Origins of Bomboclaat
We’ve all heard the term “Bomboclaat” yes we have or else you wouldn’t be reading this, and if you’re still adamant that you’ve never heard it.... read from the beginning again and come back here and lie to me. I’ve always been an inquisitive 'pickney' (child), and I’ve always heard the Phrase and wondered where did it come from. With 'mi nuff self' (my bold self) I decided one quiet Sunday morning after breakfast to ask 'mama' (my grandmother), 'mama, wha bomboclaat mean?' (Grandma what’s the meaning of the word Bomboclaat?). Now, for those who were raised in Jamaica, more specifically, in the country area, knows that 'mama' (grandma) is a disciplinarian, so to bring a popular curse word to her was a clear act of disrespect and the reward for disrespect ??? 'Lic under yuh bomboclaat' (a proper beaten, or flagging or scolding..).. still don't know what that is? Go check out #kevin2crazy definition here... but keep up.
I realized the mistake when her smile transformed into an immediate frown, and at this point, in my young mind, I was calculating the complex equation of evading 'mama' (grandma) corrective method for my clear disrespect. My toes pressed firmly on the floor and I can feel all the muscles in my right leg contract, and like Usain Bolt, I’m off the stool within a fraction of a second, something Bolt’s trainer Glen Mills would be proud of. Head up as I moved out the blocks as if my life depended on it... well it did. With the 90 degrees turn into the living room in my crosshairs marked as the finish line, which would provide safe haven behind a solid wall that separates the living room from the veranda and eventually from whatever projectile 'mama' (grandma) would have thrown at me. I must have been going 100 mph in my mind, Doug Gore’s Audi had nothing on me, 0-100mph in under 3 seconds. Coming up to the corner, with taste of victory I could hear my knee and ankle cry out from the pressure of trying to break me to 65mph which the navigator in my brain signaled was the top speed for this corner, taking into consideration my weight, height and the fact that I’m shirtless and falling on the uneven board floor would have been equivalent to 'mama’s' (grandma’s) blow. Shifting the weight of my body to take this corner properly I could hear the bottom of my feet squealing on the floor, like Ken Block’s Ford in Gymkhana. In the apex of the corner, I felt my head flipped to the left, and it felt like my body was tumbling over but I wasn’t very sure, my vision was slightly blurred, a sharp pain has now been detected at the back of the head my brain announced, shortly after confirming that yes we are tumbling to the floor. It seems the dried coconut she had to be opened by daddy to be grated and added to the rice and peas was already open... by my head of course. The last words I heard coming from 'mama' (grandma) as this scene fades to black was 'damn brite' (very rude), while she yelled to my mother to bring some sugar and water, which by the way was concoction used to revive the unconscious.
Giving that long story to say I guess that I don’t know how or where the word was coined but it has been around since “devil was a bwoy” (a very very long time). And has been a staple in the Jamaican dialect since the beginning of our time... well my time. It was used publicly back in 1981 by the legendary Peter Tosh as the hook in his song titled “ Oh Bombo Klaat” from his album “Wanted Dread & Alive” where he used the word in an exclamatory sense to express surprise and disbelieve, go listen here, but the word has been around way longer than that.. like I think even the dinosaurs may have used it in there time, so you can just imagine.
Unlike like other curse words in the world, bomboclaat can be used to express every basic emotion know to human, and I say basic because the millennials have created all sorts of new bomboclaat variants of everything to express themselves; see what I did there? The word can be used to display happiness, sadness, disgust, fear, anger, and surprise all by only using the word “bomboclaat”. Twin of twins gives a great account of how this word and other Jamaica curse words are used in the day to day Jamaican life in their #stiritup volumes, check them out here.
The world has caught on to the word, not just for the word itself, but also because of how cool it sounds when uttered by a Jamaican, it’s like spitting colors from the mouth onto a canvas creating a masterpiece, and frankly we “Jamaicans” don’t find it offensive when other cultures use the word, we often find it comical, not In a disrespectful way but a more playful term. So if you ever say “bomboclaat” or any other Jamaican word and see a Jamaican smile or laugh, know that we are not offended or making fun of you if we were offended or making fun of you... we would tell it to your face.
Thanks for reading this blog and yes we did not find the origin of the word, but if ever you do, please feel free to write us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and stay tuned for more fun information about Jamaica and its culture.