Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Back Cover

Title: Jamaica journal
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090030/00027
 Material Information
Title: Jamaica journal
Series Title: Jamaica journal.
Abbreviated Title: Jam. j.
Physical Description: v. : ill. (part col.) ; 31 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Institute of Jamaica
Publisher: Institute of Jamaica.
Place of Publication: Kingston
Publication Date: 1975
Frequency: semiannual
Subject: Periodicals -- Jamaica   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Jamaica
Dates or Sequential Designation: Began with Dec. 1967 issue.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090030
Volume ID: VID00027
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 01797964
lccn - 75027862
issn - 0021-4124

Table of Contents
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Full Text

VOL. 9 NO. 2 & 3 1975


1975 '

SLeft: "Sea Grape Pickers No. 1" by Albert Huie (Courtesy of Rev. Philip Hart)
Top: "Selection" by Heather Sutherland oil
SCentre: "African Masquerade" by Clifton Campbell oil
d 'Below: "In the Beautiful Caribbean" by Colin Garland oil

[Continued on Page 84]



1975 VOL. 9 NO. 2& 3

Jamaica Journal is published Quarterly by
the Institute of Jamaica, 12-16 East
Street, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies.

Rex Nettleford, Chairman
Dahlia Mills Repole, Vice Chairman
Neville Dawes,
Manager & Secretary to the Board of Governors

Jean D'Costa (Chairman)
Dahlia Mills Repole
Neville Dawes


Raphael Shearer

Offset Printing Co. Ltd.


Jamaica $1.00 U.K. & Europe 75p
West Indies $3.00 (B.W.I.)
U.S. & Canada $2.00

I year $ 4.00
3 years $10.00
5 years $18.00

Post Paid.

U.S. & Canada
1 year $ 7.00 plus $ 1.80 postage
3 years $20.00 plus $ 5.40 postage
5 years $32.00 plus $ 9.00 postage
West Indies
I year $10.00 plus $ 3.60 postage
3 years $28.00 plus $10.80 postage
5 years $36.00 plus $18.00 postage
U.K. & Europe
Year 2.80 plus 90p postage
3 years 8.00 plus 2.70 postage
5 years 13.00 plus 4.50 postage
Africa, Asia & Australia
U.S. or U.K. subscription rates plus double their
respective postage rates.
Overseas Subscribers please note-:
Due to recent increases in postal rates, it has been
necessary to increase postal charges for overseas

The Arrivals of Black W omen ......................... Lucille Mathurin 2
The 17th & 18th Century Settlement Pattern
of Port Royal ................................. . Antony Priddy 8
Printing comes to Jamaica ............................. Roderick Cave 11


Cecil Baugh, Master Potter ........................ Pat Cumper 18
Jamaican Paintings, Selections from Exhibition in Havana, 1975 Inside Cover
National Exhibition of Paintings 1975 ................... .. Usha Prasad 28


Contending Values.The Prose Fiction of Claude McKay ..... Mervyn Morris 36
A Commentary on Edward David Cronon's,
"The Black Moses" ........ ....... ............ Noel White 43
Submerged Mothers ....................... Edward Kamau Brathwaite 48
'They Clapped' (Poem) ............................. Nikki Giovanni 50
Jamaican Novel
Review, The Last Enchantment Neville Dawes ..... BasilMcFarlane 51
Critical Review, "A Man Come Home" ................... Jean D'Costa 53

Extract from, "The Music and Musical Instruments
of Jamaica" ....... .......................... Astley Clerk 59


The Red Macaw, from Robinson's Description Given in "The Birds of
Jamaica" by Phillip Henry Gosse, (London 1847) 68
Measures for Transferring Technology to Jamaica .... Raymond M. Wright 69
Nuclear Reactor Safety ........................... Anthony A. Chen 74
Tomato Pinworm, a New Pest for Jamaica .............. Caroll Henry and 76
Brian Rudert

The Use of Electronic Media; T.V., Radio & Films in the Teaching of
English ... an overview ....... ............ .. . Pamela Mordecai 78

Front Cover Calabash Tree by Karl Craig
Back Cover

Inside Front Cover Jamaican Paintings (Selections from Exhib tion in Havana 1975)
Inside Back Cover



by Lucille Mathurin

Lucille Mathurin Mair was born in Kingston Jamaica and was educated
at Wolmer's Girls' School. She gained her B.A. Hons. in History at the
University of London and her Ph.D. (History) at the University of the J.
West Indies. Mrs. Mair is now Minister, Deputy Permanent -
Representative to Jamaica's Permanent Mission to the UN, whore she
has been active in promoting the cause of Third World women, and
other social causes.
Illustrations from:
Sketches taken during a voyage to, and a seven year residence in T2nidad
R. Brdgens,.
2 Published by Robert Jennings & Co
2 .CA 18401

There is an epic dimension to the theme of
Afro-American migration, which has significantly,
received impressive treatment in the verse-t :'ogy of the
poet/historian Edward Brathwaite.' And yet, profound
and wide ranging as is Brathwaite's perception of the
black nomadic experience, his assumptions are almost ex-
clusively those of "the poor, pathless, harbourless spade"
who is male. But slavery and the slave trade, providing as
they did a crude levelling off of sexual distinctions,
,ensured that the woman too shared every inch of the
mnan's physical and spiritual odyssey.
African women were among the original victims of
European slave trading. The Portugese Gomes Eannes de
Azurara, whose chronicle contains evidence of the earliest
Guinea coast commerce in Africans, tells of the black
Moorish slave woman, in 1441, whose male owners
allegedly fled, abandoning her to a party of white raiders
led by Antom Goncalvez, the pioneer Portugese trader:
this unexpectedly easy success encouraged Goncalvez and
others to pursue the traffic.2
Apocryphal perhaps, but suggestive of the centuries of
justification, which followed that first assault, and which
implied Africa's precedence and acquiescence in its own
enslavement and that of its womenfolk.3
The facts about pre-colonial African women have been
to a great extent distorted in the tales of seventeenth and
eighteenth century adventurers whose perspectives were
masculine and Eurocentric, and who furthermore, seldom
had access to Africa's inner life.
For centuries after his first intrusion into Africa the
white man remained a stranger on the threshold.' The
policy of abstention imposed on foreigners, right into the
19th and 20th centuries, evolved naturally out of
traditional concepts of the community's relationship to its
environment, the lineal ownership of land for instance,
governed by powerful religious sanctions which forbade
alienation.5 Social and domestic institutions, also
manifestations of the religious belief system, remained
among the main areas of native existence which were
screened from the eyes of the outsider. Women in some
countries, such as Benin, which was placed in early
contact with the white trader, could only be approached on
pain of death.6
But even if it had been possible to see her condition in
depth, and to assess the African woman accurately, this
was not the purpose of the newcomers to the continent.
Continuing the apologetics of the Portugese pathfinder,
successive generations of Europeans used what they
conceived to be the status of women in "primitive"
culture, as the gauge of civilisation. Show us, they said,
the level of women in society, and we will show you the
level of the whole society.7 This was valid to a point, but
was compromised by the need to establish, whatever the
evidence, that the female in Africa was degraded, ipso
facto that Africa was degraded: enslavement then was
The notion of masculine superiority inspired the
ordering of the social hierarchy in Europe, as in Africa;
white men, however, failed to admit their common
inheritance with black men in this, as in many other
respects. Both had in fact developed matrimonial systems
reflecting the principle of a double morality: both, in
general terms, legalised and sanctified sexual unions
between men and women, imposed strict chastity on the
wife under heavy penalties, and permitted the husband
freedom with impunity to cohabit with other women. But
there were essential differences: European monogamy
formalised the ideal of a mutually exclusive alliance

between one man and one woman: then under cover of
darkness, created a whole class of women "outside the
pale," the only conceivable partners in extra-marital sex:
the fallen woman in extremity was the prostitute,
rationalised by masculine thought, into a necessary evil.
"Remove prostitutes from human affairs," St. Augustine
had declared "and you would pollute the world with
lust".9 Hundreds of years later, E.H. Lecky wrote, "Her-
self the supreme type of vice, she (the prostitute) is
ultimately the most efficient guardian of virtue."10
With perhaps equal sophistry, but infinitely more
compassion, African polygyny organised the right of the
husband to move openly from one female hut to another:
but the "other" woman could also be a wife.
European sensitivity was shocked to find the male
capacity for multiple mating so institutionalized within
marriage. Polygyny became a strong factor in external
assessments of man/woman relationships in Africa, and a
vital measuring rod of the status of the continent.
White male observers testified to the widespread
incidence of polygyny throughout the countries of west
and central Africa from which Jamaican slaves came in
the 17th and 18th centuries." As chief factor for the
Dutch at Elmina, William Bosman extensively explored
Guinea in the late 17th century and wrote of the Gold
Coast, "each man marries as many wives as he pleases, or
is consistent with his circumstances, though they seldom
exceed twenty, but are commonly contented with a
number betwixt three and ten and these who would appear
very great compleat the mentioned number of twenty.""
These female symbols of conspicuous male consumption
appeared to the European to be also objects of economic
exploitation. "Most of these wives" continued Bosman,
"are obliged to till the ground, plant Milhio or Jommes, or
otherwise work for their Husbands, and to take care that
he finds something to eat when he comes home ... Whilst
the man can only idly spend his time in impertinent
tattling (the Women's business in our Country) and
drinking of Palm wine which the poor wives are frequently
obliged to raise money to pay for and by their labour
maintain and satisfied these lazy wretches their greedy
thirst after wine.""3 Another Dutch writer, Nyendael, of
the same period, speaks of masses of indolent men on the
Slave Coast, who lay "the whole burthen of their work on
their wives and slaves, whether it be tilling the ground,
spinning of cotton, weavin of cloaths, or any other
handicraft whilst they, if they have but the least stock,
apply themselves to merchandise alone.""
"The women of Benin," Bosman stated, "are as much
slaves as in any place in this Kingdom."" Foreign
witnesses testified that their servitude implied sexual
exploitation as well. "Several negroes are so Brutal that
they marry many Wives only to get a good living by them
and to wear gilt Horns (they) give their wives full order to
entice other men ... which done these she Brutes
immediately tell their husbands who know very well how
to fleece the Amorous Spark.''6
This unfavourable view of women within the African
marriage system became firmly lodged in the European
mind, carrying with it serious implications for the
subsequent judgment of the Jamaican woman. Polygyny
was seen as a repulsive institution, symtomatic of black
masculine oppression, and its offshoot, black female
debasement. It stood out, as Curtin suggests, "a special
evil epitomising the low condition of women and hence the
low state of society."'7
It is fortunate that modern research in a number of
disciplines, anthropological, archaeological and linguistic,

in conjunction with extensive use of oral traditions, now
makes possible the reinterpretation of the old travellers'
tales in more rational terms.18 "The dialogue between
historian and anthropologist" has been especially fruitful
in the reconstruction of social institutions which are
common to a realtively homobenous West Africa complex:
their complementary findings give evidence of a cultural
continuum which is solidly grounded in a living past.
They make it possible to do greater justice to the reality of
the African woman who underwent and who survived the
Middle Passage.
There is no doubt that plurality of wives reflected the
nearly universal acceptance of the theory of male'
superiority over the female, whose labour could be
exploited within the marriage system. The majority of
West African societies were masculine dominated,
religious and public, as well as domestic authority and
decision making resided in the man.'" As head of a
patrilocal sibsystem his control extended over an ever
widening concentric of kin, composed of wives and their
offspring, sons, their wives, grandsons and grand-
daughters, further spreading out to embrace domestic
slaves. It was understood that the woman's reproductive
capacity, as well as her labour, were subjects of masculine
command: hence her marriage which effected the transfer
of these assets to another male authority, was something
outside of her control: the male members of the kins
involved usually decided and exchanged her bride-price.
The man's vested interest in her fertility and economic
value influenced family customs: part of her earnings in
some countries, whether by agriculture, craft or trade,
belonged to her husband: female adultery was harshly
punished, and the damage assessment was based on
conventions concerning encroachment on property. She
was disposable after marriage, as well as before: the most
uxorious of autocrats, the king of Benin, distributed his
wives at will to favourite subjects: they were more likely
than men to be used as pawns in the settlement of debts:
lesser men, as well as monarchs, bequeathed them to their
heirs; some, when widowed, were condemned to ritual
West Africa was unquestionably a masculine domain:
Sbut it was also more than that: it was a cultural milieu, in
which a varied range of human associations was carefully
identified and carefully regulated. It spelt out in detail its
:sexual, matrimonial, and inheritance patterns, giving
;precise definition to the woman's status, and simul-
taneously modifying her "subordination" in ways
unknown to European male chauvinism!0
It clarified the man's responsibilities to the woman: the,
procedure of bridewealth, for example, confirmed his
obligations to her, as well as his rights in her: her
pregnancy imposed on him ceremonially prescribed duties
owed to her and to the child.21 The transfer of a man's
widow to his sons, was not exclusively, or even primarily
an act of proprietorship, but fulfilled the deceased man's
heritable responsibility to secure her a place in a
Traditional forms of social machinery not easily
assessed by European travellers, in fact, expressed the
view of the woman, not so much as inferior to the man,
but as dissimilar from him. Evans Pritchard's description
of the role and function of women in pre-industrial
societies is applicable: it was "less a matter of level than of
difference of status.""2 West African mores emphasized
her complementary, but clearly separate existence, and
proceeded to organise many of its institutions on the
premise of her unique attributes and needs.

Feminine biology directed the essential puberty rites of
West African peoples:24 and a girl was not regarded as an
adult until she knew how her body functioned: it was
assumed that among other things, womanhood implied
the capacity for sexual initiative and response: sex
education was a necessary accomplishment, certain
communities seeing it as more appropriate to women than
to men:25 young girls were accordingly initiated, under the
skilled guidance of mature women. Female societies were a
highly formalised medium of such training. They shielded
girls from all male contact, in some cases, for as long as a
year: their novitiate included practice as well in domestic
skills, in the intricacies of buying and selling for trading
was stressed among the Ibo, Ashantis and Dahomeans as
an occupational prerogative of women, the community's
entrepreneurs par excellence.26 The militant Mendes of
Sierra Leone looked to their women for expertise in
producing war medicines which they developed in secret
female societies.27 When young initiates re-entered tribal
life, they were equipped for their particular social and
economic, as well as marital responsibilities.
The woman's biological processes, personal to herself,
were also important concerns of her kin and household.
Menstruation, pregnancy and lactation imposed magico-
religious restraints on her physical contact with male
members of her family. The Ibo ex-slave, Olaudah
Equiano remembered how irksome these taboos were to
him as a boy. "I was so fond of my mother" he wrote, "I
could not keep from her, or avoid touching her at some of
these periods, in consequence of which, I was obliged to be
kept out with her in a little house made for that purpose
till offering was made, and then we were purified."28
Periodic abstention from sexual intimacies between
spouses, in the case of lactation, for as long as two or three
years, was legitimised by religion and tradition. "Both
men and women," wrote Barbot about Sierra Leone,
"account it a great crime and infamy to transgress this
custom"29 The polygynous family unit ordered itself
accordingly and the tabooed wife's duties, sexual as well
as domestic (for example the preparation of food),
devolved on her co-wives.
Such households illustrate the extent to which the
tight, nuclear relationship between husband and wife
familiar to the European world, was de-emphasised in
West Africa within a wide circle of reciprocal rights. The
introduction of an additional wife became the affair, not
only of the men and their respective kin, but of the man's
co-wives, who also had an economic interest in his
increased possessions, and the added prestige he enjoyed
with each new acquisition."2So that head wives were often
involved in the choice of other ,wives, and ceremonially
helped to integrate them into the family.
The story of Baba of Karo, a Muslim Hausa woman,
illustrates the many dimensions of a polygynous situation
from the female perspective. As the new wife of Malam
Maigari, she was taken on her first entry into her
husband's compound to the hut of his senior wife who,
together with her kinswomen, received Baba. The old and
new wives, through the intermediary of their respective
sisters and best women friends, exchanged customary
gifts of money: the bridegroom gave presents of equal
value to his head wife and his bride.31 Baba continued her
story "The head wife comes and 'buys the bride's
speech,' she says 'there it is. I have bought your mouth!'.
The bride says 'thank you', and they greet one another.
Then later on in the morning, when there is no one about
the compound the bride covers her head and goes to the
head wife's hut in her best clothes, to greet her. I

remember Malam Maigari's head wife was cooking nice
food rice and stew then she sent for me and I went
and we ate together. We chatted, then at noon our
husband's mother came and brought me ten kolanuts and
sixfhundred cowries; she came to look at the dowry, I
covered up my head like this. I used to call her Mother of
Idirisu'. She saw the hut looking nice, she was pleased".32
It was customary for the groom to spend the first four
days in his new wife's hut, while the chief wife prepared
the meals; then the wives exchanged roles for the next two
days, the bride began to cook, she uncovered her head,
and by the seventh day she has become "a daughter of the
The provision and preparation of the food by the women
for the men and children were fundamental obligations
which affected her standing in the domestic hierarchy: the
whole concept of sustenance, the support of life, contained
a range of hidden meanings which were concretized in the
ceremonials and taboos surrounding food: they all
contributed to creating a mystique around the food-
provider, woman, subtly enhancing her prestige and
authority,34 as well as her economic status.
There was real dispersal of power within the polygynous
household, in which the principal wife stood, second in
command to the husband, the lynchpin of domestic
organisation and harmony. The economic life of the
compound, in which the woman farmed, traded, weaved,
potted clay, represented, not so much exploitation of
female labour as a division of duties between the sexes,
and collective, as well as individual effort of women. The
Dahomeans allowed the woman to keep her personal
earnings, as a result of which some achieved independent
wealth.35 The practical and ritualised roles prescribed for
women of the family in the vital phases of the life cycle
(birth, puberty, marriage, death), gave them claims to the
community's high regard. The effective co-operation of
co-wives in their own common cause vis-a-vis the husband
was possible, and even genuine affection among such
women was not unusual.36 "The woman who has no
friends among her co-wives," says a traditional Yoruba
song, "she needs good character indeed."
A close personal relationship was possible between the
individual husband and wife. Evans Pritchard warns
against the tendency to judge the external forms of social
arrangements, rather than their "psychological and moral
content.""3 Jealousy among wives for instance has been
widely attested: it points to a natural envy of the
privileges which might accrue to a favourite: it also
indicates the cross-currents of love and hate which were
present within the conventional pattern of communal
concerns. Baba said of her marriage to Malam Maigari,
"That night Lalam Maigari brought one thousand cowries
and twenty kolanuts and some perfume when he came to
my hut; the children were teasing him, then when
everyone was asleep and I had put out the lamp and lain
down, he came in. He said, 'light the lamp so I can see
your eyes.' I hid my eyes, I felt shy. When he had lit the
lamp he said 'I thank you, I thank you. You have kept
your promise. I thank you, I am happy.' Then we made
our marriage for fifteen years, but we had no children.
Then I left him. I loved him very much, I left him because
I had to I had no children."38
Baba's life underlines the most important fact about the
African woman's condition. Her status as wife, although
capable of sustaining deep feelings for a husband, was
clearly subordinate to her status as mother. This leads one
anthropologist to note that the basic facts about polygyny
are that "several mother-child units exist and that one
male is responsible for them circulating among them as

it were:"39 whereas "the conjugal tie is variable, ... the
mother-tie is inevitable and given.""4
Motherhood, the fulfilment of female adulthood, above
all else gave shape and meaning to the African woman's
life cycle. "What else is marriage for?""4 Puberty rites
celebrated primarily the girl's physical readiness for child-
bearing. For fertility was her greatest gift: "The Wife,"
commented Bosman, "who is so fortunate as to be big
with child, is very much respected by her Husband, and
waited on; besides which, if it is the first time, rich
offerings are made to the False-God, to obtain her safe
delivery.""2 The childless woman was object of contempt,
derision or compassion. Adoption was formalised into an
acceptable substitute for natural parenthood. Baba of
Karo was both beneficiary and victim of this valuation of
wman's prime function: early in her marriage she adopted
a daughter, but her pride would not allow her to remain
forever in a household where two other wives had together
borne 14 children, while she remained barren. In spite of
her husband's pain at losing her, she insisted on going,43
thereby exercising the right of wives in some polygynous
societies to initiate divorce." She expressed also the
customary disapproval of those who held on selfishly to
their offspring, refusing to share them. The Fulani were
apparently prime offenders, unlike her own people, viz,
"We are Habe, we are different. Then too Fulani won't let
their children be adopted, they don't, like their laughter
taken away to another compound; the child is their
laughter and pleasure. We give children to our kinsman, if
they have none of their own we cannot refuse them.""
This elevation of fertility and motherhood grew
naturally out of a belief system grounded in ancestral
veneration: it saw blood as the life force, through which a
man's kin, dead, living, and unborn, procured for him
integration into his universe. The kinship web lay at the
heart of spiritual faith, and inspired the social structure:46
woman was at the centre of that web, guaranteeing its
endless proliferation. If she were "carrier of burdens, she
was also carrier of roots."
Bridewealth was in this context more than the
simplistic "purchase" of a wife: as Herskovits pointed
out, it included "much that was ceremonial in character,
and of little intrinsic value."4' It became symbolic of the
clan's transfer of its most valued possession, the
reproductive power of its women which made its
continuity possible.
Their functions in this respect were emphasised in those
West African societies, (notably among the Akan Ashanti
peoples), in which matrilineal kinship structures charged
women with the responsibility of ensuring succession and
inheritance. Ideas of male supremacy, added to
matrilineal inheritance, produced a family hierarchy in
which the maternal uncle exercised the greatest
authority.48 "The most ovbious results of a social
organisation formed on such lines" says Rattray, "is to
raise immediately the status of women in the community,
and when matrilineal descent is found in a society which is
frankly communistic, we seem to have in these factors in
many parts of Africa the key to the importance of
women."" He continues. "The whole concept of
"mother-right" affords the woman a protection and a
status that is more than an adequate safeguard against
ill-treatment by any male or group of males ... Her
children belong to her and her clan, not to that of her
Her kinship connection remained a crucial determinant
of her condition and ensured her integrity as an
individual. She belonged primarily to her kin, and
incidentally to her husband: the bride's virginity, the

wife's adultery was not solely the affair of two persons: it
was the proper concern of her sib group. As Gluckman has
pointed out, the weakening of the marital bond was the
price paid for membership of a wider group:51 but this had
its rewards, for dispersal of affection and loyalty involved
numerous other persons who accepted responsibility for
the woman's welfare. Rattray says of the Ashanti, "no
woman stands alone, for behind the woman stands a
united family, bound by the tie of blood."'5 The strong
links which were possible particularly between sister and
brother are expressed by the Ibo Equiano, in flowery but
significant terms: "When these people knew we were
brother and sister they indulged us to be together, and the
man to whom I supposed we belonged lay with us, he in
the middle while she and I held one another by the hands
across his breast all night and thus for a while we forgot
our misfortunes in the joy of being together: but even this
small comfort was soon to have an end, for scarcely had
the fatal morning appeared when she was again torn from
me for ever! I was now more miserable, if possible, than
before. The small relief which her presence gave me from
pain was gone, and the wretchedness of my situation was
redoubled by my anxiety after her fate and my
apprehensions lest her sufferings should be greater than
nine, when I could not be with her to alleviate them. Yes,
thou dear partner of all my childish sports! thou sharer of
my joys and sorrows! happy should I have ever esteemed
myself to encounter every misery for you, and to procure
your freedom by the sacrifice of my own.""5
Identification with her kin was carried through to
death: observance of dual funeral rites by husband, and
by family, symbolised her role as mother/wife, as
Other relationships, outside of the kinship group,
provided security for women. Herskovits directs attention
to the value of such associations in Dahomean culture.55
The segregated rites of puberty underlined the notion of a
sisterhood of women of the particular group of women
who had learnt and endured together: extra-familial bonds
of friendship in some societies were as self-consciously
ritualised and as powerfully sanctioned as the blood
connection. M.G. Smith defines such an institution in its
modern Nigerian form, viz, "Formal bond-friendship
between persons of the same sex is a symmetrical relation
of equals in status and age, with a variety of reciprocal
obligations emphasizing the mutual identification of the
partners. Between women, such bond friends are known
as Kawaye (Kawa), and they exchange gifts on ceremonial
occasions.""5 The importance of the best friend, as social,
economic and emotional support for the woman, has been
movingly demonstrated in the experience of Baba. In one
of her many references to her Kawa, she says "we consult
one another, we discuss our affairs, her daughter is my
daughter, her son is my son."57
Other status-granting criteria cut across sexual
distinctions and gave a further lift to woman's position.
Older women, like men, shared in the reverence due to
age:58 this was inspired not only by the conviction that
wisdom comes with years, but by the customary emphasis
laid on the authority of the ancestor, which provided the
main focus of cultural unity and identity. Being close to
the grave, the old were the living evidence of the ancestral
spirits: they were, as well, the community's memory: they
were surrounded by an elaborate code of etiquette, and
given due respect, regardless of their sex.59
Some societies endowed woman with high priestly
office: Bosman writes of the Slave Coast, viz, "Their
religious offices are here celebrated by Men and Women
together, both which are held in such high veneration

amongst the Negroes, that they are not liable to Capital
Punishment for any crime whatsoever; the women which
are promoted to the degree of Priestesses, tho some of
them perhaps were but slaves before, are yet as much
respected as the Priests, or rather more, insomuch that
they pride themselves with the distinguished name of
God's children; and as all other women are obliged to a
slavish service to their husbands, these on the contrary
exert an absolute sway over them and their effects, living
with them perfectly according to their Arbitrary Will and
Pleasure; besides which, their Husbands are obliged to
show them so much respect, as they received from their
wives before their becoming Priestesses, which is to spead
to, and serve them upon their knees. For this reason, the
most sensible negroes will neither marry a Priestess, nor
easily consent that any of their wives be raised to that
honour. But if notwithstanding it happens, they must not
oppose it, for if they did, they would be called to a severe
account for it, and look'd upon as men who endeavour'd to
stop the common course of Divine Worship.""o
Women also occupied high influential positions in
public life. African society was highly stratified:
enormous gaps existed between rulers and ruled. Women
were found at the lowest rungs of society, as lesser wives
and as slaves although 'slavery' was to a great extent a
misnomer in pre-colonial Africa, being a mild form of
domestic feudalism, in no way comparable to New \World
chattel slavery.6" But as members of the elite, woman
could also occupy the highest rungs: they could be pawns
or players in the power game: if frequently exploited.
some could also exploit, thus upsetting the simple
delineation of masculine dominance/feminine subordina-
tion. And woman in fact was a central figure in native
myths of power: Hausa traditions of origin focused on
dominant queens of whom the legendary Amina of Zazzau
stood out as a conqueror of vast territories.,' The
Congolese chronicles spoke of 'the old mother of the tribe.
Mpemba Nzinga,' who directed the early mass migration
which led to the founding of the kingdom of Kongo."
But the powerful woman was not merely a creature of
myth. Women of all civilisations, however inferior their
legal status, have applied their personalities in various
ways to influence affairs of state. In Africa this was
facilitated by the traditional deference paid to mother-
hood. The Queen Mother of the Ashanti, for example, was
a figure of awe and fear, who exercised real authority: her
stool was senior to the king's.64 Benin similarly elevated
its dowager queen. "The king's mother," wrote Dapper,
"is held in great esteem and has a splended court,
beautifully and magnificently built, where she resides
with many women and daughters. She is consulted in all
state affairs.""6 The sister of the Cogolese king "held a
very exalted position."66 The women of the Dahomean
royal household controlled the system of internal
taxation." Bosman wrote of Agouma on the Gold Coast,
which "hath for some time past, been governed by a
woman, with as much courage and conduct as other
countries are ruled by men ... This Governess is so wise,
that to keep the Government entirely in her own hands,
she lives unmarried."68 It is significant that in the English
attempt to supersede the Dutch at Elmina on the Gold
Coast in the first decade of the 18th century, Sir Dalby
Thomas, the governor, successfully used a woman friend
Aguaba Braffo as the puppet queen, symbol of the british
take over."6
The recurring image of the female, as the power behind
the throne, and at times the throne itself, exercising
influence on the destiny of the state, was an additional
element contributing to the composite form of African

European devaluation of that form, as has been
suggested, arose from an incomplete understanding of the
woman's cultural axis. Let us make no mistake about it,
Africa was a black man's world, capable of insensitivity
and brutality to woman. But it was also a world
constructed out of a religion and cosmology which
rationally analysed, deliberately and ceremonially anti-
cipated a whole host of human apprehensions and
antagonisms.0" Starting with the basic biological reality of
woman's unique function in the perpetuation of the race,
the African mother-child connection became the seminal
one: the man, unquestionably master of the universe, was
primarily her mate, secondarily her spouse. The
potentially neurotic exclusiveness of the European
husband-wife partnership, had limited relevance in that
context. The African woman instead existed within a more
extended range of familial and extra-familial inter-
dependence which widened and deepened the base of her
foothold on her society.

1. EDWARD BRATHWAITE, Rights of Passage; Masks: Islands
(London, Oxford University Press, 1967, 1968, 1969)
2. DONNAN, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 18-20.
3. For instance EDWARD LONG, The History of Jamaica (T.
Lowndes, London, 1774) pp. 388-394, 401-403; BRYAN
EDWARDS, The history, civil and commercial of the British
colonies in the West Indies (Luke White, Dublin 1793) pp. 80-83.
4. K.G. DAVIES, The Royal African Company (Longman's Green &
Co., 1957), pp. 46-47; H.A. WYNDHAM, The Atlantic and
Slavery (Oxford University Press, 1935), pp. 4-7 and passim.
5. K. ONWOKA DIKE, Trade and Politics in the Niger Delta,
1830-1855, (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1956/ed. 1962) pp. 6-7.
6. H. LING ROTH, Great Benin (1903 reissue Routledge and Kegan
Paul Ltd., 1968) p. 37. The seventeenth century Dutch writer
Olfert Dapper observed about the Kingdom of Benin ...
"a white mar. or a Christian can hardly get a public woman there
in the country for fear of punishment, as such a thing is
prohibited under penalty of death." Trading between Benin
businesswomen and Europeans was also tabooed (p. 135).
7. PHILIP D. CURTIN, The Image of Africa (London, 1965)
pp. 64. 218-219.
8. KEITH THOMAS The Double Standard, (Journal of the
History of Ideas. No. 20: 1959, pp. 195-216).
9. Ibid. p. 107.
10. Ibid.
11. WILLIAM BOSMAN. A new and accurate Description of the
Coast of Guinea (1701/reissue Frank Cass & Co. Ltd. 1967) pp.
202, 204. 360 and passim; THOMAS HODGKIN, Nigerian
Perspectives, An Historical Anthology (West African History
series, London 1960), pp. 121, 129; A.F.C. RYDER, Benin and
the Europeans 1485-1897 (Ibadan History Series, Longman,
1969) Appendix II, pp. 313-314, etc.
12. BOSMAN, op. cit., p. 198.
13. Ibid.. p. 199.
14. Ibid., p. 476.
15. Ibid., p. 463.
16. Ibid.
17. CURTIN, op. cit., p. 252.
18. J. VANSINA, R. MAUNY, L.V. THOMAS, ed., The Historian
in Tropical Africa (The International African Institute, Oxford
Press, 1964), e.g. pp. 60-76, 101-103; G.I. JONES, Time and Oral
Tradition with special reference to Eastern Nigeria (Journal
of African History.VI, 2, 1965, pp. 153-160) EBIEGBERI JOE
ALAGA. Oral Tradition among the Ijo of the Niger Delta
JAH, VII, 3, 1966, pp. 405-419).
19. The following are some of the sources consulted here, viz,
BOSMAN, op. cit., with notes by J.D. PAGE; JEAN
BARBOT, A Description of the Coasts of North and South
Guinea (London, 1724); MARY SMITH, Baba of Karo, A
Woman of the Muslim Hausa, with an introduction and notes
by M.G. SMITH (Faber & Faber, London, 1954); INTER-

White observers, operating from quite different cultural
assumptions, motivated by their economic aims, focused
almost exclusively on the elements of sexual and economic
exploitation which they saw in her condition. They
underrated the traditional network of social and spiritual
supports, which served to diffuse woman's status
anxieties, giving her respect and self-respect. European
enslavement uprooted her from a logical, human value
system, and threw her into the world of the market: it
transformed her into mere cargo, her identity expressed
through the transfer of an entry from a bill of lading to an
estate inventory.
If, indeed, as has been argued, their ancient culture was
"the shield which frustrated the efforts of Europeans to
dehumanise Africans through servitude,""7 it can also be
argued that it was the African woman's perception of
herself within that culture, which accompanied her across
the Middle Passage, and which helped to preserve her
from total defeminisation in the New World.

(INCIDI), Report of 3rd meeting in Brussels, Sept., 1958, on
Women's Role in the Development of Tropical and Sub-Tropical
Countries (Brussels, 1959): MADELINE MANOUKIAN, The
Ewe Speaking People of Togoland and the Gold Coast (Inter-
national African Institute, London, 1952); KENNETH LITTLE,
The Mende of Sierra Leone (London, Routledge and Kegan Paul,
1951); MELVILLE HERSKOVITS, Dahomey, an Ancient
West African Kingdom, 2 vols. (Northwestern University
Press, 1967); R.S. RATTRAY. The Tribes of the Ashanti Hinter-
land, 2 vols. (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1932); MEYER FORTES,
Oedipus and Job in West African Religion (Cambridge University
Press, 1959); MAX GLUCKMAN, Custom and Conflict in Africa,
(Blackwell, Oxford, 1959); ROBIN FOX. Kinship and Marriage,
(Penguin Books, 1967).
20. See, for instance, R.S. RATTRAY, Ashanti (London 1923, ed.
1969) pp. 77-84.
21. E.g. BARBOT, op. cit., p. 117.
22. Ibid., pp. 119-121.
23. E.E. EVANS-PRITCHARD, "The Position of Women in
Primitive Societies and other Essays in Social Antropology); also
PAUL BOHANNAN, African Outline (Penguin Books, 1966),
especially chap. 10 on African Families.
24. LITTLE. op. cit.; RATTRAY, op. cit.; HERSKOVITS, op. cit.;
SMITH, op. cit.; etc.
25. E.g. HERSKOVITS, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 282.
26. Ibid., pp. 56-62, 86-87; ROTH, op. cit. p. 132; MANOUKIAN,
op. cit.
27. WALTER RODNEY, A History of the Upper Guinea Coast
1545 to 1800 (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1970), pp. 65-67.
The Interesting Narrative of his Life. written by himself, first
published 1789 (Abr. and Ed. by PAUL EDWARDS, as
EQUIANO'S TRAVELS, Heinemann Educational Books Ltd.,
1967); see also PHILIP CURTIN, Africa Remembered
(University of Wisconsin Press) ed. pp. 63-67.
29. BARBOT, op. cit., p. 117, also p. 364.
30. HERSKOVITS, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 86.
31. MARY SMITH, op. cit., pp. 112-117.
32. Ibid., p. 117
33. Ibid.
34. See, for example, MARY SMITH. op. cit., pp. 41-42, 52-54 and
35. HERSKOVITS, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 86-87.
36. E.g., MARY SMITH, op. cit.. 119-120, 210-218.
37. EVANS-PRITCHARD, op. cit., p. 40.
38. MARY SMITH, op. cit., p. 118.
39. FOX, op. cit.,,p. 39. Continued on page 49
Continued on page 49

Antony Priddy was born in Great Britain. He received his B.A. (Hons)
from Cambridge University in archaeology and anthropology in 1963.
From 1964 to 1969 he was Field Archaeologist for the Federal
Department of Antiquities in Nigeria. From 1969 to 1970 he was Field
Archaeologist of the Archaeological Research Committee of the
University of Bristol.

The 17th

and 18th Century

Settlement Patteri'


by Antony Priddy
Archaeologist-in-Charge, Port Royal Project 1971-74

During 1971-72 the Jamaica National Trust
Commission carried out an excavation in the centre of
Port Royal which was the first to uncover a stratified
series of civilian accommodation at Port Royal dating
back before the earthquake of 1692.
The settlement pattern and house design at Port Royal
have differed considerably from those in the rest of
Jamaica because of the limitations imposed by the small
area available and the large population. Just before the
1692 earthquake about 51 acres were settled and
population estimates vary from 5,000 to 10,000. This
gives a minimum density of over 60,000 per square mile.
The ground area of individual houses was small but, as
recorded by John Taylor in 1688, they may have had as
many as four floors.
Although the tremendous population pressure eased
after the earthquake and subsequent destruction by fire
and hurricane, houses continued to keep the same size and
The excavation in the centre of the town, bounded on
the north by New Street on the east by Dove Lane and on
the west by Love Lane, has complemented the
information available from historical documents.
Unfortunately however, although the street plan of Port
Royal has remained virtually the same for 300 years the
roads have been widened, especially with the nearly
complete rebuilding after Hurricane Charlie destroyed
almost all of the town in 1951. In consequence, the fronts
of just about all the houses are unavailable for excavation.
From other sources it seems that directly on the
roadway was a frontal area paved with brick or flagstone
which may have been covered by the floor above
projecting out over this space. Access to the house was by
a door usually into a corridor but sometimes directly into a
room. One or perhaps two rooms were the most available
on the ground floor; no evidence remains on the layout on

the upper floors which can only be speculated. The walls of
the houses were of brick sometimes on foundations of
limestone and coral cemented together. The thickness of
the walls found during this excavation suggested that
none of the buildings were of more than two floors with
perhaps a wooden garret.
Behind each house was an open yard paved with brick
and all houses dating up to about 1750 had access to a
well. These wells ranged in size from 2 to 3 feet in diameter
and were about 6 feet deep. Smaller wells were in the
middle of the paved yard but the larger ones were set on
the line separating two adjacent yards and were accessible
to both. These wells contained only salt water as the sea
permeated through the coarse black sand subsoil. Fresh
water, which was brought across the harbour from the Rio
Cobre or the Rockfort springs, must have been stored
above ground in some sort of containers such as wooden
barrels or perhaps the large Spanish jars, many sherds of
which have been found on the site. After 1750 no more
wells seem to have been dug; perhaps a few continued in
use but, more probably with the development of the Royal
Naval Dockyard and the expansion of other naval
facilities, it was easier to obtain water from there.
Beyond the open yard was a small covered area, which
was the cook house. Probably a simple lean-to building
with small square brick structures for hearths or for
storage, these abut directly on the backs of similar
buildings belonging to houses on a parallel road.
Because of the use of this site continually for over 300
years and the re-use of old foundations and of the bricks
themselves, the remains of each period are very skimpy
but in the accompanying photographs some of the
features described above can be seen.
Fig. 1 Left of centre can be seen a large well (a) on the
boundary line between two open yards; beyond are the
two houses with a common dividing wall (b) beyond these

is an open area (c) where the covered porches were located
for each house facing New Street. On this side of the yards
are the two covered cook houses (d) each with a square
hearth back to back (e) at the bottom can be seen two
other yards paved with brick with just a trace of a
dividing wall running to a well just outside the bottom of

the picture. To the right is another pair of hearths (f) back
to back. Further to the right of the photograph can be
seen another area, partly under water, which is being
excavated. Two more wells are prominent. All these
structures were destroyed in the 1692 earthquake.


