What’s It Like Being a Jamaican Living in Italy?

Jamaicans to the World”, founder Xavier Murphy speaks with Emanuel Miller and Scheol Dilu. They are Jamaicans living in Italy.

Xavier: What is it like being a Jamaican in Italy? Hi, I’m Xavier Murphy, the founder of, and today on Jamaicans to the world. I talked to Scheol and Emanuel, who are both Jamaicans living in Italy. Welcome, Scheol, welcome Emanuel. How are you doing?

Emanuel: Thank you

Scheol: Fine, I’ll say, ciao.

Emanuel: Bless.

Scheol: I’ll give them a little Italian, hello as well.

Xavier: Well, you’re going to be giving me some Italian later on. So get ready.

Scheol: All right.

Emanuel: Yes.

Xavier: My first question to you, Scheol, is this one. How did you get to Italy?

Streets of Italy

Scheol: By air, not by boat like…It all started with Emanuel, it would have been better he answered that question.

Xavier: All right, let me do this.

Scheol: Yeah, because of him, I arrived here, so maybe…

Xavier: Let me switch this around.

Scheol: Yes.

Xavier: People are seeing two names, Miller, and they are brother and sister. Yes, we are going to start with Emanuel. How did you end up in Italy, Emanuel?

Scheol: Yes.

Emanuel: Well, I am an ex-dancer and I lived in New York, and in 1994, I saw an ad where there was an audition for dancers in Italy. I had my ex-wife who was here working and I said to her, I’m coming over. Then I came here, I did this audition, they took me and I started dancing on television. I am a musician also, a percussionist, and an English Teacher as well, and that’s how it started. I stayed here for like four months, went back to Jamaica and I said, mom, I think I want to go to Italy. No more New York, because it’s not my cup of tea. Here, it was easier because I was new, Jamaican, and I didn’t find Jamaicans here that were living here like musicians. They would come and go, come and go and I got into the system.

Xavier: Good, so now, let’s go bring back…

Emanuel: Let’s go back a little bit. In about ‘92 or ‘93. I went back to Jamaica and my sister was doing a competition. I can’t remember what was it.

Scheol: A singing competition.

Emanuel: And I said to her if you win this and you should win this, I will take you with me to Italy, promise. She said yeah man, you promise and you know, I said no, trust me. I promise you, win this thing. She did.

Xavier: Oh, congrats.

Emanuel: Tastee competition, was it? Yes.

Scheol: Yes, I think it was. I don’t know if it was Tastee or it was the other one with the beauty. It was like a beauty contest, Emanuel. I don’t remember now, because it’s been 30 years, but anyway, yes, it was a beauty contest.

Xavier: You were one year old, 30 years ago.

Scheol: Listen, man. No, no, that’s what you think. We will talk about the age thing. Anyway, because I look young, that’s all. I only look young, but yes, that was the story. Emanuel was here first and you know, he started his life in the arts sector. When our parents were still in Jamaica, but our mother wasn’t so well, and then in ‘94, we lost mommy and then I contacted Emanuel, I said, well, you know, mom said, boy, maybe when I’m not around, you should go to your brother, because I’ve always been singing and was also a part of the LTM, The Little Theatre of Movement.

Xavier: Okay.

Scheol: Yes, and it was 1994, 1995, my father and it was the first time we came to visit the Emanual. Or maybe daddy came before I don’t remember.

Emanuel: 1996.

Scheol: ‘96, yes, and we came to Emanuel’s wedding and we stayed and that was my first time here in Italy. We did a couple of little shows because he was always moving. My brother is not want to stay still. So he was always traveling all over. So we were like, following behind him, and then I ended up here, by visiting.

Xavier: I have quite a few questions here, because you all opened up like a whole box of questions but there’s one I forgot because when you talk about Tastee Talent and I remember back in those days the Tastee Talent and so on. Which part of Jamaica are you all from? So I’m going to start with you, Scheol. Which part of Jamaica you all are from and then if you choose which school? Because you know, we are passionate about our high schools.

Scheol: Yes.

Xavier: Which school are you representing? Yes, I’ll start you.

Scheol: I was born in Runaway Bay.

Xavier: Okay.

Scheol: And schooled in St. Ann’s Bay. And then you know, you take your exam, your high school exam, and then I ended up at St. Hilda’s High School. I must say, as I mentioned the name thanks to Nicky, an officer because thanks to her we’re here because she was the one who wrote me you know. I must say that let’s say all of my life has been between Runaway Bay and Brown’s Town. Every day for I don’t know when, how many years I was traveling between Runaway Bay, St. Ann’s Bay, and Brown’s Town to go to high school.

Xavier: Okay.

Scheol: But St. Hilda’s and Runway Bay, well, that’s where I was born in a house anyway because I’m the last of the 10 children. Emanuel will tell you.

Xavier: The wash belly (The last child).

Scheol: The wash belly (The last child).

Emanuel: Wash belly (The last child).

Xavier: So, I guess you’re… I don’t know if you’re in the same neighborhood and which school you’re representing there?

Emanuel: Oh, speaking to me?

Scheol: You, yes.

Emanuel: Oh, well, I went to Ocho Rios Secondary School.

Xavier: Okay.

Emanuel: And then I went to Brown’s Town Community College.

Xavier: Okay.

Emanuel: And after my exams, I try to do some A’ Levels at Georges, but it was Georges Extension so I went in the evenings.

Xavier: Right.

