Moving Back to Jamaica

A blog about my Move Back to Jamaica after 20+ years of living in the US. Most of the articles focus on the period from 2005-2009 when the transition was new, and at it's most challenging.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Diary of an Inmate

This is a link taken from GlobalVoicesOnline.

Diary of an Inmate - Jamaica

As project founder Kevin Wallen points out, “over the last two years, Jamaica with a population of 2.6 million, has been branded internationally as the ‘murder capital of the world.' Already, 2007 has racked up a murder rate of over 1,400 individuals.” Much of Jamaica's culture of crime has been blamed on the popular veneration of gang leaders. The Diary of an Inmate project will attempt to confront this ‘badboy veneration” by training current prison inmates to blog and podcast. As Kevin describes the goals of project: “Through blogging, inmates will be able to tell their stories. They will be able to paint a realistic picture of life behind bars and the consequences of crime. Currently, Jamaica’s music and media idolize the ‘badman' or 'shotta' and portray as role models those who have been incarcerated. Many of our youths now think that prison is a ‘cool' place to be, until they themselves are faced with the harsh truth. The Diary of an Inmate blog will allow all Jamaicans to learn about the realities of Jamaica’s overcrowded prison system with the hope that this will counteract the false ideas implanted by the media.”

We are thrilled to welcome these five new projects to the ever-expanding and maturing community of Rising Voices citizen media activists.

Click here to be taken to the site that describes the project. 

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Framework Roundup - to be written

Here is a short summary of what's been happening over at the Framework website and blog.

From the Framework website: Podcast radio interview with Paul Thomas, former CEO of Lascelles Division of Lascelles de Mercado. This interview on the Breakfast Club done in 2000, speaks to some of the results he realized in a major culture change programme.

Latest issue of FirstCuts ezine (#18)
, entitled: Closing out 2007, describes some of the initiatives planned for next year. FirstCuts17 as a podcast, read by me, in this my second attempt.

One Page Digest Issues 1-27
: The Digest is a summary of links that are useful for Caribbean executives.

Link to Open Jobs
: Warning -- at this time, most are volunteer positions! From the Chronicles from a Caribbean Cubicle blog:

Launch of a new programme: NewHabits-NewGoals is being launched in pilot form on Jan 15-16 in Kingston. Click on this link to be taken to the page that describes the programme.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Must-Read Blog

This is a must-read -- a blog that chronicles a young Jamaican's journey to fund his education at law school in the U.S.  It's the first "Living in America" blog I have seen written from a Jamaican perspective.

I won't spoil the fun of reading it by giving any further details.

Click here to be taken to Omar's blog.

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I have a very difficult time trying to describe the thrill of Trinidad's Panorama Steel-Band Finals, with it's 100+ player orchestras, pounding music that catches and moves you, the tradition of pushing the bands to stage as they practice and, of course, the pulsing crowds.

I had no idea what it was all about until I went to my first finals back in 1997 and watched Lord Kitchener's "Guitar Pan" being played by Amoco Renegades. I was bitten.

Here is a quick idea of what happens -- and this is coming from someone who missed Carnival this year and last, to my chagrin.

First, the original tune is played, and it's usually a popular tune. Everyone starts to get into the song, as it's played a few times in succession, giving enough time for the new band to be pushed onto the stage. By the time the music is paused, the crowd is hyped, especially those who are supporters o f the band.

Once the band if sully assembled there is a quiet hush as they wait to start before launching into 9-10 minutes of pan music that unfortunately, cannot be faithfully reproduced in any recording... it is music that must be heard live to be appreciated, as much of it is literally felt in the body...

But, here is an idea of what it's like, using a classic -- Lord Kitchener's "Pan in A minor."

The first clip is of the great man himself performing the song with a live band (it's too bad that it's a little short.) The second clip is the 9.5 minute Panorama version of the same, played by Renegades . It's not, as some may assume, a facsimile, but demonstrates multiple variations on the theme provided by the song.

Here is Lord Kitchener:

Here is the Renegades version. Stay with it through the end, as the real innovations are preserved for the last third of the song.


