Group Title: CARIFESTA Newspaper Clippings
Title: CARIFESTA '72 : Ancestral consciousness
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/CA00199877/00001
 Material Information
Title: CARIFESTA '72 : Ancestral consciousness
Series Title: CARIFESTA Newspaper Clippings
Physical Description: Book
Creator: Brathwaite, Edward Kamau
Publisher: Sunday Advocate-News
Publication Date: 11/5/1972
 Subjects
Subject: Carifesta (1st : 1972 : Guyana), Festivals - Caribbean Area
Caribbean   ( lcsh )
Spatial Coverage: North America -- Barbados -- Bridgetown
Caribbean
 Notes
Funding: Support for the development of the technical infrastructure and partner training provided by the United States Department of Education TICFIA program.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: CA00199877
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat
Holding Location: Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: CARIFESTA I 1972

Full Text





Carifesta '72- 4




Ancestral Consciousness


BY EDWARD
KAMAU BRATHWAITE
A nation does not -become
I nation until it be composed
of committed people. A people
do not become committed
until they know who their
great-grandtathers are.
It is the tension between
these two modes of possibility
and consciousness: polit cs
and culture; nationhood and


establishment. The Ewe of
West Africa. for instance. are
example of a people- (or folk)
culture, separated now by
national police-lines into
Ghana, Togo, Dahomey. The
culture of black people in the
New World of the Caribbean
is another example; a com-
mon stem of expression being
divided up among various
Island governments and
several continental states.


The East Rfiain who cane
after the structure Whad es:ab-
lished itself plot and plan-
tation -- came bearing their
own boind.. inflexible iknis.
and adjusted slowly, tenta..
tively; unwilling allies of
merchant and planter; hut
beholden; and fearing contact
with the black cultural out-
castes. They developed a ten-
sion, therefore, between body
and spirit, object and Inject.
And on the mainland trie
Americans: crippled, aloof,
reserved, inscrutable:t thair
edges eaten by sickness and
the plantation's materialism.(
Tn North America. also
faced with many culttir.s,


race; governmenuL pyuope: BUt the culture of the
which makes the Caribbean Caribbean is also unique in
railhe movement towaso rd e. that to a degree hardly ever
1lhe movement toward be known before, it. is/was an
Ing Bajan, Surmnamese or knownbefoe, it..s/was an
Sundauran, s always co.: imported/immigrant culture.
incident w:th and paradoxical e tens ere are
to being black (Afro-Carib- the Alerdiaans: folk of
bean), brown (Indo-Carib- forest, river, hilltop, promen-.
bean), white (Euro-Caib.. tory, seashore. The others are
bean) or Amerindian. And we transplants. Which makes the
have tne mixing of these question of style, origin, an-'
h necey sO scri.:'Fbe models
vems. One nation. Hopefully, cestry so cr e oes
one people. But with differing are uncertn and' unstable.
cultural expressions, even in PLAUMA SOcLTIES
the creole. Different cultural Cultures may also be. homo-
ancestors, generous (more or less), or
The central creative pro. plural. By homogenous I am
blem in the Caribbean is how thinking of a context where
to use and resolve this ten. the people who compose the
sion: how to achieve a multi- culture look and in general
cultural synthesis: man. soil think alike: coming from
sunlight roughly the same ethnic stock;
Carifesta was conceived as sharing'a similar landscape of
a significant step towards this: experience. Most tribal groups
2 polities, presenting as -biblical Jews, Ashanti of
national delegations, the rich West Africa, Basaues of Spain
varieties of their cultural -are almost perfect homo-.
ives. So from Surinam came genes. National governments
the Djukas, purest of Africans also try to achieve this:
In the Caribbean: came also political pressure, prompt-
Hindustan and J ava.nese n1gs, sometimes helped by
dancers. For the first concert time's erosion.
of the festival (All kinds of Plural societies are those
Folk) G u ya n a presented where people of differing cul-
Amerindian singers, East In- tures co-exist within an
dian dancers. and A'frO.Carib- accepted political framework.
bean entertainers in abun- The United States is one such
dance, culture. Indonesia, the coun-
But to grasp more nearly tries of East Africa and the
something of the tremendous Caribbean. are other ax-
importance of Carifesta: not amples.
so much what 'happened, what CULTURE-CONTACT
was achieved, but what it was Plural societies are the re-
sult of culture-contact of one
representative of: we must sort or another: invasion,
take a quick look at the terms, immigration, contiguity. In
culture, multi-culture and the Caribbean. the 'uropeans
culture-contact; and we must intruded upon the Amemn.
look briefly at the history of dians, practically extermin.
ourselves and our region, in ated them on the plantation
the light of these detinitions. islands and other areas ,f
DEFINITIONS white settlement. There then
Culture is, simply, the way followed the massive -.n-
of life of a people; how they portation of slave/African and
indentured/east 11 d i an
thliik, dream, act. react. and labour. What this meant !s
express themselves in art, re cultural terms is that the
ligion, social life. local ancestors were cut off,
This culture may "in the and imported ikons came to
course of time retain Its people mediate with the landscape.
characteristic, or it may be- The Europeans, as military
come national in orientation: and mereantillst invaders, ,etl
defined within pro'cild lsto- uLp material structures: forts,
grapnical boundaries and do. plantations, courts, prisons.
veloping a controlling political The Arricans, as slaves,
were allowed no politics or
warriors. But they broughtt
priests of the spirit; dancers,
drums of the soul. They preo
served themselves and 'he
circles of their culture sor rol.
ty. estubbolnly, Wvth nmys-
terloui IIPrnci'


