Jamaican Rumor

“Coffin runnin’ round, asking, asking for Mr. Brown, down in Parade, people runnin’ like a masquerade.”…Bob Marley

Jamaica is the sort of place where pandemonium, and mass hysteria can break out at any time. ‘Catch a fever’ as it is morecommonly known, broke out in Kingston, the capital city, in the late sixties in a big way. Parade, the heart of old Kingston was the epicentre. Out of the blue a flowing mass of humanity, driven by both terror and confusion, began running and shouting in one volatile mass. Several people became trampled, and many were injured when caught up in this fluid chaos. The cause of this frenzy spread as quickly as the people, a rumour, or maybe even a rumour of a rumour, everyone seemed to instantly know the facts or reason for the terror, even though no one had actually seen anything. Apparently a coffin had appeared in town , being led on its way by four John Crows ( Jamaican vulture like birds ) who asked for a Mr. Brown as they went about their funerary way.

Somehow someone on Parade must have instigated the ensuing hysteria, perhaps even unintentionally, before they themselves got swept up in the manic tide, perhaps forgetting the initial reason for it all. Spontaneously, an instant moving sea of people running from side to side of the main square that is Parade, as though an insane sniper had suddenly started to fire upon the crowded plaza. Then like a tropical storm, it was all over, as rapidly as it had begun, as though it had never happened, a momentary mass hallucination. Only the confused trail of overturned barrows of fruit, scattered bins, and odd lonely shoes littered the now empty square, as everybody clustered under shop awnings, as though an actual storm had just struck, and now the aftermath of shock was settling in.

About the author