Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00072147/00107
 Material Information
Title: Tapia
Physical Description: no. : illus. ; 43 cm.
Language: English
Publisher: Tapia House Pub. Co.
Place of Publication: Tunapuna
Creation Date: April 28, 1974
Frequency: completely irregular
Subjects / Keywords: Politics and government -- Periodicals -- Trinidad and Tobago   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
serial   ( sobekcm )
Dates or Sequential Designation: no. 1- Sept. 28, 1969-
General Note: Includes supplements.
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000329131
oclc - 03123637
notis - ABV8695
System ID: UF00072147:00107

Full Text

Vol. 4 No. 17

SUNDAY APRIL 28, 1974 182 T 7? ~. -

mrT .' 74 .



TAPIA is putting a plan to all
opposition groups for joint
action on radio and TV time.
A release from the National
Executive reveals that the
Administrative Secretary has
been instructed by its last
weekly meeting to write to
all the forces of opposition.
Mr. Allan Harris' letter
proposes a concerted effort in
pursuit of freer political ex-
pression. The proposals are
now on their way to 9
Groups "which clearly regard
themselves as distinct political
The Executive Meeting
charged- the 'Administrative
Secretary to make it plain to
the Groups concerned that
"Tapia is not urging them to
promote discussion on the
matter of Constitutional Re-
Tapia's aim is merely to
secure the constitutional right
of access to the electronic
media so that all political
parties and groups would be
free to take clear and public
positions on constitutional re-
form and any other issues of
their desire.
This latest move follows a
public call for such unity
made by Tapia on April 17
and the generally favourable
response both from political
interests and from the public
at large.


JUST A FEW months ago in a review of Street Theatre, I
begun by saying, "There comes a time in the course of
repression when the artist can no longer express, can no
longer create".
Now I had to miss the funeral ceremony inthat unusual church
on Diamond Boulevard, just a few blocks away from where Roach
lived in Diamond Vale. I could not avoid tending to the living on
the way up I met Mansa, armed with a power-saw and rope to-fell a
huge cedar tree which had become a nuisance in a backyard.
I went off course to give him a lift. It turned out to to a fitting
commemoration. For the dead had written in a recently published
volume ofNew Writings in the Caribbean, a selection from poets who
met'in Guyana to celebrate the Carifesta the following:
The trees stand witnessYAR
that men do not die SYL LO'UAR
but grow in dreams of generations
bitter and beautiful as cedar leaves.
I arrived just in time to see the
coffin borne into the hearse, bound
for the cemetery on the other side.
The hole was too small. Even the
grave diggers begrudged him a few
inches of earth.
Tobagonians gathered in full
strength to watch this native go.
Among them were J.D. Elder, Julian
Spencer, Basil Pitt, Lionel Robinson,
stripped of all ranks in the precincts
of the great leveller. Literary .
figures such as Margaret Walcott
were there. Officers of the Ministry
of Agriculture were also there to
pay the final tribute to this lover of
the folk and peasant, this crusader
in the cause of agriculture.
On hearing the sad news Mansa
told me that we had lost a fighter
who could not be easily replaced.
Generals keep behind their armies
not because they are afraid but be- ERIC ROACH
cause it takes a lifetime to train
them. Privates can be replaced in
three months.
Although Roach led a movement for change in the '50s
(what is blacker than Belle Fanto, the Legend of Kanga Brown, and
lam anArchipelago?) he waslate in joining the marathons of the '70s.
Others will I'm sure share a symposium in assessing his worth
as a poet, playwright writer and journalist. What I do know is that
he remained a paradox to the end. It would appear that like Socrates
he chose to drink hemlock rather than violate the rule of law by
taking up arms against the State.




Michael Harris Tapia Cam-hi-ager



CARONI Pg. 6, 7&8
--------------- --------------------

Tapia B

FOLLOWING close on
Treasurer Baldwin Moo-
too's exhortation at our
April 7 Assembly, plans
have been announced for
our first major Tapia
fund-raising venture for
the year. Treasurer Moo-
too's eloquent appeal to
the assembled Tapia peo-
ple pointed to the need to
devise wavs and means to

Exactly four years after the April Repression, the State of
Emergency of '70 he quietly went to a point at Quinam's Bay which
he knew as a soldier, and made his symbolic protest against what he
called Corruption and Tyranny.
While condemned militants clutch at straws to save their life,
Eric has shown that he was not afraid to die. The styleof his death
should convince of his courage those who believe that a man of letters
is not a man of action.
1 first came in contact with Eric's poetry while reading a
volumeof poems to mark the launching of the Federation. I still
remember the opening lines of "To My Mother" in which he praised
-those hands that baked bread:
It is hot long, not many days have past
of the dead sun, nights of the crumbled moon.
In politics he took a view as
simple as the folks. He trusted the
manifestoes,,and could not come to
to terms with the betrayal. Econo-
micshe understood much less. He
felt strongly about the decline of
agriculture, but could not fathom
the dynamics behind
this excessive reliance on imported
Roach's poetry is essentially
pastoral, extolling the virtues of
the folk, of rural life. Yet there is
more revolution in some of his
lines than in the whole of so many
volumes put together by militant
poets.It reminds me of Lenin's
'reply when some political activists
asked him whom he preferred be-
tween' the classical Pushkin and the
Rebel Mayakovsky. He said Pushkin
was the better poet.
Anglican and Victorian, Roach
was a poet of the establishment
which should have crowned him
laureate. His values, his ideals, his
1914 1974 culture were those oftheearly PNM,
the disappointment and disillusion-
ment led to disgust and despair.
And being the Graeco-Roman scholar that he was who spoke
of writing verse, is it a surprise that he died in the manner of
Who would not sing for Lycidas? He knew
himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.
He must not float upon his watery bier
unwept, and welter to the parching wind,
without the mead of some melodious tear.

ar-B-Que luncheon

finance our increasing
Now a group of Tapia
women have gone ahead and
organised a Bar-B-Que for
Sunday May 26, at the home
of Paula and Sydney Williams
at the University Field Station
(Farm). A Bar-B-Que lunch
will bE on sale with rum
punch, coconut water and
other drinks.
The organizers are hoping

that it will be a Family Affair,
with entertainment for all
members of the family, and a
well deserved rest for "who-
ever" prepares Sunday lunch.
With this in mind, a steelband
has been commissioned for
the day.
A bumper turnout is
looked for from all Tapia
supporters and friends to en-
sure a successful launching of
our 1974 Fund-raising Drive.
More on this in future issues.

-- - - ---------------i
Gordon Rohlehr Cheryl Williams

pg2, 3,4,9

The poetry of Eric Roach
-- -- --- -- -- -
-- - -- -------

25 Cents

put to parties





Gordon Rohlehr

He flies and dreams
His hard sure instinct beams himn on
While steep beneath him sleeps the
green dark death
That shall imnmobilise his viking wing.
(E.M. Roach, "Frigate Bird Passing",
BIM 1950). 13 Dec. 1950

THE HAWK and the rock appear
as major images in Eric Roach's
earlier poems, and the man him-
self possessed both the fierce
energy of the hawk and the hard,
stoical permanence of rock. One
could not imagine, for example,
that he was nearing sixty. His
mind was amazingly ablaze, and
he wrote to the last with the bitter
energy of youth, counterpointed
by a despair which never petered
out into grey, self-pitying melan-
choly, but was somehow more
compellingly alive than the easy
indifference which most people
mistake for hope.
Yet he believed himself to be out
of touch with the spirit of the times,
the more strident rhetoric of the youth,
and doubted, Lord knows why, the
validity of his own clean vision. I
remember meeting him for the first
time in 1969 at a reading of poetry
where he was reluctant to read because,
he said, all he had to offer that youth-
ful gathering were "these cold, cold
words". Often afterwards when I ques-
tioned him about making a collection
of his poems, he would laugh the
idea away, because, he said, they were
not good enough.
For his uncertainty we must
blame both our own dumbness in fail-
ing to assure the poet of his meaning
through sensitive appraisal of his work,
and- the vicious circle in which- the
poet whose work is scattered in a
score of unavailable copies of Bim is
bound to be caught. Because the
work remains inaccessible to anyone
but the researcher, it is unappreciated
as a whole, and because it is unknown
and unappraised, the artist loses the
urge to have it published and may
even begin to feel that its invisibility
proves its worthlessness. This sort of
thing has been happening to poets,
calypsonians and academics through-
out the West Indies for several de-
cades now.
Yet Roach's work had been re-
cognised by his fellow artists. Edward
Brathwaite has pointed it out in his
essay "Sir Galahad and the Islands",
BIM 1957, Derek Walcott had put in

pleas for collection and publication of
Roach's poetry in articles published in
the Trinidad Gualrdia inl 1962 and
1965, while George Liammiiiiiing had
focused on Roach's work in an article
published in Africa Forumnt in 1965.
In Trinidad, Tapia has been week
after week been opening its pages to
the serious review of hitherto neglected
artists, and ironically, a long study of
Eric Roach's poetry which had taken
months of preparation, had been coin-
pleted by Cheryl Williams on the very
day that the news of his death stunned
us and converted an act of celebration
into a note of obituary.


He wrote about the landscape
and peasantry of his Tobago boyhood
with regret for the absence of the values
they lived, in his new world of urban
and sub-urban Trinidad. He wrote also
about the paradox of beauty and
spiritual aridity in our islands, and of
his own rooted love and committineiil
to our little worlds. He looked for
symbols of beauty, strength and crea-
tive leadership among the survivors of
the crossing, celebrated the pride and
skill of Black athletes, some of the first
Black men to become 'visible' to the
sight of the world; wrote Cipriani's
elegy; shared Lamming's hope in tihe
Federation and disillusion at its break-
tip. He was never out of touch.
Indeed, he saw our failure with
frightening clarity, and in his later
work comprehended the annual death
of each hero Martin Luther King by
the assassin's bullet, Butler a lion
converted by time and our studied
neglect into a comedian. Williams
whose failure in vision led us, in
Roach's words, "back to barracoons".
Thus it was with bitterness that he
addressed today's youth caught on its
via dolorosa:

Don't mock me about dreams
I am too old.
Don't sneer of prophecies
count me among the numberless dead
this grisly century.
I've eaten so much history that
I belch
boloms of years to come.
(Tapia Sunday April 22nd. 1973)

All his later poems contain this agony;
this sense of the impotence of age, and
more terrible, this intuition that the
years to come will be as tawdry, as
predictable, as penurious and as still-
born. All our poets have, at one time
or another had this intutition witness
the ending of Walcott's"Laventville;"
or witness Brathwaite's lament at tie

prospects of a new society whose
architects have studied only in lihe
"coll onlfields of Oxford'":

and lie wheel lurn:;
an t hefi future returns
wreathed in disguises
("Trade-Winds" from Islands)

Lric Roach was caught in this
vision of death. Ever since 1961 liis
mind was filled with images of death.
Whereas in the poems of the 1950's
his usual image for the poet was the
Joycean one of the keen-eyed hawk
soaring above the earth, daring to
t-ranscend the contingencies of his
humanity, in 1961 the poet is seen as
a purblind juggler of words and images
of death. Roach seemed to feel his
vision darkening and dying.

