Home African Caribbean Mango Time or Mango Season, You Decide!  

Mango Time or Mango Season, You Decide!  

by Tony Kelly

Tony Kelly resident Diabetes expert

This article starts with the first verse from the well-known Jamaican folk song Mango Time which was composed and arranged by the late Dr. Olive Lewin the founder of the Jamaican Folk Singers in March 1967.

Mi nuh drink kaffee tea –

Mango time

Care ‘ow nice it may be-

Mango time

At di height a di mango crop

Wen di fruit dem a ripe an’ drop

Wash yu pot, tun dem dung

Mango time.

For those of you who are not familiar with the song Mango Time or want to take a trip down memory lane there are many versions of it on You Tube. However I would highly recommend the one sung by the Jamaican Folk Singers (See video below).

Ecclesiastes 3 verse 1 says ‘For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven’.  Which is why the caption says ‘mango time or mango season, you decide!!!!’  The folk song certainly would not sound right if one sang the word season instead of time.

During my childhood growing up on the expansive farm in Whitehall, St. Thomas, Jamaica of my great aunt Mrs. Ina Watson,  a formidable teacher and her husband Wilfred where every possible fruit tree grew on their property, we could not as children wait for the mangoes to ripen properly and would pick them green and eat with salt and/or black pepper.  This would sometimes cause us to have belly ache as we referred to it then as words like tummy and stomach  were not so readily part of our everyday vocabulary.  Nearly every type of mango tree was on the Watson’s plantation and in abundance so we hardly had time to eat the prepared meals during the summer holidays as we were already full from devouring this lovely, luscious fruit.

During the school  summer holidays  July – August there were so many  ripe ones not just on the  trees but also on the ground that one could use a Jamaican saying  ‘use mango fi stone dawg’  because of their abundance although this was not meant literally.

However, in preparation for our return to school we were all given doses of Senna pods and Epsom salts to clean out all the sugar from our bellies, an exercise that was very unpleasant and confined us to the toilet for a day or two.

The ripe mango in some countries is described as an exotic fruit but to us from the African-Caribbean Diaspora there is nothing exotic about it. For a number of years because of fruit flies the British Government did not allow the importation of mangoes from Jamaica and I found that hard to swallow as to be without this delicious fruit is unbearable.  Having eaten mangoes from other parts of the world and this is my personal view, I am yet to find any other countries whose mangoes taste as succulent, juicy and sweet as those grown on the island of Jamaica as they are in a different class.

Mangoes contain a lot of vitamins and other nutrients and can be included in one of your five a day portions of fruits and vegetables. However one must remember that this fruit is often sweet so contains natural sugar called fructose which can lead to gaining weight because of  the amount of calories in them. Although I do not want to be seen as a party pooper or a spoil sport as with most fruits one should consume mangoes in moderation to avoid possibly developing the medical condition type 2 diabetes. Enjoy the mango season but please try to do some movement instead of leading a sedentary/couch potato lifestyle as the Jamaica Moves programme is all about movement and being active.

My family doctor has given me permission to have as many mangoes, as she knows  that I do a lot of weekly physical activity such as Pilates, yoga, badminton, Aquarobics , fast paced walking, work-outs at the gym and now am an intermediary swimmer so constantly burn up the calories to avoid piling on the pounds.

Mango season in the Caribbean starts in April and ends in about July or August which means those of us residing in Britain can expect boxes of Julie and East Indian mangoes arriving anytime soon. A food trader that  I know told me recently that some are already here but they are so green and will as we in the Caribbean would say be ‘force-ripe’ and  taste awful.  They have been picked too early and not had the benefit of the lovely sun to soak through them which photosynthesis would naturally allow.

I remember last year a trader was selling Black mangoes  in Birmingham as marked on the box from Jamaica and we both being mango junkies/aficionados knew that they were not Black mangoes at all as the taste was dire.  I brought it to the attention of the Jamaica High Commission in London and JAMPRO an agency of the Government of Jamaica’s Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce as that importer was in effect spoiling the authentic Jamaican brand. Let’s hope there is not a repeat performance this mango season.

Hope you enjoy reading this article and feel free to leave comments below on the caribdirect.com website as feedback is appreciated.

Tony Kelly

Tony Kelly

London born Tony Kelly of Jamaican parents grew up in Jamaica and returned to live in Birmingham in 1979.
He is a graduate of Mico Teachers’ College and taught in Kingston high schools prior to working for 30+ years as a middle manager in central and local government with an emphasis on equity, equality, diversity and inclusion. He has a masters’ degree in socio-legal studies from the university of Birmingham.
For over a decade Tony has volunteered as a diabetes ambassador firstly for Diabetes UK and now for the National Health Service – Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group. A multi-award winner doing a yearly average of 150 health and well-being events, locally, nationally and internationally focusing on type 2 diabetes. He was diagnosed with this medical condition 18 years ago. However with a combination of physical activity and diet he has never taken medication thus proving with the right mindset and discipline it can be achieved.
As a diabetes advocate/activist Tony will continue delivering the message of healthy options to readers of CaribDirect.com .


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SELINA November 6, 2023 - 1:03 am

Think I am going to delay my visit until mango season now. Thanks for this delicious read.

Val Benjamin April 27, 2022 - 6:11 pm

I love this even though it got me salivating. Can’t wait to have one

Ambassador Aloun Ndombet-Assamba April 26, 2022 - 1:32 pm Reply
Andi Jones April 26, 2022 - 7:34 am

How lovely to read of this beautiful fruit from my parents homeland. Every time I visit Jamaica there’s nothing more beautiful than sitting under the shady tree , eating Julie mangos. Just the ripening smell of the mangos makes your mouth water. Thanks for this article. Very engaging and inspiring.

Yvonne April 25, 2022 - 5:53 pm

What a pleasure to be reading about one of my favourite foods in a way that does not exoticise it. In shifting the focus away from the “exotic”, this article manages to normalise my own experience and that of the African diaspora. That is why authorship is important; we need ownership of our own narratives. The other inspiring thing about this piece of writing is how it places the mango – quite rightly – in a wider socio-cultural, historical, and public health context. For this, I will be forever grateful because educating ourselves is a lifelong process…a journey I’m still pursuing with vigour.

Ed Mc April 25, 2022 - 3:47 pm

The delicious aroma of Buxton Spice ripening on the trees in the Guyana sunshine then glistening like rubies in the moonlight is my go to relaxation memories.

Mangoes are indeed special , thanks Tony

Janet Silvera April 25, 2022 - 2:57 pm

I am a mango fantastic, hence, my friend Cherton DaCosta felt this article would be in sync with my interest. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this piece. Thanks for the suggestions on ensuring exercise, particularly, if one eats a lot of mangoes. I will take heed!!

Predencia Dixon April 25, 2022 - 1:09 pm

I was in Jamaica for mango season two years ago. I ate Julie mangoes till my palms began to take on an orange tint. Excellent article Tony Kelly. Thanks for the memories.

John April 25, 2022 - 10:12 am

Great to have a bit of Caribbean history to keep us informed, like Britain didn’t want to import Jamaican mangoes before.


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