culture (9)

Sean Paul is one of the biggest Jamaican Dancehall international sensations. Having scored hit records and collaborations with icons across musical genres, he has cemented himself as one of the greatest exports from Jamaica. Having a career spanning decades, Sean Paul continues to reinvent himself and give the world music that becomes household bangers.

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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.

merlin_164218812_8e9b4ca2-214a-4c6f-a48e-bcd7a2e20498-popup.jpg?quality=75&auto=webp&disable=upscalehttps://static01.nyt.com/images/2019/11/11/books/review/00gibson2/merlin_164218812_8e9b4ca2-214a-4c6f-a48e-bcd7a2e20498-superJumbo.jpg?quality=90&auto=webp 450w" alt=""The Confounding Island: Jamaica and the Postcolonial Predicament" by Orlando Patterson." />
"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

Imagemerlin_114473642_9057499d-9d5c-4891-bf7b-81b84086453d-articleLarge.jpg?quality=75&auto=webp&disable=upscalehttps://static01.nyt.com/images/2019/11/11/books/review/00gibson3/merlin_114473642_9057499d-9d5c-4891-bf7b-81b84086453d-jumbo.jpg?quality=90&auto=webp 1024w,https://static01.nyt.com/images/2019/11/11/books/review/00gibson3/merlin_114473642_9057499d-9d5c-4891-bf7b-81b84086453d-superJumbo.jpg?quality=90&auto=webp 2048w" alt="Heywood Street market on West Queen Street in Kingston, Jamaica." />
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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3719179589?profile=RESIZE_710x

THE CONFOUNDING ISLAND
Jamaica and the Postcolonial Predicament
By Orlando Patterson

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.

 Imagemerlin_164218812_8e9b4ca2-214a-4c6f-a48e-bcd7a2e20498-popup.jpg?quality=75&auto=webp&disable=upscale
"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.

Imagemerlin_114473642_9057499d-9d5c-4891-bf7b-81b84086453d-articleLarge.jpg?quality=75&auto=webp&disable=upscale
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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Sizzla leads August Town revival

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BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

SIZZLA is working to bring cultural and historical awareness within his August Town community through his Sizzla Youth Foundation.

 

The artiste is spearheading month-long celebrations for the August Town Emancipation Birthday, commemorating 177 years since the St Andrew community was officially established.

 

"It is paramount that we remind the youths of the community where they are from and the rich history and tradition which they must uphold. They must be aware of the strong links to the fight against slavery as the original settlers in these lands came from the Mona and Papine plantations... so we just need to re-education the community so they know where they are coming from so as to chart the course forward," said Sizzla.

 

The celebrations started Wednesday with a peace march through August Town.

 

Other events include the unveiling of a wall dedicated to renowned August Town spiritual leader Alexander Bedward. This takes place tomorrow.

 

A Senior Citizens Day is scheduled for August 2. August 6 is Bedward Day at the Bedward Temple in the community. The Greater August Town Violence Prevention Day is set for August 13, while the World of Reggae Concert featuring Sizzla and friends is at the UWI Bowl, Mona, on August 16.

 

The month's activities are completed by the Back-to-School Family Affair and Treat at the UWI Bowl on August 30.

 

According to Sizzla, his foundation which was founded in 2010, wants residents and persons from outside August Town to be aware of the good that has, and can come from, the area.

 

"We want to eradicate violence from August Town. This can only be achieved by instilling values which stress Africa and education. We must rejuvenate the minds and with that we can achieve much," he said.

 

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The 'Taboofication' of the Number Two

The number two has become quite an aberration in local popular culture. Indeed, a very weird phenomenon and one which is both amusing as it is perplexing.  For the life of me I cannot understand how this simplistic second child of the Greek numeral has come to be so scorned and vilified.

What is most amusing are the countless euphemisms that have succeeded the number two in popular discourse. It is commonplace to hear such phrases as ‘twice’, ‘second’, ‘one plus one’ or ‘that number between one and three’. Quite ludicrous!  

