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 45: The Last Day

The Last DayCould there be a more perfect last day? I would assume it would just be a drive from home to the airport- as it generally should have gone. Instead Jamaica gave me a thank you gift by revealing its beauty to me one last time.

Emancipation park, located in Kingston, is such a lovely place to relax. It’s a place where newlyweds come to take pictures, where school’s will take a day trip, even where couples might come to share a romantic evening. It is laced with trees and flowers and benches. Small sound boxes are camouflaged in the park, you can hardly notice them but for the sound of music that emanates which creates for a lovely ambiance. This is where I spent my last few hours.

I arrived into Kingston before 9am and I walked from halfway tree to the park. Pictures were taken, conversations were shared and in general Jamaica made me feel appreciatedThe Last Day . Jamaica was happy to have me and is now sad to see me go. The morning sun was warm and pleasant on the skin, the breeze filled the air with coolness. I observed Jamaica one last time and thought about the future- “when will I see you again?” It was hard to believe I was leaving this experience behind to go back to reality. I couldn’t see anything but the moment. Even when I saw that it was well after 11am- already I was in the park for more than two hours! I was not in any panic. I suppose I’ve been in these situations before where It seem that I’m going to miss my plane but everything always works out in the end. The truth is, waiting in the park was so much better than waiting at the airport.

It was almost 12pm when I arrived at the airport. The sign on a large billboard along the way reads, “Please come back”. That made me smile. Jamaica realized that I did not succumb to its appealing beauty and was now pleading for me to return. Boarding started at 12:35pm. This part of the airport is beautiful. I could not help but stop to read some of the lovely posters along the hall towards the gate. As I am reading the posters in the design of a postcard, I see that there were other visitors that felt the same about Jamaica. It is so much more than beaches and resorts. There is so much to do! When you leave, you are already anticipating when you’ll return. Jamaica does that to you with all its charms. You ultimately make the decision before you leave that you want Jamaica to be part of your life in the future.

The Last Day So there I was walking towards the airplane, still oblivious to the fact that I’m going to another country, my home. I never revisit a country but Jamaica probably would agree that it’s different. This is not just a country, it’s a home. It welcomes you on your arrival- whether you are a resident, a visitor or someone like me (an inbetweener) it intends for you to actually feel at home and will not object if you choose to make it just that.

You have to wonder now, why then do so many others want to leave?