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QUARTERLY OF THE INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA
DECEMBER 1972 VOL. 6-NOT.1~
Jamaica Journal is published Quarterly
by the Institute of Jamaica, 12-16 East
Street, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies.
Frank Hill, Chairman
Rex Nettleford,Vice Chairman
Neville Dawes, Deputy Director
Roy Reynolds, Editor
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HISTORY ........ ............. 2
Independent Jamaica .... ..... . Douglas Hall 2
Land Development Patterns in Jamaica . . . Neil O. Richards 4
SCIENCE ..................... 12
Inter-disciplinary Attention Focuses on Nutrition Problems .C. Roy Reynolds 12
The Elusive Lethal Yellowing Disease of Coconuts .. . J.R.R. Suah 15
ART LITERATURE MUSIC ........ . 18
Jamaican Literature in the Making . . ... .. . . . 18
Introduction . . . .. . . Neville Dawes 18
11 Poems . . .. ... . .George Campbell 19
Negro Aroused (Sculpture) . . .. .. Edna Manley 23
2 Poems & Two Short Stories . . . .... . Roger Mais 24
"Baby Do All" (Sculpture). . . . . .... by Lester Hoilett 30
Two Sonnets and a Villanelle
Vivian Virtue, Walter Adolphe Roberts, J.E. Clare McFarlane 31
Four Poets from "Focus"
M.G. Smith, H.D. Carberry, K.E. Ingram & P.M. Sherlock 32
2 Short Stories . . . . . . A.E. T. Henry 36
Short Story. . . . . . . ... H.D. Carberry 38
Short Story. ... . . . . . . V.S. Reid 40
Short Story. .. . . . . . John Hearne 42
Head (female) (Sculpture) ... . . . . by Miller 44
8 Poems . . ..... ...... .Basil McFarlane 47
3 Poems Mervyn Morris, Anthony McNeill, Dennis Scott 49
An Approach to the Study of Jamaican Popular Music . Pamela O'Gorman 50
"Creation" (Sculpture) . . . . . .by Horbin Mott 54
A Survey of the Performing Arts. .. .. . .Barbara Gloudon 55
Front Cover: Spanish Town Square, St. Catherine. Aerial photo by J.S. Tyndale-Biscoe.
Back Cover: Inside and outside Design by Raphael Shearer.
Ten Years After 1962
by Douglas Hall*
Total independence is an undesirable and, in this mid-20th
century world, an unachievable condition. It means isolation
from all foreign influence and opinion, which is undesirable,
and complete self-sufficiency, which in Jamaica is unachievable
except, perhaps, at some neolithic level of living. We shall al-
ways need things from abroad. We are, consequently, commit-
ted to the production of things for sale abroad, and to the
correspondence which such a trade demands. Moreover, since
we are a small nation with small resources, we shall in most
cases be trading with larger and more powerful dealers whose
influence would be difficult to escape if they should choose to
Nonetheless, there is an independence we should strive to
attain. It is that state of mind, rather than any particular
economic or political condition, which would allow us to take
stock of ourselves and our resources, to establish our social
and economic criteria, to formulate our priorities, and to
govern ourselves and our actions accordingly. The essential
point is simply that WE should do these things for ourselves
rather than suffer or invite others to do them for us. The dis-
abling difficulty is that for over 300 years we had no practice
in such exercises and it now takes time to learn and move with
European conquerors and settlers arriving in the New World
in the early days of colonisation understood very well that they
must either maintain their contacts with Europe and continue
to receive importations of European goods and technology, or
lose their contacts with Europe and learn to live as the Amerin-
dians did. But to follow the latter course would put them at the
mercy of the Amerindianswho were more skilled within the
limits of their own technologies, and more numerous. If, for
instance, the Spaniards had fought the Caribs using Carib wea-
pons and tactics there is little doubt that they would have been
Thus, the continuance of imports was seen to be funda-
i E;- 7--
mental to European survival in the New World. In order to
ensure that vital trade, exports were necessary. As soon as
Europeans arrived and found their subsistence they set about
looking for goods to send back to Europe; and this is as true
of the first wood-clearing colonists of Barbados in the 1620's
as it is of the gold-seeking conquistadores in New Spain about
a century before. But especially in these small, agricultural
British Caribbean islands, opinion grew that we survive only
by producing for export in order to be able to find those life-
sustaining imports in return.
Such a view has affected far more than economic organisa-
tion and endeavour. It has affected the way in which we learn-
ed to assess our resources and to establish our priorities. We
have exploited those resources which satisfy the demands of
people abroad and we have neglected those which might satis-
fy our own. We have become more adept at discovering and
developing overseas markets than local ones.
The Arawaks and Caribs never entertained such views and
policies. They recognized fewer resources, but they used them
all in their own satisfaction. But they and their ways of life did
not survive the European assaults. Slaves brought in from
Africa, and creole slaves born here, were pressed into support
of the 'import-export' economy; but it is also true that as they
used tools, clothing, foods, and other materials imported by
their masters they learned in their daily round a basic depen-
dence on the overseas trade.
It is perhaps already implicit that we have never succeeded
in taking stock of ourselves as a national community because
our loyalties have been divided. We beganatgreat disadvantage
for we were a 'plantation colony' set up by Europeans using
African slave labour in erstwhile Amerindian territory. Our
colonial society was established to produce the export staples
and not to satisfy any hunger for religious or political freedom
or for social justice or other moral ideal. Those who "adven-
tured" here were in the main, English, Welsh, and Scots who
The landing of
from the Journal
of the Institute of'
Jamaica, May, 1894.
- -~----~- i
'Professor of History, University of the West Indies.
came to make their fortunes so that they might go "home"
wealthy. Those multitudes who laboured here were African or
at least in part of African descent; but they were removed
from Africa, and kept aside by slavery which throttled their
self-respect, their self-confidence, and their creativity. Their
task was to do the bidding of the small minority whose deci-
sions were made in the overseas interest which they identified
as their own.
In the long colonial relationship we discounted the contri-
butions of the Arawaks, the Caribs, and the Africans and other
immigrant labourers to our way of life. What was deemed
important was the European connection, what was deemed
desirable was the European form. The rest was seen to be
'interesting', perhaps, deserving of display as a non-European
'curiosity'; but never counted worthy of respect and recogni-
tion as a part of a developing Jamaican style. As long as slavery
persisted 'the nation' (if the term had any meaning at all) was
only the few whites and free blacks and coloureds. Slaves were
property. But even among the free, skin colour and legal dis-
crimination separated the white elite from the browns and the
browns from the blacks. There was no 'nation' building there.
It was a colony of exploitation.
After slavery was abolished the long-established acceptance
of European superiority remained and a man's place in this
colonial society depended on his colour, his wealth, and his
education, in that order. The elite were those who were whitest,
wealthiest, and possessed of the highest-sounding educational
qualification. And these criteria of social excellence could only
be frustrating in a society in which the great majority by far
were not white, not wealthy, and uneducated. It is obvious
that where the vast majority can see no hope of advancement
and recognition they will give only what they must in order to
survive. They are not able to give more because they are, by
the criteria which exclude them, removed from the small reser-
ved arena of recognized performance.
Not having really achieved nationhood we can hardly claim
to have found that national consciousness, that state of mind
which will allow us to establish our social and economic criteria,
to re-assess our resources, to list our priorities, and to govern
ourselves accordingly. It is not difficult to illustrate the extent
to which we are still bound by the old, hampering, traditional
views and the policies they generated.
We still pay tribute to the great importance here of the
sugar industry (on which the 'import-export' economy was
founded) though the foreign-owned sugar companies them-
selves display large doubt about it; we still have a 'tourist
industry' which caters to the foreign trade, rather than a
'holiday industry' providing facilities for ourselves as much as
for visitors; and we recently announced with pride that we can
now ship ripe breadfruit from Jamaica to London, but it is not
at all clear that we are yet able to ship them from Savanna-La-
Mar to Kingston. But the most telling illustration of all is the
dearth of agro-industrial development. Because we are accus-
tomed to import from manufacturing countries we have been
encouraged to export raw materials to feed their enterprises
rather than to develop our own.
We still pay tribute to the greater 'civilising' influence of
Europe, though Europeans themselves seem to be losing faith
in it following the large atrocities committed by some of their
more famous men. There are apparently some among us who
still believe that it is necessary to go abroad in order to become
educated, and in whose minds the term 'abroad' has a narrower
application than the unprejudiced might suppose. There are
certainly many who believe that little knowledge and under-
standing grow here, and that true wisdom, fair judgement, and
all expertise are obtainable only as imports. These attitudes
reflect that basic lack of confidence which is probably the most
debilitating consequence of a metropolitan-colonial relation-
ship. Since the acts of colonials are subject to the approval of
metropolitan authority, colonials tend to imitate metropolitan
practice rather than to risk rebuke by initiating their own.
Eventually, the lack of confidence undermines the general
behaviour when the abrasive brashness of the insecure spoils
It is difficult, therefore, for us to achieve understanding of
any 'national' interest. Indeed, it is only since the ceremonial
introduction of our independence that we have dared to define
ourselves as a nation. Even so, the definition is apt only in the
formal political sense. We are still very much divided by the
continuing failure of the few to comprehend the misfortunes
and discomforts of the many; and those of us who have
succeeded are too much occupied in proclaiming, by the use of
status symbols, the measure (often grossly exaggerated) of our
success. One brief illustration will suffice: our public servants
(and to 'minister', also mean to 'serve') are adept at writing
long memoranda and using other means to camouflage daily
inactivity. It is not really that they are unfit. It is, rather, that
they are indisposed to serve. They prefer either to command or
to confabulate with commanders.
Nonetheless, there are good signs that the inferiority
complex, the narrow-mindedness, and the lethargy are beginn-
ing to wear thin. Increasingly we look to the African heritage,
and if, momentarily, we tend to denigrate the European contri-
bution the balance will in time be properly achieved. Let us
remember that there never has been balance in our view. It may
be hard for those who seek to build our nation to hear some
voices proclaiming that they are not Jamaican but African;
remember, though, the pride with which we were taught to
claim to be, not Jamaican, but British.
More and more the black man, shedding his previously
enforced inferiority, walks with pride; and, if there be some
who act as though pride can properly be worn without dignity
and self-respect, let us remember that in the past whites too
have made the same mistake.
And now, in recent months, there have been clear calls to
nationhood, summons to work, and exhortations to re-examine
our criteria and our priorities. This may be "party-politicking",
or the early idealism of politicians who have not yet learned
the golden rules of government in Jamaica, namely, that expedi-
ence is a better guide than principle, and that 'democracy'
means the right of those who can to get away with it. Or, it
may be the real beginning of a new era. If that be so, then let
us also remember that the metropolitan-colonial relationship
was political as well as social and economic and that our
political institutions have been modelled on the metropolitan
pattern. Where divergence was allowed it lay in greater metro-
politan control and reduced colonial authority, as in the substi-
tution of a Crown Colony form of government for rule by an
In the mid 20th century, when independence came, we re-
iterated, without apparent re-consideration, our support of
19th century British parliamentary democracy based on the
party political system. But party politics here rest on rival
trade unionism. Our trade unions preach 20th century ideals,
and use 19th century techniques against employers who still
lag somewhere in the 18th century. And yet, it seems, we
believe that this is the road to political maturity. It is unlikely
that we would have been permitted to enter our independence
in the garb of some strange, un-British, constitutional design.
But there is little sign that we have, since then, considered
whether and in what respects constitutional reform may be
necessary or desirable; or whether the marriage of trade union-
ism and party politics is perhaps unhappy in the presence of
Having found ourselves and set our criteria and our object-
ives we should govern ourselves accordingly; but little can be
achieved without pride in country, trust in fellow-countryman,
and will to work. Are we sure enough of ourselves? Suppose
you were at sea and a great wave overturned your boat and
swept you from it and you saw two rescue craft approaching -
one manned by sailors of Her Britannic Majesty's Royal Navy,
the other manned by Jamaican fishermen to which would
you entrust yourself? And why?
STATISTICAL DATA BASED ON POPULATION CENSUS 1970
JAMAICA (PRELIMINARY REPORT)
MONTEGO BAY 42,800 23,600 6.14 24,000
SPANISH TOWN 41,600 14,700 11.00 17,000
MAY PEN 26,200 14,100 6.40 19,300
MANDEVILLE 13,100 8,400 4.55 9,700
OCHO RIOS 6,900 4,600 4.15 4,600
In the context of this study, Land Development is defined
as a phase of activity which progresses from the acquisition
and sale of subdivided land to a stage where sites are provided
with essential infra-structure, buildings, and community ser-
vices. This procedure represents total development of land for
urban purposes. Partial development, involving the subdivision
of land and sale of lots is a phenomenon that has accelerated in
recent years resulting in the purchase and re-sale of lots for
speculative purposes and a random pattern of development.
FACTORS INFLUENCING LAND DEVELOPMENT -
The factors that have influenced the development of land,
(a) Population increase, which has created an in-
creasing demand for new housing and associated
(b) The establishment of Governmental and private
agencies for implementing development projects,
e.g., Ministry of Housing, Urban Development Cor-
poration, and Private Development Companies.
(c) The availability of finance, and the establishment
of financial institutions to provide long-term finan-
cing and mortgage funds for development projects,
e.g., Commercial Banks, Building Societies, Insur-
ance Companies, Mortgage Banks, U.S. Agency for
International Development, Commonwealth Devel-
opment Corporation, the World Bank, etc.
(d) Legislation, to stimulate development, e.g., The
Housing Law, Building Societies Law, Mortgage
(e) Advent of Industrial Development which has resul-
ted in speculation in residential development, e.g.,
in Mandeville (adjacent to an important bauxite
(f) Residential development catering to a transient
population employed in the resort areas, particular-
ly on the north coast.
FACTORS INFLUENCING THE LOCATION AND PAT-
TERN OF DEVELOPMENT -
(a) The physical character of the island (topography:
coastal plains, natural harbours and ports, etc.)
(b) Economic factors resulting in the location of towns,
and new development projects-in close proximity
to sources of employment, main transporting
routes, port facilities etc.
(c) Traditional patterns of development, e.g., Single-
(d) The adoption of land-development patterns that
are prevalent in North America and Europe.
(e) Development Control regulations and recommen-
dations as administered by the Town Planning
Department and Parish Councils.
(f) Low-income housing projects, generally located on
Government-owned lands, or on sites of inadequate
(g) Patterns that have evolved were created primarily
by non-professional personnel who invariably pre-
pared plans without a 'guide' or the knowledge of
basic site-planning principles. Several large housing-
schemes and sub-divisions, etc. were prepared in
this manner. However, an increasing number of
people (including land-developers) have begun to
seek proper architectural and town-planning advice
for the design and lay-out of projects.
It is expected that the role of architects and town planners
will become increasingly significant in the land-development
process, due in part to the fact that "lending agencies" such
as commercial banks require their clients who are involved in
land-development to obtain professional services as a con-
dition for obtaining financing for a project.
Land development projects are dispersed throughout the
island but the greater number are located in the major towns.
The intensity of land-development activity is directly related
to the economic and administrative importance of urban areas,
referring in particular to Kingston, the Parish Capitals, and
MAIN CENTRES OF LAND-DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITY
- (a) Kingston: Active development of 'urban land' is pre-
dominant in the Kingston metropolitan area which contains
over one-fourth of the total population and is over twelve
times the size of the second largest city, Montego Bay.
Kingston is the commercial, financial and transportation, and
Government centre for the island, and as such has stimulated
the greater proportion of land-development activity in the form
of urban expansion and renewal. Its recent growth has been
accelerated by the development of many manufacturing enter-
prises, and to a lesser extent tourism.
Since the inception of the city, the main direction of growth
has been towards the north, occurring in an unplanned and
contiguous manner, in which each subdivision has been added
to the periphery of the existing developed area, invariably
unrelated to the adjacent neighbourhood, except by the natural
link of a few streets. The expansion of Kingston has virtually
absorbed villages such as Stony Hill and Red Hills. 'Ribbon-
development' has partially extended the city towards Spanish
Town. A scarcity of suitable land for urban expansion has
resulted in the establishment of a major development area
West of Kingston, including settlements such as Independence
City and Portmore.
(b) Montego Bay and the North-Western Coast: Although
very much smaller than Kingston, Montego Bay is the island's
second city, and more important, is the main international
tourist centre of the country. Tourism, based on nearby attrac-
tive beaches, has become an important economic base for
the city. Urban growth and development has been stimulated
by the city's role as the main centre of transportation and
commerce for the entire North-west and South-west coasts
and inland agricultural areas. The Ocho Rios-Runaway Bay
area has become an important site for the development of
resort facilities, including hotels and cottages.
The main North-coast road links several towns, and new
development often flanks the road, forming a continuous strip
or ribbon-development with an orientation to the sea. More
recently, development (particularly resort housing) has en-
croached on the foothills near the coast, particularly at Cardiff
Hall, St. Ann.
(c) Mandeville: The growth of Mandeville resulted as much
from its pleasant upland climate as from its location on the
main southern road. More recently, the town has undergone
rapid urban growth because of the large bauxite-alumina plant
located nearby. New development often occurs along the main
roads leading out of the town to the extent of forming almost
continuous development between towns. In this manner, small-
er towns have become satellites of Mandeville or even absorbed
into it. For example, New Green, Grey Abbey, Clark's Town,
Green Vale and Williamsfield are villages which have linear
development links with Mandeville.
(d) May Pen: The capital of Clarendon has become the
fourth largest urban centre in the country. Its natural location-
al advantage as a commercial centre for the sugar industry of
Vere and for the transfer of goods by road and rail increased
its importance. Random large-scale subdivision development
has recently occurred on the periphery of the town, compri-
sing several hundred lots for residential purposes. The new
bauxite installation at Halse Hall is expected to intensify land
(e) Spanish Town: Residential development has increased
rapidly in and adjacent to Spanish Town, with new projects
at Ensom City, Willowdene, Horizon Park, St. John's Road
and St. Jago Heights.
In making an analysis of development patterns in Jamaica,
it is essential to define the land-use categories in which various
patterns occur, referring to the form and physical characteris-
tics of Residential, Commercial and Industrial development.
Land development ventures in Jamaica were first pursued
by the Government, in the form of subsidized housing. The
projects involved the subdivision of land, the installation of
infra-structure, and the construction of houses.
In the early 1930's social concern regarding inadequate
housing, overcrowding, and insanitary conditions resulted in
the establishment of an administrative organization appointed
by Government to make representations to Central Govern-
ment as to the measures expedient for relieving local condi-
tions. The Central Housing Authority was established in 1936,
and recommendations were made by the Authority for the
development of Trench Pen Township and improvement of
Smith Village and surrounding districts.
A development plan was subsequently drafted, essentially
a single-lot housing scheme comprising 300 lots, each lot being
500 sq. ft. in area, with dimensions 50 feet x 100 feet. The
project was conceived as a community with sites reserved for
schools, parks and clinics. Although all the roads were com-
pleted in accordance with this plan, only a part of the frame-
work was filled with permanent building. Building-construct-
ion specifications were established, and there were provisions
for covenants and zoning.
TEACHER O CLINIC
L ENTRY COMMUNITY
^rs^^oie **"ow m
Sub-division plan prepared for part of Trench
Town by the Central Housing Authority in
The Authority was responsible for three types of scheme:
low-income government housing, rural owner-occupier housing
(both partly financed from Colonial Development and Welfare
Funds) and ex-servicemen's housing. During the two decades
of the CHA's operation it built about 4,000 houses.
In 1956, the Department of Housing was established,
replacing the Central Housing Authority and the Hurricane
Housing Organization. The objective of Government policy
was to provide housing for the lowest income group to amelior-
ate bad housing conditions through development or improve-
ment as defined in the Housing Law of 1955.
In 1957, the Department of Housing sponsored housing
schemes at Hampstead Park and Norman Range (duplex
houses), in Kingston. Both schemes were financed by a private
entrepreneur. Continuing the tradition of the single-lot pattern
of development, the Mona Heights and Waltham Park Housing
projects for the middle-income group were started in 1959.
In the same year, 115 units were constructed at Trafalgar Park
(adjacent to New Kingston) to meet the demand for medium-
price housing in a central locality. A year later, in 1960, the
first co-operative apartment units in Jamaica were constructed
at Coral Gardens in Montego Bay, adopting a North American
concept of residential management, whereby tenants own the
actual property and operate and maintain the building and
grounds co-operatively. Coral Gardens Villas comprise 13
residential blocks on a 9-acre site, and a community building
which contains a restaurant, bar, shops and offices. The
development includes a total of 130 apartments, each with a
living room, kitchenette and bath. The total price per unit was
1,850 or ($3,700) in 1960, entitling the purchaser to a 199
year lease to live in permanently, use at week-ends or rent at a
The most rapid development continued to be in Kingston.
Approximately 2,000 middle-income houses were constructed
at Harbour View in 1961, utilizing a pre-cast unit system of
construction. In 1963, the first project with 2-storey type
houses were constructed at Oakland Park off the Barbican
Road in Kingston, with lot sizes 40 feet x 80 feet, reflecting
the growing shortage of land at a reasonable price.
Slum clearance and rehousing projects continued to be a
major objective of Government policy. In 1964, for the first
time in the nation's history, 4-storey residential buildings were
erected at Victoria Town in Western Kingston, under the
Government's Housing programme. This form of development
and the high densities achieved became a desirable physical
solution to the chronic problem of suitable land-space for
housing, particularly in the Kingston metropolitan area where
the greatest number of slums existed. There was, however,
inadequate provision of outdoor recreation space. Sociologists
have since determined that the four-storey buildings have sev-
eral disadvantages socially, particularly with regard to the fact
that the high-rise concept of building represented a radical
change from traditional patterns of housing. Social re-adjust-
ment to this new environment became necessary and was at
times difficult to achieve.
The shortage of sites of economic size for mass construct-
ion was the main factor in the preparation of a plan for the
expansion of the Kingston metropolitan area westwards to
Portmore and Independence City creating a satellite town-
ship embracing approximately 30,000 houses and necessitating
extensive flood control and drainage works. The subdivision
design and lay-out of expansion areas (west of the Kingston
metropolitan area) has maintained the traditional pattern of
sub-dividing land into individual building lots each with a
one-storey house surrounded by an area of land used as a
Increased real-estate activity and new housing projects in
the rural areas became apparent in the mid-1960's, particularly
in May Pen, Spanish Town, Mandeville and North Coast Towns,
partly because of the high price of land and the resulting high
cost of houses that were being constructed in Kingston.
Real estate activity continued in Kingston, and the subdivi-
sion of the foothills and steeper slopes of the Liguanea Plain
-typical one-bedroom unit- a F
Floor plan of "Coral Gardens Villas".
