Friday, December 23, 2022

Santa Fraud

As the holiday season is upon us, the jolly figure of Santa Claus can be seen in malls, plazas and storefronts around the world, bringing joy and cheer to children and adults alike. As a beloved figure of Christmas, Santa Claus has been a fixture in holiday celebrations for generations. However, from the perspective of developing countries and low-income families, Santa Claus may not always be the benevolent gift-giver he is made out to be.

First, the idea of Santa Claus as a jolly old man who travels the world delivering presents to every child reinforces the notion of excess consumption and materialism. In a world where many people struggle to afford basic necessities, the image of Santa showering children with expensive gifts can be hurtful and insensitive.It can hardly be debated that the commercialization of Santa Claus doesn't perpetuates a culture of consumerism and materialism that can be detrimental to the well-being of individuals and communities. In many developing countries, families may go into debt trying to keep up with the Jones's, as well as the latest toys and gadgets that are marketed as the must-have gifts for the holiday season. This focus on material possessions can and does take away from the true spirit of the holiday season, which is about spending time with loved ones and being grateful for what we have.

Furthermore, the image of Santa Claus as a wealthy, white, male reinforces oppressive and harmful stereotypes. This can be especially damaging for children in marginalized communities who may not see themselves represented in the dominant narrative of Santa Claus. The idea of Santa Claus as a magical figure who knows when every child has been "naughty or nice" and has the ability to judge and reward their behavior is concerning. This can promote unhealthy power dynamics and the belief that certain individuals have the right to control and dictate the actions of others. It is important for holiday traditions to be inclusive and reflect the diverse experiences and backgrounds of people around the world. If not this mode of operating can perpetuate discrimination and marginalization of people from different races, genders, and cultural backgrounds.

Why have we departed so far from the days of Jonkunnu?

Additionally, the environmental impact of the holiday season and the consumer culture associated with Santa Claus cannot be ignored. The production and transportation of the millions of gifts that are exchanged during the holiday season contributes to pollution and climate change. In a time of global crisis, it is important to consider the environmental consequences of our actions and strive for sustainable and eco-friendly holiday practices.

In conclusion, while Santa Claus may bring joy and excitement to many during the holiday season, it is important to consider the negative effects that the commercialization of this figure can have on third world countries and poor families. Santa Claus may be a beloved holiday figure, however the portrayal of him in mainstream culture can be harmful and unrealistic. Instead of prioritizing material possessions and perpetuating harmful stereotypes, we should focus on the true spirit of the holiday season and work towards inclusive and sustainable celebrations. It is important to consider and address these issues in order to create a more inclusive and equitable holiday season for all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

On Being an Artist in Western Jamaica

"You can't be a starving artist if you don't make art"

A few months ago, I entered the Jamaica Cultural Development's Visual Arts Competition for the first time. To my great surprise two week, I actually won 2 bronze medals. It was a most humbling experience especially when I went to the artist presentations in Montego Bay and Kingston and saw what a pantheon of talent I was fortunate to be amongst. An old friend from UWI, Mona Ms. Liz Toby received western Jamaica's gold medal for a fantastic piece that was most enlightening. She captured an important but lesser known figure and moment in Jamaica's history for Jamaica 60. She immaculately render Sir Harold Allen Jamaica's first black Minister of Finance, an independent politician, statesman, legislator, teacher, sportsman and business man. All this sudden surge of art, especially across the city (who do I need to bad up to get a mural contract) has me thinking of the power of art and public spaces. The impact of art cannot and should never be underestimated. It can help to heal our nation and move it forward. Music isn't the only inspiring art form.

Art Is a Weapon in the Battle of Ideas

Our city streets can be gloomy grey concrete-covered places; the genius of street art can transform everyday objects and situations into fun and playful social spaces. Therefore supporting arts and culture initiatives like the Fair Saturday or Saturday Bazaar movement like the city had back in the 80’s when I was a child only makes sense. It would allow our city to take advantage of a billion dollar industry that creates strong, vibrant communities, employs local workers, attracts tourism, and boosts local economic development. And what of MoBay Nite Out and the community Nite Out events? Those were the beginnings of a movement that could have given our city a serious boost and possibly alleviated this violent turn our city has taken while being an economic opportunity for artists. 

Summer in the city is marked by community gatherings and street dances, farmers’ markets plus a buzz of outdoor activities, especially Sumfest, Mobay Jerk Fest and the myriad of Fish Fries Bike Shows and parties like Yellow Diamond. In many places throughout the city such as the craft markets and the vending hubs need more robust help to prepare for the influx of tourists and foot traffic, so their stocks and inventory are big. In our city local arts and culture are should be on greater display. If the friendly city wants to recapture the air of friendliness then Montego Bay ought to seek to capture, harness and grow this energy year-round. One way to possibly do this is by starting or restarting a Saturday Bazaar to promote arts, culture and community giving this November. This could possibly be the makings of indigenous arts movement in the city. A Saturday Bazaar and MoBay Nite Out compounded by community nite outs, could spark the upturn in economic community life.


Art & Activism in the Age of Jamaican Independence

Artists living in Kingston have many advantages over artists abiding in small towns, isolated villages and even the second city of Montego Bay. Art galleries often are more commonplace in corporate area. There are also more opportunities for artists, such as residencies, art grants, art associations, art clubs, studio space and artist events. More artists in these locations means a better chance of of meeting other artists, gallery owners and curators. Of course, the biggest drawback of living in a smaller city or town is access to a larger group of regular art buyers and patrons.

Montego Bay is a tourism focused city. It's the sort of place where everyone kind of knows everyone — a town where, sometimes, I feel it's not the place for me, as small city life can have it's limitations. Don't get me wrong. I am the Montegonian and my city is a beautiful with appealing urban ambience. Rich red soil and rolling hills with rustic communities and garrisons that surround my life. It's also a city full of people that have been truly inspirational. Using my skills and Caribbean experience and injecting them into or projecting them onto modern media and design has always been my aim. Remixing and reinterpreting modern media and design ideas with Caribbean culture, ethos and cognitive elements are my personal dream. 


