Meet Andre

Andre is a taxi driver and tour guide of Jamaica, and you can find him in the area of Port Antonio.

He thinks that Jamaica would be as a paradise on earth if it were not for humans destroying it. Andre has a beautiful wife that works in a souvenir shop and they have 2 children. He is loyal to the rastafari culture and when I asked him what he would change about his country, he was very clear – the amount of crime. It appears that this is the thorn in the beautiful garden of eden in which we found ourselves. Along with many locals, and similar to Frida Kahlo in Mexico, Andre is tired of the foreigners only knowing and asking about Bob Marley, so he was very interested in the fact I wanted to get know about other national heroes. “I wouldn’t call Bob Marley a hero, although I understand his fame and that he helped the world get to know our country, our culture and our music.”

If someone is able to take down Bob Marley’s status as an icon, it is Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the work and Olympic medalist in the 100, 200, and 400 meter races in the Olympic Games in Pekin, London and Rio. Along with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson (both gold medalists in the 100 and 200 meters), Bolt forms a part of the incredible squad of Jamaican track and field athletes.

Aside from sports, there are the heroes in the fight against slavery including Haile Selassie, that was essential for Jamaica and also created the Ethiopian World Federation to unite black support for the Ethiopian kingdom in 1935 when Mussolini invaded. (After the end of the war, he donated an extensive piece of land in Shashamane, and to allow the black colonies to return to their home country). In addition, the cultural figure Marcus Garvey to who they also attributed the creation of the rastafari movement.

Marcus Garvey

Andre exuded friendliness and good vibes, not like other Jamaicans that loose their cool. I must admit the fact that I have travelled so much and have had a long career as a tour guide myself, I have become a very conscious, demanding and critical. Nonetheless Andre knew how to remain patient and let time prove he was right, and it was impossible to not respond with a smile.

After talking for awhile, he mentioned to me that Nanny of the Maroons, Alexander Bustamante and the Bob Marley’s always forgotten partner, Peter Tosh (who was also part of the band The Wailers) contributed enormously to the international distribution of reggae and rastafari culture. I want to note that it was Peter Tosh who taught the famous Bob Marley how to play the guitar and after they both became famous, Marley decided to separate from the group considering himself more pacifist than Tosh who was more of a fighter against a partied and colonialism. While Marley was spreading his message of “One Love”, Tosh he lashed out against “shitism” (as the system was called). Always with a military focus, in 1977 he came out with one of the best reggae albums in history, Equal Rights.

Nanny of the Maroons

During my experience as an explorer, I have reaffirmed the fact that the information you gain before traveling can completely change. I insist that we have to learn how to travel and above all learn about this type of information and history, which has nothing to do with travel plans or what to see in a short period to take advantage of the time (which I am totally against). What is without a doubt the best experience of traveling is listening to their music, reading their literature, learning from their beliefs – thereby allowing for longer conversations with locals that can open up profound learning and memories you will never forget.

Required Reading

Here is a list of writers form the area that are internationally known. Literature is a necessary way to reach the political, social Ana cultural reality of a country. The profound group of talented writers from Jamaica as an island nation, supports its importance and cultural weight within the Caribbean.

Writers born in Jamaica include:

Claude McKay was born in 1889 in Clarendon, Jamaica and revealed a talent for poetry a very early age, at only 10 years old. His first book of poetry was published in 1912, Songs of Jamaica, a lyrical representation of his island written in his native Jamaican dialect. Later he studied in the US and became part of the society of intellectuals of the Harlem Renaissance.

Sylvia Wynter was born in 1928 but particularly active during that 1960’s during a time when she published a series of writings with the intention of celebrating the indigenous traditions of the Caribbean as well as her only novel, The Hills of Hebron, which takes place during the height of Jamaica’s independence from Great Britain.

Marlon James is an author of three novels and his most recent novel for which he was the first Jamaican recipient of the Man Booker award in 2015. James is known as one of the most important and exciting contemporary authors to come from the island. His works are an expression of Jamaica’s violent past from a slave revolt in the 19th century to the attempted assassination of Bob Marley during the rough political environment during the 1970’s and 1980’s.


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