Distinguished Jamaicans

Jamaica has its share of Distinguished persons.
HeyJamaican.com seeks to include them all as time marches on.
We look forward to  your suggestions and comments.

My Kingston
Professor Herbert Ho Ping Kong
Sunday, June 14, 2015
Jamaica Observer

Professor Herbert ‘HPK’ Ho Ping Kong
Senior Consulting Physician
at Canada’s University Health Network (UHN)
Professor of Medicine at The University of Toronto

Observer:  Share with us your earliest memories of Kingston.
HPK:  Hurricane 1944, there was a large ship
on the front lawn of our home at Rockfort…
playing in the sawmill on Victoria Ave instead of going to school…
my parents Percy, and Mary Ho Ping Kong…
walking up the hill on Clovelly Road.

Observer:  What Jamaican food did you most crave on arrival?
HPK: The great flavour of a Bombay mango…
my sister-in-law, Pearline, gave us two.
There’s great Jamaican food in Toronto but no fresh Bombay mangoes.

Observer:  You were the guest speaker on Monday evening
at the MAJ Golden Jubilee Gala & Awards Banquet
and also launched the MAJ’s Golden Jubilee celebrations
and symposium under the theme:
‘Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases:
The 21st Century Tsunami’.
What was the one thing
you wanted those in attendance to take away?
HPK: We presently, and for the future,
will need and have great technology
but technology must be used wisely
and not at the expense of the human side of medicine.
This is defined and amplified in my recent book
The Art of Medicine – Healing and the Limits of Technology.

Observer:  Did you find medicine or did medicine find you?
HPK: My nanny, “Mum Robinson”, who was from Vere in Clarendon,
told me that I was going to be a doctor like the surgeon Dr Robb from Spaulding…
I was five years old at the time.

Observer:  Was the Centre of Excellence in Education and Practice
that was founded in 2008 and named for you a dream of yours?
HPK: My junior colleagues, Drs Rodrigo Cavalcanti and Matthew Sibbald,
deserve the credit for this;
they wanted to better teach the examination techniques
at the bedside using simulation.
I promised to buy one for listening to heart murmurs.
I had $20K… the cost was $80K!
The next day one of my patients gave us $50K!
I realised then that I could fund-raise for medical education.
The late Ray Chang who was at that time the Chancellor at Ryerson University,
a fellow Jamaican and philanthropist of the year in Toronto,
then took over and provided great financial support for the centre.
We are forever grateful to him.

Observer:  You have been likened
to the TV series character House… but nicer.
How do you react to this?
HPK: I have been fortunate to have my performance observed and dissected
by thousands of medical students, residents and other doctors.
Some of them have been more than kind in their description of me:
“One-man Mayo Clinic” or a “Modern-day William Osler”…
but to have such comments
in Canada’s premier national newspaper was certainly a shock,
albeit a pleasant one.
The morning after Michael Posner
wrote his now famous House article” about me,
I began receiving congrats
from my former University President and Champagne gifts.

Observer:  Dr Claudine Lewis, a former student,
refers to you as one of her mentors;
others speak of you in hushed and revered tones…
What or who keeps you grounded?
HPK: My wife Barbara (herself a dermatologist),
my five children (including in-laws) and four grandchildren.
I am the resident chef at 5:00 pm on Sundays for the family of 11.
They almost always never comment on any of my achievements,
even with my prompting (but deep down I know that they do care).
At one of my special lunch tributes a few years ago,
my granddaughter Sarah,
then only five or six,
after listening to a long list of achievements,
whispered to me,
“BA BA (grandpa), what did you do to deserve this nice lunch?”

Observer:  Sadly, many of today’s doctors are perceived as non-caring
and in the profession to turn a quick buck. How do you react to this?
HPK: There are in fact many fine doctors around
but we need more of them.
Their voices need to be heard.
This is one of the reasons I am speaking out on their behalf.

Observer:  What’s your response to free health care in Jamaica?
HPK: Nothing worthwhile is ever FREE.
Health care in a just society should be available to all of its citizens.
I believe that to do this in today’s world
would require a combination of “public” and “private” resources.

