Great (deceased) Jamaicans

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link JahJah Joined: Dec 6, 2003
Posts: 76331
5/18/16 11:27:53 AM 
In reply to Ewart

Me nah know. You'll have to ask Tacky himself. lol lol

link granite Joined: Nov 1, 2013
Posts: 6270
5/18/16 2:18:45 PM 
Some ah de bess Jakans are deceased. lol lol lol
Please doh get uptight me honly joking.

link Ewart Joined: Mar 5, 2005
Posts: 8954
5/18/16 6:07:26 PM 
In reply to JahJah

lol lol lol

... and who do you suggest I should check for dat?



link Ewart Joined: Mar 5, 2005
Posts: 8954
5/18/16 10:36:21 PM 
Mary Morris Knibb

An educator, benefactor, teacher, social worker and pioneer, Mary Morris Knibb rose to become the first elected woman representative of the Moravian Church in Jamaica and the first female councillor of the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC).

It was March 8, 1939, that she won the by-election for a seat in the KSAC, taking 1,231 votes, which was double the votes of both her rivals combined – an accomplishment attributed to her record of civic leadership and commitment to excellence.

That record was established on two strong foundations – a preparatory school which bore her name and prepared students for high school, and her membership and leadership of two social organisations – The Women’s Liberal Club (WLC) and the JFW which exerted lasting impact on the country at large. She played leading roles in both. But first, the preparatory school.

Morris Knibb established the school at 5 Hector Street in 1928.

At the time the gateway into secondary education for elementary school children was extremely narrow, and parents who wanted their children to have a good chance of getting into one of the existing high schools were prepared to extend themselves and pay for that chance. With smaller classes and devoted teachers, the preparatory schools began opening the gates a little wider.

Morris Knibb’s school was one of the earliest of its kind, and one of the best, and many still sing their pleasure at their experience there. Among its most famous students are noted surgeon John Hall and entertainer Harry Belafonte. Today the school is located at 1 Miraflores Drive in Saint Andrew.

The WLC was established in 1936 and it comprised middle-class Black women, many of whom were teachers.

The organisation devoted itself to the social uplift of poor Black women, advocated for strengthened participation of women in politics, and attempted to foster racial pride and national spirit.

As President of the WLC – which included outstanding women including Edith Clarke, Amy Bailey and Lady Huggins, the wife of Sir John Huggins the Governor – Mary Morris Knibb organised a Deaconess fund for the Moravian church which was designed to promote leadership among girls.

Her leadership aspirations propelled her to become the co-founder and vice-president of the Moravian Women's Fellowship, and founder of the Shortwood Teacher's College Alumni Association.
She was a champion of women's rights and was an active part of the National Movement’s promotion of suffrage since she was at the forefront of women's struggle for the right to vote.

However, while her greatest achievement was as the founder and manager of the preparatory school, her other great passion was her role in the assault on common-law relationships through mass weddings which were promoted by the JFW.

Born in 1881, Mary Morris Knibb was a foundation member of the JFW which put sound planks in the foundation of the emerging middle class. The JFW was really a social welfare organisation founded by Lady Allan, Lilly Mae Burke, Mary Morris Knibb and other Jamaican women and supported energetically by Molly Huggins, wife of the Governor, Sir John Huggins.

Soon, almost every senior female teacher and principal became a member, evidence of which was a round button they wore with the words Jamaica Federation of Women encircling a map of Jamaica.

Many men and women had been living together in homes and were bringing up families but had not entered into marriage. Mary Morris Knibb took note of that and started the idea of mass weddings. Lady Huggins, having attended a mass wedding soon after her arrival in December 1943, endorsed Morris-Knibb’s initiative and assumed the position of a spokesperson.

By 1944 there was a mass wedding committee in place which Lady Huggins chaired as president and patron. She once brought back 900 gold rings for mass weddings from a women's conference in the United States. By the end of the 1940s, the JFW had taken over the organisation of most of the mass weddings.

The mass weddings caught on, and Mary Morris Knibb took up the cause with zeal. While the idea of the JFW was to provide a social outlet for women and to organise them as a social force in a country where they had no real voice, the mass weddings of Miss Married Knibb, as Louise Bennett dubbed her, was the method by which she tried to replace illegitimacy and concubinage with marriage.

