Trinidad and Tobago …. by Dr. William Milne-Home

Every year in August the folks at Jamaican Products organise a celebration of the independence of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. This timing relates to the actual days in August when the respective countries became independent: 6th for Jamaica, and 31st for Trinidad and Tobago. The celebrations are inclusive of the wider Caribbean community in Sydney and Caribbean food, music, dance, culture and history are featured. Unfortunately in 2020 a physical gathering is not possible because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but hopefully in 2021 it’s back on!

Map of Trinidad and Tobago

In the meantime we will reflect on aspects of the culture and history of the Caribbean starting long before the independence of Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago in 1962.

August is a significant month in history for our two countries and some other Caribbean islands. The first day of August 1834 marked the bill in the British House of Commons which abolished slavery in most parts of the British empire. Some historians consider the slave uprising in the French colony of Saint Domingue which began on August 22nd and 23rd, 1791 and which resulted eventually in the creation of the independent state of Haiti, also influenced the abolition. August 23rd is the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition (UNESCO). Finally, in passing, we remember that Marcus Garvey was born on August 17th.

These events in Augusts past continue to leave their mark. Since 1962 in Jamaica celebrations of August 1st (Emancipation Day) and 6th have merged and in Trinidad and Tobago, after it became a republic on August 1st 1976, Emancipation Day was declared a public holiday in 1985. It is also a public holiday in Jamaica and Barbados since 1997. In Trinidad and Tobago Emancipation Day formerly was called Discovery Day because Christopher Columbus reportedly landed on the south coast of Trinidad at Moruga on July 31st 1498 when he “discovered” the island. Columbus is commemorated by a municipal square and statue in Port-of-Spain. Although the statue has been there since 1881 its future may not be secure, as there are echoes of the debate in Australia over Captain Cook statues.

Statue of Columbus in Port of Spain

Reverberations from the Black Lives Matter and cancel culture movements in the USA, UK and Australia are manifest in demands to remove Columbus and rename the square. The statue itself was daubed with red paint and a banner reading “murderer” was draped around it in June 2020.  

The current uproar about whether Columbus should be removed highlights the resurgence of the long-suppressed and ignored First Peoples (Amerindians) of Trinidad and Tobago. They were lumped by the Spanish into Caribs ( tagged as fierce, warlike cannibals and therefore legally could be enslaved) and “peaceful” Arawaks. But there are many other First Peoples within the Carib/Arawak nations: Carib (Kalinago) who can be Chaima, Nepuyo, Suppoyo or Yao; Arawak (Taino/Lakono) and Warao.

After the landing of Columbus, as no gold was discovered, the export of Amerindian slaves was the next resort. The First Peoples resisted fiercely and achieved some success. A chief named Boucanar defeated the attempt of the Conquistador, Antonio Sedeño, to settle in Mucurapo (west of Port of Spain) in a war lasting three years. Eventually Sedeño’s army left Trinidad on August 27th 1534. 

Warao Nation Queen and Delegation with Port of Spain Mayor

A century later in 1637, a Nepuyo chief –Hyarima- allied with the Dutch from Tobago to burn down the Spanish capital San José (now St. Joseph) and caused the Spanish settlers to abandon Trinidad completely. Of course, the Spanish returned in force and Trinidad was firmly incorporated into Spain’s Latin American empire. Tobago was left to be fought over by Dutch, French, Latvian (Courlander) and British colonisers. The Carib and Galibi First Peoples in Tobago were gradually replaced by the sugar-producing estates like in the rest of the Caribbean.

Some of the remaining First Peoples in Trinidad lived in encomiendas (estates worked by indigenous labour); the most prominent of these were at San Juan, Caura, Tacarigua and Arouca, which today are part of the urban sprawl eastwards along the southern foothills of the Northern Range from Port-of-Spain towards Arima. This town gradually became a centre for First Peoples as the last Spanish governor closed the encomiendas and moved the First Peoples to the mission in Arima between 1784 and 1786 to make way for the influx of French settlers and their slaves  and the post 1789 refugees from the French Revolution in the islands. Today Arima is where the Santa Rosa Carib Festival is held each August (except 2020!) by the revitalised Santa Rosa First Peoples Community.

The Festival incorporates a church procession, smoke ceremonies, parang music and  heritage foods, like cassava bread. It has become more prominent since the Government of Trinidad and Tobago granted a lease of 25 acres to the Community on August 9th 2018 to establish a First Peoples Heritage Village and Living Museum.

