Voting in a pandemic? What is wrong with democracy?

Democracy is a system of government where citizens of a country elect representatives to manage the affairs of the country. The three arms of government in a democratic system (the legislature, the executive and the judiciary) should operate on a principle of “the separation of powers”. The Legislature makes the laws, the Executive executes and implement the laws and the Judiciary is a network of court systems that interpret the law.

Jamaica is a Parliamentary democracy based on the British Westminster system with Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state. Parliamentary democracies can either be constitutional monarchies with a King or Queen as the head of state or a Parliamentary Republic; where the head of state is a President.

Our Legislature is called a Parliament and is divided into the House of Representatives and the Senate (bicameral). The Executive is made up of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. The Cabinet consists of Ministers, Ministers of State, the Parliamentary Secretary and the Attorney General.

Voting is a critical part of the democratic process. In a democracy citizens participate in the creation of the government by selecting representatives to the Legislature. Jamaica has fourteen parishes which are divided into sixtythree constituencies. Political parties and independent candidates compete to be voted as the best person to represent an area or a constituency. Successful candidates in each constituency become Members of Parliament (MPs). There are 63 Members of Parliament who sit in the House of Representatives.

Jamaica has a two party system with three registered political parties; the National Democratic Party (NDM), the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People’s National Party (PNP). In May 2020 the Jamaica Progressive Party( JPP) started the process of registering as Jamaica’s fourth political party. In a two party system the political landscape is dominated by only two political parties. The JLP and the PNP are the only two parties that have won elections in Jamaica since the first elections in 1944.

Jamaicans were not allowed to vote until 1944 when the country was granted universal adult suffrage by Britain. The country held its first election on December 12 1944. According to the Jamaican constitution, elections are due every 5 years. There are no fixed dates for elections in Jamaica so the Prime Minister determines the date of the General Election.

Using the “first past the post system” the political party with the most elected representatives ( a simple majority) forms the government and the leader of that political party becomes the Prime Minister. The leader of the political party with the second highest number of representatives becomes the Leader of the Opposition. The Prime Minister and Opposition Leader in consultation with the Governor General appoints Senators and Cabinet Ministers to the government.

Jamaica’s 18th General Election

On August 11, 2020, the Prime Minister of Jamaica announced that the country’s 18th General Election would be held on September 3, 2020 and Nomination day would be Tuesday August 18, 2020.

In his address to the House of Representative on August 11, the prime minister explained that he “wanted to seek another mandate from the people of Jamaica”. The Opposition Leader in making his contribution “welcomed the decision to give the people a chance to exercise their judgment on the stewardship of the country”.

On August 24, at a press conference to update the nation on the COVID-19 pandemic, the Prime Minister, was asked by a journalist to explain his decision to call the General Election while COVID-19 cases were increasing in Jamaica.

The Prime Minister responded by saying;

I was very clear that my focus was on putting a plan in place for our economic recover and we saw very clearly (A )that the plan was in place and that (B ) the signs of recovery were there and therefore a quick opportunity to get a new mandate consolidate the government and move ahead strongly with that mandate. You will know that as you go closer to the point of an election. The authority of the government is always questioned and it becomes very difficult to get projects moving, to get projects executed and implemented and therefore governments always want to opt to renew their mandate before they become what is called … the Americans have a phrase for it…they call it a lame duck government and that is always the challenge as you come closer to the end of the term everybody starts to speculate about the government and those who don’t support the government say

let me wait you out….and it becomes difficult for governments to operate the closer they get to the end of there terms.”

Political parties had 22 days to campaign for the General elections. Campaign activities were restricted due to a ban on mass gatherings to control the spread of COVID-19. The Prime Minister was forced to limit campaigning further after pictures and videos from Nomination day activities showed a lack of physical distancing and wearing of masks.

The Electoral Commission of Jamaica announced that it was ready to conduct the first ever national election during a pandemic using the the World Health Organization and Ministry of Health approved protocols. The protocols included the deployment of 7,400 Sanitation Officers dedicated to keep the voting process sanitized across the 2,200 polling station locations, mandatory thermometer checks, wearing of masks, continuous sanitization procedures, social distancing and the single use of voting pencils by electors.

Persons who tested positive for COVID-19 or who were in quarantine because they had been exposed to a positive patient or would have arrived in the island within 14 days and ordered to remain in a particular location were allowed to vote. Persons aged 75 years and older who were previously under “stay at home orders” as a measure to protect them from COVID-19 were also allowed to vote in the 18th General elections.

The 18th General elections was won by the Jamaica Labour Party, they received the majority of votes in 49 of the 63 constituencies. 713, 112 Jamaicans turned out to vote from a total of 1,913, 410 eligible voters in a population of 2.8 million people. The national voter turnout was 37 %, the lowest since the first election in December 1944. Less than half of the population democratically elected the government.


  1. During the campaigning period between August 23 and August 30 several senior government officials tested positive for COVID-19, among them the Police Commissioner , the Political Ombudsman, the General sectary of the People’s National Party, the Mayor of Port Maria, the Mayor of Mandeville and a former Cabinet Minister all tested positive. Other senior officials were forced into isolation because of contact with people who have tested positive.
  2. On September 20, 2020 Dr. D K Duncan former Cabinet Minister and Member of the People’s National Party died in the University of the West Indies Hospital. He was hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19 during August 23-30 period.
  3. The Minister of Health and Wellness declared community transmission of COVID-19 at a press conference on September 4, 2020. “Community Transmission means the virus can no longer be easily traced from one member of the population to the other and that the concern for the transmission for COVID-19 is now islandwide.”.
  4. Trinidad and Tobago conducted its general election August 10, 2020. On August 15, the government announced that the country had entered the community transmission of COVID-19.
  5. Jamaica confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on March 10,2020. On March 11, 2020, the World Health organization declared the spread of COVID-19 a pandemic.
  6. Both political parties have been in Government after a landslide victory. This was the case for the JLP after the 1976, 1980 and 1983 general elections. For the PNP they enjoyed a similar majority after the1989, 1993 and 1997 general elections.

Follow the Jamaican Parliament Audio Database (JPAD) to learn more about Parliamentary democracies. The Jamaican Parliament Audio database is a project about history and national memory. It is a collection of audio from sittings in the House of Representatives and Senate in Jamaica from 2016 to present. Excerpts from the database are aired on Decolonizing the archive radio every Wednesday 3pm BST or 9am JA time.