Emanuel: And I did and then I said dad I’m sorry, studying is not for me. What happens to being a lawyer? I started out dancing with a dear friend of ours, which is no longer around, Miko Blanco. We went to the hotels to do shows and that’s where I started dancing. People used to say funny things. I didn’t care. I knew what I wanted. You could say what you want, as long as you don’t touch me because I’m very, very, very silent, but don’t get me cross.

Scheol: Because in those days, you know, seeing men dancing is always a problem. Jamaicans never really accepted… I think they were not very open to seeing males dancing, doing things that females would do.

Xavier: Right.

Scheol: Everything I consider, like an experience. It was a good experience.

Xavier: And times have changed and I think, you know, one of the things we now realize is some people are more artistic and not academic. I think, you know, we have gone through a phase like that where we all wanted to be lawyers, doctors, pilots. For me, I want to be a pilot.

Schoel: You look like a pilot too, you know. You look like you could pilot.

Emanuel: I would say, director.

Xavier: Well, the Chemistry and Physics and dem ting deh lick me fi six (gave me a hard time).

Emanuel: Okay, okay.

Xavier: Let me get into Italy now. You guys have been there for quite a while. Tell me a little bit about the people there. What are the people like? And I’m going to start with you from your experience, Scheol. What are the people like? And then I’ll go to you Emanuel after.

Scheol: And he can tell you more because he has been here, much more than I am. I was writing down a few things because sometimes, you know, the brain goes and you get older and you don’t remember what…

Xavier: No, no…Stop for a second. Your brain gets more efficient.

Scheol: Oh.

Xavier: What happens is things that are not very important at the moment, they go away.

Scheol: Or they take a walk.

Emanuel: Yes, yes.

Xavier: And the things that are important bubble to the top, the brain gets more efficient.

Scheol: Oh, I love that explanation. You see, we’re moving from a pilot to a bank director, to a psychologist. Okay, Italy, I came here to sing. That was my main objective, you know, to come here to sing. The people, everything about Italy, I love everything about Italy. It’s a cultural place. It’s, let’s say very famous for their heritage because you know, Italy is an architectural company. Sorry, architectural, country. Everything here was made in, you know, from the Roman Empire in the 18th century, and maybe before also before. But what I love about the people is that… Emanuel can also confirm this, is they are a family, a very close kind of family people. People will stay at home until dem is all 60 years old (they are 60 years old), you know, with dem parents (with their parents). They’re like that, they love their togetherness, they are very, very, very together and, you know, I don’t know how to…

Emanuel: I hope I won’t get in trouble, but I think it’s…

Xavier: Emanuel might be able to express it, finish it.

Emanuel: I think it’s a cover-up because you don’t want to take care of your responsibility.

Scheol: Me know (I know).

Emanuel: Because most of them are not like that. Most of them, but the ones that stayed until they’re 50. Man, I think it’s because they don’t want to take the responsibility to go out. Stays at Mama’s skirt tail (Stay close to their mother) and don’t move. I hope they forgive me.

Scheol: No, because I think that it is part of their culture. They are like that, but because like us Jamaicans now, I mean, Jamaicans will want to go leave home by the time they’re 17, 18 because they have to go to college and, you know, maybe they come home to come back and look for mommy and daddy but they have their own place, you know. I think that Italians just love the fact that at home there is mom and dad and the grandparents and everybody get together.

Xavier: The generations are there.

Emanuel: I’ll touch a button there and I repeat, I hope they forgive me. Parents here, the one thing I don’t like about the parents here is that they give their children a heavy load to carry. I gave you this, I suffered and did all the sufferation. I didn’t go to the beach, I didn’t do this. I didn’t travel just to send you to college and make you get through to university, and if you say okay, I’m leaving, no, you can’t. You have to pay me back. I think it’s not right, but as I said, I hope they forgive me. That’s the only thing I don’t like. There are very family-like and loving, some places.

Xavier: Let me ask you all this question. I believe you are married, Scheol, right?

Scheol: Yes.

Xavier: Are you married to an Italian?

Scheol: Yes.

Xavier: And Emanuel married to an Italian?

Emanuel: Yes.

Scheol: Married to an Italian. Each of us, well, Emanuel’s wife comes from a different place from my husband, and then this is another thing about Italy. In Italy, they are divided. You have the south and you have the north and you have the people in the center of Italy. Everybody has a different way of thinking about each other. For example, we are in the north of Italy, and for example, my husband comes from the south, the people in the north they don’t really like the people, it’s like, you know, Jamaica will say, okay, I come from…

Emanuel: Uptown.

Scheol: Uptown.

Emanuel: They are downtown and you have the ghetto, you know?

Scheol: Yes, like that because I remember when I used to go to school. You brown girl, how yuh suh brown (How are you so brown)? A weh yuh come from (Where are you from)? Yes, just like that. So it’s kind of like that kind of situation. Yes, but my husband is from the south, where the south people are considered people who don’t want to pay taxes, people who don’t want to work, people who don’t respect the law. I must say that, in my opinion, I’ve been there, but they are one of the most warmest people I’ve ever met.

Emanuel: Oh, very, very, very, very, very, very welcoming. It’s not true. The fact is if, in the south, there are less opportunities.

Scheol: Oh, yes, always.

Emanuel: But they are very, very, very bright and very good, but there are no opportunities that they can get into.

Scheol: Not a lot.

Emanuel: Because of this segregation.

Xavier: What type of segregation you’re talking about?

Emanuel: This, you’re from the South.

Xavier: The North, Uptown, downtown.

Scheol: Yes.

Emanuel: Let’s say racist.

