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Resourceful Clarendon man defies life's curve ball

BY OSHANE TOBIAS Observer staff reporter tobiaso@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, January 14, 2013    

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MAY PEN, Clarendon — Moses Samuels is the perfect example of what it means to be persistent. Not even the neglect of his parents, which led to him being raised by the State, could stop him from charting his own success.

He is always searching for that golden idea to reinvent his image, but it is his latest venture that is so far proving to be the biggest hit with the people of May Pen.

Known to most as 'Rogers', Samuels first took on a singing career in the early 1990s, performing under the name 'Reggae Rogers' but, from time to time, would branch off into a new profession whenever life threw him the unexpected curve ball.

"It was the late (broadcaster) Basil 'Bagga' Brown who actually gave me the name 'Reggae Rogers' when he came to May Pen in 1993 with Reggae Trail," Samuels recalled.

"At the time, I was singing and sounded like (country and western singer) Kenny Rogers, so people used to call me Peter Rogers, but when 'Bagga' heard me singing country music on the reggae rhythm he said he is going to change the name.

"I voiced a couple of singles, which did well overseas. Locally, I got a lot of airplay and recognition and even went to Canada and Cuba because of it. But, you know, life has stages so I eventually moved on from that because I am the kind of person who always wants to keep earning," he said.

Soon after, 'MC Rogers' was born. "The MC Service also came about because the same Bagga gave me an opportunity," Samuels said. "He was supposed to host another leg of the Reggae Trail in Brown's Town, but wasn't feeling well so he asked me to do it for him.

"From that night, he said to me: 'Rogers, yuh nuh only can sing, yuh can also host shows because you have the voice of a real MC', so from there I started to host weddings, birthday parties and stage shows."

After music, Samuels segued into business. "I started to work with Epic Hardware in May Pen, until I eventually decided to start my own little town crier business, which is still going strong today," he said.

However, it was the decision to open a low-budget sports bar and restaurant on Manchester Avenue, May Pen, that added a whole new chapter to the success story of this grass roots Jamaican, who simply does not know how to fail.

Selling food for $100 might not be unique to this mid-island town, but offering free delivery service is certainly adding a new dimension.

"We deliver everywhere in May Pen," Samuels said. "We supply homes because a lot of people don't come anymore, but the higglers are my main customers. They are the ones who asked me to start the delivery service," he explained.

The business has now grown to the point where Samuels employs eight individuals. "With everything you will always have some amount of negative feedback, but for me the response has been really great," he said.

But life wasn't always this good for him.

Born in Clarendon, the 43-year-old was brought up in a foster home in neighbouring Manchester, but would return to his home parish with a burning desire for success.

"When I came back to May Pen in 1984, it wasn't pretty for me. I only had two pants and one shirt, but I was determined to make something of myself," Samuels revealed. "Not because I was brought up in foster care or didn't have the love of a mother and a father, that doesn't mean I should be a negative person towards society," he said.

"With or without love from a mother or father, I decided that I was going to show love to everybody who I come in contact with, so there is no excuse for you to become a negative person," he continued.

Reflecting on his journey, Samuels, who now has a daughter, said he's blessed. "One of the main reasons why I am where I am today is because I choose my friends carefully because it hasn't been an easy road. Trust me.

"But when I look at what I have achieved since I came to May Pen I have to be thankful because if I was supposed to go back to country, the knapsack couldn't carry what I have."

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