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Jamaican Cosmopolitan Bazaar magazine: is the lifestyle site for the sophisticated Traveler with an appreciation, curiosity or, affection for the best that Jamaica has to offer. Jamaicans in the World/The World in Jamaica. ba·zaar [buh-zahr] Show IPA
1. a marketplace or shopping quarter, especially one in the Middle East.
2. a sale of miscellaneous contributed articles to benefit some charit

Jamaican Cosmopolitan Bazaar magazine: is the lifestyle site for the sophisticated Traveler with an appreciation, curiosity or, affection for the best that Jamaica has to offer. Jamaicans in the World/The World in Jamaica. ba·zaar [buh-zahr] Show IPA
1. a marketplace or shopping quarter, especially one in the Middle East.
2. a sale of miscellaneous contributed articles to benefit some charit
How the Lebanese and Syrians came to Jamaica -

Around the end of the 19th century, a significant number of Lebanese and Syrian people chose to give up everything they knew and move to Jamaica like the Jews before them. The Lebanese and Syrian immigrants were primarily Christians that were fleeing religious persecution by the Ottoman Empire. Thes...

Jamaican demographics in Florida.

Jamaican demographics in Florida.

The J-COB  Post

The J-COB Post
CroZdale Irony

For $5, A Fortune Teller described the Proud Past for her various customers: There was an indigenous customer, A Hindu citizen, a man from…

Jojos Jerk Pit and More ‹
Jojos Jerk Pit and More ‹

Jojos Jerk Pit and More ‹

Come out and show your support for Kirk Hamilton as he embarks on his journey to One Young World Leadership Summit in South Africa!

Monty Alexander

Monty Alexander

Monty unveils his new CD recording Wareika Hill-RastaMonk Vibrations. Out tomorrow August 23.

The J-COB  Post's cover photo

The J-COB Post's cover photo

Terrific History
Matthew Parker - The official website: The Sugar Barons, Panama Fever

Terrific History

The contemporary image of the West Indies as paradise islands conceals a turbulent, dramatic and shocking history. For 200 years after 1650, the West Indies witnessed one of the greatest power struggles of the age, as Europeans made and lost immense fortunes growing and trading in sugar – a commodit...

Dudley Thompson centenary
Dudley Thompson centenary

Dudley Thompson centenary

The late Ambassador Dudley Joseph Thompson was born on January 19, 191...

Jamaica: Tun Up Music and Memories

My Grandfather, Izzet Burnham Solomon recorded a lot of 8mm footage in the late 50's through to the early 70's. I assembled this cut dating between 1961 and 64, pre and post independence. My mom would have been about 10 years old in these clips. Grandpa recorded some beautiful shots of Jamaica in its heyday. "Last Train" by the late Brent Dowe of the Melodians backs this video.

JAMAICAN GenesMalcolm Gladwell was born in Fareham, Hampshire, England. His mother is Joyce (née Nation) Gladwell, a Jam...

Malcolm Gladwell was born in Fareham, Hampshire, England. His mother is Joyce (née Nation) Gladwell, a Jamaican psychotherapist. His father, Graham Gladwell, was a mathematics professor from Kent, England.They resided in rural Canada throughout Malcolm's early life. Research done by historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. revealed that one of his maternal grandmothers was a Jamaican "free woman of color" (mixed black and white) who was a slaveowner.

Gladwell has said that his mother is his role model as a writer. When he was six his family moved from Southampton to Elmira, Ontario, Canada.

Andrew Holness

Andrew Holness

A warm Jamaican welcome to the cast and crew of the James Bond series, who are filming at the iconic James Bond 007 location in Jamaica. We welcome you to our beautiful island as you showcase Jamaica to the world. 🇯🇲🏝

