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The journey of my life

By Rodney Davis

I am sure many of you can relate to that part of my story. Let's see if anything else resonates with you. Where I am today is the result of choices I have made from I was a youngster. Some were deliberate and thought through others I realized on reflection

I want to share something, I hate to be prescriptive about how you might shape your life, but I think if I share some of the things that shaped my life, I might give you pause for thought.

I was born in Cockburn Pen, which is off Spanish Town Road and was one of four boys. I lived in Jamaica with my grandmother until my father died when I was only three at that time my family was living in Hamilton, Ontario in Canada. One week later, my grandmother died. As a result, I had no choice but to join the rest of the family in Canada.

My mother was 19. She had 4 boys. She was in a foreign country with not very many black people. And we had nothing—well almost nothing.

The earliest I can remember when I had to make a choice was when I was only 11. My mother was barely making enough to feed and clothe herself let alone 4 boys. We had gone through years of not enough to eat and nothing in the way of nice clothes.

I made my first conscious choice.

I was only 11, but I had to do something. I heard about an opportunity to carry golf bags at the local golf course on weekends. It was hard work, but it was work. I chose to go to the golf course at 4AM every Saturday and Sunday to get a good spot in line to get a bag to carry starting at 6:30 when golfers first teed off.
  • At times, it seemed the Golf Bag was bigger than I was.
  • I made $5-$8 for 5 hours work. It was low pay even back then. But it was enough to put change in my pocket. One less pressure for my mother
  • When I was 14 and a bit older, I took a job as a dishwasher at a local restaurant after school and on weekends. I worked a lot. By this time I was buying my own underwear and running shoes for school, one less pressure for my mother.
  • I also got into a few hustlings during that time for extra cash. Nothing too significant, but enough to say it might have been a problem if I continued

This leads me to my next memorable choice. I was 15 and about to be 16. I was surrounded by older people who did illegal things drug dealers, pimps (yes pimps), thieves, etc) and I knew them all for years. Just like in many communities in Jamaica today, I saw some young black men who had very visible signs of material wealth
  • The flashy car;
  • The chic apartment and
  • Money to spend,

I was aware of what they did and I would say I knew them well from around the way. I never really got involved in any of the stuff really, but they all respected me for how I handled myself and the opportunity to go that route was there if I wanted it.

In Canada, if you're convicted of a crime after the age of 16, it stays on your permanent record and seriously affects your ability to progress in life.
  • I was becoming more and more aware of the social inconsistencies that were the realities of a poor black teenager in a predominantly white middle class society.
  • A lot of my friends in similar circumstances chose the easy path

  • I had to make a choice. Which way would I make my mark? I was a smart guy. When I applied myself, I did pretty good in school. There was quick and good money to be made on the other side. But for how long?
  • If I got an education, what promise was there of a job. I never saw people who looked like me living large.
  • I don't know why, but I decided to take a chance on education. No guarantees. My instinct told me if you go the other route, you need to be prepared to do whatever is necessary. As I thought about it, some of those things were in violation of my personal constitution.

  • Who knew where it would lead me.
  • It would take longer—going to school, studying and becoming qualified—
  • But I wanted to remain the honourable person my mother had raised me to be.

So it's decided, I'm going to do this school thing. Get an education. See where it goes. I was 17. I was now a cook in a kitchen (left dishwashing) and a turntable selector on weekends spinning music at clubs and parties (I couldn't leave bad boy life altogether). My grades are okay. I date the ladies. I do all right.

One day the phone rings, it's my ex-girlfriend. We broke up 6 months ago. Haven't spoken in 3 months. What does she want?

  • She's pregnant. She can't tell her mother. She has moved out of her house and she is all-alone.
  • Another choice
  • The child she was carrying is mine.
  • I could walk away. Argue it's not mine. It is. I know it.
  • I chose to move out of my mother's house the next week and move in with her until the baby was born. I had to help her pay the bills and be mentally ready for the task at hand. I worked more hours, but I stayed in school.
  • Asha Destiny was born December 14, 1984. Almost 1 month after my 18th birthday.
  • I moved back to my mothers a couple months later, but continued to give half my paycheque to her mother (by choice). It was tough, but she was so beautiful.


The author is president and CEO, Cable & Wireless Jamaica
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