Monday, July 26, 2010

Disappearing Eyebrows

As a child growing up, I was blessed, though I considered it a curse of the worst kind, with a thick, black unibrow. Like a hairy werewolf, this vertical exclamation mark separated my eyes from my forehead. Bushy and unruly, as soon as I was able, I became a slave to the routine of plucking in a desperate attempt to train and shape those recalcitrant hairs.

It was unfortunate that the more I plucked, the more pronounced became the scar over my right eye, a reminder of what can happen when exuberant little girls use their grandparent's bed as a trampoline. I was lucky, or so the doctor told me, not to have lost my eye.

I remember visiting my grandfather as a teen. It was our Sunday ritual; I would meet him in Brixton, at his local pub The Duke of Edinburgh. I guess he wanted to shield me from the fact that he was living with his girlfriend, having separated from my grandmother. Later on though, he did invite me to the single room they shared. I imagine that by that time, in his mind, I was grown enough to witness his living conditions. Anyway, getting back to the eyebrows – the trend then was to have pencil-thin brows and he would look at my ever diminishing eyebrows and admonish me that I was going to go blind if I continued plucking my eyebrows.

I wish I knew then what I know now – simply that as you age (unruly as opposed to gracefully in my case) - the hairs move from your head and other parts to your chin! Oh for the days of those lovely silky brown hairs forming the smile above my eyes.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sherly's Haiti Journal