I like most artists dream to one day have a career as a practicing artist. Art is my escape. To be able to create artwork is a fantastic gift, and I want everyone to share it. Using art I can change the world, because awareness is the first step to change. Some people may think art is just for fun, but to me it is a whole lot more than painting a pretty picture. You can say so many things with your art. You can have a voice. I want to make a statement. I want to voice an opinion. I understand many people don't quite get my choosing to be an artist as one of my paths, among writing and journalism. When you live in a small city, where tourism dollars and scamming money is what tickles women's fancy and garners men's respect, being different isn't entirely accepted. To succeed in my dream I've had to work hard to show my friends and family that I can do it. Media and Art Mogul, Yannick's Montegonian Montage, second city coloured collage... How does it sound?

When people view my work, I feel so powerful, like someone is listening and reacting to my opinion. It drives me to continue voicing my opinion, hopefully to make a difference. I will continue to work hard to make my dream a reality. One day I hope to inspire other children from Montego Bay who dream of becoming professional artists. My greatest hope would be to make my city proud.

Abii Paris, Saba Art Gallery 

In terms of export value, arts and culture industries drive tourism. Arts travellers are ideal tourists, staying longer and spending more to search for genuine cultural experiences, and arts destinations grow local economies by attracting “cashy-er” foreign visitor spending. The percentage of international travellers including art gallery and museum visits on their trip grows yearly, and the share attending concerts, plays, and musicals is growing also. Montego Bay has a prolific host of artists and craft entrepreneurs. Artists such as Hilroy Bulgin, Elgo, Fernendez, Anthony Scott, myself Yannick Pessoa , Danii Noey, Paul-Dean Galimore, Jeffrey Samuels alongside the works of greats like Granville’s Errol Allen and Polish immigrant Michael Lester. I’d love to see tattoo artists in the same space with conventional artists as well as Reader Women or Obeah Man like the fortune tellers in North American Fairs. Craft entrepreneurs like Isis Harris of Isis Impressions, Kameilia Brown of Expressif Wear, Paula Hurlock of Indigo Soul, Hodges, Pablo Peirao Ras Manager of IzizI T-Shirts, Garfield Ustanny whose unique colourful crocus bags designs are unique and epic fashion statements, there is Nandi the Bow Queen and a host of others.

So whether as a means to advance the arts for their own sake, or to support local artists and local charities, or to grow economic prosperity by leveraging cultural assets, city leaders should explore the value of a Saturday Bazaar, MoBay and community Nite Outs —  if the city starts planning now and maybe we can paint a better picture of the city; A City of Heart, a City of Art! Leaders at the Municipal Corporation and Chambers of Commerce, can we come up with a work of heart?

When we think of resources, we don't always think about creating context for talent development. But that is my hope for the future of artist support and development, especially in small towns, and especially for our young creative people. So here are some thoughts on what that might look like for you if you are a leader in a small town, and interested in the same thing

Try not to make us feel guilty for not having the same historical memory of past initiatives as the more established artists and leaders in the community. Of course, let us know if something has been tried before, but don't shut us down completely even if the last time it was tried it was a failure. You might scare us away forever. Look at our enthusiasm as an asset, not a threat. And even if it sounds the same as something that's been done before, consider that it might actually be very, very different.

Set aside resources specifically for artists under 35.

If you're in a position to do so, consider creating a grant program, workshop or fellowship specifically for young artists in small communities. Find ways to help young artists find each other and incentivize collaboration, so that we can deepen our relationships with one another. We tend to stay committed to a place when we feel like we are part of something bigger.

Yes, we need jobs, economic development and vital services. But we also need the arts–they are the most powerful way to address violence, suicide and addictions. In art there are purpose and meaning; there’s imagination. Most depression and violence can be characterized as the closing of our imagination. What is art but the spirit in each of us to reshape our lives in the face of debilitating and often destructive circumstances? I’m convinced this is as compelling a concern for government and society to address as any other. Art has the power to transform, heal, progress, enrich, and even saves someones life. Without "Art"  the E'art'h would be just "eh"! Boring.... Selah

Sunday, May 01, 2022

On Being a Philosopher in Western Jamaica

“In order to live, man must act; in order to act, he must make choices; in order to make choices, he must define a code of values; in order to define a code of values, he must know what he is and where he is—i.e., he must know his own nature (including his means of knowledge) and the nature of the universe in which he acts—i.e., he needs metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, which means: philosophy. He cannot escape from this need; his only alternative is whether the philosophy guiding him is to be chosen by his mind or by chance.”
~Ayn Rand
Unlock your mind

In an age of M.B.A.'s and computer scientists, still thousands of university and college students graduate each year with a bachelor's degree in the ancient discipline known as Philosophy. Sometimes their parents and friends wonder what will happen to them... I am one such student, a UWI, Mona graduate with a degree in philosophy. I live in Montego Bay, Jamaica and this is my tale and journey in the 21st century making my way in the world. This article is a record of my experience as a philosopher in western Jamaica and not so much a defense of philosophy, though I suspect some of that will emerge in the writing eventually.

The advancements of science and technology, the progress and achievements of some disciplines within the fields of humanities all tend to engender relative indifference to Philosophy which is sometimes considered abstract, speculative and as a career, non-professional and less lucrative. Lots and lots of people say why philosophy? What of other philosophy majors? What do they do when confronted with the real world, where there are groceries to buy and mortgages to pay? How do they compete for jobs with all those sensible accounting and engineering majors? Sigh... The quest for the utility of or the question of the futility of Philosophy is a real concern to parents and the public especially in a world that currently progresses on the provisions of post-modernity... I don't propose to answer that question at all. And for those of you out there who measure standing, status and merit based on material gain and financial success well, I suspect this discourse isn't for you.

What I can tell you though...  is that philosophy has caused me to think about thinking. I was always and old soul, filled with nostalgia and redolence, so thinking was never ever merely a shallow thing or ever done less than consciously for me. Yes, philosophy helped me question myself even more deeply. To question my reasoning and to identify flaws and errors in thought. Oh and it gave me more tools with which to analyze art, literature and culture. It made me appreciate the philosophical discourse taking place in The Matrix, Star Trek TNG, WandaVision, Comics like Asterix and Obelix as well as Calvin and Hobbes, Lord of the Rings and so much more. Yeah... it has armed me with tools to dissect pop culture and mainstream media.I keep up with philosophy not only because I find it incredibly interesting; I have also found it to be remarkably useful. Yep I read Cornel West and watch him on Youtube, I actively follow Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Slavoj Žižek, Thomas Sowell, Russel Brand, Jimmy Dore, Joe Rogan and so many more.

