Cabbrina Lennox, Gleaner Writer
PORT MARIA, St MARY:CALL IT divine intervention or a means to an end, but Albert Kittson or 'Ali-Baba' as he is famously known in Port Maria, said his talent of crafting was a gift from God.
Born the seventh of 11 children for his mother and growing up without a father, Kittson had a difficult childhood.
"My mother neva have it, cause we did poor, mi neva get money or shoes from mi father and mi neva want to beg or thief. When my mother used to give mi money to buy toy, mi used mi hand and make plane from plastic bottle and saved the money to carry go school or give it back to mi mother to help with the dinner, and my plane work as good as any toy plane in the stores," recalled Kittson.
Refusing to be left behind on the socio-economic ladder, he was forced to tap into his creative ability to make life better for him and his family.
"When mi see my brothers them a work, me couldn't work cause mi a youth, mi say to myself mi want some money and mi not begging or stealing, so mi start watch the man them that make the broom until mi start make it on the stick, till mi master it, mi start make it off the stick and then put it on," Kittson told The Gleaner.
He added: "The first broom that I made, I gave it to my mother and the second one mi give it to mi neighbour, cause we did close like that, them used to give mi food when mi did hungry," he explained.
"This talent comes straight from the Almighty, I remember me and my brother wanted a bicycle for Christmas, and one day mi did out in the field praying, asking the Lord what I should do with my life and He gave me the inspiration to start braiding the grass and palm leaf around me," Kittson told The Gleaner.
His talent and ability did not go unrecognised as people around him noticed his cleverness and gave him his name Ali Baba, which can be linked to the story of Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves.
"Them call mi Ali-Baba cause mi did smart, but other people lay it a different way, but when mi did a grow up everything that mi see like scraps, true mi did born poor, mi know how fi use up waste and recycle them and turn them into good use, so that's why them give me the name," he explained.
worked at hotel
Life became a little easier for Kittson when he became an adult and started working at a hotel on the north coast.
"I used to make straw broom, dolls and other things for the tourist at Boscobel hotel; after a lose my job, I bought a tractor and I would go to the field and till the soil in the early mornings, but when the sun got too hot, I would go into the shade and make some craft, mi give away a lot of brooms and rakes before people start buy from mi," he said.
In 2001, he went to Canada on the Farm Work programme where he continued to do crafting.
"When mi go Canada mi start making brooms and rakes from recycled scraps that I would get from the hardware, mi used the metal scraps to make rake and the plastic ones, I shred them up and make brooms. So mi start make them fi the church people and at the end of the week, mi vessel full, mi could afford to pay mi rent and deal wid mi business, then mi get sick and have to come back home," he told The Gleaner.
Kittson now returns to farming as he said the sale of craft materials are slow.
"Mi get 50 acres a land from one man to gwaan plant up. Right now I have some sweet pepper, scotch bonnet, carrot. Irish and sweet potatoes that mi plant up." he told The Gleaner.
In the meantime, he said he remains focused on the future and has hopes of owning a warehouse.