Sunday 7/11/2010 - Waiting On Yvon 12pm
It's noon and my ride is late. The sun beamed down on an already miserable day – made so by the catastrophic conditions in Port-au-Prince. I do not have much of an appetite but my mom keeps asking, “What are you eating for breakfast?” Therefore, I took some rice and beans along with the goat that was butchered early that morning and reluctantly participated. I am seriously considering becoming a vegetarian; the poor thing cried all day long on Saturday. My cousin Chine remarked, “It must have known its fate for” the next day. Yvon, a family friend, finally shows up around 1pm and we leave around 1:30pm to take me to the airport to meet Scott, the representative from North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM). Yvon was accompanied by two other male family members – it later became apparent why they came.
The conditions in and around Port-au-Prince are mixed. It is foolish to assume any area is safe. For this reason, the guys stayed and waited with me at the airport. I called Scott from my local cell; he said he will meet me at around 3pm and that the flight with the other volunteers from the United States was delayed about 20 minutes. Once Scott arrived, I immediately knew it was he as he wore a NCBM T-shirt.
3 pm First Face To Face Conversation with Scott
When I met Scott, we greeted each other with a handshakes and I promptly introduced him to Chine, Yvon, and Yvon’s son. I kissed all my family members’ goodbye and followed Scott and Pastor Innocent, a native of Haiti who worked with Scott as a translator; we walked quickly to the Nissan SUV.
1.While we waited for the plane’s arrival, we chatted for a bit. I told Scott it has been eight years since I have been home; everything appears different now. He said, "There are great differences between now and 8 years ago?" I responded, “Haiti was not always like this. It has gotten progressively worse every year until it has come to this - with the help of the earthquake as well.” I was given an oil painting as a gift from a neighbor and carried it with me to the compound. I had not planned to return to my family’s home so I took all my belongings with me. Scott took notice of the painting and asked if he could look at it; he was unable to mask his surprised to find the work to be an abstract. He said he “never saw an abstract Haitian painting before”, and that “typically it is paintings of little huts and trees”. I responded, "Oh, you must be talking about the street paintings - the one sold on the streets.” It is typical to find paintings like the ones mentioned in all the Caribbean – tourists find them acceptable. Needless to say, there were no more comments about paintings or anything else of significance for that matter.
First Face To Face With Innocent
Waiting in SUV - Innocent was introduced to me by Scott as the translator. His appearance, to me was benign – about five feet six inches tall with a clean cut and well-manicured beard and moustache. His dark complexion and soft voice veiled his identity. I didn't realize he was Haitian until we met up with the bus driver and I heard him speak Creole to him. I then said to him, "I didn't realize you were Haitian". His response – “isn't it obvious? I look like a Haitian.” I answered – “Haitian look like everyone, what about the mulatos, marabu, gremos, and gremels?” He answered – “you are correct, I didn't think of that.” Is that possible? I wonder.
5:00pm Ride To NCMB Compound Samaritan's purse
The translator Mr. Innocent was great company; as we waited for Scott to check on the arrival of volunteers’ flight. Scott’s wife Janet had contact about the flight status. Scott was a kind and perfect gentleman the entire time. He offered me water and even something to sit on while waiting on the volunteers from Ashville, NC. Once everyone arrived, we were on our way on a yellow school bus donated by NC. I was introduced to the 20 new arrivals as a Haitian-American and of course, that’s when the questions poured out. “Did Haiti always have tent cities? What happened? How do people support themselves? Why are things the way they are?” they ranged from the ridiculous to the ignorant – with no embarrassment for either. I recommended that they read Aids and Accusation by Paul Farmer and gave them no further reason for questions. We passed by Cite Solei, the largest slum in Haiti. Mr. Scott exclaimed “...this is the largest slum in the Americas.” That’s the first time I heard that. He then said to me “...please correct me if I get my facts wrong.” I told him he is doing an excellent job because I didn't want to embarrass him. Of course, all he spoke of about Haiti was poverty and political strife the entire trip.
Wake Up At 6 to Get Ready For Bon Repo Pharmacy/ Clinic
Tuesday 7/12/2010, 7am
I ate breakfast promptly - bacon, eggs and grits – none of which, I imagined was purchased, or collected locally. I showered and got ready to get to the van that transported us to the work location. The teams were divided into two groups called Alfa and Omega. I was on the Alfa team with Dr. Vladimir and his fiancĂ©e Merline – she too was a doctor. Upon arrival, we unloaded the van and separated liquid meds from the pills that were kept alphabetized. Amber, a computer science major, filled the prescriptions and I translated how to take the meds to the patients.
The Patients, 8am
Dr. Vladimir & Dr. Merline talked to the patients about the do's and don’ts of high blood pleasure. I took note of a very interesting statement that Dr. Vlad made about the blood pressure medication; he stated that “…it will not make them sterile” and that “…it is a misconception”. After the medication was distributed, Pastor Innocent passes out pamphlets about Christianity and offered words of comfort to the people; followed later by a radio or recorder playing the same message. I can recall that Dr. Merline asking me to offer words of hope to the people while we were in the van, on the way to the clinic. I was apprehensive and uncomfortable in doing so but agreed to it in the end. I believe that any message of Christianity should not be sold like AMWAY or KURBY multi-level marketing schemes. If you are doing “good”, and correctly presenting Christ in your work, G*D can speak through your deeds not your words –especially to a people who are all too familiar with the misuse of the Bible for personal and political gain. Once I arrived on location and was surrounded by 200-300 people and was asked by Dr. Vlad if I wanted to say a couple of words, I declined.
Later, around 8pm during devotion, I was praised and thanked by the Pastor’s wife for my translation help. I also offer my thanks to them both and the organization. She then said to the group that I refused to speak to the patience about Christ - offering words of encouragement. I did not respond. My emotions might have been visible because, a gentleman from the Omega team called me over to chat with him after devotion; he told me he could see from the look on my face during devotion that this Haiti situation pained me. I confirmed his suspicions and thanked him for his offer of prayer for my family and me. It was the first exchange of its kind since I got there.
Wednesday 7/13/2010, 8:00am, Jeremie Adventure
After the usual breakfast of biscuits, bacon and grits with some leftover bread pudding, my day commenced – Yum, Yum. We loaded up the meds and made our way to Jeremie.
Jeremie is located in the South of Haiti, at the Western most tip of the Island Country. (The tip of the boot –sort of speak.)