1692 level


rnn 0 0 r
FE =q

Fig. 2 In this photograph all the structures were
probably destroyed in the 1815 fire and overlay the area
below the wall marked with an arrow in fig. 1. To the left
are two rooms (g) of a house the front of which has been
cut off by road widening. Just above is a corridor (h)
leading to an open yard (i) paved partly with flagstones
and partly with bricks; traces of slightly earlier

foundations can be seen in the bricks. To the right is the
covered cook house (j) with the hearth (k) and possible
storage areas. The very substantial oblong structure (1)
may have supported a fresh-water cistern. In the upper
part of the photograph is a smaller one room house (m)
yard (n) and cook house (o). On the far right (pqr) are
areas related to other premises.
Continued on page 17

./ '4 A-

1 C tt -,. J.'U -
U40 rl 't: 11; e Ie~L ~

C .~ u;p (* .<

Z- ia.

1"1;1.~ ~ Crgh ih~ ni. E "fP II!L P

~~~O Ltt.c '



Arrival of his Excellency

Sir Nicholas Lawes,

Governor xf JAMAICA,-,

Odi prIfariiim tulguI, (r an eo:
Farete I.Jgu Hor.

71e Second Edition.

AR.K how the Voice of Joy breaks through the Air,
In pleain Strains that captivate the Ear
Hark, tis Great LA WES they found!
Eccho bears the Name around,
And with Great LAWES the vaulted Hills rebound;
What other Caufe juft Matter could afford
For Joy full ? With lefs Applauf loud Fame
Might fng fome Prince's Birth, or Heroc's Name
Thai the Arival of our land's Lordp
IL Top left Rob
I! Top right ..,Prin

And can't Thou then 0 MuTe
Alone iand silent by
Amidft the general Harmony
Thy tributary Mite refuhl ?

"j ' :;

Below left...
Below right

41A%.:- -A



The development of Printing in Jamaica was of great
historical significance. Sir Nicholas Lawes, governor of
Jamaica, in a despatch to the Council of Trade and
Plantations, 1 Oct. 1717, saw the development as "of
great use and benefit for public intelligence". Cundall
suggested that the setting up of the printing press could
be regarded as 'an indication of a colony's progress
towards civilization. Undoubtedly the publication of the
first Weekly Jamaica Courant, Feb. 1718, catapulted
Jamaica into the vanguard of the printing industry in the
British West Indian islands and underlined her
importance as an early contributor to the development of
printing in the new world.
The first printer, the leader in the art of printing in
Jamaica was Robert Baldwin, who began in 1718. His
sons Peter and Robert followed in his footsteps, in the
1740's. At about the same time John Letts, who printed
as early as 1734 and Alexander Adamson were printing for
the Baldwin brothers.
1749 1756 William Daniel. Kingston printer and printer
to the Assembly.

Writing in his History of printing in Jamaica' some
forty years ago, Frank Cundall commented how slowly
printing was introduced to the West Indian islands
compared with European settlements on the mainland of
the Americas. Certainly compared with Mexico where
printing started by 1539 and according to some
authorities as early as 1531 or Massachusetts, to which
a press was brought in 1639 (only nineteen years after the
first arrival of the Mayflower) the development of the
'noble art and mystery' was slow in the islands.
Yet Cundall's comment was not altogether apposite,
nor did it give a true picture of Jamaica's importance as an
early centre of New World Printing, preceding all the
other Caribbean islands and in The Weekly Jamaica
Courant publishing the second regular newspaper to
appear anywhere in the Americas.2
It may be wondered that the British presence in
Jamaica was over sixty years old before the Courant was
first issued in 1718. European towns far smaller and
poorer than Port Royal at its height before the 1692
earthquake had supported printers, and there is little
reason to suppose that an enterprising craftsman could
not have made his way in Port Royal. The reasons are
simple enough if one looks outside Jamaica at England
and at some of her North American colonies.
Throughout the seventeenth century in England,
control of the press was something which constantly

1756 1777 Thomas Woolhead. Most important single
contribution, the "Almanac", 1778.
1760- 1806 John Thomas Bennett, partner to Gadd &
Woolhead. 1787 joined with David Dickson.
1806 printer to the Corporation of Kingston.
1768-1771 John Lowry, partnered by Robert Sherlock.
Printers to the Assembly, 1769.
1775- 1784 William Aikman teamed with David Douglas.
'printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty
for Jamaica and its dependencies.
1791 1801 Alexander Aikman "printer to the King's
Most Excellent Majesty and to the House of
1803 1831 Alexander Aikman Jr. "printer to the King's
Most Excellent Majesty and Assembly".
These were the most recognized of the printers of the period fom which
Roderick Cave has chosen the pioneer, Robert Baldwin, to bring before
our historical perspective.

exercised the minds of those in government. Printing was
restricted to London and to the Universities of Oxford and
Cambridge. Through the Stationers' Company there was
very strict regulation of the number of master printers.
the presses they could operate and the journeymen
printers and apprentices they were allowed to employ.
After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 some
ingenious but unsuccessful attempts at fabricated history3
attempted to show that the first introduction of printing
into England had been at the behest of the King and that
in consequence control of the press was therefore within
the royal prerogative. Most importantly, under Sir Roger
L'Estrange, the Surveyor of Imprimery, all printed work
had to be licensed and there was vigilant search and
seizure of unlicensed books and printing equipment.
In those North American colonies which were most
amenable to the royal wishes, the idea of printing did not
receive much favour. The repressive attitude was
expressed perfectly in 1671 by Governor Berkeley of
Virginia. 'I thank God' he said, 'that there are no free
schools, nor printing, and I hope we shall not have, these
hundred years; for learning hath brought disobedience
and heresy and sects into the world, and printing has
divulged them, and libels against the best of government.
God keep us from both.'
Later, in 1682, a Jamestown planter brought a printer
into Virginia on his own initiative, where he was set to

"With twenty-six soldiers of lead I shall conquer the world" is the age-old
boast of the printer. In the Spanish and Portuguese expansion into Mexico and
India in the sixteenth century the press was early employed as an instrument of
In the sugar islands the situation was rather different, printing being
introduced much more slowly, and as a tool of administration or of commercial
interests. Jamaica was the first of the Caribbean islands to have a newspaper,
and for a quarter of a century the Baldwin family had the monopoly of "the
noble art and mystery of printing", setting the pattern for many later West
Indian publications.

printing the acts of an Assembly which had recently
adjourned. While the work was still at the proof stage, the
Governor and Council took alarm, and the printer was
bound over to print nothing 'until the signification of His
Majesty's pleasure shall be known therein.' When this
signification came it was not encouraging. It required that
'no person be permitted to use any press for printing upon
any occasion whatsoever.' In turbulent Jamaica, with a
Governor battling against a recalcitrant Assembly, it was
unlikely that any other policy would have been adopted.
The Licensing Acts, which for so long had restricted the
number of printers and the places in which they could
work in England, finally lapsed in 1693. Within a very few
years printers had spread from London to all the principal
towns in England. An important feature of this spread
was in the development of local newspapers, such as The
Norwich Post (1701-), The Bristol Post-Boy (1702-) or
Sam Farley's Exeter Postman (1704-). The appearance of
these provided a very useful service to those living in the
districts surrounding the various market towns in which
they were published, and also formed the mainstay of the
provincial printers' business.
The change in the climate of opinion in England,
demonstrated by this growth of this provincial press,
would not have been lost on Sir Nicholas Lawes. With his
intimate knowledge of Jamaican affairs, and exposed to
this early eighteenth century expansion of printing in
England, he became aware of the advantages which could
accrue from the establishment of a press in the island.
The need for a press was evidently felt in Jamaica, since
in a message from the Council to the Assembly dated 8
December, 1715, it was stated that 'they heartily wish
that their house will join with them in establishing a
printing press for publishing the Minutes of both bodies.'
Likewise, in The Representation and Memorial of the
Council of the island of Jamaica addressed to the
Commissioners for Trade and Plantations (and published
in London in 1716) it was noted that 'numberless lies and
stories have been industriously spread about the country,
which are not easily answered where there is no press.'
It is probable that Sir Nicholas Lawes was aware of this
expressed need, when he wrote to the Commissioners for
Trade and Plantations himself on 1 October 1717: 'I am of
opinion if a printing press were set up in Jamaica it would
be of great use, and benefit for public intelligence,
advertisements, and many other things. But to prevent
abuses, that might attend such a liberty, there should be
but one, and that to be licensed to the Govr. for the time
being'5 ... Sir Nicholas did not limit his suggestion to this
letter. At a meeting with the Commissioners on 10
October 1717 he again urged the value of having printing
in Jamaica: arguing that it would be 'a public
convenience and advantage to commerce'.6
Robert Baldwin
Evidently the new Governor's recommendation met
with the approbation of the Commissioners, since we find
that a printer, Robert Baldwin, was established in Church
Street, Kingston, soon after Sir Nicholas Lawes' arrival in
the island in April 1718. It is possible that Baldwin
travelled on the same vessel as the Governor, as it would
not have taken long to set up his printing equipment, and
he did not start publication of his newspaper until the end
of May in that year.
No evidence survives as to the conditions of any
business agreement under which Baldwin came to the
West Indies. One may conjecture (on the basis of the work
he was to do, and also by analogy from arrangements
made in other colonies) that some contract was made

whereby Baldwin received the promise official printing for
the colony, but that he would do this on a contractual
basis rather than as a salaried official. Quite clearly his
official duties did not preclude his undertaking other
printing on a normal commercial basis, nor curtail his
right to branch out into other fields of business.
It is interesting that although he was an official printer
Baldwin chose to settle in Kingston rather than in Spanish
Town. It was a sound business decision to settle in the
commercial centre, where with ready access to both
Spanish Town and Port Royal his chance of developing
his other business was greater.
The equipment required by a printer at that time was
not large. The design of the wooden printing press had
altered little since the invention of printing in the fifteenth
century, and in fact was to undergo very little change
until it was superseded by the cast-iron press at the
beginning of the nineteenth century. Detailed instructions
on the construction of a press had been given in Joseph
Moxon's Mechanick exercises on the whole art of printing
(London, 1683) and though it is probable Baldwin brought
his press with him, assembling it and repairs would not
have been beyond the skill of local joiners and
blacksmiths. The only matter of doubt about the kind of
press which Baldwin had, in fact, is whether it was the
so-called Blaeu7 press whose adoption Moxon had urged,
or the older common press of which it was an improved
version. 'One new-fashion'd Dutch Press is worth a score
of (the older common press)' wrote the Edinburgh printer
James Watson in 1713. 'I myself have known a Press of
the new Make brought hither from Holland, work near
Twenty Years, and in all that time neither Smith nor
Joiner called for to her; ... I beseech you, as you are tender
of your own interest, to bring Home your Presses from
Holland; or make them here, after the Fashion of that
Country.'8 Baldwin was 'tender of his own interest' but
the fact that surviving common presses used in the North
American colonies are of the 'Old fashioned English' kind9
suggests that Baldwin's press may have been of the same
Though Baldwin could have had his press built or
repaired in Jamaica, type was another matter.
Typefounding is a very highly skilled and specialised
trade, and at the time Baldwin was gathering his
equipment to come to Jamaica typefounding in Britain
had not reached a high standard and was not to do so until
the 1730s. Most English printers bought Dutch types,
and comparison of the typefaces which Baldwin used
shows that his repertoire was of the same kind. From an
inventory of his goods made after his death, we know
that he had seventeen cases of type: enough for all normal
printing purposes, though examination' of his printing
reveals that he sometimes ran short of individual letters.
Brand-new when Baldwin came to Jamaica in 1718, these
founts of type were still being used by his successors in
Supplies of paper were another problem for early
printers in the West Indies. The inventory of his stock,
already referred to, shows that Baldwin carried large
stocks of paper of various sizes (e.g. '40 reams of London
Arms', '15 Reams of Printing ffools Cap' etc.) some of it
intended for his own printing business, but some of it for
the stationery trade. Many European printers at that
period still made their own printing ink. Printers in the
North American colonies seem usually to have imported it
ready-made from England, but some (including Benjamin
Franklin) made their own. As there is no reference to ink
in Baldwin's inventory, it is probable that he also made
his own.

Interior of small 18th Century Printing House. The Baldwin's establishment would have been very similar to this.
[Gutenberg Museum]

It seems probable that the first publication from the
new press established in Kingston would have been A
Pindarique Ode on the ,arrival of his Excellency Sir
Nicholas Lawes, 'Printed by R. Baldwin in Church-Street
in Kingston, MDCCXVIII.* The only surviving copy of
this (in Chetham's Library, Manchester'2) is of the second
edition, so the local demand for the four-page pamphlet
must have been higher than the printer at first
anticipated. The anonymous verse no doubt pleased the
new governor, but hardly belongs with the ranks of great
Publication of The weekly Jamaica courant seems to
have started on 28 May 171813. According to Isaiah
Thomas,14 writing in 1810, the paper continued until at
least 1755, but pitifully few copies of it have survived the
ravages of time, hurricane and termites. Most copies
which have survived have done so because they were sent
by various governors with their despatches to the
Commissioners for Trade and Plantations in London, and
are now in the Public Records Office. The two earliest
issues known, those for 30 July and 5 August 1718, have
survived because they were waste copies which Baldwin
used to make pasteboard for binding a log-book for
Admiral Vernon when he was stationed in Jamaica. These
were discovered and restored when the British Museum
was rebinding the Vernon papers some forty years ago.
These earliest issues of the Courant* are of particular
interest as not only do they contain the statement
'published by Authority', as also do all the later surviving
issues, but also an Imprimatur (or 'Passed by the
Censors') signed by Thomas Ridout. There was no
question of freedom of the press at that time.!

Published at 'one bit, or three-half-crowns a quarter'
the Courant was a four-page demy publication, very
similar in appearance to the London Gazette, the British
'official' newspaper, or to the earliest English provincial
papers. Its content was that which was to become typical
of West Indian newspapers for a long time to come;
European news received from Britain (and therefore
usually ten to twelve weeks late); some government
business; a little local news, including the prevailing
prices of goods; shipping intelligence, and advertise-
ments. Although there were to be changes in the design
and format of the Courant during the 1720s, the recipe for
the content remained unchanged: evidently the mixture
was one which suited the merchants and planters who
made up its readership.
Examination of the advertisements in surviving issues
of the paper tells us a good deal more about the Courant
and Baldwin's other business interests. On the Courant,
two are of special interest:

This is to give Notice, to all the Gentlemen who live in the Parishes
St. Dorothy's, Clarendon and Vere, That they may be constantly
supplied; the Weekly Jamaica Courants, and all other things that
have or may be list'd, at the Places following, and at such Times
as is hereafter specified; that have or may subscribe for the
Courants Quarterly, in the Parish of St. Dorothy's, may be
supplied by Mr. Booth, Those in Clarendon, by Mr. Hancock at
the Cross, and those in Vere by Mr. Pallfreeman, near the Church;
whence a Negroe will set out every Wednesday Morning, and stop
One Hour at the Cross; and likewise one Hour at Mr. Booth's, in
order to take all Letters in his way from those Places to deliver
them to Mr. Taylor on the Parade at Spanish-Town, on Wednesday
Evening; where he is to stay that Night, in order to set out early
the next Morning with the News-papers, and Letters directed to
the Places aforesaid, paying a Royal for each Letter, at either of

Parishes where they shall be left,
N.B. Those that are willing to have the Papers Quarterly, are
desired to send their Names to either of the aforesaid Places,
Here they will be constantly sent, by
Your Obliged Humble Servant,
[Courant no. 38, llth Feb. 1718'119,p.3)

The inference that circulation of the newspaper was well
organised is confirmed by the second advertisement,
which appeared in the Courant when it was being run by
Baldwin's widow Mary:

"Run away from Mary Baldwin, Printer in Kingston, a Negro Man
named Apollo, who did dd deliver the News Papers at Kingston and
Spanish Town. Whoever brings him to his Mistress aforesaid shall
be well rewarded.
[Courant, no. 675, 25 March 1730 p.4.]
The fate of the unfortunate Apollo is not known; Mrs.
Baldwin was still seeking his return on 30 June 1730.
Some of the other advertisements reveal the range of
Robert Baldwin's 12 business interests. On 30 July 1718 he
was advertising 'Very curious Pocket-Teleiscopes,
Reading Glasses and Machines to place in the Breast' and
also 'A Safe, Pleasant and Powerful Cordial against the
GOUT, with Printed Directions how to use it...' On 11th
February 1718 he was offering 'All sorts of very good
Parchment and Vellum Skins of all sizes, Writing Paper,
Pencils, Penknives, Rulers, Standishes, Quils, VVax,
VVafers, Sand, Black and Red Ink, Books for Accompts,
Rul'd or Plain, and Alphabets; Writings neatly Engross'd
or copyied, Single or Double Bonds, and Bills of
Lading...' A little over a year later, on 17 April, 1719, he
was advertising 'Painted Paper for Hangings, Pocket-
Books, Letter-Cases, and Super-fine Cards, with all other
Stationery-wares, sold at his Shops in Church-Street
Kingston, and likewise by Mr. Taylor on the Parade
Spanish-Town, and Mr. Fisher's at Port Royal, who will
then be supplied by him constantly...' Evidently Baldwin
had the wholesale and retail stationery trade of the island
pretty well sewn up.
Book-binding was another substantial part of the
Baldwins' business, and was to remain so. Several of the
advertisements deal with bookbinding; one indicating
that Baldwin had workmen just arrived from England
'who bind Books neatly in Vellum and Parchment, and in
all Sorts of Leather, likewise Guild and Letter them on the
To printing, binding and stationery it was natural for
Baldwin to add bookselling and publishing. Several
advertisements refer to the availability of new Common-
Prayer Books, Bibles and copybooks for school-children;
that for 28 June 1721 throws another side light on the life
of the merchants and planters:
Just come from England, and to be sold at the Printer's, a choice
Collection of the Newest Songs, with Notes, engrav'd on Copper
Plates; Also Instruction-Books, with lessons for the Violin,
Harpsichord and Flute; New Sets of Minuets, Rigadoons, and
Country-Dances; likewise good Violins and Flutes.
As none of these items figure in the inventory of
Baldwin's goods, made after his death, it seems that this
stock was quickly sold out.
Some of the books and pamphlets which Baldwin
published were the result of his official duties, and are
discussed below. Others were certainly private ventures.
One such was advertised on 15 April 1719:
Lately Publish'd, TOBACCO: A Poem, in Two Books, Translated
from the Latin of Raphael Thorius. JAMAICA. Re-printed by
R. Baldwin in Church-Street, Kingston, Price 2s.6d. Stitch's in
Blew Paper, and 6 Ryals Bound in Marble Paper. (No copy is
known to survive).

Another private venture was 'The Jamaica Almanack, for
the Year 1719. Calculated for this Meridian. By Nicholas
Holst. Sold by R. Baldwin ... Price 2 Ryals. From the
description and illustration of it given by Cundall" I
suspect that there must have been a regular annual
publication of a sheet almanack from 1719 onwards till
that date and perhaps later.
Mary Baldwin
Robert Baldwin had died sometime before 13 April
1722, on which date Letters of Administration were
granted to his widow Mary. These letters required that an
inventory of his estate be drawn up, and this was filed on
16 February 1725. As already indicated, the inventory
gives a good picture of the range of Baldwin's business
stock. The value of the stock16 was appraised at
f 414-18s.-6d. to which was added 1170-11s.-10'/2d. for
'Debts good' and 100 for 'Bad Debt.' Kingston
merchants always had to offer long credit, and no doubt
Baldwin's official work accounts for a substantial portion
of the debts due to him, but one feels the appraisers were
too sanguine in setting bad debt at less than ten per cent
of the whole.
Nevertheless, Robert Baldwin left his widow Mary
sufficiently well-off to continue the business without
apparent difficulty. She may, in fact, have had a better
head for business than her husband. Certainly there is
evidence of a sort to show that by 1734 she become very
well-to-do. In that year Samuel Keimer, the second
printer in Barbados, printed a 'Sorrowful Lamentation'
which he addressed "To those wou'd-be-thought Gentle-
men, who have long taken this paper, and never paid for
it, and seem never to design to pay for it.' In this he
compared his own undervalued position with that of
printers in Virginia, South Carolina and other colonies,
where printers were both honoured and prosperous. Of
Mrs. Baldwin, Keimer wrote
E'en Type at Jamaica, our island's reproach
Is able to ride in her Chariot or Coach.17
even allowing for a little poetic exaggeration, it would
seem Mrs. Baldwin's prosperity was known the other end
of the Caribbean.
This prosperity came, no doubt, partly from the
printing business (though much less of her output has
survived than of her husband's). The advertisements in
the surviving Courants printed under her regime show
also that she was branching out into new fields:
To be sold at the Printer's ... these several sorts of Garden-Seeds,
viz, Carrot, Spinage, Lettice, Cowcumber, Parsley, Asparagus,
Cabbage, Red-top Turnip; and very fresh Spaw-water, Cimmon,
Dr. Steven's, and Aqua Mirabilis, at reasonable Rates.
[Courants 22 June 1722]
Spices of all sorts to be sold at the Printers very reasonable; like-
wise Scots snuff. [Courant, 24 June 1730]

The real backbone of her business, however, I suspect to
have been bookbinding: Cundall has recorded an order by
the Clerk to the Assembly to have books bound by Mrs.
Baldwin if he could not get them re-bound in Spanish

Peter and Robert Baldwin jr.
After 1734, Mary Baldwin disappears into the mists of
history. No record seems to survive recording her death or
remarriage and there is a gap in our knowledge of this first
family of printers in Jamaica until 1740. In that year, at a
meeting of the Council held on 30 September it was
ordered that i 20-10s. should be paid to Peter and Robert
Baldwin for printing proclamations etc. Two pamphlets,
(of which the only known copies to survive are in the

Institute of Jamaica) which were printed in the same year
- A letter from Don Blas de Lezo* and A letter from John
Thomas Geraldino* confirm the belief that Peter and
Robert Baldwin were Mary Baldwin's sons, since these
pamphlets were printed for them by John Letts, who had
been Mrs. Baldwin's printer in 1734, and in the self same
types which Robert Baldwin the elder had brought to
Jamaica in 1718.
No copies of the Courant published in the time of the
Baldwin brothers are known to exist. Indeed, apart from
these two pamphlets of 1740 nothing of their work
survives save a single issue'" of another newspaper, The
Jamaica Gazette no. 96. 14 December 1745, 'Printed by
Alexander Adamson, for Peter and Robert Baldwin,' and
priced at two ryals, or 7s.6d. a quarter.
From this newspaper which seems complementary to
the Courant, rather than a replacement for it we learn
The Office of Intelligence, is kept at the Printing Office in Kingston
by Peter and Robert Baldwin. Where Money is Endeavour's to be
procur'd on good Security for Money, Ships and other Vessells
Charterd and hired; Mortgages, Bonds &c. transacted, Houses
Bought and Sold, Lett & Rented, Persons qualify'd in any
Occupation may hear of Business, and Persons wanting such, may
be informed of them: All kind of Bargains whatsoever, in
Commerce, or any other kind of Business, is carried on with the
strictest Secrecy, the Principals only being brought together ...
The business of INSURANCE is carried on as usual.

The Baldwin brothers, then, had climbed from being
merely printers and binders to a mixture of merchant
bankers, insurance brokers and employment agency; in
this more elevated sphere of business leaving the
mechanical trades of printing and binding to their
There is no evidence surviving as to the success of this
venture, which (to judge from the advertisements they
placed for a 'young man qualify'd in Surgery and
Pharmacy,' for 'Employment for an Overseer and
Distiller' etc.) was well patronised and firmly established.
Peter Baldwin was dead by 5 February 1746, on which
date Letters of Administration of his estate were granted
to John Cochran, 'Practioner in Physick' in Kingston. The
inventory of his estate which was ordered to be prepared
seems not to have survived, so there is no way of gauging
his wealth. I suspect his brother Robert Baldwin jr. must
have predeceased him; there is no further reference to
either of the brothers in surviving records. In any case, by
1750 official printing in Jamaica seems to have been in
other hands.
The Baldwins' publications
Examination of the Weekly Jamaica Courant is not only
of interest for the evidence it contains about the printers.
As H.P. Jacobs has shown, in his article on 'The
Jamaican Press 1789-1865' [Jamaica Journal, September
1972] much material in the early newspapers of the island
is of very real value for historical studies. Analysis of the
advertisements in the fifteen surviving copies of the-
Courant for example, shows that absconded slaves
account for far more advertisements than any other
category; some 50 advertisements in all. A good
proportion of these absconding were white workers: their
chance of escape was naturally greater. There were six
advertisements of slave sales, six for strayed livestock,
eighteen for real estate, nine for lost and found property.
One learns where it was possible to hire a coach in
Kingston (for 30 shillings a day, on the understanding
that one would not go beyond the foot of the mountains
nor beyond the Hope River), to have one's clocks mended,
to buy tickets in a raffle (with furniture the prize) or to

attend a concert. One could buy spoiled herrings, coffee,
or harness for one's horse.
The local news given in the paper is less frequently of
real interest, though at times it adds substantially to our
knowledge of the period. The issue for 12 September 1722
for instance is filled with accounts of the terrible
hurricane which had struck the island on 28th August
(and which had prevented the issue of the paper for a
week). We can read which vessels at Port Royal or
Kingston were wrecked, which were grounded or
otherwise damaged. There is a report of the disastrous
damage at Port Royal: some 400 people having lost their
lives, over half the town being destroyed; Fort Charles
battered, the eastern end sunk and several of the cannon
washed away. There is a proclamation by the Governor
dealing with looters, and the punishment they are to
receive. At Spanish Town we learn that, though Kings
House and the Secretary's Office were badly damaged,
there was no loss of life. 'It is remarkable,' reports the
Courant, 'that those Houses which were built by the
Spaniards, sustained very little damage, tho' 'tis now 67
Years since the Conquest of the island. Consequently
those Buildings are of much Older date. From this we may
reasonably conclude, that they had met with Accidents of
the like nature, that put them -upon that manner of
The other local items in the Courant seldom possess as
much interest as this. Many of them are proclamations by
the Governor or similar matters. Sometimes these were
issued separately. The speech of Sir Nicholas Lawes to the
Council and Assembly of Thursday November 6th 171820
is an example of this kind of work. The Governor's rebuke,
contained in his speech, is one which many later
Governors must have wished to repeat!
By far the most substantial of the separate official
publications to have survived is the report of The Tryals
of Captain John Rackham and other Pirates, printed in
the spring of 1721.21 The contents of this report, which
deals with the women pirates Mary Read and Anne
Bonny, is too well known to need repeating here. Though
to produce this 44 page folio volume must have stretched
Robert Baldwin's resources very severely, it was an
example of book production of which he could justifiably
have been proud.
In a good many cases, no copies of the Baldwins' official
printing have survived at all. Robert Baldwin in 1719 was
advertising that 'Gentlemen may be furnish'd with
compleat Sets of the Votes, Speeches and Addresses' (of
the Assembly and Governor) and there is some evidence
that these continued through his lifetime but none are now
known to exist. From the Courant advertisements, one
can add three titles to the list of Jamaican publications
which Cundall included in his book.
An Act for the more effectual Suppressing of Piracy
(advertised 20 June 1722; price 2 ryals).
An Act for the better Suppressing and Reducing the
Rebellious and Runaway Negroes,
An Act for the better regulating Slaves, and
rendering Free Negroes and Mulattoes more Useful,
and preventing Hawking and Pedling, and enlarging
the Time for the Commissioners collecting the
Outstanding Debts.
(both advertised 24 June 1730)
It is quite clear that the problem of sidewalk vendors in
Kingston is not a new one!
As so much of the Baldwins' work has disappeared, it is
difficult to form a sound judgement of their contribution
to the development of printing, and through that to the

growth of Jamaican society. In Robert Baldwin Jamaica
had as its first printer an accomplished craftsman whose
work bears comparison with contemporary English and
North American work very well. But this good start was
lost, and the printers who worked for Baldwin's sons were
by no means as good. It was not until William Daniel set
up as printer in the late 1740s that the quality of Jamaican
printing was again to achieve metropolitan standards of


1. Frank Cundall, A History of printing in Jamaica from 1717 to
1834. Kingston, Institute of Jamaica, 1935.
2. The first was The Boston newsletter, published by authority,
first appearing on 24 April 1704, which continued to 1776. An
earlier attempt at producing an unlicensed paper in Boston,
Public occurances, was quickly suppressed after the first issue of
25 Sept. 1690.
3. e.g. Richard Atkyns, The original and growth of printing in
England, London 1664. Though Atkyns' account, based so he
claimed upon a document he had seen in Lambeth Palace, was
regarded with some suspicion by his contemporaries, it was not
finally exposed until the 1730s.
4. The usefulness of an official press to counter adverse publicity
seems to have been one of the reasons for the establishment of a
press in Belize in 1825: an interesting parallel with the Jamaican
situation a century earlier.
5. Quoted by Cundall, op. cit. p. 3.
6. Journal of the Commissioners for Trade & Plantations March
1714/15 Oct. 1718, London 1924, p. 277.
7. So named after the Dutch printer and press-builder Willem
Janszoon Blaeu, though its features were already common in
Dutch presses before Blaeu's day.

8. James Watson, Preface to The History of printing Edinburgh,
1713, p. xxii.
9. cf. Lawrence C. Wroth, The colonial printer, 2nd ed. Charlottes-
ville, 1964, pp. 69-79.
10. cf. Roderick Cave, 'An inventory of the first Jamaican printing
11. Jamaica Archives, Inventories, Liber 12, fol. 131v 132v.
12. A facsimile reproduction of the complete work was included in
Douglas McMurtrie, The first printing in Jamaica, Evanston
13. In his book Frank Cundall postulated the date as 28 May 1717,
but as McMurtrie (op. cit.) has shown, this was a mistake re-
sulting from a misunderstanding of the 'old style' calendar.
14. The history of printing in America, Worcester, Mass., 1810.
15. Op. cit. pp. 10, 37.
16. Including 'two boys and two women' valued at100. There is,
much later in the century, evidence that slave labour was used in
printing houses, e.g. as pressmen, but I doubt that this was the
case with Baldwin. The boys may have been used to deliver the
17. Thomas, op. cit. 2nd ed. p. 190.
18. Frank Cundall, The press and printers of Jamaica prior to 1820
(Worcester, Mass., 1916) p. 8.
19. Now in the New York Public Library. A photostat copy is in the
Institute of Jamaica. The Institute also has a copy of no.
775/406 of 25 March 1775, but I suspect from the numbering and
other evidence that it is a distinct journal bearing the same title
rather than a later issue continuing the Baldwins' paper.
20. The printed text bears the date Wednesday November 5th; in the
surviving copy (in the Public Records Office), the one sent home
by the Governor, this has been amended in manuscript.
21. The only surviving copy is that sent to London by Sir Nicholas
Lawes with a letter dated 12th June 1721, and now in the Public
Records Office.

PORT ROYAL Contd. from page 10

The scales are marked in divisions of 12 inches. Full
report of this and other excavations is in preparation but,
in the meantime, this will help fill in a little of Port Royal's
civilian history.

Reconstructed Spanish Jar found during the excavation! of the new
Street site in Port Royal. Remains of other jars of this type have been
found on this site and else where in Port Royal. They seem to constitute
a special group perhaps being of local manufacture. The outside is
untreated but the inner surface is covered with a rough salt glaze. This
occurs in a variety of colours a rich brown and the one illustrated but
deep red and dull green are also found. The outer part of the rim is
painted white. This paint is also used to decorate other parts of the Jar.
The handles are picked out with stripes and dashes while elsewhere
vertical pairs of lines run from the neck to the base. In this example
each pair of lines has been joined by horizontal dashes creating a ladder
but on other jars these pairs of lines may be joined by a wavy line
running between them and touching each alternately. Traces of painted
decorations can be seen on other Spanish Jars in Jamaica but not as
easily or vividly as on these sherds which had been buried in the soil at
Port Royal for over 200 years since the middle of the 18th century.


Mr. Cecil Baugh demonstrates his skill during a Horticultural Exhibition at Kings Ho-,s

Strength and simplicity: these two features, above all
epitomise the feel of Cecil Baugh's pottery. And for him,
this skill was not easily acquired as part of a planned art
course, but was rather built up through the years by
ceaseless experimenting with the materials available to
him, and by determinedly seeking to learn from 'hose
more skilled than himself in order to improve, always
improve, his work.
Cecil Baugh was born and raised in Bangor Ridge in
Portland, but his first exposure to the art of making pots
occurred not in his own parish, but on one of the long trips
by foot to Kingston he had to make to bring food to his
brother living and studying there. At that time, the
1920's, what we call Mountain View Avenue and then
called Long Mountain Road, was the home of the folk
potters of Jamaica: here the young Baugh watched the
women who made and fired the Yabba bowls which were
produced by a technique which survived from the days of
slavery itself, and was probably of African origin. The
clay was dug by the potters themselves from any of the
numerous places it could be found on the Liguanea Plain,
and prepared for use by the simple process of overnight
soaking. The next day, the clay was kneaded or wedged,
then cut up and the pieces rolled into conical shapes. This
was deftly worked into shape, continually being pulled
and turned on its base until the sides were built up and a
bowl almost as symmetrical as a wheel-turned one was
produced. On an a-erage day, one of these women could
produce four to six dozen small yabbas, though Fridays
were always set aside for packing the kiln and firing the

bowls, which were cooled overnight for unpacking bright
and early Saturday morning. And it was. on just such a
Saturday morning, the young Cecil Baugh watched the
pots being taken from the kiln. Small wonder therefore
when, some time later, on coming to live with his brother
in Kingston, he returned to Long Mountain Road. not
only to learn how to make Yabbas for himself, but also
how to apply the clear lead glaze these women
traditionally used, and even to cash in on the Christmas
trade by making toys of clay that were fired for him and
sold at a small profit to fatten his pocket for a merrier
In the late 1920's, there was only one potters wheel in
the island: owned and used by a Mr. Aiken in his clay
works on Windward Road. This wheel was used in the
production not only of flower pots, but also drip jars and
monkey jars, the former being porous earthenware jars
into which water, purified by percolation through a
limestone cover at the mouth of the jar, was kept cool and
pure for drinking purposes. From Long Mountain to
Windward Road therefore went Baugh, and subsequently
learnt how to make these pots, to use the wheel, though
the basic techniques of preparing and firing the clay
remained exactly the same: the clay was dug when
required and by whom it was required, soaked overnight.
worked, and fired in the same cylindrical kilns using wood
cut on the slopes of the Wareika Hills. With the new
freedom in form made possible by the use of the potter's
wheel, Cecil Baugh was soon producing vases and
jardinieres as well as monkey jars and flower pots, and

Recommended reading: "The renaissance of ceramic art" The Daily Gleaner 10th July 1960 & "Let us return to tradition
of wood kilns" The Sunday Gleaner 22nd December 1974 Cecil Baugh.
Photo Raphael Shearer


Master Potter
By Pat Cumper_ gj-g


A. Example of Egyptian or Persian blue, independently discovered by Cecil
Baugh. [Courtesy of Mrs. Lucille Mair]

B. Earthenware bowl showing the effect of white and yellow trail-glaze over red
iron oxide, a brown-pigmented glaze. [From the artist's collection]. (Photo -
Jamaica School of Art).

C. Sgrafitto over blue slip. By scratching through the slip [liquid pigmented clay]
the body of the pot is exposed, and when glazed shows a different colour.
[From the collection of A.D. Scott].

D. Stoneware Tenmoku: a stoneware glaze mixed with a high percentage of iron
oxide including yellow oak [a local clay composition] and fired in a reducing
atmosphere [i. e. trapping smoke in an oil or wood kiln to exclude oxygen which
is stolen from the copper or iron oxide thus changing the colour completely].
Through reduction about sixty different colours can be obtained; the black 'of
this jug is due to the very high iron content of the glaze which does not give
the celadon colour. [From the collection of A.D. Scott]

:. ,1

.h :- 4r.

"N ,',
= ~ ~ ~ 1 ..,,,.,
P m:ji!
'l, .,,,

",,! j,'


Unglazed earthenware, about forty years old, showing signature and
address 84 Long Mountain Road [now Mountain View Avenue] [Courtesy
of Mrs.. Scott. ]

found that there was a ready market for such wares. And
so he began to experiment: at first only with the glazes
(for till then the clear lead glaze had been the only one
used) but later also with the actual type of clay used. In
seeking for ways to colour the clear glaze, he looked first
at what lay around him, and the first substance that
caught his imagination was the reddy-brown rust he saw
on iron. So he scraped up what he could of it, pounded it
into a powder and added this to the lead glaze. Result a
clear brown tint to the glaze. The next substance he added
was copper, hoping by adding this to capture the beautiful
clear turquoise colour he had seen given off as a flame by
copper sheeting thrown on the top of a heated kiln to help
keep the heat in. In this he failed, for the resulting colour
was a clear green, which was not shown to best advantage
by the brown Liguanea clay. However, only the clay on
the plains was brown: clay that could be fired to produce a
white surface was to be found in the hills, on a property at
Castleton, to be exact. Using this clay as a base for his
coloured glazes, further experiment led to the discovery
that the sought-for turquoise colour could be made by
adding ground glass to his copper glaze. Without realising
it, he had quite independently found that combination of
ingredients that the ancient Egyptians used in the
production of their famous Phaience beads which have
been found from India to Britain as proof of the wide
network of trade the Pharoahs controlled. It is only fitting
that that particular glaze should go by the name of
Egyptian Blue. By 1930, there was a healthy trade in
these handcrafted wares, and following the leader in true

Jamaican fashion, several other potters also made use of
Baugh's ideas, producing like vases etc. for sale.
But because pottery in this form was relatively new, it
could not really provide as steady a livelihood as an up
and coming young man would want: so, for a while Cecil
Baugh took up employment at the St. James Country
Club for a period that lasted all of about eighteen months.
For at the end of that time he returned to Kingston and
naturally, to pottery. But during his time in Montego
Bay, he had seen that there was room for, indeed a need
for, Jamaican craftsmen in the "republic", and for a man
with initiative, there lay potential markets worth
supplying. 1936 therefore, saw the building of a kiln on
Barnett Street and the opening of the "Cornwall Clay
Works". Although his partner in this venture was to
return to Kingston only six months later, Baugh stayed
on there until 1941, singlehandedly running the place,
selling his works not only to locals and tourists, but also
through kind patrons starting some small overseas trade.
The War began in 1939, and inevitably Jamaica was
asked to send soldiers to aid the Allied cause. One of the
outfits into which volunteers were drawn was the Royal
Engineers and it was into this one that Cecil Baugh was
accepted, despite the fact that he was competing in the
selection tests with men with more skill and experience
than he and often fully qualified, practising mechanics. In
due course, he was shipped off to England, trained and
eventually sent to the Middle East where his company
acted as maintenance men with Montgomery's army in his
famous military campaign against the Desert Fox.
Rommel. Whenever he could get leave, Baugh went to
Cairo in the hope of making contact with some fellow
potter there, but his only gains were watching the peasant
potters at work with their ancient techniques so faithfully
continued, and the surprise of finding out that his own
turquoise blue glaze had been used from time immemorial
by the Egyptians. Nor did he have much greater success
in England, for there even the great Staffordshire ceramic
factories had been almost shut down by the exigencies of
the war.
Needless to say, on returning home after the war.
Baugh once again returned to his pottery. Some years
later, he entered an exhibition at the Institute of Jamaica.
an exhibition which was to mark a turning point in his
career. For not only did his work receive front page cover
by the Gleaner, but it brought his work to the attention of
the Jamaican public in general and the British Council in
particular, who decided that they would like to offer this
man a scholarship to further his ceramic skills in England.
Unfortunately, all the money which was dedicated for this
purpose had already been awarded for 1947, so with only a
letter of introduction to the Colonial Office in London. and
a couple of pounds in his pocket, Baugh bought his
passage on the S.S. Windrush and set sail for cold. damp
