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Hellshire beach, Jamaica, in 2008. The beach has largely disappeared since due to erosion. Photograph: Zickie Allgrove/Getty Images

 

Climate change is eroding beaches all over the Caribbean – even though the region contributes a tiny fraction of the emissions heating the planet.

Sunbathing mothers keep an anxious eye out for children enjoying horseback rides, as groups of young men engage in energetic games of beach football and cricket. Further along, a boombox blasts as the smell of fresh fish wafts across the shoreline.

For years, this was the scene at the Hellshire Beach in Portmore, St Catherine, on a public holiday or weekend when Jamaicans and visitors alike would flock to one of the island’s most popular beaches. Today, however, parents no longer bring their children. The horses, along with most of the beachline, have long disappeared and the few visitors who come to Aunt Merl’s or Prendy’s on the Beach – two of the few remaining seafood restaurants left standing – are confined to the benches inside. The beachfront has been swallowed by the surging tides, a result of decades of climate change and mismanagement.

“The recreational areas are totally gone so the sea is now right at the steps of the business places,” says Gladstone White, director of the Half Moon Bay Fishermen’s Co-operative, which has been lobbying for funding for infrastructure work to stabilize sections of the beach.

While island nations like Jamaica contribute a tiny fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions that are heating the planet, they are poised to suffer the worst consequences of the climate crisis. Coasts play a critical role in the economies of many Caribbean nations, whose population centers are close to the shore and who rely heavily on their ports and on tourists attracted to their picturesque waters. But beaches throughout the Caribbean are eroding as a result of rising sea levels and dangerous storms resulting from climate change. And many island nations lack the funding to invest in the infrastructure and innovation necessary to combat the changes – a situation made worse by the Covid crisis.

While Jamaica has a mixed record on environmental protection, the country is part of a coalition of small island nations that has been instrumental in lobbying for global climate action, and recently became the first Caribbean nation to increase the ambitiousness of its plan under the Paris climate agreement to reduce its carbon emissions.

But the US is set to withdraw from the agreement on 4 November, imperiling the treaty’s goal of limiting global heating to “well below” 2C, along with prospects for global action sufficient to ward off increased risk to the people and lands of the Caribbean.

Hellshire Beach, where the marine ecosystem is rapidly eroding, offers insight into what’s at stake for many Caribbean communities. Intensified storm activity and increased water temperatures are helping destroy offshore coral reefs that otherwise buffer the shoreline from pounding waves. The problems are compounded by unregulated commercial development and waste treatment, along with the removal of sand dunes and other vegetation. A landmark report published in 2012 found that Hellshire had lost up to 120 meters of shoreline in four decades.8169910888?profile=RESIZE_710x

When the scope of Hellshire’s destruction became clear, the government seemed ready to act quickly and decisively. A master plan to rehabilitate the beach was created – but then dashed in 2016 when the People’s National party (PNP) was swept from power. Since then, budding initiatives meant to invest in the beach have been consistently shut down, often without explanation.

Jamaica’s economic difficulties will thwart any short-term action to save the beach. The coronavirus has served a major blow to tourism and remittances, the country’s top two sources of revenue. The post-crisis receipts from both are forecast to fall to just around half the US$5.4bn of value they represented before the pandemic, with remittances ­expected to decline by 17% and tourism by 68%.

Jamaica’s National Environment and Planning Agency says that while rehabilitation efforts have been derailed by the economic impact of Covid-19, they will be picked up next year. But despite Nepa’s reassurances, a tourism official told the Guardian that the Hellshire master plan has been shelved indefinitely.

White, director of the fishermen’s co-operative, says the decision to scrap the master plan will hit members “big time”.

“Thing are so bad that fishermen are finding it difficult to find places to dock their boats,” he said.

Prendy’s on the Beach was once arguably the biggest and most popular seafood restaurant on Hellshire. Now that the beach has disappeared, so too have many of its customers – a situation exacerbated by government-imposed Covid-19 restrictions on public gatherings.

 

A seafood restaurant at Hellshire Beach. The sea is now perilously close to the businesses on the shore. Photograph: Christopher Serju

“I have to be creative,” says Donnete “Prendy” Prendergast, who has been operating her restaurant at Hellshire for more than 20 years. “So I do family packages for people who still come out even if they can’t get to swim. But honestly, not being able to swim takes away from the Hellshire experience, because they come here not just to eat but to have some recreation.”

Jamaica has long sent mixed signals on its commitment to environmental protection. Environmentalists recently protested against the government’s decision to allow bauxite mining in an area that supplies drinking water to the parishes of Trelawny, St Elizabeth and St Ann. The government also met with outcry over its decision to sell off fertile land to developers to build a new city, despite the fact that just a fraction of Jamaica’s land is available for farming.8169923854?profile=RESIZE_710x

And environmentalists, archaeologists and residents have been united in their opposition to the construction of a floating pier for cruise ships in Port Royal, arguing that the fragile ecosystem is in danger. Despite this, the pier opened last year to much fanfare but generated little economic spinoff for locals.

For her part, Prendergast would be content with the government showing its commitment to addressing climate change by taking one small step towards resolving beach erosion at Hellshire.

“I think the authorities need to really give Hellshire some love because it is really a beautiful place and what we offer is really unique because you can’t go get our festivals anywhere else,” she says, referring to the cornmeal-based Jamaican fried dough sold on the beach.

But time is running out for the Hellshire Fishing Village beach and its natural and manmade allures. Soon, the forces of nature, along with local and global inaction, will make it, and many more pristine beaches in the region, no more than a distant memory – a faded photograph in an old scrapbook.

Prendy’s on the Beach was once arguably the biggest and most popular seafood restaurant on Hellshire, but many of its customers have disappeared. Photograph: Christopher Serju

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Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz’s new book, Remain in Love, is a billet-doux to his bandmate and wife of more than 40 years, bassist Tina Weymouth, as well as documenting the couple’s musical journey together — first, as part of the most critically acclaimed New Wave band of the late 70s and early 80s, and later as co-founders of The Tom Tom Club, which topped the charts in 1981 with “Genius of Love.”

But there’s another ongoing love affair that Franz and Weymouth have been carrying on all these years, too, and that’s with the Caribbean — the Bahamas, in particular.

Talking Heads are sometimes described as a “world music” band, and Frantz’s introduction to Caribbean beats and rhythms began early: his parents had lived in Puerto Rico and traveled to the Virgin Islands and Trinidad, bringing home 78-rpm records of calypso and mambo songs that Frantz rediscovered as a young musician.

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When Jimmy Cliff helped introduce reggae to the United States with the 1972 film, The Harder They Come, it caught the attention of Frantz and Weymouth, who had recently met and fallen in love as students at the Rhode Island School of Design (where they also would meet Talking Heads singer David Byrne)

“Tina had this Plymouth Valiant that we drove up to Boston to see the movie, and we loved it so much that we immediately went and bought the album, and then went the next weekend to see the movie again,” said Frantz.

As a drummer, Frantz — who counts The Mighty Sparrow, Toots and the Maytalls, and “Funky Nassau” performer Ray Munnings among his favorite Caribbean musicians  — incorporated the syncopated beats of Caribbean music into his playing for Talking Heads, particularly after the band traveled to Nassau in 1978 to record their second album, More Songs About Buildings and Food, which included the hit song, “Take Me to the River.” The Brian Eno produced album was the first to be cut at Compass Point Studios, established by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell.

