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Jamaican Castles

Colbeck Castle

Despite our current economic struggles, Jamaica was once a prosperous land, dotted with sprawling estates, imposing great houses and even magnificent castles. These once spectacular buildings are now ruins, but still stand proud as symbols of architectural greatness. Let’s take a ‘castle tour’ across Jamaica.

Ackendown Castle, Westmoreland – The ruins of Ackendown Castle are located on the northern side of the main road between the towns of Savanna-la-Mar and Black River. It is also across from the Sandals Whitehouse resort. According to a plaque on the inner wall, the castle was built by Archibald Campbell (1781-1833) of the Auchenbreck family from Argyll, Scotland.

The castle consists of the stone remains of an eastern and western tower connected by what is said to have been an underground passage. The castle’s masonry work is more medieval in character, which is unusual in Jamaica.

The Ackendown Castle ruins were declared a national monument by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust on December 21, 2006.

Colbeck Castle, St Catherine – Situated in open country about two miles north of Old Harbour, Colbeck Castle is a massive stone and brick structure with walls standing to their full original height. The castle, built about 1680, is currently owned by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.

The building is rectangular in shape, consisting of four-storied, tower-like structures at each corner, rising to a height of about 40 feet. Constructed in the Palladio style of architecture, its solid and imposing structure made it a key point in the island’s defence against the Spaniards. A 2006 archaeological impact assessment of the area surrounding the ruins found Taino, Spanish, English and Afro-Jamaican artifacts.

Edinburgh Castle, St Ann – Edinburgh Castle situated in Pedro district, St. Ann, was built by Lewis Hutchinson, a Scottish doctor who also happened to be Jamaica’s first recorded serial killer! The building, perhaps loftily titled a ‘castle,’ was constructed in the 1700s and named by its Scottish architect. It stands small and square with two storeys and two circular loop-holed towers at opposing diagonal corners.

Stewart Castle, Trelawny – The once impressive cut stone mansion known as Stewart Castle was originally fortified for protection against attack, with loopholes for fire muskets placed strategically around the entire building. The rectangular building appears to have been three storeys high, consisting of a cellar, ground floor and first floor. It featured square towers at opposite corners.

A Taino midden found on the property was excavated in 1957 by archaeologist Charles Cotter, revealing insights into the dietary habits of the land’s first known inhabitants. Materials found include marine shells(giant conchs and crab limbs), breast bones of birds and turtle bones.

Ownership of the properties on which the ruins and the midden are located was transferred to the JNHT by Kaiser Bauxite Company.

diG more

There are hundreds of other historical landmarks all across Jamaica. Take a look at Historical Sites in Jamaica Part1 and Part 2.

The Story Of The Gleaner

The Gleaner was born in 1834, a time of fundamental change for Jamaica. This year marked the beginning of the end of slavery in the British colonies. At that time business in Kingston was done mainly by auction.

This led two half-brothers, Jacob and Joshua deCordova, to seize a business opportunity to publish deCordova’s Advertising Sheet for the buying and selling of goods.

Following on the success of their first publication, on September 13, 1834, they launched the first edition of The Gleaner and Weekly Compendium of News, the predecessor to the current Gleaner.

The paper was published on Saturdays for a subscription of ten shillings per quarter for the city and thirteen shillings and four pence for rural areas.

Three months later they changed the billing to The Gleaner: A Weekly Family Newspaper Devoted to Literature, Morality, the Arts and Science and Amusements. Two years later they merged deCordova’s Advertising Sheet with The Gleaner to produce a four-page paper published every day except Sundays. The advertisements were printed on a separate sheet and distributed for free by five o’clock every morning and the whole paper was ready for subscribers by six o’clock in the morning.


A fire destroyed The Gleaner plant in 1882 and for two weeks the paper had to be printed at the Government Printing Office. Rebuilding after the fire, The Gleaner remained “the Old Lady of Harbour Street” for almost a century until she moved to her present location on the corner of North and East streets.

