Paul H. Williams, Gleaner Writer
ACCOMPONG, St Elizabeth:
WITH MEMBERS of the Government and Opposition looking on, Mystic Bowie beamed as he broke ground for the construction of a library and media centre in Accompong Town, St Elizabeth during the Accompong Maroons' observance of Captain Cudjoe's birthday and the 275th anniversary of the signing of the peace treaty with the British recently.
Mystic Bowie, a producer, reggae singer, and international recording artiste and composer, was born Fitzroy Alexander Campbell in Accompong Town, and resides in Connecticut, United States of America.
He's a member of the Council of Overseas Maroons, Inc, which has its headquarters in New York. This year was the council's ninth annual homecoming, which included an academic award ceremony at Accompong Primary and Junior High School and the screening of Roy T. Anderson's Maroon documentary, Akwantu: The Journey.
The decision to build the complex at Accompong Primary and Junior High School came after Coral B. Barnett, president/secretary of the Council of Overseas Maroons approached Mystic Bowie for assistance for the school and community.
"We realised that one of the main things that was missing was a place for the students to study in a comfortable and quiet environment," Mystic Bowie said, "Miss Coral asked me to work with the school to get something going and that's how the idea of the library was born. "He has an excellent idea and I support it a hundred per cent, and he has our full support," Barnett said.
But, who is funding this project? "The money is coming from me. A hundred per cent through the Mystic Bowie Cultural Centre, which I founded, and I put a percentage of my touring income towards it," Mystic Bowie told The Gleaner.
There is no contribution from government, but Mystic Bowie further said, "I told them, when I was being interviewed with them, that it is also their responsibility to make sure this dream comes true. I am doing my part. They should do theirs."
To this project Mystic Bowie said, "I am 100 per cent committed, if not, I would be wasting my time." The books for the library, which include electronic ones, are already being sourced by the council. Several companies, he said, are already on board to help equip the facility, which is expected to have about 35 computers. Construction is expected to start late February.
For his effort, he said, "I am expecting an Accompong Town of educated and intelligent children ... . And my main lessons that I want to teach my children, all children are my children, is whatever I do is not for free. Whatever I do, I expect you to do it for the next child, somebody else that needs help."
Principal of Accompong Primary and Junior High School Garfield Rowe, in reacting to Mystic Bowie's gesture said, "I am very elated to know that we are going to have a state-of-the-art library and computer room, because it will help in the teaching and learning process. It will surely increase our numeracy and literacy." He also said it would be a big relief for students who have to travel several miles to Santa Cruz to access library facilities.
"I would say to them to make the best use of it because we are very fortunate to be getting such a facility. Knowledge is power, so they must gain as much knowledge as they can from the library and the computer room ... . We are very grateful, and would like to say heartfelt thanks to them (the Council of Overseas Maroon) for this initiative."