'CHRISTMAS NUH NICE AGAIN'
NINETY-YEAR-OLD Lecept Henry says the Christmas spirit has died.
"I used to plant gungo in the last week of July so we can have gungo and rice (like rice and peas) for dinner on Christmas Day. We also used to plant sorrel from September, so it would be ready for Christmas," Henry told The Gleaner. He said closer to the season, he would seek out menial jobs to earn Christmas money. "Mi always glad fi work fi di neighbours and other people in di district. Sometimes mi cut people yard, prune trees, whitewash stones and tree roots so mi can have a likkle 'Chrismus' money fi spen," said Henry.
As he sat at his back door staring down the road, he reminisced about Jonkunno at Christmas. Jonkunno is a band of masqueraders which usually perform in towns and villages at Christmas time.
"When I was about 14, I used to play the hand drum in the band when it was parade time. I always enjoyed the parades cause we go on tours all 'bout, from Trout Hall to Frankfield an all over di place," Henry told The Gleaner.
"Mi did love play di drum an' watch di people dem dance to di beat while di pickney dem line up an' watch di parade and dance. There was di belly woman an' policeman and other people in costumes wid cow head. It was jus a nice time." Henry said he used to be paid a minimum of £10 to play the hand drum in the bands.
Fast-forward to the late '90s into 2000, he noted that "Chrismus nuh nice agen, 'cause fus time an' now anno one. Wi never used to worry sey badman a go kick off wi door an' rob wi or kill wi an' tek weh wi tings. But now, wi affi fear fi wi life," said Henry in a shaky tone.
Henry fell from his bicycle in 2012 and broke his right hip, and after three months in hospital, he has not been the same. The most he does now is take his two donkeys to the bush to graze. He said he no longer does his subsistence farming because he doesn't walk well, and his doctor's orders are against him carrying weight.