Sleeping city Kingston

November 29, 2017
During a visit to Culture Yard in 2014, Antwone Lynch was seen playing in a Volks Wagon bus that the late Bob Marley drove.
Belgian visitor to the island, VanGeeeden Geeet, was seen with a tattoo of Bob Marley on his arm as he posed beside the late reggae icon's statue at Culture Yard, in Trench Town.

References in songs have caused people from all over the world to imagine life in Trench Town. Songs like Trench Town Rock and the romanticised image of cooking cornmeal porridge "in a government yard in Trench Town" are indelibly embedded into collective consciousness via the voice of Bob Marley, arguably the most globally known Jamaican, who actually made pilgrimage to Trench Town from St. Ann.

The word 'imagine' generally means to perceptually picture something that's not yet real or to create a mental image of what could be. Of course, we also use imagine to mean the act of pondering reality, especially to recount an experience or explore a conflict. Like, imagine, the promoters tell Blakka say him can talk fi 10 minutes and one hour later him still a chat. Or imagine, Kingston city has 20 postal zones from Kingston 1 in Port Royal to Kingston 20 Western District, yet, only one or two of those zones are technically/geographically in Kingston.


Plenty false boundaries


So, using the first meaning, imagine what would happen if everybody who currently claims Kingston suddenly relocated to their place of origin. Also, imagine what the city would be like without the plenty false boundaries and socio-economic divisions. Yuh know, garrison round here, ghetto down there, and gated gestures towards gentrification up there!

And imagine the benefits if we invested in capitalising on the value of Kingston as a heritage site and tourist attraction. Imagine the range of projects that could emerge, creating productive engagement for the city's residents. Imagine how it could create income, engender community harmony and contribute to violence reduction.

Then using the second meaning, imagine this: Kingston is perhaps the only capital city worldwide with no real nightlife. Downtown practically lock down at dusk. And imagine, Trench Town Kingston 12 was breeding ground for cultural forms that characterise brand Jamaica like Rasta and Reggae, and produced several international stars. Yet it's among the poorest and most violence-prone spaces in the country. It is home to a polytechnic college, two premier league teams, Bob Marley Culture Yard, a vibrant reading centre, etc. Yet, the 'nutn nah gwaan' mentality strives. How come?

Details of this dynamic and the depth of the reality is the subject of research I'm now initiating into Trench Town as a site of exile, exodus and pilgrimage. And I'm imagining it as a microcosm of Kingston. Yeah, if Kingston's the capital of Jamaica, maybe Trench Town's the real capital of Kingston. Imagine dat!

Other Commentary Stories