Monthly Archives: February 2014
Aeron Cargill is an illustrator and photographer based in Kingston, Jamaica. His illustration work includes designs for children’s books, novel covers, etc. He particularly enjoys concept art, which includes character design, as well as storyboarding for TV ads and productions. In his spare time, he returns to his first love, and his introduction into the world of art and photography, which is creating pencil portraits.
When Cargill was 16, a photographer friend introduced him to the art of photography. He was already a pencil portraitist with an art background, so photography seemed to develop as a natural extension to his talents.
When he won the CXC Caribbean award for art in 2001, which was his first major award, it demonstrated to him that the visual arts was a worthy pursuit, despite society’s cues to the contrary. This award gave him the encouragement he needed to pursue an artistic career, and confidence to grow as an artist.
In early 2009 he decided to take his talents in illustration and photography to a professional level. Today, his technique has moved completely over to the digital realm as he uses painting software and a stylus and tablet setup. All his work still starts life in a sketch book and then is translated and completed on the computer. He now prefers digital painting due to the advantages of speed and the freedom to mix effects of traditional mediums over each other in a way not possible in traditional physical counterparts, plus the ability to edit so that changes can easily be made.
To date, Cargill’s work has been published by six publishers, one of which has three books on Amazon which feature Cargill’s illustrations.
On the photography side, Cargill takes pleasure in crafting a memorable image and contributing to the history of a person’s life. He considers the technical aspect as being secondary to the knowledge of connecting with another person, and creating an image that both tells a story and gives a glimpse of the inner person. He also takes pride in pleasing his clients with attractive photos achieved through his efforts.
In the long term, Cargill’s aim is to achieve a more cinematic look to his photography. He hopes to develop a more moody and emotional style, be it romantic, pensive, or even epic. In terms of his illustration he hopes to explore more experimental ways of rendering his muses and possibly cement a definitive trademark style.
While he has traditionally used a great deal of realism in his illustrative work, his aim is to introduce textures and patterns to achieve a more ornate look. He also hopes to use advanced techniques to fuse his photography and illustration skills together.
Cargill’s work can be found at his website at aeroncargillart.com
Me neva did know
Seh me neva born yah
Inna me homeland
Me neva did know
Till you call out to me
Seh me fe feel shame
Ah me ancestry
Ching Chong Chiney gyal
Gwaan back to China
Afta me neva go China yet
How me fe go back
Me neva did know
Seh just cause me deh
Back a one shop
An’ me mama and papa
Talk two different tongue
Dat me was different from you
Dat me neva belong
Me neva did know
True you seh me too rich
An me hair too sof’
An me eat too much rice
An how Chiney eat dawg
Afta me neva eat no dawg yet
Ah stew chicken me love
An’ escoveitch fish
And stew peas an rice
But me neva did know
Seh me nuh fe feel pain
Cause me is a child of privilege
An’ fi you great gran mumma was a slave
An a only yuh get di right fi complain
True me neva did know
Seh out of one people
Neva really mean me
True me neva know
But don’t mind you hear
Cause me naw insult you back
Me naw seh “Go back a Africa
True you black.”
Me just shut me mout’ tight
An smile all ‘roun
Cause me know seh me born right yah so
Inna Kingston town.
I’m told that to be a good writer, you need to cut your heart out and bleed onto the page. I think this qualifies.
One great thing about Jamaica is that whether you were born here, moved here, came for a visit, hang out with Jamaicans, or just love Jamaican food, music, sports or culture, you become a part of a really cool community. This is the ‘My Jamaican Life’ community – a bunch of people who just think Jamaica is really cool.
I have lots of plans and ideas for interesting Jamaican articles, stories, recipes and features. So if you like what you see here, and don’t want to miss a thing, just click on the FOLLOW button to the right, or at the bottom of the page to follow this blog. You’ll get an email telling you when I post something new. Nothing more, nothing less. No spam, no unsolicited emails. That’s a promise.
But because this is a community, I also want to hear from you. I want to know what you like and dislike about the site, and what you’d like to see me add to it. I want this site to belong as much to you as it does to me. I promise to read and respond to all your messages and emails.
So let me personally welcome you to ‘My Jamaican Life’. One love.
