Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 History and the institute
 Art, literature, music
 Back Cover

Title: Jamaica journal
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090030/00009
 Material Information
Title: Jamaica journal
Series Title: Jamaica journal.
Abbreviated Title: Jam. j.
Physical Description: v. : ill. (part col.) ; 31 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Institute of Jamaica
Publisher: Institute of Jamaica.
Place of Publication: Kingston
Publication Date: March 1970
Frequency: semiannual
Subject: Periodicals -- Jamaica   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Jamaica
Dates or Sequential Designation: Began with Dec. 1967 issue.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090030
Volume ID: VID00009
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 01797964
lccn - 75027862
issn - 0021-4124

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Table of Contents
        Page 1
    History and the institute
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
    Art, literature, music
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
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        Page 45
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        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
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        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
    Back Cover
        Page 57
        Page 58
Full Text


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MARCH '70 VOL. 4 NO. 1

HISTORY and the Institute
Middle East . . . . .
Archaeology . . . . .
Balbuena Part III . . . .

Jazz .. . . . ..
All Island Painting Exhibition .
Poems .. . . .
Edna Manley Interview . .
Mittelholzer Re-Assessment .
Theatre Thoughts . . .
Morant Bay . . . .
Pool of Memory (Short Story) .

. Nellie Ammar
James St. Clair
. Sylvia Wynter


. James Carnegie

. Edward Baugh
. B. McFarlane
Patrick A. Guckian
. Alex Gradussov
. . J.B. Kidd
. M. Mordecai

Editor's Note:
(a) Miss Glory Robertson in December '69 issue was not solely
responsible for "Early Printing in Jamaica" article, but it was a
collective effort of the WJ. Reference Library Staff, under the guidance
of Miss Judy Richards.

(b) In March issue, the absence of SCIENCE FOR THE LAYMAN
is not a policy departure, but purely reflects shortage of material, for this
particular issue

(c) Mrs. Audrey Wiles was responsible for the drawings in the
September '69 issue of Jamaica Journal JAMAICA FISHERIES by
Dr. Munroe.

(d) The Cervantes quotation in Balbuena II should read Ch. 66.

Cover Photo: "Arawak Museum".
by Amador Packer

Back Cover addition: Bronze Medal 1969

: : : :

In the last decade of the nineteenth century, immigrants from the Middle East be-
gan arriving in Jamaica. The majority came from Lebanon, though there were a few
from Damascus in Syria and from Bethlehem in Palestine.

Very few of the immigrants who arrived here before 1918 are still alive. I have
spoken with these survivors, as well as with many of the descendants of the earliest
immigrants to discover why they left their country, how they travelled and why they
chose Jamaica.My father was one of the earliest, having arrived in Jamaica in 1898, and
I often question him about his reasons for leaving Lebanon and coming to Jamaica. I
also listened while he and his friends discussed their early days here. I wish now that I
had asked more questions and listened more carefully because the information on this
subject is so very scanty.

At the time of the first immigration here, the whole Middle East area was known as
Syria, and Mount Lebanon whence the Lebanese originated was part of Syria. Before
World War I the whole region was part of the Ottoman Empire and dominated by the
Turks for about 800 years. At the end of that war Syria, which still included Mount
Lebanon, became a French Mandated Territory. In 1943, towards the end of World War
II, the two countries were separated and Lebanon became an independent country.

The Turks were Moslems and so were the majority of the people in the Middle East,
and the Christians found their position untenable. Whether it was the policy of the
All pictures courtesy the author

Turks to divide and conquer, I do not know, but my father often told stories of the
Moslem massacres of Christians in Lebanese villages. Of course the Christians did not
turn the other cheek, they retaliated by massacres of their own.

My father often told of the massacre of 1860, which people mention to this day. I
believe it took place at Easter when Moslems swooped down on worshippers in the
church. So Turkish oppression was given as the main reason for leaving the Middle
East by my father and by many of the people to whom I spoke. It is worthy of note
that these immigrants were Christians with very few exceptions. Even today the non-
Christian immigrant from the Middle East is the exception rather than the rule.

Then too many of these young immigrants were imbued with the spirit of adven-
ture and the desire to see the New World they had heard so much about, and of course
all of them hoped to make their fortune. Perhaps it was the extreme youth of these
immigrants many of them between fifteen and seventeen years old which made
them visualise the New World as El Dorado where the streets were paved with gold,
where they were going to make their fortunes and then go home. But when they act-
ually arrived their El Dorado was merely a mirage, and they really had a very tough
time establishing themselves and making a living.

The choice of Jamaica is a more difficult question. I often asked my father why
he came here instead of going to the American mainland. His answer was that they had
had so much injustice and oppression in Lebanon, that when he left he decided to put
himself under the protection of the British flag which at that time was the symbol of
freedom and justice. America was not then the great nation she was subsequently to
become. Another reason may have been that he had an uncle already in Jamaica.
Other people have told me that they came here to join relatives, but why these rela-
tives had chosen Jamaica, I do not know.

A most interesting reason for coming to Jamaica was given by the late Mr. Elias
Issa, who arrived with his father in 1893. They had been to the Chicago Exposition
after which they bought some goods, planning to ship them to Guatemala, but they
learned that some new trade restrictions would make the venture unprofitable. A
tobacconist whom they had met by chance told them about Jamaica, and they came
here instead.

A very interesting theory was advanced by Mr. Aaron Matalon, whose father was
one of the early settlers. His feeling is that when many of these young men went to
the docks to buy a passage, they had no idea where they were going. When the boat
reached its destination, they disembarked, and if they did not like it there, they just
went elsewhere.

It seems to me that the first stop for most, after leaving the Middle East, was prob-
ably Marseilles or a port in Italy. And from somewhere in France there may have been a
direct sailing to Cuba, because many have told me that their fathers went to Cuba first,
did not like it there and came to Jamaica. In those days there were no immigration
restrictions, and passports and visas were not required for most of the countries to
which they travelled.

Shehadie Khaleel Malick

A typical abode in Kesrouan

My own family's journey from Lebanon to Jamaica in 1923 is an example of the
way in which some immigrants reached Jamaica. In 1921 my father took us on our
first visit to Lebanon. We left Jamaica by banana boat to England, and then travelled
across France to Marseilles, where we took a boat to Beirut. We had all our travel
documents in order, and could return to Jamaica without fuss. But when we were
returning to Jamaica, several intending immigrants, without travel documents of any
kind, attached themselves to our entourage, so we had to come by a different route,
to enable them to travel with us. So we went from Beirut to Marseilles, by train to
Boulogne, then by boat to Havana. Then we had to get from Havana to Santiago, and
took an overnight boat to Jamaica. When we got here the Immigration Authorities
allowed only half of the people who had come with my father to land. The other half
had to spend the night in uncertainty, not knowing whether next morning they were
going to be sent back or not. But in the morning my father rounded up the relatives
of these people, and they went to see the Immigration Authorities. They lodged a
deposit and the immigrants were allowed to land, and unless I am very much mistaken
the amount of this deposit was 30 per person.

I have spoken to quite a few people and asked them what they did when they
landed in Jamaica. Many of them said they were in the banana business, planting or
buying and selling, but there must have been other occupations I did not hear about.
But hurricanes often upset the banana industry. So after a while many of these new-
comers gave up bananas and turned to retail trading.

Most of them had very little money and could go into business only on a very small
scale. They would buy a few dress lengths or suit lengths or what have you, and in
the country parts travel around with their wares on a mule, from house to house, selling
their stock mostly on credit. The following week they would travel the same route,
collecting in instalments and selling to new customers, and in this way they built up a
little capital.
In Kingston they travelled on foot. When they could afford it they bought a buggy
and horse. Very few of them had shops, basically they were peddlers. When they first
arrived in Jamaica they often lived together in groups, sharing a house or even a room.
They intended to make money and go back home, so they didn't care how they lived,
they didn't care what others thought about them, because there was no feeling of per-
manence. As for the one or two who were bigger men financially, my father often
mentioned the name Firjallah Farah as being the big man from whom he bought his
goods, and Aaron Matalon mentioned a Mr. Shammai and a Mr. Cattan.
The language presented little difficulty. I can speak only for the people who came
from Lebanon, but I should imagine the same thing applied to the others who came
from elsewhere in the Middle East. Those who came from my father'svillage,
Schweifat, spoke English very well because it was taught in the schools there. Of
course it took them a little time to understand the dialect, but very soon they were
speaking it fluently. Others who came later, especially in the 1920's and 1930's knew
more French than English and had a little trouble in the beginning, but they adapted
very quickly.

Nearly all these early immigrants belonged to the Greek Orthodox Church. There
was no Greek Orthodox Church in Jamaica but there is intercommunion between the
Anglican Church and the Orthodox Churches and so when their children were born
they were baptised in the Anglican Church. And here I would like to pay tribute to
Canon John Reginald Ripley of the Kingston Parish Church for his work among the
Middle East community. Nowadays there are a number of Roman Catholic families,

Cedars of Lebanon

Oursader Castle at Siaon

because when an Anglican marries a Roman Catholic, the children are inevitably
Catholic, but to begin with the Roman Catholics were very much in the minority. To
the best of my knowledge and belief, the majority of the original Roman Catholics
came from Bethlehem and Syria. As far as I know the others from Lebanon were all
Greek Orthodox, except for a couple of Jewish men and one Druse family. Neverthe-
less we all manage to live together in perfect harmony and whatever differences we may
have are not religious or regional.

At various times Greek Orthodox or Roman Catholic priests who came from Syria
or from Lebanon have visited the people here to conduct services in Arabic. The Greek
Orthodox services were held in the Kingston Parish Church and here I think I have to
bring my husband into this account because he, having been trained for the Greek
Orthodox ministry. knew all the hymns and the liturgy of the Greek Church. both in
Greek and Arabic, so that when these priests came down he always served as choir-
master and assistant to thepriest.

When these young immigrants first came to Jamaica they were quite unaccustomed
to the food that is eaten here. Some made an attempt to prepare dishes they used to
get in Lebanon but others just pitched in and sampled Jamaican food and they grew to
like it, and today it would not be an exaggeration to say that in the homes of their
descendants you are sure to find rice and peas and salt fish and ackee. Btit on the other
hand, Syrian bread has become very popular with non-Lebanese Jamaicans and I think
it is worthy of note, that today the Syrian bread supplied to the shops and offices and
supermarkets is made by a Jamaican who is not of Lebanese descent at all.

I think there is a little confusion about the words Syrian and Lebanese which I
would like to clarify. As I mentioned earlier, when the first immigrants from the Mid-
dle East came to Jamaica the whole area was called Syria, but later when the countries
were divided naturally the people from Mount Lebanon became Lebanese, not Syrians,
But today there are still many people who cannot differentiate between the two. The
food is referred to as Syrian food, the bread is Syrian bread. It is only we who are the
descendants of the people of Lebanon who make a point of saying Lebanese food,
Lebanese bread, although I think that that kind of food is common not only to the
whole of the Middle East but to many other Mediterranean countries as well.

Of course, as Syria and Lebanon were part of the Turkish empire, all these immi-
grants originally had Turkish nationality. When World War I broke out in 1914 Turkey
was on the other side but not one of the people from the Middle East who lived in
Jamaica during the 1914-18 war was ever interned, for it was obvious that they had no
love for Turkey.

Very few Lebanese descendants can speak Arabic nowadays, but there are still a
few Arabic compliments which we continue to use in everyday living. After a party
the hostess is still thanked by saying "Daymie", which literally translated means
"Always", but stands for a whole phrase, "May such happy occasions abound and may
you always have so abundant a table spread", and the hostess wishes you "Sahtine",
that is, excellent health to enjoy more feasts. Mabrouk or Mabarak is a blessing used at
weddings or christenings and at funerals we say Ilawad besalamatkum, "May we be
compensated for this great loss by the survivors' long life and good health.

A young peasant girl
with her jar

Traditional Lebanese
show at the BAALBEC

An old peasant of the mountains Young woman of
I think it is fairly safe to say that when the first immigrants came to Jamaica, mar-
riage was regarded in a different light from the way it now is. It was, in short, regarded
as a permanent union. This concept of the permanence and sacredness of marriage was
was passed on to the descendants of these immigrants, and still exists in their conscious-
ness, despite the changes in viewpoint elsewhere. And I must say this for them: most
of them are happy marriages.
I think that this little history would be quite incomplete if I did not mention the
fact that, in the early days, many Jamaicans used the word "Syrian" as a reproach.
When they referred to someone as a "damn Syrian" it was meant as such. And since
these "Syrians" were young and hot-headed, there was frequent retaliation. I would
like to relate an incident which I did not witness first-hand, but which was related to
me and which I have no reason to doubt. One of the sons of an immigrant who had
married a Jamaican girl was referred to one day as a "damn Syrian", so he turned
round to the man who had said this and retorted: "I am only half Syrian but I am
going to show you what a half-Syrian can do" and he gave the man a punch on the
jaw which flattened him out. Of course, nowadays, this expression is no longer used as
a term of reproach at least I haven't heard it in twenty or twenty-five years.

I would like to make a point about surnames. The majority of the first immigrants
came from a small town in Lebanon called Schweifat. Coming as they did from this
small community some were related to each other, and certainly they had known each
other all their lives and back in the old country they didn't refer to each other by
surname. It is customary for a son to have his father's first name as his second, or
middle name, and he would be referred to by these two names, without using his sur-
name. And so when some of them came to Jamaica, they referred to each other in
this way and before they knew what was happening their father's first name became
their surname. For example, my father's full name was Shehadie Khaleel Malick but
in Jamaica he was known by his father's first name as Mr. Khaleel, and all of his child-
ren were registered in the name of Khaleel. But subsequent arrivals, realizing what had
been happening, immediately started to use their proper surnames and so avoided a
similar mistake.

I have mentioned that many of the early settlers married Jamaican girls. One of
the very early ones I think his name was Deeb Hanna married a Jamaican girl and
took her back to Lebanon. On my first trip there in 1921,1 overheard my father talk-
ing dialect with a lady. Surprised, I asked him how she understood dialect so well, It
turned out that she was Mrs. Hanna. She had adapted beautifully to Lebanon, and
spoke Arabic.

I have been asked what I consider the reason for the prosperity of these people,
and I would like to say that not all of them have become wealthy: the few who are
wealthy are regarded as representative of the whole community, but many are just
middle-income people. For the ones who have prospered, I should imagine the reason
is that they come here as strangers, with no one to depend on but themselves, so they
worked harder than they would otherwise have done. Their case is very similar to that
of Jamaicans in England who also work hard and endure privations and in that way have
Here I think is a good place to say that in the short time the people from the Mid-
dle East have lived in Jamaica, they have integrated to a great extent with those who
lived here before them. Many of them married Jamaican women and their children are
all Jamaicans, and eventually our country's motto "Out of many, one people" will
become an accepted fact.

Problem Orientated Archaeology
by James St. Clair
Annually the Institute of Jamaica, within its Department
of Prehistory, fields an archaeological crew to investigate
problems surrounding the technology, social structure, and
ideology of the first inhabitants of Jamaica. The following
article is a brief review of the investigations conducted during
1969. Particular attention is paid to the extent to which
cultural interpretations can and should be made from hard-
core material remains.


Present day archaeological investigations, unlike those
which were conducted in the past before the establishment
of the White Marl Museum, are problem orientated. The
time of the "amateur" archaeologist who excavates for arti-
facts with the sole intention of using them for public or pri-
vate displays or souvenirs, has long since passed into disfavour.
There is no longer any place in archaeology for the person
who works without following scientific guidelines. The many
archaeological remains found within the precincts of the
Institute of Jamaica have not in the recent past been un-
covered for display purposes alone, but have been the result
of excavations conducted with a specific archaeological pur-
pose or problem in mind. To the visitor to such a museum, a
display may be interesting, exciting and naturally informative,
but the archaeological investigation that has preceded and led
to the display was conducted with the intent of developing
insight into at least the technology, and hopefully the social
structure and ideology, of the social system it represents.

The social system of a culture is composed of the techno-
logy, the social structure and its ideology. In archaeology,
most of the hard material remains are directly concerned
with the technological level of a social system. Interpreta-
tions of the social structure from technological remains are
extremely difficult; even more difficult, is trying to deter-
mine concepts of ideology from such finds. Yet a growing
awareness within the field of archaeology demands that simple
tool or technological description is not enough. Archaeology,
like anthropology, is history, or it is nothing. History com-
prises a great deal more than simply the tools and utensils,
of a particular people; thus, history demands more than des-
cription from archaeology. Inference is archaeology's answer
to meeting this demand, for it is only through inference that
inanimate objects can be reassembled into the milieu of life.
Inferences are drawn from analogies which rest on the pre-
mise that similar forms, imply similar functions. The modern
archaeologist trained in anthropology, is exposed to different


known cultures throughout the world. Familiarizing himself
with these cultures, their known technology, social structure,
and ideology, an archaeologist is qualified to make analogies
and cultural intrepretations from technological remains of a
prehistoric people.

Such social system interpretation is conducted with the
aid of many researchers from other scientific fields to name
a few, history, sociology, geology and geography. The degree
to which such interpretations are accurate depends upon
many factors, but most specifically it depends upon the
ability of the researcher to classify a given culture within a
frame of reference of a similar known culture. Most specifi-
cally, this demands proper classification into correct socio-
cultural and socio-political levels. Errors in interpretation
are quite possible, but such interpretations are exposed to
continuous re-examination. The scientist, as a man, is capable
of error; but almost by definition, science will correct errors
in its struggle for truth.

Adhering to the guidelines of scientific inquiry, the arch-
aeological staff at the Institute consulted the records of pre-
vious investigations into Jamaican archaeological problems in
planning for the 1969 excavations. Variables, which always
have to be considered before undertaking an archaeological
project, were similar to those of any programme, i.e. money,
time and priorities to be established based on cultural interest.
All variables considered, two major areas were chosen for
investigation. In the broadest sense, they were: 1). A study
of Arawak settlement patterns and 2). A re-examination of
burial practices in caves.

CAK r" .-----ARAWAK
S.-'"" : .INDIAN
..- --;" CAVE
.. _';'"

A settlement pattern study is concerned with house types,
their locations and the significance of such locations in under-
standing the socio-cultural complexity of the area. A settle-
ment pattern study, and more specifically the search for an
Arawak house in Jamaica, is not a wasteful investigation.
The pictures of Arawak houses which have been published in
books and displayed, including those in the White Marl
Museum, and the reconstruction at White Marl, were based on
finds elsewhere in the Caribbean, but not from discoveries in
Jamaica. Previous to our 1969 excavations no Arawak house
remains had been clearly identified in Jamaica. The absence
of evidence lead to the formulation of hypotheses about a
variety of possible house structures and techniques employed

WByLw;; ; ..- .,.. IB
Replica ofArawak hut at White Marl Arawak Museum
Photo Institute of Jamaica
by the Jamaican Arawaks which might have been different
from those of the Caribbean area in general.

White Marl being the largest known Arawak site in Jamaica
seemed to offer a good chance for results. Then too, a burial
cave found recently near the site (but outside the reserved
area) offered a chance for both problems to be studied at the
same time. After analysing the topography of the site an area
likely to reveal settlement pattern data was selected. A grid
was superimposed over the area with actual excavation begin-
ning on July 7. The crew consisted of seven Secondary
School students, four from Wolmers Boys' School and three
from Knox College, a volunteer laboratory assistant, and the
site director the Institute's prehistoric archaeologist. The
chief task, as excavation progressed was to keep a keen eye
for post holes or soil stains which might reveal the floors or
walls of a house structure. The total area excavated to a
depth of five feet was a 120 foot square block. Nine post
holes were revealed indicating a circular structure with a dia-
meter of approximately fourteen feet. In the centre of this
structure, where one would presume a centre post would be,
was a twelve inch circular burned area. There is little doubt
that what was uncovered were the remains of an Arawak

What did the Arawak house look like? First of all it was,
in fact, similar to Arawak houses found elsewhere through-
out the Caribbean. Slight differences should be noted be-
tween this Arawak house and the reconstructed houses at
White Marl. The entrance faced east, and not west as the
major display might indicate. Then too, the entrance appears
to be larger than that constructed in the displays. However,
the reconstructions closely approximate the original Arawak

Immediately to the west of the house further excavation
revealed a cooking area. Here were found numerous griddles,
an absence of other activity instruments, and in its centre a
large burned area of soil. It has been generally believed that
Arawaks did all of their cooking outside and the present dis-
covery would tend to confirm this. It was interesting to note,
however, that this cooking area was not found in front of the
entrance as expected, but behind the house.

The central support post and the burned area around it
presented another intriguing problem. If cooking was done
outside the house, how do we explain a fire within the house
in a semi-tropical climate? In the records of Columbus we
find that the Spaniards observed what appeared to be night
fires of the Arawak. Two plausible explanations can be
offered for a fire kept within the home. Perhaps a smokey
fire was used to repel insects within the hut, or perhaps the
fire needed for cooking was brought indoors where it could


be more conveniently tended and would be less likely to die
out at night. I believe the fire was brought indoors primarily
to maintain it and secondarily to repel insects.

The cave, discovered by local squatters, is located 500
yards north, northwest, of the White Marl Museum and was
the second goal of the summer's work. The cave was original-
ly discovered in December 1968 and at that time the Institute
took precautions to seal the entrance to ensure that it would
not be disturbed until a professional study could be under-
taken. The excavation of the burial cave, now referred to as
White Marl Cave, was made to further analyse burial practices
and their possible indications of rank or status.

The extent to which the Arawaks used caves is not entire-
ly clear, for historical records are vague and cave excavations
reports are few. But caves definitely have been recorded as
being used as burial chambers. Whether or not the Arawaks
lived in caves is debatable since the degree of accessibility
and natural lighting are two major determining factors. How-
ever, one could be safe in assuming that a readily accessible
cave located in a favourable area might not have been used
as a house but could have been useful in other ways. A hid-
ing or defensive area when being pursued by their enemies is
a possible use more probably as a hideout from the Spanish
than from raids by cannibal Caribs. Caves were also used as
dumping areas for many cave floors are strewn with pieces of
pottery and animal bone. Caves were used also for religious
ceremonies. The extent to which they were used for this
purpose does not appear to have been great, but a few caves
do display Arawak rock carvings and paintings which were
probably associated with religious activities.

The White Marl Cave research was begun early in the second
week of the summer programme by the director and three of
the crew. Superimposing a grid upon the floor of the cave
was quite an effort because, at its maximum height the cave is
no more than four feet high. Three foot squares were chosen
rather than the usual five feet squares, because of the heavy
concentrations of bone and pottery. The maximum length
of the cave was forty feet and the width twenty-eight feet.
Working with four lanterns the entire cave was mapped be-
fore any of the artifacts were removed.

The cave produced four complete skulls, eight partial
skulls, and three complete mandibles, along with approx-
mately eight hundred other human bones. Long bone analy-
sis revealed that eleven individuals were buried in the cave. A
twelfth skull, with no other associated bones, was that of an
infant, about two years old. This infant skull is unique since
in contradiction to other skulls there is no cranial deforma-
tion present. It is well known that skull shaping or deforma-
tion must be done soon after birth. Arawaks deformation


Arawak Bowls Photo St. Clair
was continued for sometime after birth with wrappings to
ensure the desired angle of slope. This child was too old for
later deformation and it had not been subjected to the cus-
tomary Arawak practice.

There might be a strong urge to label this infant skull as
European or African because of the lack of typical Arawak
deformation. However, racial type characteristics cannot be
determined from such a young individual. Approximate age
was determined by examination of the dentition which re-
vealed the deciduous teeth almost complete with the begin-
ning of molar two (M2) eruption. The second molar of the
decidious teeth begins erupting at approximately two years
of age. It is also interesting to note that this infant skull was
not directly associated with other burials, but was located in
the north east part of the cave resting on a natural cave shelf.

The eleven other individuals in the cave can be positively
identified as adult Arawak males. The features indicative of
sex in skulls are all secondary or developed after puberty. The
sex of these particular skulls can be ascribed in the appearance
of more or less prominent brow ridges and glabella. Also,
the larger cranial capacity and the general thickness of the
bone tend to lesson the parietal eminences which stand out so
prominently in the female skull. The temporal lines are
better marked in keeping with a strong jaw musculature. The
highly developed mastoid processes are also an indication of
male sex. The three mandibles uncovered do not belong to
the four complete skulls, though the size of the teeth, the
wider ascending ramus, the deeper horizontal ramus, and the
rugged square genial angle leave little doubt that these
mandibles belong to some of the eight male fragmented skulls.

Although the bones were in condition ranging from very
poor to extremely good caused by varying degrees of exposure
to geomorphic activity, the pottery in the cave could be
called "classic" because of its almost perfect state of preserva-
tion. There were a total of five unbroken pots. Besides these
five pots there were three small pieces of broken shred found
alongside the infant skull. One of the pots contained animal
bones and shells. Presumably all of the pots originally con-
tained food for the "journey to the afterlife". Four of the five
pots were each found associated with a particualr skeleton.
The fifth and largest was found in the immediate vicinity and
associated with the other seven individuals.
If we can allow for one of the seven individuals to have
been slightly moved by heavy water flowing through the cave,
we can further extend our analysis to the realization that these
seven individuals were located around the single pot in a
semi-ciruclar arrangement, bodies and skulls facing east. The
four remaining adult Arawaks were arranged in one row of
three and a single body below. The three upper skeletons

were lying north-south, facing east; but the southernmost
individual, with whom the most decorative pot was associated
was located in an extended position of east-west, head facing
east. Thus we can assume that four of the eleven individuals,
including the infant, had their own food supply and that seven
were required to share the food of the single pot.

It is always dangerous to attempt an interpretation of
skeletal arrangements as signs or indications of rank or social
status as time, flowing water and, in Jamaica, earthquakes
could have altered the original burial arrangement. Yet it
seems relatively clear that the part of the cave containing the
eleven individuals, does display specific burial pattern with

Let us begin with what we know. None of the bones of
the eleven male adults reveal any sign of violent death, and
the purposeful arrangement suggest death from natural or
internal causes before burial. Now one may ask if these
people did not die at different times and were placed in the
chamber upon their deaths. This seems more likely than
eleven people dying at a single time and being buried together.
This hypothesis seems unlikely when we realize that the
Arawak entrance to the cave had been sealed with numerous
boulders and a single capstone. It also seems unlikely that
every death would result in the.entrance being re-opened and

resealed. In accounting for the death of eleven male indivi-
duals within an extremely short time period, we would have
to consider at least three possibilities. Disease is one possibility.
but what type of disease is there that kills only males and no
females? Or is it that there was a devastating epidemic, kill-
ing men, women and children, but that only men rated a cave
burial. This might also explain the infant being buried in a
nearby area, possibly he was an important male infant of the
village. Another possibility is that what wve have here is a
male occupational accident like fishing, hunting, etc. It is
also possible that the remains are those of individuals associa-
ted with a particular religious cult which fell into disfavour,
or sacrificed themselves for a particular religious purpose.

Everyone of the hypothetical possibilities is feasible, some
more probable than others. The data does not allow us to
ascertain which if any of these was the cause, but it is impor-
tant to remember that the burials show us rank, or at least
degree of wealth, by position of burial and by burial goods
accompanying the skeletal remains.

These burial goods and skeletal remains along with other
artifacts recovered are now displayed at White Marl Museum.
Future cave exploration and settlements pattern studies are
planned in hope of adding data, which will lead to a better
understanding of the Arawak life habits.

Steel Arm in the Sky
by Errol Harvey

_UnusO IOuujM It H ISPA A-IOLaa=f-.---v


Bernardo De Balbuena

Epic Poet and Abbot of Jamaica 1562-1627

by Sylvia Wynter

The sacred pastoral staff will here await
The author of this history,
Here, in shadows of eternal spring
He'll sit and sing, noising your fame abroad,
And, in hope of better things, will gird
A precious mitre on his brow.
Bk. XIX, Xt. 85.

In Balbuena's epic poem, THE BER-
NARD, the Tlascalan magician, after
describing Jamaica, prophesies that the
author of the poem ie. Balbuena -
will serve in Jamaica both as poet and
ecclesiastic. Jamaica is the destined place
in which he will write in some parts of
his poem 'hell sit and sing' but it is
also the place where he will wear 'a
precious mitre on his brow' and carry a
'sacred pastoral staff.' The mitre and the
staff are the signs of office of a Bishop.
How did Balbuena come to claim and
make use of these episcopal insignia
whilst only an Abbot? Not the least part
of the answer lies in the fact that when
the Abbacy of Jamaica was first set up,
the then Spanish King, Ferdinand, gave
the post of Abbot as a financial sinecure

to his Chaplain, the Canon of Seville, and
Treasurer of the House of Trade of the
Indies Casa de Contratacion, Don
Sancho de Matienzo.
In 1511, Bishoprics had been estab-
lished in Santo Domingo and Puerto Rico.
They were subordinated to the Church in
Seville. Because of the smallness of the
population in Jamaica, only an Abbacy
was set up there. It was to be supported
out of the tithes of the congregation; and
as from 1516, out of these tithes, Don
Sancho de Matienzo, who had no inten-
tion of setting foot in his Abbacy, was to
be paid. It is possible that in order to
make it easier for Don Sancho to collect
his cut, the Abbacy, instead of being made
to depend on either of the Bishoprics of


the other islands, was put directly under
the Archbishop of Seville. The Abbot of
Jamaica was therefore termed a Magnus
Abbas a Great Abbot and was to
enjoy, within the island area of his juris-
diction, certain of the privileges belonging
to a Bishop. There he could wear the
mitre carry the Bishop's crozier, wear the
Bishop's ring and other pontifical insignia,
set up an ecclesiastical Court, and, this was
important for Abbots who intended to be
absentees, appoint a Vicar to act for him.
He could not however administer con-
firmation, ordain priests, nor consecrate
the Holy Oil. This was one of the prob-
lems whose consequences a Balbuena
would later have to cope with.

