A heritage of many children

The late Denroy Morgan
The late Denroy Morgan (Photo credit: Twitter (@ReggaeRadio_ug))

While the number of children was consistent at 30, there was a disparity in the number of grandchildren attributed to late singer Denroy Morgan when he died last week. One source said 104 and another 120, but it is safe to say that it is over 100. In either case that is quite a lot, but it must be noted that there is a dramatic fall in the average number of offspring per person between Morgan and his children, although there is no breakdown by gender, so it may be a case that the males are responsible for producing quite a few more of the Morgan family heritage into the world than the women. It is also possible that there are a couple super producers among the bunch, while some have chosen not to go in the family way.

Because of the attention paid to how many children some Jamaican male entertainment figures have had (or got, as some persons prefer to put it), it is easy to stereotype the Jamaican man who gets into the business of Jamaican popular music as producing young ones at as prolific a rate as how the island churns out songs. Bob Marley is famed not only for the number of children – over 10 – but also the seven mothers. I once heard a reporter recall the bewilderment the closeness in ages caused when the tussle over his estate was going through a US court. Bass player with the Wailers band, Aston Barrett, was not called ‘Family Man’ without good reason; in a September 2013 BBC story he clarifies that he has only 41 children, not 52 as was claimed at one point. In 2012, Elephant Man proclaimed his 20 babymothers, Ninja Man has also had children with over 20 women and more recently there was that unfortunate snipe about Beenie Man’s babymother number 13 in the online fallout from the Firearms Licensing Authority (FLA) saga.

By definition stereotypes are never totally true, but there is a very strong possibility that the characteristic with which a group of persons is broadbrushed has some realistic basis, as is the case with the high children production of Jamaican male entertainers. There is, however, the constant balancing act between quantity and quality and a human being has only so much time in their lives to go around, with someone heavily involved in the music business already constrained by their recording and performance schedules.

There is inherently an inverse relationship between the number of children a man or woman has and the amount of time which can be spent with each, no matter how well-intentioned they are, and it is inevitable that many of the youngsters will be shortchanged, especially when there are multiple mothers or fathers. While the figures are easily trotted out, without actually speaking to the children about their experiences, it is impossible to ascertain if they feel supported by being part of a very large family or if they feel neglected and lost in the sheer weight of numbers. It can go either way (or a mixture of both).

One thing that is clear, though, is that when a male entertainer has several babymothers, the later ones have made a choice. For whatever reason, they have decided to carry a child for a man who has fathered several children before, knowing full well that they may end up contributing to serial breeding. And this is where the intersection of real life and showbusiness comes into play. For aren’t the reproduction patterns which are foregrounded by a male entertainment figure having many children not reflected in many parts of the Jamaican society?

There are many ways in which art imitates life and the fluid intimate partner patterns which are a strong feature of the Jamaican society and the outcomes of which are consistently bemoaned in dissection of crime statistics are a case in point. So, we cannot have it two ways – we can’t note how many babymothers a Jamaican entertainer and bemoan the parental absence – male and female – which literally breeds crime. And neither can we look askance at serial fathers without asking why a woman chooses to become yet another babymother.

It is, like shaping an audio recording, a balancing act.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *