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JWA Study Tour to Jamaica - June 2016

From: lizmillman@yahoo.co.uk
Date: 29 October 2016 at 20:10:46 GMT+11
To: Jonathan Greenland
Cc: Liz Millman , John Wyer Bangor YA
Subject: Draft of report

Welsh Delegation Visit to Jamaica                                     Sept 2016


The North Wales Jamaica Society was established in 2010 by a small group of people living in and around Bangor in North Wales, who have an interest in or links with Jamaica. 

Initially our focus was to support the recognition of Black History Month each October and to explore the shared histories between North Wales and Jamaica. We have been supported by Jamaican visitors to Wales, especially by regular visits each year of Jamaican Dub Poet and Author, Yasus Afari. 

In September 2016, a small delegation from NWJS were invited to Jamaica by Yasus Afari, including John Wyer, Chair of North Wales Jamaica Society, Rhys Trimble, Welsh Poet, and Liz Millman, founder member of the North Wales Jamaica Society. 

Rhys Trimble was invited to perform for groups in various places, as part of a research project that he and Yasus Afari are working on into the links between Jamaican poetry and Welsh poetry. 

John Wyer followed his interest in Reggae, meeting various artistes at events and meeting Count Ozzie’s daughter, who recorded a promotional video for the Count Ozzie Tribute Event to be held in Neuadd Ogwen, Bethesda, as part of the Black History Month, Irie Pesda Festival.

Liz Millman caught up with contacts she has made over the past 20 years in her work with colleagues in various educational projects. She also followed up links on shared histories between Jamaica and Wales.

For the past few years, Yasus Afari and Liz Millman have been exploring the idea of creating more formal links between interested organisations in Jamaica and organisations who may be interested in Wales and a busy programme of meetings and activities was planned over 10 days. The delegation were warmly welcomed and achieved a great deal, thanks to the efforts put in by Yasus Afari and his organisation, SeyaCum, working in partnership with Liz’s organisation, Learning Links International. 

The main aims of the delegation were:

to progress research into the links between Jamaican and Welsh poetry and Eisteddfod

to explore the potential for establishing formal links between Wales and Jamaica, in a similar way to the approach being taken by “Flag Up Scotland / Jamaica”, but with organisations in Jamaica and organisations in Wales

to negotiate the payment of £1,000 offered by the Laspen Trust to John Austin School in Pennants in Clarendon on behalf of the former plantation owning Pennant family

The organisations that welcomed the delegation were: 

Jamaica Cultural Development Commission  - possible links with Arts Council Wales / Wales International Arts 

Institute of Jamaica / Jamaica Memory Bank / Museum of Jamaica - possible links with Heritage organisations in Wales, CADW, National Trust, People’s Collection, Museums in Wales and Archives in Wales 

Jamaican Language Unit, University of the West Indies - possible links with organisations in Wales that support Welsh Language and accreditation of Welsh

CARIMENSA -  possible links with organisations in North Wales that support people with mental health issues

Parish of Clarendon -  possible links with local authorities in North West Wales

Schools serving communities in Pennants area of Clarendon - possible links with schools in Bethesda

Jamaica Agricultural Society at Denbigh Showground - possible links with Denbigh and Flint Agricultural Show and Young Farmers groups in Denbigh, North Wales

The British High Commissioner, David Fitton, and Welsh born Deputy Head of Mission,  Julia Sutherland, welcomed the delegation and their guests to a Lunchtime Reception at the British High Commission in Kingston and were interested to hear about the links being explored with a wide range of organisations in Jamaica who had confirmed their interest in exploring making links with organisations in Wales.

Prof Mervyn Morris, the Poet Laureate of Jamaica, extended a welcome to the delegation and was pleased to receive greetings from Ifor ap Glyn, the National Poet of Wales, and he took an active interest in the research and his own obvious Welsh links. 

