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.