Fast food establishments’ bear the onslaught of this comeuppance, where not only are they contending with the fad and hype associated with local pop culture, they also have to consider potential language barriers that could impede their sales. They must tap into the psyche of this growing trend as when a young male in particular, approaches the cashier and orders a 'number twice' or a 'number second' from the menu display board, he or she must know to what he is referring.

The number two became taboo with the upsurge in the gaming culture. Numbers are assigned specific  meanings or rakes,  and the number two unfortunately, is the number that connotes sexual depravity and homosexuality. We already know how homosexuality for one is perceived in Jamaica. And so the number two has been alienated, exiled, vilified, and slowly and agonizingly, dying from its wounds of oral assassination.

Counting, commerce and language cannot be the same without the number two in its proper context. Imagine teaching your child to count or even do simple arithmetic. Foolhardiness maybe more acceptable in popular culture hence it’s cool to say one, second, three, but try holding a formal discuss in that manner.   

Jamaicans are bi-lingual - oops, bi also means two. Let's rephrase...

Perhaps Jamaicans are more multi-lingual than was original thought. There’s Patois, the Queens English, Jamaican English and on the flip side, the language of context which is spoken in the popular domain. Within this domain, nothing is at mere face value. Words and in this case numbers, have double meanings. The shocking part is that the language of context in Jamaican popular culture evolves constantly. Am surprised the number two has not been fully exiled already, but on second thoughts, it’s already taboo.

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3665136735?profile=originalPiton Calendar Girl. One lucky Saint Lucian beauty can win the opportunity of a lifetime by becoming the face of the popular Piton Calendar for 2012.

Interested ladies must be Saint Lucian nationals, eighteen years and over and should submit a full body profile photo and one head profile shot, along with their name, age and contact information to info@boldinkdesign.com, or at the WLBL offices at Vide Bouteille or Vieux Fort. Deadline for submissions is August 31, 2011.
The winner will be announced via the local media later this year and all information submitted will remain confidential and private and will be for the sole purpose of Piton Calendar and WLBL.
Since 1992 Piton Beer has produced one of the most sought after and talked about calendars locally. From the models to the designs and printing the entire product is done locally to match the highest international standards, much like the award winning Piton Beer itself. The current 2011 Piton Calendar girl is Francilla Austin who won a similar search in 2010.According to Piton brand manager Germaine Serieux the search is open to Saint Lucian women from all over the island, who think they have what it takes to represent the brand. “You don’t necessarily need to have any experience we are simply looking for someone who is symbolic of the natural beauty of the island, its exciting culture and warm and friendly people,” Serieux says.

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In search of entertainment hundreds gathered at the newly refurbished Anchorage in Chaguaramas on Sunday. The occasion was the Chinese Arrival Dragon Boat Festival 2010. The first race got underway around 10.30 am and with the final dose of team excitement scheduled to commence at 4.45 pm, the enjoyment began along Anchorage Bay, Chaguaramas. The Chinese culture, its authentic traditions, food and entertainment offered a great deal to patrons who entered free but paid for Chinese cuisine—a wealth of which was served up throughout the day. Hosted by the Chinese Bicentennial Committee, in conjunction with the T&T Dragon Boat Federation, the event marked the 204th anniversary of the Chinese arrival in T&T.
The area surrounding Anchorage was also alive, as patrons who’d chosen to remain on the outskirts also enjoyed the races from some 26 teams that participated. Among the teams in action were the Excellent Stores Titans, South East Sea Dragons, the MLIS Predators, Tidal Blitz and even secondary schools like Holy Name Convent, El Dorado West Secondary and St Francois Girls’ High School. Amid the boating action, entertainment provided by the Chinese Arts and Cultural Society proved a welcome addition throughout the day.
Among the entertainment lineup were displays of the Chinese Dragon dance and even one Chinese native who showed his eager audience that he could walk barefooted on broken shards of glass. Children who came along with their parents seemed to have enjoyed the constancy of the excitement as never was there a dull moment throughout.


Spectators throng The Achorarage pier in Chaguaramas on Sunday at Chinese Arrival Dragon Boat Festival 2010.

