Thu | Feb 20, 2020

Kelly's World | Am I really a bona fide Jamaican?

Published:Monday | August 5, 2019 | 12:11 AM

(Disclaimer: I swear that I didn’t plan this column to coincide with tomorrow’s Independence Day celebrations; it just worked out that way.)


If you follow some people and their nationalistic measuring stick, I’m either not a Jamaican or not a ‘good’ or ‘real’ one.

I always see people posting things about “you’re not Jamaican if you don’t know what this is”, the words usually juxtaposed with a picture of something.

It’s always something from Jamaican folklore, whether an instrument or a toy, or even food and beverage.

To be fair, I always recognise the pictures, it’s just that the name of some items either slipped me or I never knew them from the start.

Added to those posts, from time to time I’ll have discussions with persons of my age and older about stuff we did as children.


The activities, which I’m pretty certain some of them were lying about, ranged from hunting and cooking birds, to nearly getting washed away while trying to cross a river when it was in spate.

Between the posts and the talks, it dawned on me that I have never experienced some things we consider ‘Jamaican-inclusive’.

For instance, I’ve never played marbles. Calm down, don’t fall off your chair. But it’s true.

I always used to collect them because they were pretty. But I never actually learned how to play the game.

What few shots I tried always went horribly wide anyway, so maybe I wouldn’t have been very good at it.

Spinning gigs was another thing I never quite grasped. I couldn’t really wrap the string around properly. Again, maybe I’m just all thumbs.

Flying kites? Nope, never really caught the hang of that either (no pun intended). I can’t play dominoes to save my life (or stop from getting six love).

Hunting crabs was never high on my agenda either. The weird thing about that is my mom is from Green Island, Hanover, which is as prime a section for crab hunting as anywhere else.

But between my dislike of mud and the fact that I’ve seen how people wince when grabbed by crabs, I had no inclination to participate.

Plus, there are some foods that Jamaicans drool over that I think are ‘okay’.

For instance, you know how people get excited about gungo peas at Christmas time? Meh, I prefer the red kidney ones.

Ever see someone get orgasmic about getting a slice of pear? I like pear, but I don’t get giddy over it.

Jamaican pastry like gizzada, drops, and blue drawers are considered sacred by some. I think they’re tasty, but I have to be in the mood for them.

Oh, and horror of horrors, I’ve never actively participated in ‘running a boat’. Gasp!

So maybe I need to hand over my ‘Jamaica card’ because of these things.

But I was born here, and have only lived here, so that must count fi something, nuh true?

There is at least one Jamaican-made thing I truly love though; rums that come from our shores. So I guess that lifts my ‘spirits’ somewhat. Lata.

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