Watch Spirit Desire : an experimental film project by dj afifa

In 2016 I met Sokari Ekine at the 13th International AWID Forum in Bahia, Brazil. We were both participating in the The Black Feminisms Forum (BFF). I was presenting a soundscape for a session called “Nourishing Freedoms” and she was doing a photographic exhibition called Spirit Desire.

Spirit Desire featured a series of images about Haitian Vodoun; everyday living, ritual and ceremony.

Ekine explains “that the series shifts the gaze from representations that depict Vodoun as negative and presents a decolonizing narrative: one in which Vodouisants engage with a consciousness and spirituality that celebrates our humanity rather than focusing on a set of prescribed normative identities.”

“After a conversation about some of the images she invited me to interpret them with sound.

In 2017, one year later i made contact and accepted the challenge; the result was a experimental film short; “Spirit Desire”. Spirit desire is based on a soundtrack/soundscape called the “Mass”. It is inspired by the Catholic Christian ritual the Eucharist or Holy Communion, one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. The soundtrack positions Catholic Christianity alongside Haitian Vodoun to show their powerful similarity and to question what we know about Haiti and Vodoun.

The “Spirit Desire film project ” has helped me to remember the importance of self knowledge especially as a person of African Descent .

Watch Spirit Desire here

A day of national mourning

August 1 and 6 are national holidays in Jamaica. August 1 commemorates the anniversary of the Emancipation day proclamation in the British Colonies and August 6, the passage of the Jamaica Independence act by the United Kingdom Parliament in 1962.

The Emancipation Day proclamation of 1834 ended the use of African slave labour in the colonies while the Jamaica Independence act made the colony of Jamaica a self-governing territory.

Independence and Emancipation are important celebrations in the life of the Jamaican nation. It seems like an important time to remember the journey to being Jamaican, however Independence and Emancipation are not the only important times in the life of a nation. Jamaican citizens have to live with many painful memories and a lingering trauma of many unexplained events.

On May 26, 1980, the Prime Minister of Jamaica Micheal Manley, declared a day of national mourning at the mass burial for 153 elderly women who were burnt to death in a fire at the Eventide Home on May 20, 1980. How many more days of national mourning should there be in Jamaica? and how many have we forgotten?

Listen to “A day of national mourning”, a selection of tracks featured in the Sound Gallery at It is dedicated to the memory of the elderly women who lost their lives in the Eventide Home Fire and the other “days” of national mourning that we have forgotten.

Learning about Jamaica through music

African Music : A People’s Art by Francis Bebey

I was invited by Dubophonic Records to write something about the selection of dub tracks used on the Excerpts of the Jamaican Parliament Audio Database which is currently being aired as a one hour radio programme on Zanj Radio in Jamaica and Decolonizing the Archive Radio in England.

Here is a preview of the article you can read the rest on the Dubophonic label website

You cannot tell a history of Jamaica without music. Following the music closely will help you to understand the soul of the island and how that conflicts with the identity of the nation. Dub music emerges in Jamaica as a genre and a practice in the late 1960s. It is the creative use of studio technology by Jamaican people with a strong memory of Africa. Dub music is African music. Dub music is Bass music. Africa gave birth to the Drums, the Drums gave birth to Bass and the Bass gave birth to Dub music in Jamaica. Dub is the reminder that the story of Jamaica is the story of Africa, the story of the violent collision between the old world and new world.
Dub has given birth to many other genres of music and Dub music producers worldwide continue to draw inspiration from the music discovering and reinventing dub. This is how music becomes a conversation. The music starts in one place and extends itself, so there can be different versions and nterpretations. The JPAD soundtrack is a reminder that Jamaica is an important nation. It is an island nation with a history that we can learn many lessons from.



An “Archive of Jamaican Politics” on DTA Live Radio

Decolonizing the Archive Radio(DTA.Live) will be featuring excerpts of the Jamaica Parliament Audio database every Wednesday at 3pm (UK time). Dubbed an “Archive of Jamaican Politics”, the series was launched on August 6 and will continue to air throughout the rest of the year. The series will feature Sittings of the House of Parliament in 2019. The sound track for the project features two albums from the dub music record label Dubophonic.

I was fortunate to be introduced to Decolonizing the Archive by a long time associate Nicolla Dillion. Give Thanks Nicolla.

Listen to DTA live here.

Give Thanks to the DTA team.

Jean Binta Breeze live at the Poetry Society of Jamaica


8 years ago, on Tuesday July 31, I recorded Jean Binta Breeze at the Poetry Society of Jamaica fellowship at the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts. Jean Binta Breeze is a Jamaican born British based dub poet who has made very important contributions to the development of poetry and dub poetry. Enjoy this release of the live performance by her.

What happens in the Senate?

The Jamaican Parliament is made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate contains 21 Senators appointed by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. There are 13 “government” senators and 8 “opposition” Senators.

The role of the Senate is to Review Bills passed by the House of Representatives.

Listen to the Jamaican Parliament Audio database (JPAD) for excerpts from Sittings of the Jamaican Senate on Crocus Bag a Tings on Zanj Radio every Sunday 6pm to 7pm-5utc.


A Sound Diary about Haiti

Haitian Sound Diary Vol 1 is my latest project. It is a one hour soundscape/documentary with material I collected while participating in the Ghetto Biennale in Port Au Prince Haiti in December 2019.

Listen to the sound diary here.


The Jamaican Parliament Audio database

The Jamaican Parliament Audio database (JPAD) is a part of the memory project by dj afifa. The memory project investigates how music and the sound environment can affect what we remember and what we forget. The memory project explores both individual memory and national memory.

JPAD is important to understanding and preserving national memory.

The database is a collection of audio from sittings of the house of parliament in Jamaica from 2017 to present. Audio from the database is taken from coverage by the Public broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ).

Excerpts from the database are broadcast on Zanj Radio during Crocus Bag a Tings 6-7pm-5utc.

Male Teenage Pregnancy

Likkle Addi is going to be a father.  His father Addijah Palmer popularly known as Vbyz Kartel made the announcement on Instagram a month ago. Mr. Palmer congratulated his son in an instagram post.