In mass weddings, the gold wedding rings were made available free by the JFW, and several couples would be married at the same place and time to reduce expense.

City Mission Bishop Mary Louise Coore, who was one of the earliest ordained female ministers in Jamaica and – it appears – the island’s first female marriage officer, and Bishop Delrose Lucille Walters joined forces with the JFW in organising mass weddings in Kingston's inner cities.

The first mass marriage recorded was held at the City Mission in July 1939. Many of these ceremonies were held at the headquarters of the City Mission churches at 15 Blount Street in Hannah Town, West Kingston.

In Montego Bay, forty-one couples were married, kick-starting JFW's home-building concept. The popularity of these weddings gained even more support when Louise Bennett promoted them in her poem Mass Wedding, excerpts of which follow:

[i]Me meet one boonoonoonos man
At Matches Stick last night
As me clap me y'eye upon de chile
Me head begin get light.
De ongle time him look pon me
Me heart dis go buff-bim
Him nice an 'tall soh tell ah hooda
Go into jail fe him.
Me want go fine out wey him live,
So afta pickcha dun,
Me meck afta him, but crowd so tick,
Me noh see weh him tun.
Soh me goin' to de lady name
Miss Married Knibbs to see
Ef she can fine him an fix up
One mass wedden fe me.[/i]

Mass weddings were spectacular public rites of accessing citizenship in the 1940s and 1950s and constituted a campaign to reduce high rates of illegitimacy.

These weddings were attended by prominent public officials, social workers and members of the community. In a 1941 wedding in Kingston, 36 couples were married at the City Mission, in two ceremonies to accommodate the large numbers, and the officiating clergy came from several denominations.

Spectators gathered early to watch, but only those with invitation cards were allowed inside; these could be purchased for a small cost to defray the expenses of the public weddings. The WLC provided gowns and rings and paid for the celebrations.

The brides were led down the aisle by a member of the Club who, as their sponsor, gave them away in marriage. The men were escorted by Jim Russell, the Civil Registrar of births, deaths, and marriages, and a central figure in the movement. He boasted that mass weddings had significantly reduced illegitimacy in Jamaica.

By the mid 1950s, however, the numbers of couples who could be encouraged to undergo these ceremonies had dwindled, as had the public interest. In addition to promoting marriage, the JFW began promoting the registration of fathers on a child’s birth certificate, and was one of several groups that waged campaigns against bachelor fatherhood. This led Louise Bennett to write the poem Registration, some lines of which follow:

[i]For it eena newspapa
Sey ooman Federation
Dah-pass law fe all fada name
Go dung pon registration![/i]

Mary Morris Knibb died on September 21, 1964 at her home in Woodford Park, St Andrew, at the age of 83. She was honoured when the church hall at the Redeemer Moravian Church was named after her. The church hall and the Extension College on the grounds of the preparatory school are seen as edifices to her philosophy of self-reliance and development.

The headquarters site and building adjacent to the preparatory school were bequeathed to the Moravian Church by her. As part of its 250th anniversary year celebrations in collaboration with the Postal Corporation of Jamaica, the Church launched a commemorative stamp series to honour her and two other of its stalwarts.

From: We Come From Jamaica: The National Movement 1937-1962


link mikesiva Joined: Jan 12, 2007
Posts: 29222
5/19/16 6:04:32 AM 
In reply to Ewart and JahJah

Yes, Tacky's what they called a Coromantee, and they originated in what's now Ghana.
For this thread, I've defined a Jamaican as either someone who's born in Jamaica, or someone who died in Jamaica. And Tacky died in Jamaica....

Good one on Mary Morris Knibb....

link Ewart Joined: Mar 5, 2005
Posts: 8954
5/19/16 3:19:04 PM 
Cedric Titus -- gave leadership of the Cane Farmers Association to small Black sugar-cane farmers.


link mikesiva Joined: Jan 12, 2007
Posts: 29222
5/20/16 4:20:26 AM 
In reply to Ewart

'Ottawa: Ewart Walters (Editor), Boyd McRubie Communications, 2010. 1st ed. 8vo, wrps, 141 p., photos. New Paperback 9780981250403 "Cedric "Sugar Boy" Titus emerged in the parish of Trelawny which was the centre of sugar-cane operations in Jamaica. It was a time when sugar was supreme and ruled by the plantocracy—a ruling class formed by the White owners of the sugar-cane industry. Sugar Boy brought fundamental change to the industry. Speaking truth to power, he secured a better deal for the Black cane farmers who grew sugar cane on their small plots.Sugar Boy was a giant who played a major role in breaking down mental slavery and building the new Jamaican nation in the early part of the 20th Century. The untimely death of this trailblazer in a bizarre traffic accident blighted the bright promise of even greater achievement for the country he loved. But, thanks to his family, his legacy is secure, captured for posterity in this book."'

