Q.  What famous Jamaican said “I don't have prejudice against meself.”

A.  Bob Marley, the singer, songwriter and musician. His father, Norval Sinclair Marley, was a white Jamaican whose family came from Essex, England. A captain in the Royal Marines, Norval was also a plantation overseer. He married Bob Marley’s mother, Cedella Booker, an Afro-Jamaican girl, when she was 18 years old. Bob Marley said “I don't have prejudice against meself. My father was a white and my mother was black. Them call me half-caste or whatever. Me don't dip on nobody's side. Me don't dip on the black man's side nor the white man's side. Me dip on God's side, the one who create me and cause me to come from black and white."

Q.  Name the Jamaican who was highly  honored for service given to British soldiers in the Crimean War?

A.  Mary  Seacole.

More about Mary  Seacole.

Q:  Where in Jamaica is Gallows Point? And why was it called by that name?

A:  Port Royal. Condemned persons were executed there by hanging. The last of these hangings took place in 1831.

Q:  Who was Jamaica's first radio broadcaster?

A:  John Grinan. Grinan was an amateur radio operator who lived on Seaview Avenue. He began broadcasting news and general information from his home in 1939 for half an hour every week. The station's call sign was VP5PZ. After negotiations with the colonial government in 1940, VP5PZ became a radio station, with the call letters ZQI. The station continued to broadcast from the same location until 1956. Its estimated listenership grew to 100,000. On July 9, 1950 the service was reorganized and taken over by Rediffusion, and became known as Jamaica Rediffusion RJR. Rediffusion made fairly good quality radio available by cable. However Rediffusion also set up medium wave transmitters at four sites in order to cover the entire island.

Q:  Who first won Olympic Gold for Jamaica? 

A:  Arthur Wint, in 1948, setting the then-World record for the 400 m (46.2 seconds) in London. In 1937 he was the Jamaica Boy Athlete of the year, the following year he won a Gold medal in the 800 meters at the Central American Games in Panama. He was 6½ ft. tall and known as the Gentle Giant. His statue stands in front of the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica. Wint served as an RAF pilot in Britain during WWII, as a High Commissioner for Jamaica and as a medical doctor in Linstead in Jamaica. Born in Plowden, Manchester, Jamaica on May 25, 1920, he died in 1992.

Q:  .Why do they call a $500 bill a nanny in Jamaica?

A:  The image of Nanny of the Maroons appears on the Bank of Jamaica's $500 currency note.

Q:  What cornmeal delicacy is especially popular at the annual Nanny Day celebrations.

A:  Dokunu - a dish the Jamaican Maroons are said to have eaten to help them survive in the forest. It is made mainly of corn meal and is wrapped and cooked in banana leaves.

See also conkies.

Q:  What is Jamaica’s oldest theatre group?

A:  The Little Theatre Movement, a cultural performing arts group, founded 1941. It is also said to be the oldest theatrical company in the Caribbean. Little Theatre, its brainchild,  opened in 1961. It is an auditorium with a seating capacity of approximately 600, arranged in two levels of platforms. Part of Little Theatre is open air.

Q:  Where was the first capital of Jamaica?

A:  Seville, in St. Ann

Q:  Name the outstanding Jamaican sprinter who held 400-meter and 440-yard world records and was a member of the Jamaican 4 X 400 relay team that won the gold medal while also setting a world record at the 1948 Olympics?

A:  Herb McKenley. The other members of the winning relay team were Arthur Wint, Leslie Laing and George Rhoden.

Q:  Where in Jamaica is “Lard Bay”?

A:  OK, it is not called Lard Bay now, but Montego Bay. At one time it was called Manteca (“manteca de cerdo” is Spanish for “lard” or “pig butter”) Bay, and later Montego Bay. The reason is that lard, made from pigs and cattle, was shipped from the bay during the early 19th century. The bay was inhabited by a large number of wild pigs at that time.

Q:  Who made Jamaica Farewell and Banana Boat Song popular in the 50s?

A:  Harry Belafonte, born Harold George Belafonte in Harlem, New York. His parents came from the Caribbean - Martinique and Jamaica and he lived in Jamaica with his mother during the 5-year period she returned there (1935-40). They both then moved back to the United States. Harry Belafonte became a very popular singer, actor and activist in the United States. Banana Boat Song is known popularly as Day-O.

Q:  What is bammy?

A:  In Jamaica, cassava bread. The cassava is grated, pressed to remove the juice, then grilled or fried. They are often buttered and eaten with fried fish. Bammies are usually about 10cm in diameter and about 1cm thick.

Q:  What's wrong with the following statement? "This little village in Jamaica, just 30 miles from the sea ......"

A:  No part of Jamaica is more than 25 miles from the sea.

Q:  What does a Jamaican mean when he says about his country: "We little, but we talawah?"

A:  We (Jamaica) are little (small in size), but we are big (in impact, potential). This expression is also used in relation to persons, things and situations.

Q:  Why did the Maroons agree in a treaty with the British to recapture runaway slaves who like themselves were black?