This is an interesting situation. Likkle Addi is 15 years old, the expectant mother is 18 years old. Two cases of teenage pregnancy. I had not given much thought to the “male teenage pregnancy” until i found out that Likkle Addi was 15 years old. It is so customary for “Teenage pregnancy” to be presented as a problem women and girls have to deal with. There is also the issue of the “age of consent” and “statutory rape”, laws we call on to protect girls. For some people it might not make sense to talk about protecting boys as well as girls from early sexual initiation, because for boys this is just a part of becoming a man.  Despite the congratulations does Likkle  Addi want to be a father? Why are children having children?

History is about memory

History is about Memory

I was having a conversation with someone the other day about the COVID-19 spread in Jamaica.  I shared with her my questions about how coincidental it was that the areas identified to be quarantined were the communities of 7 and 8 miles Bull Bay and Corn Piece in Clarendon.  7 and 8 miles Bull Bay is represented by the wife of Prime Minister of Jamaica and Corn Piece was in the news recently for a by-election won by the son of the speaker of the House of Representatives. Are you saying this is a “politically motivated thing”? She questioned back. She wasn’t convinced about the connections i had made and concluded that my argument was not “sound”. I was shocked by the suggestion but i started to think more about why this connection was so apparent to me.

Then I remembered learning about the SARS outbreak of 2003 while I was doing some research on Hong Kong/China Relations. The story goes the outbreak started in Hong Kong after a Professor from Southern China visited  for a family wedding. While staying in a hotel the professor became ill and checked himself into a hospital. He died soon after but not before infecting, persons who were staying at the hotel and who would later travel to Singapore, Canada and other parts of the world and start the spread there. That information made me look for connections once I heard about the spread of the COVID-19 virus because I knew similar outbreaks had happened before. Later in 2012 we would experience MERS (Middle East Respitory Syndrome which was first reported in Saudi Arabia. SARS (SARS-COV), MERS(MERS-COV) and Corona virus (COVID-19) have a history we must revisit.

Will we remember this time?

Life and death in Jamaica also has a history. Just two years ago, in 2018, Jamaicans, especially children were dying from a “Dengue like” outbreak. The Ministry of Health and Wellness reluctantly declared the situation an “epidemic ” in 2019, one year after several reports of deaths with dengue claiming that the number of deaths did not reach “the epidemic threshold”. The situation became confused in terminology of suspected, presumed, or confirmed cases . What is the difference between Dengue and COVID-19? COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health organization on March 11 2020. A pandemic is declared when there is a virus infecting populations across several countries at the same time. The Dengue outbreak was specific to Jamaica and therefore considered an epidemic or a local outbreak. Now, the Ministry of Health and Wellness has regular press conferences to update the country on the COVID-19 situation and some of us are already confused by the report on the number of cases in Jamaica and the charts showing projected infection rates using modeling data. Many more people will die during this time. Jamaica doesn’t have a history of being adequately prepared through a health care system or otherwise to preserve lives.


Why don’t we remember the time before?

To manage the COVID-19 pandemic we are now required to stay home and away from people. This is a new rhythm that many will have to adjust to. Lock downs or restriction of movement must already be having a negative effect on some Jamaicans daily routine. As a measure to control the rising crime rates in Jamaica, a total of 8 states of emergencies across 7 parishes have been declared on the island between January 18, 2018 and January 20, 2020. Jamaicans have no idea when this will end . Added to this is COVID-19. This morning I went for a walk up the road. I was surprised to see the trees cut down.  The place looked different from the last time I saw it and i have no idea when it changed. As I walked further I wondered how the lack of stimulation from staying home for extended periods will affect peoples memory or perception of time. We are creating future memory problems without thinking about it.


Through the years-a tribute to Kenny Rogers

There used to be a Kenny Roger Roasters in Jamaica on Knutsford Boulevard in New Kingston.  Kenny Rogers Roasters  was a restaurant franchise co-founded in 1991 by country music singer Kenny Rogers. He is probably the only country music singer that i enjoyed.  Songs like “Through the years”,  “Lady”, “She believes in me”, “You decorated my life”; these songs told beautiful stories of love.  Songs like the “Gambler” and “Lady” are anthems in Jamaica. They say he was a “global superstar” as a country music singer and he spread country music globally (just like Bob Marley did for Reggae).

Earlier this week i was making a playlist which featured songs which hold a lot meaning and memory for me, at the top of the list was Kenny Rogers alongside some other beautiful musicians.  Kenny Rogers died on Friday March 21, 2020 in Sandy Springs, Georgia, United States. I am dedicating this playlist i started to him and the memory of beautiful music.

Here is the Playlist

  1. Kenny Rogers – She Believes in me 1979.mp3
  2. Kenny Rogers – Through the years.mp3
  3. Kenny Rogers – You decorated my life.mp3
  4. Lady – Kenny Rogers .mp3
  5. Lionel Richie – Lady.mp3
  6. Lionel Richie – Oh No.mp3
  7. Lady Soul – The Temptations.mp3
  8. Deep River Woman – Lionel Richie.mp3
  9. Dennis Brown- For You.mp3
  10. Aretha Franklin – Day Dreaming.mp3
  11. Aretha Franklin – I say a little prayer.mp3
  12. Bahia Girl – David Rudder.mp3
  13. Wayne Smith – Life Is A Moment In Space.mp3
  14. Do You Know Where You’re Going To by Diana Ross…with Lyrics.mp3
  15. Dennis Brown – Another Day In Paradise.mp3
  16. David Ruffin -So soon we change (1979).mp3



Music for highways

In Jamaica, road expansion and the creation of highways dominate the urban landscape. At least one person dies everyday in a road accident. Starting in 2015,  new roadways have been created in the Barbican area, Constant Spring Road, Hagley Park Road and the Mandela Highway under the Major Infrastructure Development Project, (MIDP).

Whenever I use these roads I am constantly thinking about ways to improve the safety of the journey.

The new Mandela Highway for example “features construction of a 3.5-kilometre six-lane corridor with a two-lane overpass bridge, two new three-lane bridges, and a two-lane service road adjacent to the main roadway”.

The design of the new roads has negatively affected my driving experience. On the Mandela Highway for example, I notice how exhausted I feel from the intense concentration it takes to drive along this 6 lane highway. I usually use music to help me focus and enjoy driving. Once, I decided to listen to a talk programme instead of music and was surprised at how sleepy I began to feel. I immediately started to think about the importance of music for driving and wondered whether there was a “music for highways?”