Photos from The J-COB  Post's post

Photos from The J-COB Post's post

The J-COB  Post's cover photo

The J-COB Post's cover photo


What does it really mean to be A JAMAICAN? or an American or a Nigerian or an Englishman? Are these merely statistical terms?
Statistic is like a pair of bikinis on a model. What it reveals is interesting. What it conceals is absolutely vital. Similarly, census statistics is deceptive. I suspect that Jamaican- Americans do rather well, although let's face it not all Jamaicans are of the same tribe. There are Jamaicans who identify in terms of ethnicity rather than nationality, for example we could infer that people who identify as Jewish can claim an inordinate social and economic success as compared to the population. Would it be the same if we identified such individuals as Israeli? or Israelite? In Israel itself there are Ashkenazi ethnics who came from Eastern Europe; Ethiopian Jews and Arabic Jews. OK. So this is a vaguely religious classification. So is Christian. Likewise, when we speak in terms of nationality we see that Japanese Americans are very successful by the same metrics; But Japanese nationality is not the same as Japanese ethnicity. The Yamato Japanese are the dominant ethnic group in Japan, making up the lion's share of Japan's population. The Ryukyuan Japanese are indigenous to the chain of islands that stretches from the Japanese island of Kyushu all the way to Taiwan (Formosa). The Ainu are a group of indigenous Japanese people concentrated on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, the disputed Kuril Islands, and the Russian island of Sakhalin. The first ethnic Chinese immigrants are thought to have first come to Japan around 2,300 years ago from both China and the Korean Peninsula. Japan also has a lot of Filipinos, and people from Brazil and Peru.

To further muddy the waters, when we use "race"as the yardstick as as opposed to "ethnicity" what the statistics conceal is absolutely vital. For example 29% of all Nigerian Americans over the age of 25 hold advanced degrees. That number approaches zero when we see them as merely black people; a really meaningless designation. Of course Nigerians are a multiplicity of ethnicities as well and it may be illuminating if we bothered to distinguish the Igbo from the Yoruba or Hausa, Fula, Tiv, Ijaw, Kanuri,Ibibio, Edo, Nupe, or Efik, so as to compare the relative success of each sub-group. Suffice it to say, that if Nigerians were seen simply as blacks or if Jews were seen simply as white or if Japanese were seen simply as yellow, we would not be comparing apples to apples, would we? Ultimately, these comparisons are pointless since we we have to be infinitely granular to make meaningful comparisons. Humans are simply not apples.

However, if we wanted simply to tell an interesting story we could talk about an arbitrary group of individuals entitled as follows: THE MOST SUCCESSFUL ETHNIC GROUP IN THE U.S. MAY SURPRISE YOU.
Because you don’t know what it means to hustle … until you meet a Nigerian-American.

By Molly Fosco


At an Onyejekwe family get-together, you can’t throw a stone without hitting someone with a master’s degree. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, professors — every family member is highly educated and professionally successful, and many have a lucrative side gig to boot. Parents and grandparents share stories of whose kid just won an academic honor, achieved an athletic title or performed in the school play. Aunts, uncles and cousins celebrate one another’s job promotions or the new nonprofit one of them just started. To the Ohio-based Onyejekwes, this level of achievement is normal. They’re Nigerian-American — it’s just what they do.

Today, 29 percent of Nigerian-Americans over the age of 25 hold a graduate degree, compared to 11 percent of the overall U.S. population, according to the Migrations Policy Institute. Among Nigerian-American professionals, 45 percent work in education services, the 2016 American Community Survey found, and many are professors at top universities. Nigerians are entering the medical field in the U.S. at an increased rate, leaving their home country to work in American hospitals, where they can earn more and work in better facilities. A growing number of Nigerian-Americans are becoming entrepreneurs and CEOs, building tech companies in the U.S. to help people back home.

It hasn’t been easy — the racist stereotypes are far from gone. Last year, President Donald Trump reportedly said in an Oval Office discussion that Nigerians would never go back to “their huts” once they saw America. But overt racism hasn’t stopped Nigerian-Americans from creating jobs, treating patients, teaching students and contributing to local communities in their new home, all while confidently emerging as one of the country’s most succesful immigrant communities, with a median household income of $62,351, compared to $57,617 nationally, as of 2015.

“I think Nigerian-Americans offer a unique, flashy style and flavor that people like,” says Chukwuemeka Onyejekwe, who goes by his rap name Mekka Don. He points to Nigerian cuisine like jollof rice that’s gaining popularity in the U.S. But more importantly, Mekka says, Nigerians bring a “connectivity and understanding of Africa” to the U.S. “Many [Americans] get their understanding of ’the motherland’ through our experiences and stories,” he adds.