His unexpected arrival in London set the Colonial Office
searching for someone who would take this determined
gentleman in as a pupil, and among the people whom they
asked to do so was the outstanding British potter.
Bernard Leach. His response was to the point: he was
much 'too busy for beginners'. However, his pupil.
Margaret Leach, was not quite so impatient of the
request, and told the Office to send Baugh to her, for if
nothing else came of it, he would probably make an
able-bodied assistant. His knowledge of the very basic
skills of pottery, the preparation of the clay for kneading.
firing techniques etc. as well as his not inconsiderable
talent so impressed Margaret Leach that after three
months with her, she recommended to Bernard that he
allow this Jamaican potter with his unusual free-form

Editor's Note: The first white clay used was obtained from the late
W.A. Carpenter, grandfather of the writer Pat Cumper.

No. 2.

Colour Brick Red.
Moisture as rec'd. 3.7%

Analyses on Air Dry Basis.
N'. I

Silica Sio = 76.20

Alumina A120 3 = 11.60

Iron Fa203 = 0.75

Lime CaO. = 0.60

Magnesia, MgO. = 1.50

Loss on Ignition = 4.50

Alkalies (K20.No20)
+ Error. = 4.85

Total. = 100.00









_-_-------------------- 7

Cecil Baugh as early as 1947 was instrumental [through a potter friend
Cecil Bishop] in having tests made of clay samples from Jamaica. This
statement shows that the Castleton clay met the requirements for British
stoneware and the Liguanea clay met the requirements for British

Jamaican Pottery

Students of Bernard Leach, the master potter, were joined some
time ago by Cecil Baugh, a potter from Jamaica, visiting Britain
under the British Council's short term bursary scheme. He was
able to demonstrate traditional West Indian methods of potting -
potting without a wheel.

This is how he describes the process:
Very little is known of the pottery tradition of the West Indies,
though not so far off the West of Jamaica lies Mexico, which
produces some of the most beautiful pottery in the New World.

It is over 400 years ago that Christopher Columbus discovered
Jamaica. The island was inhabited by a gentle race of people called
the Arawaks. They probably came from British Guiana where
Arawak Indians are still to be found. They were very skilful and
made among other things cooking vessels of clay and burnt them in
fire till they became hard.

At present there are many craft potters in the island, but most of
them are confined to the making of bowls (locally called yabas). A
fair number of water jars are also being made. These jars are made
with a handle forming an arch over the mouth, and joined where
the spout is placed on the opposite side. These jars are called
'Monkey jars', but why they are so-called, I have, unfortunately,
not been able to ascertain.
Usually the potter digs his own clay, unless the clay bed is far
away from the pottery. There are about five potters, however, who
always get their clays dug and carted to their potteries.
The clay is prepared without any special care. It is sometimes
broken up into small lumps and put into a ring made of bricks to


Cecil Baugh with Bernard Leach at St. Ives, Englana 1948

soak overnight. The next morning it is sprinkled so that any
unsoaked lumps will be dissolved. About an hour later, some is
removed to the work bench where the potter begins to knead until
the heap of clay becomes homogeneous and assumes a putty-like
consistency. A little wedging is also done to drive out the air
pockets, and then it is ready to be made into .shapes for working.
The clay may be divided into twelve pieces, and each taken and
rolled into a 'V' or cone shape. To do this, the palms of the hands
are placed like an arc on the clay, and with quick inward and
outward movements, slightly raising the clay at the same time, a
cigar-like shape is obtained. It is then lifted and thrown on the
bench to flatten the ends, making sure that the top end is made
larger, thus forming a truncated cone.

There are many ways of making pots without the use of a
potter's wheel. Some potters in Jamaica work up their pots on a
work table. This is done by spilling about a tablespoonful of water
on the potter's bench, and placing the piece of truncated clay
gently on the wet patch. The potter's left hand is then placed
diagonally on the outside of the clay, and the forefinger of the right
hand slightly curved and pressed against the thumb, is thrust
into the centre of the 'cone', working the clay upwards. The left
hand pushes the clay around each time the forefinger and thumb of
the right hand pull upwards, taking a piece of clay as it does so.
These movements are repeated at a fair speed, until the finger and
thumb reach the bench, thus making a hole through the clay,
which has now taken the shape of a bell. At this stage the potter
begins to use his tools, which are very simple a neatly-cut
cocoanut shell and a few pieces of wood, varying in shape. The
cocoanut shell is used to form the pot out of the bell-like shape to
which the clay has been brought by hand. To do this, the left hand

No. 1.

Colour Cream.
Moisture as rec'd. = 1.68%

technique to come down to his stronghold, St. Ives, in
Southern England. Over the next year or more, Baugh not
only learnt from this great man, but also gave several
demonstrations of his technique to the local potters and
even one televised over the B.B.C. This period in England
was one in which the knowledge that Baugh possessed as
to the character of his clay and his glazes crystallised into
solid facts on the chemistry of his materials, the command
of the theory at a high level was his now, to add to his
almost instinctive skill. Here, he learned to use different
and more specialised equipment: bottleneck up-draught
kilns that were heated by coal different from the
cylindrical wood-fired ones he was used to: how to fire
white clay in a reducing atmosphere so that stoneware
would result: different glazes which were not based on
poisonous lead oxides but used silica and aluminium as
ingredients: all this and more he learned from Bernard and
his pupil Margaret Leach, and in return he showed them
his own techniques based on traditional Jamaican

S Demonstration for BBC-TV 1949.
At left is seen the traditional
Jamaican "Monkey Jar". [BBC

Traditional Jamaican "Spanish
Jar" about 4' high. This modern
jar by the potter is patterned after
a type thought to have originally
come from Spain. Before the days
of modern refrigeration many
Jamaican homes kept water cool
in such jars [sometimes partly set
in the earth] and covered by a
dripstone made of imestone to
i protect the water from aimtai-
S u. tion. [Photo Deree Jones]

-. -
- .~f'.,A ~U..JA...'. a. ,..muI
~ UMSJ~ ~nqgrejurwiiiw, 0~v~. rng -- *


remains as described, while the shell is held firmly by the fingers of
the right hand. The hand holding the shell is dipped into the
potter's workpot, which contains water and the rest of the tools.
The water that comes up with the hand is splashed over the inside
of the bell-shaped pot, and then the pressing with the cocoanut
shell begins, until the pot is brought into the desired form. The rim
of the pot is trimmed with a piece of bevelled tool, and finished
with a smooth and nicely-folded wet cloth.

Another method of making pots without the use of the potter's
wheel has one advantage over the wheel. It enables the potter to

Traditional Jamaican Kiln, the broken pots on top are to conserve

make very large pots which otherwise could not be made by the

The preparation of the clay for making a large pot is done as
mentioned in the earlier part of this article. If a very large pot is to
be made, the clay would be placed on top of a barrel and a little
sand sifted evenly on it. The clay is placed on the disc, the sand
preventing it from sticking, thus making the removal of the pot
easy when finished.

The potter is now ready to make his large pot, so he dips his
forefinger in water, and with the aid of his thumb, as already
described, he works the clay upwards. In doing this, he goes round
and round the barrel anti-clockwise until the bottom is reached.
Then he changes to the opposite direction, and uses his forefinger
to seal the cracks that were made during the working up of the

Again this useful tool, the cocoanut shell, is used completely
wet. It is slid diagonally on the inside of the pot as the potter
resumes his anti-clockwise jig around the barrel and pot.
When the clay can take no more pressure from the shell, the pot
is built up with 'snakes' made of clay, and pressed on the inside
edge of the pot. This is continued until the pot is completed.

The kiln used for the firing of this ware is circular and is built
with one or more fireboxes. It is built without a dome, or chimney,
so that all packing can be done from the top, by leaning over the
side. The flooring of the kiln is made up of broken bits of old fired
pots. They are laid flat on fire-bars which stretch diametrically
across the kiln.

The firing takes from four to five hours. The two most critical
hours are from the lighting of the fire with large bits of wood until
the time for using brambles. Great care must be taken that too
much flame does not enter the kiln at the start, otherwise all the
pots would be blown up.

The stoking with brushwood is a rather busy job, for the
temperature must be kept, and any slacking of stoking would
lessen the temperature and cause the potter to use more wood.
When the fire is ended, the potter looks forward to the following
day for drawing his kiln. Sometimes the result is very good, and
another time it may be bad, but the good potter never gives up.

from Pottery & Glass January 1950

Pot made in 1968 and presented to Emperor Haile Selassie by
former Prime Minister Hugh Shearer on a visit to Ethiopia.

Stoneware exhibited at Victoria & Albert Museum National
Exhibition of Ceramics 1971. [Collection Institute of Jamaica].

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Diagram of Bottleneck kiln built by the potter on his return from
Britain. This is the only one in Jamaica of this pattern, and is still in use
at the Jamaica School of Art. [Rural Industries Bureau Gt. Britain].

Top left: Stoneware exhibited at Victoria & Albert Museum National
Exhibition of Ceramics 1971. (Collection Institute ofJamaica)

Top right: Pot by Ladi Quali a famous Nigerian potter who has
demonstrated at the Royal College of Arts and more recently in the USA, the
same free-form techniques as Cecil Baugh. [Her work was discovered by
Michael Cardew doing research in Nigeria and Ghana in 1952]. It is possible
that the Nigerian and the Jamaican are working from related West African
traditions. [From collection of Chicago Museum].

Below, left and right: Working with 'Mother' Taylor at Spanish Town,
making primitive pots residue of African pottery technique. Picture
shows kneading clay, not on a wedging table but on the ground no
potter's wheel is used and no kiln pots are fired in the open yard.

Above: With Shoji Hamada in Japan 1973. Hamada has been
awarded the honour of "Living National Treasure of Japan" for his
work in Pottery. *
Below: Pot by Shoji Hamada [from Cecil Baugh's collection].

On his return to Jamaica in 1950, he once again set to
work: first to build himself a bottleneck kiln like the ones
he worked with in England, though still burning wood cut
on Wareika Hills and bought by the cord, and then with
his equipment to introduce his new skills to Jamaica. He
also held the first one-man exhibition in ceramics at the
Institute's Junior centre in that year. The knowledge that
there were artists of considerable skill in the island led
naturally to the conclusion that there ought to be some
institution for the spreading of these particular skills to
others wishing to learn, rather than a forced exit to foreign
schools to study art. Under the energetic direction of Mrs.
Edna Manley, the Jamaica School of Art came into being
with a formidable staff of Jamaican professionals, such as
Mrs. Manley herself, Albert Huie, Gerry Isaacs, Leslie
and others, including (though till 1962 only on a part-time
basis), Cecil Baugh. During the years he taught at the art
school, he was also teaching pottery as part of a technical
school curriculum, at a school in Maggotty. The clay he
used here was not the usual from the Liguanea Plains or
the Castleton area, but came instead from the Holland
Estate, where there are considerable supplies of both
white and yellow clay in a stratified deposit. White clay,
suitable for making stoneware can also be found at
Harkers Hall in the north-west of the island, while know
deposits of white clay are to be found at Frenchman, in
Trelawny and near to Port Antonio in Portland. The basic
difference between the two colours of clay lies not only in
the appearance of the finished product, but also the higher
maturing temperatures of the white clay, which is
refractory, contains fewer impurities, than the brown, and
so has to be fired to between twelve to thirteen hundred
degrees and produces the harder, usually grayish
stoneware instead of the familiar brown earthenware. The
brown clays mature at rather lower temperatures, in the
case of the Liguanea clays, at 1060 to 1080 degrees
centigrade. And of course, in order to produce the best
results, a glaze that fused at the same temperature as the
pot matures must also be used. Perhaps the saddest thing
that happened during this time from the point of view of
anyone interested in seeing the spread of artistic skill in
Jamaica, was the moving of the electric kiln that had been
installed at Maggotty to Lacovia, where it subsequently
lay, totally unused, to this day. Considering the rarity
and cost of such a piece of equipment, such neglect of
opportunity could almost be termed criminal.
Since 1950, and his first momentous one-man ceramic
exhibition, Cecil Baugh has given more than a dozen other
exhibitions and his pots have been recognized as of the
highest indigenous quality. No wonder then that it was he
who received a commission from Lady Foote to produce a
pot for presentation to the Queen, and samples of his work
are to be found displayed at Kings House.
Another fruit of his labours has been the students that
he has taught and later watched become artists and
teachers in their own right. He has given nearly half a
century of his life to pottery at first discovering and
improving his own skills and later passing these skills on
to others. It is with the efforts of men like these that art
forms previously little known of in our island, become
known and accepted to a wide audience. Ceramics in
Jamaica has now its own unique form, authentically
Jamaican, evolved by Jamaicans for Jamaicans. To have
helped to achieve this status for this ancient craft is a life's
work to be proud of. And in more ways than one has he
been the Bernard Leach of Jamaican pottery, for he is also
an artist acclaimed both here and abroad for the
simplicity, beauty and craftsmanship essential in all his
excellent work. We look forward to his next exhibition and

*See "Shoji Hamada A Potter's Way & Work" (Kodansha International 1974).

even more so to the promised autobiography that will piece. The life and work of a determined and talented man,
elaborate that which I have tried to condense in this short Cecil Baugh.

.;L : / ,. i: .._ i. .'f'".....s..."-:'

To mark the occasion of Cecil Baugh's retirement from the Jamaica hold her own exhibition, Simon Bowers, Norma Harrack, and Gene
School of Art after having served from its inception; an exhibition of his Pearson have also exhibited; Caleine Khan [Binns] whose graduation
students' work was mounted at the Institute of Jamaica, January 1975 thesis received high commendation; Valerie Seaton received a three year
at the opening of which he was presented with an illuminated address, scholarship to West Germany after graduation. One of his students
He has had many successful part-time and full-time students, among Donald Johnson succeeds him as tutor in Ceramics at the Jamaica
whom are Madge Spencer [now in Britain] the first woman potter to School of Art. [Photo Carl Griffiths].
Cecil Baugh was awarded the Order of Distinction in the Independence Honours of 1975, for service to the arts.



by Usha Prasad 1975

Neville Budhai
mixed media 2'7".x 1'10"
Ralph Campbell
oil 1'7" x 1'4"
Clinton Brown
oil 2'6" x 2' iU

Photos by Andrew Sciandra

The National Exhibition of Paintings was held at the
Institute of Jamaica and was opened by Mr. Henry
Fowler, Chairman of the Little Theatre movement. The
exhibition displayed 88 exhibits by 40 artists.
We know that art from the very beginning of creativity
has been understood as a noble part of man's long effort to
shape his own environment and express his values: that
art is not something stored in a museum but that it is
ubiquitous. However, to understand and appreciate art it
is not desired to give a superficial glance at Rembrandt
or Michelangelo, which may be less useful than a critical
study of one's own environment the house on the
street, the family car, the statue in the square or a
collection of practising artists' works: wherein nothing .
could be better than the National Exhibition of Paintings
at the Institute of Jamaica. As art mirrors human
feelings, these paintings under one roof will expose us to
all that is around us.
Creativity occurs when man uses his initiative, his
instinct, or his experience to put something together and
finally put his stamp upon it. In recognizing art as man's
eternal challenge of fate, Andre Malraux reminds us that
all fine art, past and present is a direct affirmation of
man's sovereign importance in the scheme of things: a
constant, assurance that he is not a mere cog in a
mechanical universe. This silent voice is more urgently
needed today than in any past age.
If a vision is instantaneous a thing seen is more vivid
than a real thing: then Art reigns supreme. It is not
surprising that the primitives produce art because they
must: they have had no other motive but a passionate
desire to express their sense of form. Art then becomes a
product of specific human societies and its subject matter
is influenced by the prevailing ethos. Although such a
depiction of contemporary art usually offers enjoyment,
appreciation and understanding: yet the artist on his part
dares all to win something if his work does not strike a THE YOUTH Whitney Miller 2'6" x 3" oil
chord in the viewer, then all is lost.
However, this exhibition of paintings at the Institute of
Jamaica is rather an interesting representation of the
various cross-section of the artists' works wherein the
artists have tried to convey the message of their souls. A
representation of contrasting works is always an
indication that many artists desire to acquaint the
audience of some of their silent thoughts.
Our approach to criticism is not geared to the
destruction of creativity, but what is going on in the
spectator. The whole point of contemporary painting often
seems to be not what takes place on the canvas itself, but
the response which the painting generates within the
onlooker. These gaps in logical organization, the hiatuses,
are bridged not externally and physically, but somewhere
within the psyche. The critic is part judge, part lover, part
intermediary; and represents the enquiring spirit the
real bridge between art and humankind, or the prime
cause of arts.
Certain problems in art are widely felt; even when
isolated from each other's work, artists may develop in the
same direction and geographical boundaries do not restrict
artists' expression because of the universality of arts:
and so we can have some Cezanne, Matisse or Rembrandt-
flavour in many other artist's work. Joys and sorrows are
similar in every stratum of humankind and art happens to
be their universal expression. But like scientists not all
artists are concerned with the new: many are satisfied to
work in the accepted styles and manners but in art as in
science, it is the new that gives the field its significance.
Thus the exhibition provides a wide aura of various trends
and styles. JAZZ K. Bartley 1'4" xl'10" mixed media

Herb Rose
1'9" x 1'2"
water colour

DREAD DREAM Lincoln Tavares 1'9" x 1'9" mixed media

However, the visual artist is not limited to a visual
experience to get him started. He may start with a feeling,
a mood, or a human sentiment and then find something in
his medium that will convey it. One is unable to appreciate
a Budhai or Ralph Campbell unless one's education and
natural refinement unlocks the door to the world they live
in. Then the works set certain chords to vibrate, not only
between the artist and the observer, but between two
people who are observing together. And so people discover
one another through art, which is perhaps Budhai's and
Campbell's most poignant communication of all. Art'to
them depicts the noblest emotions of all, as well as the
various aspects of life memories and visions,
possessing the potential for appealing to the greatest
number over the longest period of time. The choice of the
subject matter is commended: wherein good taste implies
an ability to separate the excellent from the shoddy, the
beautifully designed from the cleverly assembled, the
eloquent from the noisily assertive, the appropriate from

CASTLETON IDYLL Susan Alexander 2'11" x 2'8" oil

the misplaced, the product of the imagination from that of
the ingenuity. These works of art not only illuminate the
spectator, but they challenge him. The relationship is that
between Jacob and the angel, or, to change the metaphor,
what happens when we look at a work of art is that a
dialogue begins with all those concealments, those
shifts of tone, those little manoeuvrings, that we find in
real and spoken dialogue.
The deeply resonant colours in Herb Rose's painting
entitled 'Washday' does not indicate that he is a mere
copyist of nature's appearance but he is part of the
fabric of society, an involuntary revelation of its
character. He uses nature as the visible world, whereas his
whole purpose is the interpretation of his personal
understanding. The images in light hues and isolated
painted strokes stress the surface of the picture plane.
"Illiteracy" by Clinton Brown weave a story of a biblical
sage in a white turban and an open book held for the
anxious students. The artist's treatment of a white

THE PARK Leaford Capleton 1'6" x 1' water colour

UHURU Trevor Roche Burrowes 2'6" x 4' oil on bagasse board

Elisha Miller
2' x 1'6" oil

Keith Barrett
3'2" x 2' oil

MAHA YOGI Usha Prasad 1'9" x 2'5" water colour

surrounding maybe denoting purity. The technical ability
of the artist has enabled him to give the work the
inspirational or emotive quality, that it may transmit to
the observer. By limiting himself to the effects he can
achieve by colour alone, Ralph Campbell articulates a
particular attitude towards the painting: the colours
tremble gently on the surface and seem to call forth a sad
episode of nature's suffering at a time of a drought
(painting entitled 'Mona's Drought'). A determination to
lay bare the deepest cogs of human behaviour is apparent
in Keith Barret's painting 'Sufferers'. Strange spaces,
totally removed from traditional perspective encompass
the pulsating forms that float gently in his work. The
much emulated brushwork the dense sweeping strokes
are used to enunciate this idea.
'The Youth' by Whitney Miller reminds us of the
classical paintings reflecting the painter's mood and
personality. I believe that there are two polarities to be
discerned in Miller: one is his rationalism and the other an
equally strong poetic sensitivity. On the one hand he
wanted to represent convincingly what is realistic to
penetrate the essence of the visible world, while on the
other he experienced the magic of soft colours moving
through space and playing about the human form. He
thus adds to intellectual realism the additional dimension
of poetic beauty. The result is a harmonious unity
dominated by silence. 'Castleton Idyll' by Susan
Alexander is painted in soft feathery brush strokes a
river scene with fishermen in delicate subdued tones. And
painting is before all things a portrait of the artist. It may
be a landscape, still life or a figure: none the less, in every
case, the painter is portrayed. Rocks, grass, trees, water,
houses, etc., are all bathed in colours, with an interplay of
light and shade.

'Freedom' or 'Uhuru' by Trevor Roche Burrows is a
vivid presentation of a group of boys clutching the
symbolic lighted torch like a scene from the film world.
The composition is carefully thought out: and the figures
have a subtlety which cannot be conveyed in words. The
harmony of colours is unmatched in its purity. Freedom is
both a physical and a mental state: and since
consciousness of man changes the work of art created
will not be experienced in the same way in the future,
anymore, than we can experience the art of the past just
as it was first painted. From this point of view all art is
mental rather than physical. Time passes and the content
changes though the physical work itself does not. Thus
we cannot actually experience the paintings of Courbet, in
the same way that a person in the 19th century did. Time
has changed our way of perceiving, even though the
stimuli are unchanged. Hence, after a lapse of some years
the painting 'Uhuru' may loose its physical appeal, but its
abstract message will always remain the same.
In the painting 'Jazzy' by K. Bartley, the effect is so
revealing, that it seems the musical notes will just come
out of the picture. Do we have a relation between sound
and forms? Recent researches have shown that these two
varying natural phenomenon are related*. Romanticizing
Africa is the theme of Kofi Kayiga's 'Visions of Africa'.
From the smooth flowing colours, we sense the grace of
their movements in 'Crossing the Stream' by Elisha
Miller. Sydney McLaren is a mature artist, whose works
reveal the apt use of colours to enhance situations. 'The
Park' by Leaford Capleton (who is a handicapped artist)
presents simple drawings devoid of all frills like a folk
artist. 'Goat' by Byron Bowden refreshes and revives
memories of Chagall's drawings. Its simplicity catches a
certain mood in vibrant colours. The 'Red Hibiscus' by
Moira Abbot displays the old classic style of the use of
water colours. The coloured photography resemblance is
seldom used by contemporary artists: although such
portrayals excel in craftsmanship. 'Daydream' by Dudley
Pinnock has been born in a space first emptied of all
ordinary representation and gradually filled with
geometrical shapes. What at first really bewilders in his
painting is the apparent simplicity and straightforward-
ness quickly contradicted as the mind grasps the
symbolic use of shapes.
Today the world sits on the edge of a volatile volcano.
how and when it might erupt nobody knows and
everything is unsure and uncertain. The role of Art is
becoming more and more difficult: even art theories are
becoming mere trial balloons (because with the fast pace
the world is moving, ideas have become contaminated
with hatred for mankind so that man is a mere puppet
of circumstances). And every man claims to understand
art as part of his egoistical satisfaction. But I still affirm,
that art is a living form of human expression: and it is
pointless for painters to paint dead and outmoded topics
when their hearts are bleeding in agony, or the bells of joy
seem to remain unnoticed in their expression.
A living abstract painting is always preferred to a dead
transcription of the living world. For art deals with life
and the latter cannot be four-footed and pigeon-holed: or
hog tied or Yale locked by any number of art theories on
two or two thousand sides of the question. The work of
art is the product of that highest capacity of man the
capacity to think and dream. From all that is around him
the artist creates the painting which contains his thoughts
and dreams. Through those paintings he passes his
thoughts and dreams down through the centuries and over
*Recent findings of an artist, Narendra have revealed the interesting
relationship between the Devnagari script and its shapely forms, with

2'4" x 1'9" mixed media

2'6" x I'll" mixed media.

C HOPE NURSERY Nancie Gunkelman 3' x 3' oil

1'6" x 2'4" water colour

Ralph Campbell
6' x 4'

Everald Brown
3'6" x 2'

the barriers of different languages and customs to the
mind and soul of the person of today, who has learnt to
look and understand. A painter paints not because he
wants to represent what he sees and is competent to do so,
but because the visible world stimulates him to satisfy his
deep urge to shape his understanding of life and nature.
He paints because he cannot avoid it. It is, as a
consequence not an easy, but a time-consuming activity;
one which demands his whole concentration and his whole
personality, one which may destroy his health and
separate him from his fellows. The creative instinct is
most unpredictable and not an affair of the logic: it may
still jump the analysis of a period speculation. "They
provoke laughter and are altogether lamentable. They
show the most profound ignorance of design, composition
and colour. Children amusing themselves with paper and
paints can do better", written on contemporary art by an

art critic; but experience has shown that such violent
antipathy usually turns out to have been misplaced. More
often than not, in painting, it is directed at what is
commonly described as the Avant-garde (and in defence
of the reviled artists) the future is always with the
Avant-garde: and painting must be looked at and looked

Usha Prasad was trained at the Sharanda Ukil School of Art New Delhi
where she studied Oriental and Indian Painting (1953-1957) and at
Columbia University (M.A. in Fine Art and Education from Teachers
College, 1967-69) and studied French as a Foreign Language in Bankok
Mrs. Prasad has held one-woman shows in New York, Bankok and
Bombay. As a free-lance art critic she published articles in The
Hindustan Times, The Statesman, The Illustrated Weekly of India and
the Times of India.



2'9"x 1'6" oil
B RED HIBISCUS Moria Abbott 1' x 1'6" water colour
C CONTEMPLATION Margaret Finlay 2'2" x 2'8" oil
2'10" x 1'9" water colour


-'.1 4k-.\


Contending Value


Prose Fictiou


Claude McKaj
By Mervyn Morris

He began as a poet, encouraged by a kindly patrician,
the Englishman Walter Jekyll, to write more poems in
dialect and fewer in Standard English.' Through the
agency of Jekyll, Songs of Jamaica and Constab Ballads,
two volumes of McKay's dialect poems, were published in
1912. McKay was popular in Jamaica, well reviewed
abroad, and awarded a Silver Musgrave Medal by the
Institute of Jamaica. Later in 1912 he left Jamaica for the
United States. After six months at Tuskegee Institute
and two years at Kansas State University, he gave up
educational institutions and agriculture. With a friend he
tried to run a restaurant of his own in New York, failed,
and slipped into the life of a vagabond, shifting from job
to job ("porter, fireman, waiter, bar-boy, houseman"2)
while continuing to write, his "leisure ... divided between
the experiment of daily living and the experiment of
essays inwriting3." His engaging autobiography, A. Long
Way from Home (1937), takes off from his first meeting
with Frank Harris, the influential editor of Pearson's
Magazine which soon published some McKay poems.
McKay acquired a reputation in the United States as a
Negro poet, most famously for his hortatory sonnet "If
We Must Die", written in response to the race riots of
1919. Later that year he went to England, on a free
passage provided by an admirer. From then on McKay
was, as he himself puts it, "a troubadour wanderer".4 He
was involved in Communist journalism in the United
States and England, and he visited the Soviet Union as an
unofficial observer at the Fourth Communist Inter-
national Conference in 1922. He left Russia in 1923 but did
not return to the United States until February 1934.
His four books of prose fiction were all published in the
United States but they were written elsewhere: in France,
Germany, Spain, North Africa.
McKay has probably been over-rated as a poet, for
usually he achieves neither a harmony of voice and vision
nor a meaningful tension between the two: his verse, both
in dialect and in Standard English, is overburdened with
the remembered rhythms and diction of Romantic or
Victorian English poetry. What he said was often
important, but he was deficient in basic poetic skills: all

too often, weak rhymes and stale poetic diction coincide.
His prose fiction is more distinguished; and, as it
happens, his best work is also his most evidently
Jamaican. The novel Banana Bottom (1933) and the
Jamaican short stories in Gingertown (1932) are among
the finest achievements of Jamaican literature.
His first novel, Home to Harlem (1928)," was a popular
success, selling 50,000 copies in the first year. Vivid about
Harlem, it may have gained something in impact from
appearing soon after the Carl Van Vechten best-seller,
Nigger Heaven (1926) though it was not, McKay insists,
influenced by it. Like Nigger Heaven, Home to Harlem
was attacked by Negroes who felt rather as some
Jamaicans felt when Mais's The Hills Were Joyful
Together appeared in 1953 that it presented too much
that was discreditable to the community it described.
Jake, a black man from Harlem, deserts the army in
Brest, and finds his way to England and then home to
Harlem. On arrival in Harlem he is attracted to a
prostitute with whom he spends the night. When he leaves
in the morning he finds, to his further delight, that she
has returned his $50 with a love-note. Playing nonchalant,
he delays contacting her again, and then is unable to
locate her. He slips into living with one Congo Rose and
when that relationship sours he decides to leave Harlem
for a while. Working on a train he meets and becomes
friendly with Ray, a Haitian writer and intellectual, and
they begin to educate and, in friendship, envy each other:
Jake basically an instinctive hedonist and Ray a
wide-visioned and unhappy intellectual. Fearing to be tied
down in marriage to his girl-friend Agatha, Ray leaves in
the end to work at sea.. Jake, as luck would have it, again
comes upon the woman he so fancied and, after brief
complication, they leave for Chicago together, happily in
The world McKay presents is alive with stevedores,
railway workers, waiters, prostitutes, pimps, homo-
sexuals, brothels, fornication, adultery, general disease,
drugs, brawls, laughter, sensual dancers, soul food, the
rhythm of the blues, the music of the soulful ghetto. It is
not the Harlem of a Negro elite, but working-class and

low-life Harlem. The portrayal angered a number of
prominent Negroes, including Marcus Garvey: "a
damnable libel against the Negro," he called the novel; he
included McKay among "such Negro authors whom we
may fairly designate 'literary prostitutes' ";and he called
for the encouragement of those black authors who try to
"advance our race through healthy and decent
literature."6 It is no wonder that, looking back in 1932,
McKay complained of "leaders of racial opinion" who
"often do not distinguish between the task of propaganda
and the work of art ... A Negro writer," he went on,
"feeling the urge to write faithfully about the people he
knows from real experience is caught in a dilemma (unless
he possesses a very strong sense of esthetic values)
between the opinion of this group and his own artistic
McKay was accused by W.E.B. Du Bois of catering to
"that prurient demand on the part of white folk for a
portrayal in Negroes of that utter licentiousness which
conventional civilization holds white folk back from
enjoying."" Hugh Gloster, writing in 1948, agrees: "In his
preoccupation with muck and sensual excesses McKay,
like Van Vechten, fails to give a well-rounded picture of
Negro life."9 But in all three novels by McKay, and
particularly in Banjo, "conventional civilization" is shown
as holding many black folk back from enjoying
themselves. McKay didn't care for the Negro middle-
class: he didn't like them, he didn't know them well. Yet
in Agatha, for example, as in Ray himself and his
censorious friend James Grant, Home to Harlem does
make some contact with evidently middle-class values and
conduct. More important, McKay would seem to have
been attempting a well-rounded picture of a different sort,
while siting his novel mainly among the lower social class:
he insists that variety may be found within any one group,
drawn from no matter where. As Ray tells James Grant:
"The things you call fine human traits don't belong to any
special class or nation or race of people." (p. 242). And, as
Jake observes: "We may all be niggers aw'right, but we
ain't nonetall all the same." (p. 159). Even in Banjo where
his indictment of white civilization is at its most
sweeping, Mckay's work insists on the unpredictable
variety of human personality.
The central opposition between Jake (instinct) and Ray
(education) has been widely noticed. Perhaps too much
has been made of it. For though it is an important element
of the novel, there is also an important (and much
neglected) opposition between Zeddy and Jake which
modifies the significance of the other. Jake is pleasure-
loving and also fundamentally decent. He refuses to be a
strike-breaker. He will not be a sweetman and live on the
earnings of his woman. He is shown to be conscious of a
distinction between a merely sexual relationship (such as
he has with Congo Rose) and a sexual relationship
enhanced by something more. Contrasting the woman he
cannot find again with Rose, the woman he then has, Jake
thinks: "That night he had felt a reaching out and
marriage of spirits ... But the mulattress was all a
wonderful tissue of throbbing flesh." (p. 42). Carefully set
against this pattern of felt values are the behaviour and
comments of Zeddy, who is crassly materialistic,
recruiting strike-breakers and arguing "I got to live and
I'll scab through hell to live" (p. 49), agreeing to be the
sweetman of ugly Susy whem he neither likes nor
respects. Zeddy is unlike Jake in much the same way as
James Grant is unlike Ray: with an innate decency which
the others lack, Jake and Ray are similarly humane,
though in many ways antithetical.
One of the ways in which they are opposed is that Jake
is American and Ray is not. "Jake was very American in

spirit and shared a little of that comfortable Yankee
contempt for poor foreigners. And as an American Negro
he looked askew at foreign niggers. Africa was jungle, and
Africans bush niggers, cannibals. And West Indians were
monkey-chasers." (p.134)In Home to Harlem, Banjo, and
his autobiography A Long Way from Home, McKay
makes much of differences between black Americans and
other blacks; in relation to the United States "he
remained, at all times," as Harold Cruse has observed,
"the critical outsider looking in."10 In Home to Harlem
the West Indian, Ray, even questions the assumptions of
racial solidarity. "They were all chain-ganged together
and he was counted as one link. Yet he loathed every soul
in that great barrack-room, except Jake. Race ... Why
should he have and love a race?" (p. 153).
Ray, the inhibited West Indian intellectual, envies
Jake's easy capacity for enjoying himself: "he would like
to be touched by the spirit of that atmosphere and, like
Jake, fall naturally into its rhythm." (p. 194). The heart of
the novel is Jake and his capacity for joy, his zest for
living which McKay presents as quintessentially Negro.
"White folks can't padlock niggers outa joy forever," (p.
336) says the woman Jake pursues, symbolically named
Felice (joy). Jake's yearning for Felice is one of the
clearest strands in the novel: We are given constant
reminders of what Jake longs to rediscover.
There are other indications of pattern. In the First Part
Jake is contrasted with the distasteful Zeddy: it is of
symbolic importance that in the Third Part Jake wins
Felice (joy) whom Zeddy loses. In the Second Part Jake is
contrasted with Ray: we are given Ray's intellectual
background and activity, just as we have been given the
physical background of Harlem and Jake's activities; in
the end we see a diseased body (Jake's) and a diseased
mind, Ray's ("life appeared like one big disease and the
world a vast hospital" p. 229). At the end of the Second
Part Ray goes away to sea, rather as Jake had at the end
of the First Part left Harlem for the railroad. Each of the
three Parts ends with a departure from Harlem. The whole
novel begins with flight from the white man's army and
with arrival in Harlem; it ends with flight from Harlem
because of the public disclosure of Jake's desertion. Felice
and Jake who so please each other at the beginning reunite
at the end after long separation. Other characters and
incidents echo or counterpoint each other: for example,
Congo Rose in Harlem, is like Madame Laura in
Philadelphia, and by a practical joke they are made to
confront each other. That practical joke echoes "the
treeing of the chef". The raid on the Baltimore in Harlem
is recalled when a white policeman visits Madame Laura's
in Philadelphia, but this time the anxiety proves
There is less pattern in Banjo (1929)." In a private
letter McKay confessed: "I really don't think it is as good
a story as Home to Harlem from the aesthetic point of
view.""12 Yet aesthetics aren't everything. Banjo is a bad
novel but a very important book. Subtitled "A Story
without a Plot", it fails as a novel not because it is indeed
virtually plotless, but because it is ultimately self-
indulgent, presenting characters who too often seem mere
mouthpieces in a debate. (In this last feature it is not
entirely unlike From Superman to Man (1917) by
another Jamaican-American, J.A. Rogers a dialogue
on a train between a prejudiced white American senator
and an erudite black porter armed with hundreds of
amazing facts about the Negro.)
Banjo is important, however, because it gives such
prolonged and multi-faceted coverage to "the problem of
the Negro"; through its extensive dialogues it suggests
much of the range of the black experience under a

fundamentally white civilization. It has influenced other
important black writers such as Aime Cesaire, Leopold
Senghor and SembBne Ousmane.13 Its discussions sound
startlingly up-to-date, like rap sessions from the late
sixties and the seventies. Eloquently it arraigns white
civilization as sick, materialistic, hypocritical, and
fundamentally hostile to blacks. Ray "hated civilization
because its general attitude toward the colored man was
such as to rob him of his warm human instincts and make
him inhuman." (p. 163). "Oh, it was hell to be man of
color, intellectual and naturally human in the white world.
Except for a superman, almost impossible." (p. 164).
Ray is the Haitian writer and intellectual who left for
sea near the end of Home to Harlem, but he is even more
disquieted than he was then. He joines an international
cast of blacks, denizens of "The Ditch", a slum in
Marseilles. "In no other port had he ever seen congregated
such a picturesque variety of Negroes ... It was as if every
country of the world where Negroes lived had sent
representatives drifting in to Marseilles. A great
vagabond host of jungle-like Negroes trying to scrape a
temporary existence from the macadamized surface of this
great Provencal port." (p. 68).
In Banjo McKay seems to have taken up the challenge
of Senghor to "write the truth about the Negroes in
Marseilles".14 This loose congregation of dislocated blacks
live the life of resourceful idleness in the Ditch, stealing
wine from the barrels on the dock, loving whores of many
colours, and talking interminably. They exchange
anecdotes and folk stories, they argue about race. The
Ditch is even more low-life than the Harlem of McKay's
first novel: not only the pimps, prostitutes, disease and so
on, but also dinginess, garbage, dirt and casual murder.
As in the Harlem of the earlier novel, violence is endemic;
but here it awakens less response in those who witness it.
Yet one "positive" is noticeably more emphatic than in
the Harlem novel. Although they argue and quarrel, the
blacks from Africa, the Caribbean, the United States
have a sense of communal unity: a windfall for one
means drinks for all. Illness or sudden tragedy commands
help. Yet the insistent unity is curiously impermanent:
people drift into the group and out again, the group
disintegrates and casually re-forms. The emphasis is on a
seemingly unstructured association. The musical Banjo
only once comes near to achieving the orchestra of his
McKay tries to differentiate the characters as
individuals aggressive Bugsy, the loyal Arab whore
Latnah, the silly Goosey, the pathetic Lonesome Blue,
and so on but the two that remain firmly in the mind
are Ray and Banjo, conceived antithetically.
Banjo is not, however, a repetition of Jake from Home
to Harlem. Jake himself reappears, married but a seaman,
able to preserve his relationship with Felice by not being
always in her company "to much home stuff," he says
(p. 293). Although capable of specific kindnesses such as
(against Bugsy's vociferous opposition) giving money to a
white boy in need, Banjo is (unlike Jake) fundamentally
amoral. He is an idler and a thief, and finally shrugs off
any one woman as an encumbrance. "Don't get soft ovah
any one wimmens, pardner," he tells Ray. "Tha's you big
weakness." (p. 326). He signs up under a false name to
work on a ship, absconds with a month's wages paid in
advance, and justifies the fraud as necessary to his
circumstances and, by implication, the circumstances of
black people suffering in an unjust white-dominated
world. "I know youse thinking it ain't right. But we kain't
afford to choose, because we ain't born and growed up like
the choosing people. All we can do is grab our chance
every time it comes our way." (p. 319).

