Monday, 11 November 2013

Tell-Across-Jamaica Day 2013

November 20 is Tell-Across-Jamaica Day
Ananse Soundsplash runs from November 19 - 22

Kingston, November 11, 2013

Ntukuma Foundation has announced the 2013 Tell-Acros- Jamaica Day schedule that will feature storytelling across the nation on November 20 under the theme Reclaiming Memories, Repairing Lives. The events are being hosted by community colleges, libraries and schools.
The day will see storytellers of various genres including community and family historians, fable tellers, humourists and Ananse storytellers, to name a few, honouring the contribution of African ancestors through telling stories to young people.

Director of Ntukuma Foundation, which promotes the art of storytelling, Anima Blackwood Meeks, says, “For Tell-Across-Jamaica Day we want everyone, everywhere to tell wherever they are. In St Ann, the Social Development Commission will be bringing out community members who tell stories to schools in the parish; the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission St. Thomas office is having its event in the parish library; and the Institute of Jamaica Junior Centre in Kingston is also hosting an event.”
The day is a highlight of the Ananse Soundsplash, the storytelling conference and festival which will run from November 19 – 22 and focus attention on the unique value of Jamaica’s rich oral tradition and its potential for enhancing national development.

Blackwood Meeks says, “A critical objective is the placement of storytelling as a core subject in the CXC/CAPE Exams and the deliberate use of the artform as strategy for curriculum delivery in schools. It will also address storytelling within the context of its capacity for generating economic activities.”
The conference’s overseas participant is Mara Menzies, a Kenyan/Scottish storyteller who has a special interest in women’s affairs, and whose stories provide an alternative view of Africa that is often ignored by the media.  Her participation is being made possible by the British Council.

Host institutions for the festival are the Portmore, Moneague, Exed and Montego Bay community colleges, and the key events of Ananse Soundsplash are: 
Likkle Story Fest on Tuesday November 19 at the Portmore Community College between 11AM and 2PM;
Ancestral Revelry Duppy Story Night will be held at the Exed Community College later that evening from 6PM;
Tell Across Jamaica Day in St Ann from 8AM – 10AM on Wednesday November 20, which is also Universal Children’s Day;
The storytelling conference gets under way at the Moneague Teachers’ College on Wednesday from noon to close with Ancestral Revelry Duppy Story Night ; it resumes on Thursday to close with a gala dinner and performances.
The festival moves to Holland High School in Trelawny on Friday November 22 with Brawta from 10AM to noon; and closes with Gi Laugh fi Peas Soup in St James at the Montego Bay Community College from 7PM.
Ananse Soundsplash has been endorsed by the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica, the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) and the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica.

Amina Blackwood Meeks
Director, Ntukuma Foundation

Contact: 465-9824

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Independent VoYces brings Speak Sunday to Kingston

Independent VoYces brings Speak Sunday to Kingston

By Gwyneth Harold Davidson
November 7, 2013

Festival organiser, Falloon Reid
The annual Independent VoYces Literary Fair had its first Kingston outing with Speak Sunday, on November 3 at Afrikana House on Holborn Road. “It is an evening of literary lyme and rhyme,” said organiser Judith Falloon Reid of BarriVision productions.

The ethos of Independent VoYces held true to the theme of exposing Jamaican publications, and the readers availed themselves of the golden opportunity, and gave the audiences reasons to laugh out loud, be spiritually lifted, or sit in silent contemplation before applauding.

International dub poet, Cherry Natural, asked what life in Jamaica would be like if women took over the characteristics of men; the liberating prospects thrilled the audience.

The ever popular Veronica Carnegie read from her book Fly, with a character that sees all that goes on in society. She ended her set with an irreverent jab at current issues on Goat Island. Her fiction books are The Tie Came Back, Leaving Home and Dear Pastor Paul. She has also compiled The Directory of Independent Schools which lists more than 4,000 private schools in Jamaica including pre-school to special and vocational schools.

Poet Marlon Thompson’s anthology Words from Mamma’s Son is a haunting but optimistic voice from Trench Town. “I refuse to be limited by generational limits, curses and bonds….
“I refuse hang my head down in disappointment
I refuse to soak my pillow with tears
Staring at my ceiling with no vision, no plan, or course of action
Just another day of wishful thinking
No! - It’s not going to happen again.”