Observer:  Were you the minister of health for Jamaica
what would your primary focus be?
HPK: We have to take care of the sick
but there are too many lifestyle-related illnesses
like obesity, diabetes, stroke, hypertension and smoking.
We have effective remedies for them
but we are not using them effectively.

Observer:  How has being Jamaican
shaped Dr Herbert Ho Ping Kong?
HPK: Jamaica gave me a great education at St George’s College
and the University College of the West Indies
where I studied medicine.
Our past (great) athletes
like Herb McKinley, Arthur Wint, George Rhoden,
Donald Quarrie and now Bolt,
plus our amazing sprint queens,
all made me and continue to make me
a high-level dreamer.

Observer:  Share with us your latest splurge.
HPK: We are at Round Hill.

Observer:  Why did you choose Round Hill Hotel & Villas?
HPK: Years ago, we were offered the chance
of splitting time there with another hotel.
We did not take up the offer,
so we finally decided to do
what we should have done years ago.
Summer camp at Chetwood School in MoBay was never like this!

Observer:  Share with us a few of your preferred travel spots.
HPK: We are cruisers and have sailed to many islands in the Caribbean.
We’ve also done Megan’s Bay St Thomas, USVI,
Baltics, St Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum.

Observer:  What was your last major splurge?
HPK: London with the family!

Observer:  And the last book read?
HPK: In addition to medical content
I’m an avid newspaper reader, ie, real newspaper…
at least two major papers every day including Sundays.
I’m not a great ‘book reader’.

Observer:  When was the last time you had a good laugh
and, conversely, a good cry?
HPK: I laugh a lot.
I cried last year
when my great friend
G Raymond Chang died under my care.

Observer:  If you could change something about your life,
what would it be and why?
HPK: I really have no regrets.
Whenever I have been really happy and contented
something would always happen days, weeks
after to shatter the tranquility.
I have long learnt that in life
you really need to take the bad with the good
and I have had more than my fair share of the good,
so I have no regrets.

Observer:  Finally, what’s your philosophy?
HPK: Always keep an even keel.
Never get too high or too low…
always be your brothers’ and sisters’ keeper.

Bob Marley Painting at John Lennon’s Wall in Czech Republic
BobMarley Painting at John Lennon's Wall in CzechRepublic 400x300

Jamaican nurse Mary Seacole cared for maimed and wounded in 1850 Crimean War

Franciscan Fr. Donald Chin You, OFM Celebrates 50 Years as a Friar
GOIAS, Brazil — Fr. Donald Chin You, OFM,
a friar who has spent his entire ministry in Brazil,
is among this year’s group of men
celebrating their 50th anniversary of profession.
He considers his health to be a blessing
and is happy to report that he takes “no pills.”
He said he would like to continue
to be as active as he has been,
but realistically knows he will have to learn
to slow down with the grace of God.
When he retires, he would like to do
more gardening, reading, visiting with families,
and “hanging around at the street corners.”
He would like to be remembered in this world
“as a person who is very compassionate and human,
independent of my office.
In all the places I have worked,
I have tried to identify myself with the poor.”
“After 50 years of religious life,
I have many more reasons to be thankful.
It has been a lot ups and downs but more ups.
I consider myself a successful minister
in all the places I have worked
and in the jobs I have undertaken.”
Fr. Donald and the other members
of his profession class will be honored
by Holy Name Province
at its annual jubilee celebration in June.

Butch Gordon Stewart, Chairman & Founder of Sandals Resorts
Started sandals Resorts in1981, based in Montego Bay, Jamaica
Owns and runs 20 Resorts under the Sandals
Original Sandals All-Inclusive
Couples-Only Resorts
Beaches Resorts for families
Four Boutique Hotels
He’s the Company Chairman
His 27 year old son, Adam is CEO
Started ATL Group in 1968
Distributor for Honda motorcars
Owns The Jamaica Observer newspaper

How I did it: Butch Stewart of Sandals Resorts in the Caribbean

Adam Stewart, Sandals Resorts CEO Appears LIVE on FOX Business News

Fire the CEO of Sandals Resorts

Tribute to Byron Lee
tribute to Byron Lee 400


STORY OF THE SONG: ‘Jamaica Ska’ lifts beat over barbed wire

Keith Lyn … The feel of the music was the important thing.

