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!

Sunday, April 06, 2014

World Boss vs Bulb Boss: Rule of Law floundering in Jamaica!

World Boss vs Bulb Boss

The Rule of Law is floundering in Jamaica!

"It is when your spirit goes wandering upon the wind,
That you, alone and unguarded, commit a wrong unto others and therefore unto yourself.
And for that wrong committed must you knock and wait a while unheeded at the gate of the blessed.
...And of the man in you would I now speak.
For it is he and not your god-self nor the pigmy in the mist, that knows crime and the punishment of crime."

By Kahlil Gibran

I feel compelled to point to the glaring hypocrisy at the core of much of the media commentaries surrounding the Whirl Boss and his conviction. Many have been quick to lambaste him, as maybe he deserves to be, but I ask... "What part did the gatekeepers of information have in building the Vybz Kartel they are no so quick to turn their back on?" Were not the media gatekeepers too neglecting their social responsibility by not better regulating the airwaves, and not filtering what was being syphoned to the nation?

I would like to point to the glaring hypocrisy at the core of the decision to free Kern "Bulb Boss" Spencer. The government has show its will to decisively uphold the rule of law, is weak. We live in a time and political climate in Jamaica where the state seems  committed to consistently criminalizing and targeting the marginalized and those not able to buy the best lawyers with political connections. Rarely, if ever are corrupt politicians and white collar criminals brought to justice. Hence the nation has no faith in the justice system, nor does it believe in the institutions charged with maintaining law and order.

I am also compelled to point out the rule of law to our ministries of security and justice… The rule of law is concerned with the processes and the relationships amongst individual and state, how it is enforced and administered.  This crucial idea is sprung from the concept of the rule of law as it has developed in the UK and is adopted here in Jamaica. As it is posited by legal mind Albert Venn Dicey’s understanding “the law should not be arbitrarily or capriciously administered by those in power.”

The government has shown the will and impetus for legislating anti-gang laws with haste, not to mention scamming and fraud bills, haste to the point where we have public smoking legislature that wasn't thoroughly thought through! But we have a government weak willed on effecting medical marijuana legislature and decriminalizing marijuana if not simply legalizing it... when the trend worldwide has been to wake up to the benefits of marijuana for the economy, production and so much more...

The Jamaican Court is a one of a kind in the world. No other such structure exists! Its engineering is ad hoc and arbitrary. The Constitution of Jamaica implicitly states that the power or duties of each arm of government should not overlap. Yet Resident Magistrates don’t have security of tenure as part of the public service and falls within the executive arm of the state. Hence the Court System we have before us may very well contravene the constitution and the notion of the separation of powers as well as undermining the doctrine of rule of law owing to its arbitrary nature.

Let us not forget the mess made in the creation of the gun court, it was a failure in scholarship and jurisprudence. The unusual features of the Gun Court have faced legal hurdles, some of which have forced amendment of the Gun Court Act. The Gun Court has faced criticism on several fronts, most notably for its departure from traditional practices and for the continuing escalation in gun violence since its institution.

A 1993 County Report on Human Rights Practices in Jamaica from the United States Department of State noted the denial of a "fair public trial" and alleged that Gun Court trials observe "less rigorous rules of evidence than in regular court proceedings." The Canadian Bar Association's Jamaican Justice System Reform Task Force noted that the Gun Court is overloaded, that defendants are not well represented, and Crown attorneys are often inexperienced. Hence even internationally it is evident and plain to see that we are a unique court system and a particularly arbitrary one!

If we are to move forward as a nation we must cut these wretched social and political hypocrisies in our system... we cannot have one justice system for the rich and one for the poor.

I close with a quote from - John Adams, “Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people.”

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Madiba: Aluta Continua

African leaders whose vision could be toppled by the secret hand of capitalism!
“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” ― Nelson Mandela

The chronicle of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, and the variety of ways in which his story crossed paths with Jamaica is important to the island's history and that of our diaspora. It must become part of the story of the emerging self-belief of people of African descent. It is also an account of a human being allowing his best and noblest self to prevail.

It is easy and very plausible to tell Mandela's story without also speaking to Jamaica's story. But as a Jamaican it would be remiss of me not to mention, how this little nation, smaller than the population of Soweto and separated by thousands of nautical miles from the shorings of South Africa, prognosticated for the isolation of South Africa in response to apartheid from as early as 1961, three years before Mandela was condemned to Robben Island.

One of Jamaica's prime ministers, Michael Manley, was in numerous ways the designer of the sporting and cultural boycott of South Africa, which, incidentally, was more cogent than economic sanctions to that degree that the psychology of being a white South African was concerned. It is little wonder that Jamaica was one of the first two countries visited by Madiba after his incarceration. He visited Jamaica and Cuba in July 1991, with our beloved Winnie Madikize Mandela at his side, and they received honour from the Jamaican people.

He was a visionary, he had a grand project. He was political. He had an avid sense of strategic timing. Yet he wasn't Machiavellian. He was loved because he was neither Mugabe nor Blair. His vision ran through his life. He was noble. And, like a virtuous father, to be kind, he sometimes could be cruel.

He was distinguished and most especially he had an vast love for his people and for the project of establishing a non-racial and non-sexist South Africa.

Mandela vigorously defended of his loyalties to Iran, Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, all of whom supported him in his battles against South Africa's apartheid regime.

Mandela was on the U.S. terrorism watch list until 2008, when then-President George W. Bush signed a bill removing Mandela from it. (Obama is yet to oblige Marcus Mosiah Garvey similar courtesies.)

