Diary Wedensday 16.12.1998
Went to Tivoli Gardens today with Louis Mussington. He came to pick me up in his Honda Civic with autoamtic safety belts, tinted windows, bright chrome hubs and dark maroon colour. We drove down town and we talked about the place. He said that all the areas in the city have different systems. In Jonestown, for instance, there are smaller gangs of youths, small frictions starting at a football match can quickly escalate into large scale violence which then exhausts itself and the whole place urns back into normal. That doesn’t happen in Tivoli. There one man, * Brown captured control of the whole area, everyone deferred to him. There was a close relationship between him and Seaga. He is now dead and lies buried at the edge of the May Pen Cemetry, his grave facing Tivoli Gardens. It is painted blue with a white scroll and there is always an electric light burning to commemorate him. One of his sons took over. But he died too. Now this man called Dudus controls the area. He is also a son of Jim Brown. Even more powerful. They call him the President. He is throwing a ball for christmas. Tickets will cost J$1000. The posters are printed all fancy with colours. It will be very full. Noboy steels or vandalises in Tivoli. There are sunpanels in the grounds outside Tivoli Comprehensive. They are quite safe. Fear is respect. Dudus is feared. The ball is organised by the President’s Click (clique) They make sure that everything in Tivoli is under control. I see a young man passing our car. How does he get his motor bike. Louis smiles. He is a badman. The young men also have their gangs. They mark their territory. Corners are painted with special colours. Some corners have large, simply made wooden benches. Mark their territory. What happens to a man how crosses the boundary? Louis looks at me crossly. Nothing man. It is alright for one man to come into the area of another man. Hey we have a visitor, they say, lets give him 6 love. Dominoes. The corners are places for “mass-conversations” about sports and things. Louis gets respect, because he has learnt and goes to Utech. How many people have had tertiary education in Tivoli? Louis smiles again. We pass a portrait of Jim Brown, his son and another man. I did not catch his name. Louis will photograph these things for me. He does not want me to do it. Then we pass more portraits. Bustamante and Seaga. Seaga bust emerges and hovers over a townscape. Seaga used to live with the people, suffer with them. They used to trust him completely. Some people thought he was jesus. Him and Jim Brown used always settle things. If the people were doing things Seaga did not like, he would talk with Jim Brown and it would stop. But Seaga’s influence is not what it was. You rememebr the episode that Seaga gavce some names to the police? It was Dudus’ name he gave, that together with the names of some of his click. Seaga could not make his inlfuence felt, Dudus had laughed in his face. And Seaga gave the names to the police. Now it is settled between them.
In a special room in the community centre are stored the magnificent speakers of Seaga’s public address system, all by themselves, like an altar table in a cistercian abbey. What he said once, was really bad, Luis says. He said that a man never needs to leave West Kingston. He can be born in the Lee Chin Maternity centre, go to primary school in the Denim Town Primary School and if he passes his common entrance he goes to the Tivoli Comprehensive, work in the market and when he dies there is may pen cemetery. Louis felt that he had learnt so much from visiting other places. Saying in the same place keeps you ignorant.
A girl with a white cream on her face smiles at me from the side of a small park which Seaga had laid on and for which Louis had done the painting scheme to make the low fence look attractive and colourful. What is that cream? That cream is to bleach your skin, to make you less black. It is very dangerous you know, the doctor can’t help you. Some girls end up permanently disfigured. The simple cubic apartment blocks stagger along the road. All of them painted in different colours, now fading. Opne a bright dark blue. Everything looks orderly and neat enough.The paintings tend to be formal public creations. Not the individual thigns one sees elsewhere. We drive along the edges of the area. There is PNP there is JLP. Hey that has JLP written on it but I am sure it is PNP. Sometimes they drive up in a car and paint it on qquickly. How do you know if an area is PNP or JLP. You know. You grow up with it. Do the signs tell you. Well not if people from the other party quickly steel up in the night to paint the sign. But all that is not so important any more you know. When politics is in the air, at election time then you must not cross the boundaries. In the seventies it was bad. But now… And even then your uncle and auntie could be PNP and you could still laugh with them. Lizard Town. This is not Tivoli Gardens. Or it is now, but people from Tivoli still do not think of it as Tivoli. It used to be PNP. Now it is part of Seaga’s constituency. It looks far less ordered. The buildings are more dilapidated. A very sweet girl waves at me from her porch. She lives in one of the two storey terraced houses. Her mother is behind. Her. What a sweet girl. She’s a bit simple. Louis stops. He has a low, very laid back conversatio with the smiling upholsterer who has been called out by his colleague. This is my lecturer you know. We acknowledge each other. Louis’ arm is stretched out of the window. Deal with it now? Me deal with it me deal with it, smiles the upholsterer. We drive on.
What about those underground passages? That is foolishness. Yes but why do people want to believe this? Because the police cannot believe that when they come into the community they cannot find the bad men. But the bad men no longer dress like bad men. They look normal. Tivoli is a feared place. The buildings, like those of Trench Town, are not remarkable. The place is a stigma.
We drive through Denim town. A bombed out area. Concrete boxes below human dignity. Everything is far les formally arranged. The roads are in very bad condition. Huge holes. Doors and whole houses written on. Denim town is also JLP. We see a PNP area further on. We can’t go in. Not because Louis is associated with Tivoli and the JLP but because the system is different. There is no central authority. Men can do what they please there.