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Guns, Girls, Gang & Ganja: Script of the poor Afro-Jamaican Male

He stands at an "unintimidating" about 5'7". This Handsome, soft-spoken gentleman is perhaps one of the warmest, most intelligent, God-fearing - Yes, I did say God-fearing - young men that I have ever met. We sat in my office and had one of the most heart-stirring, honest conversations about himself. I felt a sense of awesome responsibility with the information that he was sharing but also honoured that he would trust me with his truth. WOW!!! I write this still overwhelmed; inundated by this young man's poignant, tragic, beautiful, evil, adventurous, dark, inspiring story.

He began telling me of his dreams to be a musician. He sings really well - like a lark. He writes songs with potent love lyrics. And his reflection on life, which becomes lyrical content for his music produces more than just the usual poor, hungry ghetto youth and corrupt system ethos. He reflects on how humanity fights against itself; On peace in the world; on youth making a better life; on spirituality.

I listened intently as he recounted his life as a notorious assassin and criminal as a member of one of the most ruthless gangs in Jamaica.

His life, a familiar ghetto-boy narrative: guns, girls, gang and ganja. His actions as a notorious gang member,repugnant. But underneath it all is a story of how the poor and the powerless negotiate risk in the inner-city. We all negotiate risk. Here are excerpts from our conversation.
DAMIEN: Tell me about your life growing up?
HIM: Well, to honest wid yuh,Sar, mi grow up iina church still enuh. Mi madda is a evangelist iina di church, so mi use to guh a Sunday School an' always know right from wrong zimi?
DAMIEN: So what happened? How comes you end up a "shotta" (gunman)?
HIM: Mek mi tell yuh di choot still. A never bad compiny or anything like dat.Dem bway dem (Members of Rival gang) did kill mi uncle, who was area don and usually when dem kill di don dem does go after him fambily. So mi never wanted dem to kill me so mi join dem!
DAMIEN: You joined the gang of men that killed your uncle!!? Why? Didn't you want revenge?
HIM: Well, a dat mi did a pree still enuh but mi did more fraid fi mi life.
DAMIEN: How old were you when you joined that gang?
HIM: 10
DAMIEN: 10!? My yute a lie yuh a 10! What a 10 year old could do iina gang?
HIM: Well, dem start out by giving me gun to drop off. yuh know, so dat di police wont stop mi kah mi a pikni. Dem initiate yuh too. Yuh drop off weed an' a get fi yuh. Yaav earn dem trust dem time deh. All mi a pree seh mi nuh waant dem man deh kill mi, suh mi do whatever dem seh.
b>DAMIEN: So, how you got involved in actually having your owna gun and going pon mission?
HIM: Well, dem did see mi did brave, I guess.
DAMIEN: How did you feel about hurting people?
HIM: Mi wasn't that evil still enuh. Mi never did a kill innocent people, Ooman, ole people. Mi nuh believe iina dat. We must respect elders and di ooman dem and good gawd man, wa kinda man will kill likkle pikni? Yuh affi av a beast heart fi do dat. Mi really did a deal with dem wicked man dem in other gangs...
Some details are omitted so as not to incriminate myself or the young man who trusted me with his truth.
DAMIEN: So what make you change?
HIM: Well, mi is a godly yute still. Mi ever used to prayer. All wen mi a go pon mission, mi a pray and when mi come back mi a prayer. mi never did really comfortable still. But it wasn't until police hold me and den dem threaten fi kill me, mi seh mi kyaahn continue fi live suh...
This particular young man would, on many occasions, come to me and sit for hours because he was resisting the urge to pick back up the gun. The gun and the gang afforded him power, respect and money. Now that he had left that life behind, subsistence proved difficult. Armed with no skills and a police record, no-one would hire him. At least he had money while in the gang. His only hope was in finally making it as a musician (Perhaps this explains the annex between violence/criminality and Jamaica's music industry) and God. He shares some of his material with me and I am blown away by his undeniable talent - talent that many may not have even seen or expect.
He hopes to give back; to help the youth understand that there is no real life with the guns, girls, gangs and ganja. He writes and reads English well, though very fluent in Patwa. He has dreams like everyone else. When questioned about what he thinks will help prevent the youth from a life of crime, he responds, "Guidance, man, guidance AND opportunities."


  1. i would love to hear more...i was actually a bit disappointed that the story ended.

    but then again, it isn't a work of fiction, which makes it that much scarier

    1. Thanks Lloyd. I had to be wise with the truth that was entrusted me. Give voice to his narrative without saying anything that will incriminate him or jeopardise his safety (either by police or thugs with whom he previously associated). Hopefully, after reading this, persons can be stirred to do more than lament about our society as it is by actively engineering a different script. It is easier to judge that to understand the different pieces of the story. This journey with HIM began with me in much trepidation. Now, I have come to call him friend and realised how much he has helped me in confronting and transforming some of my own prejudices

  2. Thanks, DMarcus...I have always said, a mother cries whenever a gunman is brought down...they are flesh and blood and have emotions...

    1. They certainly do have emotions... Thanks for dropping by and for leaving your feedback...

  3. That was a very inspiring article. Sometimes, we see people for what they do/did without being aware of their struggles; without being familiar with their labyrinth of narratives; without even considering that for each person we encounter, there is no single story.Sadly, society for the most part continues to write the single story ( idea borrowed from Chimamanda Adichie)no matter how partial, egocentric and prejudiced that single story may be!

    1. "Sadly, society for the most part continues to write the single story..." This part right here is often the source of our unwillingness to work with "vile" criminals and reform them. We have heard the narrative of their single story told time and time again that we only see the evil in them and consequently, we only wish to expunge those "evils" from our society. Thanks for your reflective feedback

  4. I loved this article, i wish that more of our black men can read this and learn from his mistakes and drop the guns and focus on the talent that God has bless them with. Im also proud to know that you (Dmarcus) sat with this young man to listen to his story, sometimes that's all they need, someone to listen and understand them rather than judge them. I hope that one day he can write his story and sing to the world about his life

    1. Certainly, Teresa, it is about empowerment. The tragedy of the history of our Afro-Caribbean people, has done enough to dis-empower and marginalise our men. The way to free them from such legacy is to empower the mind. Thanks for stopping by.


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