Back to School Donation: Tourism gave education a boost in Negril recently when Mr Cosmo Brown, owner of the well-known Negril beach restaurant, 'Cosmos', donated copies of Olive Senior’s Encyclopedia of Jamaican Heritage to ten schools in Hanover and Westmoreland as a reference tool for students and teachers alike. Seen here is Mr Cosmo Brown (right) presenting copies of what he calls this “feast of facts” to two of the recipients:
Mr Samuel Spragg, Principal of Sheffield All-Age School and Ms Beverley Wedderburn, Principal of Negril All-Age School.
500 copies of the Encyclopedia were purchased by the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education Fund for distribution to schools and libraries across Jamaica. According to the Jamaica Library Service’s Director General, Mrs Patricia Roberts, “The Encyclopedia is like a Bible; every school should have one.”
The Encyclopedia of Jamaican Heritage was awarded “Best Reference Book for 2004” by the Book Industry Association of Jamaica
The author, Olive Senior was honoured in 2003 with the Norman Washington Manley Award for Excellence (preservation of cultural heritage) and in 2004 with the Musgrave Gold Medal from the Institute of Jamaica.
The categories unfold like the landscapes of a familiar journey the flora, and fauna, the geography, faces and features, music, art and language, rhythm and sounds and tastes, sociology and politics, heroes and legends, myths and magic, spirits and symbols and memory of a people. This is the power of Jamaica’s national being, a fusion of tribes and cultures and languages, one which optimists point to as the eventual outcome of a different kind of globalization, the world’s only hope for peace.”
-Rachel Manley. Fusion in a dutchie: The Times Literary Supplement, 14 October 2005.
“Ideally every home should have an Encyclopedia as well as school libraries and other institutions … even government and top level technocrats traveling overseas on official business should have at least one copy with him or her to give away.” - Edward Baugh Professor Emeritus, University of the West Indies
The Encyclopedia received a major review by Mike Phillips in the Guardian newspaper of London (26 February 2005). “Impressively,” he said, the Encyclopedia “relocates the Jamaican culture within historical time and as a part of its region, a valuable corrective to images of the island as an undifferentiated fragment of the African diaspora. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books
This review was also included in the Guardian Weekly (March 11-17, 2005)
The Encyclopedia was highly recommended by the American Library Association in their review of December 2004 issue of CHOICE. See www.choicereviews.com
“One must immediately give thanks that its author Olive Senior is a poet and fiction-writer rather than a dry academic. The prose is easy to ready the information willingly absorbed.” - Sky Writings
“Whether you are Jamaica or not it will provide hours of amusement and entertainment and answer the many questions regarding Jamaicans and their culture.” - West Indian Times, Virginia, USA
“Need a concise and informative resource reference? Looking for just the right reading material to display on your coffee table next to that great centerpiece? Or do you just want to learn about various historical events and traditional activities? This carefully researched and lovingly compiled reference book contains almost everything you can imagine about Jamaica …The contents are definitely not ‘dry reading material’ but rather interesting snapshots capturing pieces of Jamaica throughout its history.” - Jamaicans.com
“Olive Senior’s monumentally Encyclopedia of Jamaican Heritage is a labour of love filled with useful mini-essays accessible written nicely illustrated and suitable for school and public libraries as well as Caribbeanists anywhere.”
-In a review essay (Book Shelf 2004) by Richard and Sally Price New West Indian Review
“I picked up my copy of Olive Senior Encyclopedia of Jamaican Heritage on my way to visit a friend for dinner. After dessert I pulled the large, colourful volume from my bag. My friend, a Canadian of Jamaican descent, turned the pages ecstatically. He was like a child with a new found treasure…his enthusiasm is typical of the response the encyclopedia has been enjoying since its release.”
- Donna Bailey Nurse in a Special to The Globe and Mail, January 15, 2005
“Some of the entries read like essays beautiful essays. They are well structured, factual, historical, colloquial, informative, educational and reflect indeed a deep knowledge of Jamaican folklore, mores, customs and culture …This is not the kind of book to be read through at one or two sittings or even several sittings. It is not for reading though but certainly for dipping into. For its more like a treasure store that is visited, no matter how often, for each time…we ‘visit’ new things will emerge for our enjoyment and our education.”