Long before I had ever studied Philosophy academically, Mr. Spock made me a utilitarian when I imbibed and embedded the mantra "the good of the many, outweighs the good of the few!" The Vulcans and Data on a whole made me employ the stoicism they eschewed. These ideas fermented in a child in a left leaning household who believed in Michael Manley's democratic socialism, a socialism reflected in my mother's life as a social worker, my grand mother's political activism and the general Christian sense of charity, infected with a world where even Jesus seemed socialist... when I became obsessed with Spider-Man as a hero and again bludgeoned with the philosophical mantra of "with great power, comes great responsibility... phew I was chock full of Philosophy. My parents even wanted my middle name to be Nestor, god of wisdom, it ended up being Nesta after our own musical philosopher. My stars seemed headed on this path with me.

So you see Philosophy has undoubtedly helped me become more effective at clearly communicating my own ideas to others. It has also made it easier for me to understand and critically engage with others’ views. More generally, studying philosophy has made me a better, more analytical thinker – and this is a reward that I have found to be immensely valuable in nearly all aspects of my life, particularly in both an age globally and locally where "dumbing down" is a thing and "critical thinking skills" is a buzz term. So from pondering the 'big questions' in life to overcoming the minutia and small stuff, the skills that I learned through studying philosophy have helped me every step of the way. I try more than ever not to sweat the small stuff.

Now on to... What do we believe and why do we believe it? Who are we and why are we here? What ought we do and why should we do it? Well it is these types of questions Philosophy encourages. It's about critical and systematic inquiry into fundamental questions of right and wrong, truth and falsehood, the meaning of life, and the nature of reality, knowledge and society. More than any other discipline, philosophy explores the core issues of the Western intellectual tradition. Philosophy leads persons to formulate questions and follow arguments.

Of course, philosophy is much more than critical reasoning. We are persons who live in a world that exceeds our ability fully understand. We are bound by time and subject to changes. We laugh. We cry. And in the deepest moments we recognize an urge to find meaning in all of this.

Being a product of a society that is struggling through post-modern thinking as well as colonial and post-colonial ideas, philosophy has been relegated to the shelf. Truth has been deemed impossible to know. Reality is now subjective and morals have become relative. I have not been able to accept this age of absurdity and nihilism. However, philosophy opens up 3000 years of human genius. It gives us a means to methodically apply our ability to reason to interpret the cosmos and propel the very meaning of life itself. It provides an means of understanding and communicating truth.

Did you know there was an idea floating around that continuously following the first link of any Wikipedia article will eventually lead to “Philosophy”? On reading the article it sounded like a reasonable assertion, one that makes a certain amount of sense in retrospect: any description of something will typically use more general terms. Following that idea will eventually lead… somewhere.  So here’s an easy experiment you can do: Pick a Wikipedia page at random. Then, click on the very first hyperlink you see, and repeat. Eventually, you will reach the philosophy page.

In the field of Law, Jurisprudence (the philosophy of law) is essential for formulation of legal theories. In the field of Education, Philosophy is crucial in the areas of pedagogy, educational foundations, management and policies. Ethics is relevant to all facets of life. Within its own academic field, there is philosophy of virtually all disciplines which questions fundamental assumptions of such disciplines. Thus, Philosophy’s relevance remains ineluctable, inescapable and inevitable.

The study of philosophy provides answers to some of the world’s most existential questions revolving around right and wrong, truth and falsehood, the meaning of life, and the nature of human beings and the reality in which they live. Philosophy encourages critical and systematic thinking, explores core issues of intellectual tradition, and offers great preparation for life. Doesn't this sound like something Jamaican society could use?

Philosophy drives me to spend a lot of time doing research that involves reading, writing, experimental work, and data analysis. The reading material can include academic and scholarly journals, articles, and books while in terms of writing philosophy comes out in blogging, publishing articles, op-eds, and much more. Despite the common perception, philosophy majors appear to do remarkably well. That, at least, is the conclusion one can draw from an unscientific survey, 20 years after graduation, of the class of 1977 at four schools: Princeton University, the University of Virginia, the University of Nebraska and Texas A & M University.

Those 40-somethings fell in love with philosophy almost by accident and went on to careers in other fields. But for the most part they are convinced that their studies, which covered logic and ethics among other topics, helped them in their jobs and their lives. Their professional success may stem from the fact that philosophy students seem more likely than those with other degrees to attend graduate or professional school. Of 20 philosophy majors interviewed from the four universities, only four had not added a graduate or professional degree.

I graduated from Cornwall College in the Spring of 1999 after finishing GCSE "A" levels, then I did a certificate course in Journalism which prompted me to apply to Carimac at the UWI Mona in 2000. I got accept the August of 2000 and made my way to Kingston after a lifetime in Montego Bay. I entered my Freshman year with the intention to major in media and a minor in cultural studies, but after taking an Introduction to Philosophy lecture in my first semester, I was so excited by Philosophy that I decided to change majors. Studying Philosophy taught me new ways of thinking, reading, and writing that were challenging and stimulating. I genuinely enjoyed all of my classes which was a first in a long time.

Studying philosophy is not a requirement for writing jokes but it allowed me to realize how to quickly get to the point or what is commonly called the butt of a joke. This can be a handy skill when doing public speaking and being an entertaining raconteur. I also came to realized paradoxes are funny ways to make jokes, also reductio ad absurdum, which mean reduce to absurdity, essential this cued me to try and decipher the logic to jokes. Granted I am not a comic or comedian I am of the belief that stand-up comics are the modern day philosophers, characters like Jimmy Dore, Russel Brand, Bill Maher, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby and so many more. Telling jokes is actually very hard and sometimes comes with a depression caused by the existential rigors that come with pulling the strings of our social fabric, upsetting status quo and poking fun at power. At worst dark humor can sometimes be like looking into a mirror darkly I suppose.

