Getting the word out…

Category Archives: Feature Articles

It’s absolutely no secret natural hair has been a movement for several years, however, lately a lot more persons have been seen sporting the look. Many thinks what we’re seeing now is a confirmation that this is a lifestyle that is very important to a lot of persons, particular those who once thought they had to straighten their hair to “fit in” or”get ahead” in the workspace.

Local bloggers Island Essence are big supporters of the natural hair movement and will this Sunday host their first Natural hair Meet-Up in Jamaica. Here is a video with the full details of the event which happens this Sunday, June 9.



After weeks of bated breaths and pines for her return, the ‘Fluffy Diva’ Khadine ‘Ms. Kitty’ Hylton will be back on afternoon radio on July 1. The effervescent radio/TV personality will return to Nationwide 90FM weekdays from 2pm-5pm with her show ‘Ms. Kitty Live’.

CEO of Nationwide 90FM Cliff Hughes highlights that Ms. Kitty “is returning home to welcoming and open arms as she will be an asset to the broadcasting industry and specifically the afternoon time slot”. Mr. Hughes says Ms. Kitty’s return to Nationwide 90FM in the 2-5pm slot “virtually completes the revamping of the station from 6am-2am and signals a repositioning of Nationwide 90FM in response to the changes in the radio landscape and wider economy”.

Ms. Kitty’s return not only promises to

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Anticipations are high for this month staging of  KingsToon festival, a  two-day animation conference and festival
June 20-21, 2013 at UWI Mona Visitors’ Lodge & Conference Centre, which will provide the opportunity for local and regional animators to get a foothold in the growing US$222.8 billion global animation industry.

I had the chance to catch up with the KingsTOON Project Manager & Consultant in the Sustainable Development Unit of the World Bank Iván Gonzalez Berenguer Pena to find out what the event. Check out the interview below for the 4-1-1.

This Guest Post was written by Sashana Sanderson, 2nd Year Journalism Student at Caribbean Institute of Media & Communications (CARIMAC), located on the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.


Innovations, style, creativity, are just a few words to describe today’s youth in Jamaica. The irie land of Jamaica popularly known for its gorgeous beaches and jamming reggae music has for decades been crippled by high unemployment, lack of financial resources and violence particularly among its youth.

These issues have led to the merging of partnerships, to harness the creativity of the youth as a means to generate income, thereby creating jobs which in turn will build our economy. The World Bank in conjunction with other key stake holders has decided to use the Virtual Industry with a combination of the Visual Arts as a means to this end in Jamaica.

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Jamaica is overloaded with talented people with a knack for innovation and business zeal. Hence when the World Bank, through its Jamaica Country Office, contacted me to be a Ambassador for its upcoming KingsTOOn Festival, a 2-day Animation Conference and Film Festival to be held at UWI Mona Visitors’ Lodge on June 20th and 21st, I did not hesitate.

To be honest, I was brimming with enthusiasm for several reasons, chiefly because of the opportunity, but more importantly the general ethos of ‘animating Jamaican creativity’ (the event’s theme). What particularly tugged at me was how the festival could be a catalyst for employment and, prospects for professional careers for Jamaicans and foremost a platform for interactions with persons/companies in the global animation industry.

On Friday, May 24, 2013, I and 11 other youngsters from Jamaica and the Caribbean accepted our roles as “KingsTOON Animation Media Ambassadors”. Amongst our duties are: Actively promote KingsTOON Festival; engage young Jamaicans and Caribbean nationals about the festival and the animation competition. In this regard, over the next couple weeks leading up to the KingsTOON Festival, I will be sharing blog entries and interviews here, tweeting from @Lgrandison and posting pictures via my Instagram account.

