Thu | Apr 27, 2017

Footprints: Jerald Walker - Beloved Kumina king drums no more

Published:Tuesday | September 15, 2015 | 9:00 AMPaul H. Williams
Jerald Walker

On Saturday, September 12, Jerald Isaiah Walker, also known as 'Jimmy', 'Maas Jimmy', 'James Walker', and 'Kimbellie', was interred in the Seaforth Burial Scheme Cemetery after a thanksgiving service in the Seaforth Burial Scheme Hall in St Thomas.

Just before the interment, Kumina drumbeats heralded Maas Jimmy's final journey on Earth and continued until he was entombed. The electricity shifted to the area where he used to live and where Kumina pandemonium broke out the night before.

It was a fitting send-off for the renowned Kumina drummer, drum maker and blacksmith, who went to join his Congolese ancestors on August 26 at age 80. He was born in York in the same parish to Rebecca and Uriah Walker, who passed away when he was very young.

Walker was trained as a blacksmith by one Eric Fuller from he was about 11 years old, and he was perhaps the last living blacksmith from his era. He had many stories to tell about this potentially dangerous craft, and while blacksmithing was his day job, he was surrounded by Kumina people as a youngster.

Thus, he could not escape being a drummer and drum maker. He would perform in Kingston and other parts of Jamaica. But things changed for him when Rex Nettleford saw him drum in the 1969 National Pantomime, Moonshine Anancy, written by Barbara Gloudon. Nettleford invited Walker to play in the NDTC's production of Kumina, and, for 25 years, he drummed for the company, travelling abroad many times.

At the thanksgiving service, he was eulogised by his daughter, Jacinth Walker, who said Maas Jimmy was a "humble and jovial man".

"Most important is that our dad made us laugh. He was a loving person, never giving trouble or in any worries with anyone," she said.

Walker was the last of his siblings to die, but he has left children Jacinth, Idalyn, Joseph, Juliette, Roseline, Maurine, and Kevin; 23 grandchildren; several great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.

"We love our dad immensely. We all have special, wonderful memories of our dad that we'll carry in our hearts for the rest of our lives. Those beautiful brown eyes that reflected an amazingly kind and generous soul will be with us forever," Jacinth Walker said.

Have you recently lost a loved one whose footprints you want documented in this feature? Please send tributes, eulogies and photographs to Footprints@gleanerjm.com