The Real Jamaica
Jamaica is often referred to as the pearl of the Caribbean. It’s the third largest island this side of the Caribbean but with such a small size, it is a
wonder that it’s reputation is so big.
If you’ve heard of Jamaica, Bob Marley is probably the reason, or the Cool Runnings Movie. Whatever
the reason, and however much you know, if you have never been, it’s not enough. What do I mean it’s not enough?
Well, Jamaica is the product of a complex history of black resistance and colonialism *cue maroon spiritual* . This
history has morphed into an interesting present, but an equally complex one where the seeds of the conflict have found a strange harmony.
of harmony that is befitting a paradise. Cool Runnings did its best at the time, I’m sure, but this little island is like an ever shifting puzzle and it’s people and their culture are the pieces.
In order to truly understand the island, a real visit is necessary, but in the absence of that possibility, this concise guide to Jamaica is here to help.
What follows is a list of some of the island’s liveliest and most well known features;
People- Jamaica is famous for its people, their charisma,
humor, and sometimes even aggression. It is a melting pot of people from places like Africa, India, Europe and even Asia that were brought together due to its colonial history.
Generations later, this mixture has resulted in a diverse pool of people that have even gone on to migrate, export and establish Jamaican culture in places like London, New York, Japan and more.
These exported pockets of culture over time then morph into localized versions of original Jamaican culture that go on to become pop culture. Take for instance Drake’s More Life album, which pays homage to Toronto’s own
version of Jamaican Patois, using words and phrases in the lyrics and song title that later became internet buzzwords.
Pop Style is a perfect example.
This Canadian offshoot of Jamaican dialect is a direct product of the Jamaican community in Toronto. In this way our people have proven our greatest resource as an island nation.
Jamaican people are also well known for their creativity, proving to be exceptionally innovative with intellectual property. From Art, to craft, poetry, jewelry, to even fashion. If it requires creativity, they can do it.
Nature- Known as an island paradise, Jamaica is well regarded for its natural resources. There are sites like cockpit country in Trelawny, which is a natural ridge filled
landmass separated by steep sided hollows.
It serves as a home and sanctuary for much of Jamaica’s wildlife, and a visual marvel. Bath fountain
in St Thomas, which is a naturally occurring hot-spring and one of the country’s most prized natural attractions.
The Blue Lagoon in Portland
is another natural wonder known for its luxurious blue waters and is the apple of many eyes that vacation on our fine island. Speaking of Portland, another treasured site famous to the beloved parish is Frenchman’s Cove out in Port Antonio.
This cove is nestled between the sea and our majestic Blue Mountains. Blue Mountain is famous for being the highest peak in the island, with a pristine atmosphere
and low temperature, it is a welcomed respite from the bustle of the urban settlements around it.
The island’s environment also makes it
perfect for creating certain natural substances like coconut oil, caster oil and so on. A list like this could go on and on, Jamaica’s natural beauty is vast, and breathtaking.
Language- Jamaica’s official language is English, however a so called dialect has been passed down through the generations that is a mixture of
several African tongues and the English.
The history of Patois dates back to the colonial days when African slaves were forced to create derivative
of the little English they were being taught and the many different African languages they spoke. This became patois, a coded language that slaves could use to disguise their discussions from their British captors. What was created out of necessity in that
time, has now become a linguistic revolution in a post colonial world.
Jamaicans have turned this language into one of our most charismatic features
simply based on how expressive yet simple it can be. Although Patois is not the official language of Jamaica, there are those who believe strongly that it should be, and even some members of parliament who are lobbying towards that future.
Music- Jamaica’s biggest export is it’s music, and many would argue that its child celebrity status is largely attributed to the reach of it’s music. Sir
Robert Marley is, again, the quintessential proof of this.
After being apart of the movement to pioneer the sound of reggae music, Bob went on
to become arguably the most popular musician of all time. Within just over 50 years of independence, over ten genres of music have been birthed, most prominent ones including; Mento, Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae and Dancehall.
Often, on an international level, Dancehall and Reggae are confused as being the same. They are similar in a number of ways, however, also dissimilar in even more ways.
Food- Jamaica’s food is the heartthrob of its features. The silent worker. Jamaican food speaks for
itself. It is characterized by its spicy nature, which employs the use of unique blend of herbs and spices.
Curry chicken is one of the more famous
dishes that uses the well known Indian spice curry as the main flavor. Ackee and saltfish is another staple dish in Jamaican culture, in fact Ackee is the national fruit.
Rice and Peas is a traditional used as a side for main entrees, and uses plain rice, cooked down with kidney beans and coconut milk. Breadfruit is another traditional side, indigenous to the island and prepared in a variety of ways
including; boiling, roasting and or frying.
Jamaican food isn’t much different from its people; varied, spicy, colorful, flavorful and wholesome.
Dishes like Escoveitched fish, Bammy, festival, Jerk Chicken , jerk chicken neck, jerk chicken back, jerk chicken gizzard, jerk burgers, jerk sausage, manish water, chicken foot soup, fried plantains, fried dumplings, saltfish fritters, ,steamed callaloo
with green bananas, stewed peas ,curry goat, roasted yam with saltfish, roasted yellow heart breadfrut and salt mackerel run dung make it hard to say no to a Jamaican meal.
All of which are better washed down with some good old traditional white Rum, blended fruit punch, carrot juice, lemonade, june plum ,cucumber juice or any juices made from fruits in season. I have to mention that Jamaicans have
a special love for KFC fried chicken any day of the week especially when it rains.