“Fellas, Babylon coming.”


SteinbergThat would be what we would hear in 1975 when one young man observed the approach of police or military men. They might’ve been pulling on a joint as members or a member of the paramilitary unit appeared.

Babylon. That was and maybe still is, the name Rasta/Dreads gave, attached to a keeper or enforcer of the law. Such keepers of the law in my country in 1975 were brutal and even now many seek still to wash blood off their hands. That is another matter.

How did I get to this? Maybe it’s because I studied the period in my country’s history between 1974 and 1978. Thus, any thought, article, word, song, image or text touching those years in Dominica’s history sends me a tone …

Probably it’s because I’ve remained silent while others speak so confidently about participation in island political change during that time. These two are possible and subject to rapid change.

Simple truth is, an e-mail came to me from http://www.Wordsmith.org with the word for the day being defined. The word was Babylon.

I saw Derek and I saw Tumba. Stopped a while. Had to get the definition given by Wordsmith.org. Babylon. Your thoughts are racing too.

“MEANING: noun: A place of great luxury and extravagance, usually accompanied with vice and corruption.”

I don’t think that was what we fellas were talking about in 1975. I believe we were talking about those who protected “ … vice and corruption.”

They branded weapons. They tortured. They killed in the name of stability, national security and peace. Dominica’s Reggae salt Nasio fontaine would chant, ‘Capuchin to Scott’s Head/is police brutality’.

Babylon. Wordsmith continues.

“ETYMOLOGY: After Babylon, an ancient city of southwestern Asia, on the Euphrates River, now the site of Al Hillah city. It was the capital of Babylonia and known for its opulence and culture. It was the site of the Hanging Gardens, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Earliest documented use: around 1225.”

Now, the earliest documented part captures my attention. In 1975 we could use a word to describe our police and military; a word whose “earliest documented use” was in 1225, i.e., in the Thirteenth Century …


Who are we …

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