Undoubtedly philosophy informs and influences the way I go about doing things,  it's given me a sense of the complications that we face as human beings. While at the same time it also gives me a sense of the beauty and wonder of life. It helps me understand people in dire circumstances. However of all the gifts that this philosophy degree has given me is- creativity! It is probably the most important. I have always been an artist and drawing all my life, but philosophy infused my art and design with meaning and new concepts. It brought me to the Fibonacci sequence and golden ratio and applying them to design, and so much more.

When I told my parents that I was going to major in philosophy, they were concerned about what I would do after graduation. The most common question I got when I told people of my philosophy major was “What are you going to do with that degree?”, as if the only reason to go to college is to get a job. I certainly understand that sentiment, but philosophy prepared me for a job the way a major should while also providing the benefits of studying arts and humanities that make you a well-rounded and adjusted person outside of your job—in what is also known as your life.  Majoring in Philosophy was, without a doubt, the right choice for me. Philosophy has been so helpful to me in figuring out what news sources are best to digest, assigning meaning to relationships and life's path, navigating faith from Christian to Atheist to Rastafari, evolving from Pan-African to Afrofuturist, it has made me master of trivia like my father, playing video games and solving villains riddles to get to the next level, and my personal favorites: defending Spider-man as the greatest superhero, Christian Renaldo as the greatest footballer of this generational crop, defending Marvel Comics vs DC fanatics, defending Linux in a debate of Windows vs Mac, defending Ujamaa, Ubuntu and the leftist ideologies. Those things  make up my world of urban street philosophy.

My philosophy classes with Earl McKenzie, Dr. Bewaji and Bamikole, Ms. Roxanne Burton,  engaged, challenged, and even impassioned me in ways other classes did not. Years later it would be that academic motivation that would drive me to do well and helped me get into law school, granted I have had to defer due to the rigors of a freelance life, economic pursuits and child-rearing. What I learned was invaluable both during law school and my career path as entrepreneur, journalist, writer, graphic designer and artist. Philosophy differs from other degrees because it changes how you think, as opposed to requiring you to regurgitate information onto a test. My philosophical studies and relationship with media directly impacted my choice to pursue career in Law where I still hope to specialize in Intellectual property. If real property is finite and so lucrative, as someone who generates content it seems to me intellectual property, ideas, intangible things are infinite and hence so much more lucrative than the finite real property.

Philosophy has also informed my other spheres of endeavor; as an independent author, blogger and newspaper columnist, I strive to inject provocative thought into everything I write. Good stories entertain, while great stories both entertain and make their readers consider and think about profound questions.

The Major Lessons I've Learned from Philosophy

  1. Certainty and Ambiguity: There is very little I am absolutely certain of in life. I hold all beliefs with a certain degree of doubt and some skepticism. However I am not without conviction and whenever there is a need to act, I do in spite of and despite my skepticism. I am no longer off put by uncertainty and doubt is my constant companion.

  2. Opinion: I hold strong opinions but they are subject to constant rigor tests always being measured and weighed against new information. I have always found it necessary to validate my ideas constantly. I believe that I should have the ability to “see” and “hear” evidence that may be contrary to the opinions that I have held.

  3. The Balancing Act: As far as I have seen, the balanced life has proven to a myth; a concoction. I try to live a life of counterbalance as I constantly adjust priorities to achieve what might appear as a balance. I just focus on what’s most important at the moment and remain undistributed as much as possible.

  4. Mindfulness: I have perpetual To-do lists, a scheduler but I am not beholden to them. For me to know and believe that tasks that I do are aligned with my purpose is paramount. Purpose is my foundation and priority decides the action. Productivity only helps me to be efficient. Those 3 P's are my mental keys to mindfulness... Purpose, priority and productivity!

That's it for now, Selah!

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Religion’s Impact on a young Jamaican Psyche

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

― Issac Asimov

This week I think it reasonable to open my article with a quote from a Sci-Fi writer as we are living in some really sci-fi times, with bizarre cults and a fracturing society. I want to examine how religion affects the minds of Jamaican youth and how it impacted mine. Here is my story…

 At age 10, I became an atheist. Today as it pertains to God I am agnostic leaning to atheist, as a Rastafari, my faith is hinged on pan africanism, afrofuturism and a spirituality more akin to archaeology and anthropology of everything African... From ancient gods to ancestors. However, how did I become this person, how did a 10 year old in Norwood, Montego Bay become an atheist or an agnostic?

Well I attended many churches. First one I mainly remember well is Holy Trinity out by Westgate, where my beloved Grand Ma was a devout member. I remember my terrifying christening there... a ritual that I resisted since it wasn't my own volition. I remember the Father well, a well mannered enough man but that church bored me to tears and was steeped in Montego Bay's social politics. Or so it seemed to me as a young one. Then when I began attending Mt. Alvernia Prep Catholicism was introduced to me but my domestic set up was anti Catholic to a degree and very wary of homosexuality and catomite altered altar boys, and from my young perspective seeing their church attire and sometimes smoking priests gave even the young me the impression this place was at once too liberal in some regard and yet wound up in chants and ritual, and was just as boring in sound and song as Anglican.

My mother dabbled in the world of Pentecostal church with one Pastor Nigel who was killed in a house robbery at Bogue. She would eventually settle at Hillview Baptist church where many a community youth I were familiar with went and so I felt comfortable there and the service wasn't that boring... and by the time I was in grade 3, I had watched The Robe and Jesus of Nazareth so many times that I one day became so stupefied by Jesus' sacrifice and peaceful way that I to my chagrin then said to my mother that I wanted to be " A fighter for Jesus". An incident my cousin Camara Brown and brother Dax Pessoa never fail to remind me about or gimmicks me about and oh how I cringe hearing the tale repeated. My family was elated, especially my mother. And like a well brainwashed soldier, high on Jesus hopped up an reinforced by Peter Parker Spider-man and his motto of great power brings great responsibility, Star Trek and Data's and Spock's brands of stoicism and utilitarian logic "the good of the many outweighs the good of the few".

