Culture

JAMAICAN FEMALE PILOT FLIES MOST EXPENSIVE AIRCRAFT

pilot

Thanks Neo Makeba.

Jamaican First Officer Deon Byme currently pilots one of the world’s most impressive aircraft – the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The 787 Dreamliner is Boeing’s most advanced airplane and purchasing one will set you back by a cool USD $250 million.

Throughout her career, proving herself has helped Byrne overcome skepticism and has opened doors, including earning a berth flying United’s newest metal, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. “I was one of the first all-female 787 flight crews,” she says. “It’s one of the fastest airplanes out there. We cruise really high. Someone takes off before us, and we’ll pass them over the Atlantic. I love this airplane.” BLESS MY SISTER

THE JOURNEY OF LEONARD HOWELL- JAMAICA’S FIRST RASTA

leonardhowell1
Leonard Percival Howell was born in Jamaica in 1898, but left as a teenager to find work in the Americas.

His most influential stay was in Harlem, New York, where he experienced bigotry, racism and social oppression first hand.

With the influence of the black civil rights movement, and spiritual and political guidance from Marcus Garvey and the United National IA, Powell chose to dedicate himself to a life against hatred, oppression and injustice. On committing his life to his cause, he began preaching his word across America. However, it wasn’t long before heads of states around the world began inviting him to preach his doctrine in their cities.

In 1929, He ran a “teahouse” where cannabis was smoked. He was deported from the US in 1932 and started preaching throughout Jamaica about Ras Tafari as messiah returned to earth.

After the death of his father in 1932, Powell then returned to Jamaica with the intention of sharing his message throughout the shanty towns and townships. The timing of his return coincided advantageously with the crowning of Emperor Haile Selassie I in Ethiopia, solidifying Powell’s message that the Emperor was the “Messiah returned to Earth”.

He was soon arrested then released in 1936. Alexander Bustamante, a union organizer in 1939 wrote to the Governor:

“Serious trouble is brewing …owing to a mischievousness of a man named Howell, leader of this terrible thing called ‘Rastafari’. It seems to me the only proper place for this man is in the asylum. He is the greatest danger today, and I believe the police can confirm.”

pinnavclewayIn 1940, Leonard Howell setup “Pinnacle” on an old 500-acre estate, accessible by foot and hidden from the rest of the world, accommodating 1,600 self-sufficient residents. There, he set up The Pinnacle, the epicenter of the Rastafari movement, and thousands of the poorest Jamaicans flocked to his mini Rastafari nation.

Powell worked tirelessly in the community preaching his doctrine and educating Jamaicans, especially those in the lower classes, about the social and economical empowerment of self-sufficiency. This caused tensions to rise between Powell and Jamaican authorities, as well as a split between Powell and UNIA founder Marcus Garvey, who believed he should take a more passive approach to social change.

Sometime around 1935, Powell then published his doctrine in The Promise Key, which he wrote and published under the pen name, G.G. Maragh. The book caused tensions to reach a boiling point with Jamaican authorities

In 1941, Howell was arrested for cultivating marijuana alongside yams. Seventy residents were arrested and 28 jailed under the new law; Howell was sentenced to two more years in jail. Released in 1943, he formed a corps of guardsman, some of whom grew their hair long and known as “Ethiopian warriors” or “locksman”.

Leonard Howell reformed Pinnacle in 1943. There, he set up The Pinnacle, the epicenter of the Rastafari movement, and thousands of the poorest Jamaicans flocked to his mini Rastafari nation. They were taught self-sufficiency and healthy living, which included an Ital diet, natural medicines and herbal root tonics that are still used today.

Bustamante invaded Pinnacle in 1954. The government invaded in 1958, burning all dwellings. The Police deliberately destroyed Leonard Howell’s 30 years of diaries, writings, photographs, memoirs, and letters from around the world.

Despite the attempt of the authorities to squash Howell’s work and words, their actions proved futile for an idea whose time had taken roots.

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Pictures show Howell; Hope Howell, Leonard and Marcus Garvey in USA.

