i`- t ~P " '.: r: .'~
QUARTERLY OF THE INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA
MARCH '69 VOL. 3 NO. 1.
HISTORY and the Institute .... . . . 2
,Jamaica Journal is published Quarterly
by the Institute of Jamaica, 12-15 East
Street, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies.
Frank Hill, Chairman.
C. Bernard Lewis, Director.
Design and Production
Lithographed in Jamaica
Litho Press Limited
Tribalism in West Africa . . .
The Moravians in Jamaica . . .
John Augustus Sullivan Esq.
& The Highgate Park Hunt
The Supreme Being of the Arawaks .
SCIENCE for the Layman .
Duppy Plants in Jamaica . . .
The Ritual of Cricket . . . .
. . Ken Post
. . .. Fred Linyard
.... Peter Tamlyn
G. R. Coulthard
. . Lilly G. Perkins
. . Orlando Patterson
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ART LITERATURE MUSIC . ...
Reflections on W.I. Writing and Criticism (Part II) Sylvia Wynter
Carl Abrahams Painter and Cartoonist . . Alex Gradussov
Pay Something Good . . . . Arthur Scott
Who's Sammy or
Angelo Pondering the Critic's Version (Poetry). .Anthony McNeill
Origins (Poetry) . .. ...... .Edward Brathwaite
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NEXT ISSUE will contain beside Edward Seaga's 'Cults in
Kingston' various contributions on related topics by Rex Nettleford,
Olive Lewin and Jeanette Grant as well as a short story by Vernon
Cover Photo Amador Packer
Bauxite was first discovered in St. Ann, 1942. "Open-cut excavation"
Claremont, St. Ann.
--- -- ----
Panel; Yoruba, Nigeria
D T -1, NS'IIILI ^,
Tribalism in West Africa
by Ken Post
Photo Derek Jones
from Dr. Aston Taylor's
and from Dr. Edward Brathwaite's
Probably no other concept in common use among scholars and news commentators
interested in Africa has given as much trouble as that of "tribalism." It is a term continu-
ally used to explain all sorts of things corruption and nepotism, riots, electoral mal-
practices, even civil wars. As can be seen from this list, it is on the whole regarded as a
bad thing, a source of political instability in a continent which has more than its share of
troubles. Yet, although we continually use it to explain things of the utmost importance,
those of us concerned with Africa continue to have great difficulty in defining what
exactly tribalism is. This article does not pretend to give a final answer, but it seeks to
provide some of the necessary ingredients for one. Its examples will be drawn from West
Africa, since this is the area the author knows best.
Basic to the questionWhat is tribalism? is another one, What is a tribe? Unfortunately
there is no definite answer. Groups of people have been labelled "tribes" without any
real consistency. Nowadays, for example, it is common to speak of the Yoruba of
Western Nigeria as a "tribe", but in the past this label was also applied by scholars and
travellers to constituent parts of the Yoruba, who shared the same basic language and
customs, but belonged to different traditional kingdoms. Again, the term "tribe" is
applied to groups with very different traditional political organizations; the Tallensi of
Northern Ghana thus had no centralised chiefdoms, while the Ashanti of central Ghana
had elaborate states, with powerful chiefs. A third problem is that of scale; the term
"tribe" is applied equally to groups numbering only a few thousands and others like the
Yoruba or Ibo with ten million or more people. It might seem more logical to call such
large groups "nations."
The best way to look at the problem, I would suggest, is to say that different sorts of
social groups are operative in different situations, depending upon the aspect of society
with which we are concerned at any given moment. Thus, in terms of social structure,
Guitar; Wolof, Senegal
Stool; Lobi, Ghana
Stool; Lobi, Ghana
the basic "building block" of West African societies is the extended family, made up of a
husband and wife or wives, their children, the wives of adult sons, their children, and
maybe others as well. Virtually everyone would belong to an extended family and would
identify with it. Yet above this level extended families may combine in a number of
different ways to produce larger kinship groups, into a lineage made up of several extended
families say, or a clan composed of many such families whose common link is that they
believe themselves to be descended from a common ancestor.
If we look at West Africa in terms of traditional political organisation, however, we get
another perspective. Again, there is a multiplicity of forms. The Tiv of Northern
Nigeria, now numbering about a million, all trace their descent from a common ancestor,
thus linking all their clans in a common genealogical system, but for all normal purposes
the traditional political unit among them was the extended family, which was a self-
governing unit. Among the Ibo the clan was usually a separate "state". The Yoruba, like
the Ashanti, or the Wolof of Senegal,had relatively large states, with complex institutions
and hierarchies. As with the extended family, virtually everyone would belong to a
political unit, and identify with it in certain situations, the preservation of law and order
for example, or when protection from another people was needed. Nevertheless, it must be
stressed that although everyone speaking the same language and observing the same cus-
toms would belong to some political unit, it was unlikely to be the same one. The
extremely divided Tiv have already been mentioned, but even the larger centralised
kingdoms did not include all Wolof, say, or all Yoruba, under one ruler.
The way in which we might look at West Africans in order to see the most all-inclusive
units is culturally, that is taking as our criteria such matters as language, styles of dress,
religion, social customs, food habits and so on. (Even then we must make allowance for
considerable variations in things like language dialects.) In this sense we might treat all
the Ibo, Wolof, Ashanti and the rest as one in each case, much as we might think of a
nation in Europe. Thus, in certain circumstances an individual might identify himself
with a whole cultural group, and contrast himself, not with members of other families or
traditional political units, which might be culturally the same as his own, but with people
speaking a different language and having different customs. It is in this way, in terms of
culture, that the term "tribe" has tended to be used in recent years.
I would argue, however, that the tendency for individuals to think of themselves in
terms of mutually-exclusive cultural groups is a comparatively recent one, is, in fact,
basically the creation of the colonial period. Obviously, the situation in which it is going
to come into play is when members of one cultural group meet members of another, and
thus come into contact with people whose language they do not speak and customs they
do not share. Certainly this happened before the establishment of European rule; there
was trade between peoples, they fought one another, raided one another for slaves.
Nevertheless, it is probably safe to say that such contacts were as frequent if not more
so between political units belonging to the same cultural group as between those which
were culturally dissimilar.
Thus I would argue that it was the colonial system which brought large numbers of
West Africans with different cultures into contact with one another for the first time. As
an informant once remarked to me, "we are Ibo and we do not mingle with Hausas. We
do so only because civilisation and whitemen have come." What took place was a process
which social scientists refer to as mobilisationn." People were called upon to pay taxes,
they were taught to read and write, they were enlisted in armies and police forces, they
were recruited into jobs far from their homes, they were able to travel on new roads and
railways. All these experiences, and many more, made them aware of the existence of
other cultural groups, among whom they sometimes now lived. It also made them aware
of the whitemen and of the colonial system and its exploitation, and thus contributed to
a growth of nationalist movements, but by and large the experience tended to divide
rather than unite, for a number of reasons. First of all, the experience of mobilisation was
by no means uniform among all the cultural groups, or even within them. The impact of
such factors as economic change, the work of missionaries, and the education which they
brought with them, varied enormously. Where a stout resistance was made to the
invaders, for example, or where it was physically difficult to enter a certain stretch of
territory, such an impact might be much less than among other people easily reached by
the white men (on the coast, say), who did not resist conquest. Thus the Fulani king-
doms of Northern Nigeria were strong enough to insist that the British must keep out
Christian missionaries and protect the Islamic faith. In consequence very few schools were
opened in these kingdoms, and only about 2 per cent of the population could read and
write English by the early 1950s, after half a century of British rule. The Fulani and the
Hausa over whom they ruled thus remained very conservative, preserving their traditional
culture, political systems and family patterns almost intact up to the present day. The
Drum; Yoruba, Nigeria
Comb; Ashanti, Ghana
Ibo, of what is now Biafra, on the other hand, were culturally inclined to put great
emphasis on achievement, rather than authority, as did the Fulani and Hausa. Thus the
Ibo took readily to new ideas and new ways.
It can readily be seen that this sort of differential response to the innovations of the
colonial system would reinforce differences between people, rather than remove them.
This tendency was much increased by the policy of the colonial powers, which often
deliberately sought to keep peoples apart, rather than bring them together. The British in
particular caused this effect, through their policy of Indirect Rule. This policy, put as
simply as possible, was one of attempting to rule through already existing traditional
authorities, using chiefs as agents of British colonial rule. This was not always very
successful. The British did not in some cases understand the people with whom they
were dealing, and tended to make chiefs stronger than they had been traditionally by
removing checks upon their power which had existed in the past. In other cases such
as the Ibo the colonial rulers, finding no traditional chiefs with autocratic powers,
created them, provoking passive resistance and sometimes riots. The position of chiefs
under Indirect Rule, therefore, was varied. What was quite uniform was the effect which
the system had upon feelings of cultural separateness. Kept apart from one another by
the preservation of their separate traditional political systems, people were given a
foundation upon which to build the belief that they were not only politically but cultur-
ally quite distinct from other groups. It was not until the last fifteen years or so of the
colonial period that the British made serious attempts to bring different cultural groups
into an integrated political system for each colonial territory. The policy of the French
was different in some respects, but not essentially different in its results. Indirect Rule
through chiefs was not used in quite the same way or to anything like the same extent,
but no attempt was made to bring anything more than a tiny educated elite together, and
for the mass of the people under French rule increased contact among cultural groups
produced just as much mutual exclusiveness as in the British territories.
For it must not be supposed that increased contact of this sort, and increased aware-
ness of the existence of other groups, produced a sense of community. As often as not
contact produced the opposite effect, because contact was made in situations of com-
petition between members of different cultural groups. This competition was economic
in nature. The colonial system did create a limited number of new opportunities. It
created new jobs, both unskilled, such as labouring on the new raods and railways, and
skilled, like clerical work for government and commercial firms. It also provided some
opportunities for Africans to take part in retail trade. (Though it must be remembered
that in the colonial system Africans were not permitted to hold senior posts or control
the top economic levels.) The problem was that there were never enough jobs and other
opportunities to go round. People from different cultural groups "tribes" would
come into the towns, or new mining areas, looking for a chance to earn money, and often
would find that the few chances had been taken already, sometimes by members of a
single cultural group. Two important developments occurred as a result of this situation.
First, the migrants to the towns began to form societies for mutual aid; we can see this
becoming more and more common from about 1920 onwards. These societies helped new
arrivals find lodgings and jobs, looked after them when they were sick, even provided the
money to bury them when they died. At first they seem to have been formed on a kin-
ship basis; families or lineages or clans would form their own. Then societies were formed
covering wider units, for example, traditional Yoruba kingdoms. Lastly, societies were
formed to group together all members of a particular cultural group; thus, in 1948 the
Yoruba were all brought together in the Egbe Omo Oduduwa ("Society of the Children of
Oduduwa" [the mythical ancestor of the Yoruba]). There is no doubt that these societies
played an important social role, but at the same time they fostered feelings of "tribalism"
by grouping together people from the same cultural group and emphasising their differences
from other groups. Moreover, although these organizations were usually located in the
towns, they kept in touch with the rural areas from which their members came, so that
this feeling of distinctness and separation spread back from town to village.
A second result which I would suggest followed from the competitive nature of the
colonial situation was the emergence of what might be called "tribal stereotypes." By
this I mean general pictures of the characteristic behaviour or what was alleged to be
the characteristic behaviour of particular tribal groups. Thus the non-Wolof might have
a stereotyped picture of the "typical" Wolof, or the non-Ashanti of the "typical" Ashanti.
These stereotypes would be based on the observation of individual behaviour, and were
obviously open to a number of distortions; for example, the individual observed might
not be typical of his group. Nevertheless, it would seem that often these stereotypes were
close to the image people had of themselves, but were, so to speak, the reverse side of the
coin. Often the qualities which people found good in themselves would be interpreted in
Fly Whisk, Elephant Tail; Ghana
a hostile way by those from another group. Thus we may quote two pictures of the Ibo
people, one painted by themselves, the other by a non-Ibo. First the self-portrait:
To the Ibos, leadership can only be acquired through hard work and foresight, but
once achieved, the leader is respected and followed unless he betrays the confidence
reposed in him by the community or loses his position by the rise of an abler
leader. The knowledge that one can rise only through personal achievement creates
competitive spirit in an Ibo man. The Ibo man is too independent and individualistic
for regimentation.. The Ibo man will follow any leader provided that he had the
personal qualities for leadership.1
Now the other picture:
Sometimes the Ibo, like the Jews, are called blood-curdling grabbers; sometimes
they are referred to as adventurous and hard-working; sometimes they are satirized
as mean, cunning, unreliable and nauseatingly arrogant, a people with whom
honesty is a rarity.2
All of this is not to say that every element in a tribal stereotype is a reflection of the
group's self-image; the common allegation against the Ibo that they were traditionally
cannibals, for example, is not something which is paralleled in their view of themselves.
Nevertheless, I would suggest that there is a continual process whereby individuals, by
acting in certain situations in ways which they themselves consider to be appropriate
for their culture, in fact appear to others to be confirming the stereotype. Thus an Ibo
who reacts stubbornly towards authority because he thinks of his people as "independ-
ent and individualistic" only reinforces the feeling of the non-Ibo that that cultural group
is difficult, cantankerous and unmanageable.
The problem with these tribal stereotypes, which are the usual mode of expression of
West African "tribalism," is that they are almost always hostile ones. This, as we have
already noted, is historically the result of the nature of the colonial system, which opened
a limited number of opportunities to Africans to make money and careers for themselves,
but "mobilised" far more people to seek those opportunities than could be accommodated.
Nor did the situation improve during the last fifteen years or so before independence,
when political (though almost no economic) power was being handed over to Africans.
In fact what happened was that the range of competition was now greatly increased.
Senior positions in the administration, teaching, and to a slight extent in business
were being opened to local people. The handing over of political power opened up a range
of public office to new aspirants, and also gave the opportunity to dispose of a great
range of patronage, from electricity supplies for one's home village to contracts for one's
own business enterprise. For the elite in particular the new politics became a way of
competing for rewards and also of eliminating competitors, the basis of the oft-discussed
Bark Cloth; Yoruba, Nigeria
1Nigerian Disunity the Guilty Ones, Enugu: Ibo State Union, 1964, p.6.
2 Eyo B.E. Ndem, Ibos in Contemporary Nigerian Politics, Onitsha: Etudo Ltd., 1961, p. 16.
"single-party system." The unity among the elite which in some cases had been produced
by nationalist feelings against the British or French soon disappeared under the impact of
competition for rewards, and in this way, by playing off leaders against one another, the
colonial powers were able to control the process of "decolonisation." Only in the cases
of the independence of Guinea and Mali from France did this prove to be not completely
Even worse than the disunity of the elite was the disunity of the masses. For the
latter the process of mobilisationn" continued after the Second World War, as larger and
larger numbers of them were given votes with the introduction of electoral systems. In
effect, in order to get power the elite leaders had to go out and get votes, and in far too
many cases they did this by invoking hostile tribal stereotypes and exploiting the sense of
competition between cultural groups. Even where leaders did not consciously do this it
tended often to be the result of the new politics. Independence made no appreciable
Calabash; Hausa, Nigeria Calabash; Hausa, Nigeria
difference; such attempts as were made by some leaders, notably President Nkrumah, to
encourage a feeling of national identity transcending tribe proved too weak to counter-
balance years of prior development. Nigeria, where the antagonism between the Ibo and
the rest became the dominant feature of politics, leading to the secession of Biafra and
civil war, is the most extreme case, but is not fundamentally different from the rest.
Finally, two points ought perhaps to be made about this article itself. Necessarily, it
is an incomplete treatment. Much more work needs to be done by scholars on the subject
of "tribalism," both in terms of collecting material and of formulating theoretical
propositions. As was said at the beginning, this is only a first contribution to that process.
Secondly, this is a pessimistic article, which does not even pretend to offer a solution to
the problem. That, indeed, is more than I could hope to do. It is for Africans to find
their own solution and thus prove their true independence. The rest of us should help,
but only if we are asked. Africa has experienced too much interference already on the
part of outsiders.
Fairfield, Church and Day School.
1754 to 1838
by Fred Linyard.
When Zacharias George Caries and his two colleagues, Gottlieb Haberecht and Thomas
Shallcross, landed in Jamaica on December 9th, 1754, they came as the advance guard of
a great company. They were the first Christian missionaries to Jamaica, coming at the
invitation of William Foster and Joseph Foster Barham. These two brothers owned
estates in St. Elizabeth and though they had no questions about slavery itself, they showed
an unusual concern to do something for the welfare of their slaves. Having joined the
Moravian Church in England, and knowing something of Moravian Missionary concern,
they naturally turned to the Brethren for help.
"I confess I am, and I hope ever shall be, uneasy in my mind till some attempt is made
for the enlightening of these poor souls the Negroes in this part of the world where
Providence has cast my share of temporal blessings," wrote Joseph Foster to one of the
Moravian leaders. And though we may look critically today on the implications of a
letter like that, we cannot seriously expect that men of the eighteenth century, brought
up against a very different social background, should think as we do. In the light of
general conditions in the period, even such a letter was a step forward, and we can be
thankful for the advance which that letter represents in attitudes towards the slaves,and
for the social development which resulted from the coming of the first missionaries.
It is not my aim in this article to trace that development, but rather to show something
of the early years of struggle and hardship when the Moravian missionaries were alone in
trying to establish the Christian Faith among the slave population of Jamaica. The records
are scanty. Many of the original diaries and letters were destroyed in London during the
war, when the Fetter Lane Offices of the Moravian Church were destroyed in an air-raid.
The Moravian Archieves at Bethlehem Training College at Malvern has some interesting
,. "-,- ,- ", ..
":.~ ~~~~~ -'- F lIRF DJf lCf
z-,: ,.;.1. ,,.,, ,, ,
John Cernick who converted Poster
Count Zinzendorf; Spiritual Leader of
Moravians at Herrenhut, Saxony.
material and I would like to acknowledge the help of the Archivist, Mrs. V. MacLeavey, in
preparing this article, but the two main sources are printed histories "The Moravians in
Jamaica," by the Rev. J.H. Buchner, written in 1854, for the one hundredth anniversary
of the arrival of the first missionaries, and "The Breaking of the Dawn," published in 1904.
Buchner's book, in particular, is a historical treasure, valuable not only for the light it
throws on an otherwise poorly documented period, but for the light it throws on the
writer and the conditions in which he lived during a critical period in Jamaica's history,
from 1839 to 1854. Buchner writes as a committed Christian missionary, but he looks
with a clear eye on the past failures of the mission and records without hesitation the
conditions of his own time, and first hand reports of conditions in which the slaves were
living before emancipation.
Moravian Missions Begin
When the Moravians came to Jamaica in 1754 they had already been working in the
West Indies since 1732. Their interest in this part of the world came about when Count
Zinzendorf, the leader of the Moravian Community at Hermhut, in Saxony, met Anthony,
a slave from the Danish Island of St. Thomas, at the Danish Court, where Zinzendorf was
a guest at the coronation of King Christian VI. Returning to Herrnhut, he told the
Moravians, most of them refugees from Bohemia and Moravia, what he had learned from
Anthony of the condition of the slaves in St. Thomas. The story seemed to the Bretheren
a call from God to take the Gospel to these people and so, in 1732, the first Moravian
Missionaries left Herrnhut for St. Thomas. In the following years, a continuous stream
of missionaries went out to the West Indian Islands and to many other parts of the world.
They came to Jamaica in 1754 in answer to the invitation of the Foster Brothers already
Difficulties of a Slave Society
The missionaries were well received by the Fosters' Attorney, Mr. Robertson, at the
Bogue Estate, St. Elizabeth, where they were to be stationed. They obtained seven
hundred acres of land, named Carmel. The house in which they were to live was built on
a little hill, close by the slaves' huts.
But in spite of the friendly reception, the conditions of a slave society made it very
difficult for the missionaries to do their work. Buchner's description of these conditions,
based on the reports of those who had worked under them, is as stark as anyone might
"Every morning, with the first dawn of day, the shell was blown to call the slaves to do
their work, and everyone was expected to appear immediately and join his party; each
gang of Negroes walked off to the field under the direction of the driver, likewise a Negro,
armed with a long whip. The children, from six to twelve years of age, under the care of
an elderly Negress, likewise armed with a rod, formed another gang and proceeded to
clean the pasture, or any other work suited to their strength. These Negro divers were
steeled against all pity and compassion, being generally as much brutalised as man could
be. The gangs went to work and toiled all day in the sun. In digging cane holes they
were expected to keep the line, and any one not keeping it with the rest felt the driver's
whip. There was no remission of work, except in the middle of the day to take their
meals. Late in the evening, after the setting of the sun, they returned weak and faint, and
not unfrequently, were forced, for hours together, to continue their labour by the light
of the moon. And then, their work having been examined by the overseer, those with
whom he was dissatisfied, whether man or woman, were ordered to be flogged. They
were laid on the ground and before the whip had descended the third time, were covered
with blood. I am informed by a missionary, who resided in this locality, that not an
evening passed without his hearing the crack of the whip and the shrieks of the victims.
Aged and weak persons would frequently run in despair to the missionary's house, fall
upon their knees before him, and with uplifted hands, beg him to have pity and intercede
for them. But what could he do? He was as much despised as the slaves. He would write
a line to the overseer, begging him to have mercy, and sometimes, but not frequently, his
intercessions prevailed to save the poor creature. Day after day, the same toil, the same
scenes continued, until Sunday, when the slaves went to the market to bring home a
supply for the week, or to their provision grounds, to labour for their own support."
The result of this and of increasing opposition from the overseers was that any work
that the missionaries did among the slaves was very limited and had to be very informal.
There was a preaching service on Sunday afternoons, but more contact with the people
was made in the evenings when the missionaries visited from house to house,sitting with
slaves by the fire while the evening meal was being prepared. When he visited the sick-
house, the overseer always went with the missionary, trying to use him to lecture the sick
slaves for their dishonesty and idleness rather than allowing him to offer the pastoralcare
for which he had come. But in spite of all the obstacles set up by the system, and in spite
of language difficulties, some of the slaves listened. Within the first year, twenty-six
slaves were baptised and by the end of the second year the Church had seventy-seven
members with four hundred preparing for membership.
It would be easy to interpret the response of the slaves to the Christian Faith in terms
of "the opium of the people"; to say that they were ready to welcome with open arms
anything that promised a little ease, a little comfort, a moment of hope. But at the same
time, the demands which the missionaries made were by no means nominal and they
required clear evidence of a changed character before they would baptise a man, while the
overseers did all in their power to make it as hard as possible for a slave to continue in the
Policy Differences Among the Missionaries
Not only the external conditions, but the policy of the missionaries after the first two
years discouraged a large number of converts. In 1756 two new missionaries came to
Jamaica, Charles Schulze and Christian Henry Rauch, who had worked for many years
with great success among the Indiansof North America. He does not seem to have been
so successful in Jamaica, however. Rauch criticised Caries and his colleagues as having
admitted converts to the church too easily, and insisted on a much longer period of
preparation and more evidence of Christian living before a man could be baptised. The
result of this new, strict policy was a slowing down in the work of the mission. The
people attended services less regularly and the missionaries themselves lost confidence in
one another. But in spite of policy differences and opposition from the overseers, the
Church grew and helped men and women to find a quality of life which they could find
Watercolour sketch of typical early Moravian Church and Mission School; from Archives,
Bethlehem College, Malvern.
through no other agency. A number of incidents recorded by Caries in his diary show the
strength of character of some of the converts. "I heard that somebody had offered a
horse to my servant Lewis, on the condition of his doing something which neither the
the white nor the black people here think to be wrong, but which was against his con-
science. He refused it and answered: "I will not lose my soul to gain a horse!" Another
story is that of John, who would walk twenty miles every Saturday night to the place
where Caries preached. He was flogged and threatened with the most severe torture if he
persisted in going. "Master," he answered, "you may kill me, but I will go." The next
Saturday he went again, secretly. When he was returning home on Sunday night, his
master overtook him on horseback and whipped him, but when he continued to attend
the meetings after this, he suffered no further punishment.
The marriage regulations of the Church showed sympathetic understanding of the
conditions as well as a desire to hold to the highest standards possible. The statement
about marriage, passed by the Synod of the Church to give guidance to all missionaries,
and accepted in Jamaica, reads as follows:-
"(Following the Scriptures) the Bretheren are of the opinion that the missionaries
should keep strictly to the following regulations:- 1st: That they should not
compel a man, who had, before his conversion, taken more than one wife, to put
away one or more of them, without her or their consent.
