Saturday, 8 June 2013


Hurricane, Reggae & Rebuttal


June 1st is the start of the Tropical Hurricane season. Some Caribbean people see hurricanes as nature’s violent renewal or a rebirth of sorts. In this part of the world tropical cyclones are an integral part of the life cycle.

 A few months before the official start of the hurricane season a storm of a different nature rampaged through the Jamaican landscape. For many this storm was of the teacup variety and at its centre was Professor Carolyn Cooper, author and literary scholar; head of the department of Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies.

The coffee cup cyclone seems to have been precipitated by lack of knowledge. (1) What is the Jamaican Dream? (2) What is the meaning of the Jamaican Motto:  Out Of Many One People.

On August 1962 when the motto or mystery was adopted, the intended meaning should have been made clear. For some reason Professor Cooper’s interpretation stirred controversy; some boats were rocked.

The aftermath of the Morant Bay rebellion of October 1865, led by Paul Bogle, saw the authorities shaving the heads of every women of colour in Stoney Gut. This was done in a bid to make them feel shame. The shaven head worn by Professor Cooper for quite some time seems to have had the opposite effect on her.  Indeed, she proudly proclaims herself a “bald-headed rasta.”

Maybe this woman just doesn’t know her place? What is her place? No one in multicultural Jamaica would dare say that place is determined by race. With swords drawn her detractors are letting their voices be heard. A highly qualified intelligent, and thinking woman, one wonders if Professor Cooper is a threat to the status quo.

Out Of Many One People: Who are the “one people?” Maybe they are the track stars, the reggae stars, the business leaders, the captains of industry, the bankers; the bank robbers. What is the Jamaican dream?

Jamaica is a land of The People Who Came. Some came by boat, some by plane; being an island none came by train. Some definitely came in the rain and worked on the plains.

“Got to be true to myself,” is a telling line from one of Ziggy Marley’s songs. Jamaicans need to look deep inside and find a Jamaican Dream applicable to all.

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