We often see these athletes perform for our pleasure and when they fail to meet our subjective opinions of greatness we are quick to chastice and burn them, the social media now the favoured choice of crucifiction. 

Our hunger for success at all cost is clouded by many factors, one being technology and its increasing ability to keep us at bay from the humanity of the athletes. In fact we are so attuned it is not unusual that many of us see these athletes as personal game boys, allowing us to figuratively control them, ready to throw them to the curb when they fail to win. Technology has exceeded our humanity. 

We must never forget that after the glare of sportmanship we all go back to our normal lives, and so too the athletes. We move on to the next distraction, and the athlete  goes back to their reality. It is that reality they face with their own buman insecurities, often alone and without the rah rah of spectators. 

We are victims of evil customs and it is a crime against the athletes humanity when we demand God like status of them to perform. Athletes are only humans atremting to peform feats that most of us consider unimaginable. Does that make them super human? Mzybe, maybe not. But beyond the technology lies a human  who like all of us, suffer real tragedies, real joys and real aspirations.  Our humanity is all bound up in each other, for we can only be human together.  

This is Novelene’s human story.

By Neo Makeba

Yesterday (Sunday) we all watched the Jamaican female 4x400m team storm past the favourites, USA, to claim gold at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing. And anchored home by Novlene Williams-Mills.

In 2012, Novlene was diagnosed with breast cancer. She told no-one apart from her husband of five years, Jameel, family and friends. She finished fifth in the 400m at London 2012 and won a bronze medal in the 4 x 400m relay.

Three days after the Games surgeons removed a small lump in her breast. She then had a double mastectomy, a further operation to cut out the remaining cancerous cells and reconstructive surgery. Her final operation was on January 18.

Until this stage, Novelene has told nobody outside her close circle about her devastating illness. She did not want any sympathy; she just wanted to concentrate on winning the most difficult race of her life.

At the time, she was 31 years old, a five-time world and three-time Olympic medallist. ‘It feels like your own body has betrayed you, like I’ve been stabbed,’ she said. ‘I’m an athlete. I work out, I train. It can’t be possible.’

‘It’s a very high-risk, aggressive cancer and I had to approach it aggressively. Like Angelina Jolie, my chance of having it was way high. But I had choices to make. A lot of people don’t.’

‘The mastectomy was scary because this is what makes me a lady. What am I going to look like? It was very difficult. I want to have kids one day and you see all those mothers out there nursing and I’m not going to be able to do that.

‘There were days I didn’t know if I could make it. I was in so much pain. I cried because they tell me that tears are a language that God understands. I hoped my husband still loved me the same. We met when I was like this and now he’s seeing a whole different person. But I didn’t have to worry about him. He was my nurse, my rock.”. 

Blessings forever Novlene. 


Shelly Ann punches the air

I had to look this quote up. Eleanor Roosevelt once said …”A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”

I was happy to find the quote as that is exactly how little pocket rocket Shelly-Ann Fraser can be summed up after her victory of her third World Championship medal for the 100m. It wasn’t that she was not expected to win, it was more than that. It was the hot water she was in that she threw out the window at approximately 99.1 meters. She punched her finger as if to say- take that !

It’s very easy to love Little Shelly. She is cute, she is small, a little bundle of joy that you feel you can pick up and throw over your shoulders. But the best part of her winning was her post interview, not with the help of the reporter, and her unloading of the tea bags of pressure that she undoubtedly had to carry up to this point in her career.

She did not hold back. She touched on many topics, her personal struggles at the start of the season, her disappointments, her questioning herself, her decision to focus on just one event and not two. She was anchored in her faith which she had placed in her God and her faith carried her through the hot waters of doubt and fear.

She said..” I had no idea that a little girl from Waterhouse would be where she is at now and I place all thanks to God”. She spoke eloquently on the team of people that it took to put her where she is at the top of the podium. She expressed thanks to everyone. But her most important message was simple- It is not where you are born or your place of abode, but your character of self that determines who you want to be.

It was the usual empowerment motivational speech that no politician can deliver like her because unlike them, she is living proof of the fact that what she is saying is true.

As I listened to her I could not help but think about how far women’s athletics has come in Jamaica since the days of Merlene Ottey, Juliet Cuthbert to name only two and how she has single handedly rewrote the history and the most surprising part of this story is it is done with very little fanfare.

