Monday, October 12, 2015

Burning Spear - Christopher Columbus

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Lessons Learnt from the Princess who wanted a Princess Yo-yo!

This is a post dedicated to my daughter and some of the things she has taught me as well as allowed me to remember and rediscover. For a few years before her birth I was in a state of some kind of depression and doldrums, a funk as it were, overwhelmed with failures. The failure of having not produced any literary master piece as yet, not getting any where with poetry, no where with art, no comic book produced, no documentary, no cartoon, no animation, no car, no major tech infusion, hobbling on a pitch patch income, fumbling from PC to PC and laptop to laptop. Yeah there may have been some successes... as small as they seemed in my eye, and probably in the grand picture of Jamaican super start success hypes. Yeah I was the first Jamaican Blogger, and probably the first or longest running Jamaican blogger, but what is the value and who cares?

Sure The Montegonian did a lovely stint in the Western Mirror which I believe changed the dynamic of Column writing in Western Jamaica and imbued western Journalism with more confidence and vigor. Sure I would hear my ideas in articles popping up in Mobay's Chamber of Commerce on the mouths of other people with no credit to me, which is not a problem to me, as long as it makes this city better. Yeah but in the age of so many hot writers erupting everyday from Jamaica on the world stage, what is it worth when the world stage and so many platform seem closed to me and the less financially endowed. Sure I have been championing and been an early pioneer using Linux and Open Source in Montego Bay and Western Jamaica on PC's, Laptops and Desktops, but what is that worth in a country that worships at the alter of Microsoft and Windows, yet not knowing Linux holds up their tech world on Android phones and slavishly carrying the tech world on servers everywhere. What is it worth when you champion your community and any social cause worth the activism, only to be neglected by NGO's because we aren't PR material or the poster child for the worst community or we just don't have enough dead bodies on our streets, to have media focus on Kingston and the colourful personalities that catch their eye and fancy, and this happens no matter how conscious the media agency seems or pretends to be. What is it worth to be another unsung hero... to fight the black struggles in the best ways you know how and to have so little verbal reward or any kind of accolade and close to no meal ticket. What was it worth to be vanguard and forerunner, when every forerunner only holds the lead to be in a lonely place and relegated to pariah.

What was I to do... worn thin and wounded in spirit?

Enter my Daughter... life in abundance, come to reinvigorate me and teach me new lessons on life and to remember the lessons and ideas I forgot long ago.

Lesson 1. Simple things can keep us happy: The Princess Yo-Yo 101

~Now this lesson I learned last December. I am not a Christmas believer nor do I believe a Christ was born on Dec 25. However Nativity, Christmas Carols, Trade Winds those tings make me redolent, and is a season I cherished as a child for the bells, the x-mas plays, cool chilly breezes, the yards smelling of paint, fresh cut lawns, pretty silver moons, astronomy with my father under clear skies, being filled with the sense that the world was slowing down for reasons such as love, family and in-gatherings of family and extensions of family. A season that as child wished would never end. So it is that spirit I try to hang onto and recapture for my daughter. A feeling and emotion about the season, not necessarily connected to trees, or lights, or presents, but connected with the presence of special people. So when she became swept up with the season last year and she requested a present, Super Daddy has to answer the call. Now, for a few days I twisted my brain to find a nice present and thought it maybe it'd be something costly. Would it be a tablet, a Nabi, a electronic gadget of some sort, surely not clothes... After not thinking of anything, I asked her what she wanted. "A Princess Yo-Yo!" 

WHAT! A princess yo-yo... hmmm it seemed a unique and odd request and one that maybe would stump me. For this was a request at the crux of roads... Yo-yoes are for boys, I hadn't imagined that the 21st century girl could be a Tom Boy Princess... another strange anomaly. HMMMMM HMMMM HMMMM... so specialized, it sounds like that may stretch my imagination, where in Mobay was I gonna find a princess yo-yo... if one even existed. And how much would this cost now... please let it not be over $2000, as mi just nuh have it, fi maths more than that. HMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm I was confounded. Being the presumption ass, I assumed that such wonders as a possibly expensive and specialized toy like a princess yo-yo had to be located at Fontana or MegaMart or some such location... of I went... wasting gas to traverse from Paradise to Mobay's likkle farrin... out by Fairview! Only to not find the prized princess yo-yo there. After giving the issue some more brain power... I came up with Sangster's Book Store... so off to Harbour Street to park again and foot it to Sangster's. After scouring Sangster's seeing an varied assortment of $1000 odd Yo-yoes, I was heartened somewhat, but I hadn't found the Princess Yo-yo yet. Fine fine... lemme walk the town in one last hope to see what's up, only to realize hmmmm Henderson's in renovating... lemme check it out... as I enter it immediately greets me, a $435.00 pink Princess Yo-yo! My word... that's it $435.00 bet she just uses it once and discards it... I've seen kids do it a thousand times right.

