I like variety. But not in
everything. There are some aspects which I do not like any change. A good
hotel, even if an old one, falls in that class.
I never stayed in Jamaica in
any hotel except Pegasus. This old hotel needs upgrading, yet it is my favourite.
It is the location that matters. Pegasus is just opposite the Emancipation Park
in Kingston. Or the other way round, because the hotel came up first. My
reservation, in this trip, was arranged in another hotel; but I did not have
much to complain because it too was opposite the Emancipation Park.
I went there for my morning
walk, as I do when in Kingston. And I took a good look at the sculpture. Again.
‘The Redemption Song.’ This sculpture is stunning. The tall nude statues of
African male and female placed in water which gently flows out of dome brings
back memories of how they were uprooted and transported for slavery. The ships
sailed from Europe, docked in African ports, picked up slaves and took them to
America via Caribbean, something that came to be called as ‘Middle Passage.’
The words inscribed at the base of the dome are "None but ourselves can
free our minds". These were originally spoken by Marcus Garvey and later
used by Bob Marley in "Redemption Song".
You can interpret the sculpture
in more than one way. But it surely brings me the pain of slavery. People have
objected that the symbolism of emancipation is not explicit enough. Perhaps it
is not. The sculpture claims to emphasise the true emancipation is of mind. Take
your call, but it is a sculpture you won’t be able to ignore; it left me
speechless, it will leave you speechless!
you are in Jamaica and if you have some free time to visit beautiful locations,
you have many choices available. Beautiful beaches, waterfalls, rainforest –
all these are available at many other places. India too offers them. There was
a unique choice available – Ian Fleming’s house. The man who created James Bond,
Agent 007! That was my choice, with one suggestion to Glen, my ex-colleague who
was to drive me there; ‘let us stop at some places of importance.’ Glen readily
set off in Glen’s Honda Civic. A comfortable car if you are travelling on a
serpentine road leading through the hills. About an hour of drive through beautiful
rainforest finally brought us in front of St Mary Parish Church. A small church
in a beautiful location. We stopped there. There was only one lady in the
church, I spoke to her. ‘How old is this church?’ I asked. ‘Guess!’ ‘May be one
hundred years’ I said. ‘It is over one hundred fifty-five years old.’ ‘Wow!’
are a church going community. I saw many churches on the way. Glen said Jamaica’s
claim to fame is that Jamaica has the highest number of churches per square
kilometer, ‘It’s there in the Guinness book of records’ he said. I was inclined
to believe it. Such religious people, and what explains very high rate of
crime, young unwed mothers? In 2003, there was a suggestion before the Parliament
in Jamaica that women who had more than two children outside of marriage be
sterilized! But I guess all societies have their share of contradictions.
came out of the church. An old building with newly built entrance stood there.
It was built in 1821 and was in use till 1988 till fire claimed a good part of
it. A sign board told us that it was a ‘fine example of Jamaican Georgian
architecture.’ But more important was the drama that took place in the court it
was here that Bustamante was tried for manslaughter. He was a labour leader and
he fought against the colonial rule and for freedom of Jamaica. He was
acquitted. He was defended by his cousin Norman Manley, after whom the
International airport is named. Alexander Bustamante later became the first
Prime Minister of Jamaica.
drove further. We went far ahead and saw a board announcing that we were very
close to the ‘James Bond Beach.’ But I was interested in seeing the house of
Ian Fleming. So finally we got it. It is the ‘Goldeneye’ property. Glen drove
to the main gate. A smart security staff, a lady dressed in the black spoke to
Glen but did not open the gate. There was long conversation, obviously Glen was
trying to persuade her to open and let us in, and she firmly declined. No
smile. It was as if she was not letting in spies or agents of KGB!
returned. ‘She says only with prior appointment’ he said. That’s very and truly
British; [it didn’t appear Jamaican way either.] But you can’t argue with
people in uniform. So we reversed and headed back. Not before I clicked this
photograph to prove that I had been there.
people who enjoy good fiction and literature, visiting such places is a little
short of pilgrimage. And for some people it is not.
Labels: Alex Bustamante, Emancipation Park, Ian Fleming, Jamaica, James Bond, Redemption Song, Sculpture