The first Great Abbot, Don Sancho
Matienzo, set a pattern of absenteeism,
purely mercenary approach, which was
to be followed either in both, or in one
aspect, by most of the Abbots of Jamaica,
with a few outstanding exceptions. The
Abbacy, such as it was in the early days,
was situated at New Seville on the North
Coast, where the first major settlement

von iancno ae Manenso AooOT of
Jamaica (1516 1522) From Morales
Padron, Jamaica Espanola
had been established by the Spaniards.
The settlers were a tough minded lot. If
Don Sancho had no desire to take up his
duties in a rough provincial outpost, the
settlers had no intention of paying him his
tithes. His constant appeals to the King.
and the King's letters to New Seville
ordering that Don Sancho should be paid
his portion of the tithes, left the settlers
unmoved. One notes, with some satisfac-
tion, that in the end, Don Sancho died,
unpaid. After his death, between 1522-4,
two other abbots, one of whom was a
distinguished Jieronimite priest, and a
Protector of the Indies, did not manage
to reach Jamaica; the Jieronimite priest
having died before he sailed.
The fourth Abbot, although an absen-
tee, was one of the few to add lustre to
the Abbacy of Jamaica. He was Peter
Martyr of Angheria, an Italian humanist,

who had settled in Spain, taken orders
there, and had been appointed Director
of the Palace School for young nobles.
Like Balbuena he was a writer, although
not a poet. He listened to first hand
accounts of the New World from Colum-
bus and his men, and from these accounts
compiled his famous Decades of the New
World. In the Eighth Decade he gives a
rhapsodic account of the island which he
had never seen, but whose beauty had
struck Columbus, Jamaica, Martyr in
effect wrote, was an Eden, without winter
nor summer, fertile with clear rivers and
perpetual spring and autumn. It was an
earthly paradise, one of the hidden places
where God had made the first man from
clay, breathing life into his soul. There
was no land whose climate was more
'beautiful and benign' He was her Abbot
and she was his 'bride, the happiest of all'.
Peter Martyr, to prove his love for his
'bride' determined to adorn her. The
settlers in New Seville had built a pro-
visional church of wood thatched with
straw. He would build one of stone
which would endure, and commemorate
his name. In this he was a true humanist
as was Balbuena. Fame was their chief
preoccupation. Central to the epic poem
of THE BERNARD, is the choice between
gold and fame. Peter Martyr did not
hesitate. The emoluments due to him from
his Abbacy was to be used to help to-
wards the building of the Church. He
asked the King's help and Charles V gave
him first a sum of 800 pesos. After work
began in 1525, King Charles gave him an-
other 100,000 maravedies in 1526. A
group of Indians who had been assigned to
the King to be used for the building of
public works was put to the building of
the new Church. Peter Martyr sent out an
emissary to see to the building of the
Church and to collect his tithes for that
From a seventeenth century descrip-
tion of the ruins of the unfinished Church
it has been deduced that the Church was
most likely planned as a Gothic building
with three naves with buttresses. The
ground plan was roughly some thirty
pasos footsteps long by thirty wide.
There were two rows of pillars. The
naves as well as the chapel were vaulted, a
kind of Church unusual in the Antilles,
and the plateresque facade with its intri-
cate decorations showed the relative luxury
it was intended the Church should have 2

1. Sir Hans Sloane
2. The town itself New Seville, also
called in early maps Sevilla d' Oro, i.e. Golden
Seville, seemed to have been planned on the
same scale. William B. Goodwin in his
Spanish and English Ruins in Jamaica, Boston
1946 maintains that there are indications that
the town 'comprised a theatre, a church, a
monastery, an Abbey and governmental build-
ings of quality'.
He adds: "We have found that artisans of all
kinds were brought from old Spain and that the
city as planned would have been something that
never survived in any part of the Spanish regime
in America".
Goodwin lists some of the surviving ruins, among
them two of the flanking towers of the fortified
townsite of Seville just west of the present
town of St. Ann's Bay; and the foundations of
Peter Martyr's Cathedral Church.

Above the door of the Church, the
heads of Christ, the Virgin, and a coat of
arms was carved. A stone inscription
below pointed out, that after the first
Church of wood had been destroyed3 the
new Church had been built by Peter
Martyr, Abbot of Jamaica and a member
of the Council of the Indies. Peter Martyr
had begun his stone Church4 expecting his
name to endure. But from the beginning,
he had trouble in the building of the
Church from powerful men like the
Treasurer Pedro Mazuela, who was more
interested in gold than in immortality.
The emissary that Peter Martyr had
.sent out to supervise the building of the
Church soon wrote back about the lack of
co-operation he was getting. The Treasurer
Mazuela, had in fact taken away a group
of Indians assigned to work on the Church
and was using them on his private work.
What was this private work? As early as
1519, the Treasurer Mazuela, who was de
facto second to the Governor and who
acted as such after the Governor, Garay,
left for the Mainland in 1523, had written
to the King asking that the settlement
should be transferred from New Seville to
the South coast. Among the many rea-
sons he gave, was that he had on the
South coast a 'sugar mill and twenty
Portuguese labourers' settled there, since
the land and the climate and the flat
plains were more advantageous. This per-
mission was finally given, and the capital
transferred in 1534. 5
The remains of a sugar mill have
been recently discovered on the site of
New Seville. The mill is, most likely,
one of the two which the Governor,
Francisco de Garay, owned and operated
in partnership with the King of Spain.6
After Garay's departure for Mexico in
June 1523, and his later death there,
Mazuela and another official took over
Garay's possessions, including the two
sugar mills, one of which was said to
have produced 300,000 lbs of sugar a
year.7 It is not improbable therefore

3. Two churches, built of wood and straw
had been destroyed, by fire, one of them, Good-
win surmises, having been a monastry.
4. The King of Spain in January 1525
ordered that the same skilled Indians who built
the fort which defended the town, should be
put to work on the Church, and the left over
bricks and lime from the fort should be used
for the Church.
5. There had been early attempts at settle-
ments on the South Coast which had the great
advantage of being nearer to the Mainland. The
Plate Fleet which took supplies of water, meat
and foodstuffs on its annual voyages between
Vera Cruz, Jamaica and Havana touched on the
on the South side to refit. Mazuala's sugar mills
and Portuguese settlers were therefore only
contributory although powerful factors in the
decision to move the capital from Seville to
Spanish Town.
6. See Morales Padron, p.95 had signed a
contract with King Ferdinand to exploit land
and livestock that the King owned in Jamaica to
the profit of both, and with the intention of
provisioning the expeditions of discovery and
conquest of the Mainland. Garay had come to
the New World with Columbus and was one of
the earliest settlers in Hispaniola.
7. The site of the present day Gray's Inn
sugar estate is said by Goodwin to be one of the
sugar plantations which the King and Garay
owned and worked. It may have been also the
site of another sugar mill.

that the Indians allotted by the King
to work on building the Church and
thereby ensure Peter Martyr's fame, were
put instead to, among other things, pro-
duce sugar for Mazuela and his island
Be that as it may, Peter Martyr was
forced to complain to the King, who wrote
Mazuela ordering that the Indians should
be put to work on the Church at once.
The work continued. Then Martyr died in
1526, and once again the work was
neglected. The King in 1533, urged that
the work on the Church should go on,
and that the chapel should be finished.91.
But the following year Mazuela had his
way and the settlers transferred to the
South Coast, to Villa de La Vega, the
town built near Mazuela's 'ingenio' or
sugar mill. The mill prospered. The church
fell into ruins. The inscription which
should have preserved Martyr's name was
lost, as the ruins crumbled. With one of
those supreme ironies of history, some
months ago, after some 400 years in
which sugar and its gold and the economic
motif had dominated the history of
Jamaica, the broken stone of the inscrip-
tion was found by a researcher into the
ruins of New Seville in a butcher's
shop. The name of Peter Martyr engraved
on stone had won out and endured after
all the desire for fame had outlived

8. Garay died in 1526, but it is most
probable that Mazuela took advantage of his
absence after 1523, to move in early on the
ugar mills. In 1532, the son of Garay, now
grown to manhood began a battle for his
inheritance, which was finally won for the
Garay heirs who then settled in Spanish, Jamaica.
9. Strictly speaking it was Queen Juana, the
wife of Phillip II who ordered in 1533 that a
Chapel should be built for the Blessed Sacra-
ment and that the Cathedral Church of Seville
should be finished.

Mazuela and the greed for gold. This
moral lesson would have pleased and
justified the author of THE BERNARD.

In 1546, the New World Church was
separated from the Church in Seville,
Spain. An Archbishopric was established


Republic, Oldest Cathedral in the New
World Photo A. Gradussov.
in Santo Domingo. And the Abbacy of
Jamaica was now to be subordinated to
Santo Domingo. But a de facto situation
had, in the meanwhile, sprung up. In
1518, three years after the establishment
of the Jamaican Abbacy, a Bishopric was
set up in Santiago de Cuba. Although the
Abbacy still depended directly on Seville,
in the heirarchy of things it was still, in a
secondary manner, subordinated to the
Bishopric of Santo Domingo. When the
Bishopric of Santiago was established, the
Pope Leo X, had attached the Abbacy of
Jamaica as a dependency to that diocese.
In 1522, after the death of Don Sancho
Matienzo, the first Abbot of Jamaica, the
first Bishop of Santiago de Cuba, laid

claim to the dependency of Jamaica. He
accused certain interested parties one
understands by this, Don Sancho Matienzo
- of having 'by devious paths' frustrated
the true destiny of the Abbacy as part of
the diocese of Santiago de Cuba. It sees
clear that the Bishop of Santiago resented
the lessening both of his area of iurisdic-
tion; and of the part of the tithes which
would accrue to him, for certain episcopal
services. But the Abbacy of Jamaica had
been set up by Ferdinand, that is by the
Royal power of Spain. The fact that the
Bishop of Santiago claimed that the Pope
had granted the dependency meant that
the new King and Emperor, Charles V.
anxious at all times to limit the papal
intervention in the imperial Church, de-
creed that there was no reason why, in
fact, the Abbacy of Jamaica should be
annexed to the Bishopric of Santiago de
However the Bishops of Santiago de
Cuba did not give up. After the death of
Peter Martyr, for the first and only time,
one person was appointed both as Bishop
of Santiago and Abbot of Jamaica, with a
half of the tithes of the latter being appor-
tioned to him. This was the Dominican
priest; Fray Miguel Ramirez. He was the
first to visit the island. He had come for
one purpose to make money. He
passed through the town like a tempest,
taking over groups of Indians to work for
him, some of the Indians even belonging
to the King. Such was his greed that a
Spanish bureaucrat, said of him that he
would cause Spain to lose Jamaica. His
fortunate death in 1535, freed Jamaica
from his unfortunate attentions. From
then on, different incumbents were ap-
pointed to the Bishopric of Santiago de
Cuba and to the Abbacy of Jamaica; in
spite of the fact that the geographical

nearness of the two would have made
their fusion logical.

After 1536 the Columbus heirs had the
right to appoint Abbots. But this right
was not exercised until after 1539. In
1534, the King had appointed the Licen-
tiate Don Amador de Samano as Abbot.
He was the first to actually take up resi-
dence in Villa de La Vega. With him was
initiated that clash between Governor and
Abbot, between State and Church which
was to be a feature of island life. In the
clash between Samano and the acting
Governor, Pedro Cano, one of the clergy,
a brother and close relative of the acting
Governor, Juan Cano, supported the latter
against the Abbot, claiming that the
Abbot had not brought Bulls of confirma-
tion. In the bitter struggle and rivalry
that ensued, Samano reported Juan Cano
to the Bishop of Santiago asking that he
be investigated and punished. The acting
Governor Pedro Cano, however, was called
to answer for his conduct to the Abbot
before the Royal Audiencia of Santo

From thereon, a constant conflict en-
sued between Santiago de Cuba and Santo
Domingo as to whose jurisdiction the
Abbacy of Jamaica fell under. From 1539,
the Marquis of Jamaica, and Duke of Vera-
gua begins to designate the Abbots, and
with the exception of one the Licentiate
Mateo de Santiago, they can all be in-
cluded in the general description that Vil-
lalobos made of them to the King when
he wrote that they were men who as
Abbots had never had '. .. any order or
care for anything... since they were more
anxious to acquire property than to fulfill
their duties' The independent and strong
willed Villalobos appointed by the King
had a very strong sense of the role of the
Abbacy, and was all for it being indepen-
dent of the Bishopric of Cuba. He points
out in a letter to the King that when
during the Abbacy of Mateo de Santiago,
(1573-78), the King had ordered the
Bishop of Santiago de Cuba to make a
pastoral visit to the island for purposes of
confirmation the Abbot Mateo de San-
tiago had complained that no one had
been confirmed on the island since it had
been discovered, the power of confirma-
tion not being permitted to an Abbot,
even a Great Abbot all that the Bishop
of Santiago de Cuba, Juan del Castillo,
had come to do was to extort some 1,500
ducats for himself. Even after he left, he
sent an emissary to collect a further 1,000
ducats. Villalobos then began to do battle,
writing letters to the Archbishop of Santo
Domingo to annul the attachment of the
Abbacy to Santiago de Cuba which had
been de facto confirmed by the pastoral
visit of Juan de Castillo. The matter was
sent to the Council of the Indies. Villa-
lobos succeeded in putting off any further
visitation to the Abbacy by the Bishop of
Santiage, but in 1593, the King decided
that whilst the Abbacy of Jamaica was in-
cluded in the ecclesiastical Province of
Santo Domingo it was still attached to the
Bishopric of Santiago de Cuba. So the

matter remained until Villalobos died and
Balbuena arrived in 1610.

In his letter to the King of July 1611,
the new Abbot makes it clear that like his
predecessor he rejects the subordination
of the Abbacy to Santiago de Cuba. He
described the Abbacy in this fashion:

'Two leagues from the sea in this place
is the Collegiate Church of this Abbacy,
which is nullius diocesis. Its Abbot had
episcopal jurisdiction, suffragan to the
Archbishop of Santo Domingo in whose
district it is, and subject in temporal
matters to the Royal Audiencia. . '

As the anomalous position of the Abbacy,
and the problems from which the island
suffered became clear to him, Balbuena,
an idealist as an epic poet, but a pragmatist
as Abbot made two recommendations to
the King, either of which would better the
existing situation.

In his long petition sent to Spain, dated
December 1612,Balbuena set out the prob-
lems that beset the religious life of the
Country through the anomaly of the
Abbacy. He includes in his petition, evi-
dence from his vicar, Andres de Segura, a
long established resident in Jamaica; and
from Juan de Cueto, member of a Jama-
ican settler family, and a priest, who had
applied for the position of Abbot at the
same time as Balbuena got it. All three
point out the disadvantages which spring
from the isolation of Jamaica. The dis-
tance between Jamaica and Santiago de
Cuba was short. Yet the storminess of the
passage; and the prevalence of corsairs
and pirates in the undefended parts of
Jamaica, and about hpr coasts, make the
visit of a Bishop from Santiago not only
costly Balbuena, with perhaps some
exaggeration, puts the cost at about 1,500
ducats but dangerous because of 'the
peril that there is from enemies.' 10

Since the Great Abbot could not con-
secrate the Holy Oil, the island many a
time was without this precious spiritual
commodity. Andres de Segura points out
in his evidence, that the consecrated Holy
Oil had to be sent to Jamaica by sea, and
as the consecration was only valid for a
year, the oil had to be sent annually. Be-
cause of the difficulty of getting to Jama-
ica, the oil was not sent some years.
Worse, at times when the oil was sent,.the
ships transporting it, were captured by
Protestant and heretical pirates, some of
them with a blasphemous turn of humour.
As Andres de Segura tells it, although the
faithful bearers tried to cast the vessels of
oil into the sea, the heretics,

'... pulled up the urns and finding the
Holy Oils, impiously poured them out and

10. Balbuena did not exaggerate. The Gover-
nor wrote in 1603 that the corsairs, Dutch,
French and English had become so bold that
they had built 'trading ships' on shore and there
held a 'game of bowls.

anointed themselves with them, making
mockery and scorn of our holy cere-

Since only Bishops could ordain priests
Jamaicans who wanted to enter the Priest-
hbod, had to leave their island to be
ordained elsewhere. Both Segura and
Cueto maintain that it took the one six
years, and the other eight years, of wan-
dering from Cuba, to Santo Domingo, to
Panama, to achieve ordination. Cueto
too, remarks that his wanderings had
caused him to return home 'ery much
worn out and broken in health' Without
the presence of the Bishop too, confirma-
tion could not take place.

Balbuena and his witnesses therefore
strongly propose two courses of action.
The one which they support strongly, is
that the Abbacy should be promoted to a
Bishopric. Naturally Balbuena was inter-
ested. But he was pragmatic enough to go
on to argue that if this was not done, then
the best thing as alternative would be to
abolish the Abbacy together and put the
Church of Jamaica under the jurisdiction
of the Bishop of Santiago de Cuba. That
Bishop would then receive the main por-
tion of the income. This would make it to
his advantage to place a vicar there, and to
make regular visits out of the income that
he would be assured of. In the Church, as
elsewhere, zeal was not enough.

But the wheels of the Spanish imperial
bureaucracy moved very slowly. The
petition was referred back to the Governor
and Chancery of Santo Domingo from
Seville sometime after March 1616. It was
in this petition that Balbuena had again
argued for a license to import money from
Santo Domingo into Jamaica. It is highly
improbable that the Duke of Veragua
would have wanted such a high Church
dignitary as a Bishop in Jamaica. Some
Bishops took their religious vocation very
seriously indeed and could prove as in-
convenient to the State Power as a St. Tho-
mas, a Beckett or a Villalobos. In all the
arguments adduced for the reasons of the
decline of the Spanish Empire and the
quick rise of the Dutch, French and
English Empires, little attention has been
paid to the fact that the strong and power-
ful presence of the Spanish Church with all
its large areas ofveniality and self-betrayal
nevertheless constantly held out an ideal
of spiritual perfection, subversive to the
purely Machiavellian realpolitik of the
State power; and sometimes produced
men of the calibre of a Las Casas to
actualize the potentiality of the ideal. The
'black Legend' of Spanish imperialism is
owed to the expose made by the Las
Casas of the Spanish conquest. Too often
the Church both Catholic and Protestant
had been the accomplice rather than the
accuser of the crimes committed in the
name of Empire. It was not until the
appearance of Baptist missionaries in the
slave-and-sugar English society of Jamaica
that the tension between the dictates of
economic man, and the lofty moral claim
of religious directed man would once more

begin the process that would lead to the
black legend revelations of the horrors of
slavery. Nor is it fortuitious that the very
core to the African resistance to slavery
would have been mainly centred around
African religious leaders like Boukman in
Haiti ; and Native Baptist deacons like
Samuel Sharpe.

This petition of December 1612 was
the same petition which the agents of the
Columbus family had blocked. Van
Home speculates that both the license to
be granted to the Church to import
money, and the idea of a Bishopric and a
powerful Church presence was displeasing
to the Marquis and his faction. Like many
another, Balbuena seeing the logical and
necessary reforms that he asked for, un-
answered year after year, would gradually
have to content himself with these piece-
meal measures, which always implies an
acceptance of the status quo. The piece-
meal measures which by their very in-
adequacy, merely patch up and help to
maintain an improbable and unreal status
quo. And slowly, for an intelligent and
imaginative man, the rust of inertia begins
to eat away at one's soul. Before one
knows it, one has become woof and warp
of the very fabric which one had set out
to recreate. But the process, by its very
slowness is imperceptible. It was only
after he had left Jamaica that Balbuena
would look back on his years there as
years in which he had been encantado -

How did Balbuena perform his daily
duties as Abbot? From a document drawn
up between 1611 1612 we learn that it
is the opinion, at least of some of the
citizens of Villa de La Vega that, as Van
Horne paraphrases it,

'he preached very well, giving evidence
of great learning in his sermons; and that
in his private life he set a good example
to the citizens of the island'.

The Captain of the ship which took him
to Jamaica from Santo Domingo, Fran-
cisco Coldera also gives evidence to the
effect that for the five months he was in
Jamaica before loading up for his trip back
to Santo Domingo, he observed from the
actions of the Abbot, that he was 'a most
Christian man, full of virtue and learning.'

We have already seen how actively he
took up his duties as to confession, hold-
ing a synod etc., getting the Church re-
paired as best he could, begging for alms
to help towards the repair. In his first
letter to the King he shows himself con-
cerned about the degree of incest, or
incestuous relationships within the Roman
Catholic definition to be found among
the Spanish population. The Spanish pop-
ulation of the island, he points out, is
descended from only three families. All
are inbred by marriage, all related. The
entire country is 'stained' with it, the sin

is 'so widespread and deep-rooted' that
there seems to be no practical remedy for
it. Even more important, this type of
relationship is to be found in the highest
places. To root out such a general sin he
says with realism, would not only de-
populate the country, but would lead 'to
the injuring of many reputations' Attack-
ing the sin and censuring it, Balbuena
argues, would serve more as 'hindrances
than as a remedy' The crusading spirit of
a Las Casas, was not that of Balbuena. If,
as epic poet he moved in a world of ideal
moral choices, as Abbot in the real world
of Villa de La Vega, as in the narrow
places of the provincial places of Mexico,
he had come to terms with the greyer
world of compromise, of the acceptance
of certain brutal realities of a frontier-
type existence where the patterns and
traditions of the old world no longer had
relevance, where some form or the other
of illegality was the norm.

Balbuena makes no special mention of
his African or Indian flock. The latter,
the Arawak Indians, the remnant that was
left were by now all nominally Roman
Catholics, although with memories of
their old religion which subtly coloured
and restructured the new. Theirs had been
a gentle religion, one which had caused
Las Casas to say that he knew of no
people more fitted for Christianity -the
Christianity of Christ in its pristine mean-
ing. Modern scholars have pointed out
that the Arawaks believed in a Supreme
Being, of whom carved objects found in
isolated huts zemis were representa-
tions. Their Supreme Being was the 'Spirit
of Cassava and the sea, Being without
antecedent' Cassava and sea food formed
the basis of their subsistence and struc-
tured the peaceful pattern of their lives.
As Juan Jose Arrom points out, their God
was not harsh and vindictive like Jehovah,
nor a warrior like Odin. Instead he was a
generous being who ruled the 'creative
forces of land and sea' But He reflected
the mildness of the Caribbean climate, the
fruitfulness of its soil, the lack of an agres-
sive and competitive spirit.11 But equally
this God could not stand up to the chal-
lenge of a religion which had adopted on
the one hand the humility of Christ, and
on the other the terrible fighting sword
and spirit of Santiago, St. James, the
mythical twin brother that Spanish
Christians had created for the Saviour, so
that they could spread Christian power,
and peace and love, by mean of a Chris-
tian sword.

The African religions brought to
the New World by the slaves and the
freed Negroes, persisted. Responding to
the more complex organizations of
African societies, the religions were
more complex. One Abbot, Mateo de
Santiago had written to the Council of
the Indies complaining about the neglect
in which the African lived as far as
Christian instruction was concerned.
11. See Gabriel Coulthard.s review of Juan
Jose Arrom's El mundo mitico de los Tainos,
Bogota, 1967, in J. J., Vol. 3, No. 1, 1969.

The Spanish settler who wanted slaves
to work rather than souls to be saved
resented his zeal and complained to the
Marquis of Jamaica. Dispersed and
spread out in ranches over the island,
the Africans transplanted such patterns
of life as were compatible with the new
conditions. When the Abbot Mateo de
Santiago complained that they lived
together without sacrament of marriage
'Bringing up their children and their
chickens as if they were man and wife'
they were carrying on, in a simplified
manner perhaps, part of the original
African patterns. The availability of
land on which they could plant food
and rear stock made this transition even
more possible. The Catholic apparatus
of Saints made the accommodation of the
polytheistic religions of the Africans
easier. The Christian God, His Mother
and the retinue of Saints were given a
central place in the range of gods trans-
planted from Africa.

But a Balbuena, imaginative as he
was in his own cultural pattern, could
not extend his mind to comprehend
this far more basic spiritual deviation.
To him the revelation of the Christian
God to Indian and African had been
enough, as he said in THE BERNARD
for false' gods of other people, their
graven idols, to turn back into the life-
less stone from which they had been
made. Even though in his prologue he
would defend the power of legend, of
the 'common tradition it was not pos-
sible for him to see how the 'common
traditions' of other faiths could live on,
subtly infiltrating a dominant Christian-

Paradox and irony edged Balbuena's
career. He had gone to Spain to find a
post which would get him out of the
backwood places in which he had served
till then. He ended up as Abbot of
Jamaica. He took his post with cheerful-
ness seeing it as the first rung on a
ladder. On his way out to Jamaica, he
had remained long enough in Santo
Domingo to make important friendships
among the Church hierarchy there.
About one year after he got to Jamaica,
he drafted a long testimonial in which
gives power of Attorney to Baltasar
Lopez de Castro y Sandoval and Juan
Ortiz de Sandoval to act on his behalf.
The substance of his application as Van
Home paraphrases it was this:

'that Balbuena suffered great ex-
penses and privation in travelling to

Jamaica; that his income as Abbot was
very small that he was meritorious in
character and intellect; that he would
like the Crown to make up the difference
between his actual income and the
500,000 maravedis that were guaranteed
to many American prelates, or transfer
him from Jamaica to a good office in
Mexico, in Tlaxcala, or in Lima.'

With this 'memorial' Balbuena en-
closes evidence from witnesses as to his
character; and got the endorsement to
his application from many of the high
Church dignitaries in Santo Domingo.
This endorsement is signed May 15,
1612. It was dispatched to Seville, but
it was not until some six years later,
that some bureaucrat finally exerted
himself enough to read the application
and make a summary of its contents.
Meanwhile as Balbuena prophesied in
his own poem, he waited 'in hope of
better things' It was obvious that his
heart was set on being appointed to a
high position in his own adopted City,
Mexico City; failing that Tlaxcala, fail-
ing that Lima, Peru. In his poem, too,
he had foretold that whilst he waited
for better things, i.e. promotion, he
would 'sit and sing' Whilst it is obvious
that Balbuena corrected parts of the
manuscript of his heroic poem THE
BERNARD in Jamaica; and even per-
haps wrote in the verses we have
quoted with reference to Jamaica, we
have no proof that he wrote any signifi-
cant original poetry there. For a poet
not to write may well be the final and
absolute sign of his being like one
'bewitched', and it is in this sense that
the cultural unreality of a remote back-
water may have come to catch him by
thethroat, to make him feel that he was
trapped in a sluggish nightmare in
which time itself had stopped. Even
today, this particular angst still haunts
our island the one that Columbus had
called, 'the most beautiful one of all
those that he had seen'; and yet the one
in which shipwrecked on the North
Coast, stranded there for over a year, he
was to undergo his 'dark night of the
soul' and to write his tragic and famous
letter from Jamaica.

'The wealth that I have discovered'
Columbus wrote, in his terrible and far-
sighted prophecy, 'will stir up all man-
kind to revenge and rapine" And, as

Balbuena himself said of the provincial
places of Mexico, the best minds are
occupied with greed for gain. In
Jamaica, the sloth of the spirit, accidie,
one of the deadly sins, was all pervasive.

Man's high adventure was reduced to
sleeping, eating, making money the
easiest way by trick and fraud. Books
were closed to the vast majority. And
apart from the Africans and the Indians,
relatively little memory remained of an
oral culture. And from these African
and Indian Balbuena was separated by
a wide gap unbridgeable by his Christian
Catholic imagination. Faced by these
brutal facts, Balbuena, sitting down to
write the Prologue of his poem THE
BERNARD, in the year 1615, sensed
that for the sake of his own spiritual
survival, he could not accept the facts-
as-they are, the facts of history, when
the history in which he was involved
seemed like one of these unbelievable
enchantments, in which the heroes of
the popular sixteenth and seventeenth
century romance of chivalry often
found themselves,trapped by malignant
magicians or enchantresses. Instead,
coming down on the side of poetic
truth, of ideal and universal truth, Bal-
buena gave to the already fairly stereo-
typed theory, his own sense of urgency.
His heroic poem, in the face of the daily
pettiness, the little intrigues that con-
stituted the reality that surrounded him
became more than just a poem; it was
his escape into the wide realms of the
imagination, that once published,would
become the magic wand that would dis-
enchant him, the epitaph in print that
would cause his name to survive the
flesh and its inevitable oblivion.

"There are some... who will have
already brought to my notice the fact
that this victory at Roncesvalles and the
death of the Twelve Paladins there is
commonly held to be fabled and untrue,
according to the scrupulous diligence of
the most serious historians ofSpain... I
answer, therefore to these objections,
that what I am writing is a heroic poem,
which is supposed to be the imitation
of a human action in some lofty person-
age, where by the very word imitation,
true history is excluded ... For poetry
must be, not truth itself, but the imita-
tion of truth, where one writes of
events, not as they happened, but as
they might have happened..."

BALBUENA, In his Prologue, written
in Jamaica, 1615.

It is from his prose Prologue, and
not from his poem, that we can deduce
the historical dates in which Balbuena
wrote both poem and prologue. Most
critics before Van Home had assumed
that the Prologue had been written in
Puerto Rico sometime after he arrived
there in 1623, and before the publica-
tion of the poem in Madrid in 1524.
Van Home, however, points out that in
the Prologue, Balbuena says that his
poem had been finished for a little
under twenty years although he had
gone on correcting and giving it that
perfection, a process which is never-
ending. The poem, he goes on, could
have been published long before this,

especially as he had received a ten years
license to print and publish it. Of this,
ten-year license, six years, he says, or a
little over, have already expired.1 We
know that the license to print was given
in Madrid in 1609.