He sees with blurred and dying eres,
Without regret, without remorse,
With irony, his own demise.
lie juggles images of death
Sees disease sneaking into bone
Till the worms come,
A nd bone stripped hare
Lies white and quiet in a fold
Of sombre, unbreathing mould,
Or drowned and sucked under the sea,
Down to the never-never tide,
Is swayed among the cark sea-stones
And stroked by soft sea anemones.
(He Juggles Images: BIM Vol. 8, No.
32, Jan-June 1961.).

0 0

The intutition of death was there
since then. It grew stronger as the
1970's dawned with their new marches,
new hopes which lie could no longer
share, new dreadness. So in his last
published poem, the one dedicated to
Frank Collymore in Savacou 7/8 lie
speaks as one old poet addressing his
elder brother-poet:

the days stand up to bless nme
asI die
bedded on my, dying cent ury
dreaming the century's youth
in a good place that's gone
among the folk Ilove
while my own death
howls from a mangy dog
haunting these barren streets.
what's all n m witness for?
why do I wear the poor folk and the rears?
elh brother what's the score?
is the game won or lost?
will I know now
at the breaking bitter last
do old nen know?
(For Frank Collymore, Savacou 7/8
Jan-June 1973)

Counterpoint of despair

Blues for Eric Roach

trum Sh

I)ear Sir,
Lennox Grant in his
article "Newsmakers Hit
By Breakers in the Air
Waves" which appeared in
the Sunday April 21 issue
of TAPIA, must be con-
gralulated for putting the
recent struggle at Radio
Trinidad in such clear
We cannot afford in this
co(lllry to sacrifice goals of
excellence and the develop-
lneni (I high standards of pro-
fessionalism in favour of main-
taiinig the status quo.
While 1 accept that there
is a strong case for workers of
IRadio Trinidad to demand and-
obtain better wages and work-
ing conditions, I felt a deep
sense of outragetlat the settle-
ment included a disbandment
of the newly formed Current
Affairs Unit. In accepting this
as one of the solutions to the
problem the workers seemed
to be confirming what their
management was implying -
Ihat they did not have the
capacity to develop and carry
successfully a competitive
Current Affairs Unit. Surely
this was time to rise to the
challenge and demand as part
of the settlement that the
Unit be maintained.
As Lennox Grant said,
this issue has dramatised the
need for professional journal-
ists "to declare some concep-
tion of the role and place of
their profession in the society".
Without a doubt, union lead-
ers not themselves journalists.
cannot be expected to deter-
mine this philosophy. The
public looks to journalists,
not to union leaders, to save
them from such mindless pro-
granmmes as'Garner Ted Am-
strong's 'The World Today',
'Barnabas' and 'Peylon Place'.
Astra Da Costa and Alfred
Agui(on are two young
journalists who from their
public performance have ably
demonstrated thai they are
working towards the develop-
i meni of theirprofession.News-
makers and Hot Line provide
testimony to the high quality
of heir performance. It would
he a great set back to Ileml and
the profession if journalists
with vision are sacrificed on
lihe altar of mcdi icrily.
Your-; sincerely.
Faiih Wiltshire.







ERIC ROACH according to one account may
have been born in 1914. He is known most
widely as a journalist, critic, playwright and
less -so as a poet. But Roach has been writing
poetry for a very long time, and his work spans
a period from the 1950's up to the present.
Yet his poetry is of value to West Indian
literature, not merely because of its own
worth, but also because Roach is amply seated
in the present debate about the nature of and
what should constitute West Indian literature,
particularly poetry.
Where Roach stands and the positions he adopts
as critic and poet is defined by the relationship be-
tween the conflicts in his vision, and its relationship
to the larger literary and social conflicts. The purpose
of this essay thens to give as cogent:as possible an
appraisal of this sample of Roach's work, and to do
this against the background of this debate. I have
chosen this background because I hope to demon-
strate that some of the polarizations are false though
inevitable and entirely understandable. That Roach
has at different times identified with both streams is
significant. It is my thesis that the reasons for the
conflicts are reflected in his work. From this, it is
hoped that a broader insight can be gained into the
nature of West Indian writing.

I shall attempt to outline the questions which
arise in the debate. Because I hold that the debate is
false and confused as at present it appears, it becomes
extremely difficult to separate the views. In a paper
of this nature, this can only be done by using rather
broad generalizations.
There are those who, usually writing about the
folk and cultural self-sufficiency, relate this to the
need to create something genuinely our own. Their
scenario deals often with the past; history is import-
ant in the need to exorcise the cultural European
dominance and to restore to the people a new sense
to themselves and their heritages.
The particular choice of subject is taken to de-
fine not the quality of the writer but whose side he is
on, be it the folk, the middle classes, the people of
Europe,, etc. From Sylvia Wynter some hint of this
kind of appraisal can be gleaned as she says:
'The turning back of the novelist to the popular
tradition was the movement of return; the long passage
back from the exile of alienation. The future of the
Caribbean literature and of the Caribbean people
whose psychic journey it structurally parallels, will
depend on that disputed and almost impossible
passage". 1
She later posits that this type of writing, emerges
from a certain kind of preoccupation.
"Novels of the search for identity tend to be engaged
novels, novels rejecting even more thantheyaccept
... The search for a revaluation of the African roots
is therefore connected with 'engaged writing', which
could be good or bad writing". 2

For those writers who applaud universality and refuse
this identification, she advocates that this "is the
prescribed stance for excellence of creole society". 3
The need for identification among writers arises
because of the peculiar racial and cultural complex in
the West Indies. Whose men are we? And what are the
values which should inform our world? Toassess this
one must focus within and also deal with our relation-
ships with the wider world. People here are forever
wavering between the need to assert cultural whole-
ness and the perhaps more dominating view that we
are all really western men. Western because of the
contact and the nature of the contact with the
European world; the resulting rootlessness and the
present trends. The problem is how to redefine the
world,maintain cultural integrity, yet partake of what -
has been called "progress" in the modern world. And
precisely because progress has been linked to this
particular civilization with its technology, manners,
ideology, literature etc, the conflict is mirrored be-

tween Europe and Africa; Europe and Asia.
The final question is whether in the West Indies
this redefinition can take place at all. It is perhaps the
most difficult of questions to answer. But patterns of
of thought have emerged. There are those who claim
that this "civilizing" process a la'Europe is inevitable.
We must keep up. Modernization and Europeanisation
are inseparable. Patterson in an ecst-cy of pessimism
declares "Black culture is nothing wnore than black
poverty". 4 Presumably then, when poverty has been
eliminated cultural particularities would be shed and
there would be a universal culture. lt\is no wonder
that Patterson later posits that the revolution should
be Marxist, with its main stimuli in the North Atlantic
world. Yet in his subsequent article Rethinking our
Past he talks about studying folklore, the oral tradi-
tion, folkways, etc. The sudden and constant shifts in
positions are to me highly significant and symptoma-
tic of the general confusion.

Harris too, shares a vision of a culture that is
universal, consisting of the marriage of all cultures
though this comes in a mystical package not easily
understandable. Walcott's thesis is that there is
"unbroken" soil here. He seeks a confluence of all
the different cultures here, and when that is done
something new and genuinely West Indian would
emerge. This view has not to my mind embraced the
experience of Indians here for example -- whose
culture has seen a steady whittling, and for whom
integration and acceptance means creolisation. And
creolisation here is a curious admixture of native
cultures with the European culture, in which the latter
predominates in spite of or because of our ambiva-
lence towards it. In such a situation there could hardly
be an equal intermingling of cultures. In an article in
the Sunday Guardian which preceded his production
of Franklin, Walcott defined the role of the artist as
defending the minority -in this case the whites.
Blacks may be truly right in questioning what is
the minority. For both in a cultural and economic
sense the traditions of the whites have predominated.
At the other end is the view which admits
indigenous cultures. The survival of Africanisms in
religion, dance, attitudes to life etc, means that the
European domination is merely a surface manifesta-
tion. This belief can inform two courses of action.
One which closely parallels the path followed by
those who hold the theory of the universal or equal
intermingling of cultures. It leaves the West Indian
a non-actor. A doomed man perhaps. For since
Europeanisation is only a veneer then there is little
real cultural alienation. That stance feeds the nyth of
the "creole" West Indies. For those who believe this,

in the literature as well as the politics, "cultural" dis-
quiet is very small.
The other course of action is that which seeks
once and for all to throw off the European mantle
and create something definitely our own. Precisely
because it was Africa or Asia from which we were
separated, Africa or Asia as a nebulous formula be-
comes mythologised in our minds. And legitimately
so. While acknowledging that history has made us
partially western, some psychic return is sought to the
motherland. A sense of wholeness becomes a neces-
sary precondition towards the creation of a West
These are all, I confess, not very distinct choices
in the world of action that we see. Yet they-represent
deep anxieties. In literature the particular view
adopted above is seen as paralleling the subject matter
of the artist. When Wynter speaks of a movement
back to the popular traditions, she is speaking of the
tendency today in the politics and literature to em-
brace the peasant as the revolutionary vanguard; the
pivot from which the new world will be created. The
myth of the peasant assumes even greater importance
in a context of very small worlds in which the village
flows into a conglomeration of rural townships or
urban villages. Hence the populist politician or the
writer who addresses the peasant may be actually
addressing the whole society. That the term peasant is
a misnomer here has already been pointed out by
Gordon Rohlehr. As he has indicated the "peasants"
so called span several worlds. 5 It is well to note here
that peasant and folk are used interchangeably in the
West Indies. Selvon's folk range from the villages, to
the urban villages, to Port of Spain and right through
to London.

