By EWALT AINSWORTH      12 25 2011

This is an unsolicited gaffe from my brethren and country man, Cumfa drummer, anta-banta specialist and solo band leader Jeggae.  Any other performer of his ilk, status and tenacity is a be-spectacled mock.  Early, early in the new year, Jeggae’s new album SAPODILLA SWEETER THAN LORD JESUS will be on the market.  And be assured, it is a tribute to the visible women in his life.  He treats and relishes them all like sapodillas.

In the diaspora, Jeggae is just Jeggae or if you put a handle pon he name, is Iron Jeggae.  Jeggae does not have mister, sir, your honor, comrade or any of those zany salutations.  This note was written on Christmas day as Jeggae ferried the garlic pork, pepperpot and souse to his mom, Lynette.  She was briefly hospitalised and he suspended all commitments, real and perceived, to be her caregiver…. Happy Kwanzaa to the gross man.

We recently had a telephone ganga as the bionic man, the real man, recounted his formative years in Victoria.  Jeggae grew up overlooking the burial ground and wandering aloud “what must I do to be saved?”  He is slightly concerned that all his domiciles, four of them:  Bartica, Paradise, Victoria, and now Brooklyn are either in or near cemeteries.


Jeggae’s first job after leaving high school in Golden Grove, took him to Bartica as a high school teacher.  He later moved on to become a military training officer and joined the Cultural Corps of the GDF.  Currently, he is in the studios working on a religious sanga-banga which will be named SAPODILLA SWEETER THAN LORD JESUS.    His signature music is a ‘throw-down pon the ground’ tempo that evokes and provokes.  “Never mind she is a big human…”  (Fill in the blanks please.)  And “if the man can’t function…”  Chorus: “Summons the man.”

Jeggae is pursuing post-graduate studies and has a full time job with a Social Services outfit.  He plays mouth organ, finger pan, drums, flute, synthesisers and sings as part of a one man-symphony orchestra.  His grandmom, Ma, has been his greatest influence in his family of cultural exponents.

He always talks about Ma in superlatives.  She has passed on but her work ethic, spirituality, morality and influences are ever present in his work.

Ma knew good bush.  Bush fuh biliousness, yellow eye, latta, life sore, laziness, greediness and bush fuh when you can’t pea straight among others.  Talk half, leff half.  She would reserve and preserve all her energies to provide and avert boo-leggeh (hunger) in rural and rustic Guyana.  Metemgee to make thunder roll and guinea bird lay fowl egg.  Her yard was decorated with fruit trees, calabash, breadfruit, souries, pigeon peas, sour sop, guava, dungs, pear, sijanm and she had her own kitchen garden, ducks, fowls and pigeons.

Jeggae grew up learning from Ma, Cousin Flourie, what most other people had to learn in Sunday school.  He knew good scripture, good manners and the value of a dollar “or two”   He was the eldest boy in the house by burial ground corner.  He had other aunts and relatives who live in the cul-de-sac street.  Christmas time, every man jack, had to make his, or her, own toy, dolly house or significant symbol of yuletide.

Jeggae, real name, Winston Hoppie but growing up, he was called Leroy Hoppie.  His father, a very slim but steely man, used to be called Iron-Jeggae.  Leroy is the splitting image of his dad but recently his dad advised him not to visit with him.   Iron Jeggae’s current wife, is the same age as Leroy but that is not the subject of these notes.

Jeggae appreciated those days, how grandmother was able to keep the family together and always provide, irrespective of the season, trajectory or forecast.  The home was always self sufficient with ducks, fowls, pigs and when family and friends dropped in, she was still able to give and avert boo leggeh.

Jeggae told me in our recent telephone conversation that Cousin Bertie, now deceased, a villager and friend of his grandmother, worked with a security outfit and he showed up one Christmas day as the 20-odd grandchildren, lined up to get  servings of the Christmas dinner.  He said “Cousin Bertie jump the line and go right in front and get food first so I asked him if “boo-leggeh brace yuh?”

Cousin Bertie apparently did not understand the colloquialism but heard ‘brace” and thought one of the kids was spoiling for a fight.  He dropped his plate on the first available counter and proceeded to demonstrate and illustrate that “he better not or he will get a taste of something.”

Cousin Bertie at the time was about 80 years of age and was a cultural cartoon in the village.  He was a great dancer and in those days, we used to imitate his dance which now synchronises with aerobics.  Cousin Bertie dance was recongised as a movement.

It should be noted that Jeggae is now an accomplished poet, pianist, flautist, recording artist and spiritual healer.  Jeggae has four albums in as many years and is fully booked so far, until the end of 2013.  When we spoke recently, a good friend from New Amsterdam had asked me to intervene on her behalf to bring him to Jamaica, the first week of December 2012, for the cock-a-lay.  She is prepared to fly him in and fly him out, for one night only, umshalaa.

Leroy is also brother to Patches who sang ALL DEM GAL A WALK AND SHAKE THEM BAM BAM and  WEE OUTTA GT.  His biological uncle, Hilbert Adams, is leader and chief performer for the Long Lady/masquerade and centipede band.  This uncle, known to most as Boatswain, has been forced to abort the cultural art form because of the narrow and ill advised policies of the Jagdeo administration.  A few short years ago, masquerade bands were disbanded.  It was claimed that criminal gangs organized as masqueraders and robbed citizens and tourists.

Today, Boatswain is back in Victoria and now works as a security guard to avoid a taste of boo-leggeh.  He also makes and sells Dutch-ovens on the side using a ‘tomahawk’…a crude axe, as the tool to fashion and shape the wood.

Jeggae is hoping that in this New Year, with shared governance, the politicians would re-consider and reconvene the long lady, centipede and masquerade bands so as to avoid a national hunger and thirst and “boo-leggeh according to me Leroy, son of Iron Jeggae.”  Band.

Ewalt ‘Waltie’ Ainsworth –  E-mail:

Post #986

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  • anthony barrow  On October 13, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    My big cuz…always had it in him, none Better…anto.

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