Cornmeal Porridge コーンミール・ポリッジ

My apologies for the lengthy digressing. If you ever visit Jamaica, be sure to plan a visit to Accompong Town Maroon Village on your way to the Appleton Estate – home of without a shadow of a doubt, the world’s best rum brand. If not, then please visit one of the other Maroon Towns in the Windward section of Jamaica. Besides this would be the perfect excuse to enjoy a freshly roasted and brewed authentic cup of the finest Blue Mountain Coffee you will ever taste. January 6th would be an ideal date for such a visit.

So what was Robert’s childhood days like? In his more formative years, Robert attended the Shortwood Practising Infant, Primary and Junior High School until grade 9. While still at Shortwood Practising, his family relocated to Cassava Piece in the more northerly part of Constant Spring Road in the same Kingston 8 region but a less polarised community. It was while living in the Constant Spring area as a teenager in the early 1980s that he decided to work with his cousins, some wealthier relatives of his father’s and who were also from St. Elizabeth. 

His cousins were owners of a well known Jamaican sign making business named Design-O-Rama which is located in Constant Spring. Design-O-Rama has designed logos and erected billboards and signs for major companies such as: J. Wray & Nephew, Desnoes & Geddes (D&G), Texaco Oil, Burger King, Taco Bell, Shell Oil, Esso Oil, Sherwin Williams Paint, Berger Paints, to name a few. His cousins also own and operate Arcade Video Games centres across the island. The most famous game room in Jamaica was “Fun-For-All”. Back then in his early childhood he was already working around many electrical systems and electronics equipment and machines. 

After a couple of years of living in Cassava Piece, he was introduced to the sport of golf. The sport of golf was basically in his backyard as the acclaimed Constant Spring Golf and Country Club was a stone’s throw away. Robert soon took a liking to working and playing on the golf course. He would caddy for several influential Jamaicans, diplomats and foreign tourists at the famed Constant Spring Golf and Country Club. This was how Robert was able to afford some of the extra things he desired in life. This is how Robert learnt to save for the things which were most important for him. Little did he know that this was going to be one of the most invaluable lessons for him as he pursued his higher education dreams and aspirations.

Robert was successful on his Technical Entrance Examinations in grade 9 at Shortwood Practising. He passed for Charlie Smith Comprehensive High School located in the volatile Kingston 12 community of Jones Town. (Back in the pioneering days of the 1960s and 70s when Jamaican unique music was evolving, Jones Town, like Trench Town, contributed significantly to Jamaican music ska, rocksteady and reggae. Duke Reid was very instrumental in developing local talents such as Jones Town’s very own U-Roy who deejayed on his sound system and recorded on his Treasure Isle record label which was Studio One’s main competitor. Prior to the musical awakening, Jones Town was once one of the most coveted residential communities of Jamaica. Only people of great financial means and social status could afford properties in this community). This was the sojourn of this little uptown boy in a downtown world. He integrated well and excelled at his studies. This resulted in him gaining a coveted place at the 124 years old renowned Kingston Technical High School (KT) on Hanover Street, Kingston C.S.O. – the same school Julius Brown in our August 3rd article had attended. While at KT Robert studied electrical installation and it was there  that he would meet the most seminally influential person ever in his life – Keith Irons. (The late Keith Irons was arguably Jamaica’s best mathematics and physics teacher. Mr. Irons was somehow always able to make the biggest hater of math a true convert). Robert was expecting to sit his external exam in 1988 when Hurricane Gilbert – a category 3 storm – made direct landfall and caused widespread devastation throughout the entire country of Jamaica and most of the Caribbean. He thus had to repeat a year at KT.

After graduating Robert worked in his chosen field of electrical installation, first at the ‘Warehouse’ – a leading home furniture and appliances company and his last being with the Urban Development Cooperation (UDC) – a statutory arm of the Government of Jamaica. While he was enjoying his stint in electrical installation, there was something missing. He left the UDC to study for his external exams with the legendary Keith Irons. Concurrently, he switched to education. He started teaching at his childhood alma mater – Shortwood Practising while attending the College of Arts and Technology (CAST) – now the University of Technology (UTech) on student loan. He then went on to teach mathematics at Waterford High School in Portmore, St. Catherine. There he transformed the maths program and was rewarded with his students getting the school’s first ever passes in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) – formerly the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC).