Our driver got assistance from Dr. Merline when asking for directions from pedestrians along the way. The road leading to Jeremie revealed to poor conditions in this private community. As we pass the residential area, we came to a dirt road. The gravel and rocks on the road slowed the progress of the vehicle. The path was treacherous but typical of these mountain communities. One side of the path is the steep face of the mountain; the other side exposed a vast precipice that cloaked its depth. We held our collective breath as the driver grew more impatient with the journey. As we approached a lower roadway, a stream ran across the trail. With few options at our disposal, we attempted to cross the stream and got stuck between the rocky beds of the water’s path.
The Stream at Jeremie, 7/13/2010
It was approaching 9am and we were running late. We had to get out of the truck and push, but it was no use – the vehicle was hopelessly incapacitated. This was my Kodak moment – but alas, I didn’t have a camera. Not only was it hilarious, but the beautiful scenery deserve documenting – I had never seen this part of my country before. I use the time to soar in the sights; there was nothing around but peaceful streams and mountains. It was nature unspoiled by urban sprawl. Before we knew it, one of the local men started walking towards us; and then two and more came; probably about 15 men came to help us get our truck out of the stream.
We finally make it to the destination - a tarp covered makeshift tent with a dirt/mud floor along with a few benches with some patients awaiting service. I guessed about 25 members from this rural community. The patient that got immediate attention was a man that nearly passes out. He was carried to the van buy the stream but the Dr. Said for him to be carried back to await service as we not yet set up to properly service him.
Dr. Vlad gave him an IV drip and Valium to calm him down but he yelled with pain. I was unsure of his ailment and became more focused on the work at hand.
The Jeremie Patients, 12:00pm
Our patients were a combination of well-dressed people and some more casual and some barefoot. There were no visible cement homes, only scattered shacks and trees in this part of Jeremie. Moreover, as the morning slipped away, more women appeared; some with children and some accompanied by men with children as well. The night before, Pastor Stan mentioned that the people in Jeremie are a mixture of Haitian and German decedents and as I looked at them, they could easily be part of my family as we are very mixed. My job was simple; I was there to translate the instructions on how the medication must be taken, to the patients, in Creole. However, some of the patients only spoke French to me, while others relied on Creole. Amber, a young lady from the compound, spoke some Creole. I learned that she is a computer science major who picked up on the pharmacological practice very quickly and is definitely a natural leader as I received much of my directions from her.
Jeremie Lunch, We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.
As we prepared for our scrumptious meal, Dr. Vlad told us we had no long 20 minutes beak today because we arrived late and had many patients to attend to later. At days end, 78 prescriptions were written. I do not have count of how many patients were seen.
Dinner after Jeremie, 5:00pm
This is the rainy/Hurricane season in Haiti. During this time, many of the rural roads and pathways can become impassible. On our return, we exited the vehicle to make the crossing easier and we passed without a hitch – literally. It began storming just as we entered the mission compound. Some of the ladies’ husbands were still out doing construction on tents for the affected communities nearby. They worried about their men being struck by lightning as they traveled in the back of the open truck. Eventually all arrived to the mission home safe and sound.
Dinner was pleasant; a spicy rice, green beans, Cole slaw, and stew chicken with bread pudding as desert. I had sweet tea with mine.
Before Dinner, 5:00pm
In the kitchen, I sat with Monique, Melody and Adrian to bag Tylenol, Ibuprofen and children’s vitamins. The ladies were lovely – especially Melody, Pastor Stan’s wife.
“Bless her heart”; Adrian asked a lot of questions. One of which was "what do women in the mountains do when they have their period?" I answered by stating that I’m from the city and that I am not aware of such things in the rural areas. I also mentioned to her that many of the patients and guests wore watches, gold rings, and possessed cell phones; their children wore diapers - if they can figure out how to get those things, then pads are not that hard to figure out how to get. She replied, “But I noticed some of the children did not were diapers and only have a thin garment on.” I was amazed at how quickly she’d forgotten the sneakers that Amber was going crazy over that was worn by one of the locals. Amber discovered that the young lady’s sneakers came from Miami. When they inquired of Mike as to the cost here in Haiti, he replied “$20 US”. Amber insisted that Mike needed to take her shopping so she could get a pair here because they cost more in the US. Mike is one of the workers for the pharmacy/clinic group who is a Haiti native. I would guess his age at around 20 years old.
