Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Bob Marley, Miss Lou and Cudjoe were resurrected on the eve of Emancipation Day. Well, not quite, but they almost came alive.
The spectacular re-enactment of Jamaica's rich cultural history was brought to life by staff members of Sagicor.
A Jamaica 50th anniversary Independence virus had been injected into the men and women at the insurance company, and they sailed into energetic frenzy.
From Jonkannu dancers of a past era to dancehall queens of modern times, they strutted near a Taino village. Appearing quite composed and detached in a thatched hut, in a crouched position, was a formidable-looking male who appeared to be a cacique (chief).
Then there were the Spaniards who, led by Christopher Columbus, sailed to Jamaica and left their mark. The British great house and the entry of the Africans into Jamaica completed the scene in Sagicor's Premium Accounting Department at the company's New Kingston head office.
Clearly, they spent days creating the array of nationalities which had graced local soil over many centuries.
Miss Lou's era
The Gleaner team had hardly caught its breath when we were ushered into the enriching atmosphere that was dominated by revered cultural icon Louise Bennett-Coverley, affectionately known to Jamaicans as Miss Lou.
The paraphernalia were of Miss Lou's era alright. The enamel; chamber pot (chimmey), pail and a range of other similar archaic containers were a sight to behold. The inevitable but familiar strains of "Dis long time gyal me neva see you," punctuated the atmosphere as bandana-clad women sang in harmony with Miss Lou.
The typical Jamaica chocolate, waiting to be grated for an enjoyable hot drink, gave promise of the aromatic delight that was to come, or was it? The stinking toe; duckunoo (blue draws); mango chutney and avocado completed the story-telling environment.
The Gleaner team was ushered on to the seventh floor that had been transformed into the Accompong Village.
Danielle Smith, a youthful, unassuming employee was credited for the creation of the scene even as Leopold Barnes, his attire full flight, played Cudjoe, the chief of the Accompong Maroons.
The delightful whiff of jerked chicken and other delights was tantalisingly showcased as the EBA Ltd (department) was transformed into the famed Faith's Pen, St Ann, the must-stop food outlets during a trip to the country.
Even as life was brought to Faith's Pen at Sagicor, triggering hunger pangs, we discovered that the team had gone to extremes to cook up such creativity. Innovation was at its finest as the materials were made out of cartridge paper, even the inevitable black chicken and pork grills that lined the area.
Then it was on to the 12th floor - the EDB Claims Department that was transformed into the St Ann-based Bob Marley Heritage Site. The 'Wailers' stood in their red, green and gold regalia while a woman took the assortment of clothing from a clothes line - vintage Jamaica in all its glory.
Even 'Cedella Marley' and 'Cindy Breakespeare' or was it their lookalikes? They refused to be left out of the frenetic activities. The inevitable smoke curled from what appeared to be another Jamaica creation - spliffs - as 'Bob Marley' stood with his Rastafarian pals, his beloved guitar in hand.
A panel of judges was assigned the obviously challenging task of deciding on a winner among the 11 departments that, spurred by their competitive spirits, had pulled out all the stops to make the day memorable, if not historic.