Imagine the melee of ideas like these in the mind of a black child that believed his mother sang young gifted and black to him, whose grandma was in the UNIA... Imagine the mind molded in a Christian yet pan African household... I was charged up... a young black superhero... young gifted and black... I was the X-Men, Malcolm X-Men School for gifted... “Mi start get up early go church walk by mi self, go Sunday school, stay for big church, trying to get more moral more good a try understand God’s will... What did he want me to do etc? Granted hormones had become a problem, I went to church religiously and imbibed the message though as an early puberty child, I was lusting after the young girls in tight dresses, plus maybe some of my mother’s friends in all their church dress plumpness and pulchritude.


Beyond that I was good and ready to be a saint… I really did consider being a pastor… eeek! Oh I prayed to have wisdom like Solomon after al my mother wanted my middle name to be Nestor god of wisdom and my father wanted it to be the wise nesta Marley, I prayed like Samuel to be chosen, to ask for wisdom and granted health and length of days… “yep be a wise 'gallis' like Solomon and not to be gal clown like Samson.” Oh how silly I was. But I took spiritual matters and science very seriously from the day I was born. These meant everything to me, them and Africa… so they had to collide.

As in the back of my mind was marinating a debate that had happened one Sunday on the verandah, my father and uncles were debating God. My uncle Hugh Thompson a devout atheist was at it against my uncle David Brown a very religious man, they had asked my father to weigh in and I remembered his words well, "If Zeus and such are Greek and Norse and Roman mythology, then our religion might just be Jewish mythology" and forever that moment it dawned on my that I simply assumed Christians were right. But that didn't cause my divorce psychologically from church.

It came one Sunday when my Sunday school teacher were giving a Sunday school lesson on revelations, it was my common entrance year, but what in the sermon caused the great divorce and moment of cognitive dissonance is when she informed be Jews get a second chance on Judgement day but gentile which we all were would be judged and if not found worthy would be tossed in hell fire... how could even God be sort of racist and biased and if he didn't rather me or black people it can't work and I wanted no more part in it and maybe it was Jewish mythology and not my story or mythos. I would years later find out Pessoa is a Jewish last name but little comfort anyway. And so I wrestled with it inside. And when I mentioned it to friends they all looked scared or told me not to think so much. When I told my mother it became a family crisis for all of high school. I was recommended to speak with this person or that parson... only for all my questions to come up unanswered but everyone wanted me to just accept without irrefutable proof or sound logic and science that God is real... I was no longer the good son but now spaced out, a possible high school weed head even though I never knew what a spliff was, I was wayward etc.. I was a victim of fads, they said I was easily swayed.

The tribulations of not walking in religious norm followed me to the UWI, where in my first semester a big argument with Ms. Kitty after she attacked me as the devil worshiper (I wonder if she remembers that!), whilst I was reasoning with someone else on Atheism. She and that debate led a portion of people to dub me as devil boy... ironic that at home in my community I was called Jesus… but I was persecuted over my opinion and belief. So when I say I understand the rigors of being ostracized by Christians and Christianity to be ridiculed and persecuted despite all my logic and scientific methodology, my critical thinking.... I understand how a religion can put enmity in family, the familiar and the familial.

So let us not heap scorn and condemnation in the Pathway congregation... Who controls your mind... is it Mark Zuckerberg, Rachel Maddow, Jewish myth writers who goads yours mind and prompts your ideas who coaxed you and cajoled your brain? Did the influence of external thought and ideas from outside u ever make u take stance and divides from friends and family?

About the author: Yannick Nesta Pessoa B.A. is Jamaica’s first blogger, a Social Advocate, Community Activist and Philosopher. Follow on Twitter & Instagram @yahnyk. Follow on Youtube @ and Reply to

Sunday, April 10, 2022

A Concise History of MoBay

Montego Bay is the most urban setting in St. James. An early map of Jamaica has Montego Bay listed as “Bahia de Manteca” or “Lard Bay,” so called because of the lard making industry made possible by the hunting of wild boars which populated the surrounding hills. Montego Bay was a sugar and banana town but the sugar factories were closed and bananas are now shipped out from Kingston and Port Antonio.

Montego Bay is Jamaica’s second largest city. According to the Planning Institute of Jamaica, Montego Bay is also among the top five fastest growing urban centres in the country. The growth is spurred by tourism, which is the major foreign exchange earner for the parish of St. James. The high number of tourist attractions and resorts in Montego Bay provide employment for hundreds of Jamaicans. Over 80 per cent of the entire parish is dependent on tourism.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Being a Graphic Designer in Western Jamaica

When I was in grade 6 at Mt. Alvernia Prep., the class was paired with foreign students for pen-pals, to practice letter writing and foster cross cultural experience. I went home got my mother's help and wrote a nice introductory letter. Now, beyond my experience in the 1980's tourist industry and slights at duty free in-bond shops, I didn't have an experience with racism that had left an indelible mark till receiving my response letter from my pen-pal. The letter to my horror was riddled with condescending questions like do you have classes under trees and do you wear grass skirts and such. Coming from a Pan African Christian home this was an affront of the highest order. From then on I have come to realize that when the world thinks about Jamaica the first thing that comes to the collective thoughts of people from the western hemisphere are the pivotal 1960’s rural poverty images, of zinc fences, shanty towns, marijuana smoking men and matted hair. Some may be aware of the allure of sun, sand and sex. Reggae and Bob Marley did little to diminish the sexual mystique. Afterwards it also became known as the country which for one reason or the other was the perennial exporter of various types of drugs. Was this a failure in our messaging our visual communique?

 This clash of cultures and divergent realities reflect the duality of perception. I am not saying we aren’t steeped in a variety of problems, far from it. Hence, working in the developing world can carry unique problems and circumstances not perceived by graphic designers and artists in the developed nations. Hence I hope this article elucidates my progress and journey as a designer growing and working in the wonderful conundrum and cultural melting pot that is Jamaica and the Caribbean

Visual communication is an inextricable part of human history. It has existed as long as there has been the need to make marks or leave traces, to communicate through signs and symbols rather than the spoken word. In the contemporary world the activity of organizing signs and symbols, or words and images, for public exchange is recognized as graphic design - a specialist area of the broader field of design. Just as there have been design movements and aesthetics born all over the world, Jamaica and her people too have formed it's own unique systems of visual hierarchy, layout and style. Our unique history, environment and challenges have given rise to our own aesthetic and cues for communication.