I made a short video with Orandi Harris driving across a section of the Mandela Highway to find out about his driving experience and what he listens to while driving?

Here are some additional questions to think about

  1. Do you listen to music while driving?
  2. What music do you prefer to listen to while driving on Highways?
  3. What songs would you recommend for driving on highways?

Additional Resources

Loop Jamaica- Jamaica’s deadliest roads

The history of ganja in Jamaica

Here is the latest episode of Crocus Bag a tings on Zanj Radio.

On the August 25 edition i shared my thoughts on the developments around ganja in Jamaica.

Here are the songs which i selected for this reasoning.

  1. Bad card – Bob Marley
  2. Words of a farmer – Gregory Issacs
  3. Pollution – Johnny Clarke
  4. System not working- Israel Vibration
  5. One step forward- Max Romeo
  6. African Herbsman- Bob Marley
  7. Police in Helicopter – John Holt
  8. 2000 years – Burning Spear
  9. The history of ganja in Jamaica- dj afifa

Catch Crocus Bag a tings on Zanj Radio Sunday 6pm-7pm -5utc.

The Athlete’s playlist

Have you ever wondered what’s in an athletes playlist? What type of music do different athletes listen to as they prepare to compete? How do athletes use music to prepare for competition?

Last week, as i was warming up to compete at a local table tennis event. I was listening to Historial de Caidas by Chilean electronic  musician Jose Manuel Cerda aka ESDLP.  Historial de Caidas is released on the Pueblo Nuevo netlabel.


I discovered the Pueblo Nuevo catalogue sometime ago and really enjoyed this album.

The title of the album and the title of the tracks are interesting. This is one of my favourites from Pueblo Nuevo.

The music is categorized as Electronic, Folktronica, Pop and Sampleadelia.

Here are a list of tracks on the album.

01. En mangas de camisa (04:07)
02. Puertas adentro (04:04)
03. Un paso al costado (04:37)
04. A la velocidad del amor (04:03)
05. Voluntad de oro (03:51)
06. Amarillo crepúsculo (04:48)
07. Acomódate en el suelo (04:03)
08. Cortina de humo (04:29)
09. En la medida de lo posible (04:15)
10. Sosiégate! (04:12)

You can listen and download the album freely at Pueblo nuevo

Also check out the Athlete’s playlist



Interesting listening-Notes on the electromagnetic radiation

What do you consider interesting listening?

Here is the latest edition of the Electromagnetic radiation on Zanj Radio.

This episode features selections of ambient, nu-jazz, avant garde and experimental music from Dusted jazz vol. 2 , Trio Antimanierista,  Claudio Nunez, Sergio de Carli and others.





Tune into the electromagnetic Radiation on Zanj Radio 10pm to 12 midnight- 5utc for interesting listening.

Notes- What to expect from a Electromagnetic Radiation live show

Here is the latest episode of the Electromagnetic Radiation on Zanj Radio.

This episode features the premier of “Flies” a nu-music track by dj zanj rracc.

You can look forward to Electromagnetic Radiation live shows  in 2020.

The Electromagnetic radiation is a stimulating sonic environment. The show is 2 hours and is broken down into 5 sets of 30 minutes each. Persons attending a live session can expect to hear selections from genres such as nu-music, experimental, abstract, roots, dancehall, dub, world, and folk music.  What is most unique about the Electromagnetic radiation is the soundscape element, the combination of  music, ambient sounds and vocal samples.

Catch the Electromagnetic Radiation on Zanj Radio Friday 10pm-12 midnight -5utc

To find out more about the Electromagnetic live shows in 2020 or to partner to host a show email


Getting Ready- Notes on the electro magnetic radiation

Here are the last two episodes of  the Electro magnetic Radiation on Zanj Radio.

Both episodes feature music/experimental sound projects from netlabels Paparoota, Pueblo Nuevo and Bumpfoot.




These last two episodes have been a part of my preparation to submit an experimental mix to the Zanj Radio International broadcast of chill mixes on July 11, 2019. 

I am excited to hear what other experimental mixes will sound like. I am looking forward to creating something that sounds unique. I plan to create a soundscape infusing “indigenous folk drums with electronic music from South American and Mexican netlabels.




Excerpts of Dis Poem Wordz and Agro Festival 2019

excerpts front

This project was released a few weeks ago on the Sounds of Life nu-music label.

The project is an experiment in recording live events using easily accessible and affordable handheld devices.

Excerpts of the Dis Poem Wordz and Agro Festival 2019 was recorded using a Panasonic RR-US511 digital voice recorder.

Here are some of my notes on the project

Typically audio recordings of live events are made by capturing a direct audio signal, this is how I got my recording of the event in 2017. I was connected to the mixing board and got a direct audio signal. The disadvantage of recording like this is that it misses ambiance. At the 2019 edition of Dis Poem I tried to collect some of the ambiance of the event by recording from the audience using a digital mp3 recorder (a Panasonic RR-US511 I used for recording interviews). The recording came out much different than I had expected. Previously I had recorded another poetry event using my Huawei NS L53 and the audio was much clearer.

The audience sat in pavilion style seating facing the stage that was on an open field with the sea behind it. There was a hugh tree hanging over the pavilion. I got to the event at about 2:30pm and started recording immediately. I recorded at least one performance for each poet. I changed location twice during my recording.

I attempted to edit the recordings in Audacity to improve the clarity of the audio, this was not successful.

Factors which affected the clarity of the recording. The first factor was the recording device (Panasonic RR-US511) which records in mono, performances that included music where more muffled than performances with no accompanying music. Recordings which were done earlier in the evening when there was a smaller audience were clearer. Recordings where I was sitting directly at the back of the pavilion as opposed to closer to the stage or to the far left were much clearer.

 Because of the recording device used and the recording condition it is best to listen to the Excerpts using headphones; the audio will be clearer.

Listen to the project here

or download it directly here


Notes on the Electro magnetic Radiation and Crocus Bag a tings #11

Over the last 4 weeks I have realised how I have returned to a dream of being a political analyst and an interest in research and public policy; an interest I thought I gave up.

The first time I decided I wanted to be a political analyst was one day in high school after West Indian History class with Miss Stone. I loved history and I enjoyed listening to current affairs discussion programmes.