Now, back to the statue of Columbus and Columbus Square. The queen of the Warao Nation, Donna Bermudez-Bovell and Shabaka Kambon, the director of the Cross Rhodes Freedom Project (part of the Emancipation Support Committee of Trinidad & Tobago) met with the Mayor of Port-of-Spain on June 12th 2020 to request the removal of Columbus and renaming Columbus square – shown in the Warao delegation photo. However, at about the same time, the Chief of the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community, Ricardo Bharath-Hernandez stated that replacement and renaming were pointless unless some tangible measures could be put in place which would benefit the indigenous peoples of Trinidad and Tobago. These conflicting opinions sparked a vigorous debate which continues to rumble along.

The Spanish ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago joined in the fray arguing strongly against removal of the statue and renaming the square. Even the Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley, felt compelled to calm down the debate and is quoted  by Newsday on 11th July 2020 as saying:

Trinidad and Tobago Coat of Arms

“Columbus has gone a long time ago; let’s not fight over a statue. If we are no longer prepared to accept a colonial relic or anything that’s in our midst then let’s just look at it civilly and decide on whether he should be on a pedestal in Port of Spain or in a museum.”

Rowley promised to have a community discussion about it after the election. Well, his Peoples National Movement (PNM) has just won the election with a small but working majority so there may be some resolution soon. However, enthusiasm for change may well be tempered by the Columban symbolism embedded in Trinbagonian heraldry.

The Coat of Arms of Trinidad and Tobago, as shown above includes the three ships of Columbus’ fleet on the central shield. The three peaks of the Southern Range from which Trinidad was named by Columbus are also in the design below the shield. The Amerindian name is Iere or Ka-iri, but Trinidad and Tobago is the country’s formal, official and internationally recognised name.

Every country has so-called contested heritage in which historical commemorations compete to be the preferred view of the past. The statue of Columbus in Columbus Square can be compared with Hyarima’s statue near the Arima velodrome since 1993. Moruga also has a statue of Columbus and celebrates Discovery Day with a pageant of the landing of Columbus. He and his crew disembark from his three ships in the Columbus Channel and are welcomed by Tainos and Caribs. (By the way, Morugans also celebrate Emancipation Day).

But let’s leave the last word to Marcus Garvey:

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”

Jamaica’s Road to Independence – Part 4

The story of Jamaica’s road to Independence concludes with Part 4.  If you have not already done so, please read Parts 1, 2 and 3 in previous blogs. 


 “Where ever you travel there is a Jamaican”.  For example I was in the upper reaches of the Austrian Alps when one of my fellow students ran excitedly to tell me “The Chalet owner’s daughter is married to a Jamaican”.  Who would have thought I would be talking to another Jamaican while studying dams high up in those mountains!

So why do Jamaicans have such a migratory spirit? 

The Urge to Travel

The Caribbean has long been a migration hub, with many of its inhabitants seeking employment opportunities by moving either within the region or to a number of larger countries.  These countries include Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica, Cuba, the United States of America (USA), Canada, and former colonial powers such as the United Kingdom (UK) and France.

Although many of these destination countries have limited labour migration, particularly in the context of the global economic downturn, migration remains important in Jamaican society.  For despite its political stability, Jamaica is a poor country dependent on services, tourism, and remittances, with generally high unemployment levels.  Many of us remember hearing of family connections in Panama and Cuba. 

Panama Canal

After success in building the Suez Canal, French investors commenced work on the Panama Canal in 1881, but by 1894 experienced construction problems, delays, bankruptcy, and legal troubles.  This left many Jamaicans and other Caribbean labourers recruited by the French stranded in Panama, having to be repatriated at their governments’ expense. 

Working on the Panama Canal

After the French experience, Jamaica placed a tax of one pound sterling on anyone recruited by the USA to work on the Panama Canal.  Thus mostly skilled Jamaican workers were recruited as only they could afford the tax.  Thousands of Afro-Caribbean women also travelled to the zone to work as domestic servants, laundresses, or cooks. 

By February 23, 1904 Panama gave control to the USA, who completed the Panama Canal in 1914.  Working conditions were harsh with possible jail time or deportation if they failed to show up for work.  Construction of the canal exacted a high human toll, with high rates of disease and workplace accidents, and a pervasive system of racial segregation. 

United Fruit Company

Banana and sugar cane plantations in the region offered other migration opportunities for Jamaicans.  The United Fruit Company (UFC), a USA company, was a major banana and sugar multinational player in Latin America and the Caribbean.  UFC was far bigger than most national governments in the region.  It offered large numbers of Jamaicans the opportunity to travel to Panama, as well as to other Central American countries, to work on its banana and sugar plantations.

