QUARTERLY OF THE INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA
JUNE 1972 VOL. 6 NO. 2
HISTORY ...................... 2
Political Activities of Marcus Garvey in Jamaica Mrs. Amy Jacques-Garvey 2
Tacky, and the Great Slave Rebellion of 1760 . . . C. Roy Reynolds 5
Old Bedward of Spring Garden . . . . .... . .H.P. Jacobs 9
Coastal Water Pollution in Jamaica . .. .. .. Dr. Barry Wade 14
Folk Medicine in Jamaica . . . . ..... .Henry Lowe 20
ART LITERATURE MUSIC ........... 25
Norman Manley Award
for Excellence . . . ... Norman Washington Manley Foundation 25
Five Poems by Louise Bennett . .. . .. .Louise Bennett 27
West Indian National Libraries. . . . .... . .Cliff Lashley 31
The Protest Tradition in West Indian Poetry .. ... .Samuel O. Asien 40
Two Folk Tales .. . . .. .... . .Vernon Lopez 34
Four Folk Tales. . . . . . . . .Walter Kekyll 36
Annual Exhibition of Paintings 1972. . . . . . . ... 49
Self-taught Artists' Exhibition 1972 . . . . . . . 46
Folk Musical Instruments Exhibition . ... . . . ..... 52
FROM THE INSTITUTE ............. .. 54
Jamaican Ceramics .. .. ..... . . .. Duncan Matthewson 54
Underwater scene on Jamaica's North Coast
by Carlo Giuliani
Design by Johnny Brandford
Design by Raphael Shearer
Portrait of the Rt. Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, by Jamaican artist, Leonard Morris, 1971.
The Political Activities of
by Amy Jacques-Garvey*
The year 1929 was one of the most striking and agonizing
365 days of Garvey's stay in Jamaica. Subtle, silent, systematic
efforts were made to crush him and destroy his Movement, when
he would not heed the overtures of agents sent to plead with
him (for his own good) to give up the fight to change the con-
dition of the black masses.
In July of that year a default judgment of G.O. Marke a
former Officer of the Parent Body in New York City was
taken up by J.H. Cargill, Solicitor in Jamaica. The hearing was
held before Sir Fiennes Barrett Lennard, Chief Justice, who gave
judgment and ordered the sale of all the properties and assets
of the Parent Body U.N.I.A., incorporated, unincorporated; also
the local branches in Jamaica. Despite the fact that an appeal
was pending, everything was sold.
During the hearing the Chief Justice fined Garvey twenty-five
pounds (sterling) for not producing the books of the local branch,
*Mrs. Garvey, widow of the late Jamaican National Hero, Marcus Mosiah
Garvey, has been awarded the Gold Musgrave Medal of the Institute of
Jamaica "for distinguished contributions to the history of people of
African descent and dissertations on the philosophy of Garveyism".
which books Garvey did not have in his possession. The Local
U.N.I.A. won the appeal, and the Government had to refund the
Branch the price paid for their Liberty Hall at the Auction sale,
which was below market value. But Garvey got nothing for all
the assets of the various auxiliary units sold by order of the Chief
The Isaiah Morter case was going through the courts of Belize,
British Honduras, on to England on appeal. Mr. Morter a
black patriot left his estate to the U.N.I.A. "for African
redemption". This the Colonial Office (through the local
Judiciary) said was for "illegal purposes", and despite the
thousands of pounds spent for Barristers, and Court fees, the
Parent Body and Garvey never got the legacy. Garvey and the
movement were stripped financially, but their spirit was never
broken; so they held the Sixth International Convention in
Jamaica, and Delegates heralded to the world a defiance that
whatever mortal men did to hamper the struggle, the spirit of
Garveyism would prevail.
Feeling the mighty hand of Imperialism clothed in legal
authority, Garvey decided to form a political party, in order to
change conditions. He and his colleagues named it "The Peoples
Political Party". In 1929 they issued a Manifesto.
In the subsequent Municipal elections they won three seats -
they had one in the Legislative Council. They now decided to
run 12 candidates, one for each parish, for the general elections
to the Legislative Council. The following are the planks of their
platform, which were printed on hand-billsalso in The Blackman.
"If elected, I shall do everything in my power ... to make
effective the following: -
1. Representation to the Imperial Parliament for a larger
modicum of selfgovernment.
2. Protection of native labour.
3. A Minimum wage for the labouring and working classes
of the island.
4. A law to protect the working and labouring classes of
the country by insurance against accident, sickness and
death, occurring during employment.
5. A law to compel the employment of not less than 60
per cent of native labour in all industrial, agricultural
and commercial activities engaged in, in this island.
6. The expansion and improvement of city, town or
urban areas without the encumbrance or restraint of
7 An eight hour working day throughout Jamaica.
8 A law to encourage the promotion of native industries.
9. Land reform.
10. A law to impeach and imprison judges who, with
disregard for British justice and constitutional rights,
11. A Jamaica University and Polytechnic.
12. The establishing of a Government High School in the
capital town of each parish, for the supply of free
secondary education. Attached to the said High School
to be a night continuation school to facilitate those
desiring to study at night, in order to advance their
13. A public library in the capital town of each parish.
14. A National Opera House, with an Academy of Music
15. Prison Reform.
16. The compulsory improvement of urban areas from
which large profits are made by trusts, corporations,
combines and companies.
17. The appointment of official court stenographers to take
official notes of all court proceedings in the Supreme
Court, Resident Magistratek Courts and Petty Session
Courts of the island.
18. The creation of a Legal Aid' Department to render
advice and protection to such persons.who may not be
able to have themselves properly represented and
protected in the courts of law.
19. A law for the imprisonment of any person who by
duress or undue influence would force another person
to vote in any public election against his will, because of
obligation or employment or otherwise.
20. The granting to the townships of Montego Bay and Port
Antonio the corporate rights of cities.
21. A law to empower the Government to secure a loan of
three million (or more) pounds from the Imperial
Government, or otherwise, to be used by the Govern-
ment, under the management of a department of the
Director of Agriculture in developing the Crown lands
of the island, agriculturally, and otherwise, with the
object of supplying employment for our surplus un-
employed population, and to find employment for
stranded Jamaicans abroad; and that the Government
purchase such ships as are necessary from time to time,
to facilitate the marketing of the produce gathered
from these Crown lands, and at the same time con-
veniently offering an opportunity to other producers to
ship and market their produce.
22. The beautifying and creating of the Kingston Race
Course into a National Park, similar to Hyde Park in
23. The establishment by the Government of an electrical
system to supply cheap electricity to such growing and
prospering centres as are necessary.
24. A law to establish clinical centres from which trained
nurses are to be sent out to visit homes in rural
districts, and to teach and demonstrate sanitary and
better health methods in the care of home and family.
25. A law to empower the Parochial Boards of each parish
to undertake, under the direction of the Central
Government, the building of model sanitary homes for
the peasantry by the system of easy payments, to cover
a period of from ten to twenty years.
26. A law to prevent profiteering in the sale of land in
urban and suburban areas to the detriment of the
expansion of healthy home life for citizens of moderate
means profiteering such as is indulged in, in lower St.
Andrew by heartless land sharks.
As leader of the party Garvey spoke at Cross Roads square on
the 10th September 1929, presented the manifesto, and
elaborated on all proposed reforms. A few days later he was
arraigned in court on a second contempt charge, before the same
Chief Justice, and two other Judges. The basis of the charge was
the tenth plank of the manifesto. He was found guilty and
sentenced to three months' imprisonment, and a fine of one
hundred pounds. He served the prison term at the Spanish Town
prison, as a "First Class Misdemeanant".
On release from prison he only had a couple of weeks to
campaign, and without funds. Here are a few points he made:-
"Workers should be insured against sickness and accidents
while employed ... The earning capacity of the workers must
be increased, which will benefit all classes of society. In this
way workers will be able to spend more, by earning more..."
"No encouragement is being given to the natives to foster
and promote industries. The result is that Jamaica has grown up
to be a country of 'CONSUMERS' Out of our by-products of
agriculture we produce nothing. We import shoes, clothes, hats
etc., when most of these things could be made right here.
Canning and tanning factories would be a great encouragement
to the farmers in the country parishes, whose surplus fruit go to
waste, and the skins of the animals bring little or nothing."
"My opponents say Iam against white and fair-skinned people.
This is not so. I am against the class system here, which keeps
the poor man down, and the poor are mostly black people. It is
only natural, therefore, that their interest should be nearest and
dearest to my heart. . Let us all work together as fellow
Jamaicans, and ring in the changes for a NEW JAMAICA. "
When the election returns were announced, Garvey was a
shocked and grieved man. However he went through the parishes
and thanked those who had voted for his party. Said he "My
speeches and utterances were recorded with the hope of sending
me back to prison ... You were told not to vote for Garvey as
he would become too powerful; but under the party system a
rtan is as powerful in a Legislature as his party, which derives its
power from the voters; and intelligent voters cast their votes not
merely because they like him, but because he is bound by the
party's plans for betterment"....
"The voters have turned back the clock of progress for another
ten years, but party system is well established in your minds,
and it will come, it is bound to come".
In a letter dated February 1, 1930, reproduced in the Negro
World, A Wesley Atherton commented on the campaign thus:-
"Rum and human depravity blocked the path of Marcus
Garvey. The terrible reverse which he received at the polls was
due in no sense whatever to lack of organization. With the
limited means at his command, his campaign could not have
been better organized. He has lost in what was almost a rum
war, a money scramble. With the bait dangling before their gaze
- the red linen of filthy lucre Negro sons of African slaves, in
this enlightened age voted away their birthright, and suffered
themselves to be indentured for another five years under con-
ditions that have sucked their vitals to the very bone. They
traded on the future happiness of their children, and trampled
their manhood into the dust. With the whip of the slave master
still cracking in their ears, they followed the stream of molten
gold down the hills ofSt. Andrew to vote against Marcus Garvey.
"They stabbed him fiercely in the back, and while now
recovering from that brutal wound, he stands before the bar of
public opinion, facing the charges of his traducers. Those who
can, must help, and those of us who cannot, must weep.
"But the mournful dirge of the Peoples Political Party, not
Garveyism, will not be sung in this generation, nor in the next,
It shall synchronize only with the passage of time into eternity.
Both causes are immortal, and must survive all human, material
barriers and impositions. Marcus Garvey has secured a wider
niche in the hall of fame ".
In October 1929 Garvey was elected to the Kingston & St.
Andrew Corporation Council, but having to serve three months
in prison on the second contempt charge, he was unable to take
the Oath and function as a Councillor. He applied for leave, it
was denied by a majority of one, but the Lawyer for the
Corporation ruled that it was discretionary. Garvey took his seat
on release from prison, then some of the Councillors manoeuvred
again to unseat him, but they finally lost out.
Arising out of the under-hand tactics used to keep him out of
the Council, an article was written in The Blackman in which it
stated in part:- "The Corporation is entirely opposed to the
welfare of the country . The Government is also bereft of
common decency, not to say dignity, and common sense. It is
true our faith in the local administration of affairs is sorely tried;
perhaps we should not be, but our confidence in British fairplay
is not upheld by the manifestations we behold day by day... "
Garvey, T. Aikman, Editor, and Coleman Beecher, Circulating
Manager, were brought before the court for seditious libel.
Although Aikman admitted writing the editorial in question,
and Garvey did not see it, as he was travelling in the parishes,
the same Chief Justice acquitted Beecher, he referred to Aikman
"as the tool of Garvey", and sentenced him to three months
imprisonment. Garvey, he said, was criminally responsible, and
sentenced him to six months imprisonment. Garvey and Aikman
appealed, at great cost, and the appeal was allowed. So ended
the third charge of contempt.
Later on a special commission was appointed to probe the
affairs of the City Council. On the grounds of their findings
that body was dissolved.
Unable to do anythingfor the parishes as he was not in the
Legislative Council, and being hampered in the Corporation
Council in getting his resolutions through, and put into practical
use, Garvey, in June, 1930 formed the WORKERS AND
LABOURERS ASSOCIATION, to see what organized effort
could do on their behalf.
He led a deputation to the Governor, asking him to investigate
the distressing conditions of the masses of the island, and to use
his influence towards remedial measures. Nonchalantly the
Governor replied that in his opinion there was "no unusual
Garvey's next move was to draw up a petition to the King,
through the Colonial Office, and he sent copies to Labour
Members of Parliament, other liberal-minded men, and news-
paper Editors in England. The result was the appointment of a
Royal Commission to investigate the political and economic
conditions of the West Indies. At the end of September he held
a monster mass meeting in Kingston at Coke Chapel steps (the
outdoor forum) to tell the people the good news.
Mr. J. Denniston, Treasurer of the Workers and Labourers
Association presided, and introduced Garvey. He complimented
the people on their good behaviour during the times of pro-
vocation, strain and misery; and outlined the matters to be
brought to the attention of the members of the Royal
During the time he served the Municipality the following is
one of the most far-reaching resolutions he put forward, and of
course he was out-voted:-
"Be it resolved that the Council, for the purpose of carrying
out civic improvements particularly involving better water
supply, better lighting, installing of proper sewage system,
improvements to slum areas, building a Town Hall, erecting new
Fire Brigade Station, laying out recreation grounds, and all such
works of magnitude that may be necessary as improvements
within the Corporate Area approach Government for the
purpose of securing the necessary authority to float a local loan
of five hundred thousand pounds, in order to undertake the
carrying out of these improvements immediately.
"Particularly as a means of relieving the present and con-
tinuing state of unemployment and hardships among the people.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City Engineer be
requested to prepare plans and estimates involving the general
costs of all these improvements, for the guidance of the Council
in laying before the Government the manner in which the
amount asked for will be spent."
In speaking on the motion he said that, the depression was
being felt in the big cities of Europe, England and the United
States of America. Their Statesmen did not ignore it, in fact,
they dare not. So, with initiative and planning they put into
effect measures to alleviate same the dole, relief works, feeding
of school children, old age pensions etc.
"The Legislative Council instead of tackling our problems at
this level ignore them, and continue their individual narrow
policy of getting bridges built, a stretch of road repaired or a
water tank erected. Let us set them an example in sensible
planning and make the people of Kingston and St. Andrew
"Some of us will ask where is the money to come from. It is
right here in Jamaica. Just recently I read in the newspapers that
a man died and left six hundred and fifty thousand pounds.
There are many planters, merchants and business men who have
made their money here, and are wealthy; but alive or dead, they
do nothing to benefit the people of their communities. They
have no national spirit; but they could be asked to subscribe a
loan for DEVELOPMENT, for which they would be paid
interest. This act would also ease their consciences. "
The opposing arguments were that such Socialist planning had
lost the Labour Party an election. They did not intend to assume
big responsibilities as they could hardly manage what they had
in hand. Put to the vote the motion was lost. It was grievous to
Garvey that Legislators in both Councils refused to legislate for
a better Jamaica, from the grassroots up; but he warned them
that one day these docile people will rise up in the power of
their wrath, and tear down the barriers that keep them the
lower classes down.
The political and economic reforms that he suggested in
Jan.ica set the pattern for all the other Caribbean territories.
He wLs the pioneer, reformer and prophet.
. ._-. .:
An iron gibbet of the type in which members of the
rebellion wda*WPup < 1 wait oaI~, low. j
and the great
of 1760 by C. Roy Reynolds
It was Easter Monday, 1760 and following the observations
of the religious rituals of Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the
planters, overseers and other members of the European popula-
tion in Jamaica were preparing to enjoy a day of relaxation. For
the 'slave population too, it was a day of rest from their back-
All seemed quiet. But below the surface was a seething
cauldron. Men deprived of their freedom, forced to labour
without reward, and chafing under the burden of injustices, were
about to strike out boldly in a bid for relief.
Leader of the revolt which was to involve the island in nearly
eighteen months of internal warfare, which apparently threatened
the loss of Jamaica to the British crown, was Tacky. He was a
young slave who was brought from the West Coast of Africa.
Through great ingenuity and organizing prowess, this incredible
man, described as handsome and well-built, had been able to
formulate an island-wide revolutionary organization, unknown
entirely to the planters and their agents.
Tacky was a member of a set of Africans known in contem-
porary literature of the period as Koromantyns, Coromantyns, or
Koromantees. It must be emphasised, however, that these names
did not refer to a particular tribal group, but were used because
the slaves so designated were shipped from a point on the West
Coast of Africa known as Koromantyn. It was first established
by the Dutch and later used as a shipping point for slaves to the
A strong school of thought among historical researchers and
archaeologists, holds that these people were predominantly of
Ashanti origin. This is further supported by preliminary archae-
ological work at a site on the old King's House compound at
Spanish Town, which indicates a measure of Ashanti influence in
the cultural life of Jamaica during the 18th century. (This is
reported on more fully in another section of this Journal).
However, for the purposes of this article and the references
it cites we shall continue to refer to Koromantees.
In his book Human Livestock, published in 1933, Edmund
D'Auvergne stated that the Koromantees were estimated to have
been the bravest of the African peoples taken.to the New World
as slaves, and he observed: "They generally supplied the leaders
of slave insurrections". Quoting from Christopher Codrington, a
Governor of the Leeward Islands, the author stated: "They are
nearly born heroes. There never was a coward or a rascal among
them ... No man deserved a Koromantee who would not treat
him as a friend rather than as a slave".
In Observations On The Treatment Of Negroes In The Island
OfJamaica by Hector McNeil, circa 1778, the Koromantees were
represented as "naturally haughty and when he conceived him-
self injured he dispises all risks and boldly faces every danger to
destroy the object of his resentment". Another more detailed
description comes from a J. Hatchard and Son publication,
"Koromantyn Slaves'", page 121: 'They possessed in an eminent
degree the characteristics of their country firmness of mind
and body, great activity, courage, inflexibility or an elevation of
mind, which while it prompts to enterprises of difficulty and
danger, enables the individual to meet all the hazards and
difficulties with perfect fortitude and dauntless indifference".
Such was the stock of which Tacky came.
A detailed description of Tacky's revolt comes from the
pages of Edward Long's "History of Jamaica" Volume 2. It
began in St. Mary, strategically selected because it was then a
section of the country, sparsely populated with whites, and with
deep woods, amply provisioned. On Easter Monday when a band
of about fifty slaves, mostly from the estate of Frontier then
belonging to Ballard Beckford, marched to Port Maria, killed the
store-keeper of the small magazine, siezed about four barrels of
gunpowder and forty firearms. On the beach they cut off the
lead weights of a number of fishing nets to be used as bullets.
The first idea any of the white population had of what was
afoot was when a domestic slave informed the owner of Whitehall
property, Zachary Bayley of the acts of the men atPortMaria.
Bayley then hurriedly rode to alert his fellow planters and went
in search of the insurgents in an effort to talk them out of
further action. In this he was unsuccessful, and he rode off
hastily to join the other members of the local militia who were
being assembled. Even up to this point there seemed to have
been little comprehension of the intent of the insurgents. Theie
had been slave revolts before, but they had always been swiftly
Meanwhile, the insurgents marched to Heywood Hall where
they took and fired the great house and factory works. At
Esher, they repeated their success and were joined by other
slaves. Here, they encountered another act of treachery from a
member of the slave population. Yankee, a trustee slave, after
helping with the futile defence of the house, fled to spread
further reports of the revolt.
Continuing their march the rebels took Ballards Valley,
where they were joined by other slaves, swelling their ranks now
to hundreds. Having taken much spoils they then paused for a
rest and for refreshments. In the meantime Bayley had gathered
a force of mounted militiamen. The troops, alleged by Edward
Long to have been attracted to the position of the rebels by the
sound of their revelry attacked, with the result that the insurgents
retreated to the woods. This was Easter Monday night, 1760.
Even then the intent of the revolt did not appear to have been
An Interior View of a Jamaica House of Correction for slaves.
understood by the planters, because it was left to two slaves
from Beckford's estate to travel to Spanish Town to alert the
then Lieutenant Governor, Sir Henry Moore. Moore (Long's
History of Jamaica Vol. 2, page 450) "had a most consulate
knowledge of the geography of the island". He immediately, on
receiving the news shortly after noon on the Tuesday, dispatched
two parties of foot soldiers and two mounted detachments
with precise instructions on how tney were to approach the
insurgents. He further sent messages to the maroons with similar
instructions. The whole operation was apparently aimed at
encircling the rebels in a pincer-like maneuver.
By pre-arrangement the St. Mary uprising was soon followed
by another in Westmoreland, on the estate of a Captain Forrest.
While its inhabitants were at supper the great house was
surprised and captured. Following a now familiar pattern, three
female house slaves escaped to warn the owners of surrounding
estates. This resulted in immediate precautionary acts of
suppression, thus frustrating part of the general plan.
Here also in Westmoreland an act which demonstrates some
of the reputed qualities of the Koromantees occurred. The
owner of one estate on hearing of the situation armed a band of
forty of his slaves. He had been reputed to have been a kindly
man and the men, according to Edward Long's account, there-
upon ranged themselves before his house, saluted him with their
hats, and after assuring him that no harm would come to him,
informed him that they were obliged to join their brothers in
The Westmoreland group, after gathering strength, proceeded
to take up a strategic position, commanding one of the main
roads. They threw up a breastwork, across the road and soon
ambushed a party of mounted militiamen who had ridden in
pursuit. The attackers fled in disarray, and the success attracted
still more men to the insurgents.
The next assault on the rebel-held position came from a group
of the 49th Regiment, re-inforced by fresh detachment of
militiamen and a company of the Leeward Maroons. Commanded
by a Captain Forsyth the group were strictly ordered not to fire
until they were in effective range. Following hard-fought battles
the rebels were forced to retreat into the wdods. Gradually, cut
off from fresh supplies of ammunition and weapons the rebels were
forced to form small bands. Pursued relentlessly by their
attackers many committed suicide rather than face the ignominy
of defeat and capture. Other bands fought on for months and
they were still holding out when the House of Assembly was
belatedly convened in September 1760.
At this session of the Assembly, William Haynes, a millwright,
who had seen service with the militia in St. Mary proposed a plan
to raise a one hundred strong force of Mulattos and free blacks
to hunt the bands still extant in Westmoreland. This was
approved, Haynes and his band becoming really bounty hunters,
assured of a premium for each rebel killed or taken alive. To
strengthen Haynes' plans a company of 315 militiamen were
deployed in the area and a network of dispatch riders set up.
Haynes and his band were not to earn their money easily.
For four months they hunted their elusive quarry before they
were able to surprise a band of them. Following the initial
encounter, in which several insurgents were killed, the pursuit
gained momentum. This was early in 1761 and still the fight
For the Westmoreland rebels, time was indeed running out.
Low on ammunition and manpower the end must have appeared
obvious. Determined not to fall into the hands of their pursuers,
scores of rebels were reported to have killed themselves. Edward
Long recorded (History of Jamaica Vol. 2, p. 461) "the parties
of militia frequently came to places in the woods where seven or
eight were found tied up with withes to the boughs of trees, and
previous to these self murders they had generally massacred their
women and children".