Mayor of Clarendon, Cllr Scean Barnswell, welcomed members of the delegation to his office in May Pen. His is the only Mayoral Office in Jamaica’s large Parish of Clarendon, which is equivalent in size and population to North West Wales, and has areas with the strongest historical links to North Wales. The Parish hosts the annual Jamaica Agricultural Show, known as the “Denbigh Show” in the town of Denbigh, which was one of the plantations owned by the  North Wales family of Pennants, the former owners of Penrhyn Castle, Bangor. Most of the plantations that contributed to the enormous wealth of the Pennant family were also in the Parish of Clarendon, with a clear legacy left in the name of a small village named Pennants in the centre of the island. As current Mayor of Clarendon, Cllr Scean Barnswell is very keen to develop heritage tourism and to link with heritage agencies in North Wales. The Jamaica Agricultural Society has sent an invitation to the Denbigh and Flint Show team in Denbigh and the Young Farmers in Wales to visit the next Denbigh Show in Jamaica in August 2017, but has yet to get a response. 

Liz Millman and Rhys Trimble visited John Austin All Age School in the area called Pennants, to negotiate the donation of £1,000, given via the NWJS, from the Laspen Trust which was set up by the Pennant family.  Rhys entertained students with his mediaeval and modern Welsh poetry, while Liz was taken on a tour of the school, accompanied by Zahra and her TV cameraman from 18 Degrees North, to see what the donation could be used for. Principal, Clover Clarke Bailey, has decided to use the funds to replace 4 rotten windows. However the school is in a bad state of disrepair, with limited local funds available to undertake the work needed to even make the buildings safe and upgrade the pit toilets.  The North Wales Jamaica Society is planning tonlaunch an appeal to see if we can raise funds to help both this school and the Pennants Basic School (Nursery School) improve their facilities and support the next generation of children. The children of Grade 2 kindly offered a home to visiting Dragon, named Irie / Bendegedig, and promised to look after him well, and John Austin school is interested in linking with a school in Bethesda. 

Principal Dr Walters, from Edwin Allen High School in the nearby town of Frankfield, agreed that they would like to link with Ysgol Dyffryn Ogwen.

Principal Jasford Gabriel, from Manchester High School in Mandeville, Jamaica, expressed an interest in linking with a school in North Wales, possibly in Holyhead.

Following discussions with the Regional Director of Education for Clarendon and St Catherine Parishes, it  was agreed to explore with the Jamaican Ministry of Education ways to support the development of the new approach to school linking, as Jamaican school links are no longer supported by the British Council.

The Jamaican Commission for Cultural Development, JCDC, expressed an active interest in linking with Arts Council Wales, to invite Welsh Artistes and Welsh Bands to Jamaica and to bring Jamaican Artistes and Reggae Bands to Wales. JCDC is also supporting the research into links between poetry and Eisteddfod in Jamaica and Wales. Jamaica’s current “Festival” grew out of the introduction of Eisteddfod in Jamaica in 1880’s. 

Director Vivian Crawford welcomed the delegation to the Institute of Jamaica which manages heritage organisations. Vivien gave a very informative presentation on the history of Eisteddfod in Jamaica. 

Rheinallt Foster-Jones, Director of the People’s Collection in Wales expressed interest in developing an information technology hub in Jamaica, where people can share their connections to Wales on the People’s Collection website. It was agreed by Vivian Crawford that this link will be made with the Jamaica Memory Bank online project which is managed by Bernard Jankee.

The Director of the Museum of Jamaica, Jonathan Greenland, is Welsh and living in Jamaica, and he is interested to link with the Museum of Wales and he has also agreed to set up the Jamaica Wales Alliance, to manage to keep the momentum going between Jamaica and Wales.

Professor Hubert Devonish, Head of the Jamaican Language Unit situated on the Mona Campus of  the University of the West Indies, took time to discuss how to move forward his important work to gain full recognition and respect for Jamaican, the language of Jamaica. NWJS to link up with Welsh Language activists in Bangor and area, and with Accreditation Bodies to possibly arrange a conference at University of Bangor in 2017. 

Professor Fred Hickling welcomed members of the delegation to his home and discussed ways he could support the development of links between Jamaica and Wales. Prof Hickling has been a researcher in the field of psychiatry for over 40 years, with interests in African Caribbean mental health, schizophrenia, personality disorder, community psychiatry, psychotherapy, political psychology and cultural therapy. His work on cultural therapy is groundbreaking, and he has offered to come to North Wales to run a workshop on exploring identity through poetry and drama. Not sure of best link for this.

Some discussions were held during the BHC Reception with British Council team.

