by Howard Campbell
[SOUTH FLORIDA] – This is the second story in a series titled ‘Jamaica Land We Love’. It features Jamaicans who live in South Florida, reflecting on early years in their homeland.
There were few dull moments for Xavier Murphy while living in Jamaica during the 1970s and 1980s. Founder and editor of Jamaicans.com, he looks back at that period with a fondness that makes love for his country even more intense.
Murphy, whose father Clive Murphy started reggae group The Tennors (best known for the songs, Pressure And Slide and Ride Yu Donkey), migrated to South Florida during the late 1980s. He launched Jamaicans.com in 1995, and has helped expose the achievements of Jamaicans around the world.
Born in Kingston, he moved at five years-old to Portmore, a sprawling housing development on the capitol’s outskirts.
“I had lived in a two-parent home with my brother. We lived in Edgewater (community in Portmore) and everyone on the street were friends. My most fond memories was getting on the roof and flying kites I made. Saturday mornings were also fun as my brother and I would take the bus to Carib or Regal movie theatre to watch a double bill ‘kickas’ (martial arts movies). On the way home, we would stop at the KFC to eat. Nothing like Jamaica KFC,” Murphy reminisced.
He attended the all-male Jamaica College (JC), one of the country’s most prestigious secondary institutions. The school’s past students include former Jamaica prime ministers Michael Manley and Bruce Golding, as well as brothers Roger and Ian Lewis of Inner Circle.
With JC being a traffic-challenged 10 miles away from Edgewater, getting there was an effort.
“I remember getting up very early during the week to catch two buses to school. That was a mini adventure at times, depending what happened on the bus on the way to school. There were also the ‘in’ buses that everyone wanted to travel on to go back to Portmore,” he recalled.
In terms of recreation, table tennis was Murphy’s sport of choice. He jokingly remembers making the JC TT team on one occasion, but that season there was no funding for them and they were unable to participate in the school competition.
For teenagers in Jamaica, the early and mid-1980s was a time of break-dancing, packing videogame parlors and roaming shopping malls. It is a period Xavier Murphy would revisit at the snap of a finger.
“I would go back to age 13-14 at Jamaica College. It was the year that I made some of my lifelong friends,” he said.