BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large, Western Bureau firstname.lastname@example.org
DARLISTON, Westmoreland - CONCERNED that enough is not being done to preserve, protect and showcase Jamaica's rich heritage and culture, Westmoreland resident Pete Manbode has embarked on an islandwide journey to keep the island's cultural heritage alive.
"I have a passion for my heritage and I have realised that a lot of people are adopting the culture from other countries (and), so some of us will have to try and preserve it and show the people where we are coming from so that they can appreciate more of what we have," Manbode explained.
Over the past 12 months, the 49-year-old Manbode, who is a TPDCo trainer, has been moving across the country in a 1994 Marco Polo Benz bus -- purchased for roughly $2 million — showcasing a number of artefacts.
Aptly called Man B's Museum and Culture Bus, and painted in the national colours, the vehicle has so far been to a number of school functions and major family events, including the Denbigh Agricultural Show and Nyammins and Jammins, staged at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Centre recently.
A tour of the bus reveals a prolific display of Jamaican collectables and antiques, dating back to the Tainos.
"We boast one of Jamaica's best collection of old Jamaican and English coins, as well as a 1762 version of the King James Bible with books of the Maccabees and more," Manbode revealed.
The bus, said to be the island's first mobile museum, also has on board a gramophone, believed to be about 92 years old, self-heating irons, a commode, sewing machines, and a large collection of antique furniture.
"We also have a radio which was made in 1932 and is still working and an array of kitchen utensils that date back to the 18th and 19th centuries," he told the Observer West.
He said that several pieces of the artefacts were bought from collectors in Westmoreland, while others were given to him by his grandparents.
Accompanying the colourful bus is a live band which serves up several genres of music, including reggae, mento, ska, and rocksteady.
Mouth-watering dishes such as ackee and saltfish and roasted breadfruit and delicacies like drops, grater cake, corn pone, and asham also form part of the package being offered on Man B's Museum and Culture Bus.
Manbode said so far the response to the initiative has been tremendous.
"A lot of the stuff that we have, people are either seeing them for the first time or not since a very long time," he said.
"They like the idea how the exhibition is packaged, and I feel good about doing it as a tourism worker, and one who is passionate about our heritage."