2nd: But yet, that they should not appoint such a man to be a helper or servant in
3rd: That a man who believes in Christ, if he marry, should take only one wife in
marriage, and that he is bound to keep himself to that woman till death part them.
4th: If by the sale of Negroes, wives are torn from their husbands, and husbands
from their wives, and carried off to distant parts, though the Brether cannot advise,
yet they cannot hinder a regular marriage with another person, especially if a family
of young children, or other circumstances, seem to make a help-meet necessary, and,
as is mostly the case, no hope remains of the former ever returning."
Slaves marriages, were, of course, illegal, but Christian slaves were required by the
Church to confirm any union they might enter in a Christian marriage service which con-
tained promises as binding as those made in any society, with the exceptions set out in the
statement. They continued to press for the legal recognition of these marriages, hoping
that "our benevolent government will make such regulations that the marriages of
Christian Negroes may be considered valid and binding, which would be productive of the
most beneficial effects."
The way in which this attitude showed itself may be seen in an entry in the Record
of the Mesopotamia Conference for the 12th May, 1798. "Daniel and Sybilla are baptised,
but separated and both have taken new partners. They have not the least inclination to be
reconciled. Yet they are much hurt that they are excluded from the meetings of the
baptised. They admitted their faults and wished to be re-admitted. We told them they
must come together to Br. and Sr. Brown to declare they will be separated and never have
to do with one another again, or, which would be still better, to forgive one another."
A Widening Mission
As time went on, meetings were held not only for the slaves but also for the overseers
and book-keepers and although there was continuing opposition from some planters,
others requested that Caries would minister to them also. This was certainly not because
he was partial to them or softened his words. Even when the doctor was attending him
during a serious illness "I took the opportunity to speak the truth plainly to him, and
told him I wished he would care for his own soul as he cared for me in my sickness."
By 1760, the Moravian missionaries had established stations at Mesopotamia in
Westmoreland and at Bogue, Old Carmel, Islands and Williamsfield. Buchner's description
of their activities is as follows:- "They had public service in the afternoon of the sabbath-
day, as it was impossible for the slaves to attend in the morning. On Wednesday evening,
they had a public meeting for reading and expounding the scriptures, and on Saturday,
"Baptismal Certificate" From Archives BTC, Malvern
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the catachumens and baptised members of the Church met for instruction. Besides
attending to these services, they diligently visited the sick, the old and infirm, and took
every opportunity to spread the saving knowledge of the gospel; still they had to regret
the want of success in proportion to their labours, though not left altogether without
evidence of the Lord's blessing." He further comments: "The fortitude, decision, and
surrender of heart to the Saviour that are requisite to make a slave confess the Lord, by
word and action, in the midst of degradation, violence and cruel depravity, assume in many
respects the character of a perpetual martyrdom. If a mission to the Negro slaves really
prospers, if instances of such conversions are multiplied, it is a miracle of divine grace, far
greater than anything which we meet with in civilised society or Christian lands."
The Missionaries become Slave Owners
Another hindrance to the work of the missionaries was the conditions under which
they lived. They were paid no wages. They received some help from the owners of the
Estates on which they worked, which in itself made them suspect in the eyes of many of
the slaves, some of whom classed the missionaries,along with the overseers as employees
of the Estate. In fact, what they received was very small and even this little support was
sometimes withheld by the overseers. They lived in a very humble way, cultivating the
land at Old Cannel in order to provide sufficient necessities for their families. As the
cultivation developed, they were not able to look after it all themselves, nor were they
-* able to obtain the services of free workmen. So, the missionaries themselves became
S slave-holders. That they treated their slaves with unusual kindness does not remove the
hindrances which the whole system set in the way of the growth of the Church. "Can it
be wondered at," asks Buchner, "that these slaves would not attend the ministry of their
masters, the missionaries? Very few could be persuaded, at any time, of their own free-
will, to attend the meetings; the generality would come only when they were commanded."
Still another hardship for the missionaries was the climate. All their work at this time
was done in the very low lying and unhealthy areas of St. Elizabeth and Westmoreland.
In a little over fifty years, eighteen missionaries and dependents were buried at Mesopota-
mia, and another twenty-nine at Old Carmel, most of them victims of the climate. As a
record of devotion to duty it is magnificent. But what a waste of lives which could have
been saved by a different plan of activity: a plan which was finally adopted when the
headquarters of the mission was moved to Fairfield in Manchester, in 1823.
After Fifty Years
But inspite of all the hardships and hindrances, the work of the mission went on and
men and women were won for the Christian Faith. The missionaries themselves were very
conscious of what they regarded as poor results, but on the fiftieth anniversary of the
coming of the first missionaries (1804), it was possible to make the following assessment:
"Though we cannot exult over a very abundant harvest of souls, which these fifty years
have produced, or even over present prospects, yet we find sufficient cause of gratitude
to the Lord for having preserved a seed in Jamaica also, which is his own good time may
grow up into a rich harvest. It appears from the Church Register that from the commence-
ment of the mission to the present date (1804), 938 Negroes have been baptised."
A New Leader
By this time, missionaries of other churches had begun work in Jamaica and with the
added impetus of their work, the "rich harvest" was not to be too long delayed. In 1805,
John Lang began a fifteen year ministry in Jamaica. Under his leadership, and in spite of
continuing opposition from the planters, the Moravian Church came to new life. Slave
owning was discontinued when the missionaries began to receive more adequate support
from the Church in Europe. The missionaries still had no easy time. Along with Baptist
and Methodist missionaries, they were accused of responsibility for the slave uprising of
1831, and suffered the usual hardships of those who have a genuine concern for the dis-
possessed in a society of privilege. But they did not give up. Much of the work of the
Moravian Church for the community, especially its educational work, was still to come.
But if it had not been for these hard beginnings, the later developments would not have
When Buchner arrived in Jamaica in the year after emancipation, the picture he draws
is completely different from that which greeted Lang, thirty-five years earlier. Now there
were thirteen main stations, with forty-five schools, and some thirteen thousand people
in connection with the Church. A tour of some of the mission stations filled him with
enthusiasm. "The first sight of a mission station far surpassed my expectation; the
dwelling house and the church built of stone, and the school house forming a square,
looked neat and pretty and imparted a feeling of home and comfort ... I was also much
pleased with the appearance of the congregation.... I felt cheered and enthusiastic....
here were the fruits of those who had laboured before me, in large congregations numbering
thousands; I found everything much more advanced than I had been led to believe; well
ordered stations, organised churches, the machinery all selected and trained, and every-
where a life, a zeal, and interest quite new and startling to me." This note of hope seems
a good point to finish this account of the work of the Moravian Church in Jamaica from
its beginning in 1754 to the time of emancipation.
John Augustus Sullivan Esq.
The Highgate Park Hunt
by Peter Tamlyn
Extracts from the Diary of George Theodore Hussey
1844 to 1863
The Highgate Park Hunt Button
Alternate spelling in Hussey diary,
LAMH POISDINEACH AN AUCHTAR
"What we gain by conquest we secure by clemency"
The family motto of the Sullivans.
Only regular followers of the Hunt were permitted
by the Master to wear the Hunt Button.
George Theodore Hussey was born at Windsor, Berkshire,
England in 1819. During the nineteen years covered by his
Diary he resided for the most part in Jamaica, returned to
England, for two years between 1847 and 1849, but again in
that year once more set sail for Jamaica. In 1852 he went to
seek his fortune in Panama, where the Panama Railway was
being constructed, but remained there a mere month, returning
to Jamaica half-dead with fever. He eventually died in Montego
Bay in 1866 aged 47.
Luckily for Posterity, he kept a detailed Diary of his
voyages and his life in Jamaica, and it is from this that the
following extracts have been taken.
George Hussey was closely associated during this period
with John Augustus Sullivan Esq., Usher Black Rod, and
Provost Marshal General of Jamaica from 1825-1871.
John Augustus Sullivan who came from a distinguished
originally Irish family, owned a large property near Windsor,
England, named Richings Park.
His father had been a Member of Parliament and a Privy
Councillor and was Secretary of State for War and the Colonial
Department from 1801 to 1806. His mother, born Lady
Henrietta Hobart was the daughter of George, 3rd Earl of
Buckinghamshire, and his Uncle, Lord Hobart was one of
Pitt's Secretaries of State. The family were personal friends of
King William IV and Queen Adelaide. He was enormously
rich. Besides his personal fortune inherited from his family,
his income was in the region of 20,000 per annum, the
equivalent in purchasing power in these days of something
like 100,000 per annum.
It appears that some time during the 1830's Sullivan
acquired firstly a house at Spanish Town, Bridge Penn, and
later bought Highgate Park and the adjoining properties of
Hampstead, Winchester, Langibby and Fulham Park in St.
Catherine, where he resided for most of his life, paying
the Vicar's stipend from his own private means, and there he is
buried. He died in 1873 at the age of 75 having been married
three times, and leaving numerous progeny. One of his sons by
his second marriage, namely Frederic, later became Post
Master General of the Island.
George Theodore Hussey himself came from apparently
prosperous middle-class stock at Windsor. His father was a
Butcher and his uncle, Robert Tibbett, a Builder, was elected
Mayor of the Royal Borough of Windsor in 1825, a not
inconsiderable honour in those days.
John Augustus Sullivan "used Hussey's services" for many
years during which he was treated very much as a social equal
and certainly during the first period that he resided at High-
gate Park, Sligoville, with the Sullivan family, he seemed to
have led the life of a Country Gentlemen, shooting, hunting
wild-pig and reading and writing, when he was not exercising
hounds or actually carrying out his governmental duties.
It is probable that he was employed as either a Tutor to
the Sullivan children, or as a Private Secretary, or both, but his
exact position in the Sullivan household remains a mystery, so
far unsolved. He was certainly well educated, with a great love
and knowledge of country life.
John Augustus Sullivan was a keen hunting man. When
residing at his English Estate, Richings Park, he regularly
followed Queen Victoria's Buckhounds, and they frequently
met at his residence. In 1844 he conceived the extraordinary
idea of founding a pack of hounds in Jamaica. It would seem
that the hounds themselves probably came from the Royal
Kennels at Ascot, as in the Diary there is frequent mention of
one John Davis who was the Huntsman to the Royal Pack,
with which Sullivan hunted when in England.
The first allusion to the Highgate Park Hunt in the Diary
appears in April 1844, written in England.
"Went to the Ship to get the luggage on board of the
SCOTSMAN, laying in the Export West India Dock.
After a great deal of trouble, got the things cleared.
Paid warfage 1.11.0d. Went to fetch the Dogs, 53 of
them, and after a great deal of trouble got them on
board with Mr. S."
The SCOTSMAN a Brig of 230 tons took 51 days to
reach Jamaica, including a stop at Madeira for a few days.
There is unfortunately no entry as to how the hounds fared
during this long voyage.
They arrived at Port Henderson, Jamaica on 5th June
1844, and as, owing to the draught of water, the ship was
unable to come along-side, the passengers and cargo had to be
Two of the Masters
O'Sullivan, with one
of the Cuban
landed by small boat.
"Started with 12 of the Dogs in a canoe. It blew a
strong breeze off-shore Landed the Dogs after a great
deal of trouble, it being so rocky."
The family and the hounds then went to a nearby Property,
Cumberland Pen, for the night where they obviously spent a
most uncomfortable time.
"Found there were but three beds for fifteen of us and
no Grub, but what we had brought with us. I sleep on
the Sopha the mosquitoes buzzing so that I could not
Next day they all proceeded up into the mountains by
horseback, to Highgate Park, the Sullivan Plantation, which
was situated about twelve miles from Spanish Town. The
property consisted of about 1,636 acres under cultivation and
a great deal more acreage of thick bush, and forest.
The hounds were kennelled near the house and Hussey
spent the next few months, reading, writing and shooting.
In September 1844 the hunting entries commence. A
typical entry is "September 12th. Rose at 4 a.m. Rode down
to Golden River with the hounds. Returned at 9 a.m. Study
till 1 p.m. Lunch. Study till 4 p.m. Went out to find a Hog
to have a drag* with the hounds next morn".
There seems to have been a great number of wild pig about,
and these still exist in the remoter parts of the island.
"September 13th. Rose at 4 a.m. Took out 15 couple
of hounds for a Drag. The Drag a goose with aniseed -
Had a bad hit-off, but soon got them together and went
away at a tremendous pace over rock and bush for 20
"September 17th. Rose at 3 a.m. Started for Dove
Hall for a Drag. Laid them on, on a flat piece of land,
and away they went at a full pace, crossed the Golden
River 8 times, killed a pig and after 6 miles of hard
riding, came up to the Drag. Returned home. Lost 2
hounds in the Bush."
1. As there are no foxes or deer in Jamaica an artificial 'scent' was
laid for the hounds to follow. This was done by soaking a goose or
joint of meat in aniseed which was dragged over the countryside by one
of Mr. Sullivan's employees for some miles. He prudently climbed a
tree when he had finished laying the 'drag'!!
One of the Miss
O'Sullivan, in her
"September 20th 1844. Rose at 4 a.m. Started with the
hounds for a hunt with a Dog, well ainseeded, for a
Drag. Had a short burst of about 20 minutes. Had a
very bad fall. "Sweetbriar" bolted with me downhill
and ran me against a tree. Was not much hurt, but
mounted again and was up at the end of the run.
Breakfast at 8 a.m."
"September 27th. Rose at 4 a.m. Hunting this morning
round Highgate, Montpelier and Hampstead. Took after
a Donkey, and a most pleasant run he gave us, clearing
in one bound a four-foot wall. We came up and whipped
them off, then took them back to lay them on a Drag
and we ran up to Cooper the Bushman, after 20 minutes."
Cooper, who is mentioned frequently in the Diary was a
coloured employee on the Plantations, whose job was com-
parable to a Head Man on an English Estate. These employees
were known locally as Bushas. He was evidently a keen sport-
man as he frequently accompanied Mr. Sullivan and Hussey on
their wild-pig hunting expeditions, and was obviously very
highly regarded by his Employer.
By October 1844, the Hunt was becoming more organised.
Hussey has drawn in the Diary a replica of the Hunt Button,
which consisted of the initials HPH centrally (Highgate Park
Hunt) and round the border was the Sullivan Family Motto
LAMH POISDINEACH AN AUCHTAR which when trans-
lated means "What we gain by conquest, we secure by
clemency". According to the College of Arms the original
language is Gaelic. The Sullivan family were originally
O'Sullivan and came from County Cork, Eire.
"October 7th 1844. Hunting. The Whips wore their
"red jackets" for the first time."
On November Ist Mr. Sullivan took his Hounds to Kingston,
a distance of some 25 miles, to hunt, and again on November
25th to the Lowlands. These were almost certainly Invitation
Meets to other Plantations, where hounds were kennelled over-
night or for several days.
They continued hunting round Highgate Park until February
28th when Hussey wrote
"Rose at 4 a.m. and started for the Lowlands at about
6 a.m. with 12 couple of hounds. Very cold till we
arrived at the Ferry. Sun now began to get very hot.
Arrived at Mr. Mayne's Pen (Friendship Pen) at about
11 a.m. Lunched and dined with Mr. and Mrs. Mayne,
Mr. Stewart and Mr. Stewart Snr. To bed at 10."
"March 1st. Rose at 4 a.m. by the Gun. Took coffee,
and to horse. Rode "Paddywack". Meet at the Hope
Turnpike. A Field of about 30. Lay on the hounds about
6 a.m. Went away at a splendid pace over a pinwing
fence with a ditch for about a mile. Then threw up for
a moment, then off again through different Pens, through
some sugar pieces and down to the river course and
away to the Long Mountain. Doubled round and back,
intercepted with some good fences and some walls with
6 to 7 feet drop on the landing side. Run of one hour
and 40 minutes. Put up our horses. Then for a pint of
wine, lime spice etc. Dressed for Breakfast, or rather
lunch. Champagne, eggs omelet, coffee, yams, plantains,
chops, fish, bacon, wine etc. Went to Kingston with
Dr. Chamberlain and nearly upset."
Prospect Pen was near Spanish Town, the then Capital and
residence of the Governor. A gun was fired at dawn and dusk,
which explains the entry in the diary. The word Pen is still in
current use, and refers to a property or plantation.
Hounds were out again on March 3rd, and had a good hunt,
and then again on March 5th when the entry reads
"Rose at 4 a.m. To Hunt. Coffee and off to Admiral's
Pen. Rode "Rainbow" a good Field of about 50.
Went away at a killing pace for about 2 hours a
splendid run. Home at 9 a.m. Cold tea.
Hussey then returned with Mr. Sullivan to Highgate Park
with hounds, and then continued exercising and hunting
locally. There are no further entries referring to hunting until
the following year, 1845, when in the meantime Hussey had
married a Miss Catherine Williams, who was part of the entour-
age at Highgate Park, and had accompanied the family aboard
the SCOTSMAN when they came out to Jamaica in 1844. In
fact she was a sister of Eliza Williams, the 3rd Mrs. J. A.
On December 8th, 1845, he and his wife visited Kingston
to attend the local Race Meeting. Staying the night at Date
Tree Hall in East Street, where the Jamaica Institute now stands.
"Rode to the Races with Kate in a Carriage. Such races I
never saw in my life rode without judgement. Jockey
Club Stakes won by Davis of St. Elizabeth, the only good
race this day. Dined at 5 p.m. and very good dinner and
went to the Play. We saw "She Stoops to Conquer".
Early in 1847 Mr. Sullivan took his hounds to another part
of the Island, namely St. Elizabeth, about 70 miles from
Highgate, for a few weeks' hunting. The Hounds were
kennelled at Pepper Pen. The entries read as follows:
"January 9th 1847. Rose at 5 a.m. to Hunt. Rode
"Sweetbriar". Threw off at Goshen Gate 2- a good Field
of about 40 Gents a good run of 50 minutes finished
at Long Hill, Mr. Maxwell's. A good breakfast. 16 sat
"January 14th. Rose at 5 a.m. to hunt. Rode Taylor's
mare "Daphnay", 3 yrs, by "The Saddler" out of a
Pepper mare. Threw off at Pepper a good run, the
mare rather green at her fences, but improved before the
last and gained her ticket3for the Hunter's Purse. In at
the death first, Midas second. A good run of 1 hour. 3
ticket horses out today."
2. The hounds commenced hunting from Goshen Gate.
3. Author's Note: The "Hunter's purse" was apparently a race con-
fined to horses which hunted with the Highgate Park Hunt. They
would have to put up a sufficiently good performance out hunting to
"gain their tickets" and thus become eligible to enter for these stakes
when the race was run at Kingston Races.
"January 16th. Rose at 4 a.m. Started at 6 for
Northhampton and threw off at Emmaus. Got a fall at a
rail fence d- -d unpleasant to run across the grass after
my horse, up to my middle in wet grass. Got in at the
death and get my ticket. Breakfast at Mr. Cuffs 13
sat down a good one and he is not stingy with his
On January 19th he was hunting again riding "Daphnay, "
and there follow descriptions of various hunts and the local
horses he rode.
On January 19th Hussey had a 'misunderstanding with
Mr. Sullivan,' his Employer, but unfortunately there is no hint
as to what came between them. On January 30th he rode
Muirhead's horse "Champion" which would not jump a bit,
but this was compensated by a good breakfast at Mr. Muchett's
with ale, champagne and segars. This evidently was too much
for some of the company
"We got jumping the horses over Mr. Cuffs stone walls.
Mr. Crew got a bad fall with his horse from a Grass Piece
into the Road, but not much hurt. Went to Cuffs for a
drink and then to Northampton and home. I fell off and
broke my nose."
George Hussey's misunderstanding with J. A. Sullivan cost
him his job, and on March 8th, 1847, he sailed for England
with his wife and young son, aboard the ship "CAROLINE"
from Alligator Pond, St. Elizabeth. They were nearly wrecked
However he did come back again in April 1849, having
encountered Mr Sullivan, who was on holiday in England, in
the Long Walk at Windsor, riding home from hunting. There
was a rapprochement between them, and Hussey returned
once more to Highgate Park. There is no further mention of
the Hounds in the Diary but a direct descendant of John
Augustus Sullivan Mr Hugh Paget who is a great-great-
grandson, informed the writer that they were disbanded having
apparently hunted and killed a human being, in 1847 or 1848.
In January 1852, there was an outbreak of Glanders
(Glandular-fever) in the Stables at Highgate Park, with "Play-
fellow" and "Stanley" badly affected. George Hussey took
the horses in hand and gave them
"a ball, 2 drams of aloes, 2 of rhubarb and 8 drops of oil
General and last
Usher Blaun Rod to
the Assembly, and
Master of the High-
On January 1 th he had to shoot "Playfellow" and the old
grey mule, on Mrs. Sullivan's instructions. Apparently "Stanley"
surprisingly recovered despite the treatment meted out to him.
Foxhounds; from a painting by Edward Herbert Miner,
courtesy of National Geographic Society.
Besides the Pack of Hounds at Highgate Park, there were
several other hounds known as Cuban Bloodhounds.
According to records at the English Kennel Club this breed
is of Spanish descent, and was formerly employed in tracking
run-away slaves in Jamaica and the slave-owning states of
America. It differs largely from the true Bloodhound, and is
believed to be a descendant of the Mastiff, crossed perhaps
with the Bulldog, and was inferior to the true Bloodhound in
every respect except ferocity. There are several entries in the
diary referring to them.
"September 12th 1844. The Cuban Bloodhounds set
upon one of the cattle and drove him into a pond and
there set upon him. I was soon into the pond, and after
a struggle got off "Negro" and beat the others off with
my cutlass, after wounding "Negro" on the back and
beating the others."
In another entry he describes how his Cuban Bloodhound
Amity gave birth to 7 pups.
These hounds seem to have been used chiefly for pig-
hunting. According to the Diary, they ran mute until the pig
was at bay, and then gave tongue.
The writer has in his possession a British Cyclopaedia of
1836 which shows an illustration of a Cuban Mastiff, which
may be the same breed, and he has also seen in Barbados, but
not in Jamaica, a large cross-bred dog quite obviously of mas-
tiff descent, used as a guard-dog on the plantations there.
The Cuban Bloodhounds were certainly well-known in
Jamaica at the time of the Maroon Rebellion during the late
eighteenth century. There is an account of this in Croxton-
Smith's "New Book of the Dog", but as to how factual this is,
is open to some doubt. All trace of the breed seems to have
disappeared from Jamaica.
A Ficus tree now covers the few traces of the Kennels near
Highgate Park House, Sligoville, and this seems to be the only
monument left to this remarkable Hunt, unique in the West.
However, the present owner of Highgate Park Mr. C. H.
Browne B. A. told the writer that a very old inhabitant of
Sligoville recalled to him a limerick which related to a "Salt-
fish drag" so perhaps a vague memory of Jamaica's unique
Hunt does linger on.
John Augustus Sullivan Esquire, Master of the Highgate
Park Hunt, Provost Marshal General and last Usher Black Rod
of Jamaica, lies at rest in the Churchyard of Highgate Church
Sligoville which he built.
Perhaps on some wild winty night he stirs uneasily in his
grave, awakened by the ghostly baying of his hounds in the
Being of the
Review Article on: "El mundo mitico
de los Tainos, by Josh Juan Arrom,
Institute Caro y Cuervo, Bogota, 1967.
by Professor G. R. Coulthard
It is generally accepted by anthro-
pologists that the Greater Antilles-Cuba,
Hispaniola (today Haiti and Santo Do-
mingo), Jamaica and Puerto Rico were
inhabited by groups of people known as
Arawaks, although the name Taino is
preferred in the Spanish-speaking islands.
The similarity of these peoples was noted
by Columbus, who in one of his Letters
wrote: "In all these islands (visited on
his first voyage), I saw little diversity in
the appearance of the people, or in their
customs or language". Columbus was not
far from the truth, although there may
have been original pre-Arawak peoples.
Stated schematically the culture of the
Arawaks or Tainos consisted in small
towns, bohios (wooden thatched huts,
still seen today in Cuba), bateyes (cere-
monial grounds where games were also
played), cutting and polishing of stone,
decorated ceramics, usually with geo-
metrical incisions and god figures, known
as zemies (in Spanish) or zemis (in English).
It is precisely with their religious beliefs
that Prof. Arrom is concerned. In his
well-known book: "Los origenes de las
Antillas", Mexico, 1956), Felipe Pichardo
Moya writes: "Neither of these peoples
(Arawaks and Caribs) seems to have had
any concept of a Supreme Being, neither
did their brothers of continental America
(both originated from the Orinoco area of
South America, where Arawak is still
spoken) the cemi or ceme was the
strength, and at the same time the effigy
of family spirits (p.112).