Patterson denies the peasant this vanguardist
role. He admits the existence of survivals, but argues
that this dualism of belief is present among peasants
the world over. West Indian peasants like their
colleagues share the view that the metropolitan cul-
ture is best. They do not share it simply for survival.
According to him, neither the peasants nor the middle
classes have an identity problem since they believe in
the superiority of the European culture.
"It is the intellectuals and the rootless urban who
seek for disalicnation by evolving a mystique of
blackness and a political ideology of black unity. The
remaining peasants who are most secure in their
sense of racial identity and who have the strongest
link with Africa care least about racial consciousness
and have little contemporary interest in Africa". 6
Patterson has failed to appreciate that when he
equates the West Indian split vision with the dualism
of peasants all over the world, he is automatically
assuming the existence of one culture here. In fact
because the other values are different culturally, the
dualism appears as and is,a dialectical struggle between
those survivals and the various streams of European
culture. The peasant is invested with revolutionary
potential because the farther away one moved from
this world, the greater the cultural alienation. The
sense of distance Lamming felt as a young scholar
towards his village must find some definition to em-
brace a class, race and cultural dichotomy.
Naipaul posits that the entire West Indian world
fully embraces the colonial values, while he and
Walcott both disparage the "applause of illiteracy".
Anxieties arise not because of education itself but the
kind of education. Education has been here a major
source of alienation. People while having an undue
love for the educated also fear and distrust him.
soinething arising entirely out of their historical
Eric Roach has been described by his contem-
praries, Walcott, Lmmuning, Bralhwaite, as a peasant
poet. In conversation with ime. the author described
himself as a peasant. In view of the above responses
to the peasants and their implications, it is necessary
to come to terms with Roach's concept of the peasant.

Continued on Page 4



From Page 3
The most fitting introduction to this analysis is the
Poet's own poetic identification. This is most explicit
in Verse in August, 1973.
My life began among kind folk
Whose barefoot indigence was whole
As rocks and springs, whose love
Nourished life's roots
Whose labour was
A cutlass hoe and spade
In plots of corn and yams
and later,
A thought reanimates them
Whom only my death will bury
For, they're mine, they're mine
Until my body lays me down.
Savacou, June 1973
The poem is clear and establishes these folk on
the land. Roach's scenario is Tobago. But he too
recognizes that the concept ul the peasant is a fluid
one in the West Indian habitat. Roach by the 1970's
had witnessed the gradual movement away from the
land, the rapid build up of such semi-urban commu-
nities as Arima and Tunapuna. The former villagers
now populated-these communities and it was these
urban poor who made up the forces of the 1970
Revolution. The poet recognizes the continuum
through which they are linked.
Roach's poetry is essentially the poetry of the
dispossessed. I will argue that in the West Indies it is
these dispossessed who are called peasants or folk.
This is their distinction rather than mere exclusion
from land ownership, residence etc. This process is
highlighted in Poem for This Day, 1972.
Village labour sweats among its trees
on the tough soil of hope
Where men grow bovine in their bovine round
of work, feed, sleep and blind begetting
Which they can break only if they abandon home
And so the villagers come
to prodigal in the sour slums
with those who've failed their hope

Tapia, Vol. 2 No. 11, Dec. 1972
That Roach does not harbour any romantic
conceptionof the peasant life is obvious fromthe above
poem. Tough soil indicates the wretched waste-land
that poverty nourishes. The hatred that Roach feels
for this destitution is most adequately revealed in
Something Seen.
The strong men whom I honoured as a boy
Made heavy, hired labour in the fields
In the sun's blast, soaked in their nigger sweat.
The use of the word nigger portends that indeed
slavery's long day has not yet ended; for nigger was
the white man's colonial stock, his beast of burden.
So he named him. This was the 1950's. Emancipation
had offered the African freedom, but to the poetthe
inheritance was bitter. The black man was still
trapped on the plantations, a source now of cheap
and neither they nor I, on that day knew
Them deeply cheated of their drudgery's worth
Freedoms reward to slavery's wretched hours.
The continued dispossession of the black man was
precisely because of that social attitude that desired
to keep him thus:
Join this sad image to a word I heard
Out ofa mouth worth blooding with a blow
Teach niggers Latin and lose good cheap labour?
Bim, 1952.
In the peasants' life Roach saw poverty, but he
saw much more, and it is because of what he saw that
Roach cherished the peasant so closely. In the poem
Transition he says:
Here is my huddled village
Blood pulses into blood
Kinsman hallos kinsman
Deep-bosomed women gossip
From dooryard to dooryard
And children scamper barefoot
Bim, 1950.
The last line recalls us to the indigences but it's
predecessors are a remarkable paean to all which Roach
values in the peasants. These men have survived be-
cause of the deep sense of community present in
their world. That the village is huddled evokes a sense
of its poverty but also a feeling of warmth amongst
this poverty. All else services this notion -familial
blood ties and kinship intimating the survival of
ancestral social units, and even the very conditions of
their living. Togetherness. There is love in this world
and there is also joy, and because of these, strength.
In Flowering Rock he is very clear about this:
Our hearts break not
Though they are ever broken
A froth of laughter

The poetry


Eric Roach

For Frank Collymore

knock drum
draw bow
on fiddle strings
let rhythm jump
and catgut screech
let all time jig
a kalinda and reel
these august freedom days
let dead bones rise
and dance their own bongos

who 'II dance my death farewell?
who 'll trample me a rhythm on my grave?
'bongo macedonia
viviway viniway bongo'
not my tall sons
they have not seen nor heard
that macabre rime of death
and if they did
i could riot answer their disdain
they have inherited another season
in this uprooted suburb
of folk from villages and slums
where dusks brood secret hatreds
and faces are tight shut
from love and friendship.

my life began among kind fblk
whose barefoot indigence was whole
as rocs and springs, whose love
nourished life's roots
whose labour was --
a cutlass hoe and spade
in plots of corn and yams.
i knew some legendary men
i know them still
they're fast in file on film
a thought reanimates them
whom only my death will bury
for they're mine, they're mine
S until my body lays me down.

Tops our seas of sorrows...
This is our symbol
Beauty famous in the slum.

Bim, 1950.
This stoic quality finds its greatest celebration
in a poem written for his mother. It is a tale very
common to the West Indies. The home where mother
and father coalesced in the mother a magnificent
and strong role not yet given its proper status in the
West Indian mind. The poor West Indian mother had
little to pass on to her off-spring materially. But she
offered an example of strength, courage and the
capacity to face the terror of the new day, with love
and hope. A stern existence, the inheritance was
nonetheless rich. Roach's euology to his mother
revives memories of Lamming's mother in In The
Castle ofMy Skin and thousands of other West Indian
women. I personally harbour a childhood picture of a
tough independent grandmother farminghcr own land,
amongst a crop of children. And my grandmother in
that village was one among many such. An era, it
seems to me, when West Indian women had a genuine
liberation in the way they lived. Roach, at home with
this life, recognizes the richness within. In the poem
Mother and Son, of his mother he wrote:
Her own son saw her tough as scrub
Stone strong, yet pliant as clay
Hoeing in the sloping fields
Building up potato banks
Nurturing the peasant earth
Her humble rectitude was a rock
Outcropping of the stubborn land
She sowed him barefoot like a tree
That he should eat the patient clay'
The solemn courage of the stones
Bim, %1961
Ma's relationship with the land provided the
bane of values that she transmitted to her son. It is
often claimed that a native wisdom is sprung in those
with a close affinity to the land, and I think there is
some truth to this belief, Roach's mother, like most


-- R

West Indians then, knew only one fornial source :f
education, for "all hlier learning came Iro n one
book". The New World black drew strength for sur-
vival in the world of terror from the Bible and religion.
It was Luther King's people in Blues for Uncle Tom
who "moaned out the Moses Blues". Religion in-
formed the song, spirituals, blues singers etc. It
moulded their lives.
One suspects that these forsaken ones found in
the Bible only as much as they put into it the
philosophies and pain they had lived all their lives.
Roach appreciated this. In White Coffin, the preacher
i a wicked man groping in the darkness of this death,
and in Blues for Uncle Tom he rejects the excessive
faith of the blacks. For Martin Luther King was dead.
God rejudged his prayers too loud,
discomforting heaven
where black is a negation
But the Gods who have abandoned his people are
both the African God Ogunm and the European Javeh.
Yet it is the blacks who cling most fervently to
religion. And Roach sees this as having detracted
from the spirit which may have inspired a more
militant confrontation with the social roder.

we have prayed too long for deliverance
we are weary of servitude
Black I, 1973
To go back to the poem Mother and Son, one
notes that Roach sees the peasant as being at one
with nature. His life though tough and hardy is
integrated with nature. Roach's mother was "as
tough as scrub", while the peasant of Homestead was
"tougher and earlier than roots". These people Roach
celebrates as the cornerstone of the earth. They are
who are unsung, but who remain
Perpetual as the earth's winds pass
Unkillable as the earth's grass
Caribbean Quarterly, 1951-52.
The employment of the stone image in Mother and
Son suggests invincibility and endurance, yet the
symbol is later a representation of emptiness, cruelty.
This interpretation is most evident in his criticism of
the Williams regime, which reacted harshly to the
February Revolution of 1970.
in this sweet square
the stone men closed...
IT IS essential to the argument to note at this
point that nowhere in his most explicitly
peasant poetry has Roach identified the pea-
sant as being closer to roots. Given that he has
indicated their strength as courage, the capa-
city for survival and within the survival a love
of the land and a sense of community, it
is necessary first to examine the larger disno-
mie as he sawit, in order to appraise their role.
In speaking of the peasant in Something Seen,
Roach has vividly shown that for the West Indian,
history is a living continuum. He had established to
my mind, the most salient reasons why his younger
contemporaries continued to be preoccupied with
history, for nothing essentially has changed. Black
people continue to be at the bottom of the social
ladder, their blood is still despised albeit sometimes
in a twisted patronising fashion where it becomes
difficult to separate love and hate. Despite loud
exhortations of black is beautiful in 1970, and a more
fervent black clamour, the self love or hate becomes
all the more apparent for this. And because of this,
history is not a remote and romantic past. He must
continually seek to come to terms with a past which
merges into the present.
Roach, the critic in 1'971, did not come to
terms with this. He had admonished the younger
writers that
we must write out of the totality of our history, our
history, our environment and our feeling. To thresh
about wildly like King and Jerry in the murky
waters of race oppression and dispossession is to
bury one's bead in the stinking dung hills of slavery. 7

Yet Roach, the writer, had committed the same
"crime". Fbr in an article on Roach in 1965, Walcott
claims of Roach's work.
The West Indian writer is organically impelled towards
the slave past, in other words towards his history
which is a tarrel with others. This has made not only
Roach's but a great deal of West Indian verse, rhetorical
and exhortatory. The whip, the separating ocean, the
imagined grandeur of a forgot ten Africa. the scorching
sun are the standard symbols of such verse. 8
Walcott had placed Roach's work among the very
same men Roach would later seek to correct. The
totalityy of experience" hlie spoke of is precisely the
issue will which the poets, like himself. were pre-
occupied. Nothing had been solved yet.
Ilislory Ihas not only been one ol'f degradation
and assault. Torn from his own historical past. the
colonial came to terms with himself with a history
Continued on Page 9

LAST year Ladoo died under
very violent and mysterious cir-
cumstances, in Trinidad. Born in
Couva, Trinidad, in 1945, he had
been living from 1968 in Toron-
to with his wife and son. He
returned to settle some pressing
family business, and consequent-
ly met his death. His first pub-
lished novel,NOPAIN LIKE THIS
BODY, spear-heads a series of
novels spanning life in the Carib-
bean and Canada. His sudden
death has obviously put an end
to what promised to be a new
and important contribution to
the West Indian novel.
Unfortunately, No Pain Like This
Body, (referred to from now on as
No Pain), is not available in the book-
shops here, and I thus beg that book
dealers order copies as soon as possible
from the House of Anancy Press Ltd.,
Toronto. No Pain is set in Tola Trace
on the imaginary Carib Island in August
of 1905. Carib island is really Trinidad
and Tola Trace could easily be Caroni.