In rejecting the morality of "the choosing people"
Banjo is, surely, rejecting not only white morality but,
equally, all moral systems. Emotionally drawn to Banjo's
anarchism, the intellectual Ray does not seriously
examine as might his 1970's equivalent whether
African cultures might provide him with alternative
systems of value. Although "the Africans gave him a
positive feeling of wholesome contact with racial roots"
(p. 320), he feels closest to "the black and brown working
boys and girls" of the United States. He "loved to be with
them in constant physical contact, keeping warm within."
(p. 321). "The more Ray mixed in the rude anarchy of the
lives of the black boys loafing, singing, bumming,
playing, dancing, loving, working and came to a
realization of how close-linked he was to them in spirit, the
more he felt that they represented more than he or the
cultured minority the irrepressible exuberance and
legendary vitality of the black race."(p. 324). Ray makes
too easy a shift from sympathy with the life-loving black
worker such as Jake into affection for an irresponsible
drifter such as the charming Banjo. The novel does not
adequately protect itself in Ray's reflections: "But life
was more wonderful to savor than to indict. Leave the
indictment to the little moral creatures of civilized
justice." (p. 276). It is a serious weakness that the novel
seems to be presenting Jake's decision to join Banjo in the
drifters' life as a probable salvation, not as the futile
gesture it is, a pathetic attempt to drop out of a world
dominated by whites.
McKay knew that Banjo was an unsatisfactory novel.
"It doesn't run smoothly enough, he wrote privately in
1929, "and is clogged up with 'the problem of the Negro'.
However, I had to get that out of my system. Now I can
go on with real creative work."'1 He completed another
novel, "Romance in Marseille" in 1930. which he did not
feel up to revising as he thought necesessay and which
has never been published.16 His next published book was
Gingertown, (1932)17 a collection of short stories, which
includes some "real creative work" indeed, the Jamaican
stories which Wayne Cooper tells us were written during
Gingertown is an uneven collection. The Harlem stories
(first written, Cooper tells us, in 1926-27)'9 are slick. All
five are preoccupied with problems of colour and
shade-prejudice, but the emphasis is many on the refusal
of blacks to accept their blackness. In "Brownskin
Blues", only after a chocolate-brown cabaret singer has
disfigured her lovely face with a combination of
bleaching-creams is she at last persuaded by her dogged
suitor that "It ain't the color that counts, honey; it's the
stuff." (p. 31). In "The Prince of Porto Rico" black Hank
is replaced as maroon Tillie's lover by the yellow Cuban
barber; in revenge Hank informs Tillie's husband, who
takes prompt action. In "Mattie and Her Sweetman" -
the most successful of the Harlem stories the
sweetman's culminating insult is to call Mattie black.
"For," as the narrator says, from a great distance, "there
is no greater insult among Aframericans than calling a
black person black. That is never done. In Aframerican
literature, perhaps, but never in social life." (p. 63). "Near
White" looks at a mulatto girl who is passing for white
and who, until a traumatic exchange with her unknowing
white boyfriend, tries to believe that "Prejudice is not
stronger than love." (p. 98). "Highball" turns on an
awkwardly contrived moment of revelation: a rising black
blues-singer, who has thrown over his sweet black wife
and who has tried to defend his common white wife from
rejection by his discriminating white friends who preferred
her predecessor, overhears her (in conversation with her
own white friends) refer to him as "the good old prune".
He chases them all out. "It seemed as though a crowd of

white insects were still sitting there and screaming:
'Prune! Prune!! Prune!!!'" (p. 137). Those five stories are
rooted in the social detail of McKay's New York, more or
less familiar from Home to Harlem.
One feebly sentimental story, "Nigger Lover", is set in
the world of Banjo, in a port that looks like Marseilles
again: because of a generous act by a single black man a
white whore has developed an affectionate obsession with
blacks. "Little Sheik", a story set in Morocco were where
McKay was living when in December 1930 he finished
Gingertown,20 is one of the best in the collection. An
American young woman is romantically attracted to the
Moroccan world. "From the terrace of her hotel she looked
out over that marvel of crenelated walls and cubic masses
of buildings of ancient yellow and gray and heard the
strange murmur of an invisible hive of humanity stirring
to begin the day. And she felt a fever in her flesh urging
her to descend into the hear of that unique world." (p.
261).Acting as her guide, the little sheik, with her
compliance, takes her into the University (which women
are forbidden to enter) and into the studio of a student.
The romance and the reality are presented with assured
narrative irony.
The student asked the little sheik to go and get some cakes telling
him the special kinds he wanted and in what shop he would find them.
He was sure that Miss would like some of those tiny little cakes she
had seen in the souks. Oh, she didn't think the trouble was necessary ...
but the little sheik was already gone.
With his disappearance the Miss felt very impersonal again alone
with the student in that charming atmosphere and when he asked what
she thought of his native town she was ecstatic in her praise. Her
delight in the striking diversity of that life and its whole cohesive unity.
Color, devotion, music, form, all welded in one authentic rhythm. She
emphasized her feeling by pointing to the decorative motif of his
interior, the Arabian arch even in the pretty bits of furniture and in the
embroidered drapery on the wall, even in the doors and windows of
insignificant little buildings. The native style was a warm thing of
which she was immediately aware, as she entered the country while the
Gothic of her Western World had always seemed cold and away out of
the current life of the people, more of a museum piece, which it really
was with its finest specimens only to be seen in cathedrals. Even their
religion moved her to an exalted feeling that she could never feel at
home, but here, with people of all classes crowding elated into the
mosques and men forgetting business in the busy hours of the day to
prostrate themselves in prayer in their shops and fields, she reached a
state closer to piety than ever in her life.
And while she was talking the student drew close to her to listen,
stirred by the beauty of her, enhanced by the charm of her sincere
conversation. Her beauty was so different from that of the women of his
people, he felt a passionate interest in it, wanted to touch it intimately
and thus lay at her lovely feet his own homage as a tribute to her
interest in native things and habits. (p. 269-271)
The American woman flee: from the chance to learn
more intimately about native things and habits.
Repeating the attraction of the exotic, the situation is
neatly reversed: as the American woman is drawn to the
little sheik, so is the Arab student drawn to this foreign
woman, her beauty "so different.from that of the woman
of his people"; neither object of attraction seems aware of
its magnetic power. The story's main focus is on the
American woman's romantic unawareness of Moroccan
reality: "with faith in the magic of beauty to exorcise
microbes she stopped to drink from the common cup,
brushing against him (the little sheik) and compelling his
attention." (p. 263). She buys him a silk scarf and a phial
of jasmine. "The little sheik hesitated before accepting it,
not from a feeling of delicacy, as Miss thought, but
because he preferred cash to any other present and was
afraid that such generosity might diminish his fee". (pp.
264-5). The woman is entranced in admiration of
Morocco while the amorous student moves closer. In the
end, without knowing it, she condemns her little shiek to
prison. "For in that country a native may catch prison as
easy as a fly-paper a fly." (p. 274). McKay suggests both
the charm and some harsher realities of Morocco, while

exposing the romantic ignorance of a fairly representative
Information in A Long Way from Home suggests the
possible genesis of the story. McKay had an ugly
encounter with officialdom in Fez, and he writes: "The
personal unpleasantness opened my eyes a little to the
undercurrent of social unrest and the mistakes of mixed
authority in Morocco. I'd been so absorbed in the
picturesque and exotic side of the native life that I was
Picturesque and exotic is the Jamaica of some of
McKay's nostalgic poems, and of the short story
"Truant" which examines some of the pressures on
Barclay Oram, railway-porter, ex-student, who chooses to
abandon job, wife and baby daughter. "Why was he, a
West Indian peasant boy, held prisoner within the huge
granite-gray walls of New York? Dreaming of tawny
tassled fields of sugar-cane, and silver-gray John tuhits
among clusters of green and glossy-blue berries of
pimento ... Why had he hankered for the hard-slabbed
streets, the vertical towers, the gray complex life of this
steel-tempered city? Stone and steel! Steel and stone!
mounting in heaven-pursuing magnificence ... A part of
him was in love with this piling grandeur. And that was
why he was a slave to it." (pp. 152-3). The story would
seem to be one attempt by McKay to explain his choice of
the vagabond life, as he seems to be doing in the poem
"The Wild Goat", for example: "...the wild goat bounding
on the barren hill/ Droops in the grassy pen."22 In
"Truant", as at the end of Banjo, moral responsibility is
deemed to be white. "The cold white law ... Spiritually he
was subject to another law. Other gods of strange barbaric
glory claimed his allegiance and not the grim frock-coated
gentlemen of the Moral Law of the land." (pp. 160-1).
Barclay Oram (O Ram?) who has found it "hard to be
responsible, hard to be regular", (p. 146) walks into the
night. "Where? Destination did not matter. Maybe his
true life lay in eternal inquietude." (p. 162).
In "When I Pounded the Pavement", the man who
bucks convention has decency on his side. The story is
evidently based on McKay's unhappy experience as a
policeman, as is his second book of dialect poems, Constab
Ballads :(1912).In the preface to that collection, McKay
confesses to "a most improper sympathy with wrong-
doers", and also to "a fierce hatred of injustice". The
story shows that, given unjust class-ridden laws, the two
confessions are easily reconciled. In this first-person
story, the only one in the volume, we are taken inside the
emotions of a sensitive policeman who resents the
regimented constabulary and the pressure to "make a
case". Then we share with him the galling experience of
having to arrest a man who falls foul of a new law specially
introduced to harass men who visit the resident servant-
girls of the rich. The even tone of the .story quietly
conveys the policeman's discomfort as he is obliged to
assist the keen white householder in burgling the
servant-girl's room and intruding upon a couple's privacy.
The lover is caught, convicted and sentenced. The ugly
specifics of institutionalized injustice persuade us to feel
the young policeman's moral outrage: "But I think what
broke him most of all was the switch. Policeman holding
him down on a block and taking down his pants and
whipping him for sleeping with a girl." (p. 220).
The remaining three stories are set in a rural Jamaican
peasant community; in the same world as the novel
Banana Bottom (1933),23 to which "The Agricultural
Show" is very similar in narrative tone. A leisurely
account, "The Agricultural Show" quietly celebrates the
social detail of life in the village community. "As the
arrangements for the show progressed the people realized
that it was not merely an agricultural but a community


affair." (p. 168). The community readily absorbs new
people, such as the Aframericans, the Reverend and
Madam Daniel; and it stretches backwards to slavery -
an ex-slave, "an old Negro exhibit", is among those who
receive the Governor. The community is close-knit and
firmly hierarchicall It is a matter of note that the humble
organiser, the village pharmacist Matthew, receives the
accolade of an invitation to lunch at the Naseberry Park
house with the Governor and other top people, "the
custos, the rector, the member of the Legislature, and
their wives and Busha Glengley and Miss Glengley." (p.
189) Noblesse oblige. A large extra supply of the
newspapers which report the show is quickly sold out to
the peasants, "delighted to see the names of common folk,
their relatives and friends, for the first time in good print
a good way." (p. 190). McKay is gently ironic about the
social hierarchy. The small boy Bennie and his mother
admire a photograph and talk about the show:
And Benny reminded his mother, too, of the moment when she
curtsied to the Governor.
"Yes, sonny, but it is nothing to lose your head about," said his
mother. "The Bible said, Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hand to God."

In the village community God and the Governor are of
similar provenance and status.
The social organization of the village puts pressure on
those of a certain status to uphold conventions from which
humbler folk may be exempt. The Schoolmaster and his
friend the sewing-mistress in "Crazy Mary" are at the
marrying level in the hierarchy. Besides, Miss Mary is
locally conceded to be a virgin. So that when Freshy's
mother accuses Miss Mary of being the schoolmaster's
mistress, there is scandal indeed. The tragedy of Crazy
Mary is told with the wry humour of acceptance. What
most intrigues is the ultimate uncertainty about what
precisely has driven Miss Mary mad. The proximate cause
is that she has been abandoned by the schoolmaster. But
had the schoolmaster indeed slept with Freshy, so
succinctly realized as "a little bird-brown one plump as a
squab, just turned thirteen, curiously cat-faced and
forever smiling? "(p. 195). Had he been sleeping with Miss
Mary? Is it pregnancy that takes Miss Mary off to the city
for months and then on her return keeps her confined to
the house for many months more? In the flowers she
gathers daily there was always plenty of red; does this
symbolically recall the blood of parturition? "And she had
a strange way of holding the bouquet in her arm as if she
were nursing it." (p. 200) Is she grieving for a baby she
actually delivered or for one she never had? McKay
artfully restricts us to what the village community sees
and knows, so that we join them in speculation: we think
we know what happened, but we cannot be absolutely
sure. In her madness Mary rejects the proprieties of her
former social status: she goes about "barefooted like a
common peasant girl". (p. 200). Then with the
reappearance of the schoolmaster she goes further in
rejection of her former image: "...suddenly she appeared
in the churchyard and, pushing through the folk around
the schoolmaster, she threw the bouquet of flowers at him
and, turning, she ran up the broad church steps and
turned herself up at everybody, looking at them from
under the lecherous laugh." (p. 201). There is evident
appropriateness in her choice of site: not only the church
where, she did not get married but also the church as
symbol of the prohibitions which have denied her possible
happiness. With symbolic fitness, she runs towards the
graveyard, and in a parody of baptism takes the suicidal
leap into the river. The people of the village look on,
helpless, at least temporarily aligned to the values which
Crazy Mary has attacked. "And watching from the
churchyard, the folk began to bawl and howl." (p. 202).

In the the dramatic structure of ''The Strange Burial of
Sue" the values of the peasant community are opposed to
the doctrine preached by a narrow-minded brown parson,
"The young brown graduate of the Baptist college." (pp.
237-8). Sue is almost the antithesis of Crazy Mary.
"Everybody in the village knew that Sue was free-loving.
And there had never been any local resentment against
her. She was remarkably friendly with all the confirmed
concubines and the few married women, and she was a
picturesque church member." (pp. 221-2). When Sue
mauls an ungrateful ex-lover who has been publicly
offensive about her and there follows a flurry of suits and
countersuits for slander and assault, the little brown
parson reads Sue out of church membership. When Sue
dies, he refuses a church service. At the graveside the
parson chooses hell-fire hymns, and he cries: "Dead is sin
and gone to hell. Sue Turner is gone to hell." (p. 244).
Sue's long-suffering husband Turner, who has married her
in spite of her free-loving, has turned a blind eye to her
adultery and has even befriended her lover, will have none
of it; and he speaks for the peasant community: "Sue no
gone a no hell!" He dismisses the parson: "You no gwina
hold no revival meeting ovah mah wife grave:' (p. 244-5)
and conducts the burial service himself. "The only
precedent to that was in the early days of religion among
the freed slaves of the hills..." (p. 245). The implication of
the narrative is that the community needs to be liberated
from the shackles of the official church. But the peasants
do not reject God; they interpret Him differently. The
parson is preoccupied with the sin of fornication.
"According to the peasant folk idea of goodness," on the
other hand, "Sue was a good woman. Which means she
was kind." (p. 223).
"The Strange Burial of Sue" is a fine story of large
significance. It has a strong dramatic structure: mainly,
Burskin (the ex-lover) vs Sue, Burskin vs Johnny Cross (a
competing lover), Burskin vs Turner, the parson vs
Turner, kindness vs chastity. The story is brilliantly told,
with sharp characterization and a wealth of social detail.
The novel Banana Bottom (1933) continues McKay's
re-creation of a world he had begun to explore in some of
his Jamaican short stories. The hierarchical cohesiveness
of the community is still there, and some of the basic
tensions are the same: suchas a conflict between the values
of the peasants and the intrusive moralism of the official
church: to a lady missionary the people are "apparently
incapable of comprehending the opprobrium of breeding
bastards in a Christian community." (p. 16). Banana
Bottom is also much concerned, like the earlier novels -
Home to Harlem and Banjo with contending values. In
the earlier novels Jake and Ray, then Banjo and Ray,
carried the main burden of the contest; in Banana Bottom
the tension is focused mainly in a single character, Bita
Plant, with opposing characters and forces ranged around
In the village of Banana Bottom, thirteen-year-old Bita
Plant is raped by a village madman, previously thought
harmless. Because of the status of her family it is deemed
socially necessary to send Bita away to a relative in the
city. But the Reverends Malcolm and Priscilla Craig,
missionaries stationed in the neighboring town of
Jubilee, offer to take and educate Bita, bringing her up as
their own child until her father should reclaim her. After
two years at the mission, Bita is sent by the Craigs to
England "to be educated in their motherland". (p. 29).
Priscilla Craig "had conceived the idea of redeeming her
from her past by a long period of education without any
contact with Banana Bottom, and at the finish she would
be English trained and appearing in everything but the
colour of her skin." (p. 31). The novel is principally
concerned with the outcome of Priscilla Craig's
experiment, with what happens to Bita on her return.

Educated in England more liberally than Priscilla Craig
had had in mind, Bita gradually rejects the more absurd
restrictions of the Mission and renews her attachment to
the alternative life of the folk. She does this without
rejecting her education: and she achieves a happy
marriage to a man of the soil. "Her music, her reading, her
thinking were flowers of her intelligence and he the root in
the earth upon which she was grafted, both nourished by
the same soil." (p. 313).
The world of Banana Bottom is established in solid
detail and with historical depth. Home to Harlem is a
more impressionistic rendering of experience, not
infrequently shifting into rhapsody; in Banjo the squalor
of the dirfters' milieu is registered fairly briefly, the main
emphasis is on recorded discussion. In Banana Bottom we
have considerable detailed information about most
characters (and sometimes their antecedents) and careful
description of significant places and events. We know how
the Craigs come to be there, we know the history of
friendship between the Plants and the Craigs. The tea-
meeting, the concert, the picnic, the yam-planting, the
pimento-picking match, the Harvest Festival, the Great
Revival, the obeah-man, the river, the market, the Jubilee
Mission, Squire Gensir's cottage each is made present
in vivid detail. With brief summaries of essential
Jamaican history, and with a telling excursion to the city,
the novel not only persuades us of the reality of Jubilee
and Banana Bottom, it also situates them in context, sees
them in a long perspective.
Solidly grounded in place and communal event, Banana
Bottom is most vividly alive with the drama of character.
The clashes between the increasingly feline Bita and the
forbidding Priscilla Craig, the dialogues between the
ironic Bita and the inflated Herald Newton Day whom she
is scheduled to marry, the calm probing conversations
between Bita and Squire Gensir: these are only a few of
the novel's many pleasures. Throughout, the characters
are memorably distinct: Malcolm and Priscilla Craig, for
example, are two quite different cases, though joined in a
common enterprise: he understands the local folk better,
is more humble, is a less disturbed personality. There is a
big difference between the Reverend Lambert, who makes
snobbish discrimination and young Herald Newton Day,
the vain and pompous theological student who is also a
snob. Tack Tally, the traveller returned from Panama
with airs, and Hopping Dick, the village dandy, bear only
a superficial resemblance to each other.
McKay's ear was good: the characters are as clearly
distinguished from each by their individual speech as by
various other means. Everybody's favourite, surely, is the
lover-boy Hopping Dick:
Swinging her pine through the main gate of the market, Bita was
accosted by Hopping Dick, who, pretending that it was accidentally,
struck a gallant attitude and said: "Such hands like yours, Miss Plant,
were trained for finer work than to carry common things like
pineapples." (p. 42)
He presses his case:
"There's more big-foot country gals fit to carry pines than donkeys in
Jamaica. Please give me the pleasure to relieve you, as I am walking
your way." (p. 42)
While so exactly placing the dandy Hopping Dick, this
snatch of speech also helps to present Bita's early problem
on her return: the general assumption that education must
have disqualified her for the ordinary activities of peasant
Herald Newton Day's pompous hypocrisy is indelibly
stamped in his speech:
"You know at first when I began studying for the ministry and
thinking of the great work before me, I thought that perhaps only a

white woman could help me. One having a pure mind and lofty ideals
like Mrs. Craig. For purity is my ideal of the married state. With clean
nearts thinking and living purely and bearing children under the
benediction of God." (p. 100)
Here again, the speech contributes significantly beyond
the presentation of character: Herald Newton Day's
assumptions place him clearly on the side of the
anti-sexual values of the Jubilee Mission. How
appropriate that he turns out to be more, not less, basely
sexual than his village fellows!
The novel's examination of values is often related to
sexual attitudes and practice, inextricably intertwined
with other social assumptions. Bita's early loss of
virginity is seen quite differently by, for example, the
low-status peasant Sister Phibby, the leading peasant
farmer Jordan Plant, and the missionary Priscilla Craig.
Though Sister Phibby "thought it was a sad thing as a
good Christian should, her wide brown face betrayed a
kind of primitive satisfaction as in a good thing done
early." (p. 15). To Jordan Plant it seems that Bita's
upward social mobility has been endangered; she has
"fallen into the profound pit that yawned between the
plane of the peasantry and higher achievement." (p. 14).
Priscilla Craig is deeply concerned. "The countryside was
overrun with runts of girls who had been wantonly
introduced to the ways of womanhood before maturity.
Mrs. Craig wanted to demonstrate what one such girl
might become by careful training ... by God's help." (p.
17). The clash between Bita and Priscilla Craig begins in
Mrs. Craig's concern about the social dangers of a mission
protege attending a tea-meeting, and it comes to a head
because Mrs. Craig resents Hopping Dick as an escort for
Bita. The Great Revival which "upset the common ways
of life among the rural folk" (p. 255) finally peters out
because the converts do not in fact confine themselves to
sex within marriage: "when the emotional fog had lifted it
showed that there were many other converted couples who
had gone the way of Yoni Legge and Hopping Dick. In
spite of the distress of the drought Banana Bottom began
adjusting itself and settling back in its old ways again."
(p. 272). It is a matter of importance that Bita, having
found her man, sleeps with him before marriage: she
re-commits herself to the custom of the folk. In the dray
transporting her father's body back to Banana Bottom for
burial, Bita yields to Jubban, "overwhelmed with a
feeling as if she were on the threshold of a sacrament",
"seized by the powerful inevitable desire for love which
would not be denied." "Her spirit was finely balanced
between the delicate sadness of death and the subdued joy
of love and over all was the glorious sensation of life
triumphant in love over death." (p. 289).
The novel's action and language is frequently symbolic.
Bita returns from England to the mission from the front
verandah of which "one could look down on the market."
(p. 37). Visiting the market her experience is of
immersion: "Bita mingled in the crowd, responsive to the
feeling, the colour, the smell, the swell and press of it. It
gave her the sensation of a reservoir of familiar kindred
humanity into which she had descended for baptism." (p.
40). Her naked swim in the river is similarly baptismal. (p.
117). At a tea-meeting "she danced forgetting herself,
forgetting even Jubilee, dancing down the barrier between
high breeding and common pleasures under her light
stamping feet until she was one with the crowd." (p. 84).
Looking on at a pocomania meeting which "had drowned
the singing from the church", (p. 249) Bita feels
"something ancestral captured in the emotional fervour";
she is "drawn nearer and nearer into the inner circle until
with a shriek she fell down." (p. 250). It is of symbolic
importance that she is rescued by Jubban from being
beaten on the ground: Jubban whom she eventually

marries: he saves her from total abandonment to the
The novel presents certain opposition but realistically
complicates the picture. It is not entirely, for example,
a matter of blacks versus indoctrinating whites, or natives
versus foreigners: black Bita and white Squire Gensir
(McKay's affectionate portrait of Walter Jekyll) are
basically on the same side, though he is foreign and she
native. Nor is it simply a contest between a European God
and African Obi, as Priscilla Craig and some of the
peasants believe. The basic opposition is more particular
than that: between the ways of the folk and the restrictive
teaching of narrow-minded white-biased representatives
of the official Christian Church. For, like their
counterparts in "The Strange Burial of Sue", the folk do
not (by and large) reject or resolutely resist a Christian
God: they love the Lord, but they don't like all his
parsons. The lives of the folk vibrate with positive
rhythms: too many of the Lord's official agents emphasize
negative doctrine, and some are shown to thrive in times
of greatest misfortune. Just as Jacob Brown had built
evangelical success on the community's financial disaster,
so too Evan Vaughan wins myriads of converts in the
terrible drought: when the ways of the folk have begun to
re-assert themselves, the drought is broken. The
opposition between the life-loving folk and the deadening
prohibitionists is nicely symbolized in Banana Bottom's
Crazy Bow and Jubilee's Patou. Crazy Bow is a gifted
musician, sustained by the love and admiration of his
community: his repertoire includes religious anthems and
secular dance tunes, Judas Maccabaeus and Negro
spirituals, tea-meeting tunes, jigs, mentoes, quadrilles.
(pp. 257-8). Music is one of the great sustaining elements
in the life of Banana Bottom: the people often sing ballads
to commemorate events, the most beautiful wedding gift
Bita receives is the sound of the village choir at dawn
under her bedroom window singing,"Break Forth into
Joy". (p. 306). In contrast to Crazy Bow the only child of
the Jubilee Mission is Patou, who is emphatically
unmusical. He "had developed into an adult without ever
getting beyond the creeping stage. The natives called him
screech-owl, because he was subject to recurring crises
when he would suddenly double up and make an eerie
noise like a screech-owl." (p. 27). Priscilla Craig accepts
him as a responsibility, but she is unable to give him a
sustaining love such as the village offers Crazy Bow.
Crazy Bow's technical rape of young Bita was in fact the
outcome of an uncurbed love: she was physically
affectionate, he attempted to resist, he played a love-song
to express his feelings and Bita "hugged and clung to him
passionately." Crazy Bow "lost control of himself and the
deed was done." (pp. 9-10). The symbolic significance of
Crazy Bowl and Patou is made even clearer in Crazy
Bow's attempt to strangle Patou who had been "making a
fluttering noise and blinking at him like a bird." (p. 258).
The folk of Banana Bottom tend to reject the negative,
but theirs is no blanket rejection df Europeans or whites or
what they propagate: the folk accept what they can use,
they welcome whatever can be integrated harmoniously
into the basic rhythms of their communal life. Their drive
is towards synthesis or electric acceptance. In the final
resolution of her tensions Bita is not singular: she is doing
as an individual only what her community has for
centuries been doing. More recently, the peasants of
Banana Bottom have lived affectionately with the English
intellectual Squire Gensir. Bita, who is originally of the
folk, can happily love and live with Jubban, unhindered
by her English education:
She had no craving for Jubban to be other than what he was,
experienced no hankering for that grace and refinement in him that the
local soothsayers said was necessary to an educated person. She liked to

play for him for he had a natural feeling for music and showed
appreciation of even the more difficult things. But he was in no way a
hindrance to the intellectual side of her life. He accepted with natural
grace the fact that she should excel in the things to which she had been
educated as he should in the work to which he had been trained(P.313).

Banana Bottom is the finest of McKay's three novels.
In Home to Harlem the basic structure seems in the end
merely arbitrary; Felice is conveniently lost and must be
found again, and while she remains lost we can follow
Jake's odyssey and his dialectical friendship with Ray.
Banjo is an unshapely, though valuable, hold-all of black
attitudes. In Banana Bottom the felt life, the structure
and the abstractable meaning cohere with pleasing
The Haitian Ray, in Banjo, thinking especially of the
American, considers: "the negro child was a pathetic
thing entirely cut off from its own folk wisdom and
earnestly learning the trite moralisms of a society in which
he was, as a child and would be as an adult, denied any
legitimate place." (p. 319). He muses: "at college in
America and among the Negro intelligentsia he had never
experienced any of the simple natural warmth of a people
believing in themselves, such as he had felt among the
rugged poor and socially backward blacks of his island
home." (p. 320). In the Jamaican stories of Gingertown
and in Banana Bottom McKay returns to the world of his
childhood, re-examines the folk wisdom he knew best, and
in his imagination reclaims the warmth of his Jamaican
Excellent though it is, Banana Bottom was, like
Gingertown, a financial failure.24 McKay found himself
penniless in Tangiers. On money given him by American
friends he returned to New York in February 1934. Partly
as a consequence of the Great Depression, publishers were
no longer interested in Negro authors; and McKay had a
lean and difficult time. With assistance from the newly
established Federal Writers' Project he completed his

"~E -~7,

Ulaude McKay in his later years
Wayne Cooper]

Continued on page 52

A Commentary





by Noel White

Oh each man's mind contains an
unknown realm
Walled in from other men however near,
And unimagined in their highest flights
Of comprehension or of vision clear;
A realm where he withdraws to
Infinity and his own finite state.
Thence he may sometimes catch a
god-like glimpse
Of mysteries that seem beyond life's bar;
Thence he may hurl his little shaft at
And bring down accidentally a star,
And drink its foamy dust like sparkling
And echo accents of the laugh divine
(from "My House" by Claude McKay)


What do we require of a biography? We
ask for a broader knowledge of its subject
than was hitherto available. We ask for an
improved understanding of the impact of
the person on his times. And we ask for
greater insight into his character and
personality. While Cronon has contributed
much to the first of our requirements his
book goes only a slight way to help us with
the other two. One cannot but agree with
John Hope Franklin (Preface) that Garvey
was "an enigma" in 1955, perhaps then
"stolid" and "sphinxlike in his defiance of
analysis and understanding." But Franklin
is too generous when he suggests that
Cronon has answered many of the
questions we ask. At the end of the book
Garvey remained an enigma, a much more
flamboyant one, but still an enigma.
Yet there is no doubt that this book was

welcome in 1955 for the mass of facts it
contained, thrice welcome when two years
afterwards, Nkrumah paid tribute to
Garvey as Ghana, a black star in the
middle of her flag, preceded the other
African colonies into independence.
One would have hoped that Cronon with
the resources and the time to travel to
England and Jamaica as well as widely in
the United States would have taken his
subject out of the narrow spheres within
which Negro American life and problems
are always described. It seems to this
writer that there is a tacit agreement in
American intellectual circles to segregate
-thought and writing about Whites and
about Negroes. Thus one never really
describes, say, "the American world of the
twenties." One depicts: "the Negro
American world" and "American History"

is not at all concerned with Negroes.
The effect of this tendency is that Negro
leaders tend not to be judged in terms of
the difficulties of their tasks and times and
hence not in terms of the real achievements
they have made. Had Cronon considered
the Garvey movement within the matrix of
American history he might have been led to
ask why it is that the nineteen twenties, a
decade which proved to be a veritable
graveyard of liberal and proletariat
movements, should be a period of great
enthusiasm for Negroes.
This is the period of Presidents Harding,
Coolidge and Hoover. The first is
remembered for the strong influence his
cronies, many not of the highest character,
wielded over his policies and the destiny of
the country. The second is known as a man
who viewed his presidential role as one in


which a minimum of energy must be
expended. The third brought to his political
policies not the flexibility with which great
leaders view human affairs but the rigidity
with which natural scientists must treat
physics and mechanics. None of them acted
as a source of hope or inspiration for
Negroes. Why then should Negroes slough
off some of the sense of inferiority with
which western civilization had covered
them and was still actively working to
instill? Why then should this be the period
of the Negro Renaissance?
In the twenties America returned to
isolationism'. Does anyone doubt that she
lost some incentive to improve the
treatment of Negroes since she no longer
was a member of a body that took an
interest in subject peoples? The twenties
were a reactionary era a period of attacks
on Darwinism and of the Scopes trial (p.
259), a period when fundamentalists struck
back and prohibitionists took charge (p.
258). It was a time when white
Anglo-Saxon Protestant nationalism
flourished and the Ku Klux Klan grew. It
was the era when the ultra complacent
middle-class of Main Street was in
command while the progressives declined.
It was the period of the Sacco-Vanzetti
case. Many American intellectuals were so
disgusted and frustrated at the crass
materialism -f tlhe business age that they
exiled themselves in France and left the
American field to Babbitts. The labour
movement in America was driven
backwards as trade union membership
declined from 5,100,000 in 1920 to about
3,600,000 in 1933 (p. 232). Why then
should Negro organizations grow and one
of them create the only Negro mass
movement in America?
Some of this was no doubt due to the
exodus from the western civilization of the
South which possesses such an expert
knowledge of Negroes. But the process of
maintaining in Negroes a sense of their
rejection by White society had begun much
the same as the other processes of keeping
America out of world affairs and
emasculating the white working class. All
over the United States the story was the
same riots against Negroes in northern
cities and of course in the South as well
... in 1919 in Chicago, in Washington, in
Longview, Texas; in Omaha, in Phillips
County, Arkansas; to name a few. The
aftermath of the war was accompanied by
rapid loss of jobs for Negroes, and Negro
soldiers returned to find in the ever vigilant
South not gratitude for their gallantry but
a heated resolve to keep them in what the
hosts of the South had always conceived to
be their place.
Yet Negro Organizations grew, and one
of these was not content to set up branches
in the United States; it established them in
Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada
as well. It must be clear then that around
1920 there was a turning point in the
history of Negroes in the United States, not
just a new excitement which is how Cronon
describes it, not merely an emotional
release which is all he sees the Negro
masses getting, but the actual reversing of
a downward process.
What then changed the despair that
overwhelmed the Negroes in the "awful
Red summer?" What then reversed the

Ku Klux Klan members march down Pennsylvania Ave in Washington, D.C., in 15

downward trend that was the lot of other
groups of underdogs in the United States?
It was a new dynamism, a new charge of
energy. And if in 1920 Negroes became
enthusiastic instead of shattered it cannot
have been a sudden change in their
circumstances we know that didn't take
place. It must be a change in their
thinking. Nor could this conversion be due
to the sort of approach where to the beat of
muffled drums one bore on standard
phrases like, "Do lynchers go to heaven?"
For this is directed at Whites not Negroes.
And to change the self-concept of a man we
need to talk to him not of him.
Now if we admit as Cronon did that
Garveyism had something to do with the
change of morale and outlook of Negroes in
nineteen twenties, it is our business to

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describe and analyse how he did this. But
Cronon does not. He has fallen into the
same trap as his predecessors who wrote
about Garvey. They tell you his
contribution is to improved Negro thinking
and emotion and proceed to describe efforts
at steamship lines and factories that failed.
What we need from Cronon is not a
consensus of opinions which include those
who never attended one meeting, but
descriptions of individual meetings or
branches all over the United States from
people who attended them, and a decision
from him as to whether Garvey succeeded.
(Read the final paragraph on p. 211 which
extends to p, 212). What Cronon has done
is to admit Garvey's efforts and then quote
Samuel Barrett and the editor of the
Spokesman. Having thus exonerated
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T- Black Star Line, Inc.

S6 Wet 135Lt no. Nwr Yoek CityW T 13 TREr
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himself from any decision he is able at the
end, to say that Garvey's movement was
not a success, obviously by basing his
decision on the failure of the Black Star
Line. For if he had stated as indeed did
take place since Garvey's followers attest
to it that Garvey had succeeded in
rehabilitating their self-esteem and that of
other Negroes, had succeeded in removing
some of the sense of inferiority incurred by
centuries of mistreatment ... then he would
have been obliged to conclude that Garvey
was a success. It is given to few men to
have been accredited with so much.
When one is dealing with a mass of
opinions, it is important to ask which of
them matter. But Cronon makes no
attempt to sift. He writes that "Garvey has
been portrayed in a confusion of terms
ranging from blackest denunciation to
rosiest approbation." And then he lists all
the terms, from the curses of Garvey's
enemies to the adulation of his followers
(pp. 207 and 208). What is worst he
declines into inanity in the midst of it. How
can a remark made by some person Van
Deusen in 1944 when Garvey was
already dead, be "the unkindest cut of all"
when it was "a demostrably untrue
assertion." The few of his followers who
read what Van Deusen wrote would dismiss
it. Whom would it hurt?
What we ask of biographers then is to

ascertain the validity of the judgments to
be found in the wide range of opinions that
any great man is heir to ... and to help us
by discarding those based on ignorance and
outright enmity. Certainly Cronon had the
facts to make a start. In an assessment of
the size of the Universal Negro
Improvement Association he showed quite
clearly that W.E.B. DuBois' evidence was
unreliable, hinted that Warner Domingo,
who is really Wilfred Domingo (Warner is a
different person) might be motivated to
distort the figures and demonstrated that
William Pickens' assessment varied
between 30,000 in 1923 (when the
NA.A.C.P. was attacking Garvey) and
several million in 1949. Continued research
on such witnesses would have caused many
who were quoted to be discarded and would
have reduced the confusion the author
It would have done more. What are the
implications of the All-Race Conference in
Washington, D.C., which was held on the
21st June, 1923, a few days after Garvey
was convicted? Such an assemblage that
included Bagnall of the NAACP, Dr. Julia
Coleman, the skin bleacher member of the
"Committee of Eight", Dean Kelly Miller,
R.B. Moore, C.N. Briggs, W.A. Domingo,
A. Philip Randolph, George Schuyler to
name a few and representatives of every
kind of Negro organization, whether civil
rights, political e.g. Socialist or of

fraternal groups every organization
except the U.N.I.A.2 surely such a
meeting must have been planned before the
conviction. Isn't it also an obvious power
move to supplant a popular organization?
How should Cronon treat these witnesses?
For the key to the understanding of
Garvey lay in the understanding of the
Negro American middle-class, especially
those who proposed to lead other Negroes.
What was their outlook like? Cronon shows
that he has failed to plumb the murky
depth of race prejudice when (on p. 111) he
speaks of the 'Committee of Eight' as "all
respected leaders in their various fields"
and makes their letter sound reasonable by
his choice of extracts. But what was the
situation in which they wrote that letter.
Would they really be respected by the mass
of Negroes as is implied, though not said,
after their letter was made public? On
December 20, 1922 the New York
Amsterdam News reported that the
N.A.A.C.P. had laid the blame on
Congress for the one lynching every two
days that was taking place since the Dyer
anti-lynching bill failed. On December 27,
1922, Senator Williams of Mississippi, one
of the most rabid racists of the time was
reported to be proposing to erect a
monument to the mammies of the South.3
On January 10, 1923, the Amsterdam News
reported '22 killed in Florida Race War'.
One would have imagined that a letter
written to the Attorney-General five days
later would be an indictment of the South.
But these "respected" leaders, the
"Committee of Eight" accused the
U.N.I.A. of creating "friction between
Negroes and whites" (see clause 23 of their
letter on p. 298 of Philosophy and Opinions
of Marcus Garvey, Book II); and they
referred to the followers of the U.N.I.A. as
"primitive and ignorant". Mixed with the
attitude of contempt for the mass of
Negroes is a childishness that made them
insert such "information" as Garveyites
meeting William Pickens in Toronto with
their hands threateningly in their hip
pockets. The letter does more discredit to
its authors than to Garvey.
But Cronon could not see in the attacks
the contempt for the masses; the Chicago
Defender reeks with this4 that the
middle-class had learnt from their own
self-hate because he was too busy
belittling his subject. Can anyone imagine
