The Haitian Revolution: Why Haiti must be respected and understood (Part 1)

“L’union fait la force”
Union makes strength

The Haitian Revolution 1791-1804 was arguable one of the most significant moments in the history of the Post Columbus era as the people of the world had witnessed the defeat of a colonial giant by the sheer tenacity of a people desperate for freedom and liberation from a tyrannical state which had abused, mistreated and miseducated them for far too long.

A significant point that should be noted about this spectacular event was the one at the helm of the French colonial regime during this time was, Napoleon Bonaparte. Bonaparte is one of the most prolific historical figures ever seen and his European war campaign and the ideas that manifested aided in the shaping of many political theories, perception of war and the repercussions thereof.

Toussaint Louverture L’Ouverture

The one who lead the Haitian Revolution was a man born into slavery named Toussaint Louverture. He had seen the tragic situation in Haiti and led the revolution which would seize control of the entire island of Hispaniola. This revolution in a once subservient periphery piece of land would resonate throughout history and influenced dramatically in shaping the views of how imperialism in the colonial world should be handled, as the revolt debunked the idea that enslaved Africans were too uneducated and dependent to rise up and take control of their economic and social life.

After the United States chased away Britain, the Republic of Haiti became the first sincerely ‘free’ country in the entire western hemisphere and boastfully showcased the valor which had been dormant in people ripped from their motherland and cast away in putrid conditions and thrown into a life which was not their own. Political thought regarding this event had seen a dramatic turn as a nation in the west with a black ‘negro’ population had taken on the prestige of being an economic republic……

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Discovery; the dilemma

Somewhere in the cosmic wilderness, I am lost.

After blogging for a while now I’ve come to realize that for some reason I am lost; as if can’t be found. Just from blogging I have come to the conclusion that managing creativity is certainly no walk in the park, its hard – really hard.

Somedays I get up and have a burning need to alter some of the basic features of the blog, the name, email, appearance….etc. Its as if at times the blog feels insufficient and vague regardless of content. In recognizing this I have come to the  conclusion that I need to revise my whole approach to writing and publishing information that I find relevant.

Initially the broad theme of the blog was ‘caribbean life’ the social factors which affect caribbean people on a day to day basis. Over time my interests widened and I would just blog about the most random things; literally the most random things. Take this blog for example.

The primary wordpress  blog has been changed three times and I’m still not happy because now when I google my blog its just a mess. All my old posts which can no longer be accessed fill the top of Google search results and I just feel annoyed, because I want lots of views and comments, I want to be discovered a zillion times. Me switching up every second and leaving a whirlpool of confusion in search engines doesn’t help.

So it may be time for me to take a break, to find myself, for the trials I face stretch beyond the reaches of the cosmos and my pressures are compounded by a yearning for perfection – just kidding I’ll be back, just some time off.

What does Babylon mean in Reggae?

How long were the jews in babylon?

That’s 70 years of bondage.

If your even the slightest fan of Reggae music you must have heard the term “Babylon” being used in some way or another. So what exactly is “Babylon”?

Well the Christian may recognize the term from the Bible when the Jews were captured and forced to undergo hardships in Babylon. The Rastafarians in their consistent historical consciousness recognized the similarities between this biblical saga and the reality which was the Transatlantic Slave Trade or Triangular Trade.

The reason why the tern “Babylon” is used as opposed to another is due to the fact that for the most part the Bible was the only reference point available to most enslaved Africans and since they were stripped of cultural identity and their children were forbidden from learning to read, biblical terminology proved to be the best way of communication between rastas and bald heads.

Its not only Babylon which is used, but also “Israelite” is used to refer to Africans as their sufferation under the  “Babylonian” system is brutal, long and ongoing. Another popular term is “exodus” which depicts the “movement of Jah people across the red sea” – these are lyrics from Bob Marley & the Wailers, Exodus. The term “red” was used to describe the bloody facts about the middle passage in which many Africans were thrown overboard or died from the disgusting conditions of the slave ship.

The rasta have long made the point, which many academics are now recognizing that in the schools the entire curriculum is built around the culture, history and beliefs of the colonizers with vague references to Africa here and there. In fact many of Jamaica’s brightest upon leaving high school can only say “slavery happened a long time ago”. Because that is all they know about the issue yet they can describe Paris, London and can the tales of the Merchant of Venice. This is very disturbing.

