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Front Cover llustration
"..fisherman casing his net in the sea...
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QUARTERLY OF THE INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA
JUNE '68 VOL. 2 NO. 2
Editor's Note .............. Alex Gradussov 2
HISTORY and the Institute ............. 3
Martin Luther King and the American Dream . Peter Abrahams 3
Country Life (Painting) . .. . .. .Julie Warren 6
The Story of Mico College .... .. . . A.J. Newman 7
ExcavatingPort Royal (Part 1) . . .. .Robert F. Marx 12
A Conflict of Heroes . . . .... Glory Robertson 19
SCIENCE for the Layman . ... ........ 24
Two Tin Lids and A Yard of String ...... Keith Warren 24
ART LITERATURE MUSIC ....... 30
A Visit to the Inafca Museum
(A Recorded Conversation) . R.N. Murray and Dr. Aston Taylor 30
African Diary ....... . . . John Figueroa 41
Mr. Salkey's Truth and Illusion . . . . C.R. Gray 46
Four Illustrators . . . . . .. F.J. duQuesnay 55
Antonio and Morales . .... .. . . . Vic Reid 61
Green Valley (Painting) .. . . ... Ralph Campbell 65
White Witch (Painting). . .... . . ... Colin Garland 65
Examination Centre . . . . ... .. Mervyn Morris 66
Five 'Tick (Folk Song) ....... .collected Olive Lewin 67
Let Folk Song Live . .. . . . Pamela O'Gorman 69
Bryce Church . ... . . . . . Errol Harvey 72
NEXT ISSUE will include:
1. Sergio dello Strologo 'Craft in Jamaica'
2. Rex Nettleford 'Dance'
3. Harry Milner 'Films'
4. Tom Goreau 'Corals'
i I -,--,1.
Once again the editor has to thank many people for their help in making
this issue come alive. The Institute photographer, Mr. Derek Jones, and Mrs.
Audrey Wiles, our illustrator, with their usual efficiency continue to provide
us with the required copies of material from the West India Reference Library;
one 'shoots' the pictures, the other draws maps and other necessary adjuncts.
This time the editor also has to thank the Chief Librarian, Mrs. Rae Wright,
and her staff for proof reading and helping in general although help had
always been given in general. My faithful secretary, Mrs. Vi Wilmot, deserves
There is, however, an apology due: the last issue had two wrong captions.
The correct titles and the artist's name appear on the bottom of this page. I
hope that the editor will be forgiven.
Finally the editor wants to ask all friends of 'Jamaica Journal' to dip into
their pockets and take out at least one year's subscription to the journal a
form is attached to this issue. Perhaps a gift subscription as well?
by Alvin Marriott
Right Sir Alexander Bustamante
by Alvin Marriott
Martin Luther King
The American Dream
by Peter Abrahams
Illustration by Joseph Thomas
Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15,
1929 in Atlanta, Georgia,in what was known as the
Deep South of the United States. His father was the
pastor of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church; and his
mother was the daughter of another Baptist pastor
who had been one of the first leaders of the National
Association for the Advancement of Coloured People
in Georgia. The King family was closely knit, middle-
class in standards and possessions and warmly protec-
tive of all its members. It also had behind it a tradition
of two generations of active struggle in the civil rights
cause. So, unlike millions of other Southern Negro
youngsters, Martin Luther King grew up in a secure
family background well-fed, properly dressed and
sheltered and largely protected from the more violent
racial savageries of the day that were the common lot
for Negro youngsters from poor and broken homes
who had to go out very early in life to seek a living
and make the painful encounter with the prejudices
of white Southerners.
But no Negro youth, no matter how sheltered,
could be completely insulated from the reality of being
black in the Deep South and as a boy Martin Luther
King had his fair share of 'Jim Crow' experiences.
Once, in 1964, he looked back to those days and
recalled how curtains were used in dining cars of
trains to make sure that white passengers were protect-
from integrated eating.
"I was very young when I had my first experience
in sitting behind the curtain," King recalled. "I felt
just as if a curtain had come down across my whole
life. The insult of it I will never forget."
He also remembered another time when as a
schoolboy he and his teacher were travelling on a bus
from Macon to Atlanta. It was custom then had
been custom from way back, and remained custom
until one day in December 1955 for Negroes to sit
in the back of Southern buses and to give up their
seats to white passengers whenever the driver ordered
them to do so. Early in the journey between Macon
and Atlanta the bus driver ordered King and his
teacher to give up their seats to white passengers.
"When we didn't move right away, the driver
started cursing us out and calling us black sons of
bitches. I decided not to move at all, but my teacher
pointed out that we must obey the law. So we got up
and stood in the aisle the whole 90 miles to Atlanta.
It was a night I'll never forget. I don't think I have
ever been so deeply angry in my life."
In December 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama
(which is a neighbour state of Georgia), a tired Negro
woman, Mrs. Rosa Parks, refused to give up her seat
when the bus driver ordered her to. She was arrested
and fined $10. The Negroes of Montgomery responded
by staging a bus boycott that broke this custom for-
ever. The leader of the 1955 bus boycott was the man
who, as a boy in the company of his teacher, had
been ordered to give up his seat in a bus and stand for
the 90-mile journey between Macon and Atlanta.
It is reported that before the young Martin Luther
King was thirteen he twice tried to kill himself by
jumping out of a second floor window: the first
attempt was because his grandmother had been
knocked unconscious accidentally and he believed her
dead, and the second was on the day his grandmother
died. The threat of suicide, or the dramatic gesture at
it, is a relatively common phenomenon among the
sensitive young who are, or who feel they are,
oppressed or exploited or discriminated against; it is
easily triggered, usually by some disaster to someone
dear to them; but it usually ends as a threatening
gesture that is not played out. The fact that the
young Martin Luther King twice played out the suicide
gesture completely and still lived might well have been
the beginning of his personal conquest of the fear of
death and the almost fatalistic acceptance which
ran like a strong thin thread through his public life -
of the possibility of his death by assassination. How-
ever, there was nothing of either the mystic or the
future man of peace about the young man growing
up in the Deep South of the 1930s. He was a strap-
ping young fellow, short, stocky and strong and there
are accounts of how, when the need arose, he "went
to grass" with some fellow student. To "go to grass"
was to fight it out with fists on the school lawn. He
was also something of a gay blade who loved dancing
and was popular with the girls.
But the racial climate in which they lived and
breathed was the ever-present constant for all American
Negroes, and nowhere was this more sharply and pain-
fully true in the 1930s than in the States of Georgia,
Alabama and Mississippi the heartland of the Deep
South. In those days the great H.L. Mencken could
write: "The educated Negro of today is a failure, not
because he meets insuperable difficulties in life, but
because he is a Negro. His brain is not fitted for the
higher forms of mental effort; his ideals, no matter
how laboriously he is trained and sheltered, remain
those of a clown." In short, as far as the Southern
whites were concerned the Negro was subhuman.
And any time the Negro forgot this and forgot 'his
place' he was reminded of it violently with whip and
bomb and lynching. Southern State laws gave legal
sanction to the racialist mores of the times. Thus, to
resist racialism in the South was often to break the
laws of the State.
Thus Martin Luther King grew to young manhood
in a context in which he was regarded as less than a
man by the whites who controlled the economic and
political power of his world. It was a world in which
power was expressed in terms of violence and aggres-
sive force. A man's strength was measured by the
power of his fists or the speed with which he handled
a gun. The whole mythology of the frontier days and
the opening of the West was based on violence and
the idea of the fast gun. The Quakers and the other
peaceful folk were dismissed as fools and weaklings:
there was no room for the 'tenderfoot' in the violent
world of the fast gun and the iron fists. Not all of
this died with the passing of the frontier days. There
is a vast body of evidence to show that the impulse to
settle problems by resorting to violence is still a very
strong factor in the American national consciousness.
And if the violence has the sanction of legality, all the
better. And so we have the good fast gun with the
authority of the sheriffs badge outdrawing the bad
fast gun; or the Feds outmachine-gunning the mob-
sters; or the club-swinging police stopping student
riots or racial riots by cracking skulls or kneeling on a
woman's throat (as did the police of Birmingham,
Alabama under 'Bull' Connor whose name became
synonymous with police brutality for people the
world over). To say this is not to say that the Ameri-
cans are the only violent people in the world; but to
say that there are other nations and people with this
impulse to violence does not make the Americans any
Against this general background Martin Luther
King's embracing of non-violence as both a weapon
and a way of life is extraordinary because it is so
completely out of step with American history and
tradition. There is nothing in the American past, there
is nothing in the past of the American Negro that
provides any kind of historical precedent that can be
used to make King's non-violence part of something
from the past. Thus, King's non-violence can fairly
be described as a new injection, an original new con-
tribution to the evolving American Dream as enshrin-
ed in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of
Non-violence is of course almost as old as the
world in itself. It was an ancient philosophy when
Mahatma Gandhi used it to perform the twin tasks of
breaking the British Raj and purifying the soul of
India. But it was, and it remained an essentially
Eastern philosophy that never took hold in the West.
Even the Christian Church could not take it; and the
part of Christ's teaching that said love your enemy was
papered over and the Christian God became a warrior
God whose priests called down His blessings on
opposing armies whose men then went forth and
slaughtered each other. What is strikingly new is that
for the first time this ancient weapon of non-violence
has been successfully used in a wholly Western context:
even more striking, it was used in violent America:
and most striking of all it was used by an American
Negro from the Deep South whose personal evolution
as a man had reached the point where he would calm-
ly consider the possibility of being killed and say:
"The quality, not the longevity, of one's life is what is
important. If you are cut down in a movement that is
designed to save the soul of a nation, then no other
death could be more redemptive". And the language
about "saving the soul of a nation" is the language of
Eastern mysticism rather than the language of Western
Yet there is evidence that when King first encoun-
tered the ideas of non-violence by way of a lecture on
Gandhi while he was studying for the priesthood in
Pennsylvania his response was that of the Western
pragmatist. His people, the Negroes, were unarmed,
poorly organised, especially in the South, and had
been bludgeoned into submission of the mind by
generations of intimidation. Non-violence might be
just the thing to bring them together, shake off their
massive racial inferiority complex, and challenge white
America with the moral force of the Gandhi method.
King himself has said that "From my background I
gained my regulating Christian ideals. From Gandhi I
learned my operational technique." King studied
everything by and about Gandhi and brooded long on
how he should use his 'operational technique' when
the time came.
.In 1954 he completed his studies, married, and was
appointed Pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church
in Montgomery, Alabama. And it was there in Mont-
gomery, on the first of December 1955, that the
Negro seamstress, Mrs. Rosa Parks, refused to give up
her seat in the bus and Martin Luther King first tried
out his 'operational technique'. The result of the
Montgomery bus boycott was the first of a series of
great civil rights battles won by the Negroes of the
South, under Southern Negro leadership. Non-
violence, Martin Luther King's 'operational technique'
was the principal tool in these battles. The battle of
the bus boycott of Montgomery lasting more than a
year made Martin Luther King a household name
throughout the world.
Mrs. Rosa Parks, the woman who brought it all to
a head, later said "I don't really know why I wouldn't
move. There was no plot or plan at all. I was just
tired from shopping. My feet hurt."
Next came the battles of Birmingham, Alabama
(during which four little girls were bombed to death
at Sunday School), of Selma, and of a host of other
Southern cities. King was jailed, assaulted, stabbed,
bombed but nothing could deflect him. He was the
key figure in the forming of the Southern Christian
Leadership Conference, and when young students
began the freedom rides and the sit-ins he urged their
leaders to come together and form the Student Non-
violent Coordinating Committee. All this time King's
life was threatened almost daily. Whenever he went
speaking he faced the possibility of death. He learned
to live with it without being inhibited by it. He once
said: "I just don't worry about things like this. If I
did I just couldn't get anything done. One time I did
have a gun in Montgomery. I don't know why I got it
in the first place. I sat down with Coretta one night
and we talked about it. I pointed out that as a leader
of a non-violent movement I had no right to have a
gun, so I got rid of it."
What had begun as an'operational technique'was
now dictating the terms of the man's conduct and
behaviour; the 'operational techniques' and the
'regulating Christian ideals' had merged to become one
indistinguishable whole, with Gandhi's Satyagraha as
a way of life becoming, in King's translation, the
slogan 'Soul Force'. It had become logical, now, for
Martin Luther King to think and talk in terms of
saving the soul of a nation. He had evolved to a point
where he saw the struggle of the American Negro as
an American version of the age-old struggle between
good and evil. In order to save its own soul the nation
had to conquer the evils of racism, bigotry and poverty.
And before that could happen it had to embrace the
methods of the Soul Force, the methods of love and
With this message Martin Luther King went further
than any other American leader, of any colour, to
invest the American Dream with moral and spiritual
overtones, and with an 'other-worldliness' that was in
sharp contrast to the prevailing materialistic values.
Like a good Eastern wise man, and unlike a most suc-
cessful American preacher, he had very little of the
material things by which success is measured in
America. It was these things that made most Southern
Negroes follow him along the strange and unfamiliar
road he led them; it was these things that made count-
less numbers of white Americans leftists, Catholics,
Protestants, Jews, Boston Brahmins working house-
wives, students rally to his marches and campaigns,
risking and sometimes finding death, in order to
affirm that there were very many white Americans
who wanted the dream to be the way he saw it.
King was never as successful in the North as he
was in the South. In part this was because the Negroes
of the North had made much greater progress on the
civil rights front in previous years and had already
achieved many of the things the South was winning
under King's leadership. Northern forms of dis-
crimination were subtler, not overtly expressed, and
were often cripplingly economic. In part it was
because the harsh anonymous life of the great urban
slum ghettoes of the world have always been the
stoniest ground for moral teachers to cultivate. So
King's influence could restrain Birmingham's Negroes
from striking back under savage provocation; but he
could not prevent a Chicago crowd turning a march
into a bloody riot. King's non-violent revolution was
essentially the Negro revolution in the South, and
there the gains were impressive.
It might be fruitful, in examining Martin Luther
King's success, to consider another Negro leader in
another part of the world who also attempted to use
non-violence as a weapon against racial injustice.
South Africa's Albert Luthuli, like Martin Luther
King, won a Nobel Peace Prize for the high moral
quality of his leadership of the South African National
Congress in its fight against Apartheid. Like King,
Luthuli attempted to lead non-violent demonstrations
As with King's movement, the local South African
whites turned the demonstrations into kinds of Roman
holidays. Strapping youngsters put on football boots
and track shoes and sweat shirts and knuckle-dusters
and vied with each other to see who could make the
highest score at knocking down the African and Indian
volunteers who were Luthuli's non-violent soldiers
of peace and love. The big difference was that while
half the American nation and the whole American
government were galvanised into outraged action when
this happened in Birmingham, Alabama, in South
Africa the government as well as an overwhelming
majority of the whites approved and sent in soldiers
and police to finish off what the youngsters had
started. In the end Albert Luthuli's non-violent resist-
ance was completely smashed because neither the
South African government nor its white people could
morally be shamed or shocked. Indeed, the great
Mahatma Gandhi himself first tried out his non-
violence in South Africa's Natal; and he too failed.
The weapon of non-violence, which is a moral
weapon, can only succeed in a context in which those
against whom it is used are susceptible to moral
Albert Luthuli failed with his non-violent struggle
because the South African whites could not be shock-
ed or shamed into changing their ways by any moral
demonstration. Martin Luther King succeeded because
his country could be shocked and shamed into attack-
ing the evils his movement dramatised. And through
his success, Martin Luther King has made a genuine
and legitimate new contribution to the growing arm-
oury of methods and weapons used in the painful
struggle towards the fulfillment of the American dream.
But perhaps history will decide, long after the racial
struggle is over, that Martin Luther King made a
greater contribution to his country by trying to give
the American Dream the underpinnings of morality
and the universal face of peace and non-violence.
But whatever the place history accords this man
there is no doubt that he was a most extraordinary
man. For a man from his background in that violent
land to evolve and to grow from the Negro civil rights
leader seeing non-violence as an 'operational technique'
to the mystic bound by the morality of the way of
non-violence and the commitment to offer his life to
save the soul of a nation, is what makes Martin Luther
King an extraordinary American.
"Country Life" Jamaica Festival 67Prize Winner Julie Warren
by A.J. Newman
"Mico" is a strange name of a College and its story
is a strange one. The persecuted Huguenots of France,
the traders with the lands of the east, the pirates of
North Africa, the English Slaves in Barbary, the family
pride of an old lady who wanted her nephew to marry
one of her nieces, her strange bequest, the growth of
London and the increase on the value of land in East
London, a Quaker attending a church in the south of
England, the newly freed slaves in the British Colonies
- all these have their place in the story of Mico's
Let us start in France. It is the end of the sixteen-
th century and the persecution of the Huguenots is at
its height. Freedom to worship was impossible and
hundreds of Protestants took refuge in England.
Among these was a wealthy family of merchants
Barbary Pirates Drawing by Audrey Wiles
names Micault who bought land in England and settled
down in their new home in London and the South.
Their name to be spelt as it was pronounced and Mi-
cault became Mico.
These merchants-had made their money by trading
with the rich lands of the east and their vessels sailed
the Mediterranean, obtaining their cargoes on the eas-
tern coast of the sea and carrying the produce past the
lands of north Africa, through the narrow straits into
the Atlantic and so to the markets of England. But
not all the ships successfully made the journey. There
were pirates in Barbary, the land now called Algeria.
These would swoop down on the slower merchants,
capture them and take their crews back to Barbary to
be held to ransom or sold into slavery.
Many of these captives could not find the ransom
money and English philanthropists were often asked
to subscribe toward a fund for the release of these
unfortunates. The Mico family, in spite of their losses
felt a responsibility for the assistance of these English
captives from their ships.
The years passed and the seventeenth century
found Sir Samuel Mico an alderman living in London.
though owning property in Melcombe Regis a town in
Dorset. The Mico family was a large one and in it was
a deep family pride as is demonstrated by the fact
that Sir Samuel's widow in her will bequeathed an
extra 1000 to her nephew if he married one of her
six nieces. If, however, young Samuel did not marry
as she desired, Lady Mico's will said that the money
was to be used to free English sailors held in slavery in
North Africa. Samuel did not marry one of the nieces,
and about 1680 the 1000 was invested in lands in
East London and the interest used for the redemption
As the years passed the value of the bequest rose
to over 100,000 and by the beginning of the nine-
teenth century England and France had wiped the
Barbary pirates off the Mediterranean Sea. There was
no longer an outlet for the use of bequests like the
Mico bequest and the money lay idle, the interest
increasing the capital.
Then came the struggle for the emancipation of
the slaves in the British Colonies and Wilberforce &
Buxton come into Mico's story. Wilberforce was the
leader in the struggle which led to the abolition of the
slave trades in 1807, but it was many more years before
the fight under Thomas Fowell Buxton with his
associates brought about complete freedom for the
slaves. Here is Buxton's own account, written in a
letter to the bishop of Calcutta.
Thomas Fowell Buxton WIRL
"How often have I had to admire the Hand of pro-
vidence managing for us, and supplying us with every-
thing in this long battle, which the emergency required.
We wanted eloquence there was Wilberforce. We
wanted a man with a memory like a dictionary and
there was MaCaulay. We wanted martyrs many of
the West Indian Clergy, and almost all the Missionaries
willingly offered themselves we could not protect
them, Providence did. During the Jamaica rebellion
of 1832 they were in the extremity of danger, they
were hunted like wild beasts by an infuriated people,
but not the hair of the head of one of them was touch-
ed. In 1838 we wanted witnesses before the Committ-
ee of Lords and Commons, the planters had plenty,
we none, we were taken by surprise; Providence sent
them, or rather made our adversaries send them; they
persecuted the Missionaries, expelled them from Ja-
maica, and they arrived at the very nick of time to
appear before the committee and their evidence went
very far towards leading the Legislature to emancipa-
"We wanted 20 millions from a money coveting
people and they gave it willingly. We wanted an
ardour for knowledge on Christian instruction among
those degraded and untaught it has burst forth. We
wanted money to build schools normal schools; a
lady (Lady Mico) died a century ago and left 1000 to
a benevolent object. It could not be applied, has
accumulated and now an estate of 116,000 has been
transferred to Lushington James Stevenson and my-
self etc., as trustees, to apply it to the instruction of
the emancipated negroes.
"There are a few, and but a few of the instances in
which I have seen the Hand of Providence helping us
at a shift and surmounting what seemed to be insuper-
The Emancipation Act came into force on August
Ist 1834 and a year later the Master of the Rolls made
an order confirming the scheme prepared by Buxton
and Lushington by which the Lady Mico Charity was
founded for giving Christian Education to the colour-
ed population of the British Colonies. Thus the money
which had been left to buy freedom for the white
slaves of North Africa came to be used for the educa-
tion of the newly freed African slaves of white ma-
sters in the British Colonies.
A Board of trustees in England was set up which
established the charity upon three great principles
(1) The school must be open to students of all
(2) The grand object was promotion of educa-
tion in general especially religious education.
(3) Every student should be free to attend the
church of the parent's denomination.
The English government was particularly interested in
opening normal schools for the training of West In-
dians as teachers, although the first students were from
The 19th century was one of steady development:
Schools were established in Mauritius, the Seychelle
Islands, many of the islands of the West Indies and in
Jamaica there were Mico schools in most of the parish-
In 1838 there were sixteen Mico schools in the
West Indies under the superintendence of E. Wallen-
age. There was an average attendance of over 3000.