a biographer of Napoleon repeating over
and over "the little white man" or some
such descriptions? But Garvey becomes -
and the timing is of significance once
Cronon begins to describe the mass of
attacks on him by the Negro press on the
Black Star Line "the pugnacious little
Jamaican" (p. 100), "the unhappy
Jamaican" (p. 101), "the cocky little
Jamaican" (p. 212). What is also an inane
attempt to belittle him is the supposition
that on Garvey's death bed he would be
remembering some Harlem jingle (p. 168)
and not his wife, his children and his
Thus, altogether Cronon showed an
inability to rise above much of the
outpourings of inferiority complexes which
he read. But there is no point at which this
is more clear than in his approval of what
was supposed to be humorist George S.
Schuyler's remark, "Last summer Marcus

r '. -r -
Federal agents escort Garvey to prison In connection with mail fraud charge.
From: The Collection of the Institute ofJamaica.

accused the Deity of being a Negro. No
wonder luck went against him!" Since none
of the tenets of Christianity say that it is a
sin to be a Negro, the God Christians
worship wouldn't mind being so called. The
whole point of Schuyler's joke depends on a
warped view of religion.
It is perhaps expecting too much to ask
Cronon to test the assumptions behind each
slogan because it is natural to accept what
is customary in one's own country without
much question. But if he had questioned
Garvey's followers instead of his enemies
- and the former are the only ones who can
tell what the dogma really is he might
have probed at the phrase, "Back to
Africa." Mrs. Garvey indignantly denies
that Garvey ever used it, there is no
evidence in his writings that he did and yet
writers, enemies for the most part,
continually attach the term to his name.
What does "Back to Africa" mean? Can
we define it as transporting all the Negroes
of the United States to Africa? Who would
organize it: Who would pay for it? Where
would all the vessels come from to
transport some twenty million people.?
Which country in Africa could accept and
absorb them? Does the government of the
United States want that? If it did, could it
afford it? Can poor benighted Mississippi
so far unable to find the necessary finances
for a good education for her children afford
it? If Senator Theodore Bilbo had
campaigned ever so hard were the Whites
of Mississippi likely to give him the funds
to send "their" Negroes to Africa? If the
Negroes of the United States had
supported his bill would Congress pass it?
Or would they be told that they would have
to find the cost of passage themselves, do
their own organization and take their own
risks? Does anyone doubt that the answer
lay in the last reaction?
Why all this to-do about "Back to
Africa"? If a few hundred or a few thousand
Negroes made a settlement in Liberia
would that be what the critics of "Back to
Africa" or the champions of it have in
mind? Who started this phobia about
Negroes being shipped back to Africa?
Wasn't it due to the support of the
American Colonization Society, not only by
abolitionists but by slave owners who
sought to expel free Negroes?5 But weren't
the latter aiding and abetting the
smuggling of slaves and even willing to
discuss the resumption of the slave trade?
And later, what about the situation during
World War I? Wasn't there a case of
Northern newspapers and Northern agents
with leaflets and free one-way train tickets
urging Negroes from the South to go north?
And some Negroes in the South being
driven back to their sharecropping and the
cotton fields at the point of a gun? The
truth is that the capitalist economic
hierarchy South and North wants
Negroes down but not out.
There was and still is need for
putting migration to Africa in its proper
place as a scheme that could not involve
more than a few thousand Negroes but with
immense possibilities for improving the
morale of Negroes if it succeeded. Equally
it was a scheme that the colonial powers
having possessions near to Liberia would
frown at; not so much because of the

settlement of itself as because of the
propaganda that would flow from it. But
the essence of the colonization scheme is its
role as another of the magnets that drew
Negroes to the U.N.I.A. for the purpose of
improving their self-image, their ambitions
and their morale. Cronon would have done
better to have reasoned about the times and
the circumstances in which Garvey
investigated the possibility of such a
scheme, laid the report aside and took
action on it at a later date. In this way he
would have supplemented one of his
valuable conclusions, viz., that Garvey
never intended all Negroes to go back to
He could have used a careful
chronological scheme, too, to contrast
Garvey's reactions to differing situations.
This would have revealed that the
"Provisional President of Africa" attempt-
Sed many strategies to reach his goal of
upliftment of black men, not one monolithic
conception that lasted from 1918 until his
death. It would have shown, too, that his
solutions varied with the country in which
he operated.
In 1914 when Garvey started the
Universal Negro Improvement Association
his main aim was to build a Tuskegee.
Education was to be the basis of salvation.
In 1920, in the United States spectacular
conventions and business schemes had
taken the place of education.6 But by 1927
when he was deported after appealing to
the president of the United States he had
come to realize more than before that a
movement such as his was not immune
from the political powers of any land. It
suggested that ipso facto, he should take
part in politics. On his first formal occasion
after his return to Jamaica he explained his
experiences in the United States largely in
political terms, describing the workings of
the constitution and a number of political
events that affected the U.N.I.A.7. Since

A. Philip Randolph
The Collection
of the Institute

he denied then that he intended to be a
candidate for the Legislative Council it
means that this was being suggested
already and he was considering it. Nor was
it long before he entered the political field in
Cronon describes this phase but if the
significance of a man lay in his permanent
effects on a community, the biographer has
missed the essence of Garvey's period in
Jamaica. What is of greatest importance is
not that Garvey was imprisoned or that he
was defeated in an election in which only
the propertied classes had a vote; but that
he formed a political party which brought
into focus his and the people's aims for
Jamaica; and that most of these have
become the aims of later Jamaican
politicians, many of them being achieved in
the last two decades. Some of them were:
"a larger modicum of self-government for
Jamaica", "a minimum wage for labouring
and working classes", "land reform" "an
All-Island Water Board to secure domestic
irrigation and industrial supplies", "a law
to facilitate the promotion of Native
Industries", "a Jamaican University and
Polytechnic", "the beautifying and
creation of the Kingston Race Course into a
National Park, similar to Hyde Park in
London."I It is worthy of note that Garvey
had had some practice in programme
making in the plans he made for a
settlement in Liberia in 1924.1
If one were to report Cronon's
conclusions about Garvey it would read like
this. No one had ever directed a programme
at lower-class Negroes or succeeded in
winning their support (p. 37). John Hope
Franklin says Garvey succeeded (pp.
215-216). Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, first prime
minister of the Gold Coast lauded Garvey
for his early inspiration to the Negro race
(p. 216). Numerous Jamaicans ("the trend
of island opinion") gave Garvey credit for
their modern political movement (pp.

217-218). "The creation of a powerful
feeling of race price is perhaps Garvey's
greatest and most lasting contribution to
the American race scene" (p. 201).10 "But
one is hard put to discover any tangible
gain resulting from the impressive
movement he created" (p. 223).


1. Shannon, David A., Twentieth Century
America (Chicago: Rand McNally and Co.,

2. Pittsburgh Courier, June 23, 1923, p. 16.

3. New York Amsterdam News, December 27,

4. Chicago Defender, June 23, 1924 p. 1. See the
descriptions not of Garvey but of the Negroes
in the courtroom; also on p. 10 Robert Abbott's
attitude toward colonies of European countries.
Negroes are "greasy, multicolored", the ears
necks of three West Indians How could this
be? "grow red" and Marcus Garvey's efforts
were "a response to the cry of that deluded
John the Baptist, Woodrow Wilson, who
preached an apocryphal doctrine of the self-
determination of smaller peoples". Abbott was
one of the "respected" Eight.

5. Dumond, Dwight L.,Antislavery Origins of the
Civil War (Michigan- University of Michigan
Press, 1959) p. 5. Also see pp. 14 and 15 for
additional evidence of the stigma of colonniza-

6. In Jamaica the educated man is admired more
than the rich man who is merely envied.
Jamaicans are always referring to education as
"the ladder" to success. In the United States,
"Horatio Alger" either starts a business or,
more recently, fights his way up through the
hierarchy of a business firm.

7. Nembhard, Len S., Trials and Triumphs of
Marcus Garvey (Kingston: Gleaner Co., Ltd.,
1940), pp. 118-124.

8. Edwards, Adolph, Marcus Garvey (London;
New Beacon Publications, 1967), pp. 27 and 28.
(All the items of the Manifesto are to be found

9. Garvey, Amy Jacques, ed., Philosophy and
Opinions of Marcus Garvey, Vol. II (New York:
Universal Publishing House, 1926), pp. 381-382.

10. This proves Garvey to be a master of conversion
rather than of propaganda and that he did not
exploit the hopelessness of the masses so much
as he transformed their morale.

Robert Abbott, publisher of the Defender, at the peak of his career

(A comment on Lucille Mathurin's 'The
rebel woman in the British West Indies
during slavery' with illustrations by Dennis
Ranston, published by the Institute of
Jamaica's African-Caribbean Publications,
Kingston 1975).
W oman especially the black woman -
has always occupied a special place in
books because she has always been a
submerged/invisible presence and force,
becoming therefore in the male chauvinist
mind totemic queen either of good or evil,
but basically romantic and almost totally
unrelated to the real thing. Perhaps until
recently this has been 'necessary'. In a
world shaped by the acquisitive ego, the
'unconscious' female had an important part
to play in the 'conscience'.of the system;
and in missile societies (that is, in

expansionist, technological/industrial so-
cieties) where the male was war-head and
explorer, the woman often acquiesced in,
even insisted on, this role. This does not
mean that she didn't/couldn't make a more
active contribution to her expanding
society; but the adage that behind every
successful man there is an (even more)
successful woman originates from the
palaeolith that emerging sapiens devel-
oped, in caves, the family round the fire,
and discovered that meat tasted better
when cooked. In societies that were less (or
not) imperialist oriented, however; in
societies (to use my own ideogram) where
the politics of the circle came to seem more
important than the urgency of the arrow
(and so, in time, became the target for the
arrow), the woman didn't stand, even if
symbolically, behind the man. She sat next


by Edward Kamau Brathwaite

to him or rather (especially in African poly-
gamous societies where the politics of the
circle had been most finely developed), she
welcomed him into her household. As
Cheikh Ant Diop puts it (in The Cultural
unity of Negro Africa, Paris 1962),
Matriarchy is not an absolute and
cynical triumph of woman over man; it
is a harmonious dualism, an association
accepted by both sexes, the better to
build a sedentary society where each and
everyone could fully develop by following
the activity best suited to his
physiological nature (p. 120)
It is out of these matrices that the great
female figures of African culture emerge:
Queen Hatshepsut (1500 B.C.), perhaps
'the first great woman in history of whom
we are informed'; Tiy, Nefertiti, Cleopatra
and the renowned Belkis or Sheba. And
then, as Christianity, from about the 7th
century, became osmotically locked into
conflict with the more ancient religious
cultures of the Middle East and
Mediterranean, there was the black
Madonna (still there in the shadows of most
Catholic churches today) coming out of
Egyptian Isis. Later, as patriarchal Euro-
Christianity began its (re-)penetration of
Africa: double-barrelled: bible/bomb: there
began the period of native African
resistance: the North African Hebrew
Queen Kahina (d. 705), Queen Nzinga of
Angola (1583-1663), Kaipkire of the Herero
and Yaa Asantewa (1900) of the Ashanti.
But despite these resisters, there was
taking place a cataclysmic disruption of
African culture and the destruction/
fragmentation of its most sensitive and
central area: the woman-foundried family.
So that the black woman, at home and
abroad, became as much a slave to
materialist mercantilism as her mates had
been made to be; and she was in turn
colonized by him as he began his long slow
march to so-called liberation.
The importance of Lucille Mathurin's
book is that it fills in the gap between
ancestral heroland and post-colonial
Woman's Lib, and tells us in outline what
we had always suspected: that the African
woman in the New World, despite the odds
indeed, despite the double odds -
attempted instinctively to reconstitute the
family. To do this, as James Carnegie has
so sensitively illuminated in his novella
Circle [Savacou 3/4, 1970/71] she often had
paradoxically to destroy: the white
man who over-ruled, the black man who

took advantage, the free child in the womb
who would be born only into misery and
degradation. But she also knew that she
had to remain true to herself and what her
culture taught her that 'self' was. Above
all, that she had to beat the system. Of
course there were plants, acquiescents and
there were betrayers women soft, women
scared, women warped. But compared with
the male tale and tally, I suspect that many
less women than men even though by
1815 they were demographically equal on
the plantations were guilty of such
weaknesses. In any case, as Lucille
Mathurin makes clear, the black woman
was from the beginning as deeply
committed as her brother to the art and act
of subversion/liberation. It is our history
books (the history books we use) which
betray us by not making this point and its

complement: that this on-going, in-
transigent activity took place (takes place)
without heroics, and we, .their children,
have not yet attempted to make proper
statures of them. There was of course
Cubah, Queen of Kingston (see p. 21) and
there was Nanny who Mrs. Mathurin
rightly proposes should be our first female
National Hero. But the New World slave
resistance did not, as a rule, project
'personality'. Anonymity was more often
our virtue, sometimes our burden. But it is
clear that as spy, saboteur, runaway,
guerrilla or confrontation rebel, the black
slave woman, equal under the whip with
her brother and man, was equal also with
him unto the hazard that has seldom been
recorded as the glory.
These image/ideas have been prompted
from the reading of this book which at first
glance might seem rather small (40 pages)
for such a resonant subject. But there are
several significant features and traditions
which give it shape and which will help to
'place' it. In the first place, it is a
distillation from Mrs. Mathurin's 490-page
Ph.D. dissertation for the Dept. of History,
U.W.I., Mona. More importantly, it comes
out of an atomic rather than the traditional
concept of New World history. The
traditional approach, no matter how
detailed and extensive, has always based
itself, in my view, on the (pseudo-)
fastidious notion that subject-matter
is/should be limited to and by the
territorial area of discussion, and that
explanation of action/motive on the
plantation, therefore, could/should be
properly sought and confined to the
plantation. Which is a strange and pre-
judiced approach since it is not normally
followed in the study of metropolitan
societies (though metropolitan scholars are
often arrogant/ignorant enough to assume
that they don't need to look elsewhere), and
because no New World plantation society
is/was sui generis: we were/are built up
from exogamous ancestral cultures:
European, African, Asian.
Mrs. Mathurin, I'm glad to say, opts for
the alternative. For her, the revel woman in
the slave Caribbean is an African: either
born or dread; and in this study, which
concentrates on Jamaica, with references to
Guyana and Barbados, this means that the
slave woman's life is interpreted along a
perspective/continuum of Akan culture:

Footnotes: The Arrival of Black Women
contd. from page 7
40. Ibid., p. 40: see also FRANK LORIMER, Culture and Human
Fertility (UNESCO, 19541, e.g. pp. 69-90: and MEYER
FORTES,A Demographic Field Study in Ashanti, (pp. 253-320
41. FORTES. Oedipus and Job, p. 37.
42. BOSMAN, op. cit., p. 208: cf. BARBOT, op. cit.. p. 242.
43. MARY SMITH, op. cit., pp. 118. 231 and passim.
44. Ibid., p. 231; see also HERSKOVITS, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 343-349.
With the Dahomeans "a general principle governing divorce ... is
that a man may never divorce his wife, but must be divorced by
her, since it is believed that vengeance for his taking the action
will be extracted of him by the spirits of the ancestral founders
of his family, whose decree he has violated." The Dahomean word
for divorce, asugbigbe ("husband-refuse") reflects this injunction.
(pp. 343-4).
45. MARY SMITH, op. cit., p. 142, see also p. 128.
46. I.A. AKINJOGBIN, Dahomey and its Neighbours, 1708-1818
(Cambridge University Press, 1967), pp. 16-17; M. FORTES, and
G. DIETERLEN, African Systems of Thought (Studies presented
and discussed at the Third International African Seminar in
Salisbury, December, 1900); see FORTES, Some Reflections on
Ancestor Worship in Africa, pp. 122-141.
47. HERSKOVITS, op. cit., vol. I, p. 85.
48. E.g. BOSMAN, op. cit., p. 534, note by FAGE.
49. RATTRAY, Ashanti, p. 78; For the communalism of pre-colonial
African society, see for example, WALTER RODNEY, How
Europe underdeveloped Africa, (London and Dar es Salaam,
1972), p. 43, viz, "...the predominant principle of social relations

Ashanti, Fante and the so-called
Koromantyn of the Gold Coast. This does
not mean that there is no local concern -
far from it; erstwhile 'invisible' local detail
comes to light when seen within her
continental context of space and time. But
more significantly, the extended context
makes it possible for the doctor to make an
apparently simple but fundamentally
human point, around which her entire
study revolves:
For nearly 200 years, thousands of young
African girls and women entered the New
World, the majority no younger than 14
and no older than 40. This age group
was specified by slave traders and by
planters who wanted as workers young
adults at the peak of health. At that age
they had already been through the
African tribal ceremony, the rite de
passage which marked the transition
from youth to adulthood, from girlhood
into womanhood. This meant that when
Africans entered the Caribbean they were
already educated and steeped in their
national culture. (p. 3, my emphases)
She then goes on to illustrate (Ch. 2) how
the women like the men of this culture
were reduced to regimentation, punish-
ment, brainwash and bribe on the
plantation, and how (Ch. 3-4) they reacted
to this: the unwillingness to work, the
apparent laziness and stupidity (contrasted
to the love and energy put into the
cultivation of yam, plantain, ground
provisions, the embryonic higgling). Then
(second stage of reaction) there was the
raising of the voice: in song, satire, verbal
abuse and increasingly into the 18th
century, in slave courts. 'By refusing to
accept slavery like dumb animals', Mrs.
Mathurin writes, 'by regularly raising their
voices, women, in their way, forced their
presence on the consciousness of many'.
And this, she tells us 'was the thin end of
the wedge in undermining the system of
slavery'. For once the slave is seen and
heard, as a human being, it becomes
'increasingly difficult to justify his or her
existence as chattel' (p. 18).
When the voice failed or rather, did
not conclusively succeed the more
difficult and daring decision to buck the
system had to be made. There were
sabotage plots, go-slows, strikes, arson,
poisonings and the threat of poisoning and
the shove into runaway and/or rebel (Chs.

was that of family and kinship associated with communalism...
land (the major means of production) was owned by groups such
as the family or clan..."; See also HERSKOVITS, op. cit. chap. V
on Property, pp. 78-95.
RATTRAY, Ashanti, p. 78.
GLUCKMAN, op. cit., pp. 74-75.
RATTRAY. Ashanti, p. 79.
EQUIANA, op. cit., pp. 20-21.
FORTES and DIETERLEN, op. cit., pp. 126-127; viz, "a wife
on her death is given two funerals, a primary funeral in her
conjugal settlement where she is mourned by her husband and
her children, as wife and mother, and a secondary one when she is
'taken back home' to her paternal lineage. There she is mourned
as daughter and sister and is besought to 'reach' her own
fathers and forefathers."
HERSKOVITS, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 254-255.
M.G. SMITH, op. cit., p. 33.
MARY SMITH, op. cit., p. 192, also pp. 197-199, 200-205.
ALAGOA, op. cit.,; viz, "In all parts of the Niger delta old men
and women are held in high regard and play varying roles,"
(p. 406). This "enthronement of the aged" characterized all West
African societies: see MANOUKIAN, op. cit., p. 43; CURTIN,
Africa Remembered, p. 63; HERSKOVITS, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 351,
BOSMAN, op. cit., pp. 383-384; RODNEY, History of the Upper
Guinea Coast, p. 103.
See, for instance, RODNEY, History of the Upper Guinea Coast,

5-7-) So Nanny (Ch. 8) emerges as the
logical culmination of the book, since she
was a woman 'of Ashanti origin' (p. 36) who
in successfully asserting and defending the
freedom of her (Maroon) people, was at the
same time inspiring and nourishing the
rehabilitation, into a folk tradition, of
African culture in the New World.
In Africa, nations have for centuries kept
their history alive through their story
tellers, who are often professional
chroniclers charged with the vital
responsibility of ensuring that each
new generation knows its past. The arts
of song, dance and drama have all been
used to keep the historical narrative
vivid in the minds of the community.
Modern scholarship shows increasingly
that the history of the folk memory
is essentially as accurate as the history
of the written page. (p. 34)
It is here, then, in its sense of responsibility
to the folk or native, seen/revealed within
an ancestral provenance, that The Rebel
woman in the British West Indies joins the
small but growing literature by us that is
talking to us from the inside. To appreciate
fully what Dr. Mathurin has achieved we
would of course have to read her as yet
unpublished thesis, 'A historical study of
women in Jamaica from 1655 to 1844'
(Mona 1974)* and with it the work of Sylvia
Wynter and Maureen Warner Lewis on folk
culture, of Dell Lewis on the literature of
the yard, Erna Brodber on the sociology of
the yard, Pat Bishop on runaway slaves
and strategies of survival, Mavis Campbell
on Jamaican socio-politics in the traumatic
years 1820 and 1865, Beverly Carey on the
Maroons (to whom Lucille Mathurin
expresses special indebtedness (p. 41),
particularly for the material on Nanny) and
Elsa Goveia on the difference between
humanity and humanitarianism during the
period of slavery. These women, from their
double submergence, are giving us insights
into ourselves which we would not
otherwise have had; and the outline of a
truly native/revolutionary bibliography
can already be discerned. That much of
their work remains unpublished should not
be surprising. In the world of letters, it is
bad enough to be Caliban; to be his sister is
almost unthinkable. But things change as
we change, ca, and The rebel woman in the
British West Indies by providing a focus,
creates another beginning.
*See The Arrivals of Black Women p2 herein.

pp. 260-263; M.G. SMITH, op. cit., p. 22: MARY SMITH,
pp. 38-43 and passim; HERSKOVITS, op. cit., vol. 1, pp. 79-80,
97-104: BOSMAN, pp. 189-191.
62. M.G. SMITH, The Beginnings of Hausa Society A.D.
1000-1500 (The Historian in Tropical Africa, 1964), p. 349, see
also p. 340.
63. D. BIRMINGHAM, Speculations on the Kingdom of Kongo
(Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana, vol. VIII,
1965) p. 8; RYDER, op. cit., p. 4.
64. RATTRAY, Ashanti, pp. 81, 84.
65. ROTH, op. cit., p. 119.
66. BIRMINGHAM, op. cit., p. 7.
67. HERSKOVITS, op. cit., vol I, pp. 110-111. Herskovits maintains
that "it is impossible to comprehend the fiscal system of Dahoniev
without an understanding of the position of these women".
(p. 110); their unquestioned allegiance to the king made them the
most effective watchdogs over his internal revenue.
68. BOSMAN, op. cit., p. 63; of WYNDHAM, op. cit., p. 27, see also
RYDER, op. cit., p. 4; RODNEY, History of the Upper
Guinea Coast, p. 66.
69. K.Y. DAAKU, The European Traders and the Coastal States
1630-1720 (Trans. of the Hist. Scty. of Ghana, vol. VIII, 1965)
pp. 21-22; WYNDHAM, op. cit., p. 30.
70. GLUCKMAN, op. cit., is especially enlightening on the subject
of the anticipation and resolution of conflict in African life.
71. WALTER RODNEY, Upper buinea and the Significance of the
Origins of African Enslavement in the New World (The Journal
of Negro History, vol. LIV, No. 4, Oct. 1969) p. 345.



they clapped when we landed
thinking africa was just an extension
of the black world
they smiled as we taxied home to be met
black to black face not understanding africans
color prejudice
they rushed to declare
cigarettes, money, allegiance to the mother land
not knowing despite having read fanon and
hearing all of j.h. clarke's lectures, supporting
nkrumah in ghana and nigeria in the war that
there was once
a tribe called afro-americans that populated
the whole
of africa
they stopped running when they learned the
on the women's heads were heavy and that
babies didn't
cry and disease is uncomfortable and that
villages are fun
only because you knew the feel of good leather
on good
they cried when they saw mercedes benz were
as common
in lagos as volkswagens are in berlin
they shook their heads when they understood
there was no
difference between the french and
the english and the americans
and the afro-amercians or the tribe next door
or the country
across the border
they were exasperated when they heard sly and
the family stone
in francophone africa and they finally smiled
when little boys
who spoke no western tongue said "james
brown" with reverence
they brought out their cameras and bought out
africa's drums
when they finally realized they are strangers
all over
and love is only and always about the
lover not the beloved
they marveled at the beauty of the people and
the richness
of the land knowing they could
never possess either
they clapped when they took off
for home despite the dead
dream they saw a free future 'Reprinted by permission of William Morrow
and Company, Inc., from "My House" by
[29aug 71] Nikki Giovanni. Copyright, 1972 by
Nikki Giovanni.'






Liechenstein, is the re-print house that,
over the last five years or so, has been re-
issuing some titles of English publishers
(and, doubtless, some titles of publishers
other than English) in limited editions for
the express benefit of university libraries
and such. Of interest to Jamaicans are such
items as their re-issue in solid binding of a
volume series of Pepperpot annual, a
magazine published by the late Elsie
Benjamin; which has been distinguished
by, among other things, a regular feature
devoted to poets of the Caribbean region:
Adolphe Roberts, Jean Brierre, Clare
McFarlane etc.
Of the new Kraus titles, the latest to
come to hand is their re-publication of
Neville Dawes' 15-year-old novel, The Last
In the politics of the 'first novel', an
achievement conferring its own cachet, and
for which awards, prizes, recognition of one
or another sort may be seen to exist, The
Last Enchantment gives the impression of
having been something of a non-starter.
The cause of this, strange to say, may be
nothing more than a failure on the part of
the author to respond to ground rules;
neglecting to publish a second novel, for
instance. But on a second reading one is
prompted to think it may also be due
simply to the work having been before its
When Dawes' novel appeared in 1960-61,
the phenomenon known to English
publishing as 'the West Indian novel' was
at its crest, having been initiated ten to 12
years earlier by V.S. Reid and Edgar
Mittelholzer; and these were closely
followed by George Lamming, Roger Mais,
John Hearne, V.S. Naipaul etc. If, in the
welter of reputation good and bad, Dawes'
single book appears to have sunk without
trace, this may be partly the consequence
of its exhibiting qualities thought to be less
than typical, or qualities not character-
istically 'West Indian'.
But all this is conjecture. The Last
Enchantment, whatever the criterion
introduced, as a matter of fact may not be
described as a 'good' or successful novel;
even if one accepts that the condition of
being neither 'good' nor successful perhaps
is the faculty that most unites 'West
Indian' novels. However, it is my
contention that the author of this particular
novel is to be congratulated upon one
aspect of his performance if no other; that
he has used the 'West Indian', so to speak,
'bonanza' to launch a book that inherently
and refreshingly is without any appeal to
the West Indian conscience, whatever that
is: a book that tries throughout to achieve a
certain detachment from the things that,
plainly, most concern it.
That The Last Enchantment is a
'concerned' book indeed is another element
in its uniqueness. Part of the badness of
'West Indian' novels relates to the
impression thby give of being, on the
whole, exploitatory; of isolating and
quarrying a theme, rather than exploring
and amplifying it for its own sake and on its
own terms; and, so to speak, in its own
time. By and large, with one or two excep-
tions, our 'West Indian' authors tend to be
tourists in their own scene: animadverting,



A Review By Basil McFarlane
Reproduced from The Daily Gleaner
The Last Enchantment by Neville Dawes:
Kraus Reprint: pp. 288

but inthe accents of novelty, about things
that ought, by all that is credible, to have
shaped their own very lives. Whatever its
other manifest faults of construction and
unblushing artifice, The Last Enchantment
is lacking in this express form of conceit (is
free, in other words, of tha suspicion of
having been written to cater to synthetic
needs, or anyone's needs except those of
the author); and, as a matter of fact, owes
whatever it possess of subtlety and
acuteness to being more or less about this
and related forms of conceit.
One cliche situation, however, the novel
does not manage to avoid and, it may be
concluded, could hardly avoid in the
circumstances. In its more eloquent and
deeply felt passages, it is substantially the
chronicle of a black man in the white man's
world. In that sense, in spite of being
rooted in its native, Jamaican soil and its
native, Jamaican preoccupations to an
exemplary degree (which may well, irony of
ironies, be accounted one of its affectations:
for the simple reason that, in order to strike
an anti-thesis to the 'corrupt', non-
Jamaican world beyond our shores the
sick, capitalist world thronged with
materialist anxieties and tensions over race
and colour it is necessary to pretend, to
project Jamaica as in some sense
constituting a 'pure zone', a blessed region
where these wretched sophistication do
not penetrate. As well as being nearer the
fact, it also may be the greater challenge for
a Jamaican novelist to suggest that, after
its own fashion, Jamaica is the arena of an
unparalleled and intense sophistication in
precisely these characteristics of the
so-called civilized world), the book
essentially is a song of exile and alienation.
And it may be, as the poet Edward
Brathwaite and others have seemed to
suggest, that for the ex-Africa negro or
blackman-at-large the supremely evocative
theme, the one that most challenges his
gifts of expression and self-expression, is
that of exile and alienation.
The plain fact is, that the Jamaican
scenes and many of the Jamaican
characters are among the more thinly
observed in 'The Last Enchantment';
verging on caricature. There is fulsome
play with place-names like 'Halfway Tree',
'Vineyard Town', 'Allman Town', 'Con-
stant Spring Road' etc. There is an overt
preoccupation with questions of national-
ism. No other Jamaican novel, to my
knowledge, has made a comparable
attempt on textures and tendencies within

the Jamaican, twentieth-century political
scene; and one of the enjoyments of the
book (admittedly, as enjoyment, less than
pure) is the identifying of its cast of
characters in terms of their resemblance to
well-known Jamaican personages: I had
no difficulty in identifying a former
headmaster of mine, for one.
Jamaica (and, if you like, the West
Indies) no doubt still awaits the
home-grown version of the pedagogical
novel in the tradition of A Portrait of the
Artist as A Young Man; the record of a
birth and development of sensibility in the
context of a geographical region, but
equally in the .context of the region's
psychological and cultural preoccupations.
In my own admittedly limited reading of
'West Indian' fiction, the novels of Michael
Anthony, a Trinidadian, while determined-
ly a-political and 'naive', are nevertheless
an adumbration of such a fictional method.
In the Jamaican Andrew Salkey's
extensive output, one work, the surrealist-
titled Escape to An Autumn Pavement,
seemed to hint at resources of style, a
lyricism innate rather than achieved as
well as a measure of the courage for self-
examination necessary to such a literary
undertaking. As far back as 1950, and
Edgar Mittelholzer's A Morning at the
Office: because the author evidently had
experienced the impact of techniques of the
dissociative narrative perfected in France
(and influencing people like T.S. Eliot, and
James Joyce himself), he seemed for a
moment to have grasped potentialities
inherent in this type of fictional
In this company, the author of The Last
Enchantment is to be counted not least. He
is, if anything, too much of an eclectic. His
style is very much an effect of carefully
bossed surfaces, from which random
influences coruscate. A poet in his youth
(Dawes was 34 on completing The Last
Enchantment), echoes of other poets,
George Lamming, Dylan Thomas, have
found their way into his prose fiction. In his
handling of dialect and dialect values, he
harks back to V.S. Reid and to Roger Mais
although he is less free than the former.
His ear, certainly, is truer than Mais' ever
was. Undoubtedly he has read Evelyn
Waugh, and where his enthusiasm is not
engaged (as it is constantly by musical
values, including 'jazz') he can exhibit a
bleak, reductionist fervour not far behind
someone like V.S. Naipaul.
But, in the novel, these are potential and
not highly evoked elements; and it is in the
somewhat desperate devices of his
construction (a sort of 'Jacobean' abandon)
that Dawes' hand is least sure. In the
intermediate section of a little more than 30
pages or approximately 20,000 words
narrating experiences of the hero, Ramsay
Tull, while an undergraduate at Oxford -
occurs the best sustained writing of the
book. Before and after are the sections
relating, more or less, to the Jamaican
Kenneth Ramchand, in his valuable
work, The West Indian Novel and its
Background, has complimented Dawes in
left-handed fashion by mentioning his
apprentice novel in the same breath as he
makes reference to the Claude McKay

masterpiece, Banana Bottom. But,
certainly beyond Ramchand's recognition
or interest, there is merit in the
Beginning to read The Last Enchant-
ment, one could be a little dismayed by an
apparent uncertainty of definition in
pictures of what presumably is a
middle-class household. Even a tolerant
reader must conclude that the scenes of
Bobsie's drunken-ness in the immediate
vicinity of his father's corpse are a trifle
overdone, if not wilfully sensational; and
the introduction of Mabel on a note of high
sexuality virtually in that moment of
description, smacks of knowingness rather
than insight and is, in any case, carelessly
tricked out. While all this is going on, the
younger brother and scholar of the family,
Ramsay is holding down a Civil Service
appointment; one of the uses of which
would seem to be that he is enabled to tout
men for his sexually rampant sister, Mabel.
Without a doubt this is in the. tenor of
that synthetic, 'West Indian' exotica of
quasi-European cultivation; a hothouse
plant we have been at pains to see not
growing in Dawes' pages. But one need

read only a little further to comprehend
that Dawes, in the company of novelists, is
as doctrinaire as any; with an intention, in
the overt vulgarity of his book's opening
passages, to transmit an impression of the
essential, peasant vigour (the sort of thing
to which, as a student of literature, he
would have grown accustomed in the pages
of Dostoievski or Tolstoy or Gorki) of his
protagonist family, the Tulls. This is
idealization with a vengeance; and
idealization, what is more, that takes its
rise in a political theory.
It is to Dawes' credit as an artist that
this theory, such as it is, is given no
appreciable ascendancy throughout the
book apart from certain muted utterance
of the hero, Ramsay Tull. What is
important to note is that the fact alone of
having at its heart a concerted theory, an
articulated view of the world (irrespective
of the merits of the theory as theory),
certainly in my view serves to dignify The
Last Enchantment above the general run
of 'West Indian' novels.
In the event, the introductory painting of
the Tull family is decidedly not a success;
and it is undoubtedly a fortuitous effect,

not bargained for in Dawes' aesthetic, to
see in the uncertainties of his style the
reflection of a tentativeness and insecurity
in the lives of his protagonists.
Idealization of the common folk is
perhaps, after all, the one wholly
predictable feature of the literature of New
World societies. What Dawes and Claude
McKay, each in his own way, have
contributed to this extended oeuvre is,
within the context of a particular place and
a particular historical and cultural heritage,
a responsible bid to interpret the 'peasant'
scene from within. Given this perspective,
each work can scarcely help being its own
kind of commentary its own kind of
conjuring into symbolic presence on or of
a fundamental dilemma: not only of the
Jamaican countryman or migrant between
country and town, between outpost and
metropolis, but of all natives of Western
civilization in the era since the industrial
revolution: who, slowly and painfully no
doubt, became aware of themselves as
mediators (when they were not, as in the
case of the slave trade, mere tokens) in a
war between two absolute worlds of value.

CLAUDE McKAY cont'd. from page 42
autobiography, A Long Way from Home. It received
hostile reviews, and, with its publisher going out of
business soon after the book appeared, made no money.
McKay returned to journalism, selling articles to such
journals and newspapers as The Nation, The New Leader,
and the New York Amsterdam News. In 1940 his Harlem:
Negro Metropolis was published, a book of essays
about Harlem life: it includes a delightfully ironic account
of Father Divine, the evangelist, and a piece on Marcus
Aurelius Garvey.26 The book was not well received by the
critics. McKay's health declined further, and in 1941 he
was found by a Catholic friend alone and seriously ill in a
Harlem rooming house. The Catholics helped McKay and
he became a Catholic, baptized on October 11, 1944.
Despite frequent hospitalization over the next four years,
he taught at a Catholic Youth Organization in Chicago
and compiled his Selected Poems which finally appeared in
1953, years after his death.
He died of heart failure in a Chicago hospital on May
22, 1948. Not long before he died he worked on the
autobiography of his early years, "My Green Hills of
Jamaica"." That limpid recall often reminds us of
McKay's Jamaican fiction; sometimes the correspondence
is very close indeed. Evidently he loved Jamaica, and (in
the prose, at least) he remembered us well. But he never
came home.


1. See (Institute of Jamaica) photocopied typescript of Claude
McKay autobiography, My Green Hills of Jamaica, from the
Schomburg Collection, New York Public Library.
2. A Long Way from Home (A Harvest Book, Harcourt, Brace &
World, Inc., New York, 1970; originally published by Lee
Furman, Inc., 1937), p.4.
3. Ibid., p. 4.
4. Ibid., p. 354.
5. Home to Harlem (Harper & Brothers, New York, 1928)
6. Negro World, September 29, 1928; quoted in Voices of a Black
Nation, Political Journalism in the Harlem Renaissance, ed.
Theodore G. Vincent (Ramparts Press, San Francisco, 1973),
p. 358.

7. "A Negro Writer to His Critics", New York Herald-Tribune
Books, March 6, 1932. Reprinted in The Passion of Claude
McKay, Selected Poetry and Prose, 1912-1948, edited with an
introduction and notes by Wayne F. Cooper (Schocken Books,
New York, 1973), p. 133.
8. Crisis XXXV (1928), p. 202; quoted by Hugh Gloster, Negro
Voices in American Fiction (1948), p. 164.
9. Gloster, op. cit., p. 164.
10. Harold Cruse, The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual (1969), p. 48.
11. Banjo, A Story without a Plot (A Harvest Book, Harcourt Brace
Jovanovich, Inc., New York, 1957; originally published by Harper
& Brothers, 1929).
12. The Passion of Claude McKay, p. 147.
13. Nathan Irvin Huggins, Harlem Renaissance (Oxford University
Press, New York, 1971) p. 178, citing Lilyan Kesteloot, Les
Ecrivains noirs de langue franchise: naissance d'une litterature,
Bruxelles, Universite Libre de Bruxelles (2me &d.), 1965,
pp. 63-82.
14. A Long Way from Home, p. 278.
15. The Passion of Claude McKay, p. 147.
16. ibid.p. 33.
17. Gingertown (Books for Libraries Press, Freeport, New York,
1972; originally published by Harper & Brothers, New York,
18. Wayne Cooper, op. cit., p. 33.
19. Ibid.
20. A Long Way from Home, p. 331.
21. ibid. p. 302.
22. Selected Poems of Claude McKay (Bookman Associates, New
York, 1953), p. 28.
23. Banana Bottom (The Chatham Bookseller, Chatham, New Jersey,
1970; originally published by Harper & Brothers, New York,
24. Biographical details in this paragraph have been taken mainly
from Wayne Cooper, op. cit., pp. 33 ff.
25. By E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc., New York. Now available as a
Harvest Book, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., New York, 1968.
26. The piece is on the whole more sympathetic to Garvey than some
of the earlier references to Garvey in McKay's published work.
See, for example, Banjo pp. 66-67 and A Long Way from Home,
p. 354.
27. Fragments (edited) appeared in Phylon Vol. 13 (2nd Quarter,
1953), pp. 134-145, as "Boyhood in Jamaica". A lot of interesting
material remains unpublished.

Critical by Jean D'Costa,
C ritica I Re V English Dept., University of the West Indies.

With the drawing of the Love and the voice of this
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river

The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always -
A condition of complete simplicity
[Costing not less than everything]
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well

When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.
Eliot, T.S. Four Quartets, Faber & Faber
1952. 'Little Gidding' V, pp. 43-44.

Amusing, ambiguous, eerie, realistic, satiric and
nostalgic: Roy Heath's first novel A Man Come Home is
all of these. It projects a sharp sense of time lived, giving
the texture of experience so subtly that the reader is
enchanted into accepting the world of the novel as his
own. Few novels have their magical quality which almost
defies analysis; it is found chiefly in autobiographic novels
such as Jane Eyre, David Copperfield and Buddenbrooks
where the reader is drawn into a compelling, evocative
atmosphere operating upon him with the power of his own
personal memories. The sureness and empathy with which
Heath creates the world of A Man Come Home show a
sensitivity, skill and discrimination in the craft of fiction
comparable to the originality of Bronte, Dickens and
Mann. This is not excessive praise. The special merit of
Heath's novel lies in the convincing authenticity and
freshness of the world he creates. Not only does he involve
the reader in the hard reality of this world, but he
entertains us, holds our attention and conveys a pathos
and reverence all the more moving for their unexpected-
The novel is set in Guyana (the author's homeland) in
the period following independence. The range yards and
poorer quarters of Georgetown provide the setting for
most of the action, though it later moves significantly to
the "better lit part of the town" in the Brickdam district
where there "were once grand houses ... inhabited by
people of means, who sold out during the political
disturbances and left the country." Plot and scene unfold
with deceptive simplicity. Everything seems solid and as
credible as the light of common day. At the centre of the
action is the Foster family. The novel opens with Egbert
Foster raising the Guyanese flag over his house. A tone of
mischevievously blended satire and realism immediately
dominates the surface of the writing:
Foster's dog sat under the flag, scratching
itself languidly as the afternoon light faded.
'I like it, man! I like it! Is what?'
