Category Archives: Jamaican History

Jamaican history is rich, diverse sometimes controvesial, but always interesting. You can learn more about Jamaican History from the first settlers to modern day times and impress your friends and family with your new found knowledge.

Michael Lynch – Jamaican Film Maker Interview

Michael Lynch is a modern-day story teller whose name is becoming synonymous with real life Jamaica tales. If you want unbiased, insider information about Jamaica, then the ‘This is Jamaica’ Documentary could well be the answer to some of your questions about this diverse and often misunderstood Caribbean island. Far from the usual negative media uptake about Jamaica, Michael manages to uncover the truth about Jamaica, without using clichés or being sentimental.

If you want to learn more about Michael’s documentary, I wrote a post entitled ‘This is Jamaica’ Documentary which not only introduces the film, but also includes the means to rent the film (for your viewing pleasure!) On the back of this I invited Michael to take part in a ‘Support Jamaica, Buy Jamaican’ interview, so we can get a behind the scenes insight to this creative and intriguing Film Maker. Michael has great plans to showcase the Documentary in the UK and Part Two is expected to be out in 2014 to continue the coverage of the island and it’s people. Can’t wait to watch it? You can download the documentary here!

1. Introduce yourself and your role in the company?

My name is Michael Lynch I am the Producer and Director of the company.

 2. When was your company established and why did you choose this career path?

The company was established in Jamaica in January 2001 and Uk in November 2012.

3. Tell me about your typical working day?

After checking, sending and reading emails, text and other social networks. I start work on organising music and video projects along with other technical consultant work for the company.

Michael Lynch (org. band 920)
Michael Lynch (org. band 920)

 4. What is your company philosophy?

Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we’re here we should dance.

 5. How much of your work takes place in Jamaica?

At present very little but later in 2014 we plan to do a lot more filming and music production.

 6. Are you Jamaican?

I consider myself Jamaican but I was born in the UK to Jamaican parents.

7. Tell me your top 3 likes and dislikes about living and working in Jamaica?

Likes: Sunshine, people and food. Dislikes: roads, crime, mosquitos.

8. What new company plans and visions are you working on?

Working on setting up a training school for media and technology.

9. What is your personal favourite production that you have made and why?

“This is Jamaica documentary”, traveling and discovering Jamaica was very exciting for me, meeting and talking with the Jamaican people has learnt me a lot.

This is Jamaica Documentary Cover
This is Jamaica Documentary Cover

10. Who or what, is your inspiration or role model?

My inspiration and role model would have to be my mother who instilled in me great life lessons, love for all people and pride.

11. Where can we buy your productions in Jamaica and overseas?

At present rental through the website http://computamax/thisisjamaica and Amazon video on demand for rental, sale and download.

12. How do you love to spend your free time in Jamaica?

Chillin out at any of the many beautiful locations.

13. If you could be Prime Minister of Jamaica for a day, what would you do?

Set up a mass education and training program for all Jamaicans especially those in poor areas and the challenged.

Marcus Garvey
Marcus Garvey

14. Which Jamaican, dead or alive, do you feel made the biggest contribution to Jamaica and why?

Marcus Garvey for his strength leadership and commitment to his people.

15. If you could impart one piece of advice to inspire young Jamaicans to start their own businesses or succeed in their chosen career, what would it be?

Believe in what you do, think positive at all times have faith and never give up! Prayer, Practise, Patience and Persistence.

16. Apart from your own company, what is your favourite Jamaican company and why?

I would have to say Digicel for opening up new markets for providing an alternative mobile solution for the Jamaican people.

17. What do you feel you and your company has to offer viewers and listeners in international and home markets, over and above your competitors?

We are proud to be a company producing positive awareness of Jamaica and its people we aim to provide more discovery of our identity, history and culture to all people with any connections or interest in Jamaica.

18. How do you believe we as a nation can help to build Jamaica?

By coming together as one people, to put aside trivial matters, I believe education is one of the key factors, to look at the many great things the island has to offer and decide to work together with a common aim and strengthen the motto (out of many one people).

19. What are your aspirations for Jamaica?

To see Jamaica become completely independent, for crime to diminish.

20. What are your thoughts on the ‘SUPPORT JAMAICA BUY JAMAICAN!’ post on Sweet Jamaica’s blog?

I believe whole heartedly in that our home grown food is the best. Eat what we grow, grow what we eat every time!

