Monday, November 20, 2006

The Many Flavors of Jamaica

Here is an illustration of the many flavors of Jamaica.

Visit Jamaica and see it for yourself.

See you in Jamaica.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Party Jamaica Style

In Jamaica, we even party different. Indeed, Jamaicans know how to throw exciting parties. Here are some pics from parties in Jamaica.


See you in Jamaica.

Burning Spear - Reggae Artist

Rodney was born in Saint Ann's Bay, Saint Ann, Jamaica, as were Bob Marley and Marcus Garvey; who both had a great influence on Rodney's life. Garvey in his philosophy, which Burning Spear greatly took to, and Marley in directly helping Burning Spear get started in the music industry. Burning Spear was originally Rodney's group, named after Jomo Kenyatta, the first Prime Minister and President of an independent Kenya. As fame took hold the name of the group gradually became synonymous with Rodney.

Burning Spear is one of the strongest proponents of Marcus Garvey's self-determination and self-reliance for all African descendants, thus leading to several album releases in commemoration of the African activist.

In 2002, Burning Spear and his wife, Sonia Rodney who has produced a number of his albums, founded Burning Spear Records.

Burning Spear advocates messages of honesty, peace, and love, which tie in with his religious and political messages of Rasta and black unity.

See you in Jamaica.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Religion in Jamaica

Jamaica is a very religious country. We put God first in everything we do. We are very tolerant when it comes to religion but we are not always very friendly to religions that have to do with worshipping the devil or practicing evil. The main religion in Jamaica is Christianity. There is almost an infinite amount of Christian denominations in Jamaica. Walk in any direction and you will run into a place of worship after taking only a few steps.

In the 1930s, Rasta, or the Rastafari movement, was started in Jamaica. This is a religion and philosophy that accepts Haile Selassie I, the former (and last) emperor of Ethiopia, as Jah (the Rasta name for God incarnate, from a shortened form of Jehovah found in Psalms 68:4 in the King James Version of the Bible), and part of the Holy Trinity as the messiah promised to return in the Bible. (There will be more about this in the future).

There are also many other religious groups in Jamaica, such as Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddists. We welcome and love them all.

Jamaican Christian Prayers

Most Jamaicans can recite these two Christian prayers:

The Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory,
for ever and ever.

Psalms 23

THE LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Rastafarian Chant

Rastafari Know What This Gathering For

Rastafari know what this gathering for
Rastafari know what this gathering for
InI take counsel to trod home a yard
JAH Rastafari know what this ya gathering is for

For in a Mount Zion around JAH throne
I a sight up on the journey fe trod home a yard
For I will never, never turn back
From in a Mount Zion around JAH throne
Rastafari know what this ya gathering for

Pic of Haile Selassie I

Visit Jamaica and see how the different religions co-exist.

See you in Jamaica.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Jamaican Sound Systems

In Jamaica, a Sound System is a popular type of nomadic outdoor concert/party. The sound system scene is generally regarded as an important part of Jamaican cultural history and as being responsible for the rise of modern Jamaican musical styles such as ska and dub.


The sound system concept first became popular in the 1950's, in the ghettos of Kingston. DJs would load up a truck with a generator, turntables, and huge speakers and set up street parties. In the beginning, the DJs played American R&B music, but as time progressed and more local music was created, the sound migrated to a local flavor.

The sound systems were big business, and represented one of the few sure ways to make money in the unstable economy of the area. The promoter (the DJ) would make his profit by charging a minimal admission, and selling food and alcohol. Competition between these sound systems was fierce, and eventually two DJs emerged as the stars of the scene: Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd, and Duke Reid. It was not uncommon for thousands of people to be in attendance.

The popularity of a sound system was mainly contingent on one thing: having new music. In order to circumvent the release cycle of the American record labels, the two sound system superstars turned to record production. Initially, they produced only singles for their own sound systems, known as "Exclusives" or Dubplates - a limited run of one copy per song.

What began as an attempt to copy the American R&B sound using local musicians became Jamaica's first unique music: Ska. As this new musical form became more popular, both Dodd and Reid began to move more seriously into music production. Coxsone Dodd's production studio became the famous Studio One, while Duke Reid founded the famous Treasure Isle.