Foster's neighbour asked from the other
side of the fence.
'How you mean is what? Is the flag!'
'We flag? The country flag?' the neighbour
asked again.
'Yes! You ignorant bad, you know.
All my 'children and grandchildren know
this flag.''
The gaping neighbour, the dog scurrying in and out, and
Foster's obsession with raising and lowering the flag all
add up to a scene of finely balanced humour and realism.
Our attention is swiftly brought to bear on Foster himself.
A stubborn, deliberate, rather intellectual artisan of fifty,
he lives in a small house at one remove from the tenements
and range yards of the district. Plainly a man of some
respectability in the neighbourhood, he is a widower living
with his mistress Christine, and Melda their last child. By
the end of that brief opening chapter the reader knows
that wife and mistress had lived in harmony for years with
Foster and the nine children of the unions; that seventeen
year old Melda is working for the first time and (also for
the first time) showing signs of independent womanhood
in ways that puzzle and disturb her mother, just as Foster
himself is troubled by Christine's late flowering beauty.
Briefly we are told of others in the family: of five boys

born to the "church" wife, one is in England, one in
Canada, the others in Georgetown:
The occasion for a family get-together
presented itself when there was a birth or a
christening or at Christmas. Foster's house
then shook on its eight concrete pillars
and the dog sought refuge in the neighbour,s
At the opening of Chapter Two we meet the second of
these sons, who "though christened Archie ... was known
as Bird." The title of the novel refers to Bird. and it is his
affairs which set the plot in motion. Yet Bird does not
always hold the centre of the stage: character after
character come close to us, brought forward by the
unfolding events which link their lives. Though in a strict
sense Bird is not the hero of the novel, he provides the link
that holds together all the ramdom-seeming events and
characters that flow around him.
Heath's style is spare and economical to an
extraordinary degree. Trying to give a synopsis of plot
and characters puts a heavy strain on the reviewer who
must perforce distort what has been so evocatively and
tautly expressed. The beginning of Chapter Two
illustrates this spareness of style and richness of
Foster's second son, Archie, lived in a range
yard in Broad Street. Though christened Archie
he was known as Bird by his acquaintances.
Bird had never worked, except for a spell of
four months, when he had lapsed into a burst of
activity, a period he disliked recalling. On
Saturday he ate at his father's table, on
Sunday either at Ada's, his half-sister, or at
one of his brothers' or half-brothers' homes.
He liked to be independent, he claimed, and did
not want to spoil Ada by eating at her table
every Sunday. Women were wrong-headed.
especially the women in his family.
Bird's mistress Stephanie was devoted to
him, but occasionally left him, rather as a
reminder that he did not own her, than because
she was disenchanted with life at Bird's side.
'He can do it for hours!' she once confided to
a freind.3
The character suggested here is fittingly represented by
the nickname Bird: a lily of the field, Bird is a loving and
lovable flaneur, an accomplished lover, a harmless, joyous
idler with a certain pride and eccentricity that set him
apart. All this and more is suggested in this short
passage. The relationships of family and lovers are clearly
set out at the same time, while Stephanie's character is
sketched with firm, swift strokes. The background of
range yard, chronic unemployment (if it is fair to call it
that), and grass-roots mores comes across without
selfconsciousness, condescension or massive documenta-
Balancing this spare style is Heath's masterly handling
of dialogue. A great deal of plot development and
characterisation is expressed through this device: even the
brief exchange between Foster and the nameless
neighbour serves to demonstrate this. Dialogue expresses
the quality of Ada's social and family life: it suggests
Christine's anxieties about Melda. Foster's partial
understanding of mistress and daughter, his love for them
and the tenor of their lives. This is so well done that brief
interventions of authorial commentary slip by almost
unnoticed and wholly accepted because they merge so
smoothly into the dynamic flow of conversation. The

shattering event which sets off the action is put to us by
this means:
On Sunday Bird drifted in at Ada's as usual,
where he met Melda, all dolled up as if she were
on her way to a wedding.
'Eh eh, Sis! Is where you going?' he asked.
'Is where she coming from, you mean,'
interjected Ada. 'She drive up here in a taxi as
if she was the Queen of Sheba.' Ada then let
loose a peal of laughter that infected all the
others in her room ........................

'You vex she now,' Ada's husband observed,
'she not going stay.'
'She going got to stay!' exclaimed Ada.
'Is pepperpot! You don't smell it?'
Bird sniffed the air professionally ..........

'Why alyou not playing outside?' Bird asked
the children.
'They follow Melda in,' Ada said. 'I don't
know if they expect she to bring in the taxi.
Alyou gd outside! Go on!'
'The four children got up and went out in
a body, giggling and holding their hands to
their mouths.
'You hear from Benjy yet?' Ada asked Melda.
Benjy was Foster's son in Canada.
'No,' Melda replied, still vexed that they
had been poking fun at her.
'Well I hear he buy house,' Ada said.
'What?' Bird asked, genuinely amazed.
'So I hear,' Ada retorted.
'I didn't know he got money,' Bird declared.
Benjy, his elder brother, had not done as well
as he had at school and no single incident or
remark had ever brought home so forcibly the
fact that he, Bird, had wasted his life. Ada's
disclosure ruined his day, spoiled his appetite
and reduced him to silence.'
The salient features of Bird's character are given by the
authorial voice: "Bird drifted in ... as usual", "Bird
sniffed the air professionally" and at Ada's first statement
about Benjy's house "was genuinely amazed". These
important details of behaviour and personality reinforce
what we already know of Bird and his circle. Set in the
casual, lighthearted family chatter led by his favourite
sister, Bird's reaction seems as naturalistic as the
dialogue itself. The very terseness of the final description
makes it appear to be of the same order as Bird's "I didn't
know he got money." But the final statement contrasts
violently with what has gone before, showing the extent of
the shock to Bird. The conversation flows on; Bird hardly
hears. He leaves soon after, disturbed and depressed. His
mood is made real to us through psychic metaphor,
physical reaction and social response. It is intensified by
satire and lyrical imagery: as he walks aimlessly through
the outskirts of Georgetown he sees a "barge being rowed
down river by a single oarsman. His body glistened in the
afternoon sun in fleeting explosions as he heaved the oars
through the water. The sight of such labour revolted
This, then, is the small cloud no larger than a man's
hand that rises threateningly over the lifescape of Bird
and the Foster family. Egbert Foster is also affected by
Benjy's buying of a house for the monthly remittances
from Canada stop for a while. Tensions between Foster,
Christine and Melda are interwoven with this, but the
deepest agony is experienced by Bird and Stephanie. The

happy pattern of their life is disturbed. Heath conveys the
conflicting values and split aspirations of West Indian
poor in the brilliant scene where Bird tells Stephanie of
Benjy's news:

(Stephanie) left the bag at the door and
rummaged about behind the screen that
divided the room into two. When she came out
she placed her hand on his forehead.
'Is not sickness, I tell you,' protested Bird.
'I got to make money.'
'You!' she exclaimed, relieved that he was
sound in body.
'Benjy buy house.'
'In Guyana?' she asked.
'No, he in Canada, in't he?'
'So what happen?' Bird burst out. 'What
happen is I got to get a lot of money like
Benjy, and buy a house.'
'But what you want a house for? If you get a
house' you going to have to get clothes to go
with it and furniture and a lot of useless
things. '6
The understated implication that Bird is no longer sound
of mind (or spirit) is as crucial as Stephanie's opinion of
wealth and property. She feels "betrayed. Had she not
cared for him, provided him with all his wants, put up
with him sleeping out?"7. The scene movingly illustrates
their closeness and their lack of communication in this
A gloom had settled over the room. Usually,
on Sunday nights when he returned from
Ada's, replete with food and fire from her
liquor bottle, Bird and his woman would talk
for hours until one of them fell asleep. These
Sunday night conversations were a ritual that
closed the door to one week and opened it
upon another ................... ..........
The intimacy of their whispered conversa-
tions, interrupted only by periods of love-
making, was thereby deepened. This was not
to be tonight.8
The peculiar success of this is that it creates an impression
of a way of life and of the personalities which make up that
way of life, but the introduction of small ironies
furniturers and a lot of useless things" "she felt
betrayed" and Stephanie's "my life is not going be worth
living") points towards the movement of unseen, sinister
forces below the level of everyday consciousness.
A Man Come Home may be seen from one angle as a
social satire on the acquisition of wealth and the
consequent destruction of the self. The main plot deals
with Bird's disappearance and return, Stephanie's deep
suffering and her frantic attempts to find him, and the
disastrous results for friends and family when Bird's
mysterious wealth begins to affect them all. No moral
comment is made by the authorial voice; the fate of each
character differs according to viewpoint and the
individual's relationship to Bird and his money. Foster
and Christine are affected indirectly. Their lives, together
with Bird's best friend Gee and his woman Muriel, form
the main sub-plot. In many ways this aspect of the novel
has greater richness and social realism than the
Bird-Stephanie level. It is through Foster's household and
Gee's household that the everyday lives of working class
Guyanese are presented with greatest force. Work,
money, food, property, family duty, marriage, con-
cubinage, sex, social ritual and attitudes to life are
dispassionately set out in bright clear colours. There is no

sentimentality, pornography, nor exaggerated violence.
On the other hand there is a faithfulness to speech and
gesture, a cool explicit recounting of detail and a deep
sense of the texture and meaning of these experiences.
The realistic quality of the novel is one of its greatest
charms. Though Heath modifies his spelling of Guyanese
creolese to a certain extent, the grammar, vocabulary and
colloquial interjections of Guyanese speech are accurately
represented. Guyanese creolese is closer to Standard
English (especially in its urban dialect form) and has
preserved less of the basic nineteenth century creole
structure than has the Jamaican; thus making his task
easier. Literacy and basic education are very much part of
Guyanese culture at the artisan/lower middleclass levels.
Heath's linguistic accuracy lies in his ability to use the
appropriate language forms and styles of the groups he
presents. An example from the closing pages of the novel
illustrates his grasp of the language behaviour of the
range yard:
By this time half of the women in the
range yard were on their door-steps, relishing
this unexpected contribution to their yard lore.
Since Jackson and his woman moved out the
range was starved of incident ... .......... ..
'Is who she?' one woman shouted out to
her neighbour two doors away.
'I don't know. Must be Gee outside woman.
I didn't think Muriel would let he,' came the
'What eye can't see heart can't grieve,'
retorted the other.
'He's home, Gee home. Knock "pon" the
door. He didn't hear you.' said a barefoot,
young girl.
Everyone laughed at this remark, especially
as a number of them had been awakened by
the first shout.
Melda, beside herself with rage on hearing
that Gee was at home, let out a fearful
scream, 'Geeeeee! If you don't come out I
going smash you window!'
There was the noise of drawn bolts and one
leaf of the door opened. Melda, breathing
heavily, entered Gee's room. At this, there was
a round of applause from the onlookers.
'I going tell you mother,' an old woman
said to the girl who had informed Melda that
Gee was at home.
'Leave she alone. I bet Gee do something
to that poor girl. I bet he leave she high and
dry,' the woman said, and backed her words by
descending the three steps of her stairs."
Unlike many other West Indian prose writers, Heath's
colloquial dialogue is absolutely consistent. There are no
hesitations, no unconscious Standard English inter-
ferences into the dialect and no uncomfortable pseudo-
phonetic spellings. His spellings are phonetic when
necessary: "in't" "alyou" tchupidness" "ne "me man"
"what fo' do" "pon" 'bout". Apart from forms like
these, Heath uses standard spellings in creolese sentence
patterns that at once allow reading facility and compel a
creolese sentence melody on the reader. His vernacular
writing has both elegance and simplicity combined with a
satiric vitality that is an important ingredient of
characterisation. This is seen in Gee's attempt to befriend
Foster and con him and Muriel into believing that his
involvement with Melda is a scurrilous libel invented by
Foster put his arm round Gee and said, 'We
is friends, eh?'

'Yes, man,' Gee answered, 'but you got to
close you mind to what these women say.
Gee whispered these last words, presumably
to prevent them reaching Muriel's ears. For
the last hour it had been raining, but the two
men were so engrossed in their conversation
that they did not hear the noise of the water on
the roof.
'I does always say the same thing myself.'
Foster assured Gee. 'Close your mind to what
women does say. That mind got to be closed.
cause when they put the food down in front of
you and start talking, you gone for channa ...
you finished, done for. One day you must come
home and Christine going cook for the two
of we.'
'I don't like bolonjay, though.' Gee declared
making a face.
'Then she going cook something you like.
What you like? Come on.' Foster asked, as if
his life depended on Gee's tastes.
Gee thought for a while, but before he
could say anything, Muriel's voice came from
behind the screen, 'He likes roast beef and
The novel moves between range yards, tenement rooms.
shops, street corners, the kitchens of small houses and the
gallery of Bird's mansion. In all of these settings language
and gesture are vividly consistent. The psychological
realism of the characters is as strong as the authenticity of
their language behaviour. Pain, violence, insanity and
terror are part of the experience of the novel, along with a
number of scenes depicting sexuality in explicit terms. In
the Foster-Christine-Gee subplot such a scene occurs
when Christine, who has suspected a liaison between the
disturbed Melda and some unknown man, watches the
house and sees someone enter:
Her hand trembled when she raised it to the
knob. Ashamed, she took her hand away. but
raised it again, almost at once. Once more she
lowered her hand. Instead of opening the door
she bent down and looked through the key
hole. Melda was sitting on the lap of a man.
her back turned towards the door. She sat
astride him like a rider on a horse, and though
she was fully clothed, her skirt was draped over
his knees. The gentle undulations of Melda's
body left Christine in no doubt as to what was
The two other scenes between Christine. Gee and Melda
present the physical details of sex even more fully.
However the emphasis on character and the character's
interpretation of the experience rob these scenes of
pornographic qualities. These moments are given no
greater importance in language or details of action than
other moments of everyday life. A fine balance is
maintained between the protagonists' view of themselves
and their accepted values. Violence and sexuality are
couched in language so terse and so poignant that all
gratuitous sensationalism is excluded. Thus Christine.
suddenly striking out at her insolent daughter Melda:
Christine did not answer. If only Melda had
not smiled. The bonds that connected them
from the night of the girl's birth until then
had snapped with that sneer. She felt she was
being consumed by the violent thoughts
racing through her head and was obliged to
close her eyes at the futility of her anguish.
Christine could hear her daughter brushing

her hair. Somehow, the thought of Melda
sitting in front of the mirror in her slip, pulling
the brush down on her hair as if nothing had
happened, infuriated her. She got up and
dashed inside. Later Christine was to declare
that she could remember nothing of her actions.
Snatching the brush from Melda's hand she
brought it down on her head and back several
times. Melda's arms were raised above her head
one moment and covering her face the next, until
she fell to the floor at her mother's feet. Only
then did Christine stop. Breathing heavily and
still holding the brush she sat down on the bed,
exhausted. She looked down at her daughter's
motionless figure, uncaring and unfrightened.
Recalling Foster's words about her gentleness
she let the brush drop to the floor.12
The understatement of this scene is typical. Heath neither
avoids the essence of a moment, nor does he inflate, repeat
sensational details or appear to interfere directly with the
reader's judgment of what is presented. Motivation and
psychological reaction are the main goals in this scene: the
mother's inchoate emotions exploding into action and
gesture, the conflict in Christine's own personality and her
confused view of Melda. The savagery of the punishment
inflicted on Melda is realized for us through the lens of
Christine's actions and feelings. We hear nothing from
Melda herself. The contrast of Christine's uncharacteristic
rage, her cold determination and the unexpectedness of
the attack on Melda (as unexpected for the mother as for
the pregnant girl), are the metaphors by which Melda's
physical and psychic pain are brought home to the reader.
The episode ends with Melda's miscarriage and nervous
collapse. Gossip goes around the street; Foster is shaken.
The sinister image of the river appears in the description
of Foster's stealthy, haunted journey to dispose of the
After making sure there are no one in the street
he walked down to the koker and threw the
bundle into the river. He then folded the bag
and dropped it in the murky water as well ...
a cat scurried across his path and sought refuge
in the yard of the Laundry. The water in the
Princess Street trench was lower than he had
ever seen it. The narrow bridge that crossed it
into the St. Philip's churchyard appeared
frail in the shadows and all around him was a
profound silence, the kind of stillness that
follows the howling of a dog late at night.'1
This passage seems innocent enough in context. The
spectral terrors it suggests are explainable in terms of
what had just happened in Foster's home. Neither he nor
Christine are portrayed as superstitious or even as
religious people. Nonetheless, the concrete details of river,
water, darkness and churchyard are part of a network of
ominous features recurring again and again in the world of
A Man Come Home. For the most part these omens seem
no more than aspects of the everyday world which may
appear sinister by association or in context. Heath
indulges in no specially imported symbolism to create an
atmosphere of subliminal terror. The authorial voice never
has anything to say about these details, and the
characters themselves rarely do. The network forms an
accompaniment counterpointing and reinforcing the
movement of the plot and the changing personalities of
the main figures.
Water, river, koker, trench, pool and rain make up a
major pattern in the network of omens. These are
supported by classical diabolic images of churchyard,

skull, tenebrous light and references to poltergeists,
hauntings and the violent death of children. From the
moment when Bird leaves Ada's house on that fateful
Sunday, the image of the river occurs as if by chance.
Again and again it is mentioned until finally the ghostly
presence of the Fairmaid, the Rivermaid of Guyanese
folklore, begins to take shape in the gossip surrounding
Bird. When Bird disappears Stephanie consults the
"card-cutter who lived in Adelaide Street opposite the
Burial Ground". The episode seems nothing more than the
desperate attempt of a simple girl seeking help from an old
money-grabbing charlatan. The card-cutter wants a
hundred dollars and Stephanie leaves in despair:
She showed her would-be client to the door
and closed it as she went out.
Across the trench were the endless rows
of grave-stones, which stretched as far as the
eye could see.
At the Sussex Street entrance to the
cemetery she and Bird used to stand for hours.
From far off she would see him sitting on the
bridge, waiting in the half light. Her house
was near by, and to come to him she often had
to climb out of the window and make her way
across a plank over the muddy trench.4"
The suggestions of infinity ("endless rows" "stretched as
far as the eye could see"), the emphasis on time past ("she
and Bird used to stand for hours" "from far off she would
see him") combine with the funerary images of dim light,
the crossing of a body of water, distance and grave-yard
to create an atmosphere of other worldly doom. These
features are partly echoed in the scene of Melda's
miscarriage referred to above. When Bird returns his
triumphal welcome (one of Heath's most vivid expositions
of range yard life) is juxtaposed with the lame, confusing
account of his absence which Bird gives Stephanie:
'Maisie did see you with a woman just
before you go away,' she managed to blurt out.
Bird reacted sharply to this observation. He
got up from the table and looked down at her.
'She see her face?' he asked nervously.
'H'm! ... Let me tell you something. Don't
talk about what you don't understand. It
not healthy,' he said. After pausing a few mo-
ments he continued, 'Go to the koker, when the
sluice gate open, and you going hear noises you
never hear before; and in the night ... She take
me there that night.15
The lonely silence by the river, the drizzling rain and the
cold of the night are all there with the barking dogs and
the indescribable face of the unknown woman. Stephanie
believes none of this; she is jealous, angry with Bird for
lying, tells him he stole the money, and is puzzled by his
new-found arrogance. When he tells her he knows how she
earned the hundred dollars for the card-cutter, she bursts
into tears. This is wholly explicable on the level of any
rational materialistic philosophy. During the description
of the welcome party we are casually informed that Bird is
wearing "... a gold chain, from which hung what appeared
to be a nugget, but on closer examination was seen to be
... a skull with deeply gouged-out eye sockets."
From this time on Bird and Stephanie begin to change.
The firm realism of Heath's presentation of range yard life
makes the gradual flow of interwoven changes all the more
credible. Friends, family, and acquaintances gradually
alter their attitudes to them both. "His home-coming had
brought with it pain and anxiety." The grand house in
Brickdam is the scene of misunderstandings, quarrels and

growing tension. There are cold winds which make the
gallery uninhabitable even though "the air blowing in
from the garden was warm." Stephanie takes no pleasure
in the expensive furnituree" which they acquire. In Bird
himself appears a suggestion of nameless fear at strange
variance with the flashy life he now shares with his best
friend Gee the baker. The parallel scenes dealing with the
Foster-Christine-Melda subplot enhance this atmosphere
of mystery and trouble by contrast and affinity in
Christine's nightmares, sonambulism and increasing guilt
towards her insane daughter.
The surface of the novel remains determinedly realistic.
Despite the recurrent diabolic theme the business of the
novel is firmly pegged into actuality. The dreams which
haunt Bird on the death of Ada's children, the anecdote of
the legacy that brings bad luck, his unexplained absences
and even the blood sacrifice at the card-cutter's house are
presented on the same level as the everyday activities of
the characters. Several possible levels of interpretation
become apparent, but no demands are made on the reader
to choose one or another. Bird alone could provide an
insight into the relationship of these levels and Bird (like
the author) remains silent. The tragedy of his life and his
relationship to Stephanie works itself out in terms of pure-
ly human frailty: his death is the culmination of the pro-
cess that has separated them and hurt them beyond hope.
The aftermath of his death reveals both Bird's humanity
and the utter mystery lying behind all the manifestations
of life. Each of the major characters reacts consistently:
Gee and Muriel plot to rob Foster of the money left him by
Bird, Stephanie in her loneliness takes Melda to live at
Brickdam with her, while Foster and Christine free them-
selves of Gee's sexual predations without even realising
the nature of his other interest in the Foster family. The
card-cutter migrates to Canada. Ada, Bird's favourite
sister, receives the greatest injury of all and suffers
disastrous consequences from Bird's life and death. The
strange, moving Epilogue to the novel deals with Ada
alone. It ends with the only authorial comment on the
events of the novel:
I have set out the account of the above
incidents as best I could, without enbellishment,
by way of an anthem for the living and the
dead. 6
This comes somewhat as a surprise in the sharply
realistic, satiric study of twentieth-century Guyan Only
at this point does the reader becomes conscious of the
careful preparation through diction, gesture, dialogue,
recurrent imagery and articulation of plot. A new light is
cast on the matter of the novel, bringing with it that deep
satisfaction of recognition and fulfilment:
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right [where every word is at
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,
An easy commerce of the old and new,
The common word exact without vulgarity,
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together]
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a
Every poem an epitaph."
The incredible rightness of every phrase and sentence
"where every word is at home" forms the special grace of
A Man Come Home. This is not merely a matter of a
polished style, control of language nor linguistic accuracy,

though these are involved. Nor is this haunting quality
derived from documentary authenticity or that self-
conscious reporting of working class life which is currently
fashionable as "commitment in West Indian art." As the
novel draws to its close this rightness is demonstrated in
the passage where Gee admits to himself his failure to
trick money out of Foster or to win Christine as his
mistress. The texture of his life, the life of the working
class urban poor in the range yards ofGeorgetown is set
out with the sensory firmness of hypnagogic experience:

His mind began to cloud over with images of
shadows and puddles as sleep overcame him. He
would, after all, finish his days in the range yard.
where he was born, where he learned his child-
hood games and the games older people played
as well. Here he had made his kites in April.
fashioned his spinning tops from okari seeds
and competed with his round glazed marbles in
the games of his district. Henceforth, the course
of his manhood was clear: when he was not
baking bread at night he would, naked from
the waist up, be looking through his window at
the goings-on on the door-steps or round the
standpipe, where the women gathered to wash
and gossip. On dark nights he would occasionally
trip over a discarded tyre and in the rainy
season when the waters from the gutter spilled
over into the yard he would have to pick his way
from stone to stone as if the stepping planks had
been moved by some thoughtless child.
The ghosts of white houses receded with the
images of tenements, long, into the long days
and nights that break like spring tide over the
wall. 1
Here are combined the levels of realistic and mystical
language which characterise the novel. The selection of
detail, the ryhthms of the diction and the complex
associations conjured in the mind compelled me to return
again and again to this passage. It brings out not only the
representative and individualistic quality of Gee's life. but
it works upon that universal sense of the nature of passing
time which lies at the root of human consciousness. In
artistry such as this A Man come Home becomes a
metaphor for our common human response to the
mutuable flowing of life.

1. Heath, A Man Come Home. Longmans. 1974. p. i
2. Op. cit. p. 4
3. Op. cit. p. 5
4. Op. cit. p. 6.
5. Op. cit. p. 7.
6. Op. cit. p. 8.
7. Ibid. p. 8
9. Op. cit. pp. 151-152.
10. Op. cit. pp. 69-70.
11. Op. cit. p. 64.
12. Op. cit. p. 36.
13. Op. cit. pp. 39-40. Koker is a Dutch word. it refers to tre si-:
gate and winch used to control tidal movement in the estuaries
of Guyana.
14. Op. cit. p. 30.
15. Op. cit. p. 44.
16. Op. cit. p. 156.
17. Eliot, T.S. Four Quartets. Faber & Faber. 1952. Little G:dd:r.g
pt. v, lines 1-12. pp. 42-43.
18. A Man Come Home, p. 146.


by Astlev Clerk

INTRODUCTION: This book was compiled from lectures
given at Edmondson Hall (Wesley Guild) on 19th
November 1913. and at Jamaica Institute (Kingston
Athaenum) on 15th December 1913: and was dedicated to
\\alter Jekyll Esq.. collector and editor of Jamaica Song
and Storyv.
The lectures were illustrated by Lantern Slides and
musical renditions, which have as far possible been
reproduced here as referenced figures.

0Tonio] "A word allow me.
Sweet Ladies and Gentlemen.
I pray you hear,
Why alone I appear:
I am the Prologue.'"
(Leoncavallo's Pagliacci. )

Interesting, indeed, but far more difficult than I ever
thought it would have proved, has been the preparation of
the subject which I have the honour and pleasure to lay
before you this evening.
Interesting, because from a lad local subjects have ever
appealed to me, and from a lad I was reared in an
atmosphere of music.
Difficult because the references to our music in any of,
or all, its branches, are very fragmentary and detached,
few and far between, here a little, there a little still I
took advantage of every available source of information on
which I could place my hands, and have been rewarded
with much useful knowledge. I could have gleaned much
more but that the richest source of supply the Institute
of Jamaica, which professedly, is in existence "for the
promotion of Literature, Science and Art" was, after a
certain point, practically closed to me. I have protested
against this treatment, privately, and through the
columns of the "Jamaica Times"' and I trust that my
protest will bear fruit, not alone for myself but for others
who, like myself, are desirous of pursuing our studies of
things local.
See Jamaica Times 16th Aug. 1913. 30th Aug. 1913. September
13 1913 P 14:2. . "A meeting of the Board of Governors with
Mr. William Cowper. M.A. in the chair was held yesterday week.
There were present: Messrs H.H. Dunn, T.H. MacDermot, H.G.
DeLisser and the secretary. The total membership was reported
...A pirtio, of a letter from Mr. Astley Clerk was read in which

We must bear in mind that with the exception of the
music and musical instruments of her aborigines, Jamaica
can lay claim to neither the one nor the other, for although
Sir Frederick Hymen Cowen was born in Kingston, at No.
90 Duke Street, he left our shores when a child of four.
never returned ard has never remembered Jamaica in his
writings, and so we have, not only no recognized
composers, but, those who have written have given us no
music which we can point to as distinctly Jamaican.
Nevertheless, under the title of this lecture I must include
the music and musical instruments, as far as we know
them, of those who, like the early settlers, Spaniards and
Africans, lived and died among us. those who, in fact.
have made us.
In reading the histories and works on Jamaica. I have
come to the conclusion that one must look elsewhere than
at home if ever we are to find the musical history of our
country -that the work can be done and satisfactorily
so, I am more than ever convinced, but the vague
references made by our historians, Spanish and English,
can serve but as the stepping stones towards the end. To
get at the structure, or as near the structure as possible, it
is necessary that we search outside of our shores among
the early records of our sister West Indian islands. -
amid the histories of the peoples of British Guiana.
Spain, and Africa then will we arrive at something
which will tell us definitely of the Music and musical
instruments of this island.
I would have liked to have given you, as far as I have
been able to find from the limited material at my disposal.
the histories, musical, or otherwise, (as far as the
enlightenment of my subject is affected.) of the peoples
who have inhabited Jamaica, dividing my remarks into, at
least eight chapters, thus:
1. The origin of the music and musical instruments
of our Aborigines.
2. Our Arawaks their music and musical
3. Spanish influence on Arawak music.

he pointed out the inconvenience which at present attended the
use of the W.I. Library. He suggested that a list should be pre-
pared showing what hooks could be borrowed from that section
and what books would not be allowed away from the premises. It
was decided to refer the matter to the Library Committee after
some members had expressed the opinion that something should
be done in the direction indicated."

4. The many tribes of Africa:
(a) How they were musically influenced by the
Arawaks and the Spaniards, and
(b) How they have influenced our later music.
5. The Maroons their music and musical
6. The English and their influence.
7. Other influences Caribbean, East Indian, etc.
8. General remarks.
But with the time I have set myself tonight I could not
do justice to such a programme and hence will not attempt
to try, but will confine myself to the fringe of my subject
- nevertheless the information which I will place before
you, although not as full as I intend to make it at some
future date, will prove of interest to you and will enable
you to pass away an hour pleasantly, and, I trust,
It would become rather monotonous if I were to
continue naming the sources of my information, especially
as several of them repeat in almost the same words, so I
will here once and for all acknowledge my indebtedness to
Bernaldez, Coke, Thomas, Lewis, Stewart, Irving,
Harris, and many others.


"Kalembi"; being a collection of well-known Jamaican
Airs, arranged for the Pianoforte by the English
Composer, Charles Salaman, orchestrated by J. Graydon,
Conductor of the Astley Clerk Orchestra, and played by
the Astley Clerk Orchestra.
Las Casas, the first Bishop of the Indies realizing
that the gentle and numerous people whom the Spaniards
had found inhabiting this land at the time of discovery
were decreasing in numbers with alarming rapidity, done
to death by the uncalled for and unprovoked cruelties of
his countrymen, in the gentleness of his heart and with the
ernest desire to save them from utter extinction gy ve his
sanction to the Slave Trade, which had been started in the
newly discovered Spanish Colonies with Royal permission
some 20 years after the discovery, being extended to
Jamaica and so in 1517 we find the first vessel arriving
from Africa with a cargo of slaves. This traffic in human
flesh was continued by the English after the conquest,
until 1807, for their own benefit much money being
remitted to England as the result of the trade. The slaves
brought to Jamaica and sold in Jamaica, for Jamaica was
unfortunately the West Indian Emporium of the
Slave-traders, were obtained from the West Coast of
Africa and included representatives of the Mandingo,
Coromantee, Papaw or Whidaw, Eboe, Congo, Angolo,
and other tribes.
The songs of our early African inhabitants have been
classed as sad, set in a minor key. But is it any wonder
that they were sad when it is remembered that the native
African and other slave raiders never considered family
ties that the people were torn from all they loved and
brought so far away from home and country that they
Kalembi, fantasia on
National songs of Jamaica
dedicated to his Jamaican friends London, Matzler & Co.
Presented to WIRL by Astley Clerk Esq. May 4, 1939.

realized that there was never an opportunity of returning.
As slaves in their own native Africa an opportunity was
often found of going home again, but with oceans
separating them they realized that return was impossible,
and like the Jewish captives as they sat, harp in hand by
the waters of Babylon, their songs were the
looking-glasses of their saddened spirits. I do not suppose
that any of these captives were ever given the opportunity
of bringing from Africa any of their native instruments -
if they had them in possession at the time of capture and
were even permitted to start with them they must soon
have been taken away by their captors as so much un-
necessary luggage, or thrown away by themselves when
the flesh became too weak for even its own carriage, and I
doubt if any instruments ever got as far as the slave ships.
But their songs, the songs which they had heard their
fathers and mothers, sisters, brothers and countrymen
sing from the days of their infancy, these no man could
take away from them; these were planted deep down in
their hearts and memories these were hushed at the
time of capture, but, human-like, found voice again in
their hour of misery as they lay huddled in the scant space
of the slave-ship and those of them who survived, not
alone the perils the sea, but the far greater inhumanity of
Man, and arrived on our shores, remembered their native
songs and would sing them after their hour of toil, only
adding to them the bitterness of the soul in Captivity is
it any wonder then that the songs of our early African
settlers are characterized as sad and mournful? They had
every inducement to make them so.
Unfortunately our early English historians paid almost
as little attention to the music of the people they had
around them as did their Spanish confreres to that of the
aborigines, and consequently the examples of song
handed down to us are few and far between. Take, for
instance, three illustrations preserved to us by Sloane,
which demonstrate the characteristics of three of the
tribes already referred to: No. 1 A Whydaw Song -
which will be played on the the Flute: No. 2 An Angola
Song which the violin and cornet will now render, No. 3
- A Koromanti Song, sung by the fierce and warlike
Coromontyns, and which the cornet will now illustrate,
[Fig. 1].

%L i R 'Lcsm
twrc -Rt tL- aL&LoAF^w^G :

I7 \11
^(E^^ a^TIM^

~ttL a VA-CA.. +~d~ lr
_____~ ~\t CLFe d cM~e

WW y5

-0 10


d lo, fA NUY~I~.o .a Sal",--

FUIg .trLLt b'cA. 1 LA-tFro te acrt WIR

toawN 'd ; e aicdhtoc doe

The M..t... oe Sl .b

-Fig.- Fm the original manuscript

The words to the second of these songs are

to discover but you will have noticed that it was intended
to be sung with an instrumental accompaniment which
was played for us by the Cornetr and during which the
singers clapped their hands and cried "Alla, Alla."
The Mr. Baptiste who obliged Sloane by setting these
quite correct thing as several inaccuracies are noticeable,
but we Fi of the prn ay m e oinal to manc that th(WL e

somewhat strange that as he was writing song-music he
The words to the second of these songs are
"Hobaognion"; the meaning of which I have been unable

to discover but you will have noticed that it was intended
anto be sung with an instrumental accompaniment which
was played for us by the Comerit, and during which the
singers clapped their hands and cried "Alna, Alia."
The Mr. Baptiste who obliged Sloane by setting these
three songs to music, has, I am afraid not given us the
quite correct thing as several inaccuracies are noticeable,
but we of the present day must be only too glad that there
is anything preserved to us of 200 years ago. It is
somewhat strange that as he was writing song-music he
did not fill in all the words needed for the first and third
airs. In the latter we notice in the second part of a peculiar
change in time and in the third portion of it the
syncopation, called by the Americans "Rag-time" which
is characteristic even today of African Music. The
"Mordent" which is met with several times in this song
was, I believe, used by the copyist, (Mr. Baptiste) not in
the musical sense it is generally accepted, but only to
draw the attention of the player to the fact that time or
key was about to be changed, or that the balance of a bar
would be found on the next staff.
Our early African settlers brought also with them their
dance and funeral songs, rude music, specimens of which I

will trouble our Flutist and Violinist to illustrate in the
order I have named. (No. 4, Dance Music, was here
illustrated by the Flute, and No. 5, a funeral song, by the
Violin. [Fig. 2]

4L vt-7 t+ 1

its wild and melancholy melody, the spirit of which has
been sowel interpreted by Mr. Lewis, is strikingly

and so long as the music alone is played these notes are
passable, but the moment the uncultivated voice picks
them up they become an unbearable shriek. I doubt if they
were ever sung in the high keys they are written in by
their preservers, the latter knew little of music and would
write the air in any key that came first to hand.
Nevertheless we owe a great debt of gratitude to them for
having saved them for us it is something which comes
to us out of the blackness of a darkness of which we long
to know more.
In those far days of the 18th Century our people sang
among the cane fields, not in the tongue you and I sing
today, but, in their own native languages; yet their
manner of singing was similar to that of our labourers of
to-day, when, for instance, you see them coaling a ship, or
loading bananas. The song, often melodious, and
sometimes not, was then, as it is at the present time,
devoid of poetry in words or image; it was simple,
childlike, usually impromptu, composed on the spur of the
These soloists have been compared the improvisatori or
In all extempore illubards of Italy wandered, ancient Britaink No. Despite th
dark cloud of slavercholy which overshadowed their lives and
to eenhich, as I said before, had been attributed much of therikingly
beautiful, you will have noticed a to be found stinging their music,
these people of 200 odd years ago express played these notes are

much light-heartedness, derision and ridicule.
Some writers give moment the uncultivated voice picksng good
voies, others flatly come an unbearabledict such statements. I doubt is after
all but were ever sung in the high keys they are written in by
theirand all judges of the lattformer knwclass give of music and would
to-day credit for in any key that came first to hand
Neverit be gainsaid that they are or all classes in our midst,hem for
having saved them for us it is something which comes
to us out of the blackness of a darkness of which we long
to know more.
In those far days of the 18th Century our people sang
among the cane fields, not in the tongue you and I sing
today, but, in their own native languages; yet their
manner of singing was similar to that of our labourers of
to-day, when, for instance, you see them coaling a ship, or
loading bananas. The song, often melodious, and
sometimes not, was then, as it is at the present time,
devoid of poetry in words or image; it was simple,
childlike, usually impromptu, composed on the spur of the
moment, and descriptive of what had happened lately, or
what they had just learned or seen. The women did most
of the singing, one leading off with a couple of lines, the
others repeating, usually the last line, in full chorus.
These soloists have been compared to the improvisatory or
extempore bards of Italy and ancient Britain. Despite the
dark cloud of slavery which overshadowed their lives and
to which, as I said before, had been attributed much of the
melancholy and sadness to be found tinging their music,
these people of 200 odd years ago expressed in their songs
much light-heartedness, derision and ridicule.
Some writers give them credit for possessing good
voices, others flatly contradict such statements. It is after
all but a matter of opinion musical vs. non-musical -
and all judges of the former class give our negroes of
to-day credit for having exceptionally, good voices, nor can
it be gainsaid that they are, or all classes in our midst,

undoubtedly the possessors of the best voices and as
they have had no training, it goes for the saying that their
gift is hereditary.
How many of the folk songs which Mr. Walter Jekyll
has preserved for us in his unique book, "Jamaica Song
and Story", are of ancient, and how many of more modern
days, I am at present not prepared to say, for the question
needs earnest study, study which I have not yet given it. I
have called Mr. Jekyll's book, "unique", and so it is in the
musical history of Jamaica, and for this reason it is the
only work treating of our music in any of its branches -
he has delved deep and given us a wonderful collection. To
Mr. Jeykll musical Jamaica owes an unpayable debt of
gratitude, and I take this opportunity of acknowledging
our indebtedness to him for his exhaustive, valuable and