Haynes and his band eventually received 562.12.6 for their
It must not be assumed, however, that the uprising was con-
fined to St. Mary and Westmoreland. In St. Catherine, Tacky's
plan called for an uprising at Luidas Vale. The group there, was to
sieze a cache of arms from the great house and proceed to
overrun the surrounding country. Again treachery was to play a
decisive role. Three slaves, pretending to take part in the revolt,
disclosed the plans to the overseer, with the result that the
plotters were swiftly siezed and executed. Those who were not
killed were deported to the slave penal colony in the Bay of
Tacky's organization also covered plans for uprisings in St.
Thomas, Clarendon, Kingston and St. James. In St. Thomas the
betrayal was perpetrated by a slave known to history as Cuffy.
He infiltrated the ranks of Tacky's men and then sold out the
revolution to his masters with the result that the action at Luidas
Vale was repeated in St. Thomas.
The Kingston band was alleged to have been under the
command of a "Queen of Kingston". And well may she have
been a dignitary in her country. Hector McNeil in his
"Observations on the Treatment of Negroes in Jamaica", circa
1788, recorded that "there were a number of princesses and
women of rank who were brought here and sold as slaves".
The ruling class of the country was now alerted to the full
proportions of the revolt and before the Kingston conspiracy
was off the ground "the Queen" was taken into custody, con-
demned and put aboard a vessel for deportation. She appeared
to have been a woman of extraordinary pursuasiveness or
feminine guile, because she was able to induce the captain to let
her off on the western shores, from where she continued her
work of liberation, only to be eventually recaptured and
We shall now return to Tacky and his campaign in St. Mary.
Having found themselves completely surrounded they decided
on a maroon-type warfare. Meanwhile the soldiers, militia and
the maroons, hunted them with superior armaments and as Long
reported, "attacked them with hand grenades". Eventually the
maroons under Lieutenant Davey sighted the main party under
Tacky and in an ensuing battle Tacky was shot. His head was
cut off, brought to Spanish Town and stuck up on a pole beside
the road. However, it was spirited away at night, presumably by
his sympathisers who could not endure such an inglorious end to
Understandably some measure of dispair struck the ranks of
those who still held out in St. Mary and at one scene a mass
suicide was staged in a cave. The rest held out and eventually
contacted the Lieutenant Governor offering an end to hostilities
if they were guaranteed passage out of the island. This was
agreed to and they were transported to the colony on the Bay of
But it was still not over and the remnants of a band which
had risen in St. James joined up eventually with stragglers from
other groups and held out for months in the Carpenters Mountain.
Undoubtedly the major uprisings were in St. Mary, West-
moreland and St. James, but the incredible organizing genius of
Tacky had covered nearly all the island. And more, he had
distributed authority on such a range that each leader was
capable of conducting his part in the plot fully. It was a slave
rebellion the likes of which had never before been seen in
Jamaica and was only to be equalled again in other West Indian
colonies towards the end of the 18th century.
It was October 12, 1761 before the Lieutenant Governor
could assure the House of Assembly that the rebellion had been
finally suppressed. The campaign was long and gruelling and the
island remained under martial law throughout much of it. Severe
damage was dealt to the economy, both from the direct action
of the insurgents as well as from the disruption of the economic
activities that resulted from the unsettled situation.
As could be expected, the revolt led to the introduction of
several measures designed to prevent a recurrence. The House
of Assembly passed an act, forbidding any gathering of slaves;
precluding them from carrying arms or amunitions. A system
was introduced under which slaves leaving their estates had to be
issued with a special ticket. The Assembly also legislated to
prevent overseers from leaving their estates on weekends and
public holidays, and to require free blacks and mulattos and
Indians to register at the vestry of each parish, to carry dn them
a certificate and to wear a badge showing their status.
Out of the rebellion also came what appears to have been the
first piece of legislation in Jamaica against the practice of Obeah.
Official opinion seemed to have been that obeahmen had played
a vital part in the organizing of the rebellion. Edward Long
records that one particularly colourful obeahman was taken in
St. Mary and executed.
New taxations were levied on the people of Jamaica to meet
the cost of suppressing the rebellion and to pay off those who
had assisted in the campaign. The Assembly imposed the taxes
in such a manner as to penalize absentee owners of estates.
Another bill passed by the Assembly as a consequence asked
the British crown to strengthen its military forces in Jamaica and
obliged the inhabitants of some areas to erect accommodation
for troops to be stationed in these sections.
As for those taken in the rebellion their punishments were
often severe and brutal. One leader was reported to have been
tied to an iron stake driven into the ground. He was lighted from
his feet, and Bryan Edwards in his "History of the West Indies"
recorded that: "He uttered not a groan and saw his legs reduced
to ashes with the utmost firmness and composure. After which
one of his hands by some means getting loose, he snatched a
brand from the fire that was consuming him and flung it in the
face of his executioner".
Edwards further related that two others "were hung up alive,
suspended on a gibbet which was erected in the parade of the
town of Kingston. From that time until they expired they never
uttered the least complaint .. and diverted themselves all day
long in discourse with their countrymen". One expired on the
8th day and the other on the 9th day.
The Koromantees were also reported by Edwards to have had
a religion based on the existence of several gods, but with a
central god of the heavens, creator of things, "a diety of infinite
goodness, to whom no sacrifice was necessary, it being sufficient
to praise and adore him".
In searching for the root cause of the rebellion one may be
tempted to conclude that enslavement in itself was sufficient
to precipitate a revolt. But though there had been disturbances
involving slaves in Jamaica before, these could more accurately
be described as riots, rather than organized islandwide plans for
conquest. Tacky's scheme reached beyond this limited scope and
its seeds were planted far in advance of 1760.
The African slave trade began as an enterprise in which goods
of trifle value were exchanged for human cargo. It was an age in
which the strong held great dominance over the weak and
apparently the earlier cargoes of mankind who made the middle
passage were made up of the weaker, less warlike and advanced
African tribes. Transported to the New World, they were more
docile and apparently less disposed to prganiz&d revolt.
But, as the demand for labour grew in Jamaica and elsewhere,
men eager for quick wealth began to change the "rules of the
game". As Edmund B. D'Auvergne in his book "Human
Livestock", recorded: "All was fish that came into the slave
trader's nets, especially if it happened to be the particular
captain's last trip to the coast and he had no more fear of the
natives' resentment . The slave dealer was sometimes taken
as well as the enslaved". Thus it was that a new and more
warlike, better organized type of African began entering the West
Indian plantation system.
In Jamaica the slave population grew to the extent where
they were reported to outnumber their masters and their allies
ten to one. Although the apologists tried to justify the treatment
meted out to the slaves by their Jamaican owners and their
agents several voices were raised against the system of punish-
ment. Historian Edward Long, in an apparent attempt to
rationalize the Jamaican situation, wrote in his second volume
(page 441) "We paint our planters in the most bloody colours
and represent their slaves as the most ill-treated and miserable
of mankind. It is no wonder that Jamaica comes in for a large
share of abuse, and even our common newspapers are made
vehicles of it." Another source postulated that slave revolts,
(more correctly categorized as riots), were more common in
Jamaica than in the French territories because of harsher
Since, during Tacky's rebellion more than once white slave-
owners who were reputed to have been humane masters, were
allowed to go unharmed it seems reasonable to assume that
maltreatment was at least a factor in theiUprising. Indeed, as
late as the second decade of the 19th century it was stated in
a J. Hatchard and Son publication "Koromantyn Slaves in
Jamaica", circa 1823, that there were planters in the island on
whose estates: "The wretched slaves were literally considered as
Maroon Town in the parish of St. James late 18th century.
mere machines, having neither minds to be cultivated nor souls
to be saved ... where the scourge was the stimulus to labour and
abuse the reward of their toil".
Could Tacky's rebellion have succeeded? Apparently there
were persons of the day who thought that it might have. Edward
Long (Vol. 2 p. 462) in commenting on the resourcefulness of
the Lieutenant Governor stated: "He was a native of this island
and had property in it... Others, who having nothing to lose in
it (Jamaica) may be less anxious for its preservation". Another
writer in a short booklet entitled, "An Essay Concerning Slavery
and the Danger to Jamaica" puts the matter thus: "The island
of Jamaica, being of the greatest importance to its mother
country, and at the same time so insecure that the inhabitants
are under the greatest apprehension, frequently from their own
slaves, it becomes a matter of public concern how to render so
valuable a possession free from the danger from which it is so
manifestly threatened". His central recommendation was to
discontinue the importation of slaves and to adjust the imbalance
between slaves and the ruling classes.
In assessing the possibilities of success of Tacky's rebellion
several factors could be considered. In Jamaica at the time, it
appears that the central core of the professional military personnel
was stationed in what is now the Corporate Area of Kingston
and St. Andrew, and Spanish Town. Technically, there were
local militia bands located in various rural centres, but it appears
that for the most part they were poorly trained and ill-equipped.
The practice at the period was to have substantial supplies of
arms and ammunition stored on the great house compounds,
inadequately guarded. Owners and overseers were frequently
absent on holidays and weekends.
With an uprising well established in St. Mary, the participants:
armed with weapons siezed from plantations and procured from
illegal dealers, the main body of the English troops may well
have been completely occupied there. The subsequent islandwide
uprisings could then force the authorities to deploy their limited
forced too thinly to either contain or defeat the rebellion.
If, additionally the maroons had thrown in their lot with the
rebels, then it would indeed be interesting to speculate on the
eventual outcome. It appears certain that the course of Jamaica's
history could have been drastically altered.
by H.P. Jacobs *
On January 29, 1818 Monk Lewis made
a curious entry in his Journal. It was
about a cruel slave-owner at Spring Garden
in Westmoreland, whose name he thought
was Bedward. He quoted the burden of a
popular Negro song on the subject and
then told the story to explain it.
lnaunew Lrregory (IvonIK Lewes.
This story has often been read and
repeated by later writers. But it has never
been examined. And yet, the story and
verse taken together, present a wonderful
field for investigating the nature of tradi-
tion. The story went back, Lewis said,
some thirty years. Thus in his time a story
transmitted orally could be substantially
correct. How far was his tale accurate and
what happened to the story afterwards?
Did it survive? And did the song survive?
The story has another claim to atten-
tion. It belongs to a small group of tales
which purport to deal with real persons
and places. As a matter of fact, Lewis
tells another story of this type, that of
Cato and Plato, which was narrated some
years later to Cynric Williams by a free
coloured girl. Another tale of this class is
that of Three-fingered Jack. That of
Hutchinson, the Edinburgh Castle mur-
derer, is another.
But in what sense are these tales to be
regarded as popular? It is note-worthy
that one seems to have been narrated by a
free coloured girl and that one version of
the Edinburgh Castle story is undoubtedly
tradition in a land-owning family, while
no sagas are related in connection with
working-class figures of a later period, or
with George William Gordon.
Now, the Bedward story is one which
we should expect the slaves to mould and
transmit. It is therefore highly important
to find out all we can about it: The more
so as a song is associated with it, and we
may suppose that if the song were popular
the explanatory tale would be remembered.
The story given by Lewis is well-known,
but must be briefly given here. Bedward
owned the estate called Spring Garden.
Whenever one of his slaves seemed in-
curably ill, he had him carried to "a
solitary vale upon his estate, called the
Gulley", where he was thrown down and
left to die. He always told the slaves who
carried the dying man to the Gulley that
they must strip him and bring back his
frock and the board on which he was
carried. One man who was being sent to
the Gulley in this way protested that he
was not dead yet, but his master insisted
on his being taken to the place. However,
some of his fellow-slaves secretly took
care of him: he recovered; and un-
obtrusively left the estate. Bedward
happened to go to Kingston, and turning
a street corner he found himself face to
face with his former slave. He seized him,
* Secretary of the Farquharson Institute of Public Affairs, Is an historian with special knowledge of Jamaican local lore.
but a crowd gathered; and when the slave
told his story, Bedward was glad to escape
with his life, and made no further attempt
to claim the man as his slave.
The first point which will strike an
attentive reader is that the second part of
the story the attempt to claim the slave
is very like the undoubtedly authentic
Governor Sir Alured Clarke (1785-1790)
story of the Negro Somerset from Jamaica,
who was abandoned in London by his
master and subsequently claimed by him
- a claim which led to the celebrated
judgement of Lord Mansfield that slavery
could not exist in England.
Now Mansfield's judgement had no
effect on the legal position in Jamaica.
So it cannot be said that the story of
Bedward's attempt to claim a slave he had
abandoned is obviously untrue. None the
less, we are entitled to regard the tale with
suspicion, as a mere borrowing from the
Somerset story. And it seems unlikely
that the slaves would use the Somerset
story to construct a saga, though it is not
impossible that they did so. We merely
have some grounds for suspecting that the
episode was tacked on to the first'part of
the story by people of a higher social class.
However, we must bear in mind what
is often forgotten that there is a version
of the incidents described above in
Stewart's Account of Jamaica, which was
published in 1808 ten years before
Lewis made the entry in his Journal.
Stewart's story (p.161) is not like
Lewis's narrative, a saga giving names and
even a rough dating. Having described a
slave-owner's practice of "worrying with
dogs slaves who displeased him", Stewart
says there was another -
'who, when his negroes became useless
by age or disease, ordered them to be
precipitated into the cavern of a rock!
This man was an incredible monster of
inhumanity, and was so notorious
throughout the island, that there is
still a general song among the negroes
relative to him, the burthen of which
is a poor negro, while he is dragging to
this horrible fate, exclaiming, "Massa
me no dead yet!" It is said that one of
those poor wretches escaped by a
miracle from this dungeon of death,
not having been materially hurt by the
fall, and afterwards recovered; but that
evil mischance bringing him one day in
the way of his diabolical master, he
claimed him; though the unhappy
negro justly pleaded that he had now
no further title to him, as he had
"thrown him away." '
It will be seen that the second part of
the story appears in a form which suggests
that it is no imitation of the Somerset
tale. It would appear that the, slave-owner
successfully claimed his former slave;
there is no mention of Kingston; and it is
natural to infer that the claim was enforced
by recourse to the courts. On the other
hand, it must be noted that Stewart says
of the two cruel masters that their names
'continue to be mentioned with horror
and execration by all ranks of people in
the island.' The possibility of a dual
tradition, therefore, cannot be ignored,
and we may suppose that by 1818 the
Somerset story had modified the original
In Lewis's narrative "the Gulley" is
clearly not a gully, but some part of the
estate which had a gully running through
it and called "the Gulley" from that
circumstance, though enquiries have not
brought to light any name such as 'the
Gully pasture' today. However, one infers
that the 'solitary vale' was the burial
ground, and deliberately located in the
part of the estate which was least likely to
be brought under cultivation or converted
into pasture, so that it would be rather
surprising if a name such as 'Gully Piece'
or 'Gully Pasture' had survived.
There is a similar case of a slave burial
ground apparently located in a remote spot
and known simply by the name of a topo-
graphical feature, at Holland in St.Thomas,
where the term for burial ground was
quahill, evidently a reference to Quaw
Hill. This is mentioned in Barclay's
Present State of Slavery (p.266), where an
angry old woman envisages the possibility
that a white who has abused her may be
carried to quahill: the word may have
come to mean any burial ground on the
estate, or the old woman taunts the white
man that he may be buried with slaves, or
the burial ground may actually have been
used for free people as well as slaves.
Stewart's story has nothing to suggest a
burial ground. The slaves are apparently
thrown into a cave which slopes steeply
down. And here another doubt must arise
in one's mind. Has some educated person
been embellishing the original story by
transferring to it a feature of the
Aristomenes saga? Stewart's description
of the fate of the slaves would fit perfectly
the incident in which the Spartans hurl
Aristomenes and his companions into the
cave used for executions, and the escape
of Aristomenes could be called miraculous.
There is a spirited account of the career
of Aristomenes in Mitford's History of
Greece, which began to appear in 1784.
However, we have yet to examine the
date suggested by Lewis, some thirty years
before he wrote, or around 1788. Curiously,
three things happened about that date
which suggest that something unpleasant
had occurred or had come to light.
In the first place, a George Bedward
appears as a magistrate of Westmoreland,
in the Jamaica Almanacks for 1782,
1786, and 1787 but not in that of 1788.
We cannot assume that this George
Bedward died in 1787. A George Bedward,
presumably the same person, was still
very much alive in November of 1790,
when he succeeded in getting the Assembly
to pass a bill giving the rights of a white
man (with some reservations) to his
reputed grandson, a free quadroon called
George James Bedward, whom he had
had baptised and intended to bring up
respectably, with instruction in the
Christian religion. Another bill enabled
him to settle property on this grandson.
So it is possible that the Lieutenant-
Governor, Gen. Alured Clarke, had found
out something about Bedward and dis-
missed'him from the magistracy in 1787.
In the second place, it is noteworthy
that in 1788 the legislature, instead of
passing more than one annual act protect-
ing slaves, passed a single Consolidated
Slave Act which did not expire in a year's
time. It looks as if the more progressive
slave-owners were able to take a stronger
line. If there had been a recent revelation
of exceptional cruelty to slaves, this is
Thirdly, after 1789 Mr. Cope ceases to
appear as Custos of Westmoreland in the
Almanacks. Too much stress should not
be placed on this; but it is possible that
Clarke induced Cope to resign because
things had happened in his parish which
might not have happened with a stronger
Of course, if Bedward brought an action
to claim the slave he had 'thrown away',
there may be some record of the case
which gives a more precise account of
what happened, or was alleged to have
happened, in the process of throwing
away. However, we certainly have enough
evidence to suppose that Bedward of
Spring Garden was guilty of some special
act or acts of cruelty.
It should be added that the Lieutenant-
Governor, who died, as Field-Marshall Sir
Alured Clarke, at a great age in 1832, may
have left papers throwing light on the
affair, and in any event lived in a time
when numerous memoirs were written, in
some of which he might be mentioned,
though the present writer has not traced
any reference of him. During the agitation
for the abolition of the slave trade, it
would be natural for younger people to
discuss slavery with someone of West
In addition, it is of course possible that
some light may be thrown on Bedward by
the newspapers. In fact, ten years after
Monk Lewis wrote, a newspaper does give
us some information.
The Jamaica Courant of May 27, 1828,
says that -
'At Spring Garden, in Westmoreland,
was a man named Bundy, whose ears
had been cropped close to his head by
old Bedward, (the hero of the negro
song of troww him in de Gully",) who
a few years since (though himself a
slave) possessed slaves.'
These few words certainly tell us a good
deal. It is striking that the slave-owner is
called 'old Bedward', as if he were a
recognized 'character', remembered by all
classes, as Stewart stated he was twenty
years before. The mention of the cropping
of Bundy's ears would seem to be an
entirely independent account of an act of
cruelty on the part of Bedward. The
reference to the song speaks of 'throwing',
as Stewart's story goes, and the Gully
appears, therefore, to be a literal gully, not
a spot named from a natural feature in it.
Are there any other traces of the story
in later tradition?
The late Samuel Constantine Burke
the younger told the present writer, nearly
forty years ago that his grandmother, who
was born in 1818, about the time Monk
Lewis wrote, told him that -
'Once a slave was being carried to burial
in his coffin. He was not really dead,
and cried out.'
"Massa, me no dead yet!"
The master answered:
"Carry him go long!" '
Here, then, the story is of a slave who
was buried alive, or meant to be buried
alive. The notion of his being carried to a
burial-ground can clearly be inferred, and
this, not the throwing away of the slave
into a cleft, may be supposed to be the
Yet in the 'thirties' the present writer
was informed that in St. Catherine there
was a story that a Mr. Kelly, of Decoy,
used to put his old and useless slaves into
barrels and throw them into a 'bottomless
pit' in the river, called Yawsie-nicker.
Mr. Kelly was presumably the 'busha',
not the owner, of Decoy. The name was
not uncommon in St. Catherine and St.
Mary in the early 19th century.
It is possible that the story was not
connected with the Bedward saga. It
might have originated in some legend about
the bottomless pool. In 1942, the present
writer was told of a deep pool in the
Cascade River near Porus, which was full
of fish. "How deep?" I asked. "Ever-
lastin'!" And in this bottomless pool
there was a "myamaid".
There are certainly legends of sacrifices
offered to "myamaids" or "river-maamies".
None of these legends relate to the
sacrifice of human beings. But it is
important to note that white men were
supposed to have dealings with these
supernatural beings. There is a quite
recent story of the visit of the Hon.
Evelyn Ellis, of Montpelier in St. James,
to a local water-spirit. What is more, not
many years ago, when the generating
plant was being installed at Roaring River
in St. Ann there was a panic that men were
driving about in the parish and enticing
children into their cars.
Thus, we may suppose that if under a
particular overseer a stream which as a rule
was erratic maintained a good and steady
flow, and if this was beneficial to the
estate (e.g., in turning a waterwheel), the
slaves might believe, or affect to believe,
that the overseer in question was offering
regular human sacrifices to the relevant
water-spirit. This would easily be ration-
alised, in course of time, to a tale of greed
But why should the story of sacrifice
be rationalised in that particular way? It
is a singular coincidence that the ration-
alisation should correspond to a tale
founded on fact at the other end of the
island. The same objection applies to the
alternative theory that the Decoy story
was a spiteful invention of white people.
It is therefore to be noted as a singular fact
that in the first half of the 19th century
there were landowners called Bedward not
far from Decoy: it is even possible that
they were the family of the quadroon
George Bedward who had decided to leave
Westmoreland. The name Bedward may
have activated the story in the Decoy area.
At this point, therefore, it is important
to consider the theory of Orlando Patter-
son, in The Sociology of Slavery
(pp.252-3) that Walter Jekyll's folk-tale
of Dry-bone evolved from the Bedward
Jekyll himself thought there was some
connection. He observes:-
'This story refers to the time of slavery.
It is almost indisputable that in certain
cases, when a slave was in a weak state
owing to incurable illness or old age,
he was carried out and left to die. To
his pitiful remonstrance, "Massa me no
dead yet, the overseer made no reply
but went on with his directions to the
bearers, "Carry him go along". This
kind of barbarity was not practised by
owners living in Jamaica. By them the
slaves were well treated and such a
thing would have been impossible. But
when the masters went away they left
control in the hands of overseers, men
of low caste who had neither scruples
nor conscience. "
It is surprising that Jekyll did not know
from Monk Lewis that the story had been
told of a resident proprietor. But this
reference to overseers certainly suggests
theDecoy story, and we may supposethat
the Kelly saga had by the end of the
century reached the Port Royal Mountains,
where Jekyll presumably heard the tale of
Dry-bone and oral glosses on it.
Jekylfs story is not very coherent.
Rabbit and Guinea-pig, two characters who
are by no means typical of Anancy
stories, find Dry-bone, and for some
obscure reason decide to carry him home.
