Jeno Jacob: an award well deserved
One young man who has been engaged in an aspect of the Arts for less than 20 years asked me recently what it takes to receive a Golden Drum Award. He was apparently concerned that people seem to think he probably deserves one. Well, I had to tell him that he must not seek rewards but rather make his contribution from the heart and in God's time, if He so desires, you will.
The fact is that hundreds of Dominicans who deserve awards have not gotten one or may never get one; conversely those not very deserving in the minds of many may just receive the award. That's life.
There are those who will labour in the vineyard for 40 plus years before recognition is given while others may just eclipse for the 20-year requirement for some sort of consideration or other may make such an impact over a shorter period of time and be granted national accolades; for example a Carnival Queen received several regional titles in one year; Nasio Fontaine got international acclaim before he received a local award.
Having said this after being overlooked, in hindsight someone may ask: how about this individual? Then one begins to reflect on the contribution made by this individual even at the time that person is less prominent or prolific.
Young people who are not aware may rightfully ask or wonder: "But who is mister ner," and many times you can't blame them as we do not have a culture of recognizing our own except on Independence Day when we give meritorious awards or Golden Drum Awards presented by the National Cultural Council during the Emancipation Day celebrations. There are no monuments and we do not study or utilize their stories, plays or poetry in our literary studies at schools and so on. So our youth tend to think that the great writers are the Derek Walcott's and Edward Braithwaite's; they come from somewhere else in the region but not from the Nature Island.
Well, one such writer who has been overlooked by most in Dominica is Jeno Jacob of Sout' City, Grandbay. Just as Lawrence Brumant was dominant in cont so was Jeno in short story contests during the Eighties. In fact at one time Jeno won this competition for 10 years, most of which were successive, a record which, to my mind, makes him not only the prince as he was once dubbed, but the king of short story writing in Dominica.
In 1994, he won a fellowship from the University of Miami, Coral Gables, where he met and was tutored by top Caribbean writers George Lamming of Barbados, Derek Walcott of St Lucia and Olive Senior of Jamaica.
In 1997 his short story entitled, 'Columbus Came Third' was used to introduce a documentary film by a Swedish film company. The film was based on the life of a Swedish plantation owner of Pointe Mulatte Estate in the South East of Dominica.
In 2002 Jeno won the first prize in a CARICOM literary competition where he was afforded the opportunity to interface with other Caribbean young writers in Kingston, Jamaica.
Jeno was at one time very heavily involved as a bassist and composer with Tambata - a group of dancers, drummers and singers which at one time he led. Incidentally his latest music recording has just been released exemplifying the guy's versatility.
Today you may hear Jeno Jacob as a communications specialist advancing the cause of the Dominica Solid Waste Management Corporation as its Public Relations Officer but as I have said there is much more to this man.
In 1998, he received the Cultural Division's Special Recognition Award and 20 years after he is being considered for the Golden Drum Award.
I say he deserves it for his indelible contribution to the literary landscape of Dominica