When I saw this little boy walking with a bucket almost twice his size to the nearby river, I was puzzled. Why was he going to the river, I wondered. Isn’t he too small to be going into the water by himself? These questions popped into my head as I watched. Other people were around – adults and children – some of them in the river bathing and playing around, but none of them his size. No one seemed to notice.
Just as I walked past, he waded into the shallow part and plunged the bucket into the water. I kept walking but I kept looking back to see what he was going to do.
As he struggled with the now full bucket, water splashed from the sides and ran down his foot. Finally, he reached the horse, his father’s, I was told. He gently set it down and the horse dunked its head into the bucket. He waited patiently for the horse to finish. When he felt it’d had enough, he picked up the bucket and splashed the rest of the water on the animal then walked back in the same direction from which he had appeared. I smiled.
Singer and producer, Derrick Harriott, has been in and around the music business in Jamaica for well over 50 years. I hadn’t thought about him until a few days ago when I noticed his record shop in Kingston. I was surprised.
Harriott is one of the pioneers of Jamaican music — one of its movers and shakers. He had his own label, Crystal, and produced several well known artists. At one point, he even had a show on one of the local radio stations. Harriott has several albums, including compilations, to his credit.
Approximately 30 minutes before Bacchanal 2012, Jamaica’s Carnival, which had as its theme, Future Shock, made its way to where I was standing near Devon House, the skies opened up. Despite the fact that it had looked ominous all morning, I had left without an umbrella or rain slick.
At first, I tried to stare it back — how could there be rain on carnival day? But as the drops got fatter and began pelting my head and shoulders, with some insistence, I reluctantly admitted defeat — my willpower was no match for a tropical shower — and shamefacedly begged a woman nearby, who had found some thick cardboard, for a piece to cover my head. Then I waited. I didn’t know how long the rain would last, or how soon the parade would appear, but I’d been standing too long to give up and go home. Sometimes, I surprise myself at how pig headed I can be!
Unlike many other Caribbean islands, Jamaica does not have a carnival tradition. However, students from islands where carnival is an annual event who attend the local campus of the University of the West Indies, began staging their own version of carnival long before Byron Lee started it in the island. That carnival, I’m told was bigger and even made it beyond Kingston to Montego Bay. Unfortunately, the music and the revelry stopped after Lee passed away. The current event has been around for 24 years and is now the only vehicle for anyone who wants to jump carnival in Jamaica.
After maybe 15 long minutes, the rain let up. A truck appeared and men began unloading barricades. (Roads are blocked long enough to let the parade through.) I was relieved. The party, though wet, wet, wet (instead of hot, hot, hot) was still on.
Then this SUV arrived and the driver, who was wearing a T-shirt that read ‘Field Crew,’ got out very official-like. He walked to the rear of the vehicle, looked at something, walked back to the front, got into the driver’s seat and drove off.
Another long 15 or so minutes passed before we heard music in the distance. Then I saw the crowd.
Maybe because of the rain, things had become a free for all. Folks in costume who were playing mass, as well as members of the public, a few people on bicycle, and street vendors, some with push carts, were all now part of the road march.
Isn’t he just so regal?
When the last float inched past me I checked my watch. Less than 30 minutes had passed. I was surprised. Surely, this couldn’t be the end? Maybe the rain sent some people home.
I felt cheated. I discarded my makeshift rain hat and decided to follow. I walked for about 10-15 minutes when I felt raindrops again. This time, I had nothing to protect me. I dropped my camera in my bag and headed towards Devon House.
I was soaked by the time I got there. More than getting wet, I was disappointed with Bacchanal 2012. It was smaller that I anticipated and looked disorganized. In fairness, that could have been because of the rain. So next year, I’ll go early and I’ll go to mass camp.
Bacchanal, Jamaica’s carnival parade, takes place the weekend following Easter.
I’m not sure why it’s called King’s House as no king has lived there but the official residence of the governor-general, the Queen’s representative in Jamaica, and the home of visiting royalties and heads of state, is known as King’s House.
The current King’s House is the third governor’s residence. Although Jamaica has had governors since at least 1661, there was never an official residence. They had to find their own accommodation. This changed around 1690, when the first residence was established in Port Royal. By 1762, however, a new King’s House was completed in the colonial capital, St. Jago de la Vega or Spanish Town, as it is now known.
In 1866, when Sir John Peter Grant, the governor at the time arrived, he set about to make radical and far reaching changes in the country, which was almost bankrupt. Sir John, who was quite private, lived in the governor’s residence in Spanish Town for three weeks before moving to the home he bought in the Port Royal Mountains, where the climate was more to his liking.
Sir John thought the capital should be in Kingston and by 1870, the government had acquired Somerset Pen, the 190-acre property that for 46 years, had been the residence of the Anglican Bishops of the Diocese of Jamaica. Sir John stayed at Bishop’s Lodge, the bishop’s residence on the property while construction of the new King’s House took place. Two years later, the capital was moved to Kingston.