Kingstoon Festival


KingsTOON is a 2-day Animation Conference and Film Festival, bringing together leading global animation companies with local animation companies, operators, investors, students and policy makers to turn talent and skill into a significant and professional career to satisfy a growing demand/gap for animation products. The festival which takes place over two day, June 20-21, 2013, at UWI’s Mona Visitors’ Lodge & Conference Centre will help Jamaicans and Caribbean nationals etch a share of the over US$222.8 billion industry.

The first day will feature panel discussions and workshops on the opportunities, and how to position oneself to take advantage of the situation. Day 2, will showcase Jamaican and Caribbean talents working in the industry and related fields. The day will also feature the announcement of the winners in the KingsTOON Animation Competition for:

•             Best Script and Storyboard (Jamaica)

•             Best experimental animation (Jamaica)

•             Best character (Jamaica)

•             Best final animation product (Caribbean)

For more information on the details of these categories and the competition please visit here

Winners will receive full scholarships to study animation in Canada at Sherdian College and Nova Scotia College courtesy of the Canadian High Commission; Animation tablets; animation software; Mac Computers; Internship with companies in the Caribbean and training with Canadian software company ToonBoom.

Enter the Animation Competition now! Visit for more info.


The fast rising contemporary reggae artiste Keznamdi has been blazing a trail across the musical landscape with thought provoking lyrics woven together to form infectious melodies and has now heralded his arrival to the reggae scene by releasing his first EP, appropriately dubbed, Bridging the Gap.

Keznamdi, who has been winning fans on both sides of the Atlantic, sees Bridging the Gap as a good chronicle of his musical and spiritually development through reggae: “Bridging the Gap means bridging all generations, all nations, and all cultures together through the music.  Music is my life and the issues on the EP are topics that affect me to varying levels”.

Through Bridging the Gap , Keznamdi focuses on issues that appeal to all classes, races and age groups. The EP is sewn together with social commentary and thoughts on man’s interaction with each other with a fair amount of questions and answers on male and female relationships.

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Dean Palmer

As Jamaica’s boxing fans gear up for the first match in Season 3 of the Wray & Nephew Contender tonight, a boxer has withdrawn from the competition.

Our team was informed that Dean Palmer, a member of the Andrew Boland led Yellow team, has tossed his boxing gloves in following the first challenge for the show set to kick off at 9:30pm tonight on TVJ.

One source told us, “him ketch him ‘fraid and never want lose so early”. Members of the promotion team were mot immediately available for comment on the causality for the Yellow team.


In recent weeks Jamaicans have been captivated by two online viral videos, mainly the VW Superbowl Ad and the Harlem Shake craze. The latter has topped Gangnam Style attracting what Andrew Rauner dubs a ‘Psy-level mass phenomenon’ featuring Skydivers, underwater stormtroppers, newscaster (local and international) and more. The craze started after a man named Filthy Frank made this video dancing to Harlem Shake (by Brooklyn-based producer Henry Rodrigues aka DJ Baauer) without doing the ‘Harlem Shake’. Hundreds of copycat videos have since followed.

For Baaucer, much has come of this for a pretty much unknown fellow, except if you were a nerd scouring SoundCloud. Baaucer earned  himself a place in music history by virture of being the 21st song to debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100 Chart, since its launch in 1951; and it’s the Brooklyn DJ’s first song on the chart. According to Philip Sherburne in Spin, this is luck on top of luck. One thing for certain, Baauer should thank amateur videographer and Billboard for adding YouTube streaming data to the pile of numbers that determines where a song is placed on the Hot 100. A good addition since YouTube is where persons go first to check out songs, not Spotify, iTunes, or Radio–this is debatable but I won’t delve into that here.

The VW ad, which everyone should have seen, features an American office worker from Minnesota who owns a 2013 Volkswagen Beetle (I think they are cute – yes cars can be cute; I won’ accept an alternative opinion LOL) adapting a Jamaican accent to spread smile among his gloomy coworkers on a Monday morning. All this is done to the tune of 2013 Grammy Winner, Reggae Category, Jimmy Cliff, who happens to be Jamaican . The commercial done to air during the Superbowl, with an early release on YouTube, caused controversy with characterisations and opinions ranging from uncomfortable and racist to likes and appreciation. Jamaican tourism officials, including the poirtfolio minister, affirmed their support of it in articles carried by USA Today and the Associated Press; both with a combined audience exceeding 190 million readers.