Xavier: Okay.

Scheol: Yes, because it is. At the end of the day, it is considered in the bag of racism because they’re being racist against their own kind. Yes, this does exist here. They’re fighting against it, you know, but you know what, these people are also hard-working, because in the north, where you have all these factories and all these industrial places.

Emanuel: Industries.

Scheol: If you check them out, most of the people that are working inside of them comes from the south. At the end of the day, also they are the most hardworking people.

Xavier: You opened up, you talked about racism there, have you guys experience it over, you know, just you know, because you’re black there, how has that been?

Emanuel: It has been hard in the beginning. For them to open the door and let you in, but the thing I must say to you; Africans on a whole are not well looked upon here. When I say I’m Jamaican, I’m not from Africa. Wow! Jamaica, Bob Marley, and Ganja and I said yo, we have beautiful women, nice beaches, nice mountains and places to see, come off a dat (don’t speak about that) and you know, that’s the first impact you get. But being Jamaican, it is easier.

Xavier: It opens…

Emanuel: Yes.

Xavier: A few of my… And it’s sad…

Scheol: It is, it is.

Xavier: In quite a few of the interviews I’ve done, I’ve heard the same thing where they say once you say you’re a Jamaican it opens the door, but if you’re African they look down on Africans not realizing we’re all Africans.

Italy Cityscape

Emanuel: Yes.

Xavier: But.

Scheol: Yes, exactly.

Xavier: A do hear this from time to time and it’s very sad when you hear it but it’s been a theme that I’ve heard.

Scheol: It is and what I noticed is that they divide also the Africans now because maybe if you’re from the French side, the French-speaking side maybe you’re looked on in a different way. Maybe the Nigerians are different from the Senagalese, and then the people from Ivycoast are looked at in a different way. The people from South Africa are looked at in a different way. It depends on where they’re from.

Emanuel: Where yuh come from? (Where you are from?)

Scheol: Because if you come here and maybe you know, they see you dressed and you look differently.

Xavier: Right.

Scheol: Some people will look at you and ask you, oh, but are you African? And if you say yes, no, maybe they say, ah, because I thought you were from Ethiopia. And I said, okay.

Emanuel: Yes, I am.

Scheol: What’s the difference?

Xavier: I visited some years ago, and again, it was a short visit, probably maybe five or six days in Italy. I went to Venice, and I took the train to Rome but I found the people to be very friendly. I remember one moment where we were lost in Rome and this old lady came up didn’t speak any English but she saw that we were lost.

Emanuel: Yes, they’re like that.

Xavier: And, you know, you think, you know, as an older person, she’s there trying to help and trying to find somebody to help us. She was looking hard for somebody to help us. I would never forget that experience there. Let’s talk a little bit now about food.

Emanuel: I was just gonna say that enuh (I was just going to say that). I can’t get ackee here.

Xavier: We are not going to talk about Jamaican food just yet. Let’s talk about Italian food. I’m going to start with you, Emanuel. If you were to say to me, Xavier, apart from the pizza, and which tastes very different, very different, from ours.

Emanuel: Very, very so.

Xavier: Very, very different, and the spaghetti and meatballs and all the things that we, you know, say from there. What would be that one thing? You’re going to have some time to think about this, but starting with you.

Scheol: I know mine because him is a vegetarian (he is a vegetarian), so.

Xavier: What would be…Well, good, he can give some type of vegetarian suggestion, what would be that one thing you’d say try this if you come over to Italy?

Emanuel: Well, I don’t have a name of the dish in my head, but I always do, Rasta pasta.

Xavier: Okay.

Emanuel: Which it is been done now in various restaurants because wherever I go, I always say to them, I want a Rasta pasta and they say, what’s that? Give me some greens and some carrot, and some corn with the pasta. Don’t just give me pasta and that’s it. So I would say that but if you should go there are many vegetarian restaurants here. And there is a place here that you can get ital food.

Scheol: But here where? Sorry, weh yuh live (where do you live)?

Emanuel: Torino

Scheol: Okay.

Emanuel: Weh yuh talking bout? ( What you talking about)?

Xavier: I was a bad host. I didn’t ask. I just said Italy and I should have said where in Italy you are.

Scheol: Me a laugh afta him (I’m laughing at him).

Xavier: Where in Italy you are?

Scheol: Because where him (where he) live different from where I live.

Xavier: Where do you live?

Scheol: I live in a place called Alba. They call it the Lalangay. So if you really anybody’s talking about Lalangay, they talk about the wine area.

Emanuel: Where the wine comes from.

Scheol: The more tropical area.

Emanuel: Some good wine.

Xavier: That sounds like the area that my wife would love to visit. I’m quite happy. The wine area.

Emanuel: Good wine. Good wine.

Xavier: Yes.

Scheol: But my place is smaller. I’m just joking with Emanuel because I know that he’s from a big city. Turin, you know, is a bigger city and have much more thing.

Emanuel: Which was once the capital of Italy.

Scheol: Yes.

Xavier: Okay, I see.

Emanuel: Turin was once the capital of Italy.

Xavier: So, Scheol your food, what you said if you come to Italy, you must try this?

Scheol: Boy mi naa tell no lie enuh (I’m going to tell any lie) unuh need fi guh to (y’all need to go to) Napoli. Yes. The first thing I’m going to tell unuh (y’all). First thing you just need to go to Napoli. Then you go to Naples as they call it or you go to Napoli and try the pizza as it is because it is totally different from…

Emanuel: Anywhere else.

