Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ky-mani Marley’s Dear Dad book review by Sheron Hamilton-Pearson

I read Ky-mani Marley’s book, not sure what to expect. Already attracting a buzz surrounding the efforts to silence the long-awaited story about growing up a Marley in name only, I decided to read it with an open mind. Accusations and counter-accusations abounded, but in the end, the differences between author and Farrah Gray, the Las Vegas based publisher were amicably resolved and Ky-mani is now fully vested in the promotion and publication of his memoir.
Despite a few revelations that put the Marley matriarch, Rita Marley in a poor light, the most damning of which is her alleged comment on Bob’s death that “Bob's dutty baby's mothers and bastard children will suffer”, for the most part, this book is Ky-mani’s honest attempt to reveal the hardships he endured as a child, raised by his single mother – table tennis champion and Jamaican star athlete, Anita Belnavis and her family in Falmouth, a sleepy coastal town just outside of Montego Bay.
Ky-mani describes the love that provided the ties that bound him to his maternal family and most definitely paved the way for his abiding belief that ‘family comes first’. Throughout the book, written in simple terms, the strongest and enduring underlying theme is the heartfelt plea for a reconnection with those of his estranged brothers and sisters. Through no fault of his own, Ky-mani was born “out of wedlock”, his stoic acceptance that he was destined to be deprived of his father’s wealth is touching, but nevertheless, Ky-mani must feel some sense of comfort because he is hoeing his own road, even though he bemoans the assistance that could easily make his progress easier, he can feel relief that his achievements will be solely of his own making.
This story should strike a chord with every child who can relate to the experience of being an “outside” offspring; men who conduct multiple relationships that in turn produce multiple progeny should certainly take away some understanding of what the children of those relationships feel and how difficult it can sometimes be for them to forge lasting relationships with their ‘step-siblings’ and, above all, women who read it and can feel guilt at the influence they have over their children and the seeds of hate that can be instilled because of ignorance and festering fears that some usurping of the ‘rightful heir’s inheritance’ is imminent.
Hats off to Ky-mani for peeling away the layers of mystique surrounding a son of Bob Marley, and in so doing, revealing that, really, he is just like us.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

You and I - YES WE CAN

Push the envelope, embrace the unexpected, step out of your comfort zone and you’d be surprised to find that the survival instinct kicks in and stops you from falling flat on your face.

I've just gotten home, after doing something I never thought I could do. Some months ago, I was asked to host a program on cyber radio. I mulled it over even though my first reaction was to look behind me, coz I knew the person making the request could not have been talking to moi! Anyway, after some thought, I remembered the promise I’d made to myself a while ago which, in essence, was to embrace every opportunity that comes my way. Bearing that resolution in mind, I agreed to do it. Of course, the procrastinator in me, provided ample opportunities to put off the all important preparation, so at the last minute, I was scrambling, listening to my personal selection together with those borrowed from a close friend. Patiently making lists and deciding what to play was fun and saw me skanking around my living room, wishing that I had a good party to attend. That was the inspiration I took with me as I made my way to the studio, together with a good dose of trepidation.

I guess I surprised myself, after being literally thrown into the deep end following the briefest of explanation of what knobs did what – the first airing of The Conduit Show went well. Now don’t get me wrong, there were a few glitches, but thanks to my guest and co-host for the night - Judith Kitson, I actually embraced the experience and enjoyed myself and judging from the commentary in the chat room, the guests did too.

That’s just my small teachable moment, which I’ll continue to apply to my life. For too long, I’ve let opportunities pass me by because I didn’t have faith in myself and the spirit of survival, but I’m learning every day, when President Obama said, “Yes We Can”, he wasn’t just talking about himself – he was encouraging all of use to embrace the inner power, turn it outward and accomplish what we will. Today, the 44th President will go down in history when he ushers the health care reform bill successfully through Congress. When he burst onto the political scene at the Democratic Convention in July 2004, as the then candidate for US Senate from Illinois, who could have known that he would four short years later be accepting the nomination of his Democratic Party to run for the highest office in the land.

In the words of another great man, whose vision and pride in himself as a black man we have still not fully realized in our lives - Up You Mighty Race!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH

Sheron Hamilton-Pearson

In salute of all our sisters,

I think its time to say,

we’ll remember you not just this month

but each and every day.

Were it not for those who went before

to break the barriers down

We’d have no shoulders to stand on

To claim what is our own

So to the sisters, no matter where you may be

not just black, but also white and brown

Lift high your heads and wear a smile

This day come claim your crown

For my Caribbean and African queens,

ripped, protesting from the motherlands

stripped of identity, culture and family

poked and prodded by countless hands

On fleeting breezes from far away oceans

We hear your voices, the call resounds

blood coursing through veins

in constant motion

Echoes long-stilled beating hearts

once vibrant and proud.

Straddling time’s immeasurable span

eternal spirits ever encourage us

their countless profound contributions

blueprinted in our hearts and all around us

we recognize the feats performed against all odds,

when others gave up in defeat,

You found the strength to carry on.

A testimony to your special sense of purpose

no achievement was too hard,

Now we must rise to meet the challenge

and accept the changing of the guard

We salute you , the known and unknown,

the famous and anonymous,

Mothers, grandmothers, sisters,

Wives, surrogates, aunts and all

Ancestors - instill in us that spirit that makes us work

for the good of the community

And not just for personal glory

Women warriors who have blazed trails before us,

light the way for us to follow in your footsteps.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bath Fountain



Up in the cool cool hills of Jamaica’s St Thomas, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday dirt and grime, just across from the Botanical Gardens, is a magical, mystical place, shrouded in tranquility, where one imagines the flora and fauna have witnessed untold history. In fact, the story goes that the fountain was discovered by a brutally flogged enslaved African in the 1690s who stumbled on the waters which seemed to miraculously heal his deep cuts and bruises.



A rocky climb, whether man-made or cut from the countless feet that have trod the path seeking healing, cleansing or just refreshing, leads to the famed spot – The Mineral Fountain at Bath. As you climb ever upwards a silence descends and the birds and cool breezes provide the most natural accompaniment, you preserve your breath for the steep incline ahead. Crickets, owls, birds and the occasional cock crowing in the distance are the only sounds as you crest the hill and make your descent to the pools and stream in the valley below.



As if out of nowhere, we’re joined by two “guides” who later demonstrate their prowess as masseuses. The water at Bath is reportedly 160 degrees Celsius, piping – almost unbearably hot. Towels are soaked with the healing sulphuric water and placed over the body which is then pummeled and massaged.



There is a reverence to the spa treatment that reflects the spiritual aura of the place. The guide chants as the water cascades from head to foot, an ancient blessing and prayer to the creator, giving thanks for life, nature and God. This is where meditation and reasonings naturally occur, there is also license to smoke marijuana if one so desires, but for many, the awesome wonders of the world are manifested at Bath fountain and no external stimulus is necessary.



At the end of the spa treatment, when trying to settle our bill, my companion and I were gently admonished that respect for the healing powers and other-worldly qualities of the water dictate that no money changes hand in the river or near the natural spring, articulating a primeval fear that disrespect of this natural wonder will lead to the source drying up, a fact which our guide pointed out has happened in the past.



Two urban women experienced a little of the mysticism of Jamaica today and stood in awe at the display of spirituality that co-exists with nature.


c Sheron Hamilton-Pearson February 13, 2010