Me neva did know

Me neva did know
Seh me neva born yah
Inna me homeland

Me neva did know
Till you call out to me
Seh me fe feel shame
Ah me ancestry

Ching Chong Chiney gyal
Gwaan back to China
Afta me neva go China yet
How me fe go back

Me neva did know
Seh just cause me deh
Back a one shop
Counting change

An’ me mama and papa
Talk two different tongue
Dat me was different from you
Dat me neva belong

Me neva did know

True you seh me too rich
An me hair too sof’
An me eat too much rice
An how Chiney eat dawg

Afta me neva eat no dawg yet

Ah stew chicken me love
An’ escoveitch fish
And stew peas an rice

But me neva did know
Seh me nuh fe feel pain
Cause me is a child of privilege
An’ fi you great gran mumma was a slave

An a only yuh get di right fi complain

True me neva did know
Seh out of one people
Neva really mean me

True me neva know

But don’t mind you hear
Cause me naw insult you back
Me naw seh “Go back a Africa
True you black.”

Me just shut me mout’ tight
An smile all ‘roun
Cause me know seh me born right yah so
Inna Kingston town.


I’m told that to be a good writer, you need to cut your heart out and bleed onto the page. I think this qualifies.

About Theresa C Givans

I was born and raised on the rock, that is, my awesome island home, Jamaica. I currently reside in the cool hills of Mandeville, where I spend my time writing fiction, blogging, and hanging out with my husband and three children who keep me laughing every day.

Posted on February 24, 2014, in My Fiction and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Love this ! The dialect, the rhythm, the tongue in cheek, the memories it evoked but best of all the love and forgiveness, casue we all bawn inna Kingston Town. 😉

  2. Thalia in Jamaica

    Awesome work… truly children have very little filtering.. But that is part of what makes us, as a generation experiencing many childhood difficulties, better parents… Kudos T!

  3. Enjoyed it

  4. It’s great to get this stuff out. I’m sorry you had to experience that. I think we are all confused, all displaced and we do a lot of projecting. I’m sure in childhood it must have been especially painful as some children have no filter. I take a lot of pride in my country and it’s diversity. One love

  5. While growing up in Jamaican our neighbours were chinese, middle eastern, and anglo, my first crush was on a boy named Stephen Wong. Never has a motto ever rung so true, “out of many one people”, so proud to be Jamaican.

  6. I love this.

    ‘Talk two different tongue’ – Jamaican English and Chinese? (Sorry if I’ve got this wrong.) It’s strange how for some people language is a bridge and for others it’s a wall.

    • Originally I meant English and Chinese. When I re-read it it sounded like each parent spoke a different language. But I left it because it could be interpreted that way as well – as a mixed couple. I’m curious to know how much of this you actually understood. I know that the dialect is heavy.

      • Wait, confused – if both parents speak Chinese, it would be ‘a’ different tongue, one, as opposed to the other (English), right? (Though I can also see how it could be interpreted the other way too.) I didn’t find it very difficult to understand. I admit I had to google a few words but the dialect didn’t alienate me in any way. The contrary, and that’s what I love about this piece, that the language communicates its affinity to the culture -exactly through the dialect- while the writer is on the receiving end of those who claim the opposite. Also, from the little I know of how the words sound and how I can imagine them in my head, the language sounds beautiful.

        • I meant both parents would speak two languages -English and Chinese. Jamaican patois is not officially considered a language, although that’s a whole other argument. There is a large contingent of Chinese immigrants in Jamaica, many being 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation, as well as Indians and Europeans. Generally speaking, there is a great deal of integration in the population. But of course, there does exist an aspect of ignorance as well, the idea that if you are not dark skinned, then you must be from somewhere else. And there are these generations of people who look Chinese (or Indian, European etc) but have little if no connection to any other culture than Jamaican.

  7. Our motto still says” Out of Many One People” and I believe that includes all of us regardless of colour,race or creed.That means you too.

    • Surely. Still, one grows up with certain experiences. This mirrors early aspects of mine.

      • I do remember people making fun of ‘chiny people’ I also remember those hair twists called ‘china bumps’ ouch! at the time for me as a little girl was just another term. I am mixed with east indian and on some occasions I was called a ‘coolie’ It just seemed as if it were part of the course of growing up in Jamaica.

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