What’s Right With Jamaica: Smile About J-A-M-A-I-C-A

How thankful are Jamaicans for Jamaica? It’s a wonderful country teeming with enthusiasm, brilliance, talent and heritage as lush as our verdant landscapes. There is much in this little island to be grateful for, and here at diGJamaica, we don’t need a holiday or observance to celebrate Jamaica … we believe in celebrating the uniqueness of this country all year round. Follow our What’s Right With Jamaica series to see our weekly highlight of something refreshingly special in the island. You can also suggest topics for the series by sending emails to digjamaica@gmail.com.

Jamaica is not the irie-est little island in the world for no reason. Today, we want to salute the country by using the letters in its name to spell out some aspect of this awesome island that is guaranteed to make our people smile. Enjoy, and let your cup run over.

J – Jokes

I remember when light (electricity) was out, and we used to sit on the verandah at my home in country and compete to see who could tell the funniest jokes. When the lights went out, it was a laugh fest, as Big Boy and Bwoysie stories, riddles, and all kinds of adages about Anancy and Tukuma would materialise. Then it would get personal, and we would remember funny moments we experienced. We got to hear funny stories about my parents, aunts, uncles and their parents growing up.

Then there’s his other aspect to Jamaican life – our ability to laugh at others and ourselves, even in the most trying times. Memes aren’t really new, if you think about it. Jamaicans have been making verbal memes for centuries – running jokes and laughing in the face of hardship and adversity. What a people fi kin teet!

A – Authenticity

It doesn’t get realer than a Jamaican. From our inbred capacity for blunt truth-telling, to our cultural oddities and quirks, we are pretty much a what-you-see-is-what-you-get  bunch of people. The good thing is that love fiercely. We love our families, our country, our way of life, and our quirks, and we defend and represent them wherever we go. Every Jamaican is an evangelist – we all spread the gospel of Jamaica wherever we go. We are all walking proud walking billboards representing the realest culture on the planet.

M – Music

Someone suggested “men” for M, but music won out in the end. Because the reach and scope of Jamaican music is so vast and it has been such a potent catalyst for change internationally, there is just no denying that it is one of the main things that this country is known for, and one of the main reasons why so many people smile when they think of Jamaica (think ‘One Love’ and Bob Marley).

A – Artisticity

Jamaicans are artistic, creative souls. Yes, some of us are analytic, scientific and mathematic (can math be used like that?) … but, truth be told, there seems to be an affinity with the arts that seems almost innate to most Jamaicans. We automatically rock to a riddim; we can draw, colour, paint, act, sing, write, and definitely dance … Most of us without trying very hard. This country abounds with so much artitic talent that evidence of it can be seen on almost every street corner across the nation, whtehr it be craft vendors peddling their wares, or graffiti skillfully sprayed and painted onto unsuspecting walls. A look at the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s Festival programme in schools annually will reveal the treasure chest of new talent being unearthed and refined every year – topping up Jamaica’s talent basket till it full to hte overflow.

I – Irie-ness

The Bob Marley song says, “Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing is gonna be alright.” When they’re not being bringle, cross and angry and miserable (which we want to say is not so very frequent …), Jamaicans are some of the chillest people on the planet. They know how to rest, relax and have a ton of fun in the sun! Who can run a lyme like a Jamaican? Who can party like a Jamaican? (Who can … erm, shall we say… idle … like a Jamaican?). We know the secret to genuinely unwinding, and we have mastered the art. It’s all part of the irie-ness stamped in our DNA. We know a smile a day keeps miserable-ness away.

C – Cuisine

Food is a big deal to Jamaicans, and we can always smile about the exotic, unique flavours with which we consistently season our lives – and the world. Jerk, curry, roast, fry, escoveitched … Jamaican dishes are scintillating, sensational, mouth-watering mouthfuls of heaven, packed with flavour and cooked with care.

A – Acceptance

To be honest, we thought about this long and hard, and the word we really wanted to use was “aspitality”. Jamaicans are very accepting people. We are warm, overflowing with a genuine sense of hospitality and care. We look out for friends and neighbours, and we take care of our people. We believe in community. This acceptance is a huge part of why so many tourists flock to our shores to experience a little slice of Jamaican live (and love) annually. It’s a home away from home because Jamaicans make it so.