Why is Dudus called Dudus?


Ambassador Dudley Thompson in African-style shirt

Why is Dudus called Dudus? And what is the right way to pronounce his name?

Unfortunately the answers to these questions are to be found in the New York Post rather than any organ of the Jamaican media. People in the know here, or people with a working knowledge of runnings in Tivoli Gardens have always said that the name is prounounced Dud-dus (thanks @JustSherman) to rhyme with ‘cud’ or ‘bud’ and not ‘Dud’ to rhyme with ‘good’ or ‘wood’ which is how most people here pronounce it.

You’d think local media would make an attempt to get it right but of course very few have done so. As for speculating on the reasons for Christopher Coke’s nickname it takes the foreign media to do that. The New York Post tells us that of Jim Brown’s three sons:

The youngest was Christopher, who earned his nickname “Dudus” — pronounced DUD-us — because he wore an African-style shirt favored by Jamaican World War II hero and Cabinet minister Dudley Thompson.

Dudley Thompson is a character in his own right (see above), so its rather interesting that Cuddly Duddly might have inadvertently lent his name to Jamaica’s most notorious don. Of course some might say Dudley is no angel either…but that’s another story.

Read more of the NY Post article here:

Fortunately for us there is a ray of hope on the media horizon in Jamaica with the establishment of On the Ground News Reports (@onthegroundjm), an invaluable source of news in the wake of the May 23rd assault on Tivoli. At first i was wary of the tweets coming from OGNR but then i noticed that almost everything they tweeted was later confirmed in the mainstream media. OGNR was providing the news live and direct almost as it happened.

In fact they were the ‘social media’ that the information minister Daryl Vaz was fulminating against when the government cracked down on media here denying them access to Tivoli and its environs.


Las May, The Gleaner, June 28, 2010

There has been some speculation as to the people who started ONGR and whether its a new kind of political high jinks but an interview with the founder today provides a lot of information on the way this innovative news gathering service operates. Check it out here.

Meanwhile i was happy to be quoted again in the international media (The New York Times’ Lede blog, a Village Voice blog and in an Associated Press article ) on the Dudus imbroglio. Channel 4 News in London also asked me to contribute a piece which i did, see it here:

And for a laugh check out ONGR’s spoof on the Jamaica World Service with Paleface, Tony Hendriks:

Author: Annie Paul

writer, editor and avid tweeter anniepaulose@gmail.com

13 thoughts on “Why is Dudus called Dudus?”

  1. But Annie, surely the ‘right’ way to pronounce is the way the culture in which the name has been used has decided to pronounce it. That’s why mi kiss mi teeth at anyone who try to tell me that ‘Reich Falls’ in Portland should be pronounced Ryke and not Reach.

    If Tivoli Gardens ppl say ‘Dood-us’ then I respect their authority.

  2. Kei,you’re not reading what i said, or maybe you know something i don’t. I agree with you, the name should be pronounced the way it’s pronounced in Tivoli, by Dudus and his friends and family and that is DUDus not DOOdus…

    And i think local media have a responsibility to use the correct pronunciation…

    I call Kamala Kempadoo Kamla the way we pronounce the name in India but she pronounces it Kamaala, which i have to respect when formally referring to her…

    likewise with Reach Falls…

  3. hmmm… What gives the impression that I didn’t read what you wrote? I’ve also been listening to all the clips I can find. The residents seem to say Dood-us. Him big friend Al Millers seems to say Dood-us. Seaga carefully only calls him ‘Coke’ and never by any nick-name… so can’t get any guidance from him. Anyhow — still haven’t managed to hear this Dud-us pronunciation.

    Anyhow, I’m probably just wary anytime someone preaches ‘correct pronunciation’ to me in the face of wide cultural precedence.

    The explanation of how the name came about however is truly fascinating.

  4. Well, i say you’re not reading what i said because i was quite clear on the two different pronunciations. I spelt out the difference.

    i said further maybe you know something i don’t which as you say you do, having listened to the way ppl speak in tv reports. but remember that they may be getting the pronunciation from the media which is why i’m making the point about the importance of media getting it right.

    Sorry but i’m not in the business of preaching, Al Miller is, i’m just saying that right here in Jamdown ppl in the know from Tivoli have corrected me when i’ve said Doodus, saying its DUDus, Anthony for instance, from way back when. so for the last so many months i’ve taken the trouble to pronounce it that way, which is counter-intuitive but apparently the man’s real name…surely that counts for something.

