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Digital Library of the Caribbean National Library of Jamaica Institute of Jamaica
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090030/00033

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: September 1978
Frequency: semiannual


Subjects / Keywords: Periodicals -- Jamaica   ( lcsh )
Genre: Periodicals   ( lcsh )
serial   ( sobekcm )
periodical   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Jamaica


Dates or Sequential Designation: Began with Dec. 1967 issue.
Dates or Sequential Designation: Olive Senior “The Colon People: Part II , Jamaica Journal 42 (1978):87-102 included in the "Panama Silver, Asian Gold" course to be taught at three institutions starting in Fall 2013.

Record Information

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
System ID: UF00090030:00033

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090030/00033

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: September 1978
Frequency: semiannual


Subjects / Keywords: Periodicals -- Jamaica   ( lcsh )
Genre: Periodicals   ( lcsh )
serial   ( sobekcm )
periodical   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Jamaica


Dates or Sequential Designation: Began with Dec. 1967 issue.
Dates or Sequential Designation: Olive Senior “The Colon People: Part II , Jamaica Journal 42 (1978):87-102 included in the "Panama Silver, Asian Gold" course to be taught at three institutions starting in Fall 2013.

Record Information

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
System ID: UF00090030:00033

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Table of Contents
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
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    Back Cover
        Page 121
        Page 122
Full Text

I39 '



Pentecostalism in Jamaica ............... Rev. Ashley Smith
James Baldwin & Roger Mais
The Pentecostal Theme...... Dr. Adrianne Roberts Baytop
Music in the Jamaican Pentecostal
Churches ......................... John Barton Hopkin
A rt ..............................................
The Spirit of African Survival ... Edward Kamau Brathwaite

The Clay Minerals of Jamaica ............... Dr. V. G. Hill
Science & Technology Problems in Small

n'rBren .ia r yityrvirL Tor t.e. ITnstitute of
a" marjlcs f'i an$e~yIM crM films, Ann

Subscr tion rates overseas are quoted for
s rface:Mail. Air Mail available at special rates.
Address iialsbecarry account number and the
tnimbeir6flth lsiu .tu th which thesubscrip-
i-n expires.
Available on request.
Available to all teaching and research institu-
tions in the Caribbean, also (to schools .only)
'in UK, Canada -&USA where JAMAICA
-JOURNAL is required as cultural material for
children of West Indian origin.
:Published by the Insithute
of Jamaica, Sept. 1978.

Developing Countries ......
The Colon People Part 2 ......
The Robert Kerr Emigrants "Irish
Slaves" for Jamaica ..........
The Green Castle Mill ..........

Jamaica (Government subsidized in
Jamaica) postage free
1 year $5.00
2 years $10.00
3 years) $12.50)

..... Dr. Arnoldo K. Ventura 76
............. Olive Senior 87

.............. Carl Senior 104
........... David Buisseret 117

Payable in all currencies, to the equivalent
of the following as expressed in US$ (to
facilitate conversion).
1 year $15.00
including postage
2 years $30.00
&handling charges.
3 years) $45.00)

Front Cover -
The Ascension by Carl Abrahams, from Exhibition at the National Gallery of Jamaica
April 1978 (Courtesy Olympia Art Centre)

Back Cover --
The Ordinance of Baptism Baxter from a Kidd drawing (Courtesy West India Ref-
erence. Library):


***i lI..



A worshipper going "into the spirit" a heightened form of religious experience. (Photos Institute of Jamaica Keith Morrison)



Rev. Ashley Alexander Smith was ordained in 1955 and is a
Minister of the United Church of Jamaica and Grand Cayman.
He was educated at St. Colmes Theological College, The
University of London, Lancaster Theological Seminary Penn.,
and gained the Master in Theology from Princeton Theological
Seminary where his dissertation was Theology and Personality
and Religion and Society.
Rev. Smith has held many positions in Religious, Educational
and Civic Organisations, inter alia, he has been President of the
Jamaica Council of Churches,

The position taken in this presentation is that
Pentecostalism, as it is manifested in the Jamaican
situation, is not merely a form of religious
expression, but also an indication of the need on the
part of certain sections of the main stream of the
society to find effective means of responding
positively to prevalent social attitudes. These
attitudes are reflected even within the Christian
community. They militate against the best interests
of those who feel the need to respond in ways typified
by the Pentecostal phenomenon and other
non-religious forms of social protest. The approach
to the subject therefore is not one that could be
described as being strictly theological in the
traditional sense of the use of that term. The
intention is to bring to bear upon this presentation
insights gained from a number of the disciplines
which fall under the Humanities and are now
considered kindred to the study of Theology:
Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology, Ethics and
Ecclesiology. [The study of the History and the
forms of the expression of the Church in the world]
et. al.
Before we proceed to consider the implications of
our thesis, it is necessary to clarify our
understanding of the phenomenon with which we are
dealing so that it is not confused with other religious
or quasi-religious phenomena known to us.
Pentecostalism must be distinguished from Seventh
Day Adventism, Jehovah's Witness and the many

kinds-of "Brethren" groups which are not native to
this country. It must also not be identified with
'Pocomania' which is at best, sub-Christian; or with
Rastafarianism which is undoubtedly religious but
openly antagonistic to Christianity as the latter is
traditionally practiced and symbolised.
Pentecostalism in our situation, like in others, is
identified in the following ways: -
Beliefs Pentecostals believe that:
(1) Salvation is a free gift apart from deeds and
the sanctions of the 'accepted' church.
(2) The individual as well as the group should
submit to the leading of the spirit.
(3) There should be a return to the simplicity of
worship of the Apostolic age.
(4) Believers ought to separate themselves from
the 'world'.
(5) Believers should look to the imminent visible
return of Christ who will subdue or abolish the
present powers and systems and set up his millennial
reign. In this sense, they are characterized as
Evangelicals whose theology is akin to
Forms of Initiation and Expression: One enters
the Church by baptism after showing evidence of
conversion and giving public testimony to this new
experience. Members must seek to be led by the
spirit in their lives, and believers should maintain a
vibrant hope for the imminent return of the Lord, as
well as forsaking evil manifestations of the world
such as the enjoyment of secular amusements and
the use of jewellery and cosmetics.
Members are expected to fast regularly as a means
of maintaining discipline and acquiring the ability to
commune with the Spirit; they should testify in the
assembly from time to time to reassure both
themselves and the rest of the fellowship that they
are not only remaining true to their faith but also
growing in grace. The ability to speak in tongues is
seen as an indication of the attainment,
sanctification and proof of possession by the Holy
Spirit which is the hallmark of Christian experience.
Revivals and camp meetings are used as a means of

winning souls for the Kingdom and reclaiming
At an earlier stage of their evolution,
Pentecostalists tended to be suspicious of and even
hostile to clerical learning because it was believed
that biblical criticism presupposed among other
things, the rejection of much that is contained in the
King James' version of the Bible. It is still held by
many, that formal preparation for the religious
vocation is either an indication that the leader has
not had an authentic conversion experience and
therefore is not controlled by the Holy Spirit, or that
formal scientific education tends to inhibit the
operation of the Spirit in the preacher's life and
Visible Characteristics of the Movement
Location of Pentecostal Chapels: Pentecostal
Chapels are usually located in the following types of
1. In the vicinity of sugar estates and Bauxite
mining areas,
2. On the rim or fringe of urban centres.
3. Just outside of urban industrial complexes in the
city or large towns
4. Along the back streets and alleys of small towns,
5. Within clusters of slum dwellings just outside of
large middle and upper income residential areas,
6. In close proximity to established traditional
Churches especially in rural areas.

Constituency [Membership] It is interesting to
observe the socio-economic qualifications and
educational level of first generation members of
Pentecostal groups. It is estimated that over eighty
percent of the total membership of some groups is
female. Male members are either in the late
adolescent or early adulthood age groups mainly
because they are still dependent on their mothers
and grandmothers for material support or have
amorous designs on female members who are
considered more desirable because of the insistence
within the sect on sexual purity.
A large number of the first generation members
are women who have had at least one child out of
wedlock. A number of these persons would be the
products of homes with step-fathers and now a few
are former church school pupils of established
It has been found that a large number of the
members of those Assemblies which meet in Chapels
located on the rim of luxurious residential areas,
would be employed as household helpers. Within the
industrial and rural-urban slum areas, most
members would naturally be engaged in low income
manual work in factories.
Most Pentecostal members are as close as possible
to being fully African by physical appearance and
manifesting a minimum of adaptation to anglo-saxon
culture in respect of speech and behaviour.

Educationally, the majority are either totally
illiterate or functionally so. Many of these persons
live either in tenement yards, poorly constructed
shacks or in the 'maids quarters' of middle class
In short, the people who make up the constituency
of Pentecostal Churches, represent the most poorly
educated, worst housed, lowest paid, and most
victimised in the population, and naturally, as 'birds
of a feather' they roost together.
Leadership: Unlike the normal situation among
lower income members of established or mainline
European type Churches, Pentecostal groups are
usually led by male persons from the same
socio-economic sector who have had little or no
exposure to life situations outside of the physical and
cultural environment with which members of the
group live. First generation preacher-leaders were
almost invariably former office holders in mainline
churches, or persons who have failed to get
appointed or elected to positions of leadership in the
latter. In many cases, they were the victims of
unjust decisions made by the arbiters of intra-group
disputes. In not a few cases, the exodus of these
persons came as a consequence of controversial
choices of pastoral leaders for former congregations.
The primary requirements of the leader of the
typical Pentecostal group seems to be (i) evidence of
an authentic conversion experience, (ii) a good clear
voice, and (iii) a warm outgoing personality. Until
recently, it seemed to have been in the interest of the
leader not to be too far ahead of his flock
educationally, since that tended to create social
distance between groups and leader, a factor which
would make the exodus from the 'nominal' churches
less rewarding.
Worship:Pentecostal worship is characterized by
simplicity of physical setting, order of worship and
speech. There is much singing, the reading of
Scripture, preaching and testimony. One distinctive
feature of Pentecostal worship is the emphasis on
freedom of expression among members of the
congregation and the patience exercised by
worshippers towards each other. A great deal of
emotional unburdening takes place within each
worship service, and this is facilitated by the
unrestrictive nature of the service in respect of tune
and the demand for propriety in speech and physical
Implications for Church and Society of the rapid
growth of Pentecostalism
There are now clear signs that the feeling of
contempt and disgust with which most middle class
members of the established churches regarded the
phenomena of Pentecostalism is no longer as strong
as it used to be. One of the reasons for this is that
with the indiginisation of our political leadership and
the growing tendency towards self-affirmation
among the significant Jamaicans, the need to

renounce what is typical of the majority of the
Jamaican people has declined considerably. This
means that there is growing appreciation for and
genuine acceptance of what is 'native' in the culture.
This has led to a more enlightened approach to
religious groups on the part of those who control the
communications media and the increased use of
'native' music and dance, not only by radio and
television, but by the less conservative leaders of the
traditional churches. In addition to all of this, there
is the significant factor of the gradual 'routinization
of charisma' that has taken place within
Pentecostalism itself. While there are very few
noticeable changes in the liturgical behaviour of
Pentecostalists, it is very evident that the movement
has taken on Church-type characteristics in respect
of organization, preparation for and expectations of
Pentecostal 'Elders' are not only wearing clerical
garb and displaying signs of affluence, they have
now taken seriously the need for formal preparation
for the Ministry and this to the extent that a few are
now holders of University degrees and diplomas.
Despite the evolution of the movement however, it
behoves us not just to accept it as a younger church
and seek pardon for our unchristian and uncharitable
attitude to it just yesteryear. It would be
irresponsible on the part of those who lead in church
and society not to take seriously the implications of
the phenomena and seek to respond to what it is
saying to the legitimate and legitimizing sector of
the society.
The first factor to bear in mind is the historical
period during which the movement has had its most
phenomenal growth. Like most of the deviant
movements of our society, Pentecostalism has grown
most noticeably since the mid-thirties. The reason
for this is clear. The perception of the disinherited
people that the established churches were incapable
of meeting the needs they felt, coincided with the
accelerated growth of national consciousness among
the mass of the Jamaican people. It is not surprising
then that while the movement for political
independence from Great Britain was gaining
momentum, the voiceless and powerless Jamaicans
within and on the periphery of the life of churches
based in Great Britain were taking their exit from
these groups both physically and ideologically.
The Pentecostalist renunciation of the traditional
churches was for the same reason as the departure of
the Black Americans from the galleries of mainline
Protestant Churches in that country to become the
Black Churches like A.M.E., A.M.E.L., G.M.E., the
host of other black religious groups and the Black
Muslim movement. This Pentecostalist 'walk out'
here is also comparable to the emergence of native
African churches especially during the past couple of
decades, and it is of great significance that many of
these 'native' Christian groups emerge either just
before or immediately following the achievement of

political independence by these erstwhile colonial
territories to which the people belong.
It would seem therefore, that there is a positive
relationship between the search for political and
economic independence in the secular or
non-religious sphere of life and the desire for
independence in the religious sphere. As T.A.
Beetham' states in his discussion of the same
phenomenon in the Africa situation, the church had
not been firmly in the van of the independence
movement as it should have been in the light of its
claim for justice and respect for the individual.
In sociological terminology, the Christian Church
had capitulated to the prevailing social norms.
Despite what they preached or affirmed publicly, the
significant people within the churches were seen to
behave in the same manner towards the voiceless
and powerless majority as the latter's middle and
upper class employers and those with whom they
had to come into contact in public places. Because of
their sense of shame about their ability to express
themselves verbally and their fear of reprisal
vis-a-vis employment and their children's chances for
social advancement, they were compelled to remain
schizophrenic even in the matter of religious
expression. An example of this comes from the
writer's own experience.
A young lady employed in our home as a
household helper, began her religious life in the city
by attending a predominantly upper middle-class
suburban congregation in close proximity to her
work place, a congregation affiliated to the same
denomination as her home church. Returning from
worship after the first Sunday at this church, she
showed no enthusiasm whatever. On the second
Sunday she was asked how she liked it at the church.
Her reply was that it was too early to tell. On the
third Sunday, she came through the gate in great
haste, headed for her room and slammed the door
behind her. She was heard sobbing loudly and it was
very obvious that something had upset her. When
asked what was wrong, she described the manner in
which she was openly snubbed at this church. She
claimed that she was left standing alone at study
time because no one invited her to any of the study
groups and no one came even to apologise to her. She
left before the worship service began. On the
following Sunday she attended the Pentecostal
Church nearby and found there not only complete
acceptance but also ample opportunity for
expression of her creative talents. Needless to say,
her performance as an employee corresponded
closely with her zeal as an adherent of that church.
We may safely conclude therefore that a major
cause of the growth of Pentecostalism is the
reflection in the practice of our churches of the social,
economic and aesthetic values of our highly
stratified society. These people left our Churches
because they perceived that they were not welcome
as active participants, and therefore did not feel at

home with those with whom they worshipped.
The significance of the location of Pentecostal
Chapels is of primary importance to our discussion.
With the exception of remote rural districts, all the
types of locations mentioned, are characterized by
high geographical mobility and transiency. In recent
years, the population has either moved in large
numbers into these areas or out of them especially in
the cases where the districts are served by
established traditional churches. Again, there is
significance to the observation that Pentecostal
groups that are close to historical churches are found
least frequently to churches of the Jamaica Baptist
The following interpretations may be applicable to
this phenomenon.
(i) With regard to the relationship with Baptist
Churches, the Pentecostal emphasis on the
expressive aspect of worship and to Charismatic
leadership must certainly be a factor. It is well
known that the Baptist Church is more indigenous in
organization, constituency and liturgy than any
other of our British based churches, and would
therefore allow for the meeting of the need for verbal
and non-verbal expression to a much greater extent
than in most of the other traditional churches.
Again, the practice of adult baptism and
immersion must be a primary factor. Among the
people without an established nuclear family
tradition, the practice of infant baptism is suspect,
and especially where there is a strong sense of guilt
in respect of sexual expressions, and the fear of being
lost eternally makes the more expressive form of
baptism desirable since the clean flowing water and
the coming up out of the water is so clearly symbolic
of the thorough cleansing from sin and readiness to
begin with a 'clean sheet'. Whatever our criticism of
the insistence on immersion and believers baptism
might be, the symbolic value of it in a culture that is
highly guilt producing, cannot be under-estimated;
especially by those who are aware of the dynamics of
There is therefore clearly a correlation between the
comparative strength of rural Baptist Churches and
consequently the comparative distance between
rural Baptist Churches and thriving Pentecostal
(ii) Another aspect of the Pentecostalist-Baptist
relationship, is the leadership question. It is well
known that the Baptist Church is not only
congregational in polity, but because it declared its
independence from its British parent body so early
after the abolition of chattel slavery, has developed a
ministry more firmly rooted in the Jamaican rural
culture than any other of the established churches. It
is therefore very possible that communication
between pulpit and pew within Baptist groups is
much more free of meaning barriers than is the case

Wildman Street Chapel: One of the more
prosperous modern Pentecostal Churches.
Worshippers are generally faithful in their
support according to their means. Churches
range from very small poor structures to large
modem buildings.

in those churches where the bias has been on the side
of a more urban and 'academic' pulpit. In rather
unsophisticated terms, first generation Pentecostal-
ists have explained their exodus as a kind of
resentment of or impatience with the 'cultural
arrogance' of many overseas even though
well-intentioned Minister/Priest and the pseudo-
foreigners of the academic or miseducated native
successor of the missionary. Where this is the case,
the little that is shared between pulpit and pew,
hence the preference of the less anglicised members
of the community for a socio-religious climate in
which pulpit and pew are closer to each other in the
sense of sharing a common background of cultural
interests and language.
(iii) In the case of Pentecostals in the impermanent
situations such as the sugar estate and Bauxite
mining areas and urban and suburban slums, there is
usually one of two trends:
(a) The person on the move usually on the fringe
of the life of a rural congregation of one of the
traditional churches, finds the formality and
anonymity of the new situation unbearable. She is
easily mystified by the unpredictability of personal
contacts in the work situation and is therefore driven
to seek 'spiritual solace' among persons of her own
kind in respect of economic background and
emotional need.
(b) Persons in the lower economic and
educational bracket who are members of traditional
churches in the receiving community, usually find
new arrivals threatening, especially in the area of
expectations of advancement in the hierarchy of the
group. They tend therefore to move out of the 'old'
church when it is invaded by white collar transients
and to create their own groups where they are
assured of greater freedom of movement and
expression, and are less likely to suffer the indignity
of having to give place to the more qualified
It might be observed here that a majority of the
members of Pentecostal groups which meet on the
outskirts of middle and upper income residential
areas, are related in one way or another to people
who occupy the acceptable houses. They are usually
employed to the latter either as yardmen, household
helpers or casual workers. Although, in many cases,
these employees are persuaded by their employers to
attend the letters place of worship, even if they
oblige with a first visit, they seldom seek
membership in those groups since they are likely to
be in social relationship to their bosses at church as
at home and would therefore be restricted in their
desire for freedom of expression.
Membership in a group with egalitarian
relationships is seen therefore as an opportunity for
free expression, and even temporary respite from the
verbal and cultural domination to which one is
exposed where one earns one's bread, hence the
preference of persons in that economic category for

the Pentecostal type group.
(iv) Of the groups in remote rural districts, it
should be obvious that with the new awareness of
social and economic reality brought about by access
to the mass media, overseas migration, the exposure
of their children to higher education, and the
dissemination of political ideas, it is natural for the
adherents of churches that are mere preaching
points, to become impatient with the infrequent and
unpredictable visits of pastors and subordination to
congregations located close to the pastor's residence.
The climate created by a combination of all these
factors is ideal for the emergence of independent
groups with indigenous leadership and modes of
expression and administration. The independent
local group with its freedom from "foreign
authority", and the restraints of an imposed form of
worship, provide ample opportunity for mutual care,
and the announcement of the judgement of the Lord
upon the powers that be.
In view of the foregoing observations, it is safe to
conclude that there is a positive correlation between
the factors necessitating the concentration of people
in those locations in which Pentecostal groups are
usually to be found, and between the socio-economic
characteristics of these people and their preference
for this particular kind of sectarian religious group.
The, grouping of people in these circumstances
according to H. Richard Neibuhr,2 is an answer to
the need for a centre around which people can
organise their values, a leadership that would hold
together the scattered individuals of the race, a form
of organization which enable them to foster and
maintain their solidarity.
The general characteristics of those who make up
the membership of Pentecostal churches, is another
aspect of the phenomenon that is of immense
significance. The overwhelming predominance of
women in that developmental period between
puberty and the age of thirty, and the fact that so
many of these are unwed mothers, and poorly
educated persons employed in domestic and other
unskilled occupations, bear out the generalisations
by exponents of the sociology of religion. Max
Weber,3 for instance, observes that among other
things, "the religion of the disprivileged classes in
contrast to the aristocratic cults of the martial
nobles, is characterized by the tendency to allot
equality to women". The influence of women, he
states, "tended to intensify those aspects of the
religion that are emotional and hysterical." The need
of the underprivileged for a sense of worthiness,
must be seen as a very important factor in the
growth of Pentecostalism because in our culture
where so much of the onus for the maintenance of an
imposed moral ideal in the area of sex, and family life
is so heavily the women, the need to maintain
spotlessness in sexual morality, imposes a heavy
burden on women of the poorer classes, who, because