On June 10, 1897, The Gleaner went public under the stewardship of Joshua deCordova. Since then the family who founded The Gleaner has been represented on the board of directors of the company by the Ashenheim family. Under Joshua’s stewardship, The Gleaner identified with and promoted Jamaican business, even promoting tourism as a guarantor of the Jamaica Exhibition in 1891.

The earthquake of January 14, 1907 destroyed most of the city of Kingston, including the Gleaner building on Harbour Street. It would take two years of litigation before the English insurance companies finally paid earthquake damage claims and  a new enlarged building could be erected.

Four days after the building was completely destroyed, the newspaper was on the street again. An ‘emergency’ edition, printed at the Government Printing Office, was headlined “The Earthquake and the Future” and sold for three pence. The editorial read:

“On Monday evening we were struck by an earthquake and within forty seconds our capital had fallen and over 1,000 persons lay dead and dying on the ground…The blow has been terrible (but) we will not allow ourselves to be terrified.”


Motor delivery routes were established across the island in 1920, and a special magazine section, known popularly as “The Pink Sheet”, as it was printed on pink paper, was added to the Saturday Gleaner in 1925. It featured highlights of local social events.

In 1939, right after the outbreak of World War II, the Sunday Gleaner was introduced. During the war, newsprint and gasoline became scarce and the size of the Daily Gleaner had to be kept at eight or ten pages while the few gallons of rationed gas available had to be used to transport reporters covering news. Papers were delivered by train, bicycle, donkey, mule, boys on foot and anything else that could move without gas.

Academic Year 2019-2020 – Jamaica Calendar of School Terms and Holidays

Updated June 25, 2019

Please find below Jamaica’s Ministry of Education calendar of school terms and holidays for the academic year 2019 to 2020. Here you will find opening and closing dates for Jamaican schools, when examinations are taking place, and official dates for holidays.  This text is taken from the Ministry Of Education’s advisory  – screenshots of which appear at the end of this post.

The first/CHRISTMAS TERM of the school year will commence on Monday, September 2, 2019 and end on Tuesday December 17, 2019. The Christmas Holidays will be Wednesday December 18, 2019 to Friday January 3, 2020.  School will officially resume from Christmas Holidays on Monday January 6, 2020

The second/EASTER TERM of the school year will commence on Monday, January 6, 2020 and end on Wednesday, April 8, 2020.  Easter Holidays will be on Thursday April 9, 2020 to Friday April 17, 2020.  School will officially resume from Easter Holidays on Monday April 20, 2020

The third/SUMMER TERM of the school year will commence on Monday, April 20, 2020 and end on Friday, July 3, 2020.  Summer Holidays will be on Monday, July 6, 2020 to Friday September 4, 2020.

The 2020/2021 School Year begins Monday, September 7, 2020

[See next page for Holidays – cont’d]

The Story of Emancipation

August 1, 1834 marked a special day for Africans in British colonies as it was the day they received freedom from slavery. In Jamaica, the Emancipation Declaration was read from the steps of the Old Kings House in Spanish Town, St Catherine, the country’s capital at the time.

The bill for the abolition of slavery in the British colonies received the royal assent on August 28,1838. It stated:

“Be it enacted, that all and every one of the persons who on the first day of August one thousand eight hundred and thirty four, shall be holden in slavery within such British colony as aforesaid, shall, upon and from and after the said first day of August, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-four, become and be to all intents and purposes free and discharged from all manner of slavery, and shall be absolutely and forever manumitted.”

The passage of this bill in the British Parliament in England enabled approximately 311,000 enslaved Africans in Jamaica and hundreds of thousands more across the colonies the freedom for which many of their predecessors had fought and died. However, the Africans did not receive full freedom until four years later, as all slaves over six years old were subjected to a mandatory six-year period of apprenticeship. The ex-slaves would work – without pay – for their former masters for three-quarters of the week (40 hours), in exchange for lodging, food, clothing. medical attendance and grounds on which they could grow their own provisions. They could also, if they chose, hire themselves out for additional wages during the remaining quarter of the week. With this money, an ex-slave could then buy his freedom.