Dr. Lloyd a visitor to Jamaica in one of his letters
written in 1838 said "The Mico School interested us
though only established about three months; a new
schoolroom is about being built as the present one is
too crowded, all instruction is conveyed by singing
even the multiplication table ..... Schools of the Mico
foundation are spreading rapidly and will be the
means of incalculable benefit"'
At the Mico Institution in Kingston there were 225
children, 134 infants and 150 adults. Classes were
held in a house in Hanover Street where the super-
Normal schools (teacher-training institutions) were
started in St. Lucia, Antigua and Jamaica. These were
regarded as the most important of the foundations as
it was the aim of the trustees to replace the English
teachers (and the few English students) by West
At that time the Mico was in the charge of a
superintendent or normal master with an English
staff. A Board of visitors which controlled the institu-
tion was an advisory not an executive body. There
were at least twelve members, chiefly chosen from the
orthodox churches in Kingston. The trustees in Eng-
land still maintained their control. There were twenty
Mico rebuilt after Earthquake and destroyed by fire 1910
normal Mico bequest and a generous grant from the
English Government, together with small fees paid by
the student were responsible for the financial success
of the institution. When, however, the institution was
well established the English grant was gradually dimin-
ished and eventually ceased except for the grant made
for teacher training. Most English teachers were with-
drawn as the different islands became more self reliant;
the Mico trust gradually handed over its school to the
governments and in 1890 Mico Schools were to be
found only in Jamaica, Antigua, St. Lucia. A few
years later the Mico interests became concentrated on
the normal school in Jamaica.
In 1896 the institution was moved to its present
site and the name was changed from Mico Institution
to Mico Training College. During the years which
followed the college extended its activities outside
Jamaica. Students came from the Leeward Islands,
British Guiana and Bermuda and for several years some
special missionary students accepted to work in West
Africa were trained partly at the Mico and partly at
the Theological College of the Anglican Church. Also
there were a few women day students. Two disasters
affected the new buildings. In 1907 the earthquake
which so severely damaged Kingston completely crush-
ed the Mico. Fortunately there was no loss of life
though one or two students were injured. It is greatly
to the credit of staff & students that live and work
continued at the college. Then in 1910 the rebuilt
college was destroyed by fire. Once more the men
refused to be beaten. Rebuilding started immediately
and the new buildings were reopened the next year.
Many of Mico's students in those years proved a
blessing to the homeland. They went out into the
small schools and took with them a spirit of service
which emphasizes the ideals of this college. A number
left the teaching profession in order to become Minis-
ters of their Churches. Those who remained in teach-
ing gave active help to their Ministers.
The twentieth century has seen many extensions
of the activities of the Mico. Intelligence Tests were
introduced as part of the entrance examination and
these tests became a recognized feature in many schools
and colleges in Jamaica. Prospective students had to
quality for entrance a year before entering and that
year was spent taking what was termed a pre-college
correspondence course. This enabled the college to be
sure that Students actually entering college had reach-
ed a known standard of attainment and the problem
of drawing up the syllabus for the college course was
much simpler. Next came vacation courses for teach-
ers. Hundreds attended these courses which had the
backing of the Jamaica Union of Teachers. The courses
Mico as it stands today Photo Gleaner Company
proved so helpful to those young teachers who could
not go to college but wished to continue their studies
so as to qualify by passing the First Training College
Examination which could be taken externally, that a
number of them entreated the College to continue these
vacation courses as Correspondence Courses. The staff
of the college willingly undertook the extra work
entailed in the preparation and marking of these new
courses which were really an extension of the Pre-
One other development came from these Vacation
Courses. For years the Mico had been a college for
men, though there had been a few women students in
the early days of the College. Now a number of women
teachers approached the principal at the end of one
vacation course and requested that they be allowed to
take the regular college course as day students. The
question was put to the Board of Directors of the
College who after very careful and serious discussions
agreed that two women students might be admitted as
an experiment. The next year the number was increas-
ed to six and gradually Mico became a co-educational
college though the number of men always was greater
than the number of women.
While these developments were taking place most
important changes were taking place in two other
directions. The standard of work was greatly improv-
ed and students began to prepare for the Matriculation
examinations of London University. A few who pass-
ed the Intermediate Arts and then went on to take
their degrees. From there they obtained posts in
Secondary Schools and several of the headmasters of
secondary schools today thank the Mico for the opp-
ortunities given them in this way.
But the Mico's first aim was the training of teach-
ers. An integral part of this training took part in the
Mico Practising School. At the beginning of the
twentieth century this was an old out-of-date building,
shabby and lacking in inspiration. It was decided that
Jamaica should see what an elementary school should
be. The old building was pulled down and in its place
a new building with a quadrangle and several class
rooms took its place. The quadrangle took the place
of a hall and one of the classrooms was fitted with
water and science arrangements. The double desks re-
placed the long benches and the children were proud
of this school and the playing field. Times have chang-
ed. The example set by the Practising School was
followed by dozens of new government schools which
had improvements impossible in the Practising School.
because of shortage of cash.
Two other innovations in the college and practis-
ing school have had their influence on the schools of
Jamaica. The House System was an important cha-
racteristic of some of the old public schools of England
where the students lived in separate houses and the
competitions among the different houses formed an
important part of the students' activities. Mico adopt-
ed the House System without the houses the Stud-
ents were divided into "houses", Buxton House, Lush-
ington House and so on, and this gave a new impetus
to the sports of the College and School. House cap-
tains were appointed by the students and house mat-
ches became an important part of life. The House
system led to another interesting feature the Eistedd-
fod, borrowed this time from Wales and extended.
The Eisteddfod was regarded also as a house com-
petition. The writing of poetry, music, songs art work
all had their place in the competition which became
a public event, and which had gained island wide
Much has been said about the academic and social
life of the college. It must be stressed however that
the teaching of agriculture and manual training has
always formed a prominent feature in the work of the
college. The manual training centre has been enlarged
and improved and the college garden is used for test-
ing new schemes for the rotation of crops and the use
of insecticides and manures.
Many years ago the Archbishop of the West Indies
had this to say of the Mico, "I think the history of the
past should give us hope for the future of the Mico
College. The work to be done may not be altogether
the same in form: it will be broader, it will be more
complex, it will, I hope touch the life of the people at
more points, but let us trust that the Mico work will
always have the same aim and result namely the
advancement of the people of this country in know-
ledge and righteousness; the right shaping and mould-
ing of their intellect and conscience and life".
That the college has tried to carry out his desires
for the future and has recognized the importance of
the religious side of student life is shown by the fact
that when the time came the old students did much to
help to build a chapel for the college. Monthly services
are held there and on other Sundays students attend
churches of their own denominations. Their ministers
speak highly of them and pay regular visits to the
college. The Student Christian Movement has been
active in the college for many years.
So the college has grown with the years and the
growth is still going on. From the days when there
were forty students, the number grew gradually to one
hundred and twenty and in the last few years the
College has kept pace with the rapid development of
education in Jamaica. Now there are several hundred
of students. New buildings are rising and the future
holds every opportunity for the Mico to become a
greater and better place than it has ever been in the
130 years of its existence.
To the Mico with one of its own students as prin-
cipal go all our best wishes for the future.
The Sunken City of PORT ROYAL
1966 The First Year bybertMa
During the fall of 1965 the Jamaican Government
decided that a project of excavating the sunken city
of Port Royal should be started. I quickly accepted
an invitation to direct this project, fully aware that
Port Royal was probably the most important marine
archaeological site in the Western Hemisphere. The
purpose of the project was to be three-fold to pro-
duce an accurate chart of the sunken city; to obtain
information on the design and construction of the
buildings; to recover the surviving building materials
and artifacts with a view to the reconstruction of the
most important buildings and the display of the
artifacts in various museums.
I arrived in November of 1965, and the first phase
of my work consisted of mapping the whole site,
which took almost three months. The next entailed
cleaning the surface of the sea floor in the area where
we would begin our excavation of tons of modern
debris such as bottles, cans and all sorts of things
thrown into the sea by the present day inhabitants of
Port Royal. These even included items such as a truck
Photo above. The airlift tube, which a workman is holding in the middle of the barge, depositing a mixture of mud and water
which lands on a screen in the middle of the barge. One of the divers in the water handing another workman a bucket full of artifacts.
Robert Marx, marine archaeologist, adjusting an under-
water metal detector, which he used to locate large concentra-
tions of metal during the period while he carried out a complete
underwater survey of the site.
chassis and a cooking stove. Then followed the selection
of an excavation tool which would least damage the
artifacts uncovered under the sediment. I finally
decided on using a small version of an "airlift",which
works on the same principal as a vacuum cleaner.
The last, but probably most important detail that
had to be coped with before the excavation could
begin, was that of selecting a good team to work with
me. Labourers had to be found to work on the barge,
on which the sediment was to be deposited from the
"airlift" to be sifted for any small artifacts which we
might have missed on the sea floor. Five,young men
from Port Royal were selected for this work. After
interviewing a number of local divers, I was finally
fortunate in obtaining two good men. The first was
Kenute Kelly, who, besides being a professional diver,
is well known in Jamaica as a champion swimmer. The
other was Wayne Roosevelt, who lacked the diving
experience of Kelly, but was quick to learn.
On May 1st, 1966 at seven o'clock in the morning,
the excavation finally began. It was one of the high
moments of my life; I had been obsessed since I was
a young boy with the plan of excavating this import-
ant site. The rest of my team shared my excitement,
Kelly the most exuberant of them all. Kelly said
that he was willing to bet one of his swimming trophies
that in a month's time we would find more artifacts
than a previous expedition working two months had
found in 1959. Luckily I did not take him up on that
bet, as he would have collected before even two weeks
The spot I selected to begin the day's excavation
lay under fifteen feet of water about 120 feet west of
the old Naval Hospital. Originally I had planned on
beginning our excavation somewhere near the Old
Church Beacon, but had to change this plan as there
was a proposal by an international group of investors
to develop Port Royal into a tourist centre. Part of
their plans included the construction of a deep-water
pier, over a part of the sunken city. It was assumed
that this would involve dredging to permit large ships
to come close to shore. Thus it was decided that our
first work should be concentrated in this threatened
Before we started to excavate, underwater visibility
was only two feet and once the work began, it dropped
to nil. This lack of visibility continued throughout the
project, and caused us many problems at first. But
after a few days we became so used to working in
total darkness, that this handicap was soon forgotten.
By the end of the first hour we had filled three buckets
with clay-smoking pipes, ceramic sherds, onion bottles
and various coral-encrusted iron objects. Also, although
the three of us below didn't yet know it, we had
recovered a piece of genuine treasure a small opal,
probably from a ring, that had passed through the
mesh screen at the bottom of the "airlift" tube and
had landed on a screen on the barge.
Hour after hour we continued below and after six
hours I felt a growling pain in my stomach, which I
realized was brought on. from hunger and decided that
we had better stop for the day. Then, all of a sudden,
I made a discovery on the edge of the hole that we
had made into the sea floor. It was a fallen brick wall
and I at once assumed that it most likely covered
some interesting artifacts which the early salvors might
have missed, as they didn't have the means in those
days to lift large heavy objects off the sea floor.
An hour of further escavating revealed that the
wall consisted of a. single layer of red bricks, measur-
ing eleven and a half by eight feet. Eager to see
whether my hope of finding artifacts underneath the
wall would be fulfilled, I began excavating along the
sides. Sediment and various artifacts lying under the
wall began dropping into the hole I was making around
the wall. Almost at once I found a pewter spoon and
minutes later another. Soon after, a pewter charger
and four pewter plates stacked on it so neatly that the
pile might just have come out of a good housewife's
When I had excavated a trench along most of one
side of the wall, I discovered by touch that the wall
was tilting down over the hollow and there was the
danger that the wall might slide on any one of us at
any moment. Turning off the "airlift", I took Kelly
and Wayne to the surface for a consultation. The
sensible thing to do, of course, was to take the wall
apart before excavating any further, but we were all
too avid for more discoveries to accept this solution.
After detailing a set of emergency precautions which
we would execute if the wall did slide on any of us,
we descended again and I began excavating on the
other side of the wall with the intention of trying to
make it level again. While I was at it, Kelly, anxious
to make a find of his own, crawled under the tilted
side of the wall. After a while I started worrying
where he was, shut off the "airlift" and went in search
of him. By touch I found him: just his legs sticking
out from under the wall and signalled him to come
A large, flat platter for serving meat.
out. Although I was furious at first because of the
risk he was taking, I soon calmed down when we sur-
faced and I saw he had found a beautiful pewter
tankard and a pewter porringer bowl. By then we had
been down nine hours and had to call it a day.
Our second day of excavating, which was almost
as exciting as the first, produced the first of many
serious accidents which occurred during the course of
our excavation. I started off still trying to level the
wall by pumping the sediment away from the high side
and within the first hour found four more pewter
spoons. Unknown to me, after several hours time, I
had pumped more sediment from that side of the wall
than I had planned, and that side of the wall had
shifted lower than the other side. Before I knew
what hit me, the wall slid over on top of me, pinning
my head and torso to the bottom. Luckily for me, it
didn't break my air hose. Instead it broke the "air-
lift" tube in two which gave the laborers on the barge
an indication that something was wrong. They pulled
Kelly's hose and brought him to the surface, telling
him to check on me. He went immediately in search
of me. Although he and Wayne had only been a few
feet from me at the time, digging in the sediment by
hand, they had been unaware of the crisis so close to
them. Kelly located my legs just as I had located his
** Small basin from which soup is eaten, especially by children.
the day before, and tugged at my left ankle to let me
know he was there. Then he disconnected the air
hose from the broken airlift tube and, using it as an
air jet, began blowing away the sediment under my
body. It was a risky manoeuvre there was every
chance in the world that the wall would slide even
further, trapping him as well as me and in the ten
minutes or so that I lay there, I was torn between
admiring his courage and condemning his foolhard-
iness. Admiration won out when I felt myself being
pulled out by both Kelly and Wayne.
This event made me realize that we would have to
exercise even more caution in the future, and I made
it a rule that henceforth we would dismantle all fallen
walls before trying to excavate the areas beneath
them. Still in the following months, more accidents
of a similar nature befell us all.
Although most of the artifacts we located were
found in the first eight feet of sediment beneath the
sea floor, to be on the safe side, we found it necessary
to excavate to a depth of fifteen feet, which meant
that always there was a wall of sediment fifteen feet
high in front of us. This, when undermined by our
excavating, could only fall down into the hole and
when the wall of sediment fell, naturally brick walls
Collection of pewter and silver artifacts recovered during the first two months of the excavation: tankards, porringer bowls,
spoons, measures, a funnel, salt celler, charger, plates, mirror frame, wine taster and watch case.
and other things hidden in it fell,too.
The rest of the month was free of further accidents,
but still quite exciting and interesting because of the
large volume of artifacts we were finding. Of the
thousands of artifacts recovered, the most valuable
were those made of pewter: the month's total of
pewter amounted to three chargers, twelve plates, six
spoons, one fork, one tankard, one porringer bowl and
two shoe buckles. Other interesting artifacts which
were found unexpectedly were a complete tobacco
leaf, several pieces of rope, many leather objects and
several swatches of cloth. Usually organic items of
this nature are not found on old sites in the sea, as
they are destroyed by sea water, but these had been
preserved because they had been deeply embedded
into mud by the weight of the fallen walls over them.
Another exciting discovery was the identification of
a tavern site belonging to one Richard Collins. In one
area that we had excavated, we had recovered more
than 500 clay-smoking pipes and 200 onion bottles
which suggested the site of a tavern. Mixed in with
these items were many pieces of pewter-ware with the
owner's initials on them, which when compared with
existing property records of old Port Royal, revealed
the name of the owner of the tavern.
During June our hole kept getting larger, and more
and more interesting artifacts were discovered.
Amongst them were ceramic plates, bowls, and cups;
copper and brass candle sticks, buttons, buckles, nails,
spikes, ship's fittings and a food strainer; lead bottle
stoppers and two official seals; iron hammers, saw
blades, axes, adzes, nails, keys, pad-locks knives,
swords, a pike point, cooking cauldrons and a frying
pan; and various objects of glass, bone, horn, wood
and leather; besides more pewter-ware, clay smoking
pipes and onion bottles. Most fascinating to me were
some items recovered from a particularly barren area
otherwise, two small coloured glass marbles, a piece of
graphite shaped like a flat, wide pencil (it wrote on
paper when tested), and a fragment of black slate
with the numbers 6,8,10 and 12 marked on it. Did
some schoolboy, terrified when he saw the earth open
up, drop them and race to take cover?
During the first few weeks of July we began locat-
ing a large number of artifacts which normally are
found on a shipwreck. As the hole continued to get
larger, around the middle of the month we reached the
edge of a wreck and at first I considered by-passing it,
believing it probably of later origin than the earth-
quake, but then the discovery of a brick wall on top
of the wreck indicated that it had sunk before or
during the 1692 earthquake. Further excavation on
the wreck and subsequent research into contemporary
historical documents, finally proved that the ship was
HMS Swan, a thirty-two gun frigate which was being
careened at the time of the disaster and had been lifted
by a tidal wave and thrown "amongst the ruins of
buildings of the city".
By the third week of August when we had excavat-
ed about a third of the Sivan, I decided to postpone
further excavation of the Swan for the time being. It
was a decision I made with regret, but it was a ne-
cessary one, for I did not have the equipment available
at the time for preserving the large amount of wood
that would be recovered from the wreck. We moved
to another section of our hole, which by that time
was about one hundred feet long and seventy feet
wide, and there we located more fallen walls, which
yielded the usual amounts of interesting artifacts.
Under one of the walls we found a pewter spoon with
the owner's initials "E.P." on it and property records
revealed that we were probably excavating in an area
once owned by Edward Pinhorn. Several other excit-
ing discoveries were made this month. The first was
a medicine chest which contained twenty-one small
pharmaceutical vases. Nearby a brass apothecary's
mortar and pestle was found, which suggested that we
might have been working near an apothecary's shop.
Another discovery which I found most fascinating
was the discovery of two turtle crawls*** Each was
approximately thirty-two feet long and nineteen feet
wide, consisting of vertical wooden posts four to five
feet high. Inside the crawls we found about half a ton of
turtle bones, which indicated that the turtles must
have been unable to escape during the disaster because
their flippers had been tied together, otherwise they
could have swum to safety.
September was Kelly's month, as he virtually
carried out the whole month's work on his own.
Wayne was out of action for most of the month with
a serious case of acute sinusitis. On the first day of
this month, I was pumping with the airlift when I
suddenly felt something on the top of my head. Next,
things began slithering around my head and neck the
tentacles of a small octopus who was evidently feeling
sportive. Not in a corresponding mood myself, I
attempted to pull it off, but it merely tightened its
grip. Kelly joined in the tug of war, without success.
The situation became dangerous, for the suction of the
embrace threatened to pull off my mask. Then I had
an inspiration. I raised the airlift tube over my head
turned the air-pressure on full power, and the octapus,
loosen its hold, was sucked up the tube, piece by
piece, giving the men on the barge a real surprise. I
had a real surprise too finding the tube stuck fast to
the top of my head. Quickly I shut off the air pre-
ssure. When we surfaced, Kelly doubled over with
laughter. A few days later I went out of action for
most of the rest of the month with a case of blood
poisoning, which resulted from a piece of old glass
that I had failed to extract from a cut in my hand.
Thus the main task of continuing the work fell into
Kelly's hands and he managed to recover a substantial
amount of interesting artifacts on his own, except
towards the end of the month when Wayne was able
to dive again. Besides the usual artifacts found during
the previous months, he found some of the best
ceramic-ware which had been found up until that
time, also a brass collander, a wedding band, a brass
still (probably for distilling rum), two brass scabbard
tips, a beautiful small blue and white Delftware
*** Structure to keep turtles.
figurine of a young boy and many other interesitng
By this time a pattern had been set during the
months we had been excavating. All of the most
interesting, artifacts were always found under fallen
brick walls, which indicated that they had been miss-
ed by the early salvors. And in areas where there were
no fallen walls, we would only find objects of lesser
value in the old days such as onion bottles, clay pipes,
iron objects and pieces of broken ceramic objects.
Volunteer helper Miss Louise Judge studying the
maker's mark on a clay smoking pipe. Mis Judge aided during
the first year's work in making drawings of all the major
Besides the usual large amount of artifacts found,
October was to produce three other important dis-
coveries. The first was another shipwreck, which
after some research I was able to identify as the
French Prize. mentioned in contemporary docu-
ments. This ship had sunk during the earthquake,
swallowed up as it lay at anchor beside the fish and
meat markets, and that was where we located it.
Artifacts found on this wreck verified its nationality
and identity. We then excavated the fish and meat
markets, which besides producing a vast amount of
bones, produced other items such as a complete scale,
a grinding stone, several small sharpening stones,
knives and other things once used by the workmen in
these markets. The third discovery was that of still
another tavern site, which yielded the expected large
amount of pipes, bottles, wine glasses and drinking
In November we were faced with our first set back
due to bad weather. Rain was the least of our worries,
as it did not affect us much at the bottom. However,
almost daily strong north winds caused mud from the
harbour to slide into our hold almost as fast as we
could pump it out each day, resulting in our progress
being slowed down considerably.
The most important discoveries made this month
were two standing buildings. As expected, virtually
no artifacts were found in or around either of these
two standing buildings, because they had been
thoroughly salvaged soon after the 1692 disaster. In
fact, the only two artifacts of any interest found
inside these buildings were a grappling hook in one
and a harpoon in the other, both of which items were
probably lost by the previous salvors. Although the
roofs of both buildings were gone probably torn
off by the salvors who got inside them all of their
walls were standing vertically and it was easy to locate
by touch where the doors and windows were.
We took painstaking measurements and made
drawings of both buildings, with the hope that they
might eventually be reconstructed on land, possibly
Wreck in center of chart was the "French Prize",
Wreck with a wall on top of it was HMS Swan. The "L"
shaped wall enclosed by a circle of dots was the site of the fish
and meat markets. The two standing buildings shown on right
hand side of chart. Turtle crawls also indicated. Other walls
also shown here.
Kelly on right, Wayne Roosevelt in middle, aiding a work-
man bring a coral-encrusted iron cannon ashore which came
from the "French Prize" shipwreck.
with the same bricks we had recovered from them
before moving on.
Towards the end of the month I discovered a silver
pocket watch under one fallen wall, which after taking
six weeks to clean and preserve, revealed that it had
been made by an Aron (sic) Gibbs, of London, some-
time before 1666. The inner movements, all of which
were made of brass, were still in perfect order.
At the beginning of December, our hole had reach-
ed enormous proportions: almost 250 feet long and
150 feet wide. For the first time during the whole of
the excavation we began having bad luck, and during
the first two weeks of the month little of interest was
This resulted in my whole team, especially myself,
getting into a rather depressed mood and, with Christ-
mas so near at hand, I finally decided to make a jump
of about one hundred feet to the north from the
northern extremity of our hole. On our first day of
the move, which was December 18th we were to have
our most exciting day of the whole year's work.