Rabbit actually carries him, finds him
getting heavier and heavier, tries to get rid
of him, but can do so only by transferring
him to Anancy. We have no clue as to
the identity of Dry-bore, but he is three
times equated with 'trouble', and there
seems to be a reference to some such story
in a proverb, 'Trouble in de bush, Anancy
bring him in de house.'
At this point the story takes a new turn.
Apparently, Anancy has no difficulty in
putting Dry-bone down, but wishes to get
him away from the house. He persuades
him to allow himself to be put in the sun,
and arranges for Fowl-hawk to carry him
off. This Fowl-hawk does, to the accom-
paniment of a song from Anancy, in which
the words 'carry him go long' appear.
The only suggestion, as it seems to me,
that this story has evolved from a saga, is
the odd fact that at Anancy's house Dry-
bone calls himself 'Mr. Winkler'.
The present writer found a version of
this story in the 'thirties' which makes
much better sense. In this tale, Anancy
goes to the busha and asks for some work
'chopping' a piece of land. He gets the
work, does the job, and receives a cow in
Payment. He kills the cow in a pasture,
ghts a fire and cooks; but he is then
interrupted by Dry-skull.
Now while Dry-bone is obscure (though
the word might mean 'skeleton') Dry-skull
or Dry-head is not uncommon in the
stories. He may be Death, but no one who
mentioned him equated him with 'Bredda
Dead'. He is evidently very terrifying, and
one narrator said he could fly swiftly
through the air. He figures in other tales
as a great eater at the expense of Anancy:
or perhaps it is more correct to say that
this episode of the cow has crept into
On this occasion Dry-skull eats all the
meat and then makes Anancy carry him
to his house, where he proceeds to eat
everything Anancy has, which provides a
very good reason for Anancy's wish to get
rid of his guest. Dry-skull compels
Anancy to put him out every day to sun,
and Anancy puts him down one day near
the fowls, which he asks Dry-skull to
watch. Hawk comes and carries off Dry-
skull. Anancy calls to Hawk to carry him
further, which Hawk does. Anancy calls
out: "Carry him go long! Drop him in-a
rockstone," and Hawk drops Dry-skull in
This is a far more consistent story than
Jekyll's: the only oddity is the omission
of any motive for Hawk to carry off Dry-
skull rather than the fowls, though the
implication is that Anancy had arranged
with him to do so. The narrator regarded
the normal meaning of forky-forky as
jagged, but held that in Anancy stories it
meant woodland Thus the word, which
does not appear elsewhere, is certainly
But there is another reason for regard-
ing the story as very old. It would appear
that the natural meaning of 'carry him go
long', in the context, is 'Carry him far
hence' go being a normal word for
'hence', while 'long' presumably implies
distance, but only in very old dialect.
Mr. Burke is extremely sceptical on this,
and obviously did not think the word in
his grandmother's verses were to be under-
stood in this way. Moreover, his view is
supported by Lewis's text. It is time to
take a look at the verse in Lewis.
This runs as follows:-
"'Take him to the Gulley! Take him to
But bringee back the frock and board.
'Oh! massa, massa, me no deadee
'Take him to the Gulley! Take him to
Carry him along.' "
It is fairly clear that Lewis, under-
standing 'long' to mean 'along', changed
it into that word and omitted 'go' to
preserve the rhythm. We may suppose
that the words "go long" had in fact two
meanings around 1800. And Mr. Burke's
lines are clearly from a song of the same
type as Lewis's.
But Lewis's verse has nothing in com-
mon with the.one in Jekyll except these
words 'Carry him go 'long'. Dry-bone has
promised to pay Cock for watching
Anancy and keeping him in the yard:
though how Dry-bone is supposed to
benefit from this is not clear. When Dry-
bone is carried off, Cock sings:-
'Mister Winkler, Winkler come give me
But Anancy sings:
'Carry him go ,long, Annancy say so,
Carry him go long, Me 71 pay fe cock.'
Thus it appears that just as the later
tales have no trace of the saga, so the verse
itself has a different character, in the later
Two qualifications must be made, one
with reference to the stories, one with
reference to the verse.
The first is that both Jekyll's story and
the later one refers to Dry-bone or Dry-
skull being put in the sun. I was informed
that this was in fact a practice with old
people in the 19th century, and there
could be a reference here to an aged slave
who was cruelly treated. It should be
noted, however, that the saga, both in
Lewis and in Stewart, suggests that the
slave who particularly figures in it was ill
rather than old.
The second point is that the verse from
the 1930's speaks of dropping Dry-skull,
just as the verse known to the Jamaica
Courant a century before spoke of throw-
ing the slave into the Gully. The idea of
throwing is implicit in the Decoy story,
and we have seen that in the oldest extant
reference to the saga, that of Stewart, the
doomed slaves were 'precipitated into the
cavern of a rock.' Indeed, while Stewart
mentions a 'rock' the verse a century and
a quarter later mentions 'rockstone'
This, however, suggests an important
tentative conclusion that the verse,
before. Stewart wrote in 1808, already
mentioned dropping and a rock. But in
that case we must assume that the verse
was older than the saga, and that the text
of the verse given by Lewis is not the
original, but an adaptation of an older text.
Consider the difficulties of assuming
the contrary. We have to suppose that in,
say, 1786, someone composed the verse as
part of the saga, and that in the course of
twenty years the verse was altered, for no
conceivable reason, and became so popular
as to affect the saga. To be sure, this
would enable us to forget about Aristo-
menes, but if the older verse, before 1786,
was fairly well-known, it is even easier to
dispense with Mitford and Aristomenes.
For in that case there would be two
versions in circulation around 1800, and
confusion of the two versions could modify
the saga, except in Westmoreland.
Moreover, while it is difficult to see
why the verse in the saga should be
changed to one about dropping on a rock,
it is easy to see why an older "Dry-skull"
verse could be changed to Lewis's text.
The slaves on Spring Garden were faced
with a problem: Bedward was behaving
badly, and there was no means of bringing
him to book, since slave evidence could
not be heard in court against a white man.
To be sure, it was possible to report the
matter to some friendly.white man. But
might he not be annoyed if they went to
him with a long tale of woe about their
The remedy was to get the white man
to ask questions himself, to invite them to
tell him something. Now a friendly white
man was close at hand, Mr. Murray, who
was afterwards Custos. Even if we dis-
regard the good character given him by
his epitaph, as 'a humane master', it is
evident that Lady Nugent found him a
restful sort of person, and as an Assembly-
man, he several times appears on com-
mittees of the House reporting on
legislation for the protection of slaves.
A Scotsman, he wasdloubtless familiar
with folksong, and he may have listened
with pleasure to Jamaican folksongs.
'Carry him go long' may have been a
favourite tune with him, and he may have
known the words the verse being
perhaps a good deal longer than when the
present writer heard it a century and a
half later. So the Spring Garden slaves
would alter the verse and make it refer to
Bedward; they would teach it to other
slaves, who would sing it in Mr. Murray's
hearing. We can imagine him asking a
slave, 'Why are the words different in that
song?' Thus urged to speak, the slave
If in fact Murray subsequently ferreted
out facts which the Custos, Mr. Cope,
had failed to discover, this might explain
why Murray became Custos. But while
Murray seems a likely person to have
intervened ii the Bedward affair, and
while we do not know of anyone else in
the area who might have done so, it is
quite possible that some other person
unmasked Bedward. The real point is that
the slaves had a method of bringing their
complaints before the authorities. No
doubt its effectiveness varied with time
and place: but by changing the words of
a song, or the names of characters in a
well-known story, or the structure of a
tale (e.g., by introduction of new in-
cidents), the slaves could spread news and
bring their grievances to the attention of
someone who could do something about
them they could complain to the
overseer of a driver, or of the overseer to a
magistrate, and so on.
When action was obtained, it does not
follow that a saga would circulate on the
subject. The Bedward story is interesting
and important for the study of folklore
because we know there was a saga. But
obviously the saga existed in the first
place as a mere record of alleged con-
temporary events. The verse from the
Anancy story, in its modified form, would
then be inserted into the saga by some
narrators. We have reason to suppose that
the tale was told amongst all classes. It
had considerable intrinsic interest. Yet it
does not seem to have lasted long, though
long enough to influence the shape of the
Decoy legend, and perhaps to influence
some of Jekyll's informants.
To be sure, a shadowy version of the
saga, consisting mainly of a part of the
song, was told to me well over a century
after Monk Lewis wrote. But what does
this mean? If I relate to someone, by
word of mouth, what Mr. S.C. Burke
related to me, can we say that this proves
the continuous existence of an oral tradi-
tion from 1787 to 1972? Obviously not.
Mr. Burke told me his grandmother's story
because I specifically asked him if he knew
the tale or the verse and my special
interest in the subject was due to the fact
that I had read Lewis's story and had been
struck by the fact that the verse was
known, or at least the words 'Carry him
go long', to quite young people in the
'thirties'. So the written word and the
deliberate search for oral tradition give the
oral tradition its appearance of permanence
in this particular case.
Since one would expect a story of
cruelty to have special vitality, it is
important to note that resentment on the
part of the slaves did not make the
Bedward saga persist beyond the normal
duration of tradition. People know,
roughly, what their grandparents told
them about the past: a man may thus be
told in his childhood something about his
great-grandfather which is either true, or
based on some misunderstanding of what
the great-grandfather said for example,
he may describe an adventure which is
pure folklore, and very young children
may imagine he is giving a personal
experience, or, when they think about the
story later, unconsciously twist it into a
personal narrative. But the duration of
the story is not likely to be more than a
century, which is rather more than the
space between 1787 and Mr. Burke's
hearing of the story.
We must not confuse a saga with other
forms of tradition. Above all, we must not
ascribe to it the vitality which an Anancy
story has. We can certainly show that
some Anancy stories must go back to the
18th century, but they do not deal with
historical facts except in so far as they
have been used as vehicles of satire or
protest. Some of these stories have pro-
bably been transmitted orally in Africa or
Europe, or both, before reaching Jamaica.
But they have survived, broadly, on their
merits as stories.
Again, we must not confuse saga
tradition with ;genealogical information,
which may even include some tangible
information about the ancestors that is,
definite facts, true or false, which do not
amount to a story. In some cases this kind
of information goes back well over a
This does not mean that traditional
sagas are valueless, but that the motives
and manner of transmission must be
carefully examined, and in particular the
possible intervention of the written word.
Discrepancies, or self-contradictions,
which folklorists tend to regard airily, in
every country, as the corruptions intro-
duced by time, may have some totally
Indeed, it would be possible to explain
Jekyll's Dry-bone by assuming that it is
neither an outgrowth of the Bedward
story nor a muddled Anancy story, but
another use of the Dry-skull story to cover
a totally different set of events, and then
concentrating on the puzzling and absurd
features. If Dry-bone was 'Mr. Winkler',
perhaps he was some lower-class white who
had stolen money and takes refuge in the
Negro houses while looking for an oppor-
tunity to make an escape. This would
explain why Guinea-pig and Rabbit think
at first they have made a lucky find,
because Mr. Winkler has money with which
he may part. Anancy realises that he has
a dangerous guest who may get him into
serious trouble, but for some reason he
dare not go to the busha. Instead, he gets
the parish constable (Hawk) to swoop
down on Mr. Winkler. As the constable
is taking Mr. Winkler away, a slave (Cock)
whom he has promised to pay for watching
Anancy's movements, rushes up to him
and asks him for his money, whereupon
Anancy ominously promises to pay Cock.
Practically all the difficulties in the
Anancy story disappear if we suppose to
be in fact a real-life story. But of course
the possible explanation must not be
supposed to be the only possible explan-
ation. Thus, the white man may have
been a lunatic, like 'Charles Martin, said
to have been in Italian sailor, who was
living wild in the woods at Greenwich Park
in St. Ann in 1806; or Dry-bone may not
have been a white man at all, but a
runaway slave posing as free and calling
himself 'Mr.' (in which case the busha
may have been sheltering runaways).
Enough has been said to show that the
date of the recording of a story may be
quite irrelevant in assessing the age of the
version. Young people born after Jekyll's
book was published were able in the
'thirties' to give versions of the Dry-skull
story which are clearly older than Jekyll's
story Dry-bone. (Again, in the case of
Jekyll's Chicken-hawk, a much more pri-
mitive version was told with great spirit
by a young girl in the 'thirties').
Does this mean that we can dismiss
Orlando Patterson's theory that an Anancy
story could evolve from a saga?
I think not. The whole drift of the
enquiry has shown that we cannot afford
to neglect the examination of a possible
relationship, and to deny the theoretical
possibility that a saga might become an
Anancy story is almost as bad as to deny
the possible bookish origin of some
Anancy stories, or the possible influence
of Mitford's History of Greece on the
In fact, Jekyll has a curious story,
Annancy, Monkey and Tiger, which the
present writer has always assumed to be
an Anancy story used as a vehicle for
publicising real events. There are certain
objections to this explanation, and if we
apply Orlando Patterson's theory it cer-
tainly seems possible that Jekyll's story
is simply a record of facts or alleged facts,
with the characters given the names of
characters in Anancy stories and a song
from some Anancy story inserted -
exactly as we have seen that the Bedward
saga, which had a song inserted. It is
possible, however, that Annancy, Monkey
and Tiger refers, not to slavery time, but to
the Murphy Hill murder less than a century
ago, which is still remembered. The
accused were acquitted, but were ex-
tremely unpopular with their neighbours,
who may have given their version of
events in the form of an Anancy story.
Jamaica has a rich and varied coastline
of four hundred and seventy miles. Its
resource value is based on many different
practical uses which the coastal waters
serve, as well as on the tremendously
beautiful and impressive seascapes with
which it is endowed. The north coast is
fringed for most of its length by extensive
coral reefs with deep ocean water just
offshore and white corralline beaches in-
shore, while the south coast, though
having fewer reefs, has a more extensive
shallow shelf, numerous swamplands and
beaches of great variety.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the
character of the two coasts differs appre-
ciably, with each coastline providing its
own peculiar services to the island.
Furthermore, it is no accident that the
the two major population centres, Kingston
and Montego Bay, are situated on each of
these coasts, while the general population
concentration is along the coast rather
than inland. The value of the coastline as
a natural resource can thus be appreciated
by examining the ways in which the coastal
waters are utilized.
The numerous semi-enclosed deep water
bays around Jamaica provide excellent
natural harbours for shipping and Kingston
Harbour has long been regarded as one of
the best natural harbours in the world. Of
the fifteen active sea-ports along the coast
(Figure 1), Kingston Harbour accounts for
two-thirds of all ship arrivals to the island,
with more than 80% of all imported goods
by sea entering this port. Montego Bay,
previously used primarily as a port for
agricultural export, has recently been en-
larged to increase general cargo and cruise
ship traffic. Of the other ports five are
owned by bauxite mining companies for
export of bauxite and alumina and four
are used almost exclusively for sugar
export. Port Antonio, Port Morant and
Lucea, the remaining ports, are used for
export and cruise ship traffic.
The numerous excellent beaches and
coral reefs along Jamaica's coast provide
one of the most accessible and appealing
forms of recreation to the island's popu-
lation as well as to tourists. The total
frontage of public bathing beaches and
seaside parks is over fourteen miles, or
2.6% of the entire coastline, and there is
almost twenty-five feet of public coastline
for each thousand Jamaican residents.
This includes one hundred and twenty-
eight public bathing beaches and twenty-
two seaside parks. In addition, many
*Lecturer in Department of Zoology, University
of the West Indies.
privately-owned beaches, especially by
hoteliers occupy over six miles of coastline,
and help to attract over three hundred
thousand tourists annually. These contri-
bute to the island's economy through
with special reference to
by Barry Wade *
actual visitor expenditure and by creating
employment opportunities for Jamaicans.
Photos by B. Wade
This sewer outfall from the Western Treatment Plant discharges more than three
million gallons per day of primary treated sewage into Kingston Harbour.
One of the many gully courses which discharge industrial and domestic wastes into
Kingston Harbour. This one carries all the liquid wastes from the government abbatoir.
Mangroves perform important ecological functions. Here they are destroyed for water-
Marine parks and reef conservation
areas are recreational attractions of great
potential (Figure 1). In addition to their
scenic beauty reefs also serve important
functions in nourishing and protecting
beaches, providing calm and safe lagoons
and harbouring and breeding diverse
Jamaica has had a traditional inshore
fishery providing a livelihood for approx-
imately seven thousand people. Fishing
activity is carried out from about one
hundred and forty fishing beaches with
nearly .three thousand outboard powered
canoes. The volume of fish caught is close
to forty million pounds, worth about ten
million dollars. However, this amount is
only half of the island's demand. Over-
fishing of inshore stocks and destruction
of important nursely grounds have un-
doubtedly hindered the development of
the island's fishing industry.*
The population concentration along
Jamaica's coastline has resulted in the
wide-scale use of coastal waters for the
disposal, dilution and dispersion of a wide
range of liquid wastes. Kingston and St.
Andrew and Montego Bay both have
municipal coastal outfalls of domestic
sewage ranging from poorly treated pri-
mary wastes to secondary treated effluents.
Moreover, resort hotels along the north
coast have individual disposal units of
varying sizes and degree of treatment, and
most of them discharge their wastes near
to recreational beaches and in close
proximity to coral reefs. Since such
disposal units are operated privately, it is
The demand for waterfront real estate is resulting in alteration of the coastline. Here,
a housing development has replaced the natural .shoreline.
Solid waste dumping along the causeway in Kingston harbour.
An aerial view of one of the excellent natural harbours on the Jamaican coast,
cover Bay, St. Ann. Photos by B. Wade
difficult for government to control the
quality of discharge in a great many cases.
This has resulted in very poor effluents
being regularly discharged into high quality
coastal waters. It is only recently that
fairly stringent standards for acceptable
domestic discharges have been considered
for implementation by Government regu-
Increasing industrialisation particularly
in Kingston, St. Catherine and St. James
has brought some of the coastal waters of
these areas under stress from industrial
wastes. At present, the restrictions against
discharges have not been severe and a wide
range of effluents are now disposed of into
the sea with little or no form of treatment.
While this has resulted in tremendous
savings to industries, it has contributed to
deterioration of coastal water quality.
In centres of rapid urban growth, there
has been a highdemand for waterfront
real estate. Such real estate has commonly
been created by dredge and fill operations
This is especially so in Kingston Harbour,
Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. Such
encroachment on the coastal waters by the
removal of natural buffer zones must be
considered as a serious demand on these
waters resulting in possible impairment of
It is evident from many local situations
that the present uses and future demands
of Jamaica's coastal waters are not always
compatible and in fact are frequently
conflicting. For example, domestic sewage
is sometimes discharged in proximity to
prime recreational waters and industrial
effluents may harm inshore fishing. If
optimal use of the coastal waters is to be
realized such conflicts must be avoided.
Furthermore, like any other natural re-
source, coastal waters are subject to
depletion, over-exploitation and degrada-
tion, and if Jamaica is to obtain maximum
benefit from this resource, proper man-
agement must be practised.
Coastal waters like all other water
resources are subject to a number of
different types of pollution. One of the
most serious is pathogenic pollution, that
is the disease carrying potential of the
water. When sewage is discharged into the
sea, viruses, bacteria or parasites may be
transmitted to persons coming in contact
with the water even where the water is not
primarily for drinking. Sewage is consi-
dered the greatest source of pathogenic
pollution and its presence in sea water is
considered as a potential health hazard to
bathers. It is usually detected by the
presence ofcoliform bacteria (Escherichia
coli) in the water and above a certain
concentration of these bacteria, a body of
water may be classified as unsafe for
bathing. Even though many of the
developed countries and the U.N. World
Health Organization have either established
or recommended maximum concentrations
that should be tolerated for human con-
tact, these have not been formally adopted
in Jamaica with the result that these levels
are sometimes exceeded in some coastal
Another effect of sewage in water is
organic pollution. This may also be
caused by organic forms of industrial
wastes. Such wastes produce two harmful
effects. First, because of their need of
oxygen for decomposition they exert a
Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) on
the receiving waters, thus depleting them
of vital oxygen necessary for aquatic life.
This is especially severe when the wastes
are not treated or receive only primary
treatment before they are discharged, and
in cases where they are emptied into semi-
enclosed bodies of water which have little
natural circulation. Kingston Harbour is
an excellent example of this.
The second harmful effect of organic
wastes is to produce a thick soft sludge-bed
on the floor of the sea. This may smother
and effectively soffocate the bottom
dwelling animals and plants so as to cause
their destruction. It is of great concern
that Jamaica's coral reefs especially along
the north coast should not be subjected
to such pollution.
A third form of water pollution is called
eutrophication. This is the overenrichment
of water by essential nutrients such as
nitrates, phosphates, and silicates resulting
in the proliferation of plant life. This
plantlife may be microscopic cells floating
in the water known as phytoplankton or
they may be large, conspicuous plants
attached to a substrate. When phyto-
plankton proliferates, it may give the water
a characteristic brick red colour to produce
the well known phenomenon of "red
tide". At other times depending on the
species of phytoplankter the water may
assume different colours. Red tides and
other blooms may produce two harmful
effects. First, some species produce
secretions which are toxic to fish and
other marine life thus resulting in large
scale decimation. Second, when the
bloom is over, the large volume of decay-
ing plant material uses up oxygen in the
water for decomposition and severe
oxygen depletion occurs. Since the
nutrient sources are commonly sewage or
other organic wastes, the de-oxygenating
effect of red tides often compound an
already serious situation caused by organic
pollution. In some of the sheltered coastal
waters of Jamaica, especially where there
are rich nutrient sources, eutrophication
is quite common.
Physical alterations of the coastline
such as are caused by dredge and fill
operations, bulkheading and river training,
if not done properly, may result in harm-
ful siltation, erosion, or the production of
undesirable currents along the coast. In
Jamaica, there are examples of these
alterations affecting shipping lanes, bath-
ing beaches and fish nursery grounds. It is
vitally necessary that in the future, there
should be more careful planning and
execution of physical development along
A special form of water pollution is
that caused by oil. Although there have
been no major crude oil spills in Jamaican
coastal waters, there is always the potential
danger of such an accident occurring
resulting in fouling of the sea, beaches and
marine structures. It is important to note,
however, that if such an accident occurred,
Jamaica would not be able to deal with it
effectively due to a lack of the necessary
recovery and clean-up equipment in the
island. This is a shortcoming which should
be remedied as soon as possible. Another
source of oil pollution is caused by the
wilful discharge of oil-contaminated bilge
and ballast water from merchant ships
within the harbours, but until proper
shore facilities for separating oil from
water are set up, this is expected to con-
tinue. Oil pollution caused from these
sources results in fouling of marine
structures and beaches.