Make no mistake about it. Despite all the talk of women empowerment in sports, we are far from equality. She stepped up to the stage in 2008 along with another famous athlete ,who happens to be Usain Bolt. The difference between them you ask? Bolt earns 10 times more than her and gets most of the ratings. Yet they both started and defeated their respective opponents at the same starting line at the 100 meters.

We know the statistics in sports and it is almost a given fact that women MUST earn less than their male counterpart. The hype of the women’s 100 m finals was far less than the male, just take a look at social media. If you really doubted this disparity then ask yourself was Half Way Tree ram jam solid as much as the day before when Bolt won his race? Look at sponsorship deals, commercials, books, documentaries, whatever you want to choose, our female athletes get less, period.

Yes, the disparity is clear and sadly no one is doing anything about it, except Shelly. It has been 7 years of shouldering this burden as if she had to constantly prove herself not for recognition but for sheer equality; equality of status, equality of ability and equality of resources despite the gender.

The JAAA, the IAAF and even our government that showered gifts on our athletes are all in agreement that yes Equality may perhaps be a right. But these same powers cannot turn it into a fact. Shelly attempted to begin the conversation and punched that fact at the finishing line.

Shelly is an equal part of the Beijing magic as much as Bolt. Bolt is the record holder in his event, but what makes them equal is the accomplishments they both have secured, back to back to back gold medalist in an event at the highest level in their sport. Bolt has received his accolades. Sadly we are still lining up the marching band for Shelly.




By. Neo Makeba

“This means a lot because I’ve been struggling all season, it’s taken me a while to work things out,” Usain Bolt said after the race. “It’s been up and down but it’s OK now.”

People often compare Usain Bolt to Muhammad Ali – not for his political convictions but his charisma, for the effect he has had on his sport, for the impact he has made on the world outside it. This is probably the reason there was such “hype” about this race in Beijing. Especially as some punters had already predicted that USA’s Justin Gatlin would dent his record on the world stage.

The controversial Justin Gatlin came into the final on a 28-race unbeaten run and apparently relishing his role as the sport’s bad guy. Bolt had raced the 100m on just two days this season before arriving in China. So bad was his pelvic injury that not until late July did he record a time that hinted he could even be competitive in Beijing.

What could Bolt possibly do up against the relentless consistency of Gatlin? These have been the American’s times this year: 9.74 secs, 9.75, 9.75, 9.78. In his heat he ran 9.83, in his semi 9.77.

But at the same Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing where Bolt announced himself to the world with two Olympic golds and two world records in 2008, the Jamaican came past a faltering Gatlin at the death to snatch victory by one hundredth of a second!

Bolt’s 9.79 seconds was more than two tenths off his world record, but this was a night for athletics to celebrate victories rather than times.

Arguably the most naturally gifted athlete the world has ever seen, Usain St Leo Bolt, confirmed his tremendous talents when he realized his dreams by winning a phenomenal three gold medals and breaking three world records at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

Bolt became the first man in Olympic history to win both the 100m and 200m races in world record times and then as part of the 4x100m team that also smashed the world record later in the meet. He created history again and became a legend at the 2012 Olympic Games in London by defending all three Olympic titles with 100m, 200m and 4x100m victories, the latter in a new world record time of 36.84 secs.

Photos show Bolt celebrating with his parents and hugging defeated Justin Gatlin,

Usain with Mom and Dad in Beijing

Usain with Mom and Dad in Beijing




Once again the waggonist have lost their bet on Bolt. The media sensation created was part promotion, part crucifixion despite not having tried the accused. 

Bolt and his team withdraw from public distraction and went under ground. This added fuel to the whirling fire of death by the coronation of Gatlin, based on his visible assault on the track of all his opponents. But even Gatlin knew Bolt was not to be taken lightly. 

Bolt was in the finest shape of his life for a 29 year old. Proper diet, less partying, maximum training meant he was heading to the starting blocks like the finest Ferrari. A champion does not need regular races, he only needs proper wheels. 

On Sunday August 23,2015 at 8.15am est, the world got their answer, the waggonist jumped for joy and those who never jumped ship shouted above the fickle crowd, #YamBeatsDrugs. Was there any doubt? What Was all the fuss about? 


This story made me sick to my stomach. 

