IND | Nov 29, 2021

MP Rhoda Crawford, please help me process this embarrassing New Dehli fiasco…

Gavin Riley

Gavin Riley / Our Today

Rhoda Crawford (right) and Gabriela Morris (left) make up half of the Jamaican delegation which performed Bob Marley’s ‘One Love’ hit in New Dehli, India on Sunday, November 28. (Photo: Twitter @RhodaMCrawford)

Member of Parliament and head of the Jamaican delegation at the 2021 Gen-Next Democracy Programme, Rhoda Crawford, has triggered an infectious wave of second-hand embarrassment across local Twitter spaces for a cringe-worthy performance in New Dehli on Sunday (November 28). 

Crawford, in a nearly minute-and-a-half video, said that the four-member delegation was asked by Indian officials to sing at lunch, beaming that Jamaica’s brand was “so powerful”.

Having emotionally convulsed after watching the video myself, it is only fair that I share my angst with you all if you haven’t seen it yet.

Watch below:

(Video: Twitter @RhodaMCrawford)

Now, help me if I’m wrong here, MP Crawford, I just want to make sure I understand this PROPERLY…

✅The Government of India invited Jamaica as one of 75 countries participating in the inaugural Gen-Next Democracy Programme.

✅Arriving safely in India since last Friday, November 26, you madam Crawford, are leading Jamaica’s delegation.

✅Three days in India’s capital New Dehli and worse still, over lunch, the Jamaicans were asked to perform…*checks notes* One Love by Bob Marley?

What in the Oliver Twist is going on here?

First, why was this agreed to? 

Please don’t tell me that my Jamaican compatriots, all women mind you, were in New Dehli ‘singing for their supper’. Anything but that. 

Okay fine, maybe I’m being too harsh. I’ll play Devil’s Advocate. 

Perhaps, in a spur of the moment, Jamaica, being renowned for its culture and “coolness”, was selected to serve up a taste of that sweet reggae music. 

Are you then telling me the clichéd use of Bob Marley’s One Love is still the only thing recognised? In 2021?

Second, as the head of the delegation, why didn’t you politely decline? 

The entire video is bad optics and terrible acoustics—given you all didn’t even know the lyrics to the song—but to be up there as the leader is just…frightening?

Thirdly, I will concede that it’s not uncommon for a country to display its culture through performance for guests. But why is India, as hosts, asking this of our Jamaicans? 

Think of it this way, if the roles were reversed, do you think it would have been respectful to ask an Indian delegation in Jamaica to perform Hanuman Chalisa in front of a crowd at the Jamaica Pegasus? 

I rest my case.

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My last question, was this “request” asked of any other nation? If not, then clearly, based on your performance alone, you would get that perception means everything, especially as the young leaders you were so invited to be.

Opposition Senator Gabriela Morris, as part of the invited delegation, you’re not getting off the hook either.

This is honestly out of pocket at best and cultural incompetence at worst. I’m even more disheartened by the fact that there are Jamaicans, allegedly not offended by the gesture, who obviously aren’t sensitive enough to these things.

To me, this cringey routine demonstrates what happens when the Jamaican brand is constantly depicted as a space solely for recreational activities, food, dance and music. It disregards any other impactful opportunity our people can have on the global stage by reinforcing the “typical Jamaican” stereotype.

And you know which one I’m referring to…

The coconut crusaders who live in thatched houses by the beach, smoking weed and yelling ‘Irie’, ‘Yah Mon’ and [expletive deleted] at every waking chance.

It is understandable why we currently sit as the laughing stock of the Caribbean over and over as, like my Jamaican Twitter counterparts, I would very much like to see an end to this nightmarish pantomime.

While I won’t be as critical as others, I really cannot process it at all. 

Help me, if you so will.