It is precisely with these more or less
triangular anthropomorphic stones which
had baffled anthropologists such a long
time that Prof. Arrom is concerned. In
his study on the myths of the Tainos he
demonstrates very convincingly that they
were not just vague family spirits, but the
representation of a supreme being. This
interpretation is achieved largely through
linguistic means. He first of all collects
the various names used by Spanish chron-
1 II III IV
Author cassava sea without grand-father master
Pane-Ulloa Ist mention locahu -uague Ma-oroco-n
Mitir 1st mention loca'a -na Gua Ma-onoco-n
Las Casas 1st mention Yocahu -Va-gua Ma-oroco-ti
Pane-Ulloa 2nd mention Gioca'u -ua gha-ma
Las Casas 2nd mention Yocahu -gua-ma
He observes that the name of cassava
(yuca) is present in all of them. Cassava,
as is well known was the basic food of the
Arawaks and Caribs alike (just as maize
was in Mexico, the potato in the Andes
etc.) The element "gua" or "ua" is also
present in all the names of this spirit.
Now the word vagua (used by Las Casas)
is still the Arawak word for sea. Along
with cassava, fish (shell-fish, molluscs,
etc.) was the other basic food-stuff of the
Tainos of the islands, where there were
very few animals (aguti, bats and iguanas
were eaten), but sea-food was the main
source of meat.
So far, we are faced with a deity con-
nected with staple foods, common to
many people. However, the part ma-
oroco-n, ma-oroco-ti, brings in a different
kind of concept. The very earliest Spanish
chronicler Father Ram6n Pane understood
that this was a spiritual concept and had
written "They believe in a heaven (a being)
which is immortal, which nobody can see,
who has a mother but no beginning and
they call it "Iocahuuague Maorocon"
(Pane's original account was printed in
Venice in 1571, but there is a more easily
obtainable version published in Mexico in
C. H. de Goeje's "The Arawak language
of Guiana" (Amsterdam, 1938) shows
that the suffix "ma" means without,
"oroco" (grandfather). The final part of
the name "ghama" or guamaa" simply
means lord or chief. Even in modern
lokono (Arawak) Geoje points out that
"wama" has this same meaning of "lord,
chief, master"; so this name has the
composite meaning of "Spirit of Cassava
and the sea, being without antecedents~
"Lord of Cassava" (Arrom) and Arrom
"--The Supreme Being of the Arawaks
was not a philandering Don Juan, like
Jupiter; nor a harsh, vindictive judge like
Jehova, nor a perpetual warrior like Odin.
Created by a people living in almost
paradise like islands, without poisonous
reptiles nor wild beasts, nor harsh winters
or crushing summers, without deserts or
barren lands, where a benign Nature offer-
ed an abundance of birds and fish and
fertile arable land, Ydcahu Bagua Mad-
rocoti, was, like his creators, peaceful and
kind. Closely linked to the ecology of the
islands, his functions were those of a
generous sustaining being ruling the crea-
tive forces of land and sea. Seen in this
light, the myth has a precise meaning in
the environment in which the Taino-
Arawak lived, and reflects his view of the
world. Yucahu Bagua Maorocoti, Lord
of the Three Names brings together the
three basic factors which so happily blend
in the West Indies: land, sea and man."
A duppy, as all Jamaicans know, is our own special variety
of spook, and it is remarkable how many of our plants have
become involved with duppies and superstition.
While there is much that might be said about the duppy and
his ilk, we will deal with him only in connection with those
forms of plant life with which he has, somehow, become
First and foremost of the duppy plants comes the stately
Ceiba or Silk Cotton Tree (Ceiba pentandra). This is the
duppies' own special tree and many are the superstitions that
surround it. Being a giant among its fellows and easily the
most imposing and awe-inspiring tree in the island, one can well
understand its having become an object of dread. The great
limbs, often smothered with epiphytes and tangled together
with a network of creepers and snake-like cacti, do indeed
appear as if something sinister might be lurking in their gloomy
I have read (just where I cannot now remember) that those
early inhabitants of Jamaica, the Arawaks, also regarded this
tree with awe and reverence, believing that all living things
were first created from its twigs. In these days it is said to be
the chosen abode of spirits and the man who has the temerity
to destroy it must be prepared to face the consequences, for
many are the tales of dire misfortune following the felling of
a Cotton Tree. Doubtless, its unwieldy bulk is conducive to
accidents and the fact remains that, every now and then, one
hears of some tragedy occasioned by the destruction of one of
these trees, each such incident going to strengthen the wide-
spread beliefs surrounding them.
A few of these Cotton Tree tragedies stand out in my
memory, from among the many I have heard. There is a tiny
stream in a North-side parish that winds its way between steep
banks, and, bridging it, there used to lie a great grey tree
trunk. As a child I often passed along the road which crossed
the stream by way of an old stone bridge just below the
prostrate trunk, and this was the tale told me by the grown-
ups. A woman had built her house beneath the tree which she
decided to have cut down when she found the spot cold and
damp. Her friends warned and implored to no purpose. She
was not superstitious, so she hired men and down came the
tree.. .. on top of her house, crushing it flat. Servants supple-
mented the tale where my grown-ups had left off. If you went
to the spot on a moonlit night, they told me, you could see the
little homeless duppies, wrapped in grey shawls, weeping and
wailing on the fallen trunk. Riders would find that their
horses refused to pass the spot at nights until some earth was
scraped fiom a hind hoof and rubbed on the animal's forehead.
This broke the spell.
In the next incident a planter was having a bit of land
cleared. An old dead and dried Cotton Tree obstructed work
and was duly set on fire. At lunch-time the labourers went
away, leaving the owner of the land watching. On their return
they found that the burning trunk had collapsed pinning his
crushed and scorched body beneath it. Just what made him
move into the danger zone will never be known.
The third accident was a strange one for, in this case, the
tree was felled without mishap. It had been selected for the
making of a dug-out canoe which was duly fashioned on the
spot and when completed it was dragged out to the nearest
roadway on rollers so that it could be trundled to the sea.
Having reached the road, the workmen paused to rest. They
must have been careless in their placing of the skids beneath
the boat for it suddenly plunged forward, carrying one of their
number over a cliff and killing him instantly. The duppies had
bided their time and taken a belated revenge.
In spite of these periodical happenings, Cotton Trees are
still felled, for the native fisherman finds that the light wood
of the great trunk makes an excellent canoe and, necessity
being the mother of invention, he has found a way of appeasing
the duppies whose home he destroys. Should an accident
occur in spite of this, it only goes to show that the rites were
not properly carried out.
The duppies, apparently, are no prohibitionists, and so a
libation of rum must be poured at the roots of the tree, and
the tree-cutters must also imbibe deeply if the curse is to be
Sharing the Cotton Tree with the ordinary duppies, we
hear, also, of the "Old Hige", a sort of supernatural witch who
hangs her skin on the branches when she sallies forth at night
bent on some evil mission, and, it is said, should anyone find
the skin and be courageous enough to sprinkle salt on it, she
can never re-enter it and, when daylight finds her skinless,
her doom is sealed.
Many of the giant Cotton Trees scattered throughout the
island are said to mark the sites of buried Spanish treasure, but
to dig would be futile for, so the legend goes, the Spaniards, hav-
ing made a slave dig the hole for the treasure, slew him on the
spot when the task was completed. This murder achieved a
double object since the slave was silenced for ever and his ghost
would, henceforth, remain on guard. If any treasure-hunter
ventured to dig at the spot without having the correct password
the ghostly sentinel would cause the treasure to keep on sinking
deeper and deeper into the earth. Nor was that all for, sooner
or later, some dire misfortune would surely overtake the rash
trespasser. So, though one hears tales of vast hoards which are
supposed to exist beneath some of these giant trees, no one
ventures to delve for them. Not even rum can break this spell.
The "Overlook" or "Cut-eye Bean, (Canavalia ensiformis),
with its pretty purplish blossoms and huge pods, about which
there has been much argument as to whether or not the beans
are poisonous, is commonly planted in provision fields for it is
intervals and no one can fathom the cause. The little cherubs
are devoutly attentive and no one suspects that their pockets
have been well stocked with the slim pods from the church-
yard. It is an easy matter to moisten one between the lips
every now and then and, with a well-aimed and unobtrusive
flick, land it on the hat of some prim old lady within range.
"k y 'As a school-mate of the cherubs I was "in the know" and
it provided vast entertainment during the service.
The "Duppy Rattle" or "Duppy Peas", (Crotalaria retusa),
is another small plant. It bears spikes of yellow pea-blossoms
while another species (C. verrucosa) bears mauve blossoms set
on shorter stems. When these blossoms have gone, they leave
"j / i behind fat little pods filled with small seeds and a spike of
These pods, when dry, makes an excellent rattle. Presumably,
these are used by baby duppies.
And now comes the most curious of all the Duppy plants..
Sthe "Duppy Fly-Trap". (Aristolochia grandiflora), which is
\also known as "John-crow Nose" and "Poison Hog-meat". It
Sis a vine of strong growth with large heart-shaped leaves and it
bears a flower that is weird in both shape and colouring. It is
a wild relative of the much smaller, but better known, Dutch-
/ man's Pipe which may be found in some gardens. The flower
is huge and has an oddly contorted neck opening out into a
heart-shaped shield which measures, on an average, about nine
/ by eight inches, while its tip-tapers off into a curly tendril
which sometimes reaches a foot in length.
The colouring is dark purple arranged in irregular lacy
splashes on a buff background, deepening to solid colour
S"Cochineal" Nopalea coccinellifer
"Overlook Bean" Canavalia ensiformis ,
supposed to have the power of casting the evil eye on any
would-be thief. Actually it does good in quite another way for '
its roots are great stores of nitrogen-forming bacteria. 0.
The "Tuna", (Nopalea coccinellifer), not to be confused i
with its close relative Opuntia tuna, is a cactus which also has
its place as a guardian of cultivations. In some districts it is
planted at the corners of the field, since it is believed that its .
baleful influence on a dishonest intruder will cause him to
develop an incurable sore, doing so in direct contradiction of
its healing properties when used legitimately, for, sliced and
roasted, it is an excellent poultice and is also used, cut up in
small pieces, to clarify muddy water. :
A scarlet dye, used in confectionery, was formerly made
from the bodies of cochineal insects which feed on this cactus. :
Then there is the "Duppy Gun" (Ruellia tuberosa) a small .
plant with a handsome purplish-blue flower and a very slender .
seed-pod which is about an inch and a half in length. It is this /
pod which is the duppies' gun for, when it reaches a certain '"...
stage of maturity, it bursts open with a small, sharp explosion,
which sends the tiny seeds scattering in all directions. If one '
wishes to hasten this explosion one has merely to moisten a
ripe pod and, in a matter of seconds, the gun goes off. Some
would say that this forcible scattering of seeds was but another I
example of nature's provision for better distribution but, of (L
course, that would be taking all the credit from the duppies. S
The sight of a Duppy Gun plant never fails to recall a
picture to my mind. I can see again the interior of a stately
church and the pink, cherubic faces of the clergyman's little
sons as they sit sedately in a row. The service proceeds. Then, l/1
suddenly,, there comes a little "pop" and people in a neighbour- LF4
ing pew jump and look round enquiringly. This occurs at
There are two different trees which are known as "Duppy
Cherry". Both of them are also called "Clammy Cherry".
Cordia collococca, is a tree with droopy branches, bearing a
small white flower and bunches of crimson and orange berries
which look most attractive, but are extremely astringerrt and
disagreeable to the taste, though I have been told that children
eat them. I have seen this tree at Montego Bay and Falmouth.
It is common on the dry southern plains.
SThe other "Duppy Cherry" (Ehretia tinifolia) is described
by Miss M. Walter as "A tall tree well known in the Liguanea
and Clarendon Plains with dense foliage of small leaves, and
panicles of small white flowers succeeded by orange-colour
berries". It is described by others as having cream-coloured
The "Duppy Cotton" or "French Cotton" (Calotropis
procera), is a native of tropical Africa which has become
naturalised in the West Indies. It is a tall shrub which is
usually found at low elevations but which will also grow up to,
at least, two thousand feet above sea level. The stems and the
backs of leaves have a white powdery appearance, and it bears
-- -heads- of-white or pinkish flowers patterned with purple. The
large seed-pods are giant versions of those of the common Red-
head (Asclepias curassavica) to which it is related.
These pods are packed with numerous seeds, each of which
carries a parachute of white, silken threads which enable it
to travel for long distances in the wind. These silky tufts are
the duppies' cotton. They were once used in fancy-work and
many were the doilies made of lace-bark and edges with a shiny
silk fringe of 'Duppy Cotton'. The bark of the root is said to
have a number of medicinal properties, while the stem provides
"Duppy Rattle" Crotalaria retusa a strong fibre which, I have read, was once used in Trinidad for
around the central hollow. It is a handsome, if somewhat
sinister-looking flower and it exudes, at times, a most dis- Aristololochia grandiflora
agreeable odour, as of putrifying flesh. This attracts flies and
other small insects which enter the bulbous cavern in the
centre, squeeze through a constricted passage where the neck
of the flower doubles back on itself, and so reach a chamber
lined with yellow fur. From this chamber a small funnel pro-
jects into yet another compartment which is lined with still
longer yellow fur forming a sort of honey-comb pattern
around purple spots. Once this funnel is passed there is no N'
return for the time being, since the stiff fur which lines the con-
stricted areas, and which inclines slightly inwards to allow an f
easy entrance, effectually foils all attempts to return the same '
It was formerly believed that this plant was one of those
that killed and digested its victims, but this is far from being
the case. It is now known that, instead of dying by slow /
degrees, the flies are fed with juices that exude from glands in
their prison walls. In their wanderings around in the limited
space at their disposal they become dusted with pollen
from the very short stamens. The barrier of fur now
loses its stiffness and becomes quite limp, lying flat and leaving
the doorways unguarded. Very soon, the captives find free-
dom, either by returning through the tortuous passageway or
by waiting for the flower to fall from its stem. They are then
at liberty to carry their pollen-dust to yet another flower and
thus does fertilization take place, the odd structure making it ,
impossible otherwise. The seed-pods, when dry, open up into
dainty little hanging baskets from which the wind blows the
This plant is said to be good medicinally for both man and
horse, but just why duppies should wish to catch flies seems
fish nets. The poisonous milky sap yields gutta percha but, as
it is -a conductor of electricity, is of no use for insulation.
The "Duppy Coconut" (Barringtonia asiatica), is a native
of Ceylon and I do not think there are many trees in the island,
so how it comes to be associated with,duppies is a mystery. It
is a medium sized to large tree withspreadingbranches bearing
thick glossy leaves and large white puff-ball flowers. The fruit
is square in section and has one seed embedded in a thick
fibrous husk, hence "coconut".
The "Duppy Tomato" or "Cockroach Poison"(Solanum
ciliatum), is a small, very prickly shrub. Its fruit looks like a
small tomato of a vivid tangerine colour. There is also a larger
yellow, pear-shaped variety and they are both said to be
poisonous, but I know that rats eat them, with what results I
"Duppy Cherry" Cordia collococca
The "Duppy Soursop" or "Wild Soursop" (Annona mon-
tana), is a tree, the wood of which is highly prized by cabinet
makers. The fruit is similar to that of the Soursop but is
shunned by man, birds and bats, so one supposes it may be
appreciated by the duppies.
"Duppy Calalu" (Amaranthus spinosus), unlike so many
Duppy plants, is edible as spinach. It is very prickly and has
reddish stems and leaves with greyish markings. It grows at
The names "Duppy Cap", "Duppy Cup" and "Duppy
Umbrella" are applied to a variety of species of fungi and is
suggested by their shapes.
The "Duppy Cucumber" (Cucumis anguria), is a vine very
like that of the cultivated cucumber, but smaller. It bears
yellow flowers and tiny fruit like gherkins. The fruit are
slightly spiny and are edible, being used both for pickles and as
More than one type of plant can lay claim to the name
"Duppy Fee-fee". Several of the pea family, including Cen-
trosema virginianum, claimed that name in my childhood, but
I have not heard it of late. In those days most children had
toys at Christmas time which made a squeaky noise and were
known as Fee-fees. 'My old nurse showed me how Fee-fees
could also be made from the centre protion of a pea-blossom.
I have lost the art and tried, in vain, to re-capture it. No one
seems to remember now how the tiny whistle was made.
The name "Duppy Fee-fee" is also applied to the Monkey
Fiddle (Pedilanthus tithymaloides), because it, too, can pro-
duce squeaky sounds when two bits of its stem are rubbed
together. It is also called "Duppy Fiddle-stick" and is a plant
with stiff stems and sparse, leathery leaves. The individual
flowers look like birds' heads with sharp pointed beaks. The
milky sap can blind.
The "Duppy Pindar" (Rhynchosia minima), looks much
like the peanut plant, but I do not think that it buries its seeds.
It has tiny yellow blossoms.
The "Duppy Needle" (Bidens sp.) is a relative of the well-
known Spanish Needle, the dried seeds of which hook on like
burrs and can prick most uncomfortably. There is also the
"Duppy Darning-needle" which may, possibly, be a larger
variety of Bidens.
Gosse describes the "Duppy Melon" as growing luxuriantly
over a tree. There is also a wild gourd, known as "Duppy
Gourd" or "Bitter Gourd" which runs along the ground and
bears a hard melon-shaped fruit which contains an intensely
bitter pith. Could either of these be the "Wild Melon"
( Conosicys pomiformis)?
"Duppy Poison" (Morinda royoc), has a number of local
names, among them that of "Strong Back", but as this is
applies so many plants it confuses the issue and I am not sure
that I know this plant, neither do I know the "Jumbie Chocho"
which would seem to belong to the Duppy class.
Another enchanted plant is the "Duppy Pumpkin". This
name is applied to several different species of Cucurbitaceae,
such as Fevillea cordifolia and Cayaponia racemosa, and it is
also applies to Passiflora sexflora.
A fitter name for "Duppy Pumpkin" would have been
"Fairy Pumpkin". Surely it could have been none other than
Cinderella's Fairy god-mother changed into the wonderful
The species best known to me is a vine bearing a miniature
melon-shaped fruit, the rind of which is glossy green freely
speckled with yellowish-white, becoming more yellow as it
ripens. The inner portion consists of a white pithy substance
wherein the hard black seeds are set, and the fruit is about two
and a half inches in length. I have seen another species which
was more pointed and not as deeply segmented.
The vine is lightly foliaged, climbing over small trees and
bushes in uncultivated places, mainly in the hilly countryside,
and when the quaint little fruit reaches maturity, it falls and
usually rolls for some way down the sloping land.. a
provision of nature for distributing the seeds, but some simple-
minded folk, finding it independent of any parent plant, have
a superstitious dread of it, believing it, like Topsy, to have
"just growed" for the benefit of the duppies. It may be
touched only with the left hand, thereby rendering its spell
harmless, since, for some obscure reason, the left hand holds
certain powers against the supernatural and one may even
venture to strike a duppy with it if hard pressed.
I have seen it recorded, also, that there is a belief that if
anyone has a stiff neck he has only to wind a piece of the
vine around it and wait for someone else to make enquiries.
He then breaks off a bit and throws it at the enquirer to whom
the ailment will be transferred. This superstition also holds
good with a red rag instead of a vine.
Plant names vary widely in different parts of the island and
there may be still other unrecorded Duppy plants. One cannot
help wondering if there is any other country with so much of
its plant life connected with the supernatural.
Ferry Inn Dagurrotyped by Duperly
~~cr~'~c~~-" '*~ l
it', GA ane
In the 1953-54 test series between
Britain and the West Indies a riot broke
out on the Bourda Ground in George-
town, British Guiana. Britain went on to
win the match by nine wickets.
In the 1959-60 series between the same
two sides another riot erupted at Queens
Park Oval, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Eng-
land won the match and as a result, the
series by 56 runs.
On Monday the 12th of February, 1968
a riot broke out on the 3rd day of the
second test match being played at Sabina
In accounting for these riots (the
article will be concerned primarily with
the incidents in Jamaica) one must go
beyond the superficial explanations offer-
ed by socially unsophisticated sports
commentators the weather, the fact
that the home side was losing, just plain
lack of discipline, and so on. These
simply beg the question. Why should a
home team become so terribly involved in
a game that the dismissal of one batsman
sparks off a full scale riot? If, as a few of
the English Sports writers claimed, the
West Indian masses are so ill-disciplined
and barbaric, why have they not revolted
long ago against conditions that are in-
finitely more frustrating than the simple
dismissal of a batsman?
A closer look at the record of these
riots poses further interesting issues. For
one thing, although we have had Australian,
Indian and Pakistani touring teams which,
in the case of the Aussies, have routed the
home side before large audiences, it is
only against the English teams that riots
have taken place.
A second interesting fact is that cricket,
outside of test matches, is rapidly losing
ground both as a participant and spectator
sport in the West Indies, the one excep-
tion being Barbados. In the three areas
where riots have broken out first class
matches are generally dismal affairs.
We must begin to answer the questions
posed above by first observing that in the
West Indies the test match is not so much
a game as a collective ritual a social
drama in which almost all of the basic
tensions and conflicts within the society
are played out symbolically. Furthermore,
that at certain moments the symbolic
content of this ritual acquires a special
quality what I shall call transubstan-
tive which not only reinforces its
potency, but in so doing creates a situa-
tion that can only be resolved in violence.
Finally, that in a society remarkably
devoid of social dramas of this kind,
cricket, precisely because it is the only
such ritual, becomes extremely important
for the expression and channelling of
certain deeply rooted grievances and ten-
sions within the society. It is, in short,
the only institution (with the possible
exception of lower class religious cults)
performing certain basic cleansing func-
What is it then about West Indian
society which transforms cricket, a nor-
mally staid and complicated game which
at first sight would seem peculiarly devoid
of any deep cleansing value, into such an
intense ritual? Almost everything, one is
tempted to answer, but space permits us
to make only three basic points about the
First there is the cultural dualism
peculiar to all W.I. societies. If we take
the case of Jamaica, we find not one
cultural core shared by all members of
the society with regional and class varia-
tions in life style, but really a dominant
culture and another more fragile and sub-
ordinate quasi-culture, partly conflicting
in their value-systems, partly supplemen-
tary. On the one hand, there is the culture
of the elite group, essentially British in
orientation, the creolized version of the
culture of the former colonial masters.
On the other hand there is the culture of
the masses, which, in its traditional form,
is a tenuous syncretism of the fragments
of African culture which survive slavery
and the local adjustments to the demands
of the plantation system.
As one would expect, the relationship
between these two cultures is one of sub-
ordination and superordination. The
British colonial master defined his culture,
his values, as superior and such was his
economic and political power that what
was originally only ideologically defined
soon became socially real. The slaves and
their descendants had little real choice in
the matter. They lived their way of life
only by default. The "superior" culture
of the white master was accepted with all
its implications of lowly conception of
things black and Afro-Jamaican. The way
one looked, the way one spoke, the way
one behaved were all negatively evaluated.
The black lower-class Jamaican accepted
this and despised himself for having to
accept it. While accepting the superiority
of British culture the Jamaican also hated
it for what it had made of his own culture
and of him. It was in short, a deep-seated
The second important feature of the
society is its rigid class division. A recent
report indicates that, of countries with
available data, Jamaica has one of the
most unequal distributions of income in
the world. Much has been said although
little done about the increasing gulf
between the haves and the have-nots in
this society and there is little need to
Colour, although of decreasing signifi-
cance as an active determinant of status
(i.e. there has been a marked decline in
job-discrimination on the basis of colour)
still largely coincides with class. While
colour discrimination has decreased how-
ever, colour prejudice is still rife. To the
black, lower-class Jamaican however, all
this, understandably, appears to be simply
splitting hairs. The combined effect of
the persistence of colour prejudice and
the correlation of light shade with high
status simply reinforces his own prejudice
that racial discrimination is still rampant
(a prejudice, incidentally, which also
serves the added psychological function of
excusing his own low status). For these
reasons then, the society has not benefited
in terms of racial stability as much as it
should have done from the significant
reduction in racial discrimination in recent
years. Indeed urbanization, improved
educational facilities and generally rising
expectations have led to a growing sense
of racial exploitation.