More Adrian Questions
“What do you think would have become of you [Sherly] had you not come to the US?” This, by no means, is a common question. I paused and responded; “what do you mean?” I needed time to digest both the question and the questioner. I knew she would not be dissuaded as she continued; she said something along the line of “How would you survive if you did not move to the US?” You just couldn’t script this. There are few objective ways one can respond to this line of questioning – I found one. Using slightly measured tones, I told her that I would be fine. She remained unrelenting, “wouldn't you be poor?” I maintained eye contact to see if her questions were the product of curiosity or ignorance. I told her I am not from a poor family. She continued; “How long do you think they could sustain you if you lived in Haiti?” it was safe for me to conclude that both were at work in her. I could almost pity her but I did not. Instead, I answered by saying; Haiti, like the rest of the world, has people of every socio-economic level. The questioning ended when I pointed out that a Canadian Governor is from Haiti as well as a United States Whitehouse high official both came from Haiti.
Devotion - Boots from Con-Ed
The news of the disaster reached many people around the world. Many made donations to local and national organizations as a sign of support. A group of young me at the Con Edison Gas Engineering facility in the Bronx wanted to do more and offered to collect the slightly used steel tipped boots they are required to wear when in the field working and donate to those working and living in Haiti’s affected areas. The boots are replaced yearly and is paid for by Con-Ed. The boots are used primarily by design engineers who spend most of their time at their desk using computers.
I mentioned to Pastor Stan and Scott the steal toe boots that Con-Ed has for donation. Pastor Stan replied, "Thank you, that's good to know."
Wednesday 7/14/2010, Delma # 12 Orphanage, 7:00am
Breakfast today was pancakes, sausage, grits and fruits – It’s as if I never left America. Really! I couldn’t wait to get to New York so I could have some ethnic food.
I woke up around 4am and took my shower at 5:30. I used the remaining time to write in my journal because breakfast began at 6:30 with prayer just prior. 7:30 was my departure time. The conversation with the crew this morning was sporadic. Everyone seemed a little more controlled with their words. No stupid questions from Adrian. Instead, she directed them to Merline who seem willing to entertain them. "Where do people go to use the bathroom in the mountains? Do they use an outhouse?" Dr. Merline answers, “They dig a hole away from the house. Sometimes they go next to the house.” The answer drew my attention but I resisted the need to interject.
As we passed an area that is obviously more developed, Adrian asks again "what about here? Where do people use the bathroom in these places? Do they use a latrine? Would they know how to use it if they were given one?"
These questions are not harmless. They are not constructed to collect cogent answers. They are rude and provoking – like a bull in a china boutique. Her ignorance was eclipsed by her willingness to appear stupid and insensitive.
Merlyn's answered, "No, they do the same here." I can believe that Merlyn’s answer might have been the response of a person who has fielded many of these same questions time and time again, but why would she allow such a distorted perspective to be the norm taken away from here? Perhaps, she’s feeding a need to; a) keep the NGOs coming back to the rescue or; b) Allow the foreigners to believe they are better than those they help. Neither answer sits well with me.
Somehow, the question of voodoo came up.
In another discourse, Merlyn claimed that voodoo is prevalent throughout Haiti. I, finally, could not keep my mouth shut. I asked Merline in English, “Is voodoo also prevalent in the cities?” She replied “yes.” I continued in English for the Americans to understand; “Really? Because my family, who lives in the city, told me that voodoo was uncommon and was looked down on and that it’s typically done in the countryside.” A little stunned by my rebuttal, she then tried to change the subject by saying that “City people are more aggressive than the rural people.” I struck back by saying to her that I don't know any people that practice voodoo – nor do my family. I then asked her if she knows anyone that participated in the rituals. I believe she said she knows some people who do and that the school she attended, She indicated that students had to provide their own chair and that bullies would take the chairs from the weaker kids. Kids were told by friends to say that their fathers are voodoo priests and the bullies would leave them alone. For those who did, the bullying finally stopped. It is not proof of the practice however.
