Fi Wi Artist Dem a Lose Out

Two spelling systems are used for the Jamaican language below. The first, ‘Chaka-Chaka,’ is based on English spelling, which is notoriously irregular. The second, ‘Prapa-Prapa,’ is the consistent, specialist system designed by the Jamaican linguist Frederic Cassidy. It has been updated by the Jamaican Language Unit at the University of the West Indies, Mona. After the two Jamaican versions, there’s an English translation.


Sunday gone, di International Reggae Poster Contest gi out di name dem a di top 100 winner fi 2022. One whole heap a artist did send een poster fi di competition: 653 a dem. Some a dem send more than one poster. A 1,180 poster inna di contest. An di artist dem come from 53 country. Di judge dem a from all over di world same way: America, Bolivia, Bosnia, China, Cyprus, Denmark, Ecuador, Greece, Iran, Jamaica, Korea, Mexico, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates an Zimbabwe.


Pon Monday, Jamaica Observer put out one story bout di contest wid dis ya headline: “No Jamaican in top 100.” Di second part a di headline a “Greek wins International Reggae Poster Contest.” Vasilis Grivas powerful puosta, “Queen of the Maroons,” win di contest. It look like seh Observer nuh understand seh di contest international fi true. Dem nah ‘observe’ to dat. Di reporter mussi tink seh becau di contest name reggae, Jamaica must an bound fi big inna it.

Yu afi in it, fi win it. Nuff Jamaican artist nuh bodder wid di contest. So a how dem a go win? A ongle three out a di 653 artist a Jamaican. Nuff more artist from odder country inna di contest. Top a top, a 295 artist from China! From Mexico a 65; from Turkey a 49; from Iran a 35; from Indonesia a 14. All Russian artist did inna di contest: 14 a dem. Di chrii Jamaican artist dem did have nuff-nuff competition.


Michael ‘Freestylee’ Thompson, one big-time graphic artist from Jamaica, a im did start di contest wid Maria Papaefstathiou, one next big-time graphic artist from Greece. Michael did know seh di contest would a show di power a reggae all over di world. An im did want di contest fi build up consciousness bout im vision fi one world-class reggae museum an concert hall inna Kingston. Michael never live fi see im dream come true. Im dead inna 2016.


Maria just a gwaan same way wid di vision an di contest. She put her whole heart inna it. So yu can imagine how she disappoint fi see seh Jamaican artist nuh business wid di contest to dat. She tell mi seh, she tink seh a becau nuh money nuh inna it. Some a di Jamaican artist dem nuh understand seh a same so nuff a di poster contest dem set. An money come odder way. Chronixx pick Andrew Cachia from Malta fi design di cover a fi im album, Dread & Terrible, weh im put out inna 2014. Im did love Cachia poster, “Dreams of Freedom,” weh did come second inna di 2013 contest. Fi di lickin a di spoon, nuff Jamaican artist a go lose di spoonful.


Sonde gaan, di Intanashinal Rege Puosta Kantes gi out di niem dem a di tap 100 wina fi 2022. Wan uol iip a aatis did sen iin puosta fi di kompitishan: 653 a dem. Som a dem sen muor dan wan puosta. A 1,180 puosta ina di kantes. An di aatis dem kom fram 53 konchri. Di joj dem a fram aal uova di worl siem wie: Amerika, Boliviya, Bosniya, Chaina, Denmaak, Ekwaduor, Griis, Iran, Jamieka, Koriiya, Meksiko, Paragwai, Puolan, Romienya, Saipros, Switzalan, Torki, Yuunaitid Arab Emirets an Zimbabwe.

Pan Monde, Jamaica Observer put out wan stuori bout di kantes wid dis ya edlain: “No Jamaican in top 100.” Di sekan paat a di edlain a “Greek wins International Reggae Poster Contest.” Vasilis Grivas powaful puosta, “Queen of the Maroons,” win di kantes. It luk laik se Observer no andastan se di kantes intanashinal fi chruu. Dem naa ‘obsorv’ tu dat. Di ripuota mosi tink se bikaa di kantes niem rege, Jamieka mos an boun fi big ina it.

Yu afi in it, fi win it. Nof Jamiekan aatis no bada wid di kantes. So a ou dem a go win? A ongl chrii out a di 653 aatis a Jamiekan. Nof muor aatis fram ada konchri ina di kantes. Tap a tap, a 295 aatis fram Chaina! Fram Meksiko a 65; fram Torki a 49; fram Iran a 35; fram Indoniiziya a 14. Aal Roshan aatis did ina di kantes: 14 a dem. Di chrii Jamiekan aatis dem did av nof-nof komipitishan.