Today graphic design in Jamaica embraces printed material from the smallest ephemeral item - a stamp, label or ticket - to publication design in the form of the interiors and exteriors of books and magazines. It also includes a robust and very local poster and advertising design culture, as well as trademarks, logos and symbols. Then there are the more convention yet extensive systems of information design - signage in the built environment, exhibitions and corporate identities for companies, all often developed in close association with architectural practices that are informed by our Victorian and Spanish past yet still being influence by Deco and a modern minimalism.

Over the last decade I've watched the practice of graphic design as it has undergone momentous change as pixels have become a handy substitute for print and software has lessened the profession's reliance on its traditional tools of pen and paper. In no other discipline of design has computer technology had Reich a transforming impact. Throughout our daily lives we are surrounded and peppered by graphic messages. Indeed they have become so much a part of the fabric of every-day modern life - from break-fast cereal packaging and advertising 3 billboards to logos on clothes and television company identities - that often we register their codes only on a subconscious level.


Working in Western Jamaica is always challenging as it is an environment, where the push for excellence is always marred and pegged down by an ever changing set of economic obstacles, and technical variables though if you ask me I believe that ultimately these challenges will help make you a better designer. Anyhow my journey started way back in 2001 when I took a graphic design course in Kingston, where I was tutored by one Mr. Marcel Robinson, who gave me my introduction to Corel Draw (I still remember that hot air balloon logo with fondness) and the theories of design. That was a time when the concept of computer was still one of a luxury item in Jamaica, but my exposure to them though came earlier in the 80's but was confined to a Commodore 64 that I had to write the Basic code for PacMan to play it. After that my next set of exposure would be to some access in my high school and prep school computer laboratories and the only use that we had for them was to play ancient PC Games, some of them in DOS. I remember being smitten with the early aerial view incarnations of Grand Theft Auto, Minesweeper, Taipei and Solitaire. Midway during high school my siblings and I got a computer at home. In the back of my mind I always had intentions of doing designs especially after seeing kids in my high school library using cut outs and a photocopier to make a flyer or poster, that incident cemented for me the union of art and technology.

As my progress in illustrating on a Pentium III Windows® machine went forward smoothly, I got introduced to a variety of software such as Blender, Gimp, Inkscape, and more. My enterprising nature brought me to Macs and Linux desktops. I had fallen in love with the idea of transforming pictures and mashing colors together, and the thrill of creativity. I had some idea of the basic tenets of graphic design and color theory but no formal training in these notions, so eventually I dove into Graphic Design books that I could pick up at our local bookstore franchise Sangster's or at Computer stores. After working on odd gigs at the University of the West Indies, Mona while doing a philosophy degree, I got introduced to Macromedia Freehand and Flash for vector drawing and animation. This realm of digital creation was my major foray into the vast world of design which wouldn’t have been possible without the ‘pirated’ copies of these high end software (I have shifted my software use to free and opensource) Although I will be forever grateful for the creators of these software, there really wasn’t any way that I could honor their work by buying their product. They were too expensive for a starving artist in Jamaica's second city.

Another pivotal moment in my life as a graphic designer came in the period of 2004 to 2006. In these three years I did two things that shaped my design inclinations, the first I got to work in a lot of jobs as a freelance designer. The second, after hanging with Computer Science crowd I made the hard leap into open source. The impact of these actions resulted in my gaining direct touch with the business side of being a designer and the second introduced me to the interesting world of coding, which would lend itself to me learning HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Being a freelance designer at the time circa 2004 was a tough time because in those days Jamaican businesses didn’t really rate the importance of branding themselves through graphic design, thus they attached no importance to that side of their advertising strategy. Don't get me wrong everyone wants a logo or a business card but they don't want to pay for it. I can tell you horror stories of hunting down clients who received work and tried to get away without paying. In Jamaica, photographers and videographers tend to be able to command financial respect more and people are more willing to pay. This environmental pressure has led to designers at the time becoming a jack of all trade. We dabbled in everything from flash animation to video and sound editing. Specializing in one discipline was seen as a death warrant because the desires of our employers, clients and the market were fleeting and one had to be able to pivot with the ever changing needs of the moment. Consequently instead of specializing and learning more about the various disciplines found in graphic design, this trend made the majority of the designers, somewhat lesser artists and some lost focus on the importance of the art itself, and by necessity it made designers in western Jamaica a kind of digital Anansi and hustler, where as the developed world romanticized this as the life a digital nomad.

Becoming a digital Anansi in this worldwide web prompted me to dig deeper into codes and coding, hard ware and A+ type repairs. It was an interesting experience as it overlapped with my desire to create stuff from the base up, using computers, to understand how things worked under the hood, the magic of ones and zeroes. Concurrently I was pulled deeper into web design since it encompassed the two things that I love most, the internet and design. In these formative years, I also learned the benefits of research as a method to help yield the best possible tools and techniques to produce interesting things. These years refined me from a hustler into a consummate artist, who was more concerned about creating a graphic aesthetic that communicated a new Caribbean message and Afrofuturism. Making money was important but I was yearning for something more as I lived that ‘starving artist’ cliche. This period was where I became somewhat disillusioned with graphic design.

The majority of my clients were not looking for the ‘aesthetic’ strength of their products, a lot of them were posters and party flyers for people who didn't pay well and objected if I put black girls on their party flyers. A lot of the rest just wanted something made quickly (in retrospect, I realize it was my inexperience as a designer which through lack of a deep formal education in the field and the lack of proper exposure led me to compromise my creative integrity). Even though I did land some big work, doing T-shirts for Reggae Sumfest, Trelawny Swamp Safari among others, my desire to do graphic designed still waned, and I turned my face towards web design and coding, by that time had already been through Yahoo's geocities and was blogging on this platform. So web design was a natural progression.

To my software knowledge I added the use of Adobe's Photoshop, Indesign and Illustrator, Corel PhotoPaint, and Scribus. I also graduated from Frontpage to Dreamweaver. Try as I may that market was the domain of Kingston techies who won the lucrative business contracts and clients like NGOs. Around 2008 after layout work for Newspapers, writing columns for the Western Mirror, dabbling in editorial cartoons, I somehow wound up at VistaPrint doing copywriting. Then around 2010 — 2012 and the next creative wave to hit Jamaica was multimedia and motion graphics. I had dabbled in Macromedia Director and Flash which gave me some experience, my adventures brought me to working with Montegonian artists to storyboard music videos and do some photography which I loved. 