0 100 200 PT/ / \
Site plan of "Coral Gardens Villas",
Victoria 1 wn Development: 4-storey Housing.
became a marked feature of urban growth. The hillsides of
suburban Kingston offer ample evidence of poor design with
resulting massive and usually prominent retaining walls, and
deep cuts into the slopes.
On the plains, the shortage of suitable land for housing
resulted in the re-subdivision of large residential holdings into
minimum-size lots of approximately 6,000 sq. ft. A trend to
expensive multi-storey apartments, condominiums, and town-
houses became another significant form of 'infill development'
3 bedroom units.
Selling price =
- i.e., (re-development of areas within the existing fabric of the
city, usually to higher densities than existed previously). In
Kingston, a survey (1969) determined that the area bordered
by Half-Way-Tree Road/Hope Road/and Old Hope Road, was
a preferred location for the development of high-density resi-
dential units. This concentration of high-density development
created noticeable stresses on urban infra-structure, particular-
ly with regard to increased traffic flow, insufficient water-
pressure for domestic purposes, and inadequate provision for
sewerage disposal. Government subsequently instituted a
locational policy for high-density residential projects, indicat-
ing density limits in specific areas.
Invariably, the trends and patterns that evolved in Kingston
were repeated to a lesser degree in the other major urban
centres of Jamaica.
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KEY: mm M AY P E N to Kings on
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COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT In every town, the
grocery shop and department store have been traditional units
for the operation of wholesale and retail trade. Both types of
shopping units have been generally located on the Main Street
of the town, to take advantage of local and external business
Although the population of all towns, and number of
shopping units have increased over the years, there has not
been a corresponding re-organization or relocation of shops,
in relation to the physical changes that have occurred. The
main street of these towns continue to act as a 'through'
route, generally without being widened or re-routed. On-street
parking has reduced the accessibility of the main street, and in
towns such as May Pen and Old Harbour, the market has re-
tained its location on the main street -generating a consider-
able volume of traffic, which has resulted in congestion of the
primary access route in the town.
In the Kingston metropolitan area, the King Street axis has
been the traditional business district. As the city expanded in
area, the re-siting of business became a problem. King Street
was proving to be no longer functional because of growing
traffic congestion and the need for car parking facilities.
Re-siting of business was therefore envisaged as a movement
north, in which Cross Roads acted as a secondary shopping
The introduction of shopping centres (in the mid-1950's)
represented a significant change in the organization of shops
on a site.
Essentially, the shopping centre concept (which is North-
American in origin), could be described as a large single-storey
or two-storey building, generally U-shaped and subdivided into
small shopping units, each selling specialized items. This new
concept in shopping became extremely popular and several
were constructed north of Cross Roads to meet the needs of
an increasingly mobile urban population. Supermarkets or
self-service shops were also established either singly or in
association with a shopping centre. This trend has been re-
peated in Montego Bay, Mandeville, May Pen, Ocho Rios, and
other towns. Shopping centres have become major generators
of traffic (particularly in Kingston) where they have become
concentrated along a particular route, i.e., Constant Spring
Road, or adjacent to an important traffic intersection, i.e.,
Matilda's Corner. With the exception of the Harbour View
Shopping Centre (Kingston) which directly serves an adjacent
neighbourhood, shopping centres have been located in the
centre of the business area of Kingston and other urban areas.
New trends in office accommodation became particularly
noticeable in the last decade. Up to 10 years ago, there was
general acceptance of low standards of accommodation.
Office planning and specifications for new offices were
inadequate. The high-rise office building became the economic
solution relative to high land prices, particularly in downtown
Kingston, where the trend begun. Duke and Harbour Streets
were the venue for new projects such as the Bernard Sunley
Building, Standard Life, and Life of Jamaica. Proper architect-
ural advice, the adoption of international concepts, and the
demand for prestige office space were also important factors
responsible for the change in the pattern of office accommo-
The use of air-conditioning became standard practice, in
order to provide a cooler office-environment, with reduced
levels of external noise.
Increasing traffic congestion and the need for car parking
facilities resulted in a shift in emphasis to the Cross Roads
area. Knutsford Park (formerly a horse-racing track) was
subdivided for commercial purposes. As part of the scheme
of broad planning, this could only mean that the earlier con-
c- aledonia road
cept of Cross Roads as a new 'centre of gravity' was transferred
to the next convenient intersection northwards. New Kingston
has proven to be a speculative subdivision conceived and laid
out fourteen years prior to intensive development activity. At
the time of its inception, land values stagnated, and develop-
ers bought several lots in 'blocks' eventually constructing
multi-storey offices. Today there are several high-rise office
buildings in the area, but there is inadequate provision for
In Kingston, the conversion of older residential buildings
to offices has resulted in a significant change in land-use
patterns in the city, and the trend has restricted the develop-
ment of modern office accommodation.
Modern office accommodation is being provided in Monte-
go Bay, and there are immediate plans for an additional
78,000 sq. ft. of office space in the proposed expansion and
re-development of the Montego Bay central area.
There is a marked deficit of suitable office accommodation
in May Pen and in Mandeville, but Government has expressed
the intention of initiating office development in the May Pen
central area in order to stimulate the private sector to invest
in similar projects.
INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT In the period prior to
1962, the Kingston area clearly established its dominance in
new acreage developed for industrial purposes. In 1952, the
Kingston Industrial Estate was established on 150 acres of
Aerial view of
(as viewed from
i Trafalgar Road).
land at Marcus Garvey Drive/Spanish Town Road strategical-
ly located in relation to ship, rail and water-transport facilities.
Kingston has remained the prime location for industrial
development, but the trend in the decade 1962-1972 is that
the rural parishes has outstripped the Kingston area in new
industrial acreage developed. Higher land prices in Kingston
compared to rural areas, coupled with greater land require-
ments for certain types of new factories, and improved ser-
vices and transportation facilities in rural parishes probably
also contributed to the acceleration of industrial growth in
the rural parishes during the past ten years.
A national survey of industrial location and distribution
(1970), indicates that Kingston-St. Andrew with 272 factories
is well ahead of St. Catherine the next most industrial parish
which has 38 factories. The 300-acre JIDC Industrial Estate in
Kingston had 20 manufacturing plants in 1962, compared to
75 in 1972. The recently-completed Newport West port com-
plex has developed over 100 new industrial lots.
In St. Catherine, a thriving industrial complex has been
established at Twickenham Park (near to Spanish Town) and
a start has been made with an estate at Naggo Head. There is
also a nucleus of a new industrial area at Old Harbour. St.
Thomas has 20 factories with industrial units at Yallahs and
Morant Bay. Clarendon has 19, and St. Mary 15. At the
western end of the island St. James has 28 factories and the
Montego Bay Freeport project will add still another industrial
site on 250 acres of land reclaimed from the Montego Bay
Harbour area. Trelawny and Hanover have 9 and 8 factories
respectively. The least industrialized parish is St. Elizabeth
which contains only 4 factories.
The Jamaica Industrial Development Corporation has estab-
lished covenants and restrictive covenants for factories built
on JIDC estates, in keeping with proper site-planning princi-
ples for industrial buildings.
COMPREHENSIVE DEVELOPMENT Rapid urban and
economic growth have inevitably been accompanied by im-
portant new problems and aggravated others. Physically, an
overwhelming stress has been placed on the country's infra-
structure and communications. Socially, the 20th century
phenomenon of mass migration to urban centres from rural
areas has brought to Jamaica's capital city and principal towns,
the manifestations and all the ills that promote urban decay.
Dealing with these problems became a primary objective
of government, and after a detailed appraisal an important
step was taken in 1968 with the establishment of the Urban
Development Corporation as a statutory body, created by
Act of Parliament.
Essentially, the Corporation's objective is the planned
development and re-development of key areas throughout
the country, so designed as to arrest the forces of urban decay
by providing essential planning and infra-structure, and pro-
moting orderly growth.
The re-development of the Kingston Waterfront was given
priority, and to undertake this task the Kingston Waterfront
Re-development Company was formed in 1967. Subsequently,
a comprehensive re-development plan was designed by a firm
of Planners and Architects.
The essential features of the plan which is now being im-
plemented are as follows:
(a) The construction of major north to south access
roads to the east and west of the designated area.
(b) The re-building of Harbour and Port Royal Streets
to provide the major parallel cross distribution links,
east and west.
(c) The construction of a Waterfront Boulevard, south
of the designated area.
(d) The subdividing of the waterfront lands into blocks
designed to accommodate hotels, office blocks, park-
ing garages, apartments, department stores and shop-
The role of the Urban Development Corporation as a
major developer was also evident in the plans for a compre-
hensive re-development of the Ocho Rios town-centre. The
first phase of the project has been completed with the con-
struction of the Turtle Beach condominium apartment pro-
ject which contains a total of 217 apartments distributed in
four 12-storey apartment towers. Phase two of the re-develop-
ment will include a shopping centre and a 360-room conven-
Top Left: Electronics Factorys- Eleven Miles,
Top Right: Alumina Plant, Ewarton, St. Catherine.
Bottom Left: Newport West.
Model of Kingston
Waterfront now under
Ocho Rios Bay
Government has recently approved proposals for re-develop-
ment of the Montego Bay Waterfront. Land reclamation on
the west side of Montego Bay will allow a logical road network
to be created. This will relieve the congestion in the old town
caused by both local and through traffic. A new road would
also form part of the link between the north coast resort
areas, Montego Freeport and the tourist areas on the west
coast of the island. In Montego Bay, the road becomes the
basis of a re-development strategy for growth and expansion.
The development strategy will contain a new resort and beach
areas, a new commercial and entertainment centre, develop-
ment of a government centre which will bring together all
aspects of government service and administration, and the
development of a cultural centre.
PLANNED PATTERNS OF DEVELOPMENT The com-
prehensive re-development of towns represent a major correct-
ive measure to curb random and adhoc patterns of develop-
ment. In general, the pattern of land-development in Jamaica
has been due, in part, to the lack of detailed plans or develop-
ment guides. The problem has been made more difficult by
the limited number of professional personnel actively engaged
in the design and implementation of three-dimensional plans,
involving site planning and design of buildings.
It is hoped that priority will be given to the preparation of
the detailed development plans for all areas (particularly
urban), indicating patterns of development that relate to the
physical setting, and to the economic, social and cultural
realities that exist. Detailed plans will act as guidelines for
developers and will ensure the realization of desired objectives.
An important consideration,however, is that development
plans and patterns which are currently established should retain
sufficient flexibility to accommodate long-term physical, social
and economic changes.
attention focuses on
by C. Roy Reynolds
In comparatively recent years there has been a signifi-
cant upsurge of interest in the subject of nutrition in
Jamaica. Improving the diets of both children and adults is
increasingly being appreciated as a matter of top public health
priority, as well as a means of lifting the productivity levels
of the island's work force.
Important aspects of the research effort being channelled
into this direction are the evidence of inter-disciplinary co-
operation and co-ordination, and the gradual evolving of
practical measures to reduce the incidences of sub-standard
nutrition and malnutrition in the population. Among the
agencies and organizations engaged in research in nutrition and
related problems are the Ministry of Health and Environ-
mental Control; the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute
(backed by the Pan American Health Organization, the World
Health Organization, the Research Foundation of the United
States and the Caribbean governments); the Tropical Metabo-
lism Research Unit; and the Scientific Research Council.
Before solutions can be developed, or even rationally con-
templated it is necessary to establish the full proportions of a
particular problem. Thus, early efforts of research into the
nutritional problems of the country were largely directed
towards quantifying the degree of malnutrition and sub-stan-
dard nutrition that existed, and the identifying of the various
inter-acting factors that contribute to the general situation.
Having ascertained the degree to which poor nutrition existed
it was necessary to discover whether this was due to an absolute
shortage of suitable foods, poor cooking or eating habits or
perhaps local traditions that inhibited the maximization of
the use of locally available cheaper food items.
An indication of the nutritional status of the country can
be gained by a comparatively recent study done by the
Scientific Research Council. The Council, in a paper The
Dietary and Nutritional Status of Jamaican Infants and
Toddlers, 1968 stated that the caloric intake of 85% of the
children was below the recommended levels; and over 60% of
urban infants up to age one year had inadequate protein
intakes. On a slightly less dismal note the report continued
that with increasing age the situation tended to improve so
that in the group three to six years only 40% were receiving
less than the recommended protein intake.
Early childhood mortality rates have been an accepted
index of malnutrition in a community. Studies in Jamaica
have shown that 50-60% of all deaths in children under age
two years were due to, or associated with malnutrition. These
figures are further substantiated by studies in the Kingston
area conducted by the Pan American Health Organization and
published in Inter-American Investigation of Mortality in
Childhood, Provisional ReportSeptember 1971.
Over the last two decades seven dietary surveys of varying
scopes have been undertaken in Jamaica. Indications from
these surveys are that about 65% of the adult population were
receiving less than the recommended protein intake. Quanta-
tively, the adult diet was found to be approximately 25% too
low in total calories. In keeping with these findings is the fact
that primary clinical malnutrition is rarely seen in adults,
though the low intakes of calories may represent a serious
economic liability (Malnutrition in Jamaica by Dr. D. Picou,
Director of the Tropical Metabolism Research Unit).
The fact that sub-standard nutrition tends to lower worker
productivity has been substantiated by several studies con-
ducted in many countries, among several categories of workers
over decades. Many of these studies also indicated that with
improvements to the diet, worker productivity could be raised
and the incidences of accidents lessened to the extent where
the increased outlay in feeding was more than compensated
for. A series of studies now underway in Jamaica, by the
Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute in co-operation with
other agencies, is aimed at establishing the extent to which
poor nutrition is depressing the level of worker output.
The first study is being conducted among cane-cutters in
the sugar areas, and is designed, in addition, to develop
methods of improving worker diets. Thus these studies are not
alone to identify a problem, but according to Caribbean Food
and Nutrition Sources, to find workable means of improving
or remedying the situation. For example, it may be possible
to: introduce a mobile lunch unit to serve workers who are
scattered over a wide area; or to establish a central cafeteria to
facilitate workers in industries with high worker centralization.
Thus, not only would the workers themselves be helped to
perform more efficiently, but their increased earnings should
mean a better standard of living for the rest of their families.
Two factors weigh heavily in this line of approach. As the
cost of materials spiral, industry must increasingly look towards
improving worker productivity as a means of keeping down the
cost of each unit of goods produced. Again, the present pro-
gramme of research is placing particular emphasis in the
utilizing of locally available, cheaper, though nutritionally
valuable food items. It is therefore feasible that employers
may find it advantageous to subsidize a feeding programme
for certain workers, as improved production, less accidents and
lower incidences of absenteeism, may more than offset the
cost of such programmes.
It is expected that, depending on the availability of funds
and personnel, similar studies to that being undertaken among
sugar workers, will be carried out in other sections of the
Various research projects have served to identify a number
of factors affecting nutrition in Jamaica. The decline in
breast-feeding and the earlier introduction of nutritionally
inadequate bottle-feeding has been found to contribute to the
malnutrition/gastro-enteritis complex; while the lack of ade-
quate weaning foods also precipitate the development of
malnutrition in pre-school children.
Associated with the decline in breast-feeding has been an
increasing reliance on expensive commercial milk prepara-
tions and weaning foods. These, as already stated, are expen-
Preparing a smooth, easily digested mash from ingredients
taken from the family table. This can be done with .simple
equipment, at relatively low cost.
in a Jamaican
on the correct
benefits of breast-
A group of
students attend a
nutrition seminar at
eand Nutrition Institute,
sive and while, if used at the recommended levels, may prove
nutritionally adequate after the first few months of life, the
cost factor precludes their use at correct concentrations among
the lower socio-economic sections of the community. Thus,
many children are forced into malnutrition at an early age and
are prone to attacks of certain diseases since they are not
protected by the anti-bodies present in the colustrum (the
milk produced by mothers in the early weeks of lactation).
A strong population shift from rural to urban areas, recor-
ded during the decade 1960-1970 may be expected to have
repercussions in the field of nutrition, as studies in various
countries have shown that such shifts are associated with an
earlier onset of infantile malnutrition. The factors contributing
to this phenomenon may be many. Higher rentals and the need
for more outlay on clothes to meet the sophistication of urban
life may be expected to put a greater strain on the family
budget, thus affecting the amount that can be spent on food.
Unlike the rural areas, mothers in the urban areas usually have
to take fulltime employment a situation which does not
allow her to effectively breast-feed her infant. The conse-
quences of this situation have already been discussed.
Overcrowding in urban areas also allows for rapid spread of
infectious diseases, such as gastro-enteritis and certain respira-
tory diseases. Such conditions undoubtedly place greater strain
on infants and young children, thereby further intensifying
the effects of poor nutrition.
Another factor that may be expected to exert a marked
influence on nutrition is the widening gap between incomes
and food prices. During the year 1969-1970, for example,
per capital income increased by approximately 7.2%. This was
paralleled by a situation where in Kingston the prices of food
and drink rose 7.3%, while in the rural areas they rose 10.5%.
Thus, this situation, in the absence of corrective programmes,
may lead to a worsening of the nutritional problem, especially
in the vulnerable age group six to twenty-four months.
Hope for lessening the effects of such a trend has come
from research conducted by the Caribbean Food and Nutrition
Institute in collaboration with other agencies. Among the
developments from such research has been the production of
multi-mixes for weaning children, based on the use of locally
available, comparatively cheap food items. The Institute has,
in addition, done considerable research on the feeding of
young children in the Caribbean. The findings and recommen-
dations have been published in a booklet, Guidelines For
Young Child Feeding In The Contemporary Caribbean.
Available information from both local and area-wide studies
have been indicating strongly that human malnutrition, espec-
ially when it occurs early in life, causes changes in the compo-
sition of the brain. In a study carried out at the Tropical
Metabolism Research Unit at the Mona campus of the
University of the West Indies, brain samples from children
dying of malnutrition were analysed. The results indicated
that the brains from marasmic infants were small in size and
showed a reduction in total DNA content, with a normal ratio
of protein to DNA. In Kwashiorkor cases,on the other hand,
preliminary findings were that the brains were nearly normal
in weight, but the ratio of protein to DNA was low.
The possible connection between childhood malnutrition
and a failure of the subject to reach full mental potential was
underlined at a world conference on Nutrition, National
Development and Planning held earlier this year at the Massa-
chussets Institute of Technology. In a report on this conference
of top world nutritionists, and other related scientists it was
stated: With regard to the later effects of childhood malnutri-
tion on mental development, the evidence resulting from
experimental animal studies is absolutely clear. Also, the
evidence with regard to human subjects has reached the level
of clarity and assurance that puts it beyond any reasonable
doubt. This impairment of mental development affects the
least privileged in all genetic groups. Not only in the so-called
developing countries; but in under-privileged communities
everywhere are found the biologically, socially and phycholo-
gically handicapped survivors of childhood malnutrition.
Thus, malnutrition can be recognized as a tremendous
drain on all sectors of any country in which it occurs to a
significant degree. Firstly, there is the effect of maternal
malnutrition on the condition of the mother herself as well as
the developing foetus. This is an important factor in the rates
of foetal and maternal mortality. Similarly, the incidences of
premature births (low birth-weights),tend to increase as socio-
economic conditions become worse.
The economic cost of young child and infant deaths due
to malnutrition and related causes has not been accurately
quantified. However, there can be little doubt that the high
death rates from malnutrition and related causes, as mention-
ed earlier, constitute a significant loss to the human resources
of the country.
A significant way in which the problem of early childhood
malnutrition can be tackled is through the improvement of
maternal nutrition. According to a Pan American Health
Organization report: Maternal Nutrition and Family Planning
In The Americas, nutritional needs increase during pregnancy
and lactation, and pregnant and lactating women form an
important vulnerable group, exposed to special risks; and
poor maternal nutritional status may have serious consequen-
ces for their children. The report continued that the mainten-
ance of a good nutritional state among growing children and
adolescence is possibly the most important aspect of long
term nutritional policies. Attention to the immediate needs
of mothers is a question of priority.
Another point emphasised by the report, which covered
the Caribbean and Latin American area, was that the import-
ance of nutrition and family planning in health programmes
have been insufficiently recognized by many health authorities
in the past. This situation, it said, may be partly due to the
fact that nutrition was inadequately emphasised in the train-
ing of medical and para-medical personnel and almost totally
neglected in schools and other educational institutions.
Fortunately, this situation is no longer completely true of
Jamaica. For some years now family planning has become an
important consideration in official policy. There is an island-
wide network of family planning clinics, and increasingly
more personnel are being trained not only in the techniques
of birth control, but in the wider field of family care and
Institutions such as the Caribbean Food and Nutrition
Institute and the Tropical Metabolism Research Unit, have
been co-operating in training programmes in nutrition for
personnel of various levels. At the top levels courses in nutri-
tion are being conducted for under-graduates in a number of
faculties of the University of the West Indies. A biennial
University Diploma Course in Community Nutrition, parti-
cularly for senior middle level management personnel has
been in operation for a number of years now. This course
prepares graduates to work and teach in practical food and
nutrition programmes. And there are several other efforts aimed
at providing some measure of nutrition teaching for various
The Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute also conducts
inter-island, inter-disciplinary workshops for personnel in the
field of food and nutrition. Proposals for future training
activities include the continuation of the diploma course; the
intensification of inter-island, inter-disciplinary workshops and
the increasing involvement with existing programmes of train-
ing for staff concerned with food and nutrition.
Additionally, the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute,
together with the governments of the Caribbean countries,
PAHO and WHO are exploring the training needs for workers
in food and dietary services in the area, with the intention of
preparing an appropriate system of practical training.
In Jamaica, therefore, the need for training in nutrition,
relevant to this area is receiving ever-increasing attention.
Other projects backed by government and using the research
data gathered, are aimed at improving the diets of school-age
and other children and are being actively pursued.
The identification of the degree of poor nutrition in this
country should not be interpreted as a new phenomenon, but
rather should be seen as the result of intensified efforts to dis-
cover the true situation existing and the underlying causes for
it a necessary pre-requisite to the introduction of corrective
measures. As all the ramifications and implications of malnutri-
tion and sub-standard nutrition become more and more under-
stood there are signs that the country is moving closer to the
formulation and implementation of a national policy on
There is still much ground to be covered, but the work
done so far has served to lay a good foundation for future
action. It has also showed to very good advantage the
value of inter-disciplinary, inter-organizational co-operation
in approach to a national problem.
by J.R.R. Suah
Young coconut plant
showing symptoms of
This year sadly marks the centenary of one of the worst
plant diseases to be recorded in the history of Jamaica the
Lethal Yellowing disease of the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera
L.). Certainly, no other local plant disease has received more
notoriety than this one.
