Sunday, 19 November 2017

Whole and Undivided 2

Whole and Undivided 2

In Marine's family, there was no change in the household business and operations unless her mother was comfortable with it, and she was a traditionalist on every matter except fashion where she was respected for being able to step up to higher levels.

Marine and her siblings enjoyed the admiration of their peers on her clothes that were usually up-to-season and not just name brand, but on the matter of anything else, change was a no-go. At this time they were a family of five. The three children were: Marine the youngest at age 14, her brother age 16, and half-sister age 17 and six months older than her brother; the children shared the same father.

Sundays were her mother's simmer down time. After dinner was cleared, Marine's mother would go out on the back patio and care for her orchids while taking part in two to three consecutive social media conversations by voice and text with her sisters and cousins. If she was not doing this, she was at a social event with her husband, Marine's stepfather. Today was a stay-at-home day and Marine decided to broach the changing her paediatrician. She was the youngest and had been able to learn from her siblings' very different approaches to their mother.

Their brother, for the past year, had simply been doing what he wanted without asking. It started when he decided that he was not going on to Grade 12 but wanted to open a body art business. The matter settled with him being sent to a college overseas for a year to pursue certification as a physical therapist. Her half-sister usually capitulated to everything and went along with the plans that were set for her, as the unspoken suggestion of being returned to her mother easily crept into the aura of a room like smoke when there was a fire raging outside the door.
    "Mum, I want to change my doctor."
    "What? Why would you want to do that? Everything is perfectly fine. A doctor! Where did you even get the idea?"
Her mother did not look up from sending a text, then giggled softly at something that she was reading on screen.
    "I don't think that I should still be going to a baby doctor."
    "Your doctor is quite capable for you right now, it's not like you need a gynecologist."
    "Fine, I'll ask Dad."

It was a card that Marine, or any of the children, rarely played as it sent her mother into a dark mood when they even remembered that they had a natural father.
    "Is there a problem that you want to tell me about Marine? Just come out and say it. I am always open with you children, you are always free to contact your father. We have joint custody even though Leon and I are look about everything for you children. But, if you wish to call your father, go right ahead. Why do you want to leave your doctor Marine?"
    "I need someone who is not going to look at me like a small child, and I do not feel comfortable being the only teenager in an office of babies and toddlers."

Her answer had allowed her mother to quickly think through the matter, and she seemed to have settled it in her mind as a suggestion that had worth. Her composure returned, she smiled and opened her hands.
    "OK baby girl. I understand, I should have suggested it before, so I will make an appointment with my doctor and we will go. She might be able to recommend a more powerful acne medicine."
    "I don't want to go to your doctor Mum. I want my own doctor and I want it to be someone who also knows about neurosurgery."
Marine's sister and brother both went to their mother's GP.
    "What is really going on here Marine? We have a family doctor. If you are moving from your pediatrician, and it is too early for a gynae then ...."
    "I have my own needs."
Marine's mother went into fortress mode. Her eyes scanned the balcony to make sure that no one else, not the servants, not the other children, not her husband was hearing. She needed to lock this discussion down for the sake of her child, and for some reason, winning this conversation seemed to be important to Marine.

    "I seemed to have been forgetting that you are growing up my daughter. If you want your own doctor, I will allow it. A woman doctor, mind you, I am not letting you go to any male doctor as a 14-year old."

Marine's hand shook, just a little, as she held out a business card. Her mother took it quickly and scanned the name.

    "Where did you get this Marine?"
    "I went to the office?"
    "I googled neurosurgeon Jamaica and saw that this office was in the plaza where I do Math tutorials, so went walked across the corridor and got it."

It was a blow to her mother to realise that her daughter can walk from the tutorial classroom to a doctor's office in the same business centre. She thought that she had her daughter's every second mapped out and under supervision. She touched her forehead, it was wet, probably sweat from the afternoon heat, but she felt cold.
    "I'll check it out."
    "That's the one that I want Mum."
    "Leave the matter there for now Marine. Let's talk about this later. You don't have a health crisis, so let it rest for now."   

Marine assented.

Whole and Undivided

Whole and Undivided

Marine checked her shared bedroom door, it was locked, no one in the family could barge in. Then she closed the curtains, even though their condominium was on the 10th floor, and no other buildings were close enough for peering eyes.

