Dey’s de two word phrase “Come by” dat is applied on different occasions, one as in ah surprise visit or invitation : “ Oh ah just ‘come by’ to see what you doing;” or “ you must ‘come by’ ah lickle more often.” And den of course de serious use of “come by” meaning “ to get possession of” or to acquire! Like long ago in school you looking foh you pencil and Joe has it, so you ask him: “Joe , how you ‘come by’ my pencil?”
Well soon and very soon, some 16 Tenants on de “Mac Lean lands” aka “Murray Village lands” in Richmond Hill, will “Come By” de very lands on which dey have defiantly refused to pay rent foh years, some as long as fifteen.
Dey’s ah bit ah His-story about Mc Lean Lands dat goes back many, many years ago. Subject to correction, after E-man-see-pay-shun, ah number of European Planters (Scots and Irish) white folks came over from Bo-bathe-us to settle in SVG: Among dem were de Mac Leans and de Baileys my maternal grand-parents. Nearly all ah dem settled in de hillside terrain, in particular Dorsetshire Hill. Ole man Grampa Mac Lean and his family, wife and eight children settled foh Richmond Hill long before I was born. Actually one ah my uncles was married to one ah Grampa’s daughter, Aunt Rene.
Grampa Mac was known as ah hard wuker, ah kind man whom de villagers affectionately called “Grampa.” He farmed approximately 30 acres of lands in Richmond Hill. He kept lots ah animals, sheep, goats, poultry and good milking cows and supplied de shops and villagers wid fresh cow’s milk. Back den ah 26 ounce bottle ah Cow’s Milk was 4 cents in my day as ah youth.
On dat hillside dey was a ‘Ball-Ground’ wid ah cricket pitch above de same area now occupied by Squatters. As youngsters we played cricket all day during vacation; foh lunch break we raided Grampa Mac’s fruit trees; Mangoes, Guavas, Fat Pork, Coconut. He never come-plain!
Grampa’s children and grand-children migrated, and when He and Mama moved on to Paradise, he had already rented out most of de lands to Tenants. His daughters, Aunt Hannah ah centenarian and Aunt Helen tried to manage de Tenants (defaulters). It was too much foh two ole ladies. So dey handed over de Landlord-ship to Grand-son-in-law, Dr Wayne Murray and Simone, his dear wife, ah great-grand-daughter of de Mc Leans.
Ah overs dat initially de land rent was $60 per year or $5 ah month. Demand foh land increased and Mac Lean Hill had become ah settlement, right now is about 16 Tenants/Squatters on de land. After 30 or so years land rent ranges between $50 for de original Tenants, and as much as $500 foh working families.
But rent payment has been ah problem as far back as 2005. Some Non-paying folks were given notice to quit 15 years ago. Some were taken to Courts and were given marching orders. And according to de Murrays, de Tenants are doing neither, dey refuse to pay and dey refuse to leave. Lie-Za who following de story told me dat de Tenants are getting aggressive, dey have also led ah delegation to de head ah de fountain, de Big-Man him himself.
Lie-Za say dat from de time de name Wayne Murray was men-shun, antennas went up. Murray is ah social commentator and very vocal too. He publishes his thoughts widout Fear or Fear-far. Trust me his comments are not complimentary to de Act-shuns or in-act-shun of de Go-venom-mint on many matters. And herein or therein lies de problem or de solution. Elect-shun is now higher on de pull-it-to-kill Agenda dan “Covid 19,” so Go-venom-mint has already completed “Phase One” of its Notice to Acquire Mac Lean Hill lands. De Squatters are not short in celebrating fully assured dat dey will “Come By” those lands dey been occupying Rent Free foh years. De scales doh look like it evenly balanced. Land Acquisition is well within de Law, but someone needs to explain to both sides to be calm while de Law takes its course. And wid dat is gone ah gone again.
One Love Bassy
Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.