Bob Marley – A Jamaican Icon

Robert Nesta Marley (Bob Marley), a Jamaican icon, was born on 6 February 1945 in Nine Mile, Saint Ann, Jamaica to Cedella Booker and Norval Sinclair Marley.  Rumour has it that as a boy his birth names of Nesta Robert were reversed to Robert Nesta by a Jamaican passport official because Nesta sounded like a girl’s name.

Bob Marley and the Wailers
Bob Marley

Marley and Neville Livingston (Bunny Wailer) were childhood friends in Nine Mile and started playing music together while at Stepney Primary and Junior High School. At age 12 Marley moved to Trench Town, Kingston with his Mom, who later had a daughter with Wailer’s Dad.

In 1963 Marley formed a vocal harmony group the Wailers with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer.  The group was introduced to Rastafarianism by Rita who Marley married in February 1966.  By 1969 the Wailers fully embraced Rastafarianism, which greatly influenced Marley’s music in particular and reggae music in general.  The Wailers collaborated with Lee Scratch Perry, resulting in some of the Wailers’ finest tracks.  This collaboration ended bitterly when the Wailers found that Perry, thinking the records were his, sold them in England without their consent.

I Threes Backing Group
Bob Marley and the I Threes

This initial British exposure brought the Wailers’ music to the attention of Island Records owner Chris Blackwell, who produced their first albums.  In 1974 Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer left to start solo careers.  Marley then formed Bob Marley and the Wailers, with his wife Rita as one of three backup singers called the I-Threes.

In 1977 Marley was diagnosed with cancer, which was kept secret from the general public while he continued working.  On May 11, 1981 Marley died in a Miami hospital, he was 36 years old.

Unlike mere pop stars Marley was a moral and religious figure as well as a major record seller internationally.

Bob Marley Dread Locks
Bob Marley in Action

Bob Marley was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994; in December 1999, his 1977 album “Exodus” was named Album of the Century by Time Magazine and his song “One Love” was designated Song of the Millennium by the BBC.  Although never recognised with a Grammy nomination, in 2001 Marley was bestowed The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, an honour given by the Recording Academy to: performers who during their lifetimes have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording.

Marley’s legend looms larger than ever, attributable to his music, which identified oppressors and agitated for social change while simultaneously allowing listeners to forget their troubles and dance.

Marley is treated like a deity among defiant youth and seasoned revolutionaries alike, who recognised him as one of their own, playing on the streets of Vanuatu, embracing him in Harare during Zimbabwe’s independence, and sending him messages of solidarity from Peruvian jungles to Himalayan hideaways.

One Love and Happy Birthday to a Jamaican icon.

Reggae Music

Last month UNESCO added Reggae music to the list of international cultural treasures.

So how did this Jamaican music evolve and why the accolades?

While sometimes used in a broad sense to refer to most types of popular Jamaican dance music, the term Reggae more properly denotes a particular music style that evolved out of the earlier genres of Ska and Rocksteady.

Millie Small - Ska
Millie Small – First International Ska Hit

The first Jamaican recording studio opened in 1951 and recorded “Mento” music, a fusion of European and African folk dance music. Ska originated in Jamaica, combining musical element of Mento and Calypso with a bit of American Jazz and also Rhythm and Blues. Ska music was made for dancing, being upbeat, quick and exciting. The first Ska record was cut in 1959. Millie Small’s “My Boy Lollipop” (1964) was the first worldwide ska hit.

Rocksteady originated in Jamaica around 1966 as a successor to Ska and a precursor to Reggae. Dances performed to Rocksteady are less energetic than the earlier Ska dances. The first international Rocksteady hit was “Hold Me Tight” (1968) by the American soul singer Johnny Nash. This hit reached number one in Canada.

The Reggae genre evolved in the 1960’s from the Rocksteady and Ska musical styles. The term Reggae was derived from rege-rege, a Jamaican phrase meaning “rags or ragged clothing,” and was used to denote the raggedy style of music.

