Obama's visit paid off - Heroes Circle vendors continue to sell on the corner

January 20, 2017
Barack Obama waves upon arriving at the Norman Manley International airport in 2015.
Racquel Walker
Makeisha Walker
Precious Stewart
Claudette Reid
Nadine Francis

When Barack Obama made his only visit to Jamaica during his eight years as President of the United States, a group of people weren't enthused about the occasion, as it threatened to stop a family tradition of selling crabs and corns at Heroes Circle in Kingston, a practice that has been taking place for more than 60 years.

"It affected us because the notice was very short, and even though they say it was only for the time, we never know," Claudette Reid, who has been selling on the corner for more than 40 years, told THE WEEKEND STAR.

Her niece Raquel Walker agreed, saying that during Obama's visit she had to seek assistance from relatives overseas in order to send her children to school.


Sixty years ago


"It was tough, because even though the kids didn't stop from school, it was because families from foreign chip in and friends," Walker said.

According to Walker, her mother, father and aunts started selling on the corner of Heroes Circle for more than 60 years ago.

"Mi born come see mi mother and father and mi auntie dem a sell here. A it send mi to school, and a it a send my kids to school," Walker said. "Our parents die and we just continue the traditions."

During Obama's visit Walker, her aunt, Reid, and others who sell on the corner were pushed back 10 metres from where they would normally sell, which caused them to temporarily lose some customers.

But Obama's visit didn't just bring misery to these vendors. It caused the roadway in front of their establishments to be resurfaced and subsequently brought a lot more customers to the spot.

"The resurfacing of the road was wonderful because it cause a lot more customers to come here. So, in the longer run it paid off," Walker said.


Boiled crabs


On any given day, motorists traversing the Heroes Circle area can see boiled crabs dangling from pots and the smell of roast corn wafting through the air.

The vendors also have a special that they always encourage customers to try.

"When we tell people to try the salted coconut and corn together. Dem always ask if that can eat, but when you eat it together it gives a nice flavour in your mouth," Precious Stewart explained.

Obama, whose tenure as President comes to an end today, is the first African-American man to be elected President of the United States of America and the second sitting president to visit the island Ronald Reagan being the first in 1982.

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