Sources:

Angela Gunn- Inity Weekly

Neo Makeba

876icon- ANDREW ‘BRAATA’ CLARKE

 

picture courtesy of Dramatic Adventure Theatre

picture courtesy of Dramatic Adventure Theatre

“I represent Jamaica and Jamaican culture all day and every day”.. Andrew Clarke

He is probably the youngest of  many that are involved in theater and Caribbean culture to reach the plateau where his Braata Productions have reached in its 5 years of existence. Andrew Clarke is unfettered by the laws of logic. Logic says your work becomes iconic over time, nurtured with age and the experiences you gather along the way. Andrew says no, my work is now. My work must nurture, strengthen , entertain, educate and express  Caribbean life as we live it. Andrew has taken his vision of Caribbean folklore and heritage to the very place where the Caribbean diaspora needs to constantly express its colorful way of life in the  dark and dreary conundrum of North America.

my flash photography photo

my flash photography photo

 

Classically trained singer, Andrew’s work has risen from the spinning surface  of a potter’s tray to an iconic theatrical conglomerate in just 5 years. He has one idea and stuck to it, simply to bring Caribbean folk culture, music movement, stories, artists and theatre to the United States. And what better place to take his potpourri of Caribbean essence. The Caribbean diaspora in the New York area is close to 3.5 million souls that need its monthly , daily or weekly dose of its heritage. He created Braata Productions as his medium to reach his market and in just 5 years his work has become synonymous with West Indian culture in the diaspora.

Andrew is a young icon. He continues to devote his life to the preservation of culture and it has become his pilgrim of passionate reverence to the culture. From small beginnings come great things. Born and raised in Montego Bay ,Andrew never imagined his work would manifest itself so vividly in color in the dark confines of the North.  Yes it did  and his work continues to shine, illuminating the lives of the thousands who have seen his productions and those that are yet to be born will speak the name Braata Productions, even to the end of time.

 

The Interview:

Mr. Clarke, what rule do you use in your everyday life?

Hmmm…a few come to mind but the one that reverberates is an old Jamaican saying,” de higha monkey climb, the more him expose.” This can have both a positive & negative connotation. Positive in that as you climb higher on the ladder of success folks tend to treat you with respect and you become more of a voice to be heard in the crowd while on the negative side the higher up you go the more you are open to criticism and ridicule. This is sometimes the time when people want to pull out your dirty laundry as well. So with ‘acclaim’ and recognition comes both the good and bad.

Is this how you got Braata Productions started? 

Braata was really started out of a need to be the best that we can be as Jamaican and by extension Caribbean artists. I was unhappy with the productions I saw being produced by Caribbean presenters and about the Caribbean experience and I knew from my work and training in Jamaica is that we held high standards for production be it theatre or concerts.   

The last time I checked you have launched Braata Folk Singers, Braata Theatre Workshops, Braata Education & Outreach and also managing an Online shop. Judging from your work I have to ask you are you obsessed or possessed with culture?

Lolololol Easily obsessed! This is not just a passing fancy but something that comes from a place of true passion. When I think culture it gets me equally excited as when I think of Broadway (which I have aspirations of doing one day) but for now culture for me carries that same allure. It deserves the same place as does Broadway.

What is the recipe for the work you do with your team?

Discipline, discipline, discipline! No excuses. If you want to create world class work, you have to put in world class work! The greatest of artists continue to find ways to improve themselves and their proficiency in their craft…the work never ends. As is often said in the performing arts, “you are only as good as your last performance” and I absolutely agree. Also, talent is not enough. You have to be willing to work hard to be great at what you do.  Good is not enough if you can get better!  The late Hon. Dr. Olive Lewin said: “You don’t practise until you get it right; you practise until you can’t get it wrong.”  I drill them,  my folk singers, like that.

Are you optimistic or pessimistic of Caribbean culture from its early education and presentation to the professional expression?

Pessimistic.  Sadly.  If you ask the average child to recite a Ms Lou poem or even who Ms Lou is they might not know. I am hoping that I am just disconnected from the school system in Jamaica and that things have changed but it was my time in the JCDC that gave me the most exposure to culture. In the Jamaica curriculum there is no place for culture. We study everything and everyone else but ourselves.

You have taken Caribbean culture to a  somewhat vacuous market  New York city where sadly some of the very people you are trying to reach are out of touch with their heritage. How do you throw out your line to catch your fish?