The day started rather badly as our small diving
compressor, which supplied the air through hoses into
the face masks we had to wear, would not work, so
we were forced to wear the cumbersome diving tanks
- called aqua-lungs. To my further displeasure, I
discovered that all the tanks, except three, were empty.
This meant that I would have to dive alone handling
the airlift. Kelly and Wayne would dive down, holding
their breath,and aid me occasionally.
I succeeded by careful breathing to stretch the
normal two hour supply in the first two tanks to four
hours. During that period I had only penetrated down
about six feet in a very narrow hole, because the
bottom sediment was almost entirely made up of
small pieces of dead coral. Still more galling was the
fact that I had not uncovered a single artifact, not
even a small fragment of pottery a record for the
excavation, but certainly not one I was eager to set.
I wasso unhappy about the state of things that,instead
of going back down with the third and last tank of air,
I decided to go ashore and do some work and have
Kelly excavate with the last of our day's air supply.
I had not been ashore more than a few minutes
when one of the young men from the barge ran excit-
edly up to me, exclaiming that Kelly had found some-
thing great. Swimming back out to the skiff as fast
as I could, I found Kelly and Wayne sitting in the skiff
grinning from ear to ear and pointing to four silver
Spanish pieces of eight in a remarkable state of pre-
servation. Kelly said he thought there were more
down there, and he had only stopped so I could come
out and get matters under control. Already word had
spread all over Port Royal and a number of boats full
of curious people were crowding around the skiff and
Quickly putting on a face mask, I took in a good
breath of air, jack-knifed to the bottom and squeezed
Coral-encrusted iron padlocks and keys.
Reverse and obverse of the first four spanish silver
pieces of eight found by Kelly on December 18, 1966. One
shows the date of 1684, two others of 1687 and another 1682.
down into the narrow hole, where I found the bottom
covered with coins. Grabbing all I could hold in both
hands, I quickly ascended to the surface with about
fifty more coins to deposit in the skiff. Since Kelly
was considerably smaller in size than I, and could work
easier in that narrow hole, I sent him down again with
the remaining air. By the time he had used up the last
of the air, we had recovered over five hundred silver
coins in all.
Further excavation in that area produced another
fifty coins, as well as the remains of a wooden chest
which had contained the coins and a brass keyhole
plate with the coat-of-arms of King Philip IV of Spain.
The most interesting aspect of finding this treasure
was that it was the first time that we had found some-
thing valuable which was not under a fallen wall. How
could the early salvors have missed it? Another
interesting problem was where had the treasure come
from? Finding Spanish silver coins in Port Royal was
normal, since this was the legal currency of Jamaica
and remained so until the middle of the nineteenth
century. But finding it in a chest belonging to the
King of Spain was another matter. There are several
different possible explanations for this mystery. The
chest could have belonged to a Spanish merchant
trading in Port Royal; it could have been brought to
Port Royal as plunder; or, probably the most convinc-
ing explanation, it was a treasure chest salvaged off a
Spanish shipwreck. Just two years before the earth-
quake, in 1690, three Spanish galleons carrying treasure
were wrecked on the Pedro Shoals and a great part of
this treasure was salvaged by divers and fishermen
from Port Royal.
Thus, our first year of work ended with a great
deal of excitement but unknown to us then, our
second year was to prove even more exciting and
interesting. This will be covered in a subsequent
Area that has remained sunken
beneath the sea.
Area excavated during 1966.
Coastline before the great
What remained of town after
Present day coastline.
i i.: r ~o0
, ,o0 -
scaike. feet l..... a-. ..
by Glory Robertson
The hero as murderer, the life of Edward John Eyre,
by Geoffrey Dutton. London, Collins, Melbourne,
Cheshire, 1967. 416p.
Mr. Dutton is an Australian to whom the name of
Eyre has been familiar from childhood, not only as
one of Australia's heroic explorers but as a man who
once ran sheep on land adjoining that of Dutton's
own ancestors, where he now lives. This book is an
attempt to explain how the humane Australian hero
"distinguished by his successful relations with native
peoples, became the butcher of Negroes in Jamaica"
Sand to rescue the man from the Governor.
Eyre emigrated to Australia at seventeen to seek
"an independence", but soon rejected a settler's life
in favour of overlanding stock from New South Wales
to Melbourne and Adelaide. Then, impelled by a
desire to "distinguish myself in some more honourable
and disinterested way than by the mere acquisition of
wealth", he took up exploration, and with "desert-
cracking obstinacy" accomplished a journey of incred-
I ible hardship across Australia. Appointed Resident
Magistrate and Protector of the Aborigines on the
River Murray, within three years he had succeeded
so well that he seems to have felt that anyone else
could carry on, and to have become anxious for some
other employment offering "full scope for activity
and exertion". Why he left Australia is never clear,
.but around this time he also fell out with South
,": Australia's Governor and seems to have become
generally fed-up for he wrote to a friend, "I am and
have been long sick of my present employment and of
Charles Eyre in Australia myself ... Here for some years past nothing but
vexations and annoyances have crowded upon me."
Apparently he did not specify what the vexations
were, and perhaps the remark was due to nothing
more than one of the fits of depression to which he
was liable. But one would have been interested to
learn a great deal more about his life as magistrate at
Moorundie. His humane attitude to the Aborigines
will be referred to later in this review, but about his
administration as Protector of Aborigines Dutton says
Australian Aborigines Courtesy CP. Mountford
little except that he gave out small gifts from the
government and acquired great influence over the
tribes among whom he made journeys almost alone.
What exactly happened when Aborigines guilty of
robbery or murder were handed over to Eyre by their
own people? Are none of his judgements on record?
Did he never write annual reports? Grey, the unfriend-
ly Governor, told a story which Dutton quotes with-
out comment; "though he did his work well he did
not get on well with the Police. He would go and
row them in the morning for an hour then go and
take his walk and on returning in the afternoon resume
the rowing... But he is not an unkind and certainly
not a vindictive man."
The employment offered him after Moorundie
was that of Lieutenant Governor of New Zealand.
New Zealand was an unhappy experience as he was
kept in frustrating inactivity and publicly humiliated
by the Governor, the same Grey who had been in
South Australia, who comes out very badly in this
account. It was from this time on that the pigheaded-
ness which had been an asset to the explorer became
a handicap, and Dutton admits that he was tactless,
longwinded and excitable.
After New Zealand, he went to St. Vincent and
Antigua (never to Trinidad as protector of East Indian
immigrants, a statement made by at least three pre-
vious writers). Here there was apparent for the first
time a nervousness of the population and an uneasy
feeling that he needed troops to back him up. In
Australia he had been fearless, calm and unusually
understanding with the Aborigines. At this time many
settlers thought "as little of firing at a black as at a
bird"; others who were not so careless of life were so
nervous that they fired first and asked questions
afterwards. In contrast Eyre on one of his overland
journeys refused to let his men carry their guns on
their persons in order to avoid just this sort of panic
firing, and he often approached hostile bands unarmed
and alone. But more than this was his realisation,
uncommon among pioneers in any country, that the
settlers simply by being there did the natives an in-
jury, and he pointed out that when the reason for some
hostile act on the part of the Aborigines was not
apparent to Europeans, it should not be assumed that
"incentives do not exist or that their feelings may.not
have been justly excited". This passage was written
in connection with the killing of a twelve year old boy
in circumstances calculated to excite emotion. Eyre's
calm conclusion was that there was evidence that the
Aborigines had been shot at on previous occasions by
the boy's brother, and that one should not hastily
condemn in cases where so little was known of the
natives' reasons. But in St. Vincent he wrote that he
was anxious for troops because "from the excitable
character of the population... [a] casual occurence
may lead to the most serious disturbance". However,
he handled three riots that took place while he was
there quite calmly. Dutton offers the explanation
that he was possibly nervous of being in authority
and responsible for other people; perhaps also the
responsibility of being a married man with children
contributed to unease.
G GREAT AUSTRALIAN
KING GEORGE SCALE
SOUND o so oo too Soo 0
EYRE'S EXPEDITIONS IN AUSTRALIA 1839-1841
At the same time we find him writing strong
reports on the social and economic condition of St.
Vincent; it remains for the Home Government to
extricate the colony from so degrading and unsatis-
factory a position," to which someone in the Colonial
Office wrote "How?" in the margin.
In 1862 he was sent to Jamaica to act for Governor
Darling who had gone on a year's leave and he was
later made Governor. Up to this point what sort of
person has emerged from Dutton's examination? A
man of great energy and courage; restless and unsettled;
obstinate; except tor the Aborigines not good at
getting on with people; devoted to a fussy, delicate
wife, though as a purely private person he remains
very shadowy in this book; over-anxious and inclined
to dramatize; suffering from rather vague ill-health
after his last Australian journey (this is mentioned
only incidentally and its possible effects on his later
actions in Jamaica might have repaid further study);
perhaps not too happy with responsibility; by no
means unmindful of the social and economic con-
ditions of the colonies he governed but only average
as an administrator. Dutton sometimes makes the
mistake of insisting too much on some of these
qualities instead of letting them emerge from Eyre's
own actions and words. For example, the restless
energy of Eyre's youth comes out plainly in what he
did. There is no need to compare him to Byronic
heroes or to speak of his "angelic energy and fire"
(angelic in the Miltonic not the sentimental sense).
The exaggeration only casts an air of unreality over
a very real quality of the man.
A view of St. Vincent, mid 19th century. WIRL
The Secretary of State for the Colonies had said
of him in July 1859 when he applied for the post of
Governor of British Guiana, "he is not strong enough
for the place". One wonders why he was considered
strong enough for Jamaica, a colony with a long
history of friction between the Assembly and the
Governor. In fact, the great enigma of Eyre turns out
to be not such an enigma after all. It is not a sharp
contrast between the humane hero in Australia and
the supporter of a policy of terror in Jamaica. The
two situations were simply not comparable. In
Australia he was dealing with a primitive non-agricul-
tural race gathering such food as nature provided.
This he accepted as their natural way of life. In
Jamaica he saw a working class, and he shared the
harsh Victorian attitude to the working classes which
was expressed in the Queen's Advice. Relations
between Aborigines and settlers were simpler than the
complex inter-relation of classes in Jamaica where a
declining economy had not yet fully adapted itself to
free labour, and a great social change was in conflict
with the political framework remaining over from a
different society. The outright paganism of the
Aborigines had not offended him, whereas in Jamaica
he had no use for Baptists and Native Baptists. It is a
measure of his reaction to the revivalist practices of
the Native Baptists that he told Cardwell that some
of the people regarded Gordon as an obeahman.
Moreover, in Australia he had not been the highest
authority with responsibility for all.
The events of his Jamaican career are too well-
known to need a summary. Mr. Dutton brings out the
pettiness of some of the criticism Eyre faced in
Jamaica; he was castigated for having travelled by
bus! Jamaicans were apparently affronted at being
ruled by a "plain mister" and the social life of King's
House was held to be mean. (The salary of the
Governor had once been 10,000; it had been cut to
5,000 and Eyre while only acting got 2,500). A
furious criticism made in the Assembly by Gordon has
previously been quoted by W.A. Roberts'and C.V.
Black'as a protest against bills supported by Eyre to
provide punishment on the treadmill and by flogging.
But Dutton shows that the matter under discussion
was in reality the appointment of an Acting Colonial
Engineer. Two members, Gordon and Lewis, said
that the appointment was illegal, the man not having
the qualification required by law; but as it was only a
temporary arrangement until a qualified person arrived
from England, there had been no one else to choose,
the person appointed was doing the work without
salary (!) and was felt to have done it well, several
members spoke in approval. Gordon and Lewis
mentioned certain people dismissed by Eyre, the
argument being Here are these men illegally dis-
missed and here is this other man illegally appointed,
the Lieutenant Governor is constantly breaking the
law. Whatever the rights and wrongs of these cases
(in one case, Dutton says the man had been found
guilty of "delinquencies" by the Privy Council; in
another, not mentioned by Dutton, the Law Officers
of the Crown did not uphold Eyre), they hardly pro-
vide justification for Gordon's cry that the Governor
was an animal "voracious for cruelty", and that "the
people will have to fly to arms". This brings out a
valuable point about Gordon. His rhetoric was of a
type that should not be too readily accepted; one
should not assume that every time he cried oppression
something terrible was necessarily happening. The
Flogging Bill itself has been taken as an instance of
Eyre's identification with the planters and disregard
of the poorer classes but the issue may not have been
so clear-cut for Price, an opponent of Eyre, stated
1. W.A. Roberts, Six Great Jamaicans, Pioneer Press, 1951.
2. C.V. Black, The Story of Jamaica, Collins, 1965.
Governor Charles Eyre in Jamaica Drawn by Judy McMillan
that "none clamoured more loudly" for the bill than
the small settlers who wanted protection against
The well-known story of the sick pauper sent to
the lock-up in Morant Bay by the Rector was quite
another matter and Dutton admits that Gordon was
right, though he overlooks a crucial point against
Eyre. Gordon's removal from the magistracy by Eyre
was upheld by the Secretary of State for the Colonies
on the ground that he had falsely accused the Rector
of imprisoning the man, but Gordon had not made
this accusation so that the case for Eyre, already
weak, collapses entirely.
Olivier 3 has a thirty page account of the Tramway
and the Assembly troubles which he was convinced
flowed from it. Everything was due to Eyre's gross
lack of intelligence, disregard of legality and "crooked-
ness and obstinacy". Unfortunately Olivier wrote
throughout with such furious invective that his version
cries out for closer examination. Mathieson's4much
shorter account presented the whole episode in a
totally different light; Eyre's conduct leaves "some-
thing to be explained" but he considered it the occasion
rather than the cause of the Assembly's opposition
which he assigned, in brief, to faction. It is a pity
that Mr. Dutton does not provide a detailed appraisal.
He dismisses the matter which, in his own words,
occupied "hundreds of pages of despatches" in one
paragraph and overstates Darling's responsibility for
the fiasco. True, Darling had given permission for
Leahy, a government officer, to be financially interest-
ed in an undertaking that was to receive government
money, but this was done the day before he went on
leave. It was obviously impossible for Eyre to cancel
this permission, but the actual proposals had not been
passed or even seen by Darling so that it is not quite
3. Sydney Olivier, The Myth of Governor Eyre, Hogarth
fair to say that Eyre was "merely ... entrusted with the
carrying through of a project initiated" by his pre-
The degree of poverty and distress in Jamaica in
1865 and the part this played in causing the outbreak
at Morant Bay are still matters of controversy. Mr.
Dutton does not appear to have read Douglas Hall's
"Free Jamaica" which is not listed in the bibliography.
Dutton does not seek in any way to minimise the
horrors of the suppression of the Morant Bay rebellion
and he uses expressions which appear to condemn it.
Of the arrest of Gordon he says, "corrupted by the
absolute power of martial law, Eyre was acting as a
Governor, even as a sort of god, not as a man. He
was convinced of Gordon's moral guilt, while being
himself guilty of acting detachment from all normal
standards of morality." He makes the conjecture that
the years of humiliation under Grey in New Zealand
so affected Eyre that "in 1865 the opportunity came
when the rage and frustration of those earlier years
could be wiped out in one burst of action ..."
unbalanced and totally unrelated to the events which
inspired it? So it comes as a shock to realise that he
does not think that Eyre deserved dismissal; in the
concluding sections of the book Eyre is the scape-
goat for the atrocities of others, his dismissal a sop to
the public outcry in England, he becomes the man
who "had saved England's oldest colony". (What has
"oldest" to do with it ? This is merely an appeal to
emotion and is not even accurate.) Saved from what?
The Royal Commissioners reported that there was no
evidence of a general conspiracy but that had the
rebellion in St. Thomas not been speedily suppressed
it might well, given the general "excitement and dis-
content" in the island, have spread to other parishes.
This possibility is not sufficiently considered by
modern Jamaican writers. But the rebellion was in
fact suppressed in a few days, as Eyre himself said,
and he continued trials by court martial simply to
inspire dread "which undoubtedly prevented rebellion
from breaking out in other parts ..." Considering
that Dutton refers to martial law as a "monster" and
to the "holocaust of killing and flogging" it is incred-
ible that one finds him at the same time condoning a
policy of terror to discourage others. Many Jamaicans
feared a general massacre and regarded Eyre as the
saviour of the island. Indeed he had never been so
popular as after the rebellion. These opinions cannot
simply be brushed aside. It is only just that we
should try to visualize Eyre's mental tension in Octo-
ber 1865 with alarming reports flowing in and some
advisers calling for martial law for the whole island.
In Mr. Justice Blackburn's words, Eyre was "not like
us, quietly and coolly, years afterwards, debating and
considering about the matter, but in a position respons-
ible for the colony, and having everybody around
him ... urging him on, and nobody holding him back."
This sort of putting oneself in the scene is part of a
historian's duty. But he should also "quietly and
coolly, years afterwards" consider whether, once the
rebellion was seen to have been stopped in St. Thomas,
4. W.L. Mathieson, The Sugar Colonies & Governor Eyre,
there was a danger of an outbreak elsewhere. Instead
what Mr. Dutton has done is to adopt Eyre's view-
Eyre felt that Gordon was morally guilty and
considered it unjust that he should escape when the
poor men he had misled were punished. Now it can-
not seriously be denied that Gordon had materially
contributed to the "excitement" in St. Thomas;
indeed the Commissioners accused him of brinksman-
ship. But, however morally unjust it may appear, it is
one of the pillars of liberty that a man should not be
hanged for treason and rebellion unless he can be
proved to have committed it. The fatal thing about
Eyre, not only in Gordon's case but throughout, was
that he regarded violent words, expressions of dis-
content and offenses like resisting arrest as evidence
of rebellion. Dutton does not give weight to this. He
says "If Eyre was guilty of the murder of Gordon,
Gordon was guilty of the murder of von Ketelhodt ...
and all- those others at Morant Bay. But he had given
no orders ..." That is precisely the point.
Was Eyre a scapegoat for brutality of which he
knew nothing at the time? The Commissioners stated
that the conduct of Ramsay, the chief culprit, had not
been reported to his superiors. Eyre later said that he
had not had time to read all the detailed reports of the
military. S.H. Bravo is cited by Olivier as saying "it
was only after a great many of these atrocities had
been committed that Mr. Eyre knew anything about it,
and he then used his authority and gave orders to
stop it at once." Olivier, described Bravo as "a valu-
able authority", but he immediately rejected this
evidence on the grounds that Eyre himself did not
claim credit before the Commissioners for issuing such
orders but merely disclaimed knowledge. The hang-
ing of Marshall by Ramsay for grinding his teeth and
giving a ferocious look was reported by the Colonial
Standard on October 21st (Dutton says the 18th but
I have not been able to find this). The Gleaner's
report on the same day gave a different account and
did not mention Ramsay. Also on the 21st was
published a letter from Hobbs dated the 19th, about
shooting prisoners, "Finding their guilt clear and being
unable to either take or leave them". On the 27th
and 28th the Gleaner and the Colonial Standard had
a letter from Ford of the Volunteers reporting flogging
before trial. He also said that if the inhabitants ran
from the soldiers they were shot for running away.
The letter is not dated but would have taken at least
two or three days to reach Kingston and cannot have
been written later than the 25th. On the 25th Nelson
warned his officers that their duty was not to inflict
punishment but to maintain order and afford protec-
tion. Therefore the possibility that the worst incidents
took place before the Governor was aware of what
was happening cannot be dismissed.
How are Eyre's enemies presented? Gordon
although genuine friend of the people was a "nauseous
hypocrite", and the summing up of Bogle is ludicrous.
The leaders of the Jamaica Committee which attempted
(5) For example: who freed Gordon's slave mother and sisters? Flet-
cher writing in 1867 said that Gordon himself bought their freedom.
Roberts said that they remained in nominal servitude till the general
emancipation. Dutton says that Joseph Gordon freed all seven of his
children by his slave mistress as well as herself and her sister. What fs the
to get Eyre tried for the murder of Gordon are "savage
philanthropists" and hypocrites. Certainly, the
Committee went too far in accusing Eyre of wilful
murder and it is curious that Mill, their leader, failed
to raise a similar outcry against the atrocities commit-
ted during the suppression of the Mutiny in India,
a country with which he was connected. The motives
of all these people, the connection, or lack of it,
between the Eyre controversy and reform in England,
all deserve to be analysed but the basic question
whether Eyre was right or wrong is not affected by
Cartoon in 1865 appearing in London
Mr. Dutton's opinion of Eyre will not be popular
in Jamaica where Gordon and Bogle are the national
heroes but it would be a pity for Jamaicans to ignore
this book. In spite of his own beliefs he has presented
the narrative in such a manner that even a reader pre-
viously unacquainted with our history would be able
to draw conclusions quite different from the author's
(though he probably did not intend this; at times one
has the curious impression of reading two books at
once, one written- by a biographer, and one by an
unconditional believer in an Australian hero). The
concluding sections are a surprise for one had not
expected such a presentation of the actual events to
end in so savage a defense. A great deal of the defense
is fantastic but it is only just that the points that can
with reason be made for Eyre should be heard. Of
the books on Eyre this is the only one which tells of
his whole life. It is also the only detailed account of
his Jamaican career in print and therefore available in
the bookshops except for Semmel's "Governor Eyre
controversy" which is mainly concerned with the
prosecutions in England. It gathers together more
information on Gordon than has hitherto been avail-
able in any one book and points up how little we
know for certain about him and how much work
remains to be done. sIt is not the last word but in the
meantime it deserves to be read.
truth of the story that Gordon as agent for an insurance company
collected premiums, pocketed the money and was sued by the company
in 1862? Olivier dismissed stories of this sort as mere gossip. Dutton
accepts them. Neither author appears to have searched the Court
records to see whether such a case actually took place.