Jamaican sound systems

* Duke Reid - The Trojan

* Coxsone Dodd - Coxsone Downbeat

* King Edwards The Giant

* Sinclair The Lion

* Count Boysie

* Prince Buster

* King Tubby's Hi-Fi



* Bells The President

* Lloyd Daley - Lloyd The Matador

* Percival Tibby - Sir Percy

* Percel Chin - Admiral Chin

* Joe Chin - Unitone

* Ken Hamilton - Duke Hamilton

* Roy Muncey - Count Muncey

* Mr Chung - Cavaliers

* King Prof

* Bass Odyssey

* Killamanjaro

* Hoo Kim Brothers - Channel One

* Stone Love Movements

* Harry Mudie - Mudies Hi-Fi

* Socialist Roots Sound System

* Fire Links

* Code Red Sound

* Renaissance Disco

UK (Jamaican-style) Sound Systems

* Sir Coxsone Outernational

* Saxon

* Unity

* Qualitex

* Immortal

* Infinity

* Iration Steppas

* High Pressure

* Symbiosis

* Jah Shaka

* Channel One

* King Earthquake

* Jah Youths

* Freedom Masses

* Aba-Shanti-I

* Jah Voice

* Operation Sound System

* Jah Tubbys

* RDK Hifi

* Toxic Sound System

* Axis Sound System -

* Gladdy wax

See you in Jamaica.

Robert Nesta Marley - Reggae Ambassador

Robert Nesta Marley, OM (February 6, 1945 – May 11, 1981), better known as Bob Marley, was a Jamaican singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He is the most widely known performer of reggae music, and is famous for having popularized the genre outside Jamaica. A faithful Rastafarian, Marley is regarded by many as a prophet of the religion, as well as one of the greatest songwriters of all time.

His best known songs are a mixture of reggae, rock, and rhythm and blues, and include "I Shot the Sheriff", made famous in 1974 by Eric Clapton, which raised Marley's international profile, "No Woman No Cry", "Exodus", "Could You Be Loved", "Jamming","Redemption Song" and one of his most famous songs, "One Love". His posthumous album Legend (1984) became the best-selling reggae album ever, with sales of more than 12 million copies.

Early life and career

Bob Marley was born on Tuesday in the small village of Nine Miles in Saint Ann, Jamaica. His father, Norval Sinclair Marley, was a white Jamaican born in 1895 to British parents from Sussex. Norval was a Marine officer and captain, as well as a plantation overseer, when he married Cedella Booker, an eighteen-year-old black Jamaican. Norval provided financial support for his wife and child, but seldom saw them, as he was often away on trips. Bob was ten years old when Norval died of a heart attack in 1955 at age 60.

Being of mixed race, Bob Marley faced questions about his own racial identity throughout his life. He reflected:

I don't have prejudice against myself. My father was a white and my mother was black. Them call me half-caste or whatever. Me don't dip on nobody's side. Me don't dip on the black man's side nor the white man's side. Me dip on God's side, the one who create me and cause me to come from black and white.

Marley and his mother moved to Kingston's Trenchtown slum after Norval's death. Marley was forced to learn self-defense, as he became the target of bullying because of his racial makeup and stature (he was 5'4" (163 cm) tall). He gained a reputation for his physical strength and constitution, which earned him the nickname "Tuff Gong".

Young Marley became friends with Neville "Bunny" Livingston (later Bunny Wailer), with whom Marley started to play music. Marley left school at the age of 14 and started as an apprentice at a local welder's shop. In his free time, he and Livingston made music with Joe Higgs, a local singer and devout Rastafarian whom many critics regard as Marley's mentor. It was at one of the jam sessions with Higgs and Livingston that Marley met Peter McIntosh (later known as Peter Tosh), who had similar musical ambitions.

In 1962, Marley recorded his first two singles, "Judge Not" and "One Cup of Coffee", with local music producer Leslie Kong. These songs attracted little attention, and were later re-released on Marley's Songs of Freedom album.

In 1963, Bob Marley, Bunny Livingston, Peter McIntosh, Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso, and Cherry Smith formed a ska and rocksteady group, calling themselves "The Teenagers". They later changed their name to "The Wailing Rudeboys", then to "The Wailing Wailers", and finally to "The Wailers". By 1966, Braithwaite, Kelso, and Smith had left The Wailers, leaving the core trio of Marley, Livingston, and McIntosh.

Marley took on the role of leader, singer, and main songwriter. Much of The Wailers' early work, including their first single Simmer Down, was produced by Coxsone Dodd at Studio One. The single topped Jamaican Charts in 1964 and established The Wailers as one of the hottest groups in the country. They followed up with songs such as "Soul Rebel" and "400 Years".

In 1966, Marley married Rita Anderson, and moved near his mother's residence in Wilmington, Delaware for a few months. Upon returning to Jamaica, Marley began practicing Rastafari and started to wear his trademark dreadlocks.

After a conflict with Dodd, Marley and his band teamed up with Lee "Scratch" Perry and his studio band, The Upsetters. Although the alliance lasted less than a year, they recorded what many consider The Wailers' finest work. Marley and Perry split after a dispute regarding the assignment of recording rights, but they would remain friends and work together again.

Between 1968 and 1972, Bob and Rita Marley, Peter McIntosh, and Bunny Livingston re-cut some old tracks with JAD Records in Kingston and London in an attempt to commercialize The Wailers' sound. Livingston later asserted that these songs "should never be released on an album... they were just demos for record companies to listen to".

