My first experience with the word Ramajay was as a child living with my parents and growing up at Olton Road in Arima. My uncles and their friends had birds. Now we are not simply speaking about semps and bananaquits (sickeyea) but pico plaits and canaries and other whistlers. These birds became a Sunday whistling treat. Every Sunday morning these owners would gather 'on the block' and place their birds close to each other for a whistling competition. One of the meanings found in the Trinidad dictionary Côté ci Côté is the "sustained whistling of a bird". In other words the bird that whistled the most, the longest and with 'melodic embellishments' was considered the best and one would say, "dat bird could ramajay boi". Melodic embellishments would be accomplished by teaching the bird to roll the whistle like a bird of another variety. This is my first understanding of the word Ramajay!
Some other interesting uses of the word Ramajay also come into play. Once again I will take reference from Côté ci Côté la. We already dealt with the warbling and sustained whistling of birds but there are other uses of the word that comes into play in different circumstances. However, the main theme, in my view, borrows from the bird example. Côté ci Côté makes reference to a musical improvisation and to cuss and carry on at length. Trinidadians would understand the reference made with ease but this may be difficult for someone who has not experienced the Trinidad English vernacular. If you keep in mind the melodious singing theme then it may become palatable even thought foreigners will find it very difficult to understand a conversation spoken by a group of Trinis at home. One may need someone to 'translate' the conversation. That is a fact!
Machel Montano has a song names 'Ramajay' from his 2010 musical library. His rendition gives light to a meaning that most people find more acceptable today. In other words when a Trini or a West Indian 'come to Ramajay' in this scenario it lends to the idea that "we come to party". This is the meaning from the Urban dictionary (www.urbandictioanary.com)- West Indian meaning to party. From the YouTube music clip that is attached to this post I have added a comment by diversityguy who stated: "The word "ramajay" loosely refers to letting go and breaking away.
Côté ci Côté la refers to "musical improvisation"; "It's mostly used in steel pan circles to reflect improvisation in playing pan with particular skill". In Trinidad the term is called "Pan Ramajay"! In 1989 Exodus steel orchestra started a competition with the name "Pan Ramajay" to provide an outlet for steel pan music outside of the Panorama and Carnival setting. However, this was special because it was more about highlighting improvisations and skill of the players and not necessarily that of the musical arranger. Pan Ramajay has come a long way thanks to the efforts ofHowever, it's mostly used in steel pan circles to reflect improvisation in playing pan with particular skill". Amin Mohammed and members of Exodus steel orchestra.
The other term mentioned was 'to cuss and carry on at length'. Well if you have been privy to a neighborhood cussing session then surely you will understand the reference to 'Ramajay'. Some of the ladies in the villages have this down to an art and it can become a very entertaining session indeed.
So to end, I guess you can understand why I have labored with the 'singing/whistling' theme; I believe that all references stem from the bird analogy. What do you think?