Throw and hope they bite. Hope to capitalize on the nostalgia. Of being away from home so long that they yearn for a piece of home. In this age of technology, culture is competing with American pop culture with its flashy lights alluring beats and skimpy costumes that we get relegated to the side show. It is in churches and civic groups that we get the majority of our support and as the word gets  around more people see us. Word of mouth has been our best ally.

Is it challenging, frustrating or all of  the above?

All of the above. Challenging because nothing worth building ever comes easy and the competition for people’s attention is so big. We are like David fighting Goliath. Frustrating because most times we don’t even get the chance to prove our worth. Culture is giving little regard even on a big stage. We are the ones likely to be the warm up act when no one is yet watching or the filler till the real headliner comes or in some distant place with no technical support or facilities to perform at our best.

You are Jamaican and could have easily chosen Jamaican culture as your product. Why Caribbean?

Haha is this a trick question? Lol… Let’s be clear. I  rep Jamaica and Jamaican culture all day & every day. There is no escaping it. No matter where I go I am identified as Jamaican before I am Caribbean. Here in the Diaspora there is this need to differentiate and clarify so people don’t get it mixed up. We are all so territorial. So to other Caribbean people I am Jamaican. I couldn’t dare stake claim to knowing more about St. Lucian culture for example than a Lucian. But alas I strive for a Caribbean appeal. I am well aware that to non Caribbean folks we are just the other, all of the us whether Jamaica, Trini, Bajan whatever. So I rep the Caribbean. I am tired of the separation. Why can’t we all get along? So I chose Caribbean because there is strength in numbers. There is enough of each group trying to do their own thing. So I am hoping that Braata in time will be identified yes as Jamaican in name but Caribbean in nature.

There is a quote from Cesar Chavez  famous American labor activist and he said “preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures”.  What is your view on that statement?

I agree. We can all get along. I don’t need to down the other man’s culture to make mine look better. I learn this from my time in Car sales at Enterprise. My manager would always tell me, build value in your product don’t spend time tearing down the other guy. That was some of the best advice ever and it has stayed with me since then.

Is this the road you always dreamed of traveling?

Honestly no. I came to New York with dreams of singing on Broadway. My name in bright lights, playing to hundreds of people every night for weeks and weeks but alas it is never that easy to break in. Especially as a Jamaican. Sure I could get accent reduction but then I would be one of hundreds of black actors competing for the few black roles that exist on Broadway. No I never dreamed of being Executive Director of anything. I always had leadership qualities but I never had the desire to lead per say. This thing just became bigger than I imagined and once I got in deep there was no turning back. ha ha..

LOL..of course it is and how are the potholes?

Like the ones in Jamaica…like dutch pots, deep and wide! LOLOLOLOL But, “the hotter the battle, the sweeter the victory!”

Andrew, do you fear failure?

Ahm YES! Like a mother! Ha, ha but that is why I work equally hard never to be faced with that option.

It seems like your work has not gone unnoticed, especially from the Jamaican Government  How does that make you feel?

Let me be politically correct here and say I am thankful for the recognition I have received thus far. I have never worked  just for that but when it comes it is appreciated and humbling. I just wish though that more support in tangible ways would be given to the organizations like mine. Not in the form of awards, citations and commendation though those are nice,  but the government just assisting us with resources. After all we are the link to Jamaica here in the US. One of the few doing work in this specific area and I feel like the performing arts gets the short end of the stick in support. No sponsorship, no official presence and attempt by the government to bolster what we do. The celebrities of Jamaican industry get all the kudos and that is because their work has a broader appeal. But we are the grassroots of Jamaica’s entertainment and we are suffering…the roots are being starved for attention and nourishment.

In 15 years time what do you see in your vision for Braata Productions?

15 years?! Wow I could only hope and pray we make it that far haha.

But I hope that we become a staple in the New York landscape not only in the Caribbean community but beyond. I think Caribbean arts deserves shine beyond the boroughs…like Broadway and  just being a part of the mainstream American experience. It is great to share what we have with those that know about what we do but we want to reach those that don’t  know and give them a taste , get them hooked on what we do much like they are hooked on reggae and Jamaican rum!