The Wailers' first album, Catch A Fire, was released worldwide in 1973, and sold well. It was followed a year later by Burnin', which included "Get Up, Stand Up" and "I Shot The Sheriff". Eric Clapton made a hit cover of the latter in 1974.

The Wailers broke up in 1974, with each of the three main members going on to pursue solo careers. The reason for the breakup is shrouded in conjecture; some believe that there were disagreements amongst Livingston, McIntosh, and Marley concerning performances, while others claim that Livingston and McIntosh simply preferred solo work. McIntosh began recording under the name Peter Tosh, and Livingston continued on as Bunny Wailer.

Bob Marley & The Wailers

Despite the breakup, Marley continued recording as "Bob Marley & The Wailers". His new backing band included brothers Carlton and Aston "Family Man" Barrett on drums and bass respectively, Junior Marvin and Al Anderson on lead guitar, Tyrone Downie and Earl "Wya" Lindo on keyboards, and Alvin "Seeco" Patterson on percussion. The "I Threes", consisting of Judy Mowatt, Marcia Griffiths, and Marley's wife, Rita, performed backup vocals.

In 1975, Marley had his international breakthrough with his first hit outside Jamaica, "No Woman, No Cry" from the Natty Dread album. This was followed by his breakthrough album in the US, Rastaman Vibration (1976), which spent four weeks in the Billboard charts Top Ten.

In December 1976, two days before "Smile Jamaica", a free concert organized by Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley in an attempt to ease tension between two warring political groups, Marley, his wife, and manager Don Taylor were wounded in an assault by unknown gunmen inside Marley's home. Taylor and Marley's wife sustained serious injuries, but later made full recoveries. Bob Marley received only minor injuries in the chest and arm. The shooting was thought to have been politically motivated, as many felt the concert was really a support rally for Marley. Nonetheless, the concert proceeded, and an injured Marley performed as scheduled.

Marley left Jamaica at the end of 1976 for England, where he recorded his Exodus and Kaya albums. Exodus stayed on the British album charts for 56 consecutive weeks. It included four UK hit singles: "Exodus", "Waiting In Vain", "Jamming", and also "One Love", a rendition of Curtis Mayfield's hit, "People Get Ready". It was here that he was arrested and received a conviction for possession of a small quantity of cannabis while traveling in London.

In 1978, Marley performed at another political concert in Jamaica, the One Love Peace Concert, again in an effort to calm warring parties. Near the end of the performance, by Marley's request, Manley and his political rival, Edward Seaga, joined each other on stage and shook hands.

The words he said, as he called the two politicians onstage, and while he held their hands above his head:

His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I, run lightning, leading the people of the slaves to shake hands. . . To show the people that you love them right, to show the people that you gonna unite, show the people that you're over bright, show the people that everything is all right. Watch, watch, watch, what you're doing, because . . I'm not so good at talking but I hope you understand what I'm trying to say. I'm trying to say, could we have, could we have, up here onstage here the presence of Mr. Michael Manley and Mr. Edward Seaga. I just want to shake hands and show the people that we're gonna unite . . . we're gonna unite . . . we've got to unite . . . The moon is high over my head, and I give my love instead. The moon is high over my head, and I give my love instead.

He said this while improvising on the song "Jamming".

Survival, a defiant and politically charged album, was released in 1979. Tracks such as "Zimbabwe", "Africa Unite", "Wake Up and Live", and "Survival" reflected Marley's support for the struggles of Africans. In early 1980, he was invited to perform at the April 17 celebration of Zimbabwe's Independence Day.

Uprising (1980) was Bob Marley's final studio album, and is one of his most religious productions, including "Redemption Song" and "Forever Loving Jah". It was in "Redemption Song" that Marley sang the famous lyric,

‘Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery none but ourselves can free our minds...’

Confrontation, released posthumously in 1983, contained unreleased material recorded during Marley's lifetime, including the hit "Buffalo Soldier" and new mixes of singles previously only available in Jamaica.


Bob Marley was a member of the Rastafari movement, whose culture was a key element in the development of reggae. Bob Marley became the leading proponent of the Rastafari, taking their music out of the socially deprived areas of Jamaica and onto the international music scene.

Now considered a "rasta" legend, Marley's adoption of the characteristic Rastafarian dreadlocks and famous use of marijuana as a sacred sacrament in the late sixties were an integral part of his persona. He is said to have entered every performance proclaiming the divinity of Jah Rastafari.

Many of Marley's songs contained Biblical references, sometimes using wordplay to fuse activism and religion, as in "Revolution" and "Revelation":

Revelation, reveals the truth...

It takes a revolution to make a solution...

A few months before his death, Marley was baptised into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and took the name Berhane Selassie (meaning the Light of the Holy Trinity in Amharic).

Battle Wth Cancer


In July 1977, Marley was found to have malignant melanoma in a football wound on his right hallux (big toe). Marley refused amputation, citing worries that the operation would affect his dancing, as well as the Rastafarian belief that the body must be "whole"

Rasta no abide amputation. I don't allow a man to be dismantled.’

