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Destructive cycles (+ ticket giveaway to blood.claat, a play @ Ottawa’s GCTC)

She’s a 15 year-old kid in a school uniform. And she’s just given birth to a baby conceived through violence.  That is her story. But it’s also the story of her mother. And her grandmother before that.

This is a cycle that’s fairly common in Jamaica, according to a 2006 Unicef report:

Approximately 20% of births are given by adolescents. In other words a child gives birth to a child in one out of 5 births. Had all teenage pregnancies been brought to terms the rate would be even higher.

This is attributable to a number of factors including high rate of forced sex, transactional sex, low rate of contraceptive use, early sexual initiation, and poor access to information and skills on safe and responsible sex.

A birth by a child puts two children at risk, as teenage pregnancy often leads to complication in pregnancy and delivery, lack of care and support for the newborn, and too often exclusion from educational and professional opportunities for the young mother.

About one-third (32.8 percent) of women experiencing pregnancy between the ages of 15 and 24 years first conceived while still in school and only 34 percent of adolescent mothers return to school after giving birth (up from 16 percent in 1993) (Friedman 1999).

Once they leave school, they are not prepared for parenting, and poverty often pushes young mothers into transactional sexual relationships with multiple partners to obtain the resources necessary to support their children and themselves. This further increases the mother’s vulnerability to exploitation and domestic violence, as well as child abuse.

Have things changed since this report was published? Has any progress been made in breaking this destructive cycle? I don’t have the answer to that.

And no easy answer is presented in blood.claat either,  a play which opened at the Great Canadian Theatre Company (GCTC) this week. I saw this play last night*. And now, reeling through my head, are the layers upon layers of symbolism and blood metaphors and cycles of both celebration and scorn.

But it’s only now that I’m thinking about all of these things. Because last night, during the performance, I was far too captivated by the actor and her awe-inspiring story-telling.

d’by.young anitafrika single-handedly plays the roles of the main character Mudgu SanKofa, a 15 year-old in Kingston, Jamaica, as well as her cleanliness-obsessed granny, a machete-wielding stranger, her reggae-playing boyfriend and church-lovin’ auntie. In a split-second, you literally see this woman transform from one character to another before your eyes. With no props, wearing just a simple white cotton dress — she makes us believe. As the audience, we can’t help but listen to her story.

And that’s what the unique format of this production is all about — storytelling. Everyone knows a story is only as good as its teller. And you won’t want to miss this teller.


blood.claat is playing from March 2-21 @ Ottawa’s GCTC theatre. Tickets are $42/adult, $32/senior/student. Matinee prices are $33/adult.

*Disclosure: I was given two free tickets to the show by GCTC  (monetary value of $84). Then I asked for two more tickets so that one of my blog readers could go too (also a monetary value of $84) — thank you GCTC!



1. Be sure you’re available to attend! In Ottawa, during one of the show times.

2. Leave a comment. (No real name required & the only person who will know your email address is me.)

3. I’ll do a random draw from all the comments on Monday morning at 9am (March 8).


  1. Stephan says:

    Sounds like a fantastic show! Another gem in GCTC’s stellar line-up.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I’d like to enter the contest too!
    thanks Julie :)

  3. Dang, can’t get there but sounds like an amazing show.

  4. I would love to go see this. I have seen a couple of one person shows before, and it’s just amazing how some people can transform themselves.
    Thanks for the opportunity Julie!

  5. Heard the review on the CBC. Sounds like a great show!

  6. I actually went to university with the playwright / actress. Would love to see the show!

  7. Sounds like an excellent, challenging and thought provoking play. I’m a huge fan of the one-actor play having been dazzled by Pierre Brault many years ago in Blood on the Moon. Would love to see this female actor pull off similar magic.

  8. Ijusrt eecently did a survey for the police college andwasfascinated by the numbers of young mothers who are funneled into the sextrade-where is the help for these people.How can we help them leave.

  9. This sounds like a really good show. I live in Ottawa and would love to go :)

  10. Kaitlin says:

    This sounds lovely! I hope I’m not too late!!

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