The story is the recording of a
battle between an East Indian family
and nature, and a battle between Pa
and that family. The details are re-
corded by a child, with a child's
simplicity, but without the inhibitions
peculiar to a child. The novel strikes
one with their same force as Orlando
Patterson's Children Of Sisyphus. What
the reader has to decide is whether the
novelist is wilfully obscene or if the
violence of the language is an integral
part of the experience explored by

Here is the novel in brief. It is the
height of the wet season in 1905 and
rain is beating down on Tola Trace.
Pa is drunk and beats up Ma. The
children run through the rain in fear.
The grandparents Nanny and Nanna
do their best, but Rama contracts
pneumonia, is later stung by a scor-
pion and dies in the district hospital.
As a result of young Rama's death,
Ma finally breaks down and goes mad.
The novel ends with Nanny armed with
her drum going off with the children
into the forest in order to find ma.


Ladoo's first novel Aro Pain,
adds a new dimension to the West
Indian novel. It is the kind of dimen-
sion that complements Michael
Anthony's exploration of the world of
the child and the adolescent as seen in
The Year In San Fernando and Green
Days by the River. No Pain is also
very instructive for any reader coming
from a sitting with a novel like Shiva
Naipaul's The Chip-Chip Gatherers.
No Pain explores a fragment of the
world of the Trinidadian East Indian
which has not been previously done.
Selvon has skirted around the area but
never really got into it. I am referring
to life for the first and second genera-'
tion Trinidadian East Indian practising
subsistence farming here, while their'
gods fall around them and the middle-
aged and the young move around with-
out meaningful points of reference
and standards. Ladoo shows us that
such a world is really a world of
anarchy in which one has three choices;
patient suffering or madness or an
early death.
The grandparents Nanny and
Nanna have an unshaken faith in the
sky god, and in the integrity of the
drum. In fact despite the hostility of
the rain and wind Nanny and Nanna,
do not ever find the situation unsur-
mountable. Ladoo seems to imply that
they have faith in their gods from
India. Ma, the daughter, of Nanny,
wants to believe in those gods or-even
the God of the Western world, but

does not see any reason why she
should. Pa, her husband does not
want to believe, in fact he does not
believe in anything. Thus, without any
frame of reference he finds himself a
violent anarchist bent on brutalizing
his family. The children are bewildered
and their sudden realization is that
they are both children and imitation
adults trying to work the land while
their father is constantly drunk and
waiting to beat both their mother and
themselves. The children are four in
number; Balraj, who is twelve and is
the eldest, Sunaree, Rama and Pan-
day. They all work in the rice paddy,
though they are constantly .on the
run from Pa, the most violent father in
West Indian fiction. The novel opens:.
Pa came home. He didn't talk
to Ma. He came home just like a
snake. Quiet. (p. 13).
Pa is a snake. He is the one who beats
up each member of his family. He is
the one indirectly responsible for
Rama's death and Ma's madness. In
fact Pa can be seen as the reverse side
to the indifferent invisible God in the
sky. Pa is a snake,-the agent of evil, a
devil figure, a directionless individual
on a violent rampage of violence.
Thus, if God is presented as the indif-
ferent agent of destruction,then Pa is
presented at his opposite number on


As things get progressively worse
Panday asks:
"Wod God doin now?" .
"He watching from de sky".
"God still watching"
"Well God playing de ass now"!
(p. 56).
This feeling that the persons in
authority do not care, but are simply
"playing de ass" runs throughout the
novel. Each member of the family
looks upon the other with suspicion
and with the feeling that he or she is
both exaggerating his or her pain or
irritability. Thus, when Ma is drunk
during the wake for Rama, her child
Panday says,
"Ma you drink rum and playing
in you ass!"
Ma was getting on bawling and
swearing and getting on. Pa came
inside the kitchen.
"Keep dat bitch quiet!"
"But she chile dead", Soomintra
the wife of Shankar said.
"Yeh. De chile dead, but she eh
have to get on like a ass". (p. 98)
Most of the action in the novel is
played out in rain. Ladoo.s-characters
are seen as trapped in the wires of

rain, and therefore fixed in time, in the
wet season, which is presented as the
more aggressive of the two seasons. It is
significant that Ladoo traps his charac-
ters in the rain and then closely ex-
amines their lives, since it allows him
to make his point by exaggeration for'
once trapped he places them under a
microscope. One can see that this
writer has imposed all his memories of
grim wet season onto that. (one wet
season of his fictitious Carib Island.
The result is a rain of terror that
reigns supreme.


So far, in West Indian literature
tour writers have used the sun as the
symbol of suffering and hot indiffer-
ence. The cold of the rain in Ladoo's
novel is even more biting. Hence we
can get the following:
The sky rolled as an endless
spider and the rain fell like a
Shower of poison over Tola.
The darkness was thicker than
black mud, and the wind howled
as evil spirits. (p. 58)
The counterpoint of irony is what
knits the novel together. The central
irony being that nature for the trapped
in Tola Trace is hostile, yet nature is
all they know, and their ability to
Same nature determines their degree
of survival. The result is that we get
description of the hostility of nature,
even the evil in nature, while along-
side these are passages which show the
characters becoming part of nature. In
an attempt to show both the hostility
of nature and the evil it can contain,
Ladoo floods his novel with such
creeping and crawling thingsas snakes,
rats, worms ants, spiders and scor-
pions. The following passage on the
other hand shows Ma, a woman, who
fights against the odds of an appa-
rently hostile yet indifferent natural
world, as well as a violent husband, be-
coming part of nature.
A greenish juice leaked out from
her palms and fell on the ground.
The juice smelt as something to
eat. Ma looked at her right,
palm; the leaves were ground
enough: it looked as if moss was
growing in her palms. (p. 27.
My emphasis).
Many passages also show Ladoo com-
paring how his characters behave to
that of animals or insects.
The other-irony is that the children
talk, work and behave as adults, then
suddenly realize that they are only
children. It shocks us as much as it
shocks them. The following passage
traces Panday's refusal to plant rice;





V ,,______________


"Look wot you doin :Panday!"
Sunaree said.
"I not doin notten. Dis rice
could kiss me ass! I is a chile".
"If Pa hear you he go beat you
"But I is a little chile!"
Pa stood on the riceland banks
by the doodoose mango tree. He
heard Panday. He jumped as a
'bull on the riceland bank.
"Panday shut you kiss me ass
mout boy! Shut it boy! Me
Jesus Christ! If you make me
come in dat wadder. I go kick
you till you liver bust!" (p. 65)
The central irony is really Ladoo's
presentation of comedy as being part
of tragedy, or at least related to it,
while not arriving at say the tragi-
comedy of V.S. Naipaul. The best
example of this is the wake scere. In
cidentally Ladoo. has been quoted by
Darryl Dean a Trinidadian journalist
based in Toronto, as claiming that,
"In one chapter about a wake
which included the folk lore of
the people, many sections were
deliberately chopped out because
the.publisher felt it would be
better to leave it out".
Before singling out any of the action at
the wake scene I should first record
the reaction of Ma and Pa to the death
of their son Rama, since their reactions
are related to Ladoo's implied ques-
tion "who is to blame?"

"Me son dead widdout seeing he
modder face. Two days he live
in dat hospital just waiting to
see he modder. He wait till he
dead. Which part in dat sky you
is God? Me chile not even leff a
trace in de world. He just born
and dead. Dat is all. And he own
fadder kill him too besides!..
"I tell you God kill him!" Pa
"Yet you saying I kill him. Well
me eh doin one kiss me ass ting
for dis wake and funeral!" (p.71)
At the wake stories are told and jokes
exchanged, and Pa sees that Ma gets
drunk so that only his version of the
death can be told. Further more, Ladoo
uses the wake scene to show how the
gods have fallen. No one including the
priest has any faith in the ritual per-
formed. In addition to this the priest's
authenticity is questioned by the group
and by extension what he represents.
The priest claims that he is a Brahmin.
S. "He is a modderass charmar
and he playing Brahmin. Bisnath
Soddhu is not a priest. He fadder
used to mind pigs in Jangli Tola.
He modderass chamar come to
Tola playing holy". And Pul-
bassia laughed and said, "Yeh
one foot. Give him in he ass!"
Bisnath Saddhu the village priest ,
said, "Shut you one foot tail I
not from Jangli Tola. Me fadder
and me come from de Punjab".
"Punjab me -ass Punjab! Pul-
bassia shouted.
"You son of a bitch Baba all
you used to mind hog in Jangli
"Who say dat?"
"Me Pulbassia".
The priest sat up, wiped his eyes
with the back of his hands,
yawned and said, "I be bc-n a
Brahmin". (pp. 98-99).
Given the intensity of the traumatic
experience that the children and Ma
experience because of the stupid bru-
tality of Pa, the children soon began to
create their own reality and Ma goes
mad. For example Balraj insists that
Rama is not dead and buried but is
"still in the dead house in Tolaville".
"All you cant fool me", Balraj
said, "By .dat hospital have big
big rats. I see dem rats wid me
own eyes. I tell all you dat Rama
home. 1 never see Nanna bring

Continued on Page ( I





THE RECENT publication of the book,
"Calcutta to Caroni: The East Indians in
Trinidad", edited by John La Guerre, must be
seen as an attempt to illumine what has been
for many of us, an area o.f darkness. Igno-
rance of the history and cultural traditions of
the East Indian in Trinidad is shared by a
large majority of the African and other
ethnic groups within society and, perhaps,
by not a few of the younger East Indians
themselves. In this context the book is a
significant contribution to the literature,
particularly since five of the six articles it
brings together are by Trinidadians.
Ignorance of the history of The East Indian
however, is clearly an expression of a more funda-
mental problem. Braithwaite in his introduction to
the book- speaks of the "problems of Nations in the
making integrating their ethnic and racial groups into
some meaningful harmony". La Guerre himself, in an
article published in TAPIA (10-8-72) and entitled
"Africa and East Indians in Trinidad", stated that,
". .. political rivalry was -only the surface
expression of a more fundamental cleavage
which lay in the society itself. This is why
Afro-Indian relations still have to be worked
out, and why the task of creating Afro-Indian
solidarity is an urgent one".
The book then might justifiably be assessed in
terms of its contribution to the task, such as it has
been, of working out Afro-Indian relations. In any
attempt to tackle this more fundamental cleavage the
problem arises that precisely because the cleavage
exists there is the danger of history being corrupted
by parochialism and prejudice. Yet any contribution,
whatever its intentions, that culminates by merely
inveighing against one group on behalf of another
makes little contribution to the task.