Read the SUPPORT JAMAICA BUY JAMAICAN! post here…

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Want to find out more?

Read Sweet Jamaica’s review of the ‘This is Jamaica Documentary’ in this post…

Check out the official website for Computamax Productions here.

On 24th November 2013 Michael Lynch created column inches in The Gleaner, a national newspaper in Jamaica when staff reporter Sadeke Brooks produced a article based on an interview with Michael, which can be read here.

If you would like to hear more about Michael Lynch and his documentary, he has also been featured on a BBC Radio Derby Interview here with Devon Daley .

If you would like to rent a copy of Michael Lynch’s  ‘This is Jamaica’ Documentary for 7 days it costs US$1.99, click here.

Check out the Facebook page and click like here!

Inspirational Love Songs back
Inspirational Love Songs back

‘This is Jamaica’ Documentary

Jamaica Land We Love

There is something about Jamaica that steals a little piece of your heart the first time you visit. If you are truly afflicted the feeling will seep into your very existence and nag at your sub-conscience to return again, such is the draw of this Caribbean island. With its beguiling qualities and beautiful looks this could well lead to a full-on love affair that will have you telling all who will listen of ‘your Jamaica’ (sounds like me!).  It is therefore  no surprise that Jamaica has inspired some of the most talented and creative people to flourish with its natural backdrop of uplifting people, lush greenery, fruitful lands, cool rivers, picture perfect beaches and rich history.

One such person is Michael Lynch, who was born and raised in the Midlands, England to Jamaican parents. Michael decided to move to Jamaica in 2000 after his parents passed away, where he got married to a local woman and lived there happily for the next 12 years.  This coming home struck a chord with Michael who had spent his formative years in the UK absorbing the media’s perception of Jamaica which wasn’t always the most complimentary, or honest. Inspired to tell others about what he had experienced he decided to produce an independent documentary about ‘his Jamaica’, with the aim of enlightening people to what Jamaica is really all about outside of the scaremongering and shiny hotels.

The documentary champions the everyday person in Jamaica through whistle stop tours over much of the island and interviews with  members of the local communities and settlers, such as the Maroons, Indians and Germans. Michael is able to skilfully unravel the meaning behind the Jamaican motto ‘Out of Many, One People’, which is a testament to the multi-cultural inhabitants of the island, who lives are peacefully intertwined. Hear about Jamaica in the words of its people and revel in some of the sights and sites that are covered in this documentary, so that you too can transported into the very heartbeat of Jamaica.

By watching this documentary Michael hopes to inspire creative, educated entrepeneurs to give Jamaica a chance and consider moving here. By encouraging this talent pool to Jamaica to set up businesses, they will bring their wealth of knowledge and employment opportunities to further the country as a whole. The sentiment is one I believe in too, and therefore I wholeheartedly support Michael and his teams endeavours with this informative and engaging documentary that helps to demystify Jamaica.

You can view the trailer below and when that whets your appetite for more, you can rent the 53 minute long documentary for  just US$2.99 through Jamaican Movies. This way you are paying the film maker directly and supporting their craft. Sweet Jamaica has not been endorsed for writing this post or supplying links, but we appreciate you supporting this independent British / Jamaican film maker.

Who is Behind ‘This is Jamaica’ Documentary

Michael Lynch is creative by nature and has been a published artist since the mid eighties where he started his career working as a session musician and producer with London based Orbitone Records. This lead to work with US based Jamdung Media, where he worked on many music videos and short film projects. No stranger to film producing, Michael produced his first short film in Jamaica in 2002 with Jesoco Productions which was distributed throughout the island by ‘Novelty Traders’. Fast forward to 2010 where he teamed up with local Montego Bay photographer Lenworth Brown and in 2011 set out to film this documentary assisted also by a young talented presenter Taneisha Ingram. He returned to the UK in 2012 to edit the film which was released on 3rd November 2013 and is currently available for rent through selected online outlets.

  • Producer/Director – Michael Lynch
  • Director of photography – Lenworth Brown
  • Presenter/narrator – Taneisha Ingram

Media Coverage

Don’t just take it from us, Michael has been featured in some other media channels too…

Check out the official website for Computamax Productions here.

On 24th November 2013 Michael Lynch created column inches in The Gleaner, a national newspaper in Jamaica when staff reporter Sadeke Brooks produced a article based on an interview with Michael, which can be read here.