3 Months later in March I was still de-tangling yo-yo chords and explaining an assortment of tricks. Hence I had learned that she really did ask for what she wanted, was happy when she got it, and really tried to learn to use it and understand it. Hmmm much more than I had given her credit for. So my daughter reminds me of the Sizzla song now... "Simplicity we use to survive, many find it difficult cause them ignorant and dumb." The hold incident too reminded me of a time when I was young, it was a Sunday, and as my mother and grand mother sat reading the papers, I didn't realize my granny had stopped reading the newspaper and was watching me swing on the grill at the door, and when I realized she was, she looked at me and said, "A see seh yuh come fi mek yuh owna sun shine." It was a while before i understood what she meant, but Kyrha's made me re-learn that idea.

Lesson 2. Everyone has their own mind: On White Folk and Other Philosophy- death, afterlife god mother nature

Now when it comes to life and learning as it pertains to youth, my belief is that, I ought not hold much back, and if I do, it is only in the interest of keeping things simple. I won't lie or make up fairy tales. Lies, myth and fairy tales I believe hinder a child's development, and denies them the chance to intuit deeper levels of knowledge and understanding. Fairy tales hinder humanity's collective gainful comprehension of the universe.

However explaining gravity, why we fall, robots, machines, sleep, imagination, digestion, the eye, even sex and how she came here, seems so so so much simpler when one contends with explaining GOD, JESUS, HEAVEN, MOTHER NATURE, AFTER LIFE, SLAVERY AND RACISM among other metaphysical and social mysteries.

Most amazing of all though is that this little  year old processes my thoughts and what I tell her and she doesn't just imbibe it and says it is so because Daddy's says so... she challenges ideas in her mind. I'll soon explain.

My doctrines on life are a scientific approach to questions, in social spiritual matters in my Ras Tafari I employ Marcus Garveys's fiery Afrocentrism and pan-africanism tempered by Haile Selassie's cerebral modus operandi and diplomacy. So when I have to touch on touchy issues of Race and slavery I as advised by listening to Martin Luther King Jr's treatise on his little daughter and fun town, which I listen to often via Youtube.

So when Africa comes up and how or why we are Africans and how we came to be in Jamaica, I didn't shy away from explaining the horror of slavery and the evils wrought on us by white Europeans. As MLK Jr suggested I tried not to be bitter. I think I may have been a little. Anyway... it so happens one day white Christian folk visit her school, when I pick her up, she immediately comes to me and says guess what Daddy... You know I think you are wrong about white people... not all white people are bad... I met some good ones at school today... I couldn't contain the laughter... this child retained the race conversations and had borne it in mind and challenged my information with her experiences... I was truly impressed. There is no brain washing this one. Anyway... after she repeats her point and says "is true enuh Daddy, is true!" I say to her don't worry we'll discuss this again when you are older, and hopefully then you'll see my point more clearly.

Lesson 3. What Father is and means: Pickney Proverbs & Prov 15 vs 5

So on becoming a father I have had to examine my experiences being fathered, what I liked, what I want to improve upon from my father. But I have also had to examine the role I have played to people I have semi- or part-time fathered. If mentoring is important, the power of the role... what power has been invested in father.

More difficult to examine has been how Jamaica deals with father and how harshly we are critiqued and derided by society, even as our stats improve and some stats are coming in to indicate women have to some extent aided in undermining Jamaican Masculinity... the Jacket phenomenon, the bleaching, the long hair and expenses, the gimmi mentality, relentless challenge to male authority, the belief in the better-ness of white notions and displays and examples of masculinity.

I've also had to open up to my daughters notions of father, dada, papa... the fixer of things, the knower of things, her companion encyclopedia and philosopher, the backdrop against which she bounces ideas and deciphers reality. The daughter who believes father is there for super/supra natural protections. To examine what this young femininity means to man, what really is the role of man, what do I teacher her of masculinity, what do I do with her Tom Boyism... her Princessism... how do I prepare for the future with a truly helpful vision that equips her for all that may come, how do I also prepare her for launch as my first emissary and arrow shot and cast into the future, my messenger and ambassador to the future? How? How do I combine organic ideology, african spirituality, technology, post modern philosophy, ecological livity, humanism and not this transhuman future of black widows, Iron men and people with electric hearts and dreams of electric sheep, visions and ultrons??? How do I sow Marcus Garvey into everyday existence and merge the ethics of Haile Selassie?

Most of all I have had to examine everyone who has played some sort of mentor or fatherly role... my Father, grand Father, older friends, elders, sages and all... I have had to even consider if I am comfortable with God being a father... should it maybe not be better that it be ISIS and not some nondescript holy ghost, and what social ethos would only give us a God father, and no mother or reduce her to a ghost... and find some way to sire sons (the sons of god came down and took of themselves wives of the daughters of men) without women, to make man give birth to the first woman!

In many ways my daughter more than anyone has taught me about Father, through the gift of fatherhood.

Lesson 4. Live!

I don't know another soul that gives meaning to the words Verve and Vivacious and Effervescent!

From the moment I met this girl in a tummy kicking, I couldn't have met her before that, I am not privy to the woman's early knowing that her body is inhabited and her womb is occupied. Yep! I met her with a kick and the information that she constantly moved to the noise of children and voices on the outside world! And as I sat by the womb waiting night by night... I had a sense of knowing that this was someone full of spunk...

It would come as no surprise then that some of her favourite songs are "This Girl is on Fire" and  Katy Perry's "Roar"... She ravages through cartoons and her favourites change often... there was the Avatar "Ang" phase, then Korra... the Doc McStuffins, Cat in the Hat, Peppa Pig, My Little Pony, Strawberry Shortcake, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, now much to my chagrin it's Monster High and Sabrina the Teenage Witch!