Everyone from AC/DC to David Bowie and the Rolling Stones would end up making albums at the studio, which operated from 1977 to 2010, but, “I think we recorded more albums there than any other artists,” said Frantz. In addition to Talking Heads’ More Songs About Buildings and Food and 1980’s Remain in Light and 1983’s Speaking in Tongues, Frantz and Weymouth utilized the studio on the west end of New Providence Island to make the first three Tom Tom Club albums.

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The Tom Tom Club was loosely inspired by Peanuts Taylor’s Drumbeat Club, a nightclub in downtown Nassau. The band included members of the Compass Point All Stars, the de facto house band at the Nassau studio.

Being in the orbit of Blackwell led to some interesting experiences —  “We used to live in the same building as Sean Connery, but Joe Cocker kept coming into the driveway and yelling, ‘Sean, give us a drink,’ so he moved,” Frantz recalled — but also some remarkable collaborations, including with pianist Tyrone Downie of the Wailers, percussionist “Sticky” Thompson, keyboardist Wally Badarou, and King Crimson singer Adrian Belew, among others.

Frantz and Weymouth loved the Bahamas so much that they became part-time residents of Nassau. “We bought an apartment (near Compass Point) that we still have, and the roof still leaks,” said Frantz. “That’s part of life down there. We still go down there, and hope to do so again in the not too distant future” — post COVID, that is.

For years, the couple and their family also took extended trips through the Out Islands on their 48-foot sloop, Katrinka, helmed by Tina’s father, a former U.S. Navy vice admiral.

“The Bahamas are 700 islanders in the sun, and we loved to sail from Nassau to Staniel Cay in the Exumas, and to snorkel in the Thunderbolt grotto,” said Frantz, who also recounted day trips from Nassau to deserted Allen Cay to visit the iguanas and to Big Major Cay, home of the Bahamas’ famous swimming pigs.

Other favorite stops include Lyford Cay, Cat Island, and out to the Exumas for the annual Family Island Regatta. “We had 22 years of bliss surrounded by a few hours of sheer terror,” laughed Frantz — a sentiment that will be familiar to anyone who sails.

Frantz and Weymouth’s Caribbean travels aren’t limited to the Bahamas: the couple traveled to Barbados in 1991 to produce an album with the British band Happy Mondays, explored the mountains of Jamaica during a stay at Blackwell’s Goldeneye hotel, and decamped to the legendary Oloffson Hotel in Port au Prince, Haiti on an art-buying trip.

Visitors to Nassau will find little trace of Compass Point Studios or the world-famous musicians who once inhabited its halls, but the vibrant Compass Point Beach Resort (originally founded by Blackwell and sometimes used by visiting stars) still welcomes guests to Love Beach and its popular beach bar. Frantz also is a fan of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, located in downtown Nassau.

“A lot of people go to Paradise Island and stay at a big hotel,” said Frantz. “We never go to those places. We prefer the Out Island experience, and the west end of New Providence is like that.”

“We love the easygoing, you-can’t-rush-life attitude of most people in the Caribbean,” Frantz added. “The people of the Bahamas are so happy to see you. It’s all about hospitality and equality’’

 
 

 

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From left: Drs Chantae Bardowell, Marla-Kay Richards, Thejasree Pulikanti, Shellian Blagrove and Shasha-Marie Williams.

Shasha-Marie Williams could have been a pregnant teen, because that was the norm in Flankers, St James, where she grew up; while Shellian Blagrove was expected to scorn her problem-plagued community of Mt Salem. Their friends – Thejasree Pulikanti wanted nothing else but to follow in her parents’ footsteps; Marla Kay Richards, a country girl, received far less lunch money than her classmates; and Chantae Bardowell felt like giving up many times.

Four of the five women attended Montego Bay High School, while the other walked the hills to Mt Alvernia High School, nicknamed ‘Alvernia’. All five were determined to become medical doctors, and nothing would stop them.

Now doctors at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, the young women have become inseparable on the front line as they join the fight against COVID-19, each having had close calls with the virus since it entered the Jamaican airspace in March.

But in spite of the overwhelming challenge that the global pandemic has caused since its emergence in China late last year, the young medical professionals are adamant that it won’t dominate their lives.

DREAM THE IMPOSSIBLE
Drs Williams, Pulikanti, Richards and Bardowell have known each other for about 16 years, while eight years ago they met Blagrove while studying at The University of the West Indies, Mona.

They have been practising for an average of four years each, with Bardowell recently completing her studies in Cuba, and her first year as a medical intern. 

“We are all general practitioners making steps to specialise in the near future,” Williams told The Sunday Gleaner.

The most compelling story of the five is Dr Blagrove’s, who grew up in Piggott Street in Mt Salem, St James – an area written off by many. In fact, she has been questioned countless times by soldiers deployed in the zones of special operations (ZOSO) community, asking why she lived there and if she wasn’t afraid.

“I would proudly say because this was where I was raised. My parents and the church made me know that it doesn’t matter where you are from, but where you are going. I still live there,” she shared.“My community members are proud of me. My hope is to inspire little boys and girls to dream, even when it seems impossible.”

For Dr Blagrove, medical school was the hardest thing she has ever done, and she admitted she couldn’t have made it without the support of her four friends. “We played together, laughed together, studied together, and pushed each other. And today I am so proud that we work together,” the young doctor beamed.

Dr Williams was inspired to join the medical profession from as early as 11 years old, when she noticed white spots on her skin. “As time went by, they got progressively worse and appeared in places that I could no longer hide. The stares, finger-pointing and all the questions were nothing compared to the fact that my condition had no cure,” she said.

She was diagnosed with vitiligo, which sparked her interest in dermatology.

The 28-year-old grew up in Flankers, where the standard at the time was for young females to get pregnant and males to be involved in gangs.

“It was at that point that I knew, and where I saw it was also my responsibility to lead and motivate persons in whatever way I can to be better versions of themselves and members of society,” Dr Williams revealed.

THREE GENERATIONS OF DOCTORS
Dr Pulikanti has a totally different story, growing up in a home where both parents were established medical practitioners.

“As long as I can remember, I have wanted to become a doctor to help others. I am from a family with three generations of medical professionals, I simply never saw myself as anything else. I wanted to follow in the footsteps of those who raised me and I have not once regretted my decision,” said the 26-year-old. 

Pulikanti admitted that there were several times she felt like giving up, because medicine is difficult, but those moments were when support from her family and friends became vital to make it through.

“Undoubtedly, my greatest supporters have been my family, who helped me to become who I am today,” she stated.

Dr Richards grew up in Bickersteth, St James – a rural district she visits regularly. She had her struggles growing up in a family not the least affluent. Actually, most persons in her family did not even have a job.

“As a child in infant school, I questioned this and asked why? I was uncomfortable with it, knowing that we could not afford some things and I got way less money for lunch than other children in the class. At that point, I knew that I could not fall in the cycle and when I grew up I had to have a job, and not only a job, but a profession. Education would be my key to success,” she said.

The 27-year-old shared that her family was proud of her accomplishments, not only as doctor, but throughout her entire school years from infant to university. One of her most difficult moments was the beginning of fourth-year medical school and one week before one of her clerkship exams. Her mom died from breast cancer. At first, her coping skills were good but as the months progressed, Dr Richards got the strong urge to quit the programme. But the guiding spirit of her mother kept her going.

“One night, I had a vision of my mom giving me a strong warning not to do so, and that I must run the race with patience. It was that warning and her repeating it three times that motivated me to continue, and here I am today,” she proudly stated.

THE DRIVE TO GO ON
Dr Bardowell knew she wanted to be a doctor since primary school, and was even more convinced after she watched the movie John Q. She went on to study medicine in Cuba, at the Universidad de Ciencias Medicas de La Habana.

