As I sat in the lobby of the Saipan World Resort on the island of Saipan, the young lady I was waiting for walked in. She is a new arrival on the island and had been referred to me to get my advice and tips on finding an apartment. As she approached, I noticed a man walking a few steps behind her. Had they arrived together? Was this the “friend” she had mentioned she would bring to our meeting? He looks like someone I’ve seen before, I thought to myself. He did in, fact, look an awful lot like a guy I knew a long time ago, but….naw, it couldn’t be. That was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. As he approached the table, he broke into an all-too familiar smile…
Eight thousand miles, five former lives, and 19 years ago, I was known as “Sir Walt,” the reggae deejay on WKCR-FM in New York. One of my regular guests, a fellow named Wayne Wright, was founder and lead singer of Abeng, a reggae group who would visit the station to promote their music. Shortly after I left the station, I started managing his group, and he and I and another partner formed Strata Records, a reggae record label. (This was even before the music industry Tale from the Walt Vault episode in last week’s column)
Wayne was my first mentor in the music industry, and I learned a lot about managing artists, music production, touring logistics, and much more. I designed his album cover, and even got to participate in doing background vocals during the studio session for the lead track on his CD! (www.mp3.com/abeng). Eventually, however, we went our separate ways, and I went on to start my own label, and Wayne and I lost touch with each other. That is, until Monday night, when he sauntered in to the lobby of the World Resort on Saipan behind a woman I had never met.
Wayne and Shelli, Saipan’s newest resident, had met at Godfather’s Bar a few nights before. Once she discovered he was Jamaican, she mentioned that she had heard rumors there were three (yes, count ‘em), three other Jamaicans on the island—two pilots and one writer.
“He used to be an engineer,” she told Wayne, about the writer.
“I know a few Jamaican engineers,” Wayne said.
“This one is now a writer,” Shelli replied.
“I know a Jamaican engineer who wanted to be writer,” he said. “What’s his name?”
“Walt,” she replied.
“Waitaminit! What’s his last name???”
Google was consulted for verification, and after the what-a-small-world-amazement phase, stories were shared, and they devised a plot to set up a meeting to surprise me!
And, boy, was I surprised! Once I got over my own shock, Wayne and I spent the evening reminiscing, catching up on the whereabouts and exploits of friends, band members, and business partners and played a reunion game of table tennis (FYI: never “ping pong” when speaking to a real Jamaican) which, um, I won. Sorry, Wayne!
In one of his own former lives, Wayne had been an electrical engineer for Bell Labs, and is now doing consulting for a regional telecom company, and had already been here for three weeks. But his passion for music is still strong. I’m told he already picked up a guitar and did a little impromptu performance a few nights ago at a local club here on island.
Since his original CD was released years before the Internet took off, I’ve encouraged him to use some of the tools and strategies I’ve mentioned in this column (See “The Case for Createspace” Saipan Tribune, March 24, 2010) to reissue his “Unconquer-rebel” CD. You can give him an incentive by pre-ordering at JamaicanonSaipan.com/abeng.
And then, “it” happened. While hanging out in the hotel lobby, we were joined by the other Jamaican on Saipan, Ron McFarlane, a pilot for Freedom Air. Now, by “it” I mean, at that moment in time, in the lobby of a Saipan hotel, I dare say there were more Jamaicans convened in one spot than have ever gathered in all of Micronesia! I would even go further to suggest that, with four of us in a population of 60,000, that there are more Jamaicans per capita (per person) on Saipan than anywhere else in the world outside of Jamaica itself! Now, please don’t ask me to prove any of this. This is simply the nationalistic, self-glorifying, hyperbole for which Jamaicans are famous. In other words, “a jus’ so we stay!” [translation: that’s just how we are”] As a footnote, Cardiff Walker, Freedom Air’s other Jamaican pilot didn’t make the rally. (He apparently didn’t get the telepathic memo.)
Yes, it was an historic moment in the ongoing saga of Jamaican domination of the world! (Same thing we do, every night, Pinky!) We Jamaicans may not be as evenly distributed across the planet as Filipinos and Chinese, but every corner and crevice on the planet has at least one Jamaican representing our island. So, to have FOUR in a place as remote and small as Saipan can only mean one thing: a bid for governor is next!
Which brings me to the point of this article: If you’d like to encourage the rise in political power here in the CNMI of the world’s most ambitious, adaptable, skillful, creative, musically and otherwise endowed, sexiest national group of people, then do the following:
1. Thank the next Jamaican you meet for Bob Marley, reggae, Rastafarianism, Colin Powell, Harry Belafonte, Notorious B.I.G., Grace Jones, Tyson Beckford, Usain Bolt, as well as the pineapple* or any other plant you see fit to be thankful for [*the pineapple was brought to Hawaii in the 1700s by Captain Bligh; search “captain bligh” on smithsonianmag.com]
2. If you meet Wayne Wright about the island before he leaves this weekend, say in a bar or club, put a guitar in his hands and force him to sing a song or two!
3. If YOU are Jamaican on Saipan and haven’t been counted in my unofficial census, feel free to check in with me, and finally,
4. Come election time, check your ballot for “Jamaican for Governor,” and let’s do the right thing! Yes, we can!
We now return to our regular series of business topics….next week!
Note: Fans and followers of the book, Jamaican on Saipan, may order a copy on jamaicanonsaipan.com.
Note: Ever wanted to direct your friends and family to a set of websites that revealed the best things about Saipan? Do what I do: send them to www.bestofsaipan.com!
Until next week, remember, success is a journey, not a destination!
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Walt F.J. Goodridge is author of 16 books including Turn Your Passion Into Profit. Walt offers coaching and workshops to help people pursue and profit from their passions. Send article suggestions, entrepreneur nominations and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.