Kingston Harbour (Figure 2) is the
most intensively used coastal water body
in Jamaica, and because of the several
demands that are made on it, the effects
of pollution have been more severely felt
here than anywhere else on the island's
coastline. All the common forms of water
pollution are experienced here and many
varied sources exist. Through the Zoology
Department of the University of the West
Indies, the Scientific Research Council
and the Beach Control Authority, the
Kingston Harbour Research Project has
been established at the Port.Royal Marine
Laboratory, U.W.I. to determine the
present state of its pollution and to make
recommendations for its remedy. The
present condition may be considered
under the following headings:
(1) Pathogenic Pollution. ALsurvey of
bacterial levels in Kingston Harbour was
conducted in 1967 by the Kingston and
St. Andrew Corporation in conjunction
with the Ministry of Health to determine
the sanitary condition of the harbour.
This report concluded that "In view of the
bacterial contamination indicated by this
survey, water along the north shore of the
harbour and the waterfront of Port Royal
present an almost certain health hazard to
bathers" (see Figure 3). Coliform counts
measured were consistently more than
* ACTIVE SEAPORTS
= PROPOSED REEF
PROPOSED MARINE PARKS
2400 MPN per 100 ml. as against the
upper critical limit recommended by
World Health Organization of 1000 MPN
per 100 ml. Since the 1967 survey, sewage
discharge to the harbour has almost
doubled and we may confidently expect
that the bacterial levels have risen also.
However, the warning of the 1967 report
has apparently not been heeded as no steps
have been taken either to reduce the
amount of pathogens entering the harbour
by way of sewage, or to discourage bathing
in the contaminated parts of the harbour.
This situation should not be allowed to
(2) Organic Pollution. Organic pol-
lution manifests itself in a number of
ways. Direct measurements of the amount
of dissolved oxygen (DO) in Kingston
Harbour have shown that there is serious
oxygen depletion in most of the harbour
water, but particularly so in the eastern
arm. When sea breezes are low and there
is only minimal diffusion from the surface
waters, the DO may sometimes fall to less
than 10% saturation in the bottom waters.
This low level is lethal to fish and most
other forms of marine life, and since 1967
we have been able to document the decline
in fish and invertebrate populations in
parts of the harbour.
Munro (1968) in a survey of benthic
fish populations in Kingston Harbour
indicated that there was a sufficiently
large fish population in the eastern arm of
the harbour and in Hunts Bay to support
a limited but economically viable trawl
fish industry. By 1972, however, these
populations had completely disappeared.
Similarly, Wade et al (1972) have shown
that since 1968, the bottom invertebrates
in the harbour have been destroyed at an
alarmingly rapid rate, and that at present
nearly a half of the Inner Harbour is
completely devoid of marine life in the
bottom waters (Figure 4). We believe that
the destruction of these populations is due
primarily to increasing oxygen starvation
caused by the decomposition of organic
Coincident with oxygen depletion is
the formation of extensive sludge beds in
the Inner Harbour. These mud oozes are
thick, black below the surface, smelly, and
rich in hydrogen sulfide. In these muds
marine life cannot be supported.
(3) Eutrophication. Eutrophication is
becoming an increasing problem in
Kingston Harbour and red tide blooms are
occurring with disturbing frequency.
Where formally there used to be a red tide
every few years, we may now expect
several to occur in a year and in fact
within Hunts Bay, red tide is almost
constantly present. Fortunately the red
tide organisms in Kingston Harbour are not
toxic, but they do sometimes cause massive
fish kills due to further oxygen starvation.
In one such fish kill, more than half a
million pounds of fish were estimated to
have died within a few days (Wade, 1969).
(4) Physical Disturbances. The filling
of swamp lands at Newport East and
Newport West and the construction of the
solid-fill causeway linking Kingston with
Portmore have resulted in new current
patterns being formed in the western
section of the harbour. These have caused
rapid shoaling in parts of Hunts Bay and
may lead to siltation of some of the
shipping lanes. Another effect of the
causeway is that circulation and turnover
of water in Hunts Bay have been greatly
reduced and much of this body of water
has become stagnant. To aggravate this
situation, dumping of solid wastes along
the causeway and elsewhere has been
encouraged and floating debris in the
harbour has increased sharply in recent
(5) Oil. Oil-contaminated bilge and
ballast water are discharged in Kingston
Harbour with regular frequency by about
30% of the ships which enter the port,
and beaches such as Gunboat Beach,
Buccaneer Beach and Morgans Harbour
are often fouled as a result, making the
water unappealing for bathing. Small-boat
owners in the Harbour have also suffered
financial loss due to oil spillage.
The sources of pollution in Kingston
Harbour are many and varied, but muni-
cipal and industrial wastes along with
natural runoff appear to be the most
As many as 15 sewage treatment plants
discharge directly or indirectly into
Kingston Harbour, producing a total
potential volume of more than 10 million
gallons per day (mgd). The major plants
are the Western Treatment Plant and the
Greenwich Treatment Plant which res-
pectively have outfalls at Newport East
and Newport West. These plants perform
only primary treatment and together
discharge more than 5 mgd of effluent at
a strength of 250-275 lb. BOD. None of
the effluents is chlorinated and both
discharge only a few feet from the shore.
These two outfalls are the major source of
bacterial pollution in Kingston Harbour
although illicit dumping by cesspool
emptiers and gully discharges of domestic
wastes are contributory factors.
Domestic sewage and raw industrial
wastes are major contributors to organic
pollution in Kingston Harbour. Table 2
lists the chief sources of industrial wastes
entering the harbour, their estimated flow
and their major characteristics.
Natural fresh water runoff by rivers
and gully courses is also a major source of
high organic and nutrient input into the
harbour. Table 3 lists an estimate of the
average contribution to tie harbour by
natural runoff compared with that from
domestic and industrial sources.
These figures indicate that domestic
and industrial wastes together contribute
a greater amount of organic and nutrient
loading into the harbour than does natural
runoff. This means that the pollutional
load to the harbour could be more than
halved if alternate means of waste disposal
Measurements to determine the con-
centration of nutrients causing eutrophi-
cation in Kingston Harbour have indicated
that there are probably three main areas
of input into the harbour. These are, in
Hunts Bay, most likely via the Rio Cobre;
in the vicinity of Newport East and
Newport West where the main sewer and
industrial outfalls are situated; and in the
eastern basin of the harbour where the
source is uncertain. The pattern of these
nutrient concentrations is remarkably
constant and correspond closely to the
regions of frequent red tides within the
The remaining sources of pollution in
Kingston Harbour are from solid-waste
dumping at different points along the
shore and from the nearly 2,000 merchant
ships which enter the harbour each year.
The control of coastal pollution in
Jamaica has not been successful to date
ch efly because the existing regulatory
iws are complex, vague and frustratingly
unenforceable. In fact although there are
several laws which relate in one way or
another to water pollution, only a few of
them are ever applied and then with
Sanitary Sewage discharges reaching King-
ston Harbour, (Reid, Crowther and Part-
ners Ltd. 1970)
Flow (mgd). 5.35
BOD (lb/day) 7,100
Suspended solids (lb/day) 4,800
Major industrial waste discharges into Kingston Harbour
(Reid, Crowther and Partners, Limited, 1970)
Type of Waste Estimated Average Flow Characteristics
Soft drink bottling 225,000 gpd. High ph, suspended solids,
Vegetable & fruit 210,000 High suspended solids,
canning colloidal and dissolved
Slaughterhouse 90,000 High organic matter, pro-
Brewery 700,000 High dissolved organic,
nitrogen and starches
Dairy products 200,000 High organic matter, pro-
teins, fats and lactose
Tannery 30,000 High solids, hardeners,
salt, pH and BOD
Oil refinery 400,000 High BOD
Detergents, Oils, Soaps 250,000 High BOD and saponified
TOTAL 2,105,000 gpd
Estimated organic and nutrient loading of natural run-off, domestic and industrial
wastes into Kingston Harbour, (Data from Reid, Crowther and Partners Ltd. 1970).
Organic Nutrients (tons/yr)
Source lbs. BOD/day Nitrogen Phosphorus
Natural runoff 12,000 300- 600 50- 70
Domestic sewage 7,000 240 410 50 100
Industrial wastes 7,000 ? ?
dubious results. Consideration of four of
the most important laws will illustrate the
(1) The Public Health Law. This law
makes 'provision for legal action to be
taken against an offender for any matter,
solid or liquid that is injurious to health
or life or likely to become so that is dis-
charged into a water course. However,
since the chief offending waste is sewage
and its discharge is quite frequently the
responsibility of Government, execution
of the law is hardly ever effected. Where
the discharges are from private out-falls,
monitoring is irregular and ineffective with
the result that sufficient data to support
charges are hardly ever obtained. This
law, therefore, has not achieved significant
(2) The Harbour Law. This law states
in part "If any captain of any vessel or any
other person throw or deposit rubbish...
or any oil mixture into any limits within
the harbour, such person shall be liable to
a penalty not exceeding $2,000 or im-
prisonment... for a period not exceeding
6 months". This law is ineffective for
several reasons. The first is that while
most offences are committed at night,
there is no 24 hour patrolling of the har-
bour for these offences with the result
that offenders are seldom detected.
Secondly, the Harbour Master who is
responsible for maintaining the harbour
only has authority to request the police
to prosecute. He or his agents have no
powers of arrest. Thirdly, the evidence of
pollution must be tangible and must be
produced in courts. This is practically
impossible when dealing with certain
forms of pollution, notably oil. Fourthly,
there is no summary court for trying cases
and long delays are inevitable from time
of arrest to appearance and trial before a
Resident Magistrate. Moreover, since only
the captain of the vessel may be charged,
the vessel may clear port long before trial
and return again so long as it does not
have the same captain. And finally, the
penalty for offence is so small that it is no
detterrent against major offenders
(3) The Beach Control Law. The
Beach Control Authority is empowered to
make regulations for securing the obser-
vance of sanitary and cleanly conditions
and practices at and in respect of parts of
the foreshore and adjoining lands and
parts of the sea to which members of the
public habitually resort. The regulations
are enforced through the granting of
licences or revocation thereof for all
coastal developments or activities which
are likely to have an effect on the state of
the shoreline. Unfortunately, the Beach
Control Authority does not have a strong
research or inspectorate arm to develop
objective criteria and standards for issuing
licences, and once issued, monitoring of
the activities seldom takes place so that
licences are hardly ever revoked. If the
Beach Control Authority were to be
strengthened in its present areas of weak-
ness, the Beach Control Law could be
applied as a forceful control against
(4) The Wildlife Protection Law. The
relevant section of this law states "Every
person who causes or knowingly permits
to flow or puts or knowingly permits to
be put, whether directly or indirectly into
any harbour, river, stream, canal, lagoon
or estuary, containing fish, any trade
effluent or industrial waste from any
factory shall be guilty of an offence ...
and shall upon conviction before a
Resident Magistrate, be liable to a fine not
exceeding 12 months". This law has
never been enforced for a number of
reasons. First, there is no mechanism for
monitoring effluents into water courses
nor is there regular patrolling by enforce-
ment officers to detect the presence of
harmful outfalls. Second, once an offender
has been prosecuted for an offence, no
further prosecution is possible and there is
no power to issue cease and desist orders.
And third, the penalty which i ay be
incurred for an offence is so small as o be
hardly likely to be a deterrent to irge
industrial concerns which are the main
The impracticability of applying the
above laws as intended is one of the major
reasons for the continued deterioration of
Kingston Harbour, and until more effective
control is possible the situation will un-
doubtedly continue to worsen.
If coastal pollution is to be controlled
and Kingston Harbour is to be saved from
ecological destruction, a number of urgent
steps are essential.
First, objective criteria and standards
should be established on which regulatory
bodies may base their actions for control-
ling physicalalterations and harmful waste
discharges into coastal waters. Once these
standards are set they should be rigidly
adhered to. At the outset, we have the
experience of other countries on which to
draw for establishing these standards, but
research now being conducted in our own
waters should provide more precise guide-
lines for the future.
Second, once standards are established
they should be supported by effective
legislation and a vitalized enforcement
body. The proposed Water Resources Act
for Jamaica now being considered by
Government is an important and encourag-
ing step in this direction
Third, our water bodies should be
classified according to priority needs in
order to avoid undesirable conflicts. In
Puerto Rico, for example, the entire
coastline has been zoned into definite
areas designated for recreation, shell
fishery, inshore fishing, shipping and
waste discharges. Each class of water must
be maintained above a prescribed water
quality level and any violation is severely
dealt with. If this were to be done in
Jamaica, coastal water resource manage-
ment could become a reality.
Finally, the Jamaican public needs to
informed and involved in the preservation
of our coastal waters. In the final analysis,
it is an enlightened and concerned public
which is the greatest force for Government
MUNRO, J.L. (1968)
Prospects for a small-scale trawling
industry in Jamaica. (Information,
Bull. Sci. Res. Council, Jca. 8: 91-96).
REID, CROWTHER & PARTNERS LIMI-
Sewerage study of Kingston and St.
Andrew, Jamaica. (3 books).
WADE, B.A. (1969).
Kingston Harbour Pollution red tides
and fish-kills. (The Daily Gleaner,
WADE, B.A., L. ANTONIO and R.
Increasing organic pollution in Kingston
Harbour Jamaica. (Mar. Pol. Bull. 3
*Much of the data quoted in the section
on water uses was obtained from "A
National Physical Plan for Jamaica" and
"The National Atlas of Jamaica" published
by the Town Planning Department, Min-
istry of Finance and Planning, 1971. I am
grateful to my colleagues in the Kingston
Harbour Research Project and the Kingston
Harbour Water Quality Monitoring Com-
mittee for much useful discussion and
A view of the beautiful Jamaican coastline one of the island's most precious but threatened natural resources Discovery Bay, St. A nn.
Photo by B. Wade
^..:2 Y^^ ^k '
Cannabis sativa, with male inflorescence; also known as Ganja in Jamaica.
by H.I.C Lowe*
"No doubt it was mere casual luck at first that tried these
springs and found them answer. Somebody by accident was
instantly cured. The change which happily directed man in
this one case, misdirected them in a thousand 'cases.
. The worst of these superstitions is that they are easy to
make, hard to destroy. A single run of luck has made the
fortune of many a charm and many idols ".
Walter Bagehot Physics and Politics
Since folk medicine is mainly built around superstition and
tradition this introductory quotation may be a suitable general
description of its practice, acceptance, and possible consequences.
However, if the quotation seems sophisticated and difficult to
understand, reduced to simple terms it echoes the maxim "belief
*Head, Department of Science, College of Arts Science and Technology.
kills and belief cures", and great caution should be observed in
the use of folk medicine.
Before looking at folk medicine in greater detail it might be
useful to examine what really constitutes it. To most people it
suggests the folk use of bushes (plant material) to cure illnesses.
This is not an accurate assessment of folk medicine, because fresh
air, sunlight, metallic and wooden objects, food, water, parts of
animals, various chemical materials and compounds, faith healing
and obeah, all contribute to the practice of folk medicine. It
should also be appreciated that there are "good medicine" and
"bad medicine"; "preventive medicine" and "curative medicine"
- all involved in and comprehensive consideration of folk
medicine in Jamaica.
To many people it may appear puzzling that folk medicine has
flourished for so long, despite the development of education and
modern medicine. Several answers have been given for this seem-
ing phenomenon. It has been suggested that because folk medicine
is socio-religious it is only natural for it to become established with
the poor and religious majority in'the population. Supporting such
a view is the argument that because the majority of the population
is poor, they are often unable to pay for the services of a doctor
or,in many instances, unable to get to a doctor and therefore folk
medicine may be a first/and/or last resort. It has also been report-
ed that doctors have, on occasions, encouraged certain patients to
try folk medicine, apparently as an inexpensive form of psycho-
Although it is a widely held belief that folk medicine is only
popular among backward and poor people, it should be appreciated
that these folk practices exist in all countries and at various social
levels. Chinese folk medicine, for example, has been documented
and practiced for hundreds of years, and is in fact generally
accepted in the society even today. The folk medicine of every
nation reflects the racial background, environment and history of
the people. Since this is so, Jamaica, like all other countries
should recognize this important part of our cultural history in an
objective way. This would involve careful documentation and a
programme of scientific research to establish the good features
and expose the bad ones.
Because the Jamaican population is diverse in its racial com-
ponents ,the country's folk medicine reflects this situation. The
dominant part of our folk medicine is of West African origin, and
many persons of different racial origins have grown to accept and
use some of this type of folk medicine, not only for health
purposes, but also to cure "poor success in business". Indeed, it is
believed that the general practice of folk medicine, transcends the
class and race barrier in Jamaica.
The treatment offered by folk medicine varies greatly in
complexity. It could be as simple as the use of a bush tea for a
cold or be as complex as the treatment of an obeahman employing
most of the materials mentioned earlier.
Now, let us take a critical look at some of the materials used in
these practices by beginning with the bush medicines which
represent the most widely used group. Many conservative people
tend to think of bush medicine as a crude form of modern
medicine. This attitude is based to some extent on the fact that
the early practice of modern medicine depended to a great extent
on the use of plant materials. Like folk medicine, nothing more
than tradition supported its continued use.
Much work and study have gone into the examination of
Jamaica's local bush medicine. The most extensive study was
undertaken by the Tropical Products Institute of Britain, em-
ploying mainly Jamaican scientists. It is unfortunate that these
studies have not produced evidence to support the use of the vast
majority of the country's bush medicines. However, a strong
criticism of these studies has been that they were too superficial
and narrow in outlook.
Nevertheless, the studies have indicated some plants which have
shown potential pharmacological importance. They are:
COMMON NAME BOTANICAL NAME
Avocado pear Persea americana
Breadfruit Artocarpus altilis (A. incisus)
Guango Samanea saman
Horse poison Hippobroma longiflora (Isotoma longiflora)
Lovebush Cuscuta americana
Milkweed Euphorbia hirta and spp.
Mistletoe Phoradendron quadrangulare (P. rubrum)
Tulip tree Spathodea campanulata
Pepper Elder Piper amalago
Vervine Stachytarpheta jamaicensis
Velvet bush Cissampelos pareira
Recently, new interest has been sparked over the anti-tumor
potential of a cerasee extract and also some cashew bark derivitives
which seem to offer possibilities for the correction of cardiac
irregularities. There is also the "ram goat roses" (Catharanthus
roses) from which an anti-tumor drug has been extracted.
Perhaps with more detailed research several other plants capable
of yielding useful drugs could be identified.
Bush medicine, or herbal medicine, in its simplest form may be
administered as a single bush used in a tea. These infusions are
fed to infants as well as adults for both preventive and curative
Some bush teas, such as the mint and leaf-of-life (Bryophyllum
pinnatum) have been reported to be harmless. On the other hand
several harmful examples have been reported on in scientific
literature. One of the best known examples is the Whiteback
(Crotalariaberteriana (C. fulva, or Senecio discolor), which causes
veno-occlusive diseases of the liver. Much of this study has been
done at the University of the West Indies since 1950.
It might be surprising to learn that not all the bushes or "herbs"
used in folk medicine are obtained locally. "Bushmen" or
"herbalists" and their henchmen usually prepare their bush
medicines with a Senna base. The names given to the herbs used
by these "practitioners" usually suggest purity, power or some-
Senecio discolor also known as Whiteback.
Inflorescence of Aloe vera, known by local name Sinkle-bible.
Most "bushmen" are not obeahmen (also called scientists) in
the traditional sense. Rather, they are spiritualists who believe
that the physical body can, if strengthened by herbs, naturally
fight off all possible ailments. They also believe in the need to
support the healing herbs with religious ceremony, and usually
practice from a sort of church called the mission. The head-
woman of the mission is referred to as the Mother or Shepherdess.
Treatment usually includes some oils, perfumes, liquid bush tonic,
a bush bath and of course the religious ceremony.
Another name by which these "institutions of healing" are
known is the balm-yard.
Ganja (Cannabis sativa) is called "wisdom weed" or "the herb"
and has a long history of use as a "spiritual" herb. Many local
people believe that it is mentioned in the bible, and for this reason
it must be beneficial. Many herbalist spiritual healers as well as
obeahmen use ganja for "meditation, wisdom and understanding".
They claim that this increases their perception and efficiency. For
normal folk medicinal purposes ganja is usually given as a tea,
soaked in rum cooked as a vegetable or sometimes chewed and
swallowed in its raw state. Each dosage form is specific for
Since so much has been written, both locally and internation-
ally about all the different aspects of ganja, it may be best to leave
judgement on this subject to the reader.
Many other herbal bush medicinal agents are as well known as
ganja. They are also widely used, but in a much freer atmosphere,
mainly because there are no legal problems or shortage of these
materials. Although local names of some of these bushes differ
from area to area it is not difficult to obtain the same materials in
any district for the same purposes, as alternative names are well
The following table lists the common and scientific names of
somp of the better known plants and their medicinal purposes. It
does not pretend to offer information on most of the available
bush medicinal agents or their applications.
Custard Apple (leaf)
Guinea Hen weed
Leaf of life
Trumpet tree (leaf)
\ Ivet bush
Persea americana To control high blood pressure
Artocarpus altilis To control high blood pressure
Musa sp. Young fruits boiled in skin for
nervous disorder. Grated and
mixed with kerosene oil for septic
wounds and removal of splinters.
Momordica charantia Gripe, cold beverage.
Gossypium hirsutum Treatment for colds, beverage.
Andira inermis* To eliminate worms from the
Cedrela odorata To control high fever
Gouania lupuloides Beverage, tonic
Annona reticulata Used with vinegar for sprains and
Dieffenbachia seguine* Contraceptive properties, poison.
Achyranthes indica For back-ache and urinary disorders.
Petiveria alliacea Headaches, fever, to keep away
Cannabis sativa General medicine used for almost
Hippobroma longiflora* For pain, beverage.
Eupatorium odoratum Treatment for colds
Picrasma excelsa Tonic, appetite stimulant, Malaria.
Cuscuta americana Treatment for cold, colic, asthma
Bryophyllum pinnatum Treatment of cold, beverage
Guaiacum officinale Bruises, pain, to prevent diseases
by warding off flies.
Piper amalago To control high blood pressure,
pain-killer, for gas pains.
Tribulus cistoides Treatment of colds.
Carica papaya Leprosy, boils.
Jatropha curcas* Purgative.
Andrographis paniculata Gripe, cold, beverage, acne.
Annona muricata To eliminate worms, beverage, for
nervous conditions and bladder
Solanum torvum* To purify the blood.
Rytidophyllum tomentosum Treatment of cold, beverage.
Chenopodium ambrosioides* Treatment of colds, to eliminate
Aloe vera Treatment of colds, cuts.
Tamarindus indica Treatment of colds, measles.
Cecropia peltata Treatment of colds, to control high
blood pressure, especially before and
Stachytarpheta jamaic ensis To eliminate worms.