Youth poet Seychelle Doyley, who is also in Grade Seven student of Wolmers High School for Girls, read her poem on thoughts about her big brother whom she loves and admires.

Novelist Claudette Beckford Brady read from her work, Return to Fidelity. The excerpt describes the situation of a woman whose husband cheats, but her own sense of duty compels her to faithfully carry out her wifely obligations.

Colleague of Ras Flako Tafari
reading from The Revenge of Rudolph Franklyn
Award winning financial services advisor, Garfield Goulbourne showed his creative side with his book The Writings of GG: Real Issues. These are Garfield’s thoughts on certain topical issues, and his views stirred up vigorous discussion long after he had stopped reading.

Accountant Erika Heslop Martin, who has been recognised on the Jamaican scene, read from one of her three anthologies of inspirational and encouraging poetry, The Power of Words.
Randall Foreman’s, Know Your Mate and Enjoy Your Marriage provides helpful thoughts and guides for tuning-up a marriage, and also nurturing a successful marriage by understanding that your spouse may not be the person you want him or her to be, but understanding who they are. He is available to speak at events and workshops.
Pauline Kerr Bell reads from
When Conchie Blows

Ras Flako Tafari has many small publications on the 1963 Coral Gardens uprising and related matters, but for this event, he selected Revenge of Rudolph Franklyn and asked one of his brethren to honour victims by reading the names of persons who died, including policemen, and others who suffered injury. 

Jo Ann Richards
Excerpts from Omar Sheriffe Vernon el Halawani’s When Conchie Blows is a coming of age story set in 1831 St James about a free African Jamaican boy, an English bookkeeper and the estate overseer. Excerpts, which had a ring of authenticity, were read by the editor Paulette Bell Kerr, who said that the author used oral histories of his family.

Marcus Harrison handled his unpublished poetry well, confidently representing the view of a young, male tertiary student. His work included a walk through Half-Way-Tree, observing familiar scenes with an unerring eye. In closing the poem he insisted, with every stride, that as a young person he should be allowed to be, just himself. In another work he describes himself as a wolf, armed with words.

The missionary work of Jo Ann Richards is preserved in her prose Godincidences. Her excerpt recalled how God carried her through symptoms of malaria while she was far away from any medical support, and with no transport. The Jamaica Theological Seminary ethnomusicologist creates worship songs in different cultures and had the audience enjoying her recording Nuttun no du weh God cyaa du. Richards started her set with a beautiful reading from the patois bible of the annunciation to Mary as recorded in the Gospel of Luke.

Randy McLaren
Randy "Kreativ Aktivis" McLaren closed the show on a high note with his dub poet hits, including Jamaica My Heart and Soul first performed for the Jamaica 50 celebrations in the UK, and his popular ode to Breadfruit.

The afternoon was a challenging one for the lone MC Shannon Reid who capably helped the audience to adapt to the changing weather which saw the audience moving indoors and then returning outdoors. Reid is the head of news for TBC radio. World beats selections were provided by GW Jazz. The books from Speak Sunday are available at Afrikana House until the end of the second week in November.


Saturday, 12 October 2013

Young Heroes - Jamaica's National Heroes as you never knew them

Young Heroes

Nanny, Sam Sharpe, Marcus Garvey and the others as you never knew them....

October 13, 2013
A new audio fiction series Young Heroes will present Jamaica's National Heroes as you never knew them before.

Inspired by the lives of the National Heroes, the seven, five-minute episodes will be aired across Jamaica Information Service (JIS) programmes during Heritage Week 2013 (October 14 - 20). 

Scriptwriter Gwyneth Harold Davidson says that the stories are intended to be small adventures with the underlying theme of patriotism. 

From left: Rushad Thames, studio engineer Joel Samuels,
Richard Fairclough, Andrew Brodber
"Jamaicans are so fortunate to have highlighted and upheld seven remarkable people, from different eras in our history, whose lives remind us of the type of characters that built our nation. I have visualized each National Hero as a child or as a young person, and placed them in their own time, with a challenge, and we will see how they emerge," Harold Davidson said.