~: ~ c.~~i~''~"~?~~
; ' ~1
Two Tin Lids and
a Yard of String
(AN APPROACH TO SCIENCE IN EDUCATION)
by Keith Warren
In older times, men were more often apprenticed
to trades than they are now. Information was difficult
to pass on from one skilled man to the next, and the
learner was obliged to learn by looking so that over
a period of perhaps seven years he would have many
times seen most of the skills of that trade applied,
but at random as the requirements presented them-
selves. In much the same way, snippets of the sciences
were passed on, largely formless and mixed up with
a myriad of workshop practices. The first few of
those experimental scientists we recognize as worth
the name realized that general principles ought to be
drawn out of the multitude of little bits of particular
knowledge so that patterns of behaviour could be
Top Left Physics research equipment in the University of the
West Indies. In all countries, the drive towards scientific
research is accelerating.
Top Right Modem physics teaching equipment is far removed
from the simplicity of the home background of most Jamaican
children. Nevertheless, if they embark on a scientific career,
they meet these complexities by the age of fifteen.
Bottom Young children have the energy and the interest to
build mechanical toys. Where only scraps of wood, string and
tin are available, they make use of these.
Phltncvnnhv Thfa Authfr
It .! lz
recognized and applied to new situations. It obviously
shortens the process of passing on his information if
a man has this shorthand of essentials of the behaviour
of the material world. And if he has a suitable
nomenclature and language to go with it, he has a
powerful tool for investigation into the obscurities of
his environment. This shorthand is the Natural
Sciences and Mathematics. They have their own
techniques and sets of logical processes, coupled with
an integrity of sorts forced on them by the fact that
everybody is potentially able to check anyone else's
assertions and a curiosity as to the obscurities of the
world a curiosity of course much sharpened now-
adays by U.S. Air Force grants and the prospects of
academic promotion. So much value has come to be
put on these general attitudes of science that differ-
ing methods are looked at suspiciously. The world,
convinced by the bewildering and accelerating results
of science, is hard at work inculcating the scientific
attitude into its youth. But not, of course, all the
Jamaica's problems in trying to give its youth and
its people the modern background of scientific tem-
per are of the same kind as those of most other
countries except perhaps in this that here there is
very little enthusiasm for it. It may be argued that
while we can depend on scientific experts from
friendly countries to help, advise and run our technical
enterprises, we hardly need the same amount of
science as other countries in a less happy position.
Or perhaps it is argued that our progress in this
direction is adequate. But as our boys dip their
kerosene tins on a rope's end into the hole where the
collecting rain-water serves as their homes' water
supply, the almost infinitely complex probes, launch-
ed from so near these boys, are dipping into the fogs
of the planet Venus. The arguments are hardly likely
to be advanced seriously, but something has arrested
an enthusiasm one would have supposed natural to a
country in our position. Nevertheless, the other
factors begin to be clear enough and are worth the
beginnings of an analysis.
Boy children are stronger than girls and it usually
falls to them to do more of the manual jobs around
the home. The result of this is naturally to give them
at first a greater experience of how the physical world
behaves. They see the swing of the bucket of water
as they draw it hand-over-hand from the depth of the
tank and they know (or rather they feel, because the
information is not stored in words) that the period of
the swing and the length of the rope shorten together.
They carry a tapering branch home on their head,
providing themselves with a wad of trash to lessen the
pressure on their skull and arranging the log so that it
balances, that is, finding its centre of gravity which
they find by experiment at first but later learn to
judge by eye. It is going to be harder for them to
learn later. But at the early age they soak up experi-
ence and it is at this age they should be given it, both
intentionally by provision of impediment and per-
mission to build tree-houses and smash toys, and also
inadvertently through household tasks. The U.N.
International Children's Emergency Fund could do
much worse than start a factory here to produce free,
simple, educational toys to help accumulate experi-
ence of how the material world behaves. At present
the poor have no toys and the wealthier few.
It would be wrong to say the poor have none. The
traditional little trolley of two sticks, two tin lids and
a yard of string is proof that the capacity to con-
struct, to use experience, follow example and to enjoy
mechanisms is fully there. It is initially the boy's
strength which has started him in such a way, but
there is no inherent reason why a girl should not be
encouraged to equal interest and experience once the
hypocrisy of supposing that this set of things is not a
girl's province, has been laid aside... For as the boy
becomes a young man and has little or no work, he
does much less, and the girl, forced to it by parent-
hood, does much more in fact in so many homes,
because of the absentee fathers, she had to do every-
thing. Given an adequate early training, the girl
might well prove more useful than the man in the
technical and scientific field. But there of course lies
The difficulties in getting all our children an
adequate schooling in the primary stage are well
known. Lapses of attendance at school, the often
rather random nature of the experience in the large
classes, added to the haphazard nature of much of the
home life of many children, all tend to destroy both
the sense of regularity and consistency which must
underlie knowledge about the natural world, and the
discipline (in the sense of strict application to work)
by which it can be attained.
The result of this poor general schooling is all too
often a human being deprived of his rightful powers
because his potentialities have not been realized. It is
a matter for compassion that so many young people
have almost no attributes but their humanity itself,
their acquired characteristics being limited to tilling
the ground and nursing sturdy children.
Science is reliant on the accurate analysis of
information, whether it is from the television cameras
passing Venus or from the microscope over a virus or
from a housewife whose table salt will not keep dry,
and for this, a precise language is required. Jamaican
children are at a profound disadvantage here. The
young chemistry pupil will repeat what he has been
taught of how to weigh out a fraction of a gram of
some compound with great precision, but he will then
remark that he will "throw" it into the test-tube,
because a graded range of words for gentler actions is
not available to him. Or he will in mathematics put
down as a dogmatic statement, what should be defend-
ed by an explanation, because he continually hears his
elders at home and on the radio proceeding by asser-
tion, derision and counter-assertion. Of course this is
perhaps less of a difficulty in science, which needs a
relatively small vocabulary and can fairly quickly
teach it, and a set of techniques in argument which
are fairly standard, than in matters like law or history
where critical analysis is beset with its own trouble-
some imprecisions in any case. But in science it
carries its crudity into manual experiments and it
crudifies the observation of facts. We cannot discuss
a thing for which we have not got the words, just as
most of us cannot describe an odour of any subtlety.
As a result only the simplest elements can be appre-
ciated, and science, which is exact knowledge, is not
possible. At present, the radio programmes encourage
this kind of inanity with the simple, boisterous
speech of the disc jockeys, the rather repetitious
melodies and heavy rhythm of the music, the anodyne
religious programmes without ethical demands and
the bland deceits of the advertisement. The sound of
the programmes permeates Jamaica for 19 hours,
providing the cultural "background" experience which
a child brings to school as his intellectual tools and
materials. Unless it is very strong, his natural temper
risks being dulled; he is readied to accept cliche and
accustomed to conviction by repetition. The propa-
ganda effect is strong and it needs a powerful persona-
ity indeed in a teacher to override it and inculcate an
analytical and critical attitude.
People enjoy looking down on a city, as for example
on to Kingston from Skyline Drive. Perhaps a purview
gives a sense of power. Mystery drops away; the
plan is visible and obviously comprehensible if not
actually comprehended. To understand the elements
of physics can give just such a view of the world, and
it can be wider than the view of the theologian or the
classicist, who in different past times have thought
that theirs was the study which made life whole. With
the view comes the confidence of understanding wide
aspects of the world, and it is a confidence which our
children badly need. The children of Jamaica,
whether in country or city, are already so restricted
in the view they have of the world they are poor
and out of reach for various reasons of books, industry
and early schooling that their confidence in their
ability to handle even themselves and their local
surroundings, let along the complexities of the modern
technological world-view, is very low. Yet this very
knowledge of science and technology is quickly
recasting the minds of the rest of the world.
On a more mundane level, there is the importance
to the artisan, and the cultivator and the would-be
mechanic of this basic knowledge which can enable
him to get the best out of his materials. He usually
cannot at present go to more than the primary school
where he will get little more than simple botanical
science. Even if teachers of science could be found,
the difficulties of language would again defeat him.
The artisans need a basic grasp of science in
order to help themselves. Mr. Anderson of
Jacks Hill, Kingston works in alabaster, using
laborious methods he has evolved himself
Expert technicians are hard to get. Training
schools are few, and even these cannot get
enough school children of the required standard
to enter the courses.
A view of the Computing Centre at the University. Five years
ago there were no computers in Jamaica. Now, there are seven-
teen, and they need highly-trained personnel.
As it is, he often goes out with grave deficiencies in
grammar, and no great ability at writing and reading.
In secondary schools too, lack of science teachers
is acute and since this reflects in poor examination
results, the deficiency is noticed, but little can be
done about it by the school themselves. In all there is
a totally inadequate scientific training, whether simple
for all our children, complex for those with academic
gifts or practical for the people on whom we depend
for our technical development.
Apart from the obvious effect of these shortages,
there is a more hidden one. The tone of the country
is unscientific and un-technical and there are no
general pressures towards improvement. The garage-
hand is not to be seen in his free moments reading a
little manual on motor-cycle engines because he does
not feel that he needs any further knowledge. He will
end up, forty years on,neither knowing nor earning
more than he does now. It may be forgivable in him
not to see the value of improving himself, but it is a
matter for shame that the country does not, and in
the employer, surely a short-sightedness as well. In
just the smae way young cultivators do not possess
the "Farmers Guide" (though they often consult the
almanac and check the phase of the moon before
sowing) nor do they get hold of the correct directions
before putting on the fertilizer. There is no feel for
technical improvement, and yet the whole of Jamaica
is dependent on the ability of her people to make the
most of her resources and theirs. The country now
has nearly twenty computers and a myriad of require-
ments for work on them, ranging from design of the
Rio Cobre scheme to marking the Jamaica School
Certificate exams. It has engineering companies large
and small and great requirements for complex pre-
cision work. It has a huge agricultural industry whose
outputs inevitably need, as the scientists say "optimis-
Our young people are just as likely as any country's
to have the necessary range of potentialities, able to
be cultivated to the necessary standard, but at present
it would be ludicrous to ask many of them even to
approach the problems. The interior of a computer is
as complicated as the difficulty of creating an efficient
marine fishery fleet and somebody has to handle both
if the country is to progress with the rest of the com-
peting world. Anyone who doubts whether the
problems are there should ask the manufacturer
whether he feels he has competent staff at all levels,
especially in the forefront of this development work.
Or the trader whether there are markets within and
outside the country for products and services which
the country could produce but which are unrealised
forlack of indigenous people competent to create them.
The manufacturers and traders certainly realise and
are vocal about incompetence, but it is a strange thing
that in this country they do not do more about it. In
Jamaica, religious organsiations and private individuals,
in addition to the State, have founded schools and
reinforced them, but abroad it is common for industry
and trade to provide material help. Jamaica is grateful
for the bursaries which thirty br forty manufacturers
or manufacturers' associations provide (and which are
better by a factor of between 2 and 6 than the govern-
ment bursaries) but this is not in the long run going to
keep them in qualified staff if the places at which
those bursaries are tenable are in the direst straits.
In Britain, an Industrial Fund, administered without
connection with the government, provides and equips
laboratories in a variety of schools. They have no
connection with the industries themselves beyond
the general but most important one of feeding industry.
Also Esso provides for all schools, a free lending
system of complex, scientific school apparatus, again,
with no strings attached, though they know that their
generosity will be remembered here and there and
that again, they will benefit in a general way from the
improvement in qualification of the scientific man
power of the country. Moreover, in a country with a
responsible conscience and commitment, the example
of valuable actions encourages others. Phillips provide
schools with electronics services, so do Mullards and
so on. Further, most manufacturers encourage their
young workers to go to "day release" classes, and what
is more, the unions demand it. The workers are not
tied, so a company may train its workers only to lose
them, but they take the attitude that they are equally
likely to gain some that other companies have trained
in the same way. In Jamaica, there is no such list of
interest or achievement. Few seem to care. It is a
troubling fact that foreign-owned companies have a
better record of help of this sort than has local industry.
Why manufacturers and traders here should so
dissociate themselves from the area where their effort,
drive and help would so greatly help is a social problem,
connected perhaps with that more general dissocia-
tion from the privileged which is so remarked on by
visitors to this island. Yet in this special case of
scientific and technical training, their interests lie very
clearly in the other direction. A school "generation"
of this training is a relatively short period of perhaps
five years. In other words, a great effort now at the
first year level in the Technical, Junior Secondary and
High Schools, wisely directed by industry to industry's
ends (in the science aspect) would give an output
which industry could use by the third, fourth or fifth
years. If industry does not do this, it will not be done,
that is certain. We shall remain with on one hand, a
dynamic man, driving his new electronics industry
with vigour, foresight and great competence, while
on the other the tousled school mistress with her little
jam jars and her smattering of botany prepares his
workers for him.
At the higher levels, it may be that a college should
be set up as a limited liability company to give scienti-
fic training to teachers, deliberately cultivating practi-
cal and business interests in them so that as well as
creating teachers where there are now none, this would
begin to provide pressure towards the sciences and the
practical aspects at that. Such a venture need not
cost industry much and anyway, as they might be the
first to remark, it could probably go against income
It was the launching of Sputnik 1 which made the
U.S. think deeply about the scientific education of
its children. For some decades previous to this,
education generally in the U.S. had been influenced
by those psychologists who had urged a rather undis-
ciplined early education in which children have to
follow their own aptitudes without too much pressure
from the teacher. The education was to be liberal and
wide-ranging with specialization coming later than, for
example was the case in English or Russian schools.
Now although this is a wise attitude in education (and
it is still a characteristic of American school and college
life) it introduces serious difficulties in scientific
education of those children who must end up as
scientists, technologists and engineers. The huge
numbers of these needed to advanced and to run the
laboratories and factories of the U.S. mean that any
error in their training has a crippling effect on industry.
The difficulty is this; that to bring a student to
the frontier of his scientific subject requires a long
training, which gets longer as the frontiers advance
and the knowledge complexities. You could give him
Photo Courtesy Esso & Tindale Briscoe
Modem industrial enterprise expects sophisticated engineers.
If they are not available the country suffers. This is the
Kingston Refinery of Esso West Indies Limited.
a narrower specialisation, but then he would be of
less use. You could advance the whole student popu-
lation in scientific subjects, so that subsequent pro-
gress of the specialist is easier, but this is a big task for
an educational system to undertake. Or you could
improve the educational techniques in science so that
progress is more efficient and therefore faster. The
last solution was undertaken in 1957 in the U.S. by
the Physical Sciences Study Committee and by
similar bodies in the other sciences, drawn from
places like M.I.T.,Cal. Tech and Harvard. Their pro-
posals resulted in the publication of books of up-to-
date curricula and the production of new teaching
materials. But above all, they produced an attitude,
not new indeed, but at last well worked-out and deep-
ly believed in. It has spread rapidly and in 10 years
has spanned the world, from the major schemes of the
PSSC in the U.S. to the similar Nuffield Scheme of
Britain and the UNESCO pilot experiment in Sao
Paulo in Brazil, down to the new books from Africa,
the work of the Maths and Science Centre for Schools
at U.W.I. Jamaica and the efforts of convinced
individual schools and teachers. The attitude is that
of insisting on plenty of experimental work early in
the student's education. It is allied to the production
of hosts of modern experiments in place of the
academic and "bookish" problems of the previous age
and to the use of masses of apparatus and equipment
of all sorts. It also recognizes that the laissez faire
attitudes in respect of at least scientific work in schools
and colleges must be replaced by efficient and clear
help on the scientific path early in the pupil's careers.
The problems of applying these attitudes in Jamaica
are hard to solve. Lack of teachers means almost
always that our younger children suffer. While,
understandably, stress falls on 'O' level results from
schools, it would take a brave head teacher to put
his best qualified staff into the lower years and prob-
ably a suicidally-inclined Government to propose
to pay teachers a differential to encourage some highly
qualified ones into the primary system. Then again,
our schools with their strained funds usually cannot
afford even adequate apparatus for old-style science.
Add to this the fact that the books provided for the
new schemes, which define their early work from
common-life examples, are not suitable for schools in
Jamaica. Their instances are foreign to our children
and they assume too much the child's experience of
an industrial society. Naturally, to re-write suitable
books is a long, expert task even with the main work
done as it is. Apparatus production with our local
materials, though very wothrwhile and vastly cheaper
than foreign purchase needs an expert scientist with
local as well as physico-educational knowledge, which
is just what we lack.
At the risk of seeming to multiply difficulties
without expanding on our natural advantages, which
are the great and unwakened potentialities of our
children, it is worth instancing another difficulty. It
is really the same one (of shortage) in a new dress,
but this time with at least the beginnings of its own
solution contained in the statement of the problem.
Where there are science staff teaching in High Schools,
at the levels necessary for University entry, their
classes are often -ery small (perhaps four pupils) and
these are in widely-scattered establishments, all with
high "overhead" costs and all committed to buying
many pieces of expensive apparatus which, once used
and taught, (a period of perhaps 2 hours) lie idle for
the rest of the year. Engaged with each of these tiny
classes is an expert, very highly in demand, paid rather
lowly in comparison with industry which is competing
for him, having long holidays and often called on in the
course of ordinary school life, to do rather generalised
duties such as taking games and running the scouts.
The country cannot afford to be so inefficient in a
situation as difficult as the present one in science
teaching. Teaching is not an industrial enterprise and
one cannot speak of efficiencies there in the same
way, but a common-sense analysis must inevitably
suggest something in the nature of a Sixth-Form
Science College for our children. As it is, many of the
students who have been totally unable to get their
sixth-form physics do indeed combine, and that is
into a class of 200 in the Preliminary Course at the
University. It is run by only two teachers.
So large a class as 200 needs a new approach, and
modern techniques are employed at U.W.I. (although
the brevity of the course of 21/2 terms makes the
desirable slow experimental approach impossible). For
one thing, students are helped in their reading of a
subject by the preparation of what has become known
as "programmed learning". This makes for effective
learning. The effectiveness is then judged by frequent
examinations marked by computer. These and similar
modern techniques are available to schools in Jamaica,
and some have already turned to them through the
Centre for Schools.
Nevertheless the unpleasant truth is that we are
lagging in our scientific education so badly that with
the present rate of progress we shall not do more than
stand still while the world moves on and our people
feel an increasing disadvantage. An index of it is this:
if some international situation caused the withdrawal
of foreign skilled scientific help could we maintain
ourselves, now or in ten years time? Already it is
probably later than we think and the unhappy answer
to that question may never be altered unless the
problems get their solution now. A sufficient number
of people must believe that the problems exist, and
this is a matter for propaganda. Then a pressure must
be quickly built up by those anxious and willing to
solve them, each in his own sphere of interest and
power. These stages must be gone through by the
private citizens of all classes and this is the most
difficult to be achieved. They must also be gone
through by industrial operators and people in trade,
large and small. In some senses, this is the easiest
because their personal profit from it is fairly clear.
Educators who show a disposition to apathy in face
of the problems, it is probably best to by-pass by fair
means or foul. As to influences which harm the
educative effect, or unsatisfactory early schooling
which does not form a base for its later specialisms,
public opinion should be roused to act. It is also
tantalising that we have the techniques, the equipment
and the staff for improved high-level teaching in more
adequate quantities but are prevented from using it
efficiently by lack of central use of resources. But
that is a very political matter unless private enter-
prise should decide to short-circuit it. What is most
important is that some action should occur and occur
quickly. This matter of education affects all of us to
some extent. But to half our population, it is of
intense importance. Half of us are children.
..I. I~ N. IWO -l 1__0_ _hi
Bambara Tibe, Sudan
Worn at a wedding ceremony this
one-piece "antelope mask has figure
depicting honoured bride.
"Aston I find this collection as interesting as I am
sure everybody else does. Now I have seen collections
of African Art in several Museums abroad. I have seen a
couple of them in Nigeria, in Switzerland, and also some
of the collections in the British Museum. I know that
over the past few years, the African Governments have
all become extremely conservative in letting out of their
country materials such as you have exhibited here. I am
not going to ask you how you got these out, but my
interest is how did you conceive of setting up a collection
of this kind in Jamaica and why you thought that this
would be of interest and value in this country?"
"To answer the second part of your question; I have
always thought of an African collection of this kind and
as a matter of fact, my interest in Africa goes back to my
very early childhood. When I was about six years old,
I attended a missionary service in St. Elizabeth, my
parish, and listened to a missionary worker describe the
beauty of some of the African forms, some of which
were unfortunately regarded as idols. The idea occurr-
ed to me that I would like people to see what these
objects were like and who were the people creating them.
And later on, when I became a school teacher, I collected
objects for my primary schools. It was one way of getting
the older people of the villages where I taught to take a
lively interest in what was going on, by bringing to the
school or sending for the school, some of the objects
which they themselves had created.
11d 1-Ccol-dal br
11-. R. N. Mffray
iSCLISSCS African art
'Ith Dr. Aston Taylor.
io tograph v Derck Jones
..--,- - ~c-
".- ..L .
Masai Head-dress, Kenya.
Ostrich feathers on a leather frame.
Piece used on ceremonial occasions.
When I studied Biology, and got my Ph.D. in genetics
of corn, I thought it would be an opportunity for me to
work in Africa for some time. I first served the Jamaican
Government as an agronomist at Hope, then I did a nine
year period of teaching and training and research work
in Africa. Now, this to me was an excellent opportunity
for seeing tribal ways and people and getting to know
something of their culture. I travelled deliberately to
twenty-eight African countries in order to bring together
the objects you see here. They come from all of those
African countries and they represent eighty-seven tribes
of Africa, several of which are related to Jamaicans."
Mr. Murray: "This is very interesting. I myself, have had some
experience in Africa. In the job I had, I was supposed to
be connected with some forty countries but infact,I didn't
get around to anything like that. My interest in African
art therefore is almost casual.
You mentioned the missionary connection and it
sprang to my mind as you did so, that I read somewhere
that "religion is the true mother of all Negro art." Now
you have here a wide range of material executed in
various media. Would you say that of most of what
you have here, or nearly all of it has been inspired
by religious motives? The old missionaries who
came first to this country naturally assumed that any
object that was shaped by these Africans and used for
any purpose that looked like magic or art was something
bad something to be discouraged. We now realize
that even if the religiosity that is behind a particular
object is not something we would encourage as
Christians, we see that at the basis of it, there is some-
thing more than just the desire to express oneself. Now,
how would you place the objects that you have here in
relation to this statement that religion is the mother, the
mainspring, the basis of all African art? Is that mainly
true about all you have here?"