I then told a team member that many Haitians lie and claim to know voodoo because gullible foreigners like themselves pay to see a so-called “ceremony” which is just a show to generate money. For example, one of the construction workers said they saw a hut marked Voodoo at the sight. I explained that this is an example of the phonies, selling them what they want, to make a few dollars. The conversation ended there.
Please keep in mind, that the conditions in Haiti are so, that many will say and do anything for money.
Teen Comments
I brought the dishes to the sink as one of the missionary’s daughter washed. I asked her if she wants me to take over and she said “she got it.” She than told me I was very sophisticated and had a nice voice. I thanked her for her kind words. I said the prayer to bless the food that night. I prayed for the Father to bless the food and prayed for all the poor in Haiti and around the world. We all exchanged email and I showed everyone how to use Dropbox© to share pictures. It was a hit!
7/14/2010, Not Much To Do at the Orphanages
I sat in the shade and conversed with Dorothy for most of the time I was at the orphanage in Delma #12. We talked about how all children are the same all over the world as we observed how the children responded to the silly bands. Like the kids in the US, they traded them among themselves. A little boy with chicken pox played with Dorothy and me since Melody and Amber didn't need any help with the meds. They would call on me once in a while for translations.
Latter on that morning, after the toddlers had been seen by the Doctors, some more Americans from a New Hampshire and Massachusetts organization stopped buy with a group of teens of about 20. Ironically, my group poked fun at their accents. The funny thing was, before we arrived at this site we talked about how funny Bostonians spoke in the van; like their habit of not pronouncing their “r's”.
The orphanage looked somewhat like where I lived in Port-au-Prince with the lacou or courtyard. Separate little cement homes connected to one another made up the entire ward. The orphanage consisted of a private home near the gate and another that served as our working quarters, which had indoor plumbing, as well as a couple other connected buildings that function as schools. It was quaint and very charming. Melody said the architecture reminded her of her trip to Kenya. I wasn't too surprised because to learn this because I saw an African film from Nigeria and they had homes that were similar to those found in Haiti with similar gates and walls surrounding the property. The children at the orphanage seemed well cared for and healthy which was later confirmed. Far less meds were prescribed here compared to Bon Repo.
Dinner; Beef with Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, and Rice.
The time for me to leave was growing near. Everyone was very pleasant and Melody was especially patient with me as I waited for some digital pictures to download from Paris to Dropbox. I find the service indispensable and I frequently use it to move large files over the Internet quickly and easily. Melody was very impressed that I had been to Paris as I took time to explain Dropbox to them. I hope everyone uses this tool to share the pictures from the trip to Haiti.
7/15/2010, Thursday, Drive to Airport in Tap Tap
I gave everyone hugs and kisses to say goodbye. They each gave me a hug and I kissed each lady on the cheek and explained that this is the Haitian Style of greeting to say hello and goodbye.
Scott Coordinated for me to get a ride with one of the drivers in a Tap-Tap or Camionet. The driver is from La Plain and is also an auto mechanic. He drove me into one of the tent cities from the main road and put on some Compas for me to enjoy. The radio stations would typically be set to American music; mostly pop. Once we got to the tent city, we changed vehicles and moved to an SUV. We then proceeded to the airport where I met with Chine to return his cell phone that he had allowed me to use during my stay. We spend a little more time before I got on the flight for New York City. Chine bought me some cookies and the driver advised him not to wait on public transportation because they are not easy to come by for him to go to Carfour Feill so Chine left promptly to get home. Unfortunately, his apartment building was destroyed in the earthquake and by some miracle; part of his apartment alone, remained standing. He does not sleep in the badly damaged property. Instead, he sleeps in a tent in Port-au-Prince.