Six years after the license was given-
that is in 1615 Balbuena seems to have
made final and definite arrangements for
the poem to be published at last. But
not being in Madrid and able to insist
on seeing things through himself, the
publication of the poem did not take
place. As he was to comment with some
bitterness in the new dedication that he
wrote to the poem, in 1623, writing
from Puerto Rico, the long delay in
publication had been due to 'the dif-
ficulties with which matters left to the
care and diligence of others usually
meet' It was not until 1624 that he
found the kind of agents who brought
about the poem's publication. This was
the crown and apex of his poetic career;
as being promoted Bishop of Puerto
Rico was the apex of his Church career.
Neither his epic poem nor his rank as
Bishop quite attained to that soaring
excellence of which he dreamed. Bal-
buena was not destined to be the Homer
nor the Vergil of Spain. But his THE
BERNARD, whilst making use of various
well-worn sources and influences, and
devices, had the quality of a sea change,
induced perhaps by the imaginative
impact of the New World; an all-perva-
sive strangeness, difficult to define, that
edges with more complex meanings the
phrase of the seventeenth century eccle-
siastical censor who wrote inter alia:

"and I think that all intelligent
Spaniards who are given to reading
poetry, will not find in their language, a
poem such as this one."

What was THE BERNARD about?
How does its pattern fit in with the pre-
cepts which Balbuena set out, in the
Prologue which he sat down to write in
Villa de La Vega some three hundred
and fifty years ago? Did he write by
day, in the shadow of the Church bells,
whilst the heat simmered and John-
crows specked the steel-blue sky? Or at
night, when some coolness descended,
caught in an arc of light, whilst brilliant
moths flattered in out of the dark? As
he sat there, confident now that the
book was about to be published, begin-
ning his first paragraph with the excuse
that, although the publication of a book
of poetry might not be in accord with
'my office and dignity, my priestly
vocation, and theological studies yet
the poem had been written in his youth
with the imaginative fire and fury of
that age; that although Time altered
things in such a manner, that what had
seemed brilliance and talent then, might
now be judged otherwise, still what had
once been considered a virtue could not
now altogether be considered a vice, did
he under his sedate prelate's exterior,
still hope for that acclamation as poet

that had so far drawn him on like a will-
o-wisp? Did he sense that if THE
BERNARD did not make it, did not
bring him fame, this would be the end
for him as poet, since all the well
springs of his talent, expended on its 24
Books, and some 40,000 lines of verse,
had now dried up? Was he swept by
that apprehension, peculiar to middle-
age, of futility and failure? He had in-
vested all of himself in THE BERNARD.
If his credit failed, he would be bank-
rupt of that immortality through Fame
which was his obsession.

The writers of imperial Spain pro-
duced a rash of epic poets and poems in
the sixteenth and early seventeenth
century. These, pogns were all self-
consciously national and imperial. There
was the feeling abroad that Spain had
been chosen, with the discovery of the
New World, to continue where Rome had
left off. As politically, they continued
a tradition of Empire, so too in poetry,
they continued and developed the tradi-
tion of the heroic or epic poem. To
understand something of the influences
that went into THE BERNARD it is
necessary for us to look briefly at the
original Greek epic and its multi-faceted
literary descendants.

Epic poetry in its oral form is com-
mon to all civilizations. The master-
pieces of Greek epic poetry, The Iliad,
the Odyssey which have survived, are
believed to have belonged originally to a
cycle of oral epics, dealing with a civili-
zation which collapsed and died some-
where in the eleventh century before
Christ. Two centuries after, or so, it is
supposed that a blind singer of poetry
from the island of Chios, pieced together
these two books, from the sagas which
had been handed down. The telling and
handing down of these sagas was done
by a specialized minstrel class, versed in
the arts of Memory, a vital art, in
societies without writing. The minstrel
occupied quasi-oracular role. He was
the repository of the communal memory.
He alone could give his people a sense of
identity by retelling for them the great
deeds of the past. His feats of memory
and storytelling came from his ability to
be possessed by a god. He was therefore
a man marked down and set aside for
a special role he was at once prophet
and poet.

His memory was selective; and so
was the community's. The innumerable
historical facts that writing can record
had to be left out. Instead, the poetic
truth of the origin and continuance of
the tribe or people were fashioned into
myths and legends and stories which held
at their core the historical constants of
their particular culture. But it was,
through the telling of the deeds, of
particular great men heroes that the
memory of the people of itself was

Detail from Limestone carving below


Limestone carvings from Nueva Seville (below) WIRL

carried on. Heroes were Heroes, not
only through their deeds, but by the
fact that what they did or said was des-
tined by the gods to remain in the
memory of men as songs, poems, legends.
This destiny was ambivalent. It often
brought tragedy in its wake; and, more
commonly, the onerous life and fate of
those who are destined to be more than
other men. In this original oral epic -
C. S. Lewis has termed it the primary
epic12 the marked characters do not
feel that this destiny has been laid upon
them, for a great cause, the cause of
country, religion. They lack the sense of
mission which will come later with the
Roman Empire and Vergil's Aeneid and
which THE BERNARD will share; a
sense of mission whose debased equiva-
lent in our day and age has been known
as 'the white man's burden'.

C.S. Lewis points out that characters
in the original primary oral epic know
that they will leave the world and its
affairs 'much as they found them'. They
live out their 'human and personal
tragedy' against a 'background of mean-
ingless flux. The meaningless flux is
saved only by the song that will live
after them. But it is the song of which
they are the subejcts that live on in the
memory of their descendants. They
and their particular substance are
doomed. In the Iliad, Helen, (wife of
Menelaus, who caused the Greek-Trojan
war by running off with Paris, a Trojan
prince), says to Paris' brother Hector, as
the Greeks besiege the ill-fated Troy:

"On us two Zeus set a vile destiny;
so that hereafter we shall be made into
things of song for men of the future. "

In the Odyssey, as the minstrel
honoured in the great hall has finished
his song about Troy, the war, and its
fatal end, King Alcinous says:

"The gods made this doom; it was
they who fated this destruction of men,
so that even among later generations
there should be a song of it. 4

The epic hero then, in the primary
sense, accepts the destiny laid down for
him by the gods. By living up to this
destiny through the exercise of his will,
he performs, deeds which will be the
stuff of which songs are fashioned. The
minstrel who remembers and refashions
them and passes on his songs, also
accepts his destiny and fulfils it. Both,
the man of deeds, and the man of song,
complement each other. Together they
make the kind of song that will cast a
creative shadow of excellence for their
descendants; and will inspire them, in
their turn, to great deeds and great songs.
The heroic song is man's salvation from
oblivion. The fashioning of the heroic
poem is no lesq difficult than the heroic
deed. The heroic poet is no less destined

12. See A Preface to Paradise Lost, Oxford
Paperbacks, 1960.

than the hero. One with deeds, the
other with words and music or as in
the later epic, with verse alone will
fuse together in a heroic poem which,
as Balbuena had earlier stated, will
'exalt the spirit of those who read'. As
Sidney rounds it off 'so the lofty image
of such worthies most inflameth the
minds with desire to be worthy 3

From the Greek epic, Balbuena
retained the idea of the heroic poem as
the supreme ambition of any poet. From
the Greeks, too, he took models of ideal
behaviour and in his prologue he proudly
states that his hero Bemardo del Carpio
is the equivalent of Achilles, whilst his
French enemy, the great Roland, is the
equivalent of Hector. He cites other
parallels, too; although there is in general
little detailed correspondence in their
adventures. But their basic types

When, however, Balbuena says that
he is writing a heroic poem to celebrate
the greatness of his 'patria' through the
deeds of a famous hero, the essentially
patriotic and national concept, comes
not from the Greek epic, but from the
Aeneid of Vergil. It belongs to the
tradition of what C.S. Lewis defines as
the 'secondary epic'. This kind of epic
which began with Vergil is literary,
rather than oral. Although the Roman

poet, Vergil (70-16 B.C.) modelled him-
self cloself on the Greek epics, he wrote
at a different time and under different cir-
cumstances. Because of the different
conception of heroism and human great-
nessl4which prevailed in the Roman
Empire of Augustus Caesar, Vergil cele-
brated in Aeneas a very different kind
of hero. As a professional writer in a far
more sophisticated society, Vergil's rela-
tion to his public was far different from
the prophetic-minstrel role of the earlier
bards who had their function and being
in an oral culture.
Vergil altered 'the very notion of the
epic'. In the Greek epics, the great
events like the Trojan war, served as the
background for the working out of the
personal destinies of Achilles and Hector.
Both men fight for their own survival,
and for that of their two bands of men,
of their different cities, But they carry
no historical mission, no imperial des-
tiny upon their shoulders. Whilst each
will take booty from whoever is de-
feated, will capture their enemies' fami-
lies as slaves etc, neither feels that it is
his duty to subjugate the other, and
establish imperial rule. Their patriotism
to their respective territories or cities is,
as C. S. Lewis has described it, 'the
relationship of a man to his wife, his
home, the piece of earth which sustains
him''the tie of mutual belonging' The

13. In 'An Apology for Poetry' Oxford U.P.
14. C. M. Bowra in From Vergil to Milton,
Macmillan, 1963.

Iliad ends, not with the fall of Troy, but
with the funeral rites for the Trojan
Hector. The Odyssey ends with a man's
return to the poor island which he calls

The abstract concept of the nation
and of Empire in the national and
imperial epic begins with Vergil. Aeneas
carries a great destiny the destiny not
to be the stuff of a song, but to found a
city called Rome and lay the basis of its
future greatness. The fall of Troy had
been the background to Achilles and
Hector. In Vergil, Aeneas is the destined
instrument of the creation of Rome -
and of Roman power. He escapes from
burning Troy carrying the household
gods, and the past in the figure of his
father Anchises on his back, and goes to
Latium, where he defeats the heroic
Turnus, model of the old tradition of
heroism, in order to establish a new kind
of greatness, the epic of expansion and
conquest; rather than that of survival.
The new ideal is not that of Turnus, nor
of Achilles to 'give my life in barter for
glory', but to be plus, responsible, to
submit to and serve the destiny of a
nation and Empire. The new imperial
ideal is proclaimed by Vergil:

"Do thou, man ofRome, remember
to govern the nations -
These shall be thine arts to stab-
lish the custom of peace
To spare the vanquished and break
in battle the proud.
(Aeneid, Bk. 6)

As one critic puts it, the personal
ideal of the Homeric hero is replaced by
the social ideal. Yet it would be more
exact to say that the old ideal through
which man fulfilled his own destiny,
himself is replaced by a national im-
perial ideal in which he becomes the
instrument which helps to fulfil the
national destiny willed by the gods.
Aeneas is first and foremost "the man
of destiny, guided by Heaven' clear will"'
And so is Bernardo del Carpio, the hero
of Balbuena's poem.

The break down of the Roman Em-
pire, and the succession of attacks by
the Germanic tribes, was an historical
event that lead to a new body of epic
poetry. This poetry was in turn, to lead
to the myths, legends, ballads and epic
poetry written about Balbuena's hero,
Bernardo del Carpio. The era of the
Frankish invasion of Northern Gaul in
the fifth century and the constant fight-
ing and counter-fighting caused the
creation of a body of epic poetry cen-
tred around the Frankish hero Hruod-
land who became in European litera-
ture Roland or Orlando. As the Frankish
Emperor, Charlemagne, became the sym-
bol to early medieval Europe of Christian
resistance to the Moorish and the Vik-
ing invasions, legends spread and multi-

plied. The Moslems over-ran Spain
from 711 onwards; but were stopped
near Potiers by Charles Martel who
defeated them in 732. The Spaniards
were to take almost eight centuries to
drive out the powerful invaders. The
French epic which sprang up about
Roland/Orlando, in which Charlemagne
and the French warriors were seen as
Christian paladins waging war against
the Mohammedans, heralds of the Anti-
Christ, became popular in Spain where
the war against the Mohammedans con-
tinued as a reality for centuries. The
climax of the French epic is the death
of Roland at Roncesvalles, in a famous
battle, a rearguard skirmish against the
Moorish enemies. Spanish versions of
the French epic soon began. A Chron-
icle supposedly written by the heroic
Archbishop Turpin, who had also per-
ished with the flower ofFrench'chivalry
at Roncesvalles, glorified the deeds of
Roland, Charlemagne and the French,
against the Mohammedans, even more.

Since it was the Spaniards who were
doing the actual fighting against the
Moors, this became a little hard to take.
A counter-myth and counter-legend was
therefore created in the form of the
very Spanish, Bernardo del Carpio. The
battle of the myths began, and out of
this battle Spain's legendary hero was
born. His creation was a fact of impor-
tance. Just as the Spaniards had created
the legend of the warrior St. James -
Santiago to match the fighting faith
of the Moors; so now as they begin to
assert themselves against the arrogant
pretensions of the French Christians. A
Spanish historian points out that,

"This case (i.e. the case of Santiago)
in which a belief owes its origin to pole-

mical motives is not unique. Everyone
knows that the fabled Bernardo del
Carpio emerged in opposition to Roland
and Charlemagne who were glorified in
poems humiliating to Spain. About 1110
the Monk of Silos protested in his
Chronicle against the French epic stories
that tried to convert Charlemagne into
the liberator of Spain. The Emperor did
not conquer the Moors, nor did he rescue
the road to Santiago from their control;
the Spaniards owed nothing to Roland
and his Lords. Towards the end of the
twelfth century, a Spanish minstrel
launched Bernardo del Carpio against the
arrogant French, in a battle ofRonces-
iaux conceived from a Spanish point of
view -Roland perishes and Charlemagne
flees.' 15

15. Americo Castro in The Structure of
Spanish History, trans by E.L. King, Princeton,

The old poem of the patriotic Span-
ish minstrel has not survived. But as the
Spanish epic poems were fragmented
into short popular ballads, worked and
reworked by generations, Bernardo del
Carpio took on a life of his own. In the
Spanish ballads, popularized and spread
out during the struggles of the feudal
nobles against kings, still struggling to
establish their monarchical power, Ber-
nardo del Carpio is seen more in his role
as the young, noble son of the Count of
Saldana, whose illicit love affair with
Alfonso the Chaste's sister, a love affair
from which Bernardo was born, had
lead to the Count's lifelong imprison-
ment; and the King's sister forced
retirement to a convent. In the ballads,
Bernardo wins lands and fame and chal-
lenges the King, time and time again, for
his parents' freedom. In the ballads, his
role against Roland was secondary.

But from the time of Balbuena's birth
(1562) until when he had finished writ-
ing the first draft of his poem about
1595, France was the chief enemy and
challenge to Spain's empire and great-
ness. Balbuena instinctively turned
towards the Bernardo of the anti-French
tradition. Several other epic poems, of
relatively little value, had been written
on the same theme. None could match
the ardent patriotism, which causes Bal-
buena, in the interpretation which fol-
lows Book X of the poem to insist on
"the natural duty which a man owes to
his country At the beginning of Book
X itself he attacks those who sing the
greatness of other nations and neglect
their own. He vows that throughout
his lofty tale, he will sing the valour of
unconquerable Spain, destined by hea-
ven, it seems to him, to be the crown
and apex of Europe.
To be continued
in volume 4 No. 3 (September)

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Jazz is the music of the 20th Century
for industrialized and semi-industiralized
societies. Some critics have objected to
similar statements because they regard
them as qualitative in which case they
might have some justification whereas
they are probably meant in an objective/
reflective manner. The truest indices of
this thesis are possibly the musical back-
grounds and foregrounds employed for
most Hollywood and Western Europe
films as well as for radio and TV com-

Naturally such films and commercials
are not being taken necessarily as repre-
senting the values of this century, what-
ever these are, but these cultural artifacts
are supposed to entertain and to appeal to
us. It is significant that despite commer-
cial use of jazz and jazz-influenced music,
jazz itself is not the most popular musical
form with either the masses or with the
Establishment. Most important, to me,
Jazz is probably the most vital cultural ex-
pression of black people in the New World
a group of people whose cultural expres-
sion has suddenly attained a general impor-
tance and recognition in the last few years.

The recent death, after a sad but artistic
cally productive life, of the trombonist-
composer Don Drummond has high-lighted
jazz in Jamaica. Ironically Jamaica has
produced several notable jazz musicians,
among whom Drummond ranked very
highly, but most of these men, like our
writers, have made their reputations if not
their fortunes abroad. Some have made it
almost entirely locally, yet, even more
ironically there is no significant local jazz
movement despite the valiant efforts of
some hotel and club managers. But the
local pop-folk music owes a great deal to
Drummond and Company.3

The history and pre-history of jazz
covers barely more than three-quarters of
a century, although its elements were to
be found a long time before this in Africa
and the United States, and to a much
lesser extent in Europe. This period co-
incides with recording advances which
made it possible to preserve jazz, an art
form which is a performer's rather than a
composer's music for the most part. Sheet
music and written arrangements have re-
mained significant, but recordings or live
performances are the medium which makes
up the "Sound of Surprise" as jazz has
been described felicitiously by the "New
Yorker's" Whitney Balliett. In contrast
we cannot know for sure that Bach and
his contemporaries were as great perfor-
mers as musicologists and historians wish
us to believe.

3. Since Garth White in Caribbean Quarterly
Jerry Small in Abeng and Gordon Rohlehr in
the Trinidadian weekly "Moko" and in New
World, have all dealt excellently with this, I
will not say much more about this except to
point out, as one example, that Roland Alphon-
so's "Phoenix City", is an almost perfect exam-
ple of a marriage between ska and what is
known as funky jazz. The local pop music is
also, if anything, even more socially relevant to
Jamaican conditions than jazz is to the United
States situation.

.usffLLtfi I" WIU M0r
Photo Down Beat (Courtesy)
Jazz has had four "ages" during the
past 75 years, whereas it is probably
accurate to say the "electronic" music or
"musique concrete" is the only recent new
departure in "classical" music since the
revolutionary departures of Schoenberg,
Stravisky and others half a century or so
ago.4 "Pre-historic" jazz is generally
thought to have been best represented by
Buddy Bolden, a high-spirited New Or-
leans cornettist- barber who became fam-
ous at the turn of the century as a "dis-
respectable" entertainer who played at
places as disparate as whorehouses and
graveyards environments which jazz
and jazzmen took a long time to escape.
By the end of the first World War the
first recordings were made, and jazz moved
into the "traditional" period often
thought to be the typical Jazz era.5
The next development was towards
"swing" or "mainstream", although several
4. I discount here the "happenings" of
John Cage.

of the great "father" or continuous figures
of the music like the late Coleman Haw-
kins, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington
had emerged before the year 1930 as major
contributors. Around this time too, Jazz
in general, and Ellington's music in parti-
cular, began to receive its first apprecia-
tion, emulation and criticism by such
figures of the musical establishment as
Ernst Ansermet, Constant Lambert and
Darius Milhaud. The jazz groups also
began to grow in size.6 These bands made
jazz more organized and in order to make
money they also played dance music, live
on the air, or on film. The best bands
were led by Negroes.7 This trend con-
tinued until the early 1940's and the
"be-bop" revolution, a musical and social
event which was a reaction to the earlier
situation in both artistic and economic

Although Billie Holiday had been sing-
ing bitterly about "Strange Fruit" ever
since the late thirties, the bebop revolu-
tion brought social protest directly into
the music. It was not just a fragmentation
5. The leadership was claimed by a group of
white musicians known as "The Original Dixie-
Land Jazz Band", which was no such thing, but
a paler version of what Negro musicians had
been putting out for some time, although King
Oliver for example was not to record until the
mid 1920's. During these years Negro musicians
got their main opportunities on "race" record
labels which were the economic, and partially
the musical, forerunners of the popular Motown
sound today, except for the fact that the people
who controlled them were also white.
6. Dixieland groups consisted normally of
trumpet, clarinet, trombone, piano drums bass
or tuba, and banjo or guitar. During the 1930's
big bands came into their own i.e. groups with
at least 5 reeds (woodwinds), 5 brass and 3-4 or
pven more rhythm players.
7. Such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie,
Jimmy Lunceford and Fletcher Henderson, but
the real money was made by the white leaders
like Benny Goodman, and Artie Shaw, the
Dorsey Brothers, Paul Whiteman and Glen
Miller, but the first two named were the only
ones who did not "water" their music.
8 Goodman, however, was the first promi-
nent white musician to encourage racial integra-
tion when he hired the vibraphonist Lionel
Hampton and the pianist Teddy Wilson.
We can note here also that Tommy Dorsey
hired young Frank Sinatra who followed Bing
Crosby indirectly and thus helped to make
popular singing an art in itself.

and acceleration of rhythm or a great
technical challenge, but it also brought
about a new style of life among its players
including a new jargon, best illustrated in
fiction by Ross Russell's "The Sound",
and by such still current terms as "hip",
"swinging", "tough", "bread", "soul",
"scene", etc. A whole new set of
"wierdos" attained the pantheon and the
accompanying tension also made drug
addiction a major factor in Jazz9. There
was also a feeling among the Negroes
which has become intensified in the 1960's
that the whites or "ofays" should not
"steal our stuff".

Small groups also came into vogue
once again, but the emphasis was more on
solo skill rather than the collective impro-
visation of Dixieland. The instrumentation
also differed more often than not the
"bop" group did not have guitar, clarinet
or trombone, but rather saxophone. 10

9. Other evidence e.g. "Manchild in the
Promised Land" by Claude Brown suggests that
drug taking was a general Harlem phenomenon.
10. There were technical reasons for this,
because it was not until Buddy de Franco and
J.J. Johnson came along in the mid-forties that

There had been great soloists ever
since the 1920's, but theyhad, except in
the case of Armstrong who was a popular
entertainer-clown figure, come almost in-
cidentally, since the band, large or small,
had been the thing and soloists were mere

The individualism of be-bop changed
this. The saxophone also became domi-
nant because of Parker. His playing style
influenced musicians on all instruments as
well as composers and arrangers and long
before his death at 34 in 1955 he became
a tragic hero, because of his dope addic-
tion and other hang-ups. Gillespie was not
as influential musically, although his style
was even more unique and as remarkable
technically, and his personality was much
it became clear that the clarinet and trombone
could also handle the succession of eighth notes
that Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie had used
to pick out the "sheep" when they "invented"
be-bop with the aid of their own incredible tech-
nical abilities.
11. Armstrong, Hawkins, Bix Beiderbecke,
Lester Young, Art Tatum, Dickie Wells, Earl
Hines, Hampton, Dave Tough, Charlie Christian,
Jimmy Blanton and others had shown mastery
over virtually every instrument in the standard
orchestral spectrum.

rane Footo Down fteat(courtesy).

Miles Davis & Cnarlie ParKer rnoto Down neat (~ourtesyj

more pleasant. "Bird" Parker was, how-
ever, worshipped by young musicians,
many of whom followed the addict's
path to destruction without reaching his
musical peaks. 12

Major changes were to come soon after
Parker's death, but these were to meet
even more critical resistance from the same
type of person who had accused Parker,
Gillespie and company of playing "wrong"
notes. The late 50's saw the rise to pro-
minence of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk,
and Sonny Rollins, all of whom had been
around since the 40's, but had not received
their full due all three are still very
much alive and participation in the cur-
rent avant-garde, movement.

By the early 1960's there were three
great new aggressors on the scene Cecil
Taylor, Ornette Coleman and John Col-
trane. Taylor, a pianist, seemed to be
bringing atonality to jazz despite the
nature of his instrument. It is more accur-
ate to say that he overwhelmed the piano
in a brutal and efficient manner. In his
own words too he has never made enough
money to pay income tax despite having
conservatory training. His work is in-
fluenced strongly by European music but
drenched by Black Power.r4

As opposed to Taylor's undeniable
facility, some critics used to claim that
Ornette Coleman could not play simple
popular tunes. Listening to Coleman's
music now, it seems rather mild and
straightforward although undeniably vig-
orous, and one wonders what all the fuss
was about. Coleman brought trouble on
himself by playing a plastic alto saxo-
phone, subsequently taking up violin and
trumpet, and, then using his ten year old
son as his drummer but he has now be-
come so "respectable", even becoming a
Guggenheim Fellow for "serious" compo-
sition. Yet the great virtue of his music
is its folksiness, in the true sense and its
melody and swing.

The third and probably the greatest
member of this trio who may be the
greatest soloist in the history of the music
John Coltrane, died almost three years ago,
but not before he had achieved a great

12. Even today one of the favourite examples
of New York graffiti is "Bird Lives", and his
whole sub-world is documneted in the novels of
people like Jack Kerouac and Charles Brossard.
13. Rollins is only 38. It should be noted,
however, that (1) In the case of Monk, who was
to make "Time's" cover in a few years, his
recognition was a late acceptance of a "wierd"
compositional talent. (2) Rollins demonstrated
that Parker could be equalled, if not surpassed.
as a saxophonist although such a thought is still
considered heersay in certain circles. (3) And
Davis demonstrated the heights to which the
small jazz group could climb. Davis is not the
greatest figure in jazz, but the consistently high
standard of his recorded work probably equals
even Duke Ellington's as an aesthetic achieve-
ment to borrow the phrase of the French
composer-critic, Andre Hodeir.
14 One of his most recent and rare record-
ings, "Live at the Montmartre" in Copenhagen
probably ranks as the most intimidating piece of
music of any type that this writer has ever

degree of influence and also some popul-
arity. No musician has been emulated as
much as Coltrane. It is probable also that
many of his followers have not always
understood his music at first hearing, but
loved the feeling indeed one critic with
a "classical" background described one of
his recordings "Ascension" as possibly the
most powerful human sound ever recorded.
Coltrane was serious. He communicated
this feeling to everybody. He also had a
long period of "education" and stylistic
change which his public had followed; con-
sequently they were prepared to accept
experimentation from him, which they
would not readily accept from others new
to the scene. 15

We now have to ask several questions.
What does the music say to the world?
How does modern society shape it? What
relevance does it have to Jamaica? How
have Jamaicans contributed to it? How
does it relate to other music?

It seems to be true that the Estaolish-
ment, both musical and general, seems to
be accepting azz in a way that it has never
done before.16

Despite this, however, the average
young Negro musician does not seem to
have felt any change.

Many young musicians are naturally
to be found protesting against both the
musical and political establishments, and
producing some extremely powerful music
15. The best and most difficult avant-garde
jazz can be compared to the feeling one gets
when seeing a late Fellini film, or reading Eliot's
"Waste Land", i.e. one senses its enormous
greatness without being able to explain just
16. An event like Stranvinsky's composition
of "The Ebony Concerto" for the Woody Her-
man orchestra twenty-five years ago can now be
regarded as a notable false alarm. For evidence
we have the Guggenheim award to Coleman, and
another to the equally controversial Jimmy
Guiffre. Then there has been the award of the
Presidential Medal of Freedom to Duke Elling-
ton. This award of the highest U.S. civilian
decoration might well be "propaganda", but
few other artists have got it, and no one would
consider the award ridiculous in the manner
in which the Pulftzer judges made themselves a
laughing stock when they could not agree on a
special award to Ellington some years ago. We
can also take note of the publication of "Early
Jazz" by Gunther Schuller by the Oxford Uni-
versity Press and "Serious Music and all that
Jazz" by Henry Pleasants following from his
previous book "Death of a Music". Schuller as
one of the leading modern"classical" composers
and a sometime jazz French Hornist has
launched the first total historical and analytical
study of the music. His book, the first of
two volumes, is probably the best book on jazz
ever written, and being in the Anglo-Germanic
tradition has probably had wider acceptance
than the two written by Hodeir, who also has a
reputation as a composer and critic in "classical"
music. Pleasants' book may be even more sig-
nificant, however, because as one of today's
leading music critics he has seen fit to put jazz
on the highest possible level, attacked many of
the established critics, and put forward the
revolutionary opinion for our times that
performers should not be considered as inferior
to composers and has adduced historical argu-
ments to support this. So far Pleasants seems to
have escaped major assualts, and it may be that
many of the enemy have been converted. The
academy also seems to have been won over to
some degree because Columbia, Indiana and
Buffalo universities in the U.S. have all given
senior posts in music and Black Studies to 3
prominent jazz musicians, Donald Byrd, David
Baker and Archie Shepp.

while doing so, although some of the best
has no direct social impulse. Strangely
enough though, while "Crow Jim" / at-
tudes have apparently deepened in jazz, it
has become almost impossible to tell the
difference between the "new" black and
the "new" white musicians merely by the
texture of their sound although as recently
as 1960 this was not the case.18

Since musicians are in protest against
the white power structure record com-
panies, club owners, etc., we should take a
look at jazz's relationship to the white
world, and at whites in jazz.

As long ago as the early 50's, some
leading jazzmen were among the first
members of the isolationist Black Muslims;
some even became genuine Muslims. 19
They were bitter at the general Negro con-
dition and their own treatment as talented
Negroes. In the mid-50's too bebop was
transposed to "hard" bop and the terms
"funk" and "soul" came into wider vogue.
Today "soul" music has a much wider
meaning, but in the mid-50's it meant a
return.by jazzmen to the blues and the
music of the Southern churches, while the
term "funky" meant dirty. Despite excep-
tions like John Lewis and the Modern
Jazz Quartet, and Cecil Taylor, there
seemed to be a definite rejection of

By the late 50's, the bassist Charlie
Mingus who was once married to a
white woman had written a piece called
"Further Faubus Fables". His first recor-
ded version 1958 was purely musical,
but by 1960 he had added an acid vocal
commentary that would have given OrVal
Faubus fits. In 1960, the drummer Max
Roach issued a record called "We Insist,
The Freedom New Suite" which used
African drums and the Nigerian general and
drummer Babatunde Olantunji and had
singing and screaming by his wife Abbey
Lincoln, who was one of the first promi-
nent American Negro women to wear the
African hair style.20 Roach also recorded
a composition called "Garvey's Ghost"
and publicly defended "Crow Jim" in the
pages of "Down Beat", the white-owned
Jazz musicians "bible". The 60's saw a lot
of bitterness but also some clarification21.