Founder of the Inafca Museum, at right, explains Symbolism of Bamilike Chiefs Stool to Mr. R.N. Murray .
Dr. Aston Taylor,
Fertility Headgear (Chi-wara)
Bambara Tribe, Sudan.
This antelope headgear worn in the
fertility dance associated with field
"Yes. I would say so Reggie. I would say that
perhaps 80% of the objects now on display of the more
than 700 pieces you see here, are in a very direct way
connected to the religions of the tribes. Ceremonial
objects are usually regarded as religious objects and they
have to be differentiated because the other objects
might be knives, throwing knives, swords and the
walking sticks. Most of these are the functional objects.
like the Chiefs head-dress from the Masai, which hangs
over the door as you enter and the wedding mask of the
Bambara, the Chiefs stool from the Cameroons, the
Bamilike tribe these objects are steeped in religion.
We think of, for instance, the Yoruba of Nigeria! In
their religion, in their life they have more than four-
hundred gods who must be reverenced and each god in
the culture has an object made in honour of him and
other objects made in honour of his relatives I mean
the relatives of the gods. So when you deal with one
tribe, it has many gods and as many ways of honouring
them, in the form of objects of art and sculpture, paint-
ings, drama and the like."
"I suppose too that one might say there is something
functional even in the use of an object whose origin is
religious. Take for example the Chi-wara which is a carv-
ing in wood of an antelope; it's from the Bambara
tribe in West Africa is that right?"
"Yes that is correct."
"I gather that the Chi-wara is used in a dance which is
expected to bring fertility to the plants to make the
plants thrive well at seeding time. Is that so?"
"So there is a sort of magic there or, if you like, some-
thing of a religious nature. Now then, when we come to
the Chiefs stool, we notice that it is also made of wood,
it has three effigies of leopards and three effigies of the
human form. What is the connection here? Would it be
that the artist is trying to capture something mysterious,
some power in the leopard which the chief ought to
enjoy? Is that the idea?"
"Yes. The leopard, like other animals which are
beasts of prey, must have, in order to survive, certain
qualities, or virtues we may call them, and one of these
would be the virtue of patience. The virtue of stealth
and cunning, because it must lurk in order to capture its
prey. So one could transfer that symbolism to the chief
himself. He becomes a symbolic person with the qualities
of patience, long suffering, cunning, stealth and so on.
Now, the human forms -there are three of them and they
represent offering bearers people who take gifts for the
Chief. Then you notice,Reggie, that above the leopard's
head, there is a carving of a bird. Now that bird is a
symbolic bird again. The pelican which is often associated
with the after-life. It is believed among the Bamilike
tribe that when the person dies, the pelican comes and
collects his spirit and flies away to the other world,
flies away to heaven as we would say in our culture."
Wooden Toy Tanzania.
With traditional facial marks and
elongated earlobes. This one-piece
wooden carving shows a boy attired
as a British Soldier.
"Talking about the leopard, reminds me of the work
of art I saw once executed in Benin in the eighteenth
century. It was a leopard too with the spots made of
brass pins, an exquisite work. It was said to belong to
the King and presumably therefore, this animal is of
more than passing interest in more than one part of
There is also a question I have in mind which springs
from a thing I have heard repeated and read too, that in
Africa and in the matriachal societies, wood carving
predominates in quality at any rate. Have you ever
thought of a reason for this or is it true?"
"I am very much inclined to agree with your question
and perhaps make of the question a statement of fact. I
have also in my African travels been told that carvings
of wood for instance are more associated with women. I
know that it is also seen here in the collection, that in
certain of the figures, the fetish figures and the ancestor
figures (you see across in the case here) the anatomy of
the woman seems to come in for a great deal of drama-
tization. Her breasts, her hips and her biological, func-
tioning parts are often emphasized in sculpture."
"Is this perhaps due to a concern with fertility? The
African artist generally emphasizes the part of the body
that has great significance to him. The head of course,
is the seat of the mind and thinking, the navel because it
is regarded as the centre of life in connection with the
mother, the genital organs which are responsible for
reproduction. And there was a connection also between
reproduction in the woman and fertility of the land.
Would that perhaps be the reason you think?"
"Yes. I have in one of the cases here, a very attractive
little object from the Mende tribe. It is a pretty little
stone carving, some two-hundred years old, the one to
the right back, the one beside the Nigerian soft-stone
carving. Now, that is a fetish object placed in the field.
It shows a woman in quite an advanced stage of pregnancy
and the belief among the tribe was that because she is
pregnant and very expectant; therefore placed among
the crops, such a figure would encourage higher plant
yields; I think what you have heard is quite so, and the
association with fertility is definitely true."
"Well, this leads me to another question. This
business of fertility links our minds with the fairly long
past before the arrival of science in Africa. Now you and
I know that science has arrived in Africa almost as much
as it arrived here, science and technology. To what
extend would most of modern art in Africa be related to
"I would say that the modern artist, the contemporary
artist in Africa has selected from science and technology
many of the motifs which you see decorating some of the
newer objects here. There is a very attractive example
that is the boy on the bicycle from Tanzannia. Now that
is a very lively example of what you are saying. Here is
the boy carved some eighteen years ago dressed as a
soldier, a British soldier . . .
"And a very powerful looking one too."
"(laugh) . yes, and . riding a bicycle. Of course
the bicycle is not of African ancient culture but you will
notice that tribal marks on the face are distinctly African
and the pierced ears and elongated lobes. Those are dis-
tinct African cultural features so that there is a strong
combination. We have one or two objects here too, for
instance, an African spoon across the way, this comes
from Nigeria. It shows the handle made like a pistol or
a gun. It's a gun with several rounds of ammunition and
the spoon itself is a very old spoon, it goes back about
seventy years. So it meant that as soon as the African
saw the advent of this new life, or say the European
culture coming in, he was able to select from it, certain
elements and combine them with his art. This brings it
out into the modern world."
"What is interesting is that your bicycle rider and the
bicycle itself are by no means merely representational.
The artist has not lost the symbolism. He picks out the
essentials, the thing is almost abstract, and yet it is
obvious what it is. I think this is a most interesting point.
"This is very interesting. There is too, a wide range
of subjects as well as of media. Would you like to
comment on this? Take wood for example, you have
many pieces in wood. Incidentally, it's a pity that so
much of African art is in wood because wood doesn't
last for an extremely long time. But would you say
something about the range of subjects as well as of
"Yes. A very timely question. I am very glad that
you have asked this because it comes back again to my
very beginnings as a collector when I went out to Africa
in 1956. I started off in a very casual way and I collected
first an African spoon. That was about three months
after I arrived there. And then I said, this is going to be
a very absorbing occupation remember I mentioned
myself as a teacher and a research worker but I when
deliberately started. I discovered that I could make this
collection a representative one and I deliberately collected
objects from several media. In this-Museum therefore,
one might say Reggie, that I have here a complete
collection. Complete in the sense that all the media in
which the Africans work and express themselves, all of
them are represented here."
"But take this musical piece here. What is it called?
The "belafon"? Isn't it a sort of xylophone."
"It is the xylophone. Now ..... "
"What is it made of; I am curious about the top!"
"The top of it, the keyboard, is made of the wood of
the bitter tree and the staves consist of carved pieces of
wood and they provide particular sounds because of the
nature of the carving. You can see that they have cer-
tain convex and concave parts of them. Then they are
supported by the echo chambers which are made of our
'calabash' or gourd and those are the resonance boxes.
The Liberian Xylophone (Belafon) of the Manaingo noe.
Gourds underneath graduated hard-wood strips are of varying sizes and produce wide
range of sounds.
Talking Drum Baluba Tribe, Congo.
Sounds from this wooden drum are produced by pounding
on the lips (top). Two-tonal effect is due to different
thicknesses of sides.
That instrument is very carefully planned. Technology
comes in the form of its design, it is one-hundred-and-
fifty years old.
"That is very good. Do you have any other musical
instruments that you could just mention Aston?"
"There are several instruments. I would say more
than twenty of them. I will mention a few. The talking
drum from the Congo is a fine example of the African's
way of communicating. The talking drum is placed at a
strategic point in the village, and when something
happens, somebody runs along to the man who has a
drum, tells him of it and then he gives the signal. The
signal is heard at a certain distance and then it is relayed
by another person. Then we have the African rattles
from Benin City. These are beautiful carvings from
Benin and they are used for the dance. The tom-tom is
a well known name in African culture and I have a fine
example of the Tom-tom from the Baluba tribe in the
Congo. This instrument is very effective because by
experiment, the tribal men have found the use of certain
skins which, when combined give the best musical effect.
Two Nigerian Benin Rattles of the Yoruba Tribe.
These percussion instruments carved from hardwood are
used in the Dance.
One of these combinations is the use of the elephant's
hide in combination with the antelope's hide. There are
several small instruments like the guitars which are
carried, they are called guitars in the West, which
are carried by the walkers. Men on journeys carry these
little things. They look in appearance like guitars
without the mid rib and they are plucked with both
Tom-Tom Baluba Tribe, Congo.
Two skins (Elephant's at top. Antelopes at
bottom) combined to give hollowed-out wood-
en drum unusual tonal quality.
hands, the fingers of both hands. There are several other
musical instruments, among them, perhaps one would
mention the old tambourine. We have a very fine tam-
bourine in the collection from nineteenth century Egypt.
One of its very interesting features consists of the inlay
work in mother-of-pearl shells and ivory, and the Egypt-
ians have used the tambourine for many centuries."
"You know, there is something that has always
puzzled me .. .when one sees the African artist at work
and watches his methodical approach, when one gets a
notion of his sense of style, when one sees the concentra-
tion he puts into it,one is amazed that here in Jamaica
and in many other parts, most of the African works of
art of these kinds here are referred to as primitive. Now,
would you say that the word primitive is a fair descrip-
tion of material of this kind?"
"Not at all! I think the word primitive has to be
qualified. Primitive, perhaps in the sense that these tri-
bal peoples were not exposed to a system of training and
education involving reading and writing. But their works
here are by no means primitive. As a matter of fact,
they are regarded as classical works. The designs are
very strong and the decorations is in such beautiful detail
that many African objects take their place among the
classical works of the world."
"In fact I suppose the only primitive aspect of many
of them would be the level of the technique used. I
suppose that this might be allowed."
"Yes, one might allow that if one compares the
African throwing knife with modern steel, the finish is
is not the soft finish of the modern piece".
"And yet some of the Benin work that I have seen in
Shield Zulu Tibe, South Africa.
Made from cow's hide with inter-lapping
the University of Lagos, not metal, but even some of the
metal ones, seem to have exquisite finish. Did you see
the Lagos Museum?"
"Oh yes! I saw some very attractively finished pieces
there. As a matter of fact, this Museum contains, I would
say, a very fair example of the techniques that can be used
and the finishing techniques and they vary from tribe to
tribe. There are some tribes like the Baluba of the Congo
for whom the design is the main thing. There are other
tribes for whom the design is one thing, but the execu-
tion, the fineness of work is something else. Both tribes
deserve credit for what they do. I think now-a-days the
unfinished work seems to fit in quite as well with the
modern concept of art. The idea is what prevails and the
finished product takes second place."
"Aston would you make a contrast to me, or a
distinction perhaps, between two types of material that
one finds here and in other Museums of this kind? There
is the article that is done for art's sake perhaps with
religion involved but there is also the article that is com-
pletely functional but is executed artistically. I think it
would be and might be interesting if you made reference
to some of the pieces here that illustrate either type.
Would you care to do that?"
"I will try. The shields for instance are perhaps a
variety of shapes which show art as well as function.
The Zulu shield is often regarded as a simple object. Its
artistry of beauty is due to its uncommon shape; the
decoration is still done in the same media of leather; it
reminds one in a way of the Masai shield which is not a
conventional shape; it is very subtle and I think although
it is a functional object, it certainly has an artistic con-
tribution to make. There are other shields, Reggie, like
the Dinka shield, the large one on the right that looks
rather like the people themselves. The Dinkas are tall
slender men with very wide shoulders, very narrow and
flat bodies; and that one is made from the hide of the
hippopotamus. It is a fine example of a functional
object with very little decoration but sufficient there to
show that even in a functional object, the idea of
decoration is never ignored. Then we have from Somali-
land a beautiful African shield which is purely ceremon-
ial. I am referring to the small one, the centre piece that
is made from the skin of the rhinocerous. This
purely decorative. You will not find the hunter using
those in the woods nor would you find him taking it
against another tribe. Such a shield would be used for a
ceremonial affair. There are other functional objects
here which are also very beautifully and elaborately
decorated. The leather bag over there, the water bag,
the money bag and the food bag from the Sahara Desert.
I hope that answers that part of your question."
"Yes, indeed, and you could also have made mention
of the purely decorated mural here embossed in. ... is it
"It is aluminium. This object, I found in Nigeria. It
is a Yoruba piece, very exquisitely worked out. It
shows the place of women in the society and the role of
the men. Now, if you look at that panel for a little while,
you will see that the women, the three women depicted
there, are the load bearers. The men seem to have a
lighter role in life. They are musicians while the women
carry loads. Now this is a very modern piece because I
got it only eight years ago and I actually saw it being
Mask Senufo Tribe, Ivory Coast
This 19th Century Mask has awesome
visage due to the high dome and appears
to represent a Bush cow.Re-incarnation
is involved in culture of tribe.
finished by the young artist. Across the hall in the
opposite direction is a very important piece, one that is
just over two-hundre'd years old. I refer again to a
Yoruba panel. The Queen stands in the middle and her
court is scattered around her but that very decorative
piece of work was part of a gate, the gate to the Queen's
"In what is it executed?"
"It is ebony,. . the queen of course occupies a very
high position, the highest position among the women of
the tribe, and her gate had thirty-two of these panels.
So here is a very elaborate piece of decoration which
also was functional."
"There is just another thing I would like to mention..
...among the Yoruba tribe, one gathers that there is an
enormous number of masks for different purposes. Here
I notice that you have two striking masks, one over that
side and this one here, which looks like a death mask or
something . would you say something about them?
This one is made of wood isn't it?"
"Yes. They are both made of wood. Now, the first
one to which you referred, is actually not a Yoruba one,
but comes from Liberia. It belongs to the Gio tribe.
That one is also a funeral mask or death mask, so both of
these hang over the window because their purpose is
similar. The Senufo mask which is the oldest one in
Jamaica we presume, certainly the oldest in my collec-
tion, is over two-hundred years old that one is the
mask that depicts re-incarnation. So, the Africans had
some ideas about the life after the physical life and re-
incarnation is an important part of African culture. I
have a very rare mask from Nigeria, the polychrome
which stands across there on top of a piece of cloth from
Ghana Ashanti. The polychrome is one of the rare
pieces, because this ceremonial mask was usually burnt
at the end of the ceremony for which it was designed. So
it is a very rare piece. That has the ears of the rabbit and
the tension drums and the colours are put on by the use
of local dyes."
"Well to a large extent Western culture seems to be
obsessed with the beauty of the human form. Now, I
have seen marvellous beauties in Africa. I have seen a
number of heads chiefly in wood, executed I think in
Northern Nigeria and portraying a very lovely Pulanee
women. Now, to what extent is African art concern-
ed with representing human beauty for its own sake."
"A very difficult question because many of the
objects here, and I would say about 70% of the ones
done to represent human forms are very "distorted."
The abstraction is part of nearly all African representa-
tion and I would say that among some of the tribes
"representing" objects as they are, is not regarded as art.
The object in nature is used as the basis for creating a
form and if we go back to the Bamilike stool from the
Cameroons, we see, that the figures there are completely
out ofpproportion when we think of ourselves. The
heads of these human figures are one third the length of
the body and that means immediately that you are deal-
ing with an abstract forms, but in that exaggeration, I
think you will find that the great beauty and impact of
these objects lies and it derives from this abstraction.
the Fulani women are among the world's beautiful
women and I think my concept of beauty is that in all
forms of nature there is a kind of beauty, and we will
find it certainly in Africa.
Head of a Yoruba Woman, Benin, Nigeria.
Carved in ebony it shows an old hair-style in which a hair-piece is used.
Now, Africa is also the place where the woman wears
jewelry and we have on display here some fine examples
of African women bead work. These were ceremonial
largely because the women did a great deal of the hard
work and would not wear their jewelry every day.
When there were ceremonial and state occasions, the
women put on these elaborately decorated beads. Leather
work is also a part of the decoration and let us refer to
some of the bark-dyed cloth which is a part of Nigerian
"And indeed some of the blues that I have seen in
cloths, the loveliest and bluest blues, are certainly from
"Yes. The anklets of the Ashanti must not be left
out, the marriage anklets worn by the first wife of a
chief. Those incidentally, are 400 years old and they are
elaborately decorated. The bracelets and pendants show
the beauty of form and decoration, which is again basic
African culture. And of course as you can see, many
African motifs of decorations are still to be seen in
Jamaican art and craft today, forming part of our cul-
October 29, 1960: Salisbury, S. Rhodesia. when I was courting my wife I could never dis-associate
those full round buzzing trees from her.
The sky is more overcast than I had expected.
Already the rains are threatening: hope they don't
burst during my trek north. It is close to sunset, but
there are no marked colour effects to point the end of
day. Once or twice the mornings have been supremely
clear and lucid but the sunsets have disappointed:
usually a sort of saffron spread over green, and both
overlaid by a grey haze. But the things of glory here
are the jacarandas. It is not often that a colour so far
away from red simply vibrates, as does the blue-
purple-mauve of these trees here. Rounded and dom-
ed, every now and again the sun holds one of them as
in a spotlight: all of a sudden one is aware of the vis-
ion and can merely fetch a sigh from deep down and
turn back to some distraction such as work, or writ-
ing a letter to one's wife. The loveliness of these trees,
completely covered in little blue trumpets which one
cannot discern separately, simply hurts. Funny how
one loses the sensitivity to colour. Once I could hard-
ly have written for so many days without recording
the vibrations and the orchestrations of the colours in
the trees and shrubs, in the grass, in the sky. Now I
have just awakened to them today. Then I think of
the lignumvitae at home: blue of bud or with golden
pods, the whole green of the tiny delicate leaves
covered over with the blue of the buds, or the gold of
the pods, and the bees going mad with the sweetness:
I notice that the flowers here although vibrant in
colour the red hibiscus, the red and yellow cannas,
the one or two flambouyants, the rich red roses, the
jacaranda all these, although colourful, strike me as
being particularly sexless.
At night at supper with C.R. How pleasant they
are and how good to me: After a few drinks, to a dis-
cussion group meeting. This club meets regularly to
consider matters of current interests to Rhodesian
Society. This evening they are to be led off by a
paper "That the Liberals are, or have been danger-
ous to S.R." About 35 people present: two of whom
are black Africans. So we start with the problem
facing us: 3 million Black Africans, 300,000 White
Africans; let us suppose even the highest rate of ignor-
ance, lack of education, lack of interest on the part of
the black people (although this is not necessarily well
founded supposition) and on the part of the white the
greatest interest, insight and all the rest (again not
necessarily a well founded supposition) then how can
the country get anywhere, how can there be any real
understanding, if even in the most interested circles
the proportion of blacks and whites discussing their
mutual problems is so lopsided?
The paper that opens the discussion is somewhat
Drawn by Osmond Watson
About 35 people present: 2 of whom are black Africans. So
we start with the problem facing us: 3,000,000 black Africans,
300,000 white Africans.
in the German academic tradition; wide generaliza-
tions, learned in tone, historical in reference. One
wonders whether all the references to the French
Riviera, to Vienna, to Czechoslovak etc., are really
relevant. He makes a good point, however, that the
liberals are digging their own graves because when the
black Africans take over they may be efficient or not,
they may develop the country or not; they may be
kind or not but they have no intention of accepting
all sorts of signed protests from university professors,
and of changing their policies because of such protests.
(cf. Ghana). Later, in discussion, one of the Africans
assured the speaker that he is wrong about this, and
that the new African Government will welcome Europ-
eans. I myself don't think that this is the point at all.
I suspect that we will very soon have out and out
dictatorship in which the European suffers no more
than the African. But paranoia is abroad. I doubt
that Africans are going to bother with opposition
and all that perhaps they should not, but it is a
little disingenious (perhaps the better word would be
"muddle-headed") of the Liberals to behave as if the
changes they are asking for are going to bring some
sort of slightly left of centre liberal government. A
good point made by a black African was that much of
an 'African' government's behaviour will depend on
what memories the "natives" have of their take-over
of power. According to him the precise quality of the
take-over will affect for a long time the kind of rela-
tionship that will exist between the old wielders of
power (the whites) and the new wielders of power.
One of the problems is going to be the African's
inexperience in governing, in responsibility. When
people take over departments or governments they
begin to realize that their words and actions have con-
sequences; they can no longer simply ask I~- things.
This they used to when they knew that the prnaiction
of what they were asking for would not be their pro-
blem. Having the role of producing rather than mere-
ly of asking might have a tempering effect on the new
I'd be more hopeful if black Africans had been
offered more opportunity of experiencing the res-
ponsibilities of office. As things have gone, they are
more likely to develop dreadful frustrations when they
take over, and they would be somewhat less than hu-
man, or should one say more than human, if they did
not then imitate a few of the highly civilized and
European rulers we have had in the last few years -
people who consider any idea other than their own
to be negative, treacherous and worthy only of being
This is all very difficult to decipher; to guess what
is going to happen is even more difficult. What is the
balance to be struck between each individual having
the liberty to be as critical as possible, and each
Government not being hindered in its legitimate desire
to put up the best plans for its country, and to de-
mand that it be not hindered in pushing these for-
ward? I sometimes wonder if the answer is not to be
found in a healthy and thorough going anarchism, by
which I do not mean lawlessness, but a strong govern-
ment with plans and ideas having to convince a strong
trade union movement (but not on the 19th century
model), and a strong church, and strong professions,
and strong business elements. There are so many
things to be balanced: that a society must be united,
but not in slavery nor in uniformity: that a Govern-
ment must have power, but that power corrupts; that
to think of any group of people separately and away
from the rest of the world is insanity itself. It has
been said that if the Congo could have been complete-
ly sealed off for another 15 years, all would have been
well with the Belgian view of bringing "civilization".
