Tag Archives: jamaican

Heights by Great Men…

As National Heroes Day approaches in Jamaica, the theme for this year’s celebrations “A Great Heritage…A Great Legacy” got me thinking. Not many of us Jamaicans really know why we celebrate our National Heroes each year. Not many Jamaicans can relate to the struggle of the times the heroes lived in and can appreciate the feat they accomplished in their own ways.

Earlier this year I had the privilege of hiking to the Blue Mountain peak in Jamaica. This was my second time hiking to the top but my first time hiking it in daylight. Climbing 7,402 ft to the peak is no easy feat but this time I had been exercising leading up to the that hike date so that the task would not be insurmountable.

Among the clouds at the Blue Mountain peak, Jamaica.

It took several hours to get to the peak and on more occasions than one I felt like the peak could not be reached and I would never stop hiking. In those moments I thought of my National Heroes, two in particular and what it must have been like for them to have done something similar to this. Nanny of the Maroons and Paul Bogle hiked and walked for miles and days but that is not something often spoken about.

Nanny of the Maroons is known as the Warrior Queen who outsmarted British soldiers and fought to maintain her people’s freedom. Paul Bogle is known as the peasant farmer who after not getting an audience with the then Governor, Edward Eyre, started a rebellion that led to more favourable conditions for Jamaicans of that time.

Yes, they both did what we said they did but on this particular day in May of 2017 I put myself in both their shoes. Paul Bogle saw the injustices being met out to his fellow brothers and sisters and wanted to do something to help especially since (albeit marginally) he was in a position to help. Imagine the food shortage and drought that was being faced. I imagined walking in the hot sun (and oh, how the sun can be hot) 45 miles (a little over 72 km) from Stony Gut to Spanish Town. I imagined being thirsty and hungry and not having enough food to fully satisfy me. I imagined sweating and starting to smell a bit. I imagined how the stone would be jabbing and hurting the soles of my feet with each step I took. I only imagined that last part thinking Paul’s shoe was his ‘Sunday best’ and that he wouldn’t walk the soles out on such a long journey. He definitely did not have hiking boots or sneakers like I did. I want you to feel that and then imagine how it would feel to arrive in Spanish Town after all that walking, only to be told that the Governor has no time for you, you peasant. Listen to me. How Bogle kept his cool to not start a rebellion right there and then is worthy of commendation.

I imagined hiking through the dangerous terrain of the Blue Mountains, no trail to follow, with babies, children, elderly people and those who were sick or injured. I imagined being the one that everyone looked to for guidance and assurance that “it’s not too far now” when it would take weeks to get to our destination. I imagine having to carry a child in my arms as I climbed. I imagined having to lift a person up who couldn’t manoeuvre the terrain well. I imagined hearing the constant complaints of tiredness, thirst and hunger. I imagined hearing the cries of the babies who were just frustrated with the constant movement. I imagined having to stop or slow the pace to facilitate someone who had fallen and badly injured themselves on the path I led them. I imagined it raining and my only shelter being the leaves of trees. How did she not give up? How did Nanny not throw in the towel and say it was all too much for her to deal with? I can only guess that after all that she endured with the Maroons as they moved cross-country gave her even more determination for it to not all be for naught.

At the top, the feeling of it all being worth it; the feeling of it now coming to an end, welled up in my chest. I took a moment and looked around and saluted Nanny and Paul Bogle for digging past the voice that says we can’t do it or that it is too much for us to handle. I saluted them because:

  1. I can now relate to what it was like to have done one thing they did in their lives and appreciate it was not easy and no small feat.
  2. They embodied spirits living in us today, justifying our strength as a people – as a Black race.
  3. It doesn’t have to be National Heroes Day for me to pay respects to my heroes.

What our Heroes did was to ACT. They acted get the change they wanted to see instead of just talking about it. That is why they are our Heroes.

If you are Jamaican having trouble relating to our National Heroes or understanding why they are recognised as heroes, try walking in their shoes. Take some time to do something they did and strip away the luxuries we enjoy today.

Which Hero do you most relate to and why? tell me in the comments below.

Onward!

“When are You getting Married?”

In recent times I have been asked on countless occasions ‘Yuh nah get married?’ or ‘When are you getting married?’ Right now, that question along with ‘So where you working now?’ are the most annoying things that I can be asked.

I don’t like being asked when I am going to get married because it seems too much like my marriage is a goal in your life. What if I should decide not to get married? Will you be devastated? Whose life am I living?

For a while, everyone around me and the females I went to school with were all getting pregnant and I was just over here in my corner like ‘no rush’. Now everyone around me is getting married and I am still in my corner but this time I’m like ‘to each his own’.

My stance on the matter these days is that I think

I feel like everyone is getting married for the wrong reasons

Too many persons are getting married because others want them to. Too many persons are getting married because they want to have children in wedlock. The bottom line is that couples are getting married to please others and not themselves. That’s not me! I am not a people pleaser. So much so that when in high school I overheard that I was supposed to marry (nothing less than) a lawyer or doctor I developed a dislike for those guys and even when I met them at university I was never seriously attracted to any (with valid reasons). Where I am from its a tradition to take home your ‘betrothed’ for approval from the family and church for doting and fawning. I’m not up for that. I can guarantee that the person I find that makes me happy will not please all of the above for their purposes and I refuse to find someone for them and not for myself. Too stressful man!