The 28-year-old, who spent her early years in Trelawny and Westmoreland, spoke about wanting to give up many times during medical school.

“I had several nights of tears, feeling hopeless and lost. Especially while being away from family and living on my own in a foreign country, with different culture, different people, different language. But despite those hard times, I had a drive, I had a goal, I had to achieve for myself, then for my family. I never wanted to let myself down. And that drive kept me going,” Dr Bardowell declared.

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Toots Hibbert, an influential and veteran Jamaican ska and reggae singer and founder of the band the Maytals, has died. He was 77. The cause of death is as yet unclear, though he had been recently tested for Covid-19.

statement from his family released on Sept. 11 reads: “It is with the heaviest of hearts to announce that Frederick Nathaniel ‘Toots’ Hibbert passed away peacefully tonight, surrounded by his family at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica.

“The family and his management team would like to thank the medical teams and professionals for their care and diligence, and ask that you respect their privacy during their time of grief.”

The youngest of seven children, Hibbert’s parents were both Seventh-Day Adventist ministers and he grew up singing in church. He moved to the country’s capital of Kingston as a teenager and formed the first version of the Maytals in the early 1960s. Over the following 10 years the group recorded with a series of producers that reads like a reggae hall of fame: Coxsone Dodd, Prince Buster, Byron Lee, Leslie Kong — and reeled off Hibbert compositions like “Bam Bam,” “Sweet and Dandy” and “54-46 That’s My Number,” which was inspired by a mid-‘60s prison term he served for marijuana possession. 

Hibbert was one of the early proponents of reggae in the late 1960s and scored a hit with the song “Do the Reggay.” In fact, he is often credited with giving reggae its name when he christened the 1968 song.

He was a contemporary and friend of Bob Marley’s, and for several years both were signed to Island Records. Speaking with the Jamaica Observer in 2018, Hibbert spoke of sharing bills with Marley’s band, the Wailers, in their early days. “Sometimes the Maytals would close, sometimes The Wailers would close the show. We had no problems, no professional jealousy, we were all very good friends,” he said. “Out of all of us though, me an’ Bob were very good friends. It was out of one of those conversations that I did the song ‘Marley.’ He was telling me that he was going to be a dreadlocks Rasta an’ I laughed an’ said, ‘I want to be a comb-locks’ Rasta like Selassie I,’ an’ he laughed, just like the words in the actual song,” he said.

The two both had hits with different songs called “Redemption Song,” featured on his first album for Island, “Funky Kingston.”

“When I did ‘Redemption Song’ in 1972, it went number one [in Jamaica],” Hibbert recalled. “Marley said he would do a ‘Redemption Song’ as well. He used a similar rhythm but different lyrics.” Marley’s version of the song appeared on the final album released during his lifetime, “Uprising.”

Also in 1972, Hibbert appeared in the groundbreaking film “The Harder They Come,” which starred Jimmy Cliff. His 1969 song “Pressure Drop” was featured on the film’s soundtrack and was covered by the Clash in 1978, introducing Hibbert to thousands of new listeners.

A seemingly permanent presence in reggae music, Hibbert continued to tour and record through the decades, appearing on Willie Nelson’s 2005 album “Countryman” and covering Radiohead’s “Let Down” for a collection of reggae Radiohead covers. He even joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers onstage for a performance of “Louie Louie” during a 2011 New Year’s Eve party in St. Barts thrown by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.

In 2013 he was injured when a thrown bottle hit him in the head during a performance in Virginia. He missed several shows but ended up asking the judge to give the young man who threw the bottle a light sentence. “He is a young man, and I have heard what happens to young men in jail,” he wrote in a letter to the judge. “My own pain and suffering would be increased substantially knowing that this young man would face that prospect.” The man received a six-month sentence.

Hibbert was hospitalized just days after the release of his and the Maytals’ first album in more than a decade, “Got to Be Tough.” The album was co-produced by Zak Starkey, and features contributions from Starkey’s father, Ringo Starr, as well as Ziggy Marley, Sly Dunbar and Cyril Neville (read Variety‘s review).

“I’m very proud of what I’ve done and the love I’ve given,” Hibbert told Rolling Stone of the album. “But it’s getting harder and harder to give the love the people need, and they need it now more than ever. No time to waste.”

On Sept. 2, it was revealed that Hibbert was in stable but serious condition in a private medical facility in Jamaica. He was tested for Covid-19, although the results have not been announced.

Hibbert is survived by his wife of 39 years, Miss D, and his seven of eight children.

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Orlando Patterson - New York Times

For a tiny island in the Caribbean, Jamaica has long enjoyed an outsize global reach — there are the songs of Bob Marley and the gold medals of Usain Bolt, as well as the millions of sun-seekers flocking to the island’s pristine beaches. It is quite an accomplishment for a nation “barely the size of Connecticut,” as Orlando Patterson notes in his fascinating study, “The Confounding Island: Jamaica and the Postcolonial Predicament.” But shadows hang over this sunny picture, not least distressingly high rates of poverty and homicide.

Patterson is a Jamaican who has long lived in the United States, working as a sociology professor at Harvard University, which allows him both an intimacy with the island and a degree of distance through which to analyze it. Although he provides extensive citations and robust discussions of theoretical frameworks, he also offers a personal story of affection and frustration, perhaps most evident in the questions that form all but one of the eight chapter titles. These include: “Why Has Jamaica Trailed Barbados on the Path to Sustained Growth?” and “Why is Democratic Jamaica So Violent?” Indeed, these two questions are so significant, he devotes the first half of the book to them.

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"The Confounding Island: Jamaica and the Postcolonial Predicament" by Orlando Patterson.

Patterson starts by comparing Jamaica with its fellow former colony Barbados, which is 25 times smaller in area and, with under 300,000 inhabitants, possessing only one-tenth the population. Yet Barbados has more than twice the per capita G.D.P. of Jamaica and none of the political violence. To explain this, Patterson pursues lines of investigation that are not strictly economic. The themes of slavery and freedom run through his analysis; it is impossible to discuss contemporary Jamaica without their inclusion. Although Patterson’s time frame is postcolonial, to get to Jamaica’s economic present he navigates the pothole-strewn road of its troubled past.

Jamaica’s dramatic and complex history starts with the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1494. In 1655 it fell under English control, and was subsequently transformed into a sugar powerhouse fueled by enslaved labor, until full abolition arrived in 1838. The island remained under British control until independence in 1962.

Such a trajectory is not uncommon in the Caribbean, but Patterson notes crucial distinctions in Jamaica’s development, particularly the British perception that it was dangerous and disease-laden compared with Barbados. As a result, there were fewer absentee plantation owners in Barbados and a more stable colonial population, which influenced the development of the island’s political institutions. The social history of these institutions is key to understanding how they functioned after independence, and why the implementation of what were often similar policies had divergent results

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Heywood Street market on West Queen Street in Kingston, Jamaica.Credit...Robert Rausch for The New York Times

From there, Patterson turns to violence, while also issuing some useful reminders about the nature of democracy. Jamaica, as he writes, is “genuinely democratic,” with a very robust civil society, and yet is rarely described as such. This is, in part, because of the notion that democracies, by their nature, are not violent, an idea “inconsistent with the realities of democratic history and practice.” Still, Jamaica remains an outlier in terms of scale, consistently topping global homicide lists.

