Fire Bun International Quality

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There are a few things that tick me off. I hate drivers who park up on the taxi stand, occupying valuable real estate, while refusing to take passengers during rush hour off ah sheer bad-mindedness. I hate when LINX fails in a store because somebody is talking on the phone in the back, and to make it worse, they gossiping bout somebody… and yuh hearing them! And worse than somebody with bad breath telling you a secret, Rasta oil sales pitches or vagrants who don’t understand the benefit of the pants zipper is the term “international quality”.

I was suspicious of it at first, but that wariness has been fostered and manicured, until it has blossomed into something so much more than abhorrence. It is the Andrew Jennings in my Jack Warner soup.

What is international quality anyway? Who even knows? What I have gathered from catching this word vomit on my ear lobes is that it is quite the misnomer, as it almost always refers to the quality of Uncle Sam, as opposed to any collective international standard. So if someone is heard sounding like Beyonc√© or John Legend, they ‘international’ and possess that magic, which will propel them far, because we all know that countries love to hear outsiders imitating their popular artistes. That’s why we wear scarves and jackets in the sun; got to maintain that international standard man.

American Idol is a talent competition in the US where they sing 95% American contemporary music (and standards) with the other 5% being international music from people like Bob Marley, who are well-loved by the US public. Digicel Rising Stars is a talent competition in Trinidad where they sing 95% American contemporary music (and standards), with the other 5% being a metaphorical pinch on the arm (or “Inception” kick) of local tunes to let you know that you are still in Trinidad. Any questions?

You won’t believe how it shames me to let foreigners see these events of ‘international quality’ that we keep hosting down here. Imagine somebody coming down to get a taste of the Trinidad culture via a talent show and seeing mimicry upon imitation instead? Trust me; it is kryptonite to the heart of a patriot. First, you get confusion followed by an awkward silence, then the inevitable bemusement. I rather jump off the two-million-dollar flag, with my locks attached to the pole.


“When it’s not being used to celebrate imitation, it is used to celebrate mediocrity.”


When it’s not being used to celebrate imitation, it is used to celebrate mediocrity. Crime high? Well this is a world problem, so we’re just maintaining the international standard… dude. We build structures to promote art in our country, but to international standards that don’t fit our culture, so we can’t even use them. Nice. And the strange part is that in Trini, ‘international quality’ never refers to anything good or to the benefit of the populace. In that respect, it’s kinda like recent, financial budgets. Here’s another example. Internationally, KFC has the combo upsize option, but go in a Trinidad KFC and ask for that nah. Unless you in Westmoorings, you’ll get a response to the tune of “we doh ha no big cups eh” that is delivered in a tone of contempt at your audacity to request an advertised feature.

Yeah, you get no respect from me for using this term. In my opinion, just uttering the statement “international quality” drops the IQ faster than a blonde wig. It’s like verbally going into the fetal position. First World chasers talk that inferiority speak. First World countries don’t. I’ve never heard anybody from Britain or America obsessing about being in line with international quality. They mostly speak about what they’ve achieved, of quality, and marvel at the unique things that we have achieved, of quality. But we don’t care about such things.

If the term was used correctly, Brian Lara would be ‘international quality’, having set and broken world records. Dwight Yorke would be ‘international quality’, having proved himself to be one of the greatest strikers in the world at his peak. Ato Boldon would be ‘international quality’ after achieving medals at both the Olympics and the World Championships. But tell most Trinis that, and you get a steups, ironically one of the things that most foreigners marvel at and spend hours trying to imitate.


“We love international quality down here so much that we pay for it even when the national quality is better.”


We love international quality down here so much that we pay for it even when the national quality is better. Did we really need to pay Calder Hart to come all the way from Canada to mess with our money (umm… allegedly)? I know people who, based on their unique moral system, could have done a much better job of doing what he did. Do we really need to pay a police commissioner many times the salary of someone local who is more familiar with our environment? I have no problem with a foreign person being paid more, but why so much more, when there isn’t any clear evidence that they will do a better job? And this is a deprecated jab, but did we really need to buy the blimp? I know pipers who can get higher than that.

Do we really need to pay foreign IT companies for solutions that can be done locally, for a fraction of the cost? Do we really need to pay foreigners to occupy a high-paying position, which essentially amounts to doing nothing? I, personally, can do nothing as good as anyone.

So when you see me, don’t talk that ‘international quality’ ish to me. And don’t tell me you find my music is of international quality either. That’s like making me tief a wine from a porcupine. In case you haven’t realized, I not on that ‘international quality’ thing. Me? You could drop the international thing. I just run down things of quality.


David "Da Face" Hamilton

David Hamilton aka Da Face is a local hip hop artiste who moonlights as a blogger, when he's not trying to capture the hearts and ears of listeners with creative and positive music. He also maintains a blog called "Underground Trini Artiste", and often tries to represent and promote the lesser known artistes in Trinidad and Tobago.


  1. Observer

    October 6, 2010 at 5:32 am

    We don’t have local standards for quality in Trinidad. Our building code is lacking, our Environmental codes are lacking.Our laws are old and outdated.

    Our customer service is horrible.

    It is therefore no wonder that people look for International Standards and International quality as a guideline.

    We have none locally.

    I for one would quicker trust a company that I know provides service in the US market than I would a company that is simply focused on TnT. Now of course, the company could provide different levels of quality and service depending on the market, but that’s not likely.

    Regarding foreign consultants. Another fact is that our local market is very limited, so if you only operate locally you can never get the same experience and exposure as you could in a larger, first world environment.

    Argue all you want, it’s a fact.

    The other examples of Police Commissioner’s do nothing to help an argument against ‘International Quality’.

    Corruption is rampant in our local Police Service.

    More than one study has provided these results.

    Our Local police commissioner by any objective metric was a failure and produced little to no results. So that doesn’t say much for ‘Local Quality’.

    Foreign companies, or local companies that have experience in foreign markets, again have more experience especially in IT. You are severely hampered in IT simply by not having access to the same advances and technology as the United States or Europe. You cannot even purchase items online without a US Credit Card in many cases. We don’t even have 3G yet in Trinidad, so how can you have experience with 3G mobile applications and devices (just one example)?

    This is yet another example where ‘International Quality’ would be sought.

  2. David "Da Face" Hamilton


    October 6, 2010 at 8:13 am

    News flash Observer, we already use foreign as our template and quality is still eluding us. Why? Because what works in one place is not necessarily appropriate for another, a lesson that we still can’t grasp. A winter coat is a clothing standard for December in Canada. Would you suggest that we adopt that down here?

    KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut are all foreign companies with high standards of service that are not replicated down here. Why? Because we have no local standards to enforce customer rights in Trinidad. How is a foreign standard going to fix that? It is our local quality that needs improving.

    You speak of IT observer buh yuh nuh know bout IT. Probably haven’t ‘observed’ enough. I work at Teleios-systems where we won the award for Microsoft partner of the year in our region beating out larger foreign companies with more resources. Where do we work? Down here. Via the Internet we have access to basically all the technology they have access to. We work with cutting edge tech daily, making use of software from Microsoft as soon as they bring out. We walk in a world where we are equals with more established companies due to our skill because in certain markets they don’t care whether you from Trinidad or Timbuktu, once you can deliver. You wouldn’t know about that, because you skulk in shame at being local not really knowing the difference between imitation and innovation.

    You read Outlish right? You know this is a publication from Trinidad right? I suppose to gain experience to write on local topics we need to go foreign right?

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