Scheol: Yes, then you must try the lasagna. This is something I have to tell them lasagna with, how can I say with minced beef, minced meat. But everybody do it differently, but I think the basic lasagna is with minced meat and parmesan cheese. And I don’t know how you say it [inaudible 25:15]. I’m forgetting my English.

Xavier: Doh worry bout that (Don’t worry about that).

Scheol: Slice cheese.

Emanuel: Slice cheese.

Scheol: With the pasta, with the long pasta, okay.

Xavier: So, I have a question because I was watching both y’all. And, you know, it’s my language question, really, I’m going to, okay.

Scheol: Yes.

Xavier: I believe you both have mastered the language because I’m seeing a thought process.

Scheol: Yes.

Xavier: Since you respond, okay. So, now, even be dreaming in Italian. But I can see you’re thinking about, well, how do I translate this back to English at this point in time? So is that…

Scheol: You know why also because I think we’re also teaching English to Italians. And well Emanuel teaches not only to Italians but Emanuel teaches also to foreigners to other foreigners like Chinese, Indians, or people from Pakistan or African. Emanuel, so he has a more cultured classroom than I do. I basically have Italians and so starting…What happens to me many times is that I forget the word and I have to be, you know…

Emanuel: This happens but she’ll get over it. She has been here for 10, 12 years now.

Scheol: 23.

Emanuel: When you get to 20. When you get to then there’s that click where you can switch like this, you know. I don’t have a problem.

Scheol: Emanuel, 23 years that’s how long I’m here.

Emanuel: I know but you have been on and off for three.

Xavier: I know you both are in the entertainment.

Scheol: I sing.

Xavier: You know, in the field. You play music and so on, and I believe Scheol, you sing. Do you sing in English? Or do you sing in Italian?

Scheol: Okay, I even hate speaking in Italian so I will not sing in Italian but I like it. No, sometimes I have to think about some of the songs that I hear. You know, maybe the old Italian singers that I would love to take one of their songs and re you know, redo it. But I sing in English. I started out with Emanuel with like, you know, reggae Latino, and we really traveled a lot. We went to Dubai and we took all these this you know Jamaica to Dubai. We took Jamaica all over Italy, yes.

Emanuel: Also Europe.

Scheol: Also Europe because we went to Switzerland and all over. And unfortunately, I was at a concert. I must tell you this very quickly. I was at a concert once where I was doing backing vocals just before Wilson Pickett died. I don’t know if you know the blues singer. Just before he had a plane accident. Wilson Pickett was here in Italy. He had his concert, they call me to do backing vocals with this other girl from America. And a saxophone player saw me and asked me but do you sing by yourself? And I was saying, no, I don’t sing by myself. No, always with my brother or with another girl or? And he said, wouldn’t you like to try with a blues band? Because I see you kind of have this style too. And that’s how I ended up I said, okay, yes. Then I went, I met this family. All the family plays something. All the children, the father, the mother, the son, everybody. I ended up in this family and I started singing the blues and the more I sang it is the more I liked it.

Emanuel: And that’s how I lost her.

Xavier: Reggae’s lost and the blues gain.

Scheol: Yes.

Emanuel: Well, no, she still. She still comes back. If I have a show and I need her. I call and she will come.

Scheol: Yes.

Emanuel: But we’re not together as a group anymore. She has her group. I have mine but we still, you know keep that thing together.

Scheol: Connect.

Xavier: Okay.

Scheol: We still connect. Not only because Emanuel did everything. He does everything plus he does DJ but I also did disco music You know, I recorded some disco music in the studio.

Emanuel: They should be on YouTube.

Scheol: All of this started in Jamaica, you know Xavier.

Xavier: Wow.

Scheol: All of this started because I used to hang out with Tony Gold, Brian. And there was also what’s his name?

Xavier: It will come back.

Scheol: Bennett, Michael Bennett. But maybe I don’t know how young maybe you’re too young to know these people.

Xavier: Turn round now and interview me.

Scheol: All of this started back in those days with Shavel Franklin, you know, and Pantomine and everybody with Dorothy Cunningham and Oliver Samuel. Yes, it all started there. It all started here.

Xavier: One of these days I tell my story about but it’s about..…but auditioning for the pantomime but that’s another day.

Scheol: Just tell me, were you in the Pantomine when there was…?

Xavier: They didn’t put us in but sorry, I’ll let you finish.

Scheol: Ah, you didn’t get in.

Xavier: They didn’t have any parts for young people. I was in still in high school and they said was it a pirate something? I can’t remember the name of that, pantomime.

Scheol: Yes.

Xavier: Pirates is something I remember and we did get through the audition. It was me and two other guys. And they said if we have a part for you, I will call y’all but they never had anything for children.

Scheol: But there was still Barbara Gloudon. She was still, do you remember, she was still around?

Xavier: I don’t remember. I just remember being on stage and

Scheol: Just to say that you’re too young.

Emanuel: That was like 30 years ago.

Scheol: Yeah, man.

Xavier: Probably about that. So, let me ask you this question. Y’all are you know married? Emanuel, I know you have kids.

Scheol: Can I interrupt you?

Xavier: Yes.

Scheol: Please, I took up Emanuel’s space. I want to leave him the space to talk about his music because I took away his space and I don’t want to…

Emanuel: No no, cool sis. No problem.

Xavier: Tell me a little bit about what you do in terms of music.

Emanuel: Me?

Xavier: Yes.

Scheol: Yes.

