The Dudus Chronicles by Hubert Neal, Jr.

The dudus chronicles shows a foreigner’s perspective on an incident that threatens to be a nine-day wonder and quickly forgotten by Jamaicans. The show chronicles such moments from the soldiers moving into Tivoli Gardens to Dudus allegedly peeing himself.

The Dudus Chronicles exhibition

The Dudus Chronicles is a body of work I’ve had the opportunity to watch  as it took root and developed in front of my eyes. The first few artworks were created at Roktowa in downtown Kingston around the corner from Tivoli Gardens in the days following the breaching of Tivoli. As i wrote at the time:

The Hunt for Dudus has inspired Belizean artist Hubert Neal Jr., who arrived in the island on May 20, just before ‘Operation Take Dudus Alive’ unfurled. Neal, an artist in residence at Roktowa on Pechon Street around the corner from Coronation Market and Tivoli Gardens found himself the recipient of an unlikely studio visit a few days ago when three groups of soldiers decided to patrol the old Red Stripe Brewery where he works along with the Haitian artists who are part of the ‘Trembling Heart’ project.

The soldiers allowed themselves to be detained by Neal’s painting in progress, titled–what else–The Hunt for Dudus. They questioned him closely about his representation of the storming of Tivoli, disapproving of the low number of soldiers depicted (see photos above and below).

When unforeseen circumstances forced Hubert to flee uptown, he continued producing the body of work at my place; finally the public gets to view the paintings at Grosvenor Galleries this weekend.

The video below shows Hubert Neal Jr strolling through downtown Kingston on a busy Saturday morning; the footage was taken with a flip video by Varun Baker.

ONGR (On the Ground News Reports) posted the information about Hubert’s show on Facebook generating an amusing string of comments. See below:
On the Ground News Reports: Confirmed: A Belizean artist, Hubert Neal Jr, has launched an art exhibition entitled “The Dudus Chronicles” showing his artistic perspective on the incursion into Tivoli Gardens leading up to the capture of Christopher Coke. It will be held at Grosvenor Gallery, Kingston on August 21 at 7pm.

C T got to go see this

Venice but a wha dis?

TriAnna cacafaut

Sean sweetheart, you took the words right out of my mouth

Christina a wonder if dudus copyright/trademark him name?

Thelma Talking about thinking outside the box!

Bicknell lol… i wanna see this

Leon Hehehe

Lori a wha this father……. hehehehe

Dominic c…is a man weh noe fi mek money dat! all d while a d foreigners dem come inna we country n mek money…dem smarter dan we!

Natasha he needs to create a Facebook invite!! I will def be going….think it’s safe? DWL!!

Javaughn yow trust me dudus is a legend

Shauna When this transpired, I said to myself historians and artists will have a field day and so said so done.

Ingrid poor Dudus all when him lock up inna prison people still a use him fi money.

Tanya I may just go check this out.

Lisa OTGNR mussy get a smalls fi put up post bout Dudus cause every week wi get a dose a Dudus medicine! Everyday a Dudus Dudus mi tiad now man!

Annie: Funny how everyone assumes this is an attempt to make money rather than an artist’s response, would you say the same if someone wrote a story about all this? It’s easier to sell paintings of flowers and pleasant scenery by the way than something really relevant only to a relatively small group of people, ie, Jamaicans…

Natalie @ Annie – I was trying to figure out what to say in response to those comments. Do I give a mini-lecture on the role of art in societies, that has nothing to do with painting pretty pictures; do I say that not everything has a dollar valu…e nor does everyone use their skills purely and onlyfor the sake of making money; or do I say, why don’t you just stop and think for a second: is it possible that there is more to say about and more ways to talk about Dudus as a phenomenon than what has been written and spoken so far? And if so, shouldn’t your attitude be one of curiosity instead of being dismissive? So, I decided not to respond.

Annie LOL Nat it’s baffling isn’t it, if not depressing, so all the DJs who’ve sung about Dudus only doing it for the money too?

Why is Dudus called Dudus?

Ambassador Dudley Thompson in African-style shirt

Why is Dudus called Dudus? And what is the right way to pronounce his name?

Unfortunately the answers to these questions are to be found in the New York Post rather than any organ of the Jamaican media. People in the know here, or people with a working knowledge of runnings in Tivoli Gardens have always said that the name is prounounced Dud-dus (thanks @JustSherman) to rhyme with ‘cud’ or ‘bud’ and not ‘Dud’ to rhyme with ‘good’ or ‘wood’ which is how most people here pronounce it.

You’d think local media would make an attempt to get it right but of course very few have done so. As for speculating on the reasons for Christopher Coke’s nickname it takes the foreign media to do that. The New York Post tells us that of Jim Brown’s three sons:

The youngest was Christopher, who earned his nickname “Dudus” — pronounced DUD-us — because he wore an African-style shirt favored by Jamaican World War II hero and Cabinet minister Dudley Thompson.

Dudley Thompson is a character in his own right (see above), so its rather interesting that Cuddly Duddly might have inadvertently lent his name to Jamaica’s most notorious don. Of course some might say Dudley is no angel either…but that’s another story.

Read more of the NY Post article here:

Fortunately for us there is a ray of hope on the media horizon in Jamaica with the establishment of On the Ground News Reports (@onthegroundjm), an invaluable source of news in the wake of the May 23rd assault on Tivoli. At first i was wary of the tweets coming from OGNR but then i noticed that almost everything they tweeted was later confirmed in the mainstream media. OGNR was providing the news live and direct almost as it happened.

In fact they were the ‘social media’ that the information minister Daryl Vaz was fulminating against when the government cracked down on media here denying them access to Tivoli and its environs.

Las May, The Gleaner, June 28, 2010

There has been some speculation as to the people who started ONGR and whether its a new kind of political high jinks but an interview with the founder today provides a lot of information on the way this innovative news gathering service operates. Check it out here.

Meanwhile i was happy to be quoted again in the international media (The New York Times’ Lede blog, a Village Voice blog and in an Associated Press article ) on the Dudus imbroglio. Channel 4 News in London also asked me to contribute a piece which i did, see it here:

And for a laugh check out ONGR’s spoof on the Jamaica World Service with Paleface, Tony Hendriks:

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