John Lynch, director of tourism at the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) in a Jamaica Observer article had this to say, “The interest this commercial has generated is incredible and speaks to the power of the Jamaica brand…We hope this sparks an interest in persons who have not yet experienced the destination to come visit; enjoy a memorable Jamaican vacation, our people and most important, Get Happy in Jamaica.”

There seems to be a fascination with Jamaica in the Western and Central European nation of German, or otherwise as another company (the electronics store Saturn) in that country showed favour to Brand Jamaica though in a highly controversial ad. The commercial intended for German TV made its way on YouTube in late January and shows two coffee shop attendants trying to brew coffee, which results in the burning of the Jamaican Flag. The experience is captured through CCTV and out of respect for the Jamaican flag leads to a demonstration. Here is the video:

The following subtitles are scripted in German; the following is the translation in English using Google Translate:

Wenn sie meine Fahne verbrennen, verbrenne ich ihre – If they burn my flag, I’ll burn their

Wir alle lieben Jamaika diese leute verbrennen die Jamaikanische Flagge- We all love these people burn the Jamaica Jamaican Flag

The words of the soundtrack are familiar because it’s that of Murderer by another famed Jamaican, Barrrington Levy. In school I was taught to burn a flag was offensive, in fact it is considered desecration. Friend and Attorney-at-Law, Stephen Greig notes: “under German criminal laws it is illegal to damage the German flag and it is also illegal to damage or revile flags of foreign countries. What we do not know is if there is an exception for dramatic works such as a play or a commercial.”

I couldn’t resist sharing the video with friends and associates, particular since at the time my Twitter timeline by the twitter-heavy-wigs, or anyone for that matter, but I saw everyone talking about who was doing Harlem Shakes videos locally et cetera. The opinions I got were varying and included references saying we couldn’t expect better particularly because the old Nazi ideology that demanded the purification of ‘the Aryan race’ and ‘the German blood’ originate in the said country, upset and ‘what if’ questions.

On the German AD

Could the baring of the Jamaican Flag in the kitchen speak to the presence of the Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee being used by the coffee shop or is it the coffee of choice? Should we think of this more deeply? Should we as a people, and through our Tourism Minister and agencies like the JTB, condemn this (after all like the Volkswagen commercial this has gained traction with over 450,000 views on YouTube) and ask for its removal? Or should we accept?

To be frank, I’m not outraged as some of my fellow country folks with the Saturn Ad, I’m okay with it. I think it helps put us (Jamaica) in the international scope and once again make us relevant and leaving Jamaica in individuals’ minds. It is clear from all intents in the video they wanted to be associated with the Jamaican brand, it immediately took me back a couple years when Sydney Bartley (former Director of Culture now Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth and Culture) said in a presentation, “anybody who wants to be somebody wants to be Jamaican, the only person who doesn’t want to be Jamaican is a Jamaican”. I have no idea about his views on the matter at hand, but I hope you get the picture that clearly Jamaica sells. The Germans did it with the VW Ad (that so many persons got up in arms about, including persons who don’t recognize Jamaican Creole as a language) and Saturn is at it again.

We can agree that the flag should never have been burnt or stomped on, but should we not be making a hullabaloo? @mrsseven65 in responding to Dr. Sonjah Stanley Niaah, Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of West Indies, Mona, on Twitter said it well. @mrsseven65 puts it well there are other things to be up-in-arms about like the Tivoli Incursion, a very topical and pertinent issue, which we’re yet to get answers on.