The National Heroes have been captioned Bold Nanny, Poud Sam Sharpe, Brave Bogle, Hopeful Gordon, Visionary Garvey, Strong Manley, and Dependable Bustamante.

Abram Marrett, Michael-Lee Toyloy, 
Rushad Thames, with studio engineer Joel Samuels

"I have also used verses from our National Anthem as the starting point in the development of each episode. For example, Eternal Father, bless our land" is the theme for Nanny as she is from the Windward Maroon nation, and the maroons lived very close to the land. Justice, truth was for Norman Manley as he made his name and fame as an attorney-at-law," Harold Davidson said.

The series features fresh new voices including child actors and the writer noted that the young talent impressed her, "Our country is bursting with natural talent, so it was not hard for me to find children around me who had the sound that I wanted to infuse in the heroes, and who also had a good work ethic and the agreeable demeanour to take on this new challenge and to excel."

Xandria Francis, Karen Cadien and artiste liaison, Alethia Lambert
The series was recorded in the JIS radio studio under the executive direction of JIS Radio Manager Lorraine Walker Mendez, the studio engineer is Joel Samuels. The recording is one of many special activities being done during the 50th anniversary of the organisation.

Each episode will also be unveiled during Heritage Week on Harold Davidson's YouTube channel featuring original illustrations by artist and designer Taj Francis. 

Richard Fairclough, Andrew Brodber
This is Harold Davidson's second audio series following the four-part Fly Guy - stories of a Jamaican aviator, which is available YouTube and Soundcloud; and also as the e-book Papa Romeo on

Young Heroes is itself excerpts from Harold Davidson's young adult book Raising Ramiro which is also an e-book on

Friday, 2 August 2013

Mello go Roun 2013 - traditional but not stuck in time

Mello go Roun -
a traditional show that is moving the culture forward

All snapshots were taken by Gwyneth

Emancipation Day 2013 finally became my lucky year, and I saw the Mello go Roun cultural variety show for the first time.

This is the marquee cultural event of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), and as was expected, the evening out was great, and the show well executed. Nothing less is usually delivered by the JCDC.

Where I was excited, was that the traditional pieces did not leave me with nostalgia, but had a freshness about them and I was left with the feeling that the practitioners of the traditional performing arts are moving the culture along, rather than precisely replicating the best of the past.

The show, which was held at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre, seemed to demonstrate that the speech writers, the musical arrangers and movement choreographers are updating the delivery of the performing arts.

I pause to recall that children's writer and publisher, Kellie Magnus, speaking boldly at a March 2013 Kingston Book Festival writers' event, said that many children book scripts today are being written about days of long ago in rural Jamaica. The comment was to emphasize that more contemporary writing is needed.

The selection of performances for the Mello go Roun 2013 staging absolves any accusation that the JCDC is looking backwards and encasing our arts in amber. 

There were several comic dialects and storytelling, but none were written by Miss Lou! Much of the material was about matters that could only have happened in this epoch, the 21st century.

For example, Harrison Prep's Fi mi Fadda was about a group of world wise brothers speaking about their father, the Rastaman: who told them to tell their teacher that if they did not get above 80% in tests he would not be sending them back to that school; who dashed every pot out of the house when the mother cooked chicken; and who spent a good portion of his time a bun di chalice. We need nutrition Papa just a likke pork, was their persistent refrain.

Another speech item was about an old woman who insisted that her grandson Rayron prepare the yard for the arrival of the TV magazine show Hill and Gully Ride to their district. The formidable woman then directed the camera shoot and gave orders to the crew, such as telling them that it was time to stop shooting the cow and move on to the goats.

I guess since the culture has already given us the barber bwoy and the police bwoy, it was time for the pastor bwoy. One speech item featured a rude boy/shotta duppy being annoyed with the arrangements for his funeral and the guests in attendance.
The singers chose to perform folk and also reggae oldies, but the songs were set to original musical arrangements. A Cornwall College/Mt Alvernia duet to Yellow Yam was sung in a new way, and My Boy Lollipop was reinvented by a student from St Andrew High School.