The Nigerian-American journey is still relatively new compared with that of other major immigrant communities that grew in the U.S. in the 20th century. The Nigerian-American population stood at 376,000 in 2015, according to the Rockefeller Foundation–Aspen Institute. That was roughly the strength of the Indian-American community back in 1980, before it emerged as a leading light in fields ranging from economics to technology. But Nigerian-Americans are already beginning to make a dent in the national consciousness. In the case of forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, he’s helping fix hits to the brain. The 49-year-old Omalu was the first to discover and publish on chronic traumatic encephalopathy in American football players (Will Smith played him in the 2015 film Concussion). ImeIme A. Umana, the first Black woman elected president of the Harvard Law Review last year, is Nigerian-American. In 2016, Nigerian-born Pearlena Igbokwe became president of Universal Television, making her the first woman of African descent to head a major U.S. TV studio. And the community has expanded rapidly, up from just 25,000 people in 1980.

Traditionally, education has been at the heart of the community’s success. But success isn’t so easily defined within the culture anymore. Nigerian-Americans are beginning to make a mark in sports, entertainment and the culinary arts too — like Nigerian chef Tunde Wey in New Orleans, who recently made headlines for using food to highlight racial wealth inequality in America.

It was education that brought an early wave of Nigerians to the U.S. in the 1970s. After the war against Biafra separatists in the ’60s, the Nigerian government sponsored scholarships for students to pursue higher education abroad. English-speaking Nigerian students excelled at universities in the U.S. and U.K., often finding opportunities to continue their education or begin their professional career in their host country. That emphasis on education has since filtered through to their children’s generation.

Dr. Jacqueline Nwando Olayiwola was born in Columbus, Ohio, to such Nigerian immigrant parents. Her mother is a retired engineer, now a professor at Walden University; her father is a retired professor, now a strategist at a consulting firm focused on governance in Africa. “Education was always a major priority for my parents because it was their ticket out of Nigeria,” Olayiwola says. Her parents used their network of academics to get Olayiwola thinking about a career in medicine from a young age — by 11, she was going to summits for minorities interested in health care. Olayiwola was constantly busy as a kid doing homework and sports and participating in National Honor Society and biomedical research programs, but it was the norm, she says; her Nigerian roots meant it was expected of her.

Today, Olayiwola is a family physician, the chief clinical transformation officer of RubiconMD, a leading health tech company, associate clinical professor at University of California, San Francisco, instructor in family medicine at Columbia University, and an author. Her new book, Papaya Head, detailing her experience as a first-generation Nigerian-American, will be published later this year. Olayiwola’s siblings are equally successful – her older brother, Okey Onyejekwe, is also a physician, her younger brother, Mekka Don, is a lawyer turned rapper, and her sister, Sylvia Ify Onyejekwe, Esq, is the managing partner of her own New Jersey law firm.

But Olayiwola feels she needs to do more. She doesn’t want America’s gain to be Nigeria’s permanent loss.


Olayiwola and her brother, Okey, stay active in the Nigerian-American community. In 1998, they co-founded the Student Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas, which organizes at least two medical mission trips to Nigeria each year. Between 2000 and 2004, the siblings often flew the nearly 8,000 miles to Nigeria to perform screenings for preventable diseases. They took blood pressure, advised patients on diabetes and obesity prevention, and provided prenatal counseling in rural areas.

“I feel a tremendous sense of wanting to go back [to Nigeria] and help,” says Olayiwola.

It’s a sentiment shared by many in the Nigerian-American community. But it’s easier said than done for some of America’s most qualified professionals to leave world-class facilities and a comfortable life to return permanently to a nation that, while Africa’s largest economy, remains mired in political instability and corruption.

In the 1970s and ’80s, some foreign-educated Nigerian graduates returned home, but found political and economic instability in a postwar country. In 1966, the country’s military overthrew the regime of independent Nigeria’s first prime minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. It was the first of a series of military coups — again, later, in 1966, then in 1975, 1976, 1983, 1985 and 1993 — that were to deny the country even a semblance of democracy until 1999.

“My parents were expected to study in the U.S. or U.K. and then go back to Nigeria,” says Dr. Nnenna Kalu Makanjuola, who grew up in Nigeria and now lives in Atlanta. Her parents did return, but with few jobs available in the economic decline of the 1980s, many Nigerians did not. Within a few years of their return, Makanjuola’s parents too decided it was best to build their lives elsewhere.