“400 years and its the same philosophy” – Peter Tosh

In contemporary Reggae/Dancehall music biblical terms are still used extensively and “Babylon” refers to the system built on slavery i.e. the global free market/globalization system. The social hieracrchy has also come under fire as politicians and police officers have long been pointed out as being pivotal in the oppression of the poor. If you think about it, it makes absolute sense. When talks of what lead to modern capitalism is brought up, I often hear arguments of the steam engine but not once did I hear slavery which is an almost identical model of the global ‘North and South’ trading scheme only thing is goods are being shipped now as opposed to people. Dr. Eric Williams argued this point brilliantly in his book “Capitalism & Slavery”

But this is one thing I cannot overstand
dem nah teach me nothin bout mi ancient land
Inna the school and the college and the institution
the curriculum that I get is European
Ah teach me bout Marco Polo and Napolean
Nah teach me nuttin bout the river Nile bank
where civilization it began
You say thou shall not steal and should not kill no one
yet you steal treacherize and then you teach wrong
(Sizzla) yea yea slave and you murder all mi dad and mi mom
But wicked Babylonian and you will have to burn

Homophobia in Jamaica (Part 1)

Media lies, batty man naah dead in Jamaica its just the cruel i wicked foreign media

These are the types of ridiculous and callous banners broadcasted by ignorant people when gay and Jamaica are mentioned.

By now any and every resident of our beautiful mother Earth has heard of Jamaica and its issue with homosexuality. These issues are often present in the strong anti-homosexual themes in Dancehall(different genre from Reggae) lyrics. So one may ask where is the love? why are so many Jamaicans like that? how can the international community “help”? Homosexuality in Jamaica, the Caribbean and the world has always been put in this singular frame with little attention paid to how we got to this point.

Factors that have affected the Jamaican perception of homosexuality are Christianity, the Jamaican government, the British and colonialism.

Leviticus 20:13 “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” These are words coming from the Good Book or The Holy Bible and there isn’t a doubt in my mind as to exactly what that verse is saying. It is a truly horrible excerpt with regards to human rights but its what is there. Despite heavy crime rates, Jamaica is a country which takes religion in particular the Christian faith very seriously. It is estimate that Jamaica has the most churches per square mile anywhere in the world. And with that comes the potent preaching of the gospel and in a Jamaican church nothing is sugar coated; the story is told as it is in the rawest of forms and many young Jamaicans grow up paranoid and afraid of gays, even ‘in-the-closet’ homosexuals. With the combination of poverty, political divides and people socially ostracized there is bound to be violent conflicts between various groups.

Jamaica is not the only place with religious fanatics.

The Jamaican government has long been wary of supporting homosexuality as it doesn’t under normal circumstances win votes. Unlike countries in Europe and North America which were allowed to have society run its course and move from the state ordering lynching of suspected gays(which the Jamaican state has never done) to more progressive and procreative ideals over time; often centuries. And they were not forced to modify or speed up societal change just to satisfy a particular group.

These people are trying to dilute ignorance it seems

An example of the fact that Europe had an hand to play in the spreading of homophobic rhetoric is colonialism and the implementation of European law on the newly captured lands( through the extermination of indigenous people such as the Taino). Its was the British who implemented the Buggery Law which many Dancehall artists use as their first line of defense when being accused of homophobia ironically by the same countries who brought laws condemning a chosen lifestyle to the island in the first place. One important point from this is that lesbians have rarely come under fire in the music, in fact in recent times they have been embraced in the music by ‘freaky’ artiste such as Vybz Kartel and Khago. Furthermore demonstrating the power of the a Buggery law on peoples perceptions.

One also has to remember laws were enforced in a colonial society different from how they were in the motherland (Africa for the enslaved, Europe for the slave drivers) It was a very cruel and oppressive place to be and very hypocritical because when enslaved men were raped by the masters and released in the fields he was expected to behave as if it never happens or face certain death.

In  Jamaica you have a lot of gay men who are one hundred percent sure they are gay who go around making trouble with other gay men, why? I’m not sure but I would guess they want to look macho and as straight as possible. What many foreign news outlets don’t report is many of the homosexual disputes in Jamaica(not all) are crimes of passion. For Jamaica I would suggest that the international community give them time and stop “pressuring” to behave in accordance with their beliefs. This resembles the colonial mentality which means the lesser people must adhere to what we say or else.

Les Green an English police sent to investigate hate crimes targeted at gay Jamaicans in which he came to the conclusion, “It’s just the hype from some who claim Jamaica is very anti-homosexual, but the reality is far from that. There are many homosexuals who live and work freely in Jamaica.” (Surprise, surprise)

Stay tuned in Part 2 we will be looking at homosexuality in the 21st century in Jamaica and we will be taking a keen look at popular acts such as Shebada and how he/she is pioneering being open to who you are in a society like Jamaica i.e. Christian.