Link Text
big grin

link Ewart Joined: Mar 5, 2005
Posts: 8954
5/20/16 7:25:57 AM 
In reply to mikesiva

Heh heh. big grin big grin big grin

Sugar Boy sells for $20.00. They have a mark up of $25.00 and they do not even have the book!



link Drapsey Joined: Dec 26, 2007
Posts: 18870
5/20/16 8:18:30 AM 
In reply to Ewart

In Montego Bay, forty-one couples were married, kick-starting JFW's home-building concept. The popularity of these weddings gained even more support when Louise Bennett promoted them in her poem Mass Wedding, excerpts of which follow:

What about Miss Lou herself, no love for the 'great' one?

link Ewart Joined: Mar 5, 2005
Posts: 8954
5/20/16 9:48:02 AM 
In reply to Drapsey

All right then... Here she is:

Louise Bennett – The Soul of Jamaica

[i]Evening Time, work is over – now is evening time…
Ress yuhself at ease, feel the evening breeze[/i]

– Louise Bennett, Busha Bluebeard Pantomime 1957

Louise Bennett-Coverley, “Miss Lou,” died at her Toronto home on July 26, 2005 and was honoured with an official funeral in Kingston, on August 9 at National Heroes Park. Writer, actress, poet, singer, folklorist, comedienne, queen of culture, and Soul of Jamaica, she lived in Canada for the last decade of her life, and built up a wide following of Jamaican nationals in Toronto and across Canada.

Born in Jamaica on September 7, 1919, Miss Lou was an international figure. Her obituaries appeared in several of the world’s major media including the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, the London Times, The Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, the Sun Sentinel, the Scotsman, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Dallas Morning News, the BBC, the CBC, the Victoria Times Colonist, the Gleaner, the Jamaica Observer and the New York Times.

Miss Lou’s father owned a bakery in Spanish Town but died when she was only seven. Her mother, an accomplished dressmaker, instilled respect (“everybody was a lady — the fish lady, the yam lady, the store lady, the teacher lady”), and nurtured her, unknowingly setting the stage for the most influential figure in Jamaican culture.

She was a model professional on stage, radio, and television. In her many roles she demonstrated that Jamaican Creole could be the medium of significant art. She began performing at church concerts, around campfires and for her school friends at an early age. But she knew she wanted to write.

Her early attempts were in Standard English. Then, one day, as a well-dressed teenager boarding a tramcar, she heard a market woman at the back say to another, “’Pread out yuself, one dress-ooman a come!” The remark grabbed her attention and became the basis of her first dialect poem, Spread out yuself Liza.

She began to wonder why more Jamaican writers were not writing about local realities and in the language many people spoke, instead of writing in the same old English way about Autumn and things like that. Later in her career, she would write in defence of Jamaica talk. In her poem Bans a Killin, the persona enquires with wicked wit:

[i]Meck me get it straight, Mass Charlie,
For me no quite understan —
Yuh gwine kill all English dialec
Or jus Jamaica one?[/i]

[i]Dah language weh yuh prou o’
Wha yuh honour and respeck
Po’ Mass Charlie: Yuh noh know sey
Dat it spring from dialect![/i]

Louise Bennett was a teenager when she first appeared at a 1936 Christmas Day concert at Coke Hall, reciting a poem in dialect.

She received a prize of two guineas from impresario Eric Coverley and bought a pair of shoes with the money. Following in the footsteps of Jamaican poets Claude McKay and Inez Knibb Sibley (great grand-daughter of Baptist missionary William Knibb who authored a number of books including one in dialect called Quashie’s Reflections), she continued to write in dialect. Not surprisingly, she was ostracised by the educated in what was yet colonial Jamaica.

But the people loved her and brightened up whenever they heard their language in her skits, her songs or her poetry. She saluted this love in return by fashioning her costume after that of the traditional Jamaican market woman. The fabric, she explained, was not African but originated in India – as did many residents of Jamaica.

