Learning to speak backwards
Bassy - Love Vine
June 9, 2023
Learning to speak backwards

Everybody got de Fear-foh-hit Kaisoian, ah love Theophilus Phillips whose ‘Nom de Guerre’ War Name was ‘The Mighty Spoiler’ because of his flair for writing on risqué subjects, somewhat like our very Vincy lad “De Man Age!”

Born 1924 died in 1960, The Mighty Spoiler won T’n’T Kaiso King in 1948 and 1953. Ah remember seeing him in de 1950’s in SVG, slim, tall, well dressed and well drunk almost all de time. Dis article is not bout The Mighty Spoiler but ah want to use one ah his better Kaisos “Women Talking Backwards” which is Mighty Spoiler’s creation of ah language communication skill used by women. For example: “Mary-Ann I will leave the man,” backwards it becomes “Man the leave will I Mary-Ann!” Or “Dat fellow face like an Alfagat” is ” Alfagat an like face fellow got!” Johnny won’t pay alimony is “ Johnny wouldn’t maintain me” becomes: “ Me maintain wouldn’t Johnny!” Lie-Za say back in de 1950’s she heard Mighty Spoiler sang: “ wife says Big-Boss Husband is Raperman,” what she actually heard was: “husband, wife says, Rape-her-man Big-Boss!”

Calypsonians have an unwritten Lie-sins to sing on just about any subject providing what dey sing is Truth, Facts dat can be defended in ah court of Law. So it is de responsibility of de Calypso Association to ensure dat its members attend lectures in de Law of Lie-Bell and Slander, so as to avoid being Sued.

Dey tell I dat back in de days ah Slay-Free dat de slaves were Raped of dey dignity, basic human and civic rights, (yes Rape as in Rape-arrears-shun), dat Kaiso was de medium thru which dey used to tell dey story, to lodge openly and vent dey grievances. Dey might not have been structured lyrics, no editing but de messages were clear. Dey tell me also dat Massah didn’t personally whip anyone, he selected his Head Slave (HNIC) to do de beating; today when de Big Man character is under attack, he remains silent, leave it to his HNIC who will be ah “yes Mr Big Man” to do his dirty wuk.

Having said dat, proof or no proof, in ah corrupt society way corruption is not only rampant but heavily covered up, dey’s still among us de fearless martyrs like those of de 1935 Riots like Sherriff Lewis and Hit-me-hard Hinds who broke de law and were given 7 years hard labour sentences. Today we cherish and appreciate de sacrifice made by those great folks.

Oh foh ah SVG Kaiso style, way when it is Nah-shun-all Festival Vincy Mas time, dey’s no need foh Kaisonians to go on stage and describe members ah de public in high offices in derogatory terms. And if s/he must take dey poetic Lie-sins close to de edge, dey must do so wid de writing skills of De Man Age or de flair of writing backwards like de Mighty Spoiler.

Dis brings me right into de Kaisonian Zion-I 2023 song, way he ignored his poetic Lie-sins and crossed over de legal boundaries. Lie-Za thinks he is ah self sacrificed scapegoat, not an innocent lamb by any means. And right or wrong, legal or illegal, sometimes certain things must be said, even if it is ah timely reminder. Lest we forget. And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

  • Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.