A view from the outside: Let peace reign - Kudos to Big Yard and 5F
Dancehall star Aidonia, whose 4th Generation group endorses Yea Yea Wednesdays, reacts approvingly to a song selection at one of the sessions. (PHOTO: Instagram)
With Karyl Walker
There is so much bad news coming out of Jamaica that too often the good news gets buried under the mountain of gloom and doom.
It becomes even more difficult to see the good in Jamaica when that good is shining at us from impoverished communities that have been stained by the stigma of violence, poverty and all that’s bad.
But there is one community in the Corporate Area which has once again displayed that Jamaica is a special country filled with people whose creative, entrepreneurial spirit and who, once given a chance to show their worth, can work wonders for themselves.
That community is located at 59B Mannings Hill Road and is popularly known as ‘Big Yard’.
A few years ago, when the Gully/Gaza conflict was at its worst, Big Yard came in for heat from the media and security forces as being one of the main antagonists - the other being Cassava Piece - in the conflict which choked Mannings Hill Road and saw a number of lives being snuffed out and other persons injured.
But, in the past year, led by 5F Promotion, Big Yard has managed to turn things around and is making a name for itself as one of the premier entertainment spots in the Corporate Area with its growing Yea Yea Wednesdays.
Yea Yea Wednesdays has been up and running for just over a year. It showcases the best that modern Jamaican entertainment has to offer and has been attracting large crowds weekly. The 5F has made sure to work within the ambit of the night Noise Abatement Act and, as such, the event runs for four hours between 8:00 pm and midnight, ending two hours before the 2:00 am cut off time stipulated by legislation.
My sources have informed me that, over the 12 months that Yea Yea Wednesdays has been held, not one untoward incident has occurred there and it has attracted a number of celebrities - including retired sprint superstar, Usain Bolt - who have mingled with the residents and other party goers, free from fear of any harm coming to them.
The community has organised itself around this event and the residents are aware how important it is to maintain peace, and law and order, in order to build economic opportunities. Apart from the promoters who may earn an income through sales from the bar, other community members benefit through other ventures such as vending, parking and securing the vehicles of their weekly patrons who venture from as far as Montego Bay to attend.
I have yet to attend the event as, on my recent visit to the island, the threat of heavy rains caused a cancellation of the dance that week. However, it is certainly on my bucket list.
In the process, peace that has been reigning for several years between the two communities has now been solidified and no longer is bad blood brewing. Naturally, a move like this would get the blessings of law enforcement who would be pleased that their efforts at fighting crime can be concentrated elsewhere, knowing that young, impressionable minds have taken it upon themselves to improve their lot.
Arising out of the initiative, the community is now being improved aesthetically. Presently, there is a drive to remove all zinc fences and replace them with concrete walls.
But Yea Yea Wednesdays is just one venture that 5F has embarked on. A few weeks ago, they organised the Kingston 8 Jamboree - a dancehall-flavoured stage show that drew thousands to the parking lot of the Super Valu Supermarket in early December and, by all reports, it was a success. Again there were no reports of violence or criminality.
There are some human beings whose only crime is that they live in the wrong part of town.
Big Yard is not, by any means, the only community that is looking inward and takings steps at self-sufficiency, but it is the latest one to come under the radar and kudos should be given to the 5F for the positive move. Jamaica is a wonderful place, an entertainment hub that could do so much better if the hindrances of bureaucracy were removed, and the hideous crime monster - that at present has many in the Diaspora scared - reigned in.
They have chosen to use the dancehall culture as their vehicle on the road to self-improvement and Big Yard should be given every opportunity to do so once they are operating within the confines of the law.
It is incumbent on all Jamaicans to support those among us who have shown they can make life better for themselves and their loved ones using their creative genius.
A careful look at Jamaica’s history shows that most of the individuals who have shone our light brightly on the world stage, especially in the fields of sports and entertainment, hail from lower income communities.
One step at a time, Big Yard, one step at a time. Remember, bus loads of tourists attended Passa Passa in Tivoli Gardens? You can achieve if you believe.
That is my view from the outside.
Karyl Walker is a multi-award-winning journalist who has worked for Loop Jamaica, the Jamaica Observer, the RJR Communications Group and Nationwide Radio among other media entities. He now resides in South Florida.