Patterson examines how the political clientelism that took root in independent Jamaica has led to deadly “garrison-based politics,” in which a poor neighborhood is bribed or coerced through the threat of violence into voting for a particular political party. This phenomenon, mixed with persistent poverty, has given rise to the urban gangs and drug-related brutality that continue to blight the island. Patterson also revisits his own part in the development of Jamaica, returning to his time as an adviser to Prime Minister Michael Manley, who was the democratic socialist leader of the People’s National Party, and to the failure of the poverty-reduction program they tried to implement in the 1970s 

It is not all doom and gloom, however, especially when Patterson turns to Jamaica’s extraordinary cultural production. In examining the athletic prowess of the island’s runners, he swiftly dismantles any racist notion that Jamaicans are genetically more gifted as athletes, and instead returns to institutions. He lays Jamaica’s success in track and field at the swift feet of Michael Manley’s father, Norman, one of the nation’s founders, likening it to “the effect on track’s prestige in the United States had George Washington been a track star.” Manley was a talented athlete, and he promoted track and field as part of the formation of an independent national identity. Around this grew a nationwide infrastructure of running associations. Where institutions failed the economy, they proved to be champions in fostering athletics. In a similar vein, Patterson also looks at how the music industry has had enormous success beyond Bob Marley’s hits, in spite of the island’s limited resources.

Topics covered in other chapters range from women in the workplace to cricket, and such breadth makes this an eye-opening volume. It is also illuminating because Patterson carefully explores the complexity of the structural machinery behind Jamaica’s dazzling successes and dismal failures, rather than just chalking these up to simple causes. Although at times Patterson is critical of and disappointed by his fellow Jamaicans, his admiration for the nation’s independent spirit shines through.

Carrie Gibson is the author of “Empire’s Crossroads: A History of the Caribbean From Columbus to the Present Day” and, most recently, “El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America.”

THE CONFOUNDING ISLAND
Jamaica and the Postcolonial Predicament
By Orlando Patterson
409 pp. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. $35.

 
 
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6635933494?profile=RESIZE_710x© Shaun Botterill Everton Weekes passed away on Wednesday

With the death of Everton Weekes on Wednesday at the age of 95, cricket has lost one of its greatest batsmen. He was also the the last of a legendary trio of cricketing knights, known as the Three Ws, who oversaw the rise of West Indies cricket after the Second World War. 

The numbers alone make impressive reading: in 48 Tests, played between 1948 and 1958, Weekes scored 4,455 runs at an average of 58.61. He made 15 centuries including five in an extraordinary sequence that remains a record today. But it was the way he made those runs that caught the imagination.

Former West Indies captain Jeffrey Stollmeyer described Weekes as "a five foot six inch bundle of muscle".

"There was no nonsense about Weekes, no tomfoolery. Once on the job, he was purposeful. His business was to score runs," said Stollmeyer.

"Playing strokes was the game he knew and loved best, and unless circumstances warranted discretion, Weekes would produce his smashing square cut, slashing cover drive, resounding hook and forceful on-drive for all to see and enjoy."

Everton de Courcy Weekes was born in Pickwick Gap, Barbados on February 26, 1925. He was one of three West indies greats to be born within a mile and a half of each other over an 18-month period. 

The others were Frank Worrell and Clyde Walcott. Together they were the Three Ws.

"Of the Ws, he (Weekes) was probably the most ruthless run-compiler, and his compact build and high-scoring performances inevitably invited comparisons with George Headley," wrote Denis Compton, one of the great England batsmen of the era.

It was thanks, in part, to Headley that Weekes found his feet in Test cricket. The 23-year-old had been picked to play in the first three Tests of the 1948 home series against a weakened MCC (England) team led by Gubby Allen but with a top score of 36 he was omitted for the fourth Test. But when the 39-year-old Headley withdrew through injury, Weekes was summoned to Kingston, not a popular choice among the Jamaicans who favoured their own JK Holt.

Weekes arrived midway through the first day after the journey from Barbados to be greeted with jeers and heckles but they turned to cheers a day later as he crashed an England attack that included Allen, Maurice Tremlett and Jim Laker for 141, leading to a 10-wicket win for the West Indies.

- 'Brilliant array of strokes' -

Weekes was on his way and when the West Indies went on to tour India later in the year, he produced successive innings of 128 in Delhi, 194 in Bombay and 162 and 101 in Calcutta. He ought to have had a sixth consecutive hundred but was run out for 90 in Madras, a decision that Walcott described as "rather doubtful".

In 1950 he played a key supporting role to spinners Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine in West Indies' 3-1 series win in England. He made three half-centuries and then 129 at Trent Bridge where he was watched admiringly by the former Nottinghamshire and England opener George Gunn. "I have seen them all since Victor Trumper and including (Don) Bradman," said Gunn who was 71 at the time having played first-class cricket between 1902 and 1932. "I have never seen a more brilliant array of strokes nor heard the ball so sweetly struck."

Weekes returned to England in 1957 which, although disappointing by his standards, produced one truly memorable innings. It came in the second innings at Lord's with the West Indies, still trailing England by 217, on 80-4 and facing a heavy defeat. The England attack of Fred Trueman, Brian Statham and Trevor Bailey exploited the ridge at the Nursery End to make the ball rear spitefully.

Weekes joined Garry Sobers and set about adding 100 in 95 minutes. Weekes took a blow to the hand which cracked a finger but in a three-hour stay at the crease, continued to carve the bowlers around Lord's, hitting 16 boundaries before being dismissed for 90. "Never was a more heroic batsman more deserving of a century. It was the innings of a genius," wrote Compton.  

With Weekes, Walcott and Worrell in the middle-order, the West Indies rose from being a lightweight Test nation to world-leaders, laying the ground for the likes of Garry Sobers, Rohan Kanhai, Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards.

After retiring from Test cricket in 1958, Weekes continued playing in the Lancashire League in England, became an admired administrator and lethal bridge player, representing Barbados, and was knighted in 1995.

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Jamaica’s reggae megastar received a hero’s welcome when he came home after seven years in a US jail. ‘No guts, no glory – that’s my genesis,’ he says in a rare interview

 Reggae’s elder statesman … Buju Banton. Photograph: Shawn Theodore

At the end of 2018, the reggae star Buju Banton returned to Jamaica after almost seven years in a US prison, and Norman Manley international airport was mobbed. His flight was delayed, the chants of “We want Buju” ramped up, then after a brief prayer huddle in the customs area, he pushed into the arrivals hall to pandemonium. It took a phalanx of hi-vis-wearing airport workers to hustle him through to the waiting police motorcade, a task not helped by the workers’ attempts to get selfies with their charge.

It was a hero’s welcome because, despite being convicted in the US of intention to distribute cocaine, Banton is a Jamaican hero. For his first post-prison concert, at Kingston’s National Stadium, about 30,000 people were packed in with many more enjoying it from outside.

The love Banton gets from the Jamaican people is the sort of deep cultural bond that goes way beyond his considerable achievements. Dennis Brown had this relationship, as do Yellowman and Usain Bolt, because they represent and celebrate the Jamaica that doesn’t make it on to tourist-board literature – as Banton himself drily puts it, “without any redaction or Photoshopping”.

“I don’t know how many people turned out that night,” he says. “The numbers don’t really matter – it’s the celebration that matters, the gathering of the people. I love my people, they know that, just as I know my people love me – they know a grave injustice took place. There was a magnetic energy generated by the people in the National Stadium that night. If you had a meter you could have measured it!”

