As we saw last week, plantation owners did all they could to force their displaced slaves to forget the places and traditions they came from. Looking back, though, we see how the strength of those people won out over all such efforts.
Imagine, again, what it would be like to find yourself in a totally unfamiliar and hostile place. You have no roots, you’ve lost everything that defined your life and your sense of self, and you can’t communicate with anyone around you. What do you do?
You might hold, as tightly as you could, onto the few things you had that couldn’t be taken from you. Your memories. Stories you were told as a child. Songs and prayers your parents taught you. These sacred things helped you hold onto your sense of home even when you knew you would never see that place again.
In Jamaica, slaves gradually built a shared culture. One of the most important elements of that culture was the growth of a new, shared language, built out of the dialects from different parts of Africa and using elements borrowed from European languages, especially English. Over time, this mixed language became the patois spoken in Jamaica today.
This week’s featured song is “Mango Time,” a celebratory tune about the mango harvest. Like last week’s “Chi Chi Bud Oh,” this tune may have originally been a “digging-sing” or work song. You can find an English translation of the patois lyrics here.