KeithLyn Jamaica SKA

Keith Lyn recalls that when he first heard ska at Chocomo Lawn in west Kingston,
there was a lot of barbed wire around. It was a place that he was warned not to visit,
but followed his musical heart and went along with Byron Lee and Ken Lazarus.
There he heard ska for the first time, being performed by the Paragons, Heptones
and “a whole bunch of guys we did not know” and the sound grabbed him.

“It got us going, just like how dancehall got people going,” Lyn said.

“We (Byron Lee and the Dragonaires (BL&D) wanted to see if we could do it,
but we were known as an uptown band,” Lyn said.
And ska was known as “‘ghetto music’, as they called it”.
At the time BL&D included songs from the US Top 40 in their repertoire,
plus some Latin music.

“Ken Lazarus and myself went down there repeatedly after that,” Lyn said,
the two getting involved with a number of groups from the area as
Lazarus chipped in musically and Lyn did the same vocally.

Lyn had joined BL&D in about 1962 and got into ska a year or two after.

“It was infectious and we started playing it.
We were touring and we decided we were going to introduce our Jamaican music to the States,
so myself and Ken Lazarus sat down one day and we wrote Jamaica Ska,” Lyn said.

It was written at Lazarus’ home on West Road, near Hagley Park Road.
“We sat on the step, a little wooden stoop kind of thing,
and we worked it out and did the whole thing, Jamaica Ska,” he said.

This included the dance, Lyn saying “we had a part there telling people how to do the ska,
with some little movements. Ronnie Nasralla, who was the band manager then,
choreographed some steps. That’s how you get this kind of thing
(Lyn demonstrates the scissors style hand movement associated with ska)
and the ‘row your boat’ and ‘ride your horse’ and that kind of thing”.

The lyrics emphasised the ease of the movements,
comparing them to dance steps from the United States.

“Ska ska ska  Jamaica ska
Ska ska ska  Do the ska
Not many people
can Cha Cha Cha
Not everybody can  do the Twist
But everybody  can do the Ska
It’s the new dance  you can’t resist
Ska Ska Ska  Jamaica Ska”

And it was to the Unites States that BL&D took Jamaica Ska,
including an early morning audition for the Ed Sullivan Show
that did not exactly show the band at their best.
Still, Lyn says “we introduced the dance at places we played
like the Manhattan Centre, upstate New York –
wherever we played we tried to introduce this new Jamaican music”.

Lyn says he is not quite sure, but believes Jamaica Ska was one of the first international ska hits.
It made the soundtrack of Back To The Beach (with some changes to the horns).
It was also a part of BL&D taking the Ska sound over the barbed wire in west Kingston
to uptown at the Glass Bucket Club on Half-Way Tree Road and places
like the Sombrero on Molynes Road and the University of the West Indies.
The uptown crowds did not resist the ‘ghetto sound’, Lyn saying “they loved it!”

“We had the place rocking with that,” he said.

Lyn was also featured singing in the James Bond movie,
Dr No, people doing the Ska in a nightclub scene.

Two weeks ago, Lyn had an extremely gratifying Jamaica Ska moment
on a visit to the Holy Trinity High School.
When the students heard that he is a singer they asked of what kind of songs.
He assured them that they know one of his songs and they responded,
“I don’t think so.” But when he asked if anybody knew “Ska, Ska, Ska”
they picked up on it and sang word for word.
“Chorus and verse! (plus they did the horns part),” Lyn says, beaming.
He links their familiarity with the song to its inclusion in last year’s gala at the National Stadium,
500 students doing a choreographed dance to Jamaica Ska.