The final feature of the society we
must take note of is partly implied in
what has been said above that is, the
fact that there is little shared behaviour
among the different groups that make up
the society. The Jamaican rarely exper-
iences any sense of social solidarity either
with the total society or with any sizeable
groups within the wider context of the
nation state. It would be no exaggeration
to say that the society is literally bursting
at the seams with conflict. Cultural,
colour and class conflicts we have already
mentioned, but there are other sources of
conflict within the system conflicting
political allegiance, rural-urban conflicts,
sexual conflicts all fraught with a degree
of animosity unheard of in more stable
social orders. The masses then are as
much in conflict with themselves as they
are with the elite. It would be the height
of left-wing romanticism to imagine that
the great gulf separating the elite from the
masses has led to any kind of group con-
sciousness or sense of solidarity among the
latter. In the daily struggle to survive it is
every man for himself.
Consider now, the situation at Sabina
Park on that dramatic Monday afternoon
several months ago. Both the setting and
the game constituted a microcosm of
Jamaican society. The differing qualities
of the spectators in the various stands
reflected to an almost absurd degree the
differences within the society. It is
difficult to resist the temptation to pun
on the German word "stand" (meaning,
'status group') by remarking that the
stands were literally 'stands'. To the
western end of the grounds was the
pavilion, its members over 90 per cent
white or very light in colour, rich and
upper class. The sprinkling of browns and
blacks were typical of those who had
made it in this group: the Governor-
General black, resplendently attired;
his wife a little way down amidst a group
of patronizing white ladies cheerful,
chubby and well dressed, looking for all
the world like a black version of the
British Queen Mother. There were a few
Ministers of Government, the odd uppity
civil servant, the occasional black business-
man. Five to ten percent. More than that
and the Sabina Park pavilion would not
be the place it used to be.
Opposite the pavilion, at the eastern
end of the grounds were the bleachers -
the hard wooden benches beneath the hot
sun, every inch of which exploded with
people. Here were the masses, securely
fenced off from the rest of the grounds
with chicken wire. Their faces were nearly
all black. If one scanned diligently enough
the odd white or high brown face may
have been spotted but these, as often as
not, belonged to some too earnest resident
Then to the northern end of the
grounds were the covered stands with
concrete seats. The spectators here were
better clad, their colour, on average, a
cooler shade of black. There were fences
here too. But not as high as the ones in
front of the bleachers. Here it was possible
to move about more freely. With the
naked eye one could just about scan the
cream on the pavilion.
Finally, there were the Southern and
Grand stands: clean, shaded, comfortable,
the view excellent, the spectators orderly
and well dressed. These shared with the
pavilion the privilege of having no fences.
Occasionally there was an exchange of
greetings between a spectator from the
grand stand with one from the pavilion -
always polite, always cordial but some-
how not without a lingering flavour of
awkwardness, if not embarrassment.
And now the game. Its meaning. Its
ritual significance. Need one spell it out?
Cricket is the Englishman's game par
excellence. The very term "cricket" has
become a byword for all that is most
English in the British way of life. The
vocabulary of cricket is a standard pool of
stock images for Tory statesmen. No
better symbol of English culture could be
found. Yet, this is the game which West
Indians have usurped, have come to mas-
ter. What the former colonial subject has
done is to literally beat the master at his
own game. But, more important, he has
beaten him symbolically. Here all the
ambivalence of the black lower-class West
Indian towards English culture can be
played out. Cricket is the game we love
for it is the only game we can play well,
the only activity which gives us some
international prestige. But it is the game,
deep down, which we must hate the
game of the master. Hence it becomes on
the symbolic level the English culture we
have been forced to love, for it is the only
real one we have, but the culture we must
despise for what it has done to us, for
what it has made of the hopeless cultural
shambles, the incoherent social patch-
work, that we have called Afro-Jamaican
culture. How better to express our pent
up rage, our agonizing self-contradiction
that to acquire and master this culture,
then use it to beat the group that forced
us into acquiring it? This is precisely
what cricket has done for the West Indian.
This is why victory victory against the
Englishman is a matter of such great
But the game does more than this. It
resolves internal conflicts in that it func-
tions symbolically in expressing strong
class hostility. Hence it is not only the
means by which the ex-colonial gets back
at the culture of his former master but a
means whereby the masses express their
rage against their present 'betters' the
current carriers of the dominant English
culture in the local society. Hence it is
significant that the present West Indian
team is almost entirely dark brown or
black and of lower class origins. Further,
it is no accident that during the bad old
days when the team was dominated by
whites no riots ever took place. It is also
significant that the really popular mem-
bers of the team are not Sobers and
Kanhai but Hall and Griffith. Sobers for
example, is respected, revered, awed: as
one spectator was heard to say when he
once again saved the team from defeat,
"'Im not no cricketer 'Im is God!" But it
is in the nature of deities that they are
removed from the immediate obsessions
and problems of mortal men. Not so the
response of the crowd to Hall and
Griffith. The feeling here comes straight
from the gut. One reason perhaps is that,
as pace-men, they perform the most
aggressive roles on the team. No one who
has seen Hall making his long, muscular
run-up to the wicket can fail to be
impressed by the beautiful, sweet violence
of the act the slow, menacing beginning,
the gathering pace, the sudden climactic
explosion of energy on delivery, the
dashing follow-through, the plight of the
lonely batsman at the other end. In this
cathartic moment of truth, it is 'us' versus
'them'. 'Us' constitutes the black masses.
'Them' is everything else the privileged,
the oppressors, the alien, dominant culture.
This brings us to the third symbolic
function of cricket. The test match is
one of the few occasions on which the
lower classes experience any kind of group
solidarity. The self-destructive atomism
created by poverty, conflicting values,
deprivation and charismatic politics loses
its disintegrative power in the presence of
the game. Here at last, via the media of
genuine heroes the only heroes in a
land barren of heroes or a heroic tradition
the masses respond as one, share a
common experience, bite their nails in a
common war or nerves against a common
But if cricket demystifies there is a
sense in which it also enhances mystifica-
tion in that it facilitates not only pro-
letarian solidarity but bourgeois national-
ism. As such, it fully evokes the ambi-
valence of the masses towards the elite.
For 'them' over there also claim to be
against the British touring team. On the
one hand 'we' would like to deny 'them'
the right to feel that they are allies with
'us' against the common foe, but on the
other hand, it is difficult not to succumb
to the temptations of bourgeois nationalist
sentimentality. The elite, after all are
paying homage to 'our' heroes too. 'Wd
hate the bastards but 'we' must admit a
little feeling of pleasure at their sub-
mission. As long as the game follows its
natural course and as long as the home
team, the heroes, are winning we are
prepared to be generous: 'We' shall
allow 'them' to share some of the glory
Is this perhaps a collective projection?
Do 'we' somehow in this moment of
triumph fool 'ourselves' into thinking that
it is possible to share some little of their
particular glory with them? It is a fool's
paradise. But a beautiful one while it
lasts. Tomorrow the sports commentators
will say how proud 'we' all are, how well
However the demystifying function of
cricket is only possible when the game is
going the right way. It is a different
matter when the heroes are losing, when
they are being humiliated by the English
team before the very eyes of the masses,
as they were on that fateful Monday.
And it is at this point that the symbol-
ism acquires a new dimension, one far
more telling. Let us look briefly at the
series of incidents sparking off this sym-
The Test began on Thursday 8th of
February. Cowdrey won the toss and
from the first ball it was clear that this
would be no ordinary test match. The
West Indian bowlers toiled all day with
little reward. The crowd left disappointed,
worried. The next day the innings continu-
ed. Already the wicket had begun to
crack up. England were all out in the
late afternoon for 376 runs. By now the
wicket was like a jig-saw puzzle with
several enormous chasms, one of the
worst ever witnessed in the history of
test matches. As the West Indian batsmen
came in the tension rose. It was in no way
relieved by the surprise of seeing Murray,
the young wicket keeper and normally
the No. 7 batsman, opening. Clearly,
even the great Sobers was worried. It was
a gamble which did not come off, for
before the end of play that day, disaster
struck twice, as the opening pair was
dismissed with the total number of runs
too humiliating to mention. The next day,
Saturday, the West Indian side was routed
for a miserable 143. The follow-on was
forced and it was during the fightback
on the following Monday that Basil But-
cher was brilliantly caught by Parks behind
the wicket off the bowling of Basil
D'Olivera. Sang Hue, the Jamaican Chin-
ese Umpire, had no hesitation in giving
But the crowd could not believe it.
Did not wish to believe it. As Holford
came in to join Sobers the bottles began
to pop over the fence separating the
bleachers from the field. Slowly at first,
then as Cowdrey, the President of the
Jamaica Cricket Association and later
Sobers appealed to them, the bottles
poured down even more profusely. The
police then came on the scene. It was a
classic display of Police mismanagement.
After failing to make any impact by
shouting at the crowd from the playing
field side 6f the fence, the riot squad was
called in. This had precisely the opposite
effect of that intended. Dressed in gas
masks and carrying tear gas guns they
appeared somehow both frightening and
absurd. There was something quite unreal
about them for, hidden behind their
masks, they appeared more like actors in
a Pirandello drama of tyranny than real
policemen. The Police, unwittingly placed
themselves in the role of playing them-
selves. As such they became simply an
extension of the drama that was already
being played out.
The crowd paused for a moment and
watched them. This new scene. These
new actors. These strange messengers of
terror. Then the actors acted. .They
began to throw the tear gas bombs into
the crowd. Suddenly the ritual took a
new crucial turn. As the vile fumes
burned the eyes and turned over the
stomachs of the masses, the drama be-
came real. Everything was transformed
- the actors lived their roles, the symbol
became the thing symbolized. This was
no longer a game, no longer a vivid
metaphor. This was Jamaican society in
all its stark, brutal reality. Now it seemed
so vulnerable, its brutality so transparent.
The opportunity had to be seized. It
must be destroyed. And so the masses
So far we have largely attempted to
explain how the ritual of cricket func-
tions as a symbolic expression of certain
basic conflicts in West Indian society. We
are yet to explain the reasons for the riot
itself. Indeed what we have said would
seem more to indicate why a riot should
not take place rather than why it should.
An understanding of why the riot occurs
requires an appreciation of two things.
One concerns the nature of cricket itself.
The other relates to the nature of sym-
The most striking thing about cricket,
as a game, is its emphasis on order. All
games, it is true, involve some acceptance
of rules and cease to exist when such
rules are neglected. But cricket is excep-
tional both for its complexity and its
almost consciously articulated ideology
of obedience and authority, the latter
being symbolized in the person of the
umpire. Nor is it an accident that cricket
is one of the few games which requires
It is because of this internal quality,
this emphasis on obeying the rules of
unquestioning acceptance of the decision
of the umpire, that cricket is able to per-
form another vital, if negative symbolic
function. Namely, that of disobeying the
rule, of refusing to accept the decision of
the umpire which in terms of its symbolic
identity with the society which I have
outlined above, amounts to a denial, a
threat to the very existence of the society.
The ritual of cricket then belongs to
that category of symbols that is poten-
tially self-destructive in that it is most
potent where it denies its reality as
symbol and in the act of so doing becomes
qualitatively transformed. I have called
this category of symbols transubstantive.
A substantive symbol must by definition,
remain a sign, i.e. an object or act which
mediates the meaning of some referent for
a subject or group of people. However, in
the case of a transubstantive symbol there
is an inherent tension derived from the im-
pulse to acquire the substance of the mean-
ing which originally the symbol was meant
only to mediate. The symbol, in short,
ceases to be something meaningless in
itself, ceases to be simply a mediator and
becomes inherently meaningful, becomes
the thing being mediated. It no longer
stands for something else. It is that
A further point worth noting is the
fact that a transubstantive symbol rarely,
if ever, exists as an independent type.
Instead, it remains vested in ordinary
substantive symbols, as a latent or post-
poned possibility a possibility which in
certain rare moments of deep involvement
with 'the ritual is realized by the subject.
Cricket as an ordinary substantiative
symbol, mediates and symbolically resolves
certain basic conflicts within Jamaican
society. It is also, however, a transub-
stantive symbol and acquires the quality
when it ceases to mediate and canalize
social conflicts and instead becomes
identified with such conflicts. Such an
identification is likely to occur at moments
when the believers' (the spectators of the
game) devotion and identity with their
heroes are in a state of crisis. And just
such a moment was the point in the game
when Butcher was dismissed. Like certain
devout Christians for whom the ritual of
communion is one in which the wine and
the bread are actually the blood and flesh
of Jesus, so to the Jamaican lower-class
spectator in that moment, the game
became the society, symbolized partly in
the entire game, but more concretely in
the person of the umpire who in this case
was Chinese (as in the case of the Guianese
riot) a racial type inevitably associated
with the dominant capitalist class in the
West Indies. And when the society literally
enter the drama through the medium of
the fearsome police who then proceeded
to play themselves, the experience could
only be consummated by the expression
of the most basic wish of the lower-class
spectators. The wish to destroy the
society, the system which is the source of
their poverty, their humiliation, and their
If my interpretation is correct the
wonder is not that so many riots have
taken place in test matches between
England and the West Indies but that so
few have occurred.
We must Learn
to sit down toge
and talk ab
WRITING AND CRI
IMPACT A publication of the Guild of Undergraduates,
I.W.I. Wayne Browne, The Novelist In an Unsettled
CARIBBEAN QUARTERLY, Vol. 15, No I. March, 1967.
W.I. Carr, Roger Mais-Design from a Legend.
THE ISLANDS IN BETWEEN Essays on West Indian
Literature, Edited with an Introduction by Louis James.
Oxford University Press, 1968.
T. W. ADORNO:
PRISMS, Trans. Weber, 1967.
GEORGE LAMMING: THE PLEASURES OF EXILE, 1960.
"But that which makes cultural criticism Inappropri-
ate is not so much lack of respect for that which is
criticized as the dazzled and arrogant recognition
which criticism surreptitiously confers on culture.
The cultural critic can hardly avoid the imputation
that he has the culture which culture lacks.. When the
critics permit themselves to be degraded to propagan-
dists or censors, it is the old dishonesty of trade fulfill-
ing itself in their fate. The prerogatives of Informa-
tion and position permit them to express their opinion
as if it were objectivity. But it is solely the objectivity
of the ruling mind. They help to weave the veil."
(ADORNO PRISMS. Trans. S. Weber.)
At the beginning of his article The Novelist is an Un-
settled Culture Wayne Browne quotes a statement about
England made by W.I. Carr. Browne uses this statement as a
measuring rod with which to assess the West Indian cultural
experience. Carr wrote and Browne quotes:
"The novelist in England inhabits a dense world of critical
discussion, of weekly reviews, of shared exchanges. He has
the great advantage of relative anonymity in a culture, or
rather in a social context, which is not forced to engage in
a prolonged and painful dialogue with itself.. He is not
obliged, by the conditions of his living to explore the nature
of his Englishness. It is present for him in the achievement
of his predecessors. And at the same time the English
novel is so evidently a product of a high degree of social
It is plain from this that Carr sees England through different
spectacles to those with which Lapuning's young Englishman,
Charcot (in the novel, Season of Adventure) sees it. Carr
shares Charcot's feeling of guilt, is trapped in the same
rebellious posture, but lacks the latter's disillusioned aware-
ness that his posture is a posture.
Instead, Carr weaves a myth about present day England in
much the same manner, as the narrator's father in Alejo
Carpentier's novel The Lost Steps, weaves a myth about a
Europe he too, had long since left. Carr sells his illusion of
present day England to Browne as the narrator's father sells
his dream of a distant and magnificent Europe to his son. The
father instils in his son a view of the world, a Manichean view,
in which, as Professor Coulthard* expresses it, the world is
"a battle field between the light of recorded (European) culture
and the darkness of original animality, (America)"
In Europe, the narrator's father tells him, working men partake
In Part One of 'Reflections on West Indian Writing and Criticism' (Jamaica Journal, Vol. 2 No.4.,
December 1968) Sylvia Wynter made a distinction between what she termed 'acquiescent criticism'
on the one hand, and 'challenging criticism' on the other. According to this distinction the 'acquies-
cent critic' pretends to take an 'objective' stance, outside the historical process which has moulded
his point of view; the 'challenging critic' accepts and is aware that his point of view is moulded by this
process. His awareness can lead therefore to creative insights which, by transforming the nature of
consciousness, can transform the historical process. The challenging critic can help to initiate
conscious change; the acquiescent critic, by pretending to be objective, bolsters the status quo,
even when he most seems to protest against it. Sylvia Wynter sees W.I. Carr a former lecturer in
English at the Mona Campus of the U.W.I. as a typical exponent of 'acquiescent criticism'. In Part
Two of the essay she explains why, continuing and developing this thesis.
*In The Spanish American Novel, 1940 1965. Extra Mural Studies,
of German Kultur ; enter libraries and read devoutly, attend
concerts and listen with raptness to the music of Beethoven.
In America, however, there was only the barbarous killings of
Pancho Villa and his men; America was the continent of
'little history' in which darkness had its being.
For the son, drunk on his father's myth, the Eroica
Symphony of Beethoven comes to symbolize all the light of
a great and unparalleled civilization. When his father dies, he
goes to Europe, and still seeing it through his father's eyes, he
is "dazzled and enthralled by the music and architecture and
painting of the Old World," During the war, he hears the
German concentration camp guards singing the chorus from
"Freunde, schoner, Gotterfunken
Tochter aus Elysium*"
He begins to question his father's myth of a 'kultur' in which
million of men are burnt to a scientific ash in ovens, while
their burners sing the chorus from the Eroica. Along with the
myth, he questions the entire gamut of what Sartre calls "our
precious set of values"; and on closer scrutiny, he too sees
that there isn't one "that isn't stained with blood". He sees
through "the striptease of humanism comes face to face
with the underlying reality, sees it "naked, and its not a pretty
sight". He is haunted now by the sickness of his father's
dream which is his heritage; by that 'fine sensibility' of
Europe, part and parcel of that supermanhood, which to'
realize itself as Prospero's dominance, had created Caliban -
slaves in America; and in Europe had created of its own kith
and kin, Caliban-monsters, transforming the 'cultured' work-
men of his father's dream, into the alienated Nazi mass,
alienated like today's London dockers marching for Enoch
Powell, North America's blue-collar workers clamouring for
George Wallace from that very humanist being that the
Eroica Symphony sets out to celebrate.
He returns to America where the cities are a tired reflection
of the European sickness, other victims of the super-- culture
myth. He gets the chance to travel into the interior of Peru to
search for some primitive musical instruments. In a settlement,
hacked out of the jungle, he falls in love with a girl Rosario, a
girl mixed of all the great races of the world, the most
differentiated, the most separated who for milleniums had
remained ignorant of their common existence on the planet.'
There he begins to make a discovery of a culture, which,
unlike the Western one, had not yet separated magic from
reality by the use of reason; a culture in which Nature was not
there to be exploited, but to be co-habited with. A culture in
which, for Rosario who inhabited it, herbs were living beings
in a mysterious world which existed alongside the apparently
'real one'; where the woods had its one-legged genie, and
nothing that grew under the shadow of a tree could be plucked
except one left a coin in payment; a coin paid with a ritual
gesture, a ritual asking of permission. Carpentier knows that
he cannot return to inhabit this culture. One cannot appro-
priate a way of life; one must live it from one's first breath.
He knows that he and Rosario are separated, and that that
which separated them,
"were the thousand books read by me, and that she knew
nothing of; her beliefs, customs, superstitions, notions that
I was ignorant of, notions which supported a reason for
living as valid as mine. "
His illumination comes from his break-out from a Euro-
centred world his realization of the possibility of "other"
states of being; of an endless variety of potentiality and
possibility. In the end he leaves. The artist cannot stay in the
past nor even entirely inhabit the present; his concern is to go
*Joy, beautiful spark of the gods, daughter from Elysium.
towards and to help create the impossible, which is tomorrow.
In the Caribbean, as in the backswoods of America, the
potentiality of another 'culture' has always existed; and still
exists, although now going down before the assault of a world-
wide negation of culture brought by modern industrial "civiliza-
tion". It was this culture, fragile, makeshift, temporary, but
valid out of which Lamming wrote 'In The Castle of my Skin'.
It had been a culture created by the village. Once the village
breaks up at the end of the novel, Lamming says goodbye not
only to the village, but to this other culture that had given him
heroes like Papa. And a set of values that were humane,
because they never thought of humanity; but of the mutual
survival of one another. The destruction of the village, erases
the culture, but not its memory. And not its echoes. It is this
which gives such meaning to the last sentence of Lamming's
"I had said farewell; farewell to the land."
Carr is ignorant of this culture; or rather he does not
recognize it as one. In his analysis of Mais' -'The Hills Were
Joyful Together'- he does not see the singing of the folk-
song at the fish-fry, for what it is a carry-over from the village-
culture of the land, when food, like the fish had come as
manna from the hand of a fixed and certain God. Carr is far
more concerned with the fact that,
"Mais' explicitness at the end of the episode nearly over-
points it: 'And they all laughed, and bright tears stood in
the eyes of some, to witness that they still understood the
meaning of miracles?"
He is far more concerned with the fact that Mais almost departs
from an artistic norm; than that Mais, by echoing the past,
reveals that a people have been expelled from a way of life, in
which however poor, they had shared a communal being.
Out of that being they had created a folk song. Now they no
longer create. They only remember.
Jean Creary knows of this culture. Her comment on the
fish-fry, points to the dispossession of the people, rather than
to Mais's departure from a norm:
"These rhythms both communal, and within Mais's artistic
eye, culminate in the choreographed meeting point of the
fish fry, where the imprisoned, the spirits of the slum -
dwellers erupt into a rhythmic celebration of life and
fellowship ..... But the pattern is asserted so that it may
be denied. There is no ultimate escape from the dis-
integrating forces of poverty."
The poverty of slum culture has replaced the culture of the
village. Even the echoes have almost entirely disappeared by
the time Patterson meets the 'Children of Sisyphus'. This is
the real 'unsettlement of culture' in the Caribbean context, yet
it plays no part on Wayne Browne's horizon. The 'unsettled
culture' of his title is obviously supposed to compare and con-
trast with the 'settled culture' of an England which Carr had
Yet, the problems of the new novelist of England parallel,
to some extent, the problems of the West Indian. For the new
English novelist must, like the West Indian, come to terms
with his own kind of dispossession. England is still a metropol-
itan centre, and the English novelist is assured of a market;
and a market function. It is true that as Carr says, the young
English novelists still have "a dense world of critical discussion,
of weekly review, of shared exchange." But this exchange is
the narcissistic one of a closed world from which the reality of
the transformation which England is now undergoing in her
changeover from colonial power to colony, is deliberately
excluded. The writers for the most part, even when they
chronicle portions of the new reality, of the change, refuse for
the most part to see and accept the implications. The few who
do, like Lamming's character Charcot, and feel their inadequacy
to cope with problems of such magnitude, get the hell out.
What in fact a W.I. Carr sells to a Wayne Browne as a 'shared
exchange' is in fact, a masturbatory exercise. Charcot realizes
this, when from the distance of a West Indian island he recalls
his London friends,
"... charting through dead lakes of coffee the origin and
end of every well-known failure. "
As for the 'nature of his Englishness' which according to
Carr, the English writer can take for granted, because 'it is
present for him in the achievement of his predecessors, it is
precisely here that the English writer finds himself in a
dilemna as parodoxical, in its way, if not more so, than the
dilemna of the West Indian writer. The new English writer, a
Sillitoe, an Osborne, a Braine, a Kingsley Amis, descendants of
classes dispossessed from 'Englishness' in the Shakespearian
context by the Industrial Revolution, must now come to
terms with a Caliban history of deprivation, an Oliver Twist
past that the memory of a Dickens can only partially redeem.
Far more terribly, any exploration of 'Englishness' would lead
him to an admission of involvement in another type of
exploitation where he was no longer the exploited, but the
exploiter; where to anchor himself in the achievement of his
predecessors he would have to accept the guilt, not only of the
past, but of the continuing present. He would have to admit
"You know well enough that we are exploiters. You know
too that we have laid hands on first the gold and metals,
then the petroleum of the 'new continents' and that we have
brought them back to the old countries. This was not
without excellent results, as witness our palaces our
cathedrals and our great industrial cities; and then when
there was the threat of a slump, the colonial markets were
there to soften the blow or divert it. Crammed with riches,
Europe accorded the human status de jure to its inhabitants.