United Fruit Company Bananas

Between 1900 and 1913 some 20,000 Jamaicans migrated to Costa Rica to work on the newly established UFC banana plantations.  In 1899 UFC hired some 300 Jamaican with experience in the area of sugar production, construction of railroads, aqueducts and other facilities to work in Cuba and so guarantee the transportation of the final product to the USA.  These skilled workers were recruited with the condition “as soon as the Jamaicans should fulfill their commitments in the future sugar production crop and its requirements, they were to be sent back to their country”. 

This requirement was never accomplished by UFC, on the contrary, that agreement was violated time and time again. Using the UFC´s fleet of ships, there was a constant movement of Jamaican workers (illegally) between Jamaica and Cuba, due to the proximity of both islands.

Other Opportunities

More than 10,000 Jamaicans, a mix of skilled and unskilled laborers, were recruited along with other Caribbean soldiers for the British West Indies Regiment.  This was a strategy adopted by the USA and the UK when both countries needed labour during World Wars I and II. 

Empire Windrush Sailing to the UK

Post-World War II reconstruction in the UK also required labour, much of which came from Jamaica and Barbados.  Large numbers of skilled, semiskilled, and unskilled workers were recruited for hospital services, while others gained employment in industry and transport. The 1961 census in Great Britain recorded some 100,000 Jamaicans in England. 

The changing migration policies of traditional receiving countries in the 1960s altered the direction of Jamaican emigration.  Restrictive immigration laws in the UK coincided with the passage of legislation in the USA and Canada that made education and skills more important determinants than nationality and race.  From the late 1960s onwards, the USA became the chief destination for skilled migrants from Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean.

A Call for Change

Marcus Garvey

Between 1900 and the outbreak of World War 1 the most interesting political developments in Jamaica were not within the traditional political arenas but in the area of voluntary, non-official organisations.  One such organisation, formed in 1894, was the Jamaica Union of Teachers (JUT), with strong links with the National Union of Teachers in Britain.  Although its prime concern was the field of education, problems in that area frequently involved it in political events.

The Universal Negro Improvement Association, founded in 1914 by Jamaican Marcus Garvey, advocated black nationalism and Pan-Africanism in Jamaica and among the African diaspora.  From the 1920s the growing professional classes and people of mixed African and European ancestry agitated for more-representative government.  The 1930s saw Jamaica heading towards another crisis. The contributing factors included discontent at the slow pace of political advance, the distress caused by a world-wide economic depression, the ruin of the banana industry by the Panama industry Disease, falling sugar prices, growing unemployment aggravated by the curtailment of migration opportunities and a steeply rising population growth rate.  

Sir Alexander Bustamante

In 1938 things came to a head with widespread violence and rioting.  Jamaicans responded to the crisis by establishing their first labour unions, linking them to political parties, and increasingly demanding self-determination.

The Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), named after the founder Sir Alexander Bustamante, was established in 1938.  In 1943 Bustamante founded and lead the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), the political party affiliated with the BITU.  The People’s National Party (PNP), founded in 1938 by the Honourable Osmond Theodore Fairclough, is the oldest political party in Jamaica.  Fairclough recruited the PNP’s first leader Norman Manley, Bustamante’s cousin.  In 1952 Norman Manley founded the National Workers’ Union, which is aligned with the PNP.

In six decades, Jamaica had moved from the derelict political conditions of 1866 to1884, to the threshold of her modern political system. During the latter decades of this period much that is characteristic of modern Jamaican politics had begun to develop. Political campaigning involved big public meetings, songs, banners and processions in support of candidates in both local and national elections.


Jamaica was little affected by World Wars I and II, though many of its people served overseas in the British armed forces.  After World War II the island profited greatly from the Colonial Development and Welfare Act and from outside investment.  

Norman Manley

The Jamaican branch of the University of the West Indies was established in 1948 from Colonial Development grants.  This institution became an important factor in the preparation for independence.  

A sugar refinery, citrus-processing plants, a cement factory, and other industrial projects were started.  The severe August 1951 hurricane temporarily stalled development by devastating crops and killing about 150 people.  Development of the tourist trade and bauxite (aluminum ore) mining helped increase employment opportunities in Jamaica.

Both Sir Alexander Bustamante and Norman Manley were instrumental in Jamaica’s move towards self-government.  The first general elections under Universal Adult Suffrage was held in December 1944.

The constitution of 1944 established a House of Representatives, whose members were elected by universal adult suffrage; it also called for a nominated Legislative Council as an upper house (with limited powers) and an Executive Council.  A two-party pattern soon emerged, and the constitution was modified in 1953 to allow for elected government ministers.  In 1957 the Executive Council was transformed into a cabinet under the chairmanship of a Premier.  Jamaica obtained full internal self-government two years later.

