New Book: Portland: The Other Jamaica (Tales of Dreamers, Schemers, and Crusaders)

Last month I read a fascinating presentation of a new book— Ken Roueche’s 2010 Portland: The Other Jamaica (Tales of Dreamers, Schemers, and Crusaders)—by Tony Williams (Caribbean Book Blog, 28 July 2010), freelance journalist and former editor of St. Lucia’s Crusader newspaper. Williams offers useful background information on Portland and Ken Roueche as well as an account by the author himself on the inspiration, motivations, and writing process to produce a book that offers “another” view of Jamaica. Here are excerpts of Williams’ description with a link to the full article below:

Portland is located on Jamaica’s northeast coast. Situated to the north of St Thomas and the east of St Mary in Surrey County, it extends from the highest peaks of the Blue Mountains down to the north coast. It is one of the most luxuriant areas of Jamaica, known for its glorious scenery, fertile soil and fine beaches. The entire coastline is dotted with bays, river valleys, caves, hills and waterfalls.

For a long time Ken Roueche has been enthralled by Portland’s Eden-like beauty. He’s also fascinated by its dynamic history and its people; so much, he felt compelled to devote his literary skills to paying homage to the parish, a place Errol Flynn once described as “more beautiful than any woman”. The end result is his latest book Portland: the Other Jamaica which offers a glimpse into the history of the community and chronicles the lives of many of its “dreamers, schemers and crusaders” who, over the past 400 years, have left their mark on the parish. It also features over 45 images, including the works of local artists and many historic photographs that have never appeared in print before.

[. . .] “Portland has more mountains, rivers, flora and fauna and rain and perhaps has experienced more natural calamities than any other parish. That environment has shaped its history and has also attracted many dreamers and a few schemers, and still does … The people and the places of Portland have combined to create a parish like no other,” says Ken.  

In his chronicles of the parish, he notes that the unique geography of Portland provided a perfect homeland for the Windward Maroons as they fled the terror of colonial oppression under the leadership of their spiritual and military leader Queen Nanny. Although the government of Jamaica declared her a National Heroine in 1975, Queen Nanny has, to a large extent, been overlooked by historians.    

Ken added: “The 1739 Maroon Treaty was followed by the invasion of British planters with their toxic mix of slavery, violence and sugar. The end of slavery opened up abandoned plantations and mountain villages to modest opportunities for liberated slaves. Within a generation their sons and daughters were enterprising banana farmers responding to the call from Captain Baker to grow banana for the world … The Parish has also been blessed with great leaders including Captain Quao, Ken Jones, Sir Harold Allan and many others. In recent years Portland has also attracted the attention of Hollywood stars, starting with Errol Flynn and followed by queens, princes, princesses, barons, captains of Industry and more movie stars. And today the dreamers and schemers are still coming to Portland.”

For full article, see http://caribbeanbookblog.wordpress.com/2010/07/28/1080/

Further details on the book are available at http://www.portlandtheotherjamaica.com

To contact Ken Roueche, you may call 2509-384-7606 or write to kroueche@shaw.ca

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