17 i.e. Negro musicians excluding whites.
18 One case study has been the action of
Archie Shepp, the most vocally radical of all
the black musicians, in employing the trom-
bonist Roswell Rudd, a product of the white
upper-crust and a graduate of Yale, who actually
sounds coarser in tone than the black grand-
master of the instrument, J.J. Johnson.
19 Among these were the musicians now
known as Ahmad Jamal, Yusef Lateef and
Ahmed Ab-dul-Malik.
20 She was a member of the organization
some of whose members caused some of the
violent activity in Jamaica in 1960.
21. There have been attempts, e.g. to form[
economic organizations to be free from the
record companies, most failed, but one or two
are still active. Some of the musicians seem to
have become almost paranoid. Cecil Taylor e.g.
said in an interview that he would not answer
certain technical questions because he had paid
for his musical education, while Mingus' second
to last record on a major label was annotated by

And what of the whites or "ofays"?
Where have they ever been in terms of
original creation? Why this response from
from black musicians? Whitney Balliett of
the "New Yorker", their resident poet and
jazz critic, has written, "there have been
dozens of first-rate Negro musicians and
give or take a Gerry Mulligan or Stan Getz,
only five comparable white musicians:
Bix Beiderbecke, Dave Tough, PeeWee
Russell, Jack Teagarden and Django Rein-
hardt". Balliett's favourite jazz is not
modern which probably explains his reser-
vations about Mulligan and Getz.22 Since
that time, and perhaps even then, other
white musicians have certainly qualified.23
It is safe to say however, that for each of
those whites named, though not always in
the same category, anything up to one
dozen Negro musicians can be named.24
It is also true that all the major revolu-
tionary changes have come from Negroes -
Armstrong, Ellington, Hawkins, Young,
Parker, Gillespie, Monk, Rollins, Coltrane,
Davis, Taylor and Coleman. As against
this we have had "unsuccessful" attempts
at collective improvisation by Tristano in
in the late 40's and a sterile "cool" jazz
West Coast movement of the early and
mid-50's.25 We have also had the Lydian

a psychologist. The continuing frightening list
of early deaths among major jazzmen also
reflected this situation with men like Eric Dolphy
and John Coltrane seeming to be consumed
almost by the fiery nature of their music.
Archie Shepp put out a record called "Fire
Music". The poet and activist Leroi Jones -
now Ahmeer Baraka became prominent as a
promoter and jazz critic he wrote two impor-
tant books called "Blues People" and "Black
Music" and formed a Black Arts group which
put out a record called "The New Wave in Jazz"
received by one critic with the words "there is
no moment on this record when the spirit
falters". Jones went on to record a poem of his
called "Black Dada Nihilismus" with the New
York Art Quartet, a group co-led by Rudd and
a Danish Negro named John Tchicai. Another
black poet A.B. Spellman wrote an important
book called "4 lives in the Bebop business" -
as well as a notable article in the Special August
1969 "Ebony" on Black music. The sound of
the musicians marked the protest feelings -
screaming, bleating, honking and a cursing"
in a fashion first pioneered by Sonny Rollins -
who had recorded his own "Freedom Suite" in
1958 later reissued in these troubled times by
the white company as "Shadow Waltz". Today
the names are Pharaoh Sanders and Albert
Ayler who often sound like banshees, although
the latter's music has certain similarities to
"Traditional" music. There are others like the
saxophonist Leandro Barbeiri of Argentina and
the trumpeter Don Cherry not to be confused
with the white crooner of the same name who
was Ornette Coleman's musical alter ego. All
fall under the unsatisfactory labels of "new
thing", or avant-garde and all represent the
social situation.
22. His judgement appeared in a book called
"Dinosaurs in the Morning" a collection of
his 'New Yorker' pieces published in 1962.
23. Rudd, the soprano saxophonist Steve
Lacy, Jhn Hall, the guitarist, the bassists Scott
La Faro, Gary Peacock, Charlie Haden and David
Izenson, the saxophonists Paul Desmond and Lee
Konitz, the pianist Bill Evans and George Rus-
sell and Gil Evans the composers and arrangers.
24. Here for example is a list of twelve great
or first class black tenor saxophonists: Coleman
Hawkins, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Dexter
Gordon, Wardell Gray, Sonny Rollins, John Col-
trane, Wayne Shorter, Roland Kirk, George Cole-
man, Sonny Stitt and Pharaoh Sanders- and this
is only one instrument albeit perhaps the one
in jazz.
25. The greatest "cool" recordings were issued
in the late 40's under Miles Davis' name, they are
now available on the LP "Birth of the Cool".


Theory of Improvisation by George Rus,
sell in a book and on record. Russell is
probably the most generally under-appre-
ciated "great" figure in Jazz though well
qualified academically, and white to boot,
he has been forced into exile in Scandina-
via for economic and creative reasons.26
The last piece on one of Russell's few
albums "New York, New York A Hel-'
luva Town", is one of the best descriptive
pieces of music ever written, and is thet
most modern music that I have ever-
heard, featuring as soloist the superla--
tive drummer Max Roach.

Actually Gil Evans has been more im-
portant than Russell up to this point.
Evans-not to be confused with pianist Bill
- has not changed the styles, forms or
times of jazz, but he has changed one of
the means of expression; he with piccolos
and french horns pioneered the large jazz
orchestra,27 Evans, unlike Russell, has had
emulators. But Evans does not have many
recordings.28 New recordings by Evans
are rare, because he does not believe in
prostituting his talent by being under paid.

Black musicians feel, however, that
Evans is rare in this respect. The feeling
is that most whites have stolen the black-
man's music and then laughed all the way
to the bank- in other words that the pop-
ularisers and money makers have nearly all
been white since the 1930's.29 Be-bop
hardly changed things because George
Shearing came over from England to hog
the show.30 In the 50's there was Ray
Anthony then with a big band, and not a
solo attraction, and the Brubeck phenome-
non was also beginning.31 In the 60's
Herbie Mann the flautist has had even

26. The Czech composer Pavel Blatny has re-
cently described Russell's latest and so far un-
issued work "Othello" as the musical work of the
century:- which might give some idea of his
stature Russell is also the only white classed
by Schuller in"Early Jazz" among the 15 great-
est performers and composers in the history of
the music
27. Using methods that the British critic Max
Harrison has described as being new to all orches-
tral writing and not merely to jazz -in which
respect he can perhaps be compared with Duke
28. Although they include some collobora-
tions with the very successful Miles Davis, but his
recordings can hardly be equalled for sheer
beauty of sound because of the way in which he
blends flutes, piccolas, French Horns etc. One
recent example is "Guitar Forms" featuring the
guitarist Kenny Burrell with an orchestra led by
Evans on five of the nine tracks.
29. Such a list would include Benny Goodman,
Artie Shaw, the Dorseys, George Shearing, the
Ray Anthony of the 50's Dave Brubeck, Stan
Getz, Peter Nero, Pete Fountain and Al Hirt -
some in jazz and some on the fringes. The Ne-
gro list is much shorter although many more
blacks than whites play jazz this would only
contain Ellington, Basie, and in recent years Da-
vis, Cannonball Adderley and Jimmy Smith. As
the blacks see it, Goodman and company were
making the money that Lunceford and others
should have been making, although they were
less grudgeful when Woody Herman roared in
with his very powerful bands during the 40's.
30. Shearing also played excellent jazz piano
and accordion and thus deserved success, but
Parker and Gillespie were scuffling at the time.
31. Brubeck has written some pretty tunes
and experimented with time but his significance
in jazz has been largely due to his employment
of the excellent Desmond, a first-rate and witty

greater popularity with the "Bossa nova".
Getz however "paid his dues" for years,
and is widely respected by his peers -black
and white. Since the mid 50's a few
Negro musicians have also been prosper-

As Eddie Harris the coloured saxophon-
ist, who had a popular success with
"Exodus," puts it "If Whitey wants to
play jazz then Richard Davis must ...
play with the philharmonic.3 3 In other
words the Negroes must have as many
opportunities in the rest of music as the
whites have in jazz.

To find out how jazz reflects other as-
pects of society we have to turn to Film,
T.V. and radio studios, which have given
secure employment to a fair number of
jazz musicians more white than black -
but the latter have also been increasing in
number. Versatility is the key-note here
since studio musicians have to be able to
play literally anything, so that conserva-
tory trained jazz musicians are often the
best equipped since they can read anything
and can improvise and cope with unusual
situations far more easily than most "leg-
itimate" ones. Great stress is also laid on
"doubling" i.e. drummers who can play
anything in percussion, and saxophonists
who can play most reeds.34 The economic
security of the studios does not however,
make up for the lack of opportunity to play
Jazz is, however, being used increasing-
ly in films and for commercials. One useful
example is the piece "Maiden Voyage", a
tune from the album of the same name by
performer by any standard. Fountain and Hirt
gained popularity through watered-down Dixie-
and and T.V. Nero has become the current
Duchin-cum-Liberace-cum-Cavallaro, but an oc-
casional recording such as his version of Neal
Hefti's "Cute" reveals that he could be a top
"straight" jazz pianist.
32. One cannot count people like Ellington
and Nat Cole, since Ellington was also a song-
writer while Cole had to switch from piano-
playing to singing.
immy Smith, Adderley and Wes Montgomery
have become popular by stirring jazz with soul,
funk, rock and other mixtures. There have also
been the singers Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin
and Sarah Vaughn, but most surprising of all has
been the success of Miles Davis who has never
watered his music, although his sound is very
attractive and he also played "standard" tunes.
Some of his music is in fact quite difficult yet he
has moved into the U.S. 100,000 per annum
bracket. In contrast another Negro trumpeter
named Richard Williams, one of the 3 best of the
60's, who also has a Master's degree in music,
was unable to make a regular living either in jazz
or the symphonic world, and had to sell his
"soul" to the studios to survive.
33. Davis is a brilliant and academically
qualified bassist who has played with symphony
groups on record he is unwittingly familiar to
Jamaican T.V. viewers who have seen the
"Swinging" B.O.A.C. commercial on New York,
which also includes the white trumpeter Don
34 Two such are Victor Feldman, an Anglo-
American who started out as a vibraphonist-
drummer, but has played piano for Miles Davis,
and a reed man named Jerome Richardson who
is not a very big name, but who produces great
solos for every occasion. Feldman recently
made an album called "Victor Feldman Plays
Everything in Sight" over 20 instruments -
while Richardson plays all the reeds and wood-
winds from the piccolo to the bass saxophone.

Herbie Hancock which is now used for one
of the most popular cigarette commercials
in the U.S.3 Coming closer to home we
can think of T.V. shows like "Mannix" and
"Ironside". The title music for "Mannix"
and "Mission Impossible" is written by
Lale Schifrin and "Ironside" by Quincy
Jones. Schifrin made his North American
reputation as Dizzy Gillespie's arranger and
pianist: Jones on the other hand played
trumpet and arranged for Lionel Hampton
and Count Basic before becoming a vice-
President of Mercury Records as the first
black man to hold such a position in a
major recording firm. Both moved on to
Hollywood working both for the big and
small screens and not always using jazz.
Schifrin has done for example "Cool Hand
Luke", "The Liquidator" and "The Fox".
Jones has done "The Slender Thread",
"In the Heat of the Night" and "In Cold
Blood". "Heat" featured some tremendous
singing by Ray Charles and wierd flute
playing by Roland Kirk, the blind genius
who can play 3 instruments at the same
time. The best jazz film work of Schifrin
is to be heard, however, in the car chase
scene of the recent "Bullitt", while Jones'
best work comes in the end title sequences
of "The Pawnbroker". "Bullitt" is an ex-
cellent film, and "The Pawnbroker" may
be a great one, so they are definitely worth
seeing, but their excellence is undoubtedly
accentuated by the music and they are
worth seeing more than once not merely
for the viewing but the listening. I myself
did this specifically with "Pawnbroker"
even in the face of Rod Steiger's tour de
force performance. Few better examples
of modern orchestral jazz can be found.
36 On the other side of the Atlantic, Miles
Davis wrote and played the music for
"Frantic" (Elevator to the Scaffold) by
Louis Malle and John Lewis and the Mod-
em Jazz Quartet did the same for "One
Never Knows" by Roger Vadim, producing
a couple of pieces of enduring merit like
"The Golden Striker". Art Blakey, Duke
Jordan and Sonny Rollins who was with
us recently have also been involved with
films, but perhaps the biggest "gun" in the
non-American world as far as this goes is
Johnny Dankworth, the English Band
Leader who had the great musical success
with albums based on Dickens and Shakes-
peare the latter with his coloured

35. Hancock was until recently Miles Davis'
pianist, and the album "Maiden Voyage" is
probably one of the best jazz records ever made
and certainly one of the best of recent years,
being beautiful, tough and avant-garde at the
same time.
36. Hancock typifies versatility since he is
also the composer of the popular "Watermelon
Man", and the music for "Blow Up" by
Other noteworthy figures used by Holly-
wood include Shorty Rogers a notable figure
of the West Coast movement Gerry Mulligan,
the greatest of that school, who is now married
to the actress Sandy Dennis; Johnny Mandel,
composer of "The Shadow of your Smile" from
"The Sandpiper", whose score for "I Want to
Live" undoubtedly helped Susan Hayward to
win an Oscar. "I Want to Live" probably con-
tained more jazz than any other film and led
Mandel to score other successes like "Point

(Jamaican-born?) wife Cleo Laine has lat-
terly taken to scoring films like "Lost
World of the Kalahari", "Return from the
Ashes" and "Modesty Blaise" whose script
was incidentally written by the Jamaican
writer Evan Jones. Other composers not
primarily involved in jazz also use it in their
scores. Such a list would include Henry
Mancini primarily for the T.V. series
"Peter Gunn" and the subsequent feature
"Gunn" Michel Legrand, Dominic Fron-
tiere, Jerry Goldsmith, Hugo Montenegro,
Kenyon Hopkins and Elmer not Leonard
- Bernstein, years ago with "Man with the
Golden Arm". One might close by adding
that what was probably the best vocal
group in America, the "Hi-Lo's" who used
jazz elements in their work and made an
excellent LP called "The Hi-Lo's and all
that Jazz", have abandoned public appear-
ances and normal recordings and spend all
their time recording commercial "jingles".

It is taking a fair time to get back to
Jamaica, but we have to say little about
jazz singing particularly because a lead-
ing exponent, Carmen McRae, was born in
Jamaica we also have to say something
of the relationship of jazz to other types of
music, and we should examine its reception
outside the U.S., especially in Europe.
Some experts say that there is no such
thing as jazz singing, but there are 3 types
which might come into the category. (a)
Scatting or "nonsense" noises in imitation
of musical instruments (b) Straight singing
where there is a jazz accompaniment and
the singer bends some notes and follows
jazz timing and (c) Transcribed singing
where words are put in place of instru-
ments in exactly copied arrangements.
Scatting is rather passe nowadays, ex-
cept for people like Louis Armstrong and
it is rarely done except in humour. The
best examples are to be found in the ver-
sions of Ella Fitzgerald's "How High the
Moon" and "Lady Be Good".37 As far as
straight singing is concerned some people
consider this merely to be "popular" music
over jazz backgrounds. There are many
excellent examples of this, yet most jazz
fans and musicians would probably choose
Frank Sinatra who normally sings over a
string background as their favourite singer
because of his depth of feeling. The "Di-
vine One" Sarah Vaughan, is possibly the
best in this category. One LP simply
bearing her name and made in 1956, with
accompaniment by the late great trumpet-
er Clifford Brown, and Herbie Mann,
among others, is worth any price that may
be asked for it and is certainly a "Desert
Island Disc." Mel Torme, Johnny Hartman
and Billy Eckstine who made some
classic recordings with the George Shearing
Quintet also come to mind, but Miss
Vaughn in my opinion cannot be beaten
especially as Brown was on that occasion
on very top form.38

37. On a Brunswick-Decca LP "Lullabies of
38. Brown who died at 26 was SO good then
that it is impossible to conceive what would he
have been like had he lived.

Some critics consider the third type to
be incestuous, or in the words of Mel Torme,
a "one-joke act" in other words the sen-
sation of words being put to a jazz solo is
amazing when first heard, but never
afterwards. The singer Eddie Jefferson is
supposed to have pioneered this practice,
but it became notorious, or famous, when
King Pleasure copied a celebrated solo by
the saxophonist James Moody, on "I'm in
the Mood for Love", and the English girl,
Annie Ross, then followed this pattern.
She teamed up in the late 1950's with the
late Dave Lambert and Jon Hendericks and
they began their career with an album call-
ed "Sing a song of Basie" which contains
probably the best examples of the gen-
re.39 40
We move now to three other things. (1)
The relationship with "legitimate" music.
(2) The contact with "pop" music and (3)
The untarnished course of jazz itself.
In the early 1960's there was a short
lived phenomenon known as Third Stream
music promoted by John Lewis of the
Modem Jazz Quartet and his friend Gun-
ther Schuller, and sat on with equal vigour
by people like Andre Previn who has
now gone completely "legitimate" as con-
ductor of the London Philarmonic. Previn
is a real cosmopolitan both personally and
musically, he has a French name, but he
was born in Germany made his name in
America and now lives in London. In mu-
sic he has been a popular songwriter, a jazz
pianist, a Hollywood arranger and compo-
ser and a serious conductor. In variety at
least if not in quality he seems to have
surpassed even Leonard Bernstein, Lewis
and Schuller organised a group called Or-
chestra U.S.A. with a repertoire from both
sides of the stream. They also organised
recordings and other activities bringing
the acid comment from Previn that "allying
a 1922 string quartet with a jazz group
was not in fact creating a new music" 41
39. The material was written by Hendericks
who is also an excellent straight lyricist.
40. In France a group called the Double Six
of Parish sounded even better but by multiple re-
cording techniques which could not be repeated
live. Two members of this group wererChristiane
Legrand and Ward Swingle the former, the
sister of the composer, the latter an American
who was to launch his own group the Swingle
Singers with the aid of some other defectors.
Swingle used scat techniques and humming of
the notes written by classical and baroque com-
posers over a jazz rhythm section. Purists on
both sides of the fence have been offended but
Swingle and Co are to quote Liberace cry-
ing all the way to the bank. The group has
recorded with the Modern Jazz Quarter and it
has also performed in a new piece by the Italian
composer, Luciano Berio. The group features
Miss Legrand who has the farthest ranging voice
this side of Yma Sumac. She can be heard to
good effect also on the sound track of "La
Parisienne" written by Andre Hodeir that is if
you can take your eyes off Brigitte Bardot's
nude cavortings which "give off more sounds" in
the Jamaican phraseology than any million
41. Nevertheless there were some reasonably
successful experiments involving Jim Hall, the
late Scott La Faro and Eric Dolphy among
others. There were also recordings by Bill Russo,
formerly arranger with Stan Kenton, involving
the alto saxophonist Lee Konitz; one recording
of theirs "An Image" with an augmented string
quartet is probably the most successful employ-
ment of strings in jazz.

Efforts by serious composers like Stravin-
sky and Milton Babbitt and Rolf Lieber-
mann have not been very well received,
however.42 Finally in this connection one
might well mention the work of Jamaican-
born pianist Don Shirley which mixes
classical, jazz, popular, cocktail and folk
elements in a pleasant and well organized

The controversy about jazz and 'pop'
music in recent years began because of the
low regard in which rock was held until the
Beatles and co. became culture heroes -
deservedly in some cases. In historical
terms jazz has long absorbed things from
popular music, and probably infiltrated it
for an even longer period. Indeed to the
ignorant and apparently to some of the
not so ignorant if one can go by one of our
prominent local critics jazz and popular
music have long been interchangeable
terms. To put it simply, up until, and in-
cluding the be-bop era, many jazz perform-
ances were improvisations on popular tunes
of the day, despite the sterling originality
of a Duke Ellington who was writing some
of the best tunes himself.

In the be-bop era the musicians wrote
tunes based on the "changes" of popular
tunes as Parker did with "How High the
Moon" which he converted in "Ornitho-
logy". Meanwhile jazz was influencing
dancers because the big Jazz bands of the
swing era also doubled as dance bands. Be-
bop changed this, however, although one
or two people like Claude Thornhill and
Boyd Raeburn still combined the two.
There was also a brief craze for Afro-Cuban
music in which Charlie Parker became in-
volved with the Cuban band leader Machito
in the late 40's. In the last 40 years how-
ever, only about 50 items with any real
connection with jazz have ever found
themselves in the very-best selling brackets
on the Anglo-American Hit Parades al-
though names like Stan Getz and Sidney
Bechet can be found listed on the charts.

Perhaps the most celebrated connection
of popular music with jazz has been,
however, the Sondheim-Bernstein musical
"West Side Story" in which Bernstein, a
major figure in "legitimate" music, used
jazz elements particularly in the song
'Cool". The music, the superb choreo-
graphy and execution by Jerome Robbins
and his dancers created a new approach to
Broadway musicals which have now
fallen on comparatively lean days.

Recent and interesting developments
have included the popular success of Tom
Jones, Herb Alpert and the Beatles and
the points made in reference to the latter
apply also to many of the "acid" L.S.D.
rockers. We have also had groups like
"Booker T and the M.G.'s", "The Fifth
Dimension" and "Blood, Sweat and Tears"
which for e.g. are up to the standard too
of almost the very best jazz groups. The
42. Recently the well-known pianist Fried-
rich Gulda who also plays the baritone saxo-
phone in jazz has been producing experimental
recordings from Vienna.

Welshman, Jones, has the virility of the
Negro singers particularly Ray Charles
- as well as an occasional turn of phrase
which is direct jazz as say the ending of his
popular hit "It's Not Unusual". Alpert
has employed well known jazz musicians
like the guitarist John Pisano and the drum-
mer Nick Ceroli and has used some of the
elements of "Traditional" jazz to secure
his blend. His first recordings were rhyth-
mically weak and "The Tijuana Brass" have
only recently begun to sound as good as
"The Brass Ring", led by Phil Bodner, a
multiple woodwind player, who has per-
formed on many jazz recordings. Even
closer tojazz and the Bossa Nova have been
Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66.43 The
Beatles were influenced by American per-
formers like Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry.,
Now assisted by their arranger and orches-
trator George Martin, two of their number,
John Lennon and Paul McCartney, have
proven themselves to be among the best
composers of popular music. Their music
also reflects a jazz influence in two direct-
ions. (1) Their interest in Eastern and
modal music which has flown from the
maestro Ravo Shanker and people like Miles
Davis and John Coltrane and (2) Their
interest in "traditional" jazz which is very
clearly shown in several of the pieces on
"Sargeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Band"
their most accepted recording in critical

Much of the fuss over 'pop'music came
from a lack of self-confidence in the jazz
world, and from a lack of appreciation of
the real merits of pop music, as instanced
by the furore aroused when as recently as
three years ago "Down Beat" the jazzman's
bible announced that it was going to cover
'rock'as well.

As a jazz fan I can confess to a similar
unreasoning prejudice against Elvis Presley,
only done away with as a singer not as
an actor after hearing his recent power-
ful performance of "In the Ghetto". In
this respect though I was in good company
since Willis Conover of the Voice of Amer-
ica has confessed in print to a similar at-

Conover may be the world's most im-
portant jazz missionary since his very
attractive voice described as being the
best known in the world is carried every-
where by 100,000 watts. Even in themost
rigid days of Stalinism Eastern Europeans
risked arrest for listening to his "Voice of
America Jazz Hour". This is typical in
fact of the European state of mind which
seems far more receptive to jazz perhaps
because of the Noble Savage and all that.
Equally ironical is the fact that American
law does not allow Conover's enormously
popular programme to be heard in the
United States. (The Voice of America is
not allowed to compete with commercial

Some Europeans apparently idolise

43. Mendes had previously recorded with
men like Herbie Mann and Cannonball Adderley.

American jazz musicians, particularly the
Negroes, and some of the most distinguish-
ed names in the history of music have
settled there and had their careers revived
in some cases.44 Most of these musician
have wended their way to France, Ger-
many, Scandinavia and Holland where they
have found both employment and fun.
Nor have they lost their powers as Dexter
Gordon's recent records show amply.
George Russell also is employed in Swedish
Radio and Television and has earned the
accolade from Blatny mentioned before.
Only in Europe too would a prominent
journalist have described Ornette Cole-
man's appearance at a night club as a
"Cultural event"

Europe has also produced first class
musicians of its own. Django Reinhardt
of Belgium may be the most important,
but there are people like Martial Solal in
France, Orsted-Pedersen in Denmark, Man-
gelsdorff in Germany and the late Krystof
Komeda in Poland who is perhaps better
known for writing music for the films of
his unfortunate compatriot Roman Polan-
ski. If we go across the water to England
we come close to home, since England is
the place where most Jamaican jazz music-
ians have made their names. It is also the
country which has exported most talent to
the United States.45 The most important
British jazz musicians may be Johnny
Dankworth and the pianist-composer Stan
Tracey, who with the excellent tenor
saxophonist Bobby Wellins recorded his
own superb renderings of Dylan Thomas'
"Under Milk Wood". Next in line, or per-
haps only behind Dankworth, and above
all the exports,comes Jamaica's Joe Harri-

Harriot has been in Britain for over two
decades, and he has, for a long time, been
the leading alto-saxophonist in that coun-
try and a leading follower of Charlie Parker.
In recent years he has developed to the
point where he is probably one of the top
5 or 6 players on his instrument in jazz
and is a co-leader, with the Anglo-Indian
John Mayer, of a group that is carrying
on the finest and most sustained experi-
ment in allying Jazz and Indian mu-
44. A list would include Goleman Hawkins,
Don Byas, Bud Powell, George Russell, Stan
Getz, Dexter Gordon, Kenny Drew, Johnny
Griffin, Leo Wright, Carmel Jones, Albert Heath,
Red Mitchell, Phil Woods and Sahib Shihab to
name just 14, and a comparison with the Ameri-
can literary exiles in Paris, Hemingway, Fitz-
gerald, Stein, Miller, Wright and Baldwin can
perhaps be made.
45. Such as George Shearing, Ralph Sharon,
Victor Feldman and a comparatively unknown
bassist named Dave Holland who has just been
elevated to the highest possible peak by being
employed by Miles Davis.
46. Records of this group are available on
the Atlantic label while local cinemagoers also
saw Harriott briefly in the news report of the
mammoth Isle of Wight pop festival last year.
Excellent jazz musicians have come from all
over the world Sadao Watanabe and Toshiko
Akiyoshi of Japan, Jack Broshenka of Australia,
Mike Nock from New Zealand. Baden Powell
from Brazil featured in Lelouch's "A Man
and A Woman" Chico O'Farill from Mexico,

Although Harriott is certainly the
most famous and widely respected Jam-
aican musician, as a perennial English
poll-winner, and as the leader of a group
which made a record, "Abstract", which
got the highest possible rating in "Down
Beat" 5 stars he may not be the
best, even if we exclude people like
Carmen McRae, Wynton Kelly and the
doubtful Cleo Laine. We still have to
reckon with Coleridge Goode, Dizzy
Reece, Roy Burrowes, Don Shirley,
Bertie King, Harold MacNair, Wilton
Gaynair, Monty Alexander and Julien
Barber whose name might cause some

I cLtt&V ej. J111iVUu
Jamaica Federation of Musicians courtesy

Wilton "Bogey Gaynair (Courtesy JFM)
surprise here before coming home to
look at Baba Motta, Aubrey Adams, Don
Drummond, Tommy McCook, Roland
Alphonso, Michael Stuart, Sonny Brad-
shaw, Keith Stoddart, Al Philips, Jackie
Willacy, Cecil Lloyd, Carl McLeod, Can-
nonball Bryan, Thaddy Mowatt, the
Butler brothers, Janet Enwright, Cluet
Johnson, Stephen Lauz, Lennie Hibbert,
Carlos Malcolm, Billy Cooke, Roland
Ashby, Adrian Clarke, Foggy Mullings
and probably the greatest of them all,
Ernest Ranglin a list which indicates,
even without going into the quality that
we have produced more practising jazz
musicians than other participants in any
other field of cultural activity. No less a
person than Duke Ellington has pointed
out recently that this is not really sur-
prising, in view of the influence of
Caribbean music on jazz. For instance
New Orleans is practically in the Carib-
bean, and Caribbean music has influenc-
ed directly people like Harold Vi6k, the
Englishman, Kenny Graham, the drum-
mer Chico Hamilton who plays some
Juan Tizol from Cuba, Dollar Brand from South
Africa, Olatunji from Nigeria, Yolande Bavan
from Ceylon, Rupert Clemendore from Trinidad,
Shake Keane from St. Vincent, Igor Berkushitis
from Russia and several others.

