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Levi Roots salutes his beloved Jamaica on 54th independence

PRIDE: Levi holds a Jamaican flag

AH, I miss Jamaica. Even in the midst of one of the best summers that I can remember here in the UK, I still constantly reminisce about the land of my birth.

The images are always so clear; the memories, tastes and flavours are still vivid, even as I type. A steaming hot piece of roasted yellow yam, a little slice of garlic butter, with a piece of saltfish, washed down with a nice ice cold Red Stripe beer. Lowdahmercy!

This year, the island celebrates its 54th year of independence, which gives patriotic Jamaicans like me a window to be ‘bowsey’ (show off) and make noise about fi wi land!

My grandmother, Miss Miriam Small, used to say: ‘Fisherman never say fi him fish stink’. But if we Jamaicans can’t big up ourselves during our independence, when can we? So to all Jamaicans, whether on the blessed land or part of the Jamrock family worldwide, big up unu self!

We are the heartbeat of the biggest small island in the world. We produced one of the greatest philosophers of all time, Mr Marcus Mosiah Garvey; we birthed the Rastafari faith; and we produced the fastest man alive, while also continuing to inspire generations through our music and art.

But my grandmother, being the person she was, would also remind us that ‘Ah nuh di bird wha sing di best dat mek de best nest’. And this is true. Yes, Jamaica boasts wonders, mysteries and flamboyancy, which has always attracted people from across the globe. But despite having all of that, the island still has a huge bag of problems draped around its gorgeously chiselled neck; holding it down and preventing it from standing to its full, supermodel-like stature.


HOMECOMING: Sun, sea and sand welcomed Levi during a recent trip to Jamaica

Still, I continue to dream of my next visit. I will be taking along my son Christopher, who will soon be four years old – the perfect age to take it all in. I’d like him to have that connection from early doors. You and I know that ‘old fire-stick easy fi ketch’ and I feel that way whenever I reconnect with where I was born.

I remember seeing that little stream, now just a small trickle, meandering across the single street village called Content in Clarendon, where I was born.

Back then, when I was Christopher’s age, that tiny drip of water seemed to me like the mighty River Nile. I see that now, and it always relights my fire-stick.

On top of that, the 2016 Olympics is fast approaching, and with all the island’s negatives, we can still be the best when we want to be. As Jamaicans, I am sure we will all still be beating our chests, and carrying on ‘bowsey’, especially during the track and field events. Come on Jamaica!

More love, LR

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