Cissampelos pareira* Treatment of colds, tonic, diuretic,
skin diseases, gonorrhea.
Crotalaria berteriana, Treatment of colds and lung ailments
(C. fulval Senecio discolor*
To control high blood pressure.
*Knbwn to be poisonous or to produce sile effects.
Pain, treatment of colds, fever,
Treatment of colds, fever, to drive
away duppies and to strengthen the
Treatment of colds.
Animal tissues as medicinal agents: The use of animal tissues for
medicinal purposes is very limited when compared with plant
materials. Two of the most widely used items are chicken gizzard
and cane-piece rat (Rattus rattus). Dried chicken gizzard is made
into a thin soup and administered for the treatment of stomach
aches. The rat is trapped, evicerated and boiled into a thin soup
and given as a treatment for whooping cough.
Foods and tonics: These are not usually regarded as folk medicinal
agents. However, they are used as preventive medicinal agents.
Examples of foods used to provide strength and vitality include
cock-soup, cow-cod soup, the roasted testes of animals, shellfish
such as oysters, and the blood and brains of some animals.
The ingredients of most tonics are secret, although it is known
that many of them are made up of plant materials and inorganic
additives. Strong back (Morinda royoc), Irish Mash (Gracilaria sp.)
are examples of simple bush-type tonics.
Fresh air, Sunlight: Plenty of clean fresh air and early morning
sunlight are normally recommended as important parts of folk
medicinal treatments. The importance placed on fresh air seems
to be quite a reasonable imposition since so many Jamaicans live
in over-crowded conditions. These conditions would normally
retard recovery, especially of individuals suffering from respiratory
ailments. The irradiation of the early morning sunlight could be
useful in the production of vitamin D by the skin, and of course
could destroy some types of bacteria.
Charms, Chemicals and Spiritualism: These could be regarded as a
special group of folk medicinal agents, mainly because they are
associated with the occult. However, it must also be appreciated
that some of these agents may be used for normal every-day
purposes. Charms usually include rings and pendants which are
supposed to be specially treated to prevent evil affecting the
wearer. They are usually prepared by obeahmen at very high
A curious aspect of folk medicine in Jamaica is the names
given to some straightforward, everyday substances. Perhaps,
however, it is a case where a profession develops its own special
vocabulary. In table 2 an attempt is made to give some examples
of chemicals with their proper and folk names.
Ferric Chloride Solution
Surgical pain tablets
Milk of sulphur
The oils and perfumes have even more interesting names and
are divided into groups which offer love, power and wealth.
Examples include 'High John the Conqueror "Ten Command-
ments Oil", "Oil of Pompeii", "Lovers Delight", "Jink Remover"
and "Money Drawing Oil". Other organic chemical materials
include gums such as myrrh and frankincense (called incense). These
are imported materials and are generally used in rituals. Candles
are of special importance in the occult practices and are used on
the basis of shape, size and colour.
Reports state that many professionals who had suffered loss of
credibility with their clients have been relying more and more on
more conventional medicinal preparations, nearly all of which are
non-prescription items. Since belief is such a powerful agent not
only are the so-called professionals managing to remain in business
but folk medicinal practices are becoming better established in
many parts of the country.
Eupatorium odoratum; known locally as Jack-in-the-bush.
Flowers ofPersea americana, or Avocado pear.
Folk medicinal practices are somewhat more basic in Jamaica
than in most of the more developed countries and are basically
very interesting. Though there may be many aspects which need
to be eliminated for obvious reasons it may be better to leave this
to time and the natural evolutionary process, rather than apply
Research and documentation of folk medicinal practices are
necessary, both from a folk-lore point of view as well as possible
biological importance. Such research and documeAtation, would
be relatively simple. The occult side, though, would be difficult
or impossible to investigate because of the closely guarded secrets
Some of the chemical agents, for example mercury and
mercury compounds, are particularly toxic and their distribution
should be discontinued. General information on the toxicity of
the various bush medicines should be obtained and if necessary
supplied to adults as well as children.
It should also be of great interest to find out the extent to
which folk medicinal practices affect medicine and pharmacy in
Jamaica. Such a study could well give a clearer view of some of
the country's public health problems.
The author wishes to express thanks for background inform-
ation received from the following:
Report of the Tropical Products Institute (National Products
Research Unit) Chemistry Department, U.W.I., 1959-60.
Bras, G.; Berry, D.M.; Gyoragy, P.: Plants as aetiological factor
in Veno-occlusive diseases of the liver, 960-962, 1957.
Schoental, R.: Herbal Medicines and disease, J. Trop. Paed. 2:
Devils, Drugs and Doctors, H.W. Haggard, P.B.I. (inc.) N.Y. 1950.
The Institute of Jamaica and the many individuals including stu-
dents who willingly supplied much useful information.
Petiveria alliacea: known in Jamaica as Guinea Hen Weed.
Art Literature* Must
The man whose name this Annual
Award commemorates cared deeply about
the Arts. He recognized the important
role of artists in helping a people to face
and understand themselves, to acquire that
true self-knowledge which is the enemy of
complacent falsehood. He recognized the
importance of the artist in helping to build
personal and national self-confidence
founded on actual truths.
He would have been proud to join in
honouring the accomplished, important
and dedicated artist who will receive the
Norman Manley Award for Excellence. So
completely does she satisfy the criteria,
they might have been written to describe
her. The Norman Washington Manley
Foundation takes great pleasure in declar-
ing Louise Bennett-Coverly recipient of
the Norman Manley Award for Excellence
for the year 1972.
Writer and performer Louise Bennett
has exhibited an unswerving commitment
to her art and to Jamaica. Her artistic
effort has been sustained over some thirty
years, her distinguished eminence has in
recent times been widely recognized, and
her achievements, of unique original and
permanent value, are distinctly relevant
to the advancement of Jamaica.
Louise Bennett is best known as the
superb performer of radio, television and
the stage. She has long been essential to
the annual LTM pantomime which delights
a wide-cross section of Jamaicans for some
three months every year. But if she now
seems part of a Jamaican tradition, it is a-
tradition which she, with her originality,
has helped to shape. In 1949, with Noel
Vaz, she scripted Busha Blubeard, a
pantomime which developed out of an
idea conceived at a Knox College Summer
School. This was one of the first, if not
the first definitively, Jamaican pantomime,
moving away from the traditionally English
models produced in former years. By her
acting, by her advice, and some half a
dozen scripts, Louise Bennett has made a
crucial contribution to the development
of what is now a significantly Jamaican
theatre-form. In this she has been a
vigorous innovator and an undoubted star.
Louise Bennett is not only respected
by her theatre colleagues; she is loved.
They speak with pleasure not only of her
great talent and professional discipline,
but also of her human warmth and her
commitment to Jamaica. An expert and
well trained artist who could earn her keep
abroad, she has preferred to live and work
in Jamaica; to work here at home.
Awarded a British Council Scholarship in
1945, she was trained at the Royal
Academy of Dramatic Art, and had regular
engagements with the BBC and with
English repertory companies in Coventry,
Huddersfield and Amersham. In New
York in 1953 she performed at St. Martin's
Little Theatre and at the Village Vanguard.
She has also performed in Canada and
throughout the English-speaking Carib-
bean. Her considerable experience and
expertise she has always been willing to
share with her theatre colleagues, both
formally and informally, unselfishly and
As Drama Officer for the Jamaica
Social Welfare Commission from 1955 to
1960, Louise Bennett worked with drama
groups all over the country and helped to
promote Village Festivals. This'period of
extensive travelling in Jamaica gave her a
chance to pursue investigations into
Jamaican folklore which she had begun
some years earlier, out of personal inte rest.
She has collected and studied folksongs.
ring-games. Anancy stories, riddles. Jamai-
can folklore in general; and she did much
of this work before the co. enience of
transistorised equipment government
grants. The work which -.s on today
with support from public revenue owes
much to the pioneer "ork of Louise
She has lectured er .nsively in Jamaica,
the United States anc~ the United Kingdom
on Jamaican music anu folklore and was
for many years a part-time tutor in the
University of the West Indies Extra Mural
Department. It is not widely enough
known that she has been a willing resource
person to many scholars and artists inter-
ested in Jamaican folk material. Frederick
Cassidy in his book Jamaica Talk acknow-
ledges her as being one of the "truest to
both the spirit and the letter of the folk
speech". It is this truth grounded in her
faithful observation and a genui e empathy
with Jamaican folk life which makes
Louise Bennett stand way above all her
colleagues in this unique field of endeavour.
The early Ivy Baxter Creative Dance
group, the National Dance Theatre Com-
pany, the Frats Quintet, the Jamaican
Folk Singers are among the artists in her
debt. When she first met Harry Belafonte
in New York, he scarcely remembered a
Jamaican folk song: Louise Bennett sang
some for him.
Many in the world of learning have
acknowledged her assistance: folklore
experts, language scholars, ethnomusico-
logists. To them all Louise Bennett has
been of tremendous help, readily sharing
her knowledge of Jamaican life, language
and custom. She has recorded some of the
material: in 1954 she did records for
Folkways in New York Jamaican
Folksongs and Jamaican Singing Games.
Some of her books have included Anancy
,stories, and recently she has spoken some
for Federal Records in Jamaica. She is
shortly to publish a collection of some
700 proverbs. Her deep knowledge of
Jamaica has helped to give her literary and
theatrical work an authenticity that few
other Jamaican artists have achieved.
Louise Bennett's most original and
lasting achievement has been as a poet
and writer. Since the early 1940's, a time
of political and cultural ferment, she has
been publishing and performing her dialect
poems. Through the help of Ferdie
Sangster in 1966 Jamaica Labrish appeared,
a selection from her output since 1942.
Her poems are recited today by school-
children, performed in Festivals, examined
at the university, choreographed to by
dance-creators, and enjoyed by an entire
society. "I believe in laughter" she once
said; but her laughter can contain elements
of pathos and tragedy:
Sun a-shine but tings noh bright
Doah pot a-bwile, bickle noh nuff,
River flood, but water scarce yaw,
Rain a-fall but dutty tuff.
She often performs what she has
written; indeed her reason for writing has
often been that she needed something to
perform. Hers is primarily an oral art.
But whether they are performed or not,
many of her poems are of permanent
importance, expressing and evaluating in
their accomplished art particular moments
of our experience.
She chooses to write in dialect. At first
she often had the experience of being
criticised for this not only by school
teachers and other nervous guardians of
the English language but also by many
people who themselves spoke only dialect.
It is a kind of self-contempt which she
satirizes in such a poem-as "Noh Lickle
Twang", first published in 1943. Since
then our society has grown much nearer
to a general acceptance that the language
people speak is a legitimate medium of
art; Louise Bennett's work is not only a
factor that has encouraged such accept-
ance, it is the occasion of this acceptance.
Moreover she has always been aware that
the language she used communicates with
the widest Jamaican audience. Many of
our other significant artists, working in
their various media, are accessible only to
an elite, cultivated or otherwise. Louise
Bennett has achieved excellence while
reaching the entire society. Even if
everything is not grasped by all her
listeners, there is much that all can share.
But she does not flatter us. She is
forever exposing our pretences, our
idiocies, our comic disproportions. She
measures us against the values of common
sense, of sanity, of reason; and yet in her
compassion does not seem beyond us all.
She speaks not so much to as for the whole
society. In recent years she has turned to
prose, doing a thrice-weekly radio pro-
gramme in which through her and her
Auntie Roachie the society speaks back to
itself. The best of the prose is as important
as the verse.
To separate the actress from the folk-
researcher, and the poet from both, is
convenient, but unreal. For in the one
Louise Bennett, the uniquely Jamaican
artist, we are all lucky to have all: the
three are in perpetual interaction. Through
her activity as an artist, Louise Bennett
helps us to know ourselves, to enjoy
ourselves, and to care about the truth.
The award is given annually to a Jamaican,
who by devotion and sustained effort, has
achieved excellence in any field of endeavour.
It is sponsored by the Norman Washington
Manley Foundation, a non-profit organization
established to perpetuate the memory of
Jamaica's late National Hero and former
The author as Mrs. Quickly in a
presentation of "The Merry Wives
Photo by Maria La~acona
Mrs. Bennett-Coverley, in national costume, holds a group of children
tion in a scene from the pantomime "Anancy and Doumbey".
House O' Law
The litigiousness of the Jamaican common-folk is proverbial.
The court-case has long been one of the causes for the con-
tinued existence of the outlawed practice of obeah. Here Miss
Milly calls the bluff of her opponent, Miss Jane, who has sought
the services of an obeahman, and gets acquitted by confidently
lying her way out of the charges.
Me jus a-come from court-house, me
Kean stop, me deh pon hase;
Me ongle callfe tell yuh sey
Miss Milly win de case.
Mill brave yuh se mah, for dese days
When Obeah is de style,
She ongle wet her hankerchief
Wid lickle success ile!
An de way she step eena court-house
Boasify kean dun,
Yuh hooda tink she lef tirteen
Cangle a yard a-bun.
After she kiss de bible mam,
Miss Milly mout start fly,
An believe me wud Miss Dina
n in rapt atten- Every wud she sey was lie!
De court-house ketch afire, even
De judge had fe laugh
When him sey "Guilty or not Guilty?"
Hear Milly "half an half".
She put 'pit a her y'eye an start
Form cry an gwan so till
Po Jane bawl out, "she is a- "; hear
De judge "ooman be still!"
Hear Jane "Lawd sah she naw tell trut'
An she jus teck a oat?"
De judge get bex an sey "I charge you
Wid contempt of court'"
Po Jane so frighten one big nutmeg
Drop outa her jaw
De judge sey "woman yuh bring witchcraft
To de house of law!"
Po Jane start bawl an meck nize, de
Police man sey "orda!"
De judge sey to Jane "two pounds or
Tirty days hard layba".
Him y'eye start courten Milly,
From her boot toe to her head.
Hear him "young lady you are
Train Leff Miss Hayes
The train leaves Miss Hayes but, not to worry, her friends
will take care of her belongings, including the food she had
prepared. "Fe her fall is fe we risin' . .." and "Fore bickle
pwile, meek belly bus". The Anancy spirit of one-upmanship
is here given full play. He exploits someone else's misfortunes
for his own advantage.
Lawd a massy Miss Jinnet! de
Train gwine leff Miss Hayes
Me sarry but it serve her right
She too have funny ways.
De ooman pack her tings pon train
Soh leff dem an goh wey-
Gawn walk bout pon platform when she
Noh got noh biniz deh.
We start move an she doan come yet!
Miss Amy koo yan noh!
See po' Miss Haye' outside dah-gwan
Like she dah-jumo poco.
She dah-go try fe hop train, an
She heaby like lead!
Me haffe shet me y'eye Miss Jinnet
Pinch me wen she dead!
Teng-Gad, one m -' stop her. Miss Hayes,
It hot but wey fe. .
Noh bada was'e yu, y 'eye wata
We all sarry fe yuh.
Yuh kean come Missis, win you mine
Yuh try hard but yuh fail,
Teck bull-frog kip yuh heart for him
Win him mine offa tail
De train leff yuh already an
Since yuh noh got noh wings
Yuh haffe tan a Tung an we
Wi look afta yuh tings.
Fe her fall is fe we risin'
Me dah-goh teck her seat
We stay good for she always carry
Plenty good tings fe eat.
Same ting me tell yuh; bread an pear
One pan o' new shuga;
Massa we eena tings teday,
For dung to ice deh yah.
Mix de shuga-an-wata Mary
Jinnet cut up de pear
"Fore bickle pwile, meek belly bus",
Move Sarah, me gwine share.
Mrs. Bennett-Coverley's success has been built not only on her
original and humourous compositions, but on delivery.
Jamaica Tourist Board Photo
"New broom sweep clean but old broom know the corer",
goes an old proverb. The new air-brake bus is stylish but the
old tram had its good points.
Put fun an joke one side Miss Jane,
Me miss de "palam-pam!"
De bus drive sweet an steady, but
Me miss me ole-time Tram.
Papine look kine o' sad teday,
Him know sey something wrang,
Noh "Ricky-tick," noh "Ruckoo-took",
Noh tram naw "Balang-bang!"
But doah we feel it soh, allting
Happen fe de bes'
Me meck me conscience rule me, for
Tam-car start fe leak.
Sometime him get eena tempa
An growl an rowl an prance.
11Till we inside look like is
Boogie-woogie we dah-dance.
De short journey wi help Tram
Fe ketch up back him strength'
An wen him come back vigorous,
We all wi ketch we lengt'
Soh me wi walk mile-an-a-half
Fe hear de "palam-pam!"
De bus drive sweet, but massa, it
Noh sweet me like de Tram!
Bans O' Killing
So yuh a de man, me hear bout!
Ah yuh dem sey dah-teck
Whole heap o' English oat sey dat
Yuh gwine kill dialect!
Meek me get it straight Mass Charlie
For me noh quite undastan,
Yuh gwine kill all English dialect
Or jus Jamaica one?
Efyuh dah-equal up wid English
Language, den wha meck
Yuh gwine go feel inferior, wen
It come to dialect?
Efyuh kean sing "Linstead Market"
An "Wata come a me y'eye",
Yuh wi haffi tap sing "Auld lang syne"
An "Coming thru de rye".
Dah language weh yuh proud o'
Weh yuh honour and respeck,
Po' Mass Charlie! Yuh noh know sey
Dat it spring from dialect!
Dat dem start fe try tun language,
From de fourteen century,
Five hundred years gawn an dem got
More dialect dan we!
Yuh wi haffi kill de Lancashire
De Yorkshire, de Cockney
De broad Scotch an de Irish brogue
Before yuh start kill me!
Yuh wi haffe get de Oxford book
O'English ;,:rse, an tear
Out Chaucer, Burns, Lady Grizelle
An plenty o' Shakespeare!
Wen yuh done kill "wit" and "humour"
Wen yuh kill "Variety"
Yuh wi haffe fine a way fe kill
An mine how yuh dah-read dem English
Book deh pon yuh shelf
For ef yuh drop a "h"yuh might
Haffe kill yuhself
Mrs. Bennett-Coverley in a scene from a production of "Finnian's
Standing.Room Only as usual on a rough-riding tram ...
Oonoo ever tired like a horse?
Yuh ever feel dead beat
An wen yuh board a tram yuh fine
Is so-so tan-up seat?
All yuh can do is sigh, or kin
Yuh teet an try look bole,
Look fe a good-face smaddy an
Gi dem yuh bagfe hole.
Den wen de tram meck "pleng" an start,
An yuh heart start fe fail,
Teck one han heng awn pon yuh life
Rainbow'" An one han grab de rail.
Ef yuh dah-come from hair-dressa
Wid shag or page-bwoy rear,
Be time yuh ketch home a yuh yard
Yuh curls dem tun free-hair!
An efyuh comb yuh hair up-sweep
De tram-kear seal de doom!
For be de time yuh journey en'
Yuh headfava ole-broom!
Sometime de big strong-physique man dem
Sprawl out bout de place
An hooden even gi a po'
Ooman a lickle space.
Me doan sey man kean tired to
But wen dem want show-off,
Dem sey ooman is "weaka sex",
An ooman frail and sof'.
But wen man go pon tram and lef
Dem mannas a dem yard,
Dem gwan like ooman strong like man
An cruffan rough an hard!
An sometime when shame bun dem shirt
Dem start gwan like dem shy,
An sidung-man kean look straight eena
Tan-up ooman y 'eye!
But me naw sey a wud, me ongle
Grunt sof' an keep mum,
For every sidung-smaddy got
Dem tan-up day dah-come.
Me noh know ef smaddy obeah me,
Or is bad-luck me meet,
But every time me go pon tram
Is so-so tan up seat!
Photo by Clinton Hamilton
(Paper presented by Cliff Lashley*
at the International Library Conference
April 24-29, 1972)
It is impossible to say exactly what a national library is
because each nation is unique and each national library attempts
to serve its nation's peculiar needs. There is, however, wide-
spread agreement on the basic functions of any national library.
In the words of Sir Frank Francis, Director and Principal
Librarian of the British Museum: "Speaking broadly, the
National Library in any country is the library which has the duty
of collecting and preserving for posterity the written production
of that country".
If you ask, why collect and preserve for posterity the written
production of a nation, the unanimous reply would be that the
national library is, "the mind of society", "the only effective
repository of the racial memory", "a live depository of the
cultural past", or something like it. There is also agreement on
some of the basic formulas, such as legal deposit, and some of the
basic activities such as producing bibliographies, which a national
library uses to fulfill its duties. It seems likely that if and when
national libraries are established in the West Indies they would
have the same basic duties for the same reasons, and would fulfill
them in the same manner as elsewhere. So, what is interesting
to speculate about is the cultural uniqueness of the various West
Indian nations Barbados, Trinidad, Guyana and Jamaica and
the consequent peculiar needs their national libraries would have
to satisfy. It is in satisfying these needs that national libraries
in the West Indies might meet the challenge of change.
There is no literature describing the unique cultural charac-
teristics of the various West Indian nations, though we natives
sense, and are jealous of, our insular differences. There is a
substantial and growing literature, largely written by West
Indian historians and social scientists, which attempts to
characterize West Indian society as a whole, developing models
which could serve as bases for social planning and action. The
two models which could have been fully elaborated the
plantation society model and the plural society model do
clarify our vision of West Indian reality, showing up our history
of economic exploitation, the deep structural nature of our race
and class divisions and the neo-colonialism of our post-
independence policies. But these models are not only too static;
they do not focus the cultural aspects of West Indian society
narrowly conceived. They do not allow us to see, for example,
the role of the written production and its preservation in West
Indian society. So, ironically, as you shall see, we must adopt a
West Indian culture, and the role of the written production in
it, are clarified by the great tradition/little tradition model
elaborated by the American anthropologist Robert Redfield, in
Peasant Society and Culture, 1956. A great tradition is an auto-
*Formerly Chief Librarian, West India Reference Library, Institute of Jamaica.
nomous cultural system with its own mutually adjusted and
interdependent parts which do not require another system for its
functioning. Of course, it interacts with other systems, but it is
not dependent. It is a literate tradition with specialists priests,
teachers, philosophers and institutions temples, maybe with
embryonic libraries and schools to consciously preserve and
A little tradition, by contrast, is not autonomous. To main-
tain itself it requires continual communication with a great
tradition. It is oral, not literate and according to Redfield, "is
for the most part taken for granted and not submitted to too
much scrutiny or considered refinement and improvement".
Great traditions and little traditions are interdependent, feeding
and feeding on one another. The teachings of Galen about the
four humours may have been suggested by ideas current in little
communities of simple people becoming, but not yet,civilized;
after development by reflective minds they may have been
received by peasantry and re-interpreted in local terms. Great
epics have arisen out of elements of traditional tale-telling by
many people, and epics have returned again to the peasantry for
modification and incorporation into local cultures.