Makanjuola, who has a pharmacy degree, works in public health and is the founder and editor in chief of Radiant Health Magazine, came to the U.S. when her father won a Diversity Immigrant Visa in 1995 — a program Trump wants to dismantle. Makanjuola’s father moved the family to Texas so his children could have access to better universities. Makanjuola intended to one day pursue her career in Nigeria as her parents had, but it’s too hard to leave the U.S., she says: “Many Nigerians intend to go back, but it’s impractical because there’s more opportunity here.”

As an undergraduate student in Nigeria, Jacob Olupona, now a professor of African religious traditions at Harvard Divinity School, was a well-known activist in his community. He considered a career in politics, but a mentor changed his mind. The mentor told Olupona: “Don’t go into politics because you’re too honest and don’t join the military because you’re too smart.” So Olupona headed to Boston University instead, to study the history of religions — a subject he had always found fascinating as the son of a priest. Like Olayiwola, the importance of education was instilled in him from a young age but so too was the importance of spreading knowledge. “When you educate one person, you educate the whole community,” Olupona says. That belief is what translated into his career as a teacher.

Olupona stresses that Nigerians have also achieved a lot in their country of origin. Moving to the U.S. isn’t the only route to success, he says. Still, he believes the many academic opportunities in the U.S. have benefited Nigerians. “There’s something about America and education that we need to celebrate,” he says.

Marry those American opportunities with an upbringing that emphasizes education, a drive to serve the U.S. while not forgetting their roots, and a growing penchant for success, and you have a unique cocktail that is the Nigerian-American community today.

Anyone from the Nigerian diaspora will tell you their parents gave them three career choices: doctor, lawyer or engineer. For a younger generation of Nigerian-Americans, that’s still true, but many are adding a second career, or even a third, to that trajectory.

Anie Akpe works full time as vice president of mortgages at Municipal Credit Union in New York City, but she’s also the founder of Innov8tiv magazine, African Women in Technology (an education and mentorship program) and an app called NetWorq that connects professionals. Raised in the southern port city of Calabar, she had the Nigerian hustle baked into her upbringing. “There was no such thing as ‘can’t’ in our household,” she says. Akpe’s banking career fulfilled her parent’s expectations, but she wanted to do more. Four and a half years ago, she launched Innov8tiv to highlight success stories back home in Nigeria and throughout the African continent. Through her magazine and through African Women in Technology, which offers networking events, mentorship opportunities and internships, Akpe is helping propel women into careers like hers. “Africa is male-dominated in most sectors,” she says. “If I can show young women there are ways to do things within our culture that allow them to grow, then I’ve been successful.”


Like Akpe, rapper Mekka Don took a traditional career route at first. He got a law degree from New York University and worked at a top-10 law firm, but he had always wanted to pursue music. At 25, Mekka, who is the younger brother of Jacqueline Olayiwola, and Sylvia and Okey Onyejekwe, decided to take the plunge.

Fellow attorneys ridiculed him, asking incredulously: “Who leaves a law career to become a rapper?” But his family was understanding — part of a shift in attitudes that Mekka says he increasingly sees in his parents’ generation of Nigerian-Americans. “My parents see how lucrative music can be,” he says, adding, “They also get excited when they see me on TV.”

The lawyer turned rapper has been featured on MTV and VH1, has a licensing agreement with ESPN to play his music during college football broadcasts and just released a new single, “Nip and Tuck.” He still has that law degree to fall back on and it comes in handy in his current career too. “I never need anyone to read contracts for me, so I save a ton on lawyer fees,” Mekka says.

The community’s drive to succeed sounds exhausting at times, particularly if you never feel you’ve reached the finish line. Omalu, the forensic pathologist, was recently in the news again after his independent autopsy of Sacramento youth Stephon Clark showed that the 22-year-old was repeatedly shot in the back by police officers, which conflicted with the Sacramento Police report.

But if you ask Omalu about his success, he’s quick to correct. “I’m not successful,” Omalu says, adding that he won’t consider himself so until he can “wake up one day, do absolutely nothing and there will be no consequences.” Part of Omalu’s humility is faith-based: “I was given a talent to serve,” he says. Omalu has eight degrees, has made life-changing medical discoveries and has been portrayed by a famous actor on screen, but he doesn’t revel in his accomplishments.

And what about Nigerians who come to the U.S. and don’t succeed? Wey, the activist chef, says there’s a lot of pressure to fit a certain mold when you’re Nigerian. Choosing the right career is only one part of that. “You have to be heterosexual, you have to have children, you have to have all of those degrees,” he says of the cultural expectations he was raised with. “It limits the possibilities of what Nigerians can be.”