You couldn’t tell by his stunning photography, but Courtney Chen began taking an interest in photography barely six years ago. Disappointed by the quality of his own wedding photos, Chen began attempting to improve their appearance digitally. Soon thereafter, he purchased a camera and began taking pictures as a hobby. It quickly became apparent that Chen had a natural talent and an eye for photography, as persons who saw his photos began asking him to teach them his technique. Surprised by the attention, Chen decided to start a photography club in which members would travel around the island to various locations to practice their skills.
Soon, Chen decided to go professional with Courtney Chen Photography. He started by taking portrait photographs, which is what he most enjoys. Persons also began asking him to take their wedding photos. Due to lack of confidence in his abilities, he at first declined. However, one friend finally persuaded him to accept the task. Upon seeing the resultant photos, tears gathered in the bride’s eyes. Chen at first thought that he had done something to upset her, but she quickly reassured him that she was only shedding tears of joy. The happy bride began to spread the word, and Chen began receiving more and more requests for wedding shoots.
His clientele grew and to date he has done many weddings, portraits, as well as a number of model shoots for magazines. When persons ask him how he manages to photograph so many beautiful women, Chen insists that most of his clients are not models, but just normal people. While other photographers seek out beautiful models, Chen welcomes persons of every size or shape to grace his camera as he believes that people are beautiful just as they are, and that it is the job of the photographer to capture their best image.
Based in Kingston, Jamaica, Chen has no studio. Instead, he uses nature as his backdrop. The background of his photos are not altered or changed in any way, but the location is as you see it. His humble and unassuming manner has put many a shy or nervous client at ease. He has had many amusing and eventful experiences on his photo shoots, including one in which a bridesemaid, while jumping for the bouquet, practically jumped out of her clothing.
Chen will tell you that he has no formal training, and is self taught, relying mainly on his instinct as to what looks good to him. This has resulted in something truly unique and special, as can be seen simply by looking at his photos.
Chen enjoys his work, not least because photography has brought him into contact with many wonderful people and allowed him to make many new friends. You can find his photos online at http://courtneychenphotography.com
- Your best friend arrives at your house in tears. She tells you that her husband just caught her with another man and has thrown her out of the house. He has locked her out and she can not get in to collect any of her belongings, and he will not speak to her. What do you do?
a. Say “Hush mi dear. Come in and have some tea.”
b. Pick up the machete that is lying in the corner and say “Whey him deh?” with a wild look in your eyes.
c. Look up in the sky, and say unsympathetically “Yuh should neva mek him ketch you. Sorry fi yuh. Dog nyam yuh suppa!”
- 2. You are at the airport, and a young woman is gushing enthusiastically about the size of the airport, the beauty of the paintings on the wall, and the great food at Island Grill. What do you do?
a. Agree with her.
b. Pick up your machete and threaten to chop her if she doesn’t shut up.
c. Whisper to your companion “Neva si, come si.”
- 3. You hear in the news about a man who is suspected to have been in a dispute with someone over a piece of land. He has been off the island but his wife and children were attacked and their family home was set on fire. You…
a. Shake your head and say sadly “Poor man”.
b. Pick up your machete and threaten to chop the tv.
c. Say wisely “Cyaan catch Quako, cyatch him shut(shirt)”
- 4. You are visiting a friend in Canada in the winter, and have never experienced winter before. However, he offers to teach you how to ice skate. What do you do?
a. You decline, because you are afraid of falling.
b. You pick up your machete and chop up the ice skates.
c. You agree to give it a try, saying “If you go a tump-a-foot dance, you mus’ dance tump-a-foot.”
- 5. You go to the store to buy a pair of shoes. The one you like costs $150. You decide to buy another one for $50 because…
a. You don’t care what you wear.
b. You threatened the sales man with a machete and he ran you out of the first store.
c. Every mickle mek a muckle.
ANSWERS: If you answered mostly
(a) then you are a sweet, kind individual who can’t mash ants. If you answered mostly
(b) then I know of a nice, clean room at a lovely place called Bellevue waiting for you. If you answered mostly (c) then you are an expert in Jamaican proverbs, and probably come from ‘country’.
Dog nyam yuh suppa (The dog ate your supper) basically means that you are in big trouble.
