A Tale of Two Jamaicas

I’ve been writing and researching a lot this week. I like to listen to music while I’m working. Having finished an article in Time Out about a young London DJ, who said she likes to end her gigs with a bit of bashment, especially Vybz Kartel, I checked out some of his vast collection of tunes of You Tube. I particularly enjoyed the rhythm (riddim) and dark humour of this short film – Peanut Shell:

I read that Jamaincan Vybz Kartel is from Portmore, a large coastal city in the southern Jamaican parish of  Saint Catherine. It wasn’t long before I was lost in YouTube land reading about Vybz’ music, his life and his subsequent imprisonment. I’d been down the rabbit hole for too long and needed to get back to work.

A couple of nights later, I flicked around looking for something interesting to watch on television and decided to watch Imagine.

The documentary, with Alan Yentob, charted the progress of Jamaican author Marlon James, his early life at school including an interview with his class teacher, his publishing ‘failures’ with 78 rejections behind him, leading up to his accolade of winning the Man Booker prize in 2015, for his chilling novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings.

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In the programme, he read excepts from his novel, we learned about his parents, the comfort and fellowship he found within the pentecostal church. And he talked candidly about the private and personal turmoil he endured as he came to terms with his sexuality, in what can be a homophobic country. He mentioned that he was from a place called Portmore. As I made the mental connection with Portmore’s other talented creative son – I allowed myself an inward smile.

As Jamaican history and culture continues to hold my interest,  I may be sharing future thoughts and insights with you.

Suzy Rigg




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