With us, to be a man is to be an accomplice in colonialism,
since all of us without exception have profited by colonial
To explore the nature of Englishness with the perspective
with which Sartre explores the nature of Frenchness would
commit the English novelist to changing its name and nature.*
It is not, as Carr puts it, that the English novelist, is not
'forced to engage in a prolonged and painful dialogue;' it is
simply that until now, he has not had the necessary courage
to begin to do so. Here too, he parallels the West Indian. For
the culture which Englishman and West Indian share, is a
culture permeated by what Wilde calls, "the careless accuracy
of facts", a culture which uses pragmatism as its shield against
the 'black truth'; a culture which survives through its power
of evasion. English 'culture' is settled; but as Lamming points
out, with the stillness of a corpse. If and when the 'painful
dialogue'with itself begins it will be a long delayed sign of new
This dialogue must, by its very nature threaten the present
social context which Carr sees as a standard of excellence; and
the 'structure' which supports this social context; a structure
in the final analysis controlled 'by the gnomes of Zurich'; and
which, at second hand remove, controls us. Lamming the
West Indian has begun the dialogue that the English, given
their ambivalent role exploiter and exploited, puppet and
part-puppet-master must avoid. This is the main difference
between the West Indian writer and the English. The West
Indian has little to lose by questioning and thereby
*In Encounter, December 1968, John Wain points out that George
Orwell, did just this. Orwell argued that the English "... do not wish
to recognize ... that their own fine feelings and noble attitudes are all
the fruit of infustice backed up by force. They do not want to learn
where their Incomes come from."
threatening Prospero's cloud-capped towers. By the mere fact
of being a West Indian, Browne breaks out of Carr's distorted
perspective when he argues:
"But one looks for the object of satire in the West Indies
and finds that he must look to history and a mother country
4000 miles away in the throes of its own death or to the
economics of modem capitalism and Big Brother U.S.A. if
he is to apportion blame."
Looking even further one would end up with the super-
culture myth which underpins this economic octopus. Browne,
impelled by his own circumstance here contradicts the myth
purveyed by a Carr. He does not as yet pursue this contradic-
tion to its logical conclusion. When he does so, it will become
clear that Carr's role as critic in the system of Prospero is that
of an agent provocateur; the louder he shouts against it, the
more he fulfils his function as guardian of the system.
"His vanity aids that of culture: even in the accusing
gesture, the critic clings to the notion of culture,
isolated, unquestioned, dogmatic. He shifts the attack.
Where there is despair and measureless misery, he sees
only spiritual phenomena, the state of man's conscious-
ness, the decline of norms. By Insisting on this, criticism
is tempted to forget the unutterable, instead of striv-
ing, however impotently so that man may be spared."
"You see Miss Mullings, what we've got here is a staff
that can uplift-- you know, people.... who conform to
standards... We've got to have standards, Miss Mull-
ings, we've Just got to.."
(Fitzroy Fraser, 'Wounds in the Flesh.')
Lamming's Charcot, coming to terms with his own dis-
placement, shares displacement with his West Indian pupil,
Fola. Their relation is one of equality. Carr, by refusing to
accept his own, sees himself still in the interpreter role of
Miranda. What Carr cannot forgive the West Indian is that he
should become his own interpreter; his own saviour. For this
threatens Carr's role and sense of purpose, a sense that is being
increasingly challenged as sterling totters, and recovers, pulled
by strings from Zurich. Because he refuses to see the apparatus
which controls his and the West Indian's common condition,
he must hold on for relevance to a well known and recognized
role. In his long and illuminating essay on Roger Mais he sets
out to destroy any West Indian writer who too clearly, by
making certain connections that Carr must avoid, diminishes
this role. The essay on Mais is as much in dispraise of these
West Indian writers as it is in praise of Mais; who safely dead
can be erected into a fetish object; and whose anger can be
disguised under the name, and throne of Art.
The list of writers dispraised therefore has its significance.
I am included, although the connections I made were so con-
fused and ill-made, as hardly to have seemed worth while
meriting Carr's guns. Certainly not when compared to his
dismissal 'of Eric Williams' 'Capitalism and Slavery' It is
interesting to note that Williams' book prepared as a doctoral
thesis for Oxford University could not, for quite a few years,
find a publisher in England. It was first published in the
United States of America and has since become a classic.
'Capitalism and Slavery' exposes the close connection between
the growth and expansion of capitalist enterprises in England,
and the U.S.A. and the profits made from the slave-trade on
what has come to be known as 'The Middle Passage'.
Orwell was even none explicit, arguing according to Wain "that, since
the British Empire was a system for exploiting cheap coloured labour,
the true "proletariat'. of England had dark skins and lived thousands of
miles away." 29
It is logical that a Naipaul, although using the title 'The
Middle Passage'for his travel book about the Caribbean, should
avoid making mention of the economic connection and implica-
tions. Nor in fact does he seem ever to have bothered to read
Williams' book. Steeped in the English interpretation of their
own history, he is able to criticize the 'lack of culture' in
Trinidad, measuring it against an English 'norm'; and without
ever understanding that the lack of the one and the norm of
the other are equally the results of a single and common his-
torical process. He averts his gaze from the guilt of the strong;
and concentrates his contempt on the degradation imposed on
the victim by the agressor.
It is also logical that Carr should quote Naipaul with
approval. If he finally rejects Naipaul's view of history -
History was built around achievement and creation and nothing
was created in the West Indies he does so not on rational
grounds, nor from an intellectual rejection of an inherently Fas-
cist statement; but because the acceptance of this statement
would invalidate his own emotional attachment to a Messianic
role and function, that of redeeming the Caribbean's lack. He
criticizes Naipaul for his statement, only because such a
statement, 'simply invites one to get up and go'. Which, of
course, is scarcely the point. Especially as, in his Mais article
he supports Naipaul's thesis when he maintains that the history
of the West Indies is not a history but merely an 'agglomeration
of wicked incidents". He refuses to see any human purpose
behind the incidents; any logic however haphazard. We are to
place the blame for what happened on some vast impersonal
force called History. History belonged to England and History
is the arch-knave. Here Carr quotes one of the High priests of
Western culture, T.S. Eliot, with approval:
"History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors
And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions,
Guides us by vanities... "
Carr then uses Eliot's mystic utterance to demolish the
connection made by Williams that Carr refuses to admit:
"The politician and the propagandist will hardly recognize
themselves here, neither perhaps will the historian. One
remembers for example, the frigid determination with which
Eric Williams gives us the facts of West Indian history in his
Capitalism and Slavery, but denies us any experience of its
In the name of an artistic norm and imperative called
'texture', the revolutionary insight of Williams' books, the
connection and interdependence of English and West Indian
history is avoided. We note that Carr sees 'Capitalism and
Slavery' as being only about 'West Indian history'; the far
reaching insights into England's economic history made by
Williams are irrelevant. He goes further. As the 'cultural
critic', having 'the culture which culture lacks' he points out,
with forbearance, Williams' basic shortcoming:
"What the reader will question will not be Dr. Williams'
knowledge nor his professional competence. It will be his
relationship to the past and the present. "
The shortcoming of course, is Carr's. It is his relationship to
the present, which makes it imperative to dismiss Williams'
connection: Such a connection reveals the present relationship
between a Carr and a Williams through the past connection
between them-"We have met before". Lamming wrote, "four
centuries separate our first meeting when Prospero was graced
with the role of thief, merchant and man of God."
These are the kind of insights a Carr must evade, if he is to
maintain an illusion, rather than acquire a true knowledge of
his own past and ours. With Hawkins first raid on Africa,
his first Middle passage to the West Indies with Africans as
human merchandise on board, the nature of being an African,
the nature of Englishness had changed. In the place of African
and Englishman there was now only a relation- slave dealer
and slave. Our common history is the history of that relation;
our common destiny is its negation.
In 'The Pleasures of Exile' Lamming explores some of the
cultural aspects of the economic relation revealed by Williams.
Lamming also must be dismissed and demolished. Dealing with
writers rather than with a historian Carr justifies his dismissal,
not on lack of 'texture', but on clumsiness of technique,
vulgarity, imprecision, vindictive cliche. He uses the notion
of culture 'isolated, unquestioned, dogmatic' to disqualify
those writers whose insights are unpalatable; and of course he
bases his disqualification on the basis of the 'decline of norms'.
He is the typical 'kulturkritik' assessed by Adoro; in order to
censor those writers whose views he rejects, he will serve as a
propagandist for Roger Mais; now dead, and helpless to reject
his sponsorship. Unlike Mervyn Morris, Carr is too acutely
aware of the danger which Lamming's analysis constitutes, to
casually dismiss it. Rather he whittles away in a crablike
approach, whittling Lamming down to size through condes-
cension: He will accord to the 'Pleasures of Exile,'
"... if not always the strictest relevance, at least the
advantage of convenience. The blurred insistencies, if only
by the density of their accumulation, manage to draw
attention to contours of feeling with which people are
familiar. And so we concede an order of attention."
The point having been made, the attention is reserved for
another significant attack on Lamming.
Several West Indian novelists,those who attended elementary
schools, rather than secondary schools, experienced with a kind
of edged clarity, the Empire Day ritual. Several have felt
impelled to exorcise the shame; once, looking back, and seeing
the incongruity of the situation, they realize how happily they
had assented to their own degradation. Austin Clarke deals with
it, and so does Neville Dawes, in the 'Last Enchantment.
Dawes, also one of Carr's pet hates- he deals among other
things with the connection between West Indian and English-
man, the West Indies and England- is dismissed with the
characteristic aside which Carr prefers to use; the sly knife,
rather than the blunt hatchet.
"They (Mais' characters) are not the cardboard product of
predictable views of race or social and cultural background,
and not puppets controlled at the behest of vindictive
cliche as they are in. say, Neville Dawes' 'The Last Enchant-
The mention of race, thrown in casually, is important. For in
the prevalent myth of 'racial harmony', which until the timid
appearance of Black Power this year, ruled as a graven idol
even more on the Mona campus than in the rest of Jamaica,
black writers who discuss race are to be shunted aside.
Naipaul's racialism vis-a-vis the black man can be discussed not
as a neurosis, as Gordon Rohlehr firmly terms it, but as Art.
Neville Dawes' exploration of his own feelings of blackness in
a white world must be dismissed as 'vindictive cliche'.
This determined avoidance and distaste for 'race' is not
confined to Carr. Louis James in an otherwise excellent and
sensitive interpretation of Vic Reid's 'The Leopard', makes
the, to me, astounding statement,
"It still remains true, however, that on the level that
dominates the book, the emotional, the story is one-sided
and INTENSELY ANTI-WHITE"
The statement seemed astounding until, reading the essay by
James and Cameron King In Solitude for Company I came
upon this other statement. It is intended as an answer to what
the authors say is a common accusation made against the poet
Derek Walcott that he turns "to European culture and
experience" in preference to West Indian culture and exper-
ience. The reply from James and King, does Walcott even
more of a disservice than the original accusation; and reveals
an attitude of the critics that is part and parcel of the apparent-
ly objective approach. James and King argue with some heat!
"... the concept that 'European' culture has a nationalist
identity in opposition to that of the Caribbean has the
dangerous elements of racial mythology. The 'literature of
England'reaches backwards and outwards to the cultures of
Greece, Rome and medieval France. It touches the thought
and civilizations of Europe, the new world, even Asia and
Africa. Its pre-occupation is with man as a human being,
and for this reason a culture that becomes isolationist and
inward looking can paradoxically cut itself off from the
means of knowing itself "
Granted that the original 'accusation' against Walcott is
confused and imprecise, the reply to the accusation is itself a
clear example of that 'racist humanism' of which Sartre
speaks. It is clear that James and King see European culture
as being the super-culture which embraces all other cultures,
and obliterates as it absorbs. To deny any part of 'European
culture' is to deny 'humanity'; is to be involved in 'racial
mythology'. What James and Cameron peddle and what,
Walcott is at times trapped by, is the 'cultural myth' rather
than the cultural reality of Europe. The cultural myth under-
props the economic and political power of Europe based on its
exploitation of non-Europeans; the cultural reality of Europe
consistently attacked and opposed this dominance, this concept
of Europe as a super-culture, as the end product of Man's
glorious march towards 'humanity'. The cultural reality of
Europe sees the ambivalence of its own power and glory; and
embodies its real creativity best when it is most self-critical.
It is this reality that speaks with Sartre to answer the dangerous
myth-making of mediocre minds:
"Leave this Europe where they are never done talking of
Man, yet murder men everywhere they find them, at the
comer of everyone of their own streets, in all the comers of
everyone of their own streets, in all the comers of the
globe. For centuries they have stifled almost the whole of
humanity in the name of the so-called spiritual experience. "
If Walcott has not yet realized the full range of his talent,
it has nothing to do with his either accepting Europe or turning
his back on Europe. He has no choice. The West Indian
experience was 'created' by Europe; and the West Indian
experience helped to create Europe as it is today. Besides to
be West Indian is to be syncretic by nature and circumstance,
by choice. It is the myth of Europe which rejects; which
rejects all other experience, African, Indian, Chinese which
contribute to the being of the West Indian. What is important
is whether Walcott accepts the myth of Europe for its creative
reality. The myth of Europe will alienate him from himself in
much the same way as it has alienated European man. The
creative reality will give him a complex, if painful, mirror in
which to reassemble all the divided fragments of his still
indeterminate identity. The dilemna of being either West
Indian or European is a false one. To be a West Indian is to
accept all the facets of one's being. The over-emphasis on the
European facet is a hangover of the myth; and implies a
rejection of the others. The swing of the pendulum, now in
vogue, will redress the balance towards the myth of Africa.
One then hopes that the West Indian and Walcott will work
through to the reality of both.
Louis James and Cameron, reject anything in the West
Indian experience which seems to exclude, or criticize too
acutely, the West Indian's 'cultural debt' to Europe. Pretend-
ing to objectivity, they are critics whose 'objectivity is the
objectivity of the ruling mind.' In his article on Mais, Carr sets
out to reject anything in West Indian writing which brings the
West Indian into a too sharp confrontation with the European,
and here specifically, the English colonial power. Any such
confrontation brings too sharply into question his own position
and involvement. Since the importance of Mais both as Man
and writer is part and parcel of the Caribbean anti-colonial, and
anti-British movement of the 'thirties, Carr goes to great
lengths to prove his thesis that to see Mais against the back-
ground of political turmoil, and to interpret his work in the
light of this turmoil, is to diminish Mais' validity qua writer.
It is in the context of this thesis that he drags in Lamming's
evocation of the Empire day scene in his first novel, 'In the
Castle of my Skin.' Not only does he damn the writer for
writing about this scene, he damns the West Indian reader for
reacting with emotional acuteness to Lamming's passage. He
puts his condemnation in brackets, to show it as a pretended
careless aside, the last academic refuge of the destructive:
(... I am thinking for example of the kind of automatic
and literal-minded acceptance of the Empire Day scene in
George Lamming's 'In the Castle of my Skin' We have
there all the dreadful decor of the West Indian setting not
so very long ago the meaningless blare of the British
national anthem, the suits, the sycophantic bullying teachers
etc. No West Indian could read the episode without
responding to the deadening pressures of the occasion. But
in fact he is importing his own experience into the book.
As a piece of writing it is strained, factitious, derivative.)
Lamming was the first 'British-colonial' to chronicle that
experience. He did it well enough for a Carr to get the point
of how many psychological crimes had been committed in the
name of British 'democracy'. As a passage it is derivative,
derived from Lamming's life. Lamming has imported a
terrifying experience into his book. For all West Indians of
his generation the passage of writing is not only 'telling' about
an occasion; it creates a mnemonic pattern which dredges up
association at an unconscious level. It is powerful enough
to make a Carr feel uncomfortable. It is a passage of writing
by a West Indian writer who had lately come out of the culture
of a village which was largely oral; like the African tribal
culture, like the medieval European's. It is written for ear and
eye, and that is its achievement. It is not Carr's concept of
what writing should be. It must therefore be dismissed.
Coming to Mais himself, Carr's thesis that "to assign to art
a predominantly political and social context is to misunder-
stand the nature of art," is best answered by Jean Creary's
review of Mais' works in the essay, 'A Prophet Armed' in the
collection, 'The Islands In Between'. She shows that to
interpret the social and political background through art and
art through the social and political background, is to give
truer insights into the nature of each; when the interpretation
is based on the desire to illuminate rather than to obscure.
Yet it would be naive not to see that Carr's posing of a false
dilemna, his attempts to 'rescue' Mais from the kind of political
tribute paid him by Norman Manley, for example,
"Roger was a product of that moment of history and drew
from it the direction and power and purpose which his
writings reveal ..."
has its purpose. To accept that Mais' work owed something to
the mass movement of the Jamaican people to break out'from
colonial non-being, is to accept that confrontation that we
have mentioned before; and that Carr is at such pains to avoid.
Church Street, Kingston Daguerrotyped by Duperly
tii ~i .
To admit the validity of the anti-colonial experience would be
to admit that the West Indian Caliban first found his being
when he broke into his own speech to assault the structure of
values of which Carr is the purveyor. Because of this evasion,
he chooses to seeMais' work as some sort of 'inexplicable
magic,' understandable only in terms of Mais' peculiar genius.*
He therefore begins by isolating Mais. Mais could not have
come out of Barbados (can anything good come out of
".. its flat overbred topography is alien to the bracing
symbolic framework ofMais'imagination. "
Having got in a side swipe at Lamming, Carr then goes on to
to dismiss Trinidad and its 'nervously inspired anarchy'.
Finally, giving the Jamaican hills the credit of producing Mais,
Carr then gets in his blow at the Jamaican people, whom,
apart from a rather selectly dropped list of names, Carr doesn't
care for. Mais, Carr argues is too good to be a 'Jamaican
possession'. Since the West Indian is a mythical rather than an
actual entity, Carr allows Mais to be "a deeply significant West
Indian possession. ".
To rub in his point, Carr selects as a 'Jamaican possession',
the poet, J. E. Clare MacFarlane. MacFarlane, Carr suggests, is
good enough for Jamaica and Jamaicans; Mais is too good for
them. The malice is almost neurotic. Louis James, in his
introduction to 'The Islands in Between' made a distinction
between the different generations. Men like MacFarlane were
pioneers in West Indian writing. They wrote at a time when
for a black man to write at all was itself a miracle. They
borrowed from English models, sensibility, metre, attitude.
Their faults were the faults of their circumstance. But, as
Fanon has pointed out, we must learn not to underestimate
the efforts of our forefathers. They fought with the weapons
that they had. Carr sees and wishes to see only that these
men seem ridiculous. And he passes on to his West Indian
pupil Wayne Browne, the destructive quality of his contempt.
Carr laughed at the spectacle of a Clare MacFarlane being
crowned Poet Laureate at the Ward Theatre in Kingston;
Browne selects as his object of ridicule A.J. Seymour of
Guyana. Seymour, a later and better poet than MacFarlane, is
quoted by Browne as saying:
"I would say that the time has come for a novel to be
published which placed emphasis upon the qualities of
dignity, discretion, superiority and timelessness in the West
Browne mocks Seymour's concept of dignity, contrasting
it with the 'dignity' of Naipaul's Biswas:
"It is a story, (a fable as Mr. Carr calls it) that has some-
thing, everything to do with 'dignity, though not we are
afraid, 'dignity' as Mr. Seymour pronounces it; an uncon-
scious pathetic, heroic assertion of identity in a situation
where history has contrived to make it impossible for
identity to matter."
Yet, it is clear, that dignity for Biswas had come to mean -
not as in the mystification of Carr's interpretation, the struggle
to be what he is, for his personal identity, like some little
private property of the soul but a house and a Prefect car.
Dignity, equally for a MacFarlane and a Seymour had come to
mean a literature which could portray the black man, not only
as minstrel clown, but as man. The concepts of'dignity' of a
Biswas, a MacFarlane, a Seymour were all 'reactions imposed
on them by colonial circumstances'. All three, in different
ways, attempt to break out of a degrading stereotype imposed
on them by the British .cultural and colonial myth. We can
dismiss their concepts of dignity, only if we accept that by
*Like Louis James, Carr makes his 'anti-colonial genuflections' Colonial-
ism was for Mais as all other writers, he admits, a 'primary nullification'.
But his 'colonialism' is again seen as a vast impersonal force, without
their struggle, all three can make this claim upon our imagina-
tion that we acknowledge their "unconscious pathethic,
heroic assertion of identity in a situation where history has
contrived to make it impossible for identity to matter."
Fitzroy Fraser, in his novel, 'Wounds in the Flesh' also
dismissed by Carr tells of the conversion of the rebel
Baldwin MacDonald into the headmaster, striving to conform
to the English norms of being a headmaster, trapped like his
former English friend, Jonesy, in the English traditions of
Headmastership; both wanting to be different, but both
influenced and controlled by the mould and manners of the
Headmaster of the top school where they had both taught.
Baldwin wants to bring to his little country school all the
missionary light of Europe that the 'top school for top people'
enjoys. In his efforts to do this he clashed with an English
couple, both teachers, both hustlers, indifferent and on the
make. They blackmail Baldwin into granting their request, by
confronting him and throwing in his face, the passes that
Baldwin had made at the wife. Baldwin, confronting them,
pretends that he gives in of his accord. He wouldn't use force
he said, to hold them to their contract. These were not
colonial times, he says, looking at the "ex-coloniser, the
"ex-user of force". But the ex-colonizers couldn't care less;
all they want is out. Baldwin, the black Baldwin, must now
take upon himself the white man's burden. He begins his
missionary mission. He appoints a regular afternoon where the
staff should meet for tea. He is determined that the staff shall
hold on to the standards of the ex-colonizer. He earnestly
"We must learn to sit down together and talk about a little
It is not the intention, but the crassness of it, the reduction ad
absurdum of his own, that offends Mr. Carr.
It is, in a more sophisticated dress, Baldwin's concept of
culture that Carr peddles in his article on Mais. In attempting
to detach Mais from the whole 'material process' of his country's
life, Carr gives us a portrait of Mais which is anti-Mais, and
anti-the whole meaning of his struggle against circumstance.
Carr contradicts Manley's statement that Mais and his art were
a product of a moment of history:
"But although Mr. Manley's pages are a generous tribute to
the memory of a dead friend, it seems to me his emphasis is
a misleading one. It doesn't help us to come at a sense of
Mais' quality as a writer, and although it points to the
content of the fiction, it can't help us in trying to define its
underlying tragic metaphysic. Anyone who has read 'Black
Lightning' with attention is surely entitled to feel that
Henry James might be more usefully invoked than George
Lamming, or even Vic Reid. But Henry James, alas! is not
likely to be a welcome guest."
Miss Creary's title "A Prophet Armed" is the best reply to
Carr's assessment of Mais. For no one could call Henry James
a prophet. If Mais, in 'Black Lightning', which for all its
occasional excellences is a flawed and incomplete book, echoes
James, then it is a mere moment in a vast gamut of feeling.
Henry James is all that Mais is not- the culture symbol'
that proves that America, "that super European monstrosity",
had achieved her European potential. She had got herself "a
great writer". But Mais is far more than a writer. This is what
Miss Creary brings out Mais was gardener, journalist, painter
political, poet, dramatist, novelist, talker, lover, bon vivant,
good companion. All the facets of his being re-inforced the
"wholeness of the man". His life, in spite of Carr, was not
reduced to writing books. He was a prophet, descending from
England's William Blake, like him concerned with 'building
Jerusalem'. That what he was talking about, that what he was
connection or relatedness with England. And he rejects any notion of
the creative quality of the awakened anti-colonialism of the West Indian
making the bricks for in life, love, politics, writing painting,
facing death. His only West Indian parallel is Jose Marti.*
Mais writings like Marti's were essentially confrontations with
power. They were not protest 'writing', nor 'protest painting'.
Protest accepts the inevitability of that which it protests
against; and asks for adjustments to suit the protester and
those on whose behalf the protester pleads.
Mais like Marti realized that political liberty was nothing if
the liberty of the spirit was unattained. This was the
revolutionary intention behind Brother Man- a rare character
in all literature, except perhaps in the Russian. Mais like
Marti accepted that the poet and the writer should be 'the
footstool of the pueblo' That the artist's mission was to
write for the people and to paint for the people, even if in
doing that, one loses those felicities of style that adorn the
art of those who create for an incestuous elite. Mais'
books were in no sense of the word belonging to 'the appeasing
arts' elite or mass. In the 'Hills'and 'BrotherMan, he took
the 'native' out of the darkness behind the Word, and drew
him into the light world of print- the light that had been con-
fined only to men. In both these first two books- 'Hills' and
'Brother Man'- and in his third book, in another manner, Mais
was talking about Jerusalem, to a people in exile in another
'Black Lightning' is not, as Carr asserts, a better book than
the other two. The question of being better or worse is, in a
final analysis, irrelevant. Carr's choice of 'Black Lightning'
corresponds to his own concerns. 'Black Lightning' seems to
him a more "private" book; and this is why he prefers it.