From the biography Catch a Fire:

Marley may have seen medical doctors as samfai, confidence men who cheat the gullible by pretending to have the power of witchcraft [citation needed]. True to this belief Marley went against all surgical possibilities and sought out other means that would not break his religious beliefs.

Collapse and Treatment

The cancer spread to Marley's brain, lungs, liver, and stomach following his refusal of treatment. After playing two shows at Madison Square Garden as part of his fall 1980 Uprising Tour, he collapsed while jogging in NYC's Central Park. The remainder of the tour was subsequently cancelled.

Bob Marley played his final concert at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 23, 1980. The live version of "Redemption Song" on Songs of Freedom was recorded at this show. Marley afterwards sought medical help from Munich specialist Josef Issels, but his cancer had already progressed to the terminal stage.


While flying home from Germany to Jamaica for his final days, Marley became ill, and landed in Miami for immediate medical attention. He died at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Miami, Florida on the morning of May 11, 1981. His final words to his son Ziggy were "Money can't buy life". Marley received a state funeral in Jamaica, which combined elements of Ethiopian Orthodoxy and Rastafari. He was buried in a crypt near his birthplace with his Gibson Les Paul, a soccer ball, a marijuana bud, and a Bible. A month before his death, he was awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit.


Bob Marley had 13 children: three with his wife Rita, two adopted from Rita's previous relationships, and the remaining eight with separate women. His children are, in order of birth:

1. Imani Carole, born May 22, 1963 to Cheryl Murray

2. Sharon, born November 23, 1964 to Rita in a separate marriage;

3. Cedella, born August 23, 1967 to Rita;

4. David "Ziggy", born October 17, 1968 to Rita;

5. Stephen, born April 20, 1972 to Rita;

6. Robert "Robbie", born May 16, 1972 to Pat Williams;

7. Rohan, born May 19, 1972 to Janet Hunt;

8. Karen, born 1973 to Janet Bowen;

9. Stephanie, born 1974 to Rita in a separate marriage;

10. Julian, born June 4, 1975 to Lucy Pounder;

11. Ky-Mani, born February 26, 1976 to Anita Belnavis;

12. Damian, born July 21, 1978 to Cindy Breakspeare;

13. Makeda, born May 30, 1981 to Yvette Crichton.

Posthumous Reputation

Bob Marley's music has continuously grown in popularity in the years since his death, providing a stream of revenue for his estate and affording him a mythical status in 20th century music history. He remains enormously popular and well-known all over the world, particularly so in Africa. Marley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Time magazine chose Bob Marley & The Wailers' Exodus as the greatest album of the 20th century.

In 2001, the same year that Marley won the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a feature-length documentary about his life by Jeremy Marre, Rebel Music, was nominated for the Best Long Form Music Video documentary at the Grammies. It won various other awards. With contributions from Rita, the Wailers, and Marley's lovers and children, it tells much of the story too in his own words.

In February 2006, a Brooklyn community board voted to rename a portion of Church Avenue, which runs through several heavily populated Caribbean-American neighborhoods, after Bob Marley, pending approval of the New York City Council.

In January 2005, it was reported that Rita Marley was planning to have her late husband's remains exhumed and reburied in Shashamane, Ethiopia. This announcement was met with great resistance in Jamaica, with critics arguing that his life was a testament to the unique Jamaican culture. Marley's 60th birthday celebration on February 6, 2005 was celebrated in Shashamane, having previously always been held in Jamaica. Later that year, Rita Marley denied having made such plans.


* Apr-Jul 1973: Catch a Fire Tour (England, USA)

* Oct-Nov 1973: Burnin' Tour (USA, England)

* Jun-Jul 1975: Natty Dread Tour (USA, Canada, England)

* Apr-Jul 1976: Rastaman Vibration Tour (USA, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, France, England, Wales)

* May-Jun 1977: Exodus Tour (France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, England)

* May-Aug 1978: Kaya Tour (USA, Canada, England, France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium)

* Apr-May 1979: Babylon by Bus Tour (Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii)

* Oct-Dec 1979: Survival Tour (USA, Canada, Trinidad/Tobago, Bahamas)

* Apr 1980: Zimbabwe

* May-Sep 1980: Uprising Tour (Switzerland, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, USA)

Awards and Honors

Marley's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

* 1976: Band of the Year (Rolling Stone)

* June 1978: Awarded the Peace Medal of the Third World from the United Nations

* February 1981: Awarded Jamaica's third highest honor, the Jamaican Order of Merit

* March 1994: Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

* 1999: Album of the Century for Exodus (Time Magazine)

* February 2001: A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

* February 2001: Awarded Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award

* 2005: Posthumous Achievement Award

* "One Love" named song of the millennium by The BBC

Visit Jamaica and see how such legends are created.