I also hope that Braata, like most American nonprofits  pay their artists. For too long in the Caribbean we see the performing arts as a hobby while in America we have companies like the Alvin Ailey dance company that have dancers that work full time. They are paid to come to work from 9-5 like any corporate job and spend time perfecting their art. That is part of my dream for Braata!

At your young age you are considered an icon, a young icon still forging your way. Some icons take ages for their work to mature, your work is maturing  before your eyes. What do you credit this to?

A word my minister and principal growing up would  always use, “stick-to-it-ive-ness” haha

But seriously, it is that kind of quality that keeps me motivated. I know what I want and I work for it. The saying, “The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.” I am one of those men, toiling over my computer at 3am searching for the best deal on props and set pieces for my next production, researching grants and how to’s  and the whole nine yard. I stay motivated because that is the only thing I know. Sure I get down sometimes, so distraught, frustrated and just ready to say forget this! but after I wallow in self pity for a while I get back up and get back at it.  Because, “to whom much is given, much is expected.” Yes I hold a lot of these sayings close to me. haha

How do you want to be remembered?

Hahahahahahahaha I hope that the change for me to be remembered doesn’t come any time soon! Lol But if I had a choice I would want to be remembered in part as a dynamic performer. I miss my days of acting and singing up a storm, which I hope to one day pursue again as passionately as I do this work in preservation of culture. But I also want to be remembered  as the man who continued the fight for the respect and admiration of culture. Following in the footsteps of greats like Ms Lou, Mass Ran, Dr. Lewin, Professor (Rex Nettleford) to name a few. To have my name mentioned even in the same sentence would be the ultimate remembrance.

courtesy of Braata Productions

Courtesy of Braata Productions

Website: braataproductions.org

876icon Louise Bennett

876iconLouiseBennett is a cultural Icon that has left as her legacy her undying message that Jamaicans must be proud of their language. She created many folkloric tales and poems that to this day is an intrinsic part of our heritage and culture

Jamaicans.com Exclusive Interview With Miss Lou

An exclusive Jamaicans.com Interview with Miss Lou.

Miss Lou-8

Miss Lou, the Honourable Louise Bennett-Coverley O.M., O.J., finally has her day! September 7 has officially been declared, by Governor-General Sir Howard Cooke, to be ‘Miss Lou Day’. The day marks the works of the esteemed first lady of comedy in promoting, celebrating, and exploring Jamaican culture. It also marks the day of her birth.

Born in 1919 in Kingston, Jamaica, to a widowed dressmaker, Miss Lou’s artistic learnings, creativity, and love for performance were nurtured by her mother and grandmother. Miss Lou recalls that as early as age seven, she delighted in telling stories and performing for playmates and family members. Clap yuhself, Miss Lou!

We here at Jamaicans.com have declared May 2003 as Miss Lou Month.

Jamaicans.com will continue to root for Miss Lou in becoming our next National Heroine.

Louise Bennett, Caribbean cultural icon, linguist and poet, has been writing and performing using the Jamaican Creole since the 1950s. For a long time, despite the fact that her work gained limited favour among the working class and some intellectuals, her writings did not appear in the important Jamaican anthology Focus in the 1940s to the 1960s, and the Jamaica Poetry League ignored her. In 1962, she was included in the Independence Anthology of Jamaican Literature, but not in the section for poetry. It took the social and political upheaval of the 1970s for academics and others to accept Louise Bennett as a guru of the Jamaican Creole. She received the Order of Jamaica in 1974.

Louise Bennett had a programme called “Miss Lou’s Views” on Jamaican JBC Radio in the 1970s. One correspondent wrote in a daily newspaper that such a programme should be scrapped because it tended to perpetuate ignorance in Jamaicans. Though Louise Bennett has sought to foster love and respect for the Jamaican dialect, she has never advocated that Standard English be abandoned. She argued that for far too long it was considered not respectable to use the dialect, because there was a social stigma attached to the kind of person who used it. She added that many people still did not accept that for many Caribbean people, there were many things best said in the language of the folk. (“Bennett on Bennett” 101).

The debate as to the rightful place that Caribbean dialects should play in the life of the people is ongoing and contentious. Many people mostly the middle-class, seem unable to accept the proposition that Caribbean people may be armed with both Standard English and the Creole.