It is certainly not easy to guard against such
emotional intrusions. What is needed is an approach
that transcends the constricting limitations of either
group. This can only be done by the construction of
discernible analytical bases from which any judgements
might proceed.
In the context of Afro-Indians relations in
Trinidad any such analysis must take into considera-
tion the experiences of both the Indians and the
Africans, even within the context of an historical
appraisal of one group in particular. There is,
unfortunately, a dearth of such analysis in the
articles under discussion.
The genesis of the cleavage between the East-
Indians and the Africans is to be found in the very
circumstances of the entry of the former into
Trinidad. Both Brereton, in her article, "The Experi-
ence of Indentureship, 1845-1917", and Singh in his
"East Indians and the larger society", have quite
rightly emphasised these factors. As Brereton points
out, the East Indians came from an ancient and
complex society into one where, "a dominant Europ-
ean culture coexisted with.a submerged and despised
African sub-culture." It was clearly a situation that
would generate suspicion at best, antagonism at the
worst. But the reason: for their introduction was
such that any thoughts of ameliorating the situation
never entered the Colonial .Government's mind.
Indian immigration served only one -purpose, the

provision of a cheap and easily controllable source of
labour for the plantations. As Singh points out,
"Relations with the rest of society outside the
plantation were not a part of the original
conception. behind Indian immigration. In fact
the Indentureship system operated within a
framework that reduced to a minimum the
possibilities of social contact with other groups
outside the plantations".
Clearly this situation served to perpetuate the
original, and mutual, ignorance between the two
groups. But of equal significance is the fact that this
physical, legal and social isolation from the rest of
society proved to be the most potent factor in the
high degree of persistence in the Indian's cultural
traditions. Jha in his article "The Indian Heritage in
Trindad", writes,
"Professional or occupational segregation and an
attitude of derision towards them (for the
yardstick of culture in the West Indies was
European) naturally created in the Indians a
sense of exclusiveness".
He also asserts, significantly, that rice and sugar-cane
cultivation has been the major factor in the persistence
of Indian culture and in the maintenance of Indian
social structure in Trinidad since these had been the
main crops in U.P. and Bihar.

h is important to recognize the success that the
Indians had in retaining their cultural and social
traditions. The Indians, because of their physical and
social isolation from the rest of the society from the
time of their entry, and because of the transference
of their occupational roles, had been able to recon-
struct India, or at any rate those provinces from
which they had come, in Trinidad.- And they ob-
viously took pride in their way of life. In the matter
of education,for example, Brereton writes,
"It was not that Indian children were excluded
from the schools, but that their parents were
reluctant to send them to schools run by
teachers of a different race and religion, and
feared that their children might be converted to
Singh also writes that,
"Hindus, in particular, were made to feel a
special pride in the antiquity of their religious
and philosophical literature and they often
boasted that it predated that of the Europeans.
Moreover in terms of sheer theology both the-
Hindus and the Muslims felt that their explana-
nations of the Universe and its meaning were
better than those of the Christian or just as
The vigorous cefence of, indeed assertion of, their
religious heritage clearly did not take place in
isolation from the assertion of the rest of their cul-
tural heritage. Religion, particularly that of the Indians,
is too inextricably woven into the total cultur.. So
that as Jha points out, in matters of music, dance,
drama, family life, social organization, culinary habits,
dress and speech, there must have been an equal
pride taken by the Indians.
The evidence therefore exists for the view that
there existed, side by side, two distant and distinct
cultures and societies. The distance between the two
was not only one of philosophies but also of modes
of existence and of physical space. The Indian civili-




edited by

John La Guerre

zation with its economic base in rice and sugar culti-
vation, was predominantly rural. As Singh points
out, by the end of the 19th century, the areas
dominated by sugar plantations were also the areas
with the largest concentration of Indians. The Afri-
cans on the other hand were based predominantly in
the urban areas and were occupied in a variety of
industrial and secondary occupations. The figures
quoted by Singh for the census of 1891 show that
over two-thirds of the non-Indian population were
engaged in non-agricultural pursuits.

Both these societies then had clearly defined,
de facto areas of physical location and clearly de-
fined economic bases. This is not to say that there
was no contact, it is however to assert that there
existed cultural hinterlands, so to speak, within which
neither group could trespass. This is the only way in
which, in spite of quite evident mutual contempt
and hostility, these two groups could have existed
side by side without major conflict. Brereton states,
"Africans and Indians did not come into
conflict in this period, for neither felt that
their existence was threatened by the other or
that the other way of living was dangerous or
oppressive to their own".
Such a view carries with it considerable impli-
cations in terms of any exploration of the pattern of
Afro-Indian relations. In the first place one can posit
that if the geo-economic independence of either one
of these societies broke down the likely result would
be the eventual disintegration of its cultural edifices
as its members seek to enter the other society. But
clearly the ultimate outcome can only be assessed in
terms of an evaluation of the structure of that other
In terms of the scope of their articles both Jha
and Brereton can be excused for not attempting such
an analysis, the other authors however cannot be.
With the exception of La Guerre himself such at-
tempts as there are, are woefully inadequate.
Singh, for example, fails to tackle to any
significant degree the nature -of that larger society
with which he is supposedly concerned. It is clear that
he appreciates how fragile was the economic inde-
pendence of the Indians. As he points out, they had
entered into one of the poorest sectors of the econo-
my. The Sugar industry by the end of the 19th
Century was on the verge of bankruptcy if not
already so. Nor were the economic alternatives within
the limits of the ethnic community, numerous. The
growth of a food crop industry was restricted by the
unavailability of land. Singh indicates the various
methods by which the Planters and the Colonial
Government sought to limit the numbers of Indians
going into independent farming. Ancillary operations
such as small cafes, shops and stores were obviously
restricted in terms of the market.,
So that inevitably, escape from the economic
stranglehold of the plantation meant a departure,
both in physical and existential terms from the
geographical and economic isolation that had allowed
,he Indian civilization to flourish. Once this exodus
had started the disintegration of Indian civilization
was on its way. Singh writes,
"It was in these circumstances of appalling
working and living conditions that many Indians
sought to escape from the grip of the plantation.
Some, like their desperate predecessors dared
to venture into Port of Spain".


And again,
"But more and more, it was towards the long-
neglected field of educationthat the mass of
the Indians were beginning to turn".
Clearly in existential terms the venture into educa-
tion was also a venture into Port of Spain. For, in
the first place, whatever the denominational nature
of the education, as Singh observes,
"the curriculum was and had to be modelled
on the English educational pattern operative
in the society if they were to provide their
students with opportunities for entering into
better paid and more prestigious occupations".
The consequences are not difficult to imagine,
"Thus while an understanding of the English
language was spreading among Indians leading
to a greater appreciation of English culture and
Western traditions, there was a corresponding
erosion of the linguistic base of traditional
Indian culture leading to the increasing mean-
inglessness of that culture among the younger
Indians, a generation gap between parents and
children in the rural areas, intrafamilial con-
flicts over such emotionally vital problems as
romance, selection of mates and lifestyles".
In other words the civilization was breaking down.

The real tragedy of the Indians' situation was
not that their society was disintegrating, as tragic as
this was. More important is that even while their
society was breaking down they were finding that
there was little room for them in the other world.
They certainly encountered the animosity of the
Africans, but to explain their lack of real progress in
terms of that animosity is much too simplistic a view.
One cannot be exonerated from the obligation of
assessing the structure of the society into which the
Indians had been forced to enter. For unless the
Africans controlled the economic and political levers
in the society, their animosity by itself could not
prove to be an impenetrable barrier to Indian ac-
A more likely explanation is that when the
economy of the Indian society broke down, forcing
the Indians into the Africans sphere of activity, it
generated a growth in competition that exposed for
the world to see the emptiness of the Africans'
economic foundation.
Throughout the first half of the 20th Century
the economic and political levers in society were in
the hands of the metropolitan corporations and the
Colonial Government. Apart from the agricultural
sector and the oil mining sector, both of which were
controlled by foreign corporations, the only other
major area of economic activity was the import/
export sector dominated by the Port of Spain
mercantile classes whose members were totally drawn
from the white and off white creole section of the

Within this framework of economic activity,
the Africans apart from a few independent trades
men e.g. carpenters, shoemakers etc. and a small
professional class of doctors and lawyers were
confined to the same type of occupations which
Singh states they were drawn too at the end of the
19th Century. Shop and store clerks, labourers, do-
mestics and hucksters. The more educated ones were
still going into the "poorly paid teaching service",
and the "lower rungs of the civil service and
constabulary". In short, for this period,the bulk of the
African population eked out a precarious existence
at the edges of the economy. It was into this narrow
world that the Indian stepped.
It is in the context of mutual hostility, and of
fierce economic competition that the pattern of racial
politics emerged. Political organisation along racial
lines certainly existed long before the 1950s. The
emergence of the East Indian National Congress, and
the East Indian National Association around the turn
of the century is significant. Their emergence and
their ethnic exclusivity must be seen as a response to
the disintegration of their society as well as a pressure
group for the advancement of the struggle of the
Indians in an alien economy. This is the idea that
emerges from the joint memorandum submitted by
the Sanatan Dharma Board of Control, and the


Anjuman Sumat ul Jamaat Association, to the Moyne
Commission, part of which is quoted by Samaroo in
his article, "Politics and Afro-Indian relations".
These groups felt that,
"no racial prejudice exists in Trinidad between
the Masses of the East and West Indians who
live and labour in reasonable harmony Racial
jealousy only exists to some extent among the
educated professional, classes due to competi-
tion for a limited practice and a few Govern-
ment posts".
One must be careful to place the assertion that no
racial prejudice existed between the masses, in the
context of the year, 1938, the height of the labour-
based Afro-Indian solidarity movement. But the link
that was made between racial jealousy and economic
competition is of significance when it is remembered
that both the E.I.N.A. and the E.I.N.C. were domi-
nated by the Indian educated class.
Tie importance of the economic and political
realities to the pattern of Affo-Indian relations is
brought out in Samaroo's article. Samaroo traces the
solidarity movement that developed roughly between
the years 1928-1946. The depth of analysis in this
article too, leaves much to be desired. Nonetheless /
certain important factors emerge. First it is clear that
the movement towards solidarity was grounded in the
economic dispossession of both the African and
Indian working class. Equally as clear is the fact that
the movement failed not only to unite the races in any
permanent way but also to overthrow "the system of
exploitation that existed".


