Jamaica Patois Wisdom - Arrogance

by Jefferson David Tant

The Jamaican Patois dialect is colorful, unique and humorous. It is my desire to share some of the philosophy shown in this mix of colorful phrases that are witty as well as thought-provoking. I hope the readers both profit and enjoy. In my quarter-century plus of teaching there, I have come to appreciate some things about their culture.

Patois: Scornful dog eat dutty puddin’

English: A scornful dog will eat dirty pudding

Meaning: Don’t behave as if you are better than others or you may fall and be the laughing stock

Children play “King of the Hill.” This is a game where you stand on a mound, and playmates then try to push you off so another can take the place of “honor.” It’s fun, even though sometimes rough and tumble. Sadly, for some, the “King of the Hill” mentality continues †into adulthood. Someone has to be “top dog,” even in the church. The temptation may exist even among those thought to be godly men. Or mothers! Remember when “Ö the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him. And He said to her, ‘What do you wish?’ She said to Him, "Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left"† (Matthew 20:21-22).

Are some so little in their own eyes that they think the only way to be important is to puff themselves up? Do you know what happens to balloons when they get too full of air? They explode! And then they are deflated and good for nothing! Would that have an application from Solomon’s admonition that “A man's pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor” (Proverbs 29:23).

Too many times have I seen situations where two preachers cannot work together. Someone has to be the chief preacher. I have even known of preachers making the statement that “This is my church.” I was not aware that they had sacrificed themselves and shed their own blood to purchase the church. There are other situations where a preacher may claim leadership over a whole area in some nation, and other preachers are obligated to go to him for their support or for permission to do this or that.

Is anything more opposed to the spirit of Christ than such attitudes? We claim we are disciples of Christ. A disciple is one who follows or imitates his teacher. So, what does the teacher say? “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; †just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many’" (Matthew 20:25-28).

But not only preachers have this spirit. This “greatest in the kingdom” malady is no respecter or persons, and can afflict anyone in the church. Do you really want to be great? Do you really want respect? Christ gave us the formula. “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, ‘Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 18:1-4).

"When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, 'Give your place to this man,' and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, 'Friend, move up higher'; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 14:8-11). †

A man's pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor” (Proverbs 29:23). If you want honor, don’t seek it, and you won’t be a “scornful dog eating dutty pudding.’”