Even though I loved political analysis, I chose to pursue a more traditional career as a lawyer at the University of the West Indies. I wasn’t accepted into the law programme but gained admission to the Department of Government and I got my Bachelors Degree in International Relations and Politics. I decided to continue my university education after a first degree and started a Masters Degree in Public Policy and Governance at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. By this time I was fully interested in Caribbean history and politics. I enjoyed public policy because it brought me back to my first love, “analysing politics”. Now I could add research. I enjoyed Public policy research and enjoyed the idea of finding out more about how governments made decisions.  I started a PhD programme in Sustainable Development, more research on public policy but this time I did research on Information and Communication Technology for Development. Essentially the idea that governments can use technology to attain development.

I spent 3 years working in the public sector in Jamaica what I experienced was a consistent gap between what we say, what we do and why we do it, when we talk about policy. I couldn’t see a future in this cycle and I couldn’t pretend it didn’t exist.  I left policy and the public sector behind me and moved more fully into music and art, another interest I had from childhood.  In my exploration of music and art I am amazed at how I have returned to politics and policy. I am only now seeing that both interest have merged. My favorite activity now is watching parliamentary broadcast on PBC Jamaica, reading newspapers and watching documentaries on Youtube. Each week I work on my sound database, collecting recordings from the parliamentary sittings, news stories of interest or any audio related to aspects of Jamaican history. These audio recordings always feature in electromagnetic radiation sets and are further explored on crocus bag a tings on Zanj Radio.

Building Nations on small island which is featured on the Umbalembe documentary soundscape project curated by Zanj Rracc is another example of where both interest meet.


Here is a preview of building nations on small islands

Download building nations on small islands here

Listen to the Umbalembe project

This is an interesting place to be and there are many ways to look at the wider implications of the merger of both interest.

Continue to listen to the Electro Magnetic Radiation and Crocus Bag a tings on Zanj Radio to learn more about this journey.



Soundscapes is a project i created for  Sounds of Life. Each soundscape features material from my  favourite netlabels, original nu-music tracks and field recordings.

The most recent release features tracks from bump foot, a netlabel bases in Japan.

Listen to Soundscape here

Download soundscapes here


Track list

dj afifa – sons and daughters of Marcus Garvey compose an unfinished melody

Shin Wada – Dignity, Always Dignity-

dj afifa – the body of a 9 yr old girl

Sciuza – Leaving The Cities

dj afifa – building nations on small islands

Ishii Fuwa – Orbital Eccentricity

ish10 yow1r0 – experimental android work 01

dj afifa – the body of a 9 yr old girl

beatsgo – Da Future

Chico Correa & Electronic Band – Bossinha (Aquilez Remix)

Lavoura – MM Moods

Non m’importa della luna – Uchu (Orquesta Pandroginia Remix)


Revisiting the SO((U))Lherverse project

In 2012 I collaborated with Amina Doherty (SHeroxlox) on a project called SO((U))LHERVERSE, it was a series of compilations released to mark International Womens Day.  SO((U))LHERVERSE is “a fused socio-political-sonic space where womyn’s voices are fierce and free”.The second compilation featured a resource guide to accompany the mixtape produced by Georgia Love. The 3rd compilation called voices “Conversations with women” was recorded at the SO((U))L HQ and featured selections by Ear Audigy.

Here are two of the compilations.

Here is a link to a review of the 3rd edition of the mixtape




Music and Memory- Notes on the Electromagnetic Radiation

Here are the 3 latest episodes of the Electromagnetic Radiation on Zanj Radio.

For 2019 i want to explore the relationship between music and memory. So far these are the questions i am exploring;

  1. With so much happening around us can we use music to help us process them?
  2. How do we remember important events?
  3. How is music connected to our memories?
  4. How is popular music shaping our memories?
  5. How far can we remember?
  6. Why is remembering important?

In 2018 i focused on sound art, soundscapes and nu-music. Soundscapes culminated in the Umbalembe Project curated by DJ Zanj Racc. The Sound art and nu-music project continues with the Sounds of Life record label. There are some aspects of the soundscape exploration that is still unfinished- for example the best places to perform soundscapes, and the best way to listen to soundscapes privately.

To follow this exploration tune into the Electromagnetic radiation on Zanj Radio Friday 10pm to 12 midnight -5UTC and Crocus Bag a Tings on Sunday 6-7pm -5UTC.

Notes on Crocus Bag a Tings

Every Sunday from 6-7 pm -5utc on Zanj Radio I share my ideas on “Crocus Bag a tings”, a current affairs programme which started in May 2016. I focus on dissecting the web of complex issues shaping life in Jamaica- the “Crocus Bag a tings”.

Here are the last three episodes of Crocus Bag a Tings;

Soundscapes and Film Projects

Last year i worked on two film projects; “the mass” a collaboration with photographer Sokarie Ekine and “if i had the wings of dove” a soundscape commissioned by Simone Harris for her “Tribe film Project”.

Here is a preview of “If i had the wings of a dove”. The project was shot and edited by Isabel Dennis.  The concept for the video and the performance is by Simone Harris.

Sounds of Life- the story of a drop. Notes on the electro magnetic radiation #8

I use “drops” to personalise the presentation of my selections. Drops are like dubs in Jamaican sound system.culture.

Recently I found 3 drops created for Sounds of life. When I started to Dj, Sounds of life was the name I would use to represent myself. I thought of it as my sound system name. DJ Afifa’s Sounds of life represented “urban global and original music.

Dj afifa’s Sounds of Life

In the latest episode of the electro magnetic radiation on Zanj radio, I added these.drops to my collection. Including these drops signaled the continuation of my Sounds of Life journey.

The Journey began with the sound system and dj afifa it evolved into So((u))l a global music and events company hosting music events in Kingston and then to establishing its first alternative music space in Stony Hill St.Andrew Jamaica the SO((U))L Hq; a space for exploring global music art and culture.

Sound Culture University

SO((U))L radio

SO((U))L HQ 2019

In 2018 Sounds of Life became a record label specializing in nu-music and the release of experimental mixes and sound art.

Sounds of Life Logo

There has been 8 releases under the Sounds of life label


Find out more about Sounds of Life here.

We look forward to building a catalogue of music which we can share with the world.

We are excited about what we can create and we look forward to your support of this project.