mento on one of his records Max
Roach, who had West Indian parents, as
did the great Sonny Rollins who provides
the best example. Rollins has recorded
versions of "St. Thomas" (Fire Down
Dey), "Mangoes" "Hol I'm Joe" and
"Brownskin Gal" with a full appreciation
of the Caribbean rhythms.
We should now, however, look brief-
ly at out own artists. (1) Bertie King:
Bertie recorded on alto and clarinet with
many of the leading British, European
and Continental musicians in the 1930's,
and is favourably mentioned in "Jazz on
Record" the standard work put out by
4 British critics. (2) Coleridge Goode,
the bassist, is the son of the late cele-
brated local organist and choirmaster
Mr. George Goode, one story, probably
apocryphal, had it that he was musically
disowned -he became known in associa-
tion with Harriott. (3) Dizzy Reece also
made his reputation in Britain but he
now lives in the U.S., although he is an
excellent trumpeter his nickname and his
style have nothing to do with Gillespie,
ironically howeverhe has fewer American
records to his credit since his migration,
one of these, "Blues in Trinity" with
the Americans Donald Byrd and Art
Taylor is one of the best "hard-bop'
records around. Reece is also one of the


few individual sounding trumpeters. An-
other Jamaican trumpeter is (4) Roy
Burrowes, of whom I know little except
that he is good enough to have played
and recorded with Duke Ellington for
several years and has since been associ-
ated with the tenor saxophonist Clifford
Jordan. (5) Harold "Little G" McNair
was well known as an alto and tenor
saxophonist in Jamaica and when he
went to Europe, he played with the
Quincy Jones band in Paris. He also
made a record with Ornette Coleman's
rhythm section (David Izenson, bass;
and Charles Moffet, drum) but they
rather overpowered him. In the last few
years he has become a successful flautist
and earned votes from three critics as a
Talent Deserving Wider Recognition on
flute in the 1968 "Down Beat" maga-
zine critics poll. (6) Wilton "Bogey"
Gaynair was McNair's rival on tenor
saxophone in the late 40's and early 50's
when jazz was at its most popular in
Jamaica. He now lives in Germany and
aifew years ago put out a fine recording
called "Blue Bogey" and plays regularly
with the Kurt Edelhagen Orchestra, one
of the most important studio-cum-jazz
bands in Europe. (7) Writing about
Monty Alexander makes me feel old
since I used to teach him in the days
when he was about twelve and I was a
"senior" eighteen. Alexander is a very
versatile musicain who can probably play
about a dozen instruments. His record-
ing companies and his experience on the
Playboy Club circuit have restricted him
to a sweet and 'funky' type of playing
somewhere between Les McCann and
Ramsey Lewis. He may be making more
money than any other Jamaican jazz
musician and he has also become very
self-assured personally, maturing in a
way that prodigies do not usually do --
and Alexander was one, but he has
not yet used his great talent to its fullest
extent. (8) Julian Barber is what one
might call a "Ringer" in this collection.
He is a very well schooled "legitimate"
musician with a prodigious technique
on the viola, who has played with
several leading string quartets in the



United States. He is included here on
the strength of his recordings with Gary
McFarlane and Bill Evans and his perfor-
mance of compositions by Ornette Cole-
man. (9) Don Shirley is in the border-
line category he has recorded superb
jazz from time to time, as on a lengthy
version of "The Man I Love", but his
piano playing is more in the folk tradi-
tion now. The careers of both Barber
and Shirley also indicate how much the
barriers between various types of music
have been relaxed in recent years. (10)
Carlos Malcolm has also become an ex-
patriate recently, and like another fa-
mous Jamaican George Headley he was
actually born in Panama or the Canal
Zone. As a conservatory trained musi-
cian it is not surprising that he is the
most skilled arranger that Jamaica has
produced. He was largely responsible
for the revival of public interest in
mento music when he formed his Afro-
Jamaican group a few years ago. In the
United States he has recently made a
commercial recording featuring top New
York musicians like the great J.J. John-
son. Finally (11) Carl McLeod has
recently gone to live and work in the
U.S. He is Jamaica's best ever drummer

[ A

A I *

Ernest Ranglin
Photo Courtesy Ernest Ranglin


-* *

Sonny Bradshaw

(Courtesy JFM)

from left to right: Rico RODRIGUEZ, Don DRUMMOND, Carlos MALCOLM, Rupy
ANDERSON, Tony Brown, Blue BUCHANAN, James LEE Photo JFM courtesy

and is capable of handling almost any
type of music although he has had very
little formal training and only practices
by continual performance. In the past
he has sat in with Max Roach's group in
New York -which is quite a compliment
since Roach may be the greatest drum-
mer extant and there is a strong pos-
sibility that he might work with another
giant, Sonny Rollins.
In dealing with the locally based
musicians we come at once to Ernest
Ranglin, who may just possibly be the
greatest creative artist that Jamaica has
produced in any field, although his
aesthetic achievement in terms of recor-
ded work is certainly not up to Har-
riott's among his fellow musicians, Reid
Mais, Simpson, and McKay among our
writers and possibly also Nettleford,
Thomas and Thompson among our dan-
cers. With the exception of the late Wes
Montgomery, Ernest Ranglin may have
no technical superior among jazz guitar-
ists since Charlie Christian first gave the
amplified instrument solo status a genera-
tion ago. He provides a real example
however of potential not fully developed.
He resolutely avoids the United States,
although in less than one year in Eng-
land he was recognized as being easily
the best on that instrument in that part
of the world, winning all the polls and
being featured also in specialist non-
jazz magazines. He also recorded with
Ronnie Scott and received votes in
"Down Beat's" International Critics poll
yet he has returned home to "reggae"
and "rock steady" like the rest. On the
evidence of his records Ranglin has only
one really outstanding recording the
first "Guitar in Ernest" on the Island
label which contains some really superb
ballad playing. Harriott in contrast can
point to at least four superior recordings.
Ranglin has also done another record for

J.J. Johnson
USIS photo

Island entitled "Wranglin", and another
"Guitar in Ernest" for R.C.A. Victor,
but the first great Island record is mis-
labelled and the Victor is badly recorded
although there are good performances
also by his supporters Leslie Butler,
Stephen Lauz and McLeod. For the
rest, Ranglin can be heard on undistin-
guished pop recordings with the excep-
tion of a moving solo on "The Wailers"-
"It Hurts to be Alone". The first recor-
ding however with Taddy Mowatt bass,
and Tootsie Bean, drums, contains ver-
sions of "Tenderly" and "Polka Dots
and Moonbeams" which are as good as
anything any jazz guitarist has ever done.
I believe, however, that this recording is
unfortunately now unavailable. Ranglin
is also an excellent bassist and he has
also recorded on saxophone. Like most
great jazz musicians most of his best
playing has been done outside the studio
with the result that his great reputation
is somewhat of an "Underground" one
like that of the legendary American
pianist, Joe Albany.

The late Don Drummond has had his
general career assessed at length else-
where and he was certainly one of the
most powerful influences on Jamaican
popular music as it stands now.47

In my opinion, none of the other
Jamaican jazz musicians are quite of the

47 The main jazz influence on 'pop' music in
Jamaica comes from the participation of music-
ians like Drummond and Ranglin who started
out in jazz. All the local jazz musicians have at
some time or the other played reggae and other
'pop' largely for economic reasons. Their
musical influence has led to a great improve-
ment in stard Drummond's "Jazz Jamaica"
in fact sounds rather overweight, but his popular
recordings are certainly worthy of the serious
study that they have been receiving from people
like Gordon Rohlehr, ("Moko"), Garth White
("CQ"), Jerry Small, ("Abeng").

standard of Ranglin or Drummond, or
those based abroad, with one notable
exception, Michael Stuart, who is now
living in Canada. Stuart is an adolescent
prodigy. He is about twenty-one now
and has only been playing the tenor
saxophone for about four years, but the
progress he has made in this time is
honestly quite fantastic. He has been
seriously influenced by the ideas of
John Coltrane and he is one of the three
Jamaican musicians who might feel com-
fortable playing with the New York
avant-garde. (Barber and Harriott are
the other two.) If Stuart develops at
anywhere near the pace at which he has
started, and if he gets the necessary
breaks, he may well set the musical
world afire.

We can close by a brief examination
of the other people we have listed, some
of whom really merit far more than a
cursory glance, although one can only
say in apology that I believe that this
may be the first time that most of them
have been dealt with in a serious journal.
Among these, Aubrey Adams and
Baba Motta not now in Jamaica -
have provided first class compingg"
(accompaniments) for various people
from time to time, Sonny Bradshaw was
a promising jazz trumpeter years ago.
In recent years he has been playing ele-
gant popular music sometimes on
piano and working actively for the
Jamaica Federation of Musicians and
hiring promising young musicians like
Stuart and Keith Stoddart, who may be
the best local guitarist after Ranglin, but
who like the talented Janet Enwright
(Mrs. Leslie Butler) suffers from being
in the giant's shadow. Tommy McCook
and Roland Alphonso, two accomplished
tenor saxophonists, are, like Bradshaw,
veterans of the scene, they can always
be relied on for sound performances and
like Ranglin they are also helping to
improve the pop music scene. McCook
must also be credited for being the first
Jamaican musician to attempt to deal
with Coltrane's innovations. The But-
lers, Leslie and Howard, have made their
mark on organ and piano. Leslie is
accomplished enough to play in North
America and he is in fact so good that
he was not squashed by Ranglin when
they recorded together. His younger
brother the prodigious Howard, is now
studying at Julliard and may be as pro-
mising as Michael Stuart. Cecil Lloyd
actually has a Master's degree from that
institution, but for years he appeared
content to keep life and soul together
playing cocktail music on the North
Coast. Recently, however, he has been
giving some interesting piano recitals
with his wife and has been prominent
in the revival of the local jazz scene
through the Sunday concerts at Hotel
Kingston. Lennie Hibbert plays the
vibes-he is also a competent drummer -
an instrument that few Jamaicans have
touched. He has led several pleasant
groups and has one excellent composi-

tion "Profile". In recent years he has
concentrated on keeping the flow of
musicians coming as Bandmaster at Alpha
whence came Harriott, Reece, Hibbert
himself and others like Jackie Willacy,
an excellent trumpeter who has some-
how not made the mark he deserves,
Billy Cooke, another turmpeter-pianist,
also falls somewhat into this category
although he has spent a lot of time try-
ing to organize the local scene, particu-
larly with his work at "The End Club"
some years ago. "Cannonball" Bryan is
a tubby and very competent reedman
who performs all types of music capably
and whose nickname does not disgrace
his famous namesake in the U.S. Among
the bassists there are the solid and left
handed Mowatt, the ever shaded Cluett
Johnson, who is a master of the lower
register like the American Leroy Vine-
gar, and the youthful-looking Stephen
Lauz who is a good all-rounder. Finally
we have four pianists: the first Al
Phillips, is better known in sporting
circles, but at the University in Indiana
he had the opportunity to play with
giants like the young trumpeter Freddie
Hubbard. Phillips has a great deal of
talent, but it has not been fully developed
because of his division of interests. Our
next candidate is also better known in
two other fields, surveying and politics,

namely Seymour "Foggy" Mullings, M.P.
for North East St. Ann, who has already
used his position to try and improve
conditions for his fellow musicians.
Foggy Mullings is a very lyrical pianist
who swings nonetheless, but he, too, has
tended to drop out of the limelight in
recent years. The last two gentlemen
were not born in Jamaica but they have
graced our local scene for several years.
Adrian Clarke is a Barbadian economist
attached to our Planning Unit, who
comes from an exceptionally talented
family, Clarke studied at Brandies Uni-
versity and played with leading Ameri-
can musicians from time to time. Quite
apart from his fine piano playing, he has
shown in his work for the National
Dance Theatre Company and the recent
"Boonoonoonoos" that his arrangements
are as good as those of any local music-
ian with the possible exceptions of
Drummond and Malcolm. Lastly, though
certainly not in order of merit, there is
Roland Ashby of Trinidad who was in
the U.S. and is so good that one wonders
how he did not make it big there, until
one remembers that even someone like
Wes Montgomery did not become a
national figure until he was in his late
thirties, because of the number of tal-
ented people around.

In closing, I realise that although I
have mentioned some forty names of
Jamaicans involved in jazz, there are
some deserving people who must have
been left out, and at least one or two
whose omission is inexcusable. I trust
that they will forgive me, but I submit
again that no other section of our artistic
life can really put forward such a long
list. It is a pity but a truism however,
that interest in jazz has declined in
Jamaica. One index of this is that
almost twenty years ago one of the most
popular and very best programmes ever
put on Jamaican radio was Fred Wilmot's
Saturday Matinee Show which featured
jazz to a great extent. In 1970, Dermot
Hussey has had to fight a lone battle
with his Wednesday night programme.
and is limited by all sorts of conditions
One can only hope that the apparent
Renaissance at Hotel Kingston is not a
false alarm.

48. There is e.g a very good group called
The Enchanters led by Carol McLaughlin, but
its members spend most of their time playing
on board Cruise Vessels.
49. One should also note Yvonne Duncans
effort on J.B.C.

LLoyd KNIBBS (Drums), Steve LAUZ (Bass), Jerome WALTERS (Congo), Aubrey ADAMS (Piano), Lennie HIBBERT (Vibe).


(courtesy JFM)


A "Mystic Presence" Ras Daniel Hartman
B "The Emperor" A. Tucker
C "Girl Skipping No 2" Osmond Watson
Jamaica Government Gift to the
Co-operative Republic of Guiana)
D "Man with Lions" Ralph Campbell

"Sweet Oranges" (Ministry of Finance & Planning Prize Winning Painting)

"Niabingi Holy "

'1KAPO Mlallica Reynolds

Bros E. Brown

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II -;

1L.14. --~---li .I-i~.i-

42 tM7,'M 1- ERN,


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This Poem

by Edward Baugh

This poem contemplates a time
beyond the consoling agony of words.

I watched my father dying in bitterness,
I held his ankles as the cold crept close.

This poem turns frail eyes on emptiness
and keeps its peace.

I have seen the eyes of girls grow wide and world-illuminant
at smallest gestures of considerate love.

Hearing disorder gather to its thunderous head,
this poem tests its wings
and tunes its throat.


by Edward Baugh

I would have words as tenacious as mules
to bear us, sure-footed
up the mountain of night

to where, at daybreak,
we would shake hands with the sun
and breathe the breezes of the farthest ocean

and, as we descended,
in sunlight,
I would be amazed
to see what hazards we had passed


An Interview with the Artist by Basil McFarlane

Negro Aroused (wood) 1936 Collection Institute of Jamaica

Edna Manley's exhibition of drawings, 1938 to 1970,
which opened at the Bolivar Gallery on February 26, is only
the fourth one-man show she has given in Kingston during
more than thirty years. In the twenties she exhibited as a
member of London Group and, just before the 1939-45 War,
an exhibition of her carvings was seen at French's Gallery in
London. In the following interview with Basil McFarlane,
she refers to her memorable 1937 exhibition (the first she
ever gave in Jamaica) as having been given jointly with Koren
der Harootian, an Armenian sculptor-painter who lived here
for many years. McFarlane himself thinks it probable she
has confused this in her mind with a quite different exhibi-
tion very likely with one given during the resourceful
forties when the old Edwin Charley liquor store that stood at
64 King Street was converted for the space of a week or two
into an art gallery.
The interest in Edna Manley's drawings must inevitably
refer to her work as a carver. As one commentator has said:
'Never using models, her work seems to have its genesis
in observation and feeling and then to emerge in. the form of
a series of drawings which erupt as if in response to some
inner compulsion. Later, these may form the basis of a
single carving, or perhaps a series of carvings, which may be a
direct exposition of the drawings or, alternatively, stand in
counterpoint to them.'

As a carver, her work is poetic, marked by a high finish
and considerable feeling for her basic material: Jamaican
wood. In her interview with Basil McFarlane she began by
reflecting on her life as the daughter of a Methodist minister in
the West of England, her marriage, and the adventure of
leaving England to settle in Jamaica. Here she lived and
worked for nearly fifteen years before giving that first 1937
McF. I believe a lot of people still regard that 1937
exhibition as being a kind of turning-point or -
to use a fashionable phrase a watershed in the
history of art in Jamaica. I wonder if you would
try and remember, as nearly as you can, the
exhibitions you have given in between ... that is
to say, since 1937.
MANLEY Well, there was the one at the Doorly Hall: at
the time when I showed all the carvings I had
done up in the mountains. You remember?
Before, I had done 'Negro Aroused' and 'The
Prophet' and 'The Diggers' and 'Strike': carvings
that have since been very much associated and,
truly, they were almost prophetic with what
was about to happen politically and socially.
And then the Doorly Hall show came long after,
and it was an exhibition, as it were, of the dis-


Crucifixion (wood) 1945 All Saints Church Kingston

cover of the land and the night and the sun and
the moon of Jamaica. In other words, I might
have done the work the other way round, and
done the geographic and cosmic approach to
Jamaica, first. But I did the people first, and
then I did the background.

McF. But, tell me, was this all, as it were, thought out
in advance?

MANLEY Oh, no. It was a compulsion.

It just happened that way. Incidentally, I think
we should remind our readers that the Doorly
Hall was named for Sir Charles Doorly who was
a YMCA patron I think internationally as well
as in Jamaica and stood or stands at the old
YMCA building in Hanover Street, just topside
the Social Development Commission at the cor-
ner of East Queen Street.

MANLEY That's right. It was a new building in those days.

That exhibition, if I remember, was about 1948.


And I remember it as a big exhibition, too. I
mean, it was big in the number of pieces shown -
it was physically big and it was also important

MANLEY And there were a great many drawings in it.

McF. Well.. .. that was 1948. And, since then, there
has only been the 1965 exhibition of drawings.
Is that right?

MANLEY I think so; yes. Yes. Well, you know, a lot of
water flowed under the bridge in the years
between 1948 and 1965.


Yes, of course; you were very busy in politics.

MANLEY Yes; and please remember, too, that I then formed
the habit of working only under commission.
You see, I did the Bogle, the Paul Bogle -


What year was that? What year was Bogle?

MANLEY Independence Year.

Oh, yes; sixty-two.





MANLEY Let's not- admit we don't remember that. And I
did the big carving for the Sheraton. I had done -
even before that the big crucifix, the over-life-
sized crucifix, for All Saints church. I had done
the carving for the Webster Memorial church,
'The Bush That Was Not Consumed': which is
the symbol of their church: when Moses looked,
and the bush was on fire but the bush was not
consumed. And I have, in the carving, this very
rough, rugged background and yet, right in
front, is this still, quiet, almost like a cactus, this
little plant symbol. But, if you look carefully,
there are a great many symbols of the church in
it. Like the cross is in it. And the circular
figure of the matrix you know, the Mother
and Child. Its implied in the carving of this quite
serene little bush. And I remember when I took
it in, the elders of the church were a little shaken -
that the fire looked so rugged and rough, and
not finished . you know, I don't like over-
finished things.




What else, from this period?

I remember working on the All Saints crucifix.
Working in the church, up on a scaffold and
I learned the life of the church on every day that
wasn't Sunday. For they would forget that I was
there. And girl would meet boy there, and old
men would eat their lunch. And I remember I
carved it from the feet up; the dove is under the
feet not, as it usually is, above the carving. So
that I left the head for the last. And I had
reached my last moment of effort, when I would
do the face of the Christ. And, just before I
left the house for work that morning, I heard
that they had locked Norman Manley up in Ellis
Island in America and this was a terrible shock
and not a very good preparation for a hard day's
work on the Head of the Christ. And then,
having solved all the problems and got him off
Ellis Island then I went down and finished my
carving. And I've always felt that the face of
that Christ is perhaps the best bit of carving I've
ever done. It was really torn out of me, I was so

That was in the year will you remind me?

MANLEY Oh,no, I can't remember. But it was during the
war. I will tell you, he had just come back from
a big case. I think he had defended an RAF boy
who was up for murder in England, and was on
his way home and this quite silly thing hap-
pened. I wished I had been there, but of course
I wasn't there.

McF. Could it have been the Beard murder case? Then
it would have been just after the .war.

MANLEY Yes; you're right. It was just after the war. And
the Sheraton carving had a big excitement, too.
Because, in the middle of doing the Sheraton
carving, the Sheraton builders went on strike;
and, of course, I had to go on strike, too. So, in
the middle of my carving, I struck I mean, I
couldn't have faced my son, Michael, if I hadn't
struck when the builders struck. Mind you, the
builders were not sympathetic to me; they were
what we call the other side. So I had a great deal
of difficulty making friends with them, because -
they used to call me all sorts of funny political
names, you know; but I'm used to that and,
ultimately, we used to drink beer together at
lunch-time. . when the strike was over. I


didn't always pay for the beer, either. They
often paid for the beer.

Well, that was only right and proper. Can you
remember any other commissions that you dis-
charged during this period.

MANLEY Well, you know, it's funny how one forgets. I
know I did one for Jock Campbell But those I've
mentioned were the big ones.

McF. You have the reputation of being a sculptor.
Now, some people tend to make a distinction
between a carver and a sculptor. How do you
feel about this?

MANLEY Well, I think that 'sculptor' is just a generic term
for the whole thing. But I would make a distinc-
tion between a modeller and a carver. Now, I
am primarily a carver. And there's a simple,
quite obvious explanation of that: for, if you
work in clay, you have to cast in bronze. No-
body can cast in bronze in Jamaica bronze or
aluminium, it doesn't matter you have to ship
it abroad; and this is an enormous expense. And
therefore -and there's all the lovely wood I'm
a carver. I've done some stone carving; but the
wood is here, and wood was the obvious medium.
Bogle, you know, is a modelling, not a carving.
It's in cement fondue. And, recently, I've done
a great deal of terra cotta. You know, terra cotta

The Tiger (Terracotta) 1965 Collection of the artist
is modelling in specially .prepared clay. And
then you fire it to a tremendous heat; and it's
got the mobility of clay, which leaves you much
freer. And, you see, you're not limited to any
particular ultimate shape, because you haven't
got to consider the outside size of your block.
And it has great charm. You can colour it. It
stands out of doors very well (it looks nice in the
garden). You can be passionate, you can be
frivolous, you can be yourself, in it. And I
think from now on I'm tending more if I ever
do work again, of which I'm not sure to think
in terms of terra cotta than carving. I feel I've


run the gamut of carving. It's very exhausting
work; very exacting. Whereas, this other work
is made of good Jamaica earth and good
Jamaica fire; so that you have the elemental
quality of earth and air and fire. Whereas, I was
always so attached to the wood which had grown
out of good Jamaica earth but, still, it's the
same world: still the world I live and love -

McF. Tell me let's talk a bit about when you went
to school. You went to art school in London?
St. Martins?

haps music if you look at most of my work, I
think it's poetic in origin. It's not structural in
origin. It's born of a love of words and rhythm.
That kind of feeling.

McF. Would you say it was literary?

MANLEY I don't think it's merely literary, no. You can be
poetic without being literary, I think.


Yes. Of course.

MANLEY There's a difference, yes.


The Lillies of the Field (drawing) 1947 Bolivar Gallery

MANLEY Oh goodness, I went the whole gamut! I went to
about five different art schools. No, I went to
the Royal Academy. I got chucked out of the
Royal Academy for behaving badly. I simply
used to go and absorb and move on. I was a rebel.
And I wanted many aspects of sculpture. I was
never interested in anything else except drawing
and sculpture. I never was a painter; though I
have since done a little and might, yet. But, I
went to four or five schools. And afterwards
went over to Paris, on a holiday. I never wanted
to be anything else, really. That and riding
horses. And, I hope, a good housewife.

Yes, certainly. I'm trying to evolve a kind of
perspective that goes right through from the days
when you first started to learn to carve to
create, whatever the medium: to express your-
self. And, taking your life as if it were a journey,
how would you place your carving in relation to
the plain facts of your existence; between, say,
the time when you went to school first to learn
to carve and your life as it later developed and
as you came to be known to us here in Jamaica?

MANLEY How much of my carving is autobiography is
that it? Well, I think, when I came to Jamaica
my whole approach to my work changed. I
just was totally and absolutely inspired. Don't
forget, my mother was Jamaican; and I'd grown
up with the most nostalgic stories of Jamaica.
And I just felt I'd come home. And, I think, all
the way the two are simply inextricably tied up
together. I mean, all my early work was things
like 'Rachel' and the early carvings of 'he
Mountain Girl'. They're all sold and gone away,
now. But it was always the people of Jamaica.


In a sense, you always thought Jamaican?

MANLEY Always, yes. And then, when the great moments
came, and I realized that I owed something-not


And you taught art in London, I think, for a bit,
before you came out to Jamaica?

MANLEY No. No, I've never taught. I took the Royal
Drawing Society diploma for teachers. And then
decided that I just couldn't take teaching. But
the funny thing was that, the minute a teacher
was desperately needed here in the time between
1938 to 1940, I just simply loved it.

McF. Well, of course, this has become your special
character in relation to Jamaica: that of teacher
and guide to young creative spirits.

MANLEY Mind you, I'm going to tell you a secret. The
fine arts are not my favourite arts. If I could
live my life over again, I'd be a novelist. But my
favourite art is poetry.

McF. Have you ever written poetry, then?

MANLEY No, not really. I mean, everybody writes a little
poetry when they're in love or unhappy. But
I think that I would say that poetry and per-

The Angel (drawing) 1970 Collection of the artist

any creative effort can be described as precisely
the search for a destiny.


McF. And that the converse is also true, which is that
the artist, in a manner of speaking, begins to
create only when he has glimpsed his destiny -
that it is out of this sense of a destiny that he
creates best. At the risk of your saying I'm
impertinent, I want to suggest that something
like this happened to you when, literally, you
laid eyes on Jamaica in spite of the loneliness
you speak of.

MANLEY Yes, I would agree that, in the sense of which
you speak, Jamaica has been my destiny.

New Moon (Jupiter Cedar) 1947
Collection Gloria Cumper, Kingston

Sun & Earth (Can-stone) 1937 Collection J. Chipman, Canada

only to myself and my own work and I also
became aware of the fact I was artistically very
lonely, I began to go out and look -

McF. What does this mean, being artistically very

MANLEY Well, nobody to talk with; nobody to judge
things by: nobody to share the excitement of
the creative life. I used to go long before
Ranny Williams was born, even; or Louise Ben-
net I used to go to pocomania meetings. I
used to go down to the early meetings, you
know, with St. William Grant, down at the
Parade: long, long ago. And, gradually, the
whole thing became, more and more, almost a
sense of destiny, I think, in a simple and very
small way.

McF. Which, of course, one needs.

MANLEY Don't forget, 'Negro Aroused' was carved before
the great eruption.

McF. Yes.

MANLEY Which meant that I sensed it coming.

McF. Yes. I think most people would agree about that.
For some reason, I keep remembering a phrase
from your exhibition brochure; something about
your carving being seen as the story 'of Edna
Manley growing and evolving in the crucible of
Jamaica'. But, to come back to what you said
about destiny, I think that you would agree that

The Balance



by Patrick Guckian

The reviewer of a book is at a disadvantage. He must
commit himself to a decision quickly, knowing that he may
have no opportunity of modifying later whatever impression
he makes. The literary critic, on the other hand, has the sort
of advantage over the reviewer that the archeologist has over
the explorer. He has time on his side, not only an opportunity
for mature consideration of the material but leisure to observe
the effects of time on the material itself.
We expect the archeologist to be more precise than the
explorer and the critic to be more perceptive than the reviewer
and so it comes as a surprise to find that the reviewers of
Edgar Mittelholzer's books were often more penetrative than
later critics.
The literary historian in turn has a better perspective than
the critic. The review is an immediate reaction to an individual
book; criticism is deposited in layers, as it were, between the
author's deposits of fiction. The historian can separate the
various layers of material and regroup them for appraisal. To
get an overall view of Mittelholzer's place in West Indian
literature one could hardly do better than to take a leaf from
the literary historian's book, and to group the reviews, the
criticism, and the fiction separately.
An inevitable result to this method is amazement that
Mittelholzer's fiction could possibly provoke the illjudged,
destructive and incredible verdicts which have been submitted
and apparently accepted as serious criticism of his work. He
has become the butt for irresponsible attack, and to one who
has read his work before examining the criticism, it is astonish-
ing to find the author of Corentyne Thunder, A Morning at the
Office, The Life and Death of Sylvia and Shadows Move
Among Them treated in this way. And as some other West
Indian authors have not escaped unscathed, one wonders if the
Caribbean is not (as Joyce said of Ireland) a sow that eats its
own farrow.
Perhaps a few examples of the liberties taken by critics are
now called for. Mittelholzer's place in the chronology of the
new West Indian writing, as opposed to the earlier work of
deLisser, Mendes and James cannot be questioned. The facts
are simple. Corentyne Thunder was published in 1941, A
Morning at the Office in 1950, and, thereafter, his novels came
in quick succession. Only Victor Reid's New Day 1949) could
claim a place with these books in the time sequence. Yet one
critic states bluntly that Mittelholzer "came to fame on the
crest of the wave of New West Indian writers.1 One wonders
who the writers were who made up the "wave".
One of Mittelholzer's ambitions was to remove the element
of shame from sex, and in pursuance of this ambition he had
written in The Mad MacMullochsl that couples were required
1. Edgar Mittelholzer "Symptoms and Shadows" by Geoffrey
Wagner, Bim Vol. 9, No. 33 pp. 29-34.
2. The Mad MacMullocks, London, Peter Owen (1959) p. 156.

to keep a record of their lovemaking on charts above their beds.
This good-humoured tilt at prudery in matters of sex occasioned
the charge that Mittelholzer's attitude "is an increasing and
menacing obsession with sex as a social commodity, in one
novel projected as a lust to be inspected and enforced rather
than a free act of union" 3 Not only is there no question of
enforcement whatever in the novel, but the author's attitude to
the lawyer Knight in The Life and Death of Sylvia4 and to the
St. Lucian landowners, accused pf exploiting the daughters of
their serfs, in With a Carib Eye3 is proof that the idea of en-
forcement was abhorrent to Mittelholzer.
The myth of his racial prejudice rests on a similar disregard
for facts. Miss Joyce Sparer, while lecturer at the University of
Guyana wrote,
The men who led the revolt become repulsive and ridiculous
figures in Children of Kaywana. Cuffy appropriates a white
woman who scorns him, but he grovels before her for
months, "Talk to me" and "Kiss me goodbye"he begs, "in
whiteman fashion 6
Perhaps some readers were disappointed that Mittelholzer's
realistic style deprived them of a hero in the Hollywood mode
in Cuffy. Within the limits of a slave's experience and a slave's
vocabulary was not Cuffy stammering what Martin Carter has
expressed so well.
On black knees before the great white names of civilisation
and human power, I claimed my own humanity in terms of
flesh and blood; in the endurance and the suffering, the
defeat and achievement I discovered written inside the
abstraction of European philosophy and experience.
The process by which Mittelholzer is branded as racialist
becomes clear. After a careful reading of Shadows Move Among
Them it comes as a shock to find Logan, the half-wit, whom
the parson chains and flogs, referred to as a Negro,
Harmston himself has no compunctions akout chaining up
his Negro servant whenever he misbehaves.
This statement prompts a return to Mittelholzer's novel where
we find a description of Logan,

3. Ivan van Sertina in Caribbean Writers, London, New Beacon
(1968) p.29.
4. London, Seeker & Warburg (1953).
5. London, Seeker & Warburg (1958) pp. 125-130.
6. "Obsession with Blood" in Guyana Graphic, Georgetown, Guyana.
16th April 1967.
7. New World, Guyana Independence Issue, Georgetown, Guyana
(1966) p. 10.
8. London, Peter Nevill (1951) (Hereinafter referred to as Shadows)
9. F.M. Birbalsingh in "Edgar Mittelholzer: Moralist or Pornograph-
er". Journal of Commonwealth Literature No. 7, July 1969.