Michael ‘Freestylee’ Thompson, wan big-taim grafik aatis fram Jamieka, a im did staat di kantes wid Maria Papaefstathiou, wan neks big-taim grafik aatis fram Griis. Michael did nuo se di kantes wuda shuo di powa a rege aal uova di worl. An im did waahn di kantes fi bil op kanshosnis bout im vijan fi wan worl-klaas rege myuuziyom an kansort aal ina Kingston. Michael neva liv fi si im jriim kom chruu. Im ded ina 2016.

Maria jos a gwaan siem wie wid di vijan an di kantes. Shi put ar uol aat ina it. So yu kyan imajin ou shi disapaint fi si se Jamiekan aatis no bizniz wid di kantes tu dat. Shi tel mi se, shi tink se a bikaa no moni no ina it. Som a di Jamiekan aatis dem no andastan se a siem so nof a di puosta kantes dem set. An moni kom ada wie. Chronixx pik Andrew Cachia fram Maalta fi dizain di kova a fi im albom, Dread & Terrible, we im put out ina 2014. Im did lov Cachia puosta, “Dreams of Freedom,” we did kom sekan ina di 2013 kantes. Fi di likin a di spuun, nof Jamiekan aatis a go luuz di spuunful.


Our artists are losing out

Last Sunday, the International Reggae Poster Contest announced the top 100 winners for 2022.  Lots of artists entered the competition: 653 of them.  Some sent more than one poster. All of 1,180 posters were submitted.  And the artists came from 53 countries. The judges, too, were from all over the world: America, Bolivia, Bosnia, China, Denmark, Ecuador, Greece, Iran, Jamaica, Korea, Mexico, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Cyprus, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe.

On Monday, The Jamaica Observer published a story about the contest with this headline: “No Jamaican in top 100.” The second part of the headline was, “Greek wins International Reggae Poster Contest.” Vasilis Grivas’ powerful poster, “Queen of the Maroons,” won the competition. It seems as if The Observer doesn’t understand that the contest is really international.  They are not ‘observing’ closely. The reporter seems to think that because the contest is about reggae, Jamaica must feature large in it.

You have to be in it to win it.  Many Jamaican artists don’t bother to enter the contest.  So how are they going to win?  Only three out of the 653 artists were Jamaican.  There were far more artists from other countries in the contest.  At the very top, there were 295 artists from China!  And 65 from Mexico; 49 from Turkey; 35 from Iran; and 14 from Indonesia.  Even Russian artists entered the competition:  14 of them.  The three Jamaican artists had lots of competition.


It was Michael ‘Freestylee’ Thompson, a renowned graphic artist from Jamaica, who established the contest with Maria Papaefstathiou, another renowned graphic artist from Greece.  Michael knew that the contest would demonstrate the power of reggae all over the world.  And he wanted the contest to be the platform for his vision of a world-class reggae museum and concert hall in Kingston.  Michael didn’t live to see his dream come true.  He died in 2016. 

Maria has kept Michael’s vision alive and sustained the contest.  She has put her whole heart in it. So you can imagine how disappointed she is that Jamaican artists disregard the contest. She told me that she thinks it’s because there’s no financial reward.  Some Jamaican artists don’t understand that’s how most of the poster contests work.  And benefits do come in other ways. Chronixx selected Andrew Cachia from Malta to design the cover of his 2014 album Dread & Terrible. He loved Cachia’s poster, “Dreams of Freedom,” which placed second in the 2013 contest.  For the licking of the spoon, many Jamaican artists are going to lose the spoonful.


2 thoughts on “Fi Wi Artist Dem a Lose Out

Add yours

  1. Hello again, Dr. Cooper,
    I appreciate the analytical layout of the two scribal approaches to our precious heart language. I had some questions based on my acquaintance with the effort made by the Bible Society of the West Indies, in its production and publication on ‘Di Jamiekan Nuuk Testiment’. This text has been heartily promoted by (ethno doxologist) Jo-Ann Richards in workshops etc on her YouTube channel. My last communication with Jo-Ann was to ascertain whether this work followed Dr. Cassidy’s standard or not. She was uncertain. I very recently received a copy and look forward to hearing your response as I also peruse it.
    [About our artist, I wonder if more weight should be given to the practical considerations of a financial nature as well; calling for patrons to step forward! Also wondering about access to information about such competitions. Just wondering.] Thanks, as usual, for elevating our awareness, from the heart…language!
    Denise Stair Armstrong

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