Homosexuality in the Media

In the video above featuring hit singles from Tanbad and Ms. Ting you can clearly see the artist kissing and caressing another woman. (O yea Jamaica is really homophobic, we are killing lesbians and gays, yea right)

I’ve always been skeptical of foreign media and I will always be. Poor countries are used as scape goats to push agenda’s. You never hear about Saudi Arabia and the public stoning of gays, why? Saudi Arabia has the world’s oil, so they can do whatever they want to gays.

The point of all this, don’t jump on the bandwagon, when your favorite sitcom has had its finale and you have nothing else to do.

Jamaican woman killed in New York while pregnant

Vindalee Smith KILLED IN NY!

Vindalee Smith

Jamaica – The body of 38-year-old Vindalee Smith said to be a Jamaican mother of four, was found stabbed to death in her Brooklyn home Saturday morning.

Vindalee Smith, 38, was found on the floor of her apartment in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn with a gaping wound in her neck. It wasn’t clear how long she’d been dead before the body was discovered by her landlord. Her unborn child did not survive.

There was no sign of forced entry, and no weapon was recovered, police said. Investigators are looking for a possible suspect. They interviewed her friends and family, and spoke to her fiance.

“I can’t even begin to imagine who would want to do that,” her friend, Sybil Samuel, told local newspapers. “It would be the devil, to kill a woman with a child in her stomach. They killed two people.”

Smith had four children in their teens and 20s, friends said. A baby shower had been planned for Saturday evening, followed by a small wedding Sunday. Friends told reporters that Smith had met her fiance about a year ago.

Smith was a devout Seventh-Day Adventist and attended New Dimension Church, where she was supposed to get married. Congregation members were concerned when she didn’t show up for morning service.

“She was always on time_ always the first person at church,” Tyler Harrigan told the Daily News of New York. “When the news came to the church, the whole church broke down. We started to bawl. All the children were crying.”

Huffington Post

This is so sad. Whats up with all the crime in NY?

Early Rastafari, Reggae Music and the Jamaican People

Derrick “Duckie” Simpson, Puma Jones, Michael Rose were key members in the Reggae band Black Uhuru who were among the best of their day. The band was formed in 1972.

From the very start of it all; the beating drums and pulsating bass, reggae music has always revolved around the ideals and image of Rastafari. The very manifestation of the art form owes tremendous dues to the Rastas of Kingston in the 1950′s and 60′s.

The themes of historical, cultural and collective identity which Rastafari was preaching from the get go shined with astonishing light of the genre which was deemed as “inartistic” by the plantation mind frame of the Jamaican elite had found home in the hearts of the “ghetto people” of Kingston’s shanty towns.

Bob marley dem

Rastaman

Upon its arrival the message was clear and the imagery was vivid. The idea was the norms, customs and ideas which were taught to the ancestors of the Africans masses specifically designed to keep them down should be eradicated from the minds of there descendents.

These ideas were still being used by the ruling class of Jamaican to control and manipulate the people who saw themselves as worthless and unwanted, just as how they thought their parents and grandparents were unwanted and useless; these kind of thinking which many fail to acknowledge are very pervasive in Jamaica, even today and the Ras dem don’t support such thinking in any way shape or form.

They would soon began a campaign to reform the psyche of Jamaica’s poor and disenfranchised island wide. This came at a pivotal time in Jamaica where understanding of identity was beginning to be even more crucial thanks to “independence” from the British Empire. However these events in the “slums” did not sit well with the government and two important events took place as a result:

One of Walter Rodney most famous writings.

  • The Coral Gardens Massacre where Jamaican armed forces killed numerous Rastafarians island wide and lead to many Rasta putting themselves into exile in their own country. Ducking and hiding in gullies out of fear of everyday Jamaicans, who would gang and beat them and use broken bottles to “trim” their DREAD-locks. (It wasn’t easy for the dread or “beardman” back in the day)
  • The Rodney Riots – this was caused by the exile of Guyanese scholar Walter Rodney who was cited by the government as preaching black power and was a treat to the Jamaican society. The University students didn’t take this decision well at all.

These collective frustrations at the system helped to strengthen understanding between the Rasta and the average Jamaican man, reggae music served as the final factor in what would become a union between the Jamaican and the Rastaman/rastawoman.

The mutual understanding formed would result in arguably the best musical period in Jamaica’s history i.e 1960′s the to mid 1980′s. The music was so vibrant, diverse and original, from the Upsetters to the Weeping Wailers everyone played their part and the people of Jamaican began to see through the beat of Rastafari inspired Reggae.

Look at me, I ain’t your enemy

We walk on common ground

We don’t need to fight each other

What we need, what we need

For more on Rasta read Rastafari Misunderstood and Sitting and watching.