"He's half ndian, a quarter negro and a quarter Portuguese,"
said Olivia.10

To describe Logan as a European would have been equally
logical, or rather illogical, but that is not done, because, one
presumes, it would not be in keeping with the myth. Gloria
Escoffery anticipated this reaction against Mittelholzer's work
when reviewing The Life and Death of Sylvia in Bim,

That some readers may consider such pre-occupations with
the hierarchy of colour in dubious taste is not to be denied.11

To hold that telling the truth about society could ever be in
bad taste would not make sense to Mittelholzer; nor did it
make sense to Miss Escoffrey for that matter.

All sorts of things have been said about Mittelholzer, but it
is on the topics of race, colour, sex and religion that the
greatest injustice has been done to him. Since the contra-
diction between what is said of him and what is true is greatest
in the case of the topic of race and colour, that topic will be
examined in some detail here.

The author tells us in the autobiography of his first eighteen
years that he inherited both Negro blood and white blood. On
his birth in 1909 his parents were disappointed because his
complexion was dark. His father was a negrophobe, for which
the author castigates him roundly, but on his disappointment
he has this to say,

It requires the minimum of effort for me to put myself in
his place. In a community like that, at that time, he would
have had to be superhuman not to be disappointed. A
bleak morning and a sunny, dry afternoon; such is the
analogy of contrast that could be applied to a swarthy and a
fair complexion in New Amsterdam in the year 1909.12

Here we have the key to the problem, for the qualifications,
"in a community like that, at that time", underlie every com-
ment on race and colour in Mittelholzer's work. He was a
victim of his father's prejudice from childhood.

Even at this green age, I could sense a certain resentment in
his attitude towards me. Then, naturally, I was ignorant of
what was behind it. All I knew was that something made
him perpetually impatient with me. Something made it
necessary for him to snap and bark at me. 13
Where was the boy to turn for compensation? As his circle
widened so did the gulf between him and the other children,

".. Mother Egg (a neighbour) had been showing a marked
preference for my sister because my sister was fair com-
plexioned. 14

As he grew older he saw prejudice at work in other ways. His
maternal grand-father, David Leblanc, retired in disgust from
his post of Acting Postmaster General, when an Englishman
was appointed in preference to him because, "In those days it
was not considered the correct thing that a fully-fledged Post-
master General should have an olive complexion." 15

Like Derek Walcott, all he would need in later life was
words to cast his grief about. It is strange, then, to find a
novelist, conditioned from childhood to protest on behalf of
all coloured West Indians, accused of racial prejudice. On what

10. Shadows, p. 33.
11. Vol. 5 No. 19 pp. 237-238.
12. A swarthy Boy, London, Putman (1963) p.17.
13. ibid. p. 20-21.
14. ibid. p. 34.
15. ibid. p. 68.

grounds are these accusations made? Admittedly, it is possible
to make a prima facie case against Mittelholzer by accusing him
of holding every view expressed by the myriad characters in his
works, or by snatching a half-sentence out of context. By this
method even Jesus can be arraigned with "And the Lord com-
mended the unjust steward. ."16 The author himself drew
attention to this abuse by making Charles Pruthick interrupt a
tirade against the writer Colin Wilson with, "But it was his
character who put forward these ideas."l 7

No accused person is condemned on prima facie evidence
but, then, the protection of the law does not extend to literary
reputations. So Mittelholzer is condemned not only by omis-
sions 18 and slights, but by vituperative attacks like that of
Geoffrey Wagner. He is given praise the faintness of which is
damning, "It would be wrong to regard Mittelholzer simply as
a pornographer", wrote F. M. Birbalsingh,19 and said Edward
Braithwaite, "His tales ... are basically serious in intention' 20
A. J. Seymour thinks that, "It is the authors skill in construc-
tion which makes the story (Of Trees and the Sea) credible at
all",21 while Louis James says of Shadows, "It achieves the
validity of a nightmare". 22

When Horace Xavier is referred to as "A stupid little black
boy. .." 23 suspicion is aroused in the superficial reader. The
author, he says, is bigoted. Mittelholzer, in fact, is not giving
his own assessment, but that of Jagabir, who in turn is despised
by Kathleen Henery," .. this man Jagabir made her sick in
every way".24 Miss Henery herself outrages Mr. Murrain's
"sense of authority and feeling of Caucasian superiority"25
and so the self-perpetuating sequence of resentment goes round
like the shock that is passed from coach to coach in a shunted

A reader who makes the mistake of attributing to Mittel-
holzer views held by his characters will not see his intention
in remarks like that about Mr. Lopez "his complexion was
fair enough for a bank".26 The comment is on the bank's
absurd method of choosing its staff, not on Lopez's assumed
advantages the fact is undeniable if we remember that David
Leblanc's complexion was not fair enough for a Postmaster
General. Such a reader will be misled all the more easily by
Mittelholzer's praise of the Negro, Harry Haynes, who "behaved
with the confidence of a white man"27 unless he remembers
that Everard Marrain (A Morning at the Office) and Gregory
Hawke (Shadows Move Among Them) were both white men,
trembling, confused wrecks. The confidence of Haynes' model,
the white Trinidadian, was the result of wealth, prestige and
the segregated club the spoils of predatory colonialism.

Paradoxically, Mittelholzer's biggest handicap was his en-
lightenment on the question of race and colour; his ancestry
and up-bringing had sharpened his vision. He was too far
ahead of his time to win the approval of his own generation.

16. St. Luke, XVI, 8.
17. The Piling of Clouds, London, Putman, (1961) p.64.
18. Wilson Harris makes only one reference to Mittelholzer in
Tradition, The Writer & Society, London, New Beacon (1967) and that
is a derogatory one, p.43.
19. See footnote 9;
20. "The NewWest Indian Writers", Bim, Vol. 8, No. 31, pp. 199/210.
21. The Edgar Mittelholzer Lectures, Georgetown, The National
History & Arts Council 1967 (p.34) (Hereinafter referred to as Lectures).
22. The Islands in Between, London, O.U.P. (1968) p. 42.
23. A Morning at the Office, London, Hogarth Press (1950) p.39.
24. ibid. p.55.
25. ibid. p.47.
26. ibid. p.234.
27. A Tale of Three Places, London, Seeker & Warburg (1957) p.30.

Basic to his thinking was complete belief in the absolute
equality of the races, and consequently, he wrote with the free-
dom and candour of a man who has nothing to hide. In a
society still organised on a basis of race and colourhe inevitably
treads on the toes of people with mimosa sensitivity. When
Mittelholzer tells us, for example, that "Jack Sampson was a
pure-blooded negro",28 the comment is not intended as adverse,
as can be seen from the context,

Jack Sampson was a pure-blooded negro, slim and strong,
with large teeth, widely spaced, so that when he laughed,
you could see the darkness at the back of his mouth. It was
an attractive laugh. Sylvia liked him.

Furthermore, Mittelholzer used a deceptive device at once
difficult and delightful as the leitmotivs in Latticed Echoes, viz.
to side with his opponent, leading him along with carefully
chosen questions to air his views, and thus to damn him, as the
B.B.C.sometimes disgraces South African segregationists simply
by quoting their statements verbatim.

This is the manner in which the planter-philosophy is pre-
sented inthe Kaywana trilogy,

Slaves were slaves black heathens from Africa intended to
serve their Christian masters. Whip them, pouring burning
sealing-wax into their wounds freshly inflicted on their backs,
cut off their ears! Saw off their arms and plunge the bleed-
ing stumps into boiling tar. These things had been done for
generations, so why make a fuss over them. One must be
severe with slaves; it was the only way to preserve disci-
pline. 29

There is no need for Mittelholzer to indict the European mas-
ters since they do it themselves so eloquently. The passage
just quoted also throws light on the author's alleged anti-
Christian attitude. One is inclined to agree with P.H. Daly who
got the impression of an "evangelist crusading in the guise of
the atheist".30 Mittelholzer, one feels, is never attacking
Christianity as such, but is satirising the people who blasphem-
ously append the name of Christ to their iniquitous conduct.
However, the question of religion is Mittelholzer's work is a
separate one.
The problem now arises of how the reader is to know when
he is being givep the author's viewpoint and when that of an
opponent. With little practice it is possible to detect at a glance
self-realisation in one of Mittelholzer's characters. Clues abound;
love of Wagner's music, hate of hypocrisy, an agonised resent-
ment against the exploitation of the poor and of young girls,
and the defence of one's convictions in the face of popular
opposition. There is external evidence too. The author had
told A.J. Seymour 31 that Milton Copps (The Life and Death of
Sylvia), Hubertus Van Groenvegel (The Harrowing ofHubertus)
and Paul Mankay (Uncle Paul) were self portraits. A clue is
often found in a character's name. e.g. Milton Woodsley, the
narrator in My Bones and My Flute32 has many things in com-
mon with the author, and the name Woodsley is an approximate
anglicisation of the German name Mittelholzer: the name Mil-
ton Copps is almost identical, if we understand it as copse.
The protagonist in Eltonstnedy33 is also named Woodsley and
the nom-de-plume Mittelholzer assumed for The Mad MacMul-
lochs was A. Austin Woodsley. Views expressed by these and
some other characters, who clearly share the author's confidence,
can safely be taken as his own.
28. Sylvia p.76.
29. The Harrowing of Hubertus, London, Seeker &'Warburg (1954)
30. "Mittelholzer Mosaic" in Guiana Graphic, Georgetown, Guyana,
27th February 1968.
31. Lectures pp. 15 & 17,
32. London, Seeker & Warburg (1955).
33. London, Seeker &Warburg (1960).

That this vetting of characters is an essential precaution can
be seen from the conclusions reached by F.M. B irbalsingh.

The wanton nature of the world of Mittelholzer's novels, is
described by Hendrickje van Groenvegel, the most fascinat-
ing of his heroines, in a conversation with her son: the way
of life. Everything is blind and haphazard. That's why I
have no faith in religious practices. No one who thinks
and observes what goes on around us can believe in such
a myth as God or in the teachings of the Church",
(see footnote 9).

One can only agree with the truth she unintentionally expressed.
What went on around her was a negation of Christ's teachings.
Said Errol Ming Ho to Alfy Desseau ... religion as we prac-
tise it... is only juju"34 To mistake Hendrickje's philosophy
for Mittelholzer's is ludricrous, for he took pains to portray
her as the epitome of the colonialists'lust for power and wealth.
Evidence of this is explicit in the books. Hendrickje's son,
Adrian, said of her, "she's no mother to me, she's a beast.' 35
Her father wrote to her ". .. I fear I could never bring myself
to feel any tenderness towards you again". 36 Hubertus who,
as we have seen above, represented the author said of her,
"Despicable woman, from all reports. A monster."37 To
make doubly sure of his intention regarding her function in the
book, the author describes her inhumanity in burying a sick old
slave alive, for the simple reason that his logie was required for
someone else.
To attribute Hendrickje's attitudes to Mittelholzer is the
equivalent of identifying Dickens with Uriah Heep or Shakes-
peare with lago. The right approach had been indicated by
Dr. Kenneth Ramchand when he wrote.
The reader of the novel will need to consider whether the
emphasis in the title Children ofKaywana and the many in-
cidents in the novel which bring Kaywana to mind do not
make an ironical comment on the pride of the "true van
Taken as a whole and viewed in the light of these considera-
tions, Mittelholzer% work is not only innocent of the charges of
racial prejudice, but dependent for its excellence on his treat-
ment of racial tensions and other colonial residues extant in
society. It is not intended to suggest that because no racial
prejudice is found in his books, that they are,.for that reason,
good, but to dispel the fixation about racial attitudes would
remove an obstacle to a sound assessment of his work.

His outlook was informed by an all-embracing concept of
the unity of things. Time past and time future were involved
in the present; man was in constant union with his environment
and all things, whether past or present, were so closely inter-
related as to form a whole. Colonialism was a result of greed
and Ramgolall's greed (Corentyne Thunder) was in turn the
result of colonial insecurity. Miss Henry's tilting at Marrain's
illusion of Caucasian superiority was the direct result of social
discrimination against herself; her contempt of Jagabir, how-
ever ill-advised, was an effort to secure her own position.

Sylvia, the book which resulted in the bitterest revenges on
Mittelholzer39 is, ironically, his most compelling transfixation
of colonialism. The Russell household is Guiana in miniature.
It is dominated by the Englishman, Grantley Russell, and in
the background are the Afro-Indian (Guiana Indian) Charlotte

34. A Tale of Three Places p.340.
35. Children of Kaywana, London, Peter Nevill (1952). (Secker &
Warburg edition, 1960 p.232.)
36. Ibid. p.227.
37. The Harrowing of Hubertus p.154.
38. West Indian Narrative, London, Nelson (1966) p.57.
39. Lectures p.28.

and her low-class friends. In a middle position is Sylvia, the
darling of the one and the envy of the other. Mittelholzer,
however, does not use the people as one-dimensional symbols
of population groupings. Each character is a person with emo-
tional and moral depth which engages the interest of the reader,
though, at the same time he is conscious of the many parallels
between, say, Sylvia's experience and that of the West Indian
colonies. Sylvia's name, for instance, is the result of a mistake,
it should have been Cynthia a corollary of the mis-naming of
the West Indies.

Charlotte and Sylvia are secure as long as Russell's protection
is assured, but as soon as he is removed they find that "all is
turned (through my gentleness) into a strange fashion of for-
saking." Sylvia is the kind of book that could easily have
degenerated into a laboratory examination of colonial life, but
the author unfolds the circumstances as seen through the fresh
eyes of a child and the reader experiences her sense of shock
at self discovery. The mores of Georgetown are explained to
her by her father.

If he had married a white lady, yes, they would have been
one of the very best families. But as he had married her
mother, whose parents had been black and Arawak Indian,
and who did not come of an old and respected family, well,
his family wasn't noted as much, if she saw what he
The criteria of life under colonial rule are no credit to

The coloured middle-class here have Background. In the far
past, their ancestors were Dutch and English and Scottish
planters the de Groots, the van Huistens, the Dowdens,
the McTaggarts. Tis true, slave-blood made a most annoy-
ing mess of their hair and complexion, but that is overlooked
in the face of Blood genteel Blood, Respectability. They
have a trailof refinement and good breeding behind them.40
This is the sort of comment which is sometimes given as Mittel-
holzer's own, in an attempt to nail the charge of racial prejudice
on him. He is simply telling us the facts as they obtained "in a
community like that at that time". The words which follow
those quoted above, give his personal opinion, but these are
never quoted,

They are snobs. They lack unity, too. They 're split up into
cliques, and complexion and quality of hair are given absurd

There are many touches which give Sylvia the dimensions of
high tragedy and the book may one day, when the dust of recent
disputes is settled, be accepted as the first tragedy in West Indian
literature. Alfred Mendes' Pitch Lake 42 was meant to be a
tragedy, but the central character, Joe Da Costa, never rises to
tragic stature. He is a puppet reacting meekly to the strings
when pulled by his father, his sister-in-law, Myra, his fiancee,
Cora Goveia or even by the serving-maid, Stella. Sylvia Russell
may appear weak, helpless and ultimately a failure. The same,
however, can be said of Shakespeare's Cordelia (King Lear)
whose virtue lay in what she could not do, i.e. heave her heart
into her mouth. Neither could Sylvia abandon her principles.

An excellent touch is the picnic scene in which Sylvia dis-
covers her own weakness. She had determined to seduce her
boy friend Benson Riego, and by this method to secure her
happiness and his in marriage. She quickly discovers, however,
that she is acting out of character, resolves to be herself, and
abandons the attempt. Later when poverty pinches hard, and
hopelessness begins to take a hold, she draws the attention of
David, her brother, to a stray, starving mongrel and says,

40. Sylvia p.54.
41. ibid. p.56.
42. London, Duckworth 1934.

"That's what I feel like. Like that dog." 43

A device of great emotive power in the book is the death
motiv introduced on the first page by drunken Bertie Dowden,

Think of the sweet, the blossom cool, dark closing down
upon all our activities and laughter and ambitions and con-
ceits, transmuting into oblivion our golden schemes. Lovely,
softly creeping and certain dead certain solution of all
our fears and problems. Hic. 44

This apparent drunken irrelevancy is the tone colour of the
narrative and, at the end when death is the only means of escape
from Sylvia's choice between prostitution and suicide we realize
its import. The death scene has the serenity of a Mozartian

"Ican hear a kiskadee. The sun is shining. What time is it?"
She was quiet after that. The sun came in and touched her
hand. 45

This motiv gives the book a unity as compact as that of Tchai-
kovsky's Fifth Symphony,which is also inter-faced with a recur-
ring theme, and it is evident that Mittelholzer's fiction, like
Joyce's, benefitted from the author's understanding of musical

A Morning at the Office is even more unified, for that book
is Classical in structure, observing the unities of time, theme
and place. Here too, Mittelholzer pursues his analysis of the
social residue of colonialism.

Mrs. Hinkson, for example, is a development of Sylvia
Russell, emancipated from the stifling circumstances that crip-
pled the latter'slife; beautiful, educated, confident, she does
not engage in petty skirmishing with racial opponents as
Kathleen Henery does, but when an opportunity presents
Itself, she can rise to the occasion. When the influential
directors of Essential Products Ltd. had succeeded in forcing
the Government to allow them unconstitutional privileges in
the export trade and the manager, Mr. Waley, had commented,
"I knew we'd win", Mrs. Hinckson had retorted, "Long live
Crown Colony Government!" 46 She knew that Britannia could
waive the rules as she ruled the waves for her own benefit.
"We'd much prefer to handle our own natural resources", Mrs.
Hinckson had told Waley. "If we did fail to make them pay as
they should we'd be satisfied that we ourselves messed things
up. We'd at least, have our self-respect in that we wouldn't feel
we were being persistently exploited by outsiders" 47

Colonialism is condemned in its multiple effects, and the
principle of colonialism itself is subjected to a multiple scrutiny
in the persons of the three Englishmen, Waley, Whitmer and
Murrain. Murrain and his wife represent the worst element in
colonialism. The name was aptly chosen (a technique which
the author had employed with impish delight in Creole Chips 48
e.g. Mrs.Waspe of Robb St. was a stingy employer with a sting-
ing tongue). Murrain and his wife represent a blight on inter-
race relationships. He is inert, well paid and a snob, ". . a
white man ... among coloured peoples of the tropics, he had
every right to be idle".49 When his wife come to the office,
both her rudeness and her dress betray the shabbiness of her
private life, and her errand the squalor of her social life, "Do
you know who you're speaking to?" "I'm perfectly aware whom

43. Sylvia p. 162.
44. ibid. p.
45. ibid. p. 316.
46. Morning at the Office p. 193.
47. ibid. p.186.
48; British Guiana, Lutheran Press, 1937.
49. Morning at the Office p. 39.

I'm speaking to", Miss Henery retorts. 50
Smarting under a slight from one of her set, Caroline Mur-
rain wants to see her husband while he is engaged with another
type of Englishman, Sidney Whitmer, an angry young man,
who believes that Trinidadians ought not to be exploited.

". .. that's what I can't stand Murrain! The blasted snob-
bery! The hypocrisy and the nerve of you English hounds.
You come out to these colonies and squeeze the guts out of
'em and then you piss on the natives! Insult to injury. "51

Commenting on this aspect of Mittelholzer's work, A.J. Sey-
mour said that it was as bitter as anything in the pages of Eric
Williams.52 The author has not only drawn attention to one
of the freaks of colonialism, i.e. the ease with which any Jack
from Britain can become a gentleman, purely on the strength
of his complexion, but Whitmer himself is shown as a patronis-
ing interloper. He delivers his speech when, and one also feels it
is because, he is drunk, and in delivering it he discloses his own
vulgarity of language in referring to people like Mrs. Hinckson
as "natives".53 This one morning at the office of Essential Pro-
ducts Ltd. illustrates the Mittelholzerian dictum that, "What is
primitive in the Caribbean is economy. Not society".54

Outspoken though it is, A Morning at the Office is never
merely nationalistic or mere propaganda. In a talk, broadcast
by Radio Barbados and entitled "Reading for Pleasure", Chal-
mer St. Hill chose this book as his talking point, and the choice
implies that, if the book is a social document, it is a document
with a difference one that is read for pleasure. The author's
arguments are advanced obliquely, through one or other of the
characters, who nevertheless is not allowed to interfere with
office routine, so that the book is true to its title. Murrain
and Whitmer are counterbalanced by the able, fairminded
manager who not only makes Essential Products Ltd., a pros-
perous firm but is respected by all as a decent sort, even decid-
ing in Miss Henery's favour in her dispute with Murrain. Thus
Mittelholzer preserves a balance by conceding that there are
some Englishmen who are talented and just within the limits of
an unjustly structured society.

Jagabir is Mittelholzer's most memorable male character.
He is entirely consistent with himself, a logical product of his
environment and significant on the social, psychological and
economic planes. He is moreover, the culmination of Mittel-
holzer's dedication to the cause of the oppressed Indian the
East Indian West Indian, an anomalous term which fascinated
the author. To view this aspect of the author's work as a
coherent whole, it is necessary to look back to the first novel
from his pen, Corentyne Thunder for it is in this work that
Mittelholzer most clearly displays his concern for the fate of
the Indian.

Ramgolall, the aging cowherd, isanhistorical exhibit, hav-
ing come from Bombay in his youth as an indentured labourer.
He has survived his indenture and the vicissitudes of Corentyne
peasant life. His possessions had been a minus quantity since
he had bartered his freedom for a chance to survive, and now
that he is free, he reacts by turning miser. He tends his cows,
markets the milk and hoards the shillings in a canister, allowing
his daughter, Katree, only the merest pittance to feed them
both and her sisten Beena.

-Sossee, an older daughter by a previous marriage, has es-
caped by becoming the mistress of the wealthy Big Man Weldon,
It is her son Geoffry, a brilliant student of Queen's College,
Georgetown, through whom the author chooses to chart the
50. ibid. p. 144.
51. ibid. p. 145.
52. Kyk-over-Al, Georgetown, Guiana, Vol, 5, No. 15, pp. 15- 17.
53. A term the author detested. See With a Carib Eye p. 12.
54. ibid. p. 23.

course of West Indian history. Win the colony scholarship or
not, he would reach the top,

He wanted to be famous, to be a renowned figure, to be a
household word. Sir Geoffry Weldon, the celebrated sur-
geon, or Geoffry Weldon the distinguished pianist. 55

The fulfilment of Geoffry's dream is outside the scope of the
book, but through it Mittelholzer has indicated the method by
which Guiana itself has matriculated, i.e. through education.
The same process is fully realized in the Kaywana trilogy when
Reginald Greedfield, the grandson of a slave, is knighted.

A price must be paid. her emancipation from Ramgolall's
hut cost Sossee dearly. In Weldon s grand house she is little
better than a servant, even her children laugh at her creolese
and her malapropisms. She forbids them to visit her half-
sisters, Beena and Katree, because they are not "on your level
of sociologrity". Geoffry defies her ban, visits them and has
an affair with Katree.

It is the class-tensions, antipathies stemming from colour,
or more accurately, shade-of-colour, and clashes of love interest
(also aggravated by shade prejudice) that invest Corentyne
Thunder with suspense. This suspense is intensified by an
absorbing spirit of place, excelled in Mittelholzer's work only
in My Bones and My Flute and Shadows Move Among Them.
The tensions between the Weldons and their half-aunts extend
to their Uncle Baijan who has grown rich in the booming war-
time rice market. He in turn extols the virtues of the "high-
coloured" girl he is going to marry,

Once she even write a long story in a exercise book and
send it away to a magazine in America called True Romance.
She suscribe to all kind o' high class magazines. True
Romance, True Story, True Confession, Love Mirror, Oh!
she got big, big education, man. 56

The effect of this praise on the Queen's College scholarship
candidate can only have been the reverse of that intended by

When Geoffry leaves a gift of money for the peasant girls to
buy themselves new clothes, Katree is delighted and on Beena's
return she announces the good news, "Look what Geoffry
bring for we." Beena, however, recoils, "Dem is bakra boy"
and not for "coolie like we". Falls the shadow! Beena and
Katree, who until now had been like Hermia and Helena, two
lovely berries moulded on one stem, are estranged indefinitely.

Corentyne Thunder was only a beginning in many ways.
For instance, we see in Ramgolall's family the source of much
of Mittelholzer's writing on the Indian which culminated in
Jagabir. Baijan, Ramgolall's son is seen again in the character
Tommy, Hoolcharan's,eldest son in We Know nbt Whom to
Mourn. 57 Tommy, like Baijan has the intelligence and initia-
tive to become a rich rice-merchant, but socially, he cannot
shed the shackles of his origins.

A few typical protests against the exploitation of Indians
deserve mention. In The Adding Machine 58 the vice of Mr.
Hedge is underscored by his abuse of an Indian girl to celebrate
a capitalist triumph.

He ate the meal by himself, devouring every scrap and drop
and drained the bottles to their dregs while the Indian girl
looked on. Then it was her turn to be enjoyed. Mr. Hedge

55. Corentyne Thunder p. 111.
56. ibid. p. 198.
57. In the West Indian Stories, ed. A. Salkey, London Faber (1960)
pp. 201-227.
58. Kingston, Jamaica, The Pioneer Press (1954).

enjoyed her all night. Fiercely and unrelentingly. He sent
her away the next morning effete and tottering and in tears. 59

A similar protest against the victimization of Indian serfs who
refused to surrender their daughters to the estate owners is
found in the sixteenth chapter of With a Carib Eye entitled
"Droit de Seigneur", 60

Similarly, Errol Ming Ho, the two faced, deadly enemy of
Indians in A Tale of Three Places has a preference for Indian

"Coolies yes"! Errol cut in contemptuously. "I agree with
Harry. East Indians what! Those sons of bitches will be
coolies all their lives, whether they turn lawyer or doctor
or dentist. Come here as dirty sugar estate immigrants to work
on the plantations in the nineteenth century .... They 711
forever think like coolies. Secretive, cunning, clannish,
mysterious fawning and whining and sticking a knife in your
back as soon as you turn your head to look the other way. '61
These words, if quoted out of context, might pass as "proof"
of Mittelholzer's racialism, but the author's attitude is that of
Alfy Desseau who watches Errol Ming Ho leave, when the party
is over, and reflects sadly on what he has witnessed. "And Errol
was heading for Bombay Street to go to bed with an East Indian
girl . 'A sweet lil coolie craft' .. And not fifteen minutes
ago he had been slamming into Indians ... "61 The point is so
hotly pursued that one cannot avoid feeling that Mittelholzer's
emotions were deeply involved.

"You'd better see you keep those views strictly to yourself"
warned Sonny.
"No fear boy grinned Errol, a sly look coming to his face.
"The coolies will get all the soft soap from me in public.
I'll be like an uncle to them when I get on a platform to talk
to them" 62

The involvement of the author's emotions communicates
itself to the reader and constitutes one of the advantages the
work of this period has over that of the later periods. In Eng-
land, for example, his writing never engages our deeper sym-
pathies since we feel that the author has merely marshalled
spokesmen to put points of view.

There is a positive side to Mittelholzer's championing of the
Indian people. Sylvia Russell's teacher, Miss Jenkins, symbol
of culture and authority, reprimands her for referring to an
Indian as a "coolie", although she has allowed some coarse
language to go without reproof a moment before.62 Again, in
With a Carib Eye Mittelholzer deplores the fact that Indians
are still called "coolies" by "people who should know better".
Miss Bisnauth in A Morning at the Office, intelligent, cultured
and incurably optimistic is a fine tribute to emancipated Indian
womanhood. Harry Hoolcharan (We Know not Whom to
Mourn), a contemplative young man, thinks about death without
grief or fear and commits suicide sitting quietly in a chair be-
cause he believes his father upstairs is dying Mittelholzer ob-
viously felt a close kinship with Harry. In Latticed Echoes63
the author provides an interesting sketch of an exuberant,
amiable Indian in the person of Badhursingh, who hails Richard
Lehrer on the New Amsterdam train and fills the compartment
with breezy good humour. Lehrer, an egocentric snob, is pleased
to accept the Indian's invitation to visit him later.

It is through Jagabir, however, that Mittelholzer focuses the
ferocity of his attack on colonialism, and on the social squalor
of Trinidad which has resulted from it. Even Mary Barker, the

59. ibid. p. 66.
60. With a Carib Eye p. 125-130.
61. A Tale of Three Places p. 53-54.
62. Sylvia p.23.
63. London, Seeker & Warburg (1960)

office cleaner, shares the common attitude towards him and the
common motive.

