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In The Spotlight: Dancehall Christmas and the Market

In The Spotlight: Dancehall Christmas and the Market

In The Spotlight: Dancehall Christmas and the Market

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This week in Jamaica... Digicel cleans up the market.

Jamaican entertainment has benefited enormously from the impact of sponsorships by the competing cellphone providers.  No major stage show or entertainment event is complete with at least one cell phone company as a sponsor.  This year Christmas has been announced by each of the four companies flooding the TV channels and newspaper pages with major marketing campaigns featuring leading dancehall stars and reggae music. 

LIME (formerly Cable & Wireless) has a series of ads targeting the all-important youth market featuring Beenie Man, Ce'cile, and  dancehall's two most controversial artists: Bounty Killer who has recently been arrested for allegedly beating a woman with various implements - including a infamous hammer, and Mavado – who was released without being charged, from police custody a day before the LIME With The Stars launch party on November 12. LIME is also one of the sponsors of this year's 'Sting” – dancehall's famous annual showcase on December 26, as well as Movado's Birthday Bash.

The newest cell phone company CLARO has a 'swaggerific' campaign with not only a new word for the pop vocabulary, but a catchy jungle aimed at the youth market with more disposable income and less responsibility. CLARO's first sponsored TV show “Cash Cab” jusst started on a local channel. Free public shows and major prize giveaways, plus sponsorship of television talent shows, sell the four companies' cellphones and services to a multi-phone Jamaican market.


DIGICEL, the most visible of the four companies, is ever-present with its sponsorship of the popular “Rising Start” TV talent show – among many others – and is proud of its sponsorship of Olympic track star and Jamaican hero Usain Bolt long before he won his first Gold Medal.

The most generous act of DIGICEL's philanthropy is one that must be heartily praised and publicised by all well-thinking Jamaicans.  It is the company's contribution to the re-building and restoration of the Coronation Market, the central marketplace for Jamaica's farmers and Kingston's households, which was destroyed by fire in the mayhem surrounding the storming of Tivoli Gardens in May 2010.  As the Jamaican Government surveyed the enormous damage and wondered where the multi-millions of Dollars would come from to repair this essential part of the agricultural economy, DIGICEL stepped forward and offered to pay the cost of restoration.

It seemed like an impossible task, and certainly an expensive one. This was no reggae show, but a complete mess of burnt rubbish, blocked old drains, rats and vermin, a smelly  rubbish pit worthy only to be condemned.  But all it needed was money, and DIGICEL offered that.


I visited the site last week just to see for myself the change DIGICEL has made. I am astonished!  The transformation is complete and Coronation Market has undergone a complete make-over. Neat rows of concrete booths line up in 'avenues' named after Jamaican foods. Transparent roofing brings natural daylight into the space below – a welcome change from the former darkness.  Each booth has a lockable cupboard beneath.  Garbage bins stand at the end of each row and separate programmes are in place for recycling.  Kaysha BaileyThere is a wall of personal lockers, fresh, clean, new toilets and a room that will become 4G micro/business center where market people can conduct business and where  DIGICEL staff will give lessons to those who need them, including the use of literacy software.

Outside, where a mass of vendors are waiting patiently to take up their spaces inside, I met Kaysha Bailey, a member of the Vendors committee, who says with pride that the committee's most important work is to put in place a process to keep the new market clean.  Working with DIGICEL, the vendors have established and will maintain an ongoing relationship with the Kingston & St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC), the city organization that has charge of the markets.


Not far from the market, DIGICEL is building its new corporate headquarters on a massive site overlooking Kingston Harbour – one of the first and few to answer Government's call for business to relocate to Downtown Kingston and revitalize the city.  In typical fashion, DIGICEL has incorporated Jamaican culture into its building site, with a brightly-painted mural that enlivens the neighbourhood .


While excavating the site -- a former 18th Century army base -- nine ancient canons and 21 cannonballs were found which have been handed over to the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, who will help create a suitable monument on the site.  All this shows promise of interesting times to come for DIGICEL's entertainment programme.

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