See you in Jamaica.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Asafa Powell and Sanya Richards Named IAAF Athletes of the Year (2006)

MONTE CARLO, MONACO (AFP) - Jamaican world 100m record holder Asafa Powell and American 400m queen Sanya Richards were yesterday named athletes of the year by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) at the 2006 World Athletics Gala here.

Powell is the second Jamaican to win this prestigious award, following in the footsteps of Merlene Ottey, who did same in 1990.
And Chinese star Liu Xiang won the award for the performance of the year for his stunning world record breaking 12.88sec in the 110m hurdles at Lausanne.

Pic of: Jamaican-born, US athlete Sanya Richards (left) and World 100m record holder Asafa Powell of Jamaica hold their 'Athlete of the Year Awards' during the 2006 World Athletics Gala in Monaco, yesterday. (Photo: AP)

Ethiopian Meseret Defar took the women's best performance honours for breaking the 5,000m world record in New York City.
Powell and Richards were also given a cheque for US$100,000 each.

Their victories were hardly surprising as the pair both went unbeaten throughout the season and shared the Golden League jackpot with American 400m runner Jeremy Wariner.

Powell twice equalled his own 100m record mark of 9.77sec, which he shares with drugs-tainted American Olympic champion Justin Gatlin, who may yet be stripped of his share of the record.
Richards took 15 straight victories at 400m and broke the 22-year-old American record with 48.70sec to become the seventh fastest woman of all time.

"Last year I wanted to win this title, but I didn't because I got injured," said Powell.
Only Liu, who is preparing for the Asian Games, was not in Monaco to accept his award.
Other prize winners were Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj, Bulgaria's Stefka Kostadinova and Czech's Jan Zelezny with distinguished career awards, Estonia's Margus Hunt won the rising star award and Woldemeskel Kostre of Ethiopia won the coaches award.

Previous World Athletes of the Year

1988 Carl Lewis (USA) / Florence Griffith-Joyner (USA)
1989 Roger Kingdom (USA) / Ana Fidelia Quirot (CUB)
1990 Steve Backley (GBR) / Merlene Ottey (JAM)
1991 Carl Lewis (USA) / Katrin Krabbe (GER)
1992 Kevin Young (USA) / Heike Henkel (GER)
1993 Colin Jackson (GBR) / Sally Gunnell (GBR)
1994 Noureddine Morceli (ALG) / Jackie Joyner-Kersee (USA)
1995 Jonathan Edwards (GBR) / Gwen Torrence (USA)
1996 Michael Johnson (USA) / Svetlana Masterkova (RUS)
1997 Wilson Kipketer (DEN) / Marion Jones (USA)
1998 Haile Gebrselassie (ETH) / Marion Jones (USA)
1999 Michael Johnson (USA) / Gabriela Szabo (ROM)
2000 Jan Zelezny (CZE) / Marion Jones (USA)
2001 Hicham El Guerrouj (MAR) / Stacy Dragila (USA)
2002 Hicham El Guerrouj (MAR) / Paula Radcliffe (GBR)
2003 Hicham El Guerrouj (MAR) / Hestrie Cloete (RSA)
2004 Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) / Yelena Isinbayeva (RUS)
2005 Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) / Yelena Isinbayeva (RUS)

See you in Jamaica.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Michael Lee-Chin - Jamaican-Canadian Businessman

Michael Lee-Chin (1951 - Present) is a Jamaican-Canadian investor. Amongst other positions, he is currently CEO of AIC Limited (a Canadian mutual fund), and Chairman of the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica. In the Forbes Billionaires List, he was placed at number 365, with assets worth around $2.1 Billion. Canadian Business have named him as one of the richest people in Canada.


Lee-Chin was born in Port Antonio in northeast Jamaica in 1952. His mother, Gloria, was 18 years old, and his father, Aston Lee, had moved to England before Lee-Chin was born. Both his Grandfathers were Hakka Chinese who had emigrated to Jamaica, while his Grandmothers were both Afro-Caribbean Jamaicans. His surname became Lee-Chin as a combination of his father's surname, and paternal Grandfather's Chinese name. Consequently, his parents were both biracial Chinese Jamaicans. When Lee-Chin was aged 7, his mother married Vincent Chen. Chen also had a son from a previous relationship, and the couple had a further 7 children together, including 6 boys and 1 girl. His mother sold Avon products, and worked as a book-keeper for various local firms, while his step-father ran a local grocery store. He attended the local high school, Titchfield High, between 1962 and 1969. His first job came in 1965 working as part of the landscaping team at the Frenchman's Cove Hotel. In 1966 he got a summer job working on the Jamaica Queen cruise ship, cleaning the engine room.


