Long before she was a Lady, she was “a lady”!
No surprise that over the 27 years I’ve called Saint Lucia home our paths had crossed countless times. Alas, our unplanned encounters seldom went further than exchanged pleasantries. She was, after all, the wife of the man generally considered “the father of the nation” and I, well, suffice it to say I am the wife of The St Lucia STAR’s most controversial editor-in-chief and publisher.
People seemed to expect fireworks, but whenever we bumped into each other, Lady Janice Compton was polite, brief and always guarded. As I imagine I must have appeared to her.
Nevertheless, whether up close or from a distance, she was always elegant, classy, chic and well put together. On the occasions I heard her deliver a public address, I came away highly impressed: she never raised her voice, was measured, worldly, educated, clearly well-read, obviously traveled. I admired her poise.
But as much as I wanted to engage her, I resisted the urge, uncertain how she might react. After all, there was that legendary relationship our husbands shared, that was up one minute, down the next and sometimes neither up nor down.
My best friend, the late Karen Beaubrun, had often urged me to take the bull by the horns: “Go on, Mae, forget Rick and John. Don’t judge her by her husband’s politics,
or Rick’s writing.” But I procrastinated, even though Lady Janice continued to intrigue me.
I was especially taken by the way she seemed to easily blend in and be at ease, whether in the presence of Princess Margaret or when her audience comprised mainly rural ladies. I’d even studied TV recordings of her addressing a couple of political rallies in support of her daughter Jeannine. A woman for all seasons, you might say.
Ziggy Marley: A Philosophy of His Own
A few minutes into my interview with Ziggy Marley, I suddenly realise the word he most often uses is love. Talking about his song-writing, his musical collaborations with a multitude of artists, his woman, his family, the planet: what truly drives this man is love, and ‘Fly Rasta’ is another slice of his prolific musical genius created to send that message home to the world.
My first question: Why the title Fly Rasta? His gravelly, thoughtful, 100% Jamaican drawl is all Marley but a little bemused, and I stare at the speakerphone in embarrassment when it’s immediately obvious that Ziggy isn’t over-thinking anywhere near the level I am.
“Well, um, it’s fun! That wasn’t the original title of the album, but I think this is more catchy.”
When I comment that it sounds like a joyful title–like Rasta is about to take off to a different plane, he nonchalantly concurs, “yeah, it has those connotations . . .”
But a few more questions from my carefully researched list and I realise that Ziggy Marley is easy to interview when you ask him about music or family or the environment, because his love philosophy is the centrifugal force which defines him, even though his talent and passion defy definition.
Fly Rasta is a venture into new musical directions, featuring a stellar roster of artists from a wide range of genres: rock, indie, R&B, world music and exotic instruments like the sitar and tabla. What impact did this diversity bring to the process?
“I like to bring people from outside my genre into what I do, it adds another layer, another element that’s not typical. It bring another feel, another vibe, nuances to help the music grow, to help it expand. I like to work with the best people I can find.”
The album’s themes are “enlightenment, empowerment, freedom and the power of love,” which I have no need to remind him are very much a description of his father’s musical legacy, but Ziggy has taken these messages into the 21st century by relating them to the destruction of the planet: environmentalism is once again at the core of many of Fly Rasta’s songs.
Are Caribbean Mom’s in Crisis?
She could have been directly referencing the Caribbean when Ms Winfrey, biological mother to none but maternal icon to millions, uttered those greeting-card-quotable words. For decades in the region, the definition of ‘mother’ has evolved and morphed under the influence of migration, economic hardship, the breakdown of the traditional family unit and the sociological trend of younger and younger women becoming mothers, children giving birth to children, one might say.
By Kaitlyn McKenna
In times gone by it was a common experience for grandmothers, aunties and sisters to step into the breech when young aspiring Caribbean mothers took a job or struck out into the world to make their family fortune, leaving the kids at home until it was time to “send a ticket” and bring their offspring to join them in Brooklyn, Toronto or London. The popular cultural perception of Caribbean kids being raised by “mum”, “tanti” or “nennen” is neither inaccurate nor in any way insulting, and the notion of “kinship care” has been identified, studied by social anthropologists and integrated into UNICEF and WHO studies of reproductive health and family life in the region.
So it’s very common to meet grandmothers in Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Antigua or Barbados who proudly tell stories of raising not only their own children, but their grandchildren and even great-grandkids, taking care of their offspring’s offspring for years at a time in order to give the parents a chance at a “better life”. These matriarchs have formed the cornerstone of families throughout the Caribbean for centuries, in many cases applying the traditionally strict upbringing they experienced in their own day to the next generations, who revered granny’s every instruction to be respectful, come home straight from school and keep their uniform clean and tidy.