The long list of scientists who have done direct research or
co-operated in research on Lethal Yellowing reads like a Noble
Prize nomination slate. It includes many internationally famous
bacteriologists, chemists, entomologists, nematologists, plant
pathologists, and virologists. The number of diagnoses and
suggestions for combatting the disease that have come from
the lettered as well as the unlettered could fill many volumes.
The compulsion to offer some suggestion for control of the
disease could be due largely to the fact that no person passing
through a disease affected area can avoid noticing the dramatic
appearance of the vivid golden yellow colour of coconut palms
as they die by the thousands, to leave the tall utility pole-like
trunks pointing skywards.
* Entomologist in the Ministry of Agriculture.
There have been several speculations as to when the
disease first occurred in Jamaica. A serious disease of coconut,
which destroyed palms in the south coast of the island and
nearby Grand Cayman, was reported in 1834. But according
to a noted scientist who worked on the present devastating
disease the first official record of Lethal Yellowing was an
outbreak found in the western end of the island in 1872. But
this was not recognized as a very serious disease until about
In one hundred years it has spread eastward through every
parish on the north coast of the island and has now extended
into the major coconut-growing areas of the south, destroying
hundreds of thousands of the palm. A similar disease has now
been identified in the Bahamas, several other Caribbean islands,
Florida and Key West in the U.S.A., and Togo and Dahomey
in Africa. It is also strongly suspected to be in Cuba.
It is widely believed that Lethal Yellowing disease may
have been written about under a number of different names,
as many of the earlier plant disease records included more
than one disease under the same name, because of improper
diagnoses. A sound case for this disease is a report published
in 1912 by a plant pathologist, J.R. Johnson, entitled The
History and Cause of the Coconut Budrot, which included
many illustrations that could be reliably interpreted as Lethal
Yellowing disease symptoms. To prevent this sort of confusion
of identity another plant pathologist, S.F. Ashby, suggested
in a report published in 1915 that this disease of coconut,
which was then occurring only in the west end of the island
be called West End Budrot, to differentiate it from other
budrot diseases. In 1940 another scientist regarded this
disease as similar to Bronze Leaf Wilt in Trinidad.
The name West End Budrot persisted until 1946 when it
was changed to Unknown Disease in a paper published by
R. Leach, entitled The Unknown Disease of the Coconut
Palm in Jamaica. This was done partly to separate it from
the true budrot caused by a fungus Phytpphthora palmivora,
Butler, and Bronze Leaf Wilt, occurring in Trinidad, and
because the disease-causing agent was as yet still unknown.
Nine years later a team of British scientists, F.J. Nutman and
F.M. Roberts gave it the name by which it is currently known
in their published report Lethal Yellowing-the Unknown
Disease of Coconut Palms in Jamaica.
The approach to, and method of research on the problem
over the years has much to its credit, when one considers the
training and idiosyncrasies of the many scientists who have
worked on it, and especially since they were all working on a
disease whose pathogen could not be found. The years of hard
work have been worthwhile, although at times they were filled
with disappointments and frustrations. Step by step various
hypotheses and theories were tested, methodologies tried and
rejected or refined and adopted. Volumes of data were examin-
ed or recorded. Several young scientists found working on
this disease an invaluable training ground. Funding of various
research projects came not only from local sources but from
the United States AID funds, the United Nations Food and
Agricultural Organization, the University of the West Indies.
The symptoms of Lethal Yellowing are very striking and
easily recognizable. In young non-bearing palms, the fronds
first lose their natural sheen and the colour changes through
yellow to brown and dry up. The young heart-leaves develop
a basal rot, with some necrotic leaflets showing. The first and
readily noticed symptom on matured, bearing palms is usually
the shedding of nuts. This begins with the heavy water coco-
nuts stage, followed by the younger and the more matured
nuts, and finally by the dried ones.
In the case of the local Jamaica Tall variety, yellowing of
the fronds follows nutfall, and may either occur on scattered
leaflets, concentrated at the tip of the fronds, or involve a
whole frond at a time. Patchy or tip yellowing usually starts
in the middle of the crown and spreads toward the older and
younger fronds at the same time. Yellowing of whole fronds
usually starts with the oldest and progresses towards the
younger ones. The fronds may be shed at various stages of
yellowing or with the onset of browning. Usually, the upright
ones remain on the plant to fall later, as the crown breaks
Newly opened spathes show black or dark brown inflores-
cences, while the unopened ones turn brown and develop a
base rot. Young centre leaves go from green to brown, also
developing a basal rot and giving off a very foul odour. They
may stand upright or fall at an angle in the crown. It takes
from three to six months from the first symptom to the stage
where the dead crown falls away leaving the trunk upright.
The symptoms are about the same for other varieties of coco-
nuts, for example, the San Bias, Malayan Dwarf, and crosses
between these and the Jamaican Tall.
Since its discovery the disease moved slowly eastward, but
in 1961, it jumped a distance of about sixty miles, from Rio
Bueno the easterly margin of infection to an area near Buff
Bay in Portland. Here, five plants were positively identified
as dying from Lethal Yellowing. The disease started spreading
I .I i,
Bare trunks pointing skyward are the only remains of what
was once a flourishing coconut plantation.
slowly, then gathered momentum, and by June of the follow-
ing year five hundred and ten plants were killed. The whole
pattern of spread followed closely that observed in earlier
years in the west end of the island. In 1964 the first jump
spread from the new focus of infection was recorded ten miles
west of Buff Bay when diseased palms were observed near
Annotto Bay. In 1965 it was observed near Long Bay, about
twenty-four miles east of Buff Bay, and in the following year
it occurred at Albany and Richmond, which are five and seven
miles respectively west of Annotto Bay. Since then, there have
been several jumps and local spreads, and the disease is now in
several places on the south coast, even on the Liguanea Plains.
During the first sixty years since the discovery of the dis-
ease only piecemeal research was done and it was not until
1943 that the government of Jamaica employed a plant
pathologist Dr. E.B. Martyn to work on the disease. A year
later, he was joined by another plant pathologist, Dr. Robert
Leach, and they investigated such pathogens of plant diseases
as fungi, bacteria and nutritional deficiency; but without
About this time plant pathologists and entomologists, were
displaying much interest in plant diseases caused by viral
pathogens and this began to foster a belief that Lethal Yellow-
ing could be caused by a virus. The possibility that a root
pathogen, minor element deficiency or toxocity were causes
was not overlooked and in 1950 a Danish Virologist, Dr. H.P.
Hansen was engaged to investigate strontium as a cause. At the
end of his contract he reported negative results. The desire to
investigate fuigi and bacteria further became very strong and
the British government was requested to help and promptly
sent two scientists here, who did extensive studies on the two
pathogens but without any success. They also left the country
with the belief that Lethal Yellowing was caused by a viral
pathogen. They were the first persons to suggest the use of
resistant varieties of coconut to combat the effect of the
disease, and small test plots were planted in the disease-
After the British team left there was a lull in research for
about six years. In 1962 a world-renowned virologist, Dr.
Walter Carter,was employed by the United Nations Food and
Agricultural Organization and sent to Jamaica to work on the
disease, and this marked the beginning of a multi-disciplinary
approach to the problem. Dr. Carter headed a team compris-
ing a nematologist and many workers, including the author,
employed to the Ministry of Agriculture. This team did exten-
sive work on virus, fungi, bacteria, nematode and trace ele-
ments. About this time the Coconut Industry Board's research
department became actively involved in the problem and
began the important job of collecting and breeding coconut
varieties and testing these for disease resistance. The first test
plot was established at Kildare in Portland, with 1,400 plants
In the foreground, a
nursery of Lethal
seedlings and in the
plants growing to
replace those killed by
consisting of several varieties and crosses. The Carter team
examined the techniques of several previous workers and
tested most of the accepted methods of virus transmission,
but failed to find a pathogen or to transmit the disease.
The team ceased work on the problem in 1965 and in the
following year a new team of Dr. T.J. Grant from the U.S.A.,
Mr. R. E. Grylls from Australia and Mr. N. A. Bors from
Holland was assembled. They had some assistance from Pro-
fessor D. Roberts of the University of Florida, and later were
joined by Dr. Peter Hunt of the University of the West Indies,
who has continued his involvement on the project to the
In 1968 a team made up of Professor Kurt Heinze from
Germany and Mr. Mark Schuiling from Holland took over
where the previous team left off, and worked until the middle
of 1971. But before they were to go at last a dramatic break-
II ^3^ 1"-%a
through was made, namely that a newly recognized plant
disease pathogen called mycroplasma was discovered in Lethal
Yellowing disease plant tissues and not in health tissues. This
discovery was made almost simultaneously by Drs. Karl
Maramorosch and B. Plaxusic-Banjak at the Boyce Thompson
Institute in New York and Dr. Beryl Beakbane at the East
Mailing Research Station in England. The materials were
prepared and sent to both institutions by the Lethal Yellowing
research team in Jamaica.
Although mycoplasma was only recently found in diseased
plants, thanks to the development of the electron microscope,
in less than seven years research has been done on it. It is
described as a tiny micro-organism, partly resembling bacter-
ia and partly virus. It is now found in many diseased previous-
ly thought to have been caused by Yellows virus. Lethal Yel-
lowing diseased palm fronds do turn yellow as the plant dies.
The discovery of a possible pathogen, on which much
active research is going on, added new life to the work on
Lethal Yellowing disease. Efforts will be made to establish
positively if mycoplasma is the pathogen. The knowledge that
it is transmitted chiefly by a sucking insect has narrowed the
search for a vector to this group of insects. Researchers are
aware that even if everything proves successful, it may be many
years before a cure for Lethal Yellowing is found. But if the
pathogen can be transmitted easily, this will speed up the
work in testing for resistant varieties of coconut.
A new team of scientists, comprising mainly entomologists
will now tackle the problem and it is hoped that this result at
last in the taming of a disease that, like cancer, has proven
disastrous and frustratingly elusive.
*4J -. *1
Mi'coplasm, magnified about 225,000 times.
A SAMPLING OF
The year of Jamaica's official independence, 1962, is a figure
of inconvenience, pointing to nothing more than constitutional
documents and flag-lowering. And yet we are conventionally
constrained to use the number 10, which is only a measure- of
Time, as if it were a magic touchstone with power to indicate
progress or mere change or retrogression. It is easy to be com-
forted or deceived by figures.
In Jamaican literature and art, an independence of spirit began
to show itself more than 25 years before the Union Jack was
lowered and the retrospective collection of literature in the
following pages must take its piquancy fron the fact that this
writing was produced at a time when it was unthinkable that the
Union Jack would ever be lowered, symbolically, in our land.
This random sampling of Jamaica's "early making" is presented
here as an example of the first flowering of an independent
creative spirit; and we especially wish to draw the attention of the
younger generation of writers and readers to this early work.
Most of the writings in these pages were first published in the
remarkable literary magazine FOCUS edited by Edna Manley in
1943, 1948, 1956 and 1960. It is appropriate therefore that her
sculpture, .NEGRO AROUSED, should end the collection of
George Campbell's poems and that the illustrations should be
done by the distinguished artists, Carl Abrahams and Albert Huie-
two important yeasts in that early fermentation.
We deeply regret that limitations of space prevented us from
including early plays like Frank Hill's Betrayal and George
Campbell's Play without Scenery.
A foreign writer reveiwing Jamaica's literature in 1962 la-
mented what he called the unfulfilment of our writers' promise -
the failure to produce Apocalypse. But Apocalypse cannot be
promised or predicted when it will come. Are we approaching it,
for instance, in the work of younger poets like Mervyn Morris,
Dennis Scott and Anthony McNeill and does their work follow in
a recognisable line of development from the earlier poets? What-
ever the final answers to these questions may be, we have these
achieved poems and pieces of prose and, at a time when there is
very little else to be joyful about, we make their re-publication
here an occasion for Celebration.
Illustrations by Albert Huie
But this night is momentuous:
You and I trees planted far apart
Trying to touch one another. You trying
To understand, and I the wind pleading through
My leaves; what keeps the distance?
And mark, you have been planted centuries
Before me, and are strong. While I so
Sudden in your life surviving the strength
That vanquished others, and now worried to death
How peacefully to whisper under your shade
Embracing your leaves and mine to win together.
We went out into the
moonlight last night
We went out into the moonlight last night,
Into rich liquid, suffusing every
Thing; untouchable, intangible, it
Drank in our bodies; there was completeness
Fuller than man's contact with woman
Oneness complete than upon a horse.
We climbed the wet hill into the flush that,
Surrounding us, caressing, kissing us,
Swept us from ourselves, and we slid to find
The world an orange mellowness, just like golden twilight.
Then we sat on the barbecues and looked
Down grade on ghost like moonlight through the
Guava trees; like an aged orchard, as if
Time with its memories, peace, forgetfulness
Had stopped, was still in its graveyard around
The hazy guava trees.
O moonlight, face of time, completeness, we
Were eternal, unearthy and part of God.
(St. Ann, Sept. 1938)
I hold the splendid daylight in my hands
-'. Inwardly grateful for a lovely day.
Thank you life.
Daylight like a fine fan spread from my hands
SDaylight like scarlet poinsettia
Daylight like yellow cassia flowers
Daylight like clean water
Daylight like green cacti
Daylight like'sea sparkling with white horses
Daylight like sunstrained blue sky
Daylight like tropic hills
Daylight like a sacrament in my hands.
It was his serenity
Brought me sanity.
There was no lust in his eyes
No look of surprise
At my naked flesh
To be caught in the mesh
Of the loveliness
That had bored my ears.
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 of my womb.
Say, is my skin beautiful? -
Soft as velvet,
As deep as the blackness of a weeping night.
And my teeth? --
Like ivory tusks,
As white as the sea foam that catches light.
Say, is my hair beautiful? -
As a bear's coat,
As bright as chips of black marble found in oil.
And my muscles? -
Like a tiger's back,
You are as pleasing as of wet rich soil.
Say, are my eyes beautiful? -
Like wet marble,
As valuable as pearls in oysters found at sea.
And my mind? -
Last Queries Like bright sunlight,
Wonderful you would be if you were free!
Say, is my voice beautiful? -
As fine a music as ever cheered us here,
And my strength? -
Durable as iron,
It's a pity to be with such despair.
Illustrations by Albert Huie
Say, are my sacrifices beautiful? -
Like a mother's,
As noble as the martyrdom of the saint
And my love? -
Like unto woman's.
Say, are my features beautiful?
As a great mountain's
As strong as the ruggedness that graces the poor.
And my hope? -
Like a discoverer's
Alas! that we will never open wide our door!
Could my death be beautiful? -
Like a fallen rose
As quietly as a gentle wind dies at sea.
In death could I be beautiful? -
Like wet black marble
Oh misery! poor youth and the world needs thee.
It was his serenity
That held me so
I would not go
Away from the side
Of man enticed.
His passions denied
For his way of life.
They come to me and tread my soul
They come to me and take their toll
And ever am I brimming full.
But you digging the roads
They rate you as a human bull
O you burdened with loads
They pass you by, they laugh along,
They steal your ways, your words, your song.
Illustrations by Albert Huie
Women stone breakers
Hammers and rocks
Tired child makers
Hard white piles
Under hot sky
In the gully bed.
Women child bearers
Wilful toil sharers
Hammers and rocks.
Holy be the white head of a Negro.
Sacred be the black flax of a black child.
The golden down
That will stream in the waves of the winds
And will thin like dispersing cloud.
Heads of Chinese hair
Sea calm sea impersonal
Deep flowering of the mellow and traditional.
Heads of peoples fair
Bright shimmering from the riches of their species;
Heads of Indians
With feeling of distance and space and dusk:
Heads of wheaten gold,
Heads of people dark
So strong so original:
All of the earth and the sum! (1941)
The Last Negro
Illustration by Albert Huie
Mountain Pine Trees
Fine lines the pines
Green light entwines
Old dawning gold;
Which winds are bold
That do not leave
Their hearts to grieve.
Old tents the pines
Green flames the blaze
Where the sun's rose
Knows the wind's ways;
Wild freedom's sigh
The winds blow by.
Soft lines the pines
Sun light entwines;
What singer knows
Which silent hill
What winds are still
What spirits shrieve.
Green flaming wilderness!
White jagged rocks of faith!
The last Negro moves across the world
In his flesh Time's loins
By his side Time's children.
Way back in 1940
There was murder.
Dawn bent its rose face
Kissed a black animal
Woman of the Negro race
Lovely black animal.
Way back in 1930
There was a lynching
He was dangling
And survived his tree.
Spirit in physical
Death is no end of faith!
The last Negro looks into the sun
Into the gold flames
Feeling the heat of stars
And close is God
For Time is God is Man
And peace is chaos.
These people with their golden fruit
Their black hands offer golden suns;
The breeding land breeds their roots
In mountains, valleys, river-runs
Bright tropic days.
These people with their scarlet heads
Bear baskets of their golden fruit
Down blue streets
Into market beds
Of leaf green heaps
And crimson blaze
They stoop before their golden fruit.
O swirling star
Pine needles are
Through twisted heaven
Dawn winded, driven;
What old wind goes
Which heart is rose?
by Edna Manley
Photo by Derek Jones
Illustration by Carl Abrahams
I shall wait for the moon to rise
I shall sit here and wait for the moon to rise,
And when she shall look at me
From over the mountain-tops of tall bleak buildings
And come smiling down the valleys of the streets,
I shall ask her here to sit with me
In a Chinese garden, under a divi-divi tree.
And a maiden golden like the moon shall come
Wearing a clean white apron
And I shall show her a bright new sixpence
And bid her shut her eyes
And paint with the pigments of all her dreams
The broad brave canvas of the skies.
And she will think: 'He is a little mad -
Decidedly, he is a little mad!'
I shall sit here and wait for the moon to rise.
(from FACE and other stories, 1943)
As he pushed the door open with his foot and entered the hut,
the woman came quickly toward him out of the semi-darkness
and peered into his face. Her movements were sudden and silent
and fearful, like an animal in a cage.
'Why you come,' she said, in that strained, hushed voice, peer-
ing into his face. 'You know you shouldn't come here.'
He laughed and strode pasther into the room with an assumed
swagger that somehow filled her with fear, although she could
not tell why.
'I wanted to see you,' he said. 'Aren't you glad to see me?'
She nodded without answering.
'Oh, come,' he said, with a show of impatience. 'It's all right.
Even if he were to find me here now, he wouldn't dare to do a
thing. He'd be too scared of what I could do to him.'
Outside the dusk was changing from sepia to mauve, and the
coconut trees that leaned out toward the sea against the wind,
and only the marled road that led to Roselle, White Horses and
beyond, glinted white between the trees. She closed the door
behind him and stood there half-crouching in the darkness be-
The man laughed again, jerking a chair forward with the toe
of his boot, and seating himself on it.
'They hanged twenty seven more of them in the muster-yard
today,' he said, passing his hands down his legs and smiling at her.
Still she cowered by the door.
'Come here,' he said, softly.
She came and stood before him, negatived, without any will
of her own.
Because from life I fiercely fled,
Because I hated so the glib hypocrisy of light,
And preferred my appointment with eternal night,
I was glad for my election to the exclusive dead.
I thought I had at last escaped the noise -
The clamour of tongues, the intrusion of curious eyes;
Until one came presently, weeping to my grave -
One whom on earth, beholding, did my thoughts enslave -
(Ah yet within me how her memory quickens, laughs!)
Interrupting my quiet rest with epitaphs.
in FACE and other stories 1943)
He put his hands out and touched her caressingly. He drew her
unresisting on to his knees.
'There. Nobody's going to hurt you. Not as long as I'm around.
Why are you trembling?'
'Supper,' she said. 'I was fixin' the table when you come in.
An' you must be hungry.'
'You said it. And thirsty too. Got any liquor in the house?'
She went into the other room and brought out a bottle of rum
and took a glass from the shelf. She sat them on the table beside
him, with a little pitcher of coconut-water.
He poured himself out a generous helping of rum and filled up
the glass with coconut-water.
'They flogged so many of them today that even the Provost-
Marshall was tired of watching it. One poor devil whose back was
raw like a piece of beefsteak turned his face toward the Provost-
Marshall and ground his teeth. For that he had him hanged. The
poor fellow was near gone. When they loosed him from the gun-
barrel he could scarcely stand.'
There was a curious note of mingled amusement and contempt
in his voice.
'What did he do?' she asked. 'Was he one of them who burned
down the court house and killed the magistrates?'
'How the hell should I know,' he answered roughly. 'All I know
he was a nigger, and they caught him because he was running
'But that doesn't mean he was guilty of anything. People run
away when they see the soldiers and militiamen coming because
they are frightened. They shoot them or flog them if they run
away, and they flog them and hang them if they don't. Lawd
Jesus, what is goin' to happen to us all.'
'Don't be a fool,' he said, roughly. 'You've nothing to fear.
Nobody's going to hurt you, not while I'm around.'
'Have they caught him yet?'
'Bogle? No. But they will, don't you worry. And when they
do, you bet he'll catch it.'
'Lawd Jesus,' she said in the same dull voice. 'Don't they show
no mercy to no one?'
'Mercy!' He laughed. 'Those niggers started it, didn't they?
The Colonel told one man last week they were going to cut out a
hundred black men's hearts for each hair on every white man's
head they touched. A hundred black men's hearts, that's what he
said. They'll learn them niggers, you bet.'
He felt the urge to talk to someone tonight. Might be her as
well as anyone else. He would just let himself talk and talk, be-
cause that was what he wanted to do. He wouldn't go into any
details about, well, about anything. She would learn all about
that tomorrow when she was down at the spring gossiping with
the other women. Time enough then, he thought.
But tonight he wanted to talk.
This wholesale butchery of the black people went against his
stomach, but what could he do about it. Hadn't Governor Eyre
himself ordered it, and hadn't he personally arranged and super-
vised the first killings on the parade ground. The courts martial
were a travesty of justice. The people were not given any oppor-
tunity to call evidence on their behalf. A man was accused by
someone, and sentence was passed on him summarily after the
briefest examination. Such was the order of the day.
People who had had nothing to do with the revolution at all,
people in Kingston and other places far removed from the scene,
for no other crime than that of criticising the Governor and his
administration of the affairs of the island, were brought down in
irons on board the gunboats Wolverene and Onyx, to Morant Bay,
and there tried by Court Martial and sentenced to be flogged or
hanged, or both. They were brought to Morant Bay or Port
Morant because it was only the eastern part of the island that was
under martial law. So people were illegally transferred from other
parts of the island that they might be tried and executed by this
military court that the' Governor had set up here. Among these
political prisoners were journalists, lawyers, and ministers of
religion. He had been present at some of these so-called trials.