Marcia: Our dear Miss Lou, please accept our sympathies here at Jamaicans.com on the passing of Mr. Eric Coverley.

Marcia: Jamaica Labrish has been your most requested book to date. Are there any other books published by you? People are always asking about where to buy tapes/cds with your work, where would you direct them to start looking for your works?

Miss Lou: Yes there are other books currently in print – Selected Poems, Aunty Roachy Seh, Anancy and Ms. Lou. Books out of print – Songs from Pantomine published in 1949, Laugh with Louise 1962, Editor for Jamaican Mother Goose, and others published by Pioneer Press which was owned by The Gleaner Company. Sangsters Book Store is the publisher, and carries the books.

Marcia: Most of us grow up seeing you on Ring Ding on JBC, are there any tapings of this programme available for purchasing?

Miss Lou: To my understanding when I asked about it, the tapes were scrubbed and recorded over with other programs. None to my knowledge were preserved, so there are none available for sale.

Marcia: We are indebted to you for bringing pride to the Jamaican Patois and giving it international recognition. Who in your estimation does a great imitation of you? Is this person one of your protégés?

Miss Lou: Without hesitation I will say Faith D’Aguilar. She has me down pat . She once fooled my late husband when he heard her voice over a loud speaker, and thought I had returned from a performance overseas without telling him. I could not say she was my protégé.

Marcia: Let us play “What If”…What if you were asked to rewrite the National Anthem of Jamaica, what would you do differently to the words?

Miss Lou: Nothing, they are just fine.

Marcia: What does it mean when you say, “Jack Mandora mi nuh choose none” at the end of one of your stories?

Miss Lou: Each Anancy story ends with “Jack Mandora mi noh choose none”, which means “I take no responsibility for the story I have told”. (“Jack Mandora -Keeper of Heavens door. Me noh choose none – It is not of my choosing.

Marcia: How did you and the late Mr. Ranny Williams start out on radio? Are any of those programmes available for sale?

Miss Lou: The Lou and Ranny Show was the first radio sit-com and was the show that opened JBC when it started. We were approached by the Matalons to do a comedy programme for JBC radio. Ranny was an outstanding comedian.

Marcia: How many pantomimes did you appear in and did Ranny Williams appear in any of the earlier pantomimes?

Miss Lou: I did about twenty-five, starting in 1943. I have lost count. Ranny and Lee Gordon (Amos and Andy) appeared as comic relief, front of curtain in Jack and the Bean Stalk 1941 and Babes in the Woods 1942 and the third Pantomine written by Vera Bell a dramatization from Soliday and the Wicked Bird 1943, and it was the first one that was really Jamaican. Ranny’s first leading role was “ Anancy “ in Busha Bluebeard in 1949

Marcia: As our First Lady of Comedy, are there any comedians that you get a good laugh from?

Miss Lou: Nuff, Nuff too many to mention.

Marcia: Who are some of the people who influenced you?

Miss Lou: Too many to mention but two are Philip Sherlock – Former Head master of Wolmers Boys School, vice chancellor of the UWI, and one of the founding fathers of UWI. He published a book on Anancy and was very interested in Folklore and was the head of Extra Mural Studies at the University of The West Indies. An outstanding man in the field of Education. A great Jamaican. Also Ashley Clark – musician, he started the idea of Christmas Morning concerts in his music store on King Street. He was always interested in my writings and cultural activities and we were working together to produce a dictionary of Jamaican Folk Speech. I have no idea what happened to the manuscript

Marcia: Do you have an official website? Do you think the Internet is a helpful tool to showcase your work to the younger generation?

Miss Lou: Yes, I do it is currently under construction but it has a few current photos. The address is www.louisebennett.com. When it is finished it will have my biography, general information and some of my works.

Marcia: What is your philosophy? Do you have a favourite quote?

Miss Lou: “Treat all with respect”

Teck kin-teet kibba heart bun – Use a smile to disguise your sorrow.

Dark night got peeny-wally – Behind every dark cloud is a silver lining.

Howdy-an-Tenky bruk no square – Caring and Gratitude create harmony.

Marcia: Thank you from all of us here at Jamaicans.com for being the only poet to really tell the truth about our society in Jamaica through our own language. Walk good Miss Lou, and may good duppy always walk with you. Walk good.