Let us show, teach, share and exchange all the care and compassion we can, and make a change, especially for the younger generation “Yes we can” said a great man…
“Do you like this toy?” I would ask my friends, as we teetered on new found toddler legs. “Yes! Yes” would often be the response. There began my lifelong trend of giving away the best toy, best ball, best bat, best whatever I had to my friends.
My mother and brother used to go crazy and believe that friends were taking advantage of my good nature but I would insist that I truly enjoyed giving the things I liked the most, unlike many who prefer to give away things they like the least.
Perhaps I wanted to promote human relationships based on sharing and giving without expecting to receive. In any case, I have progressed through the world, enjoyed the pleasure of art studies and exhibitions, road managed, promoted and toured with the most beautiful musicians, or archangels as I choose to call them.
I have seen some of the most beautiful countries and peoples and witnessed the joy on the faces of revellers who truly loved the guitar sounds and vocal melodies of Zairian Soukous, Roots Reggae, Latin Rumba, Zouk and Salsa.
I spent considerable time travelling with incredible African bands. It took some time to find the sound but when I discovered the rhythms of Sub-Saharan Africa, there was no turning back. I was spellbound and mesmerized by the vocal harmony and guitar melodies in Congo Zairian Soukous music. Nsimba Foguis and Taxi Pata Pata, Diblo Dibala, Pamelo Mounka, Zaiko Langa Langa, Franco T.P. O.K. Jazz, Papa Wemba, Kofi Olimide, Sam Mangwana, Orchestra Super Makassy, Kanda Bongo Man were exceptional to my ears while the Zimbabwean music of Thomas Mpfumo and his Chimurenga style grabbed my attention. I was particularily impressed by the sheer talent of the English man Johnny Clegg who moved to South Africa and learnt the Zulu language, dance and music then proceed to perform all over South Africa with his band Savouka in the midst of the Apartheid era. I also completely fell under the spell of Fela Kuti’s Afro beat rhythms from Nigeria. Jamaica's Black Uhuru, Burning Spear, Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Barrington Levy, Lee Scratch Perry, Third World, Steel Pulse, Aswad, Delroy Wilson, Dennis Bovell, Beres Hammond and many more Roots Rock Reggae artistes summarise my leaning in the music field alongside Latin music and musicians such as Mongo Santa Maria, Pablo Santana, Joe Arroyo, Sonora Dinamita, Tito Puente and Compay Segundo - Guantanamera.
I did not fully comprehend the power of the written word until I found myself reading the closing chapter of THE BLACK JACOBINS by C.L.R. James.
I was moved to tears at the unjust deception employed to capture a frail old man, Toussaint L’Ouverture, a genius commander who liberated the Island of Haiti from the grip of slavery.
A short time after discovering C.L.R. James, I came across one of William Ernest Henley’s piece. I was reading an article in a prominent tabloid newspaper about a serial art thief who was caught red handed by the police with a stolen canvas, neatly rolled up in his briefcase.
The thief was apprehended in a random police stop and search on a London Street. He nonchalantly looked at the arresting officer and quoted these lines from William Ernest Henley:
“In the fell clutch of circumstance, I have not winced nor cried aloud: under the bludgeoning of chance my head is bloodied but unbowed.”
I also discovered the Fables of Aesop. One of my favourites being The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.
According to the fable, a hungry wolf came upon a sheep’s fleece lying on the ground in a field. The wolf realized that if it wore the fleece, it would look like a sheep from a distance. That would enable the wolf to sneak up on a flock of sheep and steal a lamb for its supper, before the shepherd notice his presence.
The wolf put on the fleece, and went off in search of a flock of sheep. It spied a flock of sheep just as the sun was setting, and approached the flock. Just as it was about to pounce on a lamb, a shepherd came by, looking for a sheep to slaughter for supper. Thinking the disguised wolf was a sheep, the shepherd quickly grabbed and killed the wolf. The intended lesson was, “Frauds and liars are always discovered, eventually, and pay for their actions accordingly.
I specially relate to these writers because they recognise the diversity that makes the Earth and its inhabitants unique and seek to introduce knowledge, humour and care to enlighten others towards a better world.
