The Land I Love

Following my heart, turned out to be a good decision after all. The moment I said good-bye to one season, the sooner I am beginning to see new opportunities arising with each new day. This last couple of weeks, I have been able to attend events, meet amazing people, spend more time with friends, and explore a deeper Jamaican history.
Just a few days ago on August 6, 2015, I celebrated Independence Day at the annual gala held at the National Stadium. I stared in awe at the numerous performances; including shows about Jamaicans fighting for freedom, and listened to music that aroused my sensibilities and triggered thoughts of my childhood days. I stared at the proud Jamaicans intent on creating a united wave across the stadium. A simple seemingly impossible act was made possible because we were united, I thought, as I watched in astonishment at the hands rising and falling all around the stadium. I imagined it would never end. The lesson of unity gnawed at my heart the rest of the night, leaving me to ponder: What are the other impossibilities that we could accomplish when we work together? Could we use music to break down the different classes and political divisions here?

The Land I loveSuddenly the lights went out, leaving us in darkness while lulling to music such as “Cherry Oh Baby” and “The Land of my Birth”, old songs by Eric Donaldson. I felt sure and proud to be Jamaican that night.A light switch had been turned on, and I realized that this was where it all begun. The spectacular fireworks brightened the stadium with myriads of designs plastered across the night sky, and filling the stadium with wide open eyes staring in amazement. The fireworks shed light within my own heart, causing me to reflect on such things; my first dreams were made on this land. Not just that; my first words, first steps, and first lessons all took place here. And although at this moment I do not know where I will end up, I am sure that all my future steps will leave a traceable trail back to this island.

The following day, I woke up feeling sure that I had made the right decision- to extend my stay. I was introduced to new colleagues, Dervan Malcolm and Leo Gilling- on Power106FM, who reassured me that there is a new option; to embrace  my Jamaican roots, while accepting that I am also Canadian, as an official member of the Jamaican Diaspora. So when it came time to leave the radio set, I was renewed and felt hopeful that Jamaica will always accept me no matter where I am, and will create room for me should I choose to call it home.

Related: A Taste of History

Weeks before, I was going through the pain of walking away from this country that I have come to love over the last year, but now with my new awareness, I am realizing that I will never be separated again. I am empowered to walk the Hall of Fame as a proud Jamaican.  The energy and smiles from the people I met over the last couple weeks imprinted something new on my heart- we are all proud, strong and a powerful people. I am charged to be optimistic about a brighter, more united future for my Jamaica, the land I love.

I+am+Jamaican.

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.