Writing and what it makes possible, is the crucual difference
between the great and the little traditions inspite of Redfield's
implication that it is scrutiny, reflectiveness and the resultant
refinement and improvement which is the source of fundamental
difference. McLuhan has galvanized us into awareness that
writing and print determine our modes of perception our
scrutiny and reflectiveness and consequently what we perceive
and the models we use to represent our perceptions. We are now
aware that oral, tribal man perceives, conceptualizes and organizes
his social life differently from 'visual typographic man and that
television and Telstar might be re-making the world into a global
village, and presumably establishing a universal little tradition.
What is important is the realization that writing and its
analogy profoundly affect the structure of society. Large-scale
enterprises like sugar production are impossible without the
technology of writing, which not only gives speech a material
correlative, but permits its preservation and transmission over
time and space. Thus writing permitted the absentee landlord
to give instructions, receive reports, keep records and compute
profit and loss, with disastrous consequences because of his
absence for the development of the West Indian society. The
technology of writing also made possible the British Empire, the
late failure of the sun to set on the Union Jack and the near
hegemony of British culture.
If we look at Jamaica by the light of Redfield's model we see
that Jamaica has no great tradition. I cite Jamaica because of the
obviousness of the distinctions there, its possession of the only
nearly national library, the West India Reference Library. Give
and take a little, the pattern in Jamaica fits the other West Indian
nations as I can show. Jamaican culture is obviously dependent
on autonomous systems and great traditions and their specialists
and institutions elsewhere. As Redfield might have put it,
Jamaican culture cannot be fully understood (in its historical or
contemporary dimension) from what goes on in the minds of
Jamaicans alone. We need to know something of what goes on
in the minds of remote teachers, priests or philosophers, not to
mention industrial designers, advertising agents and millionaires,
achieved or in process, whose thinking affects Jamaicans.
Redfield says the specialists of the great tradition are affected
by the little tradition but it is doubtful if any of Jamaica's little
traditions affect even a significant number of Jamaicans living
There are three little traditions in Jamaica. There is a little
colonial tradition which is the literate, fully institutionalized and
officially transmitted tradition. Because it is literate, institution-
alized and official, the other two little Jamaican traditions
sometimes relate to it as if it were a great tradition. The other
two traditions are the African Folk tradition and the Rastafari
counter-tradition. They are both essentially oral. Although the
African Folk tradition is in some degree a tradition of all
Jamaicans (everybody speaks and/or understands Jamaican
creole) most Jamaicans regard it as a lesser tradition than the
colonial. It is viewed as the dark tradition of dark people from
ABOVE The Little Tradition?
A rural John Canoe group in action.
* LEFT The Great Tradition?
"The Fireflies", amateur dramatic
troup. Scene from a musical revue
at the Ward Theatre, Kingston, 1925.
the dark continent. Because of this, its oral nature, its lack of
institutionalization and the refusal of the specialists to give it
recognition, the African folk-tradition has remained a little
tradition, although it has been independent of its African great
tradition since just after the last infusion of people from Africa.
The counter-tradition of the Rastafari is partially an amalgam
of the other two traditions although Rastafari are brutally
critical of both traditions. The Rastafari's great book is the
Authorized Version of the Bible, most fundamentally re-
interpreted, and their explicitly claimedgreat tradition is African,
geographically Ethiopia. The Rastafari counter-tradition is the
local manifestation of an international rejection of Western
culture and the concurrent attempt, inevitably using some of the
West's legacy, to replace it. There is also in Jamaica, as through-
out the world, a small group of literate specialists who belong
to and are trying to advance the counter-culture. While this
group is not Rastafari they have essentially the same analysis of
-- ~- I
the little colonial and little African folk traditions, use some
inevitable Western legacy, claim an African heritage etc. Of
course all Jamaica's little traditions inter-relate, at least negatively,
with the foreign blonde, blue-eyed great tradition.
In Jamaica, the unique cultural situation is that there is no
great national tradition and only that little tradition which is
most parasitic on the foreign great tradition is literate, insti-
tutionalized and officially presented and transmitted. So, the
peculiar need a Jamaican national library would have to satisfy
would be the enfranchisement of the African and other folk and
Rastafari and other counter-traditions. This is the challenge of
change for all West Indian librarians.
To meet this challenge, we must first have an adequate
concept of change. We must intend change in the infrastructure
of the society. And since positive change in the West Indies
means development we must tacitly assume we know what
development is and then let it mean the present state of sup-
posedly developed Western society. We must spell out the goals
of development, the good life, in terms of folk and counter-
traditions. Next we must recreate the profession of librarianship.
It has been customary to say that a librarian should have no
politics, no religion, no morals, that he/she must be objective to
be impartial. This notion of objectivity was partial, as the
history of colonialism and our destitution makes plain. Librarians
in developing societies must have as their passionate concern to
work for the health of the whole body politic; they must be
Consequent on this conception of our profession comes new
tasks. We might have to find a new formula for obtaining the
nation's printed production free of cost, because maybe
copyright should be abandoned in developing countries so that
all knowledge would be free. Certainly we will not primarily
collect and preserve written materials. We will use electronic
technology to collect, preserve and disseminate the spoken word.
Our collecting must be active. We can train as oral historians and
folklorists, decide what to collect and go out and get it. We must
beware when we organize materials that we do not automatically
use classifications which only reflect the little colonial written
tradition. A classification scheme is ultimately a cosmology. In
helping readers to whatever level, we must help them to all the
various kinds of sources. We may even have to persuade them
that their real task is the collection of the very sources they
came in search of.
These conceptions are not only the concern of a national
library and its staff, though it is the essential responsibility of
the national library to lead in their realization. All West Indian
librarians must help identify, collect, preserve and transmit in all
its variety of origin, form and content the total racial memory
and build ultimately a great West Indian tradition.
"BUTTERFLY" (Intaglio print), by Frank Raymond
by Vernon Lopez
Now An"q get 4 ieqb4
To have a big stomach is a sign of prosperity. To get big
belly, like big foot, is a sign of evil at work against you. Anancy
has big belly. Everybody knows that.
How he got it has not up to this been widely known, and since
I am one of the few people who know it and I am getting old, I
think it only right that I write it down for posterity. So here it
Anancy was a greedy person. He used to cook a great deal of
food and when he could not eat it all, before he gave anybody
any he would allow it to spoil. For this he was not liked in his
district and his neighbours used to make plans to rob him.
Sometimes they succeeded in depriving Anancy of all his dinner
and then made him very vexed.
It was near Christmas and everybody was thinking about plum
pudding and ham and Christmas morning service.
Anancy was known in the district as the best plum pudding
maker in the nation. When Anancy steamed plum pudding you
could smell it for miles around. Now, one of Anancy's next-
door neighbours was Brer Rat. He never did a lick of work, yet
was as fat as mud fish. Anancy always suspected Brer Rat of
stealing his food but he had never been able to get proof.
As the lovely mouth-watering aroma of Anancy's plum
pudding invaded the air over the village, Anancy could not help
noticing the gleam of coveteousness in Brer Rat's eye.
Brer Anancy decided to fix that.
Now Anancy was in the habit every Christmas of putting his
plum pudding into his safe from Christmas eve night and leaving
it to go to midnight mass. Rat had, for the past two years,
succeeded in sharing the plum pudding without Anancy's
permission, and much to his disgust. This Christmas Anancy
decided to get even with Rat. He steamed two puddings. Into
one he put a generous amount of oil of swell him belly. The
other one had none.
Christmas eve night before he left his home for Church Brer
Anancy put the pudding with the oil of swell him belly into the
safe. The good pudding he left in the oven.
While Anancy was at church Brer Rat visited his home. Seeing
the pudding all innocent in the safe Brer Rat sniffed deeply.
He said, "Anancy pudding really smell sweet. Mek a look see if
him have another one anywhere 'bout the place, because I want
a whole pudden' tonight."
Brer Rat never stopped searching until he found the pudding
in the oven.
"So Brer 'Nancy think him smart", he mused. "I smarter
than him though ".
Brer Rat promptly switched the puddings around. He put the
one that was in the safe in the oven and the one that was in the
oven he ate it and left the crumbs in the safe.
Anancy came home from church hungry and looked in the
safe to find the pudding gone. He laughed "I ketch Brer Rat",
he said. Straight to the oven he went add had a good feed of the
pudding he found there. He went to bed feeling well.
Next morning Anancy awoke with big belly. The oil of swell
him belly had done a good job.
Anancy was so ashamed that he hid away and spun a web to
cover himself. From that day to this Anancy has big belly. Is
greedy and bad mind cause it.
Jack Mandora me no choose none.
Illustration by Johnnie Brandford
flow WAp* g9o od inA
Another little known fact is how wasp got his sting.
Many people think that wasps always came equipped with
stings. This is not so. There was a time when the wasp was the
proud possesser of the finest set of teeth ever seen. And he was
very proud of them. So proud in fact, that his greatest delight
was to go around biting people.
How he got a sting and lost his teeth is a little known story
and I am now writing it down for future generations.
Anancy is the cause of it. His laziness and cunning robbed
wasp of his lovely teeth and gave him a sting instead. Of course
wasp is to be blamed too. But let me tell you the story and
leave you to judge who was more to blame.
Anancy was postman in the village. Every day he had to walk
around with a heavy bag over his shoulder. Up hill and down hill
in the hot sun made Anancy so tired at the end of the day that
all he could do was to lie on his cot and sleep.
Now, as wasp flew up and down he saw Anancy's distress and
decided to help him out. One day he stopped Anancy on his
"Hi Brer Anancy. Working hard though!"
"Is so life go", Brer Anancy answered him.
"It don't have to go so you know, Brer Anancy", Brer Wasp
advised him. "I would be willing to carry the bag for you and
deliver the letters. All you have to do is to lie down on the beach
and enjoy a holiday. I would do it for you for a whole week".
Anancy got suspicious. He asked wasp. "What in it for you".
Wasp replied: "Just a little bite at the end of the week. Just a
little bite Brer Anancy".
Anancy gave the proposition a little thought before he
answered. "Alright," he finally said. "On one condition. That
you don't bite me in me head".
"Why you don't want me to bite you in your head?" asked
the suspicious wasp. "Because", Anancy said, cunningly, "my
head is too tough. It will break your teeth."
"0 no", Wasp told Anancy. "I want to bite you in your
"Alright, is your funeral" Anancy told Wasp, and the deal was
For an entire week Anancy did nothing but relax and enjoy
the laziest time of his life. Wasp carried the mail bag all week,
looking forward to the end of the week.
Came Friday and Anancy was not at all disturbed. He knew
what he was going to do. At ten o'clock when Wasp's knock
sounded on the door he calmly took up the lamp shade and put
it over his head before opening the door.
Poor unfortunate Wasp didn't ask any questions. He just got
to work and began biting.
Crunch, crunch, oooch.
Poor Wasp became toothless in a moment. In pain and shame
he flew out of Anancy's home.
From that day to this Wasp don't have teeth to bite and this
made him very sad.
About three weeks after this he found out that a splinter of
glass had slipped down his throat, and with a little effort he
could make it protrude from its tail. That was the beginning of
his stinging days and until today Wasp can sting.
Jack Mandora, me no choose none.
Illustration by Johnnie Brandford
"JAMAICAN SONG and STORY"
Extracts from the above-named book, by WalterJeky'll
very quiet, an' presently Peafowl was passing.
An' Annancy call upon him say:- "Bro'er Peafowl, a living
is here for me an' you."
An' Peafowl ask him what is it.
An' he take Peafowl an' carry him where Wheeler is, and he
says:- "Bro'er Peafowl, you see that hole. As you hand is so
long, don't be afraid, just shub you hand in there now an' you
will find something grand."
An' as Peafowl shub in him hand Wheeler hold him.
An' Annancy tell him that he must pull.
An' when him pull he could' get 'way.
An' Mr. Annancy feel very proud an' happy till he laugh with
joy in his heart.
An' when him done laugh him tell Peafowl to say:- "Who
hold me here?"
An' Wheeler say:- "Me, Wheeler."
Annancy tell him to say:- "Wheel me mile an' distant."
An' him wheel Peafowl an' dash im on the iron peg, an' Mr.
Annancy went an' pick him up an' put him in his bag.
An' him went back to his old place a bush an' sat quiet.
That time Puss was seeing all this.
M e/W Illustrations by Sally Mclntosh
One day Puss was going out on a journey, an' he travel till he
reach to a river mouth. An' as Puss being afraid for water he
could' cross the river.
An' Puss has to stop for two day an' one night, an' Puss climb
a tree which hang over the water.
An' Mr. Annancy was fishening.
An' Annancy fishening till he come where Puss was, an' Puss
didn' call to Annancy.
An' same time Annancy meet up a licking 'tump a river side.
Annancy lick, him lick, him lick, him lick outside till him sen'
him han' inside.
An' when Annancy shub him hand him feel something hold
An' Annancy get very frighten an' pull fe get him hand out,
an' liim could' get 'way.
An' Annancy ask the question:- "Who hold me?"
An' a voice in a the 'tump said:- "Me Wheeler."
An' Annancy said to him must wheel him make him see.
An' him wheel Mr. Annancy mile an' distant.
An' when Annancy drop he didn' dead, an' he said:- "T'ank
God! I met with a little accident, but I see it going to be a living
fe me an' me family."
An' Mr. Annancy went home an' get some lovely iron peg,
an' when him come he plant them in the river course to the very
spot which him did drop.
That time Puss seeing all what Mr. Annancy is doing.
Annancy leave, an' come where Wheeler is, an' keep himself
Ratta was passing, an' as Annancy see him Annancy said to
him:- "I's all you deeshent man I like to see."
An'.Ratta ask him:- "What for?"
An' Annancy say:- "Don't be afraid; a living is here for you
An' he carry Ratta an' show him the 'tump.
An' when him show Ratta, Ratta ask him if this is the living.
Annancy say:- "No shub you han', man, in the hole, an'
you will fin' a living."
An' as Ratta shub him hand Wheeler hold him.
An' Annancy tell him that he must pull.
Him say he can't get 'way.
Annancy tell him to ask:- "Who hold me?"
Annancy tell him must say:- "Wheel me mile an' distant."
An' he wheel Ratta an' dash him on the iron peg again.
Annancy went an' pick him up an' put him in his bag, an' go
back same place.
After, Puss come down off the tree an' walk through the bush
an' go down the river a little ways an' then turn up back, coming
up very meek an' poorly.
Annancy so glad to see Bro-er Puss him say:- "Walk up my
bold friend Mr. Puss. Come an' see the living which is here for
me an' you."
An' Puss playing as to say that he didn' know nothing at all
An' Mr. Annancy begin to show Puss the 'tump, an' he tell
Puss to shub him hand in the hole.
When Annancy show Puss the hole, Puss say that him don'
Annancy get vex and say:- "Shub you han' you so, man!
Shub you han' you so, man! There, There!"
An' Puss put him hand another way, playing to say he don'
see it. An' he go on, go on, till Annancy make a flourish with
him own hand, an' Annancy hand slip in the hole an' Wheeler
An' Annancy begir to cry as him know the danger which is
An'him cry out:- "Do, me good Bro'er Push, jus' run a river
course; you will see some iron peg, pull them up for me."
An' Puss begin fe walk in him sinnicky way, an' hide a bush
where Annancy can't see.
When Puss come, him say him pull them.
Annancy would' believe, an' crying still say:- "Bro'er
Push, mus' go an' fetch one come make me see."
Puss go, an' when him come back him come without it.
Annancy ask him where is it.
Him tell Annancy that it too heavy, an' him roll it 'way.
An' Annancy, still crying, would' believe. An' he begin to
call Puss Godfather Push, an' beg him hard'- "Do, me good
Godfather Push, just you jump pull dem."
An' him go on, go on, till him believe Puss, an' him ask the
question:- "Who hold me?"
"Wheel me mile an' distant."
An' Annancy fly by the air an' drop slam on his own trap.
An' Puss walk down an' pick up Annancy, an' put him in the
bag with Peafowl an' Ratta an' carry off all the living with a
Poor me lit tie Cub-ba boy, barn day no Cub-ba?
Me da go da Vay lum, barn day no Cub-ba?
Jack Mantora me no choose none.
by Johnnie Brandford
One day Devil set his honey-dram near a river side.
An' Annancy has a little son name of John Wee-wee, an'
when the boy find out Devil honey-dram he continually tiefing
all the dram.
An' Devil could' find out who was doing it.
An' Devil put out a reward that if any one can prove who is
tiefing his dram he will pay them a good sum.
An' one day Annancy miss his son, an' Annancy guess that
the little boy must be gone to Devil honey-dram.
An' as Annancy being a tief himself he went an' s'arch for
the boy. An' when he go he found him drunk an' fast asleep.
An' Annancy lift him up an' bring him home.
An' when the boy got sober, about three days after, he got
so use to the dram an' he went back.
An' Devil gone-out to hunting. An' when he was going he ask
his mother to give a heye upon his dram until he come in. An'
the mother went down to the dram an' she found the boy drunk
the very same again.
An' there was no one know the woman name except Mr.
An' Annancy went an' look for his son.
An' when he go the woman catch the boy already an' carry
him to Devil yard. An when the boy go the woman gi' him some
corn to beat.
An' Annancy went an see his son was beating corn, an' he ask
the woman what the boy is doing here. An' the woman tell him
that this is the boy was tiefing all Devil honey-dram, an' now
him catch him, an' him would' let him go until the master
An' Annancy ask the woman if he don't have any more corn
That foolish woman say:- "Yes, Brother Annancy, but not
all the corn you going to beat you won't get your son till the
An' Annancy begin to fret for him know when Devil come he
won't have no more son again, for Devil will kill him an' eat him.
An' the woman name is Matilda.
An' Annancy took to corn an' begun to beat an' he start to
heel oh! Wheel oh Ma- til da.
Wheel oh! Wheel on Ma til da.
Turn the wa ter-wheel oh Ma-til-da! Ma til -- da mah my
los' him gold ring, Turn the wa ter-wheel oh Ma til da.
An' the woman begun to dance an' wheel. An she dance an'
dance till she get tired an' fall asleep. An' Annancy (the clever
fellah) took his son out an' light Devil house with fire.
An' when Devil in the bush look an' see his house is burning
he t'row down his gun an' 'tart a run to his yard.
Until he come the nouse burn flat to ground.
An' Devil could' find Matilda his faithful mother, an' Devil
take to heart an' dead.
An' Annancy take Devil honey-dram for himself an' build up
a house in Devil own place, an' from that day Mr. Annancy
becomes the smartest man.
Jack Mantora me no choose any.
g wg by Johnnie Brandford
One day Hog was going out to look work, an' Hog name was
An' he got out an' walk all about an' could' get no work.
An' when he come home Ratta employ him to keep watch
for him when Broder Puss is coming.
An' Hog ask Rat how much is his pay.
An' Rat tell him that he will give him t'ree an' sixpence a
week but he must find himself every t'ing to eat an' drink.
An' Hog didn' agree. But as the time being so hard he says
he will bear with Ratta till the week out.
An' when the week done Ratta pay Hog, an' Ratta thought that
Hog was still keeping watch for him.
So Ratta go out, an' when he come back he didn' fin' Hog.
An' him say:- Wasn' God, Puss would broke in on him.
An' him cuss Hog that Hog would walk an' never get no work,
an' some which worse than Hog will laugh after him.
An' Hog start one morning to look work.
What that fellah Mr. Dog done Hog.
As he being, a market-keeper, he set down at the market gate
an' see Hog was passing, an' he ask Hog where he is going.
Hog tell him that he is going to look a little work.
Same time Dog burst out a laugh. An' as he burst out a laugh
he ask Hog thought he was working with Ratta.
An' Hog feel so shame to himself till he would' answer Dog.
An' Dog laugh after Hog with this sing:-
Time get so hard Hog an' all a look work, Dog sit down a
marKet gate an' go laugh at a Hog distress; me ra-rabum Cuddy de da
door, me rarabum Cud-dy de da door, me rarabum Cud-dy de da door.
An' Dog sing an' sing an' sing till Hog get vex an' come home
An' from that day that's why Hog must always hate Dog until
Jack Mantora me no choose none.
M an & Illustration
by Johnnie Brandford
Unce tnere was a bird in the wood name Man-crow, an' the
world was in darkness because of that bird.
So the King offer thousands of pounds to kill him to make
the world in light again.
An' the King have t'ree daughter, an' he promise that, if
anyone kill Man-crow, he will make them a very rich man an'
give one of his daughter to marry.
So thousands of soldiers go in the wood to kill Man-crow. An'
they found him on one of the tallest trees in the woods. An' no
one could kill him, an' they come home back.
So there was a little yawzy fellah call Soliday.
An' he say to his .grandmother:- "Gran'mother I am very
poor. I am going in the wood to see if I can kill Man-crow."
An' the grandmother answer:- "Tche, boy, you better go
sleep a fireside than you go to the wood fe go dead."
"Gran'mother, I goin' to town fe buy six bow an' arrow."
So he went to Kingston an' bought them.
An' when him return home he ask his grandmother to get six
Johnny-cake roast, an' he put it in his namsack, an' he travel in
He s'arch until he find the spot a place where Man-crow is,
an' he see Man-crow to the highest part of the tree.
An' he call to him with this song:-
f .. ._, . ..-_ :- _- - -:
Good martin' to you, Man-crow, Good martin' to you, Man-
1:^>~--~- 7=4 L _tw -v_-d: A- ^^1 1
crow, Good martin' to you, Man-crow, How are you this martin'?
An' the bird answer:- :
Good marnrn' to you, So-li-day, Good morning' to you, So li -
day, Good marnn' to So- day, How re you this marin'?
day, Good marnin' to you. Soli- day. How are you this marnin'?
An' Soliday shot with his arrow at Man-crow an' two of his
feather come out.
An' Man-crow come down to the second bough.
An' Soliday sing again:-
Good martin' to you, Man-crow, Good martin' to you, Man-
crow, Good marnin to you, Man-crow, How are you this martin'?
An' Man-crow answer as before:- -
Good martin' to you, So li day, Good making' to you, So li -
day, Good martin' to you, Soli day, How are you this martin'?
An' he fire after Man-crow an' two more feather fly out.
An' so the singing an' shooting go on.
At every song Man-crow come down one branch, an' Soliday
fire an arrow an' knock out two feather, till five arrows gone.
An' Annancy come off the tree an' take up the bird, put ahm
a him shoulder, cut through bush until he get to the King gate,
an' he rakkle at the gate.
They ask:- "Who come?"
He say:- "Me, Mr. Annancy."
An' they say:- "Come in."
An' the King said:- "What you want?"
"I am the man that kill Man-crow."
An' they take him in an' marry him to one of the King
daughter an' make a very big table for him an' his family.
They put him in the middle of the table, but he refuse from
sit there. He sit to the doorway to look when Soliday coming.