This is an energetic time for Jamaican graphic design, in terms of the web, illustration and  graphic videos like text videos. Motion is where graphics are going and garner premium pay. The field is becoming more mainstream, and the talents out there were getting out and presenting their portfolios for the world to see. Though at the same time we are in an age where apps and templates are a dime a dozen offering consumers prettier graphic options and standards, at the same time creating a generic aesthetic in design which still leaves room for the human element in finding meaningful new expressions in design.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Introduce Universal Basic Income in Jamaica

I believe it is time that Jamaica takes radical and new approaches to solving its socio-economic issues. One new and radical approach being explored in many cities, states, and nations globally is universal basic income (UBI), which is a no-strings-attached stipend from the Government.

Cities in England, like Bristol, and Los Angeles (LA) in the USA have launched UBI programmes.

The UBI test run in LA gives over 3,000 families under the poverty line US$1,000 every month to supplement income. UBI was a major part of former candidate Andrew Yang's platform in the 2020 Democratic primaries, reigniting the conversation about UBI in the mainstream.

Predicting the impact of such an unprecedented upheaval in the relationship between the State and the individual is unsurprisingly difficult, though, as is gathering evidence for or against it. There have been several small-scale trials, but the most ambitious to date took place in Finland from 2017 to 2018, and the final report was published in The Guardian a few years ago.

The study selected 2,000 unemployed people at random and gave them unconditional monthly payments of €560. Their outcomes were then compared against 173,000 people on Finland's standard unemployment benefits.

The headline finding was that those who received the unconditional payments reported significantly improved financial and mental well-being. They also saw a slight improvement in employment, with recipients working an average of six more days between November 2017 and October 2018 than the control group. This would seem to contradict fears that such a scheme would demotivate people from seeking work.

Aside from the raw economic outcomes, though, surveys of the participants found that they scored better on measures of well-being, financial security, and confidence in the future. The authors of the report told The Guardian that the recipients felt more empowered to take on voluntary work or attempt to start new ventures.

The study can only tell us so much, though. Despite being the largest trial to date, it's hard to extrapolate the results up to the scale of a nationwide programme, and it's also impossible to predict what impact similar interventions would have in countries with very different cultures and governmental systems.

Nonetheless, falling in the middle of the biggest global disaster of this century, the study's release was a timely reminder that it might be time for politicians around the world to re-evaluate their relationship with the welfare State.

So now that we know UBI has been trialled throughout the world, yet remains out of Jamaica's public and political discussions, it is time to embrace its possibilities and begin to examine the introduction of a universal basic income grant (BIG) and drop austerity measures amid crippling inflation, poverty, and rising unemployment levels and a health-care crisis.

A recent survey found that 71 per cent of Europeans now support UBI, and Pope Francis pushed the idea in his 2020 Easter address.

Spain's minister for economy and digitalisation Nadia Calvino Santamaría said the Government would soon roll out some form of basic income that would stay in place past the end of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

I am also disappointed with civil society movements in Jamaica as they have not entertained or campaigned for the implementation of a UBI. I contend that $15,500 per month, roughly the average or equivalent of most UBI programmes internationally, for all unemployed between the ages of 18 and 59, for starters, would do much to stimulate our stagnant economy. In time the programme can be expanded to include caregivers, home-based workers, and workers who earn below the national minimum wage, till an eventual national roll-out.

This will bring much-needed relief to millions of Jamaicans who are languishing in poverty.

Yannick Nesta Pessoa

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Enemy of the State: The Lampooned Maroons

1- a person who is marooned
2- capitalized : a Black person of the West Indies and Guiana in the 17th and 18th centuries who escaped slavery also : a descendant of such a person

The Present Maroon Conundrum

Statehood and Sovereignty

It is time for us to uncritically accept that Maroons played a vital role in the continuation of slavery as an institution. What is even more whimsical is that Jamaica currently enjoys amicable relations with governments that were directly responsible for slavery as an institution. What a conundrum!


There are five Maroon groups in the country, one of which has become a secessionist voice for social upheaval and that is the Accompong strand or branch. Thy have been purporting unsubstantiated claims of being a sovereign State, is being heard through its colonel, Mr. Richard Currie. These utterances have no legal standing, according to several legal minds. The most obvious demonstration of this is the fact that all Maroons travel on Jamaican-issued passports. The reality is that in the 12th year of his reign an edict of King George II of Great Britain and Jamaica empowered John Gutherie and Francis Sadler “to negotiate and finally conclude a treaty of peace and friendship” with Colonel Cudjoe and his captains. This would be known as the First Maroon Treaty of 1739.

An examination of the Treaty of the Leeward Maroons has indicated up to eight instances that speak to and against the authority and nationhood of the Maroons. The treaty acknowledges the leadership of the colonel by referring to his people as his “subjects” who, being in a “perfect state of freedom and liberty” (Article II)… will enjoy and possess, in perpetuity, land of 1,500 acres “between Trelawney Town and The Cockpits” (Article III). They have the right to trade outside of their bounds, but must do so under a license (Article IV).

According to a news item in the Jamaica Observer, the Cabinet has ordered the withholding of funds and support to any entity which claims to be a sovereign State. On Sunday BroGad played bad cop and stomped his foot down by declaring that Jamaica is a unitary State, and as such Accompong falls under the Government of Jamaica's legal ambit and, by extension, the Jamaica Constabulary Force and every government body there is.

Maroons are considered by some in academia to be Indigenous Peoples and that they should have rights under the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. But that paradox raises interesting questions as how can Maroons be both indigenous and  descended from Africa. I understand indigenous to refer to Native Americans and Aboriginal who are located at a place before our collective or maybe European history has record for. We know maroons are not even unique to Jamaica so how indigenous is it really?

