An Uncle’s Lament (for Botham Shem Jean)

Image of a twenty-six year old Botham Shem Jean

THIS poem was composed and written by Ignatius Jean, former Parliamentary Representative for Castries North and uncle of the late Botham Shem Jean, to honour his nephew, who was killed by a police officer in his own apartment in Dallas last month.

It was first recited publicly at a memorial service held in Dallas for Botham.

Image of twenty-six year old Botham Shem Jean
Twenty-six year old Botham Shem Jean

Jean told The VOICE he had been working on a speech for that service, but decided to write a poem in St. Lucia’s native tongue, to send a message to the world representative of who we are as St. Lucians, as well as to communicate appreciation to those who came to Dallas to support his family during such a difficult period.

I first heard the poem recited while covering the Anniversary of Botham Shem Jean’s birthday held at Serenity Park, where Ignatius recited it again.

And now I share….

Ans Ti Bolom
By Ignatius Jean

An ti bolom nou leve
An ti bolom nou leve au Bocage
An ti bolom nou leve Marchand avec Entrepot
An ti bolom nou leve ans savanne La Clery
An ti bolom nou leve Carellie
An ti bolom nou leve an ville Castries
An ti bolom ki allez lecole San Souci
An ti bolom nou endike La Vigie avec O’Morne
An ti bolom nou entwener manyer pou ajee
Bien avec toute mondes
pous anbwasse yon a lot kon ans families
Ki ou neg enber ki ou blanc kon baychay
Ki ou jeune, ki ou vieux
Li pas maylay
Ans ti bolom nou voyay L’ Amerique
Ans ti bolom ki tay ni l’espirites
Ki tay intelligents, ki tay jolie, ki gentiles
Ans ti bolom ki fait mondes plaisir toutes kotay li passay
Ans ti bolom Bon Dieu benir
Ans ti bolom ki liminer avec ba nous kletay
Police l’amerique entway ans cailles li
Avec fiziway
Sa c’est mauvestay!
Sa c’est mauvestay ki detuis ans familles,
Detuis ans payes, ans nations, ans generations

Bon Dieu sil vous plaits
Nous assou jounou Ka pwedye
pous ban nous la force avec courage
Nous ka pwedye seneure pou la pais
Nous ka pwedye pous justice

Bon Dieu ban nous la force avec courage
Messieurs!! Souccour!
Police l’amerique pas foutee melay
Pous qui ous fiziway Ti ish MALAYWAY?

An ti bolom nous ni pour teway
Mamaye Ste Lisi ka pleway
Mama, papa, frere, saysay, tontons, tan tantes, familles,
Nous ni pous tchebe
Ti bolom nous ans ciel
Li Ka dit nous pas pleway
Pas pleway
En la route c’est coeur!
Aye yaye doo doo pas pleway com sa
Pas pleway comsa
Ou Kaiso kwaszay coeur mwen….

English Translation

Ans Ti Bolom – English

A child we raised
A child we raised at Bocage
A child we raised at Marchand and Entrepôt
A child we raised in the La Clery community
A child we raised at Carellie
A child we raised in the city of Castries
A child who attended the San Souci School
A child who attended schools at Vigie and The Morne
A child we taught the values of being good and living well with everyone
To embrace everyone as family
Whether you are black or white
Whether you are old or young
It did not matter
A child we sent to America
A child who was smart
A child who was intelligent, who was happy, who was gentles
A child who brought joy to to everyone he met, everywhere he went
A child that was blessed by God
A child who illuminated the place and guided us with his light
American police entered his house and shot him dead
This is wickedness!
This wickedness destroyed a family
Destroyed a country, a nation, a generation

Please God
We are on our knees praying to you
To grant us strength and courage
We pray to you Heavenly Father for peace
We pray for justice

God grant us strength and courage
Fellowmen! HELP!
American police do not care
Why did they shoot and killed the grandson of the peasant?

A child we now have to bury
Saint Lucians are weeping
Mother, father, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, family
We must, we must hold tight together
Our little boy is in heaven

He is saying to us do not cry
Do not cry
A courageous heart brings victory!
Aye aye my love don’t be crying this way
Don’t be crying this way
For you will break my heart…

Dean Nestor is from Choiseul but from young adulthood, his years were spent in Castries. He studied at St. Mary’s College from 1999 to 2004 and later pursued a college education in English Literature, History and Sociology at Sir Arthur Lewis Community College from 2004 to 2006.

After graduating from Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, he began working as a teacher from 2009 until 2016...Read full bio...


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