In searching for the reasons for this failure
Samaroo is much too cautious. He speaks of the
solidarity movement being swamped when the vested
interests struck back with all the forces at their
command. What were these forces?
In the first place we must recognize that in spite
of the socialist political formulae advocated by
Rienzi and others the movement never really moved
beyond the stage of agitational protest. It clearly
lacked the organizational capacity either to grow or
to sustain itself. This incapacity cannot be explained
simply in terms of the numbers in the struggle being
insufficient to influence the rest of the working-class
population. Nor only in terms of the disenfranchise-
ment of the working-class.
The movement failed because it was operating
within a framework of almost complete economic
and political impotence. Samaroo might have pro-
fitably described the whole structure of Crown Colony
Government and the existing economic framework. For
the structure of power was such that potential
organization could all too easily be aborted as did in
fact happen. Perhaps more important in terms of
Afro-Indian solidarity is the fact that within this
structure genuine alliances were restricted to labour
unions. This is in fact what happened, but given the
broad occupational orientations of the two races the
development of solid trade union organizations might
well have been counterproductive to the movement
towards racial solidarity. The unions became the
vanguard of political protest, and representative as
they were of occupations which traditionally were
racially divided, they served, unfortunately, to rein-
force racial allegiance and -the politics of race.
So that by the emergence of th PNM in 1956
race as a factor in politics had certainly been inten-
sified. Yet it is only of secondary v iinUrn.'. in

understanding the continued cleavage that exists
today. The political changes that came in the second
half of the century i.e. Adult suffrage, Cabinet
iGovernment and independence brought with them the
political control necessary for the task of economic
reorganization. Such reorganization however remains
essentially unaccomplished.
Demas, in his booklet, "The Political Economy
of the English speaking Caribbean" writes:
"The panacea sought for the problems of under-
development by the new political directorate
which emerged after self-government and inde-
pendence from 1960 onwards was industrializa-
tion along the lines of Puerto Rico on the basis
of attracting, through tax incentives and political
stability, foreign companies to establish manu-
facturing plants and hotels in the Caribbean ...
thus events conspired after 1950 to strenghten
the trend towards foreign domination of the
commanding heights of the economy".
In other words the levers of the economy are still
pulled from abroad, and the economic independence
of both the African and Indian populations still has to
be achieved. In this context the analysis presented by
Dookeran in his Article, "East Indians and the
economy of Trinidad and Tobago", is much too
narrow. Dookeran seeks to establish by the presentation
of statistical indices that the Indians occupy the
lowest level of economic well-being in the society.
And he does make a case.Where his presentation is
disappointing is in the fact that he concentrates to
an inordinate degree on a comparative analysis of
African and East Indian positions and has assidiously
avoided looking at the structure of the economy
in its entirety. As such he fails to explore the implica-
tions of Camejo's study. Camejo in his study (1970)
of the Business elite found that 53% of that elite was
white, 24% off-white, 10% mixed, 9% Indian and
4% African. Further than this 30% of the elite got
into their position through inheritance and of this
93% are white, off-white or mixed. The other seven
percent are Indian, none being African.
These figures point not only to the relatively
insignificant role played by both Indians and Africans
in the Business Sector but clearly indicate that within
this sector the Indians are perhaps advancing more
than the African. Dookeran would have done better
to have noted this.

For what it in fact demonstrates is the nature
of the mutual jealousies. The Indians look at the
social structure as it obtains and quite rightly per-
ceive themselves at the bottom of the ladder. The
African on the other hand perceives the progress
made by the Indian in as highly visible a sector as
business and concludes that the Indian is fast
outstripping him in economic growth. Both fail to
look at themselves in the context of the total picture.
And without such clarification of the total picture
Dookeran's analysis remains incomplete. And it is
precisely this myopic view of the problem which
keeps the door open for the politics of Race, religion
and personality and holds up the development of
multiracial political organizations.
Dookeran also fails to deal with one of the most
significant developments in the economy and the
society over the last fifteen years. This is the rise of a
relatively small but afflucln class. C.V. Gocking lis
e Continued on Page 8






The East Indian in Trinidad

Continued From Page 7
has described this group as an Oligarchy and asserts
that it is drawn from every race and class.
A proper understanding of this group exposes
important details of the social history over the last
five years as well as furnishes us with critical points
of judgment in evaluating the possible means of
achieving the social and economic well-being of the
.. The Oligarchy is without doubt a product of
the present system of economic organization. Where
the commanding heights of the economy are m the
hands of foreign owners resulting in a pattern of
activity geared simply towards generating profits for
foreign shareholders,, the result is an outward looking
economy within Which diversification becomes ex-
tremely difficult. In the absence of a self-sustaining
and diversified economy not only are employment
opportunities limited but growth is confined to the
.foreign sector. Under these circumstances the State is
forced into the position of a large scale employer and
the Public Service correspondingly swells. This results
in economic well-being being limited to those attached
directly or indirectly to the foreign sector and to the
Public Service.


It is, however, important to recognise that
there are very real limits to the numbers that can
be absorbed into these sectors of the economy. In-
equality is therefore inherent in the present economic
system. It is against this background that any sugges-
tions for the improvement of the socio-economic
-plight of the Indians as a whole must be made, unless
one is prepared to be content with the proportional
representation of the Indians in oligarchic affluence.
It is, moreover, either shortsighted or dishonest
to imply, as Singh does, that the inequalities of the
system visit themselves on the Indians alone. He
claims that "militant Negro demands are taken care
of", and "the rural Negro population is kept quiet".
Such a view ignores the legions of urban uhemoloyed
'and writes a history which' is uninformed by 1970.
La Guerre, fortunately, recognizes the significance
of the events of 1970 to thetask of socio-economic
,change in general and to the progress of Afro-Indian
relations in particular. For inhis article, "The East
'Indian Middle Class today", he devotes almost two
pages to a consideration of the Black Power -Move-
ment. He writes:
The Black Power movement turned its back on
the easy formulae of the past and emphasised -
perhaps overemphasised the ramifications
.introduced by the racial factor into social and
political life For the first time racial and
cultural differences were recognized and an
attempt made to come to grips with the ques-
tion of identity. Out of the upheaval the East
Indians were asked to join with the negroes on
the basis of' "blackness" and a common ex-
perience in the West Indies".

La Guerre is right, of course, when he points out that
the attempt at integration failed because the Black
Power movement was the prisoner of imported
ideologies and strategies. But there is more to it than
this. Let us first of all recognize how astounding is
the fact that the overtures were made at all. The
traditional differences of the two groups, exacerbated
into mutual hostility by the entry of the Indians into
the urban economy'and by the politics of race, had as
recently as 1961 almost flared into open violence.
The myths that both groups had of each otherwere
still strong. As Samaroo says elsewhere, many Africans
laid the blame for their powerlessness on the fact
that the Indians were taking over the country. The
views that the Indians held of Africans were no less

a S

So that the failure of the Indians to respond to
the fumbling approaches of the Africans in 1970
cannot really be considered as unexpected. It is the
overtures themselves that were surprising .and can be
understood only when we assess the Black Power
movement as a whole.
While the racial composition of the Black
Power movement was almost exclusively African its
social composition was more varied. It includedin its
ranks not only the urban unemployed and under-
employed, but students and intellectuals as well,
many of them the sons of the so-called bourgeosie. So
that while the movement was an expression of econo-
mic grievances it was clearly something more. To-

gether with its racial and social composition the key
to the movement is to be found in the fact that its
adherents were, with few exceptions, young. The
movement was above all a revolt by the young against
the irrationalities so very evident in the society of
their elders. A revolt in short against the whole
economic, political, and social (and in this context
racial) traditions of Afro-Saxon culture and a demand
for its complete transformation. What the February
Revolution did was to demonstrate, in no uncertain
terms, not only the economic dispossession of the
young African but his psychic and cultural alienation
as well.
The meaning, of all this for the Indian goes
beyond their failure to respond. The Afro-Saxan
mimicry to which the Indians once had to surrender
or be damned as "recalcitrant" had now been rejected
by the younger Africans themselves. Inevitably, then,
the Indians now had to turn and question their own
progress into this culture. La Guerre understands
this very well:
"The movements towards the integration of
the East Indian might have failed but it set in
motion currents and reactions that are all too
visible today Negritude in short was the
spark that re-ignited East Indian racial con-
Both Dookeran and La Guerre are of the opi-
nion that this cultural resurgence is "void of the
spiritual and philosophical foundations of its oriental
heritage". This may well be true. Nonetheless to
dismiss this resurgence out-of-hand is to miss the
insight that it provides into the psychic void in which
the Indians now find themselves.
The Indians on the one hand have been de-
prived of the socio-economic, foundations of their
cultural heritage, yet the alternative within the pre-
sent society is the schizophrenic existence which La
Guerre observes among the Indian well-to-do. But
the whole period must be recognised as one of flux.
We are today in the midst of a sustained attack on the
whole structure of society and one has only to look
at the range of proposals being advocated to muder-
stand that consensus has not been reached.
Yesterday the Black Power movement began in
exclusivity and ended by reaching out to embrace the
Indian population. Today the sugar workers are locked
in a struggle against the whole plantation system.
What it all means is difficult to say. Yet clearly, the
process of change is underway, and with it the possi-
bility for the formulation of a socio-economic system
within which all the diverse elements could play a
meaningful role without first having to submerge
themselves in an assimilationist fairyland.
In any such formulation the role of scholarship
is clearly that of thedissemination of information and
analysis free of the shibboleths of the past. Subjec-
tiveinfluencesare important only if placed within the
context of objective realities. In the end one cannot
say that as a whole the book has succeeded in this
task. In too many of the articles does historical
objectivity degenerate into a mere recitation of
parochial complaint. Until we emancipate ourselves
from this tendency the journey from Calcutta to
Caroni .shall remain an unfinished one.


