Sat | Dec 16, 2017

Sherwood Content shame - Usain Bolt's aunt chides Gov't for lack of development in sprinter's home town

Published:Thursday | February 16, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
Usain Bolt
Lillian ‘Aunt Lilly’ Bolt, aunt of Usain Bolt, poses in front of a derelict sign, which pays homage to the sprinter in his home town of Sherwood Content, Trelawny.
Students from the Waldensia Primary School doing their version of Usain Bolt’s 'To Di Worl' pose.
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WESTERN BUREAU:

Lillian Bolt, arguably the biggest fan of nephew and world sprint superstar Usain Bolt, has come out swinging at the Government for what she says is the careless way in which they have gone about handling certain aspects of his legacy.

Her main issue is in relation to the development of the sprinter's boyhood community of Sherwood Content in Trelawny.

"It is shameful. The Jamaican Government is doing nothing for Bolt; this is his community, where he is from and not even a sign post to say welcome to the place where Bolt lived," she said.

Two washed out murals not too far from each other depicting the world's greatest ever sprinter in his familiar 'To di worl' pose, and a more recently done one on the wall of the Waldensia Primary School where he attended, are the main signs of Bolt's presence in the community.

Aunt Lillian blamed the Government for this, telling The Gleaner, that while Bolt has taken the Jamaican name and colours beyond the furthest reaches of the globe to be challenging reggae legend Bob Marley for being the most recognisable Jamaican on the planet, the authorities continue to pay scant regard for the massive potential that could come from his visibility.

 

WAITING ON HINDSIGHT

 

"I am sure that had he come from China or Australia or wherever else, that by now his place of birth would become a major tourist attraction," she said, "Where is the vision, are we waiting on hindsight?" she asked.

"The roads here are so bad, some residents don't even go out, yet we boast about Usain coming from here. And yes, he has come from here, but what's next? I feel so ashamed when a tourist asks certain question. Maybe we should direct them to the Government," she added.

In addition to the bad roads, parts of the community also suffer from the lack of piped water.

The only attraction bearing any resemblance to the Bolt legacy is a quaint little boutique shop Aunt Lillian has created to sell a few T-shirts and other Usain Bolt memorabilia to the trickling of tourists, who make the trip up the hills to Sherwood Content.

"Being a humble person, an ambassador, and big time role model, I'm sure Usain would not come out talking about such things. He would rather leave the protesting to community members, who feel the need to voice their own concerns."

"But there is absolutely nothing here and while they big him up with awards and celebrate his accomplishments, and rightly so, nothing comes back to the community, where he is from, where tourists want to come and where he has made famous," said Aunt Lillian.

Bar and shop operator Marlon Jackson agrees that Bolt's home town is in need of development to help attract visitors and from which the spin-offs could be in the form of jobs.

"I feel really sad, when I see a bus with tourist coming through, and for what? There is nothing to see, no monument, no sign, no wall art, nothing. Jobs could be created here for youths as tour guides and these things," Jackson said.

Bolt himself has been active in the community, partnering with sponsor Digicel to renovate the community centre through his foundation.