Joan Andrea Hutchinson does it again… documenting and preserving aspects of Jamaican life and culture with her new book and CD Kin Teet Kibba Heart Bun. The book and the CD document the creative and resourceful practices of ‘not so well off’ Jamaicans in the past, as they found interesting ways to survive and raise their families on a shoe string budget. The book and CD will be released a few days before Christmas.
Many Jamaicans who grew up ‘poor’ did not realize that they were supposed to have been poor, until later in life they realized what they did not have. The experience of growing up with people who knew how to ‘tun yuh han meck fashion’ and ‘tan pon crooked cut straight’, taught us all how to survive hard times, skills which are proving very useful at this time.
Jamaican parents wasted nothing, and were guided by the principle that everything has a second purpose. We carried half exercise book and half pencil to school, used newspaper to stuff big shoes and then cut out the toe when they became tight, used and reused tea bags, converted butter tubs and plastic containers to dishes, ate condensed milk and bread, and learnt very early to make our own toys. Girls whose parents could not afford dolls converted a coconut, an ear of corn, a tuft of grass or a mango seed to their ‘dolly baby, and boys made fish tanks from old car batteries, raced board horse in dirty water and played cricket with coconut bough and green orange.
Practices such as peeling the pineapple and using the skin to make juice, using the coconut milk then making gizzada and grater cake from the trash, converting overnight rice to rice porridge and frying overnight dumplins for breakfast, bleaching white clothes on a zinc with lime and salt, and turning the collar on a shirt to extend the wear, are celebrated in the book. According to Hutchinson “It was not till I was an adult that I knew that you could use fresh bread to make bread pudding because we all saw our mothers save the stale bread, even with the green flowers, and convert it to bread pudding.” We were also creative in solving disputes so instead of DNA evidence and lie detectors, we relied on ‘Bible and key’.
A self proclaimed ‘rural minded city girl’, Hutchinson, well known in Jamaica and in the Diaspora for her work in the preservation of Jamaican language and culture, felt compelled to do Kin Teet Kibba Heart Bun because “If we don’t document these creative practices, how will the next generation know. It is part of our history and heritage.” The book is the culmination of four years of research with Jamaicans from every stratum of society, some of whom have renounced their ‘poverty’ and prefer not to be reminded. However it is represents a delightfully presented, composite mix of information spanning decades of Jamaican life and is a sure to find favour with Jamaicans and home and in the Diaspora.