Updated: Aug 1, 2018
Johnson’s Bay is a very small settlement in Andros, the largest island of the archipelagic nation known as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. It is an island famous for sponges, quality lumber, an abundance of fresh water, endless caves and bottomless blue holes, abundant fishing grounds, verdant flora and fauna, rich farmland, and outstanding musicians and educators, many of whom dedicated their entire lives to training the nation’s children. I was one of those children, born very early in the morning on May 15, 1948. I was apparently a very healthy baby at birth, but as the story goes, I couldn’t suck my mother’s milk, and there was no other type of food available for infants on the island. So, in a very short time, I became weak. No family lacks at least one prophet of doom, and neither did ours. One of my uncles came over to give his assessment and then announced, “This baby will not live another day. By sunset tomorrow, he’ll be gone.” “O Lord! No, Lord. Not muh baby. Not lil’ Leon. Dis muh first one. O Lord, have mercy!” My mother couldn’t be consoled; she was heartbroken at the thought of losing her firstborn, and she wept bitterly. With no resident physician available on the island, my father summoned the local midwife. She took one look at me and then proceeded to reset my palate with her thumb. Immediately after she put me to the breast, I started eating—and I have enjoyed my food ever since, to this very day!