Jamaican Flag

In 1958 Jamaica became a founding member of the West Indies Federation, a group of 11 Caribbean islands that formed a unit within the Commonwealth.  Norman Manley, leader of the PNP, became Premier after the elections of July 1959.  In 1960 the JLP under Bustamante pressed for secession from the federation.  A referendum in 1961 supported their views.  The JLP was the overall winner of elections in April 1962, and Bustamante became Premier.  In May 1962 the Federation was dissolved.


On August 6, 1962, Jamaica became independent with full dominion status within the British Commonwealth.  Under the constitution the British monarch was retained as Head of State and Bustamante assumed the title of Prime Minister.

The ceremony, witnessed by Britain’s Princess Margaret and USA Vice President Lyndon Johnson, observed lowering of the British Union Jack and raising the black, gold and green Jamaican flag.

Emancipation Day

Emancipation Day is a national public holiday in Jamaica, celebrated on August 1.

Emancipation is the process of giving people social or political freedom and rights.   For the British Colonies in the 1800’s emancipation related to the abolishment of slavery, with the government granting of freedom to slaves. It is said that slavery as an institution has affected every country in the world.  Do you remember stories that the Israelites got a bad time from their Egyptian masters and that the ancient Greeks did not treat their slaves well?    

In Slavery

Slavery in Jamaica started with the island’s “discovery” on May 5, 1494 by Columbus on behalf of Spain.  The Spanish enslaved many of the Tainos, the Jamaican natives, some escaped, but most died from European diseases and overwork.  The Spaniards then introduced African slaves to Jamaica, first arriving in 1513 to cultivate the newly introduced sugar cane plantations. 

The sugar industry grew so rapidly that the 57 Jamaican sugar cane estates in 1673 grew to nearly 430 by 1739.  This growth was supported by the ongoing slave trade and transport route called the ‘Middle Passage’.  This 3-sided voyage started with England trading goods (especially ammunition) with Africa where these were exchanged for slaves.  Then the journey continued to the Caribbean where the slaves were landed and sugar, rum and molasses taken aboard for the final leg of the journey back to England. 

Morant Bay Rebellion

The Royal African Company was re-formed in 1672 creating an English slave trade monopoly that branded its initials on the slaves’ chests.  Jamaica became one of the world’s busiest slave markets with a thriving smuggling trade to Spanish America.  Jamaica’s sugar production peaked in the 18th century, dominating the local economy and depending increasingly on the slave trade as a cheap labour source. 

A slave’s life was brutal and short, because of high incidences of tropical and imported diseases and harsh working conditions.  This brutality meant the number of slave deaths was consistently larger than the number of births.  Europeans fared much better but were also susceptible to tropical diseases, such as yellow fever and malaria. 

Slaves rebelled whenever they could, with many successful in running away from the plantations to join the Maroons in the almost inaccessible mountains.  Maroons intermittently used guerrilla tactics against the Jamaican militia and English troops, who had destroyed many Maroon settlements in 1686. 

There were many slave rebellions of note in Jamaica, including the Easter Rebellion of 1760 led by Tacky.  Jamaica’s slave population swelled to 300,000, despite mounting civil unrest and unstable food supplies.  During the period 1780–87 about 15,000 slaves starved to death.

Depiction of Rebellion – Burning the Great House

The abolition of the slave trade and slavery was not only achieved by frequent slave uprisings and rebellions in the Caribbean but also by the work of humanitarians who were concerned about the slaves’ well-being.  Humanitarian groups such as the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) publicly protested against slavery and the slave trade.  Quaker colonists began questioning slavery in Barbados in the 1670s, but first openly denounced it in 1688.  William Wilberforce, an Evangelical Christian and parliamentarian, spear headed the campaign against the British slave trade for 18 years, finally witnessing passage of the Slave Trade Act in 1807.

Plaque Commemorating Emancipation

The Slave Trade Act of 1807 made the purchase or ownership of slaves illegal within the British Empire, with the exception of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Saint Helena.  The legislation imposed fines that did little to deter slave trade participants, so it acted to outlaw the slave trade but not slavery itself.  In 1811 the British Parliament introduced the Slave Trade Felony Act, making slavery a felony act through the British Empire.  The Royal Navy established the West Africa Squadron to suppress the Atlantic slave trade by patrolling the coast of West Africa. 