'What is your name?' the Provost-Marshall barked at one of
the men standing before him.
'Kelly Smith,' said the man.
I knowyou damned well. Your name is William Kelly Smith -
if you don't stand properly I'll give you one hundred lashes.'
His eyes roved along the line of men before him.
'What is that man doing there? Give him a dozen,' he snapped.
The man was immediately taken out and a dozen lashes given him.
One man who gave his name as the Rev. J.H. Crole had the
perspiration running down his face. He put his handkerchief up
to his face.
'That man is winking at his fellow-prisoner; take him out and
give him a dozen,' said the Provost-Marshall.
'I was not doing anything,' the man said.
'Give him another dozen for saying that,'snapped the Provost-
Marshall. And the man was taken out.
After the stripes were administered to all of them and their
names taken down they were ordered to lie down.
'Lie down, you parcel of damned brutes!' shrieked the Provost-
Marshall. 'Damned brutes! Damned Baptist brutes! Damned poli-
tical brutes! Lie down.'
He turned to the Sergeant and said: 'Have you any bread?
Give these brutes a bread each.'
A half loaf of bread was given to each of the men.
That was just one of the many scenes he had witnessed with
his own eyes.
She put a plate of steaming food before him.
'Here, have a drink,' he said. 'Bring another glass.'
'No. I can't drink. It goes to me head, an' makes me act all
'Oh come on,' he urged, pouring himself out another drink of
estate rum. 'Where's your glass?'
'Well then, just a little one,' she said, taking down a glass from
the shelf and wiping it with her apron.
'They say the Governor himself is bringing down George
William Gordon from Kingston in irons on board the gunboat
Wolverene. They're going to hang him too.'
'Oh, no,' she said, putting her hand to her mouth. 'But they
can't hang Mr. Gordon. He never done nothing.'
'Don't you believe it. He's at the root of all this trouble. Ever
since Baron von Ketelhodt kicked him out of the Parish Vestry
he's sworn to get even with them all. Else why should he have
started all this trouble? So he can have a chance to get even with
all those people who are his enemies, that's why. He wants to
make himself President or Dictator of this country, that's what.
Else why should he have set Bogle on, tell me that?'
'I don't believe it,' she said, shaking her head. 'Mr. Gordon is a
good man. He is a friend of the poor people. He never had any-
thing to do with this rebellion. He's a peace-loving man, a man of
'That old hypocrite! Anyway, the Governor thinks otherwise,
and they're going to make him swing, you take my word. They
say Governor Eyre is bringing him down here himself, so he can
have him tried by court martial, and you know what that means.
Say'what's happened to him?' He jerked his thumb in the direct-
ion of an old coat hanging from a peg on the wall.
The terrified look came back into her eyes.
'I haven't seen him in three days,' she said. 'I'm afraid ......:
'You're not lying to me, are you?'
'It's God's truth,' she said, swallowing hard. 'Maybe maybe
oh, I don't know. I don't know.'
'Maybe he's got his, you mean.' He laughed a little contemp-
tuously. 'I'll bet he got it running away, then like so many of
them did. They burned me out flat, the bastards, when they burn-
ed down the book-keepers' quarters at the estate. Anyway I'm
not complaining. I haven't done so bad myself. At Somerset there
was an old man named Wallace. Sixty pounds I took from a tin
case under his bed. Fancy that. How the hell he ever got that
much money I'd like to know. Sixty pounds! The old miser. And
that's nothing. Say, what are you taking on about! Who told
these damned niggers to start all this trouble. Serves them right, I
say. They deserve all they get. Come on, drink up and quit acting
like you got the shivers.'
'I got the shivers all right,' she said. 'I'm scared plenty, that's
what. I'm scared to leave the house, and I'm scared to stay here
alone. They're flogging and hanging women too; Oh God!'
'Come on, snap out of it, do you hear? I don't want any of
that. Besides, what have you got to worry about. Ain't nobody
going to harm you. Leastways not while I'm around.'
He looked at her hard and knowingly, with a faint curl at the
corner of his lips. 'You understand. Not as long as I'm around.'
'You better eat your supper. It's getting cold,' she said.
'Aren't you eating?'
'No. I'm not hungry.'
He looked at her with faint amusement.
'You're a funny kid,' he said. 'But I like you. You mulatto girls
have got something, all right. Beats me what it is.
He started eating the food she had placed before him, slowly,
'What beats me,' he said, with his mouth full, 'is that nobody
took the trouble to bury those bodies that were out there in the
sun after the first day. I mean the Baron and the other magistrates
who got killed by Bogle's men. A lot of foolish rumours been
goin' around that the niggers mutilated their victims, but it ain't
true. Just a lot of damned lies, that's all. Niggers are all bad, I'm
not saying no; but they don't do that. All those bodies were out
there in the street ripening to carrion in the sun, and nobody
thought to bury them. And after a bit, you couldn't see the sky
for John Crows. What'd you expect!'
He had an itch to talk tonight, to keep his thoughts from re-
volving around one thing, to madness. She, just sat and watched
him eating, in silence.
When he was finished he wiped his mouth with the back of his
hand, and pushed back his chair from the table. He looked at her
steadily for a moment.
It was true, she didn't know where her husband was. He could
see that. And it was just as well. No doubt she would have news
of him in a day or two at the most. Things have a way of getting
'Come here,' he said.
She rose and went up to him, meekly. He took her unceremon-
iously in his arms.
'There's something about you mulatto girls,' he said, huskily.
'What it is beats me.'
He got up and stretched himself.
'Let's go into the next room,' he said.
'No,' she said, suddenly resolute. 'You' shouldn't come here.
If he was to find you here ....'
Again the man uttered that same contemptuous laugh.
'No, he wouldn't do a thing. And what's more you know it.
He's too scared for his black skin.'
'Say,' he said, suddenly taking hold of her by the shoulders and
looking down into her face. 'You not sickening for him, are you.
She tried to pull away, but he only held her the harder.
'Don't talk foolish.' She tried to meet his stare unflinchingly.
'You wouldn't be trying to fool me now, would you?'
'Who should know better than you,' she said, bitterly.
He laughed again, and said with a sudden reckless toss of his
head. 'Go in there. You go in first. I'll be right behind you.'
She went without further demur.
He put out the light, and in the darkness she somehow seemed
more real to him, more tangible.
Even after his first passion was spent there was something
curiously exciting to be lying in this bed with her beside him.
Something that tingled in his blood and made him restless.
After a bit he turned over on his side and tried to sleep. But
his thoughts were playing him curious tricks tonight.
For one thing he couldn't put out of his mind the face of the
woman's husband. He kept seeing it all the time. Grim and shut
with pain. The face of the man turned toward them; the little
group about the Provost-Marshall. Shut too with the determina-
tion that he would not cry out under the measured strokes of the
'cat.' The teeth ground together hard to keep that cry of pain
from bursting from his lips. And the Provost-Marshall's level voice:
'Take that man down and hang him.'
He turned over on his other side.
'Are you asleep?' he said.
'No,' she said. 'I'm not sleepy.'
He reached out a hand and touched her smooth skin
'It's a bloody shame,' he said. 'They oughtn't to let them
stories get around. It's the John Crows done it, I know that for a
fact. But what would you expect, with all them corpses ripe to
burstin' in the sun.'
(from AND MOST OF ALL MAN, 1942)
In this man's town today
In this man's town today there are only two kinds of people.
Either you are, or you are not a Good Thing. There are no half
measures, either. And just as well.
Stella standing on the sidewalk waiting for the bus. Or waiting
for the boy friend. Or just waiting. For we really don't know yet.
Is hailed by two three boys passing. Faces sharp. Leaned against
the wind. Converging upon space. Impinging upon nothing ... or
the wind. Their chins. Their resolute chins! Resisting nothing. Not
their own inclinations so much as those sharpened profiles the
only force that opposes. The thrust of the wind in their faces.
Their resolute chins raised to the wind!
She has remarkably fine legs, Stella. Even in this competitive
age you would call them really fine legs. She has five pennies in
her purse. She counted them when she made change for a pair of
silk stockings and a flower and some ribbon for a hat from a
pound, at Issa's. She counts them over again, in her mind. Five-
pence five pennies. Change from a pound note. It's on account
of the war. But she doesn't mind doing her bit, taking it with the
rest. Look at those poor people in that place that got bombed the
other day. She never was good at geography.
This was something after three, which (with stagger-closing)
puts it about the time when the Devil takes his afternoon walk
News Item: They are rationing gasolene strictly these days.
Only people with special licenses can get even a gallon over.
Don't look at me!
She waves them along their way. Stella. The boy friends.
'Come on,' he says. 'Who's coming?'
They are for the Club. You can sit on the verandah and watch
a game of cricket. For those who don't like sitting around doing
nothing watching others getting all the exercise there is
always the chance of a game of poker.
So we sit on the club verandah after a strenuous day's work
and sip our drinks. And talk about the heat and sip our drinks.
And talk about direct taxation and the bombing plane fund. And
talk about this business of gasolene rationing, and Kirkwood's
speech in the Legislative Council. And talk about Constantine
and Clarence Passalaigue. Boy! Those were the days!
'What you think about the war?' For we also talk about the
'I think if we had a few more of those impenetrable jungles
things mightn't be going quite so good for the Japs.'
'Looks like that to me. Tch! A pity.'
'I see that fellow Cripps is in India now ...
'Funny thing, that chap's name always reminds me of some-
body else. Someone who was quite famous in my day for some-
thing. I've forgotten what. Crippen. Cripps ... Crippen. You see
what I mean?'
But of course we talk about other things too. I will have you
know we are quite progressive and thoroughly enlightened. We
even discuss local politics among ourselves at the club.
'That fellow Manley ... mind you I like the straightforward
way he talks. And I believe him to be an honest man. But some-
how I don't trust him. You mark my words ... Dashed clever
'But it's a fact that we can't feed ourselves in Jamaica, you
know. Only last week I saw someone saying the same thing in the
papers. What I've been telling you chaps all along.'
'No New Constitution will ever be able to work in Jamaica
without universal suffrage, and a two-house legislative council.
You've got to be broad-minded these days. Less conservative.
Why, man, in England they have two houses. What's good for
them ought to be good for us.'
'Same thing Scotter says.'
'In England they don't have a Governor, though. With the
power of veto. Besides, the House of Lords ....'
'But can't you see the two-house system would put an end to
all that? Smith says so.'
'Well yes, of course. I suppose he must be right. What are you
And about the same time Saint Peter was walking down King
'Where are you going, Peter?'
'Well now, wouldn't you like to know.'
'Oh, come off it, Peter. You should know better than anyone
that I'm not quite as black as they try to paint me. It's just that
people must have someone to whom they can pass the buck.
You're not telling me that you are sold on all that propaganda
about me, are you?'
'Well, it's like this, Nick er, Lucifer ....
'I know, I know. You don't have to explain. But shall we go
along together. I could point you out a place or two of sin that
would make your eyes pop . All right, all right. No need to
draw yourself up, your Holiness. It's not a brothel I'm taking you
to. Ha ha, you'd be surprised . You would, Peter!'
He's still laughing to himself as he takes Peter's somewhat
'Talking about respectability,' he said.
'But we weren't talking about respectability,' Peter protests
'Never mind that,' said Satan. You can skip all that. Talking
about this business of bourgeois respectability .. .' he said, as they
passed out of earshot.
Once upon a time we used to call those fellows flat-chested,
weedy. Now we call them jitterbugs. But when you say to a
'You you jitterbug!'
It's only the modern, stream-lined way of saying, 'My hero!'.
That's Victorian. That's out. Nowadays we don't go around saying
'My hero!' to a chap. Unless to give him what amounts to a poke
in the eye.
'Oh, you jitterbug!' See? That's 1942. That's saying he's a G.T.
Something plus in pants. And if happen you're not a G.T.
Stella is still standing at the street corer counting her change
from a pound note after she has bought the trimmings for a cer-
tain hat, and a pair of new silk stockings. Five pennies. She stamps
her foot with annoyance. But it isn't about that.
Well, if any guy thinks he can stand her up, he's got another
guess coming. She's got a jolly good mind to send that bit of small
change about his business. A bicycle built for two! The nerve of
him! Well other people manage to get gas, don't they? What's the
use to have a swanky new roadster and no gas to run it on! Ada's
boyfriend is still rolling around on four wheels, isn't he? And that
high-powered, super-charged chariot don't run on air! No use his
trying to come that one on her.
'.. or shall we have each new baby born into the world,' the
Devil was saying, 'appropriately labelled With the Compliments
of. . and the name of the proprietory deity tagged on to it?
Surely it is time that the gods of this world should assume some
sort of responsibility for their proteges. They could stage a walk
out strike and force their hands, you know. There is nothing
like collective bargaining... '
Down a little lane off Tower Street one man was explaining
to another in a loud voice that he had been to jail five times
already for cutting people open. And that he didn't mind going
back again for him.
'Cho! you don't mind him,' a woman said, tugging at the
man's arm. 'Him always in voice for somebody.'
'So help me,' the first man was saying, 'Ah will open you up
wid a knife. Ah will go to jail for you.'
And in an office in the upstairs of a building not far off one
girl was explaining to another about the absence of the typist for
whom she was acting.
'She's gone home to have a baby for the boss ...
Sure he's a Good Thing!'
'Oh no, I wasn't knocking,' said the young man with quiet
sarcasm, 'I was only testing the place for termites.'
'You don't have to be rude. I was busy, that's why I didn't
'I understand. I heard you,' said the impudent young man
with a smile.
O perpetual revolution of configured stars, ....
A boy studying the lines, suddenly, after many repetitions,
conceives a meaning in them ...
0 perpetual recurrence of determined seasons,
0 world of spring and autumn, birth and dying!
The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;'.....
He is learning the part. He belongs, as likely as not, to the
Dramatic Class of the Junior Centre at the Institute. Suddenly the
lines impinge upon his mind. Take hold of him. Something in them
reaches out and touches him. He has established that mystical
contact with the mind of the poet.
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, but ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Bring us farther from God and nearer to the Dust.*
The boy stops reading and closes the book shut upon his fore-
finger. Something is whirling around inside his head. He cannot
read anymore. Because of that whirling inside his head. There is a
whole Cosmos of whirling configurations going round and round
inside his head. He suddenly starts walking. Reeling a little as he
walks, like one who is filled with strong drink.
'... you know darned well, Baby,
I can't give you anything but lurve ...'
A voice crooning over the radio in a respectable middleclass
suburb somewhere in lower St. Andrew. For an elderly lady cosy
with her knitting. For a couple of schoolgirls with their cheeks
pressed into their joined hands. For a weary shopgirl who has
kicked off her shoes and thrown herself across the bed, after
switching on the set and wetting her face with cold water. For
a young couple practising some new dance steps, with their hips
mostly. For . but why bother to enumerate the list.
The man at the Club is still beating his fist against the palm
of his hand. 'You can't have a New Constitution,' he says, 'unless
you have a two-house representation. That's just commonsense,
and any man who says it isn't is talking through his hat.'
The trouble with phrases like that is no one is forced to pay a
fine every time he utters one of them . 'the Hon. Erasmus
Campbell our little fighting barrister now there's a man who
has got the courage of his convictions....'
Then someone taps him respectfully on the shoulder.'That'll
cost you half-a-crown,' he says. And you pay up, or .. That
would save people from repeating those things just because they
have heard them somewhere 'The courage of his convic-
tions'.... Things like that.
Someone was saying the other day he would like to abolish all
churches so that a man could worship God in his heart. A funny
idea that, don't you think. After all, places of worship are surely
... well, surely ... Well, what I mean is there ought to be places
set aside for worship, dash it! And people ought to be made to go
to those places. Talk about a man worshipping God in his own
heart! That sounds like rank communism.
And you can't have the two things. Communism and Christ.
Who says we can't?
Well, you can't that's all. Anyway I don't propose to answer
any such frivolous questions.
Sam, Ada's boy friend, is passing by in his swanky new high-
powered roadster, that never seems to be without gas in the tank.
Though how he manages it I'm sure I don't know. Sam pulls up
to the curb.
'Taxi, lady?' He leans out from under the rakish looking cowl.
'Sure,' says Stella.
She steps in as he opens the door for her.
If any guy thinks he can stand her up, he's got another guess
coming, that's all.
Ada's boy friend ... Now there is a Good Thing!
*From The Rock by T.S. Eliot.
The high-powered motor whirls them away.
'As I was saying,' Satan remarked. 'You take this business of
respectability. That's all the egg the rooster laid'...
'That's all the what,' said Peter.
'Rooster's eggs, my dear fellow. Ha-ha, I see you haven't got a
proper slant on our modern slang.'
(from FACE and other stories, 1943)
AMOS STARTED PLAYING a few tentative notes on the
accordion. He felt as a dog feels after he has just been whipped
for something. He wanted to rehabilitate himself in Jake's esteem
And Jake said, sitting down, clasping his hands about his knees:
'That's right, Amos. Let her go. Play.'
'What you have a fancy for?'
'Anything, just let her rip.'
But before Amos could get properly started there was an
interruption. Two elderly men came into the blacksmith's shop.
They were Massa Butty and Tata Joe, two old cronies, and a
couple of busybodies on top of that. They came in now and sat
down without waiting to be asked. And Jake said, grinning at
them, 'Take a seat, Massa Butty, take a seat, Tata Joe.'
And the two old cronies looked at each other and shook their
heads and laughed.
They said, together: 'Jake! He's a one for his joke!' as though
they had rehearsed it.
The moment the two old men came in, Amos got up and slunk
out of the shop, and nobody even noticed when he went.
'Well, Jake?' said Massa Butty, resting his hands on his knees,
and leaning forward a bit. 'How goes it?'
And Tata Joe said: 'How goes?'
Jake grunted non-committally.
'Just dropped in to say "Howdy",' said Massa Butty.
'Passin' by, you know,' said Tata Joe.
Massa Butty said again: 'How's things Jake?'
And Jake said: 'Fine. Like I said before.'
Tata Joe laughed, shook his head: 'This Jake!'
Massa Butty laughed too. Suddenly stopped laughing, looked
about the shop. 'Hm! What happened to your friend? He was here
when we come in'
'Guess he must have gone out again. Don't mind him. He isn't
used to company.'
The two old men laughed, as though he had given them a joke.
They slapped their thighs, and rocked back and forth, laughing.
'This Jake!' they said together, rubbing their eyes.
'Must have his little joke.'
Then Massa Butty became serious all of a sudden.
'He said: 'Jake, we been thinking ...'
'Yes, Jake, we been thinking,' said Tata Joe.
'What! The two of you together? Don't tell me!'
'Yes Jake, we been putting' our old heads together,' said
'Massa Butty here, an' me; the two of us together,' said
'All right,' said Jake. 'So what?'
Massa Butty leaned forward slightly, fixed him with his gaze.
'You think it's right you should be doing this?' he said.
'Why not?' said Jake. 'What's wrong with me now?'What's
wrong with what I'm doing? I'm minding my own business, I'm
not harming anyone.'
'Tsk! Tsk! Don't take it like that, Jake,' said Tata Joe. We're
'Friends of your father before you, we were.'
'That's right. We was friends of your pa before you was born.'
Jake said, patiently: 'I know.'
'You're fit for better things, Jake,' said Tata Joe.
'Like what, for instance?' said Jake.
'Things that take your kind of education,' said Massa Butty.
'You mean to be a blacksmith all your life?'
'What's wrong with being a blacksmith?' said Jake.
'And with your education, the learning' you've got,' said Tata
Joe, scratching his old head. 'You'd just be throwing yourself
'You're not happy here, Jake. I know it. And the reason is
you should be doing something else. Bigger things. You could be
a Public Works foreman as easy as that!
Massa Butty snapped his fingers in the air before him.
'Yes, man,' said Tata Joe, nodding his head, 'With the learning'
'They're building a new road through Burnt Hill right now...
'Or even a school teacher. I wouldn't put it past you.'
'Why don't you go away, Jake? said Massa Butty, suddenly,
out of a little silence, in which they just sat and shook their heads.
Jake got up quickly: 'So that's it, eh!'
'Now don't get us wrong, Jake,' said Massa Butty. 'It's not
that we aren't proud to have you in the district, eh, Tata Joe?'
'Not anything like that at all, Massa Butty.'
Jake took two steps inside the shop a bit, and two steps back
again. He struck the palm of his hand with his fist. He said:
'I'm much obliged to you, friends. But let me try and show
you something. If there was no one to carry on this trade, what
would happen to all the people around who need a blacksmith to
mend or make things for them? Tell me that.'
He smiled at them with great tolerance, looking from one to
the other. Then, because they had no answer for him, he went on.
'From the day I fixed old Mother Bado's bedspring for her,'
a little smile of reminiscence twitched the corners of his lips,
'her pains left her, and she has never been bothered with them
since. You think that's nothing? I done more for that old woman
than all the doctors she ever been to done for her. And she's
never forgotten it, either. Every time she passes this way she
stops and has a chat God bless her.'
He looked from one to the other; they were not looking at
him. The little smile deepened at the covers of his lips.
'People say, and rightly too, even though it may sound like
boasting, that Jake the blacksmith, that's me, can make or mend
most anything from a pin to an anchor, from a bedspring to a
tombstone, from a hasp-and-staple to a sewing machine.'
The two men nodded their heads in silent agreement, and
after a bit Jake went on:
'I might have found other things to do that I liked better,
that would bring in more money, perhaps; but nothing that would
have served the needs of a greater number of people. My father
owned this shop before me. He didn't think himself too good to
be a blacksmith. He gave me opportunities he never had. But
that doesn't mean he fixed it so I'd be too good to work, as he
did, at this trade. It suits me.'
There was silence in the shop when he had finished speaking.
Presently Massa Butty started speaking, but tentatively, as though
he was not quite sure of his ground:
'I know there's other things you're interested in,' he said,
jerking his head in the direction of the loft behind him. 'All that
goes on back there .. with all the mystery about it. I'm not try-
ing to say it isn't a fine thing for a man to be able to do them
things, but what's it get you? That's what I'd like to know.'
Jake laughed: 'Don't let it worry you,' he said, rising as though
to signify that the interview was over. 'Anyway it was mighty
good of you two old friends of my father's to drop in on me like
this. How's my goddaughter Esmeralda, Tata Joe?'
'She's doin' fine, Jake,' said Tata Joe. 'She sends howdy for
'That reminds me, I got something for her. Won't be a minute.'
He went back into the room.
The two men stood in the entrance of the shop. They looked
at each other, shook their heads. Jake had gone into a little room
just behind the shop.
'He's been a different man, Tata Joe, ever since the woman
run away,' said Massa Butty.
