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  • Writer's picturePeter Trevor Wilson

The Fascinating Anatomy of a Jamaican

I am a proud Canadian of Jamaican heritage born in England over 60 years ago who immigrated to this great country in 1964. Some would say that this background is the perfect qualification for a 40-year career in DEI and human equity. And, they would be right.

However, similar to any aspect of Black history, little is known about the rich, fascinating and powerful Jamaican (JA) culture. I was fortunate enough to learn about the JA culture, the music, the language, the rules and the unwritten rules from five cousins and my older brother Errol. I was the youngest of this tribe of young Black men starting out in this large foreign country at a time when Blacks were an extreme and new minority. My "classrooms" were weekly domino games and the intimidating and sometimes uncomfortable "rent-a-tile" parties every weekend.

Jamaicans are a fascinating people. Jamaica is where you will find the tough-as-nails Maroons featured in Lawrence Hill's award winning novel, The Book of Negroes. Understanding the unrelenting Jamaican spirit helps us comprehend why this tiny island in the Caribbean continues to dominate the world in the most prestigious Olympics events. By the way, this is not a fluke - it is by careful design.

If you know a Jamaican, ask them how we do it. While you are at it, ask them to explain the phrase "wrong and strong", and why Jamaicans play dominos so forcefully and what languages make up the beautiful Jamaican patios (#lategreatMissLou).

A good place to start is this introductory video called The Anatomy of a Jamaican. Spoiler alert, you will need translation for some of the terminology. Feel free to use this online translator which will translate from English to Jamaican patois.

A word of caution: please use this link properly. It is not recommended to try and and speak Jamaican "patwah" if you are not a Jamaican. Like any other language, it can be learned but requires much practice to master (do you remember the late Mayor Rob Ford?). While I cannot really speak patwah, I can understand it. It is the language my late, wonderful Madda spoke when she was angry at me. Needless to say, I understand patwah very well. (LOL)

Trust you will enjoy. (insha'Allah)

Likkle more (translate it)

Peace but Walk Good (translate it)

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