masterly treatise. [Fig. 3].
Why is it that we can find in the few well-known
folksongs of the past, no trace of that religious spirit
which is now so characteristic of our peasantry? And in
reply I would suggest that its absence can be attributed to
the fact that not only did the singers of these songs come
from a heathen country, but what was of more far

fiddle tryingg till it catch fire, an' Toad is to blow the
flute as hard as he can, an' he will be reading the
An' he start like this:-

The bands a roll, the bands a roll, the bands a

roll, a go to Mount Si-ney. S lem is Zakki-

low, Some a we da go to Mount Si-ney.
An' when Annancy get home he made a bargain with
his tree friend that he is going to baptize them an' let
Crab see.
CAn when he baptize them, Crab they were very glad
to see this treat which Annancy do to his tree friend,

Now the colour question crops up again. The Sambo
lady, it may be remembered, wanted a white man and
nothing but a white man. Sarah can do with a Sambo
man, from which we may infer that Sarah was black.

Oh me know Sa rah, me know Sa rah Sa rah love white

man, me know Sa rah ; Sa-rah want Sambo man, me know Sa-

ra Sa b no want black man, me know Sa rah.
rah ; Sa rah no want black man, meknowSa rah.

Jekyll, Walter, Jamaican song and story: annancy stories, digging
songs, ring tunes and dancing tunes, collected and edited by Walter
Jekyll... New York, Dover Publications Inc., 1966. (Original ed. 1907).
Contains annotated music. Reference made by Clerk to the following
songs in Jeykll -

reaching consequence, they came to an unchristianised
land. Our landed proprietor was in a worse condition than
his benighted slave the latter knew nothing of religion;
the former had learnt it is Christian England, but to suit
his convenience had deliberately put it aside and
permitted himself to sink into grosser darkness than that
known to his slaves, and consequently, although the
clergy and churches were in their midst, he would not have
his human chattels know of that which alone can uplift
Man. The majority of the clergy of the day were as
morally bad as the ordinary planter and thought only of
their pockets and pleasure. Some who endeavoured to do
their duty and uplift the slave population were, through
the influence of the planters, cast into prison, or otherwise
persecuted. Still, if there were no religious element in their
songs, field and home life were portrayed, and if Jamaica
had possessed, like America, a George L. White,
Afro-Jamaican airs would have been known to us today.
I have endeavoured to trace in the melodies preserved to
us by Mr. Jekyll, and which he obtained from among the
peasantry of the Port Royal Mountains only, anything
akin to the beautiful Plantation songs of the American

2nd Figure.

Rise a roof in the morn-ing, Rise a roof in the

mom-ing; Tell all the nig- ger them to come, come, come,

Rise a roof in the morning. The Monkeyand the Baboon them was

sit-ting on the wall, Rise a roof in the morn-ing;

I an' my wife can not a gree, Rise a roof in the

A few years ago Jamaica boasted of water as effica-
cious as that of Mecca in the opinion of some people.
It seems to have lost its repute in these sceptical days:-
4tk Figure.

Dip them, Mis te Bed ward, dip them,

Dipthemin the heal-ing stream; Some come with jack-ass, me


It says much for the expertness of the dancers that
they can fit the same steps to tunes of such varying
accent as the two last examples present. Here is another

p. ri Ine oanas a rou
No. 83 song with solo and chorus parts 'Me know Sarah'
No. 129, p. 226 -'Rise a roof in the morning'
No. 140 p. 235 'Dip dem Mister Bedward'

negroes, and from his two hundred specimens have found
a few, four of which I will sing to you as they appear in
"Jamaica Song and Story":-
On page 71 we have one of a distinctly sacred character:
(air sung).
No. 83, page 182, is with its solo and chorus parts a
good example: (air sung).
No. 129, page 226, is in swing and tune,
characteristically like the American songs in question: (ait
While No. 140, page 235, is well known to all of us: (air
In tune, if not in sanctity of words, these examples are
certainly very similar to the American Plantation or
well-known Jubilee Songs.
Are they pure Jamaican, or have they got their impress
from Plantation Songs? is a question that needs study
before it is answered.


"Bamboula" [West Indian airs, arranged for the piano by
S. Coleridge-Taylor. Op. 59. No. 8, and played by Mr. J.
When I was asked to lecture on our subject tonight I
determined to obtain samples of those African
instruments used in Jamaica, or, failing these, pictures by
which Icould illustrate with the help of the lantern, but I
have been keenly disappointed, in that I have failed to
procure the realities and but a very few of the pictures.
Iwrote here and there in the country to those whom I
thought could help me to obtain the instruments, but one
and all replied, "No old time African instruments to
be found nor can we get any one to describe them to us".
Nor could I find an illustration, and but two likely
descriptions, among the few books on Western Africa on
which I was able to put my hands, which would lead me to
think that there was any similarity between the
Jamaica-African instruments and those of West Africa. I
would not suppose that the people who came from Africa,
brought here by both Spanish and English, had so
forgotten how their native musical instruments were made
as to make others totally unlike those they were
accustomed to see from the days of their childhood the
materials here might have been somewhat different, but
the remembered ideas must have been the same I can
but imagine that I did not get hold of the right books. As
a rule Missionaries are usually correct and minute in their
records of what they see and hear in foreign fields. But I
was not able to come across one such volume written by
any of the first missionaries to West Africa. My task,
however, if I may call this pleasure a task, is but just
begun, and I do trust that my future investigations will
give me good results for my toil.
The instruments used by our Jamaica-Africans were of
four classes (1) Percussion, (2) Wind, (3) String, (4)
Nondescript sub-divided thus:

Percussion drums IString Rough guitars, etc.
Wind flutes INon-descript rude instruments.

Among African tribes of the past and present the drum
is the most important, and among some tribes the only
musical instrument, hence we are not surprised to learn
that it was the favourite instrument among the Jamaica-
Africans. It was, however, long prohibited by our
authorities from a fear that, as it was the instrument
principally used in African warfare, it might incite the
slaves similarly in Jamaica2, and, at one time, if any of
them dared to beat a drum, and the attention of the
Government was called to it, his owner was condemned to
pay a monetary fine of nearly 10.
Drums, varied considerably in shape, size, etc.,
according to tribal fashion. For instance, there was the
Gumbie, a barrel-shaped drum, some six feet in length,
made out of pieces of hollow trees and the Goombah, a
hollow block of wood; and the Goombay, a rustic drum
formed of the trunk of a hollow tree. They were, of course,
all covered with skins, goat or sheep. The lengthy
Gumbie, and I have reason to believe that this drum
corresponds to the "tenti" or "kin kasi" used in Africa by
the Fantees, as in description they are closely alike, was
carried by one man, and, on account of its length, beaten
by the open hand of another.
The skin of the Goombah was struck by one player with
a stick and gave forth a terrific sound while a second
player holding, in both hands a stick about six inches in
length and with a knife-like edge on one end, drew it
alternately, now with the one hand now with the other,
from opposite sides, across a notched piece of wood, laid
across the full length of the drum, using both hands
briskly for this purpose.
Then there was the Gumbay, [Fig. 4] a "box" or
"bench" drum, a small square wooden frame, over which

Detail from "Band of the Jaw-bone John-Canoe". Belisario, I.M.
Sketches of Character, in illustration of the habits occupation and
costume of the Negro Population in the Island of Jamaica ... Kingston,
The Artist 1837. (WIRL)

"Bamboula" West Indian Airs
One line only of music is given in the Clerk manuscript p. 69. A copy
of the arrangement has not been located in WIRL. Grove's Dictionary
of Music and musicians gives the following:
'Bamboula (1) a Negro drum; (2) a Negro dance accompanied by such a
drum. Both originated in the West Indies. Coleridge-Taylor wrote a
'rhapsodic dance" for orchestra, Op. 75, entitled 'La Bamboula'.

2.In fact, at the time of the Morant Bay rising, the drum was used
as a means to incite. According to Commander Pim, the following
proclamation of Paul Bogle was found dated the day after
Governor Eyre considered the insurrection at an end: "Morant
Bay October, 1865.
"Blow your shells! roule your drums, etc."

goat's skin was tightly drawn. This was struck sharply
several times in quick succession with the one hand, and
once only with the other, it had very little vibration and
consequently the sound was exceedingly monotonous. The
similarity of names, gumbie, goombah, goombay, and
gumbay, given to these four drums led me at first to
believe that they were one or the same instruments whose
name had been incorrectly spelt by those mentioning
them, but their description soon undeceived me.
Lady Nugent, wife of Governor Nugent, describes, from
actual sight, another drum, but gives it no name, made of
bark leaves, and played with two sticks the only
instance recorded in which two (drums) sticks were used
to beat a drum, so that it must have been constructed
somewhat differently to the others already described.
There was also the Cotter, made something like a mortar
of rough, hard wood, beaten by sticks, and played, I have
no doubt, by the Cotterwoods, another tribe of
Then we are told, by three writers only, of a drum called
the Dundo, and their description is brevity itself I give
their words in chronological order. One says,"the dundo is
precisely the Tabor" another, "the Dundo is merely a
Tabor" and a third, the "Dundo may be described as a
kind of Tabor". As I desired to illustrate the Dundo I tried
hard to get a picture of the Tabor of 1790, or thereabouts,
but met with no success. However, Groves, well known in
Jamaica as the builder of the Morant Bay Light House, in
his Dictionary of music, describes the tabor as a
diminutive drum, without snares, hung by a short string
to the waist or left arm, and tapped with a small
drum-stick, and commonly used along with the Pipe.3

The only wind-instrument that was used, as far as I can
discover, was the Coromantee Flute, so named after the
wild and fierce Coromantyn tribe. Whether or not this
people knew this flute in their native Africa, I know not,
but if they did they certainly could not have made it from
the Trumpet Tree stems, as this tree is not indigenous to
any part of Africa. The one writer, you must not forget
that my researchers were limited to a few writers, who
describes it, thought so highly of this instrument that I
make no apology for reproducing his words in extenso: -
"The Caramantee flutes are made from the porus branches
of the trumpet tree, (Trumpet Tree stems shown), are
about a yard in length, and of nearby the thickness of the
upper part of a bassoon: they have generally three holes at
the bottom; are held, in point of direction, like the
hautboy; and while the right hand stops the holes, in the
left is shaken a hollow ball which is filled with pebbles. I
have frequently heard these flutes played in part; and I
think the sounds they produce are the most affecting as
they are the most melancholy, that I ever remembered to
have heard. The high notes are uncommonly wild, but yet
are sweet; and the lower tones are deep, majestic and
impressive. Upon the dejected mind, and particularly at
night, they have a very tender and affecting influence,
insomuch, that hypochondriac dispositions will be
sensibly softened, if not entirely overcome, by their
intonations. The Caramantee flutes might, in solemn
strains, particularly in choruses, be made to produce a
most tender and sublime expression. No sounds can be
more pathetically sweet, more sentimentally elevated, or
3. An interesting account with examples of drum telegraphy, as
practised by the Ekoi and other tribes of Africa, is given in Talbot's
"In the Shadow of the Bush," (1912 Ed.) pages 298-302.
Mungo Park in his "Travels in the Interior of Africa (1799 Ed.),
tell us that the Drum imitates the sound of certain Mandingo
sentences, and gives examples (see also Note 1).

more exquisitely deep; and I cannot help thinking that, in
point of tone, it surpasses any single instrument with
which I am acquainted." High appreciation this and
yet, today, where is the Caramantee flute?
I have not referred to the bamboo flutes as they are of a
later date, but I will show you the instrument (Bamboo
Flute shown) and ask our flutist to play a Jamaican
School Song on it to demonstrate its usefulness and sweet
[No.6 of Jamaica School Songs, played on Bamboo Flute. ]
In stringed instruments they appeared to have had a
fair variety, made of wood or gourds. Of the latter, as far as
I have been able to discover, we have no descriptions, but
Sloane has left us a picture which will now be thrown on
the screen. [Fig. 5]

Sloane, Hans. A Voyage to the islands Madera ... and Jamaica ... to
which is prefixed an introduction wherein is an account of the
inhabitants, air, water diseases, trade ... London, printed by the B.M.
for the author, 1707.
p.x. Iviii
'They (the Negroes) have several sorts of instruments in imitation of
Lutes, made of small Gourds fitted with necks, strung with Horse hairs,
or the peeled stalks of climbing Plants or Withs. These Instruments are
sometimes made of hollow's Timber covered with Parchment or other
skin wetted, having a Bow for its Neck, the Strings ty'd longer or
shorter, as they would alter their sounds. The Figures of some of these
instruments are hereafter graved. They have likewise in their Dances
Rattles ty'd to their legs and Wrists, and in their hands, with which
they make a noise, keeping time with one who makes a sound answering
it on the mouth of an empty Gourd or Jar with his Hand. Their Dance
consist in great activity and strength of Body, and keeping time, if it
can be. They very often tie Cows Tails to their Rumps and add such
other odd things to their Bodies in several places, as gives them a very
extraordinary appearance'.
This illustration suggests that the gourd referred to, might have been a
hollow squash rather than a calabash.

In the few short explanatory words which accompany
this picture, he tells us that numbers 1 and 2 are fiddles
used by the Indians and Negroes made out of gourds of
various kinds which are hollowed out and covered with
skin while number 3 is also a fiddle made out of an
oblong piece of wood hollowed out and covered with skins.
As far as the illustration tells us, we find that fiddles
number 1 and 2 each had two strings only, while number 3
seems to have been provided with 8 or 10. No tuning pegs

are to be seen on any of them. It follows, therefore, that
the strings were made taut by hand-stretching, and
secured by "jamming" them, as was done in ancient
Egypt, and as is still done in Burmah. It is more than
possible that these were the instruments which
accompanied the Angola singers whose song the violin
and cornet illustrated a while ago. And as the picture is
before you, I may say that Sloane also states that number
4 is the stalk of a climbing bush used as strings for
musical instruments it is however strange that this
author omitted to name the "bush".
Stringed instruments made of wood were of various
kinds, if we are to go by the names and descriptions, brief
as the latter often were. Besides the "fiddles" shown you a
while ago, there were also, the Bangil, which a writer of
1740 considers to be not much unlike the lute of his time
in anything but the music. The "ever delightful" Banjar
was a coarse and rough kind of guitar. The Banjour,
which, it is conjectured, derived its name from a French
word, has little to do with the Banjo of today. There was
also a stringed instrument called the Bender, probably so
named because it was made of a stick bent bow-shaped
and kept thus by a slip of dried grass. [Fig. 6] The upper
part was gently squeezed between the lips and as the player's
breath came in contact with the grass a soft and pleasing
vibration was produced the other or lower end was
graduated by a thin stick which the player pressed to the
string a little below his mouth and which, continues one
writer, 'beats upon the nerve, if I may so express it, and
confines the natural acuteness of the sound, and thus

* N


Steadman, J.G. Narrative of a five years' expedition against the
revoluted Negroes of Surinam in Guiana on the Wild Coast of South
America; from the year 1771 to 1777 ... London, J. Johnson, 1813.

together produce a trembling, a querulous and delightful
harmony.' After this panegyric, it is rather disappointing
to learn, from other sources, that, in tone, the Bender
resembled the Jew's Harp. Despite this knowledge of its
tone, so highly did the writer from whom I have been
quoting, an Englishman, appreciate the Bender that he
continues: "The notes of the Bender, with its wild and
various modulation, might I think, be introduced in solo
parts, into some of our lighter symphonies and airs, or
perhaps have a pleasing effect if played behind the scenes
and to fill up some of the pauses of the accompanied
The Bender is, without doubt, the same instrument
described and illustrated by Stedman in his "Surinam"
and by Capt. Mockler-Ferryman in "Up the Niger". The
former writer, from whom my illustration is copied, tells
us that this instrument is called the "Benta" by the
Negroes of Surinam, while the latter gives us the local
African name "To". Beckford, from whom my description
of the Bender is taken, tells us that it was one of the
musical instruments of the Whydaw tribe of Africans, and
yet Duncan, writing some 69 years later of his travels in
West Africa, and although he describes a rude sort of
drum, to which I have already referred, used by the same
people, makes us to understand that music was scarcely
known among the tribe.
Last, but not least, among the strings, was the
Merrywang or Banja, an instrument which seems to have
greatly puzzled our historians to describe, for one calls it
"a variety of the banjo", another says it is "a rustic


Descriptions of musical instruments, Vol. II p. 296-298. For
illustrations of these including illustration of the benta or bender see
plate facing p. 296 (item 14).

guitar," while a third mentions it as "an imperfect kind of
violincello". It was made from a large sized calabash
(large calabash shown), a portion of which was cut away,
and over the bigger section a dried bladder or skin was
stretched. It had a neck, or finger board, which was richly
ornamented with rude carvings and ribbons. How many
strings it had we are not told, but it was played with the
fingers and was capable of producing only four notes, and
I am inclined to believe that, like the violincello, it was a
bass instrument.

And then come the instruments, if instruments they can
be called, which I have named non-descripts the
Jenkoving, which was really two jars with medium-sized
mouths over which the performers brought down their
hands the Kitty-Katty, or any flat piece of board on
which they beat with two sticks.
Rattles, or boxes, or small sized calabashes (small
calabash shown) filled with pebbles or Indian Shot seeds,
(Indian shot seeds shown); sometimes these Rattles were
given a handle and were then shaken by the hand of the
performer; at other times they were tied to their wrists, or
legs, and as they danced or sung made a noisy
And last of all the instruments I have been able to trace
were two jagged sticks called Rookaw.
On the whole, you will agree with me that the greater
portion of the musical instruments mentioned were
decidedly primitive. And yet we of today cannot afford to
scoff at, or deride these undoubtedly rudely constructed
and queer looking instruments of which we have been
hearing tonight, for it is from just such beginnings that
the present day, and almost perfect, musical instruments
of the World have descended. I have no doubt that if the
evolution of certain instruments was studied you will find
that the world owes something to the instruments of

The Arawak, the Spaniard, and the Negro -
representatives of three great continents America,
Europe, Africa are three of the races which have
peopled Jamaican, and the mixture of these three ha s given
us the Maroon, one of the most interesting of the
inhabitants of the Queen of the Antilles. I am tempted to
linger here and talk more of this people, their origin, life,
customs, etc., but time passes and I must hurry on to that
which will interest you the more.
Of the musical life of the Maroons, who are yet in our
midst, even less is known, strange to say, than that of the
Arawaks. One reason for this is that the Maroons are a
very difficult people to reach, being of a selfish disposition
and very reticent. We know, however, that they have an
instrument their national instrument, if I may so term
it a horn, called the Abeng, but no one has discovered
its origin. It will be interesting to note here that horns
have been used by different nations and peoples, as
musical instruments, especially for war purposes, from
time immemorial. The Hebrews also, had, and still have, a
Sacred Temple Horn, made in the early days, of, it is
supposed, the horn of. the wether, and called the
"Schofar". The Maroon Abeng is made from a cow's horn
and so I may safely assert that it does not come from the
aborigines, as the cow was introduced into Jamaica by the
Spaniards a little while after the year 1509. [Fig. 7]. It
may be the dream of Some Spanish instrument which the
Arawaks knew, and which their Spanish descendants and

Fig. 7 The ABENG (Institute of Jamaica'

African allies, as refugees, transformed into its present
condition; or it may be an improvement on the horns used
in far Africa. Let me describe it: It is made of eight or nine
inches of the small end of the horn of the cow sufficient
of the tip is take off to leave a hole about the size of a pea.
On the concave side of the horn, and close to the smaller
end, an oblong opening or mouth hole is made: this
opening is about a quarter of an inch wide by about one
inch long. This method of placing the mouth piece on the
side, and not at the extremity, is obtained by the Maroons
from the Africans, among whom, and in their native land.
this construction is commonly used for instruments of the
trumpet class it is also an excellent illustration of how
one people is influenced by another. To produce the sound.
the lips are placed to the oblong opening and the thumb
then covers the hole in the tip, the opening and closing of
which gives a variation of about a tone. The Maroons have
a regular code of signals for the Abeng which is never
divulged to any but their own people. The sound has been
described as a penetrating horrid blast: this. however.
may be sheer prejudice, similar to that which many people
manifest towards the Scotch bagpipe, and its. to me.
delicious drone.
Like the inhabitants of Africa with their wonderful
telegraphic drum system, the initiated Maroon can. ever.
at far distances, understand the information conveyed by
the Abeng.
They are excessively proud of the Abeng. In reply to
questions put by Lady Edith Blake, the wife of one of our
former Governors, the Maroons told her no one but a
Maroon could blow this instrument, and they never had to
learn it for it was "in their blood" to blow it -
unquestionably a bit of very pardonable conceit.
Today, in addition to the Abeng. the Maroons, at least
those resident on the North side of the Island. use a drum:
and a Toombah, (Toombah [Fig. 8] shown) a large piece of
the Trumpet Tree, hollowed out, and three strings
stretched across, and pieces of metal in place of shells, strung

MT-- .7

French Set Girls [Detail from Belisario]

"They have their Queen and allow male companions to
join in their dances during which, two drums or
"Tamboos" are played...
They are formed of barrels, having both ends taken out,
and a parchment of goat's skin strained over them. A
fiddlestring, with several pins, and pieces of quill stuck on
it, is affixed across the drum; these produce a buzzing
sound on coming in contact with the parchment during the
vibration of the sane The player sits on the instrument'
Toombah, Tamboo
Cassidy, Frederick G. Jamaica Talk. London, Macmillan
& Company Limited for the Institute of Jamaica, 1961.
p. 265-266. "Besides these there was one very much larger
which Sloane described but did not name evidently
what is today a toombah or tambu. Sloane wrote of two
types of stringed instruments: gourds with necks, strung
with horsehair [no doubt the banjo], and 'a hollow'd
timber covered with Parchment', having a bow for its
neck, the strings tied longer or shorter. The recent
description by Clerk is fuller:
Today ... the Maroons ... use a drum; and a Toombash, a
large piece of the Trumpet Tree, hallowed out, and three
strings stretched across, and pieces of metal in place of
shells, strung on each side. The Toombah is a variety of th
banjo, guitar, and tambourine, and may probably be the
Tabor of the Arawaks.

The word tabor can hardly be the source of toombah [if
that was what Clerk intended]; tabor has become an
English word long before the discovery of America.
Toombah is undoubtedly cognate with tumba, or else a
loan-word from Cuba, in the eastern part of which a tumba
is a drum, and a dance, of African origin. The large
hollowed resonance-chamber of the Jamaican toombah
covered with skin gives it some similarity to a drum, and
permits the transfer of the name to it.
Another word, tambu, is said to mean among the Maroons
a rumba box; a Cuban drum; or when many come
together. From a second source comes 'tambus, holidays'.
Despite the difference in form, tambu seems to be closely
related to tumba; it refers to a similar instrument [note
the associations with the Jamaican Maroons and with
Cuba]; and from this basic sense it has been extended to
mean a gathering of people on festive occasions i.e.,
holidays through the use of the musical instrument at
such time. I suspect not only that some onomatopoetic
African word underlies tumba, which has its Spanish form
from Cuba, but that tumba represents French tambour,
drum in short, that the African name for the
instrument has been adapted to various European
languages in the Caribbean islands. [On the other hand,
tumba and tambu could be simple metathetic forms.]"

on each side. The Toombah is a variety of the banjo, guitar,
and tambourine, and may probably be the Tabor of the
Lady Nugent, writing in 1882, says that the Maroon
"band was composed of all sorts of rude instruments,
neither very musical nor with much variety of cadence.
The Caramantee flute is a long black reed, has a plaintive
and melancholy sound and is played with the nose"! If the
last instrument was the same as that elsewhere described,
and I presume it must be, then the manner of playing it
was quite unlike the natural method adopted by the

Afro-Jamaicans. However, from the description, I am
inclined to believe that this Governor's wife mistook a
band of African musicians for Maroons, or that the latter
people were using African instruments, which latter
surmise is not at all difficult to accept, as the Maroons
have, as I have already stated, not only Arawak and
Spanish, but a great deal of African blood in their veins.
When in 1554, the Maroons refused to continue in
serfdom and joined the remnant of Arawaks living in the
Caves and Mountain fastnesses of this Island, they soon
learned the Indian tunes, and today many of the airs sung
by the former, and which are said to be of African origin
are undoubtedly Arawak Areytoes.

Gumbie Goombah Goombay Gumbay
Bantu Ngoma = general term for a membrane drum.
Cf. also Kongo Nkumbi = drum.
"This drum is used when libations of blood are being poured out at the
grave of great hunter. It has a notched rib near the mouth; a stick is
moved rapidly along the notches and thus gives out a sound" (Bentley.
W. Holman, Dictionary and Grammar of the Kongo Language. London,

The term Ngoma appears to have an assortment of meanings in various
Bantu languages, but the most widely used meaning is "drum". Among
the Wanyamwezi of North Central Tanzania, Ngoma = special drum
used in most of their religious ceremonials. By inference, the term Ngoma
also serves to mean "secret society or "cult". This drum is described as
being a long tubular membranophone, about 5'/2 feet tall. It is hit with
the flat of both hands.

The Venda of Northern Transvaalalso use the Ngoma, described as a
single-head drum with a hemispheral resonator carved out of solid wood.
It is beaten with a stick.

Thus the physical appearance of the Ngoma varies from one ethnic group
to the next; this parallels to a certain extent the differences between
gumbie goombah goombay gumbay noted by Clerk and is no
doubt explained by the fact that the term Ngomc is generic rather than
(See B. Dietz and M.B. Olatunji, Musical Instruments of Africa, N.Y.
P. Kirby, The Musical Instruments of the Native Races of south Africa
Johannesburg 1968.
R. Brandel, The Music of Central Africa, The Hague, 1973).

Cf. Ewe adond6 = small drum
Yoruba dundun = kind of drum. This same drum is also called donno and
is described as a double-headed closed drum. It is suspended from the left
shoulder by a wide strap, tucked under the arm and played with a
drumstick shaped like a crane's bill (Dietz and Clatunji, pg. 36).
Hausa 'dundufa = long, narrow drum
Cf. Twi .benta
This seems to be basically the same instrument described as
dulcimer-type chordophones or musical bows characteristic of various
Bantu groups of Central Africa and of groups of West Africa.
Cf. Bandju = term used by the Bajandi of Central Africa to refer to a
type of zither with a gourd resonator attached beneath.


Cf. Ga Kofen =: horn which one blows.

Twi aben = animal's horn, musical instrument.


Cf. Twi atimprtn = big drum, single-headed, open, talking drum.
Ewe timbo = drum.


' .

If this be not the Tricolor of Le Vaillant, which is the only Macaw I
am aware of marked with a yellow nape, it is probably undescribed. The
two descriptions do not, certainly, agree exactly; yet still I cannot but
think the bird seen by Robinson, whose description I give below, to be
this very rare species. Of the present specimen the Doctor says "This
bird I saw stuffed. The legs and tail were wanting. It seemed less than
the common Red and Blue Macaw. By what I can judge from this
sample, this bird has never yet either been figured or described. Sir
Henry Moore, late Lieutenant Governor, often assured me that the
Jamaica Macaw was very different from any he had ever seen. The
subject now before us was shot ]probably about 1765,] in the mountains
of Hanover parish, about ten miles east of Lucea, by Mr. Odell."
Latham has attributed Ara Aracanga and ararauna to Jamaica; the
former on the authority of Brisson.
The latter, Browne (Hist. Jam. 472,) expressly says he himself killed
there. The Rev. Mr. Coward at present Curate of Highgate, near
Spanish Town, informed me, that being in St. Elizabeth's, in a plain at
the foot of a chain of mountains dividing that parish from St. James,
and consequently nearly in the medial line of the island, about 1842, one
of the party called, "look! look!" and looking up, he saw two birds
flying over-head, which he at once saw were parrots, but of very large
size: and he was told that they were Macaws. On inquiring further of
those resident in the neighbourhood, to whom the birds were familiar,
he was informed that their plumage was blue and yellow. These were
probably Ararauna.
A letter just received from Mr. Hill, who kindly assisted my inquiries
on the subject, says; "I have ascertained with unquestionable
certainty, that Macaws are occasionally, if not constantly, denizens of
our mountain forests. They are found exclusively in the central
mountains westward of the island, and are observed on the skirt of the
partially cleared country, at an elevation of 2500 or 3000 feet above the
sea. They have been surprised in small companies feeding on the
full-eared maize, while the grain was soft, milky, and sweet, and they
very husk was sugary. Every description I have received of them,
makes the species to be the Ara militaris, the Great Green Macaw of

"Basal half of upper mandible black, apical half ash-coloured; lower
mandible black, tip only ash-coloured. Forehead, crown, and back of
neck bright yellow. Sides of face around eyes, anterior and lateral part

Mexico. The head is spoken of as red; the neck, shoulders, and under-
parts of a light and lively green; the greater wing-coverts and quills,
blue; and the tail scarlet and blue on the upper surface, with the under
plumage both of the wings and tails, a mass of intense orange yellow.
"Autumnal rains set in with westerly winds in the Gulf of Mexico, when
the Ara is said to migrate from the mountain ranges on which it breeds
on the continent, and not to return till the turn of the year. From our
birds being found only in the western parts of the island. I suspect that
they are casual visitors; coming to us at the end of the year. The
ordinary Parrots wing high, but the Macaws are exceedingly high fliers,
and the command of the continental and insular shores, could be no
difficulty to birds of their powerful, though, usually, not long-sustained
flight. When the October rains set in, storms and deluges from the
mountains of the continent to the west of us, send myriad flocks of
aquatic birds over to us, and it is extremely likely that these
magnificent Parrots are driven to our shores, where they find in our
genial mountains, the mild quietude of the upper summer woods of
"A mountain district very remote, between Trelawney and St. Ann's,
here and there cleared and settled, a peculiar country called the Black
grounds, is said to be the never failing resort of these Mexican Macaws.
I have been assured that several birds have been procured there. This is
said to be nearly as far eastward as they have been found. Further
westward, in the neighbourhood of the Accompong Maroons, young
birds, bearing the evidence of being in the first year's plumage, have
been procured from hog-hunters. One specimen, purchased from them
by Mr. White, the proprietor of Oxford Estate, was for some time the
admiration and talk of the country round. I have been informed by
those who have noticed the bird on the wing, that although the Macaws
are never seen but flying extremely high, their great size, and their
splendid length of tail, brilliant with intense scarlet, and blue and
yellow, strikingly attract attention, if their harsh scream, heard in the
hushed mountain solitudes, does not betray them. They fly from one
ridge to another, journeying in pairs, and have been followed by the eye
till they have alighted on the loftiest of the forest trees, in their chosen
resting places."

of neck, and back, a fine scarlet. Wing coverts and breast, deep
sanguine red. Winglet and primaries, an elegant light blue. The legs and
feet were said to have been black; the tail red and yellow in termixed.'(Rob.)

From display at the White Marl Arawak Museum.
Artist, Audrey Wiles of Institute of Jamaica.


Natural History Column


Red Macaw
by Phillip Henry Gosse (London 1847)

? Ara tricolor, LE VAILL. pl. 5.





to Jamaica
by Raymond M. Wright


Research and development (R&D) has been
an important vehicle in bringing about
technological change and has had a major
impact on both social behaviour and social
needs. It has been one of the fundamental
instruments through which the industrialized
countries have maintained their strong
economic footing and high standard of living.
These industrialized countries have devoted an
increasing volume of investment funds to
research, experimental development and the
training of skilled personnel. Likewise, it is
important for developing countries such as
Jamaica to conceive and formulate R&D
strategies, tailored to their particular needs.
However, R&D is expensive, and strong
efforts in this direction may drain off a
significant portion of the national wealth.
Moreover, there is no absolute scale on which
the quality and quantity of R&D efforts can be
evaluated for its own sake. The best approach
therefore, is to consider government funded
R&D with respect to its direct benefit to the
economy and the society using income per
capital as an indicator. R&D which is funded by
government should contribute as far as possible
to programmes designed to improve primary
wealth development in mineral resources and
agriculture, and in such sectors as the building
industry, transport systems, birth control, and
maintenance of good general health.
In Jamaica the primary objective over the
long term is to raise living standards. However,
the lack of wide variety and viable quantities of
raw materials is a constraint. In addition, there
is an insufficiency in the country of the
technical personnel necessary to implement a
strong technological policy, although a large
number of skilled Jamaicans live abroad. Given
these circumstances, it seems that tech-
nological policy in Jamaica may do well to
adopt one important feature from the Japanese
the close partnership between government
and private industry.1'2
Compared to the highly industrialized
countries, Jamaica has no need to spend as
much on basic research. If the strategy applied
in the post-war industrial and economic growth
of Japan is regarded as a valid model for a
country such as Jamaica it would seem that
there is a certain stage of its development at
which a country can save on its basic research
effort without weakening its technological and
industrial strength. The approach should be to
draw heavily on imported technological
innovation, brought into the country through
SDr. Raymond Wright, a geologist, was born in Southfield,
St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. He received his professional
education in Britain at Durham University and the
University of London, and at Stanford University, U.S.A.

foreign firms, transfer of scientists, personal
contacts, licensing agreements, imitation.
Also there is a school of thought which regards
espionage as unavoidable in the industrial
competition of today.
The best strategy for Jamaica should be
specialization in particular fields suited to the
country's potential, so that particular facets of
the international market can be exploited with
only little effort expended on the development
of new technology.
Competence of available workers as well as
prevailing ability, or excellence of the country
in particular fields, are some of the criteria
which will determine the industrial fields in
which Jamaica should specialize. Resource
implications are among the dictating forces to
be evaluated, including the demand on capital
and personnel, availability of manpower, and
the feasibility of providing adequate training.
At all times there is a need to ensure that there
are sufficient competent specialists in the
country in order to recognize and capitalize on
advances from abroad.
Another point relates to the shortage of
investment capital. To make efficient use of
advanced technology Jamaica will have to
import tools and manufacturing plants. In
terms of local per capital income these are very
expensive and employ relatively few people.
Hence, it is possible that with an increase in the
use of advanced technology in Jamaica, there
will be an increase in the unemployment of
unskilled workers. Consequently, there can be
conflict between the goal of attaining the most
rapid rate of growth of the Gross National
Product (GNP) and that of maintaining
adequate employment. In fact, emphasis
should be placed on obtaining the greatest
possible rate of growth of employment, rather
than rate of growth of the GNP. This approach
entails the use of less capital intensive
production methods, which employ less
advanced technology than in the highly
industrialized countries. However, in doing so
Jamaica runs the risk of being unable to
compete effectively in the world market.
In striving towards industrialization it is
clear that there is the need to adopt production
methods which are both labour intensive and
efficient. But for long-term benefit, it is
important to encourage heavy industries such
as petro-chemicals, steel, industrial machinery,
and electronics. These are some of the
industries where labour productivity rises
quickly. Jamaica should concentrate its scant
capital on strategic industries, perhaps through

joint ventures with foreign firms.
In order to relieve the public burden in
funding R&D, private companies should give
major research contracts to private and public
research institutions, including the University.

Transfer agents can play crucial roles in the
selection and adaptation of imported
technology. The agent, usually a government-
funded research organization, can facilitate the
transfer of technology by selecting and
adapting technology which individual firms in
the country may find difficult to do in dealing
directly with foreign industry. The method-
ology used in this approach is outlined in the
flowchart on Figure 1. The selection of needs
shown on this flowchart should be based on
identified industrial interests, national
economic plans, local technical expertise,
market studies, and required investment. The
number of solutions to be pursued and
evaluated should be small enough to permit
adequate resources for each, but large enough
to allow for the possibility of delay and/or
failure of one or more approaches.
The industrial skills and resources necessary
to implement solutions to expressed needs are
very important to the ultimate commercial-
isation of the technology transfer. For this
reason, an assessment of the training, financial
support, and technical assistance required to
achieve production should be an integral part of
the need/selection process. Further, a
significant commitment of time, effort and
funds is required to pursue transfers to the
point of economic impact. Given a transfer
agent with sufficient skills and experience, and
given a major commitment in time and funds,
the time required to achieve initial commercial-
isation is of the order of three to five years.3
Direct interaction between the foreign
technologists and the participating transfer
agent is vital to achieving the understanding
necessary for useful transfer. Personal dialogue
is the best way to overcome the barriers to
effective technical communication and to relate
the new technology to the needs of the
developing nation.
The concept of investment for research and
development is still relatively new to most
Jamaican companies and should be emphasised
in an over-all industrial policy. While many
companies are aggressive on the domestic
market, their exports are tied directly, and thus
restricted, by foreign licensing agreements.
New systems of subventions and tax incentives

Dr. Wright is at present Commissioner of Mines, Mines &
Geology Division of the Ministry of Mining & Natural


FIGURE 1. Flowchart of technological transfer
procedures using local transfer agent.

will encourage the development of the export
market in the Caribbean countries.','

Efficient communication within the scientific
community, and between members of the
scientific community and government, is
essential to technological transfer and
development. Of primary importance is the
development of proficient information infra-
structure for the diffusion of technological
knowledge through all facets of the community.
In most developing countries existing systems
are inadequate and must either be developed
further, or alternative approaches pursued.
In the context of Jamaica, a recommended
approach is to develop a technological
information bank from which pertinent
information can be retrieved and disseminated
efficiently. The objective is to obtain, and
maintain access to, the total body of
technological knowledge on the international
scale. Consequently the building of an
information bank, at a body such as the
Scientific Research Council, may require the
judicious use of external expertise as well as the
selective application of foreign assistance for
training, funding, or the provision of
equipment and facilities.
Whereas the provision of the appropriate
information dissemination infrastructure is a
requisite first step, of no less importance is the
competent evaluation of the relevance of the
information. In this regard the country needs
an active and organised corps of technical
personnel to function as decision-makers in
questions relating to the choice and
appropriateness of technology to be adopted.
The type of expertise required may be
classified broadly as follows:
(a) Natural resources evaluation and
development of raw materials;
(b) Industrial technology including
patents and the technological elements
of better plant control;
(c) Scientific and technical disciplines, and
their application to the problem areas of
standardization and quality control.
One of the main purposes which information

dissemination will serve is to make the country
thoroughly familiar with the alternative types
and sources of technology to perform the same
task. This function is especially important if we
are to integrate the social structure and the
economy to create the conditions for sustained
improvement in material well-being for the
whole society. One problem is that a great
proportion of the Jamaican population
