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Jamaican American Club Newsletter






Marcus Garvey

In the eastern Canadian province of Nova Scotia, an unsung branch of the black diaspora persists. The history of the black Nova Scotian community is a singular story of survival that is all-too-often overlooked. It shouldn’t be; it involves not only one small province, but also two continents. People of African descent have been part of Nova Scotia’s history since the beginning of European exploration and colonization – and, perhaps, before that. A black man named Mathieu Da Costa was part of a 1608 French expedition. Da Costa served as an interpreter between the French and local Mi’kmaq people. His knowledge of the Mi’kmaqs’ language suggests

Tr iv i a 1. The original inhabitants of Jamaica cultivated corn and yams. Today, Jamaica is famous for cultivating sugar cane, bananas, and mangoes, none of which are indigenous.

that he had prior experience among them. The first major presence of blacks in the region came in the wake of the American Revolution. Lord Dunmore, royal governor of Virginia, offered freedom to African slaves who Caption describing picture or graphic. joined the British in their battle to suppress the rebellious American colonists. Blacks were faced with a choice between rebels who desired freedom for themselves but not their slaves; and a colonial power that promised freedom for the slaves.

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C o n t i nu e d f r o m p a g e 1

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After the British lost the war in 1783, they resettled most of the blacks who had fought for their cause in Nova Scotia – which had opted out of the revolution.

Many blacks chose to join the British before the Americans belatedly promised freedom to slaves who fought for the rebellion. After the British lost the war in 1783, they resettled most of the blacks who had fought for their cause in Nova Scotia – which had opted out of the revolution. About 3,500 Black Loyalists, as they were called, migrated northward – along with 1,200 slaves held by Loyalist whites who had also fled the newborn United States. Like

the whites, the free blacks were promised land and provisions as a reward for their loyalty to the Crown. Unlike the whites, the blacks received less than they were promised – and sometimes nothing at all. Even so, a group of Black Loyalists founded Birchtown, the first free black settlement in North America. Angered by the lower wages the blacks were forced to accept, whites from neighboring Shelburne stormed Birchtown in North America’s first race riot.

In 1791, John Clarkson, a British agent for the settlement of freed slaves in the West African colony of Sierra Leone, came to Nova Scotia to recruit Black Loyalists for a “back-toAfrica” migration. The blacks’ experience in Nova Scotia had been far from idyllic. Racism was making a mockery of their freedom. Thus, about half of the Black Loyalist population set sail for Sierra Leone in 1792. The half who decided to stick it out in Nova Scotia – along with another group of freed African-American slaves who arrived after the War of 1812 –

formed the ancestral core of the province’s black community.

province have made their mark in the wider world. Here are some examples:

bantamweight title in 1890.

That community remained small and scattered. Some blacks lived in Halifax and other cities and towns; others in isolated rural communities built on those early land grants. African Nova Scotians have struggled against the same racism that besets blacks throughout the diaspora. Within the context of that struggle, some black individuals from the

Portia White was an opera and concert singer of the mid-20th century whose voice was favorably compared with that of the legendary Marian Anderson. Caption describing picture or graphic.


Daurene Lewis became the first black woman mayor in North America when she was elected in Annapolis Royal in 1984. More recently, poet George Elliott Clarke won the Governor General’s Award in 2001, for his book Execution Songs. Kirk Johnson fought for a world

William Hall, son of freed slaves, was the first black person and first Nova Scotian to earn the Victoria Cross, in service with the Royal Navy during the Indian Mutiny of 1857. George Dixon became the first black boxer to win a world championship when he took the

heavyweight title in 2002. And in 2006, Mayann Francis was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia. Over the centuries since 1783, the core black community has been augmented by newcomers from other parts of Canada, as well as migrants from the United States, the Caribbean, other parts of the diaspora and Africa itself. But the population remains small, and black people continue to face racism in the

Sam Langford, a 5-foot-7 pugilist who started his career as a lightweight and ultimately competed successfully at heavyweight during the early 1900s, was so feared that no champion – not even the great Jack Johnson – was willing to give him a title shot.

education, economic and justice systems. Still, the community perseveres and progresses, keeping alive the heritage of ancestors who took a chance on a hope for freedom during a time of slavery. By Charles R. Saunders is the author of the Imaro novels. To learn more about his work, visit


R E L I G I O N : A N AI D O R H I N D R A N CE T O S PI R I TU AL F U LF I L M EN T? Whoever we are, we are all the same. We all want the same things in life: happiness, fulfilment, not just in our lives, but also within ourselves. What makes us happy, what motivates us? As no two people are alike, the desires and goals of people are varied. Yet, through whatever walk of life, through whichever era, some common themes tend to emerge of what drives us through our lives: who are we? Why are we here?

spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.’ Deuteronomy further elaborates, ‘There shall not be found among you….anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is

Spiritual wholeness is an eternal quest for the human race. The two most common pathways to this goal are religion, which I define as an organized system that believes in the spirit world and adheres to a specific set of practices designed to bring them closer to God, and what I call spiritualism, which has the same goal as religion but without its structural aspect. Attending church regularly would fall under the category of reli-

gious, while I would regard reading tarot cards and exploring one’s psychic potential as spiritualism. The aims of the two are the same, yet there is a curiously uneasy relationship between the two. In trying to understand why this is the case, we may understand ourselves better. Christianity’s hostile attitude towards all things psychic is well acknowledged. The King James version of the Bible states in Leviticus, ‘A man also or woman that hath a familiar

an abomination to the LORD.’

modern day parlance, this would be a psychic. Holy men such as Moses, Isaiah, Samuel and Daniel either spoke with God, saw visions, predicted the future, or all three. The psychic gifts of clairaudience, clairvoyance and fortune telling are clearly at work here, and the display of psychic activity become more abundant when Jesus makes his appearance in the New Testament.

However, what the Christian faith has failed to acknowledge is that the construction of its own religion appears to heavily rely on psychics, and that the chronicles of its saviour reveals him to have been, perhaps, the greatest psychic who ever lived. The Bible, in particular the Old Testament, is full of prophets. An online dictionary defines a prophet as an authoritative person who divines the future. In

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Christianity’s hostile attitude towards all things psychic is well acknowledged.

By Fiona Whata

M a r cu s G a r vey “Nationhood is the only means by which modern civilization can completely protect itself. Independence of nationality, independence of government, is the means of protecting not only the individual, but the group. Nationhood is the highest ideal of all peoples” The Philosophy and Opinions of

Marcus Garvey, Or, Africa for Africans. Compiled by Amy Jacques Garvey. Dover: Majority Press, 1986. These words of Marcus Mosiah Garvey are still true, and it is no wonder that Garvey is Jamaica’s first national hero. Marcus Mosiah Garvey was a man of determination, and he be-

lieved in the principle of success. As Garvey said in a speech in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1937, “At my age I have learnt no better lesson than that which I am going to impart to you to make man what he ought to be—a success in life. There are two classes on men in the world, those who succeed and those who do not succeed” Continue on page 4

Written by Geoffrey Philip


(Marcus Garvey: Life and Lessons, xxv). So, on this day of the celebration of our nationhood, what does Garvey’s life mean to Jamaica in the face of beheadings, political corruption, and a seeming loss of faith that we may be heading toward being defined as a “failed state”? No doubt, many Jamaicans will be going to church tomorrow and they will listen to various speeches about this and that, platitudes that balm a cancer. Commentators will have answers to every question under our beautiful sun. But the real questions that we should be asking ourselves are ones that I pose to the characters in my fictions: Who are you? What do you want? How will you get what you want? I never begin a first draft until these questions are answered, Then, I make a rough outline of the plot with an inciting incident, lock-in, first culmination, main culmination, and what I think will be the third act twist, where the hero makes a discovery–which surprises the audience and the hero–or something/someone reminds the hero of who she really is. Whether she has the courage to act on what she knows, means that that I will be writing (in the broadest sense of the terms) a tragedy (she fails to achieve her goal) or a comedy (she achieves her goal). Once I know these elements, I begin writing. I never begin writing before I know how the story will end. As far as the short [her] story of Jamaica goes, we’ve been through the inciting incidents of resistance, lock-in of Independence, first culmination in the exodus of the 70s, and main culmination in the recognition of the Diaspora. I don’t know what the third act twist will be, if our story will be a tragedy. But we do have the wisdom from our heroes and a wealth of courage in our people But how will we answer the question: Who are you? When the “right time comes,”–which is always now– I hope as Brother Bob says, “when the preaching and talking is done, ” we will “live up/ Cause the Father’s time has come” (“Survival’). Surprise me, Jamaica Garvey, Amy Jacques. The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, Or, Africa for Africans. Dover: Majority Press, 1986.

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Jamaican American Club PO Box 62 Elk Grove, IL 60009 USA JAMAICANAMERICANCLUB @YAHOO.COM

This not for profit club's sole purpose is to create unity among positive people who have passion; therefore, the Jamaican American Club will not align itself with any religious, political or social classes that are unwilling to respect an individual's choice for their interpretation of the world. Goal: Help the community remain viable. Intended audience: Any individual who would like to help is welcome.

Untied we build, divided we beg

Profile for Jamaican American Club

Winter 2019