Her menstrual cramps would ease in another ten or so minutes because she took her pain tablets after breakfast, the acne breakout on her cheeks made her aware that pus was building up in the pores, and it would get worse as the temperature rose during the day, but it was the headaches that were the most concerning of her ongoing discomforts. 

Cramps and acne she shared with her friends, complaining and consoling each other's adolescent maladies and engaging in a morbid past time of discussing remedies and palliatives.

It was the third pain, the headaches, that were frightful to Marine, because she could not share those beyond the secret circle of her mother, her father, Auntie Lips the hairdresser, and her pediatrician. At 14 years of age she still went to a baby doctor as her parents did not want to expand the small circle of people who knew.

Her vanity mirror was wide and had a built in tubular lamp that had the luminescence of natural tropical daylight. Although it was a clear ten o' clock morning, Marine turned the lamp on, and sat down before the mirror. She pushed aside Auntie Lips' carefully sewn in hair piece that covered the last area where the human skull fused into one casing - the area that we call the mole - and looked at the dome of growing bone that was causing her pain.

The tests that were done years ago were conclusive. Marina's bare skull in the centre of her head would grow into a horn during adolescence, and over the past year, it had started. Auntie Lips had been filing down the horn as it emerged, in addition to stitching down a hair piece that lay flat over the extruded bone.

From she started kindergarten, Marine had learned how to keep her bare skull bone as a secret. Her mother would have hidden it from her father as well, had the doctor not insisted that he had a right to know. The year that she started her period, her doctor and her mother made her aware about the coming growth and she had accepted that as well without thinking about it. But now that it was here, and Marine was sure it was responsible for the intense headaches, she had been thinking about it a lot.

    "Live with Integrity"

Her class had had this phrase drilled into them from the first day of secondary school. It was an attempt to encourage the students to have an internal regulator that would stop them from being cheats and sociopaths. It reminded them that their online activities and their unique national identifier would find out deception, and that mistakes will follow them through life. It was a voluntary call to action, a word to the wise.

Marina accepted the code and followed it, she did not practice cheating and she simply told the truth on any matter that would come up and face the consequences. But concealing the growing horn on her head was a different matter, that was a secret outside of the integrity code.

"What if I made it a semi-secret?" Marine wondered.
A "semi-secret" would mean expanding the knowledge to her big brother and sister, her grandparents, her aunts and uncles and cousins. What were the consequences if they knew?
"Semi-secret" could also be her best friends at school and club, she had three to four really close ones.
Wouldn't they understand and defend her? She also felt sure they would, they were decent people.

"But is that what living with integrity means?"

Marine used her cell phone to take a selfie photo of the bone. She had to snap quite a few times until she captured one that was in focus and bright enough to examine how it really looked.

It was not pretty.

She wished that, at least, the bone would have been a noble ivory or a shiny enamel like a tooth, but it was a grey, brown, tough horn. It seemed better after all to keep it covered up.

Marine fixed back her hairpiece and thought again about the word integrity. From she was a young girl she had had a lot of exposure about self-pride, racial pride, national pride, they repeated that everyone was special in their own unique way. Her family treated her, and each other, with respect and gave care and attention - love.

In the media, society was at pains to tell young people about the dangers of bleaching and that at school, bleached students would suffer consequences. The schools could not force students who bleached to stay at home until their skins regained their natural colour, but they found creative ways to discourage the practice. Students who wore weaves and extensions suffered the emotional distress of having it cut off and confiscated at the nurse's station, so no one wasted time and effort or bravado to style themselves for life in institutions in that way. The same applied for the age old breach of nail polish and makeup.

But here she was, with a cosmetic solution for a natural condition that was not contagious and not dangerous.

If I was born to grow a horn, then perhaps I should have my horn if I wish, Marine thought.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Red Hills Road

