9 Things Everyone Who Grew Up Jamaican Will Understand

9 Things Everyone Who Grew Up Jamaican Will Understand

If you’re like me, you’ve had countless debates with your Jamaican-born family and friends that “you’re not really Jamaican because you weren’t born there.” Well, if one or both of your parents were born in Jamaica, and you were born in China, Timbuktu, Guam, or anywhere outside of Jamaica, you can officially obtain Jamaican citizenship and a Jamaican passport from the Consulate General of Jamaica, and even represent Jamaica in the Olympics. So no more debating, you are Jamaican. Fact is fact.

For the millions of us from around the globe who are of Jamaican descent, there are at least 9 ways we can all relate to growing up as descendants, further solidifying our “Jamaican-ness.”

1. Switching to Jamaican Patois

When your parent(s) got mad at you as a kid they suddenly switched to speaking Jamaican patois and you understood every word!

2. “Food”

You know what “food” means when it’s ordered on the side of your ackee and saltfish. (Food = banana, yams, and fried or boiled dumplings).

3. No Street Clothes on the Bed

You know not to sit on the clean bed with your “dutty” street clothes. Why, because your house clothes are separate from your street clothes, and once your street clothes hit the outdoors (clean or dirty) they should not touch the bed.

4. Jamaican National Anthem

When Usain Bolt won all those gold medals but you didn’t know the words to the Jamaican national anthem. Kudos to you for knowing the chorus though.

5. Shipped to Jamaica for the Summer

You got sent to Jamaica for the summer to stay with your grandma (or relative) except you never went to the beach because it was too far, and no one else knew how to swim.

6. Chicken Soup Saturdays

Saturday Jamaican Chicken Soup Recipe

Jamaican Saturday Chicken Soup

On Saturdays chicken soup was slow cooking in the kitchen whether it was winter, spring, summer, or fall (followed by stew chicken on Sundays).

7. Cold and Cough Remedy 

Your parent(s) tried to treat your cold and cough with a mixture of white rum, honey, and a twist of lemon or lime. (That’s after Buckley’s or Ferrol didn’t do the trick, Blah).

8. Condensed Milk

Condensed Milk

Condensed Milk

You pronounced condensed milk with the accent in the wrong place, CONdensed instead of conDENSED. This was always in the fridge to add to tea or a hot bowl of corn flakes.

9. Oxtail and Rice

When your mom made oxtail and rice and your friends were staying over for dinner after playing outside, you felt just a little embarrassed.

About the author

Sabrina K. Marshall

Sabrina K. Marshall is the author of the novel "Tunda on The Rock" ( She was the creator, writer, and producer for the hit show, Kingston House, which premiered nationwide on Television Jamaica (TVJ) in February, 2012. When she’s not writing children’s books or teen dramas, she works with an advertising agency in New York City, holding over 10 years of experience developing ad campaigns for Fortune 500 companies. From Temple University, she has a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Marketing, from the University of London she has a Master’s of Arts degree in TV and Film Production, and she’s currently studying for her MBA at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She loves to travel, play tennis, and spend time with her family.