Protocol experts and others might say pull the ad, but come on folks the Saturn ad is daring, it’s brilliant; yes I like it! Perhaps it is because I’m a rebel why I like it. Let’s snap out of the talks about asking for the ad to be pulled since it touches on so many issues, chief among them cultural sensitivities & free speech. My honest gut opinion: let’s not get tied up in this flag furore, certainly the folks at JTB can find a way to take advantage of this free publicity and marketing. Go Jamaica!

As always, I welcome your thoughts on the matter, do share with me below.

December 1 is celebrated around the world as World AIDS day. Leading up to, and after the day, there is an increase in the number of messages related to HIV education, diagnosis and treatment that are aired. A lot more persons talk about the virus and people get tested to know their status. Compared to the early stages when many misconceptions were popular being HIV-positive is less frighten; in that more information are available, support groups and medical research to help you live positive.

A few years ago, 2006, I met a young man who was living with HIV and interviewed him for the Sunday Gleaner’s Outlook Magazine. The story published on December 10 was my article of marking World AIDS Day that year, I wish to share the article with you in it entirety or you could read it at its original location by clicking here.

The acquired immuno-deficiency syndrome and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV/AIDS) are threatening Jamaica’s future as scores of young people fall victim to these deadly diseases. More frightening are the statistics indicating that scores of young people between the ages of 15 and 29 are contracting the virus.

Today, Outlook Youth has decided to shed some light on HIV/AIDS in the form of an interview with someone living with HIV.

Meet 27 year-old Alan,a normal-looking young man, who lives a relatively normal life except that he is living with HIVfor over three years.

Alan, who is not promiscuous, said he was rather surprised when he learnt that he had the virus. “I’m not the promiscuous type. I had expected that to happen to someone else,” he revealed to us. “But that is just how life is.”

According to Alan, everything started out with some minor health problems which he began to worry about. After several tests returned negative, he was advised to do an HIV test. “At first I refused, as there was no way in this world I thought I could have it because I was a faithful partner,” he told Outlook Youth. “Then I remembered when my girlfriend and I had some problems, I had a fling – so I decided to do the test ’cause there was nothing to lose, I thought.

“When the results returned, I thought they had got the samples mixed up, and then when the second test confirmed the first, I was even more stunned than the first time. At that moment, it was as if I was in another world, I didn’t have time to think and again I said the result was wrong. The doctor assured me that it was right and that I needed to accept the truth as that was the only way in which I was going to move forward.

“What was I to do now? It was the end of the road. I thought that there was no hope in life and all had ended. It was best that I had been run over by a truck,” Alan said.

“I knew I had a close-knit family but what would they think? I asked myself. Life was now filled with a lot of questions and doubt. But somehow I would have to reveal to them that I was HIV positive so it was best to do it now,” recalled Alan.

When he revealed it to his family, they were shocked and had a lot of questions for him, some of which he had no answer to. However, they stood by him through everything. According to him, they were the ones who, perhaps, kept him going when he thought of giving up along the way, either by suicide or other means.

Today, Alan, despite his condition, is working assiduously to promote healthy lifestyles amongst youth and other age groups. He believes that being infected with HIV has opened up doors for him and has allowed him to see things in a different perspective.

His advice to teens is, “having sex is fun, but when you have a death ruling and life is limited, that can be depressing … if you can’t withhold, make up your mind to use a condom always.”

Today, Alan is pursuing his dreams by completing a course in psychology.

Name was changed for confidentiality.


#HashCon 2012: An Advocacy Challenge for Jamaican Bloggers by UNICEF Jamaica

#HashCon 2012: An Advocacy Challenge for Jamaican Bloggers by UNICEF Jamaica

This post was made in submission for the UNICEF Jamaica #HashCon2012 “Positive SHEroes: Strong women working towards an AIDS-free generation”. Click here  for more info.