She performed in her first Christmas pantomime in 1943, and she and Ranny Williams quickly became the leading duo of Jamaican theatre. They wrote many pantomimes, in the process converting the pale imitation of English pantomime into the vibrant Jamaica Pantomime. They also created the popular Lou and Ranny Show for JBC radio.

Her most influential recording is probably her 1954 rendition of the Jamaican traditional song Day Dah Light, which was recorded by Harry Belafonte as Day O, also known as The Banana Boat Song. Belafonte's famous version was one of the 1950s' biggest hit records, leading to the very first gold record ever awarded.

In 1945 she won a British Council scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and was the first Black student there. She then hosted a BBC radio show, Caribbean Carnival, and worked with repertory companies and revues all over England. On her return to Jamaica two years later she taught drama to youth and adult groups in social welfare agencies and for the Extra-Mural Department of the University College of the West Indies.

More to the point, she threw herself fully into her work with Jamaica Welfare as a devotee to and emissary of the National Movement, working through organisations like the Jamaica Federation of Women, the Jamaica Agricultural Society, and the 4-H Clubs to help create the new Jamaica.

This took her to schoolrooms all over Jamaica at night, teaching the people through poetry and song about their mores, who they were and how they should aspire to live. Her poetry then was not the tour de force it became later. It was her singing in that infectious style of hers that endeared her to people.

And what was she singing about? I first heard two of those songs in the Mannings Hill schoolroom one rainy Saturday night in 1949. One proclaimed the virtues of courtesy:

[i]Treat everybody good and square
Gi’ horse him grass, gi’ puss him pear
Mine yuh manners, don't forget
Howdy and tenky bruk no square[/i]

[i]Cho: Howdy, howdy do
Tenky, thank you’
Beg yuh pardon, excuse me
Practise up yuh courtesy[/i].

The other encouraged people who could not afford beef, to “cook a chicken” which they could easily raise in their yards.

[i]Cook a chicken
Cook a chicken
Take my advice there is nothing nicer
Cook a chicken[/i]

But Miss Lou was finding it hard to make a living and so she returned to England for a time and then went to New York where she and Eric Coverley directed a musical, “Day in Jamaica,” which opened at Saint Martin’s Little Theatre in Harlem and moved around church halls in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

They soon got married and returned home where she was appointed drama officer with the Jamaica Social Welfare Commission and ultimately its director from 1959 to 1963, one year after the change of government. From 1966 until 1982 she composed and delivered Miss Lou's Views, topical four-minute radio monologues.

I had the honour of sharing the stage with Miss Lou in two pantomimes in 1957 and 1958.

You hear about prima donnas, and you know Miss Lou was the first lady of stage. But the prima donna thing was not for her; she never displayed those qualities. She was just Miss Lou.

And therein lay her great charm. When she died, I reflected briefly on Jamaica’s national heroes. If Garvey's mission was Black pride and pan-Africanism, and Bustamante's was to launch a labour movement, the mission of Norman Manley was to forge a national identity.

Post emancipation, Norman and Edna Manley were the hand that rocked the cradle of Jamaican culture. For they gathered around them artists, writers, sculptors, musicians, actors and singers – including Louise Bennett. And they stoked the flame of nationalism which she caught and spread far and wide with her songs, stories, poems and performances.

Miss Lou credits her mother for handing the culture down to her, and preparing her for her life’s work. Beyond that, however, was her own spirit – buoyant, resilient and creative. I believe people will one day realise that her impact on Jamaica has been as great as that of any of our National Heroes. The day after I had that thought, I found an obituary by Antiguan Professor Gus John of the University of London. Here are excerpts:

"Her death marks the passing of a legend. Never mind historical icons such as Alexander Bustamante and Norman Manley; Louise Bennett was the mother, father, and soul restorer of the Jamaican nation.

"No one had done more to assist the Jamaican people in understanding themselves and their uniqueness as a people crafted from the ravages of slavery and colonialism than Miss Lou. The Honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey focused upon the African identity of Jamaican and other African heritage people in the Diaspora and the need for us to reconnect with Africa and reclaim our heritage in the Motherland.

"Miss Lou devoted a lifetime to helping the nation to understand who it is, where it came from, how where it came from shaped who it is, and how, in the process, ways of communicating were forged which were unique to Jamaica and the way the nation experienced and related to its world and to the world outside itself.