The British were, by the late eighteenth century, the biggest proponents of the abolition of slavery worldwide, having previously been the world’s largest slave dealers.  Britain used its influence to coerce other countries to agree to treaties to end their slave trade and allow the Royal Navy to seize their slave ships.  The West Africa Squadron did suppress the slave trade but did not stop it entirely.  Between 1808 and 1860 the West Africa Squadron captured 1,600 slave ships and freed 150,000 Africans.  Many of these freed captives were resettled in Jamaica and the Bahamas. 


During the Christmas holiday of 1831 a large-scale slave revolt in Jamaica, known as the Baptist War, broke out.  What was organised originally as a peaceful strike by the educated Baptist minister Samuel Sharpe ended up mobilising some 60,000 enslaved persons throughout the island.  The colonial government used the armed Jamaican military forces and Maroon warriors to put down the rebellion by early 1832. 

Because of the loss of property and life in the 1831 rebellion, the British Parliament held two inquiries.  The results of these inquiries and the declining British economy contributed greatly to the abolition of slavery with the Slavery Abolition Act 1833.  This Act had two major parts: (1) the emancipation of all slaves throughout the British colonial empire except those held on the islands of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Saint Helena; and (2) compensating slave owners for the loss of the slaves. 

Emancipation Statue

On 1 August 1834 the Emancipation Declaration was read from the steps of the Old Kings House in Spanish Town, St Catherine, Jamaica’s then capital.  Emancipation was decreed in stages, first with the freeing of all children under six.  The other stage required that slaves work a period of six years as unpaid apprentices for their former masters.  Continuing peaceful protests resulted in full emancipation for all being legally granted ahead of schedule on 1 August 1838.  Needless to say the masters continued to ill-treat and exploit the enslaved people in the British Caribbean until they finally gained their freedom at midnight on 31 July 1838.

In 1893 Jamaica officially introduced celebration of Emancipation Day with a public holiday on August 1.  In 1962 Emancipation Day was replaced by Independence Day, then observed on the first Monday in August.  However, in 1997 Emancipation Day was re-instituted as a national holiday celebrated on August 1 while the Independence Day public holiday was celebrated on August 6.

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery … none but ourselves can free our minds!” Marcus Garvey.

My Jamaican Mom … Wayne

My Jamaican Mom is proud;
Proud of her birthplace and her heritage;
Proud of what she and her husband have accomplished;
Proud of her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren.

Hazel Bigby

My Jamaican Mom is strong;
Filled with the strength and resilience of her ancestors;
Filled with strength from her sense of place and purpose;
Filled with the strength of God.

My Jamaican Mom is beautiful;
Beautiful in flesh and in spirit;
Beautiful in personality and character;
A reflection of the natural beauty of the place she was born.

My Jamaican Mom is intelligent;
Smartly embracing the ways of her adopted nation,
While never forgetting her Jamaican roots;
Astutely adapting to a lifetime of change.

My Jamaican Mom is loved …

By Wayne Bigby, a retired lawyer and business executive who lives in Canada and loves his Jamaican Mom, Hazel Bigby.

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Our Mother … Gary

Our Mother was a short woman in height, however she stood very tall in stature, brilliance, resilience, compassion and plain human decency. Mavis Thompson was no ordinary woman. As a mother and home maker, during the early 1980s she would get up at 1am to do laundry for us as that was the only time we could have water available. Then went to work for a full 8 hours.

Mavis Thompson

She worked a full-time job yet was always able to be home to accomplish tasks as if she was a full-time housekeeper and had been home all day.

As a family we knew what good well-prepared food was and that’s because she made it happen, no matter the economic or social circumstance.  Her culinary skills and ability to satisfy hungry bellies went beyond the family to grace many a social event. Some of us (Gary) may have benefited a little bit more than others in this respect.

Mavis was wise!  All her 3 children (Cordia, Roger and Gary) can attest to her broad band of wisdom that she was able to apply to all areas of our lives.  And we are the better today because of it.

Mavis and Victor Thompson

Our mother was a very attractive woman who on all occasions carried herself with poise and grace. Indeed, a prize-catch for the slick and equally handsome Victor, our Dad. But be not fooled for if required she could knock heads and come out swinging strategically as required. Not one to mess with as we all realized when we received the wisdom of her punishments on crossing the line.

This woman had a heart of gold. She gave of herself to all who she came across. Stories of Her compassion and sense of giving would resonate in our lives long after her passing. Her stature and her presence today are quite vivid in the looks and mannerisms of her grandchildren.  

Our Mother, Our Friend, Our Hero, your physical presence has been gone for awhile but the fire of your spirit continues to burn in our hearts and minds. Keep smiling down on us Mother we love you.

