A crippling habit
Guyana Chronicle
February 11, 2002

Allow me to add my "Amen" to your recent editorial [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] bemoaning the lack of punctuality among Guyanese. As we try to improve our economies and our lives, this practice of arriving late is a crippling habit. One of the first things I learned after migrating from Guyana was the pressing need to abandon the "soon come" tradition if I was going to get anywhere.

Ironically, the song "It's Traditional" that you referred to in the editorial came about from being made to look at our Caribbean more through a different lens. In fact, I recall an incident after playing the song one night in our "WE PLACE" nightclub in Toronto. A Guyanese called me over to his table to say, "Man, Dave, you shouldn't be singing about them things." To my point that all the behaviours described in the song were true, he replied, in typical Guyanese fashion, "It true, yes. But you got to broadcast it all over the place so?"

After I stopped laughing, I said to him, "Well, the point of the song is that we need to start looking at these things to see if these are behaviours that we need to change." In fact, it was heartening to me that, the very next time he came to 'We Place' the young man came up to me and said, "You know I never thought about it before, but you're right. Some of the things in that song; we really shouldn't be carrying on so." It may be of interest, given the prevalent images of musicians' behaviour, to relate that just this last week, in a conversation with Byron Lee, we were talking about this very tardiness problem.

It turns out we took the same approach when considering possible members for our groups in that the two most important traits we looked for were honesty and discipline; musical talent came into the picture only after the other two were there. Guyana has an exciting and vibrant culture that sustains her children wherever they live, but we cannot be oblivious to the fact that there are flaws in the fabric.

Some traditions are clearly worth holding onto at all cost; others are just as clearly millstones we would be better off to lose. As a line in the "It's Traditional" song says, the reason so many of us have an expensive watch is to know how late we're coming late.