The Boy with the Golden Shoes

Sign in Jamaican storefront during Beijing Olympics

One of the things I most regretted about being in India this August was that I wasn’t in Jamaica during the World Championships in Berlin. Having experienced the sheer exhileration in Kingston, August gone, during the Beijing Games, I knew only too well what I was missing. Because of the time difference and probably because India itself had minimal participation (for such a great nation we have produced remarkably few great athletes) I wasn’t able to watch any of the races live, though by the end of the month Usain Bolt had become a household name all over again in India as well as the rest of the world.

In the last couple of weeks the airwaves and other media have been buzzing with reactions to the Government’s decision to rename Highway 2000 (the superfast major cross-island artery built with French technology) the Usain Bolt Highway. Yesterday on Facebook a local journalist posted what are allegedly a parliamentary reporter’s notes on a Cabinet discussion about honouring Usain Bolt…read on.

Yesterday at 5:38pm

So I managed to pull off a coup. A major scoop so to speak. I got hold of some very interesting cabinet notes on honouring Usain Bolt.

Apparently, Prime Minister Bruce Golding asked his ministers to come up with ideas on what tangible things the country could do to honour Usain and here’s what they came up with:

1) Change Jamaica’s Coat of Arms to “Bolt Arms”

2) Rename the parish of Trelawny – Usain Bolt

3) Rename Yam – call it Usain

4) Make him our 8th National Hero ( It was decided this will come after the next Olympics, they’ll need that long to research how to accord a person National Hero status)

5) Put him on the 10,000 dollar bill (Audley assured Cabinet that the denomination would be coming by next May)

6) Have 9.58 days of bashment celebrating Usain ( I swear Babsy did suggest this)

7) Rename William Knibb High School Usain Bolt High ( Ruddy Spencer asked who is William Knibb and why does he have things named after him? )

8) Declare August 21 Usain Bolt Day and make it a public Holiday ( Cabinet was very upset with Chris Tufton for this one. Andrew Holness said it sounded too PNP. Di man hold up di “fist” one time and tell Jamaica to put di “X” beside di Head and dem won’t let it go.)

9) Make his home in Sherwood Content a national landmark ( It was pointed out that the community still lacks piped water and Dr. Horace Chang couldn’t guarantee that they’d get it in Usain’s lifetime.)

10) Make Usain’s favourite food the National dish and create a new designation national night club and give that to the “Quad”.

11) Change the national dress, to all Puma and make it mandatory for everyone to wear the Yamm shoes. (However all agreed they certainly wouldn’t be orange like the ones that Usain wore. Chris Tufton was eerily silent).

12) Finally settle this Gully/Gaza mess and make everybody say Gaza since ah dat Usain say (I feel Babsy in this again)

13) Write Oxford to have the word “fast” in the dictionary replaced with “Usain” (Mike Henry). Babsy agreed and thought we should get “sobolious” added as well!

14) Rename Air Jamaica, Usain Air.

15) SUGGESTION FROM BRUCE GOLDING: Rename Jamaica – Usain. The PM said “There’s no honour that’s too great for this young man and right now the national profile has been taken to echelons far beyond our greatest expectations because of Usain’s feet!”

Well, long before the Jamaican government decided to honour Usain Bolt and before he became a household name outside Jamaica a Spanish national named Fernando Guereta (Nando) decided to honour Bolt and Jamaica’s athletes with a film celebrating their exploits. Called “Why do Jamaicans Run So Fast?” this superbly conceived and crafted documentary-style film creatively captures the environment these athletes spring from in Jamaica.

On the verge of signing major distribution and international TV rights deals Guereta has scooped the world on this. With a beautiful soundtrack and interviews with Usain from the age of 15 onwards the culture that has produced such indomitable talent is centrestaged, with a prominent role accorded to dancehall music and the dances that inspired Usain, Melaine Walker, Shelly Ann Fraser and others to dare to grab their share of the pie.

I asked Nando about the role of music in the film and this is what he said. Keep in mind that he’s not a native English-speaker which makes what he’s done that much more remarkable.

“My two main concerns were to cover all music genres, from ska, to roots reggae and moving towards the latests dancehall hits. The second concern was to make the music match the images properly, even if I sound a little bit arrogant I think we achieve to deliver very well in both matters.

Heptones’ Country Boy matched Bolts origins, Bob Marley’s Bad Card reminds the world that dem a go tyaad fe see Bolt face, Movado reminds Melaine Walker not to forget about the Gully, Bugle ask Carl Lewis what have Bolt done to him, and Jah Cure seh as long as I live he will remember those days.”

Watch this spot over the next week for more from Nando on the making of “Why Do Jamaicans Run so Fast?”

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