Cordia, Gary and Roger Thompson

Written by Gary, her 1st son in coordination with Cordia and Roger

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To My Mother … Marco

This year Mother’s Day things will be very different for me.

It was one month after Mother’s Day last year 2019 that I started planning what I should give my mother for her birthday. We had already taken my mother to Cuba for Christmas 2018 and were spending an extra two weeks with her in Jamaica as we would be heading back to Australia in January 2019. 

Young Inez Breakenridge

My mother died in June 2019 – one day before her birthday. As soon as I got the news I was on my way back to Jamaica. I could not wait to get there. On arrival in Jamaica I went immediately , to the funeral parlour and saw my mother lying there, eyes closed, motionless but with a smile on her face. She had meant the world to me.  

My mother, like all mothers with average education, was a great teacher, a doctor, a health worker, a fantastic cook, you name it she did everything for her 8 children. She was never selfless, always having a kind word for everyone, always giving to those who were less fortunate than her. And even giving to those who were more fortunate than her but trying to pull a swiftie on her.

The greatest gift my mom gave me was supporting me to pursue my dream which took me to Australia. She knew that our times together would be limited to one or two visits every other year- she coming to Australia or me going to Jamaica. However, the times we shared together will always be etched in my memory.  

That Enduring Smile

She was always singing and praying to the Lord for her children, her close friends, her husband before and after he died. She even asked the Lord to bless those who wronged her. 

Everywhere I went people always said my mother was waiting for the Lord, so when he took her she smiled. She had received her goal of being with the Lord. Thus, this Mother’s Day I will sit and reminisce on you, my mother and how you lived a humble life and pray that I can emulate you, so that when I die (we all will), I will have a smile on my face as I will be ready for my Maker. Hence my message to everyone whose mother is alive I encourage you to love her and celebrate the day with her. For those who live with their mother or those who may be separated from her please remember your mum always deserves the best.

I will be celebrating this and every future Mother’s Day by reflecting on the memory of times my Mom and I had together.

By Marco Breakenridge, the honorary Consul of Jamaica in Australia

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Reflecting on Daphne … Celia

When my Mom, Daphne Innerarity, married my father it became an immediate family of 6, as they had 4 children combined, and were shortly joined by myself and younger brother. Never did any of us feel that we were not all one.

My memories of my Mom are… active. She was always doing something or on the move. As such, as kids we had no choice but to be active ourselves. Mom’s passion is sport and she was an athlete (sprinter and netballer) turned Physical Education Teacher and Lecturer. She also taught dance (until she was 8 months pregnant with me) and was a Netball Coach par excellence.

Daphne Inneraity

I have so many memories of being at Netball Matches, watching Athletics at our national stadium, cricket at Sabina Park.  In addition there was the cultural aspect, being taken to every Pantomime (back in the day), National Dance Theatre recital and Play that was on. We were dragged until we became appreciative. Mom’s other passion was singing and she had a beautiful soprano that made her very popular on the wedding scene, as she serenaded many Couples with the song Ave Maria.

You never felt unwanted or uncomfortable around my Mom, as you’re getting a hug first thing! She has a warm spirit, an infectious laugh and ever the life of the gathering.  She can fit into any situation.

I appreciate her for the legacy of all these things. She has instilled in her children a love of people, which is expressed by the strength of friendships that my family has enjoyed over decades. I even became a hugger myself. I thank her for the love of sport and appreciation of the arts, especially music and dance. But most of all, I thank her for imparting the values by which we live.

My Mother embodies the Proverbs 31 woman. She was a wife of noble character, and has lived her life with purpose, integrity, honesty and love. Because of that her children call her blessed. She speaks wisdom, she prays for us, she sacrificed much for her family and continues to so. So today I honour her for all that her hands have done. She recently had her 80th birthday and unfortunately the celebrations had to be postponed. We give thanks that she is still here and going strong.

My prayer is that she will have health and strength all the days of her life and that she will know that she is loved.

By Celia Innerarity. Celia is a dietitian, working in private practice. She assists her clients, most of which have chronic conditions such as diabetes, with lifestyle management of their condition.

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A Tribute to Mom … Vil + Jos

Mom came into this world with a purpose to teach young ones and to serve her fellowmen.

Lorna Charlton was born on March 15, 1916, in Darliston, Westmoreland, Jamaica, and passed away on October 4, 2008.  Her marriage to Jeremiah produced four children- from the eldest to the youngest, Vilma, Jossette, Glen and Karl.   Apart from her husband, her children were her greatest confidant; so close were we all.  Many nights she chatted with us until we fell asleep.