But that I think is a crucial lesson she has taught me... sometimes I spend too much time being cerebral and thinking about things and there consequences rather than just doing... and that is her thing... impulsive impetus... just do it.. live, with a sense of absolute fearlessness at that. So if she can do it... why can't I! She also brought home this Garvey quote..

Fear is a state of nervousness fit for children and not men. When man fears a creature like himself he offends God, in whose image and likeness he is created. Man being created equal fears not man but God. To fear is to lose control of one's nerves; one's will, to flutter, like a dying fowl, losing consciousness, yet alive.
(Marcus Garvey)

Imagine a 5 year old teaching I N I bout fearlessness!

Lesson 5. Serendipity Sanguinity and Telepathic Connection

When I was a little boy, sitting int back of cars in the rain, I'd look at the wipers and imagine they were two children chasing each other or fighting, throwing water at each other. It's just one of those little thoughts your child mind produces and you forget as you get older. I was blown away one evening whilst driving home in the rain, she says "Mommy and Daddy! Yuh know those two wipers look like two children fighting and throwing water at each other, two rude children... dem rude enuh! Don't dem look like dat Mommy?"

I had to give the car a 1 minute stop and let the years come back... then let the strange feeling of synchronism and time-loop or -warp sink in and settle and explain it to her and her Mommy why I had paused.

I think this is a lesson on the metaphysics of things, the unknown and unexplained, a sense that their are greater psycho-spiritual things going on, we are more than we know... paranormal, in search of... STRANGE BUT TRUE...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Top 6 Jamaican Television Series

As I continue my foray into the current blogging trend of publishing and posting all kinds of lists of wonderful Jamaican gems etc. After months of inactivity a day with two posts. WOOOOOO! Say hurray! I did a list of Jamaican movies a few years back and now I noticed you've got quite a few on the market... but I haven't noticed any blogs that touch on Jamaican Television series... So being the nuff person I am, I have to try and see if I can do it first, and maybe set a trend, and see people's lists with stuff I missed or forgot. But here is my list of TOP 6 Jamaican TV series:

Oliver at Large:
In the 80's when I entered the world... Oliver truly was LARGE... to me he was Jamaica's first larger than life celebrity! Oliver Samuels uncovered fame on the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation's television series Oliver At Large, created by producer Calvin Butler and playwright Aston Cooke. In this series, Samuels played his alter ego Olivius Adams, aka Oliver. The series featured sketches from Oliver's exploits, often with his sidekick, Maffi. Several spin-off theatre pieces have been created for the Oliver character, including Large Abroad, Oliver's Posse (1999), Oliver and Pinocchio (2001), and Oliver and the Genie (2002).

Lime Tree Lane:
This JA Sitcom as it were, introduced me to a nuanced inspection of Jamaican community life... especially at time I couldn't do road so intensel. Lime Tree Lane was an original comedy series which aired on JBC (later @televisionjam) in 1988 until 1997 was Jamaican TV’s first soap opera. Are you too young to remember the series? Here’s a clip!

Titus in Town:
This great situation comedy to me was hilarious and a direct result of the successes of Oliver at Large. The 1980s Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation television series Titus in Town saw local actor Glen Campbell rise to spectacular heights in the world of Caribbean acting and theatre.Titus in Town

Another situation comedy spinoff - Claffy better known as MAFFIE in Oliver-at-Large was Oliver Samuel's foil and side kick for years and as is the trend in Television, he goes on to try his hand at his own series and so CLAFFY was born!

Ity & Fancy Cat:
This is currently the hottest comedy act in the Caribbean! Revolutionary & relevant in its substance, pioneering & playful in form as well as style... This bit of modern art is high in entertainment value. A Half our Comedy Skit akin to In Living Colour and Saturday Night Live, Ity and Fancy Cat that will “mek u laaf till u wata come a yuh eye". Ity & Fancy

Royal Palm Estate / The Blackburns:
This was the show that during my high school years introduced me to ideas of what high society Jamaica maybe like, and I never could break the cognitive link between Sonny T, and the real life Tommy T, Sonny Tavares and Tom Tavares, Tivoli, and even that Damian Marley song, "Things just ain't the same for gangsters." Royal Palm Estate  was broadcast 1994 from CVM TV in Jamaica and around the Caribbean. After 15 years, the producer has shifted the story-line to address the concerns of the younger Blackburn family in an evolving society. “The Blackburns” looks at the social dynamics of a family that exists in large part due to the legacy of the patriarch, the plantocracy, the remnants of slavery – Ted Blackburn and the plantation state.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The 7 Health Benefits of JACKFRUIT!

Since I haven't blogged in awhile I thought I'd just jump on the latest Jamaican and Caribbean  blogging fads, cool lists and the health benefits of under examined Jamaican foods. Yippeee... I picked Jackfruit, because I hate it and how it smells and I haven't seen it in the blogosphere yet. But I always wondered if i did eat it though, wow it would be a whopper food solution... its just so hugemungous...