The culture of reading a book after dinner or telling a story is a blessed and treasured experience that keeps warmth within and bonds families together. It appears to be a rare occurrence in today’s households.
The younger generation is slowly but surely bred to believe that potential Isolation and alienation in a cyber space, “Log On” or “Switch On” and “Tune In”culture is the modern alternative to good old story telling. Perhaps some believe this is the way it will always be.
The pace and demands of modern living keeps career minded individuals busy and this invariably boost the proliferation of old people’s homes. PCs and TVs leaves little room for reflection while social networking sites have taking precedence over random face-to-face meetings, tightening the cyberspace grip
I wrote Jamaica Spirit World to create a small heaven for my children, grandchildren and all those who care for and wish to direct earth citizens towards a clear and peaceful light.
I want all the dispossessed people of the world to realise there is life beyond cyber space and computer games. I would like them to feel and know that there is a heaven upon this earth…“The earth is the lord and the fullness thereof“.
That Biblical quote is lost on many urban, inner city kids who struggle, day in and day out to experience the pleasures, joys and beauty of the earth. I feel deeply for the generations to come because all the signs suggest many will be completely at the mercy of virtual reality in cyber space.
Jamaica Spirit World is written in a humble manner. It is a personal and intimate attempt to share some of the heavenly peace that I felt as a young child growing up in the fresh hills and valleys of Jamaica, despite the harshness of my subsequent urban experiences.
I was born in Hanover,Jamaica and moved to London at the age of eleven.
After completing a Fine Art foundation course at Byam Shaw School of Art, Notting Hill Gate, I gained a degree in Fine Art & Sculpture from The City and Guild of London Art School, Kennington.
I exhibited my sculptures with Caribbean Focus, a joint UK tour of museums and galleries alongside highly rated and reknowned Artists Keith Piper and Eddie Chambers. I also exhibited at the OBAALA Black Art Gallery, FinsburyPark with established sculptor Fowokan and George Kelly. I exhibited at The Caribbean Gallery, Baker Street, The Simba Project, Shepherd's Bush, The Emerald Center, Hammersmith and the Jamaican Consulate in St James St, Piccadilly, on the invite of Ms Marie Cunningham of the JIS, Jamaica Information Service.
I went on to establish the I D.r.u.m Project, supported by the defunct GLC (Greater London Council) Where I had the pleasure of meeting GLC leader Ken Livingstone and his assistants, Herman Ouseley, who went on to run The Commission for Racial Equality and Paul Boateng, who became a MP and UK representative to South Africa. Camden Council’s EDU (Economic Development Unit) assisted the project by funding a feasability study. The project was well received and The London Borough of Camden rewarded me with the title of Key Worker in the borough for my initiative to create training and jobs.
I.D.R.U.M Project Co-op Ltd was a craft based workshop, set up and run as a workers’ co-operative. The Co-op assembled, repaired and imported African and Caribbean musical instruments.
I appeared on Thames at 6 prime time TV news and was interviewed by The C.O.I (Central office of information) to present the aims and objectives of the project.
I launched DRUM Presentations to promote World music in Southampton with support from Hampshire County Council, Southampton City Council and the Southern Arts Association.
DRUM Presentations organised fund raising shows on behalf of UNICEF at ThorpePark with Abdul TJ and his African Connection band now known as Rokoto. DRUM Presentations also fund raised for OXFAM with performances at St Martins in the fields with Otis Thompson and his Sierra-Leonean band Sayinoh. DRUM Presentation also engaged in unique functions when the band Sweet N Bitter was co-opted to perform at a private birthday function for Reggae music lover, very respected and noble, Lord Petersham, at his country estate in Wiltshire.
I then joined Europe's biggest Pan African dance troupe 'Adzido' as stage manager. I booked Reggae bands to perform at New College Oxford ball and was pleased to find myself in the 1985/86 New College Ball "survivors Photograph". I also booked Rap act H.E.L with Agzi Gold (DJ heaven) and Colin Joseph H.E.L (highly explosive lyrics) to perform at the Brent Festival in North London before embarking as road manager and promoter on UK and European tours with Nsimba Foguis and Taxi Pata Pata.