“I fell in love with the kids down there,” Lyn said, laughing.

He is disappointed, though, that not many bands are playing ska in Jamaica regularly,
although many performers utilise a closing ska medley.
On the other hand, there are hundreds of ska bands in the US,
usually infusing some rock-style guitar solo into the music.
Mr. Fishbone has done a popular version of Jamaica Ska.

Still, in the earlier days of ska there was something about the feel of the music
that was well-nigh impossible for foreigners to replicate.
“They sent people from Atlantic Records to try to capture the sound.
They couldn’t get it. They sat down and wrote it note for note,
counting bars, counting this – couldn’t get it.
They played something that sounded almost like it but it wasn’t it,” Lyn said.
“The feel is the important thing.”

 Keith Lyn migrated to the United States (US) in 1978 after leaving Byron Lee and the Dragonaires,
living in Florida until he returned to Jamaica four years ago. But he never stopped calling Jamaica home.

“I never felt at home there. I felt at home here,” Lyn said.
The screensaver on his computer said ‘Jamaica is on my mind’.

He kept active in music, but with a smaller unit than before.
“I set up a one-man band. I did a lot of work with the Jamaica Tourist Board
and the American Society of Travel Agents, so I got to travel all over the world,” Lyn said.

“I have taken it all over the world. Apart from BL&D (Byron Lee and the Dragonaires)
I have travelled all over the world. The last place I went to was Turkey. Mash up the place.
The one Jamaican. They had a Caribbean night.
You had groups from Colombia, Mexico, one Jamaican man mash it up,” Lyn said.
“I been to China, Hungary, Iceland – twice.
He faced his biggest audience in the Caribbean, though.
Trinidad is the place I appeared before the biggest crowd I ever played for,
something like 40-something thousand people.
People were in the trees and all that, at the Savannah,” Lyn said.

It has been a long road for Lyn, who says,
“I remember on my first night with BL&D I had to sing the last song of the night, Now is the Hour.
Plus, “they used to pass remarks: ‘Little man like you have such a big voice!
We see you up there and you look big, then you come down here’.
I say ‘I’m a small man’.
The other thing is “we never know Chiney man like you could sing so!”

He lays claim to a certain soca characteristic, saying
“even things you hear now when you go to a soca session,
‘hands up’, ‘hands in the air’, I started that”.

Now Lyn performs regularly at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel (every other Sunday)
and also does a lot of private functions.
He has long days – last Sunday he was up from 4:30 a.m., did an all-day session
and then headed over to the Chinese Benevolent Association to perform there.

Lyn has three CDs in the works (a variety set, plus Christmas and gospel full-length CDs),
Fab Five’s Grub Cooper slated to be a part of those projects, and hopes to have one out for Christmas 2009.

He smiles as he remembers the banners in Belize reading
‘Welcome Keith Lyn’ that greeted BL&D when they performed there
and says he virtually owned the entire top 10 there at one point.
Up to now his popular songs there,
including Empty Chair and Portrait of My Love, are played on radio, especially on Sundays.

Having been all over and lived abroad, Keith Lyn is very happy to be back in Jamaica.
“Now, I do not wish to go anywhere. This is it,” Lyn said.


Remembering Ken Spencer 
published: Sunday | February 19, 2006

Ken Spencer(photo courtesy of the private collection of Carl and Maryanne Lazarus)

Jamaica is my gallery – Ken Spencer 

Howard Moo Young, Contributor

LEAVING A void that is not easy to fill, when one takes into account the man’s individuality
and the kind of personality and talent that he exuded,
Ken Abendana Spencer was as big and bold as the signature he left on the hundreds,
perhaps thousands, of paintings that he produced over his many years as an artist.
This prolific, creative individual though eccentric at times,
has certainly left his mark on Jamaica.
His inimitable style and technique (indeed he had several,
at least three that I know of), are indelibly etched in the minds of many persons.