Neva si, Come si (Never see, Come see) is used to indicate a person who is behaving in a naïve and overly enthusiastic manner.
Cyaan catch Quako, cyatch him shut (Can’t catch Quako, catch his shirt). Quako was a runaway slave. The proverb means that if you can’t get a hold of a person (usually not with any good intentions), then you take out your anger on those close to him.
If you go tump a foot dance, you must dance tump a foot. I’m not sure what tump a foot dance is, but this proverb is similar to the English proverb “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
Every mickle mek a muckle. Don’t ask me what mickle and muckle is, but this means that every little bit adds up. Another similar Jamaican proverb is “One-one cocoa full basket”.
Bellevue is a mental institution in Kingston, Jamaica, a suitable residence for a machete wielding individual.
Heneka Watkis-Porter is the driving force behind Patwa Apparel, an authentic Jamaican Clothing line that she started in 2007. As she speaks about her business, Watkis-Porter emanates energy and enthusiasm. A self-professed go-getter, Watkis-Porter declares that “ideas without work is just a hallucination. If you don’t put in the work, then you are only dreaming.” It was while watching a television feature on a Jamaican clothing business that the idea caught fire in her brain, and she decided then and there that she would start her own line of clothing. Within two weeks, Patwa Apparel was conceptualized, named and registered.
Watkis-Porter wanted her brand to be uniquely and authentically Jamaican, without having to broadcast the word “Jamaica” on her clothing. She saw ‘patwa’ as a fusion of fashion and culture, and decided that it was an ideal medium for promoting Jamaican culture in a cool and fashionable way.
She began working with contract manufacturers to produce the line the way she wanted it and proceeded to market her brand. The high-quality fashionable wear has been well-received by Jamaicans locally and abroad.
In 2012, Patwa Apparel was one of eight talented and innovative manufacturing entrepreneurs chosen to be part of Continental Baking Company’s Bold Ones programme, which was launched in 2010. Under this 6-month long, JA$28million promotional programme, National Bakery nurtures and mentors these new companies, assisting them with state-of-the-art marketing materials and high media exposure in order to give them a well-deserved marketing boost.
In May 2013, Watkis-Porter opened a retail store in Devon House. Now, in addition to supplying her Patwa line to stores islandwide, she would be supplying her products directly to her customers.
When Jamaica celebrated their 50th year of independence with great hype, with Caribbean Export organizing Jamaican products to be exported to London, Watkis-Porter was ready to take advantage of the opportunity. Unfortunately, she found the returns disappointing. However, from that experience, she learned that while the diaspora was not always willing to pay the higher prices for Jamaican apparel, this did not apply to Jamaican food. And so, Watkis-Porter set her sights on a food line.
October 2013, she launched the 10 FyahSide line of authentic Jamaican sauces and jams with such offerings as Sizzling Jamaican Jerk Sauce, Blazing Barbeque Sauce, and Zesty Guava jam. These can be found at her Devon House Store, and certain Kingston locations such as Empire Supermarket Liguanea, Brooklyn Supermarket Twin Gates, Lee’s Food Fair on Red Hills Road and York Pharmacy.
Patwa Apparel is available at hotel gift shops and clothing stores around the island, as well as online at http://patwaapparel.com. Watkis-Porter also hosts a blog with her latest news at http://henekawatkisporter.blogspot.com
So we are back on the world stage again! This time it’s Winston Watt and our bobsled team who are flying the flag high. (Is it bobsled or bobsleigh? Apparently they are both correct.) The world has been fawning all over Jamaica recently, whether it is cheering on Usain and our impressive sprinters and trying to find out if the secret is in the yam, or imitating our colourful accent in an effort to sell more Volkswagens, or it’s the Toronto Mayor demonstrating his quite impressive grasp of the Jamaican vernacular. I understand that many a foreign journalist was desperately calling their Jamaican contacts in an effort to translate his tirade. “Could you please tell us what exactly are rasclawts and why they are offensive?”
By virtue of our country’s diminutive size and financial challenges, we are the perpetual underdogs. The odds of a country as small as ours producing so many prominent and successful citizens is tiny. And yet we do. Bob Marley. Grace Jones. Merlene Ottey. Usain Bolt. Shaggy. Sean Paul. Tessanne. The Reggae Boyz. The Olympic bobsled team. The list goes on. Jamaica’s name has reached every corner of the globe.
