Seaford Town - Jamaica
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SEAFORD TOWN, Jamaica (AP)
Caressing his machete with a wrinkled white hand at the end of a day hacking bunches of bananas, Edward Graham seems a most unlikely Jamaican.
Graham lives in a tiny settlement of ethnic Germans descended from impoverished villagers who arrived 160 years ago searching for prosperity in a rich sugar colony.
"Me people come from Germany, yes, but me is Jamaican, for real!" said the sprightly 79-year-old. Blue eyes mischievously sparkling, he added: "Me grow bananas, peas, yams, cacao. Me never left Jamaica in me life!"
But Jamaica's German community is dwindling. More than 500 people established Seaford, but the town's population is now below 100 - the result of emigration, primarily to Canada; and, more recently, intermarriage. Few, if any, speak German.
Leaning on a truck, Trevor, a shirtless, well-muscled 49-year-old with a mane of white hair, has seen much change since he left as a youth for Canada.
"Back then, there were two black families in the whole area," he said, speaking in a Canadian accent with a bemused detachment even more alien to the village. "I returned a few years back, and now they're all mixed!"
For years, the Germans resisted intermarriage. Graham held out until he was 58 and then married Charlene, an orphaned black girl from a nearby village who was only 17. She bore him four children whose mulatto features he considers a very fine thing.
"It better to marry Jamaican girl. With two Germans, kids be too white. The black blood, it make me children stronger!" he said.
Culturally, his people are long gone. Remnants of recognizable German heritage are found only in the tidy wooden museum, which features displays of German country dress, maps of Germany and sketches of Bavarian villages.
Documents record that Seaford Town's settlers sailed from Bremerhaven to Montego Bay in 1839 and then were "dispatched into the bush" at the behest of a local planter. "Poverty exiled us from our native land," it says, in German, on a yellowing parchment.
SOURCE: Times Herald-Record ( Friday, April 30, 1999 )