The first time I can recall meeting Ken was at my office,
which was then located in the Victoria Mutual Building on Half-Way Tree Road.
With several paintings rolled up on canvasses under his arm,
he shook my hand and introduced himself.
Almost instantly, I knew that this individual was different from any artist
I had ever met. He was easy to talk with,
he even offered to leave the set of canvasses with me for a day or two
for me to make my choices, no rush!
He was also a great salesman, confident of his work,
knowing that within a short time, all the paintings would be sold,
and indeed he usually returned home without any of them.


I bought five of them, got them framed, and within six months,
they got hung in five different homes as wedding presents.
Over a period of time, getting to know him a little better,
he invited me to Portland, near Long Bay, to his castle that he was in the process of building.
I always looked forward to visiting my favourite parish, and Port Antonio, the birthplace of my father.
If any artist has captured the spirit of Portland on canvas, it’s Ken Abendana Spencer.

His namesake, a schoolmate of mine from Wolmer’s,
Ken Spencer of Bellrose and King Burger fame, was one of his avid collectors
who decorated his offices and outlets with many Abendana’s paintings,
telling his friends and customers that he was the artist.


On visiting the artist’s home near Long Bay,
I remember being personally escorted on a tour of this unique structure,
with ascending stairs in a circular motion.
He was the architect, and he wasn’t joking,
he even showed me the spot reserved for a grand piano.
Inside, I could feel the fresh sea breeze circulating in this huge unfinished structure.
I came to a studio, where I saw at least four easels, each with ‘work-in-progress’ canvasses.

I believe that it’s the first time that I ever encountered a single artist working
on four different paintings, all at the same time.
He was an extremely versatile and talented individual.
Ken explained to me, and demonstrated, using his palette knife loaded with green,
as he went from canvas to canvas filling in the trees and other areas
with that particular colour on each easel.
He did this every time he changed colours, a practical solution
which I thought at the time, made a lot of sense with the tools that he used.
He reminded me of today’s TV iron chef, at work on several dishes in the kitchen,
all at the same time, creating appetizer, soup, main course, and dessert.
The only difference was that Ken had no assistants,
and he wasn’t competing with anyone else as far as he was concerned.

He was completely at home, using this technique,
and there was always a crisp, fresh look about his work;
he could capture the feel and texture of Jamaican life with his eyes shut.
Every stroke of the knife or brush was done with confidence,
even his mistakes looked great, or were they really mistakes?
He had an excellent eye for the human form and could capture
a certain feeling or mood in whatever character he was portraying,
be it a handcart boy, a market vendor, or a fisherman.

He was a master of composition and the use of colour,
as his many landscapes and seascapes have shown.
There were times when he would deliberately change his technique
to show a more serious overtone in the subject matter;
these paintings showed the versatility of the artist himself.


After watching him for some time, I asked him,
“Ken, how come you have never had an exhibition before?
I don’t recall any ever being held anywhere.”
He looked at me, smiled and said, “Moo, why should I? Jamaica is my gallery!”

The truth hit home like a bombshell.
Here I was, standing beside one of Jamaica’s best-known artists,
a man whose paintings have been admired by more Jamaicans,
both here and abroad, than any other Jamaican artist I know today.

One can find Ken Abendana Spencer’s paintings hanging in boardrooms,
bedrooms, kitchens, studies, libraries, in luxury mansions, townhouses,
apartments, studios, banks, offices, hotels, restaurants, galleries, lobbies, you name it!
I can also imagine the many pieces he had sold during his travels worldwide,
before settling down in Portland.

He was not interested in degrees, medals or awards;
I don’t even know if he was ever recognised locally for his contribution to the arts,
not that it matters now. I didn’t ask him where he studied,
yet, here was a true artist doing what he did best,
painting Jamaican life on canvas and enjoying it.
Here was a talented Jamaican, a skilled craftsman,
an artist who actually made a living from his chosen career.

He was an individual who was not personally known to a lot of admirers of his work,
but whose work will be admired for generations to come long after his departure.
Ken, on behalf of all those individuals whose homes and corporate offices
have become your permanent gallery, thanks for having shared with us.
We will miss you!