Because we do beat the odds. A lot. And somehow we always capture the world’s imagination because we are like David against Goliath. And watching David slay the giant never gets old. Of course there’s lots of bad news coming out of Jamaica too. But consider this. Could it be that it is because of the daily hardships that we face, and not in spite of them, that we have achieved so much success?
Recent studies show that many smart children who breeze through school have a difficult time in adulthood when faced with serious challenges. They are so accustomed to things coming easily to them, that they become daunted and give up when faced with their first real obstacle. On the other hand, children who are used to slogging through failures and difficulties are better equipped to navigate the real world, because they push through to reap success.
Now as we know, life in Jamaica is synonymous with frustration. We face it daily. We are confronted with red tape and bureaucracy in conducting the simplest affairs, whether in applying for a birth certificate, paying our taxes, or starting a business. We are ignored by store clerks, are forced to navigate potholed, rutted roads alongside reckless fellow drivers, and we deal with overworked, underpaid and harried doctors and nurses at our hospitals. Practically every single aspect of our everyday life is fraught with problems. If there is a way to make a simple process difficult, we’ll find it.
And so we have cut our teeth on struggle and frustration. Little surprise then, that our citizens manage to achieve so much. After all, after living in Jamaica, what challenge is too great for us. What odds can overcome us? So there is no snow? And we want to be an Olympic skier/bobsledder/ice skater. No problem! So there is no money and we need US$80,000 to get to the Olympics? No problem! So we are at the Olympics with no sled? No problem!
Whatever mountains are put in front of us, Jamaicans will find a way over, around or through it. Because that is what we do every single day. Tell a Jamaican it can’t be done, then step back and watch them do it. There’s no rule that can’t be broken, no roadblock that can’t be removed, no hurdle that can’t be conquered. Our particular brand of determination, and the creativity which we employ to achieve our goals is truly admirable.
So our brave little team from the land of sunshine and beaches has donned their winter gear and taken to the Olympic bobsled track for the second time in history. They say that there is small chance of us winning. That may be true, but I wouldn’t count us out too soon. We got to Sochi against all odds, and we are accustomed to beating the odds. Winning may be a long shot, but we thrive on challenges. Because we are a people born and raised on hardships. And this is what we do best. We fight and we conquer. You say it can’t be done? Just watch us.
1.Developed the ortanique
2.Developed several breeds of cattle that now thrive in the Tropics
3.Created Canasol, a ganja-based eyedrop for glaucoma treatment
4.Won the Nobel Peace Prize
5.Created the JaipurKnee, an affordable prosthetic knee
6.Was the first person in the Caribbean to create a bio-engineered fruit
7.Discovered the cause of the disease Kwashiorkor
8.Identified the Aedes Aegypti mosquito as the carrier of dengue fever
9.Created a formula that will eliminate prostate cancer
10.Isolated a compound to fight several types of cancer such as melanoma, lung and breast cancer
Everyone knows that Jamaica is the land of Reggae Musicians and Olympic Sprinters. But fewer people are aware that Jamaica is also home to several notable scientists and inventors. This list introduces just ten of the remarkable creative achievements that Jamaica has produced.
Have you ever tasted an ortanique? This citrus fruit, which is a cross between a tangerine and an orange, was originally developed in the hills of Mandeville, Jamaica by David Daniel Phillips, JP, in the late 19th century. Phillips, who happens to be the grand uncle to the current Minister of Finance of Jamaica, Dr. Peter Phillips, originally decided to call the fruit a ‘tangelo. This name was later changed to ortanique, which is the name it is known by today.
Most ortaniques are still grown in the parish of Manchester in Jamaica. Since this fruit thrives in altitudes of 100ft or more, the cool climate and bauxite rich soils are ideal for the growing of this crop. Efforts to grow the fruit elsewhere have failed to reproduce the distinctive flavor of Manchester grown ortaniques.