Reggae music is recognised by its lament-like chanting and emphasises the syncopated beat. It is distinguishable from other genres in the heavy use of the Jamaican vernacular and the African nyah-bingi drumming style.

Bob Marley
Bob Marley – International Reggae Ambassador

Bob Marley is the world’s best known and loved international Reggae ambassador. Marley’s career began in 1963 with Rocksteady band, culminating with the release in 1977 of his internationally acclaim Reggae solo album “Exodus”. Marley was not only a Reggae singer, but a committed Rastafarian and a political activist. Through his music, his words and his actions, he earned forever a place in Reggae fans hearts around the world.

A seminal moment for Reggae was the 1973 release of the movie “The Harder They Come” starring Jimmy Cliff. The movie soundtrack consisted of only reggae hits.

Since the early days in Jamaica, and through to the present day worldwide, Reggae is filled with Social commentary, reflections on life (often by the poor and those marginalised by society), musings on systemic corruption (living in Babylon), a call to love, raising African consciousness, repatriation, teaching self-reliance, and of course rejoicing the blessings of life, and giving praises and exaltations to Jah Rastafari.

Dogs and Reggae Music
Reggae Music to Relax Dogs

Reggae has also been shown to help our canine friends relax.

Reggae is Jamaica’s largest cultural export, and since its humble beginnings from the ghettos of Kingston, reggae has grown to become a worldwide cultural and musical expression. There are reggae bands from every habitable continent of the world.

At its heart and root, Reggae music is still “Rebel Music”, not always easy to pigeon-hole into a neat category or label. Enjoy this Reggae video.

Jamaican Sauces

We all use sauces in cooking.  But have you wondered about its history, why we find sauces a necessity and how to explore other tastes?

Sauce is a French word taken from the Latin salsa, meaning salted.  Possibly the oldest recorded European sauce is a fish sauce used by the Ancient Greeks, while the Chinese soy bean paste is mentioned in 3rd century BC text.

Are you surprised that sauces have this long a history?

Sauces come in a variety of different styles and consistencies.  They can be thick or thin, rich and creamy, or light and delicate.  Depending on the purpose, sauces can be strongly flavoured, hot and spicy, or even sweet to be served with a dessert.  All over the world sauces add that something extra to any dish, including flavour, moisture, and visual appeal.

Sauces are not normally consumed by themselves.  Sauces can be used before cooking as marinades for meats and veggies, the perfect addition to a dish or used as a dipping sauce for finger food.  Sauces may be freshly prepared by the cook, especially in restaurants, but today many sauces are sold pre-made and packaged for your convenience.

The Jamaican Products sauce subscription club provides an opportunity to discover 7 of its authentic Jamaican sauces.  Two of these are exclusive to the subscription club and are not available in the general product range.

Why not gift sauces to yourself, family and friends for Christmas?  We do not guarantee that you will love every sauce, as each and every person’s palate is different.  However you will get to experience all the different sauce styles and consistencies that Jamaican Products has to offer.

Inevitably you will get a sauce you just do not like.  Why not re-gift the offending sauce to someone at work.  You never know, they may just love it.

To explore a range of authentic Jamaican sauces with a diverse array of heat levels, flavours, and styles join the sauce club

2018 Independence Celebration Photos

Enjoy these 2018 Independence Celebration photos taken on Saturday 25 August.

Attended the Celebrations and have some photos to share? Then send your photos to me at [email protected] so I can add to the gallery.

Photographer: Darren Hart





2018 Independence Celebration

The Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago diaspora get together each year to celebrate the anniversary of their independence from the United Kingdom.  Both nations gained independence in 1962, Jamaica on 6 August and Trinidad & Tobago on 31 August.

Showing the Dance Moves to All Ages

On this occasion we showcase our Caribbean culture, food, music and dance with family, friends, neighbours and the broader community.  In recent years we donate part of the proceeds to a recognised charity.

This year the event was held on Saturday 25 August 2018 at Addison Road Community Centre, 142 Addison Road, Marrickville.  The charity supported is Lou’s Place, a not for profit centre offering a safe place for women.

