Underground Jamaican party in war-torn Afghanistan

(Jamaica Observer) KABUL, Afghanistan — Jamaican audacity knows no bounds.

Living up to their reputation for being found in just about every corner of the world, at least three Jamaicans currently reside in this war-torn Afghan capital, working with international aid organisations.

As is also well known, wherever Jamaicans go they are sure to leave their mark. So it came as no surprise that one of the three ‘Jamdowners’ was instrumental in organising Afghanistan’s first Jamaican-Caribbean style party as a way of bringing a piece of the sun-kissed region to this troubled Middle Eastern country. Party night was Thursday, September 29, 2011.

But staging a lavish Caribbean celebration in this predominantly Muslim nation was no easy feat. This is Afghanistan where movements are tightly controlled and any event that involves large groups attracts monitoring. Even more so, hosting any event at which alcohol is served is potentially very dangerous.

Alcohol is a prohibited substance in Afghanistan and anyone found with it risks imprisonment and being lashed.

The party, therefore, demanded a lot of secrecy.

First, a secret guest list was compiled and invitations issued via e-mail and word-of-mouth. The location of the event was only revealed at the last possible moment — the afternoon of the day the event would be held.

As an added precaution, because of the country’s instability and in order to ensure an incident-free night, security personnel were enlisted to guard the event.

“Bad man will creep up pon di place and di next ting you know seh a big scandal with the government charging that expats a defile dem country with decadent behaviour… what a sinting that wud be,” said one of the Jamaican party organisers.

The party was restricted to expatriates and foreigners, as locals attending an event where “iced tea” (alcohol) was being served might increase the chances of a police raid.

Despite the many precautions taken though, a few Afghans, who let their curiosity get the better of them, still managed to sneak into the event. But the efficient enforcement team quickly located and removed them as they were too great a liability to the successful staging of the event.

The party got underway at 8:00 pm with music provided by the organiser, also known as ‘DJ Gully Creeper’, as the party-goers sipped free “iced tea” and swayed to the warm-up anthems of George Nooks, Bob Marley, Luciano, Jacob Miller, Dennis Brown, Queen Ifrica, and Lucky Dube, among others. To further liven things up and incorporate other Caribbean musical genres, DJ Gully Creeper mixed in some Allison Hinds, Machel Montano and other soca notables.

By 10:00 pm, the venue was jam-packed. There was quite an international presence with persons from France, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, Croatia, Romania, St Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago, Germany, the Maldives, India and Argentina, to name a few. There were just under 300 people in attendance.

At about 11:00 pm, DJ Gully Creeper took the patrons on a musical journey starting with popular and well-loved hits from the 1970s and climaxing with the best of the present. From rock steady to dancehall, “a likkle piece a everything”. The night was predominantly devoted to reggae, soca, and some salsa, though there were periodic interludes of favourites from parts of the motherland.

Notably, there were a few dreadlocked Europeans among the party-goers who “puddung some skanking, mi swear mi did deh a yard”, according to the Jamaican host.

When Caribbean Night ended promptly at 2:00 am without incident, all agreed it was a resounding success. Expressions of enjoyment were abundant and unanimous, as was the desire to have another Caribbean party before too long.

Unfortunately, no photos were taken at the party, lest they should fall into the wrong hands and be used as evidence to charge anyone with possession of alcohol or with misconduct.

The second instalment of Caribbean Night is slated to take place in the coming weeks, with e-mailed invites already issued, but this time around it will be held at a more legitimate venue and with legitimate food and beverages. More great music is expected and there are already rumours that this time around jerk chicken will be on the menu.

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