Traditional Chinese music blared from time to time, offering locals a taste of what living in China would be like, complete with doses of musical entertainment. Races throughout the day yielded a wonderful outcome for the Holy Name Convent A Team, which placed first in the Girls Final; The Trinity One Ton Warriors which was also first in the Boys Final; the Royal Francois A, winner in the Mixed Final; PFBC Shockwave, winner of the Corporate C Division; GHL Oarstruck- also winner of the B Division of the Corporate competitors; and finally, the Aquaholics and Excellent Stores Titans which tied for first place in the Corporate Division A segment of the races. Drizzles in the afternoon did not disappoint as everything went ahead as planned, leaving most, if not all with high hopes for the next year’s festival.

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The Tivoli Dance Troupe formed part of the kaleidoscope of performances at the Culturama 2010 Mello-Go-roun’
FT. LAUDERDALE - Culturama 2010 Mello-Go-Roun’ returned to South Florida as the audience was treated to a kaleidescope of cultural performances from Jamaica at the Coral Springs Center for the Performing Arts in Coral Springs, South Florida, last Sunday (Aug. 1). Part of the celebrations for Jamaica’s 48th anniversary of Independence, here in South Florida, Culturama 2010 returned after a three-year hiatus and was well received by a packed house at the 1200 seat theatre.

Patrons to the four-hour event were entertained by outstanding Jamaican talent, from Jamaica and here in South Florida, as they performed from a potpourri of traditional folk and contemporary dance, drama, oratory and musical recitals.

The large audience swayed and hand-clapped as they participated in what reminiscent of an old time festival fair singing to the rhythms of the mento bands and dancing to the music of quadrille, dinki minni, gerreh, kumina and brukins as entertainers graced the stage in a panorama of exotic and brightly coloured costumes.

This year, a new feature was added to the full and entertaining programme highlighting performances of Jamaicans of Indian and Chinese descent, living in the Diaspora. ‘JamIndians Lyme Lite Dancers’ performed song and dance showcasing the strong influence of the Indian culture as part of the Jamaican heritage.
Likewise, well-known Jamaican author and folklorist, Easton Lee, shared aspects of the strong Chinese influence in the Jamaican culture, as he read a series of poetry and dialect reflecting periods of Emancipation to present, similarly during which time also chronicled the history of Chinese migration to Jamaica more than 150 years ago.

Known as the oldest mento band in Jamaica, the Blue Glades Mento Band, performing for some 40 years, was most resilient in their performance combining the rhythmic blend of song and dance and stringing sounds from the banjo, the rhumba box, accordion player, flute and violin, as the audience sang a range of old Jamaican favorites like ‘Solas Market’ ‘Long Time Gal’ and ‘Sweet Jamaica.’

Other performances included the versatility of Jamaica Festival winning groups – the Clonmel Cultural Club from St. Mary as they electrified the audience with several pieces from their repertoire of traditional folk recitals, the Tivoli Dance Troupe demonstrating the agility of their bodies with creative dances, and several local artistes such as the Jamaica Folk Revue, Tallawah Mento Band, dub poet Malachi Smith, Kimiela Candy Issacs, and the reigning Miss Jamaica Florida, Shanice Cox.



Members of the Clonmel Cultural Group performing from their repertoire of traditional folk dances at the Culturama 2010 Mello-Go-roun’

Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange, who participated in the festivities, said that the occasion had “taken us back in time, taking us from the deep roots to the contemporary of our Jamaican culture.”

Likening the festivities to that of Jamaica’s Independence festivities currently taking place, Minister Grange praised the versatility of the several performers, and the participation of the patrons as they celebrated a significant period in the nation’s history.
She also commended the organizers of Jamaica Awareness, Incorporated directed by Sydney Roberts and the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission “for keeping Jamaica’s rich cultural heritage alive and strong in the Diaspora.”

Among the many guests in attendance were Jamaica’s Consul General, Sandra Grant Griffiths Trinidad’s Consul General, Ms. Laura West, and civic leaders from the Florida State and City Commissions.

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