'Beats me how he stands that muggin, Amos, around him all
the time, like that,' said Tata Joe.
'For all that I say he's better rid of her the little fly-by-night
bitch! said Massa Butty, venomously, and spat out the door.
'Always held them yaller-skin lowland gals never brought no good
with them. They're bad luck, that's what.'
'And as the saying goes, that's worse than obeah. I wonder
what he's got in there for Esmeralda?'
'Sure to be something that ain't a sight of good to anyone.'
'S-s-sh! He's coming.'
Jake came over to them, carrying a small object in his hands.
It was a little carving in ebony. He put it into Tata Joe's hands.
'Be Jesus!' said Massa Butty, taking one look at it. 'It's a little
dawl-baby! Ain't it cute, Tata Joe?'
'Just the thing Esmeralda would like to get from her
god-pappy. Eh, Massa Butty?' said Tata Joe.
The two men giggled their appreciation of the 'dawl-baby,'
and passed it from one to the other.
'You chipped that out yourself, I bet,' said Massa Butty
And Jake laughed and said: 'I chipped it out myself, yes, like
you say. Give it to Esmeralda with my best love, Tata Joe.'
'You couldn't have given her a better thing,' said Tata Joe.
All the while he was talking Jake was gently, unostentatiously,
ushering them out through the door; almost without their notic-
ing it they were outside, murmuring their farewells.
'So-long, Jake. Keep hearty,' they said together, the way
people with little vocabulary, who have lived long in each other's
pockets, do on occasions.
'So-long. Walk good!' said Jake.
(from BLACK LIGHTNING 1955)
by Lester Hoilett
Photo by Raphael Shearer
AND A VILIANELLE
by Vivian L. Virtue
The Maroon Girl
by Walter Adolphe Roberts
Villanelle of Immortal Love
by J.E. Clare McFarlane
See where in fretted folds of gold brocade-
Or is it moth-filled samite which long years
Lay yellowing in casket old, with tears
Of Deirdre's sorrow stained?- the Cassia maid,
Queen of our Summer trees reigns, half afraid
Of her own loveliness which has no peers;
More royal in this broidery she wears
Proud Balkis never rode out on parade!
Now I remember olden myths which tell
How, oft, some mortal maiden rivalling
A fair immortal, would transfigured be.
Perhaps, beneath an immemorial spell,
Here stands a nymph Arcadian sorrowing,
Lending her glory to a tropic tree.
I see her on a lonely forest track,
Her level brows made salient by the sheen
Of flesh the hue of cinnamon. The clean
Blood of the hunted, vanished Arawak
Flows in her veins with blood of white and black.
Maternal, noble-breasted is her mien;
She is a peasant, yet she is a queen.
She is Jamaica poised against attack.
Her woods are hung with orchids; the still flame
Of red hibiscus lights her path, and starred
With orange and coffee blossoms is her yard.
Fabulous, pitted mountains close the frame.
She stands on ground for which her fathers died;
Figure of savage beauty, figure of pride.
Love will awaken all lovely things at last.
One by one they shall come from the sleep of Time,
Bearing in triumph the deathless dreams of the past.
Hard on their fair designs came the wreck of the blast;
Where they lie scattered in every land and clime,
Love will awaken all lovely things at last
Gathered from out the ages, a concourse vast,
These shall return once more with arms sublime,
Bearing in triumph the deathless dreams of the past.
Lo, in what manifold moulds is their beauty cast!
Ah, with what colours bedecked in the new Springtime,
Love will awaken all lovely things at last!
Now shall the Earth emerge from its wintry fast,
And music flow again in powerful rhyme,
Bearing in triumph the deathless dreams of the past.
For out of the welter and dust of the holocaust
Rises the promised glory of our prime:
Love will awaken all lovely things at last,
Bearing in triumph the deathless dreams of the past.
Four Poets From"FOCUS" 1943-1956
M. G. SMITH
Illustration by Albert Huie
I have come away
With deep longing
For peace in the green hills
Grass with a simple smell
Continuous of all
Even the vast book
Meaning with nights.
You can see the words rising
At one voice of the sea.
I have come away
To the green peace of days
I have passed through
This deep emergence.
Have you found hills
Too full for faith?
Under this rhythm
Beats the voice
No one will notice.
Under this rock
Is the flame
No one sends freedom.
Under this island
Is the land
No one desires.
But in the time of drought
And in the time of harvest
And at the funeral
And in the marriage-bed
Look O my Sun
Over this island.
Look O my stars
Into this island.
For it sits upon the doorstep
And there is bleating in the night
For it sits upon the doorstep
This land has no centre
There is smoke without fire,
Life without Movement.
This! Oh my land.
And fine and free the wind
O tameless horse
How human are the hills from which you come
And first and keenest light
How ancient is the darkness of thy home.
Fuller than the sea is full
Fine chain of echoes forged by wind and light
Ribbon of footprints bleeding in the snow
Form of the flame extinguished in the night.
Like upcurling smoke
How beautiful the stillness whence you go.
H. D. CAR]
Let each woman bear strong sons
And suckle them with the spirit of life -
The spirit of action.
Let each man find himself
And he will find-his neighbour.
Let each man feel he is a man
Something unique -
That never was before and never will be again.
Let him realise his individual personality
And he will realise that of his neighbour.
Let him honour and respect himself
And he will honour and respect his neighbour.
Let each man and woman feel that he or she is India -
Strong, daring, and free
And look you -
India shall be strong daring and free.
In the narrow street
Of filthy kerosine box shacks
There are dark sullen clouds above
One star and the dim street lamp -
Scars in his hands.
And in his eyes a deep pity
And a great love
For the earth that is man's.
There shall come a time
When these children in rags
Who litter the streets,
Who know the crushing mastery of poverty,
And the curses of dirt and slovenliness,
Shall walk with head erect
Proud owners of a new world
Master of themselves
Masters of themselves
Admitting no inequality,
Feeling no inferiority,
Only a greathumility and wonder
For the destiny that shall be theirs.
BERRY illustration by Albert Huie
Brother, in the ages that have gone long ago you were free
Brother, in the ages that have gone long ago you were beautiful
Brother in the ages that have gone long ago, brave.
Othello was not white, brother, but he was brave.
Dumas was not white, brother, but he wrote more than a thousand
books and plays.
Toussiant was not white, brother, but he set a million people free.
Brother you are still beautiful
Brother you are still brave
You can still take all life and shape creation with your hands
Brother you can be free.
The blueness of the sea
The greenness of the morning grass
The diamonds on it
The pools of light
And dappled shadows.
O should I find the secret
Poem In the wine cups of hibiscus
O should I learn the breath
That blows upon the stars
O should I catch the essence
Of deep orange butterflies
Then would all the world be stained
Upon my eyes
Then would I cease to wrestle
Then would I wish to die.
God made sheep in the early morning.
In his hands he caught the clusters
Of the fleecy clouds of dawning
And tied them in bunches
And fastened their feet and their noses
With wet brown clay
And into their eyes he dropped
Sheep With reeds from a nearby river
The light of the dying morning star
And the light of the dying moon.
And then on that creation morning
When the sun had flooded the peaks and plains
And the dew lay thick on the rushes
Man saw sheep on the grazing grass
And heard the sadness of their bleating.
There were those who were walking mountain paths by night
In search of stars
And those who strayed amidst the flowers
That held the glowing sunset caved within their open lips
Poe Many by chance have met with sprig-eared goat kids on the
OeHm slippery rocks
And loved their wild glass eyes
And their catapult trips.
But I, coming around the corner of dirty streets
Have met upon small Negro boys
Little dirty chips
With stars in their eyes
And flowers between their lips.
0 It is a Rose-Red Morning
It is a rose-red morning.
Who are those going down the hills?
I Who are those going under the leaves
Under the bamboo awning?
They are the women going to market
With limes and lemons in wicker baskets:
Beautiful tear-shaped limes and lemons
Nestling between the sea-green melons.
I held one cupped within my hand
Full of the fragrance of the land
Pointed and pregnant like a breast
As scented and firm it lay at rest.
SThe women have passed beyond the trees
But the scent is entangled in the breeze.
Beautiful lime-green lemon drops
That fell at three in the morning.
K E. INGRAM
Illustration by Albert Huie
P. M. SHERLOCK
Across the sand I saw a black man stride
To fetch his fishing gear and broken things
And silently that splendid body cried
Its proud descent from ancient chiefs and k
Across the sand I saw him naked stride;
Sang his black body in the sun's white lighl
The velvet coolness of dark forests wide,
The blackness of the jungle's starless night.
He stood beside the old canoe which lay
Upon the beach; swept up within his arms
The broken nets and careless lounged away
Towards his wretched hut ....
Nor knew how fiercely spoke his body then
Of ancient wealth and savage regal men.
Test Pilot 1951
Daily contemplating death his companion
He came to be unmoved
By all but the vast nothingness
Within which he flew delicately balanced
There far beyond the hawk's way, eagle's
Responsive only to the impersonal, the co
Nor hearing nor seeing from this solitude
The cities fields cottages firesides beds
Of men tethered by their callings, by doin
To this.place this symbol
He. far hence
Bird-free from encaging circumstance
Flown beyond cloud and sunshine
Beyond the gates of the morning and the
Traveller now with Acturus and Sirius, wit
For a split-second there beyond time and
Illustration by Albert Huie
Dinner Party 1940
Do you mind the news while we eat?
So, guests assenting,
The well-bred voice from Daventry
Mingled with sounds from the pantry
And slowly through the ether spilled
Its syllables - not silencing - augmenting
The show of wit which never fails
Thanks to 7.30 cocktails ..... and at
Narvik where for 5 days a storm has raged a few were killed
'More mutton, Alice? 'Yes, it's delicious dear;
Yesterday at bridge I held three aces, three .
In the Baltic
It is reported from Stockholm that the soldiers fled
Leaving a number of dead.
But don't you like it cold with guava-jelly?'
The well-bred voice from Daventry
, Did not grow less well-bred,
And did not speak of more than 3 or 400 dead,
' And did not really silence the sounds from the pantry
Or the show of wit which never fails
Thanks to 7.30 cocktails.
Cold mutton is delicious with guava-jelly
And does not seriously incommode
Like cold lead in the belly.
My Father Walked Beside Me
My father walked beside me
Through the fields where grasses green
Softly sang and flowers sprang
From the dust beneath our feet
My father's father too was there
And all around the eyes of those
Who shuttered clay had cast aside
While trees in robes of living light
Sang hallelujah ceaselessly.
See singing in that shining band
Brave Tacky claps his hands for joy
See Cudjoe dance before the Lamb
His blessed wounds now golden mouths
way, For Hallelujahs evermore;
Id silence, See Bogle shepherding his flock
The hangman's rope a garland gay
And Gordon wave his lifted arms
g and by thinking,
And sound his passionate amen.
The Great House owners, slaves no more,
With naked feet approach the throne,
They join with ecstasy the throng
veils of evening And freedom find in brotherhood.
:h planets and circling
SThe dancing feet no imprint make,
suns And beauty flows upon the land
space On flowers and fields and singing trees
Roots moving gently through the silent ones.
Illustration by Carl Abrahams
When I was 22, I was employed by a Syrian merchant
of the city and parish of Kingston. My employer could not
read and the only writing he could do took the form of a
queer series of slanting strokes which purported to be his
signature. Sometimes he would make twelve strokes; some-
times sixteen. And I have seen him make as many as twenty
until the bank sent back his cheque with the comment
"Irregular Signature." In order to expedite the business of the
office I decided to put a stop to the "Irregular Signature"
affair. So I stood over him whenever he was signing a cheque
and when I thought twelve strokes were already made I would
contemptuously say "that's enough, sir."
His customers in the country parts were not always punct-
ual in settling their accounts and he used to dictate the most
obscene letters to them in a loud voice, calling upon them to
do their duty. During the dictation his temper generally rose
to a pitch where he genuinely believed that I was the customer
who would not pay and, from a mouth chronically foamy, he
spat on my clothes; beat my shoulders; thumped the table;
swore and threatened loud enough to be heard several chains
away. Indeed, people who passed the place and heard him dic-
tating used to go about the city telling their friends that they
had heard my boss giving me hell and had seen him actually
Here is a specimen of his letters:
John Brown You cock-eye brute Far Enough P/O -
Dear Sir, Yu skylarking wid my money yu son of a
bitch; but efyu tink dat yu gwine tief me yu mek big mis-
take. A see you an yu wife in a new moto cyar two weeks
ago. How yu buy big moto cyar an won pay yu debt? Don't
yu see yu is a wutliss man?
But a giving yu dis warning: ifyu dan pay my money by
Satiday of dis week a shall sue de account in de Supeme
Curt companion accompanied wid a Bankruptcy Notice an
run yu out a business yu dyam wutliss dog.
And he had a rubber stamp in the office with the words
"FINAL NOTICE" which was ferociously applied with red
ink to the violent letter.
Here is another specimen:
Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Smith Mount Sinai, Horeb P/O -
Dear Sar and Madam Seem to me yu tek yu account
mek joke. Dat's fe yu business. Is no dyam joke wid me;
an dis skylarkin is only gwine to humbug yu good self.
Cause a nat losing my money a tellin yu dat straight. An
yu can put it in yu pipe and smoke. A hear say yu childs
goin to Wolmer's. How yu can sen yu childs to Wolmer's
an hole up my money.
What about my childs? If a doan get me money by re-
turn post a tellin me solicitors to sue de hell out a yu yu
And, of course: "FINAL NOTICE."
And here is a final one:-
Nathaniel Powers Rackabessa Dear Sir: A write yu
till a tiad. Yu seem to be a son-of-a-bitch-man; but a gwine
get even wid yu. Doan tink yu gwine to nyam out my
money. A brute man like you.should go a workhouse. Tree
months ago yu say yu waiting on de ginger crop, Ginger
crop come an gone an no money. Den yu tell nedda lie
bout coffee crop. Coffee crop finish; no money. Den yu
say yu son in Merica sending yu sometins. Yu son mussa
dead. Wat new lie yu gwine tell now? A givingyu a chance
to pay me my money by Chuesday. An if yu doan pay me
a showyu what is it.
And "FINAL NOTICE."
Of course I never took down his obscenities which were
unprintable. I would listen to his fulminations and then write
a letter in English to the customer. And as he couldn't read
the letter in any case he invariably signed it. Occasionally he
would ask while signing it: "Yu write dis man a strange letter?"
And I would say "yes."
It was an unforgettable experience working with this man;
and one of these days I shall deal fully with him. There are
one or two little incidents, however, which so aptly illustrate
his mentality that I feel compelled to recall them here.
One Saturday morning he handed the storeman a shilling
and in a gruff voice said: "Bwoy go get time." The storeman
left, and returned ten minutes later with two big bundles of
thyme purchased in a nearby market. The Syrian lost his
temper. "You dyam fool," he roared; "a say time 'Jamaica
Time' paper. Why yu so ignorant!" The poor storeman had to
refund the thyme money.
A young man came to the office on business one day and
after completing his business was conversing with another
clerk and myself close to one of the long counters. He saw a
bed bug on the counter and picking it up, studied it closely.
Then he said laconically: "Hie, Pharoah's Plague." The boss
was standing about a yard behind us and being congenitally
inquisitive, he asked what the conversation was about.
"I was just looking at this bug," said the young man, "and
saying it was Pharoah's Plague."
"But," said the boss, "yu have no right to say tins like dat.
"Why?" asked the astonished young man.
"Well," said the Syrian getting angrief and angrier, "if you
come to a man's store an see a bug an say 'Pharoah's Plague',
den the Pharoah must be me! Dat's quite simple." And he
drove the young man from the store on the ground that he
had insulted him!
A. E. T.HENRY
A Strange Employer
A. E. T. HENRY Contir,,ue
On another occasion he addressed a letter to the Emperor
of Japan asking His Celestial Majesty to appoint him Nippon-
ese Consul in Jamaica. The communication must have reached
the hands of some cynic at the Mikado's court who must have
framed it. No reply was ever received. But I do not suppose
that this caused my employer any disappointment, since an
identical fate befell similar communications to the monarchs of
Jugoslavia, Greece, Bulgaria, and Albania; the Shah of Persia
and the King of Siam.
Now, his persistent and unsuccessful overtures to royalty
were his business; and it ill-became me to begrudge any decora-
tions or honours which the crowned heads of the world might
have been pleased to confer upon him. But as it was I who had
who had to write these "May-it-please-Your-Majesty" letters,
the mental strain involved in penning such stilted, formal
nonsenses nearly sent me mad. And when I was writing to my
friend, the Mikado, in my employer's behalf I was sorely
tempted to enclose a picture and a short biographical sketch
of the would-be Nipponese diplomat. Had I done this, the
emperor would not content himself merely with not replying.
He would have sent out the battleship "Wishie Washie" to
This gentleman of the Levant and I parted company in
1935. It was a relief.
(from BATS IN THE BELFRY, 1944)
Mr. Constant Spring arrived in Jamaica on the 15th
day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand nine
hundred and thirty eight. The Colonial Office transferred him
from Aden, where he held the post of Destroyer of Tubercu-
losis among milch camels, to Jamaica to occupy the post of
Director of Fauna.
He was "promoted" to Jamaica because his work in Aden
was so highly "satisfactory". Tuberculosis among camels had
been wiped out in Aden, because tuberculosis had wiped out
the camels of Aden, and the press and public of that colony
had insisted that Mr. Spring was a failure.
On his second day in Jamaica he was ushered into the
presence at King's House and Sir Arthur Richards congratu-
lated him on his promotion.
"Ahem," said the governor, "your promotion gratifies me,
Mr. Spring. You will find me appreciative of competence and
if you maintain your Aden standard you should do well here
ahem. For the present I suggest you confine yourself to
signing letters dictated by your chief clerk. There is nothing
technical about the job ahem. If at any time your chief
clerk is ill, an assistant will do just as well ahem. The
palaver is over ahem."
On the third day Constant Spring Esquire attended office
and after being shown around sat at his desk and sent the
following minute to the chief clerk.
"C.C: Let me have detailed list of camel population in
Jamaica: Milch camels, bull camels etc., together with incidence
of tuberculosis amongst them. Give also names of largest camel
owners; also annual supply of camel's milk. How many humps
have Jamaica camels? What is the acreage of desert lands in
Jamaica? See that your figures are accurate.
C.S. Director of Fauna. 17/9/38. "
The chief clerk was amazed. The porter who took the
minute to the chief clerk had read it on his way. That gentle-
man was also amazed. He told it to the office maid who was,
in turn, also amazed. In the course of the day the assistants
were told by the porter and they were amazed.
When the Director of Fauna received the chief clerk's reply,
he was amazed. "Director of Fauna Sir: There are no camels
in Jamaica. Re deserts, I can obtain official information from
the Lands Department; but beg to take the liberty of stating
unofficially that there are no deserts in Jamaica as far as I am
aware P. Socrates C.C. 17/9/38."
"Why am I sent here," murmured the Director to himself.
"If there are no camels here, there is no work."
But he recalled the governor's suggestion that he should
merely sign letters for the present and felt slightly easier in
mind when the chief clerk took one dozen letters for signature.
He was, however, soon to be shocked when he read the follow-
Sir: I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your
letter of September 2, 1938 relative to the consignment of
croaking lizards to this department, and to state that three
died in transit. The actual number of lizards received is thirty
five 12 male and 23 female.
It appears that the belligerent tendencies of these reptiles
found an outlet in open warfare and three fell on the battle-
field. Naturally; this department will not pay for the deceased
lizards and would be grateful if you would amend your bill
accordingly. The Hawks and Owls for the Hawk and Pattoo
Race were received alive and the Mad Ants appear to have
suffered no casualties. The Loggerheads arrived with slight
bowel trouble and might, I am afraid, constitute a white
elephant for this department. The Wood Slaves will require
The General Hospital will doubtless write you on the matter,
but I should like, nevertheless, to acquaint you of the fact
that the consignment of wood-peckers'eggs forwarded to that
institution for food has hatched and that the birds have virtual-
ly destroyed the wooden portions of the building.
I have the honour to be
Your obedient Servant
Director of Fauna
Now, our hero was inexpressibly perplexed by this letter
which he was supposed to sign. He knew nothing about Fauna
neither of Jamaica nor of anywhere else on the face of the
globe; but pride natural and forgivable pride prevented
his asking anybody just what his work was supposed to be.
But he thought to himself he must make a show so that
the staff might think he knew something. So arising out of the
letter before him he wrote the following minute to the chief
C.C.: where is the white elephant mentioned in the letter
to Mr. Birde? Are satisfactory arrangements made for his
safe-keeping and the safety of the public? Estimate the num-
ber of elephants in Jamaica. C.S. Director of Fauna. 17/9/38. "
The chief clerk's perplexity is better imagined than des-
"Blasted fool," he shouted. "These chaps are sent out here
as Directors without the slightest idea of what they are suppos-
ed to direct."
And he sent in the following minute to the Director:-
White elephant figuratively used. There are no elephants
in Jamaica. P. Socrates. C.C. 17/9/38.
The Director was exasperated. He signed the letter. What
should he do? He decided to draft rules for the good manage-
ment of the office:
A. E. T. HENRY Coniule
Notice To Staff
Effective today, the following rules must be observed by
the staff in the interests of discipline and efficient work:
(1) Hats must be removed in the presence of the Director.
(2) Office hours will be from 8.30 a.m. to 4 p.m. with
one hour for luncheon.
(3) The Director will be addressed "Sir" by all members
of the staff.
(4) All members of the staff will stand immediately the
(5) Complaints to the Director will be made through the
(6) No employee will give any information to the Press.
7 With a view of developing financial contentment of
mind, junior members of the staff are advised against
purchasing motor cars.
The rules were posted at a conspicuous place and the chief
clerk was invited to discuss them after. The chief clerk inform-
ed the Director that all the rules, except 7, had been observed
in that department for the last 30 years, but were never
written sort of lex non scripta. As for rule 7, said the chief
clerk, it was not the custom for heads of departments to advise
civil servants what not to buy. But the rule remained and so
did the motor cars of several junior members of the staff. As
a matter of fact, young Joe Sturbee bought a new car the day
after the rules went up just to show that his money and his
financial affairs were, after all, his affairs and that not only
gentlemen late of Aden were supposed to keep motor cars.
But Mr. Constant Spring's staff was efficient in its routine
work and nothing went wrong, not even when he wrote a note
to the Attorney General asking him to draft a new law for the
protection of boa constrictors, because the note was intercept-
ed by an assistant just from school and barely eighteen.