(The King then do know that that fellah up to trick.) An'
directly Annancy see Soliday was coming, he stop eating, ask
excuse, "I will soon be back" An' at that same time he gone
outside into the kitchen.
An' Soliday knock at the gate.
An' someone answer him an' ask:- "What you want?"
"I am the boy that kill Man-crow."
An' they said:- "No, impossible! Mr. Annancy kill Man-
An' he take out the golden tongue an' teeth an' show it to
the King, an' ask the question:- "How can a bird live without
teeth an' tongue?"
So they look in the bird mouth an' found it was true.
An' they call Annancy.
An' Annancy give answer:- "I will soon be there."
An' they call him again.
An' he shut the kitchen door an' said:- "Me no feel well."
All this time Brother Annancy shame, take him own time fe
make hole in the shingle get 'way.
They call him again, they no yerry him, an' they shove the
Annancy lost in the shingle up to to-day.
An' the King marry Soliday to his daughter an' make him to
be one of the richest man in the world.
Jack Mantora me no choose none.
So Brother Annancy was on a tree watching Soliday what he
An' the song sing for the sixth time, an' Man-crow jump down
one more branch.
An' Soliday put his last arrow in the bow an' took good aim
an' shot after Man-crow.
So he killed him an' he drop off the tree.
An' Soliday go an' pick up the bird an' take out the golden
tongue an' the golden teeth, an' shove it in a him pocket, an'
Soliday come straight home to his grandmother.
The"PROTEST" TRADITION in
WEST INDIAN POETRY
by Samuel 0. Asein*
The view has often been expressed that
the poem must be and not mean; that the
raison d'etre of a poem must be judged by
the aesthetic quality of its interior archi-
tecture and artistic integrity. There is, of
course, the contrary viewpoint which
emphasises the social value of poetry and
the functional relevance of the poet in
society. These opposing views raise the
perennial and controversial question about
the responsibility of the poet (if he has
any), his mode of operation and the
nature of his art.
Poetry to my mind, has an exhilarative
social function in society in any age. The
magnitude and the urgency of its function
will depend on the historical circumstances
often bewilderingly possessive, in which
the poet like any other artist is trapped.
The ultimate value of a poem and the
ultimate test of a poet's contemporaneity
will be determined not only by the manner
in which he has utilized and enriched the
linguistic medium at his disposal but also
by what Roy Fuller once described as
"the emotional situation" of the writer's
The element of "protest" which became
prevalent in the West Indies in the 1940s
and to some extent in the 1950s came as a
revival of a fundamental trend in West
Indian poetry. It had its generic roots in
such oral forms as protest songs and work
songs which not only formed an integral
part of West Indian plantation culture but
also survived through the post-emanci-
It was the recognition of this protest
element which inspired the pertinent
comments of a nineteenth century anon-
ymous correspondent of The Black Dwarf
who observed that:
The negroes of the West Indies have
among them various simple but beauti-
ful songs, either embodying some
mournful tale of love and affection, or
the enthusiasm ofliberty andpatriotism
S. .These people, when a little
aroused, are so impatient of slavery,
that the West Indian magistracy are
very particular in the nature of their
The writer went further to illustrate
his point with a quotation which resonates
with its self-explanatory topicality:
... when wild the war-pipes's breathing,
Telling many a mournful story;
When the frantic dance wreathing,
Rousing us to deeds of glory;
Vengeance, at the plaintive strain,
Shall rise in arms again;
Slavery burst its clanking chain,
And sweet freedom live for ever.4
Even more explicit in its rhetoric of
violent indignation are these lines which
appeared in M.G. Lewis's Journal:
Buckra in this country no make us free:
What Negro for to do? What Negro for
Take force by force! Take force by
To be sure! To be sure!
These verses represent some of the
earliest manifestations of that sense of
outrage and unease which is an essential
element of "protest" poetry. The Jamaican
exile-poet Claude McKay shared this
inheritance with his contemporaries of
the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s.
With Claude Mckay it was not a self-
indulgent exploitation of vengeful rhetoric
but an understandable response to the
particular social realities in which the
consciousness of most Blacks of his
generation was rooted. It was the temper
of the time which aroused the militant
responses of the poets of this period. Seen
against such a background, we are in a
better position to appreciate the resonant
protest in a poem like "Enslaved":
Oh when I think of my long-suffering
Forweary centuries, despised, oppressed
Enslaved and lynched, denied a human
In the great life line of the Christian
And in the Black Land disinherited,
Robbed in the ancient country of its
My heart grows sick with hate, becomes
For this my race that has no home on
Then from the dark depth of my soul I
To the avenging angel to consume
The white man's world of wonders
Let it be swallowed up in earth's vast
Or upward roll as sacrificial smoke
To liberate my people from its yoke!6
The historicity which characterizes
Mckay's poem recurs in George Campbell's
work and has survived in the poetry of
Edward Brathwaite and other West Indian
poets in the sixties. For Campbell, "No
part of our past that is not/Part of our
The peculiar historical and social cir-
cumstances which the West Indian poet
like other Black poets has lived through,
have from time to time thrust certain roles
on him. It was an awareness of this social
factor which, I am sure, helped to formu-
late Richard Wright's opinions on the
responsibility of the Black poet vis a vis
his social environment when he postulated
The Negro writer who seeks to function
within his race as a purposeful agent
has a serious responsibility. In order to
*Mr. Asein is a Lecturer in the Department of English, University of Ife, Nigeria.
do justice to his subject matter, in order
to depict Negro life in all of its mani-
fold and intricate relationships, a deep,
informed, and complex consciousness
is necessary; a consciousness which
draws for its -strength upon the fluid
lore of a great people, and moulds this
lore with the concepts that inove and
direct the forces of history today;...
a new role is devolving upon the Negro
writer. He is being called upon to do
no less than create. values by which his
race is to struggle, live and die . ."8
There is no doubt as to the relevance of
this comment to the subject under consi-
deration. For, whether the ultimate
responsibility of the poet is to bridge the
"gap of communication" which exists
between him and the communityin which
he functions as a poet, or to sail what
Clifford Sealy the Trinidadian editor of
Voices described as "the uncharted ocean
of self-discovery", needless to say that it is
only a West Indian poet, with a sensibility
committed to the West Indian situation,
who can recreate for us the multiplicity
of strands that have gone into the making
of the West Indian consciousness. The
poet can give vibrance to this unique
cultural and social heritage and revitalize
his past in its relationship to the present.
Therein lie the permanence and continuity
of his heritage in his art within the West
Indian context; and only then, one might
add, can the poet's work have for West
Indians that exclusive referential value
which T.S. Eliot had in mind when he
spoke of the "stubbornly national" quality
of poetry "in having a value for the people
of the poet's race and language, which it
can have for no other".9
In the forties and early fifties, West
Indian poetry came very close to having
this exclusiveness. The new direction in
West Indian poetry during those two
decades was given a new impetus by the
social upheavals of the late thirties and
the resurgence of nationalist consciousness
in the forties. These were momentous
decades which La Rose was to celebrate
with deep affection, several years later,
in "Song to An Imperishable Sunlight",
one of the most touching poetical state-
ments of West Indian resistance movement
from the eighteenth century to the mid-
For those that fell
rebellion after rebellion;10
Later in the same poem, he literally
Men who gave the cue
who fell forward
in the dust,
writing the rueful story
of our redemption.
And breasted the humanist's bullets
from '35 to '38
from Guiana to Jamaica
to cleanse the air.11
What in La Rose's poetry is an act of
memory, was for the poets of the forties
and early fifties a contemporary experience
which most of them had to grapple with.
New situations presented new challenges
to which the poets responded with com-
mensurate alertness, and often, militancy,
varying attitude which is reflected in the
poetry of George Campbell and Martin
Carter. In Jamaica, there was that
generation of poets who were, as Edna
Manley put it; "involved and inspired by
politics in the broadest sense of the
word".12 About the same period also,
there was in Guyana a "growing school of
Guyanese poets and writers" who were
expression a discernible "feeling for
Guiana".3 The socio-political chain of
events which linked the South American
mainland of Guyana with the islands in
the Caribbean sea co-existed with the
literary current which washed the shores
of Campbell's Jamaica through the archi-
pelago to Carter's Guyana.
With First Poems and at least one play
in verse, Play Without Scenery performed
by the Little Theatre Movement in 1947,14
"the young Jamaican poet, George
Campbell" established himself as a res-
pectable literary figure whose reputation
in his time reached across the seas to the
U.S. and Britain.15 Not only did
Campbell's collection break new ground
with the range of his poetic sensibility and
versatility, it reinfused into West Indian
poetry the compulsive element of social
protest. Two moods dominate Campbell's
poetry: a romantic excitable mood which
is indicative of his social commitment. We
notice the change from one to the other
as we move from the submissive and almost
ritualistic atmosphere of "Magdalene"'
strategically located at the end of one
section, into an entirely different con-
ceptual world which is vibrant in its con-
temporaneity. In "Magdalene", the
situational verisimilitude and the self-
denying passivity of the biblical figure give
Campbell's lines a characteristic effect:
I felt secure
As I knelt at his feet
And had no fears
That at dead of night
I would hear the beat
In an outside room,
Creak of a door
And demand on my womb.
It was his serenity
That held me so
I would not go
Away from the side
Of man enticed
His passion denied
For his way of life.16
This is a subtle reference to contemporary
social vices and its moral overtones reflect
a kind of social awareness. But it lacks
the masculine vigour which informs
"Negro Aroused". Here is an affirmation
of a new rebelliousness reminiscent of
Claude Mckay in the twenties:
Negro aroused! Awakened from
The ignominous sleep of dominance!
Freedom! Off with these shackles
That torment, Iliftmy headand scream
Freedom! Now my blood rushes
through my veins
And boils up in my head at their insult.
The spirit of freedom is resurrected in
I lift my head and cry to heaven
Freedom! Let them beat down this
Muscle built, stifle this screaming voice,
Let them! We are aroused! Fear made
us shut our eyes
Once; Made us give up Freedom to
to save our flesh
But my eyes now flash to the very
heavens defiance; and
Bring your battering rams of insults
You that hate others to live! We are no
Stampeding cattle, No! The hot fire of
our new blood
Bubbled under the skin; the heart
I lift my face to heaven, awakened,
shouting louder, louder
With triumph, with a new found
Freedom! We cry only freedom we
were dead when
Sleeping '- now we live! live! We are
Naturally, Campbell's new awareness
led to a conscious search for racial roots
and identity. It was this need for a
cultural and racial point of reference
which in turn encouraged his self-identifi-
cation, albeit romantic, with Africa. This
spiritual relation which Campbell sought
to establish with Africa was not pheno-
menal in any way. Claude Mckay and
other Black American poets like Langston
Hughes were articulating similar exper-
iences in the twenties: ". . am I not
Afric's son,/Black of that black land
where black deeds are done?"18 seemed
to be the prevalent question. But this
spiritual quest often led to a realization
by the poet of his divided loyalty. Jose
Antonio Jarris, a West Indian poet from
St. Thomas, exemplified this frame of
mind in a poem which bears the suggestive
I, whose dark ancestors played
Where the Nile's first drop was laid,
Have within me Nordic blood
Pulsing like the tide at flood.
Dowered by an alien sire,
Is it strange my tropic fire
Often cools to virtuous fear
When nice brown girls venture near?19
While in "Africa Whence I Came" he
recognizes a racial link with Africa. Jarvis,
like many others in his time, rationalises
his rejection of the self-created primeval
image of Africa basing his argument on an
a-racial humanist ideology:
Africa fostered me...
Flung widefrom thegreatancestral tree,
I dream of the soil and the sun,
Of the mist where the violent river
Crashes with constant thunder
Into the gorge;
The sound of the jungle drum,
And the great cat's roar,
Come like the noise ofan empty church
Felt more than heard.
Africa fostered me
But I came
From the slime and the mud of the race
Which is man!20
For Campbell, however, Africa was a
spiritual home which he took possession
of at the same time as he asserted and
elevated the prototypical maternal figure.
Hence in a poem like "Moter" he trnes-
formed the obvious erotic connotations to
give the poem a transcendental quality.
The female figure no longer functions for
the poet as a physically tangible and
corruptible character but as the embodi-
ment of an idea which fits into his pattern
of romantic idealization of his continental
She sings of the African womb
Everlasting above the tomb
She sings of her island Jamaica
She sings of the glory of Africa.
I saw her naked
I felt her sacred
She flung back her head and sung her
Black Mother, mother of Earth,
Greater than the mountains, deeper
than the fountains
Art thou woman!21
But when the purpose is scathing satire,
Campbell deflates with comparable ease
the female figure as in "Smells Like
Hell"22 in which he directs his attack
against youthful licentiousness; or, perhaps
in the ungainly sketches in "I Sung
Democracy" of "a pretty prostitute" with
"painted lips" and "heavy hips"23. With
a vivid stroke he presents a physical
environment in which the squalid un-
nerving slums are shaded'by the relief of
the glamorous landscape like two con-
trasting faces of an ill-constructed social
In the slums
Jewel staring eyes
Of human flies
Crowd the ruins
Of our social order.
The word we accept
From our glass houses. 24
Campbell's comments on and criticism
of contemporary Jamaican social and
political realities suggest a strong influence
of a Marxist-Splenglerean concept of
history. The metaphors, even if stilted and
simplistic, leave his "message"undisguised:
"Our country is now suffering/Slow is the
day of Pain's long night"25. In
"Moneyman", he condemns the exploit-
ation of the Jamaican working-class in
Your brassy contention
Your metallic argument
You are the souless species to us
Even when your voice is soft...
Background: clinking clinking...
Your human ouch, your metal
Underlying this topical overtone are
Campbell's universalist views and concerns,
especially in his poems of the war period.
These poems reveal his anxiety about the
threat to the infra-structure of contem-
porary values and the psychic trauma ina
pervasive, stifling atmosphere of unease
and suspicion: "The sabotage of harmony
/The utter distress/Of ugly war"27. Ulti-
mately disillusion takes the place of
illusion, with the revelation.to him of an
irreparable cosmic dislocation:
Isn't it so bright of now
Though cities upon cities fall
And good isn't and good is
That cities are not men at all.
How can woman weep for daughter
Gathered in from the wide world's
And man in unnatural slaughter
Scattered back with his hands of
In fact, Campbell's poems on race and
racial conflict are less precise. There are
occasional references to this in-built inter-
racial tension. But more often than not,
as was the case in the socialist-inspired
poetry of the period, the situational
tension derived not from a black/white
polarisation, but from a clash of values and
biases; from the struggle of the new
nationalist zeal against an exploitative
imperialism. When the West Indian poet
in the forties asserted his black identity
he conceived of this assertion, often at the
risk of dialectal logic, as a means towards
the assertion of a fundamental humanity
and solidarity with the "downtrodden of
the earth", pleading his human essence
and individual integrity. We find this slant
to the treatment of the theme of race in
Claude Mckay, and the problem which it
posed for a later poet like Jarvis. The
influence of Marxist internationalism can
be traced in Campbell's work. It explains
the universalist outlook and humanistic
sentiments in such poems as "Holy", and
the solemn petition of "Let us Build":
Let us build our world firmly brick by
All men build
That the world will be too strong for
And their Aryans;
Too broad for any Klu Klux Klans
In spite of Campbell's "protest", there
is a unifying conceptual framework which
assumes a millenial dawn through purga-
tion. Indeed, he saw himself in the
enviable role of a committed artist whose
duty it was both to warn and to prophesy.
He reacted against those negative elements
militating against the visionary world of
his imagination, and was upset by the gap
which separated that world and the
contemporary decadent world. Conse-
quently, we find in his work a progressive
loss of faith and a bleak awareness of the
futility of human effort:
Tomorrow is an outside world
It moves away from day to day
And leaves me in a futile world
lam the prisoner of my day.
But I can let my fingers touch
The ideal world I cannot clutch
And I can build for other men
Tomorrow I won't know again.30
Two years before Martin Carter's
"Poems ofResistance "31, Peter Blackman
published a long poem "My Song is for All
Men"32 which had an affinity with
Campbell's collection, not only in the
choice of related subjects but also in its
overt "protest". Moreover, it anticipated
in some respects the activist verse of
Martin Carter. A staggering invective
against capitalist exploitation and social
injustices and a sustained racial identifica-
tion, and assertion of black identity which
he synthesized with a humanistic self-
identification with working class groups,
gave Blackman's poetry the characteristic
tone of the age. There was the romantic
idealization of Africa and the Black
Woman: "She is the source of my pride,
from her stem all my creations"33; the
plaintive voice of the oppressed colonial
trapped in a racial vortex: 'They say
my features are coarse and repulsive/Too
like the ape for man. Against these I have
always to argue my humanity"34. Like
Campbell, Blackman often took a critical
look at the urban squalor and filth which
contrasted glaringly with the luminous
columns of modern architecture:
I shelter my weariness in old packing
Cast of their luxury of scourings of
cardboard and tin
Scraped of their surfeit too mean to
cover their dog
My nakedness is whipped from sleep
by rain pouring
At midnight to strip me in torment the
Earth pledge safe from their craving
To these I have something to say.
These you claim are only my just
Rags and old packing cases fair
For beasts such as I am so you say
Crabbed you would tend me manacled
Once crouched beneath your palaces. 35
In place of self-pity and ineffectual pleas,
Blackman emphasized a militancy in the
manner of Claude Mckay's more assured
My case is not framed for plaintive
Strong anger is knotted to my every
Bathing my limbs and refreshing the
Made for the reckoning
You will remember the reckoning.36
However when we come to Carter's poetry
we find a powerful and eloquent statement
of protest: "in cold dark earth/time plants
the seeds of anger"37; "I take .. my
scorn/and fling it in the face of those who
hate me"38; the same mood recurs as
Carter speaks of "the latitudes of anguish/
[which] pass through the poles of my
frozen anguish, my.regions of grief"39.
This militant note has survived in.West
Indian poetry since Carter, especially in
the works of poets like Lindsay Barrett,
the Jamaican poet/novelist whose violent
indignation becomes an almost overmas-
tering, but nevertheless creative passion:
"... each line I write contains some fine
particle of my hate".4u
Among West Indian poets of the forties
and the fifties, Martin Carter was certainly
the most vociferous. In his short poem
entitled "You Are Involved", Carter gives
a terse symbolic formulation of the basis
of social commitment:
Like a jig
Shakes the loom
Like a web
is spun the pattern
all are involved!
all are involved!41
This is the voice of a militant writer, who
in the late forties would stand at the city
square in Georgetown and read his poems
to a crowd of enraptured Guyanese. As
far as Carter was concerned, poetry was a
valid and necessary vehicle for social
criticism and protest. He experienced, I
presume, and presented that fascinating
unification of sensibilities as a poet and as
an activist in a single-minded commitment,
which gave his poetry a distinctive tone.
"I am no soldier hunting in a jungle/I am
this poem like a sacrifice"; but his was
not always a simplistic programmatic
statement of ideologies and manifestoes:
Thesepoet's words, nuggets no jeweller
across the counter of the world's
but far and near, internal or external
burning the agony of the earth's
These poet's words have secrets locked
like nuggets laden with the younger sum.
Who will unlock must first himself be
Who will be locked must first himself
Against the threat of the oppressor,
Carter set his defiance and contempt:
Although you come in thousands from
Although you walk like locusts in the
Although you point your gun straight
at my heart
Iclench my fist above my head: I sing
my song of FREEDOM!r4
In "Death of a Comrade", the mournful
tone changes to one of revolutionary
exaltation: "Death will not find us
thinking that we die".44 Here we have an
instance of the permanence of that protest
tradition which Claude Mckay's "If We
Must Die" epitomizes:
... we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us
And for their thousand blows deal one
What though before us lies the open
Like men we'll face the murderous,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting
Because of his style and the militancy of
his poetry, Carter has had a varied recep-
tion in the West Indies. Writing in 1960,
Frank Collymore described Martin Carter
as "primarily a political writer whose
rhetorical verse is one of the impassioned
appeal for social reform", and pointed to
the fact that he, like his fellow Guyanese
A.J. Seymour and Wilson Harris, shared a
common Guyanese sense of place.46
Neville Dawes was more perceptive in his
criticism of Carter which appeared in the
preface to the 1964 edition of "Poems of
Resistance". Neville Dawes observed that
Carter's poetry belongs to "a line of
literary resistance which may be said to
begin with Claude Mckay". He went
further to argue that:
The universality of a poet's statement
has most validity when it is firmly based
on his specific experience... the poems
collected here may be regarded in one
way as a single poem of resistance to
the special oppression of 1953, one
eloquent refusal to be dehumanized by
imperialist bayonets and colonial pri-
sons. Where Martin Carter's voice rises
to angry rhetoric, the tone is appro-
priate: daring rhetoric has greater
power to free man from bondage than
'curling arabesques. 4/
Dawes summed up his claims for Carter's
poetry with the approving remark that
"The present generation of New Guyana
youth will need the inspiration of these
poems in a time of crisis". Certainly, the
message of "You Are Involved", and the
engage attitudes which various poets from
the West Indies, especially the under-
thirties, are beginning to give expression
in their works have more than vindicated
There is no doubt about the character-
istically explosive content of "Poems of
Resistance" and "Jail Me Quickly"4'. The
circumstances in which these poems were
written provide the explanation for the
mercurial content and the progression
from the revolutionary idealism of the
early period to an incredible frustration
and helpless distrust of, prevalent values
in some of Carter's later poems. Carter's
poems in "Poems of Resistance" are
basically situational; intensely personal in
the exclusiveness of the private experiences
and responses, but representative and
contemporary in their stunning reflection
of a bleak slice of Guyanese history. For
these particularized experiences and situa-
tions exposed for Carter an illumined
spectrum of a universal predicament. It is
this transmutation of the particular into
the universal which gives Carter's poetry
its enduring value and contemporaneity,
outside its West Indian context.
There is the usual architectonic of
protest poetry in a colonial situation; the
resistance to an imperialist domination,
and reaction against an exploitative and
often de-personalizing bourgeois social
system. As in the poetry of some of his
contemporaries in the West Indies, the
polarization of social values in Carter's
poetry focused on the class more often
than the race. Far removed from the
mellow protest of Campbell, Carter, never-
theless shared with him an identical
millenial vision, identifying himself, with
the disinherited poor in an a-racial uni-
If it is Malaya where new barbarians eat
eat your flesh, like beasts
I shall arise.
If it is in Kenya, where your skin is dark
with the stain of famine
I shall arise.
If it is in Korea of my tears where land
I shall wipe my eyes and see you
Comrade unknown to me...
I shall come to the brave when they
dream of the red and yellow
flowers blooming in the tall moun-
tains of their nobility ...
