OLYMPIC TRACKS - Brigitte’s ‘St Bess’
THE Olympics start July 27 in London with Jamaica expected to feature prominently among the medals. Today, the Jamaica Observer presents the fourth in a series on the hometowns of some of our top athletes.
St Elizabeth is often referred to as the 'Bread Basket of Jamaica' because of its bountiful food production.
Located in south-central Jamaica, the parish is also the birthplace of 100 metre hurdler Brigitte Foster-Hylton, a gold medallist at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.
A past student of St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS), Foster-Hylton won 100 metres hurdles titles at the Pan American Games in 2003 and Commonwealth Games in 2006.
St Elizabeth is the birthplace of some of contemporary dancehall/reggae's finest acts such as Terry Linen, Yasus Afari, Fantan Mojah, Protoje, Laden, and Noddy Virtue.
"As a child growing up everyone, including myself, had to relocate to Kingston as St Elizabeth didn't have much opportunity for aspiring entertainers," said Fantan Mojah who hails from the district of Elderslie.
Fantan Mojah, whose real name is Owen Moncrieffe, is best known for the songs Hail the King and Moma Hungry. He said a St Elizabeth sound system named Flame Sounds attracted some big names to the parish when he was a youth.
"Artistes such as Ninja Man, Frankie Paul, Professor Nuts, Lady G, and Papa San used to journey from Kingston to perform on Flame Sounds and provided some form of musical entertainment in the parish in the early 1980s and 1990s," Mojah told the Jamaica Observer.
St Elizabeth hosts the annual Rebel Salute show in Alligator Pond and the GT Taylor Extravaganza which is held at Independence Park in Black River.
"Junction in the parish is rapidly becoming what could be considered as an entertainment capital in Jamaica. There are several nightclubs in the vicinity as well as an increase of stage shows," said dub poet/author Yasus Afari.
He added that music has played an integral role in the development of the parish with the recent emergence of young artistes and recording studios.
"The St Bess Recording studio in Santa Cruz is just one of several studios that is providing an avenue for the youths to highlight their musical talent," Afari explained.
He credits the success of St Elizabeth natives like himself, Foster-Hylton and Fantan Mojah to the benevolent nature of people in the parish.
"The people of St Elizabeth are not only hardworking but very supportive of each other. There is rarely any strife as they realise that in order to be successful unity is a must," he said.
Afari also attended STETHS. He is author of the books Eye Pen and Overstanding Rastafari: Jamaica's Gift to the World.