Emanuel: Yes, anyway, I am a percussionist and I have a little group here. I try to sing but I’m not a singer. I am more of a DJ. I also do DJ work. Most of what I do now is disco music because there are not many places here where you can do reggae. But I also drop in a couple of my thing in it, I’ve done some records. What else? I have traveled all over I played for many famous groups that’s it.

Xavier: All right.

Emanuel: I’m trying to keep my head out of the S because with this COVID thing we’re all down.

Xavier: Right, right.

Scheol: We’re experiencing our third lockdown and it is so sad today they closed all the schools.

Xavier: Oh man.

Scheol: Next week, yes. Where were you know facing this lockdown, but that’s another story. I just wanted to add a little piece to what Emanuel said. When Emanuel said that it’s here in Italy it’s really… And it’s the same thing again with the south and the north and the south. If you go to the south-south of Italy the place where they call like Purulia because I’m sure you know Alba Rossi. He is one of the first Italians who took reggae here. He’s one of those first reggae guys or maybe not Emanuel. I don’t know if…

Emanuel: No, he wasn’t.

Scheol: First Italian who started singing reggae maybe or…

Emanuel: Let’s say in Patois.

Scheol: Yes, the guy really, and then now he’s living in Jamaica. So he moved from Italy to there and where he’s from which is the place called Purulia which is always in the south. Is one of the only places that if you want to do reggae, you can find a lot of places there. But here in the north as Emanuel was saying if you want to go dance reggae in a club. Now in this part of Italy it doesn’t exist because they connect reggae with smoking the weed and people drinking and you know getting…

Emanuel: Yagayaga, let’s leave it at that.

Xavier: Very stereotypical.

Emanuel: And they associate you with this. There are times when someone will come to me and say, give me a spliff nuh (give me a spliff). And I said to him, do I look, like I smoke to you? All Jamaicans smoke, man. Don’t worry yuh self mon (Don’t worry about it).

Scheol: That’s another thing.

Emanuel: And I said, well if you think so keep your thoughts. Don’t ever say hello to me again because when you came first, you didn’t even ask me. How are you? You know the first thing you ask me is give me a smoke. I said this nuh work (this don’t work). How are you? I’ll be all right enuh (I’ll be all right), leave it alone. You have to face this because you’re Jamaican here. And I think almost everywhere else. But at the end of the day, you just brush your shoulder off and go on because you know what you’re all about.

Xavier: Exactly.

Emanuel: Yuh nuh affi really (You don’t have to really)…

Xavier: Engage in.

Emanuel: It looks bad because people are associate it with you. I will go to a place to ask for a job and I hope yuh nuh tek yuh you don’t tek your frens them here enuh. The one nuh weh do this and bad behaving (I hope you don’t take your friends here, you now, the ones who do not behave well). And I will say, how can you judge me looking at me? How do you know my friends? How do you know my followers? And they go with the Jamaican music it always take this kind of thing.

Xavier: Very sad.

Emanuel: But you go on.

Scheol: It is, it’s the same thing when you go to look for a house. Like you go look for a house to rent. If you’re renting it in an area where you know, all the black people live is okay. But you try and see if you went to rent a house in our area where all the white people live as we call them. Where the Italians live. They start asking you for a contract, they start asking you for a lot of… They need a reference. So, it’s not so easy, also. It’s true what Emanuel is saying. And they make you feel like, hello, you don’t even know me. Don’t tag me, please because I don’t tag you. You know Italians are not let’s say different from the rest of the world. You know, Italians are human beings and so are we.

Xavier: Right, exactly.

Scheol: I don’t know, Emanuel might agree with me, I must say that you know, Italy is quiet. Italy is a quiet country, it’s not. You don’t have a lot of how can I say criminality unless you go to the areas where the people are really dying for hunger.

Emanuel: Well, you don’t trust that, that’s because them (they) live inna (in the) country if you live in the city that’s another thing. Leave dat (that) outta (out of) di (the) ting (thing) man. Mi miss the Jamaican food mah tell yuh brethren (I miss the Jamaican food, I’m telling you).

Xavier: Let me ask you actually this question because again, you guys have been there a while ingrained in the culture, married in Italians, in terms of what have you experienced as maybe a culture clash, your Jamaican culture, and Italian culture? That you’re like, this is a clash for me. I mean, again, maybe you don’t experience it, but maybe you have and I’m going off the script. I’m going off my typical script. But what you know, I’m always interested especially when it comes to marriages. I’m always interested in that. I’m going to start with you Scheol? Because I see you shaking your head. Let’s start with you.

Scheol: It’s hard to explain you know enuh (you know), but I got married to what we call one of the places in the south called Calabria. Which the Calabrians are known to be very jealous people. When you walk into…

Emanuel: Mafia, mafia too…But good ones. No, I’m sorry.

Scheol: Mafia in Jamaica too, I love my Jamaica mafia people. Let them stay. Anyway, we walk, when you walk through their doors. The doors closed because they are so jealous they want you for them. They don’t want to share you with anyone and worse now, you have a Jamaican who is married to one of them. That’s even worse and nobody is supposed to look at her, nobody is supposed to do this. So that part of…

Xavier: Backup, so backup because there is something you just said which I have to dive in a little further and Emanuel I soon come to you. It sounds like because your husband is married to a Jamaican you’re an extra level of being you can’t look at her. Is that what I am hearing?

Scheol: Because here Jamaicans don’t really exist. Anywhere they are considered special people because his friends would say where you fine her and then people would come to me and say you don’t have a friend, man.

Xavier: Ladies watching this, the Italian man have a shortage of Jamaican.