If you would like to hear more about Michael Lynch and his documentary, he has also been featured on a BBC Radio Derby Interview here with Devon Daley .

If you would like to rent a digital copy of Michael Lynch’s  ‘This is Jamaica’ Documentary it costs US$2.99 from Jamaican Movies, click here.

Check out the Facebook page and click like here!

Who Really Discovered Jamaica?

 

The history of Jamaica begins with an indigenous Indian tribe called the Taíno, here you can learn the facts about Jamaica and all about Christopher Columbus and the part he played…

Who Came First to Jamaica?

This might be a controversial topic, but I think it is about time that the history lessons given in schools depict what actually happened in history. What is the point of teaching children (and adults) the history of the world, that is in-fact no more than a fabrication of the truth? When educated about the history of Jamaica we are taught about Christopher Columbus a Spaniard who landed on Jamaica in 1494… Ask yourself, how can you ‘discover’ a country that had already been habituated since around 700 to 800 AD?

Let me introduce you to the real history of Jamaica.  A group of indigenous Indians who had incredible seafaring skills moved through the Caribbean chain of islands way before Senor Columbus was even born, some say as much as, 2000 – 2500 years earlier. Ethnohistorians have called these people Taínos, and believe they came into existence at the end of the first millennium, reaching maturity around 1200. The Arawaks, from the Amazon were thought to be the ancestors to the Taíno people, and are sometimes incorrectly called the first inhabitants of Jamaica.

Ultimately the original people, the real discoverers of Jamaica were Taínos. A male and female Taíno are depicted in  the Jamaican Coat of Arms, where they stand proudly on either side of the shield; as shown above.

The Taíno

The Taíno were short and slightly built, with coarse straight black hair and wide flattish noses and copper coloured skin and they flattened their foreheads as a sign of beauty. They lived a traditional life building conical-shaped thatched shelters in communal villages all over the island, which consisted of several family groups headed up by a Cacique (chief). The Cacique had a larger dwelling with a porch like veranda, which was called a ‘bohío’. There were reports by Morales Padron and archeologists that the Cacique were handsomely swathed in feathered head dresses, with palm leaves on their bellies, wearing large amounts of adornments including gold discs in their ears, necklaces with marble beads and gold plaques and sparkling gem stones set into jewellery worn on the forehead.

The Taíno lived in organised societies with the Cacique making decisions including making and enforcing laws, settling disputes, land distribution, organisation of labour, planting and sharing of crops and religious ceremonies. The society had two classes the Nitaínos, or noblemen, which consisted of their family members, artists and warriors and the Naboría, or working class who were the fisherman, hunters and farmers.

The women gathered food and were expert spinners of cloth, whilst the men hunted birds with stone or shark tooth tipped spears, caught fish and turtles and worked the fertile land of Jamaica growing yams, beans, corn (maize), sweet potato, spices, cassava, cotton and tobacco. Their main dish was pepperpot, a meat and vegetable stew. Most settlements were near the plains, rivers and the coastline as those were prime food gathering sources, in places such as White Marl, St Catherine, Seville, St Ann, Jacks Hill, St Andrew, and Botany Bay, St Ann. They lived a simple existence without a written language, use of the wheel or beasts of burden.

Taino beliefs

The Taino myths place the origin of humans, the sun and moon in caves. This belief lead the Taíno to view caves with great importance. There are many examples of the recording of stories and events through petroglyphs (rock carving) and pictographs (rock painting). Caves were also used by the Taino for burials and as shrines and sanctuaries where ‘images’ that played a significant role in their lives where placed.

The Taíno had lived in peaceful existence in Xaymaca (‘the land of wood and water’) as they called it, for 700 to 800 years before the Spaniards got there. They were expert crafts people, the carpenters made rough seats from wood and potters made cooking vessels from clay which they baked in the fire to harden. They baked cassava on clay griddles and ate lots of sea foods. They wore strings of beads and shells and were excellent at spinning and weaving the wild cotton that grew in Jamaica into clothing which they wore in strips at their waist and for making hammocks which they slept in. Their carpentry skills enabled them to build huge canoes from Silk Cotton Trees to fish and circumnavigate the high seas, which is said, even Christopher Columbus was impressed with.

