Jamaican Heritage In Her Hands
Jamaican Heritage In Her Hands - Interview With Rebecca Dayes
by Wellesley || February 2018
Well you know how passionate I am about Jamaican culture and heritage right?
Yes, I do.
So you can only imagine my excitement when I run into someone that is proud and passionate about his or her heritage as well.
Today, it's Rebecca Dayes - from all the way in White Rock, Buff Bay, Portland here in Jamaica. We met when returning from our trip to the insightful Maroon Village Tour.
Rebecca (along with other family members) runs a small coconut oil processing business here.
But not just any other press. All the processes are lovingly and carefully executed by hand, the same way her fore-parents did it.
In an age when we stand to lose much of our roots to industrialization and globalization, the fabric that makes us unique, believe me, I was truly heartened see someone fanatically doing what our fore-parents did, and profiting from it - with pride!
I cherished the opportunity to get in a few words with her.
- Hi Rebecca, thanks again speaking with me today. Please share with me, and my readers, a bit about you and the unique coconut oil processing business.
I'm from here in White Rocks, Buff Bay... lived here all my life with my parents, who are both Rasta. The entire family is Rasta. I have two children, 12 and 9 years old now.
- How long have you been in this business?
From birth! I learned it from my mom, who learned it from my dad. Both of them did this business.
- How does it work? What makes it so unique? Would you mind giving my readers and idea of the process?
We broke the coconuts, mill them, add water, both cold and warm, juice, add ginger, strain then finally add lime juice. It is left undisturbed overnight.
By the morning, the oil comes to the top, leaving the water at the bottom. We then skim the oil, and boil it to purify. It is cooled, filtered and bottled.
- Sounds simple, but exciting! I'm sure sure there is a more to it though?
Yeah man, that is just the idea of it, the procedures have to be done properly.
- Can we go back a bit Rebecaa? You mentioned that you have been a Rasta from birth. Were there any challenges for you as a child growing up?
(Smiling) I was not allowed in XYZ primary (NameOfSchoolRemoved). They said I would have to cut my hair before I would be allowed in, but my parents would not do that.
But one day while I was at home, Mr. Byfield from Skibo All Age school saw me and inquired why I was not going to school.
He spoke to my parents and admitted me into that school. But I still had challenges, other kids would pull off my hat and even put lice in my head, but we got over that. Ms Cargiel was my teacher, a good lady, I remember her well.
I also did some continuing education afterwards in Port Antonio.
- Sigh...you know we all get it my friend. Every one of us had some of these experiences, but thankfully, perhaps like I did, you turned it around for good. What about the business though - any particular challenges there?
The main issue I have is getting material.
- What do you mean?
Well, its really proper machinery. I'm still trying to source a bigger, better machine to mill the cocounts, that would aid greatly in the processing now.
Everything else I work through.
- I noticed the roots drink here. Is it your product as well?
Yes definitley, we have a line of products that includes:
- Fyah Red Roots Wine
- Outa Earth Castor Oil
- Moringa Powder and Oil
- Neem Oil
- and of course, Rebecca's Oil Of Oils coconut oil
Our products are all over the island in pharmacies and supermarkets.
- You do all that?
I have a partner in Portmore that process some of the products, eg. the Castor Oil, and distributes them.
- Sounds great! Good luck with all that my friend. How can potential clients reach you directly if they are interested in acquiring your products
Sure, My contact is 876-488-5446
or Mr. Thompson in Portmore/Kingston area at 876-467-2508/
- Now to my favourite question :-), What Rebecca, in your opinion, makes Jamaica special?
You know, the seas, rivers, and perhaps more important, the herbs to keep us healthy. We have everything we need.
- What is your vision for Jamaica Rebecca?
For us to live in unity and love, care for each other and build this great country.
- Thanks again Rebecca for sharing your time with us. It's a previlege to speak to you today. Is there anything else you'd like to share or my reader to know?
My Mom - She is a stage 4 cancer survivor. She only does check up now. She uses just natural herbs to help her, from guinea hen, sour-sop leaf etc to compliment the medication/treatment she got from the doctor.
I should tell you
- We grabbed a few of the products before we left (That's my hand with the empty coconut oil bottle today)! My wife have already made plans to get another bottle of the castor oil for the kids hair.
- I also spoke to Mama Fyah, Rebecca's mom, who is just as passionate. Lot's of history and knowledge there too I tell you.
- The family is instrumental in the 5 day annual commemoration (End February - March each year) of the Battle Of Adowa (between Ethiopia and Italy) in 1896. Read more here.
They are invited all of us to join them at White Rock in Buff Bay this year for the celebrations.
- Products may be shipped overseas if requested. They will accommodate that.
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