After two trials – the jury was unable to reach a verdict in the first – Banton was found guilty of illegal possession of a firearm and conspiracy to possess 11lb of cocaine with intent to distribute. He was sentenced to 10 years, reduced by two when the gun charge was dropped. The case rested on recordings made by a Drug Enforcement Administration informant who received $50,000 for his services; one video played to the court appeared to show Banton sampling the drug. He denied any involvement in any drug deal itself, maintaining it was all talk, and the prosecution accepted he had no financial involvement. But conspiracy is talk – it only needs somebody to be talking to somebody else about something illegal.

The cover for Buju Banton’s new album, Upside Down 2020 Cover Art for new album

In the 18 months since his release, Banton has never talked about the conviction or his time in jail. When pushed, he calls it “an improvised hell” he got through by reading, meditating and reflecting on life – his own and in general. “Time and space is relative,” he says. “You have to shield your mind, and as a man of hope and a man of faith I can see the world is right there and I am right there, but can absent myself from the mundane existence.” He seems untouched by the experience, physically and mentally, the same amenable, generous and humorous person I have met on previous occasions.

He has long disavowed Boom Bye Bye, the murderously homophobic single he wrote and recorded as a 16-year-old and which was released without his knowledge when he hit big. To remind people, he issued a statement on his release from prison: “I recognise that the song has caused much pain … I am determined to put this song in the past and continue moving forward as an artist and as a man. I affirm once and for all that everyone has the right to live as they so choose.”

Banton shares a background of extreme hardship with so many Jamaicans – “standpipe poverty”, he calls it, as the houses in his part of Kingston had no running water – but his particular affinity with his homeland is due also to his Maroon ancestry. He can trace his roots back directly to the rebel coalition of runaway slaves and indigenous people who, in the 18th century, retreated to the mountainous interior and waged a 10-year campaign against the British. The Maroons’ guerrilla tactics were so successful that they were granted their own land and autonomy from colonial rule. Today the Maroons’ Accompong village remains apart from the government and plays a big part in the black Jamaican psyche: rebels who refused to bow down.

“My Maroon heritage is very important to I, because it kept I close to my roots and my origins,” Banton says. “I think about it every day. It kept me solid through the recent years, because I know how my people suffered long and they fought hard for freedom. It puts my struggles into perspective and shows why every black man have to fight.” In the grounds of his comfortable Kingston home, Banton has a circular Maroon hut. “The tabernacle! It’s built of thatch and wood and it’s a place of meditation and contemplation, a place appropriate to my roots and how I relate to the world.”

On a more prosaic level, Banton’s closeness to the Jamaican people comes from his sound system days in the late 80s, at a time when the island’s dancehalls were assuming fresh cultural currency as a generation of artists prioritised domestic over international audiences. From the age of 15, Banton apprenticed on the Rambo International sound system, which travelled all over the island.

 
“I used to ride on the back of the truck, all around the Jamaican parishes. We’d set up anywhere we could gather the people. And those audiences could be demanding! Every night you had to have a new song or you’re not going to last. No guts, no glory – that’s my genesis. It kept you always creative and stylish, and fearless.”

Recording was an obvious next step. “I record my first song when I was 16 years old. [Dancehall star] Clement Irie had taken me up to the Blue Mountain studios in Kingston, I thought just so I could see what a recording studio look like. Straight away I became very nervous because I’m seeing all these people I only know from on record and they’re all wearing gold chains as big as a car rim – or bigger! Then they put me in the booth with headphones on, and told me when the red light comes on, that’s my cue. I started doing the number and I didn’t stop until the three minutes was up.” This became The Ruler. “I couldn’t really remember doing it, I just remember how they was all impressed because they’d never seen someone sing from top to bottom of a tune and not make a mistake.”

Within a couple of years, Banton was the island’s top recording artist; by 1992, he had beaten Bob Marley’s record for Jamaican No 1s, and Donovan Germain, the boss of Penthouse Records, gave Banton the run of the studio. There, together with the producers Dave and Tony Kelly, confidence met musical intelligence to create the Mr Mention album.

Buju Banton performing in Kingston in 2003.
 
 Buju Banton performing in Kingston in 2003. Photograph: David Corio/Redferns

This was an experiment born out of “wanting to come to the dancehall with a complete body of work. We was young men fresh out of school and we had the studio at our disposal, our brains bubbling, bursting. We wanted to make music that would work in the dancehall. We had a genuine interest in going on a journey.”

Mr Mention became the bestselling album in Jamaican history. Its 1993 follow-up, Voice of Jamaica, made a broader statement still, shifting between love songs, dancehall bangers, hip-hop flavours (Busta Rhymes features) and social concerns. Then came ’Til Shiloh and Inna Heights, stunningly crafted albums of melodic Rasta reggae conceived during his conversion to Rastafari. “Those were tremendous bodies of work, messages I received when I was going through my awakening: Rastafari and reggae music are together.” The music aimed to “re-educate the masses” about the religion and culture: “We have shared our music with the world and we see many people wearing dreads, but they don’t understand the teachings.”

This restless creativity earned him five Grammy nominations before winning him best reggae album for Before the Dawn in 2011 – the ceremony came days before his incarceration and he couldn’t attend – and is still evident on his first post-prison album, Upside Down 2020. Featuring stars such as John Legend and Pharrell, it mixes up past and present styles of Jamaican music, nods to hip-hop and R&B, and on a couple of occasions ushers country into the dancehall. The latter shouldn’t be that surprising – country was once huge in Jamaica – but Banton’s breadth of influences is still remarkable.

“You have to move forward – it’s liberation,” he says. “There is no future in the past. Let it serve as a guiding force, but that’s all. Music is in my blood. I can’t lock myself in a single room; evolution is what you’re supposed to do.”

At 46 and free from the hell of the last few years, Banton has earned his place as reggae’s elder statesman, and is a genuine inspiration for the broadminded generation of Jamaican artists coming through, the likes of Chronic LawJaz Elise and Leno Banton, son of star deejay Burro Banton, to whom Buju’s stage surname is a tribute. He is keeping reggae’s roots where the ground has always been most fertile: the regular Jamaican people. According to culture minister Babsy Grange, they “would have loved him just the same even if he’d come back in handcuffs”.

 Buju Banton’s new album, Upside Down 2020, is out now.

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It's Gonna Be Real Dancehall!!!

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Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley will be the executive producer of Bounty Killer’s upcoming album.

The Warlord made the revelation during an interview with radio disc jockey Nikki Z recently.  According to Bounty, the album comes 18 years after his 2002 album, Ghetto Dictionary, which was released by VP Records.

“Now its 2020 and I am working on an album also.  So I am building up the fire and gassin up di place… I am not done; I am not dead. I am ready again.   And, it has been like 18 years I put out an album 2002.  The Ghetto dictionary; that’s my last album. That’s two generations actually, so it’s overdue- way past overdue, so I am working on an album with Ghetto Youths,” he said.

“Junior Gong is gonna be the executive producer.  So it’s gonna be something to listen to. It’s gonna be the real dancehall. I’m gonna remind them what dancehall is.  Some people don’t remember what dancehall is and what the real foundation is… so we gonna take them to the real hardcore,” he explained.

Bounty, yesterday, shared a photo outside the Marley family’s legendary Tuff Gong studio in Kingston, with dancehall artiste Agent Sasco, formerly Assassin.The pair teased fans with an upcoming “deadly” Bounty Killer and Agent Sasco

Meanwhile, Bounty Killer said he was in no rush to complete the album, as that was not his style.