Oh yes, these stupidities went on, but they decreased with
the passage of time. They decreased from hundreds to scores
and from scores to dozens, for as time went on Constant
Spring Esquire had learnt routine and the art of ridiculing
Elected Members and native heads of departments in his
At the Spring Session of the Legislative Council in 1939
there was a new item in the Estimates under "Fauna Depart-
ment" for "100 Personal allowance Director of Fauna."
Mr. Smith asked why this "Personal Allowance?"
"Ahem," said the President. "I take full responsibility for
the inclusion of this item ahem. The officer in question has
proved himself very efficient indeed ahem. He was provided
with a house in Aden and I am sure honourable members
would not like to see this officer out-of-pocket here where no
house is provided ahem."
Eight elected members voted against it but Mr. Constant
Spring got his increase largely because of successful lobbying
by the Colonial Secretary and other heads of departments.
But the elected side fiercely attacked the competence (or
lack of it) of the Director of Fauna. The newspapers have also
attacked him and the Gleaner has stated that he is to be fierce-
ly attacked at the coming session of Council.
In the midst of this projected attack Downing Street has
acted. It has heard of the failure and it is now announced that
Mr. Constant Spring is promoted to the Falkland Islands as
computer of icebergs.
Jamaica wishes Mr. Constant Spring a prosperous career in
the Colonial Service and ventures to state that if the high stan-
dard of competence attained in Aden and Jamaica is maintain-
ed there is no height he will not reach in the service. He may
even return here as Governor.
(from SHEETS IN THE WIND 1942)
H. D. CARBERRY
The night was very beautiful as he walked along. The stars
shone in a clean and cloudless sky. The asphalt road below
him was smooth and black. The light from the street lamp
shone on it, showing up its smooth irregularities -suggestive
of the yielding smoothness of sand dunes.
Clad in dirty ragged trousers, a soiled white shirt and worn
black shoes, he walked slowly -looking at the houses of the
As he walked a dog barked at him two dogs one a big
Alsatian, the other a fresh little terrier. He stopped and stood
up very stiffly. The gate was shut. He was not afraid of the
dogs. They barked more loudly than before. And he stood
there, watching them, curiously amused.
The house was big: there was a wide verandah, a garden,
lawns and it was warmly lit. He looked at it. There were
people sitting on the verandah. A big, rather coarse-looking,
white man; his wife small, gentle, cultured and a guest, a
tall rather dark well-dressed man with a quiet reserved air; he
always watched sympathetically? It was impossible to tell -
his face never gave him away.
They had stopped talking and looked up. The dogs were
still barking spasmodically and the boy stood still challenging
them the coloured worker.
The dogs quietened down, at a loss. Conversation on the
richly lit verandah was resumed again. The worker took out a
cigarette and lit it, blowing out a thin spiral of smoke. The
dogs started to bark again. Their curious sense of property was
(The dog is an aristocrat at heart; a sycophant, with an
even stronger sense of his master's property than the old
servant. Thus he earns his keep. The man did not belong, they
felt. His continued existence on the road, his silence, his
indifference was an insult. They took a personal pride in their
The woman whistled the dogs. They stopped for a little,
feeling temporarily released from their duty. The worker start-
ed to walk off. The dogs barked again and he stopped. He
felt the sense of property and stopped to fight it. He would
not let them win.
H. D. CARBERRY Co/atiuwm
"Someone must be out there," she said, and looked. Her
husband looked; the guest looked, politely; all refrained from
comment. The dogs barked on.
Conversation started again but soon it trailed off lamely.
It was impregnated with a sense of menace, the hidden myster-
ious threat of the motionless worker, with hunger in his eyes
for what they no longer wanted the haves and the
havenots .... the as yet untranslated desire of those that
The dogs barked fiercely at the thing at the gate, instinct-
ively. It threatened the security of their master's world and
thus their own. The boy shifted on his feet -- the dogs redoub-
led their efforts.
"Do go and see what it is."
Her husband got up and walked down the steps. They
stood up too and came to the top of the steps to watch him.
He came towards the gate brusquely annoyed at having his
complacency, his physical and mental equilibrium, threatened.
He called to the dogs to be still: they wagged their tails and,
reassured by authority, redoubled their efforts.
The man called out: "What do you want?" He said it more
as a snarl than a question. The boy blew out a cloud of smoke
and the question seemed to drift past him into nothing. He
looked steadily at the man and ignored him.
The dogs were still now. The matter had been taken out of
their hands. They and his wife and the guest were watching,
expecting him to do something, all hanging on his next move.
He called out again: "Say, what do you want?"
Silence. A thin spiral of smoke.
The others came down the step and his wife, feeling sorry
for him and stirred by an obscure loyalty, came to the rescue.
"Didn't you hear the gentleman speak to you?" The boy
saw why she had done it; she was a woman and he did not
want to be rude to her. He blew out a cloud of smoke and
answered simply and quietly, "Yes."
She was nonplussed. His answer afforded no foothold, led
nowhere and she saw very clearly that it was a gesture to her
not as the mistress of the house but as a woman. She felt
unconsciously flattered but she was at a loss. The guest listen-
ed politely, refraining from comment.
She spoke again, uncertain, faltering a little, fearing he
might not answer her, and ashamed of asking the question.
"Do you want something or someone?
"No," said the worker.
She was again at a loss --hesitating to ask the direct quest-
ion, afraid of crossing the narrow line of seeming to take
advantage of her sex, afraid of the rebuff .....
"Then what are yuu doing here?" Diplomacy would
succeed with these people she got on well with the servants-
a little tact worked wonders. The worker realized this, accept-
ed the implied compliment that he was worth being dealt with
diplomatically; and then to emphasise it and to keep her
uncertain, he waited for a bit and then, "Smoking," was the
too obvious reply. She blushed, realising the nicety of the
"Don't you know you shouldn't stand there?"
"Does the road belong to you?"
Her husband now came to the rescue.
"What you mean by answering back like that, do you want
me to call the police to you?"
"Move, or I'll set the dogs on you!"
He waited, then he opened the gate. The dogs ran out and
stopped. The boy did not move and they slunk back into the
gateway, to their master's feet. The dogs had failed. The idea
of property was in danger. The guest appreciated the drama of
the situation, the struggle of the haves and the havenots.
The boy laughed at the cowering dogs. Curiously enough,
he did not seem dirty there like that. He wore his rags like
robes, the insignia of his people. He was dominating the situa-
tion and he knew it- they all knew it.
"What's your name?" said the man in a last attempt at bluff.
The man sighed with relief. It looked as though he might
"Where do you live?"
"Very well, Mister Daley, you shall hear more of this, I
The boy laughed.
"Is that you real name," said the man, angrily and suspic-
iously; he had thought he was getting away with it.
"NO," said the boy.
Capital was exasperated beyond words at the failure of
force, threats, diplomacy and bluff.
"Come on in. What's the use?" said his wife. Capital real-
ised the sudden defection and capitulated ungracefully to his
ally's demands. He allowed her to take him inside.
The guest and the boy remained.
"Goodnight," he said. It was more than a greeting. It was a
recognition, of equality, a tribute of admiration; a gesture of
courtesy reminiscent of the age of chivalry the exchange
between two knights who had learned to respect each other.
The young worker recognized it as such.
"Goodnight," he replied simply, and they both walked off-
the guest to the house, the boy down the road. The dogs did
H. D. CARBERRY Cortinued
Inside the house, the man was boiling up, trying to bluster,
to recover himself in his wife's eyes. She saw through it, but
good-humouredly played up to him, pretending to restrain
him. The guest came in: they had forgotten him.
"He's gone," the guest said. They both stared.
He too went shortly after.
"He's only a boy, you know," said the wife, still playing up
to her husband. "And what does it matter."
And yet it did matter. It mattered tremendously and they
V. S. REID
He stood at the gate and felt the morning sun hot on his
back. He didn't like the feel of sun on his back when he had
clothes on. The sun had a way of rousing a prickly heat on his
back, especially where dirt had stiffened the collar of his shirt.
He liked the feel of sun on his back when he had nothing
He hid his toes in a sand mound at the gate and looked at
the spot where his toes had been. He stuck his hands in the
holes that should have been his pockets and whistled "Open
The Door Richard." He stopped whistling when sweat trickled
into his mouth. The sun was very hot.
Across the street, a poster bearing a small red cross asked,
How Is Your Faith? It was a new poster.
He spelt the words out with difficulty. He said a word when
he had got it all. It was a word no child should use. But he had
stopped being a child three years ago, since after he was seven.
Now he was a man-child.
He didn't know whether he liked to be a man-child. Some-
times he thought it must be a good feeling to come home to
parents, food and a bed. Not to scuffle for yourself and get
your bread mixed with bruises.
How Is Your Faith? He said the word again. He wanted to
put his gluttonous thoughts into thought-words. He couldn't.
He wanted to say in thought-words:
Mine didn't stop to answer. My faith didn't come to me
gently and slow-moving as faith should come. Mine was hurled
at me, hurled at the end of a flailing tamarind switch in the
courtyard of a city jail. The impact was too great. It stunned
me: and when I could think again, faith had gone on. That was
what the grin on the face of the big policeman with the switch
He couldn't say it in thought-words.
Behind him, he heard the screech of a misfit door dragging
on the floor. That would be his Nana. The old woman called
herself his Nana since the day she had begged him off a con-
stable who was taking him in for hopping on to a tramcar. As
Nana, she collected off his daily takes and abused him nightly.
For that privilege, he shared a couple inches of dirty floor
which was his bed his and three other boys.
Afterwards, he discovered that was her racket. She was an
old waterfront washer woman who had got too old to wash.
So she rescued little boys who would think what she offered
was home and bring in their daily takes.
He heard her voice. It flicked along his back like the tama-
rind switch that morning in the courtyard. It drew shivers up
his back and pumped an extra beat into his heart.
V. S. REID Condtired
"Come out! Come out! Sun raise long time! Go look
That was the other fellows she was turning out. He always
beat her on that one. He was always up and out before her. It
was a good start for any day. He grinned. And said a word.
They stood at the gate, all four of them. If grime was a
common bond, they were brothers. Quadruplets of the same
age. Man-Man yawned, and the others yawned after him. They
turned down the street and walked raggedly down the street.
At Barry Street, an old man, just as tattered, weaved on his
stick and clutched a dirty bundle under his arn.
"Father Bedlath!" The boys yelled together. The old man
cursed them swiftly, and collectively. They grinned and yelled
They went west into Barry Street.
"Anything coming up today?"
"Cho. Limey boat."
"Them is alright sometimes."
"Too dam' cheap."
"Wish it was tourist season."
"You tellin' me."
"Open the door, Richard."
"Stop you noise, Joe."
"You belly must be full."
"Man-Man, you see the serial last night?"
"Hear say police hold Coolie Boy yesterday."
"I doan mind Canadian boat."
"Yes, boy plenty gunplay."
"Wah' Coolie Boy do?"
They stopped at the great base of the government buildings.
They charcoaled additions to the people's scroll and bunched
to laugh at Joe's artistry. Joe was good at these things. He
could tell a story in two lines.
"Look out! Police!"
They sprinted across King and turned south into Orange.
"Boy I feel hungry."
"Then me not hungry, too, Scuffler?"
"Open the door, Richard."
"Joe belly must be full today."
"Must tell Nana him eat heavy everyday."
"Doan call that ol' woman name, Rufus."
They walked along the pavement of the Tax Office, and
Man-Man circled each column fast and tried to keep up with
the others just the same.
"Football season start next week."
"Hear say Mullings going play for the Saints."
"Cho, the Saints not up to much this season."
Rufus tried walking backwards. When you walked back-
wards, it gave you a great feeling of not knowing what would
be happening next. He nearly broke his neck at Water Lane.
"Rufus, you belly full, no?"
"Nana would have to get somebody else."
"Doan call that ol' woman name."
"Where we going, Man-Man?"
"Number One pier."
"Where she docking?"
They came to the wharf gate. They saw the shiny tea-cans
of the food woman at the gate.
"Mawnin,' Miss Shottie."
"Is what you believe? Is soup kitchen this?"
"Cho, ma'm, we will pay you later."
"Boat coming this morning, ma'm."
Warm cerasee tea in hot sunlight does something to a man's
insides. When Joe took up again with "Open the door,
Richard," the others helped him to send the jive. They took
the harmony with them past the gate. The watchman looked
at them without heat.
Their bare feet hit the tarred planks of the pier in a
quick-time buck-and-wing. The lone boy who was peeling off
his shirt at the pier-head jerked his head in sudden alarm and
watched their approach.
"Man-Man, is who that?"
"Eh, eh, new goggle-eye fish come to town."
"Is who said he could work this wharf?"
"Come make we find out."
They surged along the wharf with something leaping in their
eyes. They crowded the lone boy close to the pier head.
"Who you? Wha' you doing here?"
They guessed this boy must be an east-ender, since they
didn't know him. But he bore their stamp, and something also
leaped into his eyes.
Man-Man jerked his thumb and said. "Up the beach, you -!"
The lone boy said a word that no boy should use. He bore
their own stamp.
They smashed into him. Fists raked at his body. Impact of
flesh on flesh. Dull thuds.
Words curling round and round their heads, words which
no boys should use.
After a while, the lone boy went overboard. He swam for
the shore and spoke at them as he swam.
They grinned at each other and commenced taking off their
When the Bayano slid up the channel and came abeam of
the pier, they threshed the water and called to the passengers
on the rail.
"Sixpence, lady? Throw a sixpence, lady?"
When the coin flashed through the air and curved to the
water, they disappeared in a flurry of bare feet. Following
Man-Man down through the sea in a swift seek for the shiny
(published in FOCUS 1948)
Morning, Noon, Night
THIS WAS THE HOUR of the day, before his morning
meal, when the small desperation of his life sat heaviest on his
stomach. It was the time when the optimism that seemed to
strengthen in the heat of the day was quite absent. Today, he
told himself savagely, I is gwine to get a job. Jesus Christ strike
me if I don' get a job.
He pulled on his trousers and went out of the room, down
the three rough-set concrete steps, to the yard. His wife Lyn
was washing at the pipe; she stood with her feet apart, leaning
over so the water would not splash her dress. He waited his
turn among the people from the house, yawning and stretching
in the grey and pink gloom of the warm morning.
When he got back to the room she had mixed the brown
sugar and water in the two enamel mugs,laid out the two
penny loaves on the small newspaper-covered table. They ate
in silence; quickly and concentratedly, hardly dropping a
crumb of the firm thick-textured bread. Then she went out
because she had to be at work by half-past six, up in the
suburbs, under the hills six miles away, in the house where
she was the cook.
Left alone, he slouched in the straight hard chair that with
the other chair, the table, and the bed was all the furniture in
the small dark-brown painted room. He reached round and
took a half-smoked cigarette and a full one from the breast
pocket of the shirt hanging on the chair. He looked at them
for a little while, tilting his palm slightly to make them roll;
then with an air of defiance and decision he put the whole
cigarette in his mouth and dropped the stubbed butt back into
the shirt pocket. He fumbled in his trousers for matches; and
with the first slow deep draught of tobacco he felt the hope
coming back to him; slowly coursing his body with the blood.
I will get work today, he told himself, or something happen.
Luck mus' break my way sometime.
He got up and bent for his shoes under the bed. They were
black, carefully kept, neat shoes. So long a man have a good
pair of shoes, him don' touch bottom yet.
About half past twelve, when the people began to come
out of the offices for lunch, Reuben felt the optimism of the
morning drain from him. He knew he was not going to get the
job he wanted today. Not even weighing the great logs of
lignum vitae as they came into the warehouses from the coun-
try trucks. That was a job he got sometimes for a day or two.
One time there was a big shipment and he worked for two
weeks; he earned big money that fortnight. They paid you by
how much you weighed and stacked. And you could make
twenty shillings a day doing it. But it was irregular, chance
work; and when you hadn't been eating well for three or four
weeks you soon got tired and had to slow up. Sometimes at
the end of a day your knees buckled and you had to lean
your forehead on the back of the truck, holding on. Sweat
ran off you as if you had been hosed down. And the beating
of the heart in your breast was like a man kicking you steadily
in the ribs.
When the lunch hour came Reuben left the waterfront.
He walked slowly uptown, past the big stores, to the Cap-
He stood outside the bar and looked at the people coming
down the sidewalk. He was waiting for one face, so he hardly
saw the others except to know none of them belonging to the
Illustration by Carl Abrahams
man he was waiting for.
While he was looking up the street a man came up behind
him. The man walked with a loose springy animal stride; very
fast, like a big dog loping. His thin, dark-brown face was a
result of all the races that had ever come to the West Indies.
It was a clever, feverishly alert face. He had red-streaked soupy,
drinker's eyes and his thin heavy-veined hands carried fre-
quently a cigarette to his lips; he hardly inhaled before he
jerked the cigarette away. He carried an old pigskin briefcase
with faded initials, 'G.K.H.'
"Hello Reuben," he said, "waiting for me?"
Reuben turned sharply, a curious, pleading, guilty grin
forming on his face.
"Lawd, Mister Gerald, you frighten me sah. How you do
"All right," said Gerald Hayes the lawyer. "I'm all right,
Reuben, how are you? How is Lyn?"
"Well t'ank you sah. I is well, please God, an' so is she. I
glad to see you looking' so well Mister Gerald."
Gerald Hayes said quickly, "Have you got a job yet,
"I've been trying for you," Gerald told him. "But I can't
say I've found anything yet."
"Lawd Mister Gerald sah," Reuben saij, "I know you try.
I know you is one man will do a t'ing if you say you will do a
Gerald Hayes put his hand in hiL pocket and brought out a
JOHN HEARNE Continued
half-crown piece. He pressed it into Reuben's limp hand with
a practised gesture, full of pain and impotence.
He said, "God Almighty, Reuben, I wish I could find you
something. I wish I could find every son of a bitch in this
goddam Island something to do. I wish to God a lusty brute
like you didn't have to wait on me outside this bloody rum-
shop for a handout. I wish I didn't have you on my conscience;
then, maybe, I'd be able to really enjoy life and all the goddam
money I keep on making."
Reuben let all this go in and out of his ears without it
really touching his brain. He knew Gerald Hayes was not speak-
ing to him, but to some castrated, half-dead vision from a
long time ago. He had known Hayes for a great number of
years; from the time when he had been yardboy for Hayes'
father and mother. They were both about fourteen in those
He smiled again; this time without the guilt. He said, with
enormous gentleness, "Cho, Mister Gerald, you don' have to
feel like dat."
A tall, very fair Englishman passed them and laid one hand
on the swinging door of the bar. He said over his shoulder in a
voice as cool and groomed as his clothes, "Coming in, Gerald?"
"Be right with you Arthur," said Gerald Hayes. "Set up
for me, will you."
He put his hand on Reuben's shoulder and pressed it hard.
He turned into the bar.
Reuben went back to the warehouses on the waterfront.
Along Port Royal Street the heat steamed the sugar and rum
and spice smell out of the iron-shuttered warehouses: the day
was lazy and loud with flies and bees: the palms were green
and still in the bright air above the offices of the Caribbean
Trading Company; carved against the hard flat sky. The
yellow-beaked crows, with their raw red heads and rusty black
bodies, wheeled casually above the glistening zinc roofs. The
noon hour heaviness lay across the dirt-dusted street: between
the shafts of the huge flour-dusted drays the mules hung their
great heads and dozed.
The old woman who sold patties was squatted against one
of the warehouse walls on her little stool. He went up and
asked for two patties and she opened the square tin box with
the red coals in a pan in the sealed off lower shelf. His head
swam a little when he saw the crisp-flaked pastry and smelt
the seasoned meat-smelling scent come up to him. Oh, Jesus,
Jesus Christ, but I'm hungry. Oh God, but a man shouldn't
be able to get so dam' hungry.
He paid her with Gerald Hayes' half-crown and grabbed
the warming, greasy paper bag of patties. He had almost finish-
ed one while she was counting his change. He hardly noticed
the fire of red pepper and smoking hot meat on his tongue.
After he had eaten the patties, standing there in the street
before the old woman, he went into a bar and the girl behind
the counter gave him a big glass of iced water. He went out
again into the white glare and the sticky, wet-sugar smell of
the street. He scraped a match and lit a cigarette; the half
cigarette he had saved since morning.He drew it in his lungs
a long while before he breathed it out slowly; feeling the
tobacco blunt his sharp nerves.
He went down the street slowly, wondering what to do
with the afternoon; thinking how good it would be if he got a
job and Lyn wouldn't have to work when her time came near.
When he saw Ladybird coming along the street, on the
opposite sidewalk, he tried to look away; hoped that Lady-
bird wouldn't see him: heard, reluctantly, Ladybird's flat,
arrogant voice calling to him across the street. He went over.
Ladybird was five foot three and thick as a saucepan. His
body was drum-hard with sheets of magnificent muscle. His
face was ugly and intelligent, with dead-cold, small eyes. He
said, "Lo Reuben, I been askin' for you dis mawning down on
de wharves. You want to have a drink wid me?" He put his
hands in the pocket of his sharpcreased, blue, tropical trousers
and jingled what sounded like five pounds of silver.
When they were having the third rum and water in the same
bar Reuben had gone into after eating his patties, Reuben
asked Ladybird if he was working.
"No," said Reuben. "I aint working' yet."
"Too bad," said Ladybird. "You want to work for me?"
"No," Reuben told him. "You know dat, Ladybird. I don't
want to work in your racket. What happen when dem catch
me peddlin' dem ganja cigarettes? You tell me dat, eh."
Ladybird said softly, "I aint forcin' you to work for me.
Indeed, I don' know why I boder wid a dam' stupid white
people's fool like you, except you is my brudder an' I don'
like to see you all limp an' beat out." He laughed briefly,
with a decisive, bitten-off gasp. "Have another drink," he
said. It was an order. They had two more. Ladybird drinking
them quickly, then waiting tensely and restlessly for Reuben
to finish. Tapping his fingers, shifting on the balls of his feet,
always looking around. "Come outside," he told Reuben. "I
want to talk to you."
He flung some money on the counter and went out with a
rolling swagger, not waiting for change. Reuben followed him
When they were in the street, Ladybird took Reuben's arm.
He held it hard and Reuben could feel the constant electric
intoxication of the man transfer to him, more powerfully than
the rum. Ladybird began to talk in a hard, unavoidable whisper.
"Look Reuben, me brudder, I don' like to see you like dis
you know. You is me family. If you won' work for me, an you
can't get work oderwise, why you don' listen to me? Listen to
me bwoy! Lis'en good! You wan' to earn some money, easy?"
"Lawd God, yes," Reuben told him. "Hard or easy, I want
de money. I want it bad."
"Den lis'en you dam fool, lis'en good. You ever go out by
"One Sunday," Reuben said. "One Sunday I go out dere
"Alright," said Ladybird,"den lis'en."