of their religious sensibilities, find the use of
contraceptives highly repulsive while being unable to
resist the pressure for favours by men of all classes in
a culture where sexual promiscuity is commended in
men and severely condemned in women, and
childlessness is considered a curse by many of those
who are the victims of over production of unwanted
Since the rigidity and institution-centred
discipline of the traditional churches militates
against the instrumentation of forgiveness by the
fellowship of the church, it is not surprising that
once young women become unwed mothers, the
tendency is for them to migrate to town or overseas
and to seek 'refuge' and a new beginning in
Pentecostal groups where they are more likely to find
acceptance and moral support as they seek to recover
their sense of honour and a new future. Conversion
must be seen in this context as having more than a
strictly religious significance. David Moberg states
that conversion includes any relatively sudden
emergence of new role, outlook, belief, group
identification, character or personality and includes
personal 'mutations' and changes in political,
economic or social outlook as well as religious
re-organisation of one's life.
Whether inadvertently or intentionally, conscious-
ly or unconsciously, the conversion of the
unprivileged or socially stigmatised person is related
to the need to make a new start by cancelling out the
past and thereby qualifying for re-entry into the
group which one sees as significant and supportive of
one's self-hood. The spiritual characteristic of
religious conversion, especially for the unprivileged
woman, may also be seen as an aspect of the need to
compensate in religious practices for the virtues of
the privileged classes which have only temporal and
merely social significance in an unjust social system.
It is here that we see the implications of the tendency
for female members of Pentecostal groups to be
carpingly critical of their upper and middle class
counterparts and adherents of traditional churches
in general. They invariably allude to the fact that
although middle and upper class women are often of
easy virtues, they are seen as chaste and desirable
just because the use of contraceptives protects them
against the possibility of having to bring children to
birth outside of legal marriage.
Fear of getting caught with pregnancy and
thereby relapsing socially, is probably the strongest
factor in the continued adherence to the Pentecostal
group on the part of a great number of women, but
membership in the group is significant also as a
means of enhancing one's chances for legal marriage
eventually, since strict adherence to religious
morality is usually seen even by sexually
promiscuous men as a mark of trustworthiness in
In the final analysis however, it is the female who
is least victimised by the situation which generates

the kind of need which beggars the 'religious'
solution. Being able to cope with certain felt
emotional needs by means of the 'religious' response
she becomes free for normal economic activities
where the male is so fettered by unresolved socio-
emotional phobias that he finds it virtually
impossible to cope with basic economic challenges. It
is no wonder therefore that by and large, the female
member of the Pentecostal group is not only
relatively economically independent when she
remains single, but also the mainstay of the family
when she gets married to a male of similar
socio-economic background who very often has no
serious religious affiliation.
In summary, the constituency of Jamaican
Pentecostalism may be said to approximate to the
generalisation that the religious group to which one
is affiliated, and the religious beliefs one holds, are
always related directly to the way one sees one's self
and one's place in society in relation to the prevailing
moral values and the significant people in any
Another aspect of Pentecostalism which must be
taken into account in any attempt to study its
implications, is its leadership. The leadership of any
group has to be looked at in relation to the following:
(i) The socio-economic status of the group;
(ii) The function the group is expected to fulfill
either for its own members or for others who may
profit directly or indirectly from the group's
(iii) The mode of the group's inception and the stage
of its development at which leadership is required.
The socio-economic status of the general
membership of the group determines its leader's
functions in respect of the needs of the group and the
functions determine the leader's level of education,
degree of social competence, manner of
communication and the amount of time that is
required for the effective leadership of the groups.
The higher the economic status of the group
generally, the greater must be the leader's social
discipline and educational qualification. The more
minimal his direct control over the group or the lives
of its individual members, the less direct must be his
critical references to the prevailing behavioral
norms of members of the group, the less evident his
emotional involvement in what he communicates,
and the greater the amount of time he is expected to
give to the affairs of the group. The reverse applies
to the lower members of the group which falls in the
social ranking.
As regards the functions served by the group, the
kind of leader and type of leadership expected or
tolerated, depend generally on whether or not the
group represents the normally accepted values of the
culture or is a response or reaction to a situation or
set of circumstances. Religious leadership of the

established socio-economic groups conforms to
doctrinal conceptions and traditions exist to
preserve these traditions or to serve the established
goals of the respective status group. In the case of
the disinherited or economically poor to which
Pentecostals belong, since the group exists to help
members to cope with psychological stress and
problems of existential meaning, the leader is
normally expected to be the mouthpiece for the felt
needs and compensatory expectations. He must
therefore be seen to possess physical and other
qualities which enable him to serve as surrogate and
general champion of the underdog. Unlike the leader
of the established group, the Pentecostal 'preacher'
is expected to have the power to receive the message
for the moment and declare it with visible emotion.
He must also be able to declare convincingly the
judgement of God upon those who are part of the
structure in which his hearers feel scandalised and
oppressed. His principal role is therefore the
prophetic as against the priestly and intellectual
which are of primary importance for those who lead
the economically secure and established groups.
The amount of devotion given to the leader by
members of the group and the manner and amount of
material compensation they receive from time to
time, are highly significant. Although Pentecostal
preachers are supposed to be part-time, the amount
of remuneration they received in most cases is far in
excess of that received by extensively trained
full-time priests and ministers of established
religious groups. This is clearly symbolic of the
extent and nature of the needs met by the leader for
those participating in the group's total experience.
In addition to characteristics typical of the
leadership of other groups, one might offer the
assumption that there is a correlation between the
predominant femaleness of the membership of
typical Pentecostal groups, the age level of the
majority of their members and the dominance of the
In a cultural situation that is predominantly
matriarchal, there is need for adequate father
substitutes at one level or another for the purpose of
reducing the anxiety produced by the incohesiveness
of the typical fatherless family. The 'powerful'
preacher may therefore be not only the physical
representation of the all powerful God, but also the
substitute for the absent head of the family or the
physically present but 'spineless' husband. This
aspect of the leadership of the Pentecostal group
poses a sizeable problem to those responsible for
social development in the nation and as has already
been stated in this paper, reflects the need in the
established post-missionary churches, for the
emancipation of the native pastor from the 'native
foreigner' image with which he has been saddled
historically and because of which he is by and large,
incapable of either perceiving clearly or responding
adequately to the needs indicated above.

Developmental Trends
Like living organisms, institutions have their
natural history. They run the gamut from incipiency
on the stage of formal organization from where they
begin to face the threat of absolescence and decay.
As they grow older groups which begin in deviance
or protest, become increasingly more adjusted to
their socio-cultural habitat; the original reasons for
their existence become modified and they take on
forms which make them less conspicuous and more
amendable o corresponding groups and evolve
rational organizational forms and dogma which
ensure their perpetuation in history. This
generalization explains the reason Pentecostal
groups in other parts of the world have sought for
and secured membership in the World Council of
Churches, and now occupy prominent places in the
administration of national church councils in many
places where they exist. From being purely
voluntary and charismatic groups, some Pentecostal
churches have evolved into established sects and
tend towards the acquisition of typical church forms.
There is ample evidence that socially, members of
many Pentecostal groups have arrived. Preachers
now don clerical garb including the clerical collar
which was once condemned by them as a sign that
the whole truth was being 'hidden' by ministers and
priests of established denominations. Many
Pentecostal pastors now own and operate expensive
cars and justify this on the ground that they need to
be able to meet deadlines with congregations of their
multiple point circuits. Not a few now own large
properties and reside in fashionable middle class
residential areas. Lady members by virtue of their
'changed' and disciplined lives, have enhanced their
desirability as employees and wives and not a few
have made themselves eligible for recommendations
for high salaried occupations overseas. Through the
discipline demanded of members of the groups, many
have improved their education to the point where
they qualify for entry into the professions.
As the children of founding members gain their
respectable places in society through formal
education and the discipline of the Christian home,
they either return to the traditional churches or
make demands for leaders who are better educated
and free for full-time employment.
In response to this, Pentecostal leaders are now
required to have basic training in Bible schools with
a few working towards academic degrees. Although
there are yet comparatively few known second
generation members with high academic qualifica-
tions, there is good reason to believe this will come,
especially as a response to the rapid indigenization of
the established denomination and the growing
tendency towards self-affirmation and de-anglicisa-
tion of attitudes and expectations among the
Jamaican people.
Many conclusions may be drawn from the fact of
observable changes in respect of leadership

expectations and organizational forms of Jamaican
Pentecostalism. The most obvious is that, as people
become more secure either through group acceptance
or the elimination of certain needs, their social
attitudes change also and with these the need for
certain forms of religious expression.
As the things of this world become more accessible
to the erstwhile deprived and unprivileged, the
possession of these things by others becomes less
noticeable and less offensive and the things
themselves seem less damnable. As these changes
take place in people, their world view changes and
with the world their conception of God, the life to
come, leadership, and organizations. Sects
eventually become respectable denominations
making necessary the emergence of new sects to
meet the needs of those who for one reason or
another can no longer conform to existing groups,
and feel compelled to challenge the status quo, thus
setting the stage for desirable social change.
Lessons for the Traditional Churches
As has been observed, Pentecostalism, like any
other social phenomenon, through the evolutionary
process eventually becomes a normal part of social
landscape, but this does not remove the need for an
adequate response to the underlying reasons for the
emergence and growth of the movement. However
objective, liberal and rational may be our approach
to the movement, those who represent and order the
affairs of what ought to be described as the official or
legitimate in church and society cannot exculpate
themselves the responsibility for those things which
provide the soil for the growth and fructification of
socio-religious groups like Pentecostalism, for in
very simple terms, this is one of the means by which
God declares his judgement upon those who accept
deputyship in his Kingdom but like Jonah, are
overcome by personal or culture biases and thereby
fail to comply with the terms of their appointment.
Undoubtedly, Pentecostalism speaks to both Church
and State, but for the specific purpose of this
exercise, we will confine ourselves to that aspect of it
which demands the attention and response of that
part of the Christian Church which we represent.
The phenomenal growth of the Pentecostal
movement in Jamaica, exposes the failure of
Christian Church in this land to take seriously the
reality of the world at which the Gospel is aimed. The
exodus from our Churches of the first Pentecostals is
an indication of the impatience of the mass of the
Jamaican people with the apparent apathy of those
who claim to be the body of Christ in the world. Our
people left our churches because generally, we failed
to take seriously their cries for help against the
forces which hold them captive, body and soul in our
world. Pentecostals like their non-religious
counterparts, turned to themselves for answers to
their needs to which they waited in vain for a
response from the official church.

The plea of the first Pentecostals, like those of all
other oppressed people, was first of all, for
recognition as human beings with specific needs and
endowed with gifts and graces to be affirmed,
exploited and developed to the glory of God and for
the service of God. Pentecostalism is one
manifestation of the resourcefulness of the Holy
Spirit, His ability to get his work done by means
other than the instrument, the established or
institutionalized Christian Church. There is a sense
therefore, in which the survival and maturation of
that form of the church represents the triumph of
Grace in human history, for through movements like
Pentecostalism, God brings salvation to His people
in spite of the failures of a hesitant or disobedient
Pentecostalism points up the failure of the
institutionalized Churches to discern both the real
needs of people and the appearance of a "Kairos".
The events in Jamaican history between the mid
thirties and the present time, have provided ample
evidence of the futility of trying to keep an organism
anchored at a development stage once the time for it
to move to the next stage.
By failing to make the needs of the people its
primary focus, even at the risk of losing itself in its
inherited form, the institutionalized Churches of
Jamaica have had to be content to see the people to
whom God has sent them, go through their doors in
order that the latter may be able to find the freedom
promised in the Gospel but made inaccessable to
them by a disobedient Church which is so fearful of
losing itself as it now is, so that it might find a larger
self through the experience of death and
The Church from which Pentecostal walked, and
which rastafarians and political radicals now regard
with scorn and anger, has been a church in which
Christians have failed to see Salvation in terms of
the affirmation of the selfhood of people, and
therefore, the need to address itself in the power of
the Holy Spirit and with the use of its limited
resources to the destruction or taming of the forces
which obstruct the process of total liberation of that
selfhood with which people are endowed by God. By
conforming to the biases and 'sinful' expectations of
a highly stratified and secular society, the
established Churches have failed to gear themselves
to respond to the actual needs of people in our
situation and thereby share joyfully in bringing
salvation in all its forms to a people ready to lose
their chains.
Pentecostalism in Jamaica exposes the
inadequacy of the Churches traditional equipment
for, and approach to its mission in several areas, and
particularly: Ministerial leadership, Pastoral care,
discipline and education.
Ministry: By failing to learn from the insights of
contemporary human studies, the Churches have
failed to develop a ministry that is sufficiently

I .

A '-
Baptism at Pentecostal Faith Church of All Nations 1934/UPI
(from Harlem on My Mind)
equipped to listen to, interpret and respond to what
'man in modern Jamaica is saying. Because we come
to our task in Jamaica with assumptions about man
that were made in another culture and in another
century, we have found ourselves in a situation in
which everybody's language needs to be translated
for those to whom it is addressed. On our part as
ministers, we have taken our stance virtually as
emissaries from another country knowing only that
the people need to be other than we are told that they
are by those who have made assumptions about
them from a distance of four thousand miles with all
that that implies. We have hardly sought to use the
instruments developed for the study of man, to
discover for ourselves what they really are because of
where they have been. It is rather interesting that
even in this day, scores of decades after the
establishment of ecclesiastical institutions, there are
no studies available to ministerial students for the
ministry which are the fruits of research carried out,
the records of insights gained by persons who have
ministered to the rank and file of the Jamaican
people. Even now, studies in Psychology, sociology
and Jamaican history are still regarded as merely the
background for serious theological investigations.
Because of all this, with very few exceptions, we
have had a ministry alienated from the people of our
parishes who generally turn to cults and sects for the
fulfilment of their deeply felt needs, having failed to
convince us that they have needs that cannot be
generalised about, specific needs only in relation to

which the Gospel can mean good news to them.
If the ministry of our churches is to
instrumentalise the ministry of Christ for the
Jamaican man even at this stage, it must divest
itself of its anglo-saxon bias; and on this point, one
must hasten to say that in many cases, the real
anglo-saxons are much less foreign in their approach
to 'grass roots' Jamaica than those of us from the
'grass roots' who have internalised that other self,
and are so compulsive about projecting an
'anglo-saxon' image from the pulpit: Nothing is
wrong with being anglo-saxon in a culture that is
actually anglo-saxon, but we create insurmountable
meaning barriers when, in the words of Eric Erikson5
(on Luther), 'we misguidedly become over-commit-
ted to what we are not.'
It might embarrass us to admit this to ourselves,
but in all honesty we need to admit that the
approach of the formally trained minister to the real
world of the Jamaican man, has helped in no small
way to precipitate the departure of so many from the
fellowship of our churches and the emergence of the
Pentecostal movement. Not that anything is wrong
with the movement, but certainly the circumstances
under which it emerged must be seen as part of
God's judgement upon us. Until we become free,
wise and realistic enough to be what by the Grace of
God we are, we will never like our Lord, be able to
make the hearer of the Word rather than the
preservation of the institutional forms of the Church.
The central focus of our ministry, we will continue to
see the last even of those who are now acceptable by
the standard by which we have valued people. It is
not until we have arrived at this point in our own
evolution that we can expect the meanings we intend
to transmit through our sermons and conversation to
meet the meanings brought to the hearing of what
we say, by those who come to listen, meanings
shaped by the peculiar needs people have. Needless
to say, it- is impossible for genuine 'meeting of
meanings' to take place unless there is full
identification on the part of minister, with the real
people to whom he seeks to minister. The need for
this approach to ministry, must first be fully
accepted by our churches and then made the basis
for the training and orientation of those who are set
apart for the ministry of the Word and Sacrament
and as administrators of our congregations, circuits,
cures or charges. By doing this, we will demonstrate
our understanding of the Incarnation of the Word in
the man of Galilee.
Pastoral Care: It is now well established among
those who have done scientific studies of parish life,
that a major factor in the affiliative problems of
religious group life is the care of souls. The sense of
commitment to the Church is judged by the extent to
which its members contribute to its mission,
participate in the sacrament of Holy Communion,
and are willing to defend the Church or their
particular communion against critics. It has been

ascertained that all of this depends on the amount of
and depth of the contact between those directly
responsible for the pastoral care of parishioners, and
consequently, the way people are helped to
understand their own problems and the larger issues
of the community. Many a young female member
and her parents would have been saved from
dropping out of our fellowship if at the time when the
family was faced with the question as to what to do
about an unwanted pregnancy, adequate pastoral
guidance and congregational support could be
counted upon. It is in relation to pastoral care that
fellowship develops and deepens, and the day has
long passed when we can expect fellowship to happen
spontaneously to people. We have to work as hard at
the creation of a genuine sense of belonging, as we do
at the preparation for admission to full communion
or preparation for fulltime ministry. A most
important aspect of fellowship and commitment is
the assurance of forgiveness, but forgiveness has to
be mediated and instrumented after it is proclaimed
and deliberate individual and corporate care is the
means by which mediation and instrumentation of
forgiveness are guaranteed.
Under this heading, it is important for us first to
underline the relationship between discipline, the
assurance of forgiveness and loyalty to group.
Injustice in the administration of discipline is cited
as a major cause of disenchantment with the Church
on the part of many known. The lesser are often
charged and admonished in some places publicly and
without proper investigation of their cases. This
approach naturally intensifies their sense of
worthlessness and leads eventually to their
renunciation of the traditional Church. It is the poor
who are made to bear the burden of the moral failings
of the whole society. Various means are devised by
legitimate groups of helping the more socially
acceptable and we tend to be more sensitive to the
feelings of those of the middle classes and therefore
careful not only to protect them from undue public
exposure but also to ensure that they regain
emotional stability and full acceptance within the
group. All of this is commendable, but every effort
must be made to ensure that discipline is
administered not only indiscriminately but also in
the interest of offenders rather than to preserve the
reputation and traditions of the group. If the church
would win and retain the loyalty of persons in the
name of Christ, it must make central rather than
incidental, the care and discipline of souls as a means
by which persons are confirmed in their relationship
with God and within the community which gives
them identity and opportunity for the expression of
their gifts.
Education: All that we have said about the
phenomena of Pentecostalism and its implications
for the future of the Christian Church in Jamaica,
brings into focus the teaching ministry of the
Church. Most of the social attitudes among members

of our churches which militate against genuine
fellowship and consequently the retention of the
disenchanted can be attributed to the ignorance of
the basic teachings of the Christian Faith. The
Gospel has been proclaimed faithfully for the most
part, but very little has been done to ensure that it is
intelligently understood by those to whom it is
regularly proclaimed. For this reason, most of our
members regard themselves as hearers of good or
bad preaching rather than disciples of Christ.
Pentecostalism exposes the inadequacy of the
educational work of our churches. Since the first
Pentecostal preachers were nearly all ex-members of
one or other of the established churches, their
renunciation and open condemnation of their
religious past must be seen as an indication of the
failure of communication within the traditional
churches. The lack of depth in the commitment of so
many of our people must be attributed to the
vagueness of their understanding of the roots of the
faith, its implication for all of life, and its demands
upon those who believe. Marginality of belonging
which characterises so much of our church life must
be seen as an indication that unlike our Lord, we
have not sought by the cultivation of 'twelves' to
disseminate the understanding of the kingdom to the
crowd by way of more intensive work of the well
prepared 'seventy'.
As James Gustafson so aptly reminds us, "the
church is the community that remembers Jesus
Christ, understands what he means, relives this
meaning and gives it contemporary expression in
personal common life." But the only way we can
ensure that this is an actuality and not just empty
ideal, is to make sure that every member of the
church at every level is involved in a meaningful and
demanding educational experience.
It is to our shame as Christians that at this time so
close to the end of the second millennium after
Pentecost, it takes radical politicians and
revolutionaries to make possible for mankind the
breaking down of the barriers by which men are
alienated from each other, from the future and from
God, and because of this waste so much of their
resources in meaningless and destructive conflicts.
For this we must blame ourselves for failing to make
disciples or to educate those who become members of
the household of Faith. But it is not too late and if
our attempt to examine Pentecostalism as a religious
and social phenomenon does nothing else for us, it
should help us to see the need to sharpen the
educational tools at our disposal and capitalise on
our opportunities to open the eyes of Christians so
that they may discover God's great purpose for his
world and in doing this, find ways of removing or
transcending the man-made barriers to genuine
fellowship and peace among people. Education for all
of life cannot be left to those who make Education as
a field of study their speciality. It must be made
central to the Church's ungoing ministry and

mission and its methods and content must be able to
stand the test of acceptable pedagogical standards
and sound theology. Only as such can it serve in
Christ's name to create Christlikeness in all of us and
thus enable us to help others to find security and
fulfilment as they try to live with others in
In the light of the foregoing observations and
assumptions, I submit that the Pentecostal
movement as we know it in our situation has more
positive values than are usually attributed to it.
Rather than viewing it with contempt and regarding
it as a travesty of religious expression as so many
tend to do, we should see it as providential. It is first
of all an escape valve for much of the feelings of
anger, disappointment and hopelessness which is
quite justifiably built up in the breasts of the large
mass of our unprivileged and oppressed people. By
expressing those feelings in ways that are socially
harmless, to say the least, and personally relieving to
themselves the adherents of Pentecostal Christianity
continue to save our society from the convulsions
and physical destruction which have been
experienced by other societies that are similarly
structured because they have much the same
economic and social history. Because of all this
therefore, it behoves all who make decisions affecting
the nation's future, first of all, to see the movement
as a sign of God's patience with us, and secondly to
ensure that those conditions which make this and
other forms of protest desirable are speedily removed
so that those that are now disadvantaged may have
some disworldly hope.
Where the Christian Church is concerned, there is
need for those who have stood apart from our fellow
christians who have left our fellowship and
renounced their religious past, to take the initiative
towards reconciliation with them, and consequently,
the healing of the Body of Christ. In addition to
seeking to be reconciled, we need to take a critical
look at our approach to the mission of the Church.
Hitherto, we have compartmentalised man's
existence and deceived ourselves into thinking that
we could save his soul and leave him to starve
physically and socially since it was assumed only his
soul was of God. In addition to this, we have failed to
give due attention in the Church to the affiliative and
expressive aspects of the religious life, and even
ignored the native resources for our worship
experiences while we try to fit people into a frame of
worship that is foreign to their nature. An honest
and open approach to the achievements of
Pentecostalism should help us to adopt a more
comprehensive approach to man's need and the
religious life and certainly a less apologetic attitude
to what is native to the majority of the Jamaican
people. Hopefully, we may use both our own past
failures and the insights from the discoveries of

modern social science in shaping the tools for the
prosecution of the ministry to which Christ has
called us in the interest of the world for which he
gave his very life.