So before I jump into the list here is the usual summary and breakdown I'll swipe from Wikipedia or a composite of authorities:

The jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus), also known as jack tree, jakfruit, or sometimes simply jack or jak[6] is a species of tree in the mulberry and fig family (Moraceae).
It is native to parts of South and Southeast Asia, and is believed to have originated in the southwestern rain forests of India, in present-day GoaKerala, coastal Karnataka, andMaharashtra.[7] The jackfruit tree is well suited to tropical lowlands, and its fruit is the largest tree-borne fruit,[8] reaching as much as 35 kg (80 lb) in weight, 90 cm (35 in) in length, and 50 cm (20 in) in diameter.[9]The jackfruit tree is a widely cultivated and popular food item in throughout the tropical regions of the world. Jackfruit is the national fruit of Bangladesh, by name Kanthal (কাঁঠাল) in Bengali language.[10] The Jackfruit tree can produce about 100 to 200 fruits in a year. The Jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world. Its weight can range from from 10 lbs to over 100 lbs.

Jackfruit is a one of a kind tropical fruits, recognized for its unique shape, size, and fruity flavor which is akin to Wrigley's Juicy Fruit gone wild... its massive bulb can be spot from a distance. The fruit is smell sweetie-sweetie, and much like an over ripe breadfruit in taste. It shares a fragrant commonality with other tropical fruits such as durian, banana etc., But suprising most of all is its health benefits. It is rich in energy, dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins and free from saturated fats or cholesterol, making it one of the healthy late summer  early autumn natural foods to dive into! So here is the  list:

  1. Energy Booster: 100 g of edible jackfruit bulbs provide 95 calories. It's made of soft, easily digestible fleshy bulbs made up of simple sugars like fructose and sucrose that when eaten replenishes energy and revitalizes the body instantly.
  2. Dietary Fiber: It's a good bulk laxative. The fiber content helps protect the colon mucous membrane by binding to and eliminating cancer-causing chemicals from the colon.
  3. Vitamin-A:  Vitamin A is required for maintaining eyes as well as the integrity of mucusa and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in vitamin-A, and carotenes has been found to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
  4. B-complex group of vitamins: Forget about the RedBull... this fruit... it contains very good amounts of vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), niacin, riboflavin, and folic acid. It is rare that a fruit is rich in B-complex vitamins
  5. Vitamin-C: Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful free radicals.
  6. Minerals: It's a good source of potassium, magnesium, manganese, and iron. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.
  7. Protein: Jackfruit seeds are rich in protein. In general, the seeds are gathered from the ripe fruit, sun-dried then roasted. Boiled jackfruit seeds are also edible. Often compared to Brazil nuts, they are quite commonly used in curry in the Indian state of Kerala.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

In Defense of Chronixx: Obama may really be a Waste Man!

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
Martin Luther King Jr. 1963
Chronixx's now famous post!

The press is supposed to be the "Guardian of the Republic" and the "Pillar of the Democracy," the press is the only industry explicitly referenced in the U.S. constitution. How is then, that the press and media in Jamaica and abroad seem so spineless in critiquing President Obama? Have they abdicated their role in giving voice to the voiceless and airing the VOX POPULI... Chronixx's comments echo a sentiment that cuts across a broad spectrum of Jamaicans, such as myself and various communities who are unwilling to look the other way simply because Mr. Obama is a black president. Such criticism of Obama is not unique to Jamaica and Jamaicans, but black academics and intellects everywhere. 

All this while in America itself under the Obama administration the plight of Black Americans has worsened:  A recent interview on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press,” NAACP CEO and president, Ben Jealous, told the show’s host that black Americans “are doing far worse” than when President Obama first took office. “The country’s back to pretty much where it was when this president started,” Jealous told show host David Gregory. “White people in this country are doing a bit better. Black people are doing far worse.”  Dr. Julianne Malveaux of Your Black World recently wrote that the Obama Administration needs to speak out more about existing racial disparities and persistent problems in black unemployment.

The Black Diaspora has seen the US elect thousands of African American local and state officials and re-elect the first black president. But Obama seems to have proven just a symbol, symbolic and nothing more. Nothing real, nothing substantial, nothing progressive as it pertains to the plight of blacks.

The media is slow and unwilling to note that our black leaders are dithering. Floundering. Flailing... failing and falling even. Symbolism supersedes the fact that black leadership has few or no victories to boast for the seventies, the eighties, the nineties or the new century, apart from their own illustrious careers. 

Obama seems a symbol used to nullify and quiet the analytic black mind and voice. "Nigger shut up we got a black president now!" 

Who in Jamaica or the media is willing to look past the fact that he is JUST a black president and willing to examine the fact that the black role model president conducts weekly “Terror Tuesday” meetings in the White House basement at which he dispatches drones to murder and special forces to kidnap and torture in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and across the African continent. It matters not at all that the Department of Justice prosecutes whistle blowers instead of war criminals, or that black military officials and diplomats like Susan Rice are up to their armpits in African blood. Mr. President highlighted the fact that our government meets behind our backs, in secret and signs agreements we don't know about, but what of his secret meetings.