In 1970 he went to Canada on a scholarship program sponsored by the Jamaican Government to study Civil Engineering at McMaster University, and graduated in 1974. One commonly cited story says that he personally met the then Jamaican Prime Minister, Hugh Lawson Shearer, to request a grant for his studies. Other reports say that this is merely apocryphal, as the alleged meeting had been 7 months before the check for C$15,000 arrived from the Ministry of Education in Jamaica education authority.


He worked briefly as a road engineer for the Jamaican Government, but unable to find work in his qualified field (and allegedly, because his Canadian wife didn't like living in Jamaica), he returned to Canada. At first he worked as a bouncer, but later found employment as a financial advisor for Investors Group.

He spent two years at the Investors Group, and in 1979, moved to Regal Capital Planners and became regional manager. Whilst at the company, in 1983, he secured a loan from the Continental Bank of Canada for C$500,000 to purchase a stake in Mackenzie Financial Group. By 1987, the investment was worth C$3.5 million. In 1985, he set up the Berkshire Group, as a financial services company with subsidiaries in insurance, investment, and securities. In 1987, he bought a Kitchener-based company called the Advantage Investment Council for $200,000. At the time, the company had holdings of around C$800,000. He renamed the company AIC, and developed it to a fund that today controls around C$12 Billion, with around a million investors.

Performance 1990 – 2005

In the late 1980s, AIC suffered from a collapse in the real estate market, in which it had invested. It recovered throughout the early 1990s by maintaining investments in large groups, such as Merrill Lynch and TD bank (formerly Toronto Dominion). This caused investments to grow from US$8 million in 1990 to nearly US$8 billion by 1998.

However, Lee-Chin was reluctant to invest in the dotcom boom, and saw AIC investments lose 8 per cent in value, even as the S&P gained 56 per cent. Investors moved US$224 million out of AIC's flagship 'Advantage Mutual Fund'. The Globe and Mail ran an article predicting even more investors to leave the fund, meaning that they would run out of cash and be forced to sell its core holdings. Lee-Chin's response was to sell stock in Coca-Cola, and invest US$65 million into Mackenzie Holdings (the same firm in which he had invested US$400,000 16 years previously). Letters were sent to all 350,000 investors, explaining the strategy. The investors were calmed by the purchase, and the stock was later sold to Investor Group (the same company Lee-Chin had worked for in the 1980s) at more than twice the price AIC had paid for it.[14] In 2000 and 2001, following the dotcom crash, AIC outperformed the market with 26 per cent growth and 4 per cent decline respectively.

In 2002, the fund fell again as a result of a regulatory investigation into Amvescap, one of their core holdings. The OSC fined AIC US$58.8 million for their involvement.

On October 5, 2006, he announced his resignation as CEO of AIC, to be replaced by Jonathan Wellum, AIC's chief investment officer.

Private Life

In 1974, he married Vera, a Ukrainian Canadian that he had met at University. They parted in 1991, and officially separated (though did not divorce) in 1997. Ms Lee-Chin has since contested the separation, claiming that Lee-Chin did not disclose his actual wealth at the time of the separation. The couple had three children (Michael Jr, Paul, and Adrian).

Lee-Chin is now in a relationship with Sonya Hamilton, with whom he has had two fraternal-twin daughters. They live in Flamborough.

Current Fund Growth and Difficulties

Investment in Caribbean

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Jamaica went through a period of financial crisis. Lee-Chin saw potential in his native country, and used AIC to purchase 75 per cent of the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica for 6 billion Jamaican Dollars (US$127 million) from the Jamaican Government.

In 2004, he announced plans to set up the AIC Caribbean Fund with the intention of investing in the entire Caribbean region. The stated aim of the fund is to raise US$1 Billion in order to "make investments in businesses located in countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), with an emphasis on Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago". So far, it has made a number of large-scale investments, including Radio Jamaica, Desnoes and Geddes, Cable and Wireless, and Life of Jamaica. In April 2006, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a US Government Agency, loaned AIC US$80 million.[20] The announcement of the loan included a statement about the intention of the fund to invest US$250 million in the region. It is therefore not clear if Lee-Chin has scaled back his plans for the investment, or if he will set up other funds to meet the original figure.

Commodities Boom

Similar to the experience of the late 1990s, Lee-Chin again has shied away from investing in commodities and the energy market boom. He has specifically stated that "We [AIC] do not like commodities-type businesses nor most high-tech companies simply because they are implicitly poor enterprises which we would not want to hold for the long term".

Again, this strategy has meant that AIC has significantly underperformed the S&P index, but Lee-Chin believes that the current boom is just another bubble. Lee-Chin describes the market since 1990 as 'a series of rolling speculations', and now 'we see a commodities bubble'.

Business Strategy

While at the Investors Group, he studied the strategies of successful investors, such as Warren Buffett, Benjamin Graham and Ken Thomson. Their buy and hold strategy is easily recognisable in the motto of AIC - Buy, hold and prosper.

