Being Jamaican isn’t just a nationality. It’s an experience; you have to live it to understand. If you ask a Jamaican about their childhood, oftentimes they’ll recall exciting stories and adventurous memories. Going to school in Jamaica was even more exciting and memorable. As a child, there were several things you had to “know by heart”. Today, we’ll take a look at eight (8) of them:
The National Anthem
After devotions on most, if not all, mornings you are to sing the National Anthem. Students are to stand at attention and sing the anthem with pride. Do you remember having to re-sing the anthem continuously if students make the “mistake” and insert the infamous “BOOM!”?
The National School Song
I’ve always felt immense pride whenever I hear the National School Song being sung. One of the greatest feelings is making a commitment to serve your homeland. Children could be heard “Pledging their heart forever, to serve with humble pride…” from a mile away. Don’t remember the song? Refresh your memory below:
A Mnemonic is an oratory tool used to assist in memorizing specific facts. An example of a mnemonic heard throughout the island is the tool “Thirty Days Hath September” which helped students to remember the number of days in each month. Read below and see if it jogs your memory.
Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November,
All the rest have thirty-one,
But February’s twenty-eight,
The LEAP YEAR, which comes once in four,
Gives February one day more.
One of the school time traditions that could either make a child feel great about themselves or not is the time’s table. Emphasis on memorizing the table lasts throughout the academic career; it is a wonder that Jamaica’s make up is not all mathematicians. The higher the students advanced in grades, the more time tables expected. Great pride came from being able to recite them, especially at a young age. For some, great pain came from not knowing enough. Check out the creative style made by Chevon Sewell below of how this tradition has a modern sound.
Psalm 23, Psalm 100 and St. John 3:16
Jamaica is known to have the most churches per square mile, so it is no surprise that the bible would make this list. Specific chapters were often recited during devotions, but these were infamous and were/are considered staples. Everyone knew the Lord’s Prayer, the Psalm of Thanksgiving and “If God so loved the world…”
The Lord’s Prayer
It didn’t matter if you grew up in church or not, as long as you could talk, you learnt the Lord’s Prayer. This was the go-to prayer at devotion and in some households too. It could be said during any occasion or gathering.
Poems written by Famous Jamaicans
Whether it was written by Claude McKay, Lorna Goodison or Louise Bennett-Coverley, students have always been expected to know at least one stanza. These poems were recited on Heroes’ Day and during ‘Black History Month’.
Here’s an excerpt of “No Lickle Twang” being performed by Amanda Dougan:
Early childhood was filled with parables to teach young ones the right things. To spice up the offering, motivational poems were embedded in our brains which took us many introductions to actually understand. This is when “hog ask him mumma, ‘how yuh nose suh long’.”, would come in. Two popular ones were: “The Heights by Great Men” and “Labour for Learning”. These were recited in early mornings before we started our tasks for the day. Even though it was an everyday occurance, remember that they had to be said with confidence and pride every time. True? True!
If you are Jamaican or raised in Jamaica, what are some of your childhood memories? Come share, celebrate, boast and debate our Jamaican culture with us.