The black political class at home and abroad is utterly self-interested. It cannot begin to mobilize black communities to demand higher wages, a massive jobs program to relieve unemployment, a new paradigm of urban economic development that isn't just moving poor people out of neighborhoods and richer ones in. It seems our egotistical black intelligentsia can't begin to make these things happen because foisting itself and its own advancement off as “representing” the black oppressed masses is the beginning and the end of who they are and what they do. They are not truly about the black diaspora and its plight, they do not truly care to ease the existential condition of his brothers, neighbours and friends.

For them, the election and and re-election of Barack Obama is the end of black history. The be all and end all of our history. Addressing black unemployment, pervasive economic injustice, opposing the neo-liberal,capitalist, globalist, transnational agenda of privatization and austerity put forth not just by the black president, but by an entire layer of black thinkers are, in their language not pragmatic or “realistic.”

President Obama denied our request to exonerate Marcus Garvey, he is more willing to lobby for homosexuals and their agenda, than the plight of black people. He neglects Africa, send troops instead of Doctors like Cuba did to combat Ebola in Africa... Netanyahu just disrespected him in his own country, I see no reason to rejoice nor genuflect at his arrival. He allowed and sanctioned the murder of Qaddafi the last defender of Africa, friend of Nelson Mandela, after inviting him to the U.S. and defending him in the face of public disapproval, he without congressional approval and with the help of Sarkozy and Nato murdered Qaddafi. In-spite of winning a Nobel peace prize... he has yet to close GITMO. I as a descendant of a UNIA member from the days of Marcus Garvey... a Jamaican who saw the havoc that is democrats neo-liberal agenda in the 90's, as a black man who sees today's social stagnation of the black race and our position as last economically, cannot support this man who says he is America's president!

 I support Chronixx in saying what he said. Sometimes, in order to follow our moral compass and/or our hearts, we have to make unpopular decisions or stand up for what we believe in. To those who would see Chronixx muzzled, I quote Neal Boortz: "Free speech is meant to protect unpopular speech. Popular speech, by definition, needs no protection."

And I close with a quote from President JFK to Mr. Obama, to our government and to the media:

Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed--and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment-- the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution- -not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply "give the public what it wants"--but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The C.U.P. of Life

The Montegonian Proposal 

The C.U.P. of Life 

"My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." Matthew 26:39
"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over."
Psalms 23
"Life is, Sheer passion , You have to fill, The cup with love, In order to live, You have to fight/struggle, A heart to win."
Ricky Martin- English Translation of “La Copa de la Vida”
“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?”
Kahlil Gibran “At the third cup, wine drinks the man”
Hokekyo Sho

 I have a proposition for my future MP, my councillor, my community. A CUP… what kind of cup you might ask! Well the Community Upliftment Program. Well it is the propositional brainchild of the Montegonian no doubt, but what it needs is political will, community spirit and probably some financing.

An Argument for Community Development

Welcome to a 21st century in which many cities, in many countries, link the revitalization of the central business district and renovation and improvement of houses or districts so that it conforms to middle-class taste of residential neighbourhoods to earlier community development initiatives. In this day and age it is undoubtable that we need policies based construction and more on renovation and investment, and today these new kinds of policies are an integral part of many local governments worldwide, often combined with small and big business incentives.

Community development seeks to give power to individuals and groups of people by providing these groups with the skills, proficiency and expertise they require to make and cause change in their own communities. These skills are often focused around building political power through the formation of large social groups working for a common plan. Community developers have to understand both how to work with individuals and how to change and elevate communities' positions within the context of larger social institutions and society.

Essentialy community development is the process of developing active and sustainable communities based on social justice and mutual respect. It is about influencing power structures to remove the barriers that prevent people from participating in the issues that affect their lives. Community Development expresses values of fairness, equality, accountability, opportunity, choice, participation, mutuality, reciprocity and continuous learning. Educating, enabling and empowering are at the core of Community Development.

Several angles can be taken to initiate community development including: Community economic development, Community capacity building, Social capital formation, Political participatory development, Ecologically sustainable development, Asset-based community development, Faith-based community development.

The proposed CUP, community upliftment program, would be a two pronged approach to developing communities, one, on the macro level and the other being the micro level. This is to say that they need to address issues that affect the community as whole and their position in the bigger scheme and order of things, and next to address the community on an individual and family level, the level of familiarity which exists in the common community family. Cup I believe needs to be and is designed to address the peculiarities of Montegonian families and communities.

CUP: The Macro Plan

1. Economic Opportunity - including job creation within the community and throughout the region, entrepreneurial initiatives, small business expansion, and training for jobs that offer upward mobility. Training that includes life skills training, things like “making technology work for you” “some office procedure” “home economics: budgeting” “shopkeeping math and accounting” “some fundamental nutrition” “Spanish: lite or beginners or simply basic conversation” “Computer training that offers more than just word processing but, teaches that and offers optional diversification, like intro to digital music, or graphic design, or music engineering, and the range of other directions computer can take you.”

2. Sustainable Community Development - to advance the creation of livable and vibrant communities through comprehensive approaches that coordinate economic (FUND RAISERS- new and innovative ones, not ticket sale or conventional dance), physical, environmental (gardens, parks and community monuments), community, and human development ( help families through hurdles like education and home making and developing);

3. Community-Based Partnerships - involving participation of all segments of the community, including the political and governmental leadership, community groups, health and social service groups, environmental groups, religious organizations, the private and nonprofit sectors, centers of learning, other community institutions, concerned citizens and low-income residents. We need to move away from the constant one shot solo projects and find ways to incorporate everybody who is doing something in what we are doing;

4. Strategic Vision for Change - which identifies what the community will become and develops a strategic map for revitalization.

