Cabbrina Lennox, Gleaner Writer
PORT MARIA, St Mary:
THEY HAD planned the all-island health walk for a good cause - to lobby for Tacky to be a national hero.
However, those plans came to a screeching halt on Tuesday after one member of the Tacky Heritage Group, Derrick 'Black X' Robinson, who walked from St Mary to Montego Bay barefooted, developed blisters on the soles of his feet.
The walk began last Sunday about 5 a.m. as Robinson, chairman of the group, started his journey, which was intended to honour Tacky in Jamaica's 50th year of Independence. The walk, which was dubbed the Tacky Heritage All-Island Health Walk, was also a way to advocate for Chief Tacky of St Mary to be declared a national hero.
The group has, in the past, walked barefooted from Port Maria, St Mary, to the gates of King's House, St Andrew, to petition the Government to have Tacky designated a national hero. Last year, the group embarked on a 12-day hunger strike.
Heat took its toll
However, this year, it seems they pushed it too far. After walking barefooted in the boiling sun for about 18 hours Sunday, the heat finally took its toll.
"On Sunday night, boils came up on my foot bottom. Monday morning, I cut them to let out the fluid and continued the journey to MoBay," Robinson told The Gleaner.
Robinson and teammate Tashana Earl, deputy chairman of the group, arrived at the Altamont Court Hotel in Montego Bay about 8:30 p.m., where they overnighted.
He was awakened by excruciating pain Tuesday. After careful checks, he realised both feet were swollen. The right foot appeared to have been infected.
Alarmed by his discovery and after consulting with his teammate, they decided to call for advice.
"The pain was excruciating. I could only hop on tiptoe, so I called a couple of our advisers without result. We called Stroton Palmer and Rohan Thourbourne, national referee and fitness trainers. Both men said I shouldn't continue with my feet in that state if I don't want to lose my foot."
Thourbourne told The Gleaner that his advice was in the best interests of Robinson.
"I'm not a doctor, however, based on what Tashana had told me about the incident and my experience as a fitness trainer, he has open wounds on the bottom of his feet, and he is walking barefooted. He would certainly acquire germs in those wounds which could lead to severe infection and could cause him to lose his foot," Thourbourne said.
Excited and optimistic
When The Gleaner caught up with Robinson and Tashana on Sunday, they were excited and optimistic about the walk.
"It's a really hot day, but it's for a worthy cause. We love to find creative and unique ways to promote Tacky, and we want Tacky to be a national symbol that touches the lives of every Jamaican, those at home and those in the diaspora." Robinson said.
In 1760, Coromantee chief, Tacky, led slaves around the island to revolt. They murdered a shopkeeper on Easter Monday and stole guns, gunpowder, and other necessary supplies. They then moved inland, taking over estates, and killed the whites on the plantations - who were often still asleep in their beds.
The duo had intended to walk under the theme 'Jamaica: a Healthy Place to Be'. After they departed Montego Bay, the intention was for them to walk through St Ann, along the coastline to Kingston, and then ending where they started, at the Tacky monument in St Mary, on August 5.
"It is heart-wrenching to have to stop the walk. We are promoting Tacky to be national hero for the 1760 rebellion, which is a fundamental hallmark of our ancestors' relentless quest and thirst for freedom and injustice. I will walk our roads, communities, and towns again for this man Tacky to be justly recognised as national hero of Jamaica," Robinson told The Gleaner.
He closed by quoting the Tacky High School's motto, 'The brave may fall, but never yield.'