Early Entertainment in Jamaica

The Taíno are said to have enjoyed a party too, making beer from cassava (after the poison had been extracted) and another alcohol from maize. They also smoked dried leaves and snorted a powdered drug through a meter long tube called a tabaco. Their Gods were represented by Zemes, which were idols of people or animals and were said to control sun, rain, hurricanes and wind; when celebrating their Zemes they induced vomiting. They also used harvested rubber and made a solid rubber ball and devised games which they played on courts.

The Taíno believed that when they died they went to Coyaba, a place of eternal rest and tranquility, that is free from hurricanes, drought and sickness with an abundance of feasting and dancing.

The Taíno contributed to certain words adopted into the English language , including  ‘hammock’, ‘hurricane’, ‘tobacco’, ‘barbeque’, ‘cassava’, ‘guava’ and ‘canoe’.

What Happened to the Taíno?

When the Spanish arrived they shot bows and arrows and set fierce dogs on the Taíno that had initially tried to defend their homeland, both of which they had never seen before. Frightened the Taínos  backed down and eventually reappeared with peace offerings, supplying the Spanish with food and gifts for the duration of their first brief stay. As the Spanish took hold over Jamaica during further visits, they made the Taíno their slaves putting them to hard labour, making them carry out difficult tasks and bringing new diseases that the Taíno hadn’t experienced before. After about fifty years of harsh treatment and they had finally killed off the majority of the original inhabitants, the indigenous Indians;  the Spanish then replaced the Taíno ‘workforce’ with slaves from Africa.

Taíno Archeological Sites in Jamaica

There were many Taíno sites all over Jamaica, although unfortunately most of these sites have been destroyed through the combination of farming practices, building sites and the extraction of minerals.  The Jamaican National Heritage Trust has several sites on its website that can be visited, including the White Marl Taino Midden and Museum, which is located on the Kingston to Spanish Town highway, next to the White Marl Primary School. In 2007 a large Taíno site was found in Westmoreland, now headed by the Bluefields Archaeology Project which has uncovered many interesting finds from the discovery of a ‘midden’ or rubbish / garbage dump.

There are many cave painting or Petroglyph Sites across Jamaica, including:

  1. Dryland, St. Mary
  2. Pantrepant, Trelawny
  3. Windsor, Trelawny
  4. Mountain River , St. Catherine
  5. Two Sister’s Cave, St. Catherine
  6. Kempshot, St. James
  7. Canoe Valley, Manchester
  8. Cuckold Point, Manchester
  9. Gut River, Manchester
  10. Duff House, Manchester
  11. Coventry, St. Ann
  12. Chesterfield St. Ann
  13. Walkerswood, St. Ann
  14. God’s Well, Clarendon
  15. Jackson Bay Cave, Clarendon
  16. Little Miller’s Bay, Clarendon
  17. Milk River, Clarendon
  18. Jackson Bay, Clarendon
  19. Negril, Westmoreland
  20. Red Bank, St. Elizabeth
  21. Reynold Bent, St. Elizabeth
  22. Warminster, St. Elizabeth

Taíno Day

On 5th May 2007 the first ‘Taíno Day’ was unveiled by the Jamaican National Heritage Trust (JNHT)  to celebrate the earliest inhabitants of Jamaica with hopes of educating citizens about their various contributions to society. Each year’s celebration has a different theme, whereby the JNHT hosts a public lecture at the Institute of Jamaica located in Kingston, including a public exhibition of Taino artifacts.  The group also asks schools across the nation to take time out to remember the Taíno people whose history is often pushed aside in other national celebrations.

Previously, the day had controversially been called ‘Encounter Day’ which was  facilitated to commemorate the meeting of two cultures, the Spanish and the Taíno. But it failed to observe the fact it wasn’t a mutual, peaceful meeting and sharing of two cultures. What really occurred was the start of barbaric practises that wiped out the majority of the full-blooded Taíno in comparatively a nano-second of their earlier existence on earth.

There are many books that cover the history of the Taíno of Jamaica in much more detail including The Earliest Inhabit-ants: The Dynamics of the Jamaica Taino, published by the University of the West Indies Press (2006). It promotes Jamaican Tainan archaeology and highlights the diverse research conducted on the island’s prehistoric sites and artefacts.

The Jamaican National Heritage Trust (JNHT) website has many other interesting facts about Jamaican history and places and sites to visit: http://jnht.com/index.php