South Africa’s apartheid regime designated Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) as a terrorist organization for its battle against the nation’s legalized system of racial segregation that lasted from 1948 to 1994. (Marxist legal theory at work here: Karl Marx argued that the law is the mechanism by which one social class, usually referred to as the "ruling class", keeps all the other classes in a disadvantaged position).

Former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher also described Mandela’s ANC as a “typical terrorist organization” in 1987, refusing to impose sanctions on South Africa’s apartheid regime. President Ronald Reagan did as well.

But Madiba was more than that, he was an African man of moral sense. He was a man of virtue. Moral excellence and moral sense that made him so acclaimed globally since he led a nation at a time when virtue and morality were universally absent amongst global leaders. He slammed Bush and Blair for the war on Iraq: 'What I am condemning is that one power, with a president who has no foresight and who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust.' For Blair he had these words: 'He is the foreign minister of the United States. He is no longer prime minister of Britain.'

He rose above acrimony and bitterness. He was unselfish and could reach out to his enemies and cross many divides. He was eminent because he was the great unifier. In many ways he was the designer of the New South Africa.

Mandela was neither magnate nor angel. Mandela wasn't unaccompanied in the grand journey of African redemption in South Africa. One only has to read Bertolt Brecht’s great poem, Questions From a Worker Who Reads, to know: 'Who built Thebes of the 7 gates? / In the books you will read the names of kings. / Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock?...'

The fight to emancipate South Africa was a collectivized crusade. Furthermore it was the force of the most oppressed, the workers in the factories, the destitute in the community, blue-collar women and youth that ultimately carried the apartheid government, if not totally to its knees, at the least to talk terms and discuss the conditions of the end of their racial scheme.

All struggle requires a vehicle, a social movement with leaders that can present political focus, tackle the arduous strategic and tactical routes. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela's ANC came to prevail. Even so, Mandela was the first to recognise the parts played by a broad array of social movements that formed the fight for national liberation and the mass democratic movement.

And while Mandela was the one to start dialogue with the apartheid government, he tied himself to the collective leadership of the ANC. He took the first steps, he led but he did so as part of a collective. He was an organisational man. He took pains to explain he was a product of the ANC. He was a man of the black, green and gold – but he could reach beyond organisational limits.

He had this quality of being able to keep people together. Even his critics – and he had them – submitted to him at the end of the day as a moral leader. Without him I can't envision how the transition would have gone.

Aye, zillions of words will be spoken and written on Madiba’s legacy, now, in the months to come, next year and thenceforth. And we will scramble to do this legacy justice. The hardest part will be to catch the essential Mandela, going beyond myth-making whilst precisely evaluating the inconsistent nature of that legacy.

Since the present can't be interpreted without understanding the past, and not everything that is haywire with current day South Africa can be put at the doorway of Zuma or Mbeki. The negotiated resolution that effected a democratic South Africa on the cornerstone of one person one vote will be reckoned as Mandela’s greatest accomplishment. It avoided the scorched earth route of bloodletting which we at present see in Syria. And even so it's those compromises that are nowadays falling apart at the seams. The unharmonious social inequality (very Marxist in nature) that has given rise to South Africa as a country of two nations: one white and relatively prosperous, the second black and poor (I believe arx would have termed these the: bourgeoisie and proletariat respectively).

Social divide the hallmark of society today!

Mandela’s legacy will likewise have to be weighed by the reality that South Africa is more disunited than ever as a result of inequality and social exclusion. The rich are richer and the poor poorer. The great unifier could undertake great emblematic acts of reconciliation to pacify the white nation but because, by definition, this involved sacrificing the redistribution of wealth, reconciliation with the whites was performed at the expense of the large majority of black people.

Mandela was great, but not so great that he could bridge the social divide built into the 21st century capitalist economy that has given us the era of the 1 percenters. It is the ill-fated timing of South Africa's transition, coming about as it did in the period in which global power got inextricably tied into the global corporation, empowered through the conventions of neoliberal globalisation. Reconciliation necessitated the forsaking of ANC policy as vocalised by Mandela on his discharge from jail, 'nationalisation of the mines, banks and monopoly industry is the policy of the ANC and the change or modification of our views in this regard is unimaginable.'

Nevertheless it's this forsaking of nationalisation, nationalisation representing the redistribution of wealth which was determined by the needs of reconciliation not just with the white establishment but with the international capitalist economy. His encounters with the international elite at Davos, the home of the World Economic Forum, convinced him that compromises needed to be made with the financiers. In the words of Ronnie Kasrils: 'That was the time from 1991–1996 that the battle for the soul of the ANC got underway and was lost to corporate power and influence. I will call it our Faustian moment when we became entrapped.'

It's exactly this capitalistic road that's verified such a calamity and which could ultimately demolish Mandela’s life’s work. To do justice to Mandela’s lifetime of commitment and sacrifice for equality betwixt black and white, the fight must continue.

It today has got to stress on subduing inequality and attaining social justice. In this fight the entire African Diaspora will require the greatness and sapience of umpteen Mandelas. Our brethren and sistren in South Africa require an organisation committed to marshalling all South African black and white for the freeing of the wealth of that state from the hands of a bantam elite. It will necessitate a movement akin to Mandela’s ANC, a social movement based on a collective leadership with the blended qualities of Steve Biko, Neville Alexander, Walter Sisulu, Albertina Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada, Fatima Meer, Chris Hani, Ruth First, Joe Slovo, Robert Sobukwe, IB Tabata and the many greats that led the battle for African liberation. But most importantly the African Diaspora and South Africa will need the multitude who take their fate into their own hands and become their own liberators.

Are these the things that Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela struggled to achieve?