A:  The Maroons never really trusted slaves and descendants of slaves to resist coercion into informing. The inner strength to resist informing was critical to the preservation of Maroon territories. Distrust existed in spite of the fact that the Maroons were an inspiration to the slaves, some of whom ran away and joined the Maroons in the interior.  

Q:  What is the origin of the word "rastafari"?

A:  The word rastafari began as the name Ras Tafari. He was crowned emperor of Ethiopia and took the throne name of Haile Selassie I. Of course,  rastafarianism has its origins in Ras Tafari.

Q:  The man who formed the UNIA also wrote The Battle Hymn of Africa. Who was he?

A:  Marcus Garvey. The UNIA was his Universal Negro Improvement Association, formed to promote black unity and betterment. The battle hymn is one of Garvey's poems.

Q:  What name was given to the early guerillas of Jamaica's Cockpit Country?

A:  Maroons. They were slaves who escaped from their Spanish, then British overseers to live in small but effective guerilla bands. Eventually they conducted wars with the British crown government. The nearly impenetrable Cockpit Country was their main home.

Q:  What issue did Jamaica's referendum of 1961 decide?

A:  Whether to stay in or withdraw from the Federation of the West Indies. Jamaica decided to withdraw.

Q:  Name the buccaneer who rose from criminal to Governor of Jamaica.

A.  Henry Morgan. This ruthless buccaneer was a brilliant tactician and daring sea captain who embarrassed and angered the British crown at one point, but then regained its favor and was made Governor of the island.

Q:  What is the Arawak word from which Jamaica got its name, and what does it mean?

A:  Xaymaca. It means land of wood and water.

Q:  Where in Jamaica would you go to see a profusion of ferns of many varieties growing along a 3-mile stretch of road?

A:  Fern Gully. It's along Highway A3. Fern Gully is a protected reserve.

Q:  What makes the doctor bird special in Jamaica?

A:  Doctor bird is the name given to the hummingbird, which is Jamaica's national bird.

Q:  What part of Jamaica was regarded as one of the most wicked places on earth when disaster struck in 1692?

A:  Port Royal. Under the buccaneers, it was a place where drinking, prostitution and gambling were unrestrained. On June 7, 1692 an earthquake followed by a tidal wave took much of the "city of sin" away for ever.

Q:  What is Jonkonnu?

A:  A festival held after Christmas in Jamaica featuring masqueraders dressed as kings, or animals, or other mythical and comical figures parading in the streets. It has its origins in the days of slavery.

Q:  What is another name for naseberry?

A:  In some places this fruit is called sapodilla. It is a sweet and pulpy fruit that is much loved all over the Caribbean. The milky sap or latex produced by the sapodilla tree was used for making early chewing gums. However, After WWII, chemists began making artificial gum bases to replace chicle.

Q:  What does the term "abeng" mean in Jamaica?

A:  This is the name for a conch shell used as a horn.

Q:  What is pepperpot?

A:  It depends. For a Jamaican, pepperpot is a soup made with callaloo and other greens, beef or pork, and spices. In Guyana, pepperpot is something else altogether.

Q:  What common utensil sold to former slaves after emancipation had a drawing of a dark woman holding a child of light complexion and an inscription of the following words?

     "My Fada's hope, My Moda's joy, My Pretty Little Creole


A:  A water pitcher.

Q:  If in the days of slavery you were regarded as an octaroon, what would you be?

A:  One-eighth white. (Click here for more details).

Q:  During the years 1840-65, shortly after emancipation, about 8,000 Africans were brought to Jamaica as indentured, but free, workers. From what African groups did they come?

A:  The Yoruba and Congo groups. They settled mainly in St Thomas and Portland. A consequence of their arrival was the revitalization of African cultural practices.

Q:  Who are the "Syrians" of Jamaica?

A:  Lebanese. A small but economically important number of Lebanese went to Jamaica around the late 1800s. At that time their country was still ruled by the Ottoman Empire and the Lebanese district was known as Syria. The Lebanese have been called Syrians all over the Caribbean.

Q.  Why would you probably not want to eat a Jamaican Mango “fresh”?

 A.  The Jamaican Mango (Anthracothorax mango), not the fruit, is a species of hummingbird. It is found only on the island of Jamaica and nowhere else in the world. A large hummingbird, with a dark appearance overall, it lives in the subtropical or tropical lowland forests and heavily degraded former forest of the island.

Q:  If a Jamaican says his house is a chain or two down the road, what does he mean?

A:  He is using an archaic British unit of measurement called a "chain", equivalent to 66 feet.

Q:  What does a Jamaican mean by "putta-putta"?

A:  Mud. The word putta-putta is believed to have come from Africa. This expression is also used in Guyana.

Q.  Why do Jamaicans consider the star apple tree “mean”?

A.  Star-Apples grow plentifully on large, tall trees. However, even when the fruits are ripe, the trees do not let them fall as most other trees do. So Jamaicans talk of tight-fisted people as being “mean like Star-Apple.”