1. Beetham, T.H.

2. Neibuhr, H.R.

3. Weber, Max.

4. Moberg, David.

5. Erikson, Erik.
6. Gustafson, James.

Some Other Sources

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Acknowledgement: This study was first published by the Litera-
ture Committee of the Methodist Church, as The William
Hammett Lecture 1975.

James Baldwin and Roger Mais

Dr. Adrianne Roberts Baytop was born in Jamaica where she
received her early education. She received the B.A. in Classics
(Phi Beta Kappa) and the Ph.D. in Comparative Literature,
University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Dr. Baytop is currently
Associate Professor and member of the University Senate,
Rutgers University. Her major publication is Dido: Queen of
Infinite Literary Variety (Salsburg Press, 1974). Work in
preparation "Portraits in Black: The Protean Quest".

Jamaica's Roger Mais and Harlem's James
Baldwin have produced fictional works embodying a
similar literary preoccupation: a penchant for
ritualistic fiction, prototypically evangelical. Yet
they were born not only in separate countries but
also almost two decades apart (Mais in 1905 and
Baldwin in 1924). They were in addition, nurtured in
two different home and educational environments
and developed two dissimilar lifestyles and
personalities. Mais, the fourth of eight children of
a druggist father and teacher mother, enjoyed the
privileges of the Jamaican near-white middle-class
society. Having earned a Senior Certificate at 17
,from Calabar High School, he could abandon the
various types of employment to seek his method of
self expression. In his Introduction to the Heinmann
edition of Mais' Brother Man (1975), Edward
Brathwaite has supplied very useful commentary on
Mais's life style and interests. Mais in fact broke
caste to associate with the people of whom he wrote.
Baldwin, on the other hand, writes from his own
experiences; the oldest of nine children, he was
nurtured in a very different environment, as he
points out in his essays "Autobiographical Notes,"
"Notes of a Native Son," and elsewhere. The stepson
of a Harlem evangelical preacher, Baldwin became a
young minister at the age of 14 but his high school
love of literature supplanted his enforced religious
fervour, much to the chagrin of his fanatically
doctrinaire father. The comparisons between these
two authors tend to obscure their literary James Baldwin
commonality, a bond which is significant enough to (Photo Jerry Baur)
justify an examination of this shared aesthetic

-the Pentecostal Theme


Mais, the dramatist, essayist, journalist, novelist,
poet, painter and short story writer, achieved
national distinction for his three extant novels: The
Hills Were Joyful Together (1953), Brother Man
(1954), and Black Lightning (1955), his essays, his
poetry and his painting. At his death in 1955, he left
a considerable body of unpublished works: two
novels, Blood on the Moon, Storm Warning; the
fragment In the Sight of This Sun, and several
plays. I To his credit, he reached international
attention with the publication of his essay, "Now We
Know," Public Opinion (July 14, 1944), a
masterpiece of political satire. Convicted for
sedition, he was made to cool his rebel voice in St.
Catherine prison for six months. Noticeably, both
Mais and the internationally celebrated poet, Ezra
Pound, were imprisoned for their polemic activities
during World War II. An irony of Mais' fate is that
this period of penal servitude so tempered his
reputed malcontent nature that he subsequently
realized a more fulfilling and productive period in the
fine arts.
More famous and more internationally well known
than Mais, James Baldwin, the contemporary Black
American, is a dramatist, essayist, novelist and
short story writer. He receives a considerable
amount of world acclaim for his fiction: Go Tell It on
the Mountain (1953), Giovanni's Room (1958),
Another Country (1962), Going to Meet the Man (a
short story, 1965), Tell Me How Long the Train's
Been Gone (1968), and If Beale Street Could Talk
(1974). His most recent book Little Man, Little Man,
the first written for children, has been published and
he is currently working on a novel, being fashioned
about the life and death of a gospel singer and as a
sequel to Go Tell It on the Mountain. Unlike Mais,
Baldwin has not been a political prisoner but he has
been the gadfly, jolting the social conscience of the
United States (and those of other countries) with his
trenchant non-fiction such as Nobody Knows My
Roger Mais Name (1961), The Fire Next Time (1963) and No
(portrait T. Ferguson) Name in the Street (1972).
Preoccupied more with fictional craft in their

novels, Mais and Baldwin in their essays reveal their
political interests, Mais urges social change in his
novels by awakening consciousness and sympathy.
Baldwin was initially a vocal and persistent critic of
fiction as a vehicle for social protest. (Partisan
Review, June 1949, Nov./Dec. 1951). The essays of
both these authors are noticeably vehicles for social
protest since they, consciously or unconsciously,
espouse the Sartresque insistence on the writer's
public responsibility to the dramatic ideals of
freedom.3 It is not surprising that their obsession
with the philosophy of social change is invested with
their personal ethnic allegiance a substantive
element that is more pronounced in Baldwin's
non-fiction than in Mais's. Advocating the pressing
need for human integrity, they vindicate the truism
of Caliban's irohic statement to Prospero in
Shakespeare's The Tempest (a satiric play on
colonialism): "You taught me language, and my
profit on't/Is, I know how to curse" (I.ii.365-366 and
Baldwin's Notes of a Native Son, p.3).
Both Mais and Baldwin experienced the
vindication of their political activisim. Although
Mais died before Jamaica's Independence
materialized, he did, in his life-time, see the
establishment of universal suffrage as well as the
transitional phase of Self-government which
preceded Independence. Mais himself had been a
staff writer for Public Opinion, a left-wing journal for
the People's National Party and for Civil Rights
advancement. The current of change was already in
motion long before Mais died and he must have
forseen the realisation of Jamaica's Independence.
His poem "Men of Ideas" contains many prophetic
notes such as:
But the idea of equality and justice with Gordon
Went into the ground and sprung up like seed, a
And all things must wait a time and a season
And the time and the season for each growing
Is the way, and there is no other
For the dream is all
It is all of a man that there is and immortal
And all of immortality of a man there is (11.
17-18, 23-25, 46-48)
In an essay "James Baldwin Back Home," New
York Times, July 31, 1977, Robert Coles reports on
some of Baldwin's comments among which is: "I
went there (France) to get enough away from The
Negro Problem the everyday insults and
humiliation, the continual sadness and the rage ...."
The truth is that Baldwin has never been able to
remove himself from the American Civil Rights
Movement. Tormented by the vicious human and
civil injustices of racism, he has borne witness in his
several essays such as "Autobiographical Notes,"
"The Harlem Ghetto," and most important, "Notes
of a Native Son." The apostolic forebodings in his
powerful book The Fire Next Time (1963), whose

telling epigram is "God gave Noah the rainbow sign-
No more water, the fire next time," passed unheeded
and came to fruition in the Civil Rights uprisings of
the later nineteen sixties'. In his role as one of
America's disciples of Civil Rights, he has now
lessened his electrifying rhetoric with constructive
essays such as that in Esquire, July 1968, answering
to the question, "How can we get the black people to
cool it." And having witnessed the gradual progress
in civil rights being made by Black Americans; on
the election of Jimmy Carter to the Presidency,
Baldwin dramatized his optimistic views. In an
eloquent, public letter to the President, he expressed
his confidence in Carter and foretold of further
changes in human and civil rights. The tone is very
far removed from that of his earlier bitter period.
It is quite interesting to note that both these
malcontent essayists and novelists had the shared
experience of being expatriates in Europe for about
four concurrent years: Mais from 1951 to 1954 and
Baldwin (who continues to live mostly in Paris) from
1948 to 1957. A number of factors could have-
prompted Mais's self-imposed exile: his restlessness,
his need for self examination (removed from
Jamaica's political and social ills), and his need to
share in the exciting artistic environment. He
returned to Jamaica to die of cancer in 1955. Baldwin
vocalizes his reasons in his "Autobiographical
Notes" and elsewhere as his need to distance himself
from the storm and stress of racism and inequity to
concentrate on and develop his craft.
It is far more interesting to note that during these
same four years, Mais and Baldwin were working
independently in a similar European environment
(chiefly in Paris) on their first novels,
complementing each other: The Hills Were Joyful
Together and Go Tell It on the Mountain. Intrigued
with the idea of a possible meeting of these two
Black expatriate novelists, in August, 1977, I wrote
to Baldwin, who replied that he did not recall having
met Roger Mais in Paris, and expressed his regret for
not being able to help me further.
The Hills Were Joyful Together and Go Tell It on
the Mountain, which will be used as the frames of
reference to underscore specific literary relationships
between Mais and Baldwin, were completed while
their authors were in their self-imposed exile and
published in the same year, 1953. The most
remarkable parallel is that their European
environment did not affect the substance and style of
these two novels, informed by their authors'
indigenous creative abilities and by their dependence
on the evangelical tradition as the theme for their
Since the foregoing parallels between Mais and
Baldwin are not intended to force these authors into
a procrustean bed, it is now necessary to supply a
cursory view of their major distinguishing literary
features. Two considerations are important: first,
the generic scope of their literary productivity and

second, the discipline and artistic personality that
went into the composition.
Baldwin, who clearly outranks Mais as a writer
and who came to writing his first novel at an earlier
age than Mais, limits his fictional skills to producing
novels and plays. Concentrating his energies, he
abandoned his youthful attempts at poetry-writing
confessing in his "Autobiographical Notes" about
these exercises "the less said the better."
Surprisingly his evangelical background did not
generate any inspirational force for poetic
achievement. His literary successes are largely to be
attributed partly to his early passion for reading and
his youthful writing potential and partly to his
unswerving dedication to his craft. Neither his
step-father's discouragements nor his early
difficulties in publishing could deter him from
pursuing his singleminded goal. Baldwin's controlled
structural and stylistic techniques are evidences of
the amount of discipline he imposes on himself and
on his work.
Mais, however, disseminates his creative energies
with the result that an evaluation of his work is
complicated by the recognition of varying elements
embodied in his canon. Two are outstanding: one, a
controlled goal-oriented poetic craftsman who writes
poetry from his inherent sense of cosmic order; the
other is marked by the nature of an experimentalist.
With the exception of his poetry which is
consistently outstanding, the inevitable result in the
novels and plays is uneven achievement. His poetry,
which is not to be lightly dismissed, shows the
influence of his painting abilities and is the context
that elevates both the style and substance of his
novels, short stories and plays. His indispensable
avant-garde poem, "Men of Ideas," is of the
Sartresque vintage, contains some revealing
forebodings and seems to have evoked
responsiveness from other Caribbean poets.
The above generalizations which are fundamental
to a critical evaluation of The Hills were Joyful
Together and Go Tell It on the Mountain merely
supply the context for probing Mais's and Baldwin's
shared literary persuasion of evangelicalism and,
concomitantly, ritualization. This evangelical motif
as poetic reference is integral to and inherent in both
the essence and fabric of these two novels. It is
therefore these authors' recourse to the messianic
tradition which provides the essential excitement
and necessarily the chief basis for a comparative
study of The Hills Were Joyful Together and Go Tell
It on the Mountain. Mais's and Baldwin's
predeliction to capture the educative as well as the
pleasing aspects of evanglicalism, gospel music and
therapeutic ritual as aesthetic and cultural references
may well be ascribed to their spiritual backgrounds.
Mais draws on his deep-rooted sense of a divine
ordered universe, the influence of his parents'
Protestant religion and on his recollection of a
Jamaican evangelical religious sect. Some critics of

Mais' works consistently refer to his fondness for
reading the Bible and of his spiritual nature.5 In
pursuing these allusions to discover Mais's religious
affiliation, I obtained an interview with John
Hearne, one of his close friends and an authority on
his views. I am indebted to Hearne for explaining
that while his parents were Protestants, Mais
himself did not belong to and did not believe in any
organized religion but that he had a finely tuned
spiritual sense, an unshaken, innate belief in God.
Hearne sees a dualism in Mais' faith: one part being
that of a Calvinist, almost Puritan; another
representing the views of an eighteenth-century
deist.6 Edward Brathwaite, in his definitive critique
of Brother Man, alludes to the "millennial
mythology" and the "Christlike" proportions of
Brother Man, (pp. X, XII). Another critic, Ivan Van
Sertima, also points out this Christlikeness and
shows how Brother Man's life parallels that of Christ
in "many significant details." (Caribbean Writers, p.
21). An assessment of the apocalyptic vision of
Roger Mais is incomplete without indicating its
omnipresence in much of his poetry. It is this kind of
evangelical cadence which energizes, for example, his
poem "Children coming from school"
I can hear the gospel
Of little feet
Go choiring
Down dusty asphalt street.
Beneath the vast
Cathedral sky
With the sun for steeple
Evangeling with laughter
So the shining ones
The little people.
Baldwin writes from his personal experiences in
his childhood home (preoccupied with puritanical
strictures), from the recalled practices in his
step-father's Harlem Church, and, from his three-
year sojourn as a Pentecostal church preacher in the
Harlem Church. Unlike Mais, he was therefore a
member of institutionalized religion and, also, he did
not develop a fondness 'for reading the Bible -
according to his statement in his "Autobiographical
Notes" (p. 1). In "Notes of a Native Son" Baldwin
avows "I had declined to believe in that apocalypse
which had been central to my father's vision" (p. 71).
Whatever the conflict between Baldwin's spiritual
beliefs and his association with institutionalized
religion, his fictional writing is suffused with a
messianic fervour. In this regard Edward Margolies
in his very useful essay "The Negro Church: James
Baldwin and the Christian Vision," Native Sons,
claims that Baldwin "May not now possibly
consume himself in his recently recovered
Johovahlike rage" (Lippincott, p. 126). Margolies is
in error here for Baldwin has an evangelical passion
not a Johovahlike rage. This passion is incorporated
in his short stories such as "This Morning, This
Evening, So Soon," "Come Out The Wilderness,"

and most of all in "Sonny's Blues," a story in which
the hero, Sonny, a young drug-addicted jazz
musician, redeems himself after listening to a street
corner revival meeting with the testifying,
tambourine playing and the singing of 'Tis the old
ship of Zion."
It is not surprising that Mais and Baldwin
translate Biblical allusions and gospel music into
fictional language. The titles of the two novels, The
Hills Were Joyful Together and Go Tell It on the
Mountain, are revealing. Mais adjusts and modifies
his novel to Psalm 98, 8, "Let the floods clap their
hands; let the hills be joyful together. Baldwin
adapts his fiction from the book of Isaiah 40, 9, "O
Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the
high mountains." The popular Negro spiritual "Go
Tell it on the mountain" is undoubtedly an
additional source. The backdrop of the hill or
mountain is obviously the common denominator and
is emblematic. Through this similar symbolic motif
there emerges the essential metaphor: the hill or
mountain representing transfiguration or proclama-
tion. Eventually they are translated into the virtues
of faith and hope. Mais and Baldwin incorporate
another common and essential spiritual symbol in
these two novels: the river or water to delineate the
rite of cleansing, healing or redemption. The very
permanence of these symbols of physical nature
serves to alleviate the grip of the vicissitudes in the
materialistic world of the characters they portray.
The gospel songs, the hill or mountain and the
evangelical rites act upon the characters
therapeutically. They actualize the promise of a
spiritual world making their temporal world of
deprivation more bearable. On the whole the rhythm
presented through the recognizable Biblical
mountain of transfiguration and that of the hill of
the cross has a redemptive function, suggesting that
the conditions governing the lives of the oppressed in
these novels are merely temporal.
In addition to the rituals associated with the
messianic tradition, Mais and Baldwin introduce the
cultural function of maturation rites. Any literary
judgment of The Hills Were Joyful Together and Go
Tell It on the Mountain should also take into account
the significance of the rights of passage from
adolescence to adulthood. Mais portrays those of
Tansy and Manny and Baldwin delineates Florence's
and Gabriel's. Furthermore, in Baldwin's more
skilled novel there is the convergence of religious and
maturation rites in John Grimes, the hero and
central character. The theory of the "Collective
Unconscious, introduced by Karl Jung, is one way
of interpreting the similar way in which Mais and
Baldwin reflect their characters' cultural develop-
The religion underlying the thematic and
structural content of The Hills Were Joyful Together
is far more complex than that of the recognizable
evangelicalism in Go Tell It on the Mountain. Mais

invests his novel with an eclecticism of
Rastafarianism, Revivalism and.the cult of the Three
Sisters of Charity. This religious mosaic, presenting
difficulties for a conventional appraisal of the novel,
has two functions. First, it enriches the dramatic
dimensions;8 second, it indicates Mais' personal
spiritual conflicts. But while Mais d6es not hew
closely to one particular religious denomination, he
nevertheless provides the immediate sense of a
monotheistic or a pantheistic persuasion through the
cohesiveness of his title, plot, theme, and tone.
To understand the consistent ambience of Mais'
symbolic hills, it is first obligatory to refer to the
transcendental overtones in his poem "All men come
to the hills." (Caribbean Voices, I, ed John Figueroa,
p. 98)
All men come to the hills
Finally. ...
Men from the deeps of the plains of the sea -
Where a wind-in-the sail is hope,
That long desire, and long weariness fulfills -
Come again to the hills.