You can continue to follow the Sounds of Life Journey with dj afifa on electromagnetic radiation on Zanj Radio Fridays 10pm-12midnight -5utc.

Music to fall asleep to- Notes on the Electro magnetic radiation 7

Here is December 14 episode of the  Electro magnetic radiation on Zanj Radio

This edition of the electro magnetic radiation featured some very soulful selections.  Catch more selections like this over the next few weeks of the electro magnetic radiation Friday 10pm -12 midnight -5UTC on Zanj Radio.



Notes on the electro magnetic radiation #6-Building Nations on Small islands

Here are the two most recent episodes of the show

In the November 30 episode i featured a pre recorded interview with 3 members of Kugumi music entertainment based in Johannesburg South Africa.

Both shows are a departure from the previous episodes where i experimented with creating live soundscapes. For the last 4 months i have been exploring sound art and soundscapes. The theme of the exploration is “building nations on small islands”; this is a poem i wrote about Jamaica which appears in the Nothing matters collection. i have been thinking about ways to expand on the ideas in the poem beyond a piece of writing. The last 4 months of the electro magnetic radiation has been focused on developing the idea of soundscapes and sound art using “building nations on small islands”.

Eventually the Umbalembe project that was released on Zanj Radio featured a soundscape track called “building nations on small islands”.

In the December episode of the show i returned to exploring musical selections for the entire duration of the show.

The session was divided into 30 minute segments with a radio sample marking the beginning of a new segment. Each segment was a different genres or a mix of.genres. It was kind of a tribute to radio format I grew up listening to.

One special highlight in this episode is the use of my.mother’s voice as a sample.

Listen to the electro magnetic radiation live on Zanj Radio Friday 10pm to 12 midnight -5utc.

Do you still listen to djs? Notes on the Electro magnetic radiation #5

With so much music, music mixes and djs everywhere, do you still listen to djs?

Last week someone asked me if the kind of music i played was something you could just “chill and hold a vibe to”?

The electromagnetic radiation sessions are definitely a kind of “lounge vibe” but it is different because the vibe is created by what’s on my mind. I don’t have an audience that i am thinking about. I use the session to reflect on my most important feelings or thoughts as i select songs and samples. Look at the playlist from my latest session

  • Inai Kamosa – General
  • Various Artists – Isikhalo – Ghettomuffin
  • Chiwoniso – Rebel Woman
  • Bob Marley the Wailers – So Much Things To Say
  • Babatunde Olatunji – Takuta
  • dj afifa – transport operators strike clip2
  • dj afifa – what is behind the protest of taxi operators
  • dj afifa – 17 mil montego bay sign
  • Ernest Ranglin – Minuit (Baaba Maal feat.)
  • Hugh Masekela – Inner Crisis
  • Clinton Fearon – Richman Poorman (1)
  • Introduction The Revolution Will Not Be Televised [Small Talk At 125th and Lenox] – Gil Scott-Heron
  • dj afifa – the body of a 9 yr old girl
  • dj afifa – 17 mil montego bay sign
  • Damian Marley (Feat. Stephen Marley) – It was written (Chasing Shadows Dubstep RMX)
  • dj afifa – transport operators strike clip2
  • dj afifa – what is behind the protest of taxi operators
  • Pablo Moses – Dub Future
  • dj afifa – transport operators strike clip 3
  • Internal and External Affairs Committee – November 21 2018
  • Kosmonaut – Youth273
  • Kosmonaut – Atmospheric Flower
  • Mahe’ra y DobleJota – Que esperar
  • Jackie Mittoo – Deeper & Deeper
  • The National Pledge
  • Beyonce National Anthem at Presidential Inauguration Ceremony 2013 ABC News
  • dj afifa – sons and daughters of Marcus Garvey compose an unfinished melody
  • Gil Scott – Heron The Prisoner
  • Vybz Kartel – Jamaica
  • dj afifa -maxitaxithoughts
  • dj afifa – Uyama Hiroto feat. Iyunda-I-I chant
  • dj afifa – sokari project body track

The songs i select are a reflection of my state of mind. In.the last session I start with Ini Kamozie and end.with a of an unreleased project called the Mass. In between that are samples from the local news of the week. In between that you will.find Vbyz Kartel mixed.with Hugh Masekela.And.Jackie Mitto.

The dj state of mind.

Are you listening to the dj and thinking about their state of mind? Do you.follow.the selections and thinking about how they connect or.don’t connect? How do you listen?

Here is the latest episode of the electromagnetic radiation on Zanj Radio. Lets continue to explore this idea.

Tune into the Electro Magnetic radiation on Zanj Radio 10pm to 12 midnight -5utc.

So much things to say-Notes on the electro magnetic radiation #3

Last week i featured Umbalemebe on the electro magnetic radiation on Zanj Radio. Umbalembe is a documentary soundscape about Jamaica curated by Zanj Racc; it features the work of Zanj Racc and myself with the album cover designed by Isabel Dennis.

Umbalembe Cover4

Umbalembe is the culmination of a process which started with a live performance at “Mazola Playground” in Gordon Town St.Andrew called Umbalembe.

umbalembe flyer.png

Mazola is a Kenyan Born artist living and working in Jamaica. Mazola’s playground is a showroom for his art (installations, sculptors and paintings ) as well as his workshop.

Umbalembe 19th August 2018 146

The objective of the Umbalembe event was to introduce an audience to our concept of sound art. Zanj Racc and myself have been exploring and experimenting with sound art for about 10  years collectively.

Umbalembe 19th August 2018 012

Here are some highlights from Umbalembe on Crocus bag a tings (my other radio programme on Zan j Radio) where we did a live outside broadcast from Umbalemebe.

Umbalembe is an important project for me. First as a creative project i am rediscovering the world of sound outside of popular music. I am developing techniques to record Jamaican history (earth history) using sound (art) as the primary medium. I am moving away from ” verbalising” ideas  or “saying things” to documenting and showing things or letting things speak for themselves.

Umbalembe 19th August 2018 062

Umbalembe has given me the courage to continue establishing the world of music and sound as a legitimate place for me to engage others in questions about the reality of our daily lives.   It is an example of how i can bring together all my interest, experience and skills.

Listen to Umbalembe here in this episode of the electro magnetic radiation on Zanj Radio or by download the Zanj Radio app.

Notes on the Electro magnetic radiation #2

Here is the latest episode of the Electro magnetic radiation with dj afifa on Zanj Radio.