"She brought the art of dramatic expression to her exploration, interpretation and use of the Jamaican language, validating it as a language long before it was accredited as such in the 1960s, largely through the work of people like Frederic Cassidy and Robert Le Page.

"The bibliography in the seminal writings of both these academics, especially Jamaica Talk (Cassidy: 1961) and Dictionary of Jamaican English (Cassidy & Le Page: 1967) include references to Louise Bennett's work dating back to 1942 when the Gleaner published her Dialect Verses.

"She did more than most to develop an awareness and understanding of Jamaican folklore, of the sayings, proverbs and philosophies, the values and principles of the ordinary working people. Using the medium of poetry, drama and storytelling in what was predominantly an oral tradition, Miss Lou put the Jamaican people in touch with themselves, with their wisdom, their irony and their quirkiness.

"Above all, she put them in touch with their inner selves and their connectedness to Africa by pointing up the fact that the entire society, and its culture, is riddled with African retentions."

To be sure, long before that, Miss Lou had attracted serious analysis and praise from Jamaican professors Rex Nettleford, who described her as “a performer, accomplished and unrivalled,” and Mervyn Morris, who took the trouble to study her and write the assessment, On Reading Louise Bennett Seriously at a time when many in the society were still turning up their noses at her efforts.

In 2003, at age 83, after living in Canada for several years, Miss Lou was invited to pay an official visit to Jamaica as the guest of the PJ Patterson Government. The welcome she received was lavish, emotional, genuine and universal. Jamaicans found they were reaching out to a part of themselves they suddenly discovered they had lost and had been yearning for. She was deeply touched by her reception and spoke about it with great joy on her return to Canada.

Two years earlier my wife Merle and I spent a long day with her because I was interviewing her for the video called Visiting with Miss Lou. It was a very instructive occasion. We learnt much more about our mores, our expressions, our history, our culture. And it is culture – not race, not colour, but culture – that is the essential element of a people.

And what is Jamaican culture? One definition of culture says culture should be regarded as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society, and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, ways of living together, traditions and beliefs.

So, culture in the Jamaican sense, in Miss Lou’s sense, is: cotta, grand market, boogooyaaga, yabba, grater-cake, labrish, mango-time, rolling calf, jonkunoo, August Mawnin, pantomime, fenkeh-fenkeh, dinki-mini, jerk pork, blue draws, dookunno, dance-hall, patties, dat, asham, mento, gizzaada, church, kin-teet, kin poopalick, blue draws, do-good man, pasero, my points, key-spar, pocomania, copasetic, six-love, nine-night, duppy, ska, cut-eye, clear off, boonoonoonoos, walk off, pocomania, everything is everything, kiss me neck, level vibes, ’ug up dat, yow! and gweh!

Miss Lou transcended all barriers. She was happiest among children, and her Ring Ding show on the JBC, which was scheduled to last seven months and ended up lasting 12 years, is eloquent tribute to that.

In the process, she created her alter ego, Auntie Roachie, who spoke her deepest thoughts for her. But she was at ease among all age groups, all races, because she was always herself – the cheerful raconteur of stories, depicting the culture of Jamaica; depicting the Jamaican.

As Gleaner columnist Melville Cooke wrote on August 3, 2006,

"When Miss Lou went to be with her very wise Auntie Roachie, I do not know how many people realised how revolutionary a person she was – cherubic smile, headwrap, bandana material and all. In a society where the unruly tongues of the Black majority have been subjected to as much straightening and controlling attempts as their equally unruly hair (with far less success), Miss Lou gave us the licence to 'chat we chat.' The process of legitimising language is a long and tenuous one, which requires not only that it is spoken in informal, but also in formal settings.

Evening Time, Miss Lou; [i]Evening Time...
Ress yuhself at ease[/i].

PS: You need to buy the book. Let me know.

big grin big grin


link Drapsey Joined: Dec 26, 2007
Posts: 18870
5/20/16 10:12:00 AM 
In reply to Ewart

There was one poem with lines like ...

Mi pawn the pound and stretch and draw, and try fi mek it stretch.

Can't remember the title.