She hated him as all the rest of them hated him because
he was an Indian, because he was the son of indentured
coolies, they all looked on him as dirt. 64

Jagabir reacts to overt hostility by sycophancy towards his
superiors and an overbearing attitude towards his inferiors at
the office. These reactions in turn only intensify the antago-
nism of the "high coloured" members of the staff, like Kathleen
But this man Jagabir made her sick in every way. His dis-
sembling, his slyness and prying habits, his sycophancy, his
ingratiating yet at the same time nagging and accusatory,
voice all combined to create friction with her fearless, vola-
tile temperament, and to breed within her a contempt and dis-
gust for him.65

Jagabir does not stand condemned by this, however, for Miss
Henery has not successfully rationalized her repugnance for
him. The credit side of his character and the circumstances
that extenuate his faults are not mentioned by her. On the
credit side, (which the author provides himself, there being no
intermediary among the characters), there are his efficiency,
his good looks and his kindness. He is very kind, albeit ostenta-
tiously, to Mary Barker, when she returns in distress to the
office searching for money she had lost. It is for these reasons
that one rejects Miss Sparer's view of Jagabir,

The two East Indian men in the novel are repulsive. One is
"redeemed" at the end, but his "type" has already been too
strongly impressed on the reader. The other (Mulgalsingh)
is an unnecessary blackmailer unnecessary, certainly, for
him to be an Indian.66

It is unnecessary for Mulgalsingh, the blackmailer, to be an
Indian! This is tantamount to saying that the racial origins of
criminals must never be disclosed. For to disclose them is to be
guilty of "unreasoning prejudice" against that race. Miss
Bisnauth, the amiable poetess is also an East Indian, though
Miss Sparer does not mention this fact. Nor can one accept
that impressions outweigh redemptions with any but the most
superficial reader. The excuses for Jagabir's disagreeable man-
ners dwarf them, for he is so much more sinned against than
sinner, that he becomes the apotheosis of Mittelholzer's prob-
ing of the social plasma of colonialism. He had started work as
a field labourer and there "He had been cursed at and threatened
and humiliated by white overseers once nearly kicked."65
He had escaped to the office where his talents as an accountant
were extremely valuable. But although he presented Mr. Mur-
rain with a balance "concise and explicit in every detail, cor-
rect to the last cent" (p.66), his pay was so pitiably small that
it worried even Murrain.

Many times it troubled him that he did so little work yet
drew such a big salary three hundred and sixty dollars a
month when his hard-working junior, Jagabir, received
only a hundred and twenty. (p.66)

But Jagabir was married now and had a family. His neurotic
feeling of insecurity sapped his manhood. He could never
insist on the rights, or even talk back to Miss Henery, lest he
should be sent back to the fields.

Fear rose in Jagabir, He saw Mr. Murrain reporting it to Mr.
Waley that his handwriting was illegible, and, as a result,
the typist could not make out the figures he wrote. It was
causing much inconvenience and annoyance. Several firms
were beginning to complain. Mr. Waley reported the matter,

64. A Morning at the Office p.52.
65. Sunday Chronicle, Georgetown, Guyana, 23 April 1967.
66. Morning at the Office p.32, p.37, p.91.

the Manager of the Tucurapo Estate, and Mr. Holmes came
to town for a conference... It would be better to send him
back to the estate to some field job instead of dismissing
him right off 67

This day-dreaming by Jagabir is just one of the moments of
feeling with which the author invests the facts of the situation,
so that the circumstances are unfolded in terms of the personal
plight of Jagabir. The artistic rights of the novel are never in-
fringed because all the material presented is absorbed into the
fictive life of the work. Jagabir's wrestling with his fate em-
bodies Mittelholzer's yearning for racial harmony and social

The author's championing of the Indian's cause does not
imply partiality for that race or antagonism towards any other
whether European Asian or African. The Chinese and the
Portuguese are given credit for social virtues associated with
them as a people. Contemptuous attitudes towards them
adopted by characters are not indicative of the author's views
but tell simply the circumstances that obtained in a community
like that at that time.

His attitude towards Negroes can be traced right through his
work, an attitude of respect both for the person of the Negro
and for qualities and talents peculiar to the race. In the brief
resume'of that attitude given here people of mixed Negro and
European or other blood will be included, since a distinction
between them would eclipse part of the author's outlook.

One of the boyhood memories of the author, recalled in
middle age, was that of a pure-blooded Negro, Percival Augus-
tus Cummings, "a well-bred man". Mittelholzer tells us in A
Swarthy Boy that "No one in the middle-class of admixtures
questioned his right to be called a gentleman". Rose, the
mulatto girl in Kaywana Blood, is also described by the author
as well-bred. Good breeding, in Mittelholzer's'view, was'mani-
fested in one's manners, tastes and conduct, and not by one's
complexion. Mixed with the scintillating wit of Creole Chips
are moments of pathos, like the plight of Kathleen the unfor-
tunate housemaid, in coping with the stinging remarks of Mrs.
Waspe of Robb Street e.g. "Don't stand so near me girl".
Other instances of personable and capable Negroes are Jack
Sampson in Sylvia, Harry Haynes in A Tale of Three Places, Dr.
Scarfe, a physician high in everyone's esteem, in Eltonsbordy,
the emancipated and fully integrated Negroes in The Mad Mac
Mullochs, Mr. Dencher in Of Trees and The Sea and Rayburn,
in My Bones and My Flute. A note on the last mentioned
book may help to clarify further the author's attitude to the
problem of race and colour.
The psychic and social aftermaths of colonialism are inter-
woven in this book. The ghost of a Dutch necromancer, Jan P.
Voorman, who lost his life in the slave rebellion of 1763,haunts
people who touch a parchment on which he had put a potent
curse. When Rolf Nevinson touches the parchment and is
haunted in Voorman's highly distinctive fashion, he does not
run away. Accompanied by his wife and daughter and by a
friend, Milton Woodsley, he traces the malevolent phenomena
to their source at Goed de Vries. When danger threatens and
Nevinson suggests that the watchman and caretaker, Rayburn,
an intelligent and dependable Negro, should be brought in to
help, Mrs. Nevinson objects,

She refused, she said, to tolerate Rayburn's presence in the
cottage with us. The position, she went on, had not become
so desperate that we had to sacrifice our dignity to the
extent of having a black man rubbing shoulders with us as
though he were an equal.

She infuriated me, but I succeeded in keeping my temper. I
said nothing.68
67. Morning at the Office p.91.
68. My Bones and My Flute, London, Seeker & Warburg (1955) p.105

Mittelholzer's belief in the curability of people like Mrs. Nevin-
son and Mr. Murrain is of special interest. Once her husband
convinces her of her mistake, Mrs. Nevinson sheds her prejudice
like a dirty apron and takes the lead in seeing to Rayburn's
needs and in making him feel at home. Mr. Murrain's outlook
has also undergone the first stage of correction in his interview
with Mortimer Barnette the Trinidadian writer, who had called
at the office that morning.

For a long time he had not experienced such sincerity and
honesty when talking to a fellow human... Good gracious!
But one couldn't object to the company of a erson like
Mortimer Barnett on the grounds of his colour. 6

The point is of special interest since Mittelholzer has been
accused of pessimism by Miss Sparer.

Things end on a hopeless note, there will be no change
except for the worse. 70

On the contrary, the author's optimistic line of reasoning will
be taken to a logical and heartening conclusion in The Mad
MacMullochs, in which Negroes take their rightful place in a
justly organised society. It is worth noting that the agent of
reform inA Morning at the Office represents the author himself.

The success of the character Horace Xavier the Negro office-
boy in A Morning at the Office, one of the first fictional pre-
sentations of young Negro manhood in West Indian writing, is
due in large measure to his identification with the author, "Who,
before this book, would have found time to 'waste' on an ordi-
nary Negro office-boy? But after Mittelholzer, office boys had
gained an identity of their own", said Edward Brathwaite.71
The most satisfactory illustration of this identification is the
circumstances, attitudes and reactions of Horace as revealed in
the novel, but a few simple examples may help to -clarify the
point. Like Mittelholzer,

He would smash his way through and beat Destiny. Beat
God Himself and Jesus and the Virgin Mary if they tried to
hinder him from getting what he wanted out of life.72

Like Mittelholzer he collected stamps not important, per-
haps, but significant in a way, because the author assigned this,
the favourite hobby of his boyhood, to no other character in
his fiction. (The way in which the obstructiveness of the Euro-
pean is extended to his God is also worth noting).

The encounter between Jagabir and Horace, when the for-
mer arrived at the office, is a reproduction of an incident that
happened to the author when he first went to work in New
Amsterdam. "You might say morning, Xavier", said Mr.
Jagabir. "Who?, Me? I thought it was your place to say morn-
ing. You come in and find me here". In this case Jagabir
backed down, but in real life the young Mittelholzer was
threatened with dismissal, which he at once pronounced un-
necessary, because he was leaving. (This is told on the authority
of Frank Mittelholzer, the author's cousin). In spite of this it
is said of Mittelholzer that,

He is not able really to identify with anyone who is not
white or coloured ( as opposed to black?)7?

Mittelholzer could and did identify himself with people of all
races and of every shade of colour when it was possible to
express through them, the ancestral wrongs of the region.

69. Morning at the Office p.226.
70. Sunday Chronicle, 23 April 1967
71. Bim, Vol. 8, No. 31.
72. Morning at the Office p.50.
73. Miss Sparer, Sunday Chronicle 23/4/67.

Perhaps sufficient has been said to establish that Mittelhol-
zer far from writing in a prejudiced way in these, the books of
his early phase, was sensitive to the beauty and goodness in
coloured people of whatever race, and that he grieved at the
grievances they had so often foregone. One can even assent to
the claim made by Herman A. Boxill who considers Mittelhol-
zer the most admirable of West Indian authors.74 He is ad-
mirable particularly in this, that the astonishing and regret-
table phenomenon of self-contempt, which occurs in West
Indian literature, is not found in his work.

Denis Williams, the Guyanese novelist, has said,

... on the ship returning to Guyana some months later I
was to experience a feeling almost of shock when con-
fronted .. with the West Indian mass in the dining saloon.
Shock yes, and confusion and alarm and even, paradoxically
repulsion. This polyglot mass, this composite, this hybrid,
this mongrel who were these people? I suspect that the
answer to this question keeps many a reflective West Indian
abroad. Mr. Naipaul for instance has recently been reported
to have said: 'I don't know what West Indian means. I have
nothing in common with the people from Jamaica or any of
the other islands'. It is a serious question. "75

In Naipaul's case, however, it is not a question of self-con-
tempt, but of contempt. His attitude to West Indian Negroes
convinces one of this, since nowhere in his work do we find
them portrayed as the people we know in real life. Further-
more, the self-deprecatory pose in The Mimic Men76 is only a
refinement of the Englishmen% fetish for understatement which
is, in fact, self-praise in the disguise of anti-heroics.

David Omerod of the University of the West Indies would
have us believe that in Naipaul's scheme, Mr. Biswas represents
the Negro.

Biswas . is an instance . of that stereotype of West
Indian fiction, the black Negro proletarian cut off from
social advancement by his position at the bottom of the
colour hierarchy. 77

The weakness of this approach is that Naipaul has introduced
so many Negroes that no room remains for any non-Negro
representatives of the race. In A House for Mr. Biswas78 there
are Miss Blackie, servile handmaid to Mrs. Tulsi and the vulgar
woman who asks for flesh-coloured stockings and is offered
black ones by Shama. The woman exploits the girl's indiscre-
tion to obtain a pair of stockings free and leaves the Tutsi
shore, "with an exaggerated swinging of the hips". There is a
Negro policeman who catches Biswas without a light on his
bicycle and pauses, waiting to be bribed. There is the stupid
Edgar, Mr. MacLean's "labour" who digs the holes, "You got
to tell him stop", Mr. MacLean said, "otherwise he dig right
through till he come out the other side". If Negroes are not
stupid they are cunning, like the parasitical "searchers" who
operate outside the office of the registrar in Port of Spain.
Naipaul tells us how Negroes treat their off-spring,

"Children were disregarded and fed, it seemed, at random;
punishments were frequent and brutal."

He takes the same line again in The Middle Passage79. No later
than the second page we read that "From the next compart-

74. "The 1969 Edgar Mittelholzer Memorial Lectures". The National
History & Arts Council, Guyana, (ist. Lecture).
75. "The 1969 Edgar Mittelholzer Memorial Lectures", The National
History & Arts Council, Guyana (1st Lecture).
76. London, Andre Deutsch (1967).
77; In a Derelict Land, Contemporary Literature, Vol. 9, No. 1.
78. London, Andre Deutsch (1961).
79. London, Andre Deutsch (1962).

ment a very tall and ill-made Negro stepped out into the cor-
ridor ... His face was grotesque" and on page thirteen refer-
ence is made to another Negro "with big black eyes as lack-
lustre as boiled eggs," Kripal Singh on the other hand "... was
tall and slender; his features were fine, his mouth as delicate as
a girl's. He smoked with nervous elegance". "So fair" Mrs.
Mackay said". Naipaul's attitude is sustained so consistently,
that one wonders if he has ever seen a West Indian cricket team
and, if so, whether he was blind to men like Hall and Griffith
for looking at Kanhai. "A tall handsome Negro" is featured on
page nineteen of The Middle Passage but the fly in the oint-
ment is soon specified,

"This man ... had had some mental trouble in England and
was being sent back, at his own request, at the expense of
the British Government".

No attempt is being made to incriminate Naipaul or to vindi-
cate Mittelholzer by an odious comparison, even though the
odiousness of such a comparison might be excusable if it pin-
pointed the absurdity of the allegations made against Mittel-
holzer. What must be established once and for all is that Mittel-
holzer's racial origins and childhood experiences convinced him,
beyond the possibility of doubt or question, of the fatuity and
cruelty of penalising people for their complexions. Nowhere,
in anything he has written, is meanness, ugliness or wickedness
associated with negritude. "In many ways" said Herman A.
Boxill "Mittelholzer was the most West Indian of the West
Indian writers 80and certainly one of these ways was his ability
to think and to feel as a West Indian of any race, colour or class.
Said another West Indian critic of him,

Mittelholzer's presentation of Guyana and of West Indian
islands are all many dimensional, multi-voiced and multi-
layered. For when depicting societal structure, he docu-
ments with quizzical smile all the various classes and all the
subtle shadings of discrimination. 81
And even while he was still writing, there were critics who
appreciated the author's message behind the harsh propaganda
of less magnaminous characters represented in his fiction. One
such was Harold Simmons of St. Lucia who wrote in 1957
".... we are grateful that he has become a successful novelist
and able to convey his message in the crusade towards de-
racialism". 82

80. "The Novel in English in the West Indies", Doctoral Thesis,
University of New Brunswick, 1966, p. 178.
81. Wilfred Cartey, "The Rythm of Society and Landscape," New
World, Guyana Independence Issue 1966, p. 101.
82. A Tale of Three Places, reviewed in Diily Argosy, Georgetown,
Guiana, 29 April 1957.

"The Blacks" by Jean
Genet, Lloyd Reckord's
production at CAC
Photo by Maria Layacona



the Theatre


by Alex Gradussov

What can we expect from our enter-
tainers? What is their duty? What is the
role of the theatre?
In Jamaica, the same as anywhere
else, entertainment cannot fulfil a func-
tion which is not asked for, and it's no
good saying that the people don't know
what's good for them, that we the chosen
few know what is, and that we have to
provide CULTURE.
That has never worked. The people
know only too well what they want.
The debasement of taste that is cur-
rently taking place is far more terrifying.
It has been an onslaught. The lowest
common denominator. For example -
pop music.
Now pop music in itself is not bad,

although its lyrics are often banal and
unispired, and it tends to be monoton-
ous. But it is often made bad by the
people who use it, and thereby debase
it i.e. the purveyors of advertising
slogans put across with jingles which rob
words of meaning.
There is nothing wrong with a pop
singer vocalising romantic despair, for
this, however self-piteous it may some-
times be, is a valid human emotion. But
when toothpaste and hair cream and
shoe polish, all become associated with
meaningless word jumbles designed to
express a need for things that are not
really needed the mouthwash that has
never been heard of ( to achieve roman-
tic success), the hair conditioner that
does not add one iota of lustre to either
shiny or un-shiny hair and all these
elements combine to create a desire for
the inane and the unnecessary, that is
where popular culture collapses.
And it isn't that it is the conscious
desire of the advertisers to debase popu-
lar taste, it is purely an expression of
their value-system: greater sales, greater
profit, greater prestige. It's a vicious
But to combat that by an onslaught
of the classics, classically presented as
we hear from the dismayed caretakers

of culture would be futile. In fact, it
would represent a greater immorality
than that of the advertisers, regardless of
how tasteless and poor their sales pitch.
For if the so-called cognoscenti, who
ought to know and, in fact, do know
some values, cynically ram down people's
throats their values, irrespective of
whether they are meaningful, relevant
or liked then these "culture leaders"
become dictators of the mind of the
worst type.
No solution can come from staging
Shakespeare, playing classical records,
excluding the values of the shoddy,
tawdry commercial world. We have to
think of a better method to capture the
public imagination, to transform that
which is real in the people's minds into
something perhaps more accomplished,
creative, profound at times. And even
if the popular conception is sometimes
frivolous and near meaningless, we
should seek to express it in the best
possible way. A band can play ska well,
or it can play it badly. The difference
between a musically-gifted band and a
commercially-trained one is the obvious
lack of soul. "Soul" is now used as a
synonym for black soul, which is at the
centre of the Negro-awakening in Amer-
ica, but its universal reality is just as
present in Jamaica without quite the
repression, or the other forces that have

shaped the desire of black people in the
United States; for all art has soul. "Soul"
music and all the other "soul" adjuncts
are but fashionable words for an age-
old reality.

We must not forget that in Jamaica
the culture of the few has never been
part of the experience of the many. The
field slave, for example, did not even
know the difference between silver and
pewter, between osnaburgh and silk,
between mahogany furniture and the
rough-hewn bench on which he sat. If
we now offer the rebel generation the
values of Europe as ready-made achieve-
ments to be swallowed wholesale, they
will cause revulsion: cultural indigestion.
They will be rejected by the organism -
as rejected as they are now without any
particular force being applied. The
greater the force applied to make the
mass of people accept an alien value-
system, the greater the force of reaction,
the greater the force of rejection. In
fact, the best way of bringing about a
total rejection of all even the more
acceptable values of Europe by the
black population is precisely the method
which would make black people have
what they don't want. No slave loved his
whip: how can black Jamaica suddenly
become enamoured of European culture?
In the great cultural void of this coun-
try, there has come a need for conspic-
uous display by the evolue, the man on
the make, the man who has made it, the
man who has got money, the man who
wants to display it. His values are ter-
ribly confused. Even if he looks black,
he is no longer black. If he is white, he
doesn't partake of the natural whiteness
of his forbears (however wicked and
arrogant they were, they were self-suf-
ficient, neither changed by their sur-
roundings nor by opinion, headstrong in
the belief that white was right) but lives
as a reaction against the black world, in-
sulating himself with his wealth against
the mass of blackness. And in this
void there are no cultural values.

The dance beat and revival beat are,
however, genuine expressions of a folk
culture. The few who might listen to a
classical string quartet or admire the
paintings of Chagall or Klee they are
so few that they hardly matter.
For in this society, the people who
matter are the people who have purchas-
ing power, and they have rejected with
all their soul all they have emerged from
or from which they want to separate
themselves. They know that they can-
not participate in a revival meeting; that
even if they move to the tunes of the
reggae, they must express their abhor-
rence of the debasement of something
that they never had to debase in the first

In this vacuum flourishes the calen-
dar cheesecake picture and the meaning-
less decoration. In this wasteland the
phoney imported show flourishes. And

then there are the buildings in which
they live, neither comprehensible to the
viewer or the dweller. The Georgian
Great House, though degrading to the
slave and the indentured servant, was
still the outward manifestation of an in-
ward desire for harmony. The Arawak
hut or the contemporary peasant% wattle
and daub structure represent the same
outward sign at a different level and with
different mears. All have some meaning
as symbols of the occupant's integration
with his surroundings. The house should
relate the occupant to his society. The
vast majority of contemporary buildings
inhabited by the affluent are but sym-
bols of wealth. The relationship is
tenant-like, temporary, alienating the
owner from his fellow-countrymen as
well as frustrating any attempt of inner
harmony, Their inhabitants do not
know themselves, and what they know
they reject. The little they can ascertain
they have buried deep down in the dark
backgrounds of their minds. And to
them popular culture is pop music and
dressing well sometimes with taste
and sometimes garishly and driving a
big car chariot-like up the huge ramp of
the neo-medieval castle in which they

Recently a columnist stooped so low
that only the anatomical peculiarities of
a schoolgirl, and the proven ability of
JIS to provide the best live entertain-
ment, were subjects of an attack on the
Festival. And the attack was made in
the most unfair terms.

It was not the value of the origin or
the organisation of the Festival that was
attacked. The attack was made upon
the participants, as if the participants
were to blame for the occasional slip in
the organisation. And similarly the JIS'
use of Festival material was lampooned
as barbarous.

But why is this so? It is all buried in
the past. It is a difficulty of wanting to
come to terms with the ambivalence to-
wards the heritage of Jamaica's culture.
It cannot be said that this is an exclu-
sively black African, non-European, non-
Western country, and the people who
have advanced that view, whether they
have printed a weekly paper or expressed
themselves at the street corner or in
their own backyard, have missed the
point. The intervening past must make
changes in the human heart. You can-
not re-awaken all that has gone by. The
past is certainly important, but it isn't
to be jumped over, cut out, or manipu-
lated. What has happened in the past has
left an indelible mark on the minds of
those who have passed through the ages
of Jamaica's history. But the zeal of the
black reformer is hardly a zeal which
needs condemnation as a whole. It
needs toning down, focussing, revalua-

The danger is that the dissemination
of culture rests with people who have a

completely different hang-up. Their
trouble is that they would like to cut
out their black heritage as if it were a
cancer, as if it were an ugly scar that
could be eliminated from their psyche.
And it is so obvious that this cannot be
If the Black Muslims in America have
gone to the one extreme, creating a fan-
tasy world of religion that is not the
religion of Mohammed, and not even the
religion of black poeple, the brown and
white and some of the black in
Jamaica have created a similar fantasy
life for themselves. They have enveloped
themselves in the belief that all the
values emanating from Europe, are the
valuess which will make man progress,
make man develop, make us all happy.
But they have forgotten that nobody
can be pressed into a straitjacket. There
is no panacea. And even if the values
the Europe-worshippers were trying to
sell, were the values of truth, of beauty,
of goodness, it would still not work. But
alas, such is not the case. The record of
Europe is as tarnished as that of any race
of mankind.In fact, in the last two or
three hundred years, it has been much
worse than that of the subject races,
whatever their past achievement or lack
of achievement has been.

We hear peculiar objections. The
drumbeat of the Negro is the expression
of a subhuman element in man. The
dance that exaggerates the hip move-
ment is debasing and provokes sexual
desire. The jazz trumpeter who con-
torts his face in order to bring out the
best in his instrument, identifying him-
self compeltely with his music, is an
outward manifestation of a lesser human-
ity. All these cheap excuses have been
bunched together to make out a case for
European cultural superiority.

But have we forgotten that in the
name of culture the Jews were slaughtered
in Germany? Or that in the name of
culture opium was peddled to one of the
more "civilised" nations of the world?
Or in the name of culture at least some
Jamaicans were brought in chains to
this part of the world?

And even if we omitted to consider
the crimes of the past, it is a crime of
the present to suppress human nature
when it wants to express itself in its
natural almost fore-ordained- course.

Nobody can prescribe the type of
music you have to dance to, the type of
pictures you have to look at, the type of
play which is valuable. It is with plea-
sure that the latest All-island Exhibition
of Painting has brought to the fore the
indigenous genius of the untutored and
yet, more endowed, artist. It is the
Rastafari, the cult leader, who has pro-
duced perhaps the most important visual
contribution to Jamaican art.

It is not to say that those painters of

the Jamaican sentiment influenced by
European art, but remoulded to their
own Jamaican experience, are to be
overlooked. But if originality counts at
all, it is the people who have had little
use, and no need and that is more
important who have triumphed in the
visual arts.

But sadly enough, the musical artists
have rarely been given a chance. And
the few who managed, despite all ob-
stacles, are either dead or dispirited. And
these survivors either deteriorate into
the stereotype pop kind of redoing-the-
same-thing-in-similar-guise, or they have
been driven into exile when their crea-
tive talent was not to be subdued for the
needs of the market.

When we turn to the theatre we are
struck by contradictions. The Festival
is condemned by those who usually
praise enterprise. Yet the Festival has
brought to the fore playwrights of
originality such as Sam Hillary, who had
been recognized before but had little
encouragement. And there are others.
We have had Dennis Scott, with "Char-
iots of Wrath" and recently "The Pass-
ionate Cabbage"; Carmen Lyons, who
finally achieved a competent success
with her bronze medal.winning entry
"During Lunch Time They Had The
Revolution"; and, perhaps, the crown-
ing achievement of Festival Trevor
Rhone's "The Gadget".

"The Gadget", which focuses on
the inequalities and idiocies of the mid-
dle class aspirations, and particularly
the black middle class aspirations in
Jamaica which mercilessly castigates
the commercial bias, the soulessness of
hunting after material success is by no
means the summit to which the theatre
can aspire, but it certainly is far more
complex than the backyard comedy of
the stock situation.

But the heart and soul of Jamaican
entertainment lies in the marriage of
music, dance and speech. The Jamaican
musical of the future will use the Ernest
Ranglins and Don Drummonds of the
music world, and the Vic Reids and
Roger Mais in the literary field. Per-
haps visual art is different. Who knows
whether Kapo and Osmond Watson will
be able to contribute to the musical of
the future? But, most important, the
musical has always catered to rich and

Otherwise the poor have catered for
themselves. The revival song is the reality
of their life an escape from the des-
pair, from the drabness, from the lack of
any assurance of the possibility of
change. From the revival song to the
popular dance tune, the distance is very
short. It is perhaps not even a distance,
but an emphasis.

What seems pretty, what seems attrac-
tive in the visual sense for the masses, is

unfortunately mainly determined by the
commercial sponsors. But, musically,
and in the dance, people's senses are still
sound. And there is an oral tradition. In
the urban areas it may be true to say that
the Anancy story is dead, but the man
who can tell a story, who can relive his
experience in dramatic gestures and
dramatic language is still a popular focal
point of community life. And there
must still be pockets in the country
where the traditional tale is told. And
the narrator knows even if subcon-
sciously, that Anancy is more than just
a spider-man who outwits the society:
he is the symbol of resistance. He is the
living manifestation that the outside
world, the white world, the commercial
world, the oppressive world has not
been able to overpower the folk culture
and the folk tradition. And in words,
even in the coinage of proverbs and in
the telling phrases of dialect, lives the
poetic impulse of the people. It is in
the dialect poetry of Louise Bennett
and the occasional utterances of stage
comedians like Bim and Bam that the
genius of language is unfolded in Jamaica.

(And if in the traditional English of
the British Isles, the ocassional poet can
utter a truth that appeals to his own
circle, and perhaps a few more, he is
still divorced from the feeling of his
compatriots in general.)

And what about the rich? Are they
even poorer than the poor when it comes
to the resources of the spirit? What
assets have they left?

The desire for learning, and nostalgia
for a rustic arcadia are two hooks upon
which one might hang a new value sys-
tem. It is rare in a family of well-to-do
Jamaicans that learning is not encouraged
ie. learning in a very shallow and un-
profound sense, learning meaning ac-
quiring a diploma, a degree, a school
certificate, a G.C.E. subject but learn-
ing all the same.

It is true that the boy with very little
understanding and even formal ac-
complished learning will make his way
in the business world, provided he is
helped, but he will often fail, and the
failure is usually attributed to his lack
of learning, to his lack of knowledge, to
his lack of expertise. And so rare is the
businessman in Jamaica who does not
realize some value in learning!

The desire for land is perhaps the
middle class link with the country. Only
the completely self-contained have no
links with some relative in the country
or some property, with some feeling of
a rural past, some experience of the way
things used to be. (Although perhaps
they never were.) This arcadian yearning
romanticises the past; its feeling for
nature is false or partly false. The link
with the country parts is but a tentative
possibility for understanding something

about the land in which the affluent
live. Unfortunately too many wealthy
city-dwellers are cut off from nature by
their concrete walls.

What entertainment do we find? We
find the cinema and the dance band, the
continuous blaring of the radio or the
sound system and the intolerable repe-
tition of serials on t.v. and radio. (JIS's
Hopeful Village and Elaine Perkins'
Dulcimina and The Story of Stella are
the honourable exceptions on radio; JIS
and the odd show like "The Outcasts"
or "Buddenbrooks" the redeeming fea-
tures of T.V.)

Among these so little-encouraging
culture-carriers we find the odd live
show, and even that is badly run. The
super, the exaggerated, the pretentious
in the pop show appalls. There is no
rehearsal; there is no shape; there is no
form. People come on stage; sing their
song; and depart.

Rarely has anyone bothered to tell
them how far to hold the microphone
from their mouth, how to gesture, how
to sway with the rhythm, how to adapt
themselves to the mood of the audience.
Even if the dancers move with rhythm,
it is the rhythm that is almost divorced
of all meaning. There is no co-ordina-
tion, no pattern. No central theme is
ever attempted or achieved.

If it is a foreign entertainer, he is
here mainly to make money. His link
with the audience is tenuous. Sure, he
likes applause, but he doesn't feel that
this is home. Ray Charles was disgusted;
Miriam Makeba only mildly pleased:
both had their sound system break down
on them. After all, it is a little disap-
pointing when one cannot get across to
one's audience, even though in terms of
money one may be better off. But Duke
Ellington, Miriam Makeba and Ray Char-
les are the exceptions. Duke Ellington
loved Jamaica, but the Duke has become
an institution and we love "institutions".
Unfortunately, the majority of the artists
imported here are fairly second-rate.
They haven't made it to the big circuits
or the big cities. They are in the back-
wash and their assistance to the local
artists is only marginal. The technique
they can teach is usually inapplicable in
Jamaica, or outworn because they were
imitators of the innovators who began
these techniques.

It is a barren field that we have to
plough, and the aids are few.