Accolades and Awards

Lee-Chin has received various business awards, including:

  • Being placed on the Forbes Billionaires list since 2001. In 2006, he was placed at number 365.
  • In 2002, Lee-Chin received the 'Harry Jerome Award' for 'Business Leader of the Decade' [23]
  • Time Magazine named Lee-Chin one of 'Canada's Heroes' in July 5 2004.

He is also a generous philanthropist, and has donated to various causes, including:

  • C$5 million to McMaster University (where he attended). He was rewarded with an Honorary Degree in November 2003.
  • •JMD$155 million (approx. USD $2.4 million) to Northern Caribbean University.
  • •C$30 million to the Royal Ontario Museum. In return, they commissioned a new building named the Michael Lee Chin Crystal. Designed by Daniel Libeskind, it will open in June 2007.
  • •An unspecified amount of money that makes him one of the leading donors to Bill Clinton's William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation. He was appointed to the Board of Trustees for the find in 2003.

Business Ventures

  • AIC Limited -
  • Berkshire Group -
  • Columbus Communications -
  • Cable Bahamas -
  • Caribbean Crossings -
  • Columbus Communications Jamaica Ltd. / Flow Jamaica -
  • FibraLink -
  • CVM Television Group -
  • Merit Communications -
  • New World Network -
  • Americas Region Caribbean Optical-ring System (ARCOS)
  • Sauce Cable Company
  • Affordable Enterprise Ltd.
  • Cabana Cable Ltd.
  • Eastern Cable Network Ltd.
  • Home Commercial Satellite Ltd.
  • Universal Cable Network Ltd.
  • Trinidad and Tobago Trans-Cable Company -
  • National Commercial Bank of Jamaica (NCB) -
  • Radio Jamaica -
  • Reggae Beach (resort), Jamaica
  • Senvia -
  • Total Finance Bank of Trinidad & Tobago Ltd.
  • Trident Hotel (Resort) -

See you in Jamaica.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

John Brown Russwurm - World-Famous Abolitionist

John Brown Russwurm (1799-1851) was an African American abolitionist from Jamaica. He is known for his newspaper, Freedom's Journal. He moved from the United States to Liberia to govern the Maryland section of an African American colony there. He died in Liberia in 1851.

Early Life

John Russwurm was born in 1799 in Port Antonio, Jamaica. Russwurm's mother was a slave, whose identity is presently unknown. His father was a white merchant. The Russwurm family stayed in Jamaica until he was 8, when the family moved to Quebec.

That year, his father sent him to a formal school located in Quebec. This move meant that the family had to get used to a whole separate way of life. Soon after the move to Quebec, Russwurm's father married Susan Blanchard. After their marriage, the family, along with Blanchard, moved to Portland, Maine. Russwurm is noted as saying that moving constantly was the worst thing that happened in his life.


After the family's relocation Russwurm attended Hebron Academy. Throughout the years Russwurm spent there, he worked long and hard to accomplish his goal of acquiring a good education. Russwurm was always in school and never got into any sort of trouble; his classmates nicknamed him "Honest John". Russwurm attended Hebron Academy for most of his schooling years. About a year before graduation, he moved to a new school, Bowdoin College, and graduated in 1826. He became the second African American to graduate from a United States College or University.


After graduating from college, he moved to New York. There, he began to take a great interest in abolitionism. He worked until his death to abolish slavery.


From reading anti-slavery newspapers, he became interested in journalism. Russwurm liked the way people expressed themselves to the community, but he didn't know how far his journalism interest would take him in life. Soon, he got an idea. He decided to create his own abolitionist newspaper.

The name of the paper was Freedom's Journal. Among all of his writers, he himself had the most articles published. Russwurm always took his time on his articles; to make them as full and lengthy as possible. His paper was the only one in circulation run entirely by African Americans. Of all the abolitionist newspapers, Freedom's Journal was named the most successful. Due to such a high demand, Russwurm and his crew of writers worked late and hard to ship the newspapers all over the United States of America. The newspaper came to an end when John Russwurm gave up on the cause of abolitionism. He came to the conclusion that African Americans would never gain full rights in America. He gradually came to a close on his anti-slavery speeches, and moved to Liberia.

Liberia, Africa

John got a job offer in 1829 for a post in the organization for Pan-Africanism, at the colony of Liberia (a colony set up in Africa for freed slaves). The first place that he arrived at was Monrovia, Liberia. He stayed there for a while to get used to the foreign culture. The next challenge was to learn the language of Africa; to learn to live in Africa.

The first thing that John Russwurm did when he arrived in Monrovia was to tackle the African language. Russwurm applied into an African language school and was accepted. He spent one school year learning every one of the languages available.

