Sun | Nov 28, 2021

Kareem’s Quest: Icah rooted in Bull Bay

Published:Friday | April 23, 2021 | 12:05 AMKareem LaTouche/Gleaner Writer
Icah spends most of his mornings surfing at Bull Bay.
Icah spends most of his mornings surfing at Bull Bay.
Icah guiding one of the kids in the homework programme.
Icah guiding one of the kids in the homework programme.
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The large community of Bull Bay, which consists of the famous Nine and 11 Miles areas, has fallen prey to crime in the past year, with the community recording a flare-up in violence. Much of this stems from the high level of unemployment and poverty that has a stranglehold on the area. However, for community member Icah Wilmot, this has never deterred him from giving back.

I first met the 34-year-old at the Freedom Skating Park, where at about 4 p.m. he was teaching five grade seven boys. Armed with a small whiteboard, positioned on top of a table, Wilmot, leaning against the wall, asked the boys, “When di question seh it waah perimeter, weh dat mean?”

Using his native dialect, he does his homework classes in Patois to ensure that the students understand him. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of them can’t afford regular access to the Internet, much less a tablet. “On this side of the island, the schools don’t have as much resources, so we have to step up as a community to ensure that the kids get a solid educational system. Even though this is a poor community, we have some great people here.”

Wilmot’s philanthropic works mirror that of his father, reggae luminary Billy Wilmot, who had a thriving career in the early ‘90s as the lead singer of the group Mystic Revealers. They spawned several major hits such as Religion and Remember Romeo, which had an alternate reggae sound that was loved by Europeans. His father was also one of the main cast members of the hit Caribbean soap opera, Royal Palm Estate.

SPIRIT OF CHIVALRY

Despite all this success, he kept his family in their home town of Bull Bay, where they developed a spirit of chivalry towards the community. “Our yard was a home for surfing, and so I would watch him [my father] helping others by teaching them how to surf or play music. It’s something I grew up seeing, and I connected with it.”

With their home located beside the sea, his father taught him and his four siblings how to surf, which proved to be empowering. “There were always surfboards on the property, and my father would take me into the water and push me on the board. By the age of nine, me and my brothers Inilek and Ishack started taking it seriously.”

Now the expert surfer, with his shoulder-length golden locks, caused by the excess exposure to the sun and seawater, is also a surf instructor. During the mornings and weekends, when the tide is suitable, he spends most of his time teaching lessons. “Surfing is heavily dependent on the weather; sometimes the water is calm, but most of the days the current is strong, and we get really good waves.”

As we sat and talked in his family yard, which resembles a culture yard, plastered with reggae murals, musical instruments and lounge chairs, I told him about my inhibitions towards surfing. To which he confidently reassured me, “Sometimes people get a little scared, but I start them off in the shallow end, where the water is waist high or less. That means even non-swimmers can learn how to surf. From there, it’s about learning how to centre yourself and balance on the board. Trust me; it’s much easier than most people think.”

While we spoke, a kid came up and tapped him on his shoulder, asking, “Are we still having class today?” He responded ‘Yes’, alarmed by just how much time had passed.

For comments and feedback, email kareemsquest@gmail.com, or visit www.kareemsquest.com .

FACT BOX

Who is it for: Free-spirited, adventure-oriented people looking for a mental challenge.

Tip: Go in the morning and try to beat the midday sun.

What stands out: The relaxed vibe of the environment. Also, the refreshments which may be purchased on the property.

What to carry: Sunscreen

Degree of difficulty of activity: 3.5 out of 5.

Must try Activity: Catching your first wave.

Contact: 876-298-8661, 876-750-0103, or info@jamnesiasurf.com

Social media: Instagram - @jamnesiasurf and Facebook - Jamnesia Surf Camp

Location: 8 Mile, Bull Bay, St Andrew

Length of journey from central points

Kingston: 37 minutes

Montego Bay: 2 hours 22 minutes

Ocho Rios: 1 hour 30 minutes

Savanna-la-Mar: 3 hours 40 minutes