Emanuel: Yeah, man.

Scheol: They have a shortage.

Xavier: I’m just making that announcement and we will get to the men in a bit.

Scheol: It’s true because Xavier here, Emanuel will confirm. I have one girlfriend, one Jamaican girlfriend. She lived near to Angela. I don’t even know she was really born in Jamaica or she was born from Jamaican parents in the states in the US. But she have one Jamaican friend here she’s near to a place, how do you call it Pescado, Emanuel? Anyway, it’s near Rome and that is it. Another Jamaican girl? I don’t know. I’ve never met one. I don’t know if they’re here or they’re not here. Once I tried to build a Facebook page to you know, Jamaicans in Italy. It’s like some people don’t want other people to know that they are here or they want to keep themselves privately. You know, they don’t want to, but Jamaicans are private in a way they are and they don’t like leaving their country.

Xavier: Don’t like leaving their what yuh seh? (What did you say?)

Scheol: I’m sorry let me rephrase that. They don’t like going too far.

Xavier: Well, I don’t know if you’ve been watching this series, but Jamaicans, trust me…

Scheol: Yes, them is (they are) all over. But maybe you will find two…Maybe you’ll find 10 in Argentina. Five in Germany.

Xavier: Okay.

Scheol: Three in Austria, but I mean, you won’t find like you like in America or UK.

Emanuel: You have to do your homework baby. Sister you have to do your homework.

Scheol: But anyway, the problem is we need some Jamaicans here. Girls come, I am telling you to come. Help!

Xavier: From a cultural perspective, and that’s your experience. I’m going to jump over to Emanuel and you tell me now, you’re married to an Italian. Is there any you know, cultural clashes, any type of cultural experiences and maybe there isn’t, but let me hear it from you?

Emanuel: Me?

Xavier: Yes.

Emanuel: Well, yes, I have faced some but the thing is like she said before, it’s family-like here. The family has to be sure that you are not a bad boy. And they will let the lady out. If you’re taking her from the house. If you find her outside it’s different. But if you’re taking this lady out of her house then you have to go in and let you know.

Italy Vineyard

Xavier: Right.

Emanuel: My in-laws first saw me after a year and a half, dancing on the television. My wife said, well, she wasn’t my wife then she said, that’s him, mama. That’s the man I’m going out with.

Xavier: Oh wait, wait, wait, did they know she was going out with a Jamaican man or they didn’t even know that?

Emanuel: Well, they know she has a friend.

Xavier: Okay.

Emanuel: Because she was my assistant. When I was teaching dancing, she was my assistant. So they knew that she knew me.

Xavier: Okay.

Emanuel: But they never met me.

Xavier: Ah, I see.

Emanuel: When she said that, after a while, I said, okay, I’m coming to your house to meet your parents. And I went there, and I asked for her hand, you know if I could stay with her, married her and this, and they looked at me, like, you know, Italian people they don’t do this. Where do you come from? And I said I am Jamaican, we’re usually old-fashioned. Gentlemen in Jamaica, they are very gentle. You have rude boy too but you have gentlemen, go in and say, can I have the…? Can I marry to…? Or you know, if you meet her outside yuh nuh wid dem ting deh (you’re not with them thing there).

Xavier: Different story.

Emanuel: Different story. She was inside, she was living with her parents, and I had to go and…

Xavier: This conversation has been flowing so well, I’ve actually gone over time. It’s not you. It’s not you. It’s me, because the conversation has flowed so well.

Scheol: We have to do it again.

Emanuel: Oh, sorry, sorry. Let me just finish this.

Xavier: Yes.

Emanuel: The only cultural clash that I found here was just that difference of growing kids. I would say leave her to cry, my little daughter, you know, mek (make) she cry. When she finish she can tell me why she crying. Mama go and say well, no, I have to take care of her, stop it, and I said no. We grow children different. Mek she go rough up har self (allow her to rough up her self). She drop and you running to pick her up, no man. Leave her mek she tek up har self (lever her to let she help herself), because she will never learn how to get, you know, let’s say independent.

Xavier: Right.

Emanuel: Before being an adult. My daughter could cook when she was seven.

Xavier: Oh, wow.

Emanuel: You know, make your bed and my wife is saying, she would have time for that, and I said no, man, she fi dweet now (she is to do it now). So when you get big, you know.

Scheol: Yeah. That’s how we were growing up, because you go to school, you come back from school, you take off your socks, you wash your socks, you clean your shoes, you get your uniform ready for the day after. We were always there helping.

Emanuel: Mama does everything for you.

Scheol: Here, no.

Emanuel: I used to pay my sisters. I grew up with six sisters. I pay my sisters because my brothers were older than I am and I have to pay them to sew on my button and, you know. I would say mama look this happen you know, she said, do it yourself. Why are you telling me that? So I will go to them, I said, I used to eat meat. I’ll give you piece a chicken leg? Do dis fimi nuh (do it for me)? And they will do it? Right.

Xavier: You’re bribing them?

Emanuel: Yeah. Here you don’t find that. Mama is always doing everything. That’s something that I found here.

Xavier: I’m switch up just a little bit.

Scheol: Yes. I know that your time is running out.

Xavier: No, listen to me. There’s no time running out. I’m just saying the conversation has been so good. There’s so much rich information in this. I’m not rushing this.

Scheol: I have a lot of things that I did not say, but it’s ok.

