Ha, Spirit on Jamaican Proverbs

Lest We Forget
When I was a very little boy growing up in sixties London, both of my now dearly departed parents would regularly regale me with proverbs. Instructive proverbs like ‘One One Cocoa Full Basket’ ‘Make Sure You Recognize Trouble Before Trouble Recognizes You’ ‘Save Money, And Money Saves You.’ And the powerful and extremely palpable ‘IF You Can’t Hear You Will Feel.’

The aforementioned are just a few of the endless gems of beautiful old Jamaican wisdom which was constantly inculcated into my formative brain. I must admit, that I loved the poetic sound of these sayings, even though I was sometimes slightly confused about there true and actual meaning. it seemed to me, like every grown up cousin or family friend that came to our home back then, would utter a totally new proverb which was more deep and profound than the sageful aphorism left by the last Caribbean visitor.

I can often recall instances where all of my immediate family would be sitting around the dinner table eating a very well prepared meal and a dumpling or a piece of Yam would slip off someone’s fork just before it entered there mouth and land right back on there plate. My conscientious father taking this as some kind of sign, would state emphatically “Somebody hungry for me back home.” He would then promptly head to the kitchen, and lovingly prepare a little side dish and place it tenderly on the kitchen table as a mark of respect to the old ones and also those who had gone before us.

It was not until I became much older and experienced in life, that I realised that all these proverbs and philosophical maxims are significantly more than just good sign-posts of erudite positive instruction. They are in fact intrinsically and absolutely a constant link to our ancestral past, going far beyond slavery. These proverbs contain a distillation of ancient African knowledge and symbology. A unique knowledge and symbology which guided and helped our ancestors through unimaginable difficulties, and enabled them to overcome the most intimidating odds. My maternal grandmother for example, whilst not being a college educated person was a woman who possessed great in-depth knowledge of the medicinal strengths and nutritional virtues of a vast array of life giving herbs. This ‘Natural’ knowledge was gifted to her via the caring tuition of her grandmother in the deepest rural Jamaican countryside. Nowadays, many of these very same herbs make up the de-rigueur health food supplements stocked on the expensive shelves of numerous well heeled high street retail outlets.

The wisdom of our parents and grandparents generation, was indeed both mysterious and altogether magnificently magical. And this beautiful and prolific essence is something which I personally believe has been vastly overlooked and in most cases clearly forgotten by my generation. If we cannot look back, then we cannot look forward. After all; had it not been for our elders shrewd utilisation of this deep, nurturing, and simply amazing knowledge which they bought over, many of us would not have been able to have survived both the physical and psychological harshness of growing up in 60’s and 70’s Britain. Hence, it is most essential in my humble opinion, that we as a people should never forget these proverbs, the old ways, there true meaning, and our forefathers ever lasting spiritual legacy.

Ha, Spirit.

Letters to Myself is published by Athena Press London, and can be ordered from any good book store, or purchased from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com and www.athenapress.com

Ha, Spirit’s websites are www.Haspirit.com and www.myspace.com/haspirit where you will be able to listen to his live recordings of several uplifting and inspiring pieces from his book. Also listed on Facebook. As Ha Spirit-London Facebook