Used to recite it in concerts as a kid, but since drifted away.

link CWWeekes Joined: May 30, 2010
Posts: 296
5/20/16 10:44:08 AM 
Mr. Ewart, do you have a piece on
Rudolph Burke? Seems to have been a black man of influence in the Busta/Manley era. As a child remembered him as president of the JAS (Jamaica Agricultural Society).

link Wally-1 Joined: Jan 8, 2003
Posts: 33038
5/20/16 10:51:00 AM 
avatar image
Any list has to start with the national heroes/heroine

Marcus Garvey
Sam Sharpe
Paul Bogle
Norman Manley
Alexander Bustamante
William Gordon

link camos Joined: May 6, 2003
Posts: 45297
5/20/16 12:29:32 PM 
Bag a Wire!

link Ewart Joined: Mar 5, 2005
Posts: 8954
5/20/16 5:39:36 PM 
In reply to camos

lol lol lol

Bun dung Cross Roads!

lol lol lol


link Ewart Joined: Mar 5, 2005
Posts: 8954
5/20/16 5:40:22 PM 
In reply to Wally-1

Did you get (and read) your copy of the book??


link Ewart Joined: Mar 5, 2005
Posts: 8954
5/20/16 5:41:33 PM 
In reply to CWWeekes

He was indeed. A truly great man. No, I don't....I have to research him.


link Ewart Joined: Mar 5, 2005
Posts: 8954
5/20/16 6:46:51 PM 
Edwin Leopold Allen, BA., (at a time when BA really meant something!)

Allen was instrumental is sending young women off to study nursing in the UK; in helping create markets for ginger farmers; and, as Minister of Education in the Bustamante and Shearer governments, in preaching the gospel of Comprehensive Education, getting children at Kingston Senior School to do the Senior Cambridge Exam, and looking out for the welfare of poor, primary school students through what he called the 70:30 system.


link mikesiva Joined: Jan 12, 2007
Posts: 29222
5/21/16 4:40:50 AM 
In reply to Ewart

Mary Seacole,1805 – 14 May 1881 - the only international Jamaican discussed in the English state schools curriculum, circa 1980's. ( Although plans were afoot in 2012 to remove her from it )

Best known for her nursing abilities - knowledge of herbal treatments - & care of british soldiers during the Crimean war, she was also praised for her work in Central. America, the Caribbean & Britain. Often acclaimed by her more famous english contemporary Florence Nightingale, she was posthumously awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit in 1991 and voted the greatest black Briton in 2004.

More here

link Ewart Joined: Mar 5, 2005
Posts: 8954
5/21/16 11:03:18 AM 
In reply to mikesiva

She went where Florence Nightingale feared to go... she went to aid wounded soldiers on the battlefield.

She is also remembered by the UCWI/UWI which named its female hall of residence the Mary Seacole Hall.


link Ewart Joined: Mar 5, 2005
Posts: 8954
5/21/16 8:15:05 PM 
Rose Agatha Leon, popularly known as Madame Leon, wife of Councillor Arthur "Crankhandle" Leon, cosmetologist, beauty consultant and redoubtable Member of Parliament. Was Minister in JLP government but disagreed with Bustamante and joined the PNP, becoming a Minister in 1972 under Michael Manley.



link mikesiva Joined: Jan 12, 2007
Posts: 29222
5/22/16 5:14:30 AM 
In reply to DukeStreet

'Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley, OM (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) was a Jamaican reggae singer, songwriter, musician, and guitarist who achieved international fame and acclaim. Starting out in 1963 with the group The Wailers, he forged a distinctive songwriting and vocal style that would later resonate with audiences worldwide. The Wailers would go on to release some of the earliest reggae records with producer Lee "Scratch" Perry. After the Wailers disbanded in 1974, Marley pursued a solo career upon his relocation to England that culminated in the release of the album Exodus in 1977, which established his worldwide reputation and produced his status as one of the world's best-selling artists of all time, with sales of more than 75 million records. Exodus stayed on the British album charts for fifty-six consecutive weeks. It included four UK hit singles: "Exodus", "Waiting in Vain", "Jamming", and "One Love". In 1978 he released the album Kaya, which included the hit singles "Is This Love" and "Satisfy My Soul". Diagnosed with a type of malignant melanoma in 1977, Marley died on 11 May 1981 in Miami at the age of 36. He was a committed Rastafari who infused his music with a sense of spirituality. He is considered one of the most influential musicians of all time and credited with popularizing reggae music around the world, as well as serving as a symbol of Jamaican culture and identity. Marley has also evolved into a global symbol, which has been endlessly merchandised through a variety of mediums.'

