She has called South Florida home for 20 years, but Trudi Tolani ensures there is a lot of Jamaica at her home in the city of Weston.
That passion ensures her four children, all born in the United States, have a sense of their Caribbean heritage.
“My children have been very supportive. They are the reason this book was written,” she said.
That book is Winnie: The Beginning, an independently-produced easy-read about an eight-year-old girl’s life in rural Jamaica during the early 1980s.
Though set in rural Manchester parish in central Jamaica, Winnie’s life in some ways mirrors Tolani’s upbringing in St. Ann parish (north-northeast Jamaica), the birthplace of Bob Marley and Marcus Garvey.
She presents a vivid picture of a Jamaica still struggling to find its way in terms of infrastructure 20 years after independence from Great Britain. “Winnie” revisits bad parochial roads, a crude early education system as well as backward class and racial attitudes. But Tolani’s first book also shows the powerful impact culture and community played in developing Jamaican youngsters like Winnie.
“I want to reach everyone who has experienced the Caribbean culture. I think parts of it are not remembered as much. By talking about our own experiences we can keep the stories and memories alive with our families and friends that do not know the culture and will want to experience some of it for themselves,” Tolani explained.
Her children, ages 25 to 15, have always known what it means to be Jamaican.
“They love Jamaica and the culture. They eat Jamaican food regularly because that is what I mainly cook. We visit Jamaica often, and it is always an exciting time. As soon as we land, our first stop is either Sharkies (seafood restaurant in St. Ann) or a patty shop. They also grew up listening to the music which is a big part of them, and I always have a Jamaican proverb for any situation, so there is no escaping the culture,” said Tolani.
She plans to produce a series of Winnie books.