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Monday, February 25, 2008

Jamaica on the Index of Economic Freedoms

This is an interesting rating of Jamaica's economic freedoms in the areas ranging from Business Freedom to Labor Freedom.

It makes for compelling reading.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

One of the Worst Place in the World -- to Pay Taxes

This can't be too encouraging for Jamaicans looking to return home.  We are listed as one of the worst places in the world to pay taxes.

Click here to be taken to the article.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

We Are the 1s in Jamaica

This project seems to be a worthwhile one.

It's inspiring to see what this project and the fellow who is leading it are up to in making a difference here in Jamaica.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

The Exploding Inbox

An article that I wrote was published in the Sunday Gleaner yesterday, on the above topic.

It has to do with an assertion I am making in my work on time management that an overflowing email Inbox is a sign of un-productivity for knowledge workers.

I also recently completed a draft publication for a manifesto on

At the end of the manifesto I included the following biography:

Francis Wade is the President of Framework Consulting, a firm of management consultants committed to solving the most difficult people issues in companies. He holds a Bachelors and Masters in Operations Research from Cornell University, and resides in Kingston, Jamaica where he is enthralled and inspired by the difference between his new day to day life, and the twenty years he spent working between New Jersey and Florida. His blog can be accessed at and his email is

After writing it, I was a bit intrigued at what I said about being "enthralled and inspired."

Well, the truth is that I have had just an explosion of creative energy since coming back home, and my Moving Back to Jamaica blog is just one expression of it. I can hardly believe that I rarely wrote anything for publication (maybe a page or two per quarter) before coming back home.

I attended a Scotia Round-table forum last week and I had a similar thought - there are lots of opportunities for Jamaicans who are able to build bridges between the high points of our culture here in Jamaica, and the rest of the world. We have so very many things that the world wants to know about about, and to experience and those of us who can see Jamaica as its seen from the outside AND the inside can help in this regard.

Arguably, that is exactly what Butch Stewart did with Sandals.


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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Jamaica's Reputation Takes a Beating

There was a report in the Economist that painted a damning picture of the Caribbean, but in particular of Jamaica.

Here is the article in its entirety:

The Caribbean

Sun, sea and murder

Jan 31st 2008 | PORT OF SPAIN
From The Economist print edition

Here, too, drug-trafficking is to blame

ELEVEN people, including five children, were shot dead in Guyana last weekend when unidentified gunmen went on the rampage in the village of Lusignan. A couple clung to their 11-year-old grand-daughter as bullets were pumped into them; a little boy clutched his mother's night-dress as she tried to crawl under her bed. Furious villagers later set up barricades, demanding protection and justice.

Police suspect it was the work of a gang acting on the orders of Rondell “Fineman” Rawlins, Guyana's most wanted man with a $150,000 bounty on his head. He is said to blame the government for the disappearance eight days earlier of his pregnant girlfriend, on her way to the nearby capital of Georgetown to give birth. But racial hatred provided the target. Like Guyana's government and half the population, Lusignan is mostly ethnic Indian, while Rawlins and his gang are ethnic Africans.

Many of Guyana's neighbours suffer even worse violence. Indeed, the Caribbean, better known for its blue skies, cricket and rum punch, is the world leader in violent crime. According to a joint UN-World Bank study last year, it has a murder rate of 30 per 100,000 inhabitants—four times the North American figure and 15 times the West/Central European average.

Jamaica is the world's most murderous country, followed by El Salvador, Guatemala and Venezuela. But some smaller Caribbean islands are catching up fast, irrespective of size or wealth. Pretty little St Kitts, with just 40,000 inhabitants, suffered three murders in four days last November. The prosperous Bahamas are far more dangerous than impoverished Guyana. In Trinidad and Tobago, the murder rate has quadrupled over the past decade, despite a fall in unemployment from 18% in 1994 to 5% last year.

The common factor behind this violence is the illegal drugs trade, which provides gangs with cash and weapons. But the link with narcotics is not simple. Since the 1990s, cocaine shipments in the Caribbean have stabilised while murder rates have soared. Suriname, no slouch in the drugs business, has the region's safest streets. Violence surges when gang politics are unsettled. Fights break out over turf, bad debts or deals gone sour. Rivalries peak when supplies run dry, and when arrests or deaths create a leadership vacuum.