Red Hills Road


In the years when Movado reigned as the richest voice in the dance, because Banton had not yet been returned, an angel appeared unto a youth, who they called Day, who was the only child left one afternoon in the schoolyard.
His Principal walked to him and said,
    "Youth, your father will not come for you because the Red Hills Road has been split in two and no vehicles can come across. It will be safer to be with the people in a group rather than here alone."
With that, Day left and walked through the Dale until he came to the terminus where indeed a multitude was gathered in distress and dismay.
The major road called Red Hills Road had been split in two from the parish boundary near Sligoville to – Eastwood (called so because it had few trees), a distance of 16 kilometres. Along the entire length of the road, was a chasm 10 metres deep with jagged edges and a rushing stream of filth flowed through the gape.
Day saw his father on the other side and waited for some instruction, for something to happen. He saw his cat Manchester standing by his father, and then, Day realised that the cat was rubbing up against his own Day's leg.
    "How did you cross the road Manchester?" he asked as he bent down to pick up the cat which only loped a few steps away and stopped again. Day walked away from the crowd for his cat and was amazed to see it change into the shape of an angel with rough skin like a ginger root. He was sore afraid at the sight of the apparition.
The angel reached out and anointed the boy on his head with flavourful pimento butter and told him that his mission was to repair the huge breakage in Red Hills Road. The angel, with a silent cry, reshaped into a Barble Dove and flew away.
There was no one to ask how or why, so the boy kneeled and prayed, asking for guidance and strength. He prayed saying:
    "You called me from my humble place of ignorance to do your will and show goodness to the world. Guide me now in a performance, and show that through you, all things are possible."
When he rose, his foot hit a smooth pebble, grey and tough, that had been forged in the centre of the earth and extruded by the force of an ancient volcano from mountains of the East. Day gave thanks for the one stone and threw it hard into the roaring water of the chasm. The earth shook, the people exclaimed and fled away, but Day focused on finding a second hard stone. He saw one kotching a door open and he flung it in. The earth rumbled more. With each stone, a kilometre of roadway was filled in with tightly packed, smooth, grey or white river stones.
In an hour, the rumbling stopped and the chasm, 16 Km long and 10 metres deep, was solidly filled. The flow of filth had ceased, and the road was whole and the infrastructure was more solid than it had ever been.
The people came back, and their throats were filled with praises, then they asked "How will we drive along this road as it is not paved?" They worried for their front end parts, and became angry because of the state of the bad road.
Day had walked over to his father and held his hand, but this time he kneeled again and prayed saying:
    "Do not be angry with us for not appreciating this solid road which is already being used, it is our sustenance. I ask you now to grant us comfort, show me how to make the way smooth."
As he completed his prayer with an Amen, a flock of grackles with shining black feathers flew from the North West and descended in droves. As each alighted, it gave a shriek and crumbled into asphaltic concrete and became Barber Greene. Flock after flock of grackles, and a few John Crows, so did give up their lives.
By night, the road was complete.
    "Give heed to this mighty work", said Day. "Our unsustainable lifestyles put us in danger. We have been taken from this and given firm support, and now comfort. Let us set aside time for fervent thanksgiving before we find another reason to celebrate the joys of life."


"The Wonderful Adventures of Mary Seacole in Many Lands"