And men with dusty, broken feet;
Proud men, lone men like me,
Seeking again the soul's deeps -
Or a shallow grave
Far from the tumult of the wave -
Where the bird's note motions the silence in ...
The white kiss of silence that the spirit stills
Still as a cloud of windless sail horizon-hung
above the blue glass of the sea -
Come again to the hills ...
Come ever finally.
The hills tower over the poem suggesting more than
the author's engrossment with its physicality.
In The Hills Were Joyful Together, Mais
delineates a sharp dichotomy between the "joyful
hills" and the "Yard," where his motley cluster of
characters tenuously live. John Hearne supports this
observation by saying that Mais had told him how
struck he was by actually noting the disparity
between the ordered hills and the disorder in the lives
of the people living in the Yard (a ghetto tenement
located in plain view of the hills). The poverty-ridden
group of Jamaicans, their lives stretched on a daily
rack, are almost imprisoned within the circumscribed
area of the Yard. The episode of Surjue's five-year
sentencing to a Kingston prison is an analogue to the
type of confinement within the Yard. Mais
ingeniously aligns the prison's material brickyard,
brutalities and walls to the conceptual bars imposed
on the Yard's outcast group by the privileged
society. Through the innumerable repetitions of an
important character, Zephyr, the prostitute, Mais
reveals the absymally wretched existence life
legislates for these civic and social prisoners: "Life
has got a stick to beat us with every last,
lonesome, suffering' mother's son.9'
Death is Mais' fatalistic view of the tormented

Abyssinian Baptist Church, West 138th Street 1936
(Photos: Harlem on My Mind)
Bedosa's, Surjue's, Rema's, Euphemia's and Shag's
escape from suffering. Another, and more important
textual release is the recourse to the hope of spiritual
salvation, reflected especially through his characters
Charlotta (Bedosa's wife), Ras, the Rastafarian, and
by means of the Yard's religious meetings.
Charlotta, for instance, seeks surcease from her
painful existence with hymn singing. At the time of
her grief when Bedosa is dead, Charlotta, whose
"sweet contralto voice ... had become a little tired
and frayed at the edges ... in moments of deep
emotion or quiet exaltation" sings:
Lo, when the day of rest was past
The Lord, the Christ, was seen again;
Unknown at first, he grew to sight:
'Mary,' he said she knew him then:
Alleluya! ... (pp. 136, 141, et. al.)
During the religious gatherings, the people chant
litanies, literally and figuratively, and these healing
songs are integral parts of the ceremonies and their
lives. It is at these times when Mais ritualizes the
religious meetings that we can discover the almost
pristine quality of his language and style as in the
White-robed figures, mostly women, stood
around a pool in the hill and sang hymns and
clapped their hands, and some shook
tambourines, and they trompped, jumping and
grunting rhythmically, and waited for the rising

Bernice Abbott/Church of God, 25 East 132nd Street 1936 -
Museum of the City of New York
of the moon ... And they sprang up, those that
were kneeling ... and they sang a song that said
how the floods clapped their hands, alleluya,
and the hills were joyful together ... a song
which they had pieced together out of some lines
from one of the Psalms. And while the singing
and thrompping was going on the river bank,
the initiates for baptism came down one by one
from a high rock ... as their names were called,
and waded out to Brother Eccles ... and
surrendered themselves into his hands for
baptism into the only true faith, and it came out
of Ethiopia and was given to the Black Messiah,
and him only .... (p. 109).
Consistently employing the joyful hills motif, Mais
manifests the redemptive power of evangelicalism.
Rema, Surjue's commonlaw wife who is almost
insane with grief, experiences its influence.
She (Rema) could hear the far-away gurgle of
water from the spring, and it sounded like the
muffled clapping of hands ... and the hills put
aside their veils and came out from behind
the clouds, and they joined hands together and
started to dance. They went dancing like that
down to the edge of the sea ... and all the sea
rose up in waves and they clapped their hands.
(p. 169)
Most of the kinetic energy in The Hills Were Joy-

ful Together is the result of Mais's poetic prose as
much the consequence of Gospel music's
evocativeness '0as the advantages of both his poetic
skill and his personal singing voice. Shirley Maynier
Burke, recently discussing Mais with me, recalls her
early impressions of his rich tenor voice and his
moving renditions of American Negro Spirituals.
Hearne also asserts that Mais had a remarkably
controlled ear and beautiful singing voice. It is
therefore unsurprising that this musicality suffuses
the novel and provides the mystical overtones of
passages such as:
The night speaks with a thousand whispers, but
a single voice ... the wind comes, and questions,
and passes on ... the acclamation of the stars
does not disturb the stillness ... so it is with the
night ... (p. 131).
In Go Tell It on the Mountain, Baldwin involves
the reader more than Mais with the immediacy of the
evangelical tradition. Here the "Mountain" is The
Temple of the Fire Baptized, the "biggest church in
Harlem, i' which forms the center of the religious
society. There are hierarchical gradations in the
Church for this societal enclave. Examples are the
young preacher model, Elisha, matriarchal Sisters
such as Sisters McCandless and McDonald and the
fervent congregation. Established moral codes are
zealously guarded and the ceremony at the Temple is
identified by active performances: the clapping of
hands, singing Gospel songs and playing the
tambourine. Baldwin incorporates all of these for
cathartic effects. The mountain, The Temple, looms
in the foreground and around it Baldwin skillfully
builds his tightly-knit plot about the initiation into
the church of fourteen-year-old, John, the son of
Elizabeth, stepson of Gabriel Grimes, who is
Elizabeth's husband and the brother of Florence.
After several tests and trials, chiefly manipulated
by Elisha and his stepfather, Gabriel, John's
initiation into the Temple and Manhood peaks in
Part Three: The Threshing-Floor, the final chapter.
The following is Baldwin's portrayal of John's
spiritual experience when he approaches his
He did not know where he was. There was
silence everywhere only the perpetual,
distant, faint trembling far beneath him, the
roaring, perhaps, of the fires of Hell, over which
he was suspended, or the echo, persistent,
invincible still, of the moving feet of the saints.
He thought of the mountain-top, where he long-
ed to be, where the sun would cover him like a
cloth of gold, would cover his head like a crown
of fire, and in his hand he would hold a living
rod. But this was no mountain where John lay,
here, no robe, no crown. And the living rod was
uplifted in other hands. (1965 Dell Edition,
p. 196)
Having proved his spiritual merit and having
stepped into the circle of the Saints, John tells

Elisha, "I was down in the valley ... I was by myself
down there. I won't ever forget." (p. 220). John
completes the trials and the tests and ends his
spiritual conflicts: the ceremony, the songs and
symbols are healing and redeeming.
Baldwin's narrative prose style is unlike Mais'
poetic expression. But he lends his novel a
considerable amount of poetic resonance especially in
selecting tunes with rhythmic refrains, for example:
Oh this
May be the last time
May be the last time
Oh, this
May be the last time. ... (p. 60)
Later in his life (while in Switzerland at age thirty
eight), he confesses having a deeply moving
experience of self examination listening to the
records of Bessie Smith and recalling "the blues and
cadence of his childhood Negro church." (Black Man
in America, Credo I, Interview with Studs Terkel).
In The Hills Were Joyful Together and Go Tell It
on the Mountain, Mais and Baldwin seem to
integrate the cultural issue of maturation rites into
their plots for more than superficial effects. Their
reflection of the communal codes and activities
associated with this right of passage gives cultural
currency to the two novels. Thus examining the
process of how their adolescents come of age will
reveal how Mais and Baldwin employ metalinguis-
tics (a system of the inter-relatedness between
language and other cultural human actions). It is
through metalinguistics that these two authors
further bridge the gap between two forms of
communication: the written word, which is static
evoking individual response and, ritual, which is
dynamic and demands community reaction.
Mais gives attention to the cultural custom of
having community involvement in the lives of the
coming-of-age. His initiates are Manny, the
seventeen-year old son and, Tansy, the thirteen-year
old daughter of Bedosa and Charlotta. Almost
everyone in the Yard has a share in the shaping of
their development. The patriarchal Ras and the
goodhearted Zephyr feel especially responsible for
Tansy's development. But Mais articulates a double
standard in the cultural process of nuturing
puberscent females and males. Sexist roles are
clearly marked out for Manny and Tansy, who
respectively cultivate skill with knives and women
on the one hand and chastity and house-wifery on the
other. Noticeably Charlotta, who fears her bullying
husband, and endures the pattern of daily drudgery,
"spoiled Manny outrageously, shutting out his
faults from her mind and painstakingly glossing
them over." (p. 31). Disregarding Manny's
indolence, Charlotta drives the overworked Tansy
into more and more industriousness.
Tansy, a great big axe in her hand, was out in
front of the other row of shacks where a short

chopping block was that Ras had dragged up
from the gully, and she was trying to split some
firewood that was too big to go into the stove.
The axe was too heavy for her and at length she
set it down and leaned against the haft and
looked across at Manny at the other side of the
yard chopping words with Ditty and she got
angry at first with a fierce blazing anger, and
then she wanted to cry (p. 85).
Baldwin tells of John's responsibilities in his rites
of passage not only to his immediate family his
parents, Gabriel and Elizabeth, his aunt Florence,
and his younger brother but also to the members of
the Temple. Like Mais, Baldwin indicates the double
standard of maturation rites. In their growing up,
Gabriel and Florence had two clearly defined sex
roles. Gabriel, who was five years younger than
Florence, is a "manchild" for whom "all else must be
sacrified." But
Florence was a girl, and would by and by be
married, and have children of her own, and all
the duties of a woman; and this being so, her
life in the cabin was the best possible prepara-
tion for her future life. (p. 72).
The situation is similar in both novels: Manny and
Gabriel are encouraged in indolence; Tansy and
Florence are forced into drudgery.
It finally remains to consider two other elements
that contribute to an appreciation of The Hills Were
Joyful Together and Go Tell It on the Mountain:
The fictional structure and the onamastic device.
.Mais has a three-part structural division, a form
which suggests a trinity and thus supports the
mystic and ritualistic substance. He resists,
however, any further formalized pattern as each
Book is unevenly divided (sixteen, twelve and seven
respectively). Baldwin also designs his novel into
three parts with the same effect. These are: as
follows: The Seventh Day; The Prayers of the Saints
(further divided into three Prayers of Florence,
Gabriel and Elizabeth); The Threshing Floor. And
Baldwin introduced each Part with an appropriate
religious passage.
Mais' and Baldwin's use of onomastics serves in
supporting what they have to say and how they
present the material. But while their character-
naming functions similarly for far more than
superficial reasons, how their names enhance the
individual novel is different. On the one hand Mais
usually names his characters with obvious mythic or
metaphoric implications: Ras and Zephyr, for
instance, raise ideas of Prince and wind. On the other
hand, Baldwin tends to assign his characters Biblical
names: Elisha, Elizabeth, Gabriel and John are most
critical names.
In their finely crafted first novels The Hills Were
Joyful Together and Go Tell It on the Mountain,
Mais and Baldwin, recorders and transmitters of
some Jamaican and Harlem cultural conventions,
vindicate the critical theory that literature reflects
art as well as life. More precisely, there is literature

vis-a-vis messianism. They achieve remarkable
literary resonance in resorting to the evangelical
tradition for fictional reference. There are some
notable parallel situations: the symbolic motif of the
hill or mountain; the stylistic urgent proselytizing
posture; the conceptual details of the therapeutic
function of gospel music; the issue of the different
nurturing of pubescent females and males. These
elements represent a harmony, a special kind of
literary closure, to justify a comparative study of
these authors' visions of the temporal and relative
validity of the worldly condition. For those who are
interested in the quest for spiritual salvation, the
paths Mais and Baldwin take may well be the models
to assure their discovering self-redemption.

1 I examined two plays, Atalanta at Calydon (of five Acts,
produced by Noel Vaz, 1950) and Apollo in Delos, which are
among Mais' many unpublished manuscripts at the
University of the West Indies Library, Mona. Both include
the dramatic element of the Chorus from the Greek tradi-
tion and reflect the fatalistic vision of Aeschylus'
2 Notes of a Native Son (Bantam, 1955) is another of Bald-
win's highly critical yet personal non-fiction. It is a collec-
tion of essays including "Autobiographical Notes" and
"Notes of a Native Son." His most successful plays are:
Blues for Mr. Charlie (1958), The Amen Corner (1968). Rap
on Racism (1971), a conversation with Margaret Mead,
One Day When I Was Lost (1973) are other late works.
3 Sartre declares: "The art of prose is bound up with the only
regime in which prose has meaning, democracy ... Writing
is a certain way of wanting freedom. ..." What is Litera-
ture? trans. Bernard Frechtman (Harper & Row, 1965),
p. 59.
4 See: John Figueroa, "Epiphanies;" Derek Walcott, "Is-
lands," "Ruins of a Great House;" George Campbell, "New
World Flowers;" Martin Grey, "Caribbean;" Phillip
Sherlock, "Paradise" Caribbean Voices, II, ed. John
5 See: Jean Creary, "A Prophet Armed," Islands in Between,
ed. Louis James (Oxford, 1968), pp. 50-63; Mais, Brother
Man, Introduction by Edward Brathwaite [Heinemann,
1977), pp. v-xxi.
6 Mais has a comparable view to that of the mystic poet,
William Blake (1757-1827).
7 Jung explains the "collective unconscious" as the "collec-
tive (and not personal) structural elements of the human
psyche in general, and, like the morphological elements of
the human body, are inherited," Essays on a Science of
Mythology (Princeton, 1949), p. 74.
8 Both Jean Creary in her article "The Prophet Armed," and
Norman Washington Manley in his Introduction to The
Three Novels of Roger Mais (Sangster's Book Store, 1966),
have pointed out the dramatic element in Mais' fiction.
9 All citations from The Hills Were Joyful Together are from
The Three Novels of Roger Mais, hereafter referred to in my
text by page numbers.
10 See Brathwaite's Introduction to Brother Man for a very
skillful evaluation of the musical elements in that novel.



John Barton Hopkin spent his childhood in Berkeley,
California. He was educated at Harvard College in Cambridge,
Massachusetts where he majored in Folklore and Mythology,
specialising in Ethnomusicology. He graduated Magna Cum
Laude, completing his thesis in his final year on Music in the
Jamaican Pentecostal Churches. He met Father Richard Holung
at Harvard College where he too was studying, and their musical
work together led to his coming to Jamaica that summer of 1973
where he did the research for his thesis. He returned to Jamaica
to teach at Holy Trinity Secondary School and also to work with
Father Holung on a wide variety of musical and non-musical
projects, including the Mass, Missa Vitae, and the play, Brother
Soul, Sister Song. He is now teaching in California, and is
expected to join the staff of the Jamaica School of Music this

The strongest religious tradition in Jamaica is
that of the revivalist churches, carried on in various
orthodox Baptist, Native Baptist, Revival Zion and
Pentecostal groups. In these churches music is a
fundamental part of the religious expression of the
worshippers the greater part of the services are
devoted to music, and the participants respond to
the music with a growing religious spirit. This paper
investigates the role that music plays in the social
experience and the religious experience of the
congregation members in a group of revivalist
churches in Kingston.
I chose to make this study in churches of the
various Pentecostal denominations, because the
Pentecostal churches seemed to be the most active in
Kingston at the time of the study. The Pentecostal
groups differ from what traditionally has been the
mainstream of Jamaican revivalism in that they are
of relatively recent missionary origin. However, they
have grown quite separate from their parent
churches overseas over the years, and have become,
in their own right, an important part of Jamaican
revivalism today.
Most of the information contained here was
gathered during a stay in Jamaica lasting from
mid-June to mid-September of 1973. Through most
of this time I lived in Central and East Kingston.

During the latter part of the summer I attended
sixteen Pentecostal services and a few services of
non-Pentecostal groups, visiting each of three
Pentecostal churches three or four times and some
others once or twice. The congregations I visited
consisted entirely of Black Jamaicans, ranging in
economic status from very poor to l.wer middle
class. All of the churches were in poorer sections of
Kingston, and most of the worshippers lived in the
neighbourhood of the churches. The pastors (all
except one see footnote #16) were also Black
Jamaicans. More information concerning the
churches is given in Appendix #1.
I was always well received in the services, for
Pentecostalists everywhere have strong missionary
inclinations, and accordingly they welcome
newcomers to their churches. I participated actively
in the services by singing and clapping and, in
general, doing whatever the congregation as a whole
did, short of testifying, speaking in tongues, and
undergoing spirit seizure. I cannot say to what
extent my presence in the church inhibited the
congregation members' behaviour. Most of the
worshippers, however, expressed an eagerness to
show the ways of their church to an outsider in order
to spread the good word, and accordingly they gave
or seemed to give free reign in my presence to
the religious spirit that moved them. Perhaps the
greatest weakness of this paper lies in the fact that,
although I spent a great deal of time in church and a
great deal more time conversing with church
members on topics both mundane and sacred, I
conducted no organized interviews and never asked
many of the questions that might have enriched my
understanding of their religion and religious music.
The investigation will begin with a brief look at
Jamaican Pentecostalism and the environment in
which it exists, considering both its history and its
contemporary forms. The following sections will
describe first the church service, and then the music
that fills the services. With this background, an
attempt is made, in the final section, to come to an
understanding of how the music functions in the
*social and religious experience of the worshippers.

Some Background on Pentecostalism in Jamaica
There is a great deal of confusion and argument
over the time and place of origin of Pentecostalism.
This is because Pentecostalism is not and never has
been a single organization or denomination; it is a
social and religious movement. In its history a
:tremendous number of organizations devoted to the
movement's ends have arisen, thrived, failed, split
up and conjoined in endless ways. A few have been
successful and reached a great size; most have been
tiny, consisting of a congregation or two built upon
the charismatic leadership of a single preacher, and
existing without money or property. To untangle the
history of the numberless cults and denominations
that make up the Pentecostal movement is a nearly
impossible task, but the movement as a whole is
simple and straightforward in its purposes and
ideals, and more easily understood.
Most sources agree that Pentecostal revivals
began appearing around the turn of the century.' At
that time a number of individuals began
proseletizing and organizing in various parts of the
U.S. They met with fluctuating but substantial
success with both blacks and whites, and in both
urban and rural environments.2
The avowed purpose of these revivals was a return
to the original simplicity of the church, and the
converts took the apostles as their models. In doing
so, they emphasized certain aspects of the apostles'
lives as recounted in the Bible particularly in the
rite of baptism, the isolation and persecution of the
Early Church, and, most important, the events of the
Day of Pentecost. On this day, according to the New
Testament the Holy Spirit descended upon all of the
disciples, possessed them, and inspired each of them
to speak in unknown tongues.3 The earliest
Pentecostalists observed that the latter phenomenon
rarely or never occurred in the Christian churches
any more, and took this as a sign that they were
falling away from God. They built the doctrine of
their churches around the speaking in tongues, and
came to view it as a necessary experience for every
true Christian. It became the most important step in
one's initiation into Christianity, as a second
baptism the "baptism in the spirit". The Biblical
grounding for the church doctrine and this
grounding is asserted and re-asserted tirelessly, for
these people are fundamentalists and literalists in
the extreme is in the first five books of the New
Testament, particularly in the book of Acts. These
books recount the lives of the apostles and are (I
was told by a Pentecostal bishop) not obscure or
mysterious, but comprehensible to anyone in or out
of the church, serving as an introduction to
Thus, the emphasis in the Pentecostal churches is
not on doctrine but on experience: the experience of
the Holy Spirit. And all of the most important ritual
and doctrinal bases of the church baptism by
water, baptism by the spirit, and the introductory