Taking on the Post

After his language school, he immediately went to work at his post. Russwurm's new post was located in the Maryland section of the colony. During the beginning of his time, in addition to the Pan-Africanism organization job, he became editor for the Liberia paper, the Liberia Herald. John Brown Russwurm fell in love with Sarah McGill, the daughter of the colony’s lieutenant. They were together starting in 1833. Soon after, Sarah McGill became Sarah Russwurm. The couple had three sons and a daughter. They were together until death. Russwurm was made governor of the Maryland section of Liberia. This section was located in Cape Palmas, Liberia. Russwurm took the position seriously. He tried to make friendly relations with everyone including other nations. Another main goal of Russwurm was to get other African Americans over to the colony.

The Ending

Russwurm pushed and stayed strong during his time on post. In 1851, John Russwurm died while still on post. There is a statue of John Russwurm at his burial site at Harper, Cape Palmas, Liberia.

See you in Jamaica.

Garth Fagan - Modern Dance Choreographer

Garth Fagan is a modern dance choreographer. Born in Jamaica in 1940, Garth Fagan studied dance in New York City with Martha Graham, Jose Limon and Alvin Ailey. Fagan credits Pearl Primus as a major influence on his work as well. Fagan is the founder and Artistic Director of Garth Fagan Dance, a modern dance company based in Rochester, NY. The company, originally named Bottom of the Bucket - But Dance Theatre, was established in 1970.

Fagan won a Tony Award for best choreography in 1998 for The Lion King. His work for Lion King also received the Drama Desk Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award that same year.

Fagan is a Distinguished University Professor at the State University of New York at Brockport. In 1989 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship.

In 2001 Fagan received the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award which honors modern dance choreographers.

See you in Jamaica.

Alexander James Dallas - One of Jamaica's First Gifts to the US

Alexander James Dallas, statesman, born in the Island of Jamaica, 21 June 1759; died in Trenton, New Jersey, 14 January 1817. He was the son of a Scottish physician who immigrated to Jamaica about 1750. The son was educated in Edinburgh and at Westminster under James Elphinston, the friend of Dr. Johnson, whose acquaintance and that of Dr. Franklin he made while a student. He then studied law in London, returned to Jamaica in 1780, and, upon the remarriage of his mother and his exclusion from the inheritance of his father's estate, removed in April 1783, to Philadelphia. He took the oath of allegiance to the common-wealth of Pennsylvania in June 1783, was admitted to the bar in July 1785, and a few years later was admitted to practice in the United States courts, and became eminently successful as a lawyer in Philadelphia. He wrote for periodicals, and was for a time editor of the "Columbian Magazine." In January 1791, he was appointed secretary of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and in December 1793, his commission was renewed. While in this office he prepared an edition of the laws of Pennsylvania, with notes. He also compiled four volumes of "Reports of Cases ruled and adjudged by the Courts of the United States and of Pennsylvania, before and since the Revolution " (Philadelphia, 1790-1807).

He accompanied an armed force to Pittsburgh, in the capacity of paymaster-general, in 1794. It e was again appointed secretary of state in December 1796, and held the office until Thomas Jefferson became president in 1801 and appointed him, as an ardent supporter of the Republican Party, U. S. district attorney for the eastern district of Pennsylvania, which office he held till 1814, when he was called into the cabinet as secretary of the treasury by President Madison. When he entered upon this office, 6 October 1814, the government was seriously embarrassed in its finances through the war with Great Britain, and the committee of ways and means in congress applied to Mr. Dallas for suggest, ions as to the best mode of raising money for the requirements of the government, and of sustaining the public credit. In a masterly report he showed that the money required could not be raised by taxation alone, but must be obtained in part by loans. He proposed for the purpose of raising a loan the establishment of a government bank. The house, in committee of the whole, reported in favor of the bank on 24 October 1814, and a bill was passed on 20 January 1815, but was vetoed by President Madison. Having been interrogated as to the probable effect of a large issue of treasury-notes, Secretary Dallas made a reply that had much influence in restoring public confidence and arousing the spirit of patriotism. On 3 April 1816, an act to incorporate a national bank was passed by congress and received the signature of the president. Mr. Dallas's administration of the treasury department was able and energetic. Treasury-notes, which were scarcely current when he assumed office, were sold at par, with interest added, a few months later. The bank had the effect of greatly improving the credit of the government.

After March 1815, he discharged the duties of secretary of war in addition to the direction of the treasury department, and superintended the reduction of the army consequent upon the restoration of peace. Having contributed, to the extent of his ability, to extricate the government from its financial difficulties, and having seen the United States bank firmly established, he retired from office in November 1816, and returned to the practice of law in Philadelphia, but died a few weeks afterward. Besides the works mentioned above and his treasury reports, he published "Features of Jay's Treaty" (Philadelphia, 1795); "Speeches on the Trial of Blount"; "Address to the Society of Constitutional Republicans" (1805); and " Exposition of the Causes and Character of the War of 1812-'15." He left unfinished a " History of Pennsylvania." The third edition of his "Reports of Cases," with notes by Thomas J. Wharton, appeared in Philadelphia in 1830.

See you in Jamaica.