Thursday 13 December, 2018

A Reason For Living tells adventurous tale of Jamaica's 1960s gangs

Jamaica gained independence from England in the 1960s and began transitioning from over 400 years of Spanish and British colonial rule, and unleashing some of the greatest creative talents in music, sports, dance and intellectual applications.

A Reason For Living, a novel written mostly between 1966 and 1968, during the teenage years of Jamaican writer, Julian 'Jingles' Reynolds, captures this unique period in Jamaica's history.

Jamaica's cultural geniuses have given the world five genres of popular music - ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub and dancehall. Talented personalities emerged mainly in sports and music to garner world attention, such as George Kerr, Collie Smith, Lennox 'Billy' Miller, Allen 'Skill' Cole, Donald Quarrie, Merlene Ottey, Harry Belafonte, Millie Small, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Toots and the Maytals, Jimmy Cliff, The Skatalites, Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd, among others.

However, alongside these achievements, existed deep, widespread social and economic discontent, fuelling violence and pitting segments of the suffering masses against each other, ignorantly and arrogantly perpetrating partisan politics and vying criminals against the police.

The novel profoundly captures these troubled but phenomenally creative times, when the "rude boys" emerged, expressing anti-state, anti-social, rebellious lifestyles, identifiable with young men living throughout the inner cities of Kingston.

Gangs, namely PhantomJuMau Mau, Pigeon, Skull, Spanglers, Idaho, Untouchables, Spoilers, Vikings, Hot Steppers, Shower Posse and Phoenix drove fear into many Kingstonians, battling each other, protecting turfs and invading others.

A Reason For Living delves into love, sex, music and sports, and the roles of Rastafari and the American Civil Rights and Black Power movements that impacted Jamaica. It tells the story of a physically beautiful country, of warm, humorous, enterprising and crafty people with the urge to succeed, fighting against inequality, injustice, prejudice and discrimination.

It's a story of revolution that could have happened in Jamaica. Page after page promises to grasp the readers' attention.

The book is available at,, and bookstores.

Reynolds has established careers, spanning five decades, as a journalist, documentary filmmaker and entrepreneur in the US and Jamaica.

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