I have just completed "The Wonderful Adventures of Mary Seacole in Many Lands" (1850-1857) by reading it in and also listening to the LibriVox audiobook.
Mrs Seacole was an "unprotected" Jamaican woman who followed her passion to serve people through the occupations of restaurateur, shopkeeper and healer. She was particularly attracted to serving the ranks and officers of the British military and their wives. I think that this is an outcome of her personal "Daddy Issues", as she loved to declare that her absent father was a military man from Scotland, and that her industrious traits came from his side of the family...although her Jamaican mother was an accomplished woman.
Mary Seacole became famous during her two years of humanitarian work during the Crimean War in Eastern Europe. Those adventures left her in debt and in poverty for the rest of for life; but she expressed those years as a triumph and had absolutely no regrets. She says, "I am not ashamed to confess—for the gratification is a selfish one—that I love to be of service to those who need a woman’s help."
She responded to the social structures of her time by using to advantageous effect her physical appearance (light skinned black person) and to being a member of a caste of West Indian persons who called themselves Creoles. She defined herself as "I do not know what it is to be indolent", her mother as, "like very many of the Creole women, an admirable doctress; in high repute", and of Creoles "having an affection for English people and an anxiety for their welfare."
Overall, she was attracted to progress, industry, sophistication and development in general. Mary Seacole's orientation, as a West Indian of her generation, gave preference to British culture, but her travels allowed her to appreciate the value of many other cultures.
There was one notable exception. Mary Seacole had an unyielding negativity towards the United States of America, as while she was in the country called the Republic of New Granada from 1851-1854 (the section of it know known as Panama) she lived among men who had escaped slavery in USA, and she heard their stories. Seacole was born during, and would have become an adult during the slave era in Jamaica, but she reserved her ire on this point to the USA, giving the British Empire a complete passover.
Thanks to her account, I have a greater understanding of how it was that - 50 years after her experiences in Central America - Marcus Garvey found fertile ground in Central America to develop his philosophy of black pride and nationalism. He was there from 1910 - 1912. Central America had by that time been peopled with former enslaved persons from the USA and also Central America, and who were instinctively looking for a nation to which they could cleave. Seacole described the persons who held positions of responsibility in the towns she frequented in New Granada as negroes or black people. These were magistrates, soldiers, and other government officials.
    "It was wonderful to see how freedom and equality elevate men," she says of black men in general.
She also said, "Many of the negroes, fugitive from the Southern States, had sought refuge in this and the other States of Central America, where every profession was open to them; and as they were generally superior men—evinced perhaps by their hatred of their old condition and their successful flight—they soon rose to positions of eminence in New Granada. In the priesthood, in the army, in all municipal offices, the self-liberated negroes were invariably found in the foremost rank; and the people, for some reason—perhaps because they recognised in them superior talents for administration—always respected them more than, and preferred them to, their native rulers. So that, influenced naturally by these freed slaves, who bore themselves before their old masters bravely and like men."
Seacole was a hard worker and she seemed to have a knack of building a team who could work with her style, but in her memoir, she afforded only a few words of acknowledgement to them unless they were getting on her nerves. There was one occasion where she described how she whipped a servant. Mrs Seacole employed persons from several ethnicities and races, but the staff members who were longest in her employ were skilled black men and a black girl.
Oftentimes, I found it painful to read her account of plain people, such as the Spanish Indians in New Granada, or the workers on the wharves of Balaclava, or of Greeks in general and French women in particular. On the other hand, Seacole never had a negative word about any titled personage, be that person Turkish, French, British or even Russian. She adored military officers and protected their reputations. Her special love of the military extended to the ranks of young men, who she called her dear sons.
Tenacity and personal contacts were tactics that Mary Seacole used to get around British military bureaucracy, and to secure what she wanted from them. In 1854, after being repeatedly turned down from joining the cadre of nurses to serve the cause of the British in the Crimean War, she simply started a business on a hill in the village of Kadioki in the Crimea, one mile from British military headquarters. She called the place Spring Hill (after Jamaica, island of Springs) and her business, The British Hotel.