“In music, we have no time, no date. It’s when the music say its time.  Because you don’t give yourself deadline in music; never do dat.  Just make music come as inspiration.    Das why I haven’t put out an album in 18 years.  Cause I never look at no time like ‘yow a 10 years now enuh or 15 years, because everybody bukking me u and saying yow, is nearly 20 years,” he said.

Bounty Killer has released several studio albums since he burst onto the dancehall scene in the early 1990s.  The last one, Ghetto Dictionary: The Mystery, which was released by VP Records in January 2002 featured 20 tracks including hits such as Sufferah featuring Wayne MarshallMysteryHigh Grade ForeverPot of Gold featuring Richie StephensArrow and the title track Ghetto Dictionary.

The superstar has long spoken of the high regard which he has for the Youngest Veteran whom he has described as exceptionally brilliant, while Marley himself always refers to the artiste as a ‘legend’.Damian Marley and Bounty Killer in 2017.

Last August, Damian made it known that he would love to produce tracks for Bounty Killer, whom he said he first met while in his early teens.   He told the Jamaica Observer newspaper at the time that he loved the Killer’s music, and that the Seaview Gardens native always looked out for him from his teenage days.

Both men, along with Eek-a-mouse, had also collaborated on the hit track Khaki Suit, from Damian’s Grammy-winning Welcome to Jamrock album, back in 2005.

Damian Marley,Bounty Killer & Eek A Mouse - Khaki Suit

Damian is no stranger to being an executive producer, having produced Third World’s Grammy-nominated album titled More Work To Be Done last year as well as Kabaka Pyramid’s Kontraband in 2018, 

In the meantime, the One General told Nikki Z that he is not interested in new phenomena like streaming.

“I don’t know about dem tings.  I don’t pay attention to streaming.  I was here before di internet, and I don’t get too into di net.  I was here before di microwave; I was here before color TV just came out.  I was here before cable; I was here when TV signing off.  So I am not into all that internet fad,” he said.

In This Story: Agent SascoBounty KillerDamian Marley

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Kamala Harris wins attorney general's race

She's been called "the female Obama" by some media, and the president even paid her a visit this week to help her political fortunes. Like Barack Obama, she aspires to a lot of firsts. Kamala Harris is the daughter of a father from Jamaica and a mother from India, and she's seeking to be the first black woman attorney general of California. If elected, Harris would be "the first female, the first African-American, the first Asian-American attorney general in California and the first South Asian-American attorney general in the nation," according to her campaign literature. Fast forward.....More than three weeks after he declared victory in the race for state attorney general, Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley conceded defeat Wednesday as he trailed by more than 50,000 votes in one of the closest statewide races in California history.
The decision means that San Francisco Dist. Atty. Kamala Harris will assume the post of California's top law enforcement official, giving Democrats a clean sweep of the statewide offices.

Uncertainty had swirled around the election result since shortly after the votes began to be counted on Nov. 2. Cooley claimed victory on election night, only to discover the next morning that he was behind. As county registrars scrambled to count more than 2 million ballots left uncounted after election day, the lead bounced back and forth, but Harris has held an advantage for more than a week.

By Tuesday evening, Harris led Cooley by nearly 53,000 votes -- 4,385,438 to 4,332,596 -- according to a Times review of updated vote tallies in all 58 counties. The secretary of state's office reported that there were 154,806 ballots left uncounted statewide, though the actual number is most likely much less given the delay in some counties reporting their most recent figures to the state's election agency.

To win, Cooley would need more than two-thirds of those votes to overtake Harris. So far, the gap between the candidates has been less than a single percentage point. Moreover, about two-thirds of the remaining votes are in counties that Harris carried, including Contra Costa, Monterey and Sonoma.

[Updated at 11:28 a.m.: Cooley called Harris on Wednesday morning to congratulate her and concede the election, said his campaign consultant Kevin Spillane.

“Frankly the margin is just too great to be made up with the votes that remain to be counted,” Spillane said.

He said that a recount, which must be paid for by the requesting candidate under state law, would be expensive and would not likely make up enough votes to overcome Harris’ lead. “It would be overly divisive, and we’re not confident that it would reverse it ultimately,” Spillane said.]
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Lifestyle blogger Jhunelle Jureidini with her quarantine kit,created from items found in her pantry. (Photos: Contributed)

Absence, they say, makes the heart grow fonder.

And when loved ones are out of reach, it’s oftentimes difficult to show them how much you appreciate them. Small gestures go a long way and lifestyle bloggers Jhunelle Jureidini and Tiana Chung show just how they maintain their friendship given their separation due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The government imposed six-to-six curfew has made socialising with anyone outside of your household almost impossible. With the coronavirus continuing to upend familiar rhythms of life, leaving bars, churches, and schools closed, hundreds working from home and others jobless, those looking for ways to pass the time have leaned towards creativity.

In the absence of busy schedules, users accept social media challenges in droves. Some bring together families for choreographed TikTok dance routines while others channel their inner fashionista with the #PillowChallenge.

All in a day’s work and in efforts to ward off boredom. But, one such challenge that seems to connect even more people is the Quarantine Kit challenge. Jhunelle Jureidini, curator of Simplylocal.life, suggested she and fellow blogger Tiana Chung, food blog curator of WongaGyal, create and exchange quarantine kits.

Plus, there's a video, see below...

“WongaGyal and I had been talking about collaborating for a while but had no concrete ideas.”

“She started selling customized quarantine kits and that's when I thought that would be a unique and thoughtful way for us to share with each other, but a little more personal,” Jureidini told Loop Lifestyle.

Instead of choosing what you want in your quarantine kit, we both agreed on criteria and filled the kits with items mostly from our pantries. Putting thought and time into arranging the kits, plus the surprise element — not knowing what you're going to get from the other person — made the experience more fun,” Jureidini mentioned.

Jureidini, who makes a living from showcasing Jamaica’s hidden gems — hotels and tourist attractions, and covering local events like Reggae Month — has more time on her hands during the lockdown.

So here goes…Jureidini shows us how to prepare a quarantine kit

First, figure out the theme or concept you’ll use to pick the items.

It could be arts and crafts, self-care, comfort food, etc. If it’s food, make sure to check for allergies.

Jureidini suggests... items from a cocktail recipe (using Appleton Estate Reserve rum); adding ingredients to make a snack; an immune booster like Tetley Super Tea, with the recommended 20% Vitamin C dosage. Then, add a wild card.

You should also wear a mask while preparing the kit, wear gloves, and wipe down everything before adding them to the container. Then agree to meet and practice social distancing while exchanging kits. Or if you are far away from loved ones, you can mail it or have it delivered to them.

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Cuba lends a Helping Hand with COVID 19

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The head of the 148-strong Cuban medical team that arrived here two weeks ago to help with Jamaica's novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) fight, wants Jamaicans to believe in the contingent that he says will do its best to give this nation's citizens the finest-possible medical care.

General practitioner Dr Eduardo Ropero said that he and his team members were oozing with confidence to get involved in the fight, alongside local health sector workers, to control and eventually tame the outbreak that has caused woe and destruction across the global landscape.

“We will not let the people of Jamaica down...Never,” Dr Ropero told the Jamaica Observer in an exclusive interview Friday evening, at the end of the team's 14-day quarantine.

“We are here to support the Jamaican health system to fight the new pandemic; interchanging knowledge with colleagues of this country and improve the knowledge and health of the Jamaican people,” the veteran practitioner of 25 years stated.

 The Cuban team of 46 doctors, 98 nurses and four technicians arrived in Jamaica on Saturday, March 21. Starting this weekend, they will be deployed across the four health regions (South East, North East, Western, and Southern) at hospitals and health centres. Dr Ropero will be based in the western region but does not know exactly where yet.