The session opens with Maroon drumming and singing and a classic by Jamaican poet Easy Skankin. I featured 10 tracks from netlabels focused around nu-jazz, hip hop, dub, and ambient/electronic music.

Dub Riots - State of Life EP


ZandoZ Corp. - Organismus Palha‡us (front cover)


3 of my older projects were included in this session as well; Groove, Guest lectures and Are the elites in Kingston running the art scene. “Groove” is a mini mix i arranged and made a video for in 2010 or 2011 while studying in England. “Guest lectures” is based on audio i collected at the Jamaicans for a Cause March against the “homosexual agenda” in Half-way tree in 2014(Guest Lectures was featured on RadioPhrena earlier this year) and “Are the elites in Kingston running the art scene” is based on an episode of the Strand on BBC radio.

The samples for this session included; Television Jamaica Prime Time News, The Dudus/ Mannat Commission of enquiry, a Peoples National Party mass meeting and a sitting of the House of Representatives.


From my own catalogue i featured, “sons and daughters of Marcus Garvey compose an unfinished melody”, “the body of a 9 year old girl” and “nothing matters”.

Here is the list of some of the netlabel tracks featured.

  1. ZandoZ Corp. – Solitário Picadeiro (Por Trás Da Máscara)
  2. Dub Riots – Zinc Head- Dubphonic
  3. Rakoon – Trippin’ Dub- Dubophonic
  4. Brother Moon – End- Smoking Waxx
  5. Rare & Cheese – Jazz 20 (feat. Ric)
  6. Zifhang – Ngen Kutral
  7. Zifhang – Metamorfosis
  8. KRANE x Ghasper – Fake Friends
  9. THIAGO DJ – Dibedibe
  10. Urban Dialectics
  11. Tony Dubshot – Mu (Downtown Atlantis)

Catch the Electro magnetic radiation with dj afifa on Zanj Radio Friday 10-12midnight -5utc.



Notes on the Electromagnetic radiation #1

Here is the latest episode of the electromagnetic radiation on Zanj Radio.

Last Friday i featured old remixes from poets Neto Meeks, Ras Takura and Kirk Nugent. I also played some “nu-music” from the Sounds of Life catalogue; the body of a 9 year old girl, and the I-I chant by Iyunda feat Uyama Hiroto. I continue to preview Nothing matters on the show. Nothing Matters is a poem i wrote in 2016; it was inspired by the “dead baby” scandal in Jamaica and eventually lead to the collection of poems and short writings by the same title.

Tune in this Friday where i will start my feature of music from netlabels. I will focus firstly on netlabels in South America, Central America and Mexico. If you miss the live show on Friday night 10-12 midnight -5utc check out the podcast on Zanj Radio and Sounds of Life.

The Dub Poetry mixtape

I was introduced to dub poetry through the work of Mutabaruka, Mickey Smith, Oko Onuro, Yassus Afari, Cherry Natural and Linton Kwesi Johnson. Three of my Dj Afifa drops are from dub poets; Cherry Natural “I am walking out of your jail tonight”, Mutabaruka “i don’t have a colour problem” and a special by Ras Takura.

The Poetry Society meetings at Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts and Seh Sup’m (at Weekends then the Village Blues Bar) were places you could go to see dub poets compete and perform. Dub poets such as Easy Skanking Sage, Lynch and X (LSX) Nabbi Natural, Ras Malekot, Charlie Bobobus, Iyunda, Ras Takura, Ganja, Adziko Simba and Abebe Payne were some of the names i came to know as contemporary dub poets. I discovered D’bi Young sometime later and really took a second look at the power of the Jamaican art form and the work of dub poets in Canada and England.

Now there are 2 annual shows that celebrate dub poetry in Jamaica; Dis Poem Wordz and Agro Fest started by Ras Takura and the Jamaican Poetry Festival started by Yassus Afari. In 2017 I was invited to play at the Annual Dis Poem Wordz and Agro Fest and i decided to dedicate a segment of the Electro magnetic radiation show on Zanj Radio to dub poetry. A year later i am releasing the first dub poetry mixtape.” on the sounds of life numusic label. The mixtape is about 34 minutes long and features dub poets such as D’bi Young, Cherry Natural, Muta Baruka, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Ras Malekot and Oku Onoro.

The artwork for this mixtape are from pictures taken by Sokari Ekine at the Studio Be art gallery in New Orleans.Physical copies of the mixtape can be purchased at the Sounds of Life store at the So((u))l hq, or Di Institute for Social Leadership in Jamaica.

Listen to the mixtape here

Developing your art as a selecta

Playing with other selectas is a good way to develop your art as a selecta. It is an opportunity to experience other styles of selecting and presenting selections of music and ideas.

The Electro Magnetic Radiation on Zanj Radio is a space to present ideas and music as well as a space to practice and develop.

Last Friday, the Electro Magnetic Radiation featured a guest set by Dj Zanj Racc and a preview of his latest work the “The Power of the Pussy”.

Dj Zanj Racc is a selecta, music curator and founder of Zanj Radio. He presents the World Music Fusion on Zanj Radio Saturdays 5-7pm -5utc.

Listen to the latest episode here and tune in to the Electro Magnetic Radiation on Zanj Radio Friday 10-12pm -5utc

5 questions with dj afifa


1. Many people find what you do  interesting but weird and sometimes confusing. Do you do this deliberately and why do you think this might be the case?

*Laughs* I can imagine….I think I understand why it might appear that way. It gets confusing because I didn’t go to art school and I have a PhD but I don’t present papers or work in a university.  I believe art is life and I bring my life, that consists of a range of different backgrounds and experiences, mix it up and present it as my art. I think maybe it would be easier to understand if it was okay to mix things up, but people tend to compartmentalize everything so it’s not really the case. I guess, then, you could say I am doing it deliberately but I don’t feel there is much of a choice for me to do it any other way. I just prefer to use what I really love to explore myself and the world, so I play around with ideas and concepts and try to create new things. Laughs. I take everything I learn personally so whatever I think about I try to practice. I don’t know if I’ve confused you even more, but that’s kinda how I think about it. I would like to find out more about how other people would explain my art because maybe it has nothing to do with what I think.