I established The Pan African Roadshow, which performed with Taxi Pata Pata at The Bath International Festival. The PA R also performed at The Salisbury Water Festival and performed with The LCYSB (London Community Youth Steel Band)at The St Albans Rose Show.
PAR booked Jose Ibata and his Latin music band Bolivar to perform at MagdalenCollege, Oxford and Corpus Christi, Cambridge. PAR also organised summer shows with Bolivar in Waterlow Park, Camden, London.
PAR also promoted secondary school music education workshops with Jose Ibata and his band Bolivar at Darlington Arts centre and acted as road manager onNsimba Foguis and Taxi Pata Pata's Education workshop at Darlington Arts Centre in Northeast England.
I twice appeared on Children's No.73. Saturday TV programme with Adzido Pan African dance troupe and also with PAR artists: limbo dancer Janet, Don Deans, Francis Johnson and fire eater, Captain Fish.
The PAR staged shows at the Commonwealth Institute, Kensington Gore, as part of Marcus Garvey's centenary and Jamaica Independence celebrations on behalf of Ms Vida Menzies organisation, the Association of Jamaicans UK.
I returned to Jamaica and taught A-level Arts at Ruseas High School in Lucea, Hanover, preparing students for their A level Cambridge exams.
I gained a ‘Teaching Teachers How to Teach’ certificate from the Jamaican Ministry of Education the following year and appeared on Jamaican National TV to debate the issue of how to keep pupils engaged in learning.
I returned to London after two years and established Club Jammin which initially showcased a wide variety of events including performance poets and comedy artists such as Rudy Lickwood, as well as Acapella, Rap, Ballads, RnB, folk, Rock and Indie acts.
Club Jammin launched the first shows at The Old Farmhouse, Kentish Town Rd, Camden, then moved to The Assembly House further up the Kentish Town Rd before relocating south across the River Thames at Charlie Chaplin’s, Elephant and Castle.
Club Jammin eventually returned to a resident venue back in Camden at WKD. The new venue staged Live Roots Reggae bands with renowned artists such as founding member of iconic Reggae band Steel Pulse; Basil Gabidon and his highly rated futuristic reggae band Bass Dance; also: Steven Marley Wright and his Wright Vibes band; Sanu and his extraordinary band Ambush; Asher and his band Nomadix Roots; One Style MDV; Dr Dean I and Lethal Weapon cross section band; Devan from Bristol, Sound Rebellion, Black Survivors, Private Collection and many more.
I also hosted Global Fusion (world and alternative musical acts) and D-Spot (talent discovery) nights at WKD, consequently running three separate live music nights each week, with the Reggae nights lasting for several years.
I ventured into lyrical compositions, recording library music with Agzilla Productions for EMI music over the past few years before concentrating on writing ‘Jamaica Spirit World’.
I am now working on a second book revolving around my experiences as a young man in 1980s London.
Ministry of Education Jamaica: Teaching Teachers how to teach. Certificate
City and Guild of London Art School: Fine Art Sculpture Degree
Byam Shaw School of Art, Nottinghill Gate, London:Fine Arts Foundation Certificate
Founder of: The I DRUM Project Co;Op Ltd, An Industrial and Provident Society, workers Cooperative. Project established to make and repair Traditional African and Latin American musical Instruments.
DRUM Presentations: Live Music Promotions and bookings
The Pan-African-Roadshow: Promoting Live, Contemporary and Traditional Afro/Latin music promotions
Club Jammin: Hosting Live Roots Reggae and diverse acts
Kentish Town Library, London: UK Writers workshops Cert.
D-Spot:Hosting live Talent spotting Rnb, Soul and variety acts
Global Fusion: Live Two tone and World Music variety acts.
Exhibited: The OBAALA Black Art Gallery, Finsbury Park.London
Exhibited: The Caribbean Gallery, Baker Street.
Exhibited: The Simba Project, Shepherd's Bush.
Exhibited: The Emerald Center, Hammersmith.
Exhibited: The Jamaican Consulate in St James St. Piccadilly, London, on behalf of the JIS, (Jamaica Information Service).