“Jamaica can depend on us 100 per cent. The Cuban medical personnel are filled with humanity and solidarity. We love our profession and we care for our patients,” Dr Ropero underscored.

Now that the period of quarantine has elapsed, Dr Ropero has joined other medical personnel, near and far, in appealing to remember that people that paying attention to health care tips is in their best interest.

He wants Jamaicans to know that the best approach in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis is for people to understand how importance it is to “wash their hands frequently, avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth if you are out of the house; keep social distance of almost one metre; use sanitary face mask or handmade mask” — a message that is now like an echo across the globe.

More can be done, he argued, while noting that some people refuse to self-isolate and don't understand that it is necessary for their wellness. Dr Ropero said that it is necessary to involve all media, in particular television, print, radio, and the Internet, in educating the population.4331651050?profile=RESIZE_710x

He, too, is not against the wearing of masks, as the debate rages over whether or not the items are necessary, as according to him, “the advice from the WHO [World Health Organization] is that just ill persons must use the mask, but it is very difficult to know when a person is sick — because the patient could be an asymptomatic person for 14 days”. Like other members of the brigade, he too has his fears of getting infected but remains confident that members of the team will be as careful as they can be.

“Yes, of course it is a real possibility, but if we follow correctly the safety indications, the risk of contracting the virus will be very low,” he maintained. Dr Ropero praised the Government of Jamaica, in particular the Ministry of Health and Wellness, for being “far-sighted” about coronarivus, citing the ministry's programme of informing the people from early about how to care for themselves, self-isolation, and effecting control on travellers. The first-time traveller to Jamaica, who has worked in Venezuela for seven years and Brazil for two, does not see a challenge for him and his team to fit into the Jamaican culture and enjoy what it has to offer, including the food. There are 77 members of the 138-team which has experience working abroad.

“Almost everything I heard about Jamaica is good — your culture is great; I love Bob Marley I heard from other Cuban doctors who worked here that you are very kind people, very friendly and hard workers; and of course all Cubans love Usain Bolt. He is unique.

 “The food is spicy, and yes, it is a little problem... a little hot for our mouths, but we try to get in the habit of eating spicy food. In the hotels the cooks are the best. The food is always delicious.”

Jamaica's dark side though — violence and crime — is of concern to the Cuban medical leader and his team, and they will do everything necessary to protect themselves. “I don't like what I hear about the violence and crime in Jamaica. In Venezuela and Brazil we treated shooting patients and some injured by the knife, and it's a painful picture for any person, even a doctor. But we are here to work and that is our main focus,” said the medic who admitted to being a sportsman of sorts, having played “a little baseball and soccer”, though confessing that he was not good at either.

The team was part of a contingent of Cuban medical personnel who were selected last year by a group of Jamaican technocrats who visited the north Caribbean socialist state from June 12 to 16 to recruit almost 300 professionals.4331661534?profile=RESIZE_710x

The selections were done by a team that was headed by senior director, human resource management in the Ministry of Health and Wellness Gail Hudson, and also included head of surgery at Annotto Bay Hospital Dr Ray Fraser, who studied medicine in Cuba; regional technical director for the Western Regional Health Authority Dr Diane Stennett Campbell; Nurse Educator Sheila Daley Jones; Director, Human Resource and Industrial Relations Coleen Ricketts-Evans; Director, Human Resource and Industrial Relations Pauline Roberts; Director, Nursing Services (KPH) Joan Walker-Nicholson; Chief Nursing Officer Patricia Ingram-Martin; Director, Nursing Services (Cornwall Regional Hospital) Gillian Ledgister; Director, Nursing Services (St Ann's Bay Hospital) Marcia Lafayette; Regional Nursing Supervisor (SERHA) Marcia Thomas-Yetman; and Senior Medical Officer (St Catherine Health Department) Dr Francia Prosper-Chen.

This is the third and final batch of medical personnel to arrive from Cuba within the last nine months.

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COVID 19 IS NOT A JOKE

STAY SAFE! PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING!!!

It could mean your life, the life of people you love or someone else's loved one.

SAY A PRAYER FOR THE MEDICAL PERSONNEL ON THE FRONT LINES

SAY A PRAYER FOR THE DELIVERY PEOPLE TRYING TO GET YOU FOOD etc.

SAY A PRAYER FOR HUMANITY!

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When you think of Carnival, soca music naturally springs to mind. And when you think of Jamaica, dancehall inevitably pops up.

But what do you get when you mix the two? Well, you'll find out on the road next month with Xaymaca International as the Carnival titans have flipped the script to make it a perfect soca and dancehall fusion!

Having started the blend last year with the introduction of their Queen of Dancehall costume, Xaymaca upped the stakes today and took it one step further by signing dancehall artistes Ding Dong Ravers and Teejay as their official ambassadors for their 2020 Carnival season.

And we don't know about you but we're VERY excited.

Loop got a special invitation to the official signing this evening, and we caught up with Ding Dong and Teejay to find out what they think of their new ambassadorial roles.

Ding Dong beamed: "I respect Xaymaca to the fullest because they believe in me and they're the first to believe in me in the soca world. Big up Romeich because he convinced me from the first year to do Carnival. It was a very important move in my life and it worked out to be the best.

"I've a big soca song this year and I hope to create history with it on the road with Xaymaca."

Revealing some of what he'll be bringing to the road on April 19, Teejay added: "I will come party and enjoy myself." And he promised plenty of "wildness" and "madness".

Kandi King, Xaymaca co-director, explained a little bit of the reason for the dancehall partnership. She told Loop: "We really just wanted to give our international masqueraders a taste of Jamaica. Of course you can't think of Jamaica without thinking of reggae and dancehall, and if you think about dancehall, you have to think about Ding Dong. 

"So we just wanted to diversify and give them a small taste of what dancehall has to offer."

Andrew Bellamy, Xaymaca CEO, added: "We'll be bringing the perfect fusion of the Jamaican culture with soca. We have the best of the local dancehall scene, we have Ding Dong and Teejay and we'll be bringing some of the strongest 2020 soca artists and you combine that with the experience we provide from breakfast through to lunch and dinner.... It's going to be an unforgettable experience for our masqueraders."

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Niki Minaj - Proud Trinidadian

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Celebrity musician Nicki Minaj has decisively claimed her Trinidadian heritage, saying via an Instagram post that she is a 'proud Trini'.

The rap diva shared photos to her Instagram account on Carnival Tuesday after wearing a costume from Tribe Carnival and enjoying the festivities with her husband while on a truck.

Minaj was seen partying with soca stars Machel Montano, Iwer and Kes, who all sang their hits including the popular 'Stage Gone Bad'.

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Minaj, who just released her latest hit 'Yikes', was seen decked out in a blue and purple costume resplendent with feathers. 

She was joined by husband Kenneth Petty who she married in October 2019.

Minaj said she and Petty were once childhood sweethearts when she lived in Queens, New York as a child. 

Minaj produced a Carnival video for 'Pound the Alarm' in Trinidad in 2012. 

'Fast and Furious' actor and musician Ludacris was also in the island for Trinidad and Tobago's 2020 Carnival celebrations. 

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Turks and Caicos to set up Film Commission

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Permanent Secretary for Tourism Cherylann Jones (l) and Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, Transportation and Communication Clara Gardiner at the TCIFF.

Turks and Caicos will be establishing a film commission. Premier Sharlene Cartwright Robinson said seed funding is already available for the Tourist Board to set it up.