    And when i read the story about Dudley Thompson it just struck me that THIS was where the DUDus pronunciation originated. you see the thing with changing names just because a certain group pronounces it a certain way is that then you wouldn’t get the originating story. It’s also important to know that Kei is pronounced Kai and not Key isn’t it?

    Would you like to be called Key?

  5. His “father” was not his biological father. Rather he “took” his mother knowing she was already pregnant. Not a secret. Hence their height differences.

  6. Anon, yes, have heard this story…but i wish we could get these details in a story in a newspaper you know? instead of on the yamvine?

    The origin of someone’s nickname, especially when it’s an uncommon one would clearly be a good place to start a feature article on Dudus, the man…so if he wore African-style shirts a la Dudley it indicates a pro-Africa worldview, could we know more about that?

    someone called up a radio programme i was on yday and said that Dudus personally sent two containerloads of clothes etc to Haiti in the wake of the earthquake…could we hear more about that?

    too many untold stories…the media needs to earn its keep…

  7. Hail Annie Paul, DUDus is also called Mikey. His first name, I am informed, is Michael not Christopher. I guess it’s a new ‘labourite’ thing when you use your middle name as your first. Just ask Orette Bruce Golding — the horse’s ass.

    Just because I’m balanced…The ‘Socialist’ thing seems to be to use the initials of the first and second name eg. K.D. knight, P.J. Patterson, A.B. Stewart Stephenson.

    What’s in a name anyway…a rose by any other name smells just the same…a DUDus by any other name is just as DEADLY (regardless of occasional good deeds).

    I’m glad Dudus was taken alive. I hope he testifies or makes a plea deal because I’m absolutely sure his testimony would be a bomb shell…not a DUD. We would have to make space at General Penitentiary for politicians and business (wo)men now enjoying the spoils of Presi’s ‘dirty work’. I want Presi sing like him deh pon Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir if he testifies.

    Peace and love, Stero

  8. Hail Annie Paul, DUDus is also called Mikey. His first name I am informed is Michael not Christopher. I guess it’s a new ‘labourite’ thing when you use your middle name as your first. Just ask Orette Bruce Golding — the horse’s ass.

    The ‘Socialist’ thing seems to be to use the initials of the first and second name eg. K.D. knight, P.J. Patterson, A.B. Stewart Stephenson.

    What’s in a name anyway…a rose by any other name smells just the same…a DUDus by any other name is just as DEADLY (regardless of occasional good deeds).

    I’m glad Dudus was taken alive. I hope he testifies or makes a plea deal because I’m absolutely sure his testimony would be a bomb shell…not a DUD. We would have to make space at General Penitentiary for politicians and business (wo)men now enjoying the spoils of Presi’s ‘dirty work’. I want Presi sing like him deh pon Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir if he testifies. Glory…Halleluiah!

    Peace and love, Stero

  9. Hail Annie, Stero? Because the dutty-foot bwoy ALLAN HOPE guh use the name MUTABARUKA before I.

    Peace and love, Stero

  10. Big up Active Voice, Annie; always offering a refreshing take on the issues and much needed critique of the Jamaican media’s superficial coverage of them. On the significance of Dudus’ name, Cassidy & LePage’s Dictionary of Jamaican English is a good starting place. The word was/is used as “an affectionate name for a child,” as in “darling” or “pet.” Check out the dictionary entry in full. While the reference to Dudley Thompson’s shirt styles may offer secondary rationalization, then, I think we must start with the more likely explanation that this was simply a term of endearment used for the infant Dudus, a term of endearment that stuck with him growing up and may have been more elaborately explained and rationalized in later years. So I think Kei is right that we have to take seriously the more common Jamaican pronunciation of the word and ask why the Tivoli variation has come about.

  11. Hey Val,

    Thanks for visiting my blog again and your response. The only difficulty i have with accepting the Cassidy and Page term Dudus, derived from Doux-doux is that the pronunciation doesn’t match. Dudus Coke’s name is correctly pronounced Dud-dus…

    But i intend to find out from Tavares-Finson how accurate the Dudley Thompson story is so stay tuned…

    Only in Ja…!

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