2 Cattle – bred for the Tropics
The Jamaica Hope, the Jamaica Red and Jamaica Black are three breeds of cattle specifically developed to live in tropical conditions. They are the work of scientist Dr. Thomas P. Lecky. In 1925, Lecky noticed that the cattle being raised in Jamaica were slow to mature, produced no more than 4 litres of milk per day, and had little meat around the haunches and ribs. On the other hand, they were strong, excellent for hauling carts, and were also resistant to tick fever and other tropical diseases.
It was at this time that Lecky decided to develop an animal that was better suited for Jamaican needs. After migrating to study animal genetics at McGill University in Montreal, and Animal Husbandry at The University of Toronto, he returned to Jamaica to begin his cross-breeding experiments. Finally, in the 1950s, after twenty years of work, he produced the Jamaica Hope.
This breed, the first to be developed, was small enough to navigate the hillsides, could produce as much as 12 litres of milk per day, was resistant to diseases and adapted to the tropics. Lecky’s work revolutionized the dairy industry in Jamaica and caught the attention of scientists from around the world who came to examine his work.
3 Canasol, a ganja-based eye-drop for glaucoma treatment
Canasol was developed through the hard work and scientific research of two notable Jamaicans: pharmacologist, Professor Manley West, and ophthalmologist, Dr Albert Lockhart. It was an important breakthrough drug as it was the first glaucoma eye medication in the Caribbean to be developed at UWI, Mona, and it does not induce the negative side effects that similar synthetic drugs are known for.
Professor West remembers being told by country folk that washing their eyes in ganja water made them see better, and fishermen claimed that drinking ganja tea improved their vision, particularly at night. Meanwhile, Dr. Lockhart noted that his Rastafarian patients who used ganja, had few incidences of glaucoma. From these observations, the two men became interested in working with ganja in order to discover its potential medical benefits. Ten years later, Canasol was the result.
4 The Nobel Peace Prize for Work against Climate Change
Were you aware that a Jamaican has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize? In 2007, Professor Anthony Chen was part of a group that received The Nobel Peace Prize jointly with former US Vice President Al Gore. The group is the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), and they were recognized “for their efforts to spread information about climate change, and to lay the foundations for counteracting such change.”
5 The JaipurKnee, an affordable prosthetic knee
In 2009, Joel Sadler, who was only 25 years old, along with his American teammates Eric Thorsell, Ayo Roberts and Angelo Szychowski created an affordable artificial knee that is being used in India by thousands of amputees. The JaipurKnee costs only US$20, as opposed to high end titanium joints made in the US that can cost anywhere upwards of US$10,000.
The prosthesis was developed by Stanford University in collaboration with the Jaipur Foot Group, which is a charity that provides prostheses to Indian amputees.
The young men developed the idea while working on a class project in January 2008 as part of their Masters Degree Program. On a trip to India, they met amputee, 17 yr old Kamal who inspired them to make a low cost artificial knee containing just five high performance plastic parts, and four nuts and bolts. It was built to last a minimum of 3 years with normal use.
The JaipurKnee was rated number 18 on the Time Magazine 50 best inventions of 2009.
6 The Solo Sunrise, a disease resistant papaya
The Solo Sunrise is a strain of papaya that is resistant to the devastating Ring Spot disease. This fruit was developed by Dr. Paula Tennant, Jamaican plant biotechnologist.
When the Ring Spot disease threatened to wipe out papaya crops across Jamaica, the Jamaican government solicited advice from Cornell University, which set up a lab at the University to study this problem. Tennant was selected to go and work in that lab. She was able to identify the features of the Jamaican strain of virus, which was a mutated version of the strains seen in other countries. The usual solution to the problem, if unable to cure the disease, would be to find a resistant fruit, or develop an immune papaya through cross-breeding, Efforts in this area were proving unsuccessful.
Through Cornell, Tennant then successfully learned how to manipulate the genes of the fruit to create a genetically modified, disease resistant strain. She is the first person in the Caribbean to develop a bio-engineered product.
7 Kwashiorkor identified as a protein deficiency disease
Most of the developed world has never encountered, Kwashiorkor. However, this disease was the cause of a great deal of suffering in Africa in 1929, when Jamaican medical doctor, Dr. Cicely Williams, first identified its cause, and set about educating persons on how to prevent it.