Amateur groups will have their fling.
The Operatic Society will stage Gilbert
and Sullivan. (They managed Trial by
Jury with a remarkably Jamaican flavour
and it was well sung by Bernard Pike as
the judge, but it was essentially an alien
enterprise). New groups come and go.
Only the Little Theatre Movement has
lasted a long time.

Top Right
Homer Heron as Marat
in "Marat/Sade" by
Peter Weiss, Noel Vaz's
production at CAC

Top left
La Ronde, New Theatre
Production 1965
Photo Gleaner

Reggie Carter as Hamlet
in Wycliffe Bennett's
production for LTM of
HAMLET Photo Gleaner

Bottom Left
Jamaica Playhouse
production of
"The Slow Dance on the
Killing Ground"
John Jones, Beth Hyde
& Louis Blazer
Photo by Maria Layacona

Even New Theatre or their successors
at the Creative Art Centre, who feared
E. M.Forster's Passage to India adapted
by Rama Rua four years ago as much as
they refused to do an adaptation of
Joyce Carey's Mr. Johnson, recently
staged Genet's The Blacks with great suc-
cess. Noel Vaz, Lloyd Reckord and
Maurice Harty strive in their different
ways for a value-system that could be
valid and viable. The New Theatre's
past has been competent, if extremely
wrong-headed, as their Monkey Trial and
La Ronde repertoire gave eloquent wit-
ness. Even though Vaz's Marat/Sade was
good and even earlier Barry Reckord's
"You in Your Small Corner" staged by
the same director captured the essentials
of the immigrant's situation in England.
Loyd Reckord's T.V. production of
Hillary's "Chippy" and of several plays
did much to bring straight theatre before
a much wider audience. Theatre 77 is
another honourable exception. Their
audiences however, were very small
since they had only a very small theatre,
The Barn. And as for Shakespeare, he
has been honoured but even in the
better moments caricatured by pro-
ductions like Wycliffe Bennett's Hamlet.
Reggie Carter played a credible Hamlet,
but the rest of the cast inhabited a triter
world and consequently put the whole
play out of joint. A Midsummer Night's
Dream and Romeo and Juliet, produced
in the open air, were "society" efforts.
They lacked soul, mattering little to the
players and less to the audience.

Most straight plays remain meaning-
less. Even if some actors have talent and
The Slow Dance on the Killing-ground -
coming from a usually "society" orien-
ted group chills the marrow and con-
vinces one utterly that the "natives" are
alien in their own country. This still is
not enough.

The real heart of the theatre in
Jamaica has been the musical, and its
exponents have been the "Panto"and
Bim and Bam. Both for the most part -
if often for very different reasons were
sometimes way off beat. But they had
their roots in the culture manure of the
country. They were applauded by real
audiences and they had, even though
only gradually evolved, some popular
themes. Lou and Ranny were right from
the beginning of Panto the hardcore box
office attractions, and at the same time
the real-value-givers of the show. But in
years gone by the support was often a

sham: white value-oriented or white-

But in the long tradition of the Little
Theatre Movement, there is a lot to be
learned. It was begun by traditionalists,
people who, without subscribing to the
myth of Europe, still were strongly in-
fluenced by the ideas of a theatre they
perhaps knew best. And it is ironical -
but perhaps typical that the name
given was a transfer from an English
institution, the pantomime. From a
model where a girl plays the leading
boy's role, existing in a rather sugar-
coated and yet fun-loaded fantasy-world,
grew characters of a typically Jamaican

The consistent work of the Fowlers
has been a great asset to the theatre.
Not only in their pantomime, but in
training actors, directors and technical
personnel through their Little Theatre
Movement, they have brought at least
competence and sometimes inspira-
tion to the people who value the

But it is in the two characters of
Louise Bennett and Ranny Williams (and
to a certain extent Lois Kelly-Barrow)
that the real pantomime lives. It was
with producers like Rex Nettleford and
Eddy Thomas, and scriptwriters like
Sam Hillary, Orford St. John, Margaret
Gauron and others who have occasional-
ly made a breakthrough.

In Banana Boy and Queenie's Dau-
ghter there was a certain amount of
gloss and falsity, but essentially they
were social satires of a mild and popular
nature which packed the Ward Theatre
for months on end. And that is a solid

Moonshine Anancy, their latest effort,
is only a pale ghost of an exciting past.
Barbara Gloudon's script and Eddy
Thomas's choreography try to lift the
spirit of the show: the one topical and
observant, the other imaginative and
contemporary. These efforts, however,
just aren't enough. And the casting, for
the first time, of a purely black couple
as the hero and heroine, displays; a lack
of imagination by making two young,
inexperienced players carry the burden
of the breakthrough. Moonshine Anancy
is tired. The singing in particular is
weak. The over-all impression is that of
a company at the end of a long run. It
might be so: the "Panto" has had a very
long run.

It is funny and sad that the
fruits of a far more Euro-centred effort-
the 8 O'Clock Jamaica Time revues -
are now ripening into something worth-
while and valid. The seed planted by
Norman Rae, director, and Jimmy Bar-
ton and Tony Gambril, scriptwriters, has
now become the Eddy Thomas-directed
Rahtid, and Boonoonoonoosdirected by


A Panto "Alladin", 1952 Little Theatre
Movement Production. Photo Gleaner

B Panto "Queenie's Duaghter", LTM
production 1967 Gleaner Photo

C Trever Rhone's "The Gadget" at the
Barn Photo T. Rhone.

D Bim & Bam Gleaner Photo

Maurice Harty. It has grown well, be-
yond expectation. It is the new theatri-
cal idiom of Jamaica.

These two musicals are the equi-
valents ofTrevor Rhones "The Gadget".
They are, again, not the highest achieve-
ments within that particular field. There
have, naturally, been attempts to do the
same thing in the past.

Sylvia Wynter's Sh It's a Wedding,
broke down from a lack of organisational
talent. Theatre 77 with I Am Human,
Right tried the same thing, too, with
better organisation

Similarly the Bim and Bar show
offered the talent of the Jamaican genius
on the stage. But this comic pair lacked
the leadership and organisation which
could have brought out their best. They
had to rely on limited resources, parti-
cularly in the imaginative field. They
were actors and dancers and comedians
primarily, and somebody was needed to
feed them the ideas and techniques.

To return to 80 Clock Jamaica Time,
it was noticeable that its social satire
latched on to the unimportant: the
minister over-taxing the people; the
'ladies of the night" disturbing society.

Although the politician would al-
ways remain a butt-end for the satire,
the minister's egalitarian efforts, surely,
are not his worst sins; and prostitution,
however deplorable in some ways, is
certainly not the cancer that is destroy-
ing Jamaica.

Occasionally captions were projected
onto the stage, and these were apt and
humorous. White tourists were lam-
pooned. The Jamaican immigrants in
England were juxtaposed. This certainly
was credible within the context of Jama-
ican society. But the show in toto still
left the impression of a bunch of expat-
riates amusing themselves with native
folly. Whatever merit the script may
have had, it still projected a very in-
complete and unfocussed view of this
country. It betrayed inexperience. Only
with the advent of Eddy Thomas did
Tony Gambril now alone manage to
transpose certain stock situations into
self-awareness and self-criticism. Thomas
was looking into the society from within
not observing from without. Ogden and
Gambril made the transition with his
help. Rahtid and Boonoonoonos are
Jamaican shows.

It is, no doubt, typical that many
deplore the passing of the meek and mild
satire of 8 O'Clock Jamaica Time, and
shudder at the outrageous attacks on
the Establishment political, cultural,
racial, religious of Rahtid and Boo-
noonoanooshas gone slightly overboard
as the social-protest revue par excellence.

Its stars, John Jones and Claudia

The "Boonoonoonoos" band Courtesy T. Gambril

Robinson, certainly demonstrated that
skill professional skill in the theatre
is not lacking. The supporting cast, vo-
cally sometimes astonishingly good, at
other times a little weak, were still
moulded into a whole, into a sum-total
experience. Even when the choreo-
graphy of the play left much to be de-
sired, it did not detract from the impact
of the music the beat of the time
used aptly to illustrate the situations.
The black leader laments that Christ is
dead and Jestus lives. Baby recites
Nanny's home-grown wisdom; bitingly
and yet loaded with humour. And the
finale of the first act brands the whole
society as self-seekers, hypocrites and


Nanny says angels live on the moon
Nanny says God is kind
Nanny says Jesus will come back soon
Nanny says Child, if you heed my words
If you follow my ways, if you pray like me
You'll be one of the chosen few.

Nanny says Catholics will be cursed
Nanny says the Jews are bad
Nanny says Rastas are the worst
Nanny says Child, if you heed my words
If you follow my ways, if you pray like me
You 71 be one of the chosen few.

Nanny says Grand'pa will go to Hell
Nanny says Daddy's condemned
Nanny says Mummy's an angel who fell
Nanny says Child, if you heed my words
If you follow my ways, if you pray like me
You'll be one of the chosen few.

Nanny says intolerance is a sin
Nanny says prejudice too
Nanny says God won't let bigots in
Nanny says Child, if you heed my words
If you follow my ways, if you pray like me
We'll be saved just me and you.

Boonoonoonoos lyric David Ogden

Yes, in Boonoonoonoos, there are
elements which are promising.

Claudia Robinson in Boonoonoonoos
Courtesy T. Gambril

But it is not only in creating the
original play, or the knowledge that new
plays must be written reflecting the ex-
perience of one's own society, that the
salvation or improvement of the theatre
lies. It is thinking about the theatre as
a whole in different terms, not in terms
of copying someone else's achievement.

The Broadway success can never be
a success at the Ward Theatre. And,
however admirable the recent renaissance
of the English theatre has been, it can-
not be transplanted to the Jamaican
theatre. The whole approach has to be
a re-thinking in choice of play. There
is a vast variety on the market. Recent-
ly the University students staged a festi-
val of drama in which two classic lays,
"The Doctor In Spite of Himself' by
Moliere and "The House of Bernarda

Alba" by Federico Garcia Lorca, were
adapted. The adaptations were very dif-
ferent in skill and competence. Moliere's
play creaked in the middle, and the stock
jokes of the pantomine had crept into
the fabric of universal human folly. It
was a humble, but worthwhile, effort.
And even in the staging of the polished
and often inspiring adaptation of Lorca
by Sylvia Wynter, the whole play ought
to have been shown. It was only one
act that we saw. But, in the response of
the audience, one could feel that the
Spanish poet-playwright, Federico Gar-
cia Lorca, had as much appeal in
Jamaica as in his native country.

And one does not have to go as far
as that. The plays of Shakespeare,
particularly the comedies,have an earthy
humour whose appeal to the Jamaican
audience has surprised me at times. With
a cast of girls from Bethlehem Training
College, "The Taming of the Shrew"
became a threatrical experience for the
Malvern village audience that astonished
not only the actors and the director, but
the very people themselves. They had
always thought that Shakespeare was
something highbrow and remote, not
part of their everyday experience.

And so we can go on, whether the
plays are written by modern play-
wrights like Osborne or Miller, or the
Old Masters, no play can be trans-
planted from its native soil without
some re-thinking and re-shaping. This
constitutes, at times, a radical recasting
of language, particularly when the play
comes from a foreign language, be it
Spanish or French or African or Chinese.
Here the adaptation has to be, I think,
more radical, more trying-to-capture-
the-spirit-of-the-play rather than follow-
the-words-of-the-script. In English lan-
guage plays, less alteration is advisable.
We should not stage-or even attempt
most theatrical efforts as social protest
plays, native or foreign. In fact, it
would be a symptom of sickness, if a
society could only castigate itself and
ridicule its representatives. But at a cer-
tain point in every country's history -
whether it is the time of Moliere's
"Tartuffe" or Lessing's "Minna von
Barnhelm", the popular operas of the
Chinese or the No-plays of the Japanese
- there is always an element of aware-
ness of the society and an attempt to
right the wrongs. Beyond that, however,
there must be a broader field of enjoy-
ment and of looking at the tragic element
of life.

The tragic element, in its very essence,
cannot be ascribed to a villain. The
stock villain, the Richard III of Shake-
speare who is aware of his own villainy,
makes, at best, only a horror-figure who
cannot touch the hearts of a theatre
audience. The theatre must be the ex-
perience of man caught in forces beyond
his control, grappling with his own short-
comings and the shortcomings of all man-

kind, in such a theatre the tragic sense
of life is exposed.

In his poetry Dennis Scott makes con-
tact at times with these common, human,
tragic situations. His dialect poem, Uncle
Time, gives this feeling of being caught
in the web of merciless time. Some
short poems of Anthony McNeill and
Mervyn Morris have also given the feel-
ing of this helplessness in the human sit-
uation. But, as yet in the theatre, there
is hardly an indication of a realization of
the true tragic sense of a situation. There
is nothing beyond the accusation of the
social forces that frustrate man in the
Jamaican society.

"The Gadget" is an accusation of
forces that are not beyond man's con-
trol. It's greatest shortcoming is its lack
of tragic feeling. It is rather the ability
of the spectator to see that what hap-
pens to the insurance salesman, is some-
thing that with insight and will power
he himself can overcome and master.

Sylvia Wynter's "Ballad for a Rebel-
lion" was history revealed. But our
sympathy is too much with our histori-
cal friends, Gordon and Bogle, and not
enough with Eyre and Kettelhodt. May-
be the production was more to blame
than the playwright. A morality play
can be detatched; the production we
saw staggered uneasily between the real-
istic and the symbolic towards an in-
conclusive end.

This is not a cheap criticism of that
play or the whole endeavour of Jamaican
playwrights. It is rather a forecast of the
possibilities that are opening up to those
who will realize that, beyond the accusa-
tion of the powers that have kept the spirit
of the Jamaica majority in bondage -the
slave-masters of the past and the culture-
czars of the present there are other
themes and conflicts to be analyzed.
There has to be a broader spectrum;
there has to be a feeling for the unity of
mankind that can come about only
through first exploring the obviously
changeable immediate circumstances.
The now well-accepted German Marx-
ist playwright, Bertold Brecht, realized in
his epic theatre, that he could not restrict
himself to the agitprop theatre of com-
munist propaganda. His "Good Woman of
Setzuan" realizes that man is trapped by
his heart, by his feelings, by his compas-
sion, just as much as by his grasping na-
true andby the callous pursuit of material
values. His Galileo knows that the system
is wrong, realizes that he, Galileo, is wrong
too. Thus we learn about the complexity
and tragedy of human existence.

Human beings are not perfect. And,
in perfecting human nature, we can
never aspire to the goal of the perfect
man. In all men, there are traits which
will lead to conflict: whatever the sys-
tem, whatever the means of earning a
living, whatever the methods of pay-

"A Ballad for a Rebellion" by Sylvia
Wynter, Directed by Lloyd Reckord 1962
ment in the society, whatever the arrange-
ments by which relationships are regulated
and arrived at. And out of the experience
of the present theatre must come the ef-
fort of the future a theatre more
broadly based.
But this broad base of human under-
standing will never come about in Jama-
ica, unless there is a feeling that we have
purged ourselves of the sins of the past
and the mistakes of the present. And if
the language adopted as in Boonoo-
noonoos,- seems exaggerated to the
mainly middle class audience, they must
remember that the broad mass of Jamai-
cans have no participation, have had no
participation, and, in the foreseeable
future, will rarely be able to participate
in this theatre of protest. So it is ad-
dressed to the very people who are least
suited to understand it. But the gulf
can't be too wide. Most of the critics of
society inhabit the houses of society.
Their's is an intellectual protest and rare-
ly are the critics exposed to the very evils
that they criticize.
And.the classes are mot cut and dried.
When we speak of the rich we can't mean
the Upper Class because there is no such
thing in Jamaica. And when the Middle
Class is attacked it is but the segment
of that class the aspirers after wealth
in the purely material sense who are
subject to the attack. Between rich and
not so rich there is a difference but not
one easily defined or easily discerned.
Each group can with the aid of educa-
tion become aware of the falsity of the
value system. Each individual within
these groups can change. The change
must be accepted by the individual free-
ly. It must be a conversion without the
emotionalism attachedto that expression
by the evangelists.
"Know thyself" said the old Greeks,
"only then can you be at peace with
yourself and your society". Know the
past, integrate the past into the present
situation. Feel part of your society. It
is only when black will neither be the
epithet of abhorrance nor the rallying
point of protest, when 'coolie', 'white-
man' and 'Chinaman' have no role to
play as meaningful words; when 'good'
hair no longer means straight hair and
'clear' skin has lost the meaning of fair
skin, that the theatre of human values
will flourish. Only then will there be
any point of talking about the common
human experience. Until then we must
tolerate the theatre of protest, and when
its protest is valid, learn from it.

J.B. Kidd

J.B. Kidd

Morant Bay

by Martin Mordecai

The path was a scar in the run of
houses, and once you were along it the
town receded into its own clamouring.
For a long time after the quiet was estab-
lished there seemed to be no noise, a total
absence of sound. He stopped and listened
intently, turned his large head from side
to side and cupped his bat ears; heard
nothing. He started hurrying, finally
broke into a run, desperately hoping for
some familiar sound, any of them, to
which his ear was normally so sensitive.
But there was not even the striking of
his feet, uneven, the rhythm of his life, on
the loose-stoned path. The world seemed
suddenly galactic, was enclosed by the
perfect, white, silent sky. Trees rushed
past him, hurrying he didn't know where,
and without their usual greeting, they did
not even notice him. He gave himself over
to his running feet because he could not
think where to go, in this place he knew so
well, and he could not dare to stop.
Then suddenly there was a bridge, and
the water was laughing up at him as he

hung over the guard-rail grabbing wide-
mouthed at the air, and he could feel the
laughter of water trembling in the soles of
his feet. Then the laughter became a roar,
merged with the air that burnt his lungs
and lifted him into a new realm of silence
terror-taut and brilliant with silent explo-

He sighted a tree, sentinel of a dark,
weed-shaped pool that he saw at the same
moment,.and he rushed toward it. In a
moment he was among its branches, shins
smarting from improperly claimed foot-
holds. Then he was laughing; folded by the
green limbs, he 'rocked with laughter
because the world was suddenly over-full
with such warm, personal sounds. And
his mother was there, beckoning with
brown arms. For the first time in his life
she was clearly visible. In the cloudy per-
spectives of rageful imaginings his mother
had taken many forms: an old, grey-
draped witch, a sharp-faced young whore,
Mrs. McCullor with features strangely,
malevolently intent. Now, finally, she
was there, quivering among the leaves
A0 -0 -.1 11 _

with the diffuse dabs of sunlight. And
she was a young woman. Beneath the
beige shawl, the knaps of which were
teased vibrantly alive, her face was smooth
with an autumnal repose, asking forgive-
ness for her tardiness. He reached out to
her and realized it was Fiona's face.
The laughter died, the joy of sound
curdled in his throat. He clutched the
branch so hard stars of pain exploded in
his arm, and behind his tight-shut eyes
pinpoints of light careened.

The boy appeared to his left, as though
fashioned by the air. The man, his fear
swimming in moist circles before his eyes,
thought the boy a vision, the woman's
ethereal companion. He walked as though
carrying something indescribably precious
on his head. A red towel like an emblem
was slung on his slim, white-shirted shoul-
der. This he dropped on the twisting
roots of the tree from which the man

Illustrations by E. A. Thubron


watched, and proceeded to strip. Un-
hesitatingly he plunged into the water, and
for five minutes or so seemed to dance
among the leaves of the tree as the man
trembled from a fear he only vaguely
understood. Finally the boy climbed out
and stood for a moment, his adolescent
body tenderly etched in shining water-
lines, staring at a spot just in front of his
feet. Then he stretched out between two
tree roots, throwing the bloody towel
over his face.

It was not until afterwards, from the
newspapers, that he learnt her last name,
Walters. Soon after she moved to town, a
year before, he found out that she was
called Fiona, and had been content with
that because it seemed to come from the
countryside to which she was being intro-

He had never wanted to talk to her; so
that he was careful not to be seen as, from
tree or bush, he watched her walking home
from school, every evening. She had to
pass Mr. McCullor's farm on the way, so he
gathered she lived over the hill, down in
the naked valley he had but once glimpsed
and rushed back from, because there were
no trees, no shadows to shelter him. On
weekends he was completely at a loss, so
that he was not able to do even the simple
tasks Mr. McCullor assigned him. Monday
was a resurrection of brightness and he
sang, loudly, annoyingly out of tune, to
the other workers.

She didn't know she was being watched
he took great pains to see to that. He dis-
covered that people didn't like being
watched for long periods, a steadiness of
gaze upset them as it did the animals. Be-
sides, he didn't want to frighten her with
his ugliness.

She was very curious about everything
she saw the flowers, birds that flew
away on her approach, the animals she
fed whenever they would allow her. Tall
and slim, something like a stalk of corn
herself, she lingered over the going home.
Not at all like the other girls in the village
who came out into the countryside in the
company of boys and then headed im-
mediately for the copse above the farm.
Fiona became herself a part of the country-
side,his countryside. When it rained and -
the tractor-marked paths were deep ine
black mud, she took off her shoes and
socks and revelled in the mud squelching
over and between her toes. He won-
dered if she climbed trees.

Once, on a Saturday when Mr. Mc-
Cullor was not there and he had nothing
to do, the desire came to him to find out
exactly where she lived. All he knew was
that her home was the other side of the
hill, in the bald valley. And he realized
that to find her he would have to venture
into the valley itself. This made him
dawdle along the way, so that he was
hardly conscious of his foot. Eventually

he reached the top, and saw the expanse
of naked gold, pockmarked with houses
and shrubs of little consequence, almost
daring him to venture further.

He continued, and more firmly. His
foot began to pain him slightly, which was
strange because it was a dry, laquered day.
Looking neither right nor left, as though
expecting her to spring from the very
ground before him, he walked on. And
suddenly it seemed she was actually there,
atop a small rise, and they stopped a few
feet apart, the tilt of the hill between

Then he turned and ran.

She was calling out to him, "Man,
stop Man, please stop". And from the
sound of her voice he knew she had
started running too. The leg seemed
heavier than ever, and he sobbed with
frustration as she continually called, "Man,
stop!" Then, as suddenly as she herself
had appeared there was a tree. With a
great wail of relief he lunged and swung
up into the branches.

She stopped beneath him, he heard
her, his face in a cluster of freshgreen

"Man," she called, as to a child. "Man,
come down. I'm not going to trouble you.

He burrowed further into the tree's
I don't mind that you have a bad
leg," she said. "I have black hair and I
wanted it blonde like the film stars. Come
down. Please, I want to talk to you."

"Go away," he finally screamed. 'I'm

She laughed. "None of God's creatures
can be ugly," she said, almost reprimand-
ing him. "Come down and talk. I haven't
got any friends in the town either. So if

we can't be friends.'. Her voice trailed
into silence.

He wanted very much to talk to her.
The only other person who had eeyer
wanted to talk to him, except to give him
orders, was Mrs. McCullor, who was not
ashamed to be seen in the town with him,
and didn't scold him when he broke
things. It was because of her, finding him
drunk on the sidewalk outside a bar one
day, that he was employed on the farm at
all, because he did very little. And now
this creature, the most beautiful and the
only perfect creature he had ever seen,
wanted to talk to him. He didn't know
what to do. Mrs. McCullor did not laugh
at his face, pointed and hairy but deathly
white beneath it all, or at the things he
said, which the men on the farm said were
stupid, cretinous. But Fiona might laugh
and say that he was a cretin.

"I don't want to talk to you," he
screamed. "Go away, or 11l Ill kill
He had never consciously killed any-
thing'in his life. Insects even he brushed
away when they troubled him, which was

"You wouldn't kill me," she said, and
laughed. "I've seen you watching me in
the afternoons, from the side of the path.
I don't mind. I wasn't afraid. Now, are
you going to come down now, or later?
You can't stay up there all day."

He began to chuckle to himself. She
did not know, nobody did, how at home
he was among the wide, succouring bran-
ches of the trees. Climbing was the one
thing he did excellently: broad shoulders
and powerful arms made the use of feet
almost unnecessary; and the trees received
him gladly, pulling him up to themselves.
The happiest times of his life, whole days
sometimes, had been spent in trees: he
became a part of them, perfect, his feet
centred in the rich earth, his head in the


sky. Laughing to himself, he relaxed and

Eventually she did go away. Looking
up with a final smile of disappointment,
she said, "Okay. You win this time.
You're very cruel. But one of these days
there won't be any trees." And she
walked away on her long brown legs. He
did not know whether or not he wanted
her to find him, and if he would run
away once more, as he had done all his

It could be put down to chance that
he was there, in the tree overhanging
the rockpool, that morning a week later
Mrs. McCullor had asked him to come
with her to do her shopping in town,
because, she said, she wanted a man
with her. He refused, however, to
accompany her into the grocery. It was
not long before the usual knot of child-
ren had gathered round the car and
started teasing him. Trowel-foot, they
screamed, and Goat-face, their own
faces distorted far beyond his ugliness.
After ignoring it outwardly as long as
he could, praying aloud for Mrs. Mc-
Cullor to return, he flung open the door.
They scattered like startled birds as he
rushed through them.

After what seemed hours of running,
until his foot and chest throbbed in
chorus, and the town was far behind its
protective hill, he came to the river, the
pool, and the tree.

He had been resting there perhaps
half an hour, glorying in this new tree he
had found, when he was disturbed by a
rustling below. It was Fiona, his mouth
formed her name. A sunset red flower
he did not know was stuck in the darkly
bunched hair and a matching towel
hung over one shoulder.

She stopped directly beneath his
tree, looked slowly around. Then in
fluid movements she undressed. The
white, boy's shirt and threadbare jeans
were all that she wore on her slim
golden body with its wondrous protu-
sions and tender curves. She stood for a
moment, hugging the residual warmth to
herself. The man trembled, close to
ecstasy, and afraid, that, in the same
way as she knew he watched her on the
path though now he had stopped -
she would sense his presence here, and
glance suddenly upward, in triumph.
But she simply rushed into the water.

He descended as low as he safely
could in order to gain an unobstructed
view of her and still remain hidden.
This took infinite care and time, and
just as he settled himself, she emerged
from the pool. She stood on the bank,
braced on slim shining legs, finger-
combing her hair. She was something
from the past he only glimpsed in

moments like these, of a membranous
beauty that once had surrounded him,
and which had been suddenly, brutally
burst to invite the rushing ugliness. She
had bathed in the diamond-pool of his
memory, emerged with beauty studding
her, enough to allow him a portion.
The golden skin was stretched taut with
a blinding perfection, the young breasts
and girlish belly merely the symbols of
an unlimited potential he knew would
never be his. The myriad points of
beauty distilled in this posturing body
filled him with a lust for vindication of
his cheated birthright that was close to
obviatory. There she stood, assuming
an infinity of roles, identities, while he
was fossiled in this unchanging ugliness.

She came over to where she had left
her clothes, directly beneath him, and
stretched out on the grass. The sure
langour of her movements proclaimed a
ritual, from which he was rudely ex-
cluded, even as a sympathetic unlooker.
She seemed to stare straight into his
burning eyes, but he no longer feared
discovery, filled as he was with a sense
of rightness and invincibility. So that
their glazed eyes were locked. Until
hers closed, and she flung an arm across
them. Then he eased himself down,
careful to the last, and dropped.

It was the Monday before the body
was found, a quarter mile down the
river in the Sheldon garden. Fiona was
known as a child who wandered, and
after the initial outcry and investigation,
which turned up nothing except her
clothes in the first hour, it was presumed
that she had missed her footing and fal-
len in. Her widower father did not
know whether or not she could swim.
Parents thereafter warned their children
about the river; where before it had been
simply another feature in the landscape,
it now acquired stature, an identity to
be reckoned with.

He thought the very violence of the
act would cauterise all beauty from his
world, that he would be freed to retire
once more into the routine of mere
ugliness into which he had lived himself.
But it did not. Here she was, scarcely
changed, ghostly body transformed in
this boy's, haunting, mocking his failure
with the same sure perfect brown lines
he remembered in his fingers.

There was now nothing to do but
destroy him too. He shook with pity
for the beautiful body.

He fell badly, to one side of the boy,
so that a loud scream escaped him be-
fore the man got a firm grip. The boy
was wire-strong, fought with every inch,
and the man cursed his foot that denied
him the fullest leverage. But finally he
pinioned the slim shoulders, while his
fingers sought the vital chord that gave
life and strength to this beauty. Through
the pounding of blood in his head, seek-
ing the answer in the body beneath him,

he was nonetheless sensitive to the
sounds around them: the indifferent
laughter of the river, the mossbank and
leaves protesting the struggle, the bark
of a dog. The bark of a dog, not very
far away. This seemed to strike a note
of new violence in the boy, and the man
felt himself losing his grip. The barking
came nearer, and as it came turned into
a growl, finally blotting out every other
sound, and the man felt a sharp pang of
pain' in his leg. He wrenched himself
free and ran, sobbing, into the field

The town came alive only on Satur-
days. The streets were jammed and
roaring to the sound of heavy vehicles,
the pavements warm, slightly wild with
people and the impact of sturdy shoes.

The man was relieved on sighting the
neat black and gold sign of Dr. Chamber-
son's office. The card on which Mrs.
McCullor had written the name of her
medicine was damp from being tightly
clutched in his palm; this he prepared so
that he could present it to the reception-
ist without having to say anything. As
he made to open the door it opened on

It was the boy. But he was no longer
the golden perfection of the man's
memory; his delicate oval face was
pasty and slack, as though the flesh
would come away on a touch, and his
neck was wound in startling white ban-
dages. The brown eyes were the only
chunks of colour, and only in them-
selves, for they were already dead. They
did not see the man's alarm, nor his
dash through the pavement crowd into
the highstreet. Neither the boy nor the
man saw the tractor, and no one remem-
bered hearing, even those who made
them, the multiple screams, of warning
and death, as one huge, sculptured wheel
went over the body.

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