- Billy Hall, Gleaner, Gleaner, October 13, 2003
“What is so satisfying about the Encyclopedia, and all praise to its author and publisher for their high standards, is not only the incredibly detailed content, but also the actual look and feel of the book, with its high quality paper, striking paper cover and satisfyingly rich green and gold hard cover. Since, we Jamaicans now form a significant part of the UK population, this book should really be bought up by local libraries.
Not everyone seems to know that local libraries are very open to suggestions from their readers as to what books they should buy but it is indeed so. My own local library where I live in London has on more than one occasion bought books as a result of suggestion… also you could put it on your list of presents you would like your loved one to give you, or who knows it could solve your own problems of giving.”
- Viewpoint by Pamela Beshoff, Weekly Gleaner, UK (December 10-16, 2003)
“The Encyclopedia is addictive.”
- The Gleaner, Stephen Vasciannie, Professor of International Law, and Head of the Department of Government, UWI.
“Olive Senior's Encyclopedia of Jamaican Heritage is an invaluable source book containing information about every aspect of Jamaican culture and its cultural history. . . all entries are clearly cross referenced both within and at the end of the entry many of which are accompanied by a well researched collection of photographs, sketches and paintings, original maps and wood cuts.”
- The Journal of Commonwealth Literature. Compiled by Susan Scaffe, London Southbank University.
“This book is a useful and easy reference for Jamaican at home and abroad and for those who have a general interest in Jamaica. As a reference tool, the book provides answers to frequent questions asked by students, teaches and librarians.” - National Library News, December 2003
“At over 500 pages, this might seem a hefty work of reference for a little island. But, as anyone who knows Jamaica will agree, this is not a page too long for the extraordinary cultural heritage the island boasts. The Encyclopedia’s alphabetical range from Abeng (the animal horn on which the Maroons blew to communicate over great distances) to Zouave (a uniform worn by the Jamaican Military Band) attest to the compendium of riches amassed here by Olive Senior.” - Geoff Parker, Zinc Fence, http://www.reggaezine.co.uk/reviews.html
“Senior’s energy and knowledge are truly impressive … there is so much to enjoy in the Encyclopedia that we can only give thanks to the author and the publishers for giving us such a marvelous and rewarding book.”
- B.W. Higman: Professor of History in the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University.
Satisfyingly thick and heavy, this volume inspires confidence. Not a smug (I know all there is to know about Jamaica now. I need never visit) rather, a feeling like the one you may have had about encyclopedias as a child: that they told you too much, but it was only the beginning.” - BWIA Caribbean Beat by Anu Lakhan (May/June 2004)
“It is a sumptuous feast of facts, a tour de force of which Senior can be justly proud. The care lavished on the books production by Kingston-based Twin Guinep publishers does them enormous credit.”
- SHE Caribbean Volume 26 Winter 2004-5 by Collin Rickards, Toronto, Canada
“Once I got my hands on it I couldn’t put it down. Page after page, I didn’t peruse, but absorbed.”
- The Caribbean Camera (March 11, 2004) by Herman Silochan, Toronto, Canada
“The Encyclopedia is a treasure trove for all concerned with Jamaica and the culture of the Caribbeans. Most often, a quick search will reveal the information hoped for and at the same time reveal a whole new set of questions and territories for exploration.” - BW Higman in Kunapipi, Journal of Professional Writing
“This recent work, published by Twin Guinep in Kingston and winner of the Jamaica Publishers Association Award for Best Reference Book in 2004 , boasts over 500 pages of reference material with some 1000 alphabetically arranged entries that cover common (and some not so common) words from Jamaican folklore, historic people and places, cultural activities, economic life and the natural world …With stunning colour and black and white images, this encyclopedia documents the diverse history that is not always written down and of course produced from the grassroots, from the ground up.” -By Shana L. Calixte, Caribbeantales.org, February 28, 2005