More than 6m tourists visited the English-speaking Caribbean last year. Few ran into serious trouble. Most of the bullets hit young working-class men with the wrong networking skills, or their families and neighbours. But armed robbery, ending sometimes in murder, has a wider social reach. In some islands, a climate of fear curtails everyday routines. Many Jamaicans no longer risk a night-time drive to Kingston's airport. Catholic churches in Trinidad have moved their Christmas midnight mass to an earlier hour.

Public reaction varies. Crime barely featured in last year's elections in the Bahamas and Jamaica, nor is it an issue in Belize's current campaign. But in Trinidad and Guyana, political polarisation has brought calls for get-tough policies such as “zero tolerance”, the enforcement of the death penalty, and the imposition of a state of emergency. The region's prisons are already crowded. Of 31 countries with more than three out of every thousand citizens behind bars, 17 are in the Caribbean.

Trinidad, Jamaica and Barbados are now strengthening their coastguards to choke the influx of drugs and guns—though this may simply force the drug barons to shift their trade elsewhere. On land, where police services are creaky and their staff sometimes corrupt, reform is under way, but will be a long haul. Even when arrests are made, it can be years before the culprits are brought to trial. Removing the glamour of gangland crime for the region's disaffected youth will take even longer.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Enough to Move Back For

"Research" has shown that these peppery items are the number #1 reason that Jamaicans living abroad return home to reside in Jamaica.

Photo taken by my 6 year old nephew.


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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Free Time Management e-book for Ja Professionals

In a recent blog, I spoke about my interest in writing a book on my experience of Moving Back to Jamaica.

As it so happens, I just published my first e-book on the topic of "Capturing."

In this case, capturing has nothing to do with animals or another's person's attention or market share. Instead, capturing is one of the 11 fundamental practices that every professional must use in order to manage their time and be productive.

For a few more days, I am planning to offer the e-book for free at the following website:

It is 13 pages long, and has some 28 minutes of audio, but no video.

My next e-book coming out in the next month or so will have all three!


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Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Skin-Bag as Container

In an earlier post, I shared how I have come to understand that my body is just a "skin-bag" that my spirit is identifying with for a short time.

Today, in one of my infrequent meditations, I had an insight.

As long as I choose to be alive in this world, there are certain realities that come with that choice.

The first is that I must give up control over breathing, and allow the skin-bag to be breathed by some life force I don't really understand.  In other words, in every moment that I choose to live, I give up trying to breathe, and allow this life force to breathe air into and out of the skin-bag.  Luckily for me, I rarely interfere, and as a result I get to stay alive.

I don't smoke, so I am at least giving the life-force a chance to continue doing what it's doing for some time, without getting in the way. I notice that it pulls air in, and pushes air out, and I never have to think about it.

What is less obvious is that the life-force also pushes thoughts into my mind.  Again, I have no control over this, as they come and go whether I am awake or sleeping.  It looks as if this will keep going as long as I am alive.  It also seems to me that I should not try to interfere with it either, and to do so is to cause stress to myself.

In other words, the life-force is using my thoughts to think me.  Thoughts come in, and then disappear if I allow them to.

Now and then I forget all this, of course, and in moments of tension, I hold my breath, and sometimes try to hold my thoughts.  The result in both cases is dis-tress and I imagine that if I kept this going  I would end up in dis-ease.

Perhaps the same applies to eating, perhaps?

But anyway, in my medidation this morning I came to see that while I was meditating, and allowing thoughts to flow freely, it was as if  I was sitting here as a container of thoughts, witnessing them coming and going, as if on a light breeze.

What makes meditation special, is that it's an opportunity to identify with the container, rather than with the thoughts.  Everyday life is where I easily get lost in the thoughts, forgetting who I am (spirit) and instead becoming the thoughts themselves.

It felt good this morning to return to being the container, (or, more correctly, having the experience of being the container) and hopefully more of this experience will carry over into my daily living.