Emancipation Day was officially introduced as a public holiday in Jamaica in 1893. The ‘First of August’ celebrations, however, were discontinued in 1962, when Jamaica gained independence. It was replaced by Independence Day, then observed on the first Monday in August. Emancipation Day was re-instituted in 1997 by then Prime Minister PJ Patterson as a national holiday celebrated on August 1. Independence Day was also fixed at August 6.

Here are some useful links for more information about Emancipation Day:

Explore diG Jamaica’s History category for more about Jamaica’s history.

When Heat Becomes Life-Threatening

Increased physical activity and prolonged exposure to the sun during hot, humid weather can bring on heatstroke. a dangerous condition in which the body is unable to cool itself. Heat exhaustion is a condition in which the body becomes dehydrated.

How heatstroke affects the body:

  • Sweat evaporating from the skin cools the body.  When it is humid it is harder to cool off because moisture in the air prevents sweat from evaporating as much.
  • When blood temperature rises, the hypothalamus sends signals to stimulate sweat glands, dilate blood vessels and increase heart rate.
  • Increased blood flow to the skin cools the body by radiating heat.
  • Excessive sweating can deplete fluid and salts.  If fluids are not replaced, heat remains in the blood and organs slowly break down, usually resulting in death.

How to recognize and treat heat-induced illnesses:


Heat Exhaustion: Insufficient water and salt intake are the primary causes.  Faintness, dizziness and fatigue are usually the first signs

Heatstroke: Heat exhaustion, if untreated can develop into heatstroke as heat builds up in the body. People who aren’t treated can quickly die


Heat Exhaustion: Usually cold and clammy with heavy sweating

Heatstroke: Hot, dry and red.  Perspiration usually stops completely.


Heat Exhaustion: Rapid and weak

Heatstroke: Rapid and strong


Heat Exhaustion: Usually low or normal

Heatstroke: Above 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius).  At 107 degrees Fahrenheit (41.7 degrees Celsius) usually is fatal


Heat Exhaustion: Thirst, giddiness, weakness and lack of coordination

Heatstroke: Fainting or staggering, confusion or delirium


Heat Exhaustion: Lie down in a cool, shady place. Loosen clothing.  Sip water (unless nauseated).  Seek medical attention immediately if vomiting occurs.

Heatstroke: Seek medical attention immediately.  Move to a cool place.  Remove clothing. Apply a wet sheet or immerse in cool water.

See also:

Sources: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Medical Association Encyclopedia of Medicine, Complete Guide to Sports Injuries. This information was published in The Gleaner on 7/16/2019

GDP : January – March 2019

According to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, here are the highlights for the January – March 2019 quarter for the Jamaican Economy.


First Quarter of 2019 Growth was 1.7% compared to the first quarter of 2019


  • Goods Producing Industries increased by 1.7%
  • Services Industries increased by 1.8%

Goods Producing Industries

  • Mining & Quarrying: 11.1%
  • Construction: 3.4%
  • Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing: 0.3%
  • Manufacturing: -1.4%

Service Industries

  • Hotels & Restaurants: 7.3%
  • Finance & Insurance Services: 2.5%
  • Electricity & Water Supply: 1.9%
  • Other Services: 1.8%
  • Wholesale & Retail; Repairs; Installation of Machinery & Equipment: 1.3%
  • Transport, Storage & Communication: 1.2%
  • Real Estate, Renting and Business Activities: 1.0%
  • Producers of Government Services: 0.2%

5 Things: GWest Corporation Limited’s Annual Report 2019

GWest Corporation Limited (the company) is incorporated and domiciled in Jamaica. Its main activities are the development of commercial properties and the provision of healthcare services.

Here are 5 things of note from its Annual Report for the Year Ended March 31, 2019 which was published on the Jamaica Stock Exchange website on July 1, 2019:

1. Emphasis of Matter – Note 28

The auditors are concerned.

“The company recorded a net loss of $135.876 million during the year ended March 31, 2019 (2018: net loss of $88.109 million). At that date it had accumulated losses of $18.783 million. The above factors indicate a material uncertainty that may cast doubt on the company’s ability to continue as a going concern and to therefore realise its assets and discharge its liabilities in the ordinary course of business. The continuation of the company as a going concern is dependent on the availability of the third party financing and on future sustained profitable operations.”