Young Lorna Charlton

We vividly recall as young children being drafted by Mom over our summer holidays to carry out all the domestic chores generally done by the live-in helper.  As was customary, the live-in helper went off on holidays to her home town in the parish of Westmoreland.  To our chagrin we were required to: clean the board floors throughout the whole house, first applying the dye and then shinning the board with a coconut brush; wash the soiled clothing with the use of scrubbing board and wash pan; iron the clothes ensuring that the little iron heated on the coal stove was impeccably clean before applying them to the clothing. Even helping to prepare the meals was sometimes quite painful as we very often grated our knuckles instead of the coconut, and if we were not careful the wood fire in the iron stove would go out if the fire sticks were not continually adjusted. Balancing a bucket of water on one’s head and walking from the riverside up the rocky road to our house, was also a skill which we fought to achieve.

Perhaps we did not consider it much fun then, but as we grew older we came to appreciate the tremendous value and experience of those early years.  For that we are eternally grateful to Mom.  She helped to prepare us for life away from home.  In those days life away from home could begin as early as ten and eleven years old, particularly for country children like us, who were sent off to high school in Kingston.  

The Charlton Family

Lorna Charlton, spent her entire work life in the primary school as a teacher.  Like her husband, Jeremiah, who was generally the Head Teacher of the school, she was very soft spoken but extremely successful in preparing children for the upper grades.  Students in her class received a good foundation as they prepared for another two years of studying, culminating in the sitting of the National Common Entrance Examination.

At church, she played the organ and also devoted a lot of time to choir practice, ably supporting her husband who was the Choir Master.  Choir practice prepared the choir for regular church services and special events.  One of these special events was the Annual Choir Competitions in the parish of St. Catherine, which they won on several occasions.  After winning for many years the trophy was eventually retired to then at the Point Hill Baptist Church.  Later she also played the Piano for school.  As a matter of fact her two oldest children, Vilma and Jossette, were given a very good foundation in piano, before pursuing it further, during their High School years.

We remember Mom as a remarkable mother, very affectionate and close to her children.   On this Mother’s Day we salute her.

We remember Mom as a remarkable mother, very affectionate and close to her children.   On this Mother’s Day we salute her.

Vilma Charlton, OD, Officer Class in the field of Education and Sport. Olympian 1964, 1968, 1972

Jossette Charlton, OD, Officer Class in the field of Local Government.

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To My Moms … Eileen

The celebration of Mothers’ Day brings a focus on mothers.  In Jamaica, and indeed in the Caribbean, mother has a special significance being often the only constant and consistent parental figure in a child’s life.  Accordingly, Mothers’ Day is a big celebration when mothers are honored and saluted for the role they play in the family and the wider community.

Mother and Daughter

“Loving”, “caring”, “nurturing”, “sacrificial “, “selfless”– are terms we associate with “mother”.  You will hear it being said of a person who is obstinate and difficult and generally of unpleasant disposition -“only his mother can love him”. This is a reaffirmation of the unconditional love expected of a mother.

These maternal characteristics are not peculiar to the woman who gave birth to a child, but also demonstrated by other persons who assume the responsibility for the care and upbringing of children, whether formally or informally, in some cases voluntarily and in others coincidentally.  It is a common feature of Jamaican society for children to be raised by “granny” or “auntie” or other female relative or friend, and in rare cases a male.  Thus “mother” is defined more in terms of relationship than biological ties or even gender.  A celebration of the Jamaican mother must recognize this wider concept to be truly representative.

Granny – Miss Terry

From my own experience I have been blessed to have had the love and support of not only my biological mother but also some other wonderful women who were “mother figures” at critical junctures of my life’s journey.  In great part I owe what I am today (the good bits that is) and what I have achieved to them.

My mother, Louise, has been a supportive and stabilizing force throughout my life.  Though not physically present continuously, her influence, and I think her good genes if not her beauty, are   evident.  Friends and family members remark how much my expressions and gestures remind them of her, and as I move into the senior years I hear her voice in my laughter. I do miss her sense of humor and think how much she would enjoy my dog, Zorro.

Aunt Ives and Eileen

My Grandmother, “Granny” “Miss Terry”, was for all practical purposes my mother as she raised me from age 5 years.  She inculcated in me the good old fashioned values and the love of God above all else.  Although she believed in not sparing the rod for fear of spoiling the child, she was loving and kind and made me feel I was the best at everything.  She had an appropriate saying for every situation and her vocabulary was more expansive than the Oxford dictionary! Indeed, some of her expressions were unique and I would impress my friends with granny quotations.  Hardly a day passes that I don’t recall her with fondness. 