A Personal Note
As I look back on my experience, I am overwhelmed by what lies ahead, to be done. What’s worse is the vindictive nature of man, operating at its pinnacle, in the wake of this disaster. Kidnappings are on the rise again; rapes are rampant throughout the city; and, no one is assured a safe haven anywhere. It really troubles me.
There was a time, in my lifetime that the doors of the residence of Port-au-Prince remained unlocked and a key had no use. The Pearl of the Caribbean was the name given to Haiti. Up until the Quake struck the city, many wealthy people vacationed there – the Clintons are among the many that honeymooned there and came back, time and again. Tiger Woods Golf Co. was scheduled to build a five star golfing resort on the Haitian Riviera. There are parts of Haiti that are very exclusive – like many of the countries that caters to international guest.
Now my memories includes the moments when I leave the mission house to get a better signal on my cell phone, and have to alert the guard as to my presence in order not to be shot. I lived inside a compound that most closely resembled a prison rather than a missionary center. The guns brought little comfort at times. To those of you who resided in New York City after 911 can probably understand my trepidation. For, at the end of the day I am just like the people on the other side of the wall – in looks and language.
I am Haitian; I am not American; I am not European; I am not African; I am a Haitian – born in Haiti. I do not shun my heritage because I am proud of it. Haiti’s capital and surrounding cities like Pitit Guave, Leogan, Jackmel among others have been destroyed buy the earthquake but the residence will survive this – with or the help of the international community and the Haitian Diaspora.
Like many of you, I too, love my country. It has many problems but it remains the place of my birth where I spent my childhood. I see my country through the eyes of a child but I am fully aware of its current conditions. I know its potential because my family and friends are Haitians and they see it as I do. This does not mean that all Haitians see it this way. Most of the world knows about Haiti through it suffering and politics – but not its people. They know nothing about the people who have to endure all in spite of the odds.
“My people perish for lack of knowledge.” The Bible, Hosea 4:6.
No Western country suffers as we do, because, no Western country has achieved as much as we had. In our Caribbean basin, 26 island-countries exist (not including the Bahamas). Yet few are aware that Haitians shed their blood for a freedom that would have rippled through the Americas and the Caribbean had it not been decided upon by the governing empires to destroy the only successful overthrow of an empire by slaves.
Now, two hundred years later, Haiti and Haitians continue to be ostracized by its neighbors and the world. This natural disaster has brought the world’s attention to Haiti, but if we do not act quickly the opportunity to make a significant reversal of fortunes will slip away