While others agree it can be stressful at times, they say the high career bar isn’t a burden to them. “I don’t know anything else,” says Olayiwola about being raised to value education and success. Akpe feels the same. “You’re not thinking it’s hard, it’s just something you do,” she says.

Now that doctor, lawyer and engineer are no longer the only acceptable career options within the community, the path to professional achievement is rife with more possibilities than ever before. Sports, entertainment, music, the culinary arts — there are few fields Nigerian-Americans aren’t already influencing. And the negative stereotypes? Hold onto them at your own peril.

An earlier version of this story had the incorrect surname for Okey Onyejekwe.

Molly Fosco, ReporterFollow Molly Fosco on TwitterContact Molly Fosco


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Chris Melville was my husband and a JC Oldboy.
As I sat in the heat of a Jamaican afternoon within touching distance of the Caribbean sea listening to Zadie Smith, Salman Rushdie, Ngugi Wa Thiong'o and Jamaica Kincaid read from their respective works, my mind kept returning to the phrase coined by Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, "the single story". Adichie's phrase describes the process by which entire nations, even continents, have their reality excised and a single, usually misguided or at the very least limited, image is allowed to become the dominant picture of a place and its people. I was in Jamaica to record a BBC Radio 4 documentary about Rastafari and to perform alongside the above names at the Calabash International Literature Festival. Founded in 2001 and located in the grounds of Jake's Treasure Beach hotel, St Elizabeth, this three-day festival is the brainchild of the writers Colin Channer and Kwame Dawes, and the producer/film-maker Justine Henzell. Witnessing the audience of more than 4,000 people, and with homegrown artists such as Jah9 and Jesse Royal, it was one of the most inspiring events I've ever attended. I am someone whose worldview was born of the African-Caribbean radical tradition. Yet I was surprised at just how well managed and well attended the festival was. Why? Could I have internalised a single story about the Caribbean, that still sees it more as a place of carnival than cognition? Or could it be that thousands of people intently listening to writers read for six hours a day, in that heat, is just genuinely a unique phenomena? You see, beyond the blood, the beach and the banana, there is another Caribbean that – unlike its violent, virile, rum-soaked, ganja-smoking cousin – seems to be of little interest to the outside world. I could not help but notice that, despite the top-class international line-up and Jamaica's huge tourist numbers, almost the entire audience was made of people from Jamaica and its diaspora. Perhaps this only reflects the festival's location on the quieter south coast of the island. Or could it be that what Jamaicans want from their island is at odds with what most visitors demand? Either way, the festival is clearly thriving, so it really does not matter – but being at Calabash caused me to think about how much more interesting the real Jamaica is than the tiny stereotypical slither we are usually offered. I have seen numerous documentaries about s*x tourism, violence and homophobia – and even ones revolving around the absurd suggestion that "black men are fast because of slavery". But never have I seen anything on the Caribbean that produced Walter Rodney, CLR James, Marcus Garvey and Toussaint L'Ouverture. The Caribbean whose revolutions broke the back of the "nefarious trade". The impacts of this lopsided representation are manifold: those of us who internalise stereotypes of the lands from which we descend are likely to be racked by the kinds of psychic maladies that Frantz Fanon (another Caribbean genius) wrote about so insightfully; the nations being projected upon suffer the external stereotypes; but also those in the wider, whiter culture that is doing the projecting lose the chance to expand their own humanity by appreciating the fullness of another's. While none of this asymmetric cultural trade-off is exclusive to a Caribbean/western world relationship, the former slave colonies, along with their African cousins, seem to me to suffer the greatest distortion of their reality. Just look at the resurgence of those "please save a starving black child" adverts. So my challenge is twofold: for the Caribbean intellectuals and creatives to scream even louder so they can be heard above the general din; and for those of us of African-Caribbean origin (and anyone else interested in a fuller human experience) to put more pressure on our media decision-makers to reflect the wholeness of our humanity. Oh, and if you can, visit a literature festival in the Caribbean to see it all for yourself. [A Port au Prince mural showing the Haitian revolutionary Toussaint L'Ouverture (1743-1803), a pioneer of the Caribbean revolt against slavery. Photograph: Jean-Marc Bernard/Realis Agence/Corbis]
A RURAL TOILET that could change the world's health.
Thanks for choosing me again for fans of the week
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