Then there is Aunt Ives who was married to my Uncle Reg and who took on the role of mother and confidante in my late teens and young adulthood.  She was loving and kind and imbued in me a sense of style and good graces and taught me the art of entertaining.  We enjoyed a good relationship which led some people to believe we were biologically related.

Aunt Ina

I was well into adulthood when I met Aunt Ina, my ”England mother” while I was pursuing post graduate studies at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.  I was introduced to her and her family by a friend to whom she was related.  We developed a special relationship.  We worshipped together and would have a tipple to celebrate occasions.  She not only fed me and gave me a home when I needed one but wholly treated me as a daughter. The family connection and friendship continue today even after her passing.

The above is just a brief mention of the impact and contribution of the amazing women who have mothered me.  There are other women who have played a maternal role along the way and whose mentoring and love and support have smoothed life’s pathway – I speak of the mothers of friends, my former boss, Miss Min and Mama Keizs. I think of them all with respect and affection, particularly at this time of year when we celebrate mothers. To my mind the best tribute to them is to emulate the good characteristics exemplified by them in my own relationships with children.   

Eileen and Zoro

I have not given birth myself, but I have been blessed with many children in the form of nieces; nephews; godchildren; the children of friends; my young colleagues and not to be left out, my pet, Zorro.  I thank God for the opportunity afforded me to practice what I learnt from my mothers and pray that the legacy will continue through those whose lives have been touched. 

By Eileen R Boxill CD,QC,Ph.D

Eileen is a former Consultant/Advisor to the Jamaican Ministry of Justice, and retired Director of Legal Reform at that Ministry. She was awarded a national honour – Order of Distinction, Commander Class (CD) and appointed a Queen’s Counsel (QC). 

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Jamaican Patties

A Jamaican patty is a golden coloured flaky pastry that contains a spicy filling, the most popular of which is ground beef.  Other fillings which may be offered include: chicken; goat; pork; lobster; shrimp; vegetable and even Jamaica’s national fruit, ackee

Regular Jamaican Patties

Originating in Jamaica, it is the most popular convenience food in Jamaica.  Served hot from the patty shop oven in a paper bag, Jamaican patties are usually eaten on the go straight from the paper bag.  For most busy Jamaicans the patty is most popular at lunch time, eaten one or two for lunch while in school or at work.  Being affordable and available everywhere in Jamaica, the patty is more than a snack: it’s a filling breakfast or lunch and can even be eaten for dinner.  This Jamaican staple can also be made as bite-sized portions called cocktail patties. 

The patty is a product of colonialism and migration developed after the introduction of the Cornish pasty, mixed with cumin and curry seasonings from Indian indentured labourers and the Scotch bonnet, a hot pepper indigenous to Jamaica.  From these multicultural roots, Jamaicans made the patty their own.

Almost every nationality has a form of patty.  South Asians have the samosa, Puerto Ricans the pastelillos, the Greeks the spanakopita, and the English the Cornish pasty.  What they all have in common is that they’re filling, compact and easy to eat, a sort of traditional fast food. Across the Caribbean, patties are considered the ultimate street food.

In the 1960s and 1970s Jamaicans brought recipes for the patties with them when many went to the United States of America, Canada and the United Kingdom (UK) as hospital orderlies, home health aides and nurses.  This led to patties being offered at restaurants in areas of the New York Metropolitan Area with high Caribbean populations.  Patties are equally popular in UK cities with large Caribbean populations, such as Birmingham, Manchester and London. Their popularity is spreading in the UK and they are becoming available in many mainstream outlets.

Cocktail Patties

The humble patty was forever introduced to the world and can now be found wherever there is a Caribbean community.  In Australia patties with beef, chicken or vegetable fillings are offered frozen by Jamaican Products.

In this unprecedented time in our history Jamaican Products is aware of challenges faced by many households.  It can be difficult working from home as well as having to home school the kids.  For others they may be tired of seeing the same 4 walls, or cooking and eating what is the pantry.

Jamaican Products Regular Patties

Why not try something different?  Crank up Bob Marley or your favourite Jamaican music artist to accompany your meal.  Get into the Caribbean grove while cooking and eating our delicious Take & Bake range of jerk seasoned chicken wings and patties.  These Jamaican Party Food are suitable for any occasion, snack, lunch or dinner.

We offer a Special on patties and discounted no contact weekly home delivery to our Sydney customers, so place your order.  To view the delivery fee and Sydney postcodes to which the offer applies, read the Take & Bake Special.

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