Miss Creary points to its achievements, and suggests the reason
for its failure:
"Moving and impressive as 'Black Lightning' for the most
part is, the sense of an incompletely formulated statement
persistently haunts one."
Even more acutely, she goes to the heart of the matter when
discussing 'Brother Man'. Mais was a prophet. And a prophet
deals in visions. The areas of failure in all Mais' books, in his
paintings, in his life itself, occur in those areas where there
was, to borrow Miss Creary's term, 'a limitation of his vision'.
The limitation of his vision in 'Black Lightning' cannot be
removed from the limiting conditions of the colonial experience
of the late 'forties and'fifties. The exhiliaration and release
which had come from facing the 'enemy' in a direct confronta-
tion were replaced by the tortuous and dangerous subtleties
of a 'limited experience' in self-government. West Indians were
being taught by their former master who had governed them
arbitrarily, how to govern themselves with a democratic pro-
cedure; they were being taught how to reconcile political
independence with economic and cultural dependence on the
'master', now transmuted into a peaceful and lovable Big
Brother; they were being initiated into the world of Pilate's
diplomacy, where the two party system, by making each party
identify the other as the enemy, caused them to avert their
eyes from the powerful neo-colonial apparatus. It was a sad
and miserable time. Worse than now. The confidence trick
was not even suspected then. The failure of the artist in
'Black Lightning' was the failure of the bright promise of a
New Day which Mais had prophesied and helped bring about
- a day whose high noon faded in the semi-darkness.
But Mais 'failure' is creative; it is a triumph of failure, as
Edwards Mallea, the Argentinian writer puts it. In the unreality
of our times, success would have meant the negation of that
reality for which one fought. And prophets always come
before their time; they are warners of the future; or of the
end. 'Black Lightning' is important for quite other reasons
*Note on Marti.
than Carr gives to it. In 'Black Lightning' Mais is saying that
even the personal illumination of a Brother Man and a Minette,
their love, is not enough. The vision must be made into a
song. The song must be communicated through areas of
feeling that have scarcely been tapped that the colonial
experience, except in the candour of a Brother Man, buries and
distorts. Mais in 'Black Lightning' came to understand that the
artist was locked and lost with his 'personal vision', which could
become the egotism of pride in his power of knowledge, in
his creative hands, making like God. His vision had to be
transmuted into the substance of the lives around him; if he
is not to perish in blindness. Mais was a Samson who dreamt
that the enemy was not the poor maligned Philistines, but the
myths which divided Jews and Philistines.
As Jake, the sculptor carved, Samson became Christ, the
eternally crucified, holding potential seeds of violence within
himself; and potential seeds of liberation. Blinded by his
vision, afraid of the conclusions, Jake withdraws into himself
and learns about friendship, and love that is humble, through
Amos, the hunchback, who plays sweet music on his accordeon;
as David played to Saul. In the end, in the time of the long
rains, when Jake gives his carving to be burnt for firewood, he
has pulled down the whole temple, the whole super-structure
which has enthroned a graven idol called culture. The statue
is used to warm the bones of men and women since it could
not, through the incompleteness of the artists's vision, warm
their spirits. Where the Nazi concentration camp guards
incinerated men and women and children in gas ovens to the
strains of the Eroica Symphony, thinking to 'purify' the culture
which had produced such a fetish masterpiece, Jake-Mais gives
his masterpiece to be incinerated so that men may live. Mais'
whole life was a life dedicated not to preserving artistic norms
a la Car, but a life dedicated, "to striving, however, impotently
so that men may be spared." Mais differs from all other West
Indian writers in the way that .Jose Marti differed from all
other Cuban writers. Both had fulfilled their being as, in the
phrase of Marti "a man among men and not a wolf among
wolves"; both had lived alife directed at the impossible. Both
have entered the element of myth.
"In the union on the bluff over the river, the student's
steel band was practising and the plangent drone but-
ted steadily into the yielding texture of the night. It
was monotonously arresting as a pulse beat: the un-
worked rhythms of a people who have only realized
music as a social adjunct and not yet as an art.....
All the way down the long shallow hill into Queens-
haven, bursts of remembered music, seemed to gather
themselves like small waves Inside me and break out
uncontainably: Freude, I sang,
Freude, schoner Gotterfunken
Tochter aus Elysium."
(John Hearne 'Land of the Living')
"The West Indian who comes near to being an excep-
tion to the peasant feel is John Hearne."
(Lamming -'The Pleasures of Exile'.)
Barrie Davies- The Seekers-, a critical essay on John
Hearne, falls midway between acquiescent criticism, ex-
emplified in Carr, and challenging criticism exemplified in
Lamming, Rohlehr, Creary, They are not hard and fast
categories, and the categories are my own, and arbitrary rather
than impartial. Challenging criticism seems to me to relate
the books discussed to the greatest possible 'whole' to which
*Born in 1853, Marti was a journalist and a lawyer, apostle of, and
fighter for Cuba's independence from Spain. He died in 1895 but lives
on as Cuba's national hero.
they belong. Aquiescent criticism either refuses to do this
altogether as in Carr, or does it imperfectly, as in James and
Cameron King; or relates to a background which is mythical
rather than real, as in Heame on Harris. The aspects of
Heame's criticism which we shall look at in a while, parallel
aspects of Hearne as novelist.
Lamming has accused Heame of lacking the 'peasant feel'
which is basic to many other West Indian.writers. He has also
attacked him for idealizing a kind of colonial squirearchy in
his novels. And, by implication he removes Hearne from the
revolutionary intention of other West Indian writers. The West
Indies, Lamming says, "belong to that massive majority whose
leap in the twentieth century has shattered all the traditional
calculations of the West, of European civilization.. He
excepts Hearne from this peasant feel. Yet, this is, I think, a
In his article on Harris, John Hearne, begins, "It is from
Yeat's great phrase about the 'unity from a mythology that
marries us to rock and hill' that we may justifiably begin an
examination of Wilson Harris' singular exploration of his
corner of the West Indian experience. To Harris, this sacra-
mental union of man and landscape remains the lost, or never
established, factor in our lives. We enjoy, we exploit, we are
coarsely nourished by our respective Caribbean territories -
but illegitimately. We have yet to put our signatures to that
great contract of the imagination by which a people and a
place enter into a domestic relationship rather than drift into
the uncertainties of a liasion." This is a significant statement
about Hearne's own work, and attitudes. On the one hand, he
justifies Lamming's stricture about not having the peasant feel,
by his total blindness to that ambivalent 'we'. Who is we? For
the West Indian peasant, by the mere fact that he is a peasant,
has already entered into that 'sacramental union of man and
landscape'. His folk song, his folk culture, fabric or beliefs
about herbs superstitions, relationships to trees no Jamaican
peasant can quite come to terms with cutting down a tree,
except out of dire necessity are the signatures that he has
put to that 'great contract of the imagination with which a
people and a place enter into a relationship'. The relationship
began illegitimately the African slave who in the middle of
the seventeenth century was given a plot of ground to cultivate
on Saturday and Sundays, to help feed himself land so
keep the labour power for the canefields and the mills in good
condition, did not choose his plot of ground nor choose to
labour on it. But soon he saw it as a source of memory- the
continuance of a relationship that he had known in Africa;
and soon he saw it as a source of freedom.
For soon he came to see his relationship to this plot as that
which preserved his being. In the instertices of the slave
system, he entered into a union; it was sacramental in its
profoundest sense. On this plot he buried his dead, so that the
souls of his ancestors as they had done in Africa remained in
close union with the living. The clump of breadfruit trees
today mark his plot of ground and his union with it, as the
ruined Great House marked the European's domination of the
land. Hearne's failure to grasp this, justifies Lamming's
criticism. Yet such a failure is understandable. The colonial
divisions in our society were marked and deep. Lamming,
growing up in a village, had this instinctive knowledge. But for
Heame, urban and with several generations of a middle-class
background, there is no intuitive grasp of this fact. It is a
necessary but difficult act of apprehension.
What Hearne intuitively grasps is that the people who lived
in the Great Houses had also entered into a contract with the
land. It was a proper marriage rather than an illegitimate one.
And like all marriages, the land, the woman was subjugated
and dominated by the male. The subjugation, and the exploi-
tation of the union, was carried on through the labour of
slaves; but the relationship between the master and the land
was still there. With the end of slavery, those few planters who
remained, settled down to a less violent domestic relationship.
Heame's instinct to create Brandt's Pen, and Carl Brandt, was
the same as Lamming's to recreate Papa, and his house "the
house by the corer where Papa does keep goats." That
Heame gives us an idealized version of Carl Brandt and of the
Pen is true enough. But Carl Brandt and his like, needed an
idealized version of themselves to evade the reality of injustice
that would otherwise, press in too closely on them. And as
Heame shows, Brandt lives up to this ideal. His relationship
with his workers is feudal; but it is charitable and protective
and still human. Brandt is a Prospero in his paternal
authoritarianism; but his lack of Prospero's intelligence and
ambition makes him kindlier, more generous in spirit. Brandt's
Pen and Carl Brandt are Hearne's ideal, even though the Pen
does not provide the setting for the majority of the novels.
But the ideal is always there, imagined, serene and gracious in
the distance. Except in "Land of the Living" where, as Davis
points out, no reference is made to the Brandts at all. Davis is
good on the significance of Brandt's Pen.
"The one area of safety appears to be the spacious upper
middle class life of Brandt's Pen which, significantly,
embodies values and beauties from a life that has really past,
that of the old plantocracy. ... Even Roy MacKenzie, feels
'And this. is the thing that could really corrupt me. Not the
wealth of it but the closeness of it that could change me.
This incestuous, happy, kindly closeness where every per-
sonal contact is never let go, and where every one fits into
his place like a cork into a bottle.'
Brandt's Pen is a 'womb with a view' One cannot but feel
that the tension between Hearne's own emotional attraction
to it and his intellectual rejection unbalances these novels. "
Yet the area of the 'heart's country' to which Hearne has
dedicated himself, is not Brandt's Pen, but the Suburbaville of
Queenshaven in Cayuna. Brandt's Pen is the fleeting vision of
the Eden from which Suburbaville residents have been dis-
placed. Andrew Fabricus, a former Brandt type, cast out of
planter life through his father's inadequacy, spends his life
working until he has saved enough to buy a property and re-
invent the past in a modem setting. Rachel Anscomb and
Jojo Rygin, measure their own climb to the top through the
possessions and the money with which they can match the
careless luxury of a Brandt's Pen. Which of course, they can
never do; Brandt's Pen is the culmination of two centuries of
practise in gracious living: Davis quotes Hearne,
"In the big, high dining room, where the long, deep-gleaming
mahogany sideboard was bright with silver and crystal,
Elvira had laid two places on large squares of coarse,
starched white linen. Two centuries of polish had brought
the table to a texture where the cloths looked as if they
were floating on black water. There was grapefruit, cut and
cored, with clear amber crystals of brown sugar soaking into
the pale green flesh. While they were eating these, she
brought in a heavy tray of ham and eggs on a thick, bone
white, blue-flowered dish..."
Davis criticises Hearne here, for not 'knowing when to
limit, to select, to stop.' But he misses the point of the
accumulation of adjectives and objects. The ritual of food in.
the Caribbean, in the country planter's house, or among the
peasants in the village, is part of the contract they have entered
into with the land. Freyre shows this brilliantly in his 'Masters
and Slaves' where he examines the food patterns of Brazil, and
the fusion of dishes, and ceremony. Just as Lamming describes
in detail the making of 'cuckoo', cornmeal turned with okras,
as the special feast the boy gets when going away,* so Hearne
describes the meal, not only as a fact but as a ritual pattern of
behaviour, of being.
The ritual, transferred from eating, from taste, from pleasure
in order and in the security of traditions, extends to all the
areas of the senses. This is Hearne's original contribution and
that which includes him in those writers with a revolutionary
intention. For his captation of "the quality of life in the
Caribbean, qualities of experience recorded through heightened
senses", provides for the middle-class West Indian readers an
assault on the vision of snow and spring and flowering cherry
trees which, like the Empire Day ritual, had filled their con-
sciousness, through books, alienating them from that 'contract
with the land' from which the peasant had never wandered.
Davis pinpoints Hearne's very real achievements:
"Eye, ear and nose are indefatigably awake. An orange peel
is a ring of blazing yellow; beer bottles sweat icily; beer
slides glacial down throats gummed with heat. In bathing in
the sea each variation of sensation is observed."
The water was pale blue and it felt smooth and clinging,
like warm milk. But when they swam out and dived to the
white sea-bed, it was cool and there was a dim glassy blue
light around them, and coming to the surface again they
could feel the salt stinging their eye rims, as they blinked
the water out of them.'
"Heame is portraying a state of feeling, a heightened awareness
he sees answering and penetrating the intense light and colour
of the West Indian environment. In the process, he has provided
masses of data about the quality and density of the Caribbean
experience. He has been going what James Fenimore Cooper,
faced with similar imaginative problems in America called
illustrating 'the land and water which is their birthright.'
This is Hearne's significant contribution. It is a quality
most marked in his first three novels; it continues in the
others but not with the same force. As Hearne gets further
away from the 'established order', the feudal ideal of Brandts
Pen, that he hankers after, he enters the more shifting reality,
the spiritual placelessness of Cayuna's Suburbaville, on the
fringes of Brandts Pen. Outside Suburbia, outside the neat
fences and the clambering bougainvillea, change waves threaten-
ing fists on what Davis calls, 'the background of meaningless
blue'. For Suburbaville separates the terror of Tiger Johnson's
hell, of Henneky's inferno from the serene order of Brandt's
Pen; Suburbaville is caught in between, a buffer between the
base and the superstructure. Outside Suburbaville, the slums
begin. And in the slums live the strangers.
In his second novel, with I am sure unconscious irony, and
without meaning to, Hearne portrays as the real 'stranger at
the gate', not the cultured (presumably Haitian) communist,
Etienne, a black man castled in the very Western values whose
political and economic bases he has set out to overthrow, but
the Cayunian slum-king, Tiger Johnson. Johnson, like the
nameless murderer of Mark Lattimer in Voices, like Sonny in
Autumn Equinox, like Henneky in Land of the Living, are the
real strangers in Heame's novels. The gates of Brandt's Pen,
and the gates of Suburbaville are shut fast against these
strangers; and to a great extent and it is here that Lamming's
criticism has point -so too are the gates of Hearne's imagination.
Lattimer's murderer is seen through the eyes of a Lattimer, a
Tiger Johnson through the eyes of a Mackenzie, Henneky
through the eyes of a displaced Jew, Stefan Mahler. To
reverse this angle of seeing will be very much Hearne's Rubicon.
*In the novel 'In the Castle of My Skin"
Davis is good on the political aspects of Hearne's novels.
He points out that,
"The communist activities exist at the level of those in a
James Bond novel. We suspect that they mean little as
politics, to Roy McKenzie or to Jim Diver. For them to be
a Communist is to be alien and romantic; they have no
To illustrate this, Davis shows how Mackenzie, the Communist,
"finds fulfillment by hurling himself to death againstthefront
of a police car to enable Etienne to escape and how, in
'Autumn Equinox, Jim Diver sacrifices himself, although with
no assurance that his sacrifice will have any effect, only
perhaps, "to prove something to himself." From this Davis
concludes that "it would be hard to see a consistent political
philosophy in these novels."
Having come to this conclusion, Davis goes on to argue
"Human commitment in unselfish love is of more import-
ance to Hearne than political commitment. Rachel throws
herself in the way of the bullet Jojo intended for Michael
It is a heroic gesture which in its very completeness
destroys all possibility of realizing the values that it asserts..
Mark Latimer's love for Brysie is cut short by a casual
machete stroke; and Jim Diver's for Eleanour by the anti-
Castro thugs. The fatalistic tragedy cuts short human and
political aspirations alike."
And here we begin to wonder. Has Davis here, without
quite realizing it,not put his finger on what he says the novels
lack a consistent political philosophy? Can it not be argued
that Hearne's political philosophy is one founded on a world
view which accepts the dominance of Fate in order not to
change circumstances? The most curious observation to be
made about Hearne's Cayuna, is its essentially static nature.
The more things change, the more they remain the same. Not
that Hearne's politics are the politics of reaction, the politics
of a Brandt, say, who by striving to retain the old way of life,
by opposing a total concept of the past to the present, in
reacting from change, can in fact help to precipitate change.
Hearne's political philosophy, and this is what I find disturbing
in a man of his generation, seems to me to be the far more
dangerous 'liberal' politics of the present status quo. By at all
times asserting the primacy of individual choice over the needs
of the whole, by in fact, assuming a dichotomy between the
two, Heame seems to me to share and to accept that world
view, which Adorno analyses in an essay on Spengler:
"The return of what is always the same, in which such a
doctrine of Fate terminates, is however, nothing but the
perpetual reproduction of man's guilt towards man. The
concept of Fate which subjects man to blind domination,
reflects the domination exercised by men. Whenever
Spengler speaks of Fate he means the subjugation of one
group of men by another.. In reality the inexorability of
Fate is defined through domination and injustice. "
Are Hearne's characters really interested in changing society?
Or only in acting out roles, in making gestures about changing
it, changes which are doomed from the start? In 'Voices
Under the Window', the changer of the system, Mark Latimer,
is doomed; and the author dooms him, by an accident of
Fate, a 'casual machete stroke rather than by the logic of his
circumstance. For Latimer's socialism is, from the start, like
its author's, of the head rather than the heart. Although his
political commitment begins with his punching a sailor who
uses the term 'nigger', one suspects that after this brief
emotional flurry, (he himself is part, a small part, black )
Latimer begins to act through an intellectual imperative,
committing himself as his Czech communist friend had advised
him, to the 'destiny of the poor'. But he commits himself
without every having really felt what Jose Marti termed the
'slap on his own face' that the poor feel every day, the total
sense of outsidership.
And it is here perhaps that Hearne confuses the issue. For,
if he had shown us that the political commitment of his hero
was as much an upper-middle class privilege, as much a product
of the social and political arrangement of his society as was his
colour of skin, quality of hair, of education, of feeling, of
conscience; if he had shown us that in taking over the running
of the system Latimer was merely coming into an inheritance,
and that in chanting the slogans and seeking the destiny of the
poor he was in fact fulfilling nothing but his own private
destiny, easing nothing but the private property of his con-
science, then his death, at the hand of an unknown murderer,
would not have been by accident; but the result of a terrible
logic. For then the unknown murderer would have been seen
also as a logical product of the same system; a man who kills
aimlessly in an aimless existence which is his lot of inheritance.
But Hearne draws back from such a conclusion. Itwould have
made Latimer's murderer as important as Latimer himself. It
would have shown both as the result of the same historical
process, a process in which Latimer had an ineluctable
appointment with his murderer; an appointment decreed not
by Fate, not even by History, but by Man's unjust arrangement
of his society.
The pattern of Voices is repeated as novel follows novel
and all the potential threats to the basic arrangement of Cayuna
society are eliminated white Roy McKenzie with his romantic
and upper middle-class Communism; black Jojo Rygin,
threatening the system with his grasping after black economic
power; Rachel Anscomb, rocking it with her brown body
power, her outsider's sharp aggressive brain; Henneky, finally
assaulting the implicitly accepted values of 'white power, white
religion and white culture' on which the system is based. All
these seekers after change Hearne condemns to death or
Yet the Brandts do not fail. They live on, serenely. The
inhabitants of Suburbaville do not fail the Olivers and the
Sybils; Andrew Fabricus, buying his estate, taking his modern-
ized place in the system, effortlessly defeating in Parliament
the corrupt black politician Littleford, does not fail; nor does
his wife Margaret, painting Leda raping the swan, creating a
classical oasis of Art in a society whose suburbs, by their
acceptance of privilege, do violence to the slums of a Tiger
Johnson, day after sour day. The Brandts and the unhabitants
of Suburbaville embody for Hearne, those 'human values'
which 'politics' can only destroy; and come hell or high
water these human values must be preserved by the few who
can afford them. So these few do not fail; nor does the Jew
Stefan Mahler, wounded with the memory of Nazi holocaust
and therefore supposed to 'understand' the wounds of the
black outsider, Henneky, fail. At the end of the 'Land of the
Living' Henneky dies, but boy gets girl Stefan gets Joan.
Here Davies makes his most acute observation:
"And yet in the present social situation of Cayuna, Hen-
neky's death remains a dramatic aberration. There is little
hope of a moral resurrection. There cannot even be real
contact between the white Mahler and the Negro Henneky,
no mutual recognition that they have been wounded by the
There can be no real contact because Mahler, the Jew,
even after the Nazi experience, fails to see the connection that
Alejo Carpentier's narrator saw; instead, Mahler happily sings
the chorus from the Eroica Symphony, opposing it to the
music of,the steel band which he, and his author, mentally
dismiss as being 'a social adjunct to people's lives' which had
not yet become 'ART'. One sees that Mahler, like Hearne, is
still imprisoned in a European scale of reference, a very
arrogant Euro-centred view which had justified the massacre of
all the Untermenschen, who had not as yet become Aryans,
did not as yet participate in European 'kultur'; who in fact,
were perhaps forever shut out by race and blood and breeding
from any real progression to an imagined cultural Valhalla.
Mahler, coming to Cayuna, takes his top place in the
system, a place accorded to him by his whiteness of skin;
he is now the Aryan and the black Henneky, the exiled Jew.
If he is to live as a man, Henneky must destroy the system.
Mahler, like Hearne, wants to keep the system, making a change
here and a change there; but making sure that the 'human
values' which are important to them are not thrown over-
board. Yet because these values are reserved only for the few,
the more than equal, they partake of the sickness of all
privilege, of all injustice; and they constitute a daily slap in the
face to the poor who have no share in them.
In order to avoid this connection, Hearne with the eye of
the evader Davis points out that Hearne's eye cannot "adjust
to the more shadowy aspects of his panorama. We never
really see the seething poverty in the slums of the Queens-
Jungle- takes refuge in the concept of Fate. In a world
supposedly dominated by Fate, the individual can only 'accept'
his destiny; he cannot create it; can only make 'gestures' of
change, he can never really change it. In such a world, the
poor are only props to be used by the few who can afford the
luxury of private lives and a liberal conscience. The world of
Hearne's novels, resemble the world of Graham Greene's 'The
Burnt-out Case', set in the Congo, and that of 'The Comedians'
set in Haiti. In Greene's novels, Africans and Haitians are there
only as background crowds, to provide the setting for the
spiritual wrestling of the burnt-out liberal European intellectual;
or for the sexual wrestling of the played-out European
comedians. In Hearne's Cayuna, the poor serve as the back-
ground crowd. The body of a Bernice in 'The Land of the
Living' is there to recharge Mahler with feeling, so that he can
fulfil this feeling in his relationship with Joan: as Africa is
there to recharge Green's intellectual, and Haiti to rekindle
both the conscience and the sexual capacity of his comedians
the black horror in the background provide the stimulus for
Whilst Henneky and Bernice died hunted tragic deaths,
Mahler remains once more at ease. A little anguish to be
carried over into his relationship with Joan, whose drunken
and unhappy soul he has redeemed, can hardly atone for the
death of a Henneky and a Bernice; for the acceptance of their
continued exclusion from the possibility of happiness. Davis
glimpses this and asks:
"Is the cosy adjustment into middle-class domestic life any
answer to the challenge posed by the life and death of a
Yet Davis fails to see that in choosing this 'cosy adjustment
into middleclass domestic life", in choosing 'human commit-
ment to unselfish love" as being of more importance than
'Political commitment, Hearne has himself made a political
comittment. For in asserting that politics destroy 'human
values', Hearne accepts that these values are a fetish object,
like culture; that like culture, or Brandt's Pen, they are
timeless and static. He disassociates the creation of values
from particular societies at particular stages of existence, as he
disassociates 'culture' from the 'material processes of existence'.
'Human values' are not there to serve Man; but to be served by
him. Under Greek values, Greek culture, Heame avoids seeing
Greek slavery as their base; he evades also the logical connec-
tion between the 'timeless world' of Brandt's Pen and the
terror of the Queenshaven slums. And he evades these con-
nections by concentrating on sex as 'a serious human issue.'