functions at a subsistence level, hence the
demand for technology (and thus the capacity
to absorb and utilize it) comes largely from a
small, urbanized, economically and socially
privileged group.
The proceeding discussion indicates that new

technology in Jamaica is obtainable mainly
from two approaches:
(a) by purchasing know-how abroad (e.g.
through patents, licences or technical
cooperation agreements with foreign
(b) by developing an appropriate system of
indigenous technology highly compatible
with the nation's social and economic
The choice as to which method, or mix of
methods [(a) is easier than (b)] to adopt;
requires an evaluation of the actual
performance of the economy. The most
important weakness is the chronic foreign trade

The curious and enquiring mind soon masters the
mysteries of machines.

In spite of Jamaica's privileged position as
regards tourist revenue, the trade balance
deficit is a limiting factor and an obstacle to
internal expansion. For example, in 1974
imports amounted to $850 million, while
domestic exports amounted to only $574
million as shown in the balance of trade figures
for the period 1968-74 on Table 1. To counteract
this situation, one of the primary tasks is to
develop such products as can successfully
compete on the world market as well as provide
a measure of import substitution on the
domestic market.
The importation of technology in the form of
patents, licences, know-how, and the use by
Jamaican firms of trade marks, places a
limitation on exports. A further limiting factor
comes from foreign manufacturing firms
operating in Jamaica. They confine themselves,
with few exceptions, to supplying the local
market, and make little contribution to the
development of Jamaican exports. All these
factors large-scale importation of foreign
technology, technological payments deficit,
and the establishment of foreign firms working
mainly for the local market at prices generally
higher than the world market are directly
related to the trade deficit and contribute
towards its deterioration. The relationship
exists on both the exports and the import side.
On the export side all the factors outlined
above have the effect of restricting the growth
of sales, because industry, in the absence of
large Jamaican companies carrying out their
own research, tends to consist mainly of foreign
firms who, except in the extractive mineral
industries, are not aiming at markets abroad,
but merely taking advantage of the protected
home market, or of national firms working
under licensing agreements, most of which
prohibit or restrict exports. There are a small
number of labour-intensive assembly industries
basically geared for export and these are
discussed later.
On the import side, the factors analysed have
the opposite effect, that the raising the volume
of imports to levels which are not entirely due
to backwardness or any real deficiencies in the
country's productive machinery but to the fact
that both types of Jamaican companies
mentioned are linked through a whole network
of contractural or semi-contractural arrange-
ments with the parent firms or the firms whose
licences they operate. Therefore, they tend to
obtain their supplies of both capital goods and
many semi-manufactured products abroad
rather than in Jamaica.
The dependence of Jamaica on foreign capital
and technologies seems unavoidable, at least in

PERIOD Balance of Imports EXPORTS (F.O.B)
Visible Domestic Re-
Trade (c.i.f) Total Exports Exports

1938 2,905 12,970 10,065 9,852 213
1948 16,587 39,362 22,775 22,301 474
1958 34,071 129,293 95,222 93,512 1,710
1959 45,059 137,292 92,233 90,537 1,696
1960 41,672 155,002 113,330 11,523 1,807
1961 27,677 150,791 123,114 121,264 1,850
1962 29,514 159,202 129,688 124,469 5,219
1963 16,855 161,085 144,230 140,368 3,862
1964 52,199 206,657 154,458 151,151 3,307
1965 53,327 206,470 153,143 149,874 3,269
1966 70,833 233,706 162,873 160,217 2,656
1967 89,265 252,579 163,314 160,745 2,569
1968 -137,343 320,346 183,003 179,495 3,508
1969 -151,521 363,301 211,780 206,100 5,680
1970 -153,007 437,839 284,832 279,116 5,716
1971 -177,050 459,754 282,704 275,203 7,501
1972 -192,407 493,165 300,758 293,077 7,681
1973 -249,349 604,071 354,722 347,744 6,978
1974 -266,250 850,990 584,740 574,141 10,599

the early stages of industrial development.
There is no doubt that in some branches of
industry (petrochemical and motor for
example) it is rational to use imported capital
and foreign technology and to meet the needs of
the Jamaican economy by implanting foreign
subsidiaries. However, in future, when
authorizations for investment by foreign
investors are being granted, more attention
ought to be paid to the relationship between the
size of the market and the size of the firms
involved. It would be prudent to obtain from
foreign firms installing new production units
the offer that will be of most benefit to the
country from two points'of view, (a) size and
productivity, economies of scale and advanced
management techniques, and (b) contribution
to the development of export goods.
In recent years there has been rapid
expansion of manufacturing activity in certain
developing countries which involves labour-
intensive processing, assembly and component
manufacturing activities within vertically
integrated international industries.
It is a common practice for many United

Jamaican balance
of trade, total
imports, and
exports (JS.00)

ivew recnnotogies create new jacwrnes una new tnuus~&rsa.

States electronics, machinery, and transport
equipment firms to ship parts to low-income
countries (particularly Mexico and some in the
Var East) for labour-intensive assembly or
processing, following which the semi-finished
product is re-exported for finishing or sale
elsewhere.7 In some cases, this form of
manufacturing for export is undertaken within
an "export processing zone" or similar enclave
in the developing countries. It has been shown
that foreign investors use more capital-
intensive techniques than domestic-owned
firms in otherwise comparable import-
substituting manufacturing plants. For
example, manufacturing for export in Taiwan is
more capital-intensive than the Taiwanese
average." An argument can be made against
this activity of foreign firms on the basis that it
introduces too capital-intensive a technique,
pays too high a wage rate, encourages the
adoption of similarly capital-intensive tech-
niques in other sectors and hence distorts the
development process.9-" This form of
dependence on foreign firms is thus a serious
problem and an inappropriate method of
technology transfer to Jamaica.

Technological development in Jamaica
dictates the enunciation of a technological
policy. This would cover a wide spectrum but it
must include the following elements:-
(a) First, the use of all the main instruments
of public policy economic, legal,
political and cultural to promote
national enterprises in which real control
lies in Jamaican hands;
(b) Secondly, the orientation of policy
choices in favour of utilizing domestic
natural and human resources.
At the same time, it is important to
stimulate "technological innovation" which
embraces the whole process from research,
through discovery, invention, design, develop-
ment, planning, and promotion, to production,
sale, and use.12 To accomplish this,
government must create a suitable environ-
ment by undertaking the following tasks:
(1) Encouraging the injection of basic and

applied research activity into mature
industries, such as agriculture and
bauxite/alumina, which are the economic
back-bone of the country.
(2) Fostering domestic R&D effort so that
it has full access to adapt, and to a
certain extent reinforce imported tech-
nology, apart from its contribution to the
development of indigenous technology.
(3) Striking a balance (within the con-
straints of limited fund availability) in
the allocation of resources between the
always competitive requirements of
industry and social needs.
(4) Determining that developments are
pursued which will result in technological
capabilities which best support the
national needs and purposes, rather than
pursuing developments, which while
technologically feasible or otherwise
attractive, may be of limited worth.
(5) Initiating and conducting R&D when the
risks are so high that private industry is
generally unwilling to accept them but
where there is potential social benefit.
This, of course, recognizes that even
though potential profits may be very
attractive, they are normally evaluated
by industry with regard to the risk
factor. Few companies are willing to take
risks for social reasons even with hope
of a very high profit.
(6) Finding objective solutions where im-
portant questions of health and public
safety arise.
(7) Ensuring that if there is duplication of re-
search effort in public and private
sector research organizations it is only to
act as the spur required for break-
throughs and to ensure the most rapid
commercial development.

Transnational firms are invariably large in
size. They operate in a substantial number of
countries, they have access to a common pool of
human and financial resources, and they
control their widespread activities rather
than serving merely as exporters or licensers
of technology.
Notwithstanding the performance of
Jamaica's bauxite/alumina companies these
firms have proved to be an inefficient vehicle
for the transfer of technology since there is not
a two-way technology flow between home and
host countries. Most, and often all, of the R&D
financed by transnational corporations is
conducted by the parent corporation in the
home country, a practice evidenced by the six
bauxite/alumina companies operating in
Jamaica. For example, in 1966 only 6 per cent
of the total R&D budget of United States
transnational corporations engaged in manu-
facturing was spent outside U.S. territories.
The technological capability transferred
from the headquarters of the firm to its foreign
affiliates is in the form of some middle
management know-how, production tech-
niques, new products and processes, and patent
licensing. One' United Nations estimate in
respect of thirteen developing countries, shows
that their payments for patents, licences and
trademarks amounted to more than half the
flow of direct private foreign investment to
these developing countries during the latter
part of the last decade.
The advent ofCARICOM*brings with it the
prospect of close cooperation between
participating member countries of the
Caribbean, particularly in trade and in the
process of industrialization, since both of these
functions are linked. However, certain
*Caribbean Common Market

Areial view of the Industrial Estate at the western end of Spanish Town Road, May,

problems in joint industrial planning will arise.
The theoretical possibility of pursuing
integration through joint planning, with trade
tariffs reduced only for planned industries, has
permitted governments to reconcile their desire
for integration with their reluctance to
liberalize trade. However, in the CARICOM
area joint industrial planning has not yet
progressed very far beyond the intention of
applying it. The integration of national
industrial plans, which are themselves a
product of internal compromises at the
national level, into a comprehensive regional
plan has until now eluded the planners of
regional groupings.
Furthermore, where, as in CARICOM, there
are differences in the level of development
between members of the integration group, a
programme of uniform trade liberalization
could give undue advantage to more developed
countries within the group, whose manu-
factured goods might invade the market of the
less advanced members and hinder their
industrial growth." However, this may not
occur, owing to differences in wages and other
costs not inversely related to plant size.
Liberalization programmes should comprise
schedules for delayed tariff reductions for the
less developed member countries. In this
respect the CARICOM agreement has set a
good example.
Groups that are progressing towards
integration are placing themselves in a stronger
position with regard to international trade;
thus integration policies and international
trade policies do not conflict, but support each
It is true that industrialization involves
major policy issues on which several countries
may have to make decisions simultaneously in
the assessment of alternatives, opportunities,
and costs. Appropriate timing and balance
between phases of import substitution and
export development, and identification of
policies and lines of advantage suited to each
phase, are among the questions in need of
empirical study. Such research must be
concerted, objective and international in
character, and designed to relate government
planning and policy making, the market

mechanism, foreign and local investment, and
For these reasons the U.S. National
Academy of Science has recommended that an
International Industrialization Institute be
established, supported by developed and
developing countries, international organiza-
tions, foundations, and private business
corporations. As presently envisioned the
Institute would be "devoted to enhancing
knowledge of the industrialization process,
with the aim of helping both developed and
developing countries to maximize the
contribution of industrialization to their
economic and social development and to share
equitably in its benefits."" Staff, from many
countries, would include specialists in several
disciplines including engineering, international
economics and trade, industrial economics,
marketing, and manpower development.
Research projects would not be those that could
be undertaken by existing institutions.
The Canadian-based International Develop-
ment Institute is also committed to promoting
technology transfer projects in developing
The protection and development of the
environment as a natural resource, depends, to
a large extent, on public investment, a large
fraction of the important services which the
environment provides, such as scenery, is not
consumed as it is used. Environmental quality
is imperfectly measured by the market. Also,
when the objective is preservation for future
generations, those who bear the costs are
denied the material benefits. For these reasons,
the management of environmental resources
depends on public policy.
Environmental standards affect industrial
development and the transfer of technology. On
the international market a competitive
advantage may arise if one country sets its
industrial pollution control standards below
those of others. These differences in regulations
may attract industries wanting to escape
pollution control. In this way some countries
may, consciously or unconsciously, give a
positive incentive to the operation of high
polluting industries within their borders.

Thus, there has been a trend towards the
movement of certain industries from the
developed to the developing countries. To be
sure, North American and European mining
companies which take their ores from
subsidiaries in the developing countries will
listen more favourably to requests for the
establishment of smelters and refineries near
the mine sites, because pollution controls are
usually less stringent.
But if adequate pollution standards are not
set by Jamaica, such a move could result in
some serious drawbacks to the country. In the
first place, it is Jamaica, the developing
country, that will suffer the environmental
degradation created by the industry while the
metropolitan country utilizes the product for its
economic benefit.
Additionally, it is the low-income workers
(the masses) who will have to bear the health
risk of pollution while on the job. Furthermore,
their families are forced to live in the vicinity of
the polluting sources. The management class
does not have to (and rarely does) live near the
extracting or manufacturing plant itself.
The unilateral promulgation of standards by
the metropolitan countries could result in a
shift of scarce development funds away from
physical resources development projects in
Jamaica, because these standards reflect the
conditions and requirements of the developed
countries. Jamaica must make the decision as
to whether or not it should attract high-
polluting industries whose costs are high in the
metropolitan countries because of the
enforcement of rigid environmental standards.
The important consideration here is that
industries that may be considered as high
polluting in the metropolitan countries,
because of the limited environmental capacity,
may well be relatively much less polluting in
Jamiaca where pollution is generally at a lower
level at present. Consequently, even if Jamaica
wishes to impose some stringent environmental
standard, for example, in order to develop its
tourist industry, it still has some comparative
advantage, because the cost of pollution control
is relatively lower than in highly industrial

Newer technologies which are being
developed by metropolitan countries in keeping
with their environmental needs are generally
much more expensive. The promulgation of
uniform international standards and the
adoption of these new non-polluting techniques
by Jamaica could have an adverse effect on its
international trade, at least in the short term,
an effect similar to revaluation of a country's
Technological policy is not an end in itself
but part of a general development policy. The
import of technology and the development of
indigenous technology involves the interplay of
the many factors stated below.
A. General
(1) The organization and execution of a
science and technology policy and, more
generally speaking, of a development
policy, pre-supposes a new attitude
towards social evolution and progress.
There must be a new cultural outlook.
(2) A national science and technology policy
may be- related to an international
policy organizing scientific and techno-
logical cooperation between developed and
developing countries, and between the
developed countries.
(3) There is some doubt whether the growth
of an indigenous scientific community can
be achieved without the active collabora-
tion of the international scientific
community. An enterprising cadre of
scientific and professional personnel can-
not develop or exist in a vacuum. It must
participate fully in the life of the world
professional community. The isolation of
professionals leads to the phenomenon of
the "brain-drain".
(4) A science and technology policy must
place some emphasis on agriculture.
Industrialisation tends to follow agricul-
ture naturally.

B. Human Resources
(1) Jamaica, as with most developing coun-
tries, suffers from a shortage of

The docks at Newport West. An increase in technology usually triggers an increase in a
country's international trade

scientific and professional manpower and
facilities for training them. Hence it is
necessary to accelerate the rhythm and
volume of the training of highly qualified
personnel, not only in the research field,
but also in agriculture, industrial pro-
duction, organization, and management
in every sector of social life.
(2) If human resources are to be developed,
higher professional and scientific training
must be made more attractive.
(3) In order to offer diverse and interesting
careers it may be necessary to favour all
industrial investment, national as well as
foreign ones. However, appropriate
scientific and technological conditions
must be added to these investments be-
cause an impulse must be given to the
creation of new industries which have an
important influence where research in
industry is concerned.
(4) Labour market problems should be
developed in a framework concerning:
(a) the relationship of the employee to
his firm mechanisms must be
found to reduce the frequency and
effect of industrial strikes.
(b) Education must be adequate to bring
about a highly qualified labour force.
(c) Beyond the vocational training
offered in the general school
system, vocational education should
be provided within industry as well
as in public training centres. If
carried out in accordance with
legally defined standards, training
programmes conducted by industry
could receive government author-
ization and the firms concerned made
eligible for public assistance.
C. Financial Resources
(1) The objective should be to devote a
certain minimum of resources (say
0.5% of the GNP) to developing tech-
(2) In allocating the new resources to
science and technology a rational blend
between expenditure and goals should be
established as far as is possible. An im-
portant concept in R&D is that Govern-
ment must accept that a certain per-
centage of R&D is an expense to the
country with no obvious return accruing.
D. Structure
(1) Horizontally integrated structures are
best chosen for the organization of
technology transfer." This rules out a
structure in which each field or branch is
an independent sector choosing its own
goals and absorbing part of the available
resources in the process. However, the
horizontal transfer of technology cannot
on its own be a suitable solution either to
the agricultural problem caused by
climatic and local soil conditions or the
mining problems due to local geology.
A national effort with regard to experi-
mental R&D to facilitate the vertical
transfer of technology in these fields is
(2) Technological transfer is not easily
integrated with the traditional political,
administrative and technical functions
for which different Ministries are res-
ponsible. However, it is generally better
to develop existing structures than to'
create entirely new ones.
Finally, and seminal to this paper, there are
two main decisions Jamaica should make with
regard to the development of technology.
(a) The import of technology should not be
tied solely to the availability of foreign
Cont'd. on page 83

Photos by J.S. Tyndale Biscoe & Susan Tyndale Biscoe

Pickering Nuclear power station near Toronto, Canada, during
construction. The station, now completed, has a capacity of 2 million
Kilowatts. The four circular buildings in a row, each having walls 4 feet
thick, are the reactor buildings. The largest circular building on the
right is the vacuum building which is kept below atmospheric pressure
and is connected to the rector building by concrete pressure relief
ducts. In the event of any accident in the reactor building which
causes the pressure to rise 1 p.s.i. above atmospheric pressure, the
relief valves will open to relieve pressure through the ducts to the
vacuum building in less than 30 seconds, so that leakage of radioactive
gases and steam will be into the containment structures. The large
building to the left of the reactors is the power house.


ByD. Ailoy .Ce
Det of9iscUf~est fteWI

The Hon. Allan Issacs, speaking as
Minister of Mining and Natural Resources
in the 1975 Budget Debate, disclosed that
the Government of Jamaica will initiate a
study to determine the feasibility of
introducing nuclear power into our grid
system in the 1980's. The study will be
carried out largely by the International
Atomic Energy Agency. At the same time,
it is intended to train two persons annually
for the next two years in the field of nuclear
engineering and electrical system planning
with special emphasis on nuclear matters.
Presumably part of the function of these
persons will be to assist the Government in
evaluating the findings of the International
Atomic Energy Agency when the final
decision concerning nuclear power for the
1980's is to be made. The purpose of this
article is to point out one of the factors to
be taken into consideration in the nuclear
power decision, viz., the state of the art of
reactor safety.

Reactor operation involves risks, and
three dangers have to be considered here,
(i) the possible harm to the environment in

general, (ii) the possible harm to personnel
in the vicinity of the reactor during normal
operations, and (iii) the danger of a large
scale nuclear accident. Pollution of the
environment by nuclear plants arises from
thermal and radioactive discharges. In the
former case excess heat is transferred to
water cooling the reactor core, thereby
raising the temperature of the water by a
maximum of 5 to 150C under full load
conditions. The discharge of this heated
cooling water into an aquatic system gives
rise to the problem of thermal pollution
since the excess heat may endanger or alter
aquatic life. The waste heat transferred to a
water cooling system is about 50% greater
for a nuclear power plant than for a fossil
fuel power plant since a fossil fuel plant
converts thermal energy into electrical
energy more efficiently and also discharges
about 10% of its waste heat directly to the
atmosphere whereas a nuclear plant does
not discharge any waste heat in this
manner. The problem of thermal pollution
would probably not be a serious one for
Jamaica since we would be discharging our
waste heat into an aquatic system of large
heat capacity, viz., the Caribbean Sea,

which is well mixed and in which marine life
is adapted to a warm environment.
Nevertheless the situation requires a
careful study of the impact of excess heat
on marine life in our coastal waters.
The amount of radioactive discharge to
the atmosphere and sea would be negligible
for the entire island. Westinghouse
Corporation has developed (i) a system for
processing waste that essentially removes
all of the radioactivity from liquid waste,
and (ii) a hold-up system that allows for the
decay of a very large fraction of the
radioactive gases. Spent fuel can be stored
under water at the plant until it becomes
safe for dumping, or for shipping abroad for
reprocessing*. Radiation levels become
dangerous as a result of normal operations
only when there are several nuclear plants
located close to each other, and at a plant
where spent fuel is reprocessed. Certainly
Jamaica could not afford to build a
re-processing plant and a large number of
nuclear plants are not envisaged, so that
*See the article by Dr. T. Byer in the
March1974 issue of Jamaica Journal for a
description of the reprocessing cycle.

74 Dr. Anthony Chen was born in St. Andrew, Jamaica in 1938 and attended St. George's College. He received his professional education at Boston College, Harvard University and the
University of Maryland in the USA, and gained the Ph.D In Physics from the University of the West Indies in 1972. He is now attached to the Physics Department of the UWI.

radiation levels should not become
dangerous on this basis. Eisenbud', the
director of the Laboratory for Environ-
mental Studies, Institute of Environmental
Medicine, New York University Medical
Centre, sums up the situation in this way:-

"Much has been said about the ecological
effects of radioactivity discharged to the
environment, but there is no evidence
that this occurs at levels of radio-
activity permitted by the AEC. **
Putting it more strongly, there is a con-
siderable body of scientific data that
demonstrates that such effects do not
take place. In contrast, we do know
that certain vegetation is adversely
affected by traces of sulfur dioxide
and possibly by other components of
the combustion products of coal and oil.

...There have been millions of dollars
spent investigating the ecological
effects of low levels of ionizing radiation
exposure but there have been
comparatively few studies of the
ecological effects of the chemicals in
fossil fuel effluents, despite the fact that
we know these effects take place and can
be observed. "

Normally it is desirable from the
economic point of view to have spent fuel
reprocessed to recover the valuable
uranium and plutonium. The point has
already been made above that we would not
have the problem of storing the highly
radioactive reprocessing waste since
reprocessing would be done in other
countries. However if conservationists in
those countries have their way, the problem
would literally land in our laps. Kenward2,
reporting in the New Scientist, states that
British Nuclear Fuel Ltd.. which is
negotiating contracts to reprocess fuel from
foreign reactors, felt that there would be
local objection to it taking foreign work
unless the highly radioactive waste, as well
as the valuable materials recovered, can be
returned to the foreign country.
Despite the waste processing system,
individuals living and working in the
vicinity of a reactor will be subjected to low
level emissions of radioactivity. The
potential somatic injuries to such
individuals, the second danger mentioned,
are leukemia, other malignancies, non-
specific shortening of the life-span, and
cataracts. Aside from somatic risks there
are genetic risks involving the offspring of
parents exposed to radiation. The dangers
range from failure of fertilized egg to
develop, to grossly incapacitating
maladies. To lower the risk to individuals,
standards have been set for the limit of
allowed emission. For an average
individual the recommended limit of
exposure is 0.17 rad of gamma and/or beta
radiations* per year (International
Commission on Radiation Protection), and
Stannard3 has estimated that if a million

**U.S. Atomic Energy Agency.
*The rad is a unit of absorbed radiation and
is used for measurement of energy
absorption of any radiation by any
material. One rad is equal to.01 joule per
kg. For alpha and fast neutron radiation

individuals each received this dose for a
life-span (c.70 years), then 7-10 would
contact leukemia as a result. The risk
involved is negligible compared to, say, the
risk involved in allowing motor vehicles on
the road, and it becomes more negligible
when one considers that (i) emissions from
reactors are much lower than the limits set
by standards, and (ii) a reactor in Jamaica
can be sited away from a dense population
centre so that only a small number of
people are exposed. The view of Stannard3,
Professor of Radiation Biology and
Biophysics and Pharmacology at the
University of Rochester, is that the somatic
risks from delivered doses below present
population exposure standards (i.e. 0.17
rad/yr) is acceptable in comparison with
other activities in our daily lives.
The third danger, that of a large scale
nuclear accident, is receiving considerable
attention in the U.S.A. at the moment.
Such an accident could be caused by loss of
control on a reactor so that the reactor core
overheats and melts with the possibility of
an explosion of the plant and the release of
a large amount of radiation to the
atmosphere. To prevent such contingencies
there are inherent and engineered safety
devices in the reactor design, and the
chance of the reactor getting out of control
is almost negligible. A more likely accident
may be the loss of coolant in the core of
the reactor due to a break in a pressurized
pipe. Such a loss would also lead to
overheating of the core. In the unlikely
event of loss of control, or in the event of
loss of coolant there are additional
engineered safeguards to prevent the core
from overheating to the point of melting, so
that radioactive products can be kept
principally in the fuel rods. The main
safeguard in the pressurized light water
reactors used in the U.S.A. consists of an
emergency core cooling system (ECCS)
whereby the core is water cooled by
flooding from below and spraying from
above. In the event of the failure of the
ECCS some reactor designs include, as
another line of defence, a huge double
walled containment building enveloping the
entire primary plant.
The ECCS has been called into question
following preliminary tests run at the U.S.
Atomic Energy Commission installation in
Idaho Falls. It was found that the
emergency cooling water directed into the
test loop was prevented from entering the
system because of the very high steam
pressure in the super heated simulated core
section of the system. a public hearing
lasting 10' months was conducted into the
matter in 1972 in the U.S.A. Following the
hearing new reactor operating criteria have
been established by the U.S. Atomic
Energy Commission but these are still
unacceptable to some of the nuclear critics,
including Ralph Nader. Reactors from
other countries also use some form of
emergency core cooling system, but less
the limit is 0.017 rad. This limit is generally
referred to as the genetic dose limit and is
applied as an average to the total
population, allowing some members, such
as radiation workers, to receive higher
doses since others are likely to receive lower

Photo: Public Relations Division, Ontario Hydro.

doubts have been expressed about them,
probably because of less public awareness
in the nuclear debate in these countries,
and because reactors built by other
countries (e.g. the steam generating heavy
water reactor and gas cooled reactors) do
not require such high pressures in the
reactor core as those required by the
pressurized light water reactors. The
question of ECCS remains an outstanding
factor to be considered as far as the safety
features are concerned.
A study on reactor safety lasting two
years and costing $3 million was recently
concluded by a team led by Norman
Rasmussen of Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. According to the study the
most serious accident which could not be
ruled out completely on the basis of present
evidence would result from a melting of the
reactor core, following which the molten
core plunged into a water pool below the
reactor in such a way that a steam
explosion took place resulting in the
rupture of the containment. The
probability of such an accident occurring,
based on the current world of large power
reactors (greater than 500 Megawatts
thermal), has been calculated to be one in
10 million per 100 reactor years, which is
negligibly small. The probability of
accidents involving core melt but with less
catastrophic consequences were also
calculated. The chances for a core melt in
any year for 100 operating reactors were
calculated to be one in 170, and the amount
of radioactivity released would not be
enough to cause one case of fatality or acute
illness. One way of interpreting this result
is that if a single large reactor were used in
Jamaica the chances of core melt accident
with non-catastrophic consequences oc-
curring would be one in 17,000, which is
small but not negligible. Although such an
accident would not be expected to cause
loss of life, the damage to the reactor and
cost of replacing the core could prove to be
a substantial loss for a developing country
like Jamaica.
To sum up the discussion on reactor
safety, under normal operation the risk
involved for the Jamaican environment in
general and to individuals in the vicinity of
the reactor is probably negligible, and
probably will not be a major concern in the
decision about a nuclear plant. The chances
of an accident of the type necessary to
cause the core to superheat is small.
However when a country like Jamaica
invests an enormous amount of capital into
a nuclear reactor, it cannot afford to take
chances. The reliability of the ECCS must
therefore be proven before Jamaica makes a
decision in favour of nuclear power.
1. Eisenbud. M. Standards of Radiation
Protection and their Implications for the Public's
Health, published in Nuclear Power and the
Public (H. Foreman, edp, Double Day and Co.
Inc., 1972, p. 112
2. Kenward, Michael.Energy File, New Scientist.
April 1975 p. 30.
3. Stannard, J. Newell. Evaluation of Health
Hazards to the Public Associated with
Nuclear Power Plant Operations. op. cit.
(Reference 1.1
4. Highlights of the Rasmussen Report were re-
ported in Nuclear Industry. August 1974.
pp. 13-15.



A New Pest For Jamaica
By Caroll Henry & Brian Rudert

A small pest that can cause big problems for tomato
growers was recently identified for the first time in
Jamaica. The pest, the tomato pinworm, Keiferia
lycopersicella, has been found in the past year at four
Government agricultural stations; Lawrencefield, Bodies,
Caenwood, and Orange River. This pest feeds on members
of the plant family Solanaceae. Serious outbreaks have
occurred mainly on tomato, both in the field and seedbed,
but it has been found on eggplant and potato as well. It
has been on the solanaceous weed, Solanum americanum
var. nodiflorum, commonly called "gouma", and reported
to be on Susumber.
The trouble is caused by the larvae which feed on the
leaves, flowers and fruit of the tomato plant. The larvae
are small, about 1/8" 1/4" long, green with small spots
along the side and spines that can best be seen with a
magnifying glass.
The larvae have four stages of growth, the first two as
leaf miners and the latter two as leaf tiers. The first signs
of insect damage on tomato are often mistaken for tomato
leaf miner as the newly hatched caterpillars burrow
Dr. Carrol Henry is Plant Pathologist at the Orange River Station of
the Ministry of Agriculture; she presented the paper Cocoa Canker in
Jamaica and its relation to Black Pod outbreaks at the second meeting
of the Americas & Caribbean Region on Cocoa Black Pod in Ecuador
1973; the paper Pathological problems associated with vegetable grow-
ing at Orange River Agricultural Station by C. Henry & C. Suggs is in
Brian Rudert is a Peace Corps Entomologist assigned to the Orange
River Station. Photos by Louis Holland.
The Vegetable Research Programme was started at Orange River late
1972 to determine the major pathological problems associated with
given climatic and ecological conditions, and to find effective control
measures. Crops researched include Tomato, Lettuce, Onion, Peas &
Beans, Cabbage, Egg plant, Carrot, Garlic, Cucumber, Melon, Cante-
loupe, Squash & Marrow, Sweet Pepper.
As the result of research findings, the original aims have been broad-
ened, and present objectives are:-
(1) To find varieties of economic crops now grown in Jamaica and any
other crops with potential which exhibit Tropical Adaptation.
(2) To find varieties which exhibit multiple disease resistance.
(3) To test and find new effective pesticides for controlling pest

between the leaf surfaces. As the larvae grow older they
spin silk, tie up leaves and cause large necrotic. blotckh
areas to occur, often totally destroying the leaf surfaces or
the plant. During the latter stages of growth they- may
also burrow into the fruit, tunneling to the core and leave
small necrotic pinholes where they enter, hence the name
tomato pinworm.
The larvae pupate in the soil around the plant ard the
adult moth that emerges is about long. grey or tar in
colour. This moth then lays its eggs on the upper and
lower leaf surfaces of the plant where they hatch into the
destructive larvae. The entire life cycle of the insect may
be relatively long but several generations per year can be
expected under optimum conditions. (See table I1
The importance of this caterpillar as a newly introduced
pest to Jamaica cannot be overemphasized. One can only
speculate on its entry to Jamaica and how long it has been
here. The insect is in Florida. Cuba. Haiti. and the
Florida tomato growers have always suffered from light
outbreaks of the pest but since 1970 the pest has become

A variety of vegetables reaped at Orange Riv er from front to bac.
il Garlicii]Brocolli,iii]Egg Plant,i] Lettuce, ] Tomatoes, ] Cabbcges,
vii] Corn

Page 77


3. CRAIG, Dennis & CARTER, Sheila "The Language Learning
Aptitudes of Jamaican Children at The Beginning of Secondary
School" (forthcoming).
4. CUTHBERT, Marlene "Our Media must be different from that of
U.S.A. and U.S.S.R." in Caribbean Contact, Vol. 2, No. 9
December 1974.
5. GATTEGNO, Caleb "Towards a Visual Culture: Education
through Television", Avon Books, New York. 1971.
6. GRAY, Cecil "Bases of a Language Curriculum" in Jamaica
Journal, Vol. 8, Nos. 2, 3, Summer 1974.
7. HOSEIN, Everol "Wanted: A Free Press in W.I. Search for
Identity and Development" in Caribbean Contact, Vol. 2, No. 9,
December 1974.
8. KLASEK, Charles B. Instructional Media in the Modern School,
Professional Educators Publications, Nebraska, 1972.
9. KLAPPER, Joseph T. The Effects of Mass Communication,
The Free Press, N.Y. 1966.
10. LAMMING, George quoted in Caribbean Contact, Vol. 2 No. 9,
December 1974.
11. MACLEAN, Roderick Television in Education, Methuen
Educational Ltd., London 1968.
12. MCLUHAN, Marshall Understanding Media: The Extension of
Man, New America Library, New York 1964.
13. MCLUHAN, Marshall Counterblast, Rapp & Whiting, London
14. MCLUHAN, Marshall and FIORE, Quentin The Medium is the
Massage: An Inventory of Effects, Bantam Books, U.S.A. and
Canada, 1967.

15. MAY, M. and LUMSDAINE, A. Learning from Films, Yale
University Press, New Haven, 1958.
16. MILLER, George (Editor) Communications, Language and
Meaning: Psychological Perspectives, Basic Books, New York,
17. The National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of
Violence, Praeger Publishers, New York, Washington, London,
18. POSTMAN, Neil and WEINGARTNER, Charles Teaching as a
Subversive Activity, Dell Publishing Company, New York 1969.
19. ROSENBERG, Harold, Review of The Medium in Pre
Message Saturday Review 1965.
20. SCHRAMM, Wilbur "Mass Communication" in (16) 1973.
21. SCHRAMM, et al The New Media: Memo to Educational
Planners, UNESCO, Paris, 1967.
22. SCUORZO, Herbert The Practical Audio-Visual Handbook for
Teachers, Parker Publishing Company, New York, 1967.
23. THOMAS, L. and HENDRY, J Training Programme for
Supervisors in Micro-Teaching, U.W.I. UNICEF, UNESCO,
UNDP, 1974.
24. TOFFLER, Alvin Future Shock, Random House, New York,
25. [The] Uses of Film in the Teaching of English, Curriculum Series
no. 8, The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. 1971.
26. WISE, Arthur Communication in Speech, Longmans,
Great Britain, 1965.

Transferring Technology Cont'd. from page 73
development because this would tend to
stifle technical resourcefulness and narrow
the scope of R&D available to local
technologists. 6
(b) The domestic scientific and technical effort
must be explicitly agreed to learning,
adapting, improving, and then displacing
continuing imports of similar techniques.
The latter task necessitates the involvement
of active scientists in the implementation of
policies concerning foreign investment and
foreign technology, for it is only they who
generate, or have ready access to, the type of
information that is crucial to maintaining the
bargaining balance in favour of the purchaser of
In sum, Jamaica's technological policy
should emphasize the development of primary
industries (agriculture and extractive mineral
industries), from which various light industries
will spin off. A transfer agent can play a key
role in the importation and ultimate
commercialization of smaller, specialized, new
technology. Most importantly, it should be
ensured that development of technology in the
services sector keeps pace with technology
developed for the manufacturing sector. The
slow growth of productivity in government
services, especially in education and medical
care, has been a major cause of the poor
performance of the economic system with
respect to industry and social welfare.
1. KHAN, H., "The Emerging Japanese Superstate
Challenge and response", (Prentice Hall Inc.,
New Jersey), pp.296,1970.
2. Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development, "The Industrial Policy of Japan",
(Paris), pp. 195,1972.
3. STONE, C.A. & UCCETTA, S.J., "Technology
Transfer to a Developing Nation", IIT Research
Institute, pp. 42,1973.

4. Commonwealth Caribbean Regional Secretariat,
"From Carifta to Caribbean Community",
(Georgetown), pp. 179,1972.
5. CHEN-YOUNG, P., "Report on Private
Investment in the Caribbean". (Atlas Publishing
Co., Kingston), pp. 86,1973.
6. Department of Statistics, Jamaica, "External
Trade". Summary Tables, December 1974.
7. HELLEINER, G.K., "Manufacturing for Export,
Multinational Firms and Economic Development",
World Development, 1, (7), pp. 13-21,1973.
8. HUFBAUER, G.C., "The Impact of National
Characteristics and Technology on the Commodity
Composition of Trade in Manufactured Goods", in
R. Vernon (ed)., The Technology Factor in
International Trade, (National Bureau ol Economic
Research, New York), pp. 186.1970.
9. HELLEINER, G.K., "Manufactured Exports from
Less Developed Countries and Multinational
Firms". Economic Journal, pp. 21-47.1973.
10. POWER, J.H., & SICAT, G.P., "The Phillipines:
Industrialization and Trade Policies", (Develop-
ment Centre OECD: Oxford University Press), pp.
11. McINTYRE, A. AND WATSON, B., "Studies in
Foreign Investment in the Commonwealth
Caribbean No.1 Trinidad and Tobago' Institute
of Social and Economic Research. U.W.I., 1970.
12. ARCHER, L.B. "Technological Innovation a
Methodology", (Science Policy Foundation,
London), 1971.
13. PAZOS, F., "Regional Integration of Trade among
Less Developed Countries", World Development, 1,
(7), pp.1-12,1973.
14. National Academy of Sciences, "Meeting the
Challenge of Industrialization: A Feasibility Study
for an International Industrialization Institute",
(Washington. D.C.), pp. 133,1973.
15. JANTSCH. E., "Technological Forecasting in
Perspective", (OECD, Paris), pp. 401.1967.
16. National Committee on Science and Technology,
"An Approach to the Science and Technology
Plan", (New Delhi, India), 1973.

Thanks are due to Dr. George E. Eaton for helpful
comments on the manuscript. However the author is solely
responsible for the content of this paper which is not
intended to reflect the views of the Government of

Jamaican Paintings

[Continued from Inside Front Cover]

Top left: "Girl" by Seya Parboosingh oil
Below left: "Miss Myrtle Fancy Hat" by Judy MacMillan oil
Top right: "Marlene with Flowers" by Valerie Bloomfield oil
Below right: "Spirit of Savacou No. 1" by Osmond Watson oil
(Courtesy of Mr. Karl Craig)


Top left: "Native Son" by Osmond Watson oil
Top right: "Ras Dizzi" by Judy MacMillan oil
Centre: "Mountain No. 2" by Hope Parchment mixed media
Below right: Bungo Nyah" by Christopher Gonzalez oil
Below left: "Haiti" Colin Garland oil (National Gallery collection)

(Arthur Smith)


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