Biblical books are concerned with the act of
becoming Christian. The church is entirely centered
around the moment of conversion, and all of its most
important functions are re-enactments of that
The leaders and members of the Pentecostal
churches were great proselytizers from the beginning
despite their emphasis on their own isolation, and
several churches began missionary efforts in foreign
countries early on. The first Pentecostal missionaries
were in the Caribbean islands by 1910, and there
were missions in Jamaica at least as early as 1918.'
But neither missionaries, nor Christianity, nor most
of the characteristics of Pentecostalism were new to
Jamaica at that time.
Long before the arrival of any Pentecostal
missionaries, black Jamaicans had developed a
culture of their own, containing both African and
European elements, but independent of both.6 Its
strongest point was religion. African-based practices
were often forcefully discouraged in the new world,
and the masters were often loath to teach
Christianity because of some of its messages to the
oppressed; still, the slaves developed a rich religious
culture, and practised both openly and in secret.
Because recognizable manifestations of African
religion were suppressed, specific African beliefs and
practices survived only in incoherent fragments in
Jamaica. Some of the surviving religious elements
were drumming, spirit possession, and various
magical techniques. But, more importantly, certain
attitudes and approaches regarding religion and
music were not to be suppressed, and continued to
operate in Jamaica as they had in Africa. Music and
dance hold a position of primacy in African life, and
did so at the time that the slaves were taken. s And to
the Gold Coast peoples the common means of wor-
shipping God is with singing they considered it
absurd, Bowditch reported in 1819, to do otherwise.9
This orientation formed the basis for all the religious
expression of the black Jamaicans.
Christian missionaries of various denominations
began work in Jamaica in the second half of the
eighteenth century. This led both to a number of
orthodox Christian churches that is, churches
which more or less followed the practice and
teachings of the parent churches in the United States
and to a larger number of groups which in time
broke away from the parent churches and developed
independent traditions, consisting of a mixture of
Christian and non-Christian elements. The most
important of these were the Native Baptist churches.
By the mid-nineteenth century the Native Baptist
tradition was the dominant religion in Black
Jamaica, and one of the important ingredients in
Black Jamaican culture.10 The sects were usually
built by a single leader, and very strongly centred
around him." These groups turned their emphasis
away from the written word to spirit-possession,12
and made extensive use of music and dance in their

services.13 Later missionaries brought some of the
sects closer to orthodoxy, but native churches held
sway for many decades, and many remain vital
today. It was in these churches that most of the
Jamaican revivalist tradition developed.
With the arrival of Pentecostal missionaries in
Jamaica in the early 20th century, North American
Pentecostalism was, in effect, grafted to the tree of
the local Native Baptist tradition. Over the past few
decades the Native Baptist groups have weakened
somewhat, and Pentecostalism has become a vital
part of the Jamaican revivalist tradition in its wake.
It has taken root, especially in the city, and grown
from a few missions and scattered congregations to a
healthy, thriving revivalist movement. The
Jamaican churches are not merely an extension of
American Pentecostalism, for the Native Baptist
tradition from which their people come has had a
profound effect in their independent development."
Nor is Jamaican Pentecostalism simply a recent
outgrowth of the Native Baptist tradition, because
its missionary origins were too recent and too
authoritative not to have been a significant factor in
the formation of its character.'" Pentecostalism in
Jamaica must be viewed as a movement in its own
right, derived from, but separate from, its parentage.
There are no extreme divergences from American
Pentecostal doctrine and practices in the Jamaican
Pentecostal churches. Differences do exist, however,
in attitude and manner of worship. Similarities at
certain essential points between the American
religion and the Native Baptist tradition in which
Jamaican religion has much of its roots, help to
account for the ease with which the Pentecostal
churches became established in Jamaica, but they
also help to smooth over deep-rooted differences
between the religion of the Jamaican Pentecostals
and that of the mother churches overseas.
One fundamental difference between the American
and the Jamaican churches lies in their styles of
religious expression. Both the Jamaicans and the
American Pentecostals place a strong emphasis on
the immediacy of religious experience. While in more
decorous churches worshippers gather to praise and
worship the Lord, Pentecostals everywhere gather to
experience the Lord, and in their rejoicing in that
experience is the praising. The importance and
significance of worshipping lies in the worshipper's
being filled by the religious spirit. And, although the
Jamaican Pentecostals theorize about a heaven
specially and temporally distant, most of the energy
of the service is directed toward achieving this
immediate experience. It is in the manner in which
the worshippers bring on the experience and the
surrounding circumstances that are conducive to it,
that a difference between American and Jamaican
Pentecostal styles of worship becomes manifest. In
the Jamaican church the music, rhythm, and
movement of the service take on a religiously potent
quality in themselves. Where white Pentecostals

bring on the experience of the Holy Spirit by
concentration and prayer, the Jamaican church
members bring it on by cultivating religious fervour
and excitement through these sense-oriented forms
of self-expression, and through losing themselves in
their active participation in the communal events of
the church service. Where for the Americans singing
a hymn is an act of praise, for the Jamaicans the
song and all the dancing and rhythm that
accompany it are a religious experience in
themselves. This experience does not come about
independent of the God that the songs praise; rather,
the songs act as vehicles of the God's power, and a
means of experiencing Him.16
A second all-pervasive characteristic of current
Jamaican Pentecostalism one which is more a
matter of doctrinal emphasis than style of worship
is what is commonly called 'world-rejection': the
worshippers place great emphasis on the sinfulness
of the world, and are constantly concerned with
keeping themselves separate from it. A good
Pentecostalist will "leave the world behind" by
attending church more and movies and parties not at
all, by conforming to a conservative dress code, and
by speaking in certain ways. There is no logical
reason why a long dress should be considered less a
thing of this world than a short one, the King's
English less worldly than Jamaican patois, or an
American hymn less worldly than one re-worked in a
popular Jamaican style, but by this sort of ritual
cleanliness, the worshippers help draw the line
between themselves and the surrounding world. The
two baptisms are the ritual realization of this
separation, and their self-image as the isolated and
persecuted Christian community is its doctrinal
pillar. World-rejection is the primary ritual
mechanism by which the separation is achieved.
By their extreme emphasis on their own isolation
in a world of sin and their rejection of all that is in
that world, the worshippers gain a very strong sense
of community, and they manifest it in all their
doings. Members of the congregation address one
another as brother and sister, arrange group projects
and get-togethers, continually come to one another's
aid, and confide and trust in one another while
remaining wary and suspicious of Jamaicans outside
the church. The services themselves are communal
affairs before all else.
This social fact translates directly into religious
mechanisms. A great deal of the religious fervour
and power that fills the church at every meeting is
bound up with social interaction. This is evidenced in
various ways, among them, in the way that the
worshippers frequently undergo possession by the
spirit in mid-testimony, when the attention of all of
the congregation is concentrated on them alone. The
fact that the church members all join in singing and
praying over an individual seeking after or labouring
in the spirit illustrates this as well. An examination
of the role of the pastor will bring it out still more

A good pastor is a magnificent figure at the
podium as he sings or preaches. He is charismatic, he
has a sense of showmanship, and he emanates
confidence and power. The congregation feels his
presence intensely, hanging on his every word and
motion. Students of psychology might point out the
sexual nature of this near-deification of the leader,
describing him as some sort of father-lover figure.
There might be a sense in which this is true, for a
very sensual surrender to Jesus is important to the
religion, and the pastor does come to be looked upon
as God's divinely inspired representative on earth"7
But this view does not adequately describe his role.
The pastor speaks for the entire congregation, even
when he speaks to the congregation. When he says,
"I feel good tonight", or, "I'm so happy", as the
pastors often do, the worshippers always nod and
assent: Yes, they agree, I do feel good tonight, or
yes, we feel good tonight. A part of the egos of all
the individuals in the congregation are collected in
the leader, for he is the centre of, and spokesman for,
the communal religious experience. They entrust
their religious selves to him and he diffuses religious
spirit back to them. By this means the congregation
becomes unified in one religious community and the
service in one communal religious expression. And
therein is much of the power of the religious
The rejection of the world and inclination to
separation which underlie the sense of community so
essential to the religious effect of the service is a
result of the worshippers' social surroundings and
social history, an attempt to make sense of these
things, given a particular structure by the doctrines
of the parent churches. The Jamaican Pentecostal's
drive toward a style of religious expression that
emphasizes a sense-oriented mode of worship and a
very tangible and immediate religious experience is a
cultural characteristic, an African heritage that
thrived and evolved in the Native Baptist tradition
in Jamaica. Together the two create a dilemma which
penetrates to the very core of Jamaican
Pentecostalism: The ideal of banishing all earthly
pleasures and rejoicing in the Lord alone clashes
with a religious motivation that always tends toward
enjoyment in song and dance that is often hardly
otherworldly. But these two characteristics manage
to co-exist, for they are the most essential elements
of the religion.
Forms of Worship in the Jamaican Pentecostal
The Church Services
There is a high degree of uniformity in goals, in
attitude, and in the ways in which religious feeling is
expressed in the church services of the various
Pentecostal groups in Kingston. Yet it is difficult to
describe a typical service, because the worshippers

mistrust any prescribed actions that look too
ritualized, for fear of a loss of religious meaning at
the hands of formalization. In their services, the
people perform certain sorts of actions, such as
singing, preaching, and undergoing spirit-posses-
sion, but they avoid creating any rigid protocol for
the conducting of the services.18
This is not to say that the services are without
ritual. The services themselves, taken as a whole, are
the Jamaican Pentecostals' most important ritual
act. But behaviour within the services is not well
described by the phrase 'ritual behaviour', which
implies a prescribed set of actions. Church con-
duct is better described as action within a ritual
context: while there is, within certain limits, a high
degree of individual freedom of religious expression,
individual and group behaviour in church become
infused with supramundane meaning in light of the
circumstances in which they occur.
Most of the Jamaican Pentecostal groups are well
off materially by Jamaican standards, because of the
generosity of the congregations and because of their
connections with churches in the United States.
Although some tent meetings still take place, most
congregations have their own church, and it is
usually spacious, well-equipped and well-maintained,
in striking contrast to the urban surroundings. In all
but the very small churches there is a choir of women
and a number of instrumentalists at each regular
service. The services may last from two to four or
more hours, filled, for the most part, by preaching,
prayer, testimony and singing. The order in which
these occur, especially in the first half of the service,
varies from church to church and service to service.
The congregation devotes most of the time of the
service certainly more than half to the singing
of hymns. They sing at the start of the service,
before announcements, during the collection, in
between testimonies, in the middle of the many brief
messages, after the main sermon, and any other time
a hymn may fit in. Frequently most of the
congregation stays after the service is over in order
to sing still more. Occasionally the choir prepares a
hymn in advance and sings it alone during the
service, but for the most part the entire congregation
does the singing, with the choir scarcely
differentiated from the rest of the people. Sometimes
the preacher calls for a song, giving a hymn-book
number if the hymn is not well known, and begins
singing it himself or turns to the choir to begin it. At
other times some member of the choir or
congregation begins singing some familiar hymn,
and the rest of the congregation soon picks it up.
Songs frequently seem to arise almost spontaneously
from the congregation, so quickly do the worshippers
join in. Almost invariably the accompanying
instruments come in after the hymn has begun, and
there are usually a few moments of confusion as the
instruments come in after the hymn has begun, and
may be extended by repetition in fact, most are

extended thus until, by a tacit consensus of the
congregation or a wave of the preacher's hand, the
singing ceases.
The prayer in these churches is of two sorts.
Sometimes the preacher speaks a prayer for all of
the congregation as they listen and intermittently
interject an "Amen" or "Yes, Jesus!" The preacher
speaks this prayer in a special tone of voice, reserved
for religious expression. It is deep and quavering,
sometimes sing-song and sometimes almost
chanting, though never distinctly tonal, and it is
always used in conjunction with a special religious
vocabulary. For the second sort of prayer, at the
preacher's injunction every member of the
congregation begins at once to pray, most of them
loud and some of them very loud, using the same
inspirational speaking style. Much of the prayer
contains, or even consists of, glossalalia (speaking in
tongues'), although only a small number of people
undergo a real spiritual possession at this time. The
worshipper's words are usually personal in nature,
though rarely detailed or specific, calling for aid in
individual struggles and giving thanks for private
victory. These community prayers go on sometimes
for a minute or two, and sometimes for as much as a
quarter of an hour.
In testimony the individual has an opportunity to
speak before the whole congregation. When the time
for testimonies comes, those who wish to testify
stand, and the preacher points to them one by one.
They, in turn, give a short speech glorifying Jesus'
Name, or else recite a memorized passage, always in
the religious oratorical style.
The first hour or two of the service is thus filled
with hymns, prayer and testimony, along with
readings and brief sermons, announcements, a
collection and sometimes a procession. After this the
main sermon begins. As it develops, the service
becomes more directed; the sequence of events from
here on is very similar for all services. The preacher
and congregation set aside all other business and
concern themselves exclusively with the experience
of the spirit.
The preacher begins the sermon in the
inspirational tone of voice used for prayer and
testimony, delivering his message in mellifluous
phrases and religiously weighted words. He
improvises the sermon, speaking in words inspired
(he reports) by the Holy Ghost; building it around a
Biblical passage or some Christian theme. The
congregation listens and occasionally reinforces the
preacher's words by filling his pauses with "Yes,
man!" or "Amen!" The preacher sometimes
encourages such reinforcement by calling out,
"Praise the Lord!" to which the response is "Praise
Him!" As the sermon continues, the preacher
becomes more worked up, and performs with
increasing energy. The congregation's responses
become correspondingly more emphatic. The literal
meaning of his words diminishes in importance in

inverse proportion to volume, and his voice changes
timbre by degrees, growing raspy and covering a
wider range of pitches. His gestures become more
and more animated and he begins to sweat. The most
striking change is in the flow of his words: the lyric
quality of his intonation disappears entirely and is
replaced by shorter phrases and more repetitious and
formulaic intonation. The overall effect is that his
speech becomes increasingly rhythmic.
In other words, the preacher does not simply
become more emphatic and passionate; a new
element and motivating force comes into his sermons
in the increasing rhythmic drive. The congregation's
responses become stronger and come to share in the
rhythm of the sermon. They become a metric
punctuation, as the pauses that they fill grow more
frequent and consistent. The preacher uses more
repetitious wordings, frequently taking the form of a
stock phrase followed by a variable repeated several
times. In the climactic moments of an effective
sermon the preacher's gestures become hyper-
animated: he swings his arms, stalks the stage,
turns away from the microphone between phrases
and whirls back to deliver his next words with all his
force, nearly mouthing the microphone as he shouts.
He pounds the podium in rhythmic punctuation after
each phrase and sometimes, though he never loses
control, he jerks and twitches with the spirit that
moves in him and inspires his words. Frequently the
words themselves cannot be made out, and all of the
effect lies in the powerful, raspy, penetrating sound
of his voice and the rhythmic drive of his phrasing.
The sermon does not rise in rhythm and
spiritedness in a linear fashion. Once the preacher
has gotten going, he builds to a number of climaxes,
driving himself and the congregation to a feverish
emotional state, and then abruptly breaks off, lets
down, breaks rhythm and says in a voice descending
in pitch and volume, some words concluding the
phrases he had been building on. He then stops,
takes a deep breath, perhaps mops his brow and
leans back from the microphone, as the congregation
vocalizes their agreement and then listens as he
begins slowly again. As he continues this series of
ups and downs, he creates climaxes more intense and
more sustained until he reaches a degree of tension
that seems to be as far as preacher and congregation
can go. Then, returning to a quieter tone, he finishes
the sermon, concluding it by leading the
congregation into a hymn.
It is during these high points in the sermon that
large numbers of people in the congregation begin to
undergo possession by the holy spirit. At first
intermittent cries and exclamations arise from
various parts of the congregation, as individuals here
and there suddenly jump or twist. When things are
in full swing, the cries and glossalalia fill the church
along with the preacher's impassioned voice, and
people throughout the congregation dance in the
spirit. Sometimes as much as a fourth of the

congregation will be possessed at these times. The
individual's seizures last anywhere from a moment
to most of the three or four hours of a service; and
some much longer seizures have been reported.
Sometimes they recur or come in waves, never quite
abating over a period of time.
The manifestations of possession vary from one
individual to the next. The worshippers tolerate
some non-conformity in a genuine possession, saying
the spirit works differently through different people.
Sometimes the seizure comes on very gradually,
beginning with rocking back and forth or swinging
the arms, accompanied by intermittent jerks or cries,
then slowly moves to glossalalia, dancing and other
manifestations. At other times some individual will
jump up with shocking abruptness, screaming,
sweating and struggling in the aisle as neighbours
rush to restrain her, pull from harm's way a nearby
child, or guide her away from obstacles. The external
manifestations of seizure always include sweating,
heaving breathing, an increased heart-beat, and a
facial expression revealing intense feeling.
Worshippers may throw back their heads or buckle
over forward, hop or stamp or just walk, flail their
arms about or wrap them tightly around their body.
Usually the muscles become tense and movements
are, as a result, abrupt and rigid. The possessed
person usually cries out or speaks in tongues and
may shed tears. Afterwards they report that during
the seizure they are totally or very nearly unaware of
all this; that they are conscious primarily of the
feeling of the spirit moving in them a very
tangible physical feeling regardless of the nature of,
or absence of, accompanying emotional or cerebral
experience. When a large number of people are seized
by the spirit, with all the attendant cries and motion,
the atmosphere of the church becomes so electric
with the emotional and religious energy of the
assembled throng that no one can fail to feel its
In the songs that follow the sermon the
congregation has an opportunity to give full musical
expression to the religious fervour that the sermon
has aroused in them. These songs are often the most
lively in the service. Most people move with the
music in a motion resembling some standard
Jamaican dance movements, minus any motions
that might be construed as erotic in nature. People
continue to be possessed during these songs, and
many dance in the spirit, looking as if they would be
moving in rhythm were it not for uncontrollable and
unpredictable jerks and contortions.
Soon the preacher calls for a less raucous song,
which the congregation sings extremely slowly, with
a wealth of harmony and without percussion. The
congregation sits or kneels as it sings, and the people
often bow their heads. Over the backdrop of the slow,
sustained harmonies the preacher begins to speak to
the people in his lyrical tones. This is the altar call; it
occurs in every service. He delivers a message,

spoken not oratorically but very directly and
personally, on sin and salvation; he tells them how
they may lay their burden down. Then he makes his
plea: "Is there anyone here tonight ..." almost
invariably he leans over the podium and ext -is his
hand toward the people "... is there one s._l here
tonight who will come forward and lay himself before
God's altar?" This is the most uniform part of the
service; the words, gestures and tones of voice are
very similar for most services and most preachers.
Most of the people remain seated and continue
singing and praying as the preacher continues in this
vein. One by one those who feel they are "in need of
prayer" go forward and kneel at the altar. After a
number have gathered, the preacher goes to each
one, lays his hands on their heads or shoulders and
prays over them to bring the Holy Spirit. He is
usually aided in this by some of the elders.
The congregation continues singing and often goes
into some more lively hymns. People leave their
seats and crowd around the altar, for the music is
said to help those seeking the spirit. The preacher
may at some point say some final words to the
congregation, or they may sing without stopping
until they break up and go home, anywhere from a
few minutes to hours later. Frequently during this
time the singing itself diminishes in importance,
especially if the same lines are being sung over and
over. The voices fade out almost entirely and the
people clap and dance to the rhythm, bass and
chordal accompaniment as it tirelessly repeats a
sequence of eight or sixteen bars.
I have tried to record here the elements of a typical
Jamaican Pentecostal church service, by assembling
and re-creating my experience in the churches. But
there is, one must remember, a great deal of
variation from one church to the next, one preacher
to the next, and one service to the next, and most
services differ in any number of ways from what is
recorded as typical here. The form of the sermon and
the manner in which it leads into the altar call is
idealized here it is a rare sermon that succeeds in
building and guiding the congregation's religious
feeling as well as I have suggested. The format for
the performance of the altar call differs in some
denominations as well.
But these essential facts hold for all Jamaican
Pentecostal services: First they amplify religious
feeling and religious self-expression among the
worshippers, always building toward the ultimate
end of possession by the Holy Spirit, or at least a
high point of openly expressed religious fervour, in
everyone present. Secondly, they are always a highly
communal event. The preacher does not give a
service which the congregation attends. Rather, the
service is realized in the people's coming together
and engaging in communal religious expression; in
their interacting as a group in song and in active
exchange between leader and flock. Finally, the
services are filled mostly with hymns and choruses,

and the sermon, though not outrightly musical,
develops a motivating drive that is based not on the
sense of the words, but on rhythm and sound. In
general, religious feeling and in impulse very musical
in nature re-inforce and stimulate one another
The Church Music
All of the music in the Jamaican Pentecostal
churches is based on hymns and choruses. The
worshippers know a seemingly unlimited number of,
songs; they maintain a repertoire sufficient to keep a
meeting going well into the night without reference
to a hymn book. With these as a starting point they
create a full musical style, developed rhythmically
and harmonically on the basis of the given melodies.
The worshippers get many of the songs from the
hymn books that they regularly bring with them to
the meetings. As a rule, these hymnals were
published by revivalists in the United States and
brought to Jamaica by missionaries. In addition to
the songs taken directly from the hymnals, the
Jamaican Pentecostals also sing a great many songs
that are passed on orally. These are mostly
'choruses' songs consisting of a single verse,
probably surviving from older, longer hymns. All of
the choruses and hymns are simple and repetitious,
and have a solid, square and predictable quality in
both the melody and rhythm, as well as in the
chordings that the church instrumentalists give
them. The songs and the hymnals are described in
Appendix IIa.
The instrumental accompaniment provided for the
songs may range, in different churches and services,
from a single guitarist to an ensemble of five or six
instrumentalists. The accompanists provide the
basic chords and reinforce the rhythmic pulse of the
hymns. Their function is to provide the music with a
basic rhythmic drive through both metric and
harmonic rhythm. The instrumental parts are
discussed in Appendix IIb.
In the faster songs the primary musical
motivation is undoubtedly rhythmic this is
illustrated by the fact that the singing is frequently
very nearly drowned out by the percussion, and no
one seems to mind. The worshippers do add
harmonies to the melodies, but they are usually
sparse and fairly simple. In the slower songs the
opposite is the case. The worshippers include no
percussive accompaniment in these, and sing them
extremely slowly, sometimes almost a-rhythmically.
Rather than expressing in song a high-spirited
rejoicing in the Lord, in the slow songs they give
reign to a sense of surrender to Jesus. The
worshippers always sing a song of this sort during
the altar call, heads bowed in an attitude of prayer.
The Jamaican Pentecostals never seem to develop
harmony as elaborately as is done in some of the
other Jamaican churches, notably some of the Native
Baptist groups, where four part singing is the norm.