The great Bob Marley

link Ewart Joined: Mar 5, 2005
Posts: 8954
5/22/16 4:22:54 PM 
In reply to mikesiva

Herb McKenley

An Olympian’s Olympian, Herb McKenley lit the bright flame of top-class sprinting in the hearts of his countrymen half-way through the 20th Century. His anguished journey from one disappointment to another, through two Olympic second places – although he finished in the same time as the declared winners – in races he should have won, was followed with empathy by his fans.

But when he dug deep and propelled himself and the Jamaican team to gold in the 4x400 at the 1952 Olympics with a run for the ages on the third leg, we all knew that he had overcome; that he was free at last.

Renown and humility found harmonious dwelling in this man whose deeds are writ large not only in the Jamaican lexicon, but also deep in the hearts of Jamaicans everywhere.

By the time he arrived in Helsinki for the 1952 Olympics at age 30, he had all Jamaica behind him with high expectation. Today, if track-and-field cognoscenti think of Jamaica as “The Sprint Factory” – and they do – there is one reason, one cause for this enduring effect. Its name? Herb McKenley.

The beginnings were promising. Born July 10, 1922, Herbert Henry McKenley was known as a top sprinter while running for Calabar High School. He earned a track scholarship in 1942 to Boston College and won the US National AAU championship over 400 metres in 1943, a title he retained until 1949. Running at Berkeley, California, for the University of Illinois on June 28, 1947, he became the first native of Jamaica to set a world record for 440 yards with 46.3 seconds.

By the Olympic season of 1948 he was in sparkling form. But he was beset by a string of disappointments that nevertheless gained him more sympathy and support from his growing network of fans. In the 1948 Olympic Games, it was widely expected that Herb would win the 400 metres race.

Arriving in London as a passenger on the Queen Elizabeth, he was confident that having crossed the Atlantic to run the 400 metres he was not going to be beaten in it. But having already run out of the medals in the 200m final, McKenley dramatically misjudged his final surge in the 400m final and was overtaken 50 metres from the 400 metre tape by his long-striding team-mate Arthur Wint.

Come the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland, and once again Herb’s name was on everybody’s lips with great expectation.

But disappointment visited again. This was the scene of twice coming second in the same time as the winner. Entered in all three sprint events, he came through with an extraordinary finish in the final of the 100 metres and was hailed by commentators as the winner.

But then the American sprinter Lindy Remingino, who thought he had come in second, was judged to take the 100 in a time 1/100th of a second faster than Herb. Heartbreak! It was so close that they had to use a set-square on the photo-finish to decide it. McKenley was shocked and disappointed, as was Jamaica. “The fairest thing would have been to declare a draw," McKenley said. "But I will not protest."

Four days later, in the 400m final, team-mate George Rhoden led into the home straight and McKenley, more cautious than four years before, and diagnosed with anemia after the race, just failed to catch him. Both were timed in 45.9 seconds. But in the 4x400 metres relay, with a performance of sheer greatness, McKenley finally garnered the elusive gold.

Taking the baton for the third leg 10 metres in arrears and staring defeat in its face, McKenley sped to the greatest performance recorded in the 4x400 metres relay to send Rhoden and the Jamaican team to the podium for gold and place Jamaica on a path to Olympic glory. It was the fastest time ever recorded for that distance. Jubilation! In Jamaica The Gleaner headline blazed.

Congratulatory telegrams and cables raced across the wires. The Governor gazetted a public holiday. The pictures that were published on the front page of the Daily Gleaner, are still etched in my mind; the quartet of Arthur Wint, Les Laing, Herb McKenley and George Rhoden standing on the Helsinki track before the race, their heads bowed, their arms draped over each other’s shoulders in prayer; and another picture of the quartet after the race, with a happy Herb McKenley smiling broadly.

He had much to smile about. A world record performance, it was a race for the ages. Jamaica ranked fifth with two gold and three silver medals in that Helsinki Olympiad. Indeed, this was the start of Jamaica’s dominance in track and field, a dominance that still bewilders sports anthropologists. Herb McKenley is the inspiration for that dominance. Jamaica had arrived.