To gain a better appreciation into the making of this genius, under Mr. Iron’s tutelage, let’s go back to Robert’s leaving UDC. Robert at the time pulled off a first ever. He became the first of Mr. Iron’s illustrious list of scholars – and the list is as impressive as it is long – to have sat and gained distinction in the Cambridge Advanced Level Mathematics and Physics examinations without ever sitting either of them either at the CXC or UK General Secondary Education (GSE) Ordinary Level.



 彼のいとこたちはコンスタント・スプリングにあるデザイン・オー・ラマ(Design-O-Rama)という有名なジャマイカの看板製作会社のオーナーでした。デザイン・オー・ラマはロゴをデザインし、ビルボードやサインなどの大手企業のために建てていました。J. Wray & Nephew、Desnoes & Geddes (D&G)、Texaco Oil、Burger King、Taco Bell、Shell Oil、Esso Oil、Sherwin Williams Paint、Berger Paintsなどの大手企業のロゴや看板をデザインしてきました。彼のいとこたちはまた、島中にアーケード・ビデオゲームセンターを所有し、運営しています。ジャマイカで最も有名なゲームセンターはファン・フォー・オール「Fun-For-All」でした。その頃、彼は幼いながらにもすでに多くの電気システムや電子機器や機械の周りで働いていました。


 ロバートは、ショートウッド・プラクティシングで9年生の時に技術入学試験に合格しました。彼はジョーンズ・タウン(Jones Town)という治安のあまりよくないキングストン12地区にあるチャーリー・スミス(Charlie Smith)総合高校に合格しました。(ジャマイカのユニークな音楽が進化していた1960年代と70年代の開拓時代、ジョーンズ・タウンはトレンチ・タウン(Trench Town)と同様にジャマイカ音楽のスカ、ロックステディ、レゲエに多大な貢献をしていました。デューク・リード(Duke Reid)はジョーンズ・タウンのU-ロイ(U-Roy)のような地元の才能の育成に非常に貢献し、彼のサウンド・システムでDJをし、スタジオ・ワン(Studio One)の主要な競争相手であったトレジャー・アイル(Treasure Isle)のレコード・レーベルで録音を行いました。音楽に目覚める前、ジョーンズ・タウンはかつてジャマイカで最も切望されていた住宅街の1つでした。経済的にも社会的にも裕福な人々だけがこのコミュニティに物件を持つことができたのです。) このエリアにあった高校に通うことはダウンタウンの世界からアップタウンへの旅のように感じていました。彼はうまく溶け込み、勉強に秀でていました。その結果、8月3日の記事で紹介したジュリアス・ブラウンが通っていた学校と同じ、キングストンC.S.O.のハノーバー・ストリートにある124年の歴史を持つ有名なキングストン工科高校(通称:KT)に入学することになりました。KTでは電気設備の勉強をしていましたが、ロバートはそこで人生で最も神学的に影響力のある人物、キース・アイアンズに出会いました(故キース・アイアンズは、彼の人生で最も影響力のある人物でした。故キース・アイアンズ氏は、間違いなくジャマイカで最も優れた数学と物理学の教師でした。アイアンズ先生はいつも数学が大嫌いな人を真の意味で改心させることができたのです。宿題を忘れると1人の子どもにつき10分は説教をしていたという伝説の先生です。) ロバートは1988年に外部試験を受けようとしていましたが、カテゴリー3の嵐であるハリケーン・ギルバートが直接上陸し、ジャマイカ全土とカリブ海の大部分に広範囲の荒廃をもたらしました。このため、彼はKTで1年間の再受験を余儀なくされました。

 卒業後、ロバートは自分が選んだ電気工事の分野で働き、最初は大手家庭用家具・家電製品会社の「Warehouse」で、最後はジャマイカ政府の法定機関である都市開発協力(UDC)で働きました。彼は電気工事の仕事を楽しんでいましたが、何かが欠けていると感じていました。彼は伝説のキース・アイアンズ(Keith Irons)のもとで外部試験の勉強をするためにUDCを離れました。同時に彼は教育産業に転向しました。彼の幼少期の母校であるShortwood Practisingで教え始めたのですが、その間にCollege of Arts and Technology (CAST) – 現在のUniversity of Technology (UTech)に学生ローンで通っていました。彼はその後、ポートモア、セントキャサリンのウォーターフォード高校で数学を教えました。そこで彼は数学のプログラムを変革し、生徒たちがカリブ中等教育証明書(CSEC)(旧カリブ試験評議会(CXC))で学校史上初の合格者を出したことで報われました。


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