Alec “Trueace” Smith: The Jamaican Experience
This is the first of a Three part series.
“I lived in Rollington Town, a semi-impoverished community in Kingston, Jamaica, where gunshots hardly cease to drop asleep. And, it was that bad as innocent people, including children, could be caught in a cross-fire between rival gangs.”
“I was about five years old living with my mother, Susan McClean, and three siblings. My father Anthony, although living elsewhere, was very supportive in terms of providing for his children and giving us advice.”
“I am talking about in the early ’90s, and as a five year-old living under these conditions was traumatic. I would wake up hearing people talking about, who got shot the night before, who were dead and who were gone a hospital. And, you could see the spent shells on the ground and how the bullets chip the walls of the houses.”
“And, then you had to go to school and you couldn’t walk along certain place as bad would be around. So, it did affect my schoolwork. And, the sad point about all of this is that you did not even know what had caused he war ’cause the whole thing seemed so senseless.”
“Often-times, the street was our playing ground and mom would console me whenever I seemed sad. Mom was a strong, disciplined and well-educated. She taught at Hydel High School as a subject teacher, in addition to being a netball coach.”
“The community saw her as a model mother, one to be emulated, so she got the respect she deserved. And, she taught us lessons that have remained with us for a very long time.”
“Porridge was one of mom’s favourite meals for us at lunchtime. We lived just across from the school. So, the three of us, Nathan and Niccoli, went home only to find porridge for lunch. We stood amazed.”
“Porridge again! we uttered and walked back to school. But only to find that mom had realized out decision to do without the porridge. She took the three bowls of porridge, walked over to the school, and in close view to the students fed us with the porridge.”
“You can imagine how we felt, with scores of children-some laughing-at us. But, the moral of the story is that we should learn to appreciate the small things in life, also the big ones. We never, from that day, refuse whatever mom had prepared for us.”
When Alec’s mom migrated to US, his greatest support came from his aunt.
“Aunt was like our mom. She reminded us to learn as much as we could in school as education is important; not to romp on the streets as this was dangerous; to study in the evening and complete our homework.”
“Our mom had taught us to speak proper English, and having attended the Seventh Day Adventist church we had christian principles. The Bible was very important. And, Bible study gave us a different perspective of life.”
“Church was certainly an escape from the harsh life in my Rollington Town community. At church we learnt kindness and live through the stories we were taught, including the ten commandments. By going to church one could join the church choir and we were exposed to fundraising activities.
“As children we could not sneak out at nights to the nearest party or sound system playing. And, if we were scolded that did not give us the right to return an answer.”
“Nowadays youths have gone astray. They have very little respect for themselves and others. Many of our elders are not positive role models, so we should keep them at a distance. My upbringing prepared me to face problems, and to know how to solve, or cope with these problems.”
Next: Alec “Trueace” Smith and his Canadian Experience. Only on the Reggae-Vibes site.
(Photos contributed by Alec “Trueace” Smith)