Unfortunately, the house was destroyed by earthquake, and a fire in 1908 that destroyed the stables, a coach house and some of the manservants’ rooms. Some of the features of the old house were incorporated.
The current King’s House is three stories covering approximately 16,000 square feet, and includes a 60-foot indoor swimming pool, which is fed by a natural spring. The pool, which was part of the original house, was frequently used by Sir John, who had a habit of lying on a sofa or in the bath while doing his paperwork.
On the ground floor are the official entrance and reception area and a ballroom where ceremonies are held. Also on the ground floor are portraits of past governors, governors-general, kings and queens.
The second floor houses the drawing room, where the governor-general meets guests, including visiting heads of state. It is decorated by gold leaf hurricane globe chandeliers that were brought over from the house in Spanish Town. Also on the second floor is the morning room, where the governor-general’s wife greets her guests, has meetings, etc. It has a fine collection of silver which was owned by the British West India Regiment. Living quarters are the third floor.
An exceptional feature of King’s House is the mile-long driveway, which was known previously as Governor’s Road. It is now called Palm Tree Avenue. Several trees, some planted by visiting dignitaries, can be found on the property: a cotton tree which was imported from South Africa in 2009, mahoe and banyan trees from India, and flowers, ferns and plants from all over the world.
The lush grounds are the venue for the annual ceremony on National Heroes Day when the governor-general presents honors and awards.
Interestingly enough, Bishop’s Lodge, which has been around since the 1800s, has never been destroyed.
When you arrive at King’s House, it’s hard not to miss several nests on the portico. Those belong to swallows, that are now dubbed King’s House Swallow, that seemed to have followed the governor from Spanish Town to Kingston.
During his time in office, Governor-General Sir Howard Cooke (1991-2006) started a vegetable garden, which still provides vegetables and fresh fruits to hospitals in Kingston.
King’s House in the Movies
King’s House was a shooting location for the 1962 James Bond film, Dr. No. In the movie, however, Bond calls it Government House.
How to Schedule a Tour
Guided tours of King’s House are available by appointment from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday to Friday. Apply in writing to:
The Office of the Governor-General
Or email email@example.com
This is my submission to this week’s Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday series. Be sure to check out other photo and story entries on their website.
I like happy coincidences. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had no plans to visit the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston but then there I was. So last Thursday evening when the new Marley documentary premiered at Emancipation Park, I knew I had to be there.
As I walked to the park at around 6 pm, I could hear Bob’s music, specifically the song I had heard at his Museum a few days before, the one I wish now I had asked about. Scores of people had already gathered, some were sitting on the grass, others were milling around. Kids were playing happily. I wondered how many of them really knew why their parents had brought them to the park.
The main stage was draped with the red, green and gold of the Rasta flag and several screens had been placed around the park so that viewers could sit where ever they wished to watch the documentary. The mood was festive.
Wandering around, I bumped into a human chain formed by several young men and women who were wearing Marley T-shirts. They made up part of the VIP entrance. Standing behind the human barrier for a few minutes — they wouldn’t let me cross — I caught the arrival of the Marley girls, a former government minister and a group of people I didn’t recognize. They were ushered into an official area in front of the stage. Later, I would learn that in that group was none other than Kevin Macdonald, the film’s Academy Award-winning director.
But too many people were gathered at the VIP entrance and I couldn’t get clear shots of anything or anyone so I wandered towards the main gate where the officials would arrive.
I thought I knew every song that Bob Marley released. But on a visit to the Bob Marley museum in Kingston, I heard a song I didn’t recognize and heard it again at the premiere on Thursday of the latest documentary on the life of the Rastaman and reggae icon appropriately titled, Marley (more about that later). I kick myself now because I should have asked the name, now I can’t even remember the melody.
But anyway, it prompted me to think of featuring Bob as this week’s Soulful Sunday performer. Surprisingly, I hadn’t done that before though I’ve written about him in previous posts.
I saw Bob once at a concert in Montreal sometime in 1980. I don’t remember much about the evening, except that we had lousy seats — I could hardly see him when he came on stage and we left shortly after so that my boyfriend could make the 2 1/2 hour drive back to Ottawa to get some sleep before going to work the next day. A few months later, we heard that Bob was sick. The next news was that he’d died.
Robert Nesta Marley was born in St. Ann on February 6, 1945 in Nine Miles, St. Ann, Jamaica. Bob was always interested in music and decided to concentrate on his music after a brief stint as a welder’s apprentice. At 16, Desmond Dekker introduced him to Jimmy Cliff who in turn introduced him to producer, Leslie Kong for who Bob recorded his first singles, Judge Not, Terror and One More Cup of Coffee. None of the singles became hits and Bob left Kong, who’d only paid him $2 for his work.