Xavier: I am not rushing this. So I’m just saying that it’s so excellent in terms of the conversation. My next question or my next area I wanted to touch on is visiting Italy. If I was to visit Italy, and you don’t necessarily send the tourist areas, what would be something you say? You have to experience this. It could be anything from an event, it could be from how they do a specific ceremony. You know, I remember speaking to one person and say the ceremony for this is just totally different than you’re seeing it anywhere else or it could be a place. It could be the sunset, that sunset is this location. You know, but what would be that one experience you’d say if you come to Italy and you can do this, please experience this? And I’m going to start with you, Scheol, and then Emanuel jump in after.

Scheol: The first place I would advise someone to go to would be to walk up in that leaning tower, they call it Pisa. It is something astonishing and amazing because you are walking in a place that’s lean, that’s, you know, slant. So I would say try to walk in that place and express your your emotions, because it’s very emotional walking in a place that is not standing straight. What emotions do you feel walking in a place for the first time? And the fact that the story that they tell you is that it started sinking by the time that they arrived at the third floor, and the thing is like, I don’t know, I don’t remember if it was like 10 or 12 or 15 floors high. So can you imagine it started sinking? So that means that if you go in, you start walking even down in the grow and you’re going down into the ground. One of the places that I would recommend is Pisa. Then another place I would suggest that they go to see is the, they call it the five… How can you say the five lands? The Cinque Terre. There is like five…

Emanuel: Different in the same place.

Scheol: Five small islands in the same place. They call it in English, I will say the five lands but they in Italian, it is the Cinque Terre.

Emanuel: And that’s where most of the street artists are, painters.

Xavier: Okay.

Emanuel: And it’s wonderful. It’s beautiful to see, especially the paintings that you would say, this is real? And yes, because you can sit and see him or her painting. Beautiful.

Xavier: What would your recommendation be? Those same recommendations or anything to add, Emanuel.

Emanuel: I would go to Verona to the auditorium that open arena where they play music. It is open. There is no roof and believe me there’s an acoustic that you can’t believe it’s natural, but it’s an open theater arena and auditorium where you go and see a concert.

Xavier: Okay.

Emanuel: So if you get a chance to go there to listen to a concert, do that because you will be amazed to hear that there is the sound that’s there. It’s so clean

Xavier: Natural.

Emanuel: Yes, doesn’t matter where you’re sitting. It’s beautiful. I would say that and then in the hills to get some wine. Do that

Scheol: You can call me, call me.

Xavier: Yep, you’re up there. The Jamaican ladies who need to be there need to call you and and get the wine up there and they are looking for these precious Jamaican women.

Emanuel: I should say something. There’s a friend of mine. His name is Junior. We call him zeke. He is from Jamaica, who lives in a place of Medina. There are a group of guys who live there and one drive a truck. One is a DJ. One is this singer. The other one is a gardener and they are from Jamaica. They’re from different places Hanover, Negril, Westmoreland and he was trying to get us together. Jamaicans all over as Scheol said it was difficult because some people you call them and said, oh, can we get together? Nuh badda with them thing deh yaa mon, just leave me alone (Don’t bother with those things, just leave me alone). Me nuh inna no get together thing (I’m not the whole get together). Jamaicans and you know them said (you know how they are) and this is bad. We have get together as Jamaicans and he was trying.

Scheol: I don’t know he was still here. I had no idea, I thought he left.

Emanuel: He is still here.

Scheol: Okay, sorry.

Xavier: No, no, no, I was saying I do hope you know if any of the Italians, sorry, any of the Jamaicans in Italy, see this, know that you guys are more than open to let’s try and formalize you know, together. You know, because in some places I know they’ll do once a year. They say, once a year, we’re going to meet up and celebrate independence together.

Scheol: It would be nice, really nice.

Emanuel: Almost all the ethnics that are here, they do it.

Xavier: Right.

Emanuel: You know, right, especially Independence Day.

Xavier: Yes.

Emanuel: They’ll get together and do a big…

Scheol: Barbeque and…

Emanuel: Yes, in the park.

Scheol: It’s true, it’s sad.

Xavier: Well, again, it could depend on where you are too. So you know, I know you all are…

Emanuel: We are scattered over.

Xavier: Right.

Emanuel: You know, but we can keep the link.

Xavier: Exactly.

Emanuel: We can keep the link. Pon (on) even this thing here. You know, we have a drink and say cheers, bredren.

Scheol: We chat likkle (We can chat for a few). Jamaicans in Italy, chat likkle (chat for a few).

Xavier: And knock some dominoes here.

Emanuel: Mia tell yuh (I’m telling you). It’s like that. I know everybody has their own dish of plate at the end of the day. But you can’t tell you don’t have 10 minutes out of a month. 10 minutes just to hail up (say hi) each other.

Scheol: It’s true.

Emanuel: We try you know, we try.

Xavier: Let’s hope this is a start. I’m winding down my questions and the one I have it’s a scenario. You’re flying to Jamaica, you get off the plane. What is the first thing you’re doing, or eating? Or going once you land? What is that thing you are doing? I’m going to start with Emanuel and then we’ll go to you Scheol.

Emanuel: What are you talking about, Jamaica?

Xavier: Yes, yes. You land, what’s the first thing you’re doing?

Scheol: Coming from Italy.

Xavier: Coming from Italy.

Emanuel: I came off the plane. If I can get to the ground, which is not regularly, but because I have to go to the tunnel. But when I go outside, I take a deep breath.

Xavier: Okay.