From Page 4
built on lies, which sought to reinforce a barbaric
conception of self and reinforces his rootlessness.
Convinced of his lowliness, tlie colonial was prunled
for gratitude to the western world Ihat rescued himl
and brought him to progress. Acts should have re-
jected with scorn, he sang paeans of obesiance to, in
tough school corridors and sunny parades. It is this
system of misrepresentation around which our his-
toric vision was built that Roach skilfully and
brutally condemns in Caribbean Coronation Verse.
In the beginning.
John Iawkins pounced upon a continent
Kidnapped the native in paradise
And a middle passage for the spanish indies
For England Drake was a hero, and in spite of the
nature of his relationship with our tortuous past,
Drake became also a colonial hero.
The famous pioneer of the three way passage
The great slave trading Corsair gentleman
The Queen acclaimed him with the accolade
In spite of this the colonial was taught to ignore tlhe
paradox that it was the same people who had pre-
viously enslaved him who were now to be seen as
liberators. But the poet refuses to accept this and
refuses to give thanks.
The lion stalked the sun
And roared rough thunder upon history
That the crown was edited
Through kinder years by freedom minded heirs
Of men who set it rough upon self and slave
Bim, 1953
Having rejected these historic lies, the poet recog-
nises that the task is to shift the historical perspective
and for this, the West Indian has to reacquaint himself
with the past. Hawkins and his ilk had brought more
than free labour to the West Indies. For the West
Indian black it meant a break with roots, deprivation,
death of cultural integrity and the growth of a
schizoid West Indian consciousness. This tortuous
process is outlined in the poem I am the Archipelago,
subtitled A People without Traditions. It began with
out of the slave plantations where I grubbed
Yam and cane, where heat and hate sprawled
Among the cane my sister sired without
Love or law. In that grossed was bred
-..-Th- third-estate of colour. And now
my language history and my names are now
Dead and buried with my tribal soul. And now
I drown in the groundswell of poverty
No love will qutell...
The poemn is clear about the totality of this
shattering experience on whatever traditions the
African came with. The consequences have been
cultural schizophrenia, self-hatred and a brutal exist-
ence. All the former rules had broken down. Alien
reverences took their places, and they were the symp
toms of the general disorder. One such is the adula-
tion of whiteness, which expresses itself in such
tendencies as the de-blackening of self through the
straightening of the natural hair or the haste to be
part of "whiteness". Roach captures one of these
most frequent expressions of self hatred especially
evident among the men, in the pattern of seeking
white mates as they move up the social ladder, while
the black women remain abandoned or "illegal", sur-
reptitious playmates. The problem is not only of the
West Indies, but more so among the American Blacks
as Calvin C. Hernton points out in his book, Sex and
Racism in America. This is how the poet sees the
I herd in my divided skin
Under a monomanic sullen sun
Disnomie deep in the artery and marrow
I burn the tropic texture from my hair...
Marry the mongrel woman or the white
Let my black spinster sisters tend the church,
Earn meager wages, mate illegally
Breed secret bastards, muder them in womb
Their fate is written in unwritten law
The vogue of colour hardened into custom
In the tradition of the slave of the slaveplantation
Run Softly Demorara, 1960
The poet is bitter and angry, but he is not pessimistic.
Though this is a reality, he moves on to argue that
there is a possibility for change. He is aware that our
history has nqt been one of simple acquiesence and

total violation. In his quest to rewrite our history in
the journey back into the past, he elicits heroes who
resisted this imposition. Men who pitted and exhaust-
ed their strength to crush this order. These are The
But men grow tall through fighting, our anger and
our hope attacked that wall which fear and fools



Eric Roach

Rebuild where it is worn and cracked and
Some Samsons of our strength poised pride and
And challenged still and won ...
It is a poem of praise for these early cadres, and
a recognition that they have left us an inheritance of
'struggle'. Speaking of Peter Jackson, Sam Longford,
etc., he asserts:
I claim their bitter strength and their
affranchised spirit
Reopening stubbornly the dead well
Of History of our wretched race that fell
Through Utter hell to man's last degradation
Deep down in the deep seam the water's clear
And clean from the Black Rock of Africa
There are bards there, and craftsmen, heroes,
And dark ecstatic dancers throng the kraals.
Bim, 1953.
This is a distinctly defiant affirmation of the
continued presence of Africa here. Beneath the sur-
face Europeanisation, there is an African conscious-
ness.The task is to liberate it.
Roach as representative of the tribe (of Africa
as a whole) accepts the Fighters bequest of resist-
ance and courage. "I" becomes the group "I", and
the poet stands as Shaman or spokesman for the
group. And ultimately the resistance would be fed
strength in the knowledge that Africa too has a
civilization of glory, strength and creativity. The
poet has now moved beyond the point of simply
devising the ills to actually positing a solution.
Lamming, analysing the different responses to
Africa in the West Indian literature as either em-
bairassment, ambivalence or a sense of possibility,
places Roach inthe last camp.9 And he is absolutely
correct. There is hope in Roach.

The sea oi island c scioi.sn'ss is a pcrvasiv
theme in West Indian literature. Arisinlg, Iot only
because of its physical proximity. the sea has as-
sumed a large historic hinclion. in Lady by the Sea,
loach amiiionishes:
Your ocean knows the folk tale of our grief
we groaned in her green jaws
Yet the sea was not only an instrument of our degra-
dation, it symbolised the physical and psychological
separation from ancestral roots:
We had not dreamed such waters
Who had known only rivers, torrents
And the land mammoth, mountainous
Or rolling out beyond the heart's horizons
The sense of the sea finds a necessary corollary in an
island consciousness. Where for Naipaul this island
consciousness awakens fears of engulfment, mimicry,
and death of creativity, for Roach it is the opposite
But the earth stood up for us
We crawled out upon islands
And leached like tribolite to rock
And the island became ours because we made them so
On these parishes our hearts hold now
With love green as the landscape
Our bill to right of ownership is because of this
relationship of love between the New World men and
the islands that became their home. They came not as
conquerors or exploiters, but by force, and the alien
rocks was made their homes.
No other choice existed. It is because of this
love and sense of belonging that these islands can be
the sources of a new civilization
Each rock, each pastoral green scene
Ate yesterday's passover
Sees history writing down our stress and anger
Nursing tomorrow's feotus in her womb
Bim, 1954
Whereas for some this creation assumes a universality,
for Roach,who deals primarily with the black man, a
precondition of this creation is the finding of roots. In
his The World on Islands, it becomes necessary "to
repaint the tragic mask", symbol of Africa, and this
being done:
The shattered man sewn in the rock
-Arises smiling like the surf...
I should mention here also, that like the stone, the
symbol of the sea is coloured by the poet's mood. For
At Grafton Bar, the sea is a treacherousforce. Speak-
ing of the destitution of the peasants, Roach says of
the sea
The ceaseless, ruthless, sullen sea,
Snarls at their rock of destiny
Bim 1962
The identification with Africa and the correla-
tion of the African "myth" with the West Indian
creation reaches its apogee in the Poem of 1970,
The Bronze God Running. The poem celebrates the
victory of an African runner (Keino one assumes) on
the San Fernando fields. The victory of the runner is
seen as a symbol of our potential victory and as an
image of our survival in the passage, from Africa to the
present. He begins in Africa.
Speed was survival there in the green heat
Where the lithe hero dashed
From the leopards leap
The threat implicit inthe leopard was the threat of
the New World black faced with the struggle for
survival. But as the hero was successful, so were these
new world men.
The slave ships could not break our bones
Nor strip our tendons, nor the long slaving
years narrow our arteries, nor disease
our lungs, nor shrivel up our hearts
But left love thundering to this running man.
S.A.G. 1970
Roach is sure now that Africa.is not lost, for the run-
ner has engendered excitement, love and a feeling of
brotherhood in the poet. In an outburst of love the
poet exults:
not fame's wreath crowns him
but Ogun's aura now...
Ogun the African creator God is now a reality. From
that the message is clear.
To the end Roach remains a poet of blackness,
oppression, etc: The same aspects he so summarily
dismissed in his younger colleagues. Their pain is his
pain for nothing qualitative had changed. 1 can only
explain his twisted view by his fear of hysteria and
his ideas on what poetic forms and standards should
be. This I shall deal with later. For the time it is
sufficient to say that the general tenor of the article.
A type not found in all generations. (Trinidad
Guardian, July 14. 1971, indicated that he con-
sidered their preoccupation with race fanaticism.
Continued next week






THE elections of Officers to
theTapia National Executive
for the 1974-75 term will take
place on Sunday May 5, on
the occasion of the Annual
General Assembly, Part 2.
In addition to the elec-
tion, the Assembly will con-.
sider end of term reports
from Executive Officers and
Committee Chairmen.
Among the reports to be
given are those by the Trea-
surer, Baldwin Mootoo, on the
state of the organizations
finances, and by Editor Len-
nox Grant, on the prospects
for the Paper.
Secretary Lloyd Best will
also be.presenting the annual
report on:the National Poli-
tical situation.
The Assembly on this oc-
casion will be open only to
Tapia Members. Nomination
forms have already been sent
South to all members.

Chairman Syl Lowhar
Vice Chairman Volney
Secretary Lloyd Best
Asst. Secretary Lloyd
Treasurer Baldwin Mootoo
Education Secretary Denis
Community Secretary Ivan

THE last meeting of the
Council of Representa-
tives for the current term
of office will be held on
Sunday 28th April at the
Tapia House, Tunapuna.
The Council will dis-
cuss final plans for the

The Assembly begins at
10.20. The lunch break will
be taken at 1.00. As usual
lunch will be on sale.
The Executive Officersi
involved are:
1st Vice Chairman
2nd Vice-Chairman
Assistant Secretary
Community Secretary
Education Secretary
Five Unassigned Members
The Executive also in-
cludes seven other members,
These are:
Administrative Secretary
Campaign Manager
Director of Tapia
Public Relations Officer
Secretary to the Executive
Editor of Tapia
Warden of the Tapia House

Secretary to the Executive -
Carol Best
Editor Lennox Grant
Director of Tapia Enterprises
Arthur Atwell
Public Relations Officer -
Dennis Pantin
Unassigned -
Hamlet Joseph
Keith Smith
Alston Grant
Mickey Matthews

Annual General Assembly
Part 2.
The Council will also
consider reports from the
Executive on the Politic-
al situation at the present
The meeting begins
at 10.30.





