Mary U Ful A Grase – Raph Adas with Marc Boothe
WW1 Artillery drap brap
In-de Carribbean We-tink a earthquake
Mary! Tel de acesta war bruk-out.
Creating the Centena
From sacred Africa our foreparents were forced into slave ships to the Caribbean. To work on plantations until skin became thick as leather and hands callused from chopping sugar cane into brown gold. Later WW1 came and they boarded ships to fight for King and Country. Later again, after another war, they sailed the Windrush to help rebuild the ‘motherland’. Later still they shuffled them like a deck of cards back to the Caribbean where sugar is no longer brown gold. Who forgot what we fought for 100 years ago? Whose motherland?
At age 10 my grandmother showed me my grandfather’s cherished possessions, kept in two wooden trunks: photos, books and a jacket that was very special to her. Whilst my grandfather traveled to Panama to work for money, my grandmother raised eight children on her own.
Earlier this year Marc in London told me about this IWM/26 project. I was enthused from the get-go although, at 65 years, I’d never done anything like this before. I started to do my research with elders, neighbours, libraries, JDF, Jamaica Legion, Curphey Home: the image of my grandfather’s jacket still haunting me.
I dug further to gather information, back in time to shed light on how persons of colour suffered even while serving as soldiers, as Red Cross Nurses, as women on the home front. They constantly fought internal wars of racial integration, battling prejudices to prove their worth on the frontline.
Like Mary Seacole before them who did not escape the harsh realities of rejection, paying her own way to the Crimean war, taking care of soldiers who adored her and simply called her Doctoress. After that war she fell on hard times in England but they raised funds in gratitude for her work.
I took strength from the determination of Mary and those inspired by her: never give up. Not even in tough times when I lost eight members of my family: take courage from the example of others.
Mary Seacole and Florence Nightingale inspired many, including Jamaican nurses in WW1 who went to Europe to help in hospitals and frontline bases in Europe, Middle East, Africa and India:
Ruth H.W. Diad
Helen Elizabeth Panton
Lillian Marguerite Franklin.
Great women of WW1; nurses caring for the wounded and the dying. Your ghosts continually walk the corridors of nursing homes, crying, searching to find peace and rest from mental tortures.
Homage to the gallant men of BWIR. We thank you for the freedom you have given to successive generations. Forgive us for taking for granted how you bled on the battlefield like an open tap and sacrificed your lives for the privileges we now enjoy.
From the ancestors this side of the globe in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, we salute these men and women. We wish you could hear the echo bellowing across the hills and valleys 100 years later.
LIVES OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR
Discover more about the stories of Jamaicans during the First World War who inspired this Centena here.
26 is a group of writers whose purpose is to inspire a greater love of words in business and in life.