No doubt some of the ideas of gradualism which are
being put forward in S.R. could have worked if put
into effect 10 years ago. The importance of the 10
year gap is not in reference to what has or has not
happened in S.R., but what has happened in the rest
of the world, especially in Africa.
Then there is the wonderful word "European".
We must keep our "European way of life". Very
often, but not always, this means "We must do lots
of things they no longer do in Europe (e.g. have ser-
vants, etc.)" It also means looking at Europe as being
in some absolute sense the centre of the world a
view which any informed man now living in Europe
painfully recognizes to be impossible and untrue. It
also has to do with certain understandable, but hardly
absolute, tastes in smell and food. And then it has,
to be fair, to do with certain ideas and ideals about
individual liberty, about law courts, about criticising
a man's idea without ipso facto criticising the man.
But how many people entering this country and tick-
ing the box on the immigration form that indicates
that they are "European", really share these ideas?
And if sharing these ideas makes them European, then
a few black Africans might as well write themselves
down as European. And equally a few well known
"Europeans" just can't qualify for the title. Was
Hitler, in this qualitative use of the term, a European?
Is Kruschev? Isn't Mr. Adu of Nigeria? What of Sir
Grantley Adams of the West Indies? The truth is that
it is nearly impossible to classify people into races
even on the basis of physical inherited characteristics,
and when you try so to characterise them on the
grounds of necessarily having certain habits and ideals
in common, because they apparently have certain
physical traits in common, then you are really in
And what about the Italians who helped to build
the wonderful Kariba dam? Were they Europeans?
It's most interesting that a country that will tell you
that it needs Europeans to build it up and to form a
sort of managerial class, and to bring 'civilization' to
Africa, did not beg the Italians to remain. On the con-
trary, it was understood from the beginning that they
were not to. Are they by any chance too dark to be
European? Or are they, O crime most criminal, Kaffir
lovers? Perhaps I'm just being nasty; perhaps I should
be able to see that the Italians could never be as
European as the bricklayers, plumbers and railway
workers who come out from England and who can be
trusted to vote the right way on any issue concerned
with the forwarding of African claims.
After the opening of the discussion, one of the
leading young liberals was called upon to speak "against
the motion". (Don't these English people ever get
over their university pranks and games?) He was in
many ways a bright young man, but he did not do too
well because he insisted on making debating points
and on showing that the things which the speaker had
said, even if true, did not really support the motion.
Of course the issue at the bottom was very much
whether the whites in the room would be allowed any
real life when the blacks took over, and whether
activities of the liberals were helping to make the
hand-over not only possible but decent. Life, death,
bloodshed, freedom of speech or dictatorship (of the
left or right). These were the issues but the young
liberals who find Whitehead so impossible and the law
and order Bill so repugnant (which it certainly is)
could do nothing more than sound a bit superior, and
make debating points in the best "Oxford Union"
style. How much real and shocking harm have the
ancient universities of England done by sending out
to the corners of the world adolescents who never got
over their first love, and who are completely incapable
of seeing what is right in front of their noses, so pre-
occupied are they with lolling on the banks of the
Isis or the Cam!
Further the use of the word "European", which
appears on the immigration forms, some one asked
what is the meaning of calling a person of Jewish-
Spanish origin, whose family has lived in Egypt for the
last 200 years, "European"? He might as well have
asked the point of calling an American negro "African"
or an "Indian" from the West Indies "Asian" but
then this is the sort of nonsense all racists, not least
of all the black ones, go in for!
After the general discussion, there was coffee, then
I was asked to stay on to join a smaller group which
wanted to continue the discussion. How difficult it
is to get anything straight once an irrelevant and hazy
category like race gets into the argument. It was
extremely difficult to make the point that because
Jamaica did not have segregated schools, and because
some other forms of a colour bar did not operate, it
was not necessarily paradise, without any kind of pro-
blems whatsoever. I was reminded of a student who
came to our Department of Education, University
College of the West Indies, from a country with a
segregated school system. She had suffered as a black
person. She then visited Jamaica, and was so impress-
ed with the racial arrangements that she decided to
return to Jamaica to pursue her studies at the Univer-
sity College of the West Indies. The first time she
visited a school in Jamaica, she suffered an experience
that can only be called traumatic. The school was one
of the old type elementary schools; it was crowded;
there were few books; many of the teachers were
untrained. She found it difficult to face that in her
dreadful segregated society there were better schools
(even for the underdogs) than in a sensibly unsegregat-
ed society. She really found it earth-shaking! It is the
common fallacy that all people of a certain sort are
good boys, and all of any other kind are bad boys.
One woman (at the discussion in Salisbury) said to
me in obvious distress, "Do you mean to tell me that
in the West Indies, a predominantly non-white popu-
lation would vote for a white member of parliament?"
Poor woman! Can't blame her entirely. People like
Dr. Banda and the other darlings of English liberals do
sometimes say extraordinary things!
What is the meaning of "the moment?" It usually
comes at sunset, "the violet hour that brings the sailor
home from the sea." There are certain shades of deep
blue in the skies that bring it on, deep blue to purple.
But I have known it come far above the Caribbean in
the middle of the day: the plane passes over an area
where the coral is actually stretching its hands up to
the surface of the green blue water, up towards the
air. We have been passing over dry dull earth, the
nondescript land's end of some slight island. Sudden-
ly the dun earth drops away to a dark cobalt sea from
which little light emerges. Nothing much to interest
one. The turn to the distractions of the press is al-
most made but then of a sudden the rose shines up
from the sea. The sea-green rose, under the surface of
the sea, and part of it. The texture that of a well
smoothed lime-stone rock-face. The water in and all
around the white rose; the rose and the coral reaching
up for the plane, the light, all of us. And the moment.
The plane might be going four hundred miles an hour
but for a whole lifetime it does not get over and be-
yond the rose. The time of the moment and the rose
are not like any other time; I have known a whole
long poem form itself, words and rhythm and images,
all in whatever time you wish to say it takes a plane
travelling four hundred miles an hour to cross over a
bed of coral maybe quarter of a mile wide. As in a
dream there is time, within a minute, to live a whole
life, die, be born again; pursue; conquer; make love.
All in the momentary snooze between reading one
paragraph and the next.
But the moment came this afternoon in the quiet
blues and saffrons of the end of day, beside Lake Nya-
sa, like a long quiet hushed orgasm. The thin tracery
of the few trees against the skies; a study in many
lively shades of brown; the trees are thin and the
leaves gentle and revealing the architecture of the
trees not because it is Autumn, but because it is al-
most a kind of Spring. The trees at the end of the dry
season have shed their leaves. Some very quickly put
out new ones which are not yet green but a rich vel-
vety brown. Some have kept just their dried pods.
These hold their tracery against the sky and the lake.
And the horizon stands straight up, and the whole
picture flattens into a perpendicular, NOT a horizon-
tal, like some of the paintings of Giotto and other
artists of that school. The picture glows and comes to
life, and then a timeless element enters in and nothing
moves for as long as the moment lasts, which is long
but with a permanence unknown to sun time. And all
sorts of awarenesses grow like a rose within the mo-
ment; people far distant become present, even some
who are dead, they seem to materialize out of the
visual, adding another dimension, falling out of space
like blocks of ice out of an ice-tray.
P.B., blonde wavy hair, winning smile, so winning
that merely a photograph of it ravaged Vashti, and
her sending him food parcels and pickles during the
war when he was stationed in the Pacific Islands. Such
letters he used to write: Christianity was finished and
the new religion of the world was to be Nazism! He
was such an intelligent young man but always so
twisted: an out and out 'racialist', he simply hated
Negroes. When I told him of Gladstone Wilson, the
Jamaican Catholic negro who had gone so far in Rome
as a priest and teacher, he simply said, "I'd prefer not
to meet him. The Negroes caused my grandfather to
lose all his money; they moved into our (Paul was
Irish) quarter in Chicago, and property simply lost all
But his anti-Jewish, anti-Negro arguments were not
basically economic. Some people were simply inferior,
and the human race, like stock, would never be any
better until the inferiors were removed and the better
strains bred up. All these doctrines he put forward
with vigour at a Catholic New England college! It is
the measure of the failure of that place, and of that
kind of place, that it did very little to help poor Paul.
It did not, do not misunderstand me, directly encour-
age him. I remember one occasion when he and the
lecturer in Ethics had quite a run in. Should a woman
jump off a roof to preserve her virtue, knowing that
she jumps to almost certain death? The lecturer, a
Jesuit, was pointing out that what the woman willed
was not her death but escape from what she consider-
ed a dreadful evil. Paul objected strongly with the
cool logic that I have found common to racialists: the
virginity or virtue of a woman was only part of the
woman the whole was greater than the part, ergo
or, if you prefer, argal! So I have heard him and others
argue with regard to the Jews or the bushmen or Ne-
groes and Asiatics of various kinds. "The whole hu-
man race is greater than its parts; the Jews, the bush-
men are only part (and a degenerate part at that!)
Therefore for the sake of the whole human race ....."
So I have heard some young Negroes argue about
fellow Negroes in their community, or about whites,
with whom they did not agree, or to be fairer, who
were in the way of 'progress'. "They hold things up,
they are inferior" it does not really matter in what
way: civilisationn' will do, or ('perception'or 'Physical
characteristics'. How I wish that the academic liberals
could meet a few more people like dear Paul: so
gentle, so quick witted, such a good drinking compan-
ion, so learned Greek slipped off his tongue very
easily indeed -now he would have perversely enjoyed
demolishing with a crackle of logic many of their
woolliness and hidden assumptions. The trouble is
that he would have taken his own arguments really
seriously. He seemed the sort of person who could
easily justify the slaughter in the gas chambers of 6
million Jews. Grant him once the idea of race and
you, and he, damn it, would be lost. 'There are some
races that are more advanced than others; now the
human race is more important than any part of it; so
those parts that\ arb holding up the progress of the
whole must be removed, especially if they resist in any
way. What better device can you think of than a well
run large gas chamber?' Incidentally, he was so much
more honest than so many people that I have met not
so far from here who won't go as far as removing the
inferior races but simply want them 'to keep their
place'. Who demand nothing else of them than that
in their every public act, they should in fact declare
that they are inferior and must remain so. ('I know
the Kaffir, you bloody foreigner') ('What is more'. -
the honest racist should add! 'if I eliminate him,
where will I find servants.')
The trouble is that by 'servants' is not meant people
who earn their living one way rather than another, but
people who have not a helpful disposition but a ser-
Out of the moment, then, stepped Paul and the
palpability of that afternoon last August on the Baltic
just before the harvest moon started its low arc across
the barely dark sky. We were nearly up to the Arctic
Circle at Lisa's summer cottage. They were having a
craefter dinner for me. It all came back out of the
flat Nyasa sky: the glorious heap of crayfish in the
big centre dish; the constellations rather higher in the
skies than I was accustomed to; the sharp bits of the
aquavit school!) ; the roughness of the craefter shell on
the tongue, and the salt succulent bits sucked out with
an enthusiastic intake of breath.
Oh the moon shines bright
On the Baltic water
Where is Mrs. Porter and her daughter?
Cracking craefter, drinking schnaps,
More than they oughta!
I rather think that for most Swedes the breaking
of the crasfter is their only religious festival. There is
a very special time for it, there are special lamps used
at no other time. There is an air of fun along with
something that is quite close to spiritual uplift. Some-
how this evening it comes back with Paul with that
special evening tint O evening that brings together
all that bright dawn has scattered you bring home
the kid, you bring home the goat, the child you bring
home to its mother.
And so within a few moments a lifetime relived
and reshaped. How long does it last, I do not know.
But the special full peaceful quality I do know. Paul
came to me as I had known him at college, with his
madnesses, but smiling, his wavy blond hair passing
silkily through his delicate but nicotined fingers as he
smoothed it back and made some forgotten point in
some forgotten argument. Perhaps he was telling me,
as he did once after I had spoken on psychic pheno-
menon in Jamaica (cf. Fr. John J. Williams S.J.) 'Your
ghosts or poltergiest or whatever you call them show
a particular lack of Final Cause.' But he materialized
as the pleasant if twisted youth not as the pater fam-
ilias in his latter days, crawling home from the bar on
all fours. His wife, when time before last I had heard,
was on her way abroad, with the children to join a
relative, to make a new start. The last time I heard of
him was rather shattering.
I was with mutual friends crossing at full speed,
the George Washington bridge. Someone made a
sharp remark, and I said 'That's just the sort of thing
Paul would have said'. I had meant to be, -and had
succeeded in being rather biting. There was one of
those silences. Then quietly from one of my most
charitable friends: 'How was Paul when you were last
'I did not see him; people seem to think that it
might simply embarrass both of us.'
'So you don't know.'
'Don't sound so dramatic. What don't I know? If
you wish I'll insist on seeing him the next time I get
to Chicago. Shall I give him, sober or drunk, your
'You won't be able to. He's dead. Suddenly.'
Tortoise shell carving
by Mr. Larman
Oxford University Press published Hu-
ricane by Andrew Salkey in 1964. Earth-
quake, Drought and Riot followed in
1965, 1966 and 1967 respectively. These
four books are advertised as books for
children; indeed they seem intended by
the author so to be. So it is with young
readers in mind that one must judge them.
Moreover, they seem to have been written
with young Jamaican readers (badly in
need of suitable books to read) somewhat
in mind, but with the safeguard that they
should not because of this be unappealing
to young readers in other countries. When,
not long ago, a friend of mine who is in
the publishing business asked me why the
series had not proved as popular with
Jamaican teachers as was expected I an-
swered with these reasons: that books
written by West Indians are still regarded
with suspicion and stigmatised by many
West Indians (most of whom have never
read them or could not judge a book) as
inferior, vulgar, pornographic, etc.; that
teachers in schools are so busy with their
day-to-day problems of classroom lessons
they have no time for nor interest in new
books for children; that in any case, no-
body had brought to the attention of the
profession as a whole that these books
were now available to be looked at. I am
still sure that these are the reasons why
the books are only now beginning to be
used in schools. I think, therefore,that
the time has come to attempt to evaluate
them in terms of their usefulness for
young Jamaican readers.
For these readers most teachers now-
adays would express a theoretical agree-
ment with the idea that reading material
should not be completely alien to their
background of experience. This idea,
vital as it is to education, is not much
respected in actual practice, but there is
no doubt that there is some readiness in
Jamaican schools for material reflecting
the pupils' experiences and with fewer
references which the pupils cannot rec-
ognize. This sometimes leads to a belief
that something is good merely because it
is Jamaican. But together with this att-
itude there are certain ingredients that
most people would ban: sex; adultery;
local dialect; poverty; squalor; evil; wick-
edness; politics; criticism of the existing
social structure; communism; anti-social
behaviour; colour and racial prejudice;
anti-United States comments; questioning
of religion or religious practices or the
morality of ministers of religion; etc.; etc.
The list can be extended so that little is
left for a writer to write about. Indeed it
leaves nothing for education to be about.
One must, therefore, immediately appre-
ciate Mr. Salkey's problem in writing these
books. However, appreciation of that
problem is not relevant to assessing the
suitability of a book for children. What is
important is to be fair to Mr. Salkey or
any other writer attempting this most
important task and to be fair to the
readers who are to be helped to judge. If
a book is good or bad we have to say
which it is both for the writer's and the
But what makes for a good book for
young readers? In effect, the same cha-
racteristics that make for a good book for
older readers. Books for children must
not be childish or written down to some
stereotyped conception of the child's level
of understanding and enjoyment. Child-
ren and adults at times enjoy true fantasy,
not fantasy pretending to be real. Gull-
iver's Travels, Alice In Wonderland, The
Wind In the Willows, Animal Farm are
examples of fantasy and allegory with no
patronising lullaby qualities in them. A
work of fiction must deal with truth not
historical truth (whatever that is), but life
as it is really known or could be known
by the readers. If it is a fantasy, an all-
egory or a satire, the comment it is making
on life must be a true one, one we can
place in the context of our experience. If
it is a 'naturalistic' story the people must
think, speak, and generally behave in a
way not too far removed from what we
would expect of them in real life, individ-
ually and collectively. Neither Mickey
Spillane nor Enid Blyton deals with truth.
Both give a gloss, a shellac covering tolife.
Spillane makes moronic social delinquents
seem attractive and Blyton makes reading
morons of young children by hiding from
them the real world and the real feelings of
people. Granted their purpose, Blyton
and Spillane are good writers, though
their books are bad books. Mr. Salkey's
purpose in the four books being discussed
evades me. Stories for Jamaican adoles-
cents? Stories to meet English publishers'
specifications? Stories that teachers would
recommend? Stories to help the tourist
industry? My own guess is that Mr. Sal-
key wrote these books hurriedly, and to a
formula. As a result, Mr. Salkey, who is a
good writer, resorts to or is perhaps obliv-
ious of many devices which tend to make
his books unbelievable by alert adolescent
But making adolescent readers alert to
what is being presented to them as repre-
sentations of life is an ultimate objective
of the English teaching in schools. At the
beginning stages of secondary education
(and Mr. Salkey's books are certainly not
for younger Jamaican readers) the pupil
wants to and does believe implicitly in the
story which holds his interest. Later per-
haps he begins to doubt and to question
and if what has been fed him does not
tally with his more critical and wider ex-
perience he begins to dismiss works of
fiction as stupid and silly, the sort of thing
used in the classroom where life is not
supposed to intrude. Or, worse, if he is
unable, is afraid, or refuses, to be critical
as he grows older then works of fiction
serve as a means of escape from reality into
the world of Mickey Spillane, Marie Cor-
elli, Enid Blyton, Elinor Porter, Ian Flem-
ing and comic books. Hence we have the
cult of mindlessness which induces people
to say that when they go to the theatre or
cinema or library they go for 'entertain-
ment', not to be reminded of harsh reality
which they have to face every day. It all
boils down to what education is and what
it is for. Some people think it is not com-
plete if it does not help us to evaluate a
work of fiction. But then a good work of
fiction deals with life. Even some best-
sellers do this.
Mr. Salkey certainly did not write to
promote this cult of mindlessness. And
no teacher who knows what his respons-
ibility is would assist in supporting that
cult. Such a teacher would choose a book
for twelve-year-olds which has a well-told,
gripping story so that the children can
enjoy the illusion so created and at the
same time be quite unconsciously fed with
some insight into life. Even fairy tales
give this. The wise teacher at this stage
does nothing to destroy the illusion. He
does not begin here to make the children
face the fact that the book was all made
up. That comes later, when he wishes to
help his pupils to appreciate the craft of
the novelist. What does he do, however,
in the first year or second year of second-
ary education if the book being read is
supposed to give a naturalistic representa-
tion of life but seems to have disguised
characteristics of a tourist brochure? Leave
Courtesy Oxford University Press & Papas
them to swallow the blurb as true-to-life
pictures? Spoil their involvement and
pleasure and risk their developing interest
by unmasking the misleading elements?
It is a difficult question and a difficult
decision to make.
But it is the question I am faced with
in discussing Mr. Salkey's four books.
Hurricane tells of the passage of a hurri-
cane over Jamaica as remembered by
thirteen-year-old Joe, son of a contractor
and a dressmaker of Slipe Road, Kingston.
Presumably he is remembering events of
some years before 'the exciting time I
once had'. Perhaps he was then ten and
his sister, Mary, about five or six. During
the morning there is talk of a hurricane
approaching. Ten-year-old Joe goes to
the Carib cinema which is almost deserted.
In the afternoon the hurricane is nearer
and Joe's father, with Joe's help, makes
everything secure, but Joe steals out to
the Race Course and then returns to tele-
phone the Met. Office. The wind rises
and lightning flashes as evening progresses.
Joe and Mary amuse themselves playing
games like 'I bet I box you.' Trees fall.
One on the verandah steps. Joe telephones
a friend. More games. The roof of the
workroom is blown off but the equipment
is safe. (Nothing really disturbing or
tragic must happen.) 'Linstead Market' is
on the radio. It amuses. The children are
put to bed. By midnight the eye of the
hurricane is passing over. Things are calm.
Joe's mother serves'a tray of double-deck-
er bully-beef sandwiches bulging with
salad tomatoes, lettuce, and dripping
slightly with mayonnaise, and three large
cups of steaming hot country chocolate.'
(The nostalgia is commendably patriotic.)
The wind turns as the eye moves away. It
is a mere 120, 'maybe more'. Joe has
slept through most of that stage. The
house shudders. Mama reads Psalm 91 -
her favourite. The house is damaged
slightly. Joe and his father batten down
some more and work on leaks with plast-
erers' putty. Water comes flooding under
the doors. More leaks. Some drops of
water hit Mama flush on her nose and Papa
collapses on the sofa in roars of laughter.
The rain and wind suddenly stop. The
hurricane ends. Thereafter follows some
information about damage done in Kings-
ton, the work of a Relief Centre and how
Joe's friends came through the hurricane
as casually as he did.
This kind of summary of the story
gives nothing of the many touches the
author deftly places to try to make the
events and people convincing. Mr. Salkey
manages in places to make Joe into a real
boy. The fantasy cowboy world he enters
every now and then is most convincingly
'The Race Course was a prairie all over again. But the grandstand was a dusty mid-West
town on its own: an old broken-down Dry Gulch Saloon, an Assayer's Office, a bank, a
general store, a barn, an open stable, a blacksmith's shed, a church, a small hotel, and a single
row of dwelling houses.
AsI walked into town, everybody was talking about the hurricane which was due to blow
through at any moment. The Sheriff had had word from the U.S. Marshall, in the neighbour-
ing city, and had warned all the citizens to prepare themselves and their property for sudden
I went in search of the Sheriff and found him chewing on a dry weed and leaning over the
railing outside his office at the jail-house. He nodded and said, 'Howdy, stranger.'
Just as I was climbing the front steps of the old, wooden, tumbledown hotel, a series of
shots rang out behind me. I spun round, my right hand on my Forty-Five, and saw Rango
and four other cowboys riding up the main street. So far, they were only shooting up into the
air, and,I suppose, announcing their evil intentions of taking over the town for themselves.
I wasn't at all surprised that Rango had decided to take over things at the height of the
preparations for the hurricane. It was just the sort of cowardly thing he'd do.