On being turned down from being an army nurse she said, "Tears of grief that any should doubt my motives—I stood still & prayed aloud," and then she went ahead with a new plan to get where she wanted to be.
The Mary Seacole story is a cautionary tale about entrepreneurship. Mrs Seacole left the accounting side of the business to her partner, Mr Day, while she created the real value in providing hospitality and healing. At the end of two years she was left in debt and weakened health, and was only able to keep body and soul together from the kindness of friends who put on a benefit concert in her honour. Today they could also have established a Go Fund Me account.
Seacole could have made a fortune by setting up her services in a safe and established marketplace, such as Constantinople or Balaclava, instead of on the outskirts of a battlefield. She could have - as some enterprising French women did - moved the business to the city of Sevastopol after the allies had captured it, she chose instead to stay on the hill in the village even as the armies were departing. She cherished declaring that she was the first woman to enter Sevastopol after it had fallen.
Mary Seacole was a proud Jamaican who had very fond memories of her childhood in Kingston, of her mother, and of her husband and life in Black River, St Elizabeth. There are no negatives about the Island of Springs in her memoir.
One remarkable matter of Mary Seacole was her Jamaican eye for fashion. Everywhere she went, she travelled with colourful calico to drape walls and to cover tables in order to create a cheerful atmosphere in her establishment. Even in grim places, she had a wardrobe of outfits. She also paid a lot of attention to her attire, and mentions her dresses and how her bonnets were trimmed.
"I had attired myself in a delicate light blue dress, a white bonnet prettily trimmed, and an equally chaste shawl," she says of how she was dressed as she was about to walk up a hill of mud in Central America. In the Crimea, she gives an account of a soldier giving her a war prize of a dress that would have belonged to a Russian woman. Twice in her memoir, washerwomen are mentioned with respect. At another time, an employee who she hired to do laundry made off with a load of her dresses. Among the few war trophies that she took were buttons that she cut off the uniforms of dead Russian soldiers.
This lady was a "big girl" who loved her size as she says in her memoir, "Time and trouble combined have left me with a well-filled-out, portly form, the envy of many an angular Yankee female."
She describes herself of having "taken Constantinople", "Neatly dressed in a red or yellow dress, a plain shawl of some other colour, and a simple straw wide-awake, with bright red streamers."
Mary Seacole made a point of declaring that West Indian cookery was better than French cuisine, and said of a famous chef, "the great high priest of the mysteries of cookery, Mons. Alexis Soyer. He was often at Spring Hill... and never failed to praise my soups and dainties. I always flattered myself that I was his match, and with our West Indian dishes could of course beat him hollow, and more than once I challenged him to a trial of skill; but the gallant Frenchman only shrugged his shoulders, and disclaimed my challenge with many flourishes of his jewelled hands, declaring that Madame proposed a contest where victory would cost him his reputation for gallantry, and be more disastrous than defeat. And all because I was a woman, forsooth. What nonsense to talk like that, when I was doing the work of half a dozen men."
The details near the end of the book serve as a caution against waging physical warfare. She gives her account of the waste of human life recalling the Russian soldier who died biting down on her finger in pain as she was giving him succor, to her beloved Irishmen left in half-filled trenches and the officers who she venerated. She was not untouched by suffering, and she gave selflessly of herself in order to give them the comfort of a woman's caring touch. She says that it was a privilege to stand in the place of mothers and sisters and wives, delivering comfort to their men. They men in turn called her Auntie Seacole, Mother Seacole, Mami.
She was not a religious person and spoke of Providence, not God, but she offered hospitality, not sales on the Lord's day; took an altar painting and altar candles as Russian war prizes and said, "The Christian’s death is the glorious one, as is his life."
Mary Seacole decided to live a life dictated by her passion to be of service to servicemen. She seemed to have enjoyed the rough and tumble of it all, and the challenge of testing her will power against the many and varied troubles that she encountered. As an old lady, she had more well-wishers and true friends than many other elevated persons of her era. In fact, today when the heroic names of 160 years ago are being buffeted by public opinion, her reputation seems to be rising.
With these thoughts, I believe that the memoirs of Mary Seacole should be integrated in the high and tertiary education curricula in Jamaica. It is easy and colourful reading, and her experiences have value in the teaching of subjects such as business, history, literature, civics, feminism and Garveyism. Her outlook and decisions can make for very useful debate topics in sociology and commerce as it relates to self employment and entrepreneurship in general. I am happy that I am now exposed to its contents.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