As his fame grew, doctors, perplexed by his astounding ability, discovered he had a heart twice the size of the normal athlete’s, as well as very low blood pressure, both of which allowed him to recover quickly after exertion.

But McKenley’s big heart was always in Jamaica. In 1950 he submitted to the Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association an eight-point programme to develop track and field. Accepted, the programme which included advice to establish branch offices, led to the development of athletics clubs across the island.

So back he came to Jamaica and Jamaican athletics. He was appointed Supervisor of Athletics in Jamaica effective August 1, 1954, and coached the national team from 1954 to 1973. He also coached the West Indies Federation team for the 1960 Olympics in Rome. He was both manager and coach of the Rest of the World team versus the Soviet Union in 1971.

As a coach, sports administrator and leader of the team to several Olympiads, he motivated generations of Jamaicans to reach for greatness on the track. And he went back to his old school Calabar, coaching the athletics team to 17 of 18 victories, and not seeking pay for his efforts.

Having been appointed to a government job as athletics coach, McKenley was one of many who were swept from grace when another party took the reins in 1962 and made Jamaica aware of a new term, “political victimisation.” Ironic then that, encouraged by Prime Minister Hugh Shearer, his one attempt to run for political office was under the banner of that same party. He took his defeat at the polls with characteristic grace and threw himself with even greater devotion into his coaching activities.

He taught his athletes the elements of running – from start to finish. He produced coaching regimes for each athlete in his care, and drilled the value of wind-sprints and running longer distances for endurance. He taught the technique of quarter-mile running with the oft repeated caution, “take it easy on the backstretch.”

Above all, he taught the value of teamwork, pointing out for instance that a win in the relays was better than a win as an individual since it produced more points at the annual school’s athletic championships, Champs. And he taught the elements and discipline of baton-passing, that the Olympic baton-change (with the receiving hand open on the hip) was safer but the American baton-change was faster, and then insisting that his charges use the safer one. After all they did have to get the baton around the track!

But he also recognised that his name and his presence meant something and so he leaned heavily on his ability to inspire, pulling out old scrapbooks with photographs of his exploits for each wide-eyed devotee, and thus lighting the fire in the soul of his young charges.

McKenley is still the only male athlete to have reached an Olympic final in all three of the classic sprint events, 100, 200 and 400 metres.

He was the first man to run the quarter mile under 45 seconds. He was at various times world record holder at 300 yards, 440 yards, 300 metres and 400 metres. At a time when outdoor track meets were usually run on dirt or grass, he ran the quarter-mile under 47 seconds on 65 occasions.

After he hung up his own celebrated spikes he paved the way for the annual expeditions of Jamaican high school teams to the Penn Relays. With his encouragement and considerable input, Jamaica high school teams first ran at Penn in 1964. Now, each year they play dominating roles, adding vibrant new life to the Relays, where vociferous, flag-waving fans – many cheering for Jamaica – create an intense, international atmosphere.

With all that – including admission to Jamaica’s new Track and Field Hall of Fame, and national honours from Jamaica – McKenley remained humble. Felled by illness in 1998, and seeing the get-well messages come pouring in, he was to say with pure sincerity that he had no idea that so many people remembered him and thought so well of him.

Herbert McKenley, Olympic athlete, coach and pride of Jamaica, ran his last lap on November 26, 2007, at age 85, and his body was laid to rest by a grateful Jamaica in the National Heroes’ Park.


link DonD Joined: Nov 29, 2002
Posts: 5317
5/22/16 5:39:50 PM 
Great reading through this thread on a pleasant Sunday afternoon. Special thanks to Ewart for his contributions. Two observations:
Where does our unique brand of swearing fit into our culture? Did Louise Bennett acknowledge it's significance or she just dismissed it as a nuisance factor?
Secondly; kind of hard to talk about great Jamaicans without reference to Dr. Thomas Lecky arguably one of the greatest contributors to tropical cattle breeding.

link Ewart Joined: Mar 5, 2005
Posts: 8954
5/22/16 6:39:30 PM 
In reply to DonD

I do not see Louise saying anything about our patented brand of swearing. She might have... but I have not seen it.

However, the late Professor D.K. Gordon of the University of Manitoba and a Calabar old boy, published a book some 12 - 15 years ago in which he spoke volubly about "Rass" and other interesting words.

On Dr. Lecky, see the next post following this. big grin big grin big grin


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