by Cato Rand
The celebration of National Heroʼs Day has prompted me to do some research on Paul Bogle – appointed one of our countryʼs ﬁrst ﬁve national heroes appointed after the National Honours and Awards Act was established in 1969.
As I read about Bogle in Olive Seniorʼs Encyclopedia of Jamaican Heritage, I was struck by the similarity of Bogle to some of our Jamaican contemporaries.
Senior describes Bogle (? – 1865) as: (a) having strong leadership qualities; (b) organizing the people of Stony Gut in among other things a military form of organization; (c) having lost faith in the then justice system setting up a parallel system with magistrates and constables; (d) having his arrest on assault charges thwarted by a huge crowd that routed the police and (e) being a local election agent for George William Gordon – then a member of the Jamaica Assembly.
I guess fellow Jamaicans should preserve current newspaper reports detailing activities of our present day ʻDonsʼ as they may just come in handy when historic revisionists and for our great-great-grandchildren when they have to do research projects on Jamaicaʼs newest National Heroes.
At the risk of being labelled a curmudgeon let me express my lack of support for Beres Hammond being awarded the Order of Jamaica (OJ) – the nationʼs ﬁfth highest honour.
Let me state categorically that this is not in any way meant to be a knock on Hammond who is certainly one of reggaeʼs better voices and lyricists. However, I cannot wrap my mind around him deserving the OJ when the nation awards the triumvirate of Dennis Brown, John Holt, and Alton Ellis, the Orders of Distinction – the nationʼs sixth highest honour. (To me, the triumvirate are the three reggae giants that sit in the tier below Bob Marley in the hierarchy of reggae greats.)
I am a huge Beres fan especially for his work prior to his recording of ‘What One Dance Can Do’ (1985). His earlier repertoire inclusive of his debut album Soul Reggae (1976) are clearly of greater quality than his more recent recordings which feature a heavy emphasis on samplings of rhythm tracks from the Studio One catalogue. His more recent recordings have certainly been instrumental in his widening fan base and commercial success and so I do understand the move in that direction.
One could argue that for most artists their best works are at the beginning of their career. Dennis Brown’s recordings in his later years pale in comparison to his earlier output but Brownʼs best are some distance ahead of those recorded by Hammond. I wonder if Roots, Rock, Reggae would agree with me?
By the way what has become of the Reverend Mervyn Stoddart whose neo-imperialist-bashing-columns appeared regularly in the Jamaica Observer?
Cato Rand is a Black Jamaican of Libertarian and Conservative persuasion. He loves Jamaican music and has a wide repertoire in his collection. He is also a fervent believer in Capitalism, Freedom and the principles outlined by the US Constitution and it being applicable to all peoples, including Jamaicans. He is a strong advocate for the limited role that a government should play in the lives of people.