Pentecostals usually sing in two or three parts,
including the melody, a line harmonizing the melody
and usually more or less parallel to it, and a bass line.
The harmony parts are not always carried through;
they are often broken, coming in wherever they
happen to fit conveniently. No one arranges these
harmonies, nor do the people read them from a book,
since very few can read music. Neither do the singers
memorize their parts in advance. Yet the musical
tradition and its harmonic style are sufficiently
engrained and well enough understood that there is
general agreement among the people as to what the
counter-melodies should be, and conflicts between
the parts are minor and rare. The singers are capable
of improvising parts in an unfamiliar song.
Frequently one person, in singing two or more verses
of the same song, may retain the fundamentals of a
certain harmony part, but fail to duplicate it the
second time around. Individuals in the congregation
do not.consistently sing one part, especially if there
are three or four to choose from they often skip
from one to another in the course of a single hymn.
But the congregations as a whole seem to have a
strong sense of the balance and relative importance
of the parts, so that the group maintains an
equilibrium in which the different voice-lines are
weighted appropriately. Individuals seem to
reinforce those parts that they sense are weak in
comparison to their importance to the whole. This
rule applied to a large congregation brings about
good balance in a group of diverse and ever-changing
individuals with no central organization.
In addition to singing the melody of the hymn and
its attendant harmonies, people often add syllables
in the space between lines and verses,20 bridging the
gap and creating a sense of continuity. The most
common form that these interjections take is simply
the syllable "Ohhhh--" sung on the tonic, third or
fifth, leading into the first syllable of the next line.
But they can contain a melodic fragment, usually
descending or ascending to the note with which the
line begins, and they often contain other words or
phrases, like "Jesus" or "Oh yes and ..." These
interjections are an individual's expression. Though
the forms are fairly standard, one person may insert
them where and how he wants to, according to his
own impulses, and in his own style. It is in these
moments that the individual's voice may be heard,
momentarily standing out from, though still an
integral part of, the musical whole.
The congregations usually accompany the faster,
more high-spirited songs with hand clapping, in
patterns that may be fairly simple or quite complex.
Although the patterns vary a great deal, the
worshippers can apply them to any song in a duple
meter, and they clap more or less the same patterns
for all songs that call for clapping. But within the
song the clapping rhythms may vary a great deal,
may even be in a constant state of flux. Everyone in
the church does not clap in the same rhythmic

pattern; instead, different groups of people clap a
varying number of patterns at any given time, and
the several patterns blend to form a complex whole.
Individuals are free to clap whatever rhythms they
choose, and those who are clapping one of the
rhythm patterns are usually spread throughout the
congregation. Clappers do influence one another by
their proximity, so that one rhythm may come to
dominate in one part of the church while a movement
toward another rhythm may develop in another part,
but there is no dictatorship of local trends. Just as
the individual may switch from one voice-part to
another, people are free to alter their clapping
pattern. In some songs, the many changes in
individual clapping patterns that are constantly
occurring tend to cancel one another out. As a result,
a balance is maintained and the overall effect of the
blending rhythms remains more or less unchanged
over a period of time. At other times, however, a
movement toward one rhythm or another develops,
and the overall rhythmic effect of the congregation's
clapping changes through time.
Without fail, the most fundamental rhythmic
pattern is the accent on the upbeat eighth-notes:

I: I ij f* :j
This pattern has an inexorable, universal
inevitability about it as it comes with great volume
from every part of the church on every off-beat. It is
always the first rhythm that people clap, and it is the
only one that can stand alone. The rhythms which
take care of the down-beat eighth-notes -

contribution. The drummer sets his rhythm
according to what he hears in the congregation's
clapping and follows their lead, and in doing so he
makes one or the other meter clearly manifest for all
to hear. Yet the changes to another rhythm and
co-existence of different pulses still occur. This leads
to the conclusion that the Jamaican church-goers feel
far less conflict between the duple and triple
divisions than would most observers from the
American-European musical tradition. As they
perform the songs, the eighth-note functions as the
counting unit, and the sub-division of it in the
rhythmic accompaniment is variable. This is not to
say, however, that the smaller units are trivial, or
merely a matter of embellishment. The feeling is not
that the sixteenth-notes are added between the
eighth- or dotted eighth-notes, but that they are
always there, not always sounded, but sounded often
enough so that the pulse on that level is never
The following are patterns in sixteenth-notes that
arise in the clapping at different times. The list is not
exhaustive, but these are the patterns that most
commonly arise.

i: sp Jp I Jp:j

1:1 ^ 1 PJ -1 I:
~Ii PI IPI \

I.^M h*

I: Jj J : 1 J:' 1 J)

- usually accompany the upbeat pattern, but with
less volume. Other eighth-note patterns, like
*:J 1ID 1 and I:IJn :!
also occasionally occur.
It is in the rhythms that involve sub-dividing the
eighth-note that the variations in the clapping
patterns lie, and that different congregations gain
their distinctive sounds. A dilemma arises at this
point as to how to make the divisions whether to
reak the eighth-note into two or three beats. (If
they are conclusively broken into three, then all the
eighth-notes in the preceding discussion must be
amended to dotted eighths, and the time signature to
12/16.) The songs themselves imply neither division,
for the eighth-note is the smallest rhythmic unit
occurring in the melodies, and the clappers are free to
divide it as they choose. Frequently neither meter
gains a clear predominance; often within a single
song the duple meter seems at times to be the basic
division, the triplets dominate at others, and still at
others the two co-exist.21 It is sometimes not clear
which of the two meters an individual clapper or
tambourine shaker hears in his own rhythmic

Though individuals change their patterns, they
almost never clap in an unpatterned manner.
This collection of rhythmic patterns does not
produce a very interesting effect if they are simply
superimposed upon one another. It is in the sense of
their rhythmic interaction that the patterns take on
their effectiveness. The primary aural mechanisms
by which one perceives the different patterns as
separate entities in interaction are relative volume
and directionality of sound. The beat on the upbeat
eighth-notes dominates all other beats, as mentioned
earlier, by its volume and universality. Those on the
corresponding downbeats complement this rhythm,
but with less strength. The beats within the
eighth-note are quietest and come from various
limited areas in the congregation. But because the
ear segregates them specially, the sixteenth-notes
are heard quite separately from the eighth-note
claps, and their isolation makes their syncopation
striking and compensates for their lack of volume.
To a listener inside the church, the patterns are
heard as separately, and their meshing as clearly, as
they can be seen on the following diagrams:

111 i ?-l

TIME F iT mfn Ml JT J M

P r' K- .L P -' P J

j rm c *

TIME = f =n

fJ' I J J J' jj
*Jn J^ .
4 4 4 4 n


1 1, PP i 1 4 Pp
J*PJ` ?

The rhythmic effect is further enriched by
gradually developing changes in the prevailing
patterns. The most striking of these changes occurs

when syncopation within the
resulting in something like this:

eighth-note rises,

TIME j'n -fffl n U
J J J j JJ

.1j .iln Si Si

Some of the rhythmic changes recur regularly in
certain parts of the song, to create a rhythmically
highlighted period within the song. The people most
S commonly raise the syncopation between lines or
verses, helping to bridge the gap and sustain the
musical drive as the more complicated drumming
and sustained singing do. But because it is the
product of a group movement, rather than an
individual's action, the rhythm changes do not have
such clear beginnings and ends as do the
embellishments in drumming and singing. The more
complex rhythms usually rise gradually toward the
end of the last line of the verse, then diminish fairly
abruptly as more energy is diverted back into the


In most congregations a number of individuals
bring tambourines to church along with their Bibles
and hymn books. During the faster songs, there may
be as many as five or six people scattered throughout
the congregation playing tambourines. The
tambourines' sound is loud and trebly enough to be
heard clearly through the clapping and singing. No
special people play them; they are often passed
around during the singing, from young brethren to
old women to little children. The simplest
tambourine patterns not uncommon, especially
when the tambourines get into the hands of old
people consist of an alternation between hitting
the tambourine and withdrawing it with a shake,
producing the sequence

............ I ................

/_ : oand22

or its 12/16 counterpart,

nhj h:1

As with the drumming, the rhythmic effect
frequently depends more on the relative volumes of
the tambourine hits than it does on when they occur.
Thus, the uninteresting pattern

In the more complicated patterns the tambourine
rhythms are more varied and individualized than the
clapping rhythms. Some of the more complex
patterns are:

might actually be heard something like



7*.7 .7

ior i:[.1. Wl J1Jo :J

and a set of patterns based on the motif


1 .wK fl:I

Clapping: {


A .C r I

I" I I



.jI l J 1 j

4 J V P I

I I_

I I iV

In addition to clapping, drumming and
tambourine playing there is always some pounding
and stomping on whatever surfaces are convenient
and acoustically effective. The rhythms that arise
here are virtually the same as the simpler rhythms of
the other percussion parts.
In the blending of all the percussion parts, it is the
clapping that dominates and the other parts that
follow. The most important rhythmic ideas have
their genesis in the interaction of the separate
clapping patterns. Because of the great variability of
all the parts described here, the whole that results
from their union is also highly variable. The
combined effect of the congregation's various
rhythmic contributions might be something like


-1SS ~


leviS J"l&4

LA. Lii + I 2 + I -. It

I 1 i I----- - ---f

A ++ I I r J 4 - I- r I -

I I . N:f 7=7




I I I '

Si S .JJ


~~S~~~n~~~l ~ ~ ~ IitnrII~nR~JT~lfh



I -I


I I -

I I F I -W

and full of glo-ry,
and full of glo-ry,

Fn l pn fl1

I: i Jj :




.1 1

full of glo-ry.

full of glo-ry ...

It is a joy unspeakable

~pybl J~?PP~I`IPI~I PIP~~~

The one aspect of the church music that remains to
be discussed is the role of the preacher. Different
preachers contribute different amounts to the
musical whole some of those who were called to
the service of God seem not to be very musically
inclined, while others make the most, musically, of
their being at the head of the congregation and
possessing exclusive rights to the microphone. All
encourage singing and sing along themselves; some
do no more and some do a great deal more. One
preacher a successful pastor of an Apostolic


Church in Kingston is a showman in this respect.
He possesses a strong, rough voice, penetrating
enough to be heard clearly through all the singing
and percussion, and with it he improvises against the
hymn melody. On slower songs he reinforces the
melody in spots, singing in an emotion-ridden, rising
and falling voice that swells the sound and carries it
forward like a wave. Between his sung phrases he
says an inspirational word or two. On one occasion
he led the following hymn for the altar call:

-t--l-l II

) -- (spoken)

He... yes...


Oh, He

touched me...

He touched me,

On faster songs, he often departs from the standard
words and melody to shout in quick syllables, nearly
impossible to understand through the clapping and
singing. He usually does this in a monotone on the
tonic, accommodating a V-Chord when necessary by
dropping to the seventh below. More important than
his words and pitches, however, is the style of his
delivery. On the slow hymns he leans over the
podium and speaks and sings directly to the
congregation. He rocks with the rise and fall of the
melody, closes his eyes as an expression of emotional
submission comes over his face, tilts back and then
leans forward to sing again, in intimate rapport with
the congregation, of his surrender. On the fast songs
his body becomes as much an expression of the
rhythm of the hymn as are his voice and clapping
hands. He dances with great vitality, bobbing up
and down, stamping his foot, clapping or pounding
the podium, smiling a smile of vast proportions and
shaking his head as he delivers each line. In short, in
his person in his movements, facial expressions
and tones of voice is the fullest realization in one
person of the music produced by the integrated
efforts of the community.
Not all the preachers realize this role to the same
extent in fact, very few do as thoroughly as
Pastor Thompson does. However much they may do
it, the preachers have individual styles, and these
vary enough so that it is difficult to formulate a
general description.
These, then, are the elements from which the

He touched me...

music is constructed the European hymn melody,
the instrumental accompaniment, the clapping,
tapping, shaking and singing by the congregation,
and the preacher's varied additions. The isolated
parts are described here, but these are lifeless until
they are re-assembled into the whole. Recordings of
this whole not the best examples and limited in
number, but nonetheless fairly representative -
may be found on the accompanying tape*
Music in the Social and Religious Experience of
the Worshippers
Virtually all religions make use of music in some
way, but the role that it plays in ritual and in the
religious experience of the church members varies a
great deal from one denomination to the next. In
Catholic churches and many white Protestant
churches services can be, and often are, conducted
without any music at all, and although they may
seem less pleasing in many ways, no one doubts their
religious validity and efficacy. In these churches the
music functions primarily as decoration, an
intermittent accompaniment to the important events
of the service. In the white Pentecostal churches,
expression of one's religious spirit is the primary
ritual act of the service, and music, as an act of
rejoicing and praise, plays a more central role. But
even here it is the praising itself, not the music that
is the form that the praising takes, that is important.
The glossalalia that the American Pentecostals
regard as their primary religious experience comes

-^^1 _0 ,-^ P -Pl .1

I-! L Kr -' -1 1
I 1I ^ ~ \

"' "

.i #,

about independent of hymn singing. The religious
systems of the African peoples of the Gold Coast,
ancestral land of most of the Black Jamaicans, are at
the opposite extreme. Here the music, far from
serving only as decoration, is inextricably bound up
with the religious experience in fact, the music
and dance of the religious ceremonies are the means
to the experience.
With regard to the role of music in the services,
the Jamaican Pentecostal churches are far from a
balanced compromise between the African and
European influences. The function of music in the
service and the religious experience is the Jamaican
churches' strongest African heritage. It is impossible
to conceive of a Jamaican Pentecostal service
without music, for the music is essential to the
religion. It is one of the primary ingredients of the
service, and it acts as the vehicle to the religious
Not all of the service is filled with outrightly
musical behaviour. The preaching, for instance, is
not manifestly musical in the same way that the
hymn-singing is. Though the preacher's vocal
intonation ranges from sing-song to chant-like, it
rarely contains definite pitches; and though his
phraseology develops a rhythmic driving force, no
time signature could be assigned to the rhythm, nor
could anyone tap it out. But much of the
effectiveness of the sermon lies in its rhythms and
pitches and the responses that the rhythms and
pitches induce in the people. The entire service,
except for the most mundane business, is
characterized by a mode of interaction based on such
responses, though the actions themselves may range
from shouts and sporadic movements to the singing
of hymns and the clapping of complex rhythm
patterns. The services are infused from start to finish
with rhythm and here the word 'rhythm' must be
understood in its fullest sense. The understanding of
the word as it is applied to the Jamaican Pentecostal
services must include both of its common musical
senses that of pulse of a very small scale, and that
of movement on a larger scale, as in the notion of
'harmonic rhythm'. And it must include the concept
as it applies to the arts in general, as "a proper
relation and interdependence of parts with reference
to one another and to an artistic whole."23Finally, it
must include a strong human element: rhythm is felt
by people as a motivating force that carries one
forward through time, and it must be a force that,
despite its abstract and intangible nature, people feel
strongly, and respond to physically and emotionally.
In the Jamaican Pentecostal church services the
people clap and dance to the sixteen-note rhythmic
pulse of the songs, sway in their seats and answer
ack to the broader rhythms of the sermon, and
respond with rising and falling excitement and
expressions thereof to the rhythmic flow of the
service as a whole.
Much of the religion of the Jamaican Pentecostals

is realized in the coming together of the worshippers
for the church service. And because the services are
so thoroughly musical, the coming together is
realized most strongly in the music of the services,
both in the hymn-singing and in the rhythmic
exchange of the sermon. It would be a mistake,
however, to attempt to draw parallels and
correspondences between the forms that the music
takes and the nature of the social structure of the
churches, and to assert that music is a reflection or
representation of social structure. For the primary
social activity of the church is music; it is the first
and foremost realization of the social structure. A
similar problem arises when one attempts to draw
parallels between musical forms and the structure of
the religion as the church members conceive it:
though the worshippers possess a complex religious
world view which they think and talk about a great
deal, their conceptual emphasis is always on
immediate experience rather than on complex
doctrine or a distant heaven. That immediate
experience is a very musical one. The music,
therefore, does not serve as an expression of religious
doctrine; it simply is a part a very large, integral
part of the experience that is central to the
doctrine. Music is, itself, the foremost realization of
social and religious structure in the church.
As a social and religious mechanism, music is very
effective, for it is the most abstract of arts. In it the
participants can create a construct of whatever form
they are inclined to, with no material restraints.
There are always well-defined conventions limiting
the possible forms that a group's musical expression
may take, but these generally are not forced on the
group in any way. For the Jamaican Pentecostals,
the musical conventions were, for the most part,
developed over the years by the Pentecostal
Congregations and their predecessors, according to
their own musical inclinations. As a result, the music
has been free to take on whatever forms are most
appropriate for the social, religious and musical
purposes it serves.
One of the deepest concerns of the Jamaican
Pentecostals, as evidenced by the nature of their
religious activity, is the creation of their own strong,
isolated community. Perhaps the ultimate musical
realization of community would be for all of the
people of an assembled group to unite and sing in
perfect unison. It would also be the perfect
expression of conformity. In any case, this kind of
organization is far from being the musical approach
in the Jamaican churches. In the hymn-singing there
is, of course, a leader in the person of the preacher or
whoever else may have access to the microphone.
But the leader does not tell individuals or groups of
individuals what to do, or keep order among the
parts, or insure that each person obeys the rules and
performs his part properly. He functions, rather, as a
centre of attention, a source of energy and an
inspirational leader. He exhorts, but he does not

organize or dictate.
There are times in the singing when all the voices
and rhythms unite in near unison, or produce
harmonies and rhythms that blend so that the
individual's contribution is engulfed in the totality of
the music. At other times individuals stand out
against the rest of the group, in counterpoints or
counter-rhythms or punctuating cries. There is
always the sense that the musical whole is the
product of the fortuitous convergence and meshing
of the varied, unregimented musical expression of
the individuals assembled. The worshippers succeed
in striking a balance between individual freedom of
expression on one hand, and loss of individuality in
the merging of the community in one musical
expression on the other. And it works well even
independent of religious considerations there is a
genuine satisfaction in taking part in so well
balanced a communal creation.
In the preaching and the congregation's responses
to it, the emphasis moves away from interaction
within the group to the common action of the whole
group in response to an outside stimulus. Although
the preacher remains closely bound to his
congregation, in his giving the sermon he functions
as a separate entity in interaction with the group.
Because they believe he receives his inspiration from
Jesus and serves to inject the spirit of Jesus into the
group, the congregation feels itself not merely in
interaction with the man at the podium, but puts
this exchange in a far grander context. The preacher
is the congregation's link with the heavenly powers,
brought to them on a very intimate level. Even if the
congregation's response to the preacher is not highly
vocal and clearly rhythmic, the group still responds
as a community to his building rhythms and the
tones of his voice, regardless of whether or not his
specific words and meanings are discernible.
These two sorts of musical interaction that of
the individual members of the community
commingling in separate but interdependent
patterns among themselves, and that of the whole
community commuting with and responding to a
separate outside force do not remain segregated.
One leads to the other, and at the high points of an
effective service, both operate at once. The preacher
usually concludes his sermon not by stopping, but
by leading into a hymn in which the worshippers
interact in an array of rhythms and harmonies. In
the altar call, the preacher's calling to the
congregation from above is set off against the slow
strains of the congregation's blended part singing.
And in some of the fast hymns the preacher, with his
position of separation, sings back at the
congregation using altered words in rhythms and
melodies contrasting with those of the
congregation's unified efforts. In these situations the
sense of interaction within the group occurring
within the context of the interaction of the group as a
whole with a larger outside force, achieved musically,

is very real and present.
It is difficult and risky to attempt to say what
underlies and constitutes the intense religious
experience that the Jamaican Pentecostals undergo
during their services.24 But it is empirically clear that
the experiences arise in connection with these
periods of heightened group musical expression. The
musical and rhythmic excitement that develops and
builds in the course of a good service is at the same
time a developing religious spirit. When the.
excitement fails to develop, when the congregation
claps half-heartedly or sings unenthusiastically, the
preacher chides them, not for the poor quality of the
music but for their lack of religious spirit. It is when
the preaching and the music are at their loudest,
most impassioned and most rhythmic that the
largest numbers of people in the congregation go into
spirit seizure. Even for those that do not actually
undergo possession, one cannot doubt that these are
times of intense religious fervour. Still, at other
times it is not the driving rhythm that leads to the
spirit seizure, but the slow, sustained, lyrical music
and preaching occurring during the altar call a
time of surrender rather than frenzy. The
worshipper's tears and slow-rocking movements are
as much an expression of spirit as shouting and
dancing; both are a heightened religious state.
The members of Jamaican Pentecostal
congregations gather in church for the purpose of
making a joyful noise unto the Lord this is their
ritual act. In it they both please their God and fulfil
their own religious needs; because in their joyful
noise is the realization of the Holy Spirit in
Two characteristics of Jamaican Pentecostalism
are most significant in determining the form that its
people's religious expression takes. The first of these
is a search for a very intense, immediate and tangible
religious experience. This is an African heritage,
altered and developed in Jamaica, and molded at the
hands of Christian doctrine and ritual. The second
significant characteristic is an inclination to make
this experience a highly communal one, emphasizing
both the church's unity and isolation. This emphasis
is not peculiar to Jamaican Pentecostalism, but the
Jamaicans have developed it in a Jamaican style in
response to Jamaican surroundings. These two
religious inclinations lead to a style of religious
expression of which the joyful noise is the
The noise is a musical one. The worshippers fill
their services with music, and even where the events
of the services are not musical in a strict sense, they
take on a religious potency based on an impulse
which is, in a broad sense of the term, rhythmic.
Because it is the main activity of the service, the
music comes to function as the primary mode of
interaction between the worshippers. In operating in