Church folks discriminate

Now this is where I know I’ll get a lot of flak. The church in which I grew up has (unintentionally??) conditioned our minds to believe that persons outside of the church should be avoided unless you are witnessing to them. As a matter of fact, that is all you should ever do with them. So at work, in the supermarket, walking the street…once you have to interact, preach. If you even become involved with someone outside of the church you are doomed and on a path to hell. I don’t believe it is so. Not every non-Christian person is the devil’s spawn. I have done my looking around the church and NO I have not seen anyone I would even consider a relationship with much more marriage to. Aren’t there good men elsewhere?

I have a hard-to-please family

I have known this for a long time. Not everyone in my family is but several of them are critics. They do not stop to consider conditions that may lead to situations, they just criticise everything. Do something they don’t like and you will never hear the end of it. I have an aunt that is upset that I studied what I love instead of law in college (like she was gonna pay my tuition!) If I bring home someone they don’t like, they will not be bashful and hide it. I can’t be bothered with that. Same thing goes for the church folks. Is it awful to say I am waiting on some persons’ expiration date?

I like my space

I like my alone time and lots of it. I don’t like being disturbed when I am in my zone. I also do not like being in people’s personal space for too long because I then feel like I am being a menace to them (even if I am not). For this reason my family could classify me as a hermit. Until I find someone that I can be comfortable enough with to move past the ‘dismissal point’ and feel as if I can’t bear to be away from them, then maybe I will consider marriage to that person.

I like giving people their space

I can only be in someone else’s personal space for so long before I begin to feel like I have overstayed my welcome and I am being a bother to them. At the first signs of that, I am ready to flee. For this reason I always leave before that happens. Until I can find someone who can tolerate that or not show their annoyance…

It’s not for everyone

There are some things that are just not for everyone. I have been recently tossing about the thought in my mind that happiness is not for everyone. BUT back to the matter…marriage is not for everyone. I believe that. What if I am one of those persons that it isn’t for?

In conclusion, to answer your question I would say, ‘I don’t know. Who says its for me?’

…Unu gwaan! Mi a go elope.

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What ‘country’ used to be like…

Growing up in what would be referred to as ‘country’ in Jamaica my memory of what used to be and what are now show some differences that I would like to point out.

LIME TREE. When I was growing up (and this is a fact) every yard in my community had a lime tree. There was no such thing as calling over the neighbour’s asking for ‘two lime’. With the abundance of lime trees, sugar and water consumption was at an all time high.

LEAF-OF-LIFE AND COW-ITCH. These two went hand in hand. One cured the irritation of the other and they were very abundant. If you found cow-itch somewhere, leaf-of-life was found not far away. When last have you seen a Leaf-of-life plant? A bere house bout di place now.

MANGO WALK. Every country community had AT LEAST one of these! Mango season would find bands of hungry omnivores treking to raid the trees of their, sometimes unfit, fruit.

DONKEY. The old faithful transporter of Farmer X. They have become so scarce that a batch mate of mine recently expressed the fact that she thought they were extinct. (Go ahead and laugh, you are excused)

HEDGE PLANTS. These were the ultimate indicator of where one person’s piece of land ended and another’s begun. Some were luscious and nice while others were a sorry excuse. Now-a-days, everybody and dem aunty have fence and walls.

GOATS. Back in the day, the composition of roads and paths had goat dung on the list. There were goats everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE. Goats were the first pets for many little country kids. I even had goats as pets (and rabbits too). Country pickney did affi go tie dem out every morning and collect them every evening.

SALT MACKEREL. You could smell this coming from almost every house. It was a Sunday morning breakfast staple! I always wonder why Sunday? This thing digests with its strong smell and you will burp up that smell later as you sit among the pews in the pastor’s sermon.

NASEBERRY WASHING. Summer months always had a time for Naseberry picking, washing and air drying. The clean, pretty fruit was then either shared up or bagged and sold. I too, was a part- taker in this washing, yet I never liked the fruit. Couldn’t not tell you when last I have seen anyone washing those things.

PIMENTO PICKING AND DRYING. Tell me that as a country pickney, you have never experienced this. The lengthy process of stripping the tree. Picking the fruit, drying the fruit and cleaning the dried grains. I tell no lies that I’m kinda glad that the pimento trees at home have done their time. I am grateful for them though because they did buy school books and make uniforms sooooo……

PICKNEY MESSENGER. No, this was not the early version of Yahoo or MSN messenger. This was the main means of short distance message transfers. As a child in any home you had got to be prepared to carry messages for your parent(s)/guardian. And you had better deliver it correctly. Some of us treasured these moments as it was an opportunity to get out of the yard.

TELEGRAM. Now this was the official means of long distance communication. You sending a telegram simply meant that you have someone to communicate with but when you received one, it meant you were important people and the first thought would be that it was coming from foreign (Oh how many persons were disappointed)

SUN OUT MATTRESS. This last one is serious! Lol. I remember seeing Mattresses in yards, propped up against the house “taking sun”! This was shameful for the youngest member of every such yard because ‘aint nobody was gonna assume’ that one of the adults pissed the bed up!

These are some of the things that I no longer see in the country areas. Tell me what you haven’t seen in a while or what you remember from country experiences.