They had been walking down the sidewalk, but now he
stopped and faced Reuben. He talked rapidly and clearly; in a
low voice, but not wasting a word. When he had finished Reu-
ben said: "I couldn't do dat Ladybird. I couldn't do dat
Ladybird. No sir, I couldn't do dat."
"Oh Jesus God," said Ladybird. "You is coward. You is
coward like a dawg. You is coward like a bitch dawg wid pup
in her belly. What happen to you? You wan' to live like a
beggar all your life?"
Photo by Raphael Shearer
JOHN HEARNE Continued
"No," said Reuben. "I don' wan' dat."
"Den why you don' try what I tell you? Lawd God, it is so
"I is afraid," said Reuben. "I is afraid of what happen to
Lyn if dem catch me an' lock me up."
"Alright," Ladybird barked impatiently, "an' I tell you
dem don' catch you. Jesus Christ, bwoy, all you do is go out
dere 'bout t'ree o'clock an hide in de bush. 'Bout five, de
brown men dem come out wid de women. A little lovin', an'
den dem go in for a swim. Dat's when you go for de man's
trouser pocket an' de woman's handbag. Don' bodder wid de
rest, except de cigarette case and de vanity case is good stuff.
Lawd judge me it is easy. You know who I give dat job to?
Little piss-arse ganja boys. It's all dey are good for. Its as easy
as dat. Of course, it takes planning Not too often in de same
spot. An', Jesus Christ. I have to watch out for dem goddam
amateurs. De could ruin de business if I didn't put my boys on
dem. If you want it I'll lay it open for you dis afternoon. An'
tomorrow too, if you don' have it lucky today."
"It ain't I is coward," said Reuben. "It is only I is so fraid
'bout Lyn. De baby soon coming' an' everything. Oh God Lady-
bird, if I in prison she don' eat you know."
"Alright, alright," said Ladybird, his brother, pushing his
square, ugly face close to Reuben's, "dem won' catch you.
But if dey do I will look after Lyn an' de pickney till you come
out. I don't mind givin' money to a woman, but I don' like
givin' you. It don' do you no good; it don' do you no good at
Reuben remembered the ten pounds or so he had gotten
out of Ladybird in small loans. He winced a little inside him.
Also, very suddenly, he felt the dead weight of night; all at
once it was right there in his stomach; tasting bitter on his
tongue. Night on the steps with the other men who hadn't got
work. Tonight, and all the other dead nights; waiting on the
steps for the women to come down from the houses under the
foothills where they worked during the day as servants.
"Mebbe," he said, 'mebbe it is not such a bad idea Lady-
bird." Something more than the rum he had taken warmed him
pleasantly, gave him confidence. "Jesus," he said, "it sound so
Ladybird grinned. "Easy," he said. "It's easy as ever. I'll
get word to the boys you're working for me now. Don't go
out till about t'ree or half past. You know de old wreck, de
old Haitian ship dat lies out dere on de Palisadoes?"
"Yes?" said Ladybird. "I don' send anyone dere for a long
time now. Dat's your spot today. An' tomorrow if you don'
have luck today. I'm givin' you dat spot, Reuben; de whole
Palisadoes is my territory." He jingled a fanfare of the silver
in his pocket. "Also," said Ladybird, "I have to give you a
bunch of keys. Sometimes de people dem lock de car-door.
Dese are special keys. Dey will open any door, so don't lose
dem. Dey are very valuable."
He lay flat along the warm sand, among the seagrapes,
squinting through the green at the man and the woman
making love. They were doing it about ten yards from where
He felt an easy, happy confidence and a completely sympa-
thetic enjoyment in the man's grunting pleasure and the
woman's passive abandon. They were both of them very fair
brown people of the sort who probably worked in the front
office of a downtown bank. The man was tall and looked very
powerful with gaunt heavy bones. The woman was slim and
delicately fine; her hair was so good she might have been white.
They had come driving up about half past four, in a big grey
Oxford; just when Reuben had been listening to the surf
booming on the other side of the dunes for an hour.
They had parked in the sand about fifteen yards away;
and they had undressed in the car. Then they had walked
down in their bathing suits, deeper among the tangle of sea
grapes, out of sight from the road, to make love, and then to
swim in the pleasant warmth at the end of a sticky day; with
the sunlight laid across the water in hard bright bands and the
sour-sweet, salty smell of mangroves and shore-water heavy in
Now they were having a wonderful time and looked so
good and happy that Reuben hoped he would not burst out
laughing with love and the feeling of comradeship that fired
They picked up their bathing suits and put them on; then
they went out of the shelter of the foliage; their limbs moved
with the lazy, slow freedom of complete safety, and they
entered the bright sun and calm water near the shore.
Reuben watched them swim about twenty yards out and
begin to tread water; they were talking and laughing in relaxed
soft voices. Reuben began to crawl without a sound toward
the car; he crawled, dragging his belly over the warm sand,
through the bushes, so he would come out on the far side of
As Ladybird had told him might happen, the door was
locked. He took the big bunch of keys Ladybird had given
him out of his pocket; he began to try them in the lock on the
handle. He had found the one that fitted and was opening
the door when the big man came round the back of the car.
He was dripping from the sea and he must have come very
silently, but the sand was spurting away under his feet with
the force of his heavy-swinging, determined rush.
"You goddam black bitch," he said, and hit Reuben in the
In the vague, grey-black distance Reuben heard the woman
scream. But it was not important. He was rolling on the sand,
sick and dizzy, his mouth hurting: trying to get up. He was
badly frightened; full of a cold fright that clogged his limbs.
Then he felt the man's hand in his collar, and the sand scraped
away suddenly as he was jerked upright, and then the big
heavy fist suddenly crunched into his face and he felt his head
going back and back and his neck suddenly full of agony and
the sting of sand on his shoulders as the ground flung the
breath out of his body.
Through a mist of dancing red and yellow and bright silver
specks he saw the man's furious, brutal face bend over him,
and as he rolled away desperately his fingers scrabbling in the
dry sand, struck the neck of the old half-buried beer bottle, a
relict of some old picnic.
Even after the big man had fallen in a stiff twitching heap,
Reuben went on hitting him with the stub of the shattered
bottle. He hit at him blindly, in a ferocious terror, hardly see-
ing the face dissolve in meaty ruin beneath the jagged glass.
By the car the woman screamed and screamed, like an animal
in a spring trap. He looked up after a little and said in an
irritable and bewildered voice: "Why you don' hush you dam'
JOHN HEARNE Continued
When he got to his feet, she turned to run. She ran toward
the sea and Reuben followed her. She was still screaming when
he caught her. She continued to scream, and to struggle, in a
hopeless, very tired way, when he told her to stop. He put his
fingers over her mouth to stifle her wild volume of despair.
She bit his fingers but he did not feel it; only saw his blood
flow with a blank curiosity. He did not know for quite a
while that he had strangled her; but his fingers were stiff when
she slipped from his hands to the beach.
All around him, then, it was enormously still. Still as death
under the huge pale sky. The man's blood had spattered his
shirt and trousers. Across the harbour the white city in the late
afternoon sun looked near but yet remote, like a still flashed
onto a deep screen.
He did not get back to his room till very late. He came in
across the yard, keeping close to the shadow of the fence so
the people would not see the blood on his clothes.
He had waited out on the Palisadoes until dark, before
walking back to town; sitting on the dunes, about half a mile
from where he had killed them, facing the open sea. Out there
the sweat of agony and fear had covered his cold skin and his
mouth had grown dry and nasty when he thought of what he
had done. Sitting there, huddled over the tight discomfort of
his stomach, he had wondered if he would ever be able to eat
again. His breath came out like sobbing, and the world reeled
and fell in on him.
Now, as he ran up the steps leading to the room, he wonder-
ed if anyone had found the bodies yet. He was very tired, and
a huge tiredness had turned his legs to tubes full of water.
Lyn was lying on the bed when he came in: the light was
turned down very low, and she looked soft, lost and helpless
when he bent over her.
She said: "Where you been? You is late. You get a job?"
"No," he said.
"You mus' be hungry," she said "Missis give me a bit of
chicken fe' bring home tonight."
"I is not hungry," he told her. He felt the contraction of
his stomach at the thought of food.
"Now don' talk foolishness," she said. "Big man like you,
walk all day an' you tell me you not hungry. Sit down now an'
I will bring it to you. I eat already up at de house."
Reuben pulled out a chair and sat down at the table. He
felt stiffness seize him, and he could have screamed aloud at
the dead heavy fear in him. Lyn turned up the lamp; she came
over to the table with the brownpaper bag which held the
chicken which she had taken from the little attache-case lying
on the floor beside the bed.
When she saw him close, she said: "What happen to your
Reuben felt his lip and his cheekbone, where the big man's
fists had marked and swollen him.
"I did have a fight today," he told her. "A man trouble me
an' I did beat hiin up."
She suddenly put down the chicken; feeling the chill of his
toneless voice run up her spine. She looked at him closer.
"Lawd God, Reuben," she said, "what happen?" She saw
the blood on his clothes and leaned over the table. He could
see by the movements of her cheeks that she was trying not to
"What happen?" she said.
"I tell you, I had a fight."
So he told her: watching the skin of her face turn rough
When he had finished she said in a small, drowning voice:
"What we gwine do Reuben? Jesus, Reuben, what we gwine do?
"I don' know," he said. "Mebbe dem don' find out, eh?
Nobody see me, you know. If dem don' see me dem can't find
out. I didn't take nuttin'. Not a t'ing. Dem can't prove it was
They both wondered, then, if it was always going to be as
bad as this before they came for him.
She sat up in bed instantly.
the chapel, sound
of organ music, sound
of human voices
in modest song.
I did not pray
I only used
my powers of observation.
of morning gold
I listened to the talk
And I prayed
- Oh God
Take'my soul if you wish
But let my mind
be free. -
BASIL McFARLANE continued
I am Jamaica
I am Jamaica -
And I have seen my
Out of their separate
Out of the absolute
truth of me:
Out of my soul
Into false shadows.
And I have wept
that the strangers with
and red faces
who survey my pass-
call me beautiful
and Isle of Springs.
I have no voice
to shout out my
Music a kind of Sleep
Music a kind of sleep
imposes on this weary flesh
wind beyond silence
speech of the God who ordered
trees flowering of dark earth
light, essence of darkness
in arrogant disorder all about
pale quiet strength of stellar presence
hears in a wonderful dread
music a calm
above the wild torment of nameless waters.
When their vile trap-
Their filthy coppers
reach my child-
These palms: my
My flesh beloved
But where, oh where
Where my self, my fire?
Lost, I wander
through a sunlit night
Beseeching, beseeching my
to turn from other Gods
to turn on me
of their regard.
We are eternal,
measureless not bound
We are eternal, measureless not bound
unless we will by any trick to label this
intent abandoned flux
called being. Or if we will
will fail without the joy of knowing how or
My soul indulged with murmurs of the myriad
reflects the little sorrow of the ant
Your body the resplendent flower
of worn and ageless processes is bleak
in the perspective of infinity.
Tears are our harvest
if we will.
BASIL McFARLANE continued
Carry me up some morning to the
Now that I have
Here among the stone
Here upon the sterile
Here by the cacti crucified.
Therefore carry me
some morning up
To my father,
Who is all knowledge
and all strength
All wisdom and all
All there is of Truth
All greenhills: I fulfilled
Carry me up some morning
Carry me up some
morning to the
Where I shall live again
Where I have
We cross many rivers, but here is no anguish; our
dugouts have straddled the salt sea. The land
we have found is a mountain, magical with birds'
throats, and in the sea are fish. In the forests are many
fleet canoes. And here is no anguish, though storms
still the birds and frighten the fish from inshore
once, it seemed the mountain moved, groaning
In the sunless wet, after
rains, leaves in the tangled underbrush glisten (like
cool hands of children on face and arms). I
am not one for society, and think how the houses
throb with the noise
of women up to their elbows
in cassava milk, when the dovegrey sea's breast is
soft in the lowering light and the land we found
fairest of women.
That bright day, the light
like clusters of gold fruit, alone, unknown
of all, the dugout and I fled the shore's
The land is full of echoes; all the bright
company of men the dumb
land uttered in prophesying tongues are gathered
in the constant afternoon. Flame licks the hills.
It is enough that I am here, one
with the maimed and dead and utterly victorious
citizens of the moment. Here is
perfection in a calm miniature of hills the leaden
sea the desolate street the tidy
burgher addressing himself to evening
and the suburbs. Day is shuttered
and done. Who is lonely
as the wind? None sees his shadow.
We know will come
We know will come like force a fusion
Of all moments known
Unknown, will stand unsummoned
Flaming instant that devours Time
O world O wilderness
Enchanted by a word
Faith is the matchless word
burning beauty; the first wave's shock
an ecstasy like singing, oh, and the sea's strength
entered these arms. All day
we climbed the hill of the sea.
It seemed I died
and found that bleak Coyaba
of the wise. The dugout
faltered in a long smooth swell. There were houses
on the water, aglow with light and music and strange
laughter. Like great birds, with
ominous mutterings and preenings, they
hovered on every side. Flat on the dugout's
bottom, I prayed deliverance. Where was the land, the
houses throbbing with the noise of women
up to their elbows in cassava milk? The towering birds
floated majestically on, dragging me a little in their
I tell this story in the evening, after
the smoke of pipes has addled the elders'
brains, and I am assured at least of the children's
silence. I am no longer certain it happened to me.
by Mervyn Morris
(for Roger Mais, 1905-55)
The grey breast, smiling welcome,
stretched a claw
to draw the artist in;
red with rage
the artist turned and spat.
"I cannot stand
the grey beast
with its bland
black tie. Leave me
to rear my roses, hold
opinions, suffer books,
paint pictures, love
the people, choose
The grey beast, placid, smiled.
The gentle artist, red
with rage, sped
sharp arrows at the
huge grey gut.
The grey beast, mocking, smiled.
At long last, in a rose-red dawn,
the artist whispered "Help!"
The grey beast muttered sadly:
"You despise me. Be yourself "
The grey beast nibbled on his toast,
Blandly scratched his crusted head;
Casual, as statement (not as boast)
He grunted, reading:
"Artist-fellow, Mais, is dead."
by Anthony McNeill
Many believe one day the ship
will drop anchor at Freeport;
But now it's enough to praise
high on the s'liff The smoke-
blackened city wounds
instant divines to enter
their pipes like dreams.
rears in a hundred tenements.
Missed by my maps.
Still compassed by reason,
my ship sails coolly between
Africa and heaven.
by Dennis Scott
waiting, I make poems. But
the room's too small to turn
words in. On an impulse of rain
open the windows, hoping
this itch and dry of images will change.
I re-arrange desk to the air,
shifting my chair. And
suddenly, the eye
examines wet leaves, pencilling
their fragile paper weight
on the lawn's green, fluent lizards
writing their sentences of joy,
a green bud's stamp
posted on twigs,
a flower's mail-box-red,
It's a new house
I live from, suddenly guest.
I rest often not writing
between the wind's idle,
idle familiarising trees
as worn as dictionaries,
learning still the phonemes
of a bird's trill.
such world or such dimension
possible as poems woven
from simple things
changed in their weaving
myself It's all there, all.
Next time I shan't wait
for the rain to fall.
an approach to
the Study of
Jamaican Popular Music
by Pamela O'Gorman
An acculturated music like Jamaican Popular Music, demands
that we clarify our points of reference when approaching it.
There are three which come within the ambit of Jamaican
(a) African musical influences
(b) European music and the post-Renaissance tradition
(c) Jamaican folk music.
The African feature s in Jamaican music follow very closely
those listed by Nettl as having been carried into the New
The emphasis on rhythm is an important (feature) and it is
expressed in the frequent use of percussion instruments and in
rhythmic accompaniment, as well as in the tendency to adhere
strictly to meter and tempo (the "metronome sense" of West
Africans), and, perhaps as a result, in the use of syncopation
and of complicated rhythmic figures. A second one is the
call-and-response pattern, antiphonally and responsorially
performed. The love of instruments and instrumental music -
though the instruments themselves are frequently quite
different from those of Africa may be a result of the wealth
of instruments in Africa. The interest in improvisation is also
perhaps one of the African features as is the tendency to use a
variety of tone colours in the vocal technique especially
harsh, throaty singing.
We find many of these features in Ska/Rock Steady/Reggae
though they are now present more as Jamaican characteristics
individualized in rural folk music and later incorporated into
Europe has provided tonality and the idea of harmony. The
post-Renaissance tradition is important to define in order to
clear up the kind of basic misunderstanding by which some
people condemn "Reggae" as a sub-culture. According to this
tradition a piece of music must have a beginning, a middle and
an end. Enclosed within these inviolate boundaries it will then
depend for its effect on the proportions of repetition and
contrast, tension and relaxation, the fluctuation of dynamics
and the perspective of harmony all cunningly interwoven to
create progression towards a climax and, eventually a sense of
completion and satisfaction.2 This is a tradition to which
Jamaican popular music does not belong. It lies outside it and
apart from it.
The Mento, the best-known type of Jamaican folk song has
influenced Jamaican Popular Music since its inception as "Ska".
Its synthesis of African and European elements does not come
under scrutiny here.2 It is more important to establish the fact
that its vocal and instrumental tradition and certain rhythmical
features have always been present in Ska, Rock Steady and
Reggae, emphasized more or less according to the type of song
and the individual "composer".
We need to note three important rhythmical components of
Ex. 1 .2. ,
the banjo "filler" I
the guitar accompaniment U "1. J
the bass rhythm LA i L
According to Garth White, one of the first chroniclers of
Jamaican Pop Music, and one who has spoken frequently on
the subject in radio broadcasts and public lectures, the history
of the form has followed a clear line of evolution from Ska
through Rock Steady to Reggae.
No one seems to know for sure who "invented" Ska.
Musically, what appears to have happened was that Jamaican
musicians "took over" the American Rhythm and Blues that
flooded the Jamaican market round the late fifties. The
characteristic boogie beat of the piano:
lost its bass notes
u Lf Lf
and to this was added a modified mento banjo beat usually
taken over by the horns
and a syncopated bass on the traps
1 T I U W
to make the heavy, corporeal rhythm through which were
channelled the creative instincts of considerable numbers of
musicians, many of whom lived in the economically deprived
areas of Kingston.
Justin Hinds' Carry go Bring Come, which might now be
regarded as a Ska "classic", is typical of the genre. Thematically,
it consists of one idea:
SC P p
harmonized with three chords. Over the basic Ska rhythm, the
melody is repeated ten times. This is followed by an instru-
mental interlude of improvisation over the harmonic scheme
which is repeated four times and the song continues with a
further five repeats of the theme before it fades out. The
protest contained in the words is hardly reflected in the music,
whose only hint of melodic tension lies in the third bar and
whose instrumental interlude is "catchy" and basically good-
Although this was the era of the big bands, it was also the
era that was to see the growth of the sound system as an
integral part of the Jamaican entertainment scene. The sound
system, located in areas that might otherwise have had only
intermittent musical entertainment, brought Ska to the people,
creating a situation that bears an interesting parallel to the
growth of the Steel Band Movement in Trinidad.
"The people among whom the Steel Bank Movement arose
were the deviants in Trinidad society, the slum folk, the social
isolates, the modern-day "Jamettes". "3
The Ska also flourished among the "social isolates", the
rural migrants who pullulated round the sound systems in the
ghettos of Kingston. Music benumbs pain, and a heavy,
hypnotic beat amplified to the point where the effect is a
physical blow not only provides a numbing of pain but induces
a rhythmic ecstasy, a blessed obliviousness of time and place.
Bob Marley and the Wailers, years afterwards, summed it up
in Trench Town Rock:
One good thing about music when it hits you
You feel all right.
One good thing about music when it hits you
You feel all right.
Hit me with music
Hit me with music
Above the heavy beat of the Ska and the often tentative
and inhibited attempts at improvisation in what was then more
often an instrumental form, there began to be heard the voice
of the "little man" whose grudge against a seemingly oppressive
and unjust society began to take positive shape and find
expression with greater and greater confidence.
Around 1965 the Ska slowed down into the Rock Steady,
probably because it tended to become a vocal form rather than
an instrumental one. A number of interesting developments
seem to have taken place. As one would have expected, the
phraseology of melodies became more extended though they
still consisted largely of repetition. The guitar took over the
heavy up-beat thus:
giving extra emphasis to the off-beat, and the bass, which
formerly had adhered mostly to a simple type of "walking"
jazz bass, became an independent entity, rhythmically de-
veloped, melodic in character and used contrapuntally, if
repetitively, to the vocal line thus:
EX. 5 Take it easy Alton Ellis
y 7, 7t r y
The incessant repetition of this bass motif stemmed, of
course, from the harmony, which remained static. Carl
McLeod, the drummer, scathingly commented on the "two
chords played over and over again like a stuck record".4
Although the vocal element was emphasized more than
before, the Rock Steady nevertheless remained essentially
dance music whose main rhythmic impetus came from the
amplified bass. As electronic equipment became more and
more sophisticated, the bass was turned up to the point where,
in any urban area in Jamaica on any Saturday night, the whole
atmosphere vibrated to the thunderous roll of those reiterated
bass motifs. There is a whole generation in Jamaica today to
whom music without a booming bass is wrongly balanced, and
music that remains too far below the threshold of pain is
Around 1969 the Reggae came into vogue. This synthesis of
Ska and Rock Steady and the vocal element of the Mento lent
itself to far more variety than its two predecessors had done.
At first, the Mento rhythm was predominant in organ and
guitar and the emphasis of the off-beats by means of the Mento
strum Ex. 7a
freed the traps and allowed for
much more interest and flexibility in that area. By late 1971,
Peter Tosh's Maga Dog was making the organ beat different
and the bass line is
typical of what emerged out of the harmonic scheme as a
rhythmic and melodic entity
f L I t IL I I -' I
Around the same time (1971-72) other variations on the
rhythm began to creep in especially the Ex. 7b
of the keyboard and rhythm guitars 7. v". a W .
It is interesting to find, also, at this time that the balance of
instruments was being controlled with much more discretion.
No doubt, production facilities and more skilled technical
assistance had much to do with this. Far too often, in the old
Ska and Rock Steady, one was aware of the musicians' efforts
being frustrated by bad production, and far too many songs
sounded as if the band was in the studio but the singer was
placed down by the back gate when the master recording was
Although the Ska and the Rock Steady had exported well,
especially to other West Indian islands, Reggae became
Jamaica's contribution to the international Pop scene. Its
increased sophistication, its greater flexibility, the emergence
of professionally highly skilled artists and advanced recording
techniques in Jamaica freed it of the kind of happy-go-lucky
amateurishness that had so often confined the Ska to being a
product mainly for home consumption. Its future seems
The "Reggae" song has no beginning, no middle and no end.