Other links may include Rotary International clubs and women's groups through the Associated Country Women of the World.

The delegation is indebted to Yasus Afari for making the visit so productive, and that all involved in Jamaica, and for all the other organisations and individuals who supported us so willingly, with special mentions of:

The Mayor of Clarendon, Cllr Scean Barnswell, for his enthusiastic support and Jamaican gifts to help us keep warm back home  in Wales – woolly hats and a scarf in Jamaican colours! 

Principal,  Jasford Gabriel, from Manchester High School for much needed help with logistics, and encouragement with the development of school links.

The new Director of Ministry of Education Region 6, Maxine Headlam, for keeping Tan, the Dragon we took to Jamaica some years ago, safe and well in her office, and for willingly taking on the idea of developing school links with Schools in Wales.

Vanessa Harper and the British High Commission, for providing a lunchtime reception for 30 and inviting our guests at short notice

Courtney Minors, for accommodation and transport to and from his hostel, Kingsworth, high up in Jacks Hill, Kingston.

Audrey West and her daughter, Iola, and John Wyer’s son, Felix, for their support to the delegation as our guests.

Jonathan Greenland for taking the Baton for Wales and agreement to explore setting up the Jamaica Wales Alliance.

Plans for next delegation visits to Jamaica  from Wales / Cymru in 2017

Schools focus: Possible date Wed 24th May to Sun 4th June NB this time covers Spring Bank holiday week in UK and is just after Jamaica’s Labour Day (Mon 22nd May) Summer Term ends early  in July. Contact Liz Millman or John Wyer for further details

Denbigh Show focus: end of July / early August

Jamaica Poetry Festival and Poetry Retreat focus: August 2017

Suggested visits from Jamaica to North Wales: to be discussed

Update Oct 2016

John Austin school is interested in linking with a school in Bethesda. Ysgol Pen y Bryn is interested.

Edwin Allen High School in the nearby town of Frankfield, agreed that they would like to link with Ysgol Dyffryn Ogwen and Yasus Afari has introduced the link to the students as guest poet at the school during the past few weeks

A link between Ysgol Uwchradd Caergybi and Manchester High School in Mandeville, Jamaica, is being explored. 

Progress being made on reparation donation to John Austin School by Laspen Trust and more filming done.

As the British Council no longer funds teacher exchanges between Jamaica and U.K. Liz Millman and Alun Llewyd, Head Teacher at Dyffryn Ogwen, are discussing this with the British Council. 

Meeting set up with Wales Arts International 

Meeting planned with People's Collection

Plan for the North Wales Black History Festival in Oct 2017 based on success of Irie Pesda Festival held in Bethesda

Found this on web:  A little history on links between Jamaica and Wales:

Once in a while when driving through the parishes of St.Ann and Trelawny you come across low stone walls, where the stones look as if they fit almost seamlessly together ­ testament to Welsh artisanry. Other examples of Welsh craftsmanship include many of the slate roofs that covered Jamaican 18th & 19th century sugar works. (The slates used in schools were also most likely Welsh). There are Welsh placenames ­ Bangor Ridge (Portland), Cardiff Hall (St. Ann), Llandilo (Westmoreland), Llandovery (St. Ann), Pencarne (in St. Mary) once owned by the famous and infamous Welsh pirate/privateer-turned-Governor, Capt. Henry Morgan). Then there are the places named after him ­ Morgan's Bridge, Morgan's Pass, and Morgan's Valley in Clarendon.

Also in the 17th century, Jamaica had a parish named St. David (part of present-day St. Thomas) ­ perhaps after the patron saint of Wales, whose day is celebrated with daffodils and leeks every March 1 in Wales. Jamaican surnames of Welsh background include: Bryan, Davis, Davies, Jones, Meredith, Morgan, Owens, Rhys/Reece, Williams and Vaughan. At one point in the 1950s some suburban house names in Kingston included Abergavenny, Pontypridd and Llandudno ­ all names of Welsh towns.

The Welsh influence is also felt annually in Jamaica's National Festival Movement, likely patterned after the Eisteddfod, the Welsh annual summertime celebration of arts, culture and music (Senior, 2003, p.511).

Interestingly, this article didn't mention the village of Pennants and the town of Denbigh, both situated in areas previously owned by the Pennant family.





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