CUP: The Micro Approach

1. Community Week – It is full time we initiated a system where each community has a week for itself. A week of festivity and commemoration of their existence and history. There can be a memories day, where everybody carries out their old pictures, video footage, any big dance that made it to DVD etc, if you have cell phone clips or whatever, to be displayed and everybody can reminisce, and this way the generations can mix and mingle and pass on stories of yesteryear etc. There can be a big Sunday dinner, a Friday dance, a memorial for all those passed. I wouldn’t be averse to a Church service day where most people go to church and commune or whatever and Muslim similarly and a Rasta event etc.

2. Change for change – In order to finance things like back to school and kiddies treats etc, set up a bar and shopkeeper program where people contribute change in order to secure a set amount of exercise books or pencils and things like that for generation next.

3. Orchard and Garden Program –A system to access idle lands in areas to be planted up with fruit trees and such, to ease the burdens of GCT, save us from dry goods and diabetes, nutrition needs, and rescue the little air and ozone we have left.

4. Naming and Mapping – The proper naming and mapping out of communities, and naming of streets, so that people can actually feel like they live somewhere, instead of in hell with names like hmmm dead man alley, Afghanistan, Bagdad, Gaza, Tel Aviv, Vietnam, Blood Lane, Piss Lane, Corn Corner and you get the picture. We need to resolve the psychological impact of feeling like you don’t live anywhere, especially when you and a million people share the same address, which is usually the most popular main road in your community.

5. Sports Outlets- Do I need to explain how critical sports are? Well hmmm other than finding things to do for idle hands before the devil, well it hones natural talent, potential financial rewards, keeps young minds away from guns, avenues to release sexual energy instead of making unwanted babies etc.

Well that is my proposition folks, maybe someone actually uses it.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Open Source and the City!

What is Open Source? 

Open-source software (OSS) is computer software with its source code made available with a license in which the copyright holder supplies the rights to study, change and distribute the software to anyone and for any reason or function. Open-source software is very oftentimes developed in a public, collaborative manner. Open-source software is the most striking example of open-source development and often compared to (technically defined) user-generated content or (legally defined) open-content movements.

A report by the Standish Group (from 2008) states that adoption of open-source software models has resulted in savings of about $60 billion per year to consumers.

In production and development, open source as a development model promotes a universal access via a free license to a product's design or blueprint, and universal redistribution of that design or blueprint, including subsequent improvements to it by anyone. Researchers view open source as a specific case of the greater pattern of Open Collaboration, "any system of innovation or production that relies on goal-oriented yet loosely coordinated participants, who interact to create a product (or service) of economic value, which they make available to contributors and non-contributors alike".

The open-source model is based on a more decentralized model of production, in contrast with more centralized models of development such as those typically used in commercial software companies.

A main principle of open-source software development is peer production by collaboration, with the end-product, source code, "blueprints", and documentation available at no cost to the public. The open source movement in software began as a response to the limitations of closed proprietary code, and it is now spreading across different fields. This model is also used for the development of open-source-appropriate technologies, solar photovoltaic technology and open-source drug discovery.

There is an accelerating interest in and use of Open-Source Software worldwide. Local governments are changing. Forward-thinking municipalities are embracing technology to make our cities better for everyone. Innovative government staff are sharing resources, best practices, and collaborating on common problems. Jamaica an its municipalities need to provide a broad range of resources, programs and services to support and advance civic innovation. Open Source Software becomes the leading information technology day by day and there are open source alternatives to most of the commercial softwares...

I use Linux Mint 17! So why can't the government do it?

So why is Government in general, and the St. James municipality in particular not looking into Open Source? It's time that Jamaican government IT policy goes as far as expressing a formal preference to use open source!

How can you apply the concepts of open source to a living, breathing city?

An open source city is a blend of open culture, open government policies, and economic development.

Five characteristics of an open source city
  1. Fostering a culture of citizen participation
  2. Having an effective open government policy
  3. Having an effective open data initiative
  4. Promoting open source user groups and conferences
  5. Being a hub for innovation and open source businesses

Citizen participation: Probably one of the most difficult components of an open source city is to foster a culture of citizen participation. Having citizen champions around certain causes can really help boost citizen participation and engagement.

Open government policy and open data: Policy is another key component of an open source city. 

User groups and conferences: Participation comes in another form with user groups and conferences—like-minded people gathering around their passions. Hosting these conferences and supporting user groups will boost your open source city credibility.

Economic development: Finally, having an economic development strategy that includes open source companies can help foster innovation and create jobs. More and more cities are also seeing the advantages of having an open data policy tied to their startup community. Cities that can combine their open data policy with their economic development strategy can give a real boost to startups and other businesses. Being a hub for open source companies and a catalyst for open source startups can have a positive impact on the city's bottom line. More importantly, this feeds back in to culture and participation.
Municipalities and Open Source
As a Linux User I keep myself abreast by reading Linux Format! I found this interesting article in the April 2014  edition.