It was while working in Ghana, where she spent seven years, that she first encountered this disease, which the locals had named kwashiorkor. She learned that the name meant ‘the sickness a child gets when the next baby is born‘. Through her investigations, Williams was able to determine that kwashiorkor was caused by a lack of protein. She began to treat patients with a mixture of beans and grain. Her discovery of the cause of this disease, and her treatment of it, was one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century.
8 Aedes Aegypti discovered to be the carrier of Dengue fever
If you are aware that dengue fever is spread by the aedes aegypti breed of mosquito, then you have benefited from the research of Jamaican microbiologist, pathologist and medical doctor, Professor Louis Grant.
In the 1940s, a strange fever began to present itself in Jamaica. Grant was able to identify it as dengue fever but no-one knew how it had arrived in Jamaica. His research led him to conclude that it was being spread by the aedes aegypti mosquito, the breed responsible for spreading yellow fever. Through a public education campaign he was able to control this disease and greatly reduce its spread.
9 Cure for Prostate cancer
A cure for prostate cancer is already in the making, and Jamaica scientist Dr. Henry Lowe is responsible. In 2010, Lowe announced that he had created a cancer-fighting formula from the main ingredient in the plant known as Ball moss, and that this formula would eliminate prostate cancer. In February 2012, Lowe made the product available in nutraceutical form. The product is called Alpha Prostate Formula 1 and it is made under the Eden Gardens Brand. The product has been certified under FDA approved guidelines and is certified for export to the USA and other countries.
10 A Cure for a range of cancers.
In 2010, Dr. Lawrence Williams announced that he had been awarded an international patent on a compound isolated from the Guinea Hen Weed. The Jamaican Scientific Research Council says that this complex has the ability to kill a wide range of cancers including melanoma, lung and breast cancer.
Williams has already dedicated more than 13 years to this research. The next stage involves conducting clinical trials of the compound and development of a pharmaceutical agent. Rights to the patent are shared by Dr. George Levy, a Jamaican-born doctor living in the United States.
Johnson, A. (2001) Great Jamaicans, Book II, Scientists, Kingston: TeeJay Ltd.
photo credit: Marcos Teixeira de Freitas via photopin cc
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photo credit: MiriaGrunick via photopin cc
The lizardicus Jamaicanus, or the Jamaican lizard, is a truly formidable reptile. Although the species typically grows to no more than 4 or 5 inches long, do not be fooled by its tiny stature. With no more than a twitch of its tail, and a blink of its eyes, this diminutive creature is powerful enough to petrify a perfectly healthy, full grown adult, male or female.
There are in fact twenty-two common types of this species. living in Jamaica. However, I shall introduce you to just two. The first is the lizardicus Jamaicanus greenicus, or the Jamaican green lizard. This type is the less fearful of the two, since it tends for the most part to live outdoors, in the trees, away from humans. However, it has been known on occasion to sneak stealthily into people’s homes through open doors or windows. The mere sight of this creature is certain to create mayhem and chaos as persons scramble to escape through the nearest doorway.
The second, more formidable type of this species is the lizardicus Jamaicanus croakitus terroristicus , commonly known as the croaking lizard. This type has a ghastly white translucent skin. Its croak, which some scientists claim is its mating call, is in fact its war cry, which it uses to warn all humans away from its newly claimed territory. Shrieks of terror are a certain sign that a croaking lizard is in the vicinity. Entire houses will be evacuated in fear and trembling until such a creature has been banished from the home.
Certain intrepid individuals will employ such means as broomsticks and rolled up newspapers to attempt to chase away, maim or even kill the creature as its presence can by no means be tolerated. Fortunately, actual attacks are, in fact, rare, although occasionally one will hear of the creature pouncing upon its unsuspecting victim without warning. The most heinous and vicious attack involves the creature landing upon a person’s head, and allowing itself to become entangled in their hair. Much screaming and crying and desperate hair cutting would have to be involved as brave rescuers attempt to release the victim from the clutches of the predator. Survivors will tell you that such an encounter scars them for life.
Indeed there is no lizard in the world quite like the Lizardicus Jamaicanus, as none of its cousins which reside in other parts of the world are able to inspire quite the same level of fear and terror as those that live in Jamaica. This Jamaican reptile is truly a remarkable creature.