2. Earnings Per Stock Unit

Although GWest EPS improved from a loss of (0.55) per share in 2018 to a loss of (0.28) per share in 2019, this was attributable to the issuance of 250,000,000 preference shares during the year.

“The calculation of earning per stock unit is based on the net loss after tax of $135.876million (2018: loss after tax of $88.109million) and the weighted average number of stock units in issue during the reporting period of 484,848,485 (2018: 160,797,841) units.”

3. Revenue

Revenue leaped 96% to $129.96million led by a sharp rise of 342% in patient fees. Patient fees now make up the majority of revenue for the company.

4. Expenses

Expenses rose sharply by 66% to $276million. A new cost for 2019 called Medical Consultancy fees contributed $45million or 16% of all expenses. The largest expense, however, continued to be repairs, maintenance and waste disposal at $70million.

5. Management Plans

From Note 28 of the Annual Report

Management is committed to continue operations as a going concern and is pursuing a number of strategies to return to profitability, which include:

  • sale of investment property units
  • commencement of operations of planned new surgery centre
  • increased marketing and promotion of new services being offered
  • continue rationalisation of expenses obtaining additional third party financing for improved working capital

At the date of these financial statements, the company was in an advanced stage of negotiations with its bankers regarding the restructuring its current borrowing arrangements and to obtain further financing for its strategic plans.

Additionally, subsequent to the year end, the company has signed sale agreements for two units of its investment property.”

NOTE:  This post is for information only and should not be construed as professional advice.  The report is linked above. 

How To: Register For a Business Name As A Sole Trader Or Partnership

Registration of a business offers legitimacy to allow individuals to offer services from an established address.  It is beneficial because it allows the individual to access loans and grants, obtain contracts, operate bank accounts in their business’ name, inspire customer confidence and establish proper ownership.

If a business in operation is not registered with the Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ), it is considered to be illegal.  Business names can be registered as a sole trade or a sole proprietorship, meaning there is one owner or a partnership where between two (2) and twenty (20) persons jointly own the business.

Who should register?

  • Individuals or firms which buy or sell goods from an established address.
  • Individuals or firms offering services from an established address in a name other than the individual’s own name or the name of all the partners in the firm.

To register a business the following is needed to be completed:

  • Sole traders must complete a BRF1 form (commonly called the Super Form) which can be obtained at the COJ or downloaded from its website. A registration fee of J$2,500 must accompany the form.
  • Partnerships must complete a BRF1 form.  The registration fee is also J$2,500; however, if there are more than five partners the fee applied would be J$5,000.

Once the registration process is completed, the business’ name is uploaded to the COJ website.  This is to prove to customers who are interested in a business to check the company’s credentials and ensure the businesses is legal.

This information was published in The Gleaner on April 30, 2019

For more resources to help you start a business:



Ackee: The Good And The Bad

Ackee is a fruit that is deeply embedded in Jamaica’s history and culture. Our national fruit can be both good and bad for you, depending on the circumstances.

The Good:

Firstly, the oil of the arilli of ackee are rich in many nutrients, including fatty acids such as oleic, palmitic and stearic acids, which are known to help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease when consumed in a balanced way. According to a study performed in the Biochemistry Department at UWI, Mona on the fatty acid composition of the arilli from ackee, 51-58% of the arillus dry weight consists of lipids. The major fatty acids observed were oleic, palmitic and stearic acids with linoleic accounting for over 50% of the total fatty acids, proving that the purified oil from ackee is highly nutritional and makes an important contribution to the fatty acid intake of many Jamaicans.

Other nutritional reports have suggested that ackee is rich in calcium, phosphorous, sodium, potassium, and vitamin C; it also contains zinc, and iron. The phosphorous, calcium and zinc aid in preventing bone demoralization and bone loss. Therefore, the consumption of ackee promotes healthy bones, to help reduce osteoporosis. The potassium in ackee acts as a Vasodilator (i.e. open (dilate) blood vessels) and that helps in the process of vasodilation (the dilatation of blood vessels). This reduces the risk of damage to the blood vessels, atherosclerosis and prevents the cardiovascular system from overexerting itself.

