I ‘n’ I have been hosting Smile Jamaica for 30 years now. October 1989. Don’t remember the first Halloween Reggae show I did, but it would have been early 90’s.
So a quarter century of the exploration of Jamaican, mostly, superstitions about witches, vampires, ghosts/duppies, Obeah Black Magic, The Mummy, Dracula, Frankenstein and the rest!
About 10 years ago I was transitioned into head of the Audio Studio at the Marriott Library: Fall 2009. The early days of digital content. So I had started to notice many soundbytes in a horror vein from my Reggae CD collection.
I started ripping those clips from CDs, pull them into ProTools digital editor. “Snip, snip”. Export as .mp3. Same with a multitude of Halloween sound effects disks.
And there you go! Just like Dr. Frankenstein cutting up sound for your ghoulish pleasure!
Oct. 26th Smile Jamaica will be 3 hours of Boneyard Skanking. But play this podcast to keep the kids off your porch while you hand out your high fructose delights.
Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives: Jah-tober 19, 2019 Annotated Playlist; 91 sec.
Don Carlos & Gold – Harvest Time; Raving Tonight (RAS) ’83 DC vinyl
The Aggrovators – Strictly Rockers in the Dreadland (Justice) ’76 JA dub album of the week
Victor Essiet & the Mandators – Mi Friends (Duppy Conqueror); One Love One World (Mystic) 2006 Nigerian singers cover Bob Marley Halloween tune
They called it”spoilage”. That is what you lose when your cargo goes bad. Or you are a trucker and you are overweight for the Interstate. I remember asking my Dad once in California. “Why did that trucker dump a bunch of oranges by the side of the road?” Pops: “The truck is too heavy and he had to lighten his load.”
Now picture that same dynamic on a slave voyage from 1526 til the Mid 1800s. Spoilage was the loss of life on the journey from West Africa to the New World. Either dead slaves, or if the ship was overloaded, several excess slaves would be simply chucked over the side to drown.
<Spoilage in the Slave Trade; 65 sec.>
Reggae music came about in Jamaica because of slavery. The Brits lived in the upscale plantation house. Irish and Scottish immigrants worked as overseers in the fields. Black slaves worked the sugar plantations.
Eventually, The Irish and Scottish wiled away their time by playing fiddle and piano. As time went on, blacks picked up those instruments and learned to play. Usually on Sunday – Church services. When you absorb African drumming onto Western melodies and instruments — that is how you get Reggae music.
The incident took place on October 11th 1492, 10pm. At the time of the incident it is said that Santa Maria (the ship) was sailing through what is now known as the Bermuda Triangle. The crew first noticed a disc shaped object emerging from the sea. The description given in the ship’s log is that of a wax candle light moving up and down in the night sky.
Prior to this incident the ship’s logs in the month of September (17th and 20th) provide accounts of what are described as stars making noticeable movements in the night sky.
Columbus’s crew reached what is now the Bahamas in 1492. He thought he had landed in India. The Taino and Arawak natives, (soon to be wrongly called Indians), greeted the explorers with friendly intent. Unfortunately for them, they arrived in gold finery.
The Euros returned the generosity with massacres, cholera, syphilis and rape. Whoever survived the onslaught was enslaved and forced to mine gold. After a generation the Indigenous tribes fought back with the only real weapon they had: mass suicide. They would simply jump off cliffs into the sea. Or eat a meal of poisonous roots.
<Taino and Arawak devastation by Columbus; 1 min. 55 sec.>
As the Conquistadors prepared to burn Hatuey alive, a “helpful” Catholic Priest offered salvation to him. If he accepted Christ he would immediately go to Heaven and not burn for Eternity in Hell as a Heathen.
Hatuey politely declined. “I have seen what the Christians are like on Earth. Why would I want to meet anymore of them in the Sky?”
In 1526 the Portugese kicked off the Atlantic Slave Trade. Soon to follow were the Spanish, English and Dutch. Thus began what Peter Tosh sang: “400 Years and it’s the same philosophy)
<Wailers and Peter Tosh – 400 Years; 1 min. 15 sec.>
Thus began 3 centuries of the Middle Passage
Europeans would load ships full of commercial goods: textiles, rifles, flint locks
They would dock on the Gold Coast of West Africa. They would trade their goods for slaves. (Most slaves were captives in tribal wars.)
The slaves would be packed on the ships “like sardines in a tin” and shipped to the New World: America, Mexico, South America, the Caribbean and especially Brazil.
<The Dungeon in the Merchant Ship; 36 sec.>
4. The slaves, in Jamaica, would be forced to harvest sugar cane.
5. The ships return to Europe with sugar products: granular sweetener, rum, molasses.
6. European factory workers, driven by their sugar rush, in the beginning of the Industrial Revolution , could make the consumer goods….to return to Africa
The “Middle Passage” was the leg between Europe to the New World. As many as as 12.5 million “human cargo” made the excruciating journey over 3 centuries. As many as 2.5 million of those unfortunate wretches perished during the journey.
That’s a spoilage rate of 20%. And yes, those losses were expected and factored into the price.
<The horrors of the Middle Passage; 90 sec.>
The major themes of Reggae music explore this psychic disruption. Songs about loss, the repatriation to Zion away from Babylon. Rastas worshiping a Black Christ – His Imperial Majesty in Ethiopia.
Those were the stories that made me a Reggae fanatic. Epitomized by Eek a Mouse’s “Do You Remember”. Song 2 of this podcast
Do you, do you remember those days of slavery? It wasn’t black man alone, who died through bravery ‘Though some a dem threw dem self over board Because dis ya slaveship overload
Before KRCL moved their Radiothon fund drives to October, I would do an Anti-Columbus show. I would always lead off with Burning Spear‘s takedown of the Italian mass murderer, Columbus
This year the beg-a-thon took place a week earlier. Felt good to harvest 40 songs for Indigenous People’s Day. Not Columbus. Or Comb-buss’ (bust) us as Peter Tosh called him.