The Hon Linda Burney MP

Approximately 250 persons were in attendance.  Special guests included:

  • The Honourable Linda Burney MP, Shadow Minister for Human Services in the Federal Parliament,
  • Councillor Darcy Byrne, Inner West Mayor,
  • Marco Breakenridge, Honourable Consul for Jamaica,
  • Dr Bill Milne-Home, Representative for Trinidad & Tobago.

The program consisted of:

  • Kids Corner, manned by Tekeisha, Elisha, Chantel and Nicole, the face painter.
  • Food Stalls – African Feeling, Jamaican Delights and TriniKitchen
  • Craft and Arts Stalls and
  • Full Entertainment Package with Dancehall demonstration, Story Telling, Fashion Show, Jamaican Folk Songs, Zumba Class, Jamaican Poetry Reading, Caribbean Soul Steel Drum, Dancehall, Reggae and Soca Show, Live Band and DJs.

Such a superb program would have been impossible without the assistance of sponsors.

Repeat sponsors included Appleton Estate Rum, Red Stripe Beer, Jamaican Products, World BeatMcLeod’s Antiques and Puretech-Solutions.

Other sponsors included Dance Central, DanZiNina, Dance Studio 101, SoulJah, BCS Technology, Doug & Ayesha, iShareCloset and The Honorary Consul of Jamaica.

Showing Some Sponsors Products

Special mention should be made of the Marrickville based business sponsors, Post Café, Banana Joes Foodworks and Manchester Factory.
The event was streamed live to Marlene, who wanted to be there in person if she could.

As the saying goes “Many hands make light work”, so the time and labour given by the many volunteers must be acknowledged.

Thanks to Margaret, Lisa, Stephanie, Suzanne, the Pearce family, Tom, Emma, Cheryl, Eileen, Garnett, Garfield, Ted, Keith, David, Yvonne and Rhys.  Although your name may not be mentioned, your invaluable contribution was much appreciated.

The Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago Independence Celebration has been growing both in terms of program activities and participants.  It can now be regarded as a Calendar Event which should not be missed.

Would you like to be involved next year or do you have a great suggestion?  Then send me an email or give me a call on 0409 596 655.

View photos of the Celebrations.

Appleton Estate

Thanks to Appleton Estate for being a sponsor of the 2018 Independence celebrations for Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago.

Appleton Estate has the distinction of being the oldest sugar estate and distillery in Jamaica in continuous production.  They have been crafting this delicious and alive rum with the warmth, passion and unique sprit of Jamaica for more than 265 years on the estate nestled in St. Elizabeth’s Nassau Valley.  This region is the breadbasket of Jamaica with much of the Island’s delicious fruits and vegetables coming from this parish.

Nassau Valley, Jamaica
Nassau Valley, St Elizabeth, Jamaica

The road to the Appleton Estate is rough and windy, the land teeming with green vegetation, the air hot and sticky.  This land is the mother to Appleton rum: the endless fields of vivid green sugarcane, the rich and fertile soil and the blazing blue limestone spring supplying the water all give rise to the lingering sweet smells of molasses and ageing rum that fill the air.

The first known documentation of rum production on the Appleton Estate is dated 1749.  However, it is believed that the origins of the Estate date back to 1655, when England captured Jamaica from Spain.  Frances Dickinson, whose grandsons Caleb and Ezekiel are the earliest known owners of Appleton Estate, took part in that conquest of Jamaica.  It is believed that Appleton Estate was part of the land grant that Frances Dickinson received as a reward for his services.

Extra 12 Year Old Jamaica Rum
Appleton Estate Extra 12 Year Old

Today’s beautifully complex and aromatic Appleton Estate rums are of a unique style, produced only in Jamaica, and only at Appleton Estate.  All Appleton Estate rum is produced on a single estate in a small circumscribed geographic area, which makes it one of the few rums in the world to claim a terroir and the only rum in the world that has a terroir as unique as the Nassau Valley.

Appleton Estate has a range of three award-winning, premium rums that comprise the Brand’s core range:

  • Appleton Estate Signature Blend Jamaica Rum,
  • Appleton Estate Reserve Blend Jamaica Rum and
  • Appleton Estate Extra 12 Year Old Jamaica Rum.