Another benefit of ackee to the cardiovascular system is that the iron contained in the fruit aids in the diffusion of oxygen from the blood to the cells that need it around the body. This iron may also help to reverse the symptoms of anemia which are weakness, cognitive issues and lightheadedness.

The fiber contained in ackee can aid in bowel elimination as it adds bulk to faeces. The fibre may also reduce cholesterol levels and aids in lowering the risks of inflammation, cramping, constipation and bloating of the colon.

Finally, ackee provides a boost to the immune system. It contains Vitamin C, which is known for its ability to aid in the body’s immunity and protect the body from various diseases.

The Bad:

It is important to note that ackee contains a poison known as hypoglycin, which is removed when it is harvested and cooked in the right way. In order to harvest the fruit properly, the fruit should not be removed from the tree until the pods open naturally. Additionally, the inside of the fruit must be properly cleaned of the red fibre inside. If the aforementioned precautions are not taken, consumers of the unripe fruit may suffer from ‘Jamaican vomiting sickness syndrome’, a disease caused by the hypoglycin poison. Symptoms of the disease include severe hypoglycemia and vomiting. Every individual should take great precaution when preparing the fruit for consumption. This will ensure that only the positive benefits are obtained from the fruit.

Written by Gabrielle Brown, student of Campion College.  Edited by Kaeonna Walters.  This post appears courtesy of the Do Good Jamaica Professional Pathways high school internship program.

For more about ackee:

The Legend of Annie Palmer – The White Witch of Rose Hall?

Jamaica is home to many legends and stories, one of which surrounds Annie Palmer, very often dubbed the “White Witch of Rose Hall.” The legend dictates that Annie Palmer was born in England and moved to Haiti in her youth, where she had a nanny who is said to have introduced her to witchcraft and voodoo. Annie was left in the care of her nanny, after losing her parents to Yellow Fever.

Upon moving to Jamaica, it is said that Annie married a man by the name of John Palmer who owned the Rose Hall Great House and Plantation in Montego Bay. Annie was ruthless and used her dark magic as a manipulative force, constantly mistreating the thousands of enslaved persons working on the plantation. In addition to this, the legend states that Annie killed her husband John as well as two more husbands that came after him. It is also said that Annie took several slave lovers in her husband’s absences.

The circumstances surrounding Annie Palmer’s death are shrouded in mystery and several theories exist to explain how she died. However, most accounts agree on the involvement of an enslaved man called Takoo, who is described to be one of Annie’s many lovers.

Accounts state that Annie’s body is buried in a tomb on the plantation. This tomb was allegedly sealed using a voodoo ritual in order to keep her spirit inside. However, this ritual was botched or incomplete and it is said that Annie’s spirit can be seen roaming the plantation either on her horse or on a balcony.

It must be noted that the legend of Annie Palmer is widely contested. Historians and Anthropologists alike have argued that the story’s content is completely false, and that the popularity of this fallacious legend began with the publishing of the novel, “The White Witch of Rosehall” by Herbert G. De Lisser. In his defence, De Lisser did point out that the story was fictitious.

Regardless of its inaccuracy, the legend of Annie Palmer has had a significant cultural impact on Jamaica. Her story is known across the world, having been widely spread by members of the diaspora, as well as persons who have visited the Rose Hall Plantation. In 1973, American country singer Johnny Cash made Annie Palmer the subject of his song “The Ballad of Annie Palmer”.

Today, the Rose Hall Great House remains one of Jamaica’s most well-known and visited tourist attractions, allowing the Jamaican tourist industry to largely capitalize on its haunting tale.

Will you visit the Rose Hall Great House to test the theory of Annie Palmer’s roaming spirit?

Written by Morgan-Leigh Miller, student of Campion College.  Edited by Kaeonna Walters.  This post appears courtesy of the Do Good Jamaica Professional Pathways high school internship program. 

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