Britain has revealed that it is negotiating with Zimbabwe over the repatriation of remains thought to belong to fighters from the African country’s struggle against its colonisers, currently held in the Natural History Museum in London.
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe said in a speech at the weekend that British settlers had in the late 1800s taken the skulls of several celebrated resistance fighters in what is known locally as the “First Chimurenga” as “war trophies”, and called for their return.

“We are told that skulls of our people, our leaders, are being displayed in a British museum and they are inviting us to repatriate them. We will repatriate them, but with bitterness, questioning the rationale behind decapitating them,” Mr Mugabe told thousands of people at the annual national holiday honouring fighters who died in the war to end white minority rule.

“The First Chimurenga leaders, whose heads were decapitated by the colonial occupying force, were then dispatched to England, to signify British victory over, and subjugation of, the local population.

“Surely, keeping decapitated heads as war trophies, in this day and age, in a national history museum, must rank among the highest forms of racist moral decadence, sadism and human insensitivity.”

On Thursday night, the Foreign Office confirmed that “remains of Zimbabwean origin” were in London and it was waiting for Zimbabwe to send technical experts to liaise with museum staff.

Mr Mugabe said his government would consult with traditional leaders about how to bury the remains at the country’s “sacred” shrines.

Reports in July state that the skulls included those of Mashayamombe Chinengundu of Mhondoro and Chief Makoni Chingaira of Rusape, who were beheaded by British invasion forces at the height of Zimbabwe’s first war of resistance against white settlers in the 1890s. The war broke out in Zimbabwe between the indigenous Shona and Ndebele communities and the white British settlers from 1896 to 1897.

(Thanks to Genevieve Rose-Illbruck for original post).


The United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, during the final stage of the Second World War. The two bombings, which killed at least 129,000 people, remain the only use of nuclear weapons for warfare in history.
A uranium gun-type atomic bomb (Little Boy) was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, followed by a plutonium implosion-type bomb (Fat Man) on the city of Nagasaki on August 9.

Little Boy exploded 2,000 feet above Hiroshima in a blast equal to 12-15,000 tons of TNT, destroying five square miles of the city. Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects of the atomic bombings killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 39,000–80,000 in Nagasaki; roughly half of the deaths in each city occurred on the first day.

During the following months, large numbers died from the effect of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, compounded by illness and malnutrition. In both cities, most of the dead were civilians, although Hiroshima had a sizable military garrison.

On August 15, just days after the bombing of Nagasaki and the Soviet Union’s declaration of war, Japan announced its surrender to the Allies. On September 2, it signed the instrument of surrender, effectively ending World War II. The bombings’ role in Japan’s surrender and their ethical justification are still debated.

Seventy years later, the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Red Cross hospitals are still treating thousands of survivors for the after-effects of radiation and nearly two-thirds of deaths among them are due to cancer.

Neo Makeba 



Ask the robust and healthy Claudius Henry, who doesn’t look a day close to his 83 years, what is so special about Sturge Town. Every six weeks, he packs his car trunk full of containers and drives more than 50 miles from his home in Vineyard Town, St Andrew, up to the remote Sturge Town Village in the mountains of St Ann to get his regular supply of drinking water from the famous Marley Spring.

Swearing by its magical properties, to him the treacherous journey up the single-lane rocky pathway is definitely worth it. Born and raised in Jamaica’s second free village, Henry may have moved out some 60 years ago, but nothing will stop him from getting his consistent stream of the mysterious water that springs from its mountains.

“I have been drinking this water all the days of my life and I am hoping to live as old as my father, who died at 103; or my mother, who died at 101,” he said. “Most people in Sturge Town live to over 100. The oldest person lived to be 113. I don’t know anywhere else in Jamaica where people live this long. There must be something that so many people out of this district live so long, and I know it’s the water.”

“From I born it never run dry,” noted the retiree, with two five-gallon containers left to be filled at the tap. Sturge Town’s third-oldest living resident, 99-year-old Cathleen Maud Tracey, calls it “gifted water”.

A descendant of the original 100 families of ex-slaves who were given the village in 1840, she said the residents there do everything with the water from Marley Spring – drink, cook, clean, wash, bathe – as it is their lifeline and what they believe allows them to live this long. “People have traveled from all over to come for this water,” she announced!

Neo Makeba



Typical home in the Jamaican countryside however family houses were much larger than the one depicted.

Typical home in the Jamaican countryside however family houses were much larger than the one depicted.

