Born Fi’ Dead, the Epilogue

28 Jun

I’d love to hear what writer Laurie Gunst has to say about the recent developments in Jamaica. Her 1996 book, Born Fi’ Dead, is the definitive narrative of the creation of  Kingston garrisons, posses, and dons, from their conception by political parties to their evolution as international trafficking rings. I was rereading it when Jamaica signed an extradition warrant for Christopher “Dudus” Coke in May, and Gunst’s prose is even more insightful in light of current events.

The final chapter of the book includes the back-to-back deaths in 1992 of Dudus’s brother, “Jah T,” who was attacked in Kingston, and father Lester “Jim Brown” Coke, who died in a mysterious prison fire on the eve of his extradition to the United States. That could have been seen as the end of the Coke empire, but Gunst knew it was merely the close of one chapter. With an eye toward the next one, Gunst, in the final paragraph, introduces us to Dudus.

I haven’t been able to track the author down to ask about the latest news myself, so I hope she doesn’t mind my publishing an excerpt of these most prescient closing words.

The Tivolite don behind the rampage against Rema was none other than Christopher “Dudus” Coke, another of Jim Brown’s sons. Paradoxically, it was a peacemaker’s overture that had ignited Coke’s rage: Ziggy Marley, Bob’s son, was building a recording studio almost on the border of Trench Town and Rema, trying to provide aspiring musicians there with a community base. Ziggy didn’t give the construction work to Dudus and his posse, so the Tivoli don was taking his revenge. He was following in Jim Brown’s footsteps, musch as Ziggy was dancing in his own father’s light.

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