DRAFT Dancehall Republic - The Resistance to Jamaica


I live in a twin dimension nation called " Dancehall Republic and the State of Jamaica" otherwise called "Jamaica and The Resistance".

We are like a bowl of Lucky Charms breakfast cereal, an immiscible shakeup of bland oats and multi-coloured marshmallows, rather than a bowl of cornmeal porridge with all of the ingredients perfectly cooked.

I am Jamaican but also a member of the moderate wing of The Dancehall Nation.
In her erudite chapter, Out of Many, One Dancehall, from the book Dancehall, from Slave Ship to GhettoDr Sonja Stanley-Niaah rounds up many useful perspectives about what Dancehall is, and sets out an accretion: 
Jamaica clings to heroes who built their names on collective goals and standards such as sports administrator Herb McKenley village leader Nanny of the Maroons; gentrifier of the Jamaican language, Louise Bennett Coverly; and reggae crooner and symbol of gentle Rastafari, Bob Marley. 
Pelinco - Que provoca Discordia y discussion e incita al alboroto

"Who do you say that I am?"
The constitution of Jamaica is one bundle of laws that were revoked and others that were renewed as at August 6, 1962. There is no vision statement, so in effect, this act removed the rule of the UK, and firmly established rule by an oligarchy which remains today.

"Dancehall is space, culture, attitude, fashion, dance, life/style, economic tool, institution, stage, social mirror, language, ritual, social movement, profile, profession, brand name, community and tool of articulation for, especially, inner city dwellers, who continually respond to the vibe expressed through the words, 'without dancehall a wha we woulda do, reggae music call we must answer to..."
So Dancehall is more than music, it is an unwritten constitution that values individuality, excess, the extreme, and the intense. The nation declares that you have the right to express yourself and to take what you want from life, for nobody is going to help you. Be fabulous, offend, but do not, EVER, be boring. Any diminution of self-expression, such as false cultural marks of decorum or modesty have absolutely no place in The Dancehall Republic.
The oligarchic State of Jamaica upholds the motto "One God, one aim one destiny". It is an outlook that declares that human progress requires community livity and respect for nature.
The National Anthem of Jamaica is written from the point of view of a benevolent patrician in subservient conversation with a supreme male deity, and ending with a call for justice for the collective. This song is meaningless to us, we ignore it, and find it boring and somewhat pathetic.
The Dancehall constitution begins: Every person shall have the right to free determination of his or her personality. Big up yuself my yute.
The Dancehall anthem is is Buju Banton's "Untold Stories" that starts with "I" and describes an unending struggle.
Because of wide differences in our values, our two nations are not cohabiting well. We, The Dancehall Nation, are continually being assaulted by Jamaica's restraints on our self-expression. We leave the bun dem out culture to religious Jamaicans of all creeds and instead - as a matter of self defence and bare survival - will spit our most corrosive vitriol and repel all smalling-up of us on this here former land of the damned and slave colony island. We are The Resistance and the true inheritors of every single man, woman or child who defended himself or herself against all forms of oppression from the abuse of the Tainos to the child abusers and corrupt officials of today.
The unofficial Jamaican academy for culture do not realise that their declarations do not concern us. Keep your ackee and North Sea codfish, village mento and gerreh, Indian madras fabric, Boys and Girls Athletic Championships, security industry wreath laying ceremonies, Nyuu Testiment (Patwa Bible), Grand Gala and pantomime. You cannot speak for The Dancehall Republic, the resistance.
The Dancehall Republic does not participate in that collective memory bank of ancestral worship, our nation is a means of mental survival for the 40% of residents of Jamaica who understand clearly that only a moral fight will allow us to  achieve our aspirations.
We do not need stories of our grandparents for inspiration. We have our international brand Usain Bolt; the unshackled manifestation of Our Lady of Dancehall - Saw; and our purveyor of reachable dreams and fantasies car-tel. 

The resistance that we now call Dancehall Nation started when Juan Lobolo used his wits and might to create a sustainable platform for his family, first with the Spaniards by routing the British, then with the British by routing the Spanish. He is immortalised with the name Juan de Bolas Mountains.
In her blog post, The Slave Trade, Maroons, Windscreen Wipers and Reparations: I Want to Know , Kelly Ogilvie McIntosh said of our ancestors, "Their survival was due in large part to their own skill at bush and jungle war craft....These fearless braves secured their own survival at the expense of other runaway slaves who were seeking a way out of slavery and who also headed for the hills." Then Mrs McIntosh asks, "What role did our own really play in our history, in our enslavement by Europeans, in our forced journey to the west?

But there is no reason to ask what you already know.

The list of black bodies that were carried in by The Resistance includes Jack Mansong, Sam Sharpe and Paul Bogle. These are legitimate political and economic outcomes so that our ancestors could survive in hostile conditions. We did not only do it with a sharp edge, we did it with intel and networking.

Intel and Networking
Because of her training in storytelling, Amina Blackwood Meeks has come close to understanding how we became mentally strong. In a Gleaner article in 2005, she records, Ananse as "de one what was a important part of we pre-Columbian socialisation, de one dat help we survive nuff atrocities over 500 years." 

The soft among us only heard amusing stories, the ambitious among us understood the value of wits and intel and networking, and this gave us the heart to break out of Lobby's estate in 1673, and establish our first garrison in Jamaica's mountainous backbone.
We, the Dancehall Nation are expanding in number with one driving desire, to achieve our personal goals. We have no quarrel with the state of Jamaica. Jamaica, on the other hand, continues to crave our assimilation or plot our extermination.
The Problem With Marcus Garvey
Both nations pay lip service to black racial pride promoter, Marcus Mosiah Garvey. 
The Resistance does not have the luxury of embracing the philosophies of Marcus Garvey, we have to use every mental muscle and physical flesh and bone to deal with our survival, and for those who we love. We will not be bound by conventions on physical appearance, much less attire. The body is our temple to do with as we wish, to associate with whom we wish and to decide our own individual moral standards. Again, we will not be passive in bluntly shredding all those who speak failure to us. 
What does The Resistance Want?
We do not want to gain control of government, Jamaicans want that, we leave it to them. As we have the allegiance of 80% of Jamaica, we are not at risk of being exterminated, but in trying to rid themselves of us, Jamaica will only hurt itself and stall its progress. Make no mistake, we will summon up the blood, lend the eye a terrible aspect; set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide, bend our spirits to their full height.  *
For Jamaica and The Resistance to cohabit this island, Jamaica needs to rapidly deliver a decent standard of living and youth opportunities for the vast majority of the islanders. This has been elusive since the encounter between the Europeans and the Taino people.
Jamaica's 2011 Population and Housing Census said that the island has just under 40,000 squatter settlements, and 1/5th live below the poverty line. In February 2017, the PIOJ is reported to have said that the poverty rate is 20%.