Additionally, there are two limited edition luxury rums:

  • Appleton Estate 21 Year Old Jamaica Rum and
  • Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Independence Reserve Rum.

The Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum range has a heritage of awards dating back to 1862, when J. Wray & Nephew Limited won three gold medals for its 10, 15 and 25 year-old rums in the International Exhibition held in London.  This tradition of quality and excellence continues today as the products continue to win numerous awards in international competitions.

Why not judge for yourself by trying the 2 recipes below?

Jamaican Mule rum mix
Jamaican Mule

Appleton Estate Signature Jamaican Mule

  • 1 part Appleton Estate Signature Blend
  • 3 lime wedges
  • Two parts extra fiery ginger beer
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters (optional)

Appleton Estate Signature adds a great depth of flavor to this variation on the Mule, and is best enjoyed with a fiery ginger beer.  The dash of bitters provides extra complexity, if preferred.

Squeeze the limes into a highball glass, pressing them with a muddler.  Add ice and build remaining ingredients into the glass and stir.


Jamaican Honey Soother
Honey Soother
  • 2 parts Appleton Estate Extra 12 Year Old
  • 1/4 part honey
  • 1/2 part fresh lemon juice

Soothing honey and lemon highlights the rich, warm taste of Appleton Estate Extra 12 Year Old in this simple cocktail.

Pour the rum, honey, and lemon juice into a cocktail shaker, half-filled with ice cubes.  Shake well, strain into a Coupette cocktail glass and serve.

Rum – A Jamaican Originated Word

Rum is one of the oldest and most versatile spirits in the world, with an interesting history. Although the exact origin of this liquid gold cannot be determined, many experts agree that it was perfected in Jamaica.

The source of all rum is sugar cane, a grass-like plant believed to have originated in Papua, New Guinea.  Christopher Columbus introduced sugar cane to the West Indies in 1493.  The plant flourished in the warm climate and fertile soil of the Caribbean islands, and plantations were soon established on practically every island (in particular Jamaica, Barbados, Puerto Rico, and Cuba).

Sugar Cane
Sugar Cane

Initially revered for the sugar it produced, it was soon discovered that alcohol could be created by fermenting and distilling the sticky brown substance that remained after sugar was produced.

This drink has had many names over the years — including, Eau-de-Vie de Molasses, Rumbullion, Aguardiente de Cana, and “Kill Devil,” amongst others — as the raw spirit was quite fiery. From these original names, there are two stories of how the name rum came about. The first is that rum is a derivative of the name sacharum, the accepted botanical genus name for sugar cane. The second version is that rum is a derivative of Rumbullion.

Rum Barrel Ageing
A Barrel Ageing at Appleton Estate

Back in the olden days, estate owners would develop special rums for their exclusive use; these rums were blended, and then placed in oak barrels for the long sea voyage back to England. The estate owners discovered that the rums were much smoother, mellower, and more flavourful when they arrived in England. They surmised that a transformation took place, while the rum rested in the oak during the journey, and this was the genesis of aged rums as we know them today.

Jamaica’s place in the history of rum is one of primary importance.  Jamaica is renowned around the world for producing wonderfully rich and flavourful rums and the island also has the privilege of being the first country to refer to this delicious spirit as rum in writing. An article that appeared in the 1937-38 edition of Planter’s Punch states that the earliest mention of “rum” occurred in an order from the Governor of Jamaica.  The island was also the first to produce rum on a commercial basis and the finest rums in the world are produced in Jamaica.

Read our next Blog on Appleton Estate, a sponsor of our 2018 Independence Celebrations.

Go Jamaica!

The Commonwealth Games were only a few short weeks ago – April 4 through 19 – but already it feels like that was a decade ago.

I travelled to the Gold Coast on Saturday 31 March, before the official opening, but with 71 nations competing, athletes, officials, the media and supporters were pouring in and the Commonwealth Games had already begun!