When AIDS emerged in the 1980, it mostly affected men, however today females accounts for almost half of the number of persons living with the HIV strain. Worldwide the business of HIV/AIDS is a foremost of some, if not all, governments. HIV/AIDS is describe in many circles as a pandemic, simple to say its a huge problem. While much have been done to advance knowledge of HIV through awareness and science, several barriers/challenge exist, chief among them are challenges faced by women; the general focus of what today’s post will be about.

A few years back, at the peak of my youthful exuberance, I interviewed a young man who was HIV-positive. The interview was a enlightening one, and was done for a World AIDS piece. Through the interview I learnt of the challenges and the daily encounters of a male living with “the most deadly virus”. It was also a window for me as I later spoke with females who also had HIV, it was from there that I saw the challenges that they face and found it fitting to take part in the UNICEF SHEroes competition.

The use of ‘Sheroes’ is a gender specific term to the often male thought of ‘heroes’, it gives a feminine touch and focus.

The number of HIV-positive women and girls continues to increase. From the statistics most of the females who suffer from “the deadly virus” or “big A”, as it is often refer by the common-man locally, are usually in the prime of their productive lives. In that they are often young females, fruitful, with a whole future ahead. Many persons are at times dumbfounded as to how members of our society still manage to contract HIV, particularly young people, despite what they consider increase awareness, access to contraceptive, all with the aide of technology.  Whilst those might be right, the issues are far more entrenched. They are entrenched in:

1. The power of condom negotiation with their partner(s)

2. Cultural/Religious Ideologies

3. Comprise standards

4. Awareness

All of which can be solved.

The solution to these cannot be attain overnight, neither can they single-handed be achieved by a lone female. It requires the empowering of our women to challenge the inequities of society and to stand firm in matters of sexual reproductive health. Most of all our women need us; the society, men, persons of influence in society that people listen to/have an audience or can impact change to challenge existing culture. However, it is through small challenges that discrimination, unemployment, abandonment, violence or other seclusion/ills against our women can change once they are identified as being HIV-positive. It is imperative to note that change will not come overnight, however change can happen with the support of the society at large.

In matters of condom usage, while its general seen that the man should carry the condom a woman should always have a pack of condom, after all sex is not a one-person show. Women MUST insist on their partners “no glove, no love”. The decision to protect ones health, whether HIV or otherwise lies with you.

The idea of a christian majority country or the cultural proposition that a wife/woman should submit to her husband/man, should not foolhardy be followed. I’m not about gaining the wrath of my fellow male species, so allow me to defend myself. A man and his significant other should be open to dialogues about matters of the heart and sex. One should know what the other prefers, dislike and most importantly not to put their partner at risk. Each should know the other status, with mutual HIV testing at random intervals to reaffirm trust that each other is HIV-free. There are talks in certain quarters that men are not opened to the idea of doctors, however if a man loves and respects you he will make the visit.

Live by standards, lay grounds about how intimate involvement will work or expectations. Multiple partners, cheating, no-condom/’bare-back’ and dishonest should not be the basics on which relationships are built. Indicate to your partner that these will not be tolerate, once these are outline at the get-go a man gets the indication the standards by which the relationship will be judged.

Another thing one must be aware of each other status, as well as the methods available to protect each other. Whether it be the female condom with the use of spermicide, dental damps, or other forms of contraceptives. Including the contraceptives that should be used along with other methods to prevent sexually transmitted infections. As we look to greater awareness and break barriers, let us look to advancing the rights and sexual reproductive health of females living with HIV. It could happen to anyone, get the knowledge of HIV/AIDS, and correct erroneous information were they are being communicated.

My final comment might cause some persons to hurl missiles at me…but here goes. If a female “locks shop” (no sex) because her partner refuses to wear a condom he will get the message that she is firm about protecting herself. Don’t risk your life for a one fling/sex because your man doesn’t want to wear a condom, don’t be guilty by the idea/thought of him straying; it sounds hard but your life carries more value.

The power is in all of us, let’s not be a victim. Negotiate condom usage…no glove, no love.



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