Although 80% of Jamaica is not said to be living below the poverty line, the pop culture of The Resistance / Dancehall Republic is very captivating for youth, and so residents of Jamaica are attracted to its cultural output. They do not understand the dancehall philosophy of resistance for survival. In fact, very few who enjoy the music and the styles and the atmosphere of The Dancehall Republic would actually want to live, work, raise families, do business and grow old within the core of its sphere. 
The Dancehall Republic, although not lacking in youthfulness, will not mature from is current state. The loudest and most strident proponents lean to Jamaica for the future of their children. They send them to conservative schools, they seek to live within the exclusive enclaves instead of established garrisons of their compaƱeros.
When members of the Dancehall Republic break through politically, or economically, they leave The Resistance, and start their tentative discovery of Jamaica, their mythical dreamland.

Tommy Lee Sparta as quoted in the Jamaica Star July 18, 2017
"Mi wish mi did more brighter right now. Mi educated, enuh, like mi smart and mi can represent miself, and if yuh talk to me yuh will know that. Mi can read and write, enuh, but mi wish mi did more educated," he said.
According to the deejay, an advancement in his education would benefit his music, especially since dancehall has evolved lyrically over the years.
"Music nowadays a education and literature. Mi wish mi did pay attention to literature because a since mi big, mi realise how important it is. That's why mi kids dem go good school. Mi can't keep up with the parent and teachers meeting, but mi will go graduations," he said.
Tommy Lee Sparta also said that his children have no choice but to attend school whether they like it or not.

Monday, 12 June 2017

2017 Summer Reads from the Jamaica Library Service

They are here my summer YA reads from the Jamaica Library Service

The Jamaica Library service reading challenge is on, and here are the YA selections! Five authors from Jamaica and one from Barbados. Five novels and a memoir.

Book blurbs taken from websites promoting the books. Not written by me.
The Star Side Of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson
This lyrical novel of community, betrayal, and love centers on an unforgettable matriarchal family in Barbados. Two sisters, ages ten and sixteen, are exiled from Brooklyn to Bird Hill in Barbados after their mother can no longer care for them. The young Phaedra and her older sister, Dionne, live for the summer of 1989 with their grandmother Hyacinth, a midwife and practitioner of the local spiritual practice of obeah.

Dionne spends the summer in search of love, testing her grandmother’s limits, and wanting to go home. Phaedra explores Bird Hill, where her family has lived for generations, accompanies her grandmother in her role as a midwife, and investigates their mother’s mysterious life.

This tautly paced coming-of-age story builds to a crisis when the father they barely know comes to Bird Hill to reclaim his daughters, and both Phaedra and Dionne must choose between the Brooklyn they once knew and loved or the Barbados of their family.

Naomi Jackson’s Barbados and her characters are singular, especially the wise Hyacinth and the heartbreaking young Phaedra, who is coming into her own as a young woman amid the tumult of her family.

Escape to Falmouth by Lena Joy Rose
When a feisty, Cherokee beauty and a strong-willed, male, runaway slave lock their destinies together in a headlong pursuit of freedom, they unleash forces that deny their liberty, threaten to destroy their love and propel them into dangerous exploits.

Garvey's Ghost by Geoffrey Philp

When Kathryn Bailey's teenaged daughter disappears from their home in Miami, the single Jamaican woman pursues every possible angle to find her. Kathryn's search leads her to a meeting with Jasmine's college professor, Jacob Virgo, a devout Garveyite and Rastafarian. Although their initial encounter is unpleasant, they must join forces to find Jasmine before it is too late. Through the teachings of Marcus Garvey, they learn to break down subtle barriers and find an unexpected bridge to new understandings and love.

A Way to Escape by Michelle Thompson
This is the story of the Tomlinson family's journey in Kingston, Jamaica, between the 1950s and 1970s. The Tomlinson family's dream becomes reality when they move from the inner city to a middle class neighbourhood in East Kingston. But their dream is short-lived. Arthur, the patriach and an alcoholic, in a drunken fury one night, orders his wife Rose to leave the house. Rose, a work-from-home dressmaker, leaves everything behind, and with her four children. the youngest still a toddler, flee to her mother, Mari, 'Granny'. The six of them share Granny's one-room quarters for months.

