Inmates celebrate literacy, music

Her Majesty’s Prison Northward has
come up with a different approach to getting inmates to learn to read.

Inmates have been exposed to the
practical application of literacy by way of music, poetry or other forms of
written and oral expression that empower the individual.

Literacy Coordinator Aduke Natalie
Joseph-Caeser said many times when inmates are making their way to the literacy
programme, “They have to take the walk of shame.”

She said this was because the men
would be identified as those who were not literate.

As a result of the programme
however, prison officials said the prisoners are now eager to take part in
activities involving learning to read and write, as they have become aware of
the immediate benefits and attention that they command with the new abilities
they possess.

As part of celebrating literacy,
the prison held a competition on Friday, 30 April to give the inmates an
opportunity to put their literacy skills on display.

During the exercise, which was
titled, “Literacy Equals Freedom” inmates were asked to deliver their material
through song or poetry.

They were judged on several areas
including emotional impact, originality, melody, lyrics, form, performance and
singing ability.

Music production and a majority of
the arrangements were provided by inmate Oral Roper.

A panel of judges on hand included singer
Keisha Terry, National Drug Council Prevention Officer Simon Miller, singer KK
Alyse, singer/model Mona Lisa Watler, Music Association President Jean Eric
Smith and Deputy Prison Director Daniel Greaves.

Over nine inmates took part in what
was a moving display of what it means to be given the gift of literacy.

“As elementary as it seems,
literacy means freedom to them,” said Ms Caeser.

A particularly introspective piece
was delivered by inmate Arick Williams titled “Yes My Brothers and Sisters.”

It read: “Yes my brothers and
sisters education is the key for you and me, the key to unlock the doors to our
dreams, a hope of a brighter future and a better way of life; a life where we
can be our own boss, buy whatever we want without asking the cost.

“To achieve such status it is imperative
we steadfastly hold on to knowledge, wisdom and understanding. In doing so we
embrace literacy in its fullest form.”

Other acts such as Jerry Christian
and Oral Roper serenade listeners with an RandB style ballad about reading and
the importance of education.

In the end, it was inmate Travis
Ebanks who won the first place prize of $70 in phone card credit. He also won
the people’s choice award.

Second place and $50 in phone card
credit went to Donald Hall, while third place honours went to Mathew Lewis.

Mr. Smith said he was honoured to
take part in the event and added that, “People are our most valuable resource
and we need to continue to invest in the lives of others.”