In the area of dance, Belmont Park Primary School in Greater Portmore displayed an acrobatic piece that raises my hopes that one day Jamaican gymnasts will participate in floor exercises and rhythmic gymnastics at a Summer Olympiad not too far in the future. Ardenne used Damian Marley's Exodus to tell their version of the ongoing struggle.

A memorable all-male dance crew went beyond gender boundaries by dancing female moves to the song Pretty Girl Kotch Fi Me. It was not the only song in their set, but that segment was a hit with the crowd.

Maypole dancing by William Knibb High School showed that the dance is slowly being tweaked by changes in the ribbon twisting patterns, and the movements of the pole holders. 

The most memorable dance for the night however, might have been done by the Dinki Mini group which was unerringly interpreted by the young dancers. A lot more can be said about this sensuous dance, but they authentically brought their energy to the moves.

Laud Dance Ministry, Ardenne High School and Glenmuir High School did some elements of what I am loosely grouping as musical theatre. The dance by Laud Dance Ministry used movement and fabric to tell a story of how even when the devil's workers capture a soul, the power of God can revoke it and pull the sufferer through to salvation. 

Glenmuir demonstrated the popular trend to combine reggae hit songs into an uplifting theme.

Closing the show, the Tivoli Dance Group brought joy and beauty on the stage with a wide skirt Caribbean theme piece. The dance was set to an instrumental version of a popular soca road march. The move to instrumental completely eliminates any issues with lyrics.

Mello go Roun is fortunately not the only outlet for these traditional performing arts. Several other national cultural events use these performances - but what is the next step? Many creative people have long called out for a mechanism that will take creative people from the amateur to the professional level. The proposed artiste management arm could effectively be that bridge. 

Until that support comes, Mello go Roun and other JCDC variety shows will go on, and based on the crowd of a few thousand who turned out this Emancipation Day, there will be audiences who will be attending entertainment events like this for many more years to come.


Thursday, 1 August 2013

Turtle River Park Ocho Rios

The UDC operated Turtle River Park is a nice place to stop in Ocho Rios. No cover charge, light snacks like chips on sale inside. There is a fee to park. These photos were taken in July 2013.

Sorry, we did not notice the Keep of the Grass sign.
Nex' time, promise.

Ponds have either fish or turtles.
The two do not do well together it seems.

View from aquatic aquatic area to seating and the
play are for small children.

Stroll across the grounds
with a sliver of a reflecting pool in-between.

More on those small statues later....

Area where small children play

Where do the children play? Here.

Really cool stools/statues of turtles made by Wassi Art,
a local pottery factory in the Ocho Rios area.  How cool is that?

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Jamaica Diaspora Conference 2013 - Writers' Corner

Kingston, June 16 2013

Writer Gwyneth Harold will be participating in the Writer's Corner on June 17, of the Jamaica Diaspora Conference in Montego Bay.

Ms Harold will be available for interviews and book signings of her young adult novel Bad Girls in School, which is currently on the reading lists of several secondary schools in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

Her latest young adult novel Raising Ramiro is published as an e-book on Amazon. The print edition is in the works for later this year, and will include illustrations by Taj Francis.


Friday, 29 March 2013

Zebras at Hope Zoo

Zebras at Hope Zoo
I had the pleasure of viewing the three zebras now resident at the Hope Zoo. They were in their "stable" out of sight until they heard the voices of  children and they cautiously came out to see what was going on.

The two larger ones approached the fence to about a distance of about six to ten metres, then their curiosity seemed to be satisfied.
The two larger zebras went back to privacy while the smallest zebra cropped the short grass.  It was only then that I composed myself to take a photograph of it.

Another new experience for me was stopping by the enclosure for the Woodland Duck and the Mandarin Duck. They are lovely to watch.

Sukey the monkey was quite friendly today and performed acrobatic displays.


For more from me on Hope Zoo click here
Woodland and Mandarin ducks

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Statues of Hope Zoo Kingston Jamaica

Hope Zoo in Kingston is a garden where visitors encounter modern statues and also statues from Asian antiquity throughout the grounds. The original Trafalgar Square style lions that guarded the entrance until early 2013 have not been left out!

Click here for more information on a visit to the Hope Zoo,