Sunday May-5,1974



The Tapia House

82-84 St Vincent St


Lunchbreak 1pm

All Tapia people who need or can assist with.
transportation to and from the Assembly are
asked to advise the Administrative Secretary,
Allan Harris, not later than Wednesday, May
Ist.Telephone 662-5126.

Council Meeting


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m* *l

From Page 5

dat boy on no horse cart. So
Rama still in dat dead house.
Rat still eatin him" (p. 112).
For-Panday, "Rama was living in the
water. He drowned in the riceland
because he had a long cut in his belly.
Rama was buried in the water. The
water snakes are searching for him ..."
(p. 112).
Ma throughout the novel takes her
licks from Pa and God, staying with
Pa for the sake of the children. After
Rama's death she goes mad. Only her
mother Nanny with the aid of the
drum is able to find her, when she
wanders off in the forest. In fact
Nanny and Nanna have a confidence
in the sky god that nothing can shake,
They follow the old values brought
over from India, and an are thus always
in control of both themselves and
their environment regardless of the
hostility of things. Thus, we can have,
This time she (Nanny)
beated for the tadpoles, the
scorpions and the.night birds; she
beated not only for the living
things of Tola; she beated a tune
for all that lives and moves upon

the face of the earth. She beated
and she knew that she great sky
god was watching with his big
big eyes. (p; 142).
It is because the Gods have fallen or
maybe ignored that the environenmt is
haunted by spirits and jumbies, or
rather, the .characters are haunted by
the fear of spirits and jumbies.
One of the-starkest of passages in
the novel is the description of Rama
covered in a ricebox. Rama is sick
with fever and is placed in a covered
ricebox very much as if dead and
placed in his coffin. He is later stung
by a scorpion and dies in the district
hospital. It is as if his burial is re-
hearsed. The placing of Rama in the
covered ricebox gives some more sup-
port of the tentative theory of-re-
burial mooted by some commentators
on West-Indian literature.
The only works,- written in the
English-speaking West Indies which
come closest to this novel in so far as
we are talking about man versus nature
is Roger Mais's The Hills Were Joyful
Together and Derek Walcott's The
Sea At Dauphin. To Afa, "the sea it
have compassion in the end"; to those
in No Pain, the rain does not care,

nor does the wind or the land.
The rain didn't care about Tola.
Rain was pounding the earth. Ma
and Balraj saw the drops; they
looked like fat worms invading
the earth from above. God was
trying to tie the earth and the
sky with the rain drops. The
whole of Tola was dark and dis-
mal. (p. 27).
Furthermore, the wind is seen as
blowing "with such force and temper!
blowing with the intention of crippling
even the trees, blowing just to cause
trouble and hate". (p. 43).
One area of weakness in No Pain
is that Ladoo overdoes his attempts to
capture sound. The novel is top-heavy
with sounds such as 'tuts', 'splunk',
'slap' and 'toots'. I understand his
need to capture sound in that rain-
drenched setting, but it ends in near-
parody. Moreover it too often inter-
rupts the flow of the descriptions. For
A large cockroach with long
wings flew flut over the light. It
settled taps on the earthern wall.
It was wet, it came from the rain
to shelter near the light. Nanny

took the brown hand-drum and
crushed it crachak! (p. 42).
If Ladoo had onl'i.'d the 'flut' and
the 'taps'. that 'crachak' would have
been more dramatic. As it is, it is just
another noise.
Since Ladoo is now dead, it is
difficult for anyone to make claims for
him since he cannot now fulfil them.
All that can be said is that Ladoo has
pointed another dimension that is open
to the young West Indian writer. If the
novel reads as if it is unfinished, it is
because it is the first in a projected.
series which Ladoo's untimely death
has brought to a very premature end.
The novel really does not attempt
to answer some of the questions
raised; maybe the later novels would
have cleared up some of the areas of
vagueness. One of the questions not
answered is what kind of belief must
one have to survive in a hostile en-
vironment in which standards are non-
existant, but in which one must create
new standards so that the next genera-
tion can survive?

The strength of No Pain is its
directness. It is a novel stripped to
The bone of pain. Ladoo 'by looking
back steadily at Tola Trade has made
it the earth's centre, and that is a suc-
cess that few first novels can boast.

S.O.S.Plea for action in Biche


a) IHAVE to con-
gratulate the Resident
Nurse at the Public Health
Centre for being very ac-
curate in her duties.
b) What burning
shame it is to be having a
lavatory at Rio Claro
with no water, no lights,
no toilet paper! At least,
there is no sanitation on
this particular location.
c) The Bus Service in
Rio Claro is nearly always
unpunctual at all times, apart
from being unsanitary with
no destination Board and im-
proper seats in most of them.
d) The Cunapo Stithern
Main Road has numberless
amount of potholes at certain
points and a bad, broken
down hand-rail on the Canque
River Bridge which is danger-
ous to the public.
e) There is an old man at
Biche-Ortoire Road who takes
a lodging in an old House and
has applied for old-age pen-
sion about three years ago
with no good prospects of
f) There is another old
fellow at. said Biche-Ortoire
Road who receives $5 per
month with a book marked
old-age pension. This is effec-
tive since the year 1966.
g) There is a retarded
East Indian girl next to the
Snackette at Biche who has
been refused public assistance.
h) This is a case of an

Indian lady, paralysed about
nine years 'with one of her
legs and has been refused
public assistance.
i) And last of all, there
are two cases North of Biche-
Ortoire Junction husband
and wife who applied for
old-age pension several years
ago but have failed.
Who is responsible for
these drawbacks? Some action
is needed please.
Kindly oblige space in
your weekly paper to publish
the attached news of public
Thanking you in advance
for same,
Nourang Lal

Best to address

seminar On Africa

TAPIA Secretary, Lloyd
Best, is to address the
Fifth Florida Regional
Seminar on Africa.
The Seminar has been
organised by the Centre for
African Studies at the Univer-
sity of Florida, Gainesville,
Florida and will take place
over the weekend May 10-12.
Other guest speakers are
Hollis Lynch and Philip Curtin.
Lloyd Best will deliver
the luncheon address on Satur-
day May 11 on the subject
of Plantation Economy.


1irs. Andrea Talbutt,
Research Institute for
Study of Man,
162, East 78th Street,
NEL' YORK, i#.Y. 10021
Ph. Lehigh 5 448,

NEW Y -4 N- Y"


ISWE, a group of actors and
writers presents its first public
performance TANTI GO
SEE WE from Friday April
26 to Sunday April 28 at
Kairi House,10 Pelham Street,
Belmont. The'show consists

of dramatisations of poertry
and prose selected from major
West Indian writers, and be-
gins at 8.30 p.m. each night.
Tickets are on sale at two
dollars each.

Funds for needy children

FUNDS are being raised
in a drive to help needy
In a Quarter Week
from May 5 to 15, The
Children's Aid Society is
going all out to collect
25 cents pieces..
Collections will be utilised
towards the development of
lands at Salybia, Cunaripo and
Mundo Nuevo for the purpose
of establishing, temporary

shelters, homes and farm
schools for needy children.
Mrs Lorna Francis, Chair-
man of the Society, has sent
out a letter pointing out that
"the need is still pressing and
we have so much to do".
Founded in 1963, the
Society operates from 43,
St Vincent Street, Port of
Spain. Tapia readers and Tapia
supporters are encouraged to
help with quarter contribu7

The following Constitution Comrmission Documents have been
published for public comment:
The Report of the Constitution Commissign
The Draft Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago,
The Minority Report. -
2. Copies of the above-mentioned Documents may be obtained at
the Government Printing Office, 2 Victoria Avenue, Port of Spain, at all
District Revenue Offices throughout Trinidad and at the Ministry for
Tobago Affairs in Tobago at a price of 10c per copy or at a price of 25c
for a complete set of all three documents.
3. Copies of the Documents may also be obtained at all Trinidad
and Tobago Overseas Missions.
4. Public comment on the Draft Constitution of Trinidad and Toba-
go and on the recommendations contained in the Report of the Constitu-
tion Commission and in the Minority Report is hereby invited.
5. Any comments or objections with respect to the above-
mentioned Documents made by or on behalf of any person must be in
.writing and state:-
(a) the specific grounds of objections; and
(b) the omissions, additions or modifications.
asked for,
and must be addressed to Mr. Wilfred McKell, Director of Personnel
Administration, Chaguaramas Convention Centre, Chaguaramas, Post
Office Private Bag No. 112, in an envelope clearly marked "Comments on
the Draft Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago".
6. All such comments or objections must reach Mr. Wilfred McKell
on or before May 15, 1974.
W. McKell

Indefinite detention as

w*I m

6Y Thursday last week, two
17-year-olds and a 25-year-
old man had been sentenced
to indefinite detention under
new legislation passed by the
Jamaican Govt. Ten other
persons were awaiting trial
and may have been sentenced
by now.
The men were sentenced
under the new Gun Court
Act passed in the Jamaican
Parliament on Thursday
March 28.
The Court has been given
islandwide jurisdiction for the
trial and punishment of of-
fences involving unlawful
possession of firearms. This
was one of four pieces of
legislation rushed through the
Jamaican .Parliament within
a 13 day period.
This followed a rash of
fatal shooting involving seVeral
prominent persons including
businessmen andclawyers.
Ministers of Religion have
been handing over hundreds

TaM p


on sale


the House

PilJ~ AM[4CU

of guns and thousands of
rounds of ammunition left in
their Churches.
This is not the first at-
tempt by the Manley Govt.
to cut down on the number
of guns in the island. Under
2 amnesties grantedsincethe
new Govt. took office in
1972, 934 guns have been
turned in.
Mr. Eli Matalon, Minister
of the. newly-created Ministry
of National Security, has also
called on registered or licensed
gun owners to hand-over
excess guns. There should

only be one gun per house-
hold, he said in an interview
with the Daily Gleaner.
Mr. Matalon revealed that
about 50 per cent of licensed
firearms consisted of shot
guns, rifles, sporting rifles,
sporting pistols and .22 target
rifles. The owners would be
required to hand them over
to the authorities for safe-
There are 24,663 licensed
guns in Jamaica according to
figures quoted in the Daily








/S Stephens