The Premier was speaking at the opening night of the Turks and Caicos International Film Festival on Friday.

This is the first year of the TCIFF and the Premier expressed hope that it would become a major platform to attract visitors. She also said the event, themed Blue and Green – the Oceans and the Environment, would also create more awareness about the environment. Cartwright Robinson revealed that the TCI recently signed a declaration to protect the oceans along with other countries in Europe.

The TCIFF is aimed at shining a light on environmental issues through film. The event opened with a screening of Tom Mustill’s short featuring environmental activists Greta Thurnberg and George Monbiot. Mustill, who is in TCI for the Festival, said when he made it he wondered if anyone would watch and if conservation and protecting the environment was too boring.

The movie, he said, now has over 50 million views. The feature film of the night was the Leonardo DiCaprio- produced movie Shadow of the Seas, a documentary that follows efforts of a Mexican journalist and environmental activists to save the Vaquita, a sea creature on the verge of extinction due to the illegal trade of the Totoaba swim bladder.

The Totoaba is a fish whose swim bladder is high in demand in China for its apparent healing properties. Fishermen in Mexico draw nets across the Sea of Cortez in an effort to catch the fish, the trade of which is controlled by the mafia. The fish is called the cocaine of the sea. Other sea creatures, including the dwindling population of the Vaquita, are often caught in the nets laid for the Totoaba and die as a result.

The documentary does only just highlight the urgency to save the Vaquita, of which there are about 15 left in the world, but shows how consumer behaviour, social issues, government policies, and law enforcement are intertwined in environmental issues.

The Festival continues today with panel discussions and more screenings.

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3778123209?profile=RESIZE_710xThe Carenage in Grenada was decorated with colourful lights for the Festival of Lights. Photo courtesy the Grenada Tourism Authority

To crown the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) Year of Festivals in 2019, Pure Grenada, the Spice of the Caribbean, debuted its newest event, Festival of Lights on December 6 and 7. 

The Festival took place on the Carenage, which is one of the most stunning spots in the destination.

The beauty of the festoon lights on the Carenage was further enhanced by new spotlights, which lined the entire harbour area, lighting the historical buildings in a multi-coloured glow as well as a new laser light show.

Added to the ambience created by the lights was a mixture of carols, steel plan music, parang music, local cuisine, a Santa’s grotto and a night market that provided all the Grenadian Christmas goodies such as sorrel, ginger and household items.

Performances by local artists and groups such as the PBC Boys Choir, Sonika McKie, Kareem Alexis, Emily Rapier and Hess and the Boys crowned the entire affair.

The Festival of Lights was the brainchild of the Chairman of the Grenada Tourism Authority and adviser to the Minister of Tourism, Brenda Hood who championed the idea for a few years.

She said, “jThe Festival of Lights is an opportunity for us to show the world how wonderful and authentic Christmas time is in Grenada. It is also an opportunity for our visitors to interact with our friendly citizens.”

The Ministry for Tourism and Civil Aviation collaborated with the Grenada Tourism Authority to form a Committee to bring the Festival of Lights to fruition.

Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen said it was a great achievement for Grenada to host its first Festival of Lights.

She said, “This was true collaborative effort and we thank all the businesses that came on board. The Carenage is a stunning location and we hope to enhance it every year with the Festival of Lights.”

There will be two more events on Saturday, December 14 starting at 5 pm and December 21 at 3 pm to close out the Festival of Lights for 2019.

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At Mo’s Original, It Pays to Be Open-Minded

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In Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, a neighborhood with a large Caribbean population and a lot of Caribbean restaurants, Mo’s stands out by finding the intersection of Jamaican and Japanese food. A pair of talented chefs have found success in the unexpected intersection of Caribbean food and ramen noodles. (Hannah Goldfield - The New Yorker)

The story of Mo’s Original, a new restaurant in Brooklyn, involves a few false starts. First, there was Glady’s, an eclectic sandwich shop opened in Crown Heights, in 2013, by Michael Jacober, a chef and grilled-cheese-truck impresario. The sandwiches were excitingly unusual, but after a few months Jacober, feeling like an interloper in the neighborhood, decided to rebrand as a Caribbean restaurant, focussing on Jamaican-style jerk to better serve the local community. If this was pandering, it was in good faith—Jacober travelled around Jamaica to educate himself and found a partner in one of his sous-chefs, Junior Felix, a native of St. Lucia—and it worked; in 2016, they expanded to a second, bigger location, in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens.

In these new digs, however, Glady’s didn’t quite take. And so, in May, Felix, with a new partner, William (Mo) Garfield, a onetime collaborator with Jacober (who recently divested from both places), decided to rebrand, as a Caribbean-ramen restaurant. If this sounds to you, as it did to me, like an outlandishly misguided and even lazily of-the-moment idea: I’m happy to report that it pays to be more open-minded. Garfield and Felix are not trend-chasing hacks but, rather, skilled chefs who have found the intersection of their passions. Garfield, originally from Portland, Maine, and a veteran of Japanese restaurants, is a devoted student of ramen; Felix is fluent in Caribbean flavors and a master of the custom smoker that he and Jacober designed for Glady’s, which burns American maple and ash wood in addition to traditional Jamaican pimento chips.

The success of Mo’s is best exemplified by the spicy miso-curry ramen. Curry is Caribbean, curry is Japanese, curry is fantastic when added in balanced proportion to an incredibly rich chicken broth, which is so thick with miso that it’s almost a sauce. Golden and creamy, it’s a perfect base for a tangle of thick-cut wavy noodles and generous curls of succulent smoked chicken thigh, nestled with charred cabbage and carrots and topped with wisps of scallion, garlic oil, and a house-made togarashi spice mixture.

The “smoke” ramen, made with both smoked-chicken broth and shreds of smoked pork loin, would be my second choice, and, in the mushroom-broth ramen, the three-dimensional flavor of the sweet smoked cherry tomatoes alone makes that dish worth ordering. (The latter is vegan, and the kitchen is unusually accommodating of dietary restrictions, using only wheat-free tamari in lieu of regular soy sauce and offering to substitute rice noodles in any ramen.)

But the menu goes far beyond noodles. Dinner begins with complimentary baskets of freshly made, copper-hued potato chips sprinkled with togarashi. Appetizers include crunchy tater tots topped with eel sauce, aioli, and bonito flakes; fried Brussels sprouts with vegan fish sauce (made with seaweed and mushrooms); and plump bao buns filled with sweet-and-sour pickles and meaty-textured deep-fried tofu. A “big salad” features frilly-tendrilled mixed greens that taste like they came from the farmers’ market as opposed to a plastic clamshell, tossed with carrots, daikon, hemp seeds, almonds, and herbs in an oniony dressing. The smoked chicken and pork loin are available barbecue style, too, and, to really please the crowds, there’s a burger—with two beef patties—plus a veggie “burger” (actually a smoked portobello cap).

A few months in, Mo’s has some kinks to iron out. On several recent evenings, the kitchen had run out of a good third of its offerings, and delicious-sounding specials, though prominently advertised, have been elusive; I’ve been chasing the smoked lobster with corn for weeks. I was sorry to see a dish of excellent head-on shrimp grilled in soy and ginger replaced by one with shrimp breaded and fried, and to be served a plate of tamari-brined fried chicken that was just shy of inedibly burnt. With a few tweaks, Mo’s could end its Goldilocks-like journey and feel exactly right. (Dishes $5-$15.) ♦

Published in the print edition of the October 14, 2019, issue, with the headline “Mo’s Original.”

  • Hannah Goldfield is The New Yorker’s food critic.

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