Keith Rowley

PAYING RESPECTS: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley attends the funeral service for his brother Matthias Cornelius Joseph yesterday in Tobago. The Prime Minister said on Wednesday that social distancing would be practised and there will be five guests at the funeral. Joseph died on Friday at the Scarborough General Hospital. —Photo courtesy Dr Keith Rowley’s Twitter account

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has been using colourful language to convey his thoughts during news conferences to provide updates on the country’s COVID-19 fight.

Some of his words and references are familiar to some listeners, but are lost on others.

The Express collected and defined some of the expressions used by Rowley.

1. When referencing a recent meeting with the Vice President of Venezuela, Rowley was asked to respond to backlash as the meeting had come less than a week after the country’s international borders were closed. He responded by saying that some people like to “make jhanjhat ” over some things.

Jhanjhat is the English translation of an Urdu word which loosely translated means “quarrel,” or “conflict”. To make Jhanjhat is to create conflict.

Used locally, making jhanjhat is often referred to persons who elevate a situation.

“To make jhanjhat is to pick little things and make conflict out of it, you will say he is making jhanjhat or she likes to make jhanjhat,” said one elderly citizen who was asked to help define the term.

2. After the country’s first COVID-19 death was revealed by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar before the Ministry of Health, Rowley said the news was broken by a “town crier,” He also referred to this as the action of a “national ghoul.”

A ghoul is defined by Merriam Webster as “A legendary evil being that robs graves and feeds on corpses or one who shows morbid interest in things considered shocking or repulsive.”

However, the origin of a town crier can be traced back to biblical references where mourners were paid to attend funerals and grieve publicly for the loss of a life. While that has seen many iterations throughout mythology and history, a reference to a town crier is made to identify a person in false mourning, or one who is heralding news of loss.

3. Following the closure of the country’s borders, the Prime Minister spoke of a group of Trinidadians who could not come back to the country and instead took a flight to Barbados where they were accepted. As this aroused criticism from the public about allowing nationals to re-enter the borders, he said some persons were making “hasikara.”

“When you go into mandatory quarantine in the protocols of the WHO you can only come out after a certain condition is met and that condition is not to call up irresponsible politicians who then start to make hasikara to demand that all the plans that have been put in place should be disregarded.”

Hasikara is often used locally as a synonym to the word jhanjhat. It means to make conflict, confusion or trouble. It is used to tell of persons who create unfavourable situations. “You are making hasikara out of this,” is one use of the word.