History Man and Black History Month – Part 3
If one should travel to just about any community in Jamaica, the name History Man rings a bell. And, teachers are eager to open their doors for him because when he leaves that packed classroom or auditorium, there is a wealth of information to gain.
During his one-hour presentation, or more, even the janitor who should be one his next round lay aside broom and mop just to get, not only a peek at the Rastafarian, dressed in his signature green, gold, and black robe but who’s next on the history train.
At one school, History Man opens the eyes of over 900 students and teachers with what he claimed to be just some of our inventors and their inventions.
The first was Reggae Music and the Informative History Man did not mince words that Jamaicans were the inventors.
“Reggae music, which has elements of our ancestors’ music, came about during the nineteen sixties. And, since then it has inoculated the world.”
“Bob Marley takes credit for exporting this music to several countries including Japan with so many races remixing our hit songs.”
History Man reminds the keen listeners that Reggae Music not only entertains.
“It opens the doors for meditation, reflection, and forgiveness. Those of us who are experiencing problems look to Reggae Music to soothe our pain and sorrows. We can replay the music of say Dennis Brown and Bob Marley to be educated in so many social issues.”
“It is the influence of Reggae Music why the Grammy Academy decided to make Reggae a category deserving the same prominence as others by collecting their Awards on stage watched by millions around the world.”
History Man also talks about Hip Hop Music.
“Please give DJ Kool a round of applause for inventing Hip Hop Music and that was in the 1970s.”
“I particularly mention this inventor (DJ Kool) because it all happened in the Bronx, one of New York’s black communities. Hip Hop Music was so influential that it gave hope to a number of street youths, some becoming musicians, changing their lives positively.”
“DJ Kool, a native of Jamaica, moved to New York City’s Bronx and produced several popular rap singles in the 198Os.”
“In 1996 he released the single “Let Me Clear My Throat,” which charted around the world including the Top 40 on Billboard Hot 100 and Top 10 in the UK and the Netherlands in March 1997.”
History Man feels that Imhotep makes the list of great inventors.
“Sir, was Imhotep the real Father of Medicine?” was the question that came from a female teacher in a red outfit.
“Over the years, even today, the Greek physician Hippocrates has been referred to as The Father of Medicine. This is not true.”
“It is safe to regard Imhotep as the world’s first genius because of his immense contribution to humanity and different fields of study, especially medicine, engineering, and architecture,” he adds.
“Paul invented the helicopter which one can safely say has transported Presidents and Prime Ministers to functions. It is the helicopter which continues to assist crime-fighting efforts in several countries.”
History Man glanced across the road and saw what appeared to be an elderly man being pushed in a wheelchair.
“Africans must be commended for finding ways to assist the unfortunate. John Dawson of Bath, England, designed a wheelchair with large rear wheels and a small front wheel. This was used to transport people to the therapeutic waters in the bath.”
“Many of us can’t help but think of wheelchairs when spinal cord injury is mentioned. The two are so closely tied that they almost seem like one. The wheelchair is now electrically operated by providing the energy to move at regular speed.”
“So how have the Africans fared with providing entertainment for children?” a student sitting in the front row asked.
“You seem to be a bright girl. Well, Granville Woods invented the electric Roller Coaster. This is a ride seen at almost every amusement park throughout the world.”
“I can tell you further that Woods, an African American, invented the electric railway called ‘The Figure Eight’. He also held more than 50 patents.”
“We Africans must be commended for recognizing the importance for children to develop this need for relaxation and also that there must be time to put away work and play.”
History Man sees the refridgerator another feature in the African’s cap.
“John Stanard improved the standard of the refrigerator and oil stove, in short, improvements in kitchen appliances. In the case of refrigerator, Stanard used a manually filled ice chamber for chilling. Perishable foods including meats can now remain wholesome for months. Those who do outdoor fishing now have large refrigerated storehouses to keep not only fish or juices but other products which would have been a big challenge to remain fresh.”
Eyeing a clock on the wall History man continued. “Today, transport authority all over the world requires passenger’s vehicles to be equipped with a fire extinguisher. So, in case of a fire this can be extinguished saving lives. These units can be seen in banks, schools, and other public buildings.”
“Tom J. Marshall is credited for improving the design of the fire extinguisher. He invented a system in which water is pumped through pipes in buildings to the individual sprinkler head. The system can be activated manually by turning a valve in the building.”
“And may I just add that another African by the name of Garet Morgan invented the stoplight. What brilliant combination when one thinks of the human energy which would be deployed were it not for Morgan.”
“Morgan was born in Paris, Kentucky, and later moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. He held patents for his many creations which brought him much fame and prosperity. He was nationally honoured by many organizations, including the Emancipation Centennial in 1963.”
History Man says he could go on to mention a score of other Africans Inventors. Then he realized he has not included George Washington Carver, an American agricultural scientist and inventor who promoted alternative crops to cotton and methods to prevent soil depletion.
“Carver also helped farmers to be more financially savy by inventing peanut butter. This led to peanuts providing another avenue for farmers and opening doors for more employment. In 1941, Time Magazine dubbed Carver a black Leonardo.”
It was time for the Informative History Man to take his leave from the school but not before the head boy’s words.
“Good afternoon everyone. I am overwhelmed and I know everyone wanted this opportunity. Too bad, I am the lucky one.’
” To my new teacher, History Man, a million thanks. You have shared with us this afternoon more than a legacy. The information left behind will surely inspire us, not only in seeking more information about our past but being more creative. One of us could go down in history as a great black inventor.”
“0n behalf of my Principal, VP’s, fellow students, and all, I present to you this token, a painting of our school. This is for your rich information and I hope you will remember this school each time you look at this painting.”
History Man believes that our inventors should be taught in schools as they would inspire students to think of ways they can make and reshape things that could benefit their and future generations.
“I believe that blacks have become lackadaisical in terms of creating ideas which can promote better living conditions.”
“We need to inspire our youths, not through literature which glorifies the achievements of others, but through our black inventors.”
Be sure to read part four of the series, only on the Reggae-Vibes site.
(Photos courtesy of Kings and Queens Production)