Now, what does this all have to do with Moving Back to Jamaica?  Perhaps nothing, except that the violence and murders that are part of life here (151 as of yesterday in 2008) pushes me to think seriously about who I am, as I think it would for many people.  Of course, I could take my skin-bag and park it safely back in Pembroke Pines (FL), and take it out of harm's way.

But then what would I have to write about?  LOL

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Upgraded Pepper Shrimp

Driving through Middle Quarters the other day led us to a small, roadside shack that sells cooked food.

As Jamaicans know, Middle Quarters is pepper shrimp country. I used to think that the shrimp I would buy in the bag on the road to Negril from the ladies of that town were one of Jamaica's unique treats that epitomised the best of our country's roadside eating.

I believed this was true until I stopped by this small food-shop with 2 tables and way too many flies, and had fresh-cooked pepper shrimp and Janga (shrimp) soup for the first time.

I am here to tell every Yardie and tourist that there are two kinds of pepper shrimp -- one that is cooked and placed in the bag, and the other that comes straight from the pot. And, the one that comes straight from the pot will bring tears to your eyes and a smile to your face.

I had it for the first time a few weeks ago, and experienced an explosion of flavour that was simply amazing. Apparently, something happens to pepper shrimps when they cool down, and something is undoubtedly lost in the process. The difference is startling.

The place I visited is on the right, just a little east of the center of town. It's opposite a smalls store, and it has a name I don't remember, that can barely be seen while driving by.

Like many things in Jamaica, it is a quiet secret, andyou may have to discover it for yourself if you love pepper shrimp.


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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Real Estate Prices in Jamaica

Those of us who complain about the price of real estate in Jamaica need only visit Trinidad, Barbados, Cayman or the Bahamas to see what SERIOUS housing prices look like in islands that are doing well economically.

In fact, it's safe to say, that our crime is keeping our real estate prices in check.

Jamaica's beauty guarantees that if the number of murders were to drop, that an investment in real estate would be a brilliant move to make. If those other countries are any sort of guide, a car dealership would also be a sure bet.


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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Obama Chills

This video on Obama's speech in New Hampshire gave me the chills.

I suppose the "real thing" comes along once in a person's life. Boys and girls, hold on to your seats because cynicism and resignation are stepping aside for this once in a lifetime event.

A mighty wind of change is blowing.

Is this what 1960 felt like?


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Monday, February 04, 2008

Writing a Book

Recently I got some encouragement to take the content from this blog and turn it into a book.

That is -- a "physical book," not an ebook.

I was caught by surprise, but after some thought I realized that the non-computer-addicted population of Jamaicans in England, Canada, the U.S. and beyond might be interested in hearing what the experience is like, given that they probably have some kind of commitment (albeit delayed) to return to live in Jamaica.

I began to think .. when I was living in New Jersey -- the so-called armpit of America -- how much would I have paid to pick up a copy of my blog?

In the middle of winter, after cruising each of the aisles of the West Indian store, taking in the smells, looking at the produce, picking up items to take home to cook... if I saw a book at the check-out counter that shared an actual move back to Jamaica, I would take a look at the snow/ ice/ sleet outside and definitely pay... (I'm ashamed to say how much.) But I would do it happily.

What do you think?


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Friday, February 01, 2008

Staring and Staring

My wife remarked, upon first moving to Jamaica, how much we like to stare at people.
She couldn't understand it, and neither could I, because I didn't experience this phenomena at all,and she did. Then she mentioned that it happens especially at stop lights... and we figured it out.
We Jamaicans aren't really staring -- we are looking at each other to do a few important things, I tried to explain...
1) We are looking to see if we know you. Or, to put it more precisely, we are trying to remember where we know you from, because we are sure that we know you.
2) If we don't know you, we want to think that we know your mother, brother, father, sister, and we know that you look just like them.
3) By the time we figure out that we don't know you and that you don't remind us of anyone, and that you look fairly average, you have caught us "staring."
I vividly remember taking my first subway trip in New York City and being amazed at how hard people had to work in order to avoid eye contact. In the larger cities, at least, this is everyday behaviour.
Here in the Caribbean, "nutten no go so!" This undoubtedly takes some getting used to.


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