Picking up some milk on the way home from the airport last week, I was greeted by scenes of people running through the streets shouting, ‘chicken, chicken, chicken’ clutching small pieces of paper as they waved their arms frantically in the air. People were being mowed down and trampled on; like when Primark Oxford Street opened. Hoards of people gathered to purchase some child-made goods at rock bottom prices. But Jamaica has no Primark. It was the Jamaican general election.
On further investigation, it transpired a general election had been called for three weeks time and the opposition party had sneakily distributed vouchers for free chicken in exchange for votes. I arrive home and try to Tweet this extraordinary election tactic but my internet connection is so slow, I can’t even open an email or more importantly watch Netflix. Never-mind, I say to my husband in an attempted romantic voice we can spend the evening talking instead of staring at the tv screen. We could, he says, if I didn’t have so much work to catch up on. He then dives into his study and I’m pretty sure I hear him locking the door.
The following day, the internet is still struggling and by day three I’m losing my cool. I call our internet provider to vent my frustration. Turns out it’s not just my problem, it’s a Jamaica wide problem. The massive surge in social media usage around the election is slowing down the internet. You mean the election coverage is breaking the internet? Right, the guy on the phone tells me. So the general election to Jamaica is like Kim Kardashian’s arse to north America? He laughs, well if it gotta brek, it need tuh brek fur a real ting, nut sum bad girl. Right, I tell him and you can’t get any more real than democracy. I hang up and decide that if I can’t get online, I’ll go to the beach instead and wait for democracy to take its course.