So, let us open the front door to this house in rural Jamaica, a place where so many of us had precious memories as children! In the small living / cum dining room, there is a sweet potato pudding covered by a dishcloth on the table with the plastic place mats. A jug of lemonade with “sibble orange”. A “Home Sweet Home” lamp is on the “bureau” and some precious China in the “breakfront”.

A few house lizards are on the walls, playful and shy. But hey, wait until later this evening when Mr Croaking Lizard appears, then the bullfrog will hop unto the steps, followed by “peenie-waulies” and that flying insect which beats its wings like a helicopter.

When the rain falls at night, it makes a sweet sound on the zinc roof, but one little uneven space will let you scramble for the enamel basins and you hear the drips like Beethoven Symphony.

Then waking up to cut the coconut for the fowls, tie out the goats and sweep the yard with the coconut broom. And that is all done before you have your breakfast.

This is country life in Jamaica. This is where grand pa and grand ma lives along with hordes of cousins, aunts and uncles. On a day like today many Jamaicans would make the trip to visit the family home for a day of celebration and catching up. Catching up has a cultural context of learning what other family members are doing or not doing. It is also where grand pa has many discussions with his sons, many heated but never disrespectful. Grandma would be busy in the kitchen, allocating responsibilities to her daughters and grand kids. Some would be assigned to sweep the graves of past family members, while others would be given special duties by Grand pa to prepare dinner.

“Bwoy go kill  one a dem goat fi you mada..” would be the instructions by Grandpa!

Papa would have organized the killing of one of the goats and many chickens. Depending on the holiday a cow may have been butchered for the event but this was usually reserved for grand occasions like weddings and funerals. Goat soup boiling on the make up fire pit , the chickens simmering with flavored juices of thyme, garlic ,peppers, onions and the biggest pot seeping and brimming with the flavorful rice and peas, dinner was ready for the entire family to enjoy. Not to be left out is Mass Freddie who lives over the other bush ( next door neighbor in modern terms) who was  invited to dine.

One family never eats alone. It was forbidden. Family was not only children and grand kids, but members of the village community who all play a role in the shaping of the community. Community in the ‘country’ is the embodiment of everyone that lives in the ‘Lane”. This spirit of camaraderie started from back in 1838 when the slaves left the plantation to go to the Free Villages. Everyone looked out for each other. It was technically the first Co-operative. This tradition continues to this very day August 1, 2015.

We sit, we eat, we laugh, we drink. Everyone plays dominoes, the children all play in the yard, Papa still quarreling with his kids and Mama, the matriarch of the family holds the  family together with her steady hand or wisdom and love. Welcome to ‘country’ life in Jamaica.

Thanks Neo Makeba for the original post.


abengIt was in Accompong in 1739 that runaway Maroon slaves signed a peace treaty with the British to gain semi-sovereignty over the area. Today, the treaty still stands. The town is run by an elected “colonel”, the state can only interfere in the case of a capital crime, and residents continue to live a peaceful life.

The town lies in the heart of Cockpit Country, where you can find places with names such as of “Me No Sen You No Come”, the “Land of Look-behind”, “Wait-a-Bit” and “Quick Step”. Getting to Accompong involves a short 30-minute drive from the not-so-enchantingly named Maggotty in St Elizabeth parish, and a certain amount of courage as you wind round a succession of treacherous blind corners. Up until the 1980s, the town’s gates were locked and outsiders had to seek permission to enter, but now visitors can come and go freely.

Accompong town is concentrated around one main road running up the hill, but the surrounding countryside is vast – somewhere between the 15,000 acres the slaves were originally promised and the 1,500 acres recorded on the written treaty (where a crucial zero was mislaid).

Yet there’s more to this tax-free, crime-free living than meets the eye. Although residents are keen to retain their freedom and cultural identity, raising their own funds for community projects, maintenance and development is not easy. “Farming just isn’t viable anymore,” Deputy Colonel Rupert Robinson (aka Colonel Robbie) says. “Tourism has to be number one now.”

The annual Maroon Festival to honor Colonel Cudjoe draws in up to 15,000 visitors. The day starts with a ceremony at the Peace Cave paying respect to Maroon ancestors, which is followed by feasting, dancing and traditional myal drumming. It all culminates in a giant parade and a sound-system dance party that continues throughout the night. Jamaicans don’t need an excuse to party.

maroonThanks Neo Makeba