There needs to be a consensus as to whether the Maroon communities are either a sovereign proto-state within a State, Imperium in imperio as it is known. Or maybe an indigenous reserve (much like the native indians in the US), or the average town flying the Jamaican flag? Vatican City and Eswatini are examples of this state within a state concept. It is a thing that can be done but Currie needs to be realistic and get about charting a course to statehood rather than proving a lack of legal and historical knowledge. Let us hope Brogad learnt from Busta's lessons and wont be blinded and create another Coral Gardens Massacre so close to our nation's special anniversary of independence.

Saturday, January 08, 2022

Spirit of Montego Bay Award for Journalism

 Received this award for journalism last year. So much more work to be done this year!

Flash Point 2022

The Eye of the Tiger

Sometimes, you have to look back in order to understand the things that lie ahead.”
― Yvonne Woon, Dead Beautiful

As we look at 2021 in the rearview mirror, Jamaica, let's keep our eyes on the road through 2022. There be many a rut and potholes ahead for this chevied country as we will commemorate its 60th year of alleged political Independence from August 6, 1962. Before that, our beloved island was a British colony. And in discussing the British Monarchy and Jamaica, we cannot do so without acknowledging the history of how the relationship began. In 2001 The Transatlantic slave trade was recognised in the UN Durban Declaration as a crime against humanity. The total scale of loss and underdevelopment caused by the colonial project is almost incalculable. Jamaica's past cannot be undone; that does not mean her future must be determined by terms dictated centuries ago. We must examine this issue keenly, as 2022 is the Chinese year of the tiger. I think as Rasta lions, black panthers, maybe we use the eye of the tiger to examine this matter and to look at our collective future.

A rough guide to Jamaica's history goes like this: The island became an imperial colony in 1508 when Spain appropriated an indigenous peoples' land. In 1655, Brits forcefully got hold of the island with barely a battle, and thus the British Empire claimed it. Over time, slaves who seized their freedom joined the indigenous Taino on interior of the isle, eventually being labelled by Europeans as Maroons. The Maroons won one of the wars with British forces circa. 1728-1740 but then lost a second war circa. 1795-1796. In the 1800s, slavery was abolished after the rebellions of Sam Sharpe and Paul Bogle, it was then that Jamaicans derived the right to vote, though the British still maintained power.

Kicking off Pan Africanism in the 20th century, Marcus Garvey advanced black nationalism and went on to be the most illustrious black leader of that era. During the Great Depression, workers protested inequality and agitated the authorities in Jamaica and other Caribbean colonies. By 1943, labour leader Alexander Bustamante gained an electoral victory and founded a new, liberal constitution. After the Second World War, Jamaican leadership formulated the government structure to gear up for Independence. In 1962, Bustamante's party the Jamaica Labour Party won the election and he became premier. That year, the Britain's Parliament formally accorded Jamaica Independence, and Bustamante was converted to the independent country's first prime minister.

2022 is Jamaica's Flash Point, and in the regional political aftermath of Barbados declaring its republican status, disembarrassing itself of the bonds of England's monarchy, Jamaicans returned to its chant for republican standing. Now to boldly go where Caribbean nations have gone before, our Constitution requires that there be a national referendum, until then we are all loyal subjects of Her Majesty The Queen, her heirs, and successors. BroGad does not seem apt to the task as he keeps genuflecting to Trump and Biden, so willing to toby to the United States that he says we live in their backyard and begged Her Majesty to be Privy to the Council. Prime Minister Holness, in his usual political cowardice and dodgy shiftiness, has replied by alleging that there are numerous developmental matters that must be handled before he can unctuously and unconditionally defend ending the nation's noose held by Brittany. A powerful question is: If not now, when? If it is not us, who?

It has been argued that Jamaica has not yet reached a level of economic development that would warrant a Jamaican head of State. Similar ideas and questions were posed at the time of Independence. In 1962 commentators posited the stage of Jamaica's social development and cast doubt on the new nation's ability to exist as a stable democracy. We must remember that loyalty to the Crown was once sacrosanct for many Jamaicans and I suspect BroGad; some called Britain the motherland. Generations later, despite their labour and migration, status and statehood is disavowed by the UK's Foreign Ministry

The existence of a developmental stage at which Jamaica should have her own head of State implies pastoral and benevolent qualities of monarchy, a benevolence that slavery has shown us is not characteristic of England in reality. Is it true that Jamaica should at some point become a parliamentary republic only when arbitrary goals or conditions have been met. NO! Jamaicans have always deserved sovereignty!

Just imagine, how would our national heroes and heroine react to the question of our nation moving forward to being a republic? Like many a christian ask, what would Jesus do? We ask ourselves now as a nation; What would Marcus Garvey undoubtedly say but, “Up you mighty race, you can accomplish what you will.” Norman Manley, who had already said, “Mission accomplished,” with regard to the acquisition of political Independence, would at present emphasize that the route to economic independence, which is the next pivotal step, may only be rightfully attained within the context of self-rule, emboldened by full sovereignty. Sam Sharpe would want to know if he had died in vain, after resisted  his colonial masters, choosing to die on yonder gallows rather than live in slavery. Paul Bogle and George William Gordon, who both gave their lives as well for the noble cause of freeing their black brothers and sisters from oppression, would be impatient in terms of their country doing what is long overdue and what is right. Finally, Nanny, who helped to defeat our British masters, would be shocked to know that we are still kowtowing to Her Majesty or whomever sits on the British throne. Time has come!

On that note, the nation must realize that the acquisition of republican standing is inextricably joined to constitutional reform. As the UWI and UTech conveyor belt churn out lawyers yearly, and the nation has many inside and outside of the political sphere, yet our legislative agenda has been less than spectacular. Golding has shown a knack for getting things done legally, as is evidenced by his stint as minister of justice from 2012 to 2016. This is his opportunity to spearhead a thrust that the nation needs. But key to this movement is for there to be intensive public education, as well as community and sectoral discussions so that the people can understand what is at stake.

Now the major question is... What will Jamaica look like when every child learns that their countries' leadership has thrown off the vestiges of colonialism and their sovereignty is not circumscribed; how then will they chart Jamaica's future?

About the author: Yannick Nesta Pessoa B.A. is Jamaica’s first blogger, a Social Advocate, Community Activist and Legal Student.  Follow on Twitter & Instagram @yahnyk. Follow on Youtube @ and Reply to