Monday, July 12, 2010

RIP Lincoln "Sugar" Minott

The great reggae singer Sugar Minott has passed on. Born May 25 1956 he died July 10 2010 at the age of 54. Condolences go out to his family, friends, acquaintances, associates and last but not least his fans all over the world. Many do not know of the vast catalogue of music that this talented singer left behind, but the one thing I can say about Sugar is that he did not get the recognition he deserved. He was responsible for taking impoverished youths from his neighborhood and coaching their talent, nurturing them in a safe environment until they became recognized artists in their own right. Here's a small tribute that went out on my internet radio show last Sunday. Thanks to my special guest, Roy "Buck" Buckley from Moodys Record Store in the Bronx for pulling out the stops and finding those hard to find Sugar Minott songs.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Reggae Ampps Turn Up The Wattage In Brooklyn – Sheron Hamilton-Pearson

There are a myriad of music organizations in New York, yet it seems one of the most recent is creating the biggest splash. Reggae Ampps (Reggae Artists, Musicians, Producers Promoters and Songwriters) formed one short year ago (the brainchild of Peter Tomlinson) is currently run by a Board comprising Ed Robinson, Michelle Arthurton, Luciana Maneri, Delbert Rose and Noel Stevens.

The vision and cohesion of the Reggae Ampps members was clearly demonstrated at their 1st Annual AMPPS Award show held at The Tropical Paradise Ballroom in Brooklyn on Saturday June 26. The elegant setting provided a fitting backdrop to the attendees who definitely heeded the call for formal attire. Photographer Marjorie Flash was on site to capture all. The evening’s festivities not only sought to bring together members of the Reggae Ampps fraternity, but also served as an opportunity to warmly embrace the awardees, specifically chosen for their long-standing contributions to the reggae industry. Awardees in the category Distinguished Services in the Reggae industry included Pat McKay, Sirius XM Radio Programmer, Howard ‘Sir Tommy’s’ Mapp, Music Producer and Sound System operator and Anthony ‘Downbeat’ Rockwood – sound system operator. Junior Forbes of The Caribbean American Cultural Caucus together with Sharon Gordon and Carlyle McKetty founders of The Coalition to Preserve Reggae Music - received the Making a Difference in Reggae Music award. The Hon. Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke was awarded for her Outstanding Services to Caribbean Music. Reggae Ampps board member Delbert Rose (Assistant Treasurer) and members, Oral Splicerr Ras Williams, Richard Dawes and Major Dapps also received awards on the night. Peter Tomlinson, the man whose vision gave birth to the idea of Reggae Ampps, received an honorable mention. Michelle Arthurton (Treasurer) and Ed Robinson (President) were also surprised on the night by their special awards from the e2onair chat room family presented by Andrea “Anmour” Holmes-Seymour. E2onair is a 24-hour Brooklyn-based internet radio station.

Kam-Au Amen provided the key note speech peppered with references to Marcus Garvey and an exhortation for those present to follow and implement the creed of self-reliance above all. Noel “Dance Master” Stevens performed a stellar tribute to the late Michael Jackson - dead for one year- a sad anniversary which coincided with the Reggae Ampps event. Dance Master’s agility speaks volumes to the obvious efficacy of his Symmetry juice! Dwayne ‘DJBandit’ Jones as the Master of Ceremonies kept the proceedings moving apace and provided seamless transitioning for the different aspects of the show.

The award show also acted as a platform to showcase the Reggae Ampps winners of the first ‘idolesque’ competition with Marcia Davis leading the medley, followed by Scepta, Splicerr and Kappa Shanti, teaser performances came from Paul Wayne, Stephen Souza, Judith Rahilly, Devon Jorge, Jerry Max, Shango Trex, I-Joe, Dan-I-Jay, Marshall One, Junior Dread and of course Ed “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” Robinson. Backing music was provided by famed reggae group The Ruff Stuff Band, while Mario Mdot Rosales and crew played dinner music on the turntables.

Dignitaries and guests in the audience included, Johnny Osborne, who gave a surprise performance of his hit song Buddy Bye and former singer with the drifters Dave Revels also performed a smooth tribute to Sir Tommy aka Howard Mapp and his wife, celebrating their wedding anniversary. In a husband and wife tag move, songbird Sonia Revels was surprised when called to perform by Ed Robinson, but ably acquitted herself. Spotted in the venue having fun were Queens NY politician, Michael Duncan, Pelman Baptiste of Noize Radio, Transcontinental Shippers CEO Bob deSouza, Cornwall College Old Boys Association President, Trevor Tomlinson, Pat Chin Owner and co-founder of VP Records, Johnny Osborne, famed reggae singer, Joanne Stephens and Judith Kitson, e2onair presenters, Empress Nanny, reggae singer and culture maven and Mary Bishop, special assistant to Congresswoman Yvette D. Clark An especially touching moment occurred with the choice of music - a dubplate special, selected by Howard “Junior Radixxx” as Downbeat stepped to the podium to receive his award. The veteran soundman was visibly moved and credited his late wife for his success in the industry. He poignantly remarked that he’d never before received an award of this kind. Ample proof that Reggae Ampps is on the right track as a membership-based organization which represents the interests of professional reggae musicians. Reggae AMPPS is committed to organizing seminars and conferences to educate members on industry issues; negotiating fair agreements on their behalf; protecting ownership of their recorded music; and developing health care and pension schemes that benefit members.

Photo Credit - Marjorie Flash (l-r Maneri, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, Howard "Sir Tommy" Mapp, Pat McKay, Michelle Arthurton, Carlyle McKetty, Sharon Gordon, Anthony "Downbeat" Rockwood, Ka-Au Amen, Ed Robinson, Delbert Rose, Kapa Shanti, Scepta, Marcia Davis, Splicerr Ras)