Rose finds work, and they move from one tenement yard to another, settling on a rented house for all of them. By this time, Arthur's life spirals as he becomes more dependent on white rum. He loses his job as a fireman, then the family home, and takes refuge in a room upstairs his favourite bar. Rose continues to seek a better life. On an invitation letter, she goes to Toronto, Canada. She remains there after attaining work as a live-in domestic, leaving the children with their grandmother. Granny's love, however, is not enough to restrain the teenagers. Marcy, the youngest, has a boyfriend, who is taking her down a path of drugs and staying out late. Will Rose ever return to save her children from a life of of waywardness? Or is the Tomlinson family destined to a doomed life?

Breaking the Cycle by Pamela K Marshall
Will and Sara traversed the obstacles of young love, further complicated by distance, parenthood and infidelity. They set aside the immature ideals and attitudes that led to strife and heartache throughout their teenage romance and have grown to learn that love takes conscious effort to endure. Now settled into a life together, old and new acquaintances threaten to wreck the happy home they have built. Misunderstandings construed as betrayals, mistakes with life-changing consequences and a tragedy that threatens to bring 'till death do us part' closer to home than ever imagined will either strengthen or shatter the bound Will and Sara have shared since they were children in Jamaica. Will and Sara must decide: when love starts to hurt, should it still be clung to, should it still hold two people together? Breaking The Cycle follows the couple's path to overcome the lingering effects of being barrel children as issues of abandonment and commitment continue to test their relationship. As they come to terms with their issues, can they still find happiness in each other's arms or will they find it best to part ways and let another mend their hearts?

Generation Curse? by Colleen Smith-Dennis
As the saying goes,'truth is sometimes stranger than fiction', but for the stoic matriarch, Mrs. Harmond,and her family, the events which characterize their lives do not come from a horror movie, but are a part of their daily reality. In the community they are seen as pariahs, as Mrs. Harmond's father had been accused of committing sacrilege by stealing the parson's bull and burning the manse. Everybody said they were cursed, from the grandparents to the youngest in the last generation, as the strange disappearances, uncontrollable juvenile behaviour and horrifying deaths rock the family like an earthquake of great magnitude and leave them cowering beneath a rubble of pain, disbelief and near hopelessness.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Jamaican Dancehall Party Playlist

Playlist for dancehall party for kids and general audiences
Fresh Air Dancehall Party Playlist

My experience at a recent event motivated me to compile a listing of  international Dancehall chart and crossover hits that showcase the very highest standards of the genre, and that is good for playing for general audiences.

Through my creative outlet, YA Readers Hangout, I have put together the Fresh Air Party Playlist that is created for use in a general public setting. It has a total of 27 international Jamaican Dancehall artistes on a track list of 35 songs across 23 original riddims and international collaborations covering more than two hours of high energy music that keeps the atmosphere lively and the dance floor moving. 

The lyrics on the tracks mostly cover the theme of optimism and enjoyment of life with friends, with self-respect and romance as broader issues. They do not brood on violence or thoughts of self harm or intense heartache or otherwise linger on adult themes such as those that happen within intimate relationships.  

It is my desire that disc jockeys display their passion for the music by also playing with a sense of occasion. 

The joyful list is set out below and is a playlist on Youtube.

Buju Banton
Nadine Sutherland
Beenie Man
Sim Simma
Sean Paul
No Lie 
Cheap Thrills

Wayne Wonder
No Letting go
Bounce Along
Mr Vegas
My Jam
Various riddims including
Murder She Wrote
Elephant Man
Elephant Message
Pon di River
Like Glue
Day Rave
Love My Life

Chris Martin
Big Deal
My Dream
My Dream
Chi Ching Ching
Way Up Stay Up
Watchi Wiya
Happy Hour
Watchi Wiya

Up Like 7
Money Can’t Buy Life
Life Support
Hurt by Friends
Shabba Ranks
Trailer Load of Gyal
Trailer Load
Diana King
Shy Guy
I Will Do
Anything for You
Anything for You
What A Lot of Love
Cardiac Keys
Damian Marley
Bobby Brown

Bounty Killa and Baby Cham
Another Level
Bugg Riddim
Skip to My Lou
Party Shot,
Everything Nice
Smudge Riddim
Everything Nice
Dexta Daps
I'm Blessed 
Happy Life Riddim
Don Andre
Tom Cruise
Ding Dong