Emanuel: A deep, deep breath and smell my country again. Touch the earth, with my 10 fingers and go and I keep that there and I say ah, this a (is) Jamaica, man. Yuh (you) know me miss yuh (yuh) and that’s it. Then the first thing I will go for is some Ital stew because here some ingredients you can’t to put in it, but I tried to do my own. It’s not the same. I don’t know if this is true for everybody. But I realize even if I’m taking something from Jamaica to Italy, it nuh (it doesn’t) taste the same way. Me nah lie (I’m not lying) to you. It nuh (it doesn’t) taste the same way. It does not have the same taste. You have to be in Jamaica to eat it. And the same thing they say here. If you go to Napoli, and you drink a coffee, take the same coffee from Naples to Turin, it nuh (it doesn’t) taste the same way. There’s water that gives the flavor from the land from the earth that changes everything. And my father said to me if you feel good, excuse me, ladies, with a lady for one night with her. Don’t think of it the second time you’ll be with her that you’re going to feel the same way because your headspace and your mood is different.

Xavier: Right.

Emanuel: Don’t think about enjoying your meal like you do in Jamaica in Italian because when you get to Jamaica it’s like ah finally, but when I get here, it’s like yes, I’ll eat tomorrow don’t worry. It’s not the same urge you have.

Xavier: I see, Scheol, what would that be? What’s that scenario?

Scheol: I’m very sad right now after all of that because I must say it sounds strange but it has been, it’s 16 years I have not been home. After we lost our parents after my father died. I never ever went back home. For me it is is doing everything that I can possibly do as I step off the plane. Meaning drop on the ground and roll and shout. If people looking at me like I’m crazy, I’ll just…Anything cry because he’s 16 years you know you want to go home and then after I got married you know my husband and I decided we plan every single year we plan that we’re going to go something happens and we can’t go. I mean the first year that we had planned to go then he lost his grandfather. Then his mother died and then the COVID came. Hopefully in another two-three years because let’s wait and see everybody’s been vaccine. So, let’s hope that I will be able to go home because I would like to take him. I feel that since I have learned his culture he needs to learn mine.

Xavier: Okay.

Scheol: Because this was a point I wanted to put in with the culture clash thing. If your partner doesn’t know where you’re coming from. The marriage nah guh (not going) work (to work) or the relationship nah guh work (not going to work). That is what I think. I think that the person yes he will watch what is going on. Yes, him love the reggae but it’s different when yuh guh down deh (go down there). You know when you are there and you start speaking with the people and the people are looking at your face. My girlfriends will look at him and say man weh (where) you find deh husband deh mon (that husband). And I say yes, you affi (have to) come here to find him. I am thinking that you know if I take him home they might steal him you know.

Emanuel: Well, you better do your job good because that deh girl will take him weh (that girl will take him away).

Scheol: Okay but my friends will say no when him come (he comes) here we’re going to sit him down and talk to him and make him understand because people will look at you and they say me know my wife you know because she do this and she do that. But to know the person, in my opinion, you have to cut the vein and see the blood running out. You have to touch the root of the person. Where the person is coming from. You have to speak to the people. Walk on the road because people don’t understand Jamaicans. People will see Jamaicans even on the television or you know and them see dem (they see them) mek up them face (making up their face). We Jamaicans sometimes even if nothing doan (don’t) happen to wi (us) wi mek up wi face (we make up our face). Screwface (angry look) and people think seh (that) you’re anger but wi nuh angry (we’re not angry). It’s just our expression.

Xavier: Yes, so and you know, you make a good point I think you know, it opens the door for him to see the culture and the people, the expressions and so on. That’s a good point. I’ve never looked at it that way.

Scheol: One second Emanuel, the only thing he is thinking of because he’s a sports fisher. The only thing he’s thinking of is arriving with his fishing rod and go to the sea. He is heading towards the sea because he can’t wait to fish.

Emanuel: Our dad used to be a fisherman. We spoke about him a lot.

Xavier: I see.

Emanuel: And how we used to go with him. I said the first I want to do when I go to Jamaica is go fishing.

The Coast of Italy

Xavier: Well, guys, I appreciate the time you have spent giving us an insight on you know how you as Jamaicans living in Italy. Listen, great, great information, a great conversation, and here is how I typically end so…

Emanuel: I know.

Xavier: Yes, Emanuel has watched the videos and Scheol has not.

Scheol: No.

Emanuel: Speak to her first.

Xavier: I guess I should point it to her because you are prepared Emanuel.

Emanuel: Yes, do her first, go on.

Scheol: I have to sing?

Xavier: No, you don’t have to sing. In the most informal way, how do you say goodbye in Italian? I’m not talking the goodbye, not the formal goodbye. You know like when we Jamaicans say boy me ketch yuh pon a strong (see you later) or likkle more ( see you in a few) or whatever the case is.

Scheol: Yes.

Xavier: I want the informal way of how you all say, you know, catch you later or something like that in Italy.

Scheol: Addio a presto tuti, ci vediamo dimani

Xavier: Oh wait, that’s whole heep (that’s a lot).

Scheol: I don’t even know if it is informal.

Emanuel: It is informal. Ci vediamo

Scheol: Ci vediamo apresto.

Emanuel: Ci vediamo.

Xavier: Ci vediamo.

Emanuel: Ci ve-v.

Xavier: Ci ve.

Emanuel: Diamo.

Xavier: Ci vediamo.

Emanuel: Yes, or a presto

Scheol: A presto.

Xavier: You should have given me a presto first.

Emanuel: See you soon.

Scheol: A presto.

Xavier: A presto guys.

Photos  – Deposit Photos

About the author

Xavier Murphy