Munich’s switch to open-source software has been successfully completed, with the vast majority of the public administration’s users now running its own version of Linux, city officials said Thursday.
In one of the premier open-source software deployments in Europe, the city migrated from Windows NT to LiMux, its own Linux distribution. LiMux incorporates a fully open-source desktop infrastructure. The city also decided to use the Open Document Format (ODF) as a standard, instead of proprietary options.
Ten years after the decision to switch, the LiMux project will now go into regular operation, the Munich City council said in a document published on its website.
As of November last year, the city saved more than €11.7 million (US$16.1 million) because of the switch. 

Why should other cities do this?

Other cities should do this for many reasons such as:
  • Proving to its citizen-bosses that it is doing its job and working hard in response to their needs.
  • Opening up data and processes because, you never know, those citizen-bosses may be able to do something cool with it or make great suggestions.
  • Opening up gives citizens a sense of ownership and welcome.  They are more likely to be engaged and satisfied if they feel ownership and pride in that ownership.

Benefits of Open Source to Montego Bay

Community Participation – Taking it to the streets
  • Citizen-led communities
  • Connection between youth-development programs and open government community
  • Connection entrepreneurial community and open government community
  • Importance of broadband access for any of this to be useful

I believe in the critical role of open-source software to create the applications and infrastructure necessary to support electronic medical records and other government-funded technology projects. Open-source software has already resulted in dramatic cost reductions in many technology areas.

Open-source software brings transparency to software development. There are no “black boxes” in open-source software and therefore no need to guess what is going on “behind the scenes.” Ultimately, this means a better product for everyone, because there is visibility at every level of the application, from the user interface to the data implementation. Furthermore, open-source software provides for platform independence, which makes quick deployments that benefit our citizens much easier and realistic.

The open-source industry is changing the world of software development in many of the ways many politicians have promised to change Jamaican politics. The values of open source are hope, change, and openness. I sincerely hope that Montego Bay and the St. James Parish Council if not the entire Jamaican government, will make the use of open-source software a key component of every new technology initiative it is apart of.

The open source characteristics of collaboration, transparency, and participation are shaping municipalities world wide as we brand our city as a city for the creative classes we must also give it the open source city brand. 

It's time that Jamaican government's IT policy goes as far as expressing a formal preference to use open source!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Proposals on Revolutionizing and Fixing Education in Jamaica!

Document | Article: Proposals for Education Ministry and System in Jamaica

For a long time the media and most thinks have purported the idea that we live in the information age. We live an age where cell phones and gadgetry pervade all walks of life. Computers and the internet are constantly creeping into our lives. Sociologists will contend that the family is the primary agent of socialization. But most of know and will very well contend that it is the TV. Especially in an age where the family is in crisis and in the third world where the core notion of family lives in a state of flux, the television and cable have taken prominence.

Folklore, Anansy and the oral tradition have been usurped by Sponge Bob, Dora and Hannah Montana. With absentee or limited supervision parenting rampant and the television controlling brain space and time at all times and any given hour, whilst the education system will only have them for 6 to 7 out of 24 hours much of which will be ruled by televisions and corner time no wonder we are unable to transmit and pass on the education, knowledge and morals we need to.

Mister Minister on the heels of your party’s message of change and changing the course, the courses and course of the education system has changed little. At this crucial moment in history the education system with all its short comings are in need of radical overhaul and requires new approaches and revolutionary thought. We need to design a curriculum to stimulate the development of analytical skills. The thing I care most about is that we focus not on the specific set of tools, but on the ability to “learn and apply a current tool set”.

The truth is that we constantly acquire and discard sets of tools. So we should not be fixated on one specific set of tools for all of life. Society, technology and the times change so fast that any fact, process or algorithm we learn at school is by definition not going to be useful for any length of time. The real skills that serve us are the ability to adapt, learn, apply the products of that learning, and participate in the discussions and challenges of the day. That doesn’t mean that facts are useless, or that specific tools don’t matter. Unless you can demonstrate an ability to absorb and apply both, fast, you haven’t actually gained the knack of becoming effective in a given environment.

How can we better communicate with them?

The traditional talk and chalk won’t work with this generation. Our communication style is structured, yet they want freedom. The old order stresses learning, they like experiencing. We react, they relate. We focus on the individual, while they are socially driven. Here are four essentials to consider when engaging with youth today:


Not only must our communication style be credible, but we must be also. They don’t expect us to know all about their lifestyle, nor do they want us to embrace their culture. They are simply seeking understanding, and respect. If our communication has a hidden agenda, or we are less than transparent, it will be seen. This generation can sniff a phoney from a long distance.


Today’s youth have access to the most advanced technology, movie special effects, and video games with which we can never compete. But the good news is that they are not impacted by slick presentations. They don’t want a rehearsed talk, or a manufactured spiel. The more spontaneous and interactive we are in the classroom, the less intimidated, and more open they will be.


Obviously what we are communicating has to fall within their area of interest. But the style, as well as the content of our message must be relevant to a generation who are visually educated and entertained. There is no point in giving music to a friend on a cassette tape if they only have a CD player, or on CD if they only use MP3. Similarly we must research in the most appropriate format for those we are reaching. So in understanding the communication styles of our target cohort we will be better equipped to reach them.