Suddenly, giant flashes of lightning began streaking across the mid-West sky. Thunder
rolled like a million bass drums. And a gigantic sheet of dust, from the prairie and from the
main street itself, came flying in with the speeding wind from the South Caribbean and from
Florida, and covered the whole town in less than ten seconds flat: I could see nothing at all;
the citizens had disappeared; and so had the four cowboys, Rango, the Sheriff, and the town.
I stared in front of me, and there, appearing as big as life itself, was the grandstand, and
spread out around me was the Race Course.' (P. 37-41)
But on the whole Joe thinks like an
adult and speaks like an adult. In fact he
speaks like a most unusual, almost ab-
normal, adult in the setting of which he
is supposed to be a part. He would put his knowledge. His friends are no worse.
most of our best secondary school pro- Nowhere is a trace of Jamaican English
ducts to shame with his prim and proper put into their speech excepting the one
bookish English, his mature concepts and word cho. Mr. Salkey seems ashamedofit.
Have you heard about the house at Mona?
No. Smashed up, I imagine.' (P.111)
'Good timing really,' he said calmly.
'We all packed a few things and my father took us down to the Relief Centre at Coke
'You must have had bags of opportunity to shout encouragement, Moon Face, didn 't you?'
As you will notice these examples are notice ten-year-old Joe's unchildlike
One can almost hear a 'British' Ja- taken from two consecutive pages. They thoughts about his six-year-old sister,
maican voice on the radio, are no accident. They are typical. And Mary:
'I was hoping to keep the conversation between Mama and Papa from her. I didn't want
to upset her first thing in the morning.'
How thoughtful! How exemplary! How
adult! How untrue! Yet, this is to be ex-
pected from a ten-year-old who explains
quite patiently to his little sister what
plotting a hurricane means: 'It means
trying to find out exactly where the storm
is blowing, the direction it's likely to
follow, its force, speed, size and shape
and that sort of thing, I suppose.' Exactly
who is speaking here? And to whom?
Even little Mary has a lapse into adult-
hood. She sounds exactly like her mother
telling Joe 'Want to run a little, Joe? You
always do when we get to this spot.'
Yes. Joe, Mary, Shaved Head, Four
Eyes, B. B., Pants and the rest are unusual-
ly knowledgeable, unbelievably mannered
in their speech and generally very good
exampels for Belloc's Matilda. While Joe
once borrowed a mystery comic from Jiji
Wappie one gets the impression that he and
Mary usually read Classic comics. Very
exemplary culture and all that sort of
thing in their little childish way, eh?
No one who is in any respect aware of
the art of writing expects a writer to
transcribe the actual speech and photo-
graph the actual behaviour of real people
and call his work art. The writer has to
select, he has to heighten. But he also has
to convince us of the wholeness of his
world. Therein lies his craftsmanship.
When his imagination is not fully in con-
trol of his experience or when he allows
other considerations to dictate his selec-
tion we get a distortion which confuses,
not because it is distortion but because it
was not meant to be.
Putting aside this unfortunate dis-
tortion of the people of the story a
mere tithe of the evidence being offered -
there is much to be enjoyed in Hurricane.
The caricature of Mother Samuel and her
preaching is a memorable episode. The
selection of details as the hurricane grad-
ually gains power and the sense of enclo-
sure one gets from the building up of
small events inside the house lends enough
atmosphere to cushion the inept intro-
ductions of 'local colour.' The author
can make you live through an event when-
ever he wants to.
And it was then that we all heard it. At first, it began with a slow, high-pitched screeching
sound; then it became a steady, deep, tearing noise as if someone were ripping a sheet of
awning-cloth; and, in a short time, it sounded like a giant nail being wrenched out of a piece
of hard wood by a giant hammer-claw.
We looked at one another.
'It's the work-room,' Papa said calmly. 'The roof.' We listened.
The pressure of the wind began whistling through the gap and the wrenching, straining,
scraping sounds continued.
Then they stopped.
'The wind's changed direction,' Papa said.
'Will it change back again?' Mary asked.
The thing that made -me scared at that moment was our helplessness. Whatever the wind
wanted to do we had to stay inside and let it do it. Yet, I wasn't scared for long. Without
being able to explain it to myself, for the first time that day I really felt fighting mad. If I
could have shouted at the wind, or battered it with my fists, or punched it flying, I certainly
would have done so.
Then it happened.
There was a loud groan, a screeching lift and a dip, another screeching lift, another groan,
and then whoosh! the work-room roof was off (P.71-73)
Here he is in control. He is dealing with
real events and his voice has the ring of
authenticity. He also indulges his flair for
dreams and fantasy most often to good
effect, in all four books. Had Mr. Salkey
set his story on some mythical island and
had he given us less mature characters as
children, Hurricane would have been a
perfect choice for first-formers of most
of our secondary schools. As it is, it is
likely that many young readers would be
led to mistrust their own sensibilities
which tell them that Joe and the others
are not of the world they are supposed to
be. This must happen if their teachers
behave as if these things are not to be
questioned or if they fear putting the
children off by any kind of analysis. What
then are we doing here which would help
our pupils to evaluate a work of fiction
in three years' time?
In Earthquake the children are almost
real. This narrowing of the gap is achiev-
ed partly because the first person narra-
tion of Hurricane is abandoned, partly
because they are given a family back-
ground a little more consistent with their
language and concepts and, in my opinion,
because the author allowed his imagina-
tion to be more operative than in the first
book. The children speak less adult con-
versation and spend more time in make-
believe activity. Mr. Salkey must have
realized that the fantasy parts of Hurricane
were most successful. He develops this
technique further in Earthquake and again
in Drought. Polly in Earthquake is least
credible, although most interesting as a
character. Such precociousness makes her
almost a prodigy, not a character with
whom young readers can identify.
The story begins with Ricky (12),
Doug (10) and Polly (8) pretending to be
on a desert island on their grandparents'
coffee walk near Dallas. An earth tremor
is felt. At lunch the children question
Gran'Pa when he returns from Coronation
market. We sense an ominousness in their
secrecy. Another tremor forces G.P. to
promise to tell of the 1907 earthquake.
But both G.P. and G.M. are most reluct-
ant to revive and relate this awful exper-
ience they had when they were children.
G.M. however makes the remark that if
the children do not hear of that horrible
experience from G.P., who would know
how to present it, they would hear it from
someone else a point Mr. Salkey and
teachers should learn something from.
Next morning, as the children walk
through the village, Polly shouts 'Fire!' to
tease the old woman who owns a food
shop. (Prodigy or not Polly behaves here
like an ordinary child.) She and Doug
are upbraided by the woman in dignified
language and then Ricky also gives them
a grown-up piece of his tongue. (The
author is making sure that his little read-
ers get their moral lesson.) Then they
meet Marcus, a most unusual Rastafarian
gentle and soft-spoken, with such a
thorough command of English that the
little readers might wish him to be their
teacher. Only twice does Marcus deviate
from Standard British Written English.
We gather however that we are to regard
him as a little mad or, at best, eccentric
in trying to live like Christ, innocuously
amusing and at the same time someone to
be pitied, admired, helped, sympathised
with, emulated. All things to all men.
That night despite G.M.'s normal re-
pulsion she agrees to give Marcus food and
shelter. In a short time she goes further.
She secretly creeps out at dead of night
to give him a pillow simultaneously as
Polly is stealing out to give him a bed-
spread. During the night Doug dreams (a
favourite device of Mr. Salkey) of more
tremors, of cracks in the earth, and of
gold coins. But Sunday morning comes
and Marcus had disappeared, leaving pill-
ow and bedspread neatly folded. The
family go to church and after lunch the
children go climbing the hill. They meet
Marcus again. Rumblings are heard. Mar-
cus leads the way. He finds the cracks of
Doug's dream. Then comes a great tremor
and Marcus is buried. The children fran-
tically dig away the earth covering him.
He is alive but has to be taken to hospital
where he is kept for three weeks.
G.P. then tells the story of the 1907
earthquake. (He must have written it
before as a chapter in a book.) It holds
everybody spellbound with all its colour
and movement and exaggerated detail.
The author obviously used to good effect
the fond accounts he had heard of this
disaster from his elders. Then follows
another dream sequence. All the mem-
bers of the family have dreams arising
from G.P.'s narration. They help to fill
pages of the book however and to keep
the young readers reading. One feels that
the author is extremely grateful to Lewis
Churtps.v rOfnrd Ufniversitv Press & Panas
Mr. Salkey in Earthquake has the same
compunctions as in Hurricane about giving
the flavour of Jamaican speech. He pre-
fers to pretend that his characters have no
trace of their environment in their lan-
guage. If he is trying to teach Jamaican
pupils to speak Standard British English
that is a harmful way of doing it. For one
thing he is communicating shame. He is
at pains also to give everything and every-
body a romantic gloss. Is it because his
books are meant for children? What a
mistaken motive that would be! Even
Marcus the Rasta is a model of perfection.
Tears come to his eyes when he sees how
excited the children become over their
make-believe! And everybody else is well-
educated, good, well-mannered, upright,
contented, happy. Polly is a gem. Her
language is not that of any eight-year-old
anywhere on earth. And she has the
shrewdness and maturity to outwit her
brothers everytime, who themselves are,
of course, intelligent, and readers of 'Class-
ics' comics. An attitude of respect, almost
love, though mingled with superiority, is
extended to the Rasta. Polly on seeing
him for the first time smiles affectionate-
ly! The essence of Rastafarianism is re-
fined beyond recognition one suspects
for the benefit of readers in other parts of
the world who might hear contrary inter-
pretations, but also because Mr. Salkey
has a message for his young readers. After
all, the pulpit is no place for unpleasant
truths but for exhortations.
I honestly think that Mr. Salkey in
writing these books was convinced that
books for children must be sugar-coated.
Our grandparents thought that. Some
people still do. Perhaps, to be fair, Mr.
Salkey's world of Earthquake was at one
time true. But does his Shangri-La still
exist? Can young Jamaican readers swa-
llow, without being forced to, that this is
of here and now? Had he placed the story
some fifty years back some of these ques-
tions would not so cry out for answering.
And yet Earthquake is certainly more
convincing than Hurricane. The writing
is stronger and surer. The author is beginn-
ing to understand a section of his audience
and the limitations of his material better.
Gran Pa's account of the 1907 disaster
would alone make the book worth read-
ing. The picture of Sunday morning at
church is very authentic and so are many
other passages where the writer reports
in his own words without letting the false
speech of his characters spoil the effect.
And here is what is probably the most
gripping short passage of the book.
Polly was standing over her brothers and staring at the cracks. Just as she was about to
kneel beside Doug, a shifting, twisting tremor shook the clearing, and the rumble began again.
In a fraction of a second, the high banking of the incline, on which Marcus was leaning, sagg-
ed, disintegrated rapidly, and crashed down on top of him. .................
Ricky, Doug and Polly stood and stared at the enormous mound of earth that had buried
Marcus. They stood there, panic-stricken, frozen, like three alfresco statues who were the
sole survivors of a continental explosion.
They sprang forward and pounced on the mound with their fingers curved like claws and
their arms swinging like flails. They tore at the earth and scooped it up in frenzied fistfuls.
Their hands worked at a terrific speed, biting into the bulk of the mound and reducing it,
second after second, like a team of inspired treasure hunters certain of their trove.
After they had dug for about thirty seconds, the first thing they came to was Marcus's
bundle. Doug pulled the stick out of the tight dirt-filled knot and drove it deep into the scar
of the excavation; then he prodded the spot to see if he could locate the general direction in
which Marcus's body lay hidden. On his thrust, he struck something muscular, something
firm that gave readily, like cloth-covered flesh.
Their digging became faster and increasingly more methodical. Instead of grabbing and
scooping their way through the mound, they were now using their hands, in breast-stroke
motions, to part the layers of stones and dirt and scrape them away with a clean sweep.
Doug was the first to make contact as he swiftly got through to Marcus's left leg. When
he lifted it and let go, it dropped lifelessly into the dirt. Rick and Polly saw what happened
and they were affected by it, but they kept on digging. Soon afterwards, Polly cleared Mar-
cus's thigh and waist. Then Ricky reached his head. And after a few vigorous, wiping strokes
from Doug, the length of the left side of the body was revealed. Marcus was lying on his
stomach, with his face resting in the wide V of his open Bible. As a result, the lower part of
his face: his nose, mouth and chin: hadn't a trace of dirt on it.
He was breathing.'
With Drought, published in 1966 (the
same year as C.Everard Palmer's The Cloud
With The Silver Lining) Mr. Salkey makes
a few changes. His characters are rural
folk, decidedly lacking in middle-class
superficial ambitions and self-disrespect,
not quite as angelic, and speaking a kind
of English suggestive of a local dialect,
though, as it turns out, this one seems
more comparable to that of a Midlands
coalminer with here and there a touch of
West Indianism rather than Jamaicanism.
Mr. Salkey's concession to the speech
patterns of his country extend only as far
as some elisions like wha', an, goin, with
here and there the omission of a finite
verb. Some readers might misunderstand
the point here and accuse me of wanting
Mr. Salkey to write patois and so bring
disrepute in their eyes to this great
country. But let me hasten to repeat that
literal transcription of everyday speech is
not art. Art is what the writer does with
everyday speech patterns to convey the
place, the time, the people, the tensions,
the structure and the meaning of his work.
The West Indian writer must sometimes
be prepared, like Samuel Selvon to tell
his English audience to take his experience
as it must be taken in order to be mean-
Drought is set in Nain, a small village
in the parish of St. Elizabeth. The earth village to Jacob,who urges the villagers not
is parched in July. The crops are dying, to beg for help from the Parish Council.
Seth (12), son of Jacob and Miriam, with They all agree to pool their resources and
his friends Mango Head, Double Ugly and Miss C. organises a rationing system.
Man Boy carry on a game they call 'Rain'.
It consists of making a rockery, a shrine, The boys continue their game in the
and a dug-out and of thinking of some- cave: digging (because it is 'something to
thing new every day either to bring to the do' to fill the time), placing things like
shrine or to do, so as to induce rain to fall. candles on the shrine, and so on. A food
They are fairly simple-minded, these four. vendof dies. Miss C. adopts her son, Ben-
It is a secret game and later, for fear of jie, and the boys adopt him into their
discovery, has to be changed to a cave gang. But Double suspects the candles to
on Dr. Davidson's farm. Meanwhile school be the cause of the two deaths. He be-
has to be closed a fortnight earlier for the comes almost hysterical when Benjie is
summer vacation. Miss Carpenter, the about to perform a ceremony with a white
teacher (with a B.A. degree from London rooster in the cave while the adults are
University but for some reason not using celebrating the Nine Nights elsewhere.
her education as it should be used), Jacob, Benjie's supplication to his dead mother
Gran'Pa Sands and others consider the and to deceased Gran'Pa.S. fails to bring
situation in their village meeting. Gran'Pa rain and the game 'Rain' is abandoned.
S. just before his death hands over the But the digging continues for no real rea-
son 'something to do'. Then the boys
narrowly escape being caught for tres-
passing as Dr. Davidson's son and the
overseer discover their hole and find water
trickling into it from a plentiful under-
ground source. Dr. D. erects a proper well
for the village but nobody knows who
did the digging. The boys have to be
silent. Then the rains come.
What is remarkable about Drought,
besides its interesting story, is the way the
author seizes his opportunities to develop
something which serves in filling out the
book but often is an integral and signifi-
cant part of the presentation. There are
many splendid passages which would help
young readers to see how simple details
can be raised into relief. The competence
of Mr. Salkey gets ample scope in passages
In almost complete imitation of Miss Carpenter's classroom technique, Seth gave a cau-
tionary frown, clapped his hands smartly and said, 'Everybody sit!'
He spun round and faced the shrine.
'Wha'we got on it, Seth? Double said.
Seth began formally, 'We've got a big clothes-pin, some bottle stoppers, some wood
shavings, some bird-pepper leaves with a caterpillar on them, a penkinfe, a scrap piece of
Sunday Gleaner ....' He went on and on, listing the ornamental dressing on the shrine.
When he came to the last item, he called it out slowly and then spun round and pointed
to Mango. Mango was not sure what was being asked of him, so he got up and recited a school
He made a few mistakes but kept going to the last verse, which he raced unfeelingly in
order to get it over with quickly.
Double giggled. And Seth pointed to him to carry on from Mango. Double remained
seated and wondered what to do. Seth stared at him. Man Boy chucked him gently to start.
But start what? Double did not know.
Seth ignored him and pointed to Man Boy.
Man Boy cleared his throat and said, 'Let's sing something then.
'Wha' we doin'?' Double asked, breaking the mood of the game. 'Wha'we doin'any at
Seth glared at him and explained, 'We're playing' "rain", you jackass.'
There is no doubt in my mind that had
Mr. Salkey not been motivated by national-
istic and market considerations he would
have blazed a glorious trail in West Indian
literature for children. As it is, however,
he does his audience a disservice by inject-
ing into the excellent material on which
these four books are based, so much mis-
leading nostalgia and sentimentality. Why,
for instance, does he have Miss Carpenter
with a university degree teaching sums to
Seth and company? Such undisguised
sermonising will little affect the young
readers ofDrought. They hear such things
being advocated all the time but they see
no one doing it. And who would, if she
wanted to serve her people to the fullest
extent of her powers? In any case we
have the triumph of blind hope, call it
faith or ignorance it matters not, over all
difficulties; the writer as cheer-leader.
But Riot comes tentatively down to
earth. The writer admits that some people,
even in Jamaica, live squalid, hungry lives.
Yet Mr. Salkey cannot bring himself to
change his picture of middle-class superio-
rity. He forces middle-class modes of
living and communication on characters
who are not supposed to have middle-
class hearts. Still, Riot is probably the
best of the quartet and leaves us convinced
that soon really excellent books for child-
ren will come from Mr. Salkey's pen. This
last book is set in Kingston in the early
post-war years, about 1945. Colonial rule
is doing its worst. Labour unrest is spread-
ing from Broome estate and affecting
workers in the city. Alexander Crossman,
a cabinet maker, (the Man in White) and
Martin Mason, a foundry hand, have been
spreading the gospel of trade unionism
but to little avail. But, with news of a
walk-out at Broome, Alexander and Mar-
tin call out workers from various places in
Kingston. They assemble at Parade. Alex-
ander meets the Broome workers who are
marching into Kingston on the Spanish
Town Road and leads them in. He address-
es the meeting like a middle-class 'word
merchant' 'our destiny', 'who we are'
and all that hot air and is arrested. The
meeting is broken up in true Jamaica
Constabulary fashion. Mob destruction
of property occurs here and there. A
curfew is imposed until dawn next day.
The police take Martin, Big Man and
Marcus to their homes. (The latter two
give false addresses.) Martin remains safely
at home while Big Man, Marcus and
Preston, who are the real working-class
representatives, organise a noise-making
campaign throughout the city during lme
night of the curfew. They steal some cars
and go around in separate areas overturn-
ing garbage cans, blowing horns and break-
ing bottles. They elude the police every
time. The Broome workers have a pelting
battle with the police at Crossroads. Then
a mysterious fire breaks out. Neither
Marcus, Big Man nor Preston is responsible.
They are surprised that anybody would
do such an irresponsible thing.
Dawn comes and the end of the cur-
few. Alexander is released later in the
morning. The workers assemble at Race
Course. He addresses them now in their
own language. He is about to be arrested
again so he changes his tune and appeals
to them to join the Union next day. They
'We will follow Miss a Cross-
man 'til we die!'
Interwoven with this series of events
are the activities of Martin's son, Gerald,
a Fourth Former of Kingston College, and
his friends, Shifty and Fu. These three
form a secret society to keep in touch
with events and with one another. They
are at the Parade meeting unknown to
their parents and generally manage to
be in various places at various times by
dint of the author's contrivances. For
example, in the middle of the night when
the curfew is on and the police presumably
would tend to strike first and question
afterwards, Gerald goes for a moonlight
ride and meets Marcus on the noise-making
rampage. Gerald and his friends do some
rather unusual things, accounted for, I
suppose, by their youth. Shifty and Fu,
it seems, desert their homes during this
crucial day. They spend most of it at
Gerald's or with him on madcap escapad-
es. Their parents do not seek them out.
Their two contacts with Bag 'n' Pan a
most unusual beggar are certainly not
typical of boys coming from the homes
we are told they belong to. And of course
their language is not that of any Kingston
College boy, unless he is delivering a
But then Gerald's father, Martin,
though not even a foreman in a foundry,
speaks like his school-teacher wife lectur-
ing to her class. Alexander Crossman, a
cabinet maker, deserts his normal lan-
guage, we are told (P.188), to say to the
Race Course meeting: 'You see 'ow I
come back to all o' you?' 'An' I goin' get
a fair break for you an' for all you pick-
ney.' This, of course, is language Mr.
Salkey reserves for the barefooted man,
the other Jamaican. We must remember
that his side speaks Standard British Writt-
en English. There are other oddities.
Listen to Martin, the foundry hand, think-
ing: 'The people were virtually leader-
less. The second outburst of violence and
commotion was like the first, nervous,
diffuse, unconsolidated. And more than
that the very nature of the upheaval was
physically enemyless, though it certainly
had a rootedness, a connexion, a unique
historical and psychological definition and
momentum.' Martin? Mr. Salkey has the
responsibility not to confuse the all-
seeing narrator with a character who is a
semi-skilled worker in the Jamaican
society. Is his responsibility less because
the book is for adolescent readers? I
would think it would be greater.
Riot, however, is enjoyable reading.
Mr. Salkey's picture of the police sergeant
is perfect. His presentation of the rooms
of 'the masses' reveals his imagination at
its selective best. His descriptions of the
meetings (especially the Parade meeting)
have a tangible atmosphere of density and
volcanic power. I wish he did not feel
constrained in all these books to falsify
his characters and to contrive such tenu-
ous reasons to hold his plots together.
