Wednesday, February 1, 2012

... Jamaica, birth of a nation ...

... tempus fugit, to raass!, Jamaica is 50 years old this year ...

... that, of course, depends on when you start counting (insert reflective chuckle here), but, for the sake of this particularly lengthy rumination I'll go with the officially designated August 6th, 1962 shift-of-gear that transitioned The Land Of Wood And Water from tropical British sugar dependency to black, gold and green, post-colonial island autonomy ...









... at that time swinging jazz, dipped in The Caribbean, became contagious ska, infecting generations with the rhythmic fallout, which, as no respecter of persons, has spread like airmail around the world and now reaches back-a-yaad ...










... benevolence please Oh Jah, let there be nothing "back-ward" about this year ... Jamaica 50's hyped 2012 vibrancy mus' face forward ... the recent election of PSM as PM despite low poll turnout presents an opportunity for the People's National Party to step forward - a revolutionary concept in politics that ought not to be squandered by comrades among us ... and ourselves ...

... more Jamaicans live outside of Jamaica than live there - one of those "indisputable" facts I've been told my entire life ... I never doubted this for a second and fully understand that in '62, when sterling was our currency and British symbolism adorned all officialdom, Jamaicans, at home and abroad, were largely proud to "go public" with the assets of a blessed birthright ...

... everybody had a family day rafting in Portland didn't they? ...



... through the years there's been resistance to, and considerable angst over, the diminishment of  inherited traditional constructs and the emergence of comparatively reactive trends ... one need only tune in to the strain of familiar commentary, from anyone with an opinion about the direction of the country in general ...

... truth be told, Jamrock's advantages remain ever-evident, despite being subjected to perpetual pressures of attrition and learn-as-you-go management by a people determined to make their own mistakes ... or triumph uncompromisingly ...


... brother Bob famously remarked "Jamaica likkle bit small"... not at all a disparagment but a statement of reality ... although, this 4,411 square-mile geographic jewel will admit just as readily to being "likkle bit big," since Jamaica repeatedly punches above its weight in key international arenas ...

... this year there is palpable optimism Jah-mek-ya can start to rebound from an ignominious end to the previous administration ... the primary objectives being to further reduce declining homicide rates, improve import/export ratios and domestic productivity in service of a re-engaged public imagination, for the greater good ...

... change in Government, Olympic fervor, Independence fever - sounds like a perfect storm for a Jubilee to me ...

... Jamaican self-awareness and social fabric has had plenty of time to season, maintaining a dynamic cultural profile in the process ... tallawah! ...

... much of our national impetus is generated by survival strategies of ordinary people, begetting influential artistes, athletes, rebels, bumper crops of goodas and Beauty Queens ... in addition to pontificators, prognosticators, gangstas and arbiters of style ...

... this likkle country represents in all major fora, including the Arms Race if you count prodigal light weaponry and boombastic shotta imagery ... serious preoccupations which have become bellweathers for both national excitement and introspection ...

... as I write, hot JA film-of-the-moment Better Mus' Come puts bums in the seats at the prestigious TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto ...

... Jamaica 50 also brings a highly anticipated treat, Out of Many, One Documentary which casts a wide net for footage and fodder ... producers of estimable pedigree ensure this one will be crucial and Sly & Robbie are sure to have the riddim tight ...

... 50 years of political adolescence served up an explosion of Jamaica's cultural expression but also boosted a diasporic vanguard which emanates irieness from beachheads in divers places ... in some cases these beacheads virulently cater to the inner yardie, and bless our hearts, the swag is so sweet everyone wants to be a cowboy, at least enough to get by back home ...



... y'see, there is humility in independence too, it's the point reached when there is no outranking recourse ... "making it on your own" becomes raison d'etre, which carries a paradoxical sense of security considering there really is strength in numbers and no man is an island ...

... it's clear Jamaica sits at one of Earth's vortices, a place where geophysical intersects with metaphysical, imparting a yin-yang equilibrium to those who dwell therein ... it's no coincidence this tends to happen where dispersed African populations are rooted - places where humanity created crucibles to speed up forces of spiritual adaptation and soulful innovation ...

... Garvey ... Headley, Quarrie, Ottey, Holding, Dujon are names who, like VCB, Asafa and the bar-raising Usain Bolt inspire compatriots in myriad ways ... anyone who witnessed Lawrence "Yagga" Rowe's Sabina Park cricketing immortality is dismayed at his subsequent anti-hero status yet admiringly reverent of his flashing blade and exquisitely balanced execution at the crease ... lesson: flair and flaw aren't mutually exclusive ...


... but, Bolt apart, 'cos he truly looks like an annointed one, the next 50 years could struggle to live up to a halcyon past ...

... there are more steerhorns to grapple and duppy to frighten ...

... incompatibility of values on either side of an impasse over homosexuality and short-sightedness impeding the way of a progressive approach to ganja spring to mind ... still, as always in Jamaica, "if you cyaan ketch Kwaaku, ketch him shut," so look for us to transcend the lip-service detente and symbolic sutures of that ironic 2008 "common-wealth" summit, which could easily have been dubbed ... Nyabinghi meets House of Windsor in West Kingston ... no sign yet of the CD ...


... musical namechecks are endless ... Coxsone, Buster, U-Roy, Tubby, Scratch, Toots, Spear, Cliff, Tosh, Marley, Dennis and Gregory ... Shabba, Beenie, Capleton, Sizzla, Garnett, Etana ... Popcaan and on ... the soundtrack to the last five decades has been breathtaking, mercurial and provocative ... whether you appreciate how Reggae influences a collective flex, or are yet to, Jamaica's global imprint continues to spread out like Muta foot-bottom ... raggamuffin and tuff ...


... speaking of unshod griot Mutabaruka, I was fortunate enough to hear him read at the 2011 Asante Adonai Literary Lyme in St. Ann ... he didn't disappoint, sagaciously treating the term-of-the-day, "independence," to the analytical deconstruction we expect from Rastafari, our homegrown faculty of philosophy ...

... "in Depends" - as in incontinence  
"in de Pen" - as in incarceration (Zeeks, Dudus, Buju, Kartel ...)
"in dem pen, dense" - captivity en masse ...


JAMAICAN GLOSSARY
to raass! - mild expletive used for emphasis
tallawah - stalwart, strong
goodas - nice girls
likkle - little
PSM - Portia Simpson-Miller (newly elected Prime Minister)
back-a-yaad - back home
duppy - ghost, spirit
irie - the state of feelin' goood
"if you cyaan ketch Kwaaku, ketch him shut (shirt)" - a proverb that advises improvisation when faced with a challenge
JA, JamrockYaadJah mek ya - other ways to say Jamaica

1 comment :

  1. Canna Boost

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    ReplyDelete

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