In 1963, Bob and Bunny Livingston (aka Bunny Wailer), his childhood friend, began taking lessons from Joe Higgs who introduced him to Peter McIntosh. The three became good friends and later formed The Wailing Wailers. The group also included Junior Braithwaite (d. 1999), Beverly Kelso and Cherry Smith (d. 2008).
The group’s collaboration with Clement “Coxsone” Dodd produced their first hit, Simmer Down, which sold 80,000 copies. They also recorded an early version of One Love, which was voted Song of the Century in 2009.
Bob, the Rastaman
Bob Marley was, without a doubt, the most well known Rastafarian there is. He became a Rastaman following the visit of His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie to Jamaica in 1966. Through his music and his uncompromising stance, he legitimized Rastafarians, and when he sang about the plight of the poor in Jamaica, he touched poor people everywhere. Bob literally and figuratively brought the ghetto (Trench Town, where he grew up) and Rastafarians uptown (Hope Road where he lived and had his studio), to the other side of Jamaican society.
It’s difficult for me to select a Bob song that’s my favorite as I have many. Here are a few: War (from a speech by HIM, Haile Selassie I to the UN in October, 1963 – excerpt below) and Burnin’ and Lootin‘.
Excerpt of HIM’s speech, which Bob used verbatim in War:
“…until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned: That until there are no longer first-class and second class citizens of any nation; That until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes; That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; That until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained; And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed; Until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and good-will; Until all Africans stand and speak as free beings, equal in the eyes of all men, as they are in the eyes of Heaven; Until that day, the African continent will not know peace. We Africans will fight, if necessary, and we know that we shall win, as we are confident in the victory of good over evil…”
Bob not only quoted from Selassie, he borrowed from Marcus Garvey as well as he did in Redemption Songwhen he sang, Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.
We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind. – Marcus Garvey, October, 1937
Bob, the Loverman
Bob wasn’t just about revolution however. His soft side can be heard in two of my favorites, Waiting in Vain and Turn Your Lights Down Low.
Today marks the 46th anniversary of the visit of Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia to Jamaica. Selassie was emperor of Ethiopia for 44 years. He was also his country’s regent from 1916 – 1930, the year he was crowned emperor.
Selassie, who could trace his line back to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, was born Lij Tafari Makonnen (Lij means child in Amharic) and became Ras Tafari Makonnen. He took the name Haile Selassie following his crowning. Officially, his title was His Imperial Magesty Haile Selassie I, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King of Kings of Ethiopia, Elect of God.
During the 1920s, black activist, Marcus Garvey frequently exhorted his followers, who were mostly poor
and downtrodden, to look to Africa for the crowning of a black king who would deliver them out of poverty. Many in Jamaica interpreted Selassie’s crowning as the fulfillment of Garvey’s prediction.
One group, the Rastafaris, from Ras Tafari, emerged during the 1930s and embraced Selassie as the
incarnation of God or Jah. Selassie met with representatives of the Rastas and in 1948, donated 500 acres of his private lands to allow Rastafari Brethren and Ethiopian World Federation members to settle in Ethiopia in an area known as Shashamane.
When His Imperial Majesty arrived in Kingston on April 21, 1966, he was caught off guard by the masses of Rastas, about 100,000, who had gathered to greet him, their Jah. It was reported that Selassie was reluctant to exit the plane until he received assurances that it was safe for him to do so.
The visit came at a critical time for the Rastas who were routinely harassed by police and shunned by the majority of the larger Jamaican society. Selassie’s historic visit gave them legitimacy and since then they celebrate His Imperial Majesty with drumming and chanting on Groundation Day, April 21st.
I’ve been traveling for the past few weeks and have amassed quite a collection of photos but since I forgot to pack the USB cord for my camera, I won’t be able to download them until I get back home. So I’ve had to go through my old photos to find a theme for this week’s Travel Photo Thursday.
I spent some time looking at each photo, trying to come up with an interesting theme. Each time I changed my mind only to come back to these shots of the Caribbean Sea that I’d taken over the last several months here in Jamaica. For the first time, I think, I really noticed how prominently clouds were featured in each shot and how beautiful they made them look. Let me know if you agree.
As I continued to look through the photos, Both Sides Now, Joni Mitchell’s song popped into my mind as did Wordsworth’s poem, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, and Shelley’s, The Cloud – first verse below.
I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet buds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother’s breast,
As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under,
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
This is my submission to this week’s Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday series. Be sure to check out other photo and story entries on their website.
It was a bit harder to find photos that described the subject of this week’s Photo Challenge by WordPress. Would love to hear what you think about my choice.
This might seem like an unlikely pairing – elephants and cape buffalo – but these two of the Big Five animals – the rhino, leopard and lion are the others — didn’t seem to mind sharing the same watering hole.