I will come to each and to every
comrade led by my heart
Led by thy magnet of freedom which
draws me far and wide
over the sun's acres of children and
of mornings... 4Y
There is vituperation, but it rises above
the level of self-indulgent protest; and,by
far more significant is the fact that Carter's
indictment of contemporary social struc-
ture does not abandon us on a banal plane
of mere documentation. His language at
his best has the freshness of the vital
moment, with a concrete and consistent
symbolic representation of those aspects
of the social system which he abhors:
If you see a smile of bitterness on my
You must not think some joke amuses
It is only the fury of my heart changing
At the sight of a soldier searching for
Here in my home my little child lies
Let freedom wake him not a bayonet
This haunting image of the prowling soldier
becomes the dominant image in a rather
obsessive way as he tries to recapture the
mood of the emergency period. We are
made to visualize more than once
A soldier marching with a long black
A guard commander lining up his squad
The stamp of feet upon the floors of
The yawn of darkness swallowing up
the world.. .51
and elsewhere it is the sound of "a soldier's
bootstep/marchi, [him] down the corri-
dors of silence"' The image is invested
with a nightmarish significance and pre-
sence in "This is the Dark Time My Love"
as we see with the imaginative eye "the
man of death, . the stranger invader
watching Jhim] sleep and aiming at [his]
In spite of this threat, Carter's response
remained one of consistent and stubborn
defiance which had its roots no doubt in
his millenial view and in the optimistic
concept that "in despair there is hope".
He was convinced of the inevitability of
"the new day": ". . I'll come alive
again/Arid laugh again and walk out of
this prison"3' into a changed "world of
This world's hope is a blade of fury
And we who are sweepers of an ancient
discoverers of new planets, sudden stars
We are the world's hope.55
In a moment of revelation the poet con-
fronts the facts of his situation and
abandons his dream for concrete reality;
inevitably, his tone changes from anger
and protest to a more intense concern with
the human predicament. His conception
of the universe becomes, as well, increas-
ingly more sardonic.
So now obsessed I celebrate in words
All origin of creation, whores and
I do it with a hand upon a grain,
Swearing this way, since other ways are
In sleep or sudden wake, nightmare,
for me the same vision of cemeteries,
broken tombs, and death designing
The response to protest poetry is under-
standably mixed at any one period. Louis
James, in an essay on "The Necessity for
Poetry" stated in 1966 that Martin Carter's
poetry, and protest poetry in general, has
its relevance in its record of the temper
which animates a popular movement. He
was sceptical of the integrity of this kind
of poetry because as he put it, "its purpose
is not to explore beneath the surface of
reality to new spiritual and imaginative
dimensions, [rather] it puts its back to the
world and inspires defiance".57
This to my mind, is a rather simplistic
summation of the nature of engage poetry,
especially as it overlooks the fact that at
its best, protest poetry can be as complex
and rewarding in its supra-social ramifica-
tions as any pretentious composition which
seeks refuge in the tenuous concept of
poetry for poetry's sake. However, James's
view looked forward to the kind of hostile
reaction in the West Indies to poetry of
social commitment which Mervyn Morris,
among others, has continued to exemplify.
Morris writes with contempt, for instance,
about "a propagandist programme . .
[which] weakens the possible impact of
art by making it predictable once the
message is known."5 His poem "Literary
Evening in Jamaica" has some harsh
derisive words for poems "with the strains
of rape and childbirthscreaming hot
curses anti-slavery..." for "noisy poems"
with their "brash, self-conscious, colour-
ful" lines which were no more than simple
statements of political and social mani-
festoes59. By Morris's token, the social
ideas, which inspire these poems seem
irrelevant to the contemporary West Indian
situation. Ironically, in making this
assertion, Morris is doing exactly what
those whom he criticizes have tried to do
in a different manner with different
orientations and emphases. He articulates
his awareness of a particular social trend
and responds to this manifestation of the
more obvious psychic dramas in West
Indian society. Yet such social observa-
tions as Morris's do not necessarily weaken
the vital impact of his poem.
What in brief the reception of George
Campbell and Martin Carter reveals to
those who are familiar with their works,
is the problem arising from the adoption
of conventional critical norms in assessing
their contribution to West Indian poetry
and their consolidation of the tradition of
protest poetry. Any attempt to put them
in the proper place in this tradition will
necessarily involve us in a re-examination
of questions about the relation of the poet
to his society, his obligations and his
relevance or irrelevance to the society.
For, in the final analysis, the specific
question is whether or not these two
poets were relevant to West Indian society
in their time. To appreciate this we do
not have to take the extreme stand of an
Ian Mcdonald, who in a comment on "Jail
Me Quickly "extolled Carter's achievement
in rather exaggerated terms:
"Politicians will read Martin Carter's
"Jail Me Quickly "for the politics in it.
Social reformers will read these five
fierce poemsfor the scathing indictment
of a society. Historians will treasure
them for the vivid and terrible enact-
ment of a time of national tragedy.
Psychologists will read them and draw
their intricate picture of a complex,
original, angry, deeply cynical man .60
He failed to mention, in spite of all,
Carter's humanistic statements in the
sequence, and the freshness of artistic
imagination which could infuse into the
particular a permanent value.
To fully appreciate the works of these
two poets we must see poetry from a
different perspective, and here the dis-
tinction which Hayward Keniston made
between the poet as a social commentator
and the social historian or political scientist
becomes relevant and instructive. Keniston
warns us that:
"The contribution which the poet,...
makes to our understanding ofa society
is of a very different order from that
of the social scientist . the artist
seeks to interpret the deeper impulses
and motivations which determine the
direction of social changes; he evaluates
in terms of good or evil the trends he
observes; he finds meaning in the
tangled pattern of human conflict.
Because, by virtue of his art, he is seer
and prophet, he may recognize thus
intuitively the wave of the future; he
may even formulate the still unex-
pressed hopes and cravings of his
contemporaries and thus help to deter-
mine the march of events".61
We have tried in this survey to show
George Campbell and Martin Carter as the
two most fascinating representatives of
the protest tradition in the forties and
fifties, fulfilling certain roles which they
considered relevant to the state of West
Indian society. If we have invested their
work -with a new significance, it is in
recognition of their contribution to the
formulation of a West Indian consciousness
and to the development of a particular
trend in West Indian poetry. For, whatever
the nature of our individual biases, we
cannot ignore the fact that one of the
most permanent features of West Indian
poetry is its persistent reflection of the
age, individual poet's social awareness and
sensitivities, societal value and mannerism.
And when the mood of the age de-
mands it, as was the case in the forties and
fifties, this awareness and the articulation
of the poet's experience inevitably takes
on the garb of militarist commitment and
1. Revised text of a Paper presented to the
Commonwealth Literature Association Confer-
ence on "Literature and Society in the West
Indies held in Kingston, Jamaica, 2nd.-9th
2. Roy Fuller [Interviewed by Peter Orr] in
The Poet Speaks ed. Peter Orr, London,
Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1966, p.67.
3. "Letter to the Editor", The Black Dwarf,
June 18, 1817, p.336.
5. Matthew Gregory Lewis, Journal ofa Resi-
dence Among the Negroes of the West Indies,
London, John Murray, 1845, p. 115.
6. Claude Mckay. Selected Poems, New York,
Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc., 1953, p.42.
7. George Campbell, First Poems, Kingston,
Printed Privately, 1945, p.101.
8. Cited by Addison Gayle, Jr. in his essay,
"Function of Black Literature at the Present
Time", The Black Aesthetic ed. Addison
Gayle, Jr. New York, Doubleday, 1971,
9. T.S. Eliot, "The Social Function of Poetry",
On Poetry and Poets, New York, The
Noonday Press, 1961, pp.7-8.
10.Anthony La Rose, Foundations, London,
New Beacon Publications, 1966, p.43.
12.Edna Manley, "The Fine Arts", [A Group
Discussion], Caribbean Quarterly, Vol. XIV,
Nos. 1 & 2, March-June, 1968, p.66.
13.Annual Report on British Guiana, London,
His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1949, p.88.
14.Annual Report on Jamaica forth Year 1947,
His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1949, p.75.
15.We are told of the favourable reception of
First Poems not only in Jamaica but also in
the United States and in Britain where some
of the poems were broadcast from the B.B.C.
Annual Report on Jamaica for the Year 1946,
London, His Majesty's Stationery Office,
1948, p.67. The report erroneously gave
1946 as the date of publication of First.
18.Claude Mckay, op. cit., p.38.
19.Jose Antonio Jarvis, Bamboula Dance and
Other Poems, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, The
Art Shop, 1935, p.4.[In the Kraus Reprint
Volume which also includes Campbell's First
Poems, Basil McFarlane's Jacob and the
Angel and Other Poems, R.L.C. McFarlane's
SelectedPoems, Figueroa's Love Leaps Here,
Blackman's My Song is for Al Men and
Harris's Eternity to Season].
21.Campbell, op. cit, pp.37-38.
31. Martin Carter, Poems of Resistance, George-
town, University of Guyana, 1964, [Pub-
lished originally in 1954 by Lawrence &
Wishart of London. I
32.Peter Blackman, My Song is for All Men,
London, Lawrence and Wishart, 1952.
37. Martin Carter, op. cit., p.6.
40.Lindsay Barrett, The State of Black Desire,
Alencon, L'mprimerie Corbiere et Jugain,
41.Martin Carter, op. cit, p.18.
42.Martin Carter, "Word", The Tamarack
Review, Issue Fourteen, Winter 1960, p.57.
43.Poems ofResistance, p.26.
45.Claude Mckay, op. cit., p.36.
46.Frank Collymore, "Writing in the West
Indies: A Survey", The Tamarack Review,
Issue Fourteen, Winter 1960, p. 19.
47.Neville Dawes, "Preface" to Poems of
48.Martin Carter, "Jail Me Quickly", New
World Fortnightly, No. 34, February 18,
49.Martin Carter, Poems of Resistance, p.4.
56.Martin Carter, "Jail Me Quickly", op. cit,
57.Louis James, "The Necessity of Poetry",
New World Quarterly, Guyana Independence
Issue, 1966, p.112.
58.Mervyn Morris, Review of Black Pow-Wow
by Ted Joans, in Caribbean Quarterly,
Vol. XV, No.4, December 1969, p.59.
59. Mervyn Morris, "Literary Evening, Jamaica",
Caribbean Voices[ Vol. 2, The Blue Horizons I
ed. John Figueroa, London, Evans Brothers
Limited, 1970, p.182.
S60.1an McDonald, "Introduction to 'Jail Me
Quickly'," New World Fortnightly, No. 34.
February 18, 1966, p.20.
61.Hayward Keniston, "Literature as a Baro-
meter of Modern European Society", The
Humanities for Our Time, Walter R. Agard
et. al. New York, Books for Libraries Press,
SELF- TAUGUT T,
KUMINA GODS AND KUMINA DANCERS
by Victor Smith
Self-taught Artists Exhibition 1972
FIRST PRIZE (Jointly for Group Work)
by Victor Smith -
Self-taught Artists Exhibition 1972
FIRST PRIZE (Jointly for Group Work)
by Victor Smith -
Self-taught Artist Exhibition 1972
FIRST PRIZE (Jointly for Group Work)
FIRST PRIZE (Jointly for Group Work) D.
REVIVAL TIME, by Victor Smith Self-taught Artists Exhibition 1972
SEATED GIRL, by Milton George- Self-taught Artists Exhibition 1972
HAPPY REUNION JASON WHYTE, by Roy Reid,
Selt-taught Artists Exhibition 1972.
SECOND PRIZE (Jointly for Group Work) iE.
FIRST PRIZE (Jointly for Group Work) F.
G THE LOVE OF THE COMMON PEOPLE, by Victor Smith
Self-taught Artists Exhibition 1972
H DEAD FISHERMAN, by Keith Subani
Self-taught Artists Exhibition 1972
I TRIUMPHANT BOYS SCHOOL, by Keith Subani -
Self-taught Artists Exhibition 1972
SECOND PRIZE (Jointly for Group Work) H.
SECOND MKILL kJointly for uroup worK) i.
Annual Exhibition of
_t HAITIAN WOMAN
by Judy MacMillan,
Annual National Exhibition 1972
by Roy Reid -
Annual National Exhibition 1972
Right BACK TO NATURE
by Osmond Watson
Annual National Exhibition 1972
Centre Jamaican Painter, Leonard Morris,
beside his work
"The Assassination of Martin Luther King"
at an exhibition in New York.
Below SUN GODDESS
by Judy MacMillan -
Annual National Exhibition 1972
SEVILLE GREAT HOUSE, by Gaston Tobois -Annual National Exhibition 1972
GAME OF STICKS, by Everald Brown Annual Exhibition 1972
Jamaica School of Music
Folk Research Department
I I I I II i ii
A. Bolivian Panpipes, made of reeds.
B. Peruvian Panpipes, made of reeds.
C Jamaican Banjo. Made in Brompton, St. Elizabeth for use
in village bands.
D. African Thumb Piano or Mbira.
E. Jamaican Bamboo fife (Flute)
F. Tambo Drum. Used by a small folk activities group near
Wakefield, Trelawny. The instrument dates back to the days
of slavery, and is played with both hands and heels.
G. Single headed Kumina drum. It is com-
posed of a hollowed-out piece of the
trumpet tree trunk, covered with a
head of goat's skin.
H. Star banjo, Made by Bro. Everald
Brown of Ethiopian Orthodox Church
for use in worship.
I. Revival side drum. This is a two-headed
instrument, beaten with two sticks,
From The Institute
to 8 th Century Folk Pottery
in WestAfrican Tradition
By R. Duncan Mathewson*
The archaeological excavations being conducted by the
Institute of Jamaica at old King's House in Spanish Town are
producing very large assemblages of many different ceramic and
glass wares from stratified deposits of several main successive
occupation phases, reaching back almost four hundred years.
Significant quantities of 16th/17th century Spanish Majolica and
18th century Wedgwood ceramics, as well as Irish engraved glass
wares have been recovered in addition to a considerable amount
of restorable Chinese porcelain.
At the same time a most interesting folk pottery being
recovered in some quantity from the excavation is of particular
relevance to the cultural history of Jamaica. This-ceramic folk
tradition has not hitherto been duly recognized in Jamaica as
*The writer spent six years in Ghana on an archaeological project which
involved work on sites producing Akan ceramics, relevant to the develop-
'ment of the Akan state and the growth of the Ashanti empire.
having had a long history of development in West Africa prior to
its introduction into this country by Akan peoples from the
country now known as Ghana. Initial examination has revealed
that many of the locally developed earthenwares exhibit a
number of ceramic traits showing a strong African element and
influence, which clearly indicates that the vessels were made here
in Jamaica by Africans.
The ceramic evidence from the Old King's House excavations
testifies for the first time, to the existence of an 18th century
crafting tradition exhibiting such a strong African influence as
to make it impossible to escape this dominating cultural ex-
By far the greatest number of Africans arriving in Jamaica
during the 18th century were of West African origin and from
the former area of the Gold Coast, now known as Ghana. These
Akan peoples were either from the Fante coastal states or other
areas in the hinterland which had been composed by the Ashanti
empire. Most certainly it was largely these Akan people who
introduced their own indigenous ceramics traditions into Jamaica
as part of their rich cultural heritage which Akan society had
developed by the 16th century.
The significant achievements in the development of crafting
and artistic Akan traditions are perhaps best seen in their iron
working industry with extracted iron from lateritic deposits for
smelting in locally developed kilns; cire perdue casting techniques
for the manufacturing of bronze wares and gold weights; evolved
gold mining and smithing technology; weaving and stamped
textile decoration; wood carving; and funeral clay figurine
ABOVE Ashanti potting techniques (After Rattray, R.S.;1927).
Photo. la. Fashioning of the vessel rim. Photo. lb. Stacking of
the vessels in preparation for open-hearth firing. Photo. Ic. Firing
of the vessels. Photo. Id. Vessels immediately after firing.
In the Akan society, like in most other parts of Africa, pot-
making was a heriditary craft which was handed down from
mother to daughter. Throughout its long history of development,
Akan pottery was always hand-made and was nevei fashioned
with the help of a potter's wheel. (Photo la). The pots were
moulded from a single lump of clay and/or formed by the
addition of successive build-up of sausage-shaped rolls of clay
commonly known as coils or rings. Prior to firing, vessels were
usually burnished or polished with a pebble or similar tool. The
firing of the pottery was traditionally carried out without use of
a kiln of any type, and was restricted to the open-hearth firing
technique, (Photo lb ld).
To most people in Jamaica today, the "Yabba" is a heavy,
sometimes glazed, earthenware bowl or pot of local manufacture.
Clearly, as a contemporary folk category, there is need for the
collection of ethno-linguistic data relating to the prevailing
contemporary usage of this term. Culturally, there is little doubt
that the "Yabba'' reflects Akan ceramic tradition, as linguistic
evidence strongly indicates that the term itself may be traced to
the Akan word in the Twi language, ayawa, which means
"earthenware vessel or dish."
Up until the excavations began at Old King's House, locally
made earthenwares could not be satisfactorily dated as they had
not yet been recovered in sufficient quantities from closely dated
stratified sequences. Now, however, there is a considerable
number of restored vessels from dated contexts of the last half
of the 18th century, which shows the evolvement of an
indigenous ceramic tradition consisting of the blending of both
African and European ceramic influences, together with possible
pottery of remnant Arawak cultural parentage. This folk crafting
tradition can only be adequately described as Afro-Jamaican.
By the study of vessel shape, paste, decoration and surface
treatment it is possible in most cases to distinguish between the
ceramic traits reflecting a continuing Arawak tradition (Fig. 1, a
and b) from both the technical and functional innovations of
European origin (Fig. 1, c and d) and the traditional folk traits
of African dirivation (Fig. 1, e and f). Although the existence
of basol foot rings, flat bottoms, strap handles and lead glazes
fully document the English influence in many of the earthen-
wares, the general overall proportion and firing characteristics
of these vessels vividly reflect the cultural bias of the African
potter himself (Fig. 2, a and b).
Vessels showing European influence, particularly glazes and
flat bottoms, (Fig. 2 e, f and g) were no doubt meant to be used
initially by the European community, while other unglazed
vessels with a more traditional African hemispherical shape,
including a round bottom, (Fig. 2, c and d) were certainly meant
to fill the basic needs of the African community itself.
Two vessels (Fig. 2, h and j) are of particular interest as they
appear to represent an attempt by an African potter to produce
a set of earthenware carafes for the cool storage of drinking
water, much in the same manner as the glass decanters were used
in the service of table wines. In addition, it appears as if the
potter had made a conscious effort to simulate the scalloped
body of the Wedgwood Queen's Ware tureen (Fig. Id), by the
pinching in of the lower body of the carafe, (Fig. 2j). A small
dish, (Fig. 2 i) may have been meant to go with these carafes as
part of a larger set. In any case it is important to note that the
only European element in the potting of these carafe vessels is'
their flat bottoms. Their incomplete oxidation of the paste and
black reduction surface patches pointedly argue for an open-
hearth firing and against any use of a kiln, as does the hand-made
nature of the vessel-argue against wheel-thrown manufacture.
The lack of the use of a kiln and pottery wheel, both European
ceramic innovations, clearly seen in imported English earthen-
wares, (Fig. 3), makes it quite definite that what we are dealing
with here is largely an earthenware folk tradition, carried on by
Africans for European needs as well as for the immediate needs
of their own community.
The curious marks frequently encountered on earthenwares
of Afro-Jamaican tradition (see Fig. 2, c, d, e, h; and Fig. 4) raise
a most interesting question as to whether or not these simple
Top Left FIGURE 1; Bowl shapes of: Arawak (a,b); English (c,d); Ashanti (e,f);
Top Right FIGURE 2: Eighteenth century Afro-Jamaican folk pottery, recovered
from the excavations at Old King's House.
Bottom Left FIGURE 3: A sherd from an imported English glazed earthenware.
Note this difference in the stylistic rendering of this handle from those shown in
Photos. 2 and 3.
Bottom Right FIGURE 4: A ceramic mark found on a local earthenware sherd from an
18th century building foundation in the Hellshire Hills.
An earthenware bowl
of Afro-Jamaican ceramic tradition.
exhibiting imitation metal riveted handles
geometric motifs may represent a type of makers' mark, and
this may indicate more specialization than is obvious at the
moment. As in Akan society this potting must have been under-
taken by women traditionally the men had nothing to do with
pottery and knew little of its manufacture.
Perhaps the blending together of varying elements from the
different ceramic traditions which make up the main character-
istics of Afro-Jamaican pottery is best seen in the admixture of
traits so vividly demonstrated in the glazed earthenware bowl
which was recovered intact from a midden deposit, dating to the
last quarter of the 18th century. The vessel, (Photo. 2) is of
particular interest as it typifies in a single example the interplay
of the main cultural influences at work within this indigenous
While the lead glaze, flat bottom, and double handles display
the usual innovations of European development, the carinated
shape of the vessel is an Akan characteristic which is unmistak-
able in this context, and simply not found in Arawak and
European ceramic forms. Similarly, the slight asymetry of the
the handles and the handmade appearance and firing of the
vessel fully attest to the crafting technique of the African potter.
SAlthough it seems likely that the glaze may have been applied
later in a secondary kiln firing, the black central core of the
paste undoubtedly points to an open-hearth firing process
developed in both African and Arawak folk ceramic traditions.
Arawak-African Fusion: In this type of study it is most
difficult to pinpoint exactly specific Arawak ceramic traits, as
apart from anything else, the Arawaks had died off by the early
18th century. However, it is quite reasonable to believe that
much of their cultural tradition had been passed on before their
extinction through domestic unions, social interaction, and
cultural fusion. Thus it is likely that newly-arrived Africans
would have picked up a considerable amount of folk tradition
passed down from the Arawak people, which, among other
things, would have assisted them in their early attempts at making
pottery in Jamaica. The total accumulation of acquired Arawak
knowledge and experience would have contained abundant
information on different clay sources and the availability of
various raw materials for the successful manufacturing and firing
of pottery, which would have been quickly absorbed by the
newly-arrived would-be potter unfamiliar as he was with the local
setting. It is this type of crafting expertise passed on through
generations of previous Arawak experience which perhaps best
represents the Arawak contribution to Afro-Jamaican ceramics.
Whether or not the incised decoration of this Afro-Jamaican
bowl reflects Arawak or Akan inspiration is perhaps debatable.
There is, however, little doubt that the six small clay knobs on
either side of the vessel and bordering each handle are pseudo-
morphs of rivets copied after metal cooking pots of the time,
(Photo 3). This technique of copying stylistic elements off
European imported metal wares was a common characteristic of
Ashanti ceramics during the 18th and 19th centuries, but one
which has its roots back in the 15th century when a particular
type of pottery, called Red-carinated Ware, contained small
circular motifs in clear imitation of riveted wares from North
**See Bravmann, R.;and Mathewson, R. Duncan; "A Note on the History
and Archaeology of old Bima", African Historical Studies, Boston
University, Vol. III, No. 1, 1970.