Sunday was spent at Jamroc Jamaican Jerk Chicken Restaurant, in Mermaid Waters, at the function to welcome the Jamaican competitors to the Games.  I had my Jamaican Products stall, selling Easter Buns and Jamaican memorabilia.  There was the opportunity to catch up with Jamaicans from the Gold Coast, Sydney and as far north as Gladstone.  We were all surprised to meet a Jamaican who after 2 years studying in the Gold Coast was meeting other Jamaicans for the first time.  “Where had he been?,” we all asked.  “In his books,” someone replied.

Hope and Anne in Surfers Paradise pre Commonwealth Games
Hope and Anne with our Usain Bolt salute

Lunch was delicious, but the highlight of my day was the dancing by members of the Jamaican Netball team and some Jamaican locals.  My last visit to Jamaica was 2 years ago, but I missed out on seeing this dance.  It was a chucking of the shoulder and movements of the bum.  Now my mirror is assessing my progress with the new dance moves.

Lunch on Monday was at the Helm Bar Surfers Paradise enjoying the food by Karl, the visiting chef from Jamaica.

Before I knew it I was back in Sydney watching the Games on TV.  There was not much opportunity to scream Go Jamaica to the TV, as the reporting was Aussie focused.  I was caught up in the excitement of the Jamaica vs England netball match.  What a finish!

The first, second and third places in the medal tally went to Australia, England and India.  While Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, British Virgin Islands and Dominica each won their first Commonwealth Games medals.

In the end Jamaica placed 11th with 7 gold, 9 silver and 11 bronze, with all medals awarded in athletics except for a silver in swimming and bronze in netball.  Go Jamaica!

Jamaica and the Pineapple

I am sure you will agree that Jamaica is a Caribbean island with a lot of personality. Just think of its – people: oldest living and fastest persons; music: reggae; food: savoury jerk spiced cooking; beverages: Appleton Estate rum, Blue Mountain coffee, Red Stripe beer, Ting and ginger beer.

A Ripe Pineapple

To add to the list, even though you might think of Hawaii when it comes to the pineapple, most of those pineapples in Hawaii can actually trace their lineage to Jamaica.

Although considered endemic to Jamaica the pineapple was brought to Jamaica by the Tainos. Use of the pineapple profile from the 1660s along with Symon Benning’s initials SB on his Jamaican made pewter dishes shows the historic association of the pineapple with Jamaica. After all pewter was the material of choice for domestic utensils in 17th-century England and her early colonies.

Not only was the pineapple a symbol of Jamaica and the wealth the island brought to England, but the image became synonymous with elegance and royalty. Considered an exotic, exquisite natural marvel, the pineapple was treated as a delicacy in Europe.

Pineapple growing

The Pineapple has had many uses.
• Its bromelain enzyme makes a fantastic meat tenderiser. This enzyme breaks down proteins in your mouth, so when you eat a pineapple, it is eating you back. Once swallowed your stomach acids break down the bromelain enzyme, so no need to worry about being eaten inside-out. Folklore has it that workers on pineapple fields often do not have fingerprints, a result of this enzyme attack on the skin.
• It is an exceptionally good fruit to bring on long sailing voyages because it helps to prevent, just like oranges, the often lethal disease scurvy.
• It is said to possess anti-inflammatory properties.
• The mix of pineapple and sand was a great cleaning agent for the large wooden ships used to cross the oceans in year gone bye.

Jamaican Coat of Arms

The pineapple thrived in Jamaica because of the favourable environmental conditions, and was used as both a food and symbol of Jamaica.

The Jamaican Coat of Arms shows a male and female member of the Taino tribe standing on either side of a shield which bears a red cross with five golden pineapples, the indigenous fruit. The crest shows a Jamaican crocodile mounted on the Royal Helmet of the British Monarchy and mantling. The Jamaican national motto is ‘Out of Many One People’, based on the population’s multiracial roots, completes the Coat of Arms. The Coat of Arms, considered a legacy from the British with slight modifications, was granted to Jamaica in 1661 under Royal Warrant. This Coat of Arms appears on one side of all Jamaican coins.