I+am+Jamaican

I had another chance to celebrate Emancipation Day in Jamaica and what a day it was. I woke up feeling groggy, and disinterested in rushing my day. I wanted to cancel the previous early morning plans in exchange for my favorite pastime- making breakfast and then eating it on the balcony. But it wasn’t going to happen this morning. Instead, I decided to go against my feelings and just get on with the day.

The sweet Caribbean breeze grazed my skin the moment I stepped out the door, and I thought, maybe this isn’t going to be a bad day. I walked in serenity to the taxi stand; and ignoring my impatience, I waited inside the cold taxi for the driver to fill it with passengers. When the taxi driver stretched his hand across me to open the door, letting in yet another passenger, and requesting that I sit in the middle next to him, I did not say a thing. I decided, ‘nothing will bother me’.

I am Jamaican

As I was getting out of the taxi at the JUTC bus terminal, a phone call informed me that the bus was ready to leave and I must hurry. Luckily, I was just in time, to embark on an amazing historical experience.

With a cheerful set of passengers next to me, the bus went on to do its tour of Kingston. The tour guide called out familiar places such as Devon house, and gave a quick history behind the street name ‘Lady Musgrave’ prior to our first stop at the Bob Marley Museum. Although it was my second visit to the Museum, I was not disappointed. The happy tour guide, Susan, entertained us with her singing and history lessons about Bob’s life. Highlighting his numerous awards, the clothes he wore to play soccer, and his favorite hang out spots- where he would have come up with songs like “who the cap fits”. Using songs to desist conflict with his complaining neighbour and general daily life experiences seemed to be the way he made many of his popular hits. The final part of the museum tour led us to the ‘shot room’ so called, as this was where Bob was shot, but as the newspaper article highlighted, “the show must go on”.

I am Jamaican

The tour moved on to show off Bob’s statue at Independence Park, and then to the Government Yard in Trench Town where I learnt about places like Rema and Jungle. Stepping into Bob’s old room and seeing how his life would have been as a young person, showed me how tough Jamaicans are. It gave me a sense of connection and feeling of the Jamaican spirit, and knowing that all of this blood is also running through my veins. I am glad that this trip was done amongst fellow Jamaicans- although they may not have thought of it, there is a deep connection we all have as a people, no matter our values and class. Like Bob, every Jamaican has this raging power to do great things- to change the world.

The tour didn’t stop there, we went on to Tuff Gong, the studio where music is produced- and I learnt from the very interesting tour guide about the meaning of the name Tuff Gong; signifying that Bob is tough and like the clanging Japanese bell, he always command attention from his audience no matter where in the world he went to perform.

Related: Me And Bob’s Family

Emancipation Day has new meaning for me now, and I will forever correlate it with Bob Marley and his songs. His songs were to uplift Jamaicans out of the struggle and into a reality of hope, as well as a brighter and more united future. I hope that we will come to see ourselves as ‘Princes and Princesses’ and ‘Kings and Queens’. For me, I’m just glad I did not spend the day in solitude, because learning about my history sure puts everything into perspective. I am Jamaican.

Day Three: A Taste Of History

Coming to Jamaica: Best decision ever!

Sitting by the steps of Devon House, owned by the first black millionaire in Jamaica (George Stiebel), I am mesmerized by the beauty of this country. As I look down the path cleared for walking I can see a water foundation in the centre of the garden surrounded by large palm trees, coconut trees and beautiful flowers built to fence the path. It is truly a sight to see, and is a remnant of my past. Devon house has been sitting there for over a century now and still remains as famous as ever. Upon taking a tour of the house, I’m left awe stricken, “I want to live in a mansion too”. The beauty of the antiques, the tapestries and the mixture of French/English and Caribbean decor are all fascinating. Upon leaving the mansion, I see that the short rainfall has left the temperature feeling cool and the ground wet.

My cousin and I walk in and out of the antique shops and then into the famous ice cream shop- this for some is the only reason to go to devon house. We sit in another part of the garden  on benches and enjoy our ice cream. The sun came out from under clouds and warmed my heart, “I’m in Jamaica”.. Wow.

But before I arrived at Devon house, the Bob marley museum located on Hope road was the first stop. It is quite historic and inspiring. I was given a tour of Bob’s house and learnt about his entire life, including some of the most intimate details of his life- like the shorts he wore while playing soccer (football), a sport he loved more than anything. He used to play at the front of his house and often the neighbours would be annoyed by the fact that they were always making noise. The song he wrote from that experience is this one, “who the cap fit, let them wear it”. I felt inspired to do great things after the tour, because Bob was a Jamaican, grew up on the rough side, and still became successful.

When the ice cream was done, we took a bathroom break and off we went. We walked into new Kingston passing lovely apartments or condos along the way. We walked through the business district and arrived at Emancipation park, another inspiring experience. “Why am I living in Canada?” I started to wonder as I stared at my surroundings. There is a track encircling the park, where persons come out to run or walk freely. Others sit in the park on benches to enjoy the sun and the breeze. The park is well kept, not even a loose paper anywhere. We entered the area where the famous naked statues stand, proudly looking up to the heavens, and the slogan, “The freedom to hope, to excel, and to be” catches my eye because it gives total understanding of why the statues are the way they are. I feel a connection with it and fully embrace it’s meaning. I am those statutes because I was born in this country and it is that same slogan that has taken me around the world (though I was long gone before it’s design) to accomplish my own hopes and dreams. And in my “be-ing” those words has brought me back home.

Jamaica has so much history and on this third day, it is only the beginning…