In concentrating on the private life of individuals at a time
when private life has become 'a mere appendage to the social
process' Hearne distorts his perspective. Even the most all -
embracing bed can scarcely today contain the powerful forces
that determine the private life down to its very marrow. It is
no longer sex that impels society, but society that impels and
distorts and confuses, sex. The trivial tragedy of a drunken
Joan Culpeper and the deeper tragedy of a Henneky are
dictated by the same forces. By exalting private personal
gestures, as an end in themselves, rather than as symptoms of
the same sickness, Hearne defends the 'immanent rationality
and justice of the system' Ritual replaces belief; and prevents
any genuine action springing from such belief.
It is this basic distortion which lies at the failure of the
later novels of John Heame. In his first novel, 'Voice Under
the Window' Hearne is still aware of his own temptation: he
makes Lattimer's politically conscious friend tell him:
"Love for, your generation, is only interesting and important
if it takes place inside a much wider frame than two people
together can make. The same with everything else; every
private thing has a responsibility to something bigger than
seems to enter into every comer of your lives. Even when
you aren't aware of it as you aren't Mark, it lies on your
In Voices some sort of a balance was kept between the
private love and 'the much wider frame'; this was also to some
extent true in 'Stranger at the Gate. But in Hearne's third
novel, 'The Faces ofLove', 'love' made of the island and people
of Cayuna, a convenient frame in which to work out its
private destiny; the 'something bigger' became only a stage
setting in which the lovers could do their own thing. Because
of this imbalance, Heame's characters have become trapped in
'Land of the Living, which Davis sees as Heame's best
book, seems to me to be his most alienated; an intellectual
exercise in which Hearne sings the blues for Auchwitz and
Henneky's crucifixion, only to solve it in the success story of
Joan Culpeper's bed. There is a certain barbarity in such a
resolution. 'Land of the Living, like 'Autumn Equinox' belong
essentially to what Malraux calls 'the appeasing arts'; they
provide an escape to an illusion, which alone keeps the unjust
reality creaking along; they provide the pleasures of romance,
which as Malraux shows, does not unite men but separate them
by the very human values that Suburbaville can afford; and
Both Hearne's return to his island, and his long silence
since 'Land of the Living' are hopeful signs. But the danger of
returning home is not, for Hearne, as Davis suggests, the
danger of 'intellectual isolation'. The world of the Mona
campus at the University where Hearne co-administers
the Creative Arts Centre can keep one well in the vanguard
of 'intellectual thought', especially that of England. Yet it is,
paradoxically, this 'intellectual thought' that can be the danger.
The Argentinian, Eduardo Mallea, has described two Argentinas
"an invisible Argentina, and a superficial Argentina of men
who had substituted appearances for reality. "
Here too there are two Jamaicas; and the Mona campus for the
most part belongs to the 'superficial' Jamaica which has
substituted appearances for reality. What Hearne as a writer
may well be in need of, is not only a return from exile in the
metropolitan centre; but a new kind of exile, one which
"Without exiling oneself, one cannot get anywhere. The
path of creation is the path of exile; and there is a time for
rejecting this and a time for accepting; there is a time for
choosing to remain tied to surrounding fiction and a time
for exiling oneself And such an exile in our country, means
going and living in the invisible nation with its invisible
sensitivity, living in the heart of the nation."
This is an exile whose actual distance can perhaps be
measured as the distance from the Mona Campus to August
Town; yet whose spiritual distance is incalculable. It is an
exile into a new way of seeing, of feeling. And the exile
cannot be fitful, a mere slumming, like Mahler's; nor a slogan-
like commitment to the 'destiny of the poor'. It is instead a
commitment to one's survival, as a human being and a writer.
One can only hope that Heame's next novel continuing his
evocation of landscape, his 'marrying of our emotions to rock
and hill', to smell, and taste and sound, his genuine gift as a
story telle, that ancient gift, common to all cultures, will break
new ground, out a of creative exile'in the invisible.. heart of
nation'. For it is only there not a place, but a new gamut
and range of feeling that Hearne will cross his Rubicon; will
learn, through a new emotional identification, how to see the
white Mahler through the black Henneky's eyes; how to
define the 'insider' Lattimer through the outsider's eye of a
Tiger Johnson. This new kind of eye, the outsider's eye, will
mean that Heare, having paid his dues, will have learnt how
to really sing the blues for a Henneky; he would then have no
need of a borrowed suffering. To sing the blues the writer must
be haunted by the same sickness; and the same wound. Our
wounds must haunt us, in our exile in the invisible nation,
every minute of our waking day. If we don't sing the blues for
our own pain, who will sing the blues for them? It is in this
sense, that Hearne needs a new type of exile, into outsider
territory; that he needs a blacker Weltschmerz.
"I am not much concerned in what the West Indian
writer has brought to the English language..
A more important consideration is what the West Indian
writer has brought to the West Indies...
(Lamming, 'The Pleasures of Exile.')
"Once the mind is no longer directed at reality, its
meaning is changed despite the strictest preservation
"They wished to renew Western music imitating rhythms
which had never had a musical function for its prim-
(Alejo Carpentier, 'The Lost Steps'.)
If John Heame, in his latest novels, enters the middlebrow
world of the 'appeasing arts', Wilson Harris, of whom Hearne
writes with approval and ritual mystification in the essay
"The Fugitive in the Forest",* takes his place, with his
novels, and in spite of the sincerity of his stated intentions, in
the highbrow context of the appeasing arts. To see the validity
of this, one has only to read a short story Kanaima, written
by Harris and published by Kenneth Ramchand in his collection
*The Islands in Between
of West Indian narrative. Ramchand, addressing this narrative
to West Indian readers and to West Indian school children, edits
and simplifies Harris' story, with the motive of communication,
The result is a powerful story, in which Harris recreates a
myth believed in by Negro and Indian, by the folk over whom
Kanaima exercise dominance; and provides that element of the
unattainable that man, capitalist or communist or Third World
ignores at his peril. In this story Harris shows us a fusion
between the belief and the believer; and the believer through
belief becomes consciously aware, in the light of Harris'
interpretation and re-invention, of his own tenuous and fragile
journey up the rockface supported by the moulding of the
face of Kanaima; his own projected dream creating the reality
of Kanaima. In this story, Ramchand as editor pares away the
narcissistic accretions of Harris, the writer qua writer, and
reveals the validity of Harris as creator, as the re-interpreter of
collective fear and hope. There is then, in this short story.
'the virility of motivation' with which the artist communicates,
by establishing that reciprocal relation with his audience which
is the basis of all art that sets out to give meaning, however
impossible and difficult, to existence; rather than providing
an escape from an existence accepted to be meaningless. This
'virility of motivation' is lacking in the novels of Harris.
It is this lack which betrays the revolutionary intention of
Harris; without this primary and compelling motive of com-
munication even of the incommunicable the writer floats
in a free fall of obfuscation. This is not to deny Harris's
insights his opposition to the concept of the 'individual
character', as portrayed in Heame, for example; his shattering
of the established images of feeling, in order to shatter the
distorted reality which these images project and support.
What one objects to is that he replaces existent reality with
another arbitrarily created out of his own imagination; not in
opposition to, nor as a contrasting illumination of reality as it
exists, but one so totally unrelated, that it ends up by being
escapist. Whilst, denying the fixity of the 'individual character'
Heame points out that Harris argues that the problem of
character in the West Indian novel, is one of fulfilment rather
than consolidation Harris in fact establishes in his novels the
primacy of the unrelated individual imagination.
It is this paradox that explains the fascination that a Harris
has for a Heame, in spite of the very profound differences
between them. But it is this paradox too that makes it
impossible for Hearne to grasp the very real insights of Harris;
and therefore to understand where the insights, put into
practice, have failed to come across. Yet Hearne's essay, here
and there, gives us clues to Harris failure. In discussing Oudin
one of Harris 'characters', Hearne points out that at the end of
the novel, the reader can see Oudin, stripped of his magic
realism, see him,
"As just another old Guyanese peasant dead on the floor of
a hut on the coastal savannah."
By the very careless and casual contempt implicit in this state-
ment, a contempt totally absent from the intention of a
Harris one sees that the 'reality' of the peasant has been
'exploited' as a symbol for a literature, which, in ostensibly
reinventing him, totally excludes him; since its meaning is
foreign to him. He has been used to create a myth in which he
neither partakes nor believes it is Harris' rather than Guyana's
In his first novel, Lamming tells how he first came upon its
"I first came across the phrase 'castle of my skin' in a poem
by the West Indian poet, Derek Walcott. In a great torrent
of rage, inseparable from hate, the poet is addressing some
white presence.. 'You in the castle of your skin, I among
the swineherd'. This phrase had coincided with my search
for a title, and I remembered that night and knew that
Papa. .could never see himself among the swine. Nor could
the village. So I thought that it was correct and even
necessary to appropriate that image in order to restore the
castle where it belonged."
In Harris's novels, and in areas of the later ones of Lamming,
the 'castles' of the West Indian people are being continually
appropriated, either to build the peacock palace of Harris'
private vision, or to strengthen the walls of Lamming's now
distant village, continually rebuilt, exquisite and nostalgic,
fading from reality, out of lingering echoes. Lamming's
awareness of his dilemna, his linking of the reality of Papa's
hut and village to the present reality of his London centre,
enables him to provide moments of illumination about a new
Harris on the other hand, inhabits a closed palace, whose
jewelled walls reflect only themselves. There Harris achieves
what he sets out to achieve the attainment 'of an inward
dialogue and space' in a world where language and being has
been emptied of meaning. But his dialogue is a monologue
which begins and ends in a cul de sac. In one of his essays,
Adorno explains the dilemna of a Harris:
"For it is only in the process of withdrawing into itself,
only indirectly that is, that bourgeois culture conceives of a
purity from the corrupting traces of the proletarian disorder
which embraces all areas of existence. Only in so far as it
withdraws from Man can culture be faithful to man. But
such concentration on substance which is absolutely one's
own, contributes at the same time to the impoverishment of
that substance. Once the mind is no longer directed at
reality, its meaning is changed despite the strictest preserva-
tion of meaning. Through its resignation before the facts of
life, and even more, through its isolation as one 'field among
others'. the mind aids the existing order and takes it place
Despite his conscious intention, the novels of Harris end up as
a highbrow consumer product, accessible only to the initiated;
and alien to its own audience. In striving to perfect a theory
Harris strives to achieve artistic norms; and turns his back on
the other striving that striving which his own short story
Kanaima, so well illustrates the striving, 'however impotently,
that man may be spared." Because of this, the artistic norms
of Harris' novels are achieved in a vacuum; excellent, like
Narcissus, in love with, and reflecting only itself.
But the core of Harris' confusion can perhaps be found in
an essay The Writer and Society*- in which he makes a
'far-reaching' distinction between 'social character that is
social species or species of convention' and 'primordial
character'. To make his point he uses illustrations from Greek
myths and from the Haitian vodun, or voodoo. Speaking of
the experience of the 'possessed' dancer in voodoo, he says,
"Remember at the outset the dancer regards himself or
herself as one in full command of two legs, a pair of arms,
etc., until, possessed by the muse of contraction, he or she
dances into a posture wherein one leg is drawn up into the
womb of space. He stands like a rising pole upheld by earth
and sky or like a tree which walks in its own shadow or like
a one-legged bird which joins itself to its sleeping reflection
in a pool. All conventional memory is erased and yet in
this trance of overlapping spheres of reflection a primordial
or deeper function of memory begins to exercise itself
within the bloodstream of space.. "
One cannot help but feel here that Harris has never attended,
and knows very little of the Haitian voodoo ceremony. Apart
*In a collection of essays by Harris -Tradition and the West Indian Novel
from the almost ludicrous disparity of the description, the
fundamental point that the 'primoridial consciousness' of the
individual possessed dancer is achieved by means of a complex
ritual and technique, a ritual and technique created, and
participated in by the social group, is missed; and therefore
that primordial and social character are complementary, rather
than distinct entities.
The individual possession of the dancer is attained, not only
through individual effort alone, the individual dance; but by
the 'work' (to use the Jamaican Pentecostal term) 'the labour-
ing in the spirit' on a collective journey travelled by the group;
and on this journey every landmark is a communal possession.
The journey to possession by the Unconscious is a conscious
one. The primordial revelation is attained through an elaborate,
extremely logical and social ritual. It is paradoxical that
Harris, who in general seems to be well aware of the logic that
underlies all so-called primitive art, should miss such a basic
corollary. His mistake seems to be one shared by many
European artists, whose predicament, the Cuban novelist Car-
pentier describes, when he says that they took fetish objects
like African masks and attempted to use the objects in their
assault on Cartesian reason. They failed because they were
unaware that these objects had their own rationale; that they
were in fact not only manifestations of a reasoned and logical
belief; but of a belief, and of a reason which had not separated
itself from the way of life which created it and which it
created. As Carpentier writes;
"They looked for 'barbarity' in objects which had never
been barbarous when they fulfilled their ritual functions in
primitive rhythms.. They wished to renew Western music
imitating rhythms which had never had a musical function
for its primitive creators.."
In his novels Harris attempts to evoke a primordial conscious-
ness, without providing the social keys, the communally
recognized landmarks which would invite the reader's partici-
pation in the 'work of the spirit' on the journey; without this
the journey does not take place, there are gestures of move-
ment rather than movement itself; without a common belief,
ritual degenerates into a solitary exercise in a cell. Perhaps
Harris' comment on modem American poets, best describes his
own novels, novels in which,
... one may only point to the symbol of an over-
whelming ordeal without release."
"He went and sat down beside the wall he was build-
ing, high enough now to give a little shade from the
sun. The building was still in its earliest stage. He
knew it was to be part of the new University College
but he couldn't imagine the ultimate shape and he felt
excluded from its social meaning.."
(Neville Dawes. 'The Last Enchantment'.)
"How often is Art in all its forms and fancies going to
make friends with the multitudeP National galleries
sheltering the best, or municipal ones sheltering the
worst, aren't much good to the common man, passing
through the common hours...
It is useless to say that the artist can sit safely in
his ivory tower, looking scornfully down from a lancet
window at the people below. He can't, for sooner or
later sturdy shoulders pressing against it will send the
ivory tower toppling. The artist may live on for a while,
hearsed in honour from a few; but when the few go,
the end of the artist comes."
(Sean O'Casey, 'The Arts Among the Multitude')
In the first part of this essay we pointed out that the body
of critical writing which we are discussing, has come out of the
University of the West Indies. As the only institution of
comparable size that the Caribbean territories will be able to
afford, it is clear that the University must commit itself to the
cultural destiny of our territories. If we borrow Eduardo
Mallea's distinction once more, we may well ask to which
Jamaica, which Caribbean, is the University of the West Indies
to belong? To the inauthentic, making gestures, and in
particular the gesture of 'silence', which is, according to Mallea,
the most typical gesture of those who refuse to explore their
reality? Or to that other, 'that invisible heart' which compels
exploration and awareness. The critical essays show that the
University is still poised between the choice ; and leaning
more towards the older, the easier, the gesture of silence.
Silence, and in silence we include slogans and formulas
borrowed from the metropolitan centre and applied without
relevance, is more 'academic', conforms to 'established stand-
ards'. Silence is more liveable with. With silence, the descend-
ants of Prospero and Caliban, ex-colonial master, and ex-
colonized, can pretend that the multiple flags waving in place
of the Union Jack have bewitched away the past. Yet we can
realize our common present only by the exploration of our
common past. To replace this exploration by silence as we
have mainly done so far, is to give to silence the sound of the
school yell that Dawes describes in the Last Enchantment:
"The unity, the oneness of the same school yell, was super-
ficial, and the much vaunted great harmony among the
different races was an inaccurate interpretation of a very
Above all, this kind of silence, of the unsaid, has deprived
the University, as it does some of these essays, of a genuine
sense of purpose. To avoid the past connection between
Prospero and Caliban, is to ignore what unites them in the
present; the unity of a common purpose. Without the realiza-
tion of this purpose, with our continued pragmatic acceptance
of 'just getting on with the job', we shall continue to turn out
an elite technocrat class (some with liberal slogans, some with
Black Power slogans) all seeking to take an 'elite place in any
order (liberal, Communist, Black Power) which is based on an
elite. We shall continue to turn out the 'brains' prepared to
direct the 'brawn'; and thereby prepared to continue the
sickness and injustice of an ancient separation. What then is
this common purpose?
Our purpose begins to formulate itself with our awareness
of the University, as the logical result of a common history
stretching over some four centuries; as a place where the
descendants of Prospero-slave owner, and Caliban-slave, can,
by using the technological knowledge acquired by Prospero
from an unjust relation, mount an assault against that historical
necessity, that scarcity of food and shelter, which had, in the
dark and terrible ages, impelled exploitation of some by others;
and still impels it. Our purpose is stated by Adorno in an
"The only adequate response to the present technical
situation which holds out the promise of wealth and
abundance, is to organize it according to the needs of a
humanity which no longer needs violence, because it is its
And what, one may well ask, has all this got to do with 'talking
about a little culture?' Injustice, based in all its forms, on a
concept of elitism, continues,not because the technological
means are not available, to provide, food, shelter, and freedom
from material want for all,but because minds, which have for
centuries been moulded and preformed to come to terms with
the actuality of scarcity and therefore of injustice and elitism,
and division, find it difficult to come to an awareness of the
distortion of their own barbaric formation. This formation
had been imposed on us through long centuries by the blind
necessity of material existence; and this formation continues
to dominate us through the power of the very cultural myths
which we had devised as our avenue of escape, our illusionary
flight from this necessity. And that is why the twentieth
century revolution must essentially be a cultural revolution; a
transformation in the way men see and feel. To paraphrase
Brecht: 'The Barbarians had their cultures; it is time now that
we had ours."
It is not, of course, going to be as easy as all that. The
Argentinian writer, Ezequiel Estrada, discussing among other
things, the cultural failure of the Russian Revolution, also
pinpoints the reasons for the failure of the nineteenth century
independence movements of Latin America:
"Neither here nor elsewhere is there any public awareness
of the fact that cultural emancipation is not any easier,
although it may be less bloody, than political liberty; and
a great part of the failure of our independence movements
was due to the fact that our liberators were not liberated
from themselves.. Mentally freed, they weresubconsciously
in chains, because they continued to accept the structure of
European cultures, changing only their forms and a small
part of their content, in the same way as they had done with
their political institutions "
Ihis is an exact analysis of our situation, both as society
and University today. This situation is reflected in the
imitative solutions which we devise to all our problems. This
is not to deny that our cultural distortion is a reflection of a
power situation in which we are still economically dominated,
as was nineteenth-century Latin America, by metropolitan
centres. As a University we have attacked the distortion of
this economic dominance; yet we continue to reflect in our
goals, curriculum, 'standards' the cultural corollary of this
economic arrangement. The refusal of our society to take us
seriously may well spring from the fact that 'culturally' we
reflect the very untruths that we denounce. We need a new
awareness of our own paradox; and this awareness should be
diffused through our praxis, however inadequate,rather than
through our sermons.
The cultural 'image of the University, can be said to be
embodied, in its critical writing, and in its Creative Arts Centre;
not in its writers nor in its creative artists. It may be argued
that it is the policy of the Centre to invite down writers to
become West Indian versions of the English Universities 'writers-
in residence'; for the period of exactly one year. Yet it is
clear that the writer-in-residence, brought-down-for-a-year, can
be there for no other purpose than for that of being a piece of
cultural display; there for his advertising value rather than for
the reality of his function. The writer-in-residence-for-a-year is
the appeasing gesture used to disguise the fact that as a
University, and a society, we acquiesce in the arrangement by
which West Indian writers must continue to live in metro-
politan centres and thereby be rendered impotent to take part,
not 'in the talking about culture', but in its creation. And for
that, the University, and its society need the writers as much
as the writers need them.
If it is argued that there is no place in the present arrange-
ment and curriculum of the University to provide the writer
with a function, it can be answered, that this may very well be
where the change in the arrangement and curriculum ought to
begin. It is not by accident that the uprising of the 'thirties
threw up writers and artists at the same time as it threw up
politicians; both are at one and the same time, prophets and
technicians of change. The failure of a society can depend on
the limitations of the vision and the skill of both. The exile of
the one or the other creates an imbalance for the society as a
whole. The exile of the writer from the University,which as an
institution, is itself the result of the upheaval of the 'thirties, is
a serious lack; it is the writer, and not the academic who is
best able to link the University to that 'invisible heart of the
nation'. The link is of the imagination rather than of the
intellect; and it is this link which can include Dawes' worker-
politician Edgar*within 'the social meaning from which he is so
far a stranger. Without writers to give flesh to its intention.
without functioning artists, the Creative Arts Centre remains
but another appeasing gesture; another Ark for the faithful,
in which the elite and the highbrow can contemplate their
intellectual navel, whilst the floods of proletarian disorder
sweep over the multitudes outside.
A new 'culture' for us is not a luxury, not and no longer
the playmate of an elite soul; it must be instead the agent of
man's drive to survive in the twentieth century.
Adomo is right when he says:
"Today, adjustment to what is possible no longer means
adjustment; it means making the possible real."
*In the novel -'The Last Enchantment'
Creative Arts Centre, popularly known as 'The Crematorium' University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica.
Photo Derek Jones
by Alex Gradussov
I met him in a bar. And he seemed part of the furnishings.
I neither suspected nor did I have any reason to suspect that he
was a painter, and we talked of many things: the R.A.F.,
political parties and the general state of the country. And
suddenly he told me that painting was his main interest in
life. Then I asked him what his name was and fortunately I
had seen a picture of his, "The Last Supper"; but that was
hardly an introduction to the range of Abrahams' work.
And as the years in Jamaica went by, I saw more and more
of his pictures and without pretending to be either an authority
or a collector, I became convinced that this man's work was
important. It is important. As in all value judgments it is
extremely difficult to pin-point the reasons why. First of all,
Abrahams has a style, or, to be more exact, various styles that
are undoubtedly not imitative. He sees the world in his own
way and even if we do not understand this vision at times, it is
unique. Obstacles of understanding are many but in Abrahams'
case it is a question of the angle of approach, the interpretation
"Self Portrait" by Carl Abrahams, Collection E. Anthony
Abrahams Jr. Esq.
within the artist's mind and perhaps to be a little brutal, the
way he misinterprets reality; but then that is his privilege.
His technical accomplishments are also considerable. He is
firm in outlining and design. His palette is varied and his
colours have the rightness which even if they are the rightness
of a nightmare are none the less true. And his range of vision
is wide. Abrahams sees man in his social setting, animals both
symbolically and realistically; and the design and structure of
buildings, even if they are only shacks, are of interest to him.
What about the man? What shaped his outlook, what is
his place in the painting world of Jamaica? His is not a hard-
luck story, although hardship has been his lot. Born in a
middle class respectable Jamaican home, he was well brought
up, sent to Calabar, served during the war in the RAF; there
doesn't seem to be anything of the bohemian about him and
even less the proletarian. Yet Abrahams knows his people.
His school, so to speak, has been the bar stool, but that is not
all. Assiduously and painstakingly he has copied pictures of
the old masters. Mainly I suspect, poor reproductions were his
models; and his taste, if I might be permitted to say so, is as
odd as his style. Headmaster Price was his friend and mentor.
David's 'Paris and Helena' is his favourite and even now he
thinks that Michelangelo is kin to him. But what of that?
From the pinnacle of his bar stool he observes the world with
keen eyes and there is no pretentiousness in any of his work.
If anything he has been a great debunker.
That brings me to another aspect of Abrahams' work -
cartoons. With little pay and less encouragement he drew
cartoons for the Gleaner and as a crowning achievement had
his work shown at International exhibitions of Cartoonists in
Montreal (1966, 1967). The craft of painter in Abrahams
is firmly based upon the necessities of a cartoonist. His is the
reduction of the variety of life to the essentials as he sees them.
There is no doubt that Abrahams is a modem painter. Unfor-
tunately the modem idiom is still suspect in Jamaica; from the
wrongest of motives.
It is our fear of any reality that is not a photographic
reproduction. It is our rejection of any opinion from the
painting. And that will not do. What we Inust always get
from the painting is opinion; not necessarily political or
social or economical, but more likely than not, aesthetic. The
artist will offer us new forms and new colours and more often
new ideas, but the forms and colours are and should be part of
the world of his ideas and thus create the new, the revolutionary,
If my criteria are therefore acceptable, they must certainly
apply to Abrahams for when he saw his Apostles and Christ as
"'Country Scene" by Carl Ablwhams,
Collection A.D. Scott Esq.
.'The LJaS Skpprp by0:-arl Abrahams 1955.