this way it creates, through the development of
interlocking but independent parts, a balance
between personal freedom and loss of individuality in
the submersion of the individual in the musical
whole. At the same time that the worshippers thus
gain a sense of their own inter-relation in the music,
their interaction with the preacher gives them a
perspective on their group acting as a unit in relation
to a force which, although it penetrates the group,
operates separately and in contrast.
The music of the services is not simply an act of
praise or an expression of religious emotion, and one
must not view it merely as a symbol pointing to
some more fundamental social or religious truth. It is
a social and religious phenomenon in itself: the
Jamaican Pentecostals feel an urge toward a
religious experience which, whatever its origin and
meaning, has its realization in the joyful musical
Appendix IIA:
The Hymns
The hymn books used in the Jamaican Pentecostal
churches were, for the most part, edited and
published by Pentecostal and Baptist groups in the
United States and originally brought to Jamaica by
missionaries. There are some very old ones still to be
found a few churches use the ancient black-bound
variety with innumerable verses in tiny print and no
music, always tattered and earmarked, that were the
norm in the old Baptist churches. More common are
the hymnals assembled by the parent churches of the
Pentecostal missions for their own congregations in
various centres of Pentecostal revival in the 1940s
and '50s. Hymnals of this sort are still in print and
readily available, and members of the congregations
are expected to purchase them through the church.
Two which are in common currency now are entitled
Best of All and Pentecostal Hymnal, Revised,
The lyrics to the hymns are invariably concerned
with the individual and Jesus, and the salvation
Jesus brings always worded in an intimate and
personal manner. The same is true of the old Baptist
hymns sung in Jamaica, but an important difference
exists between the philosophies expressed in many of
these and the philosophy of the songs the
Pentecostals sing. Baptists frequently sing of their
pains and trials, and then conclude with the great 'in
spite of this' that lies at the core of their Christian
Out of my stony griefs
Bethel I'll raise
So by my woes to be
Nearer, my God, to Thee.
Pentecostals, by contrast, never sing of grief, except
when they use the sinner's grief as a foil to their own
rejoicing. There is essentially one theme to these
songs, and that is rejoicing in salvation no other

topic is relevant.
Musically, most of the hymns consist of four
melodic lines which serve for the verses and four
more that make up the chorus that follows each
verse. The songs are in 6/8 or 4/4 (those in 3/4 are
rarely used in the Jamaican churches). They are very
regular and predictable in rhythm, and free of
syncopation. Certain sets of lines are rhythmic
duplicates of one another; AABB, ABAB and
AAAA are common patterns of line-rhythms for
both verse and chorus.
The melodies are always major, diatonic, and, like
the rhythms, regular and predictable. They are not
quite as repetitious tonally from line to line as they
are rhythmically, but frequently lines that duplicate
one another rhythmically are very similar
melodically, often more or less parallel. The final
lines of verse and chorus are usually the same in both
words and melody, and this recurrent line serves as
the title and catch-line of the song. The melodies
imply chord sequences according to standard
tonality, composed almost exclusively of I, IV, V,
and occasionally ii or V/V. The implied chordings are
always straightforward and highly repetitious, and
for the most part, the instrumentalists in the
Jamaican churches follow them. Along with the
melodies and rhythmic pulse, the chord sequences
always possess a square and predictable quality, so
that when the songs are sung with spirit they carry
the music forward forcefully.
Not all of the songs in the repertoire come from the
hymn books. Most of those that do not are
'choruses', which are snatches of song, usually four
lines long, which may be repeated indefinitely. Most
of these are probably remnants of hymns whose
verses have been lost. In, style and form, both in
lyrics and music, these songs are very similar to the
hymn book songs, aside from the lack of verses.
They do, however, show some results of years of
currency in a Caribbean oral tradition. Certain
rhythmic patterns quite foreign to any songwriter in
the American-European tradition arise in the
choruses, and do so with greater frequency in those
that seem to be farthest removed from any literary
origins. These un-American rhythms come about
most often when three syllables occur in the space of
two counts, and are realized as ln

instead of the more European
JJ or JJ]

Typical examples of this and other Caribbeanized
rhythms occur in "Good, Good, Good" and "One
Way to God".
The manner in which the congregations sing the
songs varies according to the circumstances and the
nature of the song. If the hymn is a high-spirited one
of the sort consisting of a set of verses and a repeated

chorus, the congregation follows a regular procedure
in singing it. The people sing straight through the
verses, following each verse with the repeated
chorus, accompanied by the instrumentalists, but
with little or no percussion. After all the verses have
been sung, the drumming, clapping and tambourine
playing start up all through the church, and with the
percussion comes a great rise in spirit. The people
begin the chorus again, and as they do so, the
singing becomes louder, foot-stomping and rhythmic
body movement begin, and facial expressions, tones
of voice and body motions combine to make manifest
a strongly felt musical-religious spirit. Here, in the
repetitions of the chorus that follow, now rich in
rhythmic motivation, is the main thrust of the song.

He Brought Me Out
(From The Pentecostal Hymnal).

The singing continues until the preacher raises his
hand as a signal to stop, or until the congregation
stops of its own accord. For the songs that consist of
a repeated chorus alone, the congregation usually
includes the clapping, drums and tambourines all the
way through, or else adds the percussion after one or
two runs through. The renditions of the choruses are
always lively, because a process of selection over
years of currency in the oral tradition has allowed
only the best to survive, and made these few familiar
to all. The slow hymns may be extended indefinitely
in the same manner as the fast ones, but without the
addition of percussion at any point.
Following are examples of choruses and xeroxed
excerpts from Pentecostal Hymnal, Revised.

L y heart w disrs'd 'soah -ho-sh In'edread bown And low hi nb
I Heplamid me up-on thestx'agRaookby hs side, Myepere ag.
& He gave mi a son& Ilwas a bew "g of Praus, By dayand by
4. I'll sig ad hi. wonder-fu m- .y To m, I'lpraiaejaint



ehremysinedneg'dmod" wal cied to *aLord
rb bshd ndhre I'Il a-bids; No dan -ger of faIll ing whie
might it sweet nota I will raie; My beart's o ver-flow ing, I'm
all men his goodi-neasehall me; I'll sing of sl a ion so

deep int ry sy, Wbo Us der lybrough me ou to Vud. day,
bere I re.- mai,, But a by hi an W 68 Goru I Vitt
bap pV mid fre IIII praie toy = 10.8 r, who has rep p
boine a-bread,"Mman y "I bear the truth lj rue in Go&

V -- I .

He brought onset the mi.-ry lay, HE sesmanyeeloaubteRacko Sty;
A A A 11

He putsasoag in, :y sool to-day, A song otpnime.hal-io i-;jahl

.J -P n~ A .~.



song of praise Halle lu-jah

(Oh yes).
^ ^* ^-ry: ^>7^

(transcribed version)

(transcribed version)

- -I I I..

There's only one, one, one One way to God, One, one, one

ne way tood (There'sonly One, one, one. One wayo God Ohbrother
On-, o, oe On wa- to G ( brtZ

Saone to God (There's only) One, one, one. One way to God (Oh brother)

Get saved in

Jesus' name.

Appendix IIB: The Instrumental Accompaniment

The types of instruments used to accompany the
songs of the service vary from one church to the
next, as does the number of instrumentalists
present. The most common instruments are electric
guitar and bass, piano, drums (consisting of a snare
and optional tom tom, bass and cymbal), and electric
organ. The instrumentalists are recruited from
among the congregation to play on instruments

In these transcriptions, the melody given in the upper staff of
each system, is sung both as written and an octave lower. The
secondary vocal parts given below are not meant to form coherent
vocal lines; rather, they indicate unconnected segments of
harmony that are heard on the tapes.

owned by the church; they are by no means
professional. Accordingly, they range in skill from
beginners to competent musicians. They are forced
to develop a strong ear, especially for basic chording,
since they are frequently called upon to give
impromptu accompaniment to songs they have not
worked with before. The accompaniments are very
similar for all songs, since they rarely do more than
reinforce the basic chords and rhythm of the hymn,
in accordance with established instrumental

__ ..m i# -J I L .



patterns. Bass players stick, with only occasional
variation, to triadic patterns or alternation between
the root and fifth of the chord in quarter-notes.
Guitarists strum chords in any of several patterns,
some common ones being

(this style is called 'mento'),

and 6/8 alterations of these. Organists usually play
with a greater variety of patterns, and vary them
freely within a single song. Some typical patterns
4:1 b h o I.J:.

12 I 1:
16 *^ M .

T 1 iI
B -.T.- AW .|
ifc'-M ~ e i- Crl *' 'I


In solo playing, many of the organists make use of
accidental more than other instrumentalists, using
particularly V/V (or vii/v) and borrowings from the
The drummer plays in patterns derived from, or at
least closely related to, patterns that arise in the
congregation's clapping. He often reinforces the
smallest rhythmic unit in the clapping by playing in
sixteenth notes on the snare drum or its rim. He can
then introduce variation in the relative emphasis on
the beats. During a large part of a song the drummer
emphasizes the second and fourth eighth-notes (or
dotted eighths in 12/16) of the measure, producing
something like

) Jfor J

or ,:m I]
Or he may accent all four downbeats, thus:
j j ]I

ii IPr~r~J~P~PS

Having set up a pattern that is syncopated within
the quarter- or dotted quarter-note (that is,
accenting the off-beat eighth-notes), he can at times
break the pattern, maintaining the same pulse but
altering the accent, adding a new syncopation within
a smaller rhythmic unit. In 4/4 this occurs on the
level of the eighth-note, by the drummer's accenting
the off-beat sixteenth-notes,

and in 12/16 it occurs within the dotted eighth:

These syncopated patterns are frequently further
elaborated, with results like the following:

TI flfln ffj I
In the context of the song and the ever-present
clapping patterns, the times during which there is
syncopation within the eighth-note are rhythmically
highlighted. The drumming generally is louder and is
accompanied by an increase in the volume of the
clapping as well. The increased syncopation
frequently comes in the intervals between the lines,
and most often between the verses of the songs, so
that when the singing breaks off, the more
interesting rhythms rise to take its place, bridging
the gap and creating a sense of continuity. If the
drummer's equipment includes a cymbal and tom
tom, he uses them more rarely and in a less
systematic manner than the snare. Occasionally, to
bring out a strong accent, he breaks the established
pattern with an exchange between snare and tom
tom normally culminating in a cymbal crash which
coincides with a heavily accented beat, something

-1 1 ^ J-1 '-1 i

This sort of pattern generally leads into the first beat
of last line of a verse.
The accompanying instruments play nothing more
complicated than they do because their sole function
is to furnish a basic rhythmic drive. They create such
a drive in both the rhythm within the measure as
discussed above, and in the rhythm on a larger scale,
that of the harmonic rhythm, based on chord
changes from measure to measure. This function is
extremely important, and not merely as a backdrop.

Its significance is illustrated by the fact that in some
churches, in the course of numberless repetitions of a
chorus, the singing sometimes grows less and less
audible until it drops out entirely, leaving just the
clapping, the foot-stomping and the accompanying
instruments, playing the chord sequence over and

Appendix III: The Tape Recordings and

The tape recordings that accompany this study
were made at the Pentecostal Gospel Temple, 111
Windward Road, Kingston 2, in the evening of
September 16, 1973. The recording was done as
unobtrusively as possible from my location in
mid-congregation, with an Uher 4200 Report Stereo
tape recorder. The people in the congregation did not
appear to alter their behaviour in response to my
making the recording, nor did anyone object to my
doing so, since such recordings can only serve to
spread the good news of Pentecostalism. In any case,
most of the congregation was unaware that a tape
was being made.
The congregations in this church always generate
a great deal of musical energy, and the service
recorded was no disappointment. In addition to
being interesting musical samples in their own right,
the hymns and other material on the tape provide
good examples of much of what this study discusses.
Still, the tape is not without short-comings. It
provides no sense of the coherence of the service as a
whole it is full of stops and starts; large segments
of the service are omitted; and the way in which the
different parts of the service lead one into another
does not come through. In particular, the effect of
the sermon and the manner in which it leads into the
altar call are lost on the tape. Another problem lies in
the balance of the several musical components as the
tape reproduces them. The drums which were an
important part of the musical effect in this church -
are lost entirely, and the organ dominates the
accompaniment. In addition, certain local influences,
particularly a tambourine played at times very close
to the microphone, take on a disproportionate
prominence on the tape. Finally, a great deal is
inevitably lost in removing the sound from its
natural environs, and loss of the multi-directional
effect, and still more is lost in the change from
participation to passive listening.

The transcriptions given here do not begin to
represent on paper the totality of what is to be heard
on the tape, much less in the service itself. To create
such a representation is an impossible task: the
individual musical contributions of a large number of
assembled people go into each hymn, to create a
richness and variety that could be duplicated only by
writing a separate part for each member of the
congregation. For this reason, I have not tried to
notate fully all of the parts. Since the choruses are
generally repeated several times at least, and the
vocal parts vary from one run-through to the next, a
variety of different parts normally come and go in
the songs. In recording the songs, the tape machine
picked up these different parts selectively and
inconsistently frequently it is difficult to ascertain
from the tapes whether or not a given part was
actually present at a given moment. To make sense
of this, in each transcription, I have given the basic
hymn melody as the congregation sings it once from
start to finish, and then made an effort to illustrate
the kinds of additional vocal parts that accompany
the melody. The various secondary parts are given
below the melody, sometimes forming fairly coherent
vocal lines and sometimes appearing only as
interjections or snatches of melody.
I have de-emphasized the instrumental
accompaniments to the songs in the transcriptions,
for several reasons: first, although the
accompaniment is an important part of the music, it
does not fully take part in the social and religious
dynamic of the congregation's musical self-expres-
sion. Second, the accompanists operate more or less
systematically, and the manner in which they
generate the accompaniments is discussed in
Appendix IIB. A third reason practical rather
than philosophical is that very little of the
accompaniment, aside from the organ, comes
through on the tape anyway. For these reasons I
limit the notation of the song accompaniments to
indications of the instrumentalists' chordings.
Although the clapping is unquestionably an
integral part of the congregation's musical
expression, I have omitted it from the transcriptions
as well, for the second reason mentioned above. The
rules by which the clapping patterns arise are
described in Chapter iii; to give a detailed
transcription of the plethora of patterns as they
appear on the tape would be a tremendous amount of
work with little reward one must listen to the tape
to hear them in operation.

Unfortunately we are unable to publish the full transcriptions and references due to limitations of space. However the full manuscript
has been lodged in the West India Reference Library of the Institute of Jamaica, for the benefit of researchers.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Our appreciation to Pastor Stewart and the congregation of the Wildman Street Pentecostal Church for their
co-operation and assistance in the production of illustrations for this study.

Christ Triumphant by
Christopher Gonzalez
(beaten copper)
- Courtesy St. Jude's


Left: Woman of the
Crucifixion by Fitz
Harrack (Yoke Wood)
Below: Pieta by David
Boxer Collage (detail)

Selections from the National Gallery Exhibition April 1978.

Right: Mary by Edna
Manley (Mahoghany) -
Courtesy Holy Cross
Below: Resurrection by
Alexander Cooper (detail)

r I

The Ceiba or Cotton Tree. A young girl would stand no higher than the stump in the right foreground of this great tree Photo Duperley (Wirl)




Poet/Historian Edward Kamau Brathwaite, now Reader in
History at the University of the West Indies, was born in
Barbados in 1930 and was educated there and at Pembroke
College, Cambridge where he read for an honours degree in
history. He has lived and worked as an Education Officer in
Ghana for 8 years. His publications include a trilogy of long
poems which deal with the Black diaspora Rights of Passage
(OUP 1967), Masks (OUP 1968) and Islands (OUP 1969), later
published in one volume The Arrivants (1973). Other collections
of poems include Other Exiles (OUP 1975), Black + Blues (Casa
1976) and Mother Poem (OUP 1977). He has also published
The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica (Clarendon 1971),
The Folk Culture of the Slaves in Jamaica (New Beacon, 1970)
and Way of Respect (API, 1978), a study of Sam Sharpe and
Nanny of the Maroons.

The following study of Kumina, an Afro-Jamai-
can religious form/complex, is centered upon a
tape-recorded interview conducted by Maureen
Warner Lewis and Monica Schuler in June 1971 with
Mrs. Imogene Elizabeth Kennedy, (Miss Queenie) of
St. Thomas (later Kingston and now Sligoville),
Jamaica. The transcriptions are mine, from these
tapes, and differ somewhat from the version
published by Maureen Warner Lewis in Savacou 13
(1977). Of special significance, is the use I have made
of a commentary on these tapes by the Congolese
anthropologist, Fu-Kiau K. Kia Bunseki-Lumanisa.
This is therefore a composite investigation into
Jamaican folk culture, using kumina as focus, and is
divided into five parts as follows: Context in which I
attempt to place our People's Churches in their
physical setting; Text a specially edited version of
parts of the Lewis/Schuler conversation with Miss
Queenie, where I have left only Miss Queenie's
words, and re-arranged some of the material to
illustrate as clearly as I can, the cosmological order
of her thinking and expression: Commentary (1) a
series of notes in explication of certain features of the
text; Commentary (2) essentially the information
derived by Bunseki and other African sources on the
Mukongo background to Miss Queenie's text;
Comparison: an examination of the differences in

tone/approach between the work of Martha
Beckwith in the 20s and ours today; and The Future
a brief consideration of the future aspect of our
It is said that men come from Omumborom-
bongo that's at Kaoko, and there is a very large
tree and there is a hole, and it is the origin of
men. And men when they come to the Omum-
borombongo they have fire and sacrifice there
and call upon it. And he who passes in front may
he not pass in front again with a man or else he
die, may he not blaspheme when he reaches the
tree. Here some sacrifice glass and iron bead
collars but others sacrifice the sacrificial
animals. That's what is told. And we, as we hear
you, hear you that there by the sea there in
Kaoka he is called the omundjavaira. But the
small cattle it is said to come out of a rock, and
the oxen and the living beings that are among
men. But these things are told like a mystery.
The Tale of Omumborombongo. Owe Herero, S.W.
There can be little argument anymore about
'African survivals' in the Caribbean/New World: the
old ironic Frazier/Herskovits debate was based
paradoxically on the notion that (1) Africa was a
'dark' continent, cultureless; and that therefore (2)
there was no culture to be brought to the New
World; back-stopped by another argument as to
whether/how far cultures (especially cultures under
stress), were transportable at all ('that deep
amnesiac blow' in the words of the West Indian poet
Derek Walcott). With the (re)-discovery of Africa
since the political independence of the 50s, the issue
of 'African culture' is no longer in doubt; and with
this doubt removed, the question of transportability
has, interestingly enough, apparently receded. At
the same time, the scholarship and literature of
African survival in the Caribbean and the New
World has grown and gained a new resonance of
confidence. What I'm therefore presenting in this

