. For it appears as if our teachers are getting a beating from all sectors of society – physical attacks, mounting indiscipline in the schools, blatant disrespect, robberies, among other things. Our society has turned on our beloved, hardworking educators like ravening wolves! What is unfolding is like a nightmarish drama from the powerful imagination of acclaimed novelist Stephen King, and with diabolical sequels too! Yet, what is shocking is that our teachers – teach everybody! (From the lowly to the great). Are the teachers really assets to our beloved Country?
    Recently, I purchased a Canon Printer at Courts, Cross Roads. I received it with two ink cartridges – one black (145) and one coloured (146). I took it home and it appeared as though it was not working. I inserted the CD that came with it, but still the computer was not picking up the printer. Therefore, I took back the printer with my TWO ink cartridges to Courts and spoke with the man in the Customer Service Department, who accepted it and gave me a receipt.
    Mr. Editor, when I went back for my printer, the two ink cartridges were gone! I pointed it out to a young woman who was in the Customer Service Department that day and she went to look if they were in the storeroom. She came back and said they were not there. She called the technician who said that he did not have them!
    In addition, she sent me to the man who said he is the manager, but he said that there is nothing much he could do about it! He wrote down my name and number and said he would call, but to this day – my telephone remains in perpetual silence! It seems as if we need Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple or better yet – the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew to solve The Mystery of the Missing Ink Cartridges.
    I did not know that Courts, Cross Roads has a cat among the pigeons! (For such a reputable, customer-centric company!) Now, this humble teacher has no ink with which to print drafts of tests or examination papers!
    Shame on Courts! Customers – beware!

  4. EmmaLewis says:

    This is a sad story, and I am afraid that the mystery will never be solved! Thank you for your comments.