Collection Institute of Jamaica.
contemporaries and when his palette expressed the gloom of
coming disaster, he directed our eyes towards a new reality of
the Last Supper; and when, in his cartoonist mind, bizarre and
not altogether in focus, he concentrated on a picture of a
fight between two one-legged men, the horrible fascination
with the subject springs to life in the grimaces of the com-
batants and in the light that garishly illuminates the scene. Why
then, was he intensely conscious of trees and animals and
buildings? One might conjecture that these were building
blocks for the greater scene, for the human interest; but that
is not so. His back-yard scene is just as much an indictment
as are his people. A few bricks randomly heaped, surrounded
by weeds, express the decay of the society as he sees it.
Altogether it is hard to say who was the teacher or model
of Abrahams. His personality, in particular his assurance,
could be likened to Rousseau, the customs gatherer, but then
his style is far more complex and could never be called
childlike even when his simplification as in the unveiling of
Bolivar's statue approaches naivety. His outlines are some-
what like Roualt but not as thickly applied and in his palette
"Back Yard" by CarlAbrahams, Collection A.D. ScottEsq. there is a suggestion of El Greco. But all this does not matter.
." A ;-PV ONF'-IM.~ *;
i, q~ :;i;'ij" "~
.. fiv 0,
The unveiling of Simon Bolivar's Statue
by Carl Abrahams
I'm stating it rather to contradict any consistent influence,
than to prove one. What then was Abrahams about? His only
friend in the painting world was his fellow-cartoonist Cliff
Tyrell not a great one; his relationship to other painters of
his generation whether Dunkley or Huie or Parboosingh is not
discernable. He was concerned about Jamaica and still is, but
his social conscience works upon his artistic imagination in a
most peculiar way he does not make protests and he does not
preach, perhaps none of the others did, but then his indictment
is expressed in the colour rather than in the shape. His people
are not despondent but the sum total of impressions from
most of his canvases is one of gloom. Not desperation nor the
desire to change; perhaps resignation is the word. To live with
a picture of Abrahams' is to accept new angles on reality and
not a gloss imposed on reality to love his work one must be
prepared to wait until the fullness of the design becomes
apparent this might take years but I think it is a rewarding
task and Abrahams will be remembered.
Collection Institute of Jamaica.
by Arthur Scott i l d
The car rattled round the bend and passed the people
standing by the bus stop, the driver squinting into the bright
morning sun with tender and inflamed eyes.
Abruptly the car halted. At the same time a truck swung
violently from behind the 'ar with a tremendous screeching of
brakes. The truck slowed briefly, its driver cursing the
offending driver of the car with considerable heat.
Neville Miller, sitting in the car, grinned at the receding
truck in spite of the fact that he had a severe hangover.
Then the boy he had seen hesitantly detached himself from
the people among whom he stood. He was a very tall, slender
youth of sixteen; and after he had moved a few steps forward
he paused uncertainly as though he could not make up his
mind whether the car had really stopped for him.
"Hurry up, Bruce," Neville Miller shouted.
At the imperious sound of the man's voice the boy began to
run forward. He ran in an awkward, gangling motion, clutching
his books tightly against his chest.
"Good morning sir," the boy said, getting into the car.
Then the man saw how the boy hesitated before he sat on
the dusty seat and he resolved to have the car, or the seats at
any rate, cleaned that afternoon.
Driving the car with an arm resting casually on the window
he began to whistle the first opening bars of Beethoven's fifth
symphony, but this was almost lost in the rattles and squeaks
the car made. Meanwhile, the boy sat very erect almost on the
edge of the seat, staring gravely before him. He held his books
clumsily in his lap and they appeared always to be on the
verge of falling.
"I'm just going to turn off a bit Bruce," Miller said. He
swung the car into a street which did not lead to the school.
"Yes sir," Bruce said.
"By the way Bruce," Miller said breezily. "I imagine you
you lads are a bit anxious about those books I promised to
buy for you. I'm still having some difficulty in getting them.
In a week or so I hope to get through though. If not, I'll
return your money then. You can tell the other chaps".
"Yes sir," the boy said mildly.
* Festival '67 Prize winning short story.
"I'll soon be back Bruce," he said.
He parked the car at his siter's gate. Boyishly he vaulted
the low fence and trotted across the small untidy lawn and up
the steps of the house.
"Sonia," he called.
"Not so loud man," his sister said from the living room.
"Mind you wake up the baby".
He opened the door and went inside, walking on the tip of
his toes with excessive care, his face shaped in a look of
She burst suddenly into quiet laughter.
He grinned and sat on a chair. He decided to ignore
preliminaries and to get at once to the matter at hand. Of all
mornings, he could not afford to be late this morning when
the school was having examinations.
"Lend me five pounds, Sonia," he said. "I need it very
"It's very important," he said. "Took some money the
other day from the lads at school to buy some books. Some-
thing urgent came up and I had to spend it. Every day they
pester me about their confounded money. Next thing you
know is that the headmaster will hear about it. I wouldn't
want that to happen."
"May I ask where I must get it from?" she said primly.
"Sonia," he said earnestly. "You just don't imagine how
embarrassing it can be. Try to imagine sitting before a form
of thirty-odd boys every day and having to face their suspicious
"That is a good thing for you."
"Cho Sonia. Don't joke man. Try to be serious."
"If I know you any at all," his sister said, "you squander
that money in a gambling house."
"No Sonia. Nothing like that."
Illustrations by Bennett Stein A U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer.
"What happen to your wife? She come back to the house
"No. I went to her mother's place yesterday to see her but
she wouldn't talk to me."
"Well, I wouldn't blame her if she don't come back."
"I don't see how you can say that," he said. "I'm not
worse than any other husband. Not much worse at any rate,"
he added in wry thoughtfulness.
"What. You? And you give her such a hard time. Look
at the colour of your eyes how they red. I can smell rum on
your breath from right here."
"Lord Sonia man. Lend me the money."
He was sitting now in utter dejection, his head resting
between his hands, a sad, doglike look upon his face. All at
once she felt quite sorry for him. It was always this way. With
her, he seemed to be able to pass, with the greatest ease from
gaiety to sadness, depending on how he wanted to move her.
And though she always knew she was being lead, and would
fight at first that influence he tried to exert over her, in the
end she was nearly always powerless beneath the spell of his
She sighed and got up and went into her bedroom. Presently
she returned with the money carelessly held in her hand.
"I want it back at the end of the month," she said severely.
"Sure thing, Sonia. Thanks a lot," he said.
The car rattled noisily from the gate, a cloud of black
smoke billowing behind it. When he drove into the school's
premises he realized he wasn't altogether late. Along the long
corridor of the building the boys were filling gravely into the
He alighted from the car and suddenly realized that a short,
stocky man was standing before him.
"Are you Mr. Miller?", the man said.
"That's right. What is it?"
He noticed that the man held a small open folder which
disclosed a number of yellow cards.
"You haven't paid the last instalment on your car, have
you?" the man said.
"I was hoping to pay it this month end," Miller said.
"No sir," the man said, in a quiet, final voice.
"But certainly a week or two should not make all that
difference," Miller said.
"No sir," the man repeated. "We will have to take it in if
you can't pay the instalment now."
"All right," Miller said. He handed him the five pound
The man turned towards his own car. "Jack," he called to
his partner sitting in the car. "Write up a receipt forMr. Miller."
"You have five shillings change for me," Miller said spitefully.
Approximately three hours later after he had collected the
examination papers he went to see the headmaster. From the
door of the headmaster's study where he stood, he observed
that the headmaster was writing at his desk.
"May I interrupt you a minute sir? he asked.
The head looked up slowly. "Certainly Mr. Miller," he
said, smiling faintly. "Come right in." He motioned towards
the chair before his desk. "As a matter of fact I wanted to see
"I wouldn't have come to you at this time if it wasn't very
urgent, sir," Miller said. "Perhaps you may recall that some-
time ago I mentioned a loan I wanted. You said I should
contact you again."
The head leaned back on his chair, he clasped hands resting
on his desk. Somehow he appeared to be exceedingly weary.
The weariness of his expression was intensified by the bright
sunlight from the window. He remained silent for a long
moment after Miller had ceased speaking. "What I will do
Mr. Miller is say something to the bursar for you. I suggest
that you have a word with hith. ....say about three this
afternoon. I think he might be able to help you."
"Thank you very much sir," Miller said.
"That's alright Mr. Miller," the head said. "After all, I also
belong to that great profession of underpaid people." He
chuckled quietly as though he had given himself a joke.
Miller rose to leave.
The head held up his hand. "Please don't leave yet Mr.
Miller. I would very much like to have a word with you."
He sat again, puzzled, unable to imagine what the head had
to say to him. The head rose and faced the window, his back
to Miller, his hands clasped behind his back. Then he turned.
"Mr. Miller, he said. "I personally think you're an
-excellent teacher. 1 have watched you carefully and I'm
aware that you take your work very seriously. You have a way
of getting on with the boys too. However, I'm going to say
something which I find difficult to say, but in a way it is
necessary." He paused, coughed politely and continued. "The
thing is Mr. Miller, I've always felt that a teacher because of
the nature of his profession ought to present a certain kind of
image to society. We live in a society and believe me, Mr.
Miller I know where people are highly critical of teachers.
It is expected that teachers should set the highest standards of
character and personal conduct." The head paused and cleared
his throat. He looked very austere as he stood there, staring
soberly at Miller. "I understand, Mr. Miller, that you play
dominoes in a bar by the lane with men of rather curious
means of existence. I know, for instance, that you frequent
certain gambling houses in the nights. I could go on a little
more but I will stop there: Frankly, Mr. Miller, I don't think
this will do at all. It will not do. As it is we have a difficult
time trying to maintain discipline at this school without being
able to set the standard ourselves. I appeal to you Mr. Miller.
I appeal to you to try and set a better example:
After lunch Miller found himself still smarting at the head's
reprimand. He sat gloomily at his desk before the bent, intent
head of the boys, thinking. The idea of going to the bursar
-- .~u- -I-~h--ac,
Spanish Town from Beacon Hill
by J. B. Kidd
"He lurched out of the form on his long,
ungainly legs ...."
for a loan did not appeal to him. But he had no choice. He
was completely broke and as much as two weeks were left for
payday. The short, sullen man, who was the bursar, intruded
in his thoughts. No one, even someone in the kindliest of
spirits, could ever regard the bursar as approachable.
Then he realized, quite abruptly, that the bursar was
actually standing in person by the door, beckoning to him.
He got up and went outside the corridor to him.
"There is a boy in this form, Mr. Miller, whose name is
John Bruce," the bursar said. "Will you call him out for me.
His school fee has not been paid and we can't allow him to sit
for the examination."
"Call him out? From the examination?"
"Yes. We have written his parents already about this. It
still hasn't been paid."
"But you can't just take him out like that Mr. Carr. It would
be embarrassing to the lad. Besides it can ..."
"Rules are rules, Mr. Miller," the bursar said coldly.
"Furthermore, I'm not the one who makes them. Please call
him out. I have work to do. I can't stay here all day arguing
"I'm sorry Mr. Carr, I can't do it."
"All right Mr. Miller," the bursar snapped. "I shall take the
matter to the headmaster." He spun about on his heels and
walked away in his rapid, precise manner.
Presently the head appeared. Beside him was the bursar,
his face sullen and resentful.
"May I have a word with you, Mr. Miller," the head said
Miller rose from his desk and went out to them.
"Mr. Carr tells me that you refuse to call out the boy
John Bruce," the head said.
"Yes sir, 1 did."
"Will you do so please. He can't sit for the examination if
his fee hasn't been paid."
"I'm afraid I can't do it, sir."
"And why not, Mr. Miller?"
"It's not right sir. And it's very embarrassing to the lad."
The head strode past him and entered the form. The boys,
sensing that something extraordinary was taking place, were
staring outside quite curiously.
"John Bruce," the head said in his sternest voice. "Report
to my study at once. Take your things with you."
The boy stood up abruptly, almost knocking down his
chair. He had a wild, scared look on his face. A snicker, quite
audible, sounded from somewhere to the back of the form.
The boy had unbelievable difficulty in picking up his pen from
his desk. He clutched at it several times but it eluded his
frantic fingers. Then the pen rolled and fell to the floor and
the boy bent awkwardly and finally succeeded in grasping it.
He lurched out of the form on his long, ungainly legs, followed
by the two men.
Miller returned to his desk, gathered his papers and strode
deliberately towards his car.
The boy knocked again, and heard, this time, the unmis-
takable sound of approaching footsteps. A woman opened the
door. She had a face which, apparently, at another time could
be attractive, but now it was undoubtedly sulky.
"Good morning," the boy said politely. "Is Mr. Miller here?"
Without moving from the half-shut door which she held
behind her with one hand, she turned her head and shouted
into the interior of the house.
"It's alright. Tell him to come in," said a voice from within
which the boy had no difficulty in recognizing.
"You may come in," the woman told him curtly.
He went timidly into the house and the woman motioned
to a chair. The chair was quite shaky and even with it placed
right up against the soiled wall the boy was nervous sitting in it.
The woman picked up a garment and, sitting a little beyond
him, began to sew.
It was a single large room divided in two by a cloth screen.
Where the boy was sitting was evidently used as a kind of sitting
room. At that moment, from behind the cloth screen came a
muffled curse, and something flung with some force to the
floor. The boy glanced up but the woman did not cease her
Presently, the man whom the boy had come to see, emerged.
He walked gingerly forward as though there were nails in his
shoes. His eyes were quite red and inflamed, and obviously he
had not shaved for a number of days. The boy rose quickly and
the master held his limp hand in a quick, hard grip, as they
exchanged greetings. For a moment the boy had to hold his
breath, so strong was the odour of stale rum.
"I'm sorry to come upon you like this," the boy said.
"I didn't realize. .."
"That's alright, James."
Then the man looked round, but unable to find a chair for
himself went behind the screen to return with a bench which
he placed before the boy.
"Well," he said with faint cheerfulness. "To what do I
owe the pleasure of this visit?"
For a moment the boy appeared to be at a loss for words.
Finally he spoke. "It's really that we haven't seen you at
school for some days now, sir. We asked one of the masters if
you were sick. He said he was sure that you were not, but he
couldn't say what had happened to you. Anyway sir, the boys
are worries about the money you took to buy books. They
asked me to see you about it. You see, sir," he added respect-
fully. "We thought you might have forgotten about it. And in
another week it will be holidays."
The master's face had become quite cheerful. "Oh, the
books," he said pleasantly. He leaned back, took a single
crushed cigarette from his pocket, straightened and lit it.
Smoked puffed agreeably about him while he spoke. "It's
really darned careless of me," he said. With his tongue he
made a clicking sound of mild self-disparagement. "I've been
quite busy lately. I haven't forgotten, though. Listen James,
its' abit difficult getting those books but you chaps will get
your money by Monday morning. This is definite."
"Why you don't tell the boy the truth?", the woman said.
"My affairs have been in a mess lately," the master said,
speaking directly to the boy. "I just haven't had the time to
get properly organised."
"Why you don'ttell him the truth?" the woman said again,
Her voice was louder now.
"What is wrong with this hysterical woman?" the master
said to the boy.
"Who you're calling hysterical?" the woman asked angrily.
"That's my self-appointed conscience," the master said,
indicating her with his thumb. Then he turned to face her.
"Can't you shut your mouth?" he said.
"You expect me to sit here and listen to your lies?"
"You haven't got to. You can go outside."
"I might go further than there," she said, "and I'll like to
see you get your sister to beg me to come back this time."
"That will be the day."
"You can't even do a thing in the house for yourself."
"I can take care of myself. Don't worry about me."
"Take care of yourselfon what? On whose money?"
"Look," he said angrily, rising to his feet. "Stop this
"They stood facing each other like too angry, bristling roosters
ready for war."
They stood facing each other like two angry,bristling
roosters ready for war. She flung the garment to the floor in a
fit of temper, brushed past the master, and stood now before
the boy with her furious face. "Do you know that he drinks
and gambles out every penny that comes into this place? Look
at the awful place we have to live in." She swept her hand
wildly about the room. "Every confounded time he throws
money on a horse or some card game, he is sure to win he says.
He just can't learn. Let him tell you what he did with your
James looked helplessly at them. Then he realized that the
woman was crying. She turned suddenly from them and,
covering her face with her hands, ran behind the screen.
"That was inevitable," the master said with a shrug.
James stood hurriedly. He could hear the woman still. He
experienced an awful fluttering sensation in the pit of his
"Wait," the master said. "I'm coming with you. I can't
stay any longer in this cursed place."
Then they were in the street, the warmth of the morning
sun on their backs. The master was silent, and the boy,
walking beside him began to feel a sense of returning com-
posure in the freedom of space.
They were about to cross by the traffic lights when, in the
streets, they saw a man, obviously a cripple, topple with his
wheel chair to the ground. It seemed as though he had leaned
too much to one side for some reason. The man appeared to
be unhurt, but it was apparent that, because his legs were
useless, it was impossible for him to mount the wheelchair by
himself. So he just sat on the ground beside the wheelchair
while no one at all appeared to take the slightest interest in
"Come on," the master said, and the boy trotted obediently
Holding the wheelchair gingerly as though he was afraid of
it, the boy pulled it upright and held it while the master lifted
the old cripple bodily. The old man smelled as if he had never
bathed in his life, and the boy had to hold his breath.
"Alright, old fellow. Can you manage now?" the master
said. He still had an arm about the cripple's shoulder.
Thanking them profusely in hoarse enthusiams, the old man
pushed himself off.
"Wash you hands," a woman shouted. She was sitting on a
box at the sidewalk beside a basket of ground provisions. "You
don't see say de man nasty."
"Let's drink something," the master said. He crossed the
street, the boy beside him.
The woman gave an obscene, high-pitched laugh. "Unoo
mus' wash you hands," she shouted at them. She leaned
against the wall of the shop, her huge baglike bosom shaking
"Be silent woman!"the master cried angrily.
They entered a small Chinese restaurant.
"Will you have a beer with me?" the master said.
"No thanks, sir."
S"They saw a man, obviously
a cripple, topple with his
wheel chair to the ground."
The master chuckled. "Don't drink, eh? How old are you
"That's about the age I started. Anyway you'll have a soft?"
For some time they did not speak. The master sipped
steadily, staring into his glass with his red, inflamed eyes.
"I'm sorry about what happened back there," the boy said.
"I guess I shouldn't have come."
"But if I hadn't come...."
"No. You had nothing to do with this."
He looked at the boy now with his haggard face, his red
eyes. "Look James. I'm terribly sorry about the money. I
just haven't got it.
"Don't have it sir?"
"No. I've spent it."
"But can't you get it somehow sir? Can't you borrow?"
"Borrow! I'd like to see the man that would lend me
"Perhaps the headmaster would . "
"Him! Look James, I'll tell you a joke. I don't know if I
have a job still. I walked out the other day and I haven't been
back. Yesterday I sent to the school for my cheque. All I
have left out of it now is ten bobs."
"It's a pity if you leave the school sir. The boys will miss
"They will, eh?"
"Yes sir. The boys all say you're different from the other
"Different? Really. How?"
James searched uncomfortably for -words. Finally he
thought of something. "Well, it's like last month sir. Remem-
ber when Mr. Campbell's car stuck in the mud and you jumped
through the window and shouted to us to follow you. The
other masters wouldn't have done that."
"Really. What would they do?" he asked, evidently
"I think they would pick out a few boys and send them
around by the door."
The master chuckled wryly. "Yes," he said. "I see what
Presently the master ordered another beer. "I'm going to
get back that money," he said. "I have to." He stared at his
glass for a while. Then he asked, "you know anything about
"Well, it doesn't matter." For a brief moment he appeared
to be lost in thought. When he spoke again it was as though to
himself. "It has to work this time. Then I'll have the money
for you boys and something left over."
"Beg pardon, sir."
"Last night I got a hot tip on a double event. Got it from a
chap who works at a stable. Apparently he knows about a
racket they're going to run. I'm going to put this five bobs on
it this afternoon. It's going to pay something good. It has to."
"Now what's the matter
with you. You're looking
as if you've seen a ghost."
Then they were standing at a bus stop and the master was
talking in that familiar pleasant way of his. He was telling the
boy of an amusing incident that had happened to him in the
days when he was working on a sugar estate in the country.
The boy laughed repeatedly while he spoke. The redness was
almost gone from the master's eyes, and in spite of his un-
shaved face, he was his usual cheerful self.
When the boy boarded the bus he turned in his seat to look
back just before the bus reached the bend of the road. He
could see the master trotting in the street, and he realized,
abruptly, that it was raining.
The boy alighted from the bus in pouring rain. It was dark
now, for there was no sun at all, though it was just as little
beyond midday. He began to run, feeling the sharp, driving
sting of the rain against his cold, wet body. When he reached
home he was completely drenched, and he was shivering and
sneezing too, and he knew he would have a cold by morning.
After he had dried himself and changed his clothes and
eaten, he went into the living room, where his father sat
listening to the radio.
"Dammit," his father said. "No races." He flung the
paper he was reading to the floor.
"What?" the boy said.
"Races wash out this afternoon. Just when I had a good tip."
"No races?" the boy said.
"Now what's the matter with you. You're looking as if
you've seen a ghost."
"Nothing," the boy replied.
Then, turning, he went quickly from the room before his
father could speak again.
WHO'S SAMMY or
Angelo Pondering the
(based on "The Children at the Gate" by Edward Lewis Wallant)
The white face of Sammy, that mad
clown. I can't sleep,
He's dancing amid the sheets. Can
see him again, elusive, pale,
pushing dope and some fairy tale.
Who's Sammy? Sammy's a mad.
Who's Sammy? Sammy's a clock.
In the dark, Sammy goes tick tock.
Sammy's a sock
Wham! in the brain.
But most of all, Sammy's a mad,
Sammy's a strange.
I say: flush Sammy down the drain,
He's a dancing blot on my brain.
Midnight. Sammy's till loud.
Sammy's a clod.
When he fell, his white face splintered and bled.
Several weeks dead,
He's a dancing duppy above my bed.
Who's Sammy? Sammy's a demon,
Sammy's a child's fairy garden,
A sinister leer,
The perfect March Hare.
But suppose Sammy's some more,
Suppose he's a wound apart from a stain,
"A modem buffoon and Jesus man,
who, pinned to a lewd grin,
undertakes for us all
the clown's crucifixion"?
salt slick of the sea
tap of its time on the ground
the pebbles of silence
of my mother
and the eyes of my father
the sea in its splendour
crowds, brilliant multitudes of wet
lying cool in its green
dolour of distances
slop of their catches
blinds, open eyes
hands groping for prayer
backs out of the eye
ORIGINS lands, my is-
by Edward Brathwaite
cool red clay
mud of volcanoes
bristled with jewels
rot of word
stone, water's opposition
face on my face
cheek to my stone
of a sound, sudden blue flowing
the street's avalanche of bicycle bells
rags over Kingston ....
of a kerosene god; hell
here is a black wick without whisper
of flame; red flowerings
of horsemen rise into chrysanthemums of heat; the young
know no older love than a fat bottomed dissolute sister; the plates
in the kitchen are cracked into green, ganjarene. Rut
rut rut me you pig of pain, you
mean anger, tapper of marrow, bone
snapper; your face is my face
your lips suckle my parasites. Sit
still you bisexual cycler: passion
of the bread broken, the east rising in its blood.
What prayers will assuage these jewels
my eyes, the laid-out islands, roses
stripped naked in the dew. What prayers
will reprieve the cold fever of the day-
light, thin man, knocking at doors, smile
sharpened by the rats, tin can
of pisstilence, scruffulent scrubber,
saviour of the harbour's sepulchres of filth.
Lock me dead in your eye
as the cock crows: red rain of urine falls slowly on the is-
lands; the dump
heaps sprout pain again and again, guerr-
illas of green duck-
ing under the twisted barb wired night
and the sun
cannon of flowers, swaying
swaying: sip sop, sweet sop, sour sapodilla's eyes
the eyes of the prawns
in the basket, tickless in death, water's wristwatch;
coming up from the gullies
the mouth organ drool of the snails'
slow passage, discretion, through zones
that the hummingbird's swiftness
that is stillness, knows not, knows not;
and the lourd
hedgehog, following the mongoose and the mangrove trail, reaches the green
by the birth pangs of bubbles
the silt slow wet
of the mosquito's malarial reaches... *
Till the sun enters fine, enters fine, enters fin-
ally its growing circle of splendour
into the eyes of my father
the fat valley loads of my mother
ing, lapping my ankles, lapp-
ing these shores with their silence:
insistence of pure
light, pure pouring of water
that opens the eyes of my window
and I see you, my wound-
ed gift giver of sea
spoken syllables: words salt on your lips
on my lips....