Two final observations: the glossaries
at the back of the books tell us about an
audience in the writer's mind; and the
illustrations, caricatures they are, by Papas
are incongruous with Mr. Salkey's own
romanticism. I would like every'Jamai-
can secondary school pupil to read these
books when he or she is prepared to
separate the wheat from the chaff.
of the Jamaican Scene
by F. J. du Quesnay
Painted by George Robertson. A view of the bridge crossing the River Cobre near Spanish Town. Engraved by Daniel Lerpiniere
George Robertson, the son of a wine merchant, was born in London, and
during his early years took up the same occupation as his father. However,
the traffic in the sale of wine could not satisfy his artistic yearnings for crea-
tive work, which had long asserted itself in his early drawings and sketches;
and he-decided to take lessons in art under a competent teacher.
In 1761 he was recognized by the Society of Arts, and was awarded a
prize for his sketches of horses. Through this simple publicity, he came to
the notice of William Beckford, who was a devoted art fancier. The Beckfords
had been early settlers in Jamaica after the English Conquest of the Island in
1655, where they later owned extensive plantations, and became one of the
wealthiest families on the Island.
William Beckford was the son of Richard Beckford, and a first cousin of
William Beckford of Fonthill Abbey in England. Both cousins, bearing the
identical names, also shared artistic tendencies, and were patrons of the arts.
They were both authors, but of the two, Beckford of Fonthill became the
more famous writer, and is still remembered for his romance "Vathek", which
appeared in 1786.
William Beckford, having met young Robertson, took a great interest in
him, and induced him to go to Italy to further his studies. Robertson took
lessons in Rome, and after a few years, returned to England circa 1770. In
London, Beckford did all in his power to bring his protege to public notice,
but the young artist was virtually an unknown, and Beckford's endeavours in
this regard met with little success.
Having written a book about Jamaica, Beckford needed an artist to illus-
trate the work, and his thoughts naturally turned to the struggling artist whom
he invited to accompany him to Jamaica.
They landed in Jamaica in 1773, and Robertson painted several land-
scape scenes of the Island.
After about a year, Rober.tson returned to England and exhibited his
paintings in London. He became vice-president of the Incorporated Society
of Artists in 1775, but was still largely unsuccessful in gaining recognition as
an artist, and was compelled to turn his efforts to teaching art students in
order to support his family. Later, he received a small legacy from an uncle
which helped to augment his otherwise slim resources.
In 1788, he sustained a fall from his horse, which seems to have been part-
ly responsible for his death before he had attained the age of forty.
Robertson's picture, "St. Martin", which hangs in Vintner's Hall in Lon-
don, remains one of his most important works. He was essentially a land-
scape artist, and for detail and beauty of composition his works deserve high
merit. Amongst his paintings of Jamaica, two are devoted to scenes of the
Rio Cobre River, while four others depict views of the Beckford plantations
The Institute of Jamaica is fortunate in possessing two originals: "The
River Cobre Near Spanish Town", and "The Bridge Crossing The Cabaritta
River on The Estate of William Beckford". These are now hung at Devon
House where they are displayed under excellent conditions.
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The Windward Fall
J. B. Kidd:
Joseph Kidd, a Scottish landscape painter, visited Jamaica in 1835 with
the idea of publishing a "Picturesque Tour of Jamaica". His brother,Thomas
Kidd, owned property in Trelawny, and this fact no doubt was largely res-
ponsible for his visit to the Island. Kidd had another brother, William,
who was also an artist, and he too spent some time in Jamaica.
The Falmouth Post for 1836 has a brief mention of the artist, to the effect
that: "Mr. J.B. Kidd, having just completed a series of paintings, respectfully
invites the public to view the same at his brother's residence in this town."
The paintings referred to were said to be Scottish landscapes, and short-
ly after this, he arranged another exhibition, this time of local scenes.
Kidd's work was evidently much admired by the local gentry, for he was
commissioned to paint scenes and portraits for private individuals, including
an order for several oil paintings requested by the Custos of Trelawny, Will-
According to some reports, Kidd is stated as having been a member of the
Scottish Academy of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, and is reputed to
have died in England in 1889.
The two Robertson paintings, three Wickstead and examples of the Hakewill engravings all from
the Institute collection are now at Devon House. Also two engravings by Boydell after Robertson and
two Guaches by Bellinger after Robertson are hanging at Devon House.
Philip Wickstead was another of William Beckford's prot6ges, who also
accompanied his patron to Jamaica in 1773. He was a well known portrait
painter and a pupil of Zoffany. Beckford met Wickstead in Rome, no doubt
at the same time when Robertson was studying there.
In Jamaica, Wickstead acquired property and settled down to the life of a
planter for some years, but the venture proved unsuccessful, and the losses he
sustained eventually told on his health. The exact date of his death is not
known, but he died some time before 1790.
Many of Wickstead's best works of art dealing with Jamaica were des-
troyed in the severe hurricane of 1780. The Institute, however, has three of
his originals in oils painted in Jamaica, which can be seen by the public at
Devon House. *
* Devon House, Hope Road.
"_' . ." *
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The Iron Bridge, Spanish Town.
Hakewill was born in 1778. He studied architecture, and later entered
this field as his chief profession. In 1807 he married Maria Browne of Gros-
venor Square in London, who was a well known portrait painter and an ex-
hibitor at the Royal Academy. Four sons were born of this marriage.
Hakewill was one of the competitors for the erection of the new Houses
of Parliament at Westminster, but he is best remembered for his "Picturesque
Tour of Italy" which appeared in 1816-1817. He came to Jamaica in 1820
and remained on the Island until 1821. His'Picturesque Tour of Jamaica"
was published in 1825, and the dedication found at the beginning of the work
reads as follows:
"To the Noblemen and Gentlemen, proprietors of estates in the West
Indies, also the resident Gentlemen (from whom the author received so much
kindness) and to the merchants of the United Kingdom connected with those
Hakewill died in London on May 28th, 1843, his wife having predeceased
him by about a year.
Although these illustrators of Jamaica do not fall in the category of the
truly great masters, the charm and delicate attention to detail found in their
works cannot but impress those with whom they come in contact.
Jamaica owes these four artists a debt of gratitude for having presented
the Island in such an honest and dedicated manner, which must have helped
tremendously in advertising the Island abroad. No one looking at these
enchanting pictures could fail to fall under their spell, and must immediately
banish the idea that the Colony was an outpost of disease and death, a repu-
tation which still persisted in England up to the early part of the 19th Cen-
Obfuscate Todays Census Takers
INTRODUCING THOSE TWO DOUGHTY SCOUTS
ANTONIO & MORALES
by Vic Reid
The two lay in a hollow of a boulder on the brow of the Red Hills. Below
them lay the Liguanea, the great savannah to the sea. There, glinting in the
sun, sat Passage Fort, Port Royal and the harbour. On their right, the rocky
Soldier's Road took off from Passage Fort to Saint Jago town.
The men were bare, save for pantaloons. Their naturally black skins were
burnt deep in the pore. The boulder was hot.
"Such a nice, hot place," Antonio said. "We should have brought some
"Roll over to your back, amigo, it will be easier," Morales observed.
"Did I ever tell you about that Ibo girl I met in the port of Antonio over
on the north coast?"
"Si. And the one in Savannah la Mar. And the one in Rio Bueno. And
the highborn Spanish woman up on Mount Diabolo whose spread you ram-
rodded for a year," Morales said, using the Spanish equivalent for a ranchero
boss, "and all the rest. Roll over on your back, Senor Cojones. "
They chuckled and shifted positions on the rock, muscles glistening and
rippling in the sunlight. They both carried weapons; Morales, a Spanish
musket ornate in brass; Antonio, an English firearm he had taken off a Red-
coat whom he ambushed a few weeks after the English landings.
"Antonio, what do you think of it?" Morales whispered.
They were half a mile up in the sky and far away from the nearest English
so with little fear of enemy ears, but they were outlaws in hostile territory.
As far as they knew, their Spanish masters had all fled to Cuba, except the
Commandant, Arnaldo de Ysasi; and he was somewhere up in the mountains
"It is still too early to say. We will have to scout closer to the English
camp to overhear what they talk about," Antonio said.
Morales rolled on his side. A sly twinkle was in his eyes.
"Overhear them, amigo? You think they will speak in Spanish or Yoruba?
What makes you think you'll be able to understand their barbaric tongue all
at once? Have you been taking lessons in English?"
Antonio shrugged. "A man can sometimes tell what people are talking
about by seeing their faces. Perhaps this is what the Spaniard de Ysasi
thought when he sent us on this scout. He knows we speak no English."
"Ah, not only that. The Spaniard, the Holy Virgin bless him, is a lazy
fellow. He's also clumsy in the forest. He depends on us. We've worked for
them, fought for them, and now we must read the future for them.
"It seems to me, more each day, that we, the African-Jamaicans, will have
to take over from the Spanish-Jamaicans."
"That is if the newcoming English-Jamaicans go away. Leave the island."
"They say that Cuba is bigger than this island, and that the Old Country,
our Africa, is infinite. But there can be few places, large or small, with
people of three countries fighting for it, as is the case in this Jamaica."
They lay on their backs watching a few balls of cloud chasing each other
across the blue sky. The air up here was cool and clean. It stung their nos-
trils like rough wine.
"I wonder why the Spaniard de Ysasi thinks there is a chase that the
English might stay? They have always gone away before, those other times
they invaded the island," Antonio said.
"They've never come on so many ships before and they've never stayed
so long. They seem to have a mind to settle down here."
"Settle? How can they settle when they have no women?" Antonio
scoffed. "The Spaniards have sent all their women to Cuba and those of ours
who have not gone with them are up in the mountains with our people.
These English soldiers aren't monks that they will settle without women .
They will go away, comparee"
Restless, they turned again, staring out to sea. Antonio squinted long and
hard. Presently, he said:
"Amigo, take a look at the Palisadoes, behind the bushes to the east."
Morales took a look. The long, narrow neck of land which made and
protected the harbour, held a high bush. Back of the bush, a ship crept along
the land, slowly, in the light wind.
"Could it be a Spanish ship? One of ours?"
Morales shrugged. It made no difference. A single Spanish ship was use-
less against the armada of English man-o'-wars anchored in the harbour. Even
less so to the thousands of English soldiers ashore. He pointed to a bluff.
"If we climbed that butte, we could see further along the Palisadoes.
There may be other ships out there.'
They thought about it. One had to be careful. The English had taken to
sending patrols into the near hills. The English were equipped with powerful
glasses that could pick up a man great distances away.
"I will go," Antonio said.
"But careful," Morales said; "with God."
Antonio broke some bushes and festooned his pantaloons. A larger branch,
he held over his head for his main cover. He began a slow crawl. Working his
way to the crest of the bluff, he saw another ship in the wake of the first but
these were all. He returned to Morales without incident.
"There is only one other, both ships of the English."
"So the King of Spain isn't coming, "Morales joked. "Then I fear de
Ysasi and I must proceed with our own plans for liberating the island."
"Si, Capitan, proceed," Antonio said. They spoke in Jamaican-Spanish
which was a mixture of Spanish and African words.
The shadows lengthened. Morales made a pillow of leaves for his head.
"We will rest here until nightfall. Then we will go nearer to the English-
men and see what we can learn from their faces."
They moved at nightfall. A moon hung out. Watch fires were being lit
along the road from Saint Jago to Passage Fort. They moved with care ana
reached the plains. Keeping inside the trees, they made for the docks at
Passage Fort. Saint Jago, or as the English were calling it, Spanish Town, was
too closely guarded.
They found cover in a clump near the waterside. The ships were being
warped to the docks when Morales and Antonio took up position. They
were close enough to hear the soldiers talking but were helpless at the strange
"They speak with marbles in their mouths," Morales whispered.
"A funny people, these English," Antonio agreed.
"Their faces show as much expression as the hind-end of a horse."
"They do not gesture with their hands when they speak. They're not like
us, or the Spaniards."
"Cold, amigo, Too cold for this warm land. I believe they will not remain.
They will go away, back to England."
The ships had tied up. The gangplank was lowered. Figures emerged,
descended the gangplanks.
And a roar erupted from the soldiers ashore.
The two scouts stared. Their eyes popped. Antonio jumped. He howl-
ed with anger.
"No, it cannot be!" whispered Morales.
"Those mother-hating, heretic English have pulled off the dirtiest weasel-
deal of modern seventeenth century times!" cried Antonio in fine fettle.
"They do not war fairly, amigo!" bawled Morales.
"They fight as if they wanted to win, the bastards!"
But regardless of how Morales and his compare protested, the English
soldiers obviously approved. To a roar of lust from the soldiers, a thousand
Irish lassies bawdy-legged down the gangplank, singing sweet obscenities like
the harpies in Tara's hall. The smutty, saucy lassies whom that sly, psalm-
singing old puritan, Oliver Cromwell, had sent out to salt his new colony. To
turn his soldiers into settlers.
Illustrated by Daphne Abrahams
Bedraggled from the long, hard voyage but full of the proverbial Irish
bull, they swung gaily ashore, bottoms articulating lively thoughts for the
future of Jamaica.
Antonio glared at Morales.
"Putas, he rasped. "The English have brought in their putas to breed up
"Our scout is over," agreed Morales. "Truly, we can say to the Spaniard
de Ysasi that the days of his people in Jamaica are over. The English have
come to stay."
"Very well," Antonio said, a challenging gleam in his eye. "I will not be left
out of this nation-building. I will myself endeavour to do whatever is possible
with these foreign putas. I will assist in building a new Jamaica."
WHITE WITCH Colin Garland
GREEN VALLEY Ralph Campbell
Annual National Painting Exhibition Prize-winners (Equal First)
Invigilators stalk, anonymous.
It's bare inside, so ugly
and so bare. Off-colour now,
the painted dirty beams
are stripping; shuddering fans
flap giddy, spinning breeze;
chairs squawk, the pencils click
on desks, the fingered papers rustle.
Mid-morning, and the bright bulbs shine.
Within, this terrible sense of purpose,
Outside this prison part of my recall -
trees stretch and breathe;
winds, playful, tease.
I look, to see. But
thick dust clouds the panes;
and nothing's clear.
M-4j Mpt -,k" &Kjk-bowrk- ie' waj
2 Da-rk-w- amyn -9' gm- Mavssa
3 Onte- Ww cv/. y m- A Mswsc
Ne-qhLbm/r ef/k I iM. n .
Sung by Miss Adina of August Town
Illustrated by Eric Morris
Collected by Olive Lewin
by Pamela O'Gorman
Some years ago when the Extra-Mural Department of the University held
a seminar on the Arts something occurred that I have never since forgotten.
To illustrate a point it was to do with broadcasting more folk music on
the radio a young man got to his feet and said, quite spontaneously, "You
know, some Jamaican folk songs give me exactly the same feeling as I get
when I hear Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony".
The audience guffawed. The man blushed and, thinking he had made
some gaffe, quickly sat down again. The discussion was immediately taken
up with other points considered more relevant and important.
But a colleague sitting nearby whispered, "My God, if only they knew
what a profound remark that man has made tonight".
Because of its association with the uneducated, peasant strata of society
(I am not referring here to modern folk song) many people regard folk music
as being cute but uncouth and hardly worthy of serious attention.
But is artistry the prerogative of the educated mind? Does the desire to
create things of beauty exist only where there are books and paint and mus-
In every society we find our natural artists. In a sophisticated one, at one
extreme, the man who is born with a disposition to express himself in music
learns how to read and write it and creates "art music" which is written down
from the time it was conceived and remains in its original state for evermore.
In a peasant society, at another extreme, a man who wants to express
himself in music will have to use the only instrument available to him: his
voice. With his voice he will fashion words and melodies which, if they are
good enough to catch the imagination of his friends and family, will be learnt
and passed on to others and then down to succeeding generations.
This process of being "passed on" causes a song to undergo many changes
in the course of its existence. One man who does not like a certain phrase
substitutes one of his own. Defects of memory lead to individual notes being
changed. Local poets fit their own words to known tunes and social pressures
such as religious beliefs or the advent of outsiders may lead to a previously
"unprintable" version being made more innocuous and generally acceptable.
The oral nature of folk song is both a limitation and a strength: a limita-
tion in that it naturally has to accommodate itself to the span of what a
listener can retain at one stretch and having to pack all that one has to say
into a tune of twelve or sixteen bars is a very different proposition from
spreading out into a Symphony; a strength in that the finished product
represents a distillation of content that has allowed no room for super-
fluousness. The sine qua non of a successful folk song is its lucidity.
We find in folk song the same canons of musical taste that lie at the root
of the most sophisticated music. The argument waxes strong whether folk
song influenced art music or vice versa. Surely it was a two-way process that
grew from the basic common aesthetic needs in all men for balance, symm-
etry, contrast, unity and the subtle divergencies from these phenomena that
have lain at the basis of good art for centuries.
Should we be surprised to find in the best-known Jamaican folk song one
of the most common patterns found in sophisticated music?
A. Me brudda didda tell me dat you go mango walk, dat you go mango
walk, dat you go mango walk,
Al Me brudda didda tell me dat you go mango walk and you tief all de
numba 'lebn; (repetition and balance)
B Oh tell me true do tell me fe true dat you didn't believe dat liar,
Al Me nebba, nebba, nebba go a no mango walk and me nebba tief
numba 'lebn. (repetition of Al)
Or in other local folk songs similar common and ubiquitous forms?
Our response to universal forms links our Western art together in a com-
mon brotherhood; what is contained in the form distinguishes us a individuals
with our own style and temperament.
The influences of speech and dance give folk songs their national character
and make those of one country distinct and different from another. A melody
wraps itself round the moulding and accentuation of vowels and consonants
of a language which, in itself is a reflexion of national temperament. Compare
the open and declamatory:
Me brudda did-da tell me dat you go man-go walk
with the gentle, unaccentuated:
0 mon beau cha-teau tir-ra
or the laconic:
iF I iii I Are
Bar-ney I have-nt a mo-ment so don't you
and it is not difficult to appreciate the different national characteristics of the
Jamaican, French and American temperaments.
In the same way the rhythmic figure LJ Li which is characteristic
of so many Jamaican songs must be closely associated with free,uninhibited
dance movements unhindered by heavy clothes or the necessity to protect
oneself against the elements.
The story of a people is not to be found only in its history books and in
the dry-as-dust tabulation of events and dates and famous names. There is,
beneath all these, a living, breathing history that lies in folk song: a history
that in reality is the most vivid history of a country, for it deals with the lives
and thoughts and emotions of all the generations that have contributed to
making the country or race what it is.
We can read the story of the Morant Bay Rebellion and try to penetrate
the factual reports to the emotions of those who lived there at the time; but
this moment of history vibrates with living intensity when we hear the shock
and grief-laden phrase that is the chorus of the song "Morant Bay":
/1 I i -I j [I- J
War, war, war oh! War oh, heavy war oh!
Jamaicans have just three things they can call their inheritance by right of
birth: their folk lore, i.e. their legends and stories proverbs and rhymes, their
folk dance and their folk music: just these three things which are given to
them to really know and understand as no one else can.
From the other side, a stranger can live here for years without really know-
ing what makes the people tick, because in the routine of daily living people
are not in the habit of baring their souls and in any case, their deepest
emotions, their real attitude to life cannot be put effectively into words by
But music begins where words are no longer effective. Just let a stranger
listen to enough folk song and after a while he will begin to penetrate a little
deeper beneath the skin of the people who background and attitudes are
naturally so different from his own.
He will come to appreciate the Jamaican's gift for swiftly painting acc-
urate, vivid word pictures:
rt j-Evf ii r I r
One, two, t'ree, four Colon man a-come wid de brass chain a-lick
him belly bam! bam! bam!
his penchant for poking fun at his fellow Jamaicans:
Look who you mout'look how you mout' look how you mout' fe go
or his rare moments when the mask of unconcern disappears and he gives in
to the burden of loneliness and desolation:
I"'.'il I a I r I
Me a-lone, me a-lone in-a de wild-er-ness
Thus, as well as providing a distillation of national character it provides a
focus of identification for the people of a nation. Much of it is beautiful in
itself and can take its place unashamedly alongside works of great merit and
sophistication. Moreover it provides a meeting-ground for people of widely
differing tastes and backgrounds for it comes from the soil and speaks a
language whose very simplicity allows it to go directly to the hearts of all men.
We still hear far too little folk song in Jamaica. The few isolated groups
who arrange and perform it and do it exceedingly well do not reach a
wide cross-section of the population. Only the Frats, up to now, seem to
have succeeded in being all things to all men, for while their arrangements are
sophisticated, they retain enough of the original common touch to speak with
a direct voice to the man from Trench Town and the society hostess from
St. Andrew. Perhaps this is why their singing is also appreciated far beyond
the shores of Jamaica.
Five years ago the outlook for folk song was very dismal indeed. Since
then a Government Folk Song Research Officer has been appointed; but
there is still the possibility that if the music is not heard frequently enough
and disseminated among the public through our radio and TV stations, the
post will remain a purely academic undertaking of no interest to the man-in-
the-street. Is there anything to prevent the broadcast of songs in the original
as they are collected in the field? Would not this provide a unique opportunity
for Jamaicans to get to know one another and understand themselves better
and constitute a challenge to our local musicians to undertake new arrange-
ments for public performance?
At present it occupies a kind of no-man's land, neglected by most classical
musicians, under-estimated by the teen-age pop idols. One recalls "If I Had
the Wings of a Dove" and shudders at the way in which its breathless, soaring
melodic line was smashed and obliterated in the Ska version.
But I would rather have the Ska version to get angry about than dead
notes on paper or shelves of tapes gathering dust.
I think back to the young man whose outburst was regarded with such
mirth. What chance has he of trying to prove his point ?
And I think of the National Dance Theatre Company at present under
fire for not being sufficiently Jamaican in style. How can it be when there is
so little living Jamaican music to inspire future composers to speak with the
true accents of Jamaica and help forge a national style?
Il V 3
Photo by Errol Harvey
Back Cover Illustration:
Inscription on tomb-stone in the churchyard,
Port Royal, Jamaica.
Here lyes the Body of LEWIS GALDY Esqr
who departed this life at PORT ROYAL
the 22nd December 1739 Aged 80. He was
Born at Montpelier in France but left that
Country for his Religion & came to settle
in this Island where He was swallowed up in
the Great Earth-quake in the Year 1692. &
Miraculously saved by swimming until a Boat
took him up; He Lived many Years after in
great Reputation Beloved by all that knew
him and much Lamented at his Death
Richard Blome's map of Jamaica 1671
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