2. Where are you now in your art?

Hmmmm… I have been working through and thinking through a lot of things. It has been tough and fulfilling at the same time. At times I have had doubts and fears about how everything will all work out and had to dig deep to remind myself about how I got here and where I really see myself going. I use my show on Zanj Radio to practice and work through what it really means for me to be a dj and a sound artist. I use it to help me figure out who is dj Afifa essentially. This has been my main focus over the last 2 years, and today I  have a much better idea about what I want to do as a dj and sound artist. I am working on a project that I feel confident in developing.  I am excited about it actually. I am creating a distinctive area for my work where I bring together  discussions, sound and space. I think I am at the stage where I can see how they can all fit other and I am recommitting to continue making it work.

3. So who is dj Afifa now?

Well she is a selecta who works on sound projects and she makes spaces inspired by music…. yea that’s where dj Afifa is.focused right now.


4. Tell us about something that you have been working on that you would like people to listen to?

Well…. The body of a nine year old girl is a sound art project that I would like people to listen to and talk about. It is a very basic track that I created recently. One day I was listening to the local news on Youtube. And I heard a story about a nine year old girl who was found dead in bushes. I heard the story first on TVJ news then again on CVM TV. Both stories started the same way and after looking it up in the newspaper and reading twice, the reality sank in. Why was something like this happening in Jamaica? What is going to happen to the children? I heard some parts of the story play back in my mind. The body… of a nine year old girl. I decided to put the two tracks together and recreate the feeling of being in a room listening to it. I want to know what people think about it. What Jamaican people think and what other people think.

I am really interested in what we listen to and how we are and perceive reality? Like when you hear the first sentence in the newscast does it make you listen more or walk away? I think it’s interesting because this is the news every day in Jamaica. Graphic descriptions of homicides are common place. You can hear it a lot and you can see it. If you want you can listen to the track ‘The body of a nine year old girl’ on my soundcloud. So yea…check it out.


5. Where do you see yourself in 2030?

Yea…2030. I see myself making more spaces inspired by music all over the place….building my catalogue of tracks, developing my soundscaping techniques, and just working on this dj Afifa thing.

Well, all the best and we look forward to talking to you some more in the future.

For Tehuti

gil scott heron
Gil Scott-Heron

Every time I play a Gil Scot-Heron I remember the first time I heard about him. I was living on Irvine Hall, Block A , maybe second or final year at U.W.I. I met Tehuti and Abidan, it was Abidan who had met Ramonia and then he introduced his “cousin” Tehuti to me and Keisha and Sabriya . Tehuti and Abidan used to come visit Ramonia some evenings on Hall and we would all kinda hang out in Ramonia’s room. I became friends with Tehuti and we used to reason. In one our reasonings he asked me about Gil Scott Heron. I think he just asked me if i knew him or he said i should go and check out the artist. I can’t remember, but T was the reason i added Gil Scott-Heron to my music collection. I remember downloading “The Revolution will not be televised” and “Angel Dust”.

Every time I listen to Gil Scott-Heron I discover a little bit more about him and I remember T.

We didn’t really stay in touch when he migrated to the United States.  I saw him once when he came back to visit.

On that visit he asked me if I had ever heard of “Midnite”. I had never heard of them but as soon as i got a chance I was looking for Midnite. I downloaded as much of their music as I could find.

In fact three “Midnite” albums kept my company during my first winter, while i  was studying in England.  I would pad up and head to the University of Surrey listening the Ainshant Maps, Seek Knowledge before Vengeance and Unpolished. I don’t think i would love them as much if it wasn’t for T.

T transitioned to “the other side” some years ago”.  The music he left me keeps his memory alive everyday.  Give Thanks Tehuti…..


Gilbert “Gil” Scott-Heron (April 1, 1949 – May 27, 2011) was an American soul and jazz poet musician, and author known primarily for his work as a spoken word performer in the 1970s and ’80s, and for his collaborative works with musician Brian Jackson. His collaborative efforts with Jackson featured a musical fusion of jazz, blues, and soul, as well as lyrical content concerning social and political issues of the time, delivered in both rapping and melismatic vocal styles by Scott-Heron. His own term for himself was “bluesologist”, which he defined as “a scientist who is concerned with the origin of the blues”. The music of his albums, most notably Pieces of a Man and Winter in America in the early 1970s, influenced and helped engender later African-American music genres such as hip hop and neo soul. ( source









The history of my broken heart

“And it came to pass that time collapsed and I started to make sense to me.” … 35 calendar years.

“And then you get to a place maybe a age where you realize that life is also living through change”…Earthseed.

From Nothing matters:-Haikus poems and other writings by djafifa

Listen to the history of my broken heart.

Sons and daughters of Marcus Garvey compose an unfinished melody

This track was created on August 17, 2015 to celebrate the life of Marcus Garvey.  I used it to think about the significance of the legacy of Marcus Garvey. The track can be used to think about might soon appear on a larger project looking at who owns National Heroes in Jamaica.

listen to the track here 


Revisiting OGUN GARVEY

5 years ago I imagined and sounded out the OGUN GARVEY series. I can only remember wanting to represent a figure that was a combination of Marcus Garvey and Ogun the Yoruba Orisha . OGUN GARVEY would be an African experiencing life with a deep awareness of memory and responsibility to Africa.

I made 7 recordings and chose 2 to share. The birth of Ogun Garvey and Ogun Garvey speaks. When i listened back these 2 are closer to the initial concept of OGUN GARVEY that I was exploring.

The recordings are a composition of samples loops and parts of songs. I don’t have a list of the songs I used. So I am crediting those musicians who did original work. I hope you find the concept something you can experience and understand or even further develop. bless and love.

Download OGUN GARVEY here 

The sound of my mother’s voice

Moonlight. Dj afifa. Selfie series. August 21, 2017

In the August 12 episode of the electromagnetic radiation on Zanj Radio i feature for the first time the sound of my mother’s voice as a sound byte in my performance.

I only discovered two years ago that my relationship to music was influenced by the sound of my mother’s voice. She used to sing to me when i was in her womb. She continued singing when i was born but while she was cooking or in the shower. Even though she sang less as i grew up i remembered the melody of her voice. The songs i enjoy listening to have the same melody and harmony as her voice.

The sound of her voice helps me to think about memory, we can know through sound. Sound is a vibration which translates feeling and meaning. In my mother’s womb i  knew her through the sound of her voice.