The peremptory up-beat of the traps, which seldom varies from
song to song, is less an introduction than the articulation of a
flow that never seems to have stopped. There is no climax,
there is no end. The music merely fades out into the continuum
of which it seems to be an unending part. Like the Blues, which
shares with it this same characteristic, it lies outside the post-
Renaissance sense of time and in this it is essentially non-
By the same token, it is functional in intention rather than
artistic. One does not listen to Reggae, one moves to it and
the movement it is wedded to is totally and uniquely Jamaican.
No other West Indian, let alone a European or an American,
black or white, can effectively copy the sinuous, earth-rooted
pelvic thrust of the Jamaican dancing Reggae. The Trinidadian,
for example, dissipates his energies in extrovert movement
whose direction is outward and upward. The European is all
shoulders and no hips. Only the Jamaican seems to maintain
a kind of introvert, private relationship with the piece of earth
he dances on. Nor is there a tendency to dance together even
when dancing with a partner.6"
It would be foolish to ignore the influence of foreign Pop
in making Jamaicans addicted to "beat"rmusic of which Reggae
is a part. In Western Pop, as in Western "straight" music, the
tendency has been towards a dissolution of "consciousness of
self", either by employing exaggerated "corporeal" rhythms
which have a ritualistic effect or by using irregular rhythms
which raise the consciousness "above" what is earth-bound.
The interesting aspect of this, in relation to Jamaica, is the fact
that the ritualistic ingredient has always been here ready, it
would seem, to satisfy a now-universal need. At the same time,
a distinctive local art form has evolved.
Over the ten year period in which Jamaican Pop has
flourished we find that it is from the songs of men such as
Justin Hinds and the Dominoes, Bob Marley and the Wailers,
Toots and the Maytals, Max Romeo, Bob Andy (in his early
days), Babba Brooks, Roland Alphonso, The Ethiopians that
one mines the unalloyed metal of Ska, Rock Steady and Reggae,
rather than from the more "pleasing" performances of sophis-
ticated professionals who so easily copied it (and often with
It is not so much in the love songs that were sung with
Americanized vowels and one eye on the popularity charts as
in the social protest songs that were born of real creative tension
that one finds the truly indigenous efforts.
Folk art is traditionally an impersonal art. It is more
concerned with blank statement than with expatiation. And
even more so in the Ska/Rock Steady/Reggae where the
rhythmic hypnosis is ever present to reinforce the basic
statement. We observe it in the Ethiopians' Everything Crash:
S CI I
op or V; V 7
telephone company too
down to de policemen too
The woes suffered by the citizens of Kingston are always
refracted through the single melodic cell that echoes and
re-echoes the burden of the song "everything crash". And
again the melody never varies.
This apparent inarticulateness of The Ethiopians is wholly
effective. In fact it is part of their style, just as an obsessive
reiteration of one idea with pauses in between is
characteristic of the grassroots man. We find it again in their
What a Fire which is generated again from a melodic cell
of two descending notes Ex. 9
nbut manages to
expand to the pentatonic
' I 1'Lt 1
J 40t6. fa;. % -
melodic characteristics that are imposed on all music with a
strong beat: short phrases and their incessant repetition.
On the subject of Jamaicanness, one must note also the
strong current of rural folk music that runs through so much of
the popular music, apart from the ever-present Mento. The
Revival strain has been noted frequently in songs such as
0 Let the Power Fall; but often overlooked is the fact that a
song like the celebrated 007 of Desmond Dekker is based
almost entirely on a work song form, its responsorial patterns
used with such sophistication that its rural background is
This brings us to the blend of urban sophistication and rural
innocence that -we find in all Jamaican Popular Music. The
sophistication lies in the instrumentation, in production skill
and also in the carefully worked-out arrangements that so often
include vocal groups that back-up the lead singer, introducing
a new textural and sensuous element that was absent in the
The rural innocence remains in the basically simple melodic
lines, the bald and unsentimental presentation of ideas (with,
of course, the exception of Hit Parade slush), the elementary
harmony, which is so often merely textural, and above all in
the fact that the rhythm, for all its drive and thrust, remains
essentially relaxed and un-neurotic. When we compare Reggae
with some of the hysterical Pop that has come out of America
in the past two years, we can only reach the conclusion that
Jamaica still does retain a refreshing rural ambience; even in
a highly sophisticated arrangement like Derek Harriott's
Psychedelic Train which has a forward drive not found in
Jamaican music there is still an absence of neurosis.
So long as it resists the lure of prettificationn" and the
demands of the "industry" and the middle-class patron, Reggae
is distinguished by a basic honesty akin to that which we find
in the Blues. Its very rigidity of form could be construed as an
almost fatalistic acceptance of reality, since no one seems to
have tried to "push" any other form with any degree of effort.
Perhaps the most original mind in Jamaican popular music
is Bob Marley. His speech is natural. The bitterness and passion
that lie behind so many of his songs are tempered with an ironic
detachment and a deliberately limited emotional range, all the
more effective because it avoids stridency or self-pity.
There is nothing harsh in the vocal timbre of his "dread"
songs Screw Face or Small Axe but the message is unmistakable.
Above the cunningly distorted, almost convulsive Reggae
rhythm of Screw Face the melodic line weaves a grotesque
path, always coloured, underscored and commented upon by
the Wailers in the background. New elements creep in:
changing textures, changing dynamics, and harmonic colour
that, however simple, is devestatingly effective.
There are no sweet songs that Marley sings. His main gift is
not a gift of melody; yet his melodies are so closely integrated
with the words that they grow on the listener, revealing their
true artistry only after several hearings. This is the sign of the
true creative mind distinct and different from that of the mere
"tune cobbler" who can turn out a winning product for the Hit
Parade at the drop of a fifty dollar note.
And, as with the far simpler, less sophisticated songs of
performers such as The Ethiopians, one is left with a musical
motif that reverberates in the memory as a crystallization of
the whole song.
EX. 11 ., in Screw Face:
Screw face know a who fe frigh-ten
Screw face know a who fe frigh-ten
Ok Lf. !
Again the psychological association is echoed in Oh Lord.
Nothing could be more typically Jamaican than this dry,
laconic music that so closely resembles the speech accents and
speech habits of "the common man". It fits in, too, with the
EX. 11 (b)
in Small Axe:
rea-dy to cut you down -
rea-dy to cut you down -
EX. 11(c) -
in Duppy Conqueror: _
I'm a duppy con-quer-or
It will have become apparent by now that the words "listen"
and "art" have begun to creep in. Inevitably they must when
we find an individual setting himself a creative problem and
solving it in the original, highly-skilled manner that Marley
With Marley, and with artists like Toots and the Maytals
(Who can fail to be fascinated by the textured, rhythmic
patterning of their Pressure Drop?), Bob Andy (in his early
days before he became attracted by the lure of the big lights),
Max Romeo and others like them who have been content to
remain themselves, we are no longer in the world of pure
entertainment, of music served up as a commercial product to
be consumed by as many people as possible in the shortest
time. We are in a world where people are communicating -
not just offering temporary musical therapy at gut level. And
this is why a serious study of the music tends to ignore, with
seeming perversity, so many hit parade winners.
Another feature that distinguishes these artists is that, while
their songs are based on the rhythm of the dance, they are not
dictated by it. It is interesting to compare Alton Ellis' Lord
Deliver Us a song that has many good points with Max
Romeo's Fowl Thief Although the former is a protest song
that bewails conditions in' Jamaica, it is primarily dance music.
The dominating rhythm takes the edge from the words. Or, to
put it another way, one feels that the music is merely a vehicle
to carry the words. It is not generated by them.
On the other hand, Romeo's Fowl Thief gets the message
across simply because the music seems to have been chosen to
underline a situation in which conscience can no longer fight
against necessity. The word "chosen" is used deliberately: the
melody is a simple nursery rhyme that has been transplanted
over the Rock Steady rhythm and juxtaposed against the moral
struggle reflected in the words.
"Lord have mercy upon my soul
How many chickens did I stole?
Ten last night and the night before
And I am going back tonight to steal some more.
I don't like to steal but I've got to eat
I don't like to beg but I am on my knees
I stole some chickens the night before
And I am going back tonight to steal some more."
In the retreat to the melody's childlike simplicity, guilt is
assauged. By means of an inspired juxtaposition of two differ-
ent elements a real and human situation has been communi-
cated with devastating clarity, exteriorized with the unsenti-
mentality we have spoken of previously as being typical of folk
What emerges overwhelmingly from an examination of
Reggae is the fact that it is the only musical art form to have
grown up in Jamaica in the past decade. Its complexion is
wholly Jamaican, its roots deeply entrenched in rural folk
music which is probably why it exports so well; it is one of
the few cultural forms that have become essential to Jamaican
people of all colours and social strata all the year round. And
it mirrors the Jamaican condition with the kind of psychological
clarity of which only music is capable.
There are countless aspects of the form which await the
attention of serious researchers: The strong religious influence
that is reflected in so much of the music; a comparison with
other popular West Indian forms such as the Calypso; a
comparison between Reggae designed for foreign tastes and
Reggae of the pure grassroots variety that never aimed "above
Torrington Bridge"; an examination of various record
producers' individual sounds; the evolution of the bass line as
melodic and rhythmic counterpoint; the possible effects for
The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari. A musical group that has
enjoyed wide popularity at home and abroad.
Pic. by Courtesy of SWING Magazine.
good and ill, that the "industry" has upon musicians'
creativity; its growing eclecticism (a recent recording by John
Holt, Do You Want Me, features the violin as one of the main
instruments and a quotation from Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
as an integral part of the musical fabric). All these and other
aspects await the attention of future West Indian musicologists.
One cannot leave the subject, however, without thinking of
the future. To me, there seem to be two significant trends
which have already made themselves apparent and which, if
developed further, point to exciting possibilities. One is the
kind of originality shown by Bob Marley, the other is the
In a JIS Radio Programme8 in 1968 Bob Marley was asked
about the future of Jamaican popular music.
After suggesting that a return to Mento would be "too easy",
Marley went on to say, "All we want now is the music to the
beat ... the music to carry it ... better arrangement and thing".
James Carnegie, at the same time, predicted that Rock
Steady might either revert to Mento or become something
Marley went ahead and followed his own prediction and the
second possibility mentioned by Carnegie. His "Duppy
Conqueror, which is probably destined to become a Reggae
classic, unequivocally showed what could happen when the
beat became submissive to the creative demands of the com-
Those who would adhere to a sentimental attachment to the
past might regret this. They should not. We are a dynamic and
changing society that is becoming ever more articulate and it
seems inevitable that popular creative expression must become
more and more sophisticated.
The Rastafarian influence has been present from the earliest
days when Count Ossie was heard in Carolina. All through the
history of Ska, Rock Steady and Reggae, the Rastafarian voice
runs like a thread, weaving in and out, introducing a new
vocabulary in the lyrics, a strong liturgical strain in the melodies
(what more distinctive example of Jamaican intoning is there
than Jordan River?), occasionally superimposing the Rasta
beat over the pop beat.
'Then came the Mystic Revelations of Ras Tafari. Had they
not won and commanded the following they have, they might
have remained outside the category of "Popular" musicians,
especially, as, in the early days of their formation, they
eschewed Pop as being alien to their religious philosophy.
Since then they have joined the mainstream, bringing to the
vocal form a regenerated instrumental element that might well
have far-reaching effects in the future.
In their public appearances, The Mystic Revelations have
introduced a new dimension into music making in Jamaica.
What began as private withdrawal into the world of free
improvisation that shocked the uninitiated when they were first
exposed to it, has become a communal celebration of Rastafarian
culture and ideology that invites comparison with the free jazz
of Ornette Coleman.
It is possible that the Rastafarian is the only member of
grass roots Jamaican society who not only hopes for but also
believes in a new horizon, a better world. His imagination
reaches beyond Jamaica to Africa, to a heaven on earth whose
sure existence helps free him from the hopelessness engendered
by the misery of so many aspects of Jamaican ghetto life. And
his music, although it is rooted and grounded in the obsessive,
corporeal rhythm of the Rasta drum beat, nevertheless reflects
in its horn lines a freedom of imagination that from the
beginning contemptuously by-passed all the laws of Western
tonality and at the same time unfolded themselves in the
unmetiical rhythms of pre-Renaissance and non-Western musical
It provides a release that, like the beat of the Reggae bass,
can induce a blessed obliviousness of the present. Perhaps it is
an even better thing; for it not only deadens pain, it rises above
it, appealing to the senses and the spirit, the mind and the
imagination all at once.
1. Bruno Nettl: Folk and Traditional Music of the Western Continents
(Prentice Hall) 1965.
2. Before the Renaissance, music reflected man's unconcern for things
corporeal in irregular additive rhythms that avoided any kind of
physical association. The effect of the Renaissance had been to
make men conscious not only of "the pain of being" but conscious
also that their lives were measured by Time and bounded by Death.
The Sixteenth Century was the great age of clockmaking. Musically,
this was reflected in the development of harmony and the adoption
of the alternating strong and weak beats of regular rhythm. See
Wilfred Mellers: Caliban Reborn (Gollancz) 1967 Ch. 1.
2. See Ivy Baxter: The Arts of an Island (The Scarecrow Press, Inc.)
1970 Ch. 14. Useful for background and dance description, Requires
more musical data.
3. J.D. Elder: "Color, Music and Conflict: A Study in Trinidad."
Reprinted in Black Society in the New World ed. Richard Faucht.
4. In "Rock Steady Profile", a series of four radio programmes pro-
duced by Lennie Littlewhite for J.I.S. in 1968.
5. From Bob Witner's Demonstration Tape (1972).
6. Mellers (Op. Cit. p. 141) makes a pertinent reference to the younger
generation which could be relevant to the Jamaican situation:
"The fact that young people dance alone, and not with a partner,
to beat music is interesting in itself. They avoid the togetherness of
relationship with another person (a love relationship, however
joyful, will also inevitably hurt) in order to enter into a collective
unconsciousness. There's no coming together of individuals; their
lonesomeness merges into a corporate act, and belonging to the
group asserts one's livingness, such as it is ... Through its rudiment-
ariness, its unremittingness, and its loudness it provides a substitute
for security, or a pretense that we, the young, in an insecure world
can stand or dance on our own feet."
But further comment is left to dance experts and social psychologists.
7. Rock Steady Profile.
Photo by Raphael Shearer
by Barbara Gloudon
It was no mere chance that the popular music section of
Festival was most successful in capturing the widest public
imagination, for within the past ten years, it is to the pop
music and recording scene that grass-roots Jamaicans have been
turning for heroes. Many Jamaicans had never even heard of
the Musgrave Medal until it was awarded to Desmond Dekker
for his contribution to Jamaican pop music at home and abroad.
History books record sons of the soil who, by hard work and
dilligence have risen to prominence. Many Jamaicans, who had
not got around to the history books could hardly be expected
to identify with that message, but they understood the rise
to fame of country boy Jimmy Cliff who not only sang his way
to fortune in London, topping the pop charts in many countries
as well, but became the nationally acclaimed star bwoy of the
first Jamaican full-length feature film ( The Harder They Come).
From the Reggae sub-culture arose new heroes and new
inspiration to youngsters who hitherto, had never found any
example to inspire them. Reggae, the sound which was the
child of the Ska and the Rock Steady, came alive midway
through the ten years and has survived till now, copied and
plagiarized abroad and only within the past year or two,
acknowledged as born in Jamaica. In return, Jamaican pop
artists have not hesitated to raid the production of international
song writers and to Reggae-rise them with total disregard for
copyright. Attempts at stressing the importance of copyright
laws have been made at various times by government and
music industry sources but the trend continues.
Looking back on Festival and its achievements, another
area of success was in the dance. Perhaps it was inspiration
from the National Dance Theatre Company, itself a child of
Independence, the introduction of dance techniques into school
activities, as well as the natural Love of movement found in
our people, why the dance competitions and displays of Festi-
val excited so much participation.
In this packaging-conscious age, if one were to attach a
label to the Jamaican cultural decade 1962-72, it would have
to be The Age of Reggae and Relevance.
It was relevance which critics, and in time audiences, seemed
to be looking for in nearly every aspect of the arts, and it was
in Reggae, the music form grounded in some of the strongest
folk traditions, that Jamaican popular music eventually drew
world attention, if not remuneration for the Jamaican origina-
tors and performers.
When the government of 1962 took office, it brought into
public view Mr. Edward Seaga, who not only managed to con-
trol the directions of government financial policy, but to create
a structure in which he could push the folk arts in which he
was personally interested.
Mr. Seaga created the Jamaica Festival Commission and set
into operation machinery for the islandwide Festival which
became a melange of the arts, from cooking to choral singing.
Emphasis was also laid on research and resuscitation of some
of the cultural forms which had been neglected. The first
Festival came into being in 1963, with preliminaries spaced out
through the early months of the year, reaching its finale in the
first week of August, when Jamaica celebrated its independence.
Festival, over the years, had many flaws and rough spots.
Much of the efforts of the early years were lost because of im-
proper documentation. For example, although the literary
community cried out for a Festival anthology, incorporating
in book form the best of the literary efforts from each year's
Festival, this was never done. The Jamaica Journal has carried
some of the best Festival offerings each year, but the record
could have been taken further.
In another area of Festival, there was a kind of suspicion
and a credulity gap between the aspirations of the dedicated
Festival Workers-participants and the rest of the artistic
In the visual arts, for instance, many of the leading painters
shied away from Festival competition, on the grounds that the
prizes offered were insultingly small. They reinforced their
argument by pointing to the anomaly in reward given to the
winners of beauty contests and the paltry sums awarded to the
Festival also took a long time to catch on with the middle
class elite who recoiled with horror at some aspects of the
celebration, in particular the Festival Song. Chief criticism was
the inanity of the words each year (from Bam-Bam to Ba-ba
Boom). Despite this, the Festival Song competition became one
of the most popular aspects of the annual event, with pop
artists bringing not only their fullest creative energies to the
task, but strong-arm tactics as well; for with the title of Festival
Song winner, doors to recording studios were opened and the
promise of fame and fortune. Fulfilment of such dreams could
not be left to mere chance, as any experienced campaigner in
the pop lists knows.
Kumina, as interpreted by the National Dance Theatre Com-
pany. Pic. by Maria La Yacona.
* Features Editor, The Daily Gleaner
A scene from a local production of "DEVILS".
Pic. by Maria La Yacona.
The Jamaica Folk Singers in a stirring rendition of a revival
song. Pic. by Maria La Yacona.
John Canoe dances have enjoyed a measure of revival during
the last few years. Pic. by Maria La Yacona.
This was an area in which the fruits of research were widely
enjoyed. Through research for Festival, Jamaicans became
aware of Kumina, Etu, Bruckin Party and the other ancient
dance forms which had been hidden within particular areas of
the island and hardly known in others. It brought to light the
fact that the origins of some of our folk dances and music
(especially as revealed by the Jamaican Folk Singers) were not
as obscure as we had been led to believe. It served warning that
unless we did something to preserve these traditions, they
would disappear as other aspects of our heritage have disappear-
ed through neglect. The message was well taken. In time, not
only St. Thomas villagers were seeing Kumina, but sophist-
icated audiences in other parts of the island as well as abroad.
The National Dance Theatre Company having wisely culled
this most exciting and vibrant ritual dance from the Festival
books took it on stage, refined and honed.
It was the work of the NDTC and others in the past ten
years which helped to set off the discussions on Relevance.
Was the work of the American modern dance stylists, taken
in its original form, relevant to the Jamaican society? Should
our dancers attempt classical ballet, or should they remain
grounded in Jamaican and African dance forms? For its part,
the NDTC survived the arguments, formulating its own pro-
grammes and taking them on tour to North America and to
Europe, as well as the rest of the Caribbean. What is relevant
in one country is quaint in another and reviews of the Company
varied, leaning mainly to praise.
Relevance also became the by-word in theatre 1962-72.
Should newly-independent Jamaicans perform Shakespeare?
Why not more West Indian-African-Black American works?
Should we sing opera-operetta? Why the harpsichord and con-
cert grand, instead of the rhumba box and bamboo fife? The
arguments were sometimes entertaining, sometimes unbeliev-
ably dull. History theatrical and otherwise was made when
the UWI Creative Arts Centre at Mona was closed down by
student protest centered mainly on relevance of programmes
performed under the Centre's aegis. The Centre re-opened,
with programmes a little more relevant.
Relevance notwithstanding, Jamaican theatre progressed
and thrived. During the decade, the Barn Theatre was born
and brought to light a significant new playwright in the person
of Trevor Rhone. The revue and its brash look at politicians
and their pecadilloes emerged under the banner of the Eight
O'Clock Jamaica Series and set a fashion for the smart uptown
set who thereafter flocked to anything light and not requiring
deep thought. Other theatre groups, notably Jamaica Playhouse,
exploited the trend to escapism theatre saving their serious
moments for Shakespeare. The Bard was venerated over the
ten years in the Garden Theatre at 72 Hope Road, and to mark
the tenth anniversary of the annual tributes to his work,
(relevant or otherwise) there will be staged in parks and other
public places, a special series of The Merry Wives of Windsor.
One of the real contributions which the Shakespeare series
has made to local theatre is the imaginative use which it has
made of the popular folklore comedy performers, Louise
Bennett and Ranny Williams who by their stagecraft and skill,
brought the Anancy touch to some of Shakespeare's most
choice roles and so widened their appeal to audiences.
The Little Theatre Movement continued its contribution to
the island's entertainment scene, with the annual pantomime,
employing the talents of local writers as well as a full com-
plement of performers and behind the scenes crew. The LTM,
the theatre group with the greatest continuity in the island,
being over 30 years old, also expanded its operation to a
speech and drama school for young students with the aim of
providing more talent for years to come. It has been brought
home vividly this season that there is need for keeping the
talent supply going. For the first time in many years, the
annual'pantomime will be without one of its stars, Louise
Bennett, who asked for a break this year.
While no one can replace the talent of Miss Bennett, the
show has to go on.
No review of the artistic decade would be complete without
tribute to the impact of the Rastafarian cult. In popular music,
in drama, in painting and sculpture, the cultists, more than any
other group have made their influence evident. Perhaps when
the time comes at the end of another ten years to review the
scene, it may well be found that the Rastafarians, more than
any other, shaped the destiny in terms of relevance. Speaking
through mystic utterances at times, at other times through
the pulse of drums, yet others by the medium of the bold
canvas strokes and harsh colours of the primitives, the Rasta-
farians have forced Jamaica's performing world to take a look
at itself. It is not quite clear what the overall view will be, seen
at the end of the next decade.
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