There is an old and true saying in education circles: “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” Communicating to this generation requires openness, vulnerability, and genuine interest in those we are trying to teach, and above all else, understanding. The more relaxed the environment, and the more socially conducive to discussions; the better will be the quality of the learning.

The Issue of Text Books and Learning Materials

Today, many children and individuals have MP3 Players, I-Pods, Smart-phones, computers, DVDs and DVD players, Radios and Televisions. Lots of in Jamaica are in some way linked and have some access to the various media. Today, I believe it is a tragedy that books, audio-books, tutorials and classes and the entire Jamaican and Caribbean syllabus are not posted online in PDF on accessible sites, material and content for our youths’ education should already be on their cell phones, in their DVD players, on YouTube.

It is an even more horrendous thought that every entrepreneur with a two-bit dream of becoming a media mogul can implement far reaching cable stations, whilst JIS is relegated to a time slot on TVJ, instead of being a Caribbean BBC, the U.S. has PBS and as a matter of fact the BBC has managed to pervade the island. We have an A.M. Band going to waste and yet I have seen people in small communities with their small means and incomes set up small radio stations and internet radio stations, why is JIS being broadcast, why aren’t we making full use of all the channels and vectors we have that can be used to bombard people with sensible, useful, practical, culturally relevant information.

I have lived to see middle-aged women become interior decorators watching HGTV and seen nearly illiterate dog lovers in the garrison swear they are dog trainers after a few episodes of dog whisperer on Discovery channel. In this vein I do believe if we have relevant content people will be willing to watch it. If you build it they will come. I do believe we have a wealth of content that can be drawn from, old documentaries from JBC and such. More can be commissioned, after all this is the era of YouTube movie directors, Open Source content and citizen journalism.

I am convinced the government has been lacklustre in pursuing technologies such as Linux, Open Source and notions such as FOSS. Brazil, Mexico and India are already using these to bring technology more cheaply to their nation. There are also revolutionary methods of implementing technology in the class room all throughout the Americas.

Also Mr. Holness I am sure you will probably have played dominoes with illiterate people as I have and been beaten by people who have never learnt primary school mathematics, which is proof that the education is disconnected from the everyday realities we face. Someone must have the potential to learn math if he can grasp the process of deduction and numerical elimination it takes to play domino well. We live in the Caribbean and still don’t learn enough about where we live. Why isn’t there our national geographic?

The other day I had to watch on foreign news that lizards that do morning exercises had been discovered in Jamaica. Lots of municipalities and small nation states have set up their own, local intranet that can provide the general populace with basic informational resources, like wikis and encyclopaedias and educational material. Today it is the nation’s own fault we are falling behind in education.

The government must become the primary agent of socialization, as parents and the family are lagging. If we are to grow a nation we need to grow people. We need our human resource to grow and develop. Technology, TV, internet, cell phones and the Radio are the way to reach them.

A Final Word:

The quality outcome of our education system is dependent on our understanding of the youth. Once we have a foundational grasp of their characteristics, communication styles, and social attitudes, we will be well equipped to effectively impact this enormous and emerging generation.

We want to create a curriculum that can:
Be self taught, peer mentored, and effectively evaluated without expert supervision.
Provide tools for analysis that will be general useful across the range of disciplines being taught at any given age.
Be an exercise machine for analysis, process and synthesis.

The idea is not that children learn tools they use for the rest of their lives. That’s not realistic. I don’t use any specific theorems or other mathematics constructs from school today. They should learn tools which they use at school to develop a general ability to learn tools. That general ability – to break a complex problem into pieces, identify familiar patterns in the pieces, solve them using existing tools, and synthesise the results into a view or answer… that’s the skill of analysis, and that’s what we need to ensure the youth graduate with.

Yannick Nesta Pessoa

#education #youth #jamaica #revolution #change #governement #governance 

Friday, August 01, 2014

A Poem for Emancipendence: An Ode to Daddy Sharpe!

written by Yannick Pessoa

"I would rather die among yonder gallows, than live in slavery."

 Black Birds shit on me and in ur hair,
You pass me on the street in the square,
You barely see me and u do not care,
About all the things that happened here,
340 executed in Parade...
U know where I'm talking?
Do you know which Square.

207 killed during revolt,
Bodies piled to be carted,
All because of what I started,
Imagine how my heart felt,
Feel my heart melt,
Buried in mass graves ,
Outside of town late at night,
Just for the freedom fight.

Black Birds shit on me and in ur hair,
You pass me on the streets in the square,
You barely see me and u do not care,
About all the things that happened here,
340 executed in Parade...
U know where I'm talking?
Do you know which Square.

Rebellion is what the crown hates me for,
Some of my kind don't rate me,
Cause I preach no war,
No my son and daughter go astray,
For I didn't die to see my city,
Become Guntego Bay,
Where are the parks?
And someone tell me...
Where do the children play?

Black Birds shit on me and in ur hair,
You pass me on the streets in the square,
You barely see me and u do not care,
About all the things that happened here,
340 executed in Parade...
U know where I'm talking?
I'm talking, I'm talking...
Sam Sharpe Square.

Click the Sam Sharpe pic to read a small bio!