i


Tne ancestral tonarcousness
of the slave, chattel chain.
the sufferer, had transformed
itself on the plantation until
it had become a style; more
than a style.' a meaning .
Absorbing syllable into song;
pebble and tatter into land-
scape; ,les darnels de la terre
into new Caribbean gods:
Shango, Legba, Mam-. Aisa
Banda, Yemajaa. mistress oC
the sea. They stoke from the
carved apinti drums of Suri-
nam from the painted assator
of !Haiti (nine feet tall), the
entrance congas of Martiniaue
p'nd Trinidad; they leapt out
of Xumina and queh.auch,
and possessed the (white)
dancer of Cuba and Bahin/
Brazil. They haunted the state
(Couvade, Spea Btrother
Speak, Hag). and.-watched at
us from the painted canvasses
of Philip Moore, St. Omer and
the Haitians.
And it was these and these
alone, we came to feel at!
Carifta. who would make the!
link trom what we ere, zi
hat we .could become: ithW
Christ and Lazarus, the V:r.-
gin. Saint Michael the Arci-i
angel; and Vishnu, 'hiva, 'it.
many faces of Braham; and the
stripped flayed gods of t
Amerindians.


there had been the massive
attempt ome to elt them all
down together into one cul-
tural whole or hell: god father
President, flag, the national
anthem. Gettysburg Ad-
dress, the All Mighty Dollar.
'In 'Latin Amer:ca. a dif-
ferent notion has held sway:
all mixtures of Iberia and
Amerindia: all cultural
mestizo. No white. No black.
No brown. All mixed. Theory
of cultural miscegenation.
But in the Caribbean. there
has been no political or
theoretical pressure towards
synthesis. This. for a long
time, made us seem/feel aha-
less, orphaned: lacking in
style, grace, nus. But Carl.
festa revealed/contfrmed a
new marvellous phenomenon.
The apparently graceles.
(f'ritsean had developed its
own way ot doing 'things:
t. process out or structure:
preservation of the essen',es,
radicatlon or the ancestors,
enrichment of the entwined
ends.
AFRICA IN 'IHE
CARIBBEAN
But this kind ot cultural
awareness/ipossibility: multi.
ethtnic. multi-cultural: re.
quires a model more flexible
than priest o. politlcalt. phil-
oaopher O~~ h school), ,an
ra>tc" for. It reoulres a den
intranAsgait cultural process,
litr yatt ritsng ,in bread.
Such a ,process. CarI'fota
daeuoittlatetd, was already
underway tn the Atr i n.
onrtented rget no thte CaIrb.
bean: 1i theo Atuti'tn.or'lint
lilt0 of tho Carllbaon.




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