study, not only can ignore the arguments and
justifications of the old colloquy, but will seek to
provide additional and contact evidence of a living
African presence and the consciousness of its place in
the continuum: the persisting continental connection
between New World and Old Africa.
I am asking you to listen to (part of) a tape
recording of a conversation (June 1971) between two
young (female) Caribbean scholar/intellectuals:
Maureen Warner Lewis, from Trinidad, a literary
critic and teacher at the University of the West
Indies and Monica Schuler, a socio-cultural his-
torian, a Guyanese, now teaching at a University in
North America, and Mrs. Imogene Elizabeth
Kennedy, 'Miss Queenie', a queen or priestess of the
Afro-Jamaican religious/culture complex known as
kumina: a 'survival', similar in quality/type though
not, for socio-historical reasons, as well nurtured,
preserved and articulated, as say Brazilian
condomble, Cuban santeria, Haitian vodun, and
their related 'cults'. kumina, in other words, is not
so much a syncretized religion, as an
African/Maroon life-form that has used the
resources of creole christianity when/wherever
necessary, though the 'using' (i.e. borrowing) has
been, in my view, much less significant in quality
and quantity than is most usually assumed.
Kumina is, to put it most accurately, the living
fragment of an African (mainly Kongo) religion in
the Caribbean/Jamaica. It is a fragment because the
slave/plantation system did not allow more than
fragments: the visible public aspects of the incoming
(so-called deracinatedd') Africans were, in the
instinctive interests of control, suppressed: the
social language, the social hierarchies, the
specialists, the public customary observances, and
therefore the officials of symbol, regalia and publicly
expressed ritual, link and memory, were destroyed.
Therefore African culture in the slave world:
kumina: to survive: and it had to survive as long as
the people who lived/expressed it survived: had to
submerge itself, had to lose much of its public
visibility; had, as it submerged, to accept losses, to
*adapt; miraculously, creatively did this: persisted
and survived. Which is not as surprising as it first
sounds; and would not be so at all if we stopped
thinking of kumina (religion) in terms of European
medieval definitions of it: church, pope, ecclesia: and
conceived of kumina (and religion generally) once
more as an aspect or focus of culture: so that worship
is seen as a particular kind of social observance,
based on faith/assumptions, but not in any
permanent way separated from other, more 'secular'
customs. Indeed, we must begin to think of a
situation where the word/concepts sacred and
secular are practically meaningless; or rather where
they connote a certain kind of intensification of a
shared organic experience. Politics, then,
psychology, economics, prophecy, medicine, law,
poetry, music, dance, art may all be seen as aspects

of 'religion' and religion as aspects of all these.
It is a situation, too, in which the god: spirit:
ancestor: remains very close to the living: is in fact
part of the living; and 'worship' (the word is not even
appropriate/accurate here) involves the possession
of the living by the dead: by ancestors; by the god;
or rather, it involves the frequent and accepted
incarnation of the spirit: god into the community of
the living; and the necessary and equilibrium-main-
taining 'opposite': the retained intimacy between
these interpenetrating worlds.
In this achievement, music and dance: locomotive
energy: plays an essential role. The 'priest' is
significant not because he possesses arcane
knowledge ('holy of holies') or because he is specially
educated in man's interpretation of the ways
(theology) of the god-head; but because he has a
specially recognized gift of perception/possession;
because in his or her company, the community can be
led most easily into a wholesome relationship with
the ancient future and the approaching past. And
because the person of these gifts is usually also
healer, see-er, seer, misfortune-shielder and advisor,
all in one.
Round this figure: force/community: turns the
village, settlement, town: the what we might call the
secular community. At Ife, the roads radiate
outwards from the priest: king: One's palace,
through the various circled quarters of the city, to
the fields, the sacred waters and the shrines: bread,
life, spirit. In Trench Town, August Town, Dalvey
(Jamaica) the houses of the survived believers form
their little Ile-Ife, centred near the shepherd's yard,
and move fragmented but still outward from the
clearing with its 'worship tree', towards the river
('Jordan') and the fields and mainroad/crossroads of
the city.
The priest/priestess', leader/shepherd's yard:
neat, hushed, tense: is the centre of this clinging
world: sometimes forgotten, isolated, made
submerged; at times of crisis ('ghost riden coffin in
city') remembered: slowly, suddenly: once more the
focus of the anxious surge of crossroad, tenement
and dusty marketplace.
The yard, protected by fence, gate, white
markings at the gate-posts or just inside the
threshold; the sacred pole or holy tree, the
whitewashed stones of heaven's thunder, the pigeons
(doves) in tree or cote: coo-coo-cu-ru-ing: the steps,
the entrance to the shepherd's hall or house:
reception/waiting room; a room off: healing: bed,
table, floor-mat; another room: the heads down
close, together, low slow incision of the voice: listen,
listen, touch; another room: loud talk, laugh/cackle:
secular and polyphone advice: single, groups: join,
wait, alone; another door, steps, the inner courtyard:
dirt, tile, cement: the 'bood' or hounfort, chapel,
church: or Holy Tabernacle: sticks, drums, rattles,
gourds; pews, archangels' signs, white cloth and
rising table; piano, organ, altar; but always space for

dancing: whirl, spin, salU, damballa's bellows; and
beyond, the balm-yard; and beyond that: sharine,
eart', yam, peas, croton, graves; and beyond that
herb, bush, weed, jiggey; and beyond that heal,
stream, water, spirits, ancestors, the mourning-
ground of gods ....
This is the only way I can do it; this is the only
way it can be done: new words, new sound/forms for
our folk tradition. We have to enter into a world
which is surrealistic, which is impressionistic, in
which your notions of linear thinking begin to be
eroded. What I've described there (above) is the
house and 'holy': all in one: of Miss Queenie, in
Western Kingston, Jamaica. In her yard there is
healing, there is advice, there is sound and music,
dance; there is psychological and physical
examination, there is prayer. She's a politician,
economist for self, and household, yard and her
community, priestess: all in one. And she has the
power of Nommo: spirit, force and memory of the
Word. It is she who remembers and restores the
The passages you are about to hear, taken from a
casual interview'(in the sense that no-one was being
self-conscious about these things just three sisters
talking with each other), she reconstructs for us not
only the history but the cosmology of her Congolese
connection: she not only remembers the arrivants
(the old Africans), but there is the ancestral teacher,
the tatimbenje (tata mbenze, papa bois, old man of
the trees, tonton macoute etc.) ... And he exists now,
not only in his original African form and memory
(see 'Ancestors') but in a living Jamaican form as
Mr. Parker (see 'Friends: Neighbours: Messenger').
It is at Mr. Parker's house that Queenie first came
into contact with 'the African language', and with
the notion of African ritual ('when you eatin' now,
you know you invokin' a messenger ... which is a
spirit...'). It is from Mr. Parker that she learns about
Feeding the Dead (see section of that name). It is
from Mr. Parker (and from her grand-parents) that
she learns that African language: Kikongo: which
alone, she points out, (see 'The African language'),
makes it possible to connect with the ancestors. But
Miss Queenie's connection is a spiritual and initiated
one: she has inherited the power of the tatimbenje -
and this entire rite de passage is described in Section
II of the transcript, 'Passage'. The metaphors and
symbols employed here (lillies, seven, cotton tree,
root, candle, dark, hollow, tomb, light, the
implosions of tone and visions, the dumbness that
precedes explosion), all these could become a thesis
in themselves, but the account of the experience is an
experience in itself, and leads to the upward and
outward return journey of the neophyte, about to
herself bloom as a kumina 'Queen'.
(a) Well muh ol' arrivance ... h'African ... is from

Africa ... that's muh ol' arrivants a family ... muh
granmuddah an' muh granfaddah ...
Well they came out here as slavely ... yu
unnerstan ...?
Well when dem came now ... cau ... h'I doan
belongs to h'Africa, I belongs to Jamaica, I born
here ...
Well muh grandparents, she teach me sum'm of the
African languages ... han ... de res' ...a' get it ... at ...
de cotton tree root ... in Sn Thomas ...
a' take twenty-one days fe get hall de balance ...
so a' juss travel right up to h'it, an' gradually
come up, an' gradually come up, until h'experience
all about ... de African set up ...
Well a' live here about ... right at dis spat now ...
about ... goin' ... two tree years ...
we leave Sn Thomas when a' was about ... when a'
wa' about ... twenty ... an' a went in town ... (b)
well a' don't leave town agen ... from dat ... a' live
in town ... long time ...
Well yu have ... they say you have ... a ol' African
man in h'Africa, they call im tatinbeenj ...
Well deh learn me ... deh seh dat mahn, he juss go
rounn wid him basket ... right rounn in Africa,
comin' like ... the Head One ... so an' im juss walk
rounn wid im basket an' im sing African language
an' get 'is food ...
Slavery-time cotton tree (c)

Well when deh came here ... dem juss ...
Duckensfield ... suppose to be Duckensfield Estate ...

is not dey-one came, is a whole heap-a-dem come 'ere
in de slavery ...

because take for instant out at Morant Bay ... when
dey came here ... you 'ave a cotton tree out dere ...
what dey buil' a gas station now ... dat dey use to
heng men ... an' your usban' leave an' come ... after
you leave the yard now ... you come out ... dey ketch
you ... an' dey heng you; you husband' come to look
fuh you ... dey d'wn de same ... you children come out
... dey d'wm de same ting ... 'cau' dat is/was you see,
in de slavery time ...
but dose time it was still de African-dem ... you
understand ...?

well dey hang dem out there, because at de las' time
since I been here, an' when dey gwine to cut down
dat cotton tree to buil' de gas station, it lick dung
about four to five men ... kill dem ...


but what dem nevva do, dem nevva kill anything ... as
blood ... you understand ...? becau' too much life was
taken there ... so dem 'ave to piay ... de country
before dey could dwe it ...

well after dey faen suh so many men was gwine after
dey was dw'in it, dem 'ave to kall back ... an' some
goat ... an' shed some blood ...

an' when dem dig de place dey faen a' whole heap a'
gole, a' whole heap a' silva, all trinket a' all dose
colourful tings dung under de eart' ...

den dey could get now to buil' up de gas station there

Because right now in Sn Thomas you 'ave a' whole
heap a' cotton tree there wh' contain a' whole heap
a' ting there, which is all dose slavely-time people, all
dey likkle money an' all dem ting wh' dey bury dere

you 'ave gole chain, you 'ave gole tables, dat come up
in de twelve a'clock a' days ...

No you cahn touch dem, because dey heng-on pun
chain .../laughs/...dey is on chain ...

an' sometime yuh see gole table, gole chair, an' all
does tings arrive from ... from under dere an' come
up an' spin rounn an' all does tings until yuh sih
dey go dung back but yu' cahn touch it ... sih ...
sometime you hear seh de' faen money ...
is who ...
jus ...
dey want to give you ... an' dey come an' dream yu'
an' say well ... guh to dat place, carry rice ... rum ...
goat ... an' you get it ... you unnerstan ...

but udder else wa' ju' cannot get it ...
A' grow up wid me mutha ...

Because muh grandparents ... die when ... a' was a size
... likkle bit ... when a' was likkle bit bigger 'an dis
likkle bwoy ...

muh granmudda died firs' an' muh granfadda die
after... a' belee a' was about seven to haight years ...
an' den we juss coming' up ...
You see me mudda ...
me mudda is a lady dat ... you know ... she doan
really ...
me mudda is a Zion ... (d)
she used to work Zion ... yuh see ...
but she doan dw'any in de ... h'African...
my fadda ...
he come from ... Trelawny ... seh ...?

Chelused to do ... they call dis thing kittihalli (e) ...
td kg kittihalli ... is a daunce ...

but H'i don't really know ... what it tis, because a'
never ... grow to know de direct ling da, because im
die when Hi was about ... six years ole, so Hi don't
know im to dat ...

Friends: Neighbours: Messenger

Well we did 'ave a likkle man there, they call him
Mister Parker ...

he did 'ave a h'African drums ...

Well tru we's neighbours now ... we juss ... go an'
come an' all de while ... they have dinner ... an' den
we juss jump around' dem ... an' w'try to see what we
can get. Because s'when 'e gwine to 'ave de dinner
now, im say

"Well all my ... yetuewe children ... m'w'dende kuma
yande ... m'gwn setemgumma ... talaumisi before
you sitangumma ..."

an' we guh rounn an' den everybody circle now an'
den we start to play de cyas ... an' den everybody
start daunce ... an' everybody 'tart ... to sing ... an'
when de goat ... de dinner time now ... we chop de
goat-neck an' we cook an' everybody get down an' we
h'eat ...

dat time ... when you h'eatin' now, you know you
invokin' a messenger ...

which is a spirit ...

Feeding the dead

You see all dose h'ol' h'Africans dat die, you fee' dem
... you fee' dem ...

fee' all dose ... like 'cause like how I am a African
now an' h'if I die, they will have to keep up
something fuh me ... you see ... an' feed me ... so is so
we take it ...
The African language:

Well ...
suppose a' want to beg yuh something now ...

yu' seh ...
you's m'dungdung kwaen't ...
you's not a African like us wit' as you cyan speak de
language ...*
,At another point in the conversation Miss Queenie said: 'if yu doh
know the language wha' yu gwine tell dem say? If yu cyan talk the
African language to dem, wha' yu gwine tell dem? You couldn't even
call them kuyu neider' (See Warner Lewis, p. 70).

yu' seh ...
m'dungdung kwae't ... m'waenda ...

gy'mbu fwa tu kwa a a'l'we la woila!
a' ax if yu' 'ave any money ...

yu' seh ...
dat mean yu' doan 'ave any ...

'seh, well a'right ...
aw would like to get some gy'mbu ... that's money ...

well deh seh ...
yuh don't 'ave any ...

well yuh goin' to kall de men now ...
yu' seh ...
yetuewe ye te lekola! gy'mbu fwa tu m'l'we yawele!

yu' seh ...
yes ...

well de' seh ...
m'wande gy'mbu to de kaen ...

dat mean to say ...
give me yu' money ...

when a' seh give me yu' money, yu' seh to de yekala,
m'wande m' gy'mbu to de kaen ... ye kala m'wande
m' gy'mbu to de kaen ...

well de' take out de money ... hout a' ya wayele,
which is a pocket ... laughs]... an' ya give me ...

an' m'say a'right ...
an' a' tek it from ya an' watch fa' a' wha' a' want now
an' juss gw'n get it ...

well it juss gradually gw'on up ... we juss keep up all
de languages going' on ... an' we juss operate ... an'
we speak ... because is dat I really grow up into ...
juss a' African language ... y'understann ...?
Yu' seh, when yu' hear rain goin' fall, t'under roll ...
yu' seh vula laet ... metaligato ... dat mean to say
rain is fall, t'under is rollin' ... that's mataligato ...
Well, God now ...
Yu' say ... KING ZAMBI ... that mean to say ... [she
says this very softly] ... God ... KING ZAMBI A
PUNGO ... MATALIGATO ... vula laet... dat mean
to say God is falling' his rain an' t'under is rollin' an'
he name MATALIGATO ...


One day ... a' remember one day a' faen some lilies ...
an' a' plant de lilies dem in row, an' one Sunday
morning when a' wake ... all de lilies blow ... seven
lilies an' de seven a' dem blow ...
an' a' leave an' guh dung in de gully bottom ... to go
an' pick up some coconut, an' when a' go a' see a'
cotton tree an a' juss fell right down ... at de cotton
tree root ...

an' is dere a' take now ...

when a' don't heat anything ...

twenty-one days ... ha don't heat ...

in de night, in de cotton tree coming' like it hollow, an'
Hi' inside there; an' you have some grave arounn
dat cotton tree, right rounn it, some tombs ...

but dose is some hol'-time h'African ... yu
unnerstann ...?

well dose tombs arounn de cotton tree ... an' Hi'
inside de cotton tree lay down, an' a' night-time a'
sih de cotton tree light up wit candles an' ... a'
restin' now, put me 'an' dis way an' sleeping ...

an' a' only hear a' likkle vice come to me an' dem
talking' to me, but dose tings is spirit talking' to mih ...
an' dem speaking' to me now, an' seh now ...

"Is a likkle nice likkle chile, an' oo gwine get im right
up now ... in de h'African world ... because you brains,
you will take something ... so derefore ... we gwine to
teach you something ..."

Well de firs' ting dat dem teach me is
s'wikkidi ...

s'wikkidi lango
which is sugar an' water ... sih?

an' dem teach me dat ...
an' dem teach me m'praey-ers ...
which is ...
Kwali kwali n, n'den den de
Beli ko lo mawa kisalaya
PEm legcle
Len legele

Luwi za'kwe n'da'kwe so
Belam m'pese m'bambe

which is de same hour Fader's Praeyer ...

but is in de language ...

"Pure Spirit"

Well dey take me on ... an' dem carr' me hon ... until
... a' faen a' faws' asleep ... an' when it touchin' ... in
... goin' up to two a'clack, a' faen me wake agen ...
an' ... de' learn me ... agen ...

Malavu tuwa ninim kwe
dat is rum

Nini so so lango
dat is pure water: water fe drink

Well dem res' at dat; an' daylight out now, a' dohn
take noh more courses. A' sit dung dere, a' sih me
mudda an' all de udda set a' children-dem come
rounn becau' nobody know where I am, an'
everybody cryin' dem cannot faen mih ...

well 'am dere but a' cahn talk becau' me tongue was
'tiff in me head ... tongue me'gets heavy ... an' a'
cyan talk, a' only sit down an' look, so a' cyan h'eat
... a' doan h'eat anything ...

well a' was there until ... a' faen a' start to sing ...
Ye O1

changeli mbala yabala mdumba
koya kus mdumba

koya kom ka n'volo
kona n'gyai koya kom me ka n'volo

ya hum ye k'kyere yabala ndumba
maya ya mela k'yende m'yande

ooo aaaai eeeee

nima wenda koyo m'pe n'zonge
zonge nmbala yabula ndombe koya ke meka

yeke meka kuma yende woya ndombe
koya ko meka nkwela
an' a' fin' now a' was singin' dat ...
an' dem res' me agen ...
an' a' hear anoder vice come an' say ...
Ooo Mudder Margret
gba kongo yeri
yeri kongo

rikkita rikkita
kongo yeri
yeri kongo

wata woyula wa nkwenda
kongo yen
yeri kongo

wo ovili m'mwon'
kongo yeri
yen kongo

ye m'merrima
gba kongo yeri
yeri kongo

an' dem stop me at dat ...

an' dem dohn trouble me again fe de balance a' day ...
until six a'clack ... but a' still in de place, a' cy
come out, a' still dere ...
Han ... when it reach again ... six a'clock coming' du g
... a' see a' light before me, but a' doan know wh re
dose light appear from, but a' see dem coming' bef re
me ...
an' ...
one time ... when a' look ... a' see a' likkle black p ss
... circle rounn de cotton tree an' im bawl tree time ...
miau ... miau ... miau ...
an' a' don't see im again ...

a' was dere until de 'ours come right down an' night
come dung ... an' ... a' hear a sounn seh to me seh...
wa ye tu wa ye ke ... a' gwine kwenda wa yande.
sita ya go ...
an' a' was dozin' a' dat time an' a' jump ou' mi slep
y'a seh to im seh a' seh When!
'e don't say anything to me again ... till a long w
im seh to me seh ... time a' dozin' wit' all mi travel
is in dozin', yuh know ...

im seh to me seh ...
"Haw right ...! keep hon travel until yuh days re
ended ..."

Well when me see de days coming' up coming' ip
coming' up coming' up ... a' have a' h'uncle ... an' ni
mudda sen' an' tell im dat ... 'he cannot faen me, n'
im senn an' tell 'er dat she's not to fret, she's to o ly
get de H'africans drum ... an' ... 'e will come ... n'
relieve me ...
well dey get de drums an' dey buil a' bood; an' dy
buil' a dress ... an' dey come rounn ... an' ... after a
day's up, dey took me out ... an' dey buil' de dance ...
an' den after billion' de dance now ... gradually a'
comin' ...

Well a' started becau'... tru a' nevva know ... s'true
so well, a' leave a man name Man Parker 'ave a dance
in Dalvey ... a h'African dance ... an' a' went there ...
leave me mudda, in de night, to look on de dance ...

an' when a' guh dere, a' see everybody was dancin'
an' a' stann up an' fol' mi hann like dis, an' a' feel mi
whole body like it is goin' goin' liff ... an' a' see a girl
jump ... from a way an' juss hol' mi in mi neck an' a'
drop ...

an' after a' drop now a' faen a' juss gone ... an' a'
started to dance ... started to dance ...

well gradually now a' coming' straight up ... an' a'
start dance kumina ... a' started to dance kumina ...

until ...

a' started to go hout now ....an' started to dance ...

Queen (f)
/So/ I do my twenty-one days at dat ... cotton tree
root ... an' den ... a' come 'ere a African Queen ...

Bustamante ... tes' me at Morant Bay Parade ... an'
bring me come to town ...

we daunce fuh Busta ... he tes' me at Morant Bay
Parade ...

an' den 'e took me from dere straight along in de
truck an' a' dance straight along an' come in town,
an' after a' went in town, im say ah'right, yuh kin
stay 'ere an' go on ...

Babylon (g)
De firs' night a' play at Se/mit Village dung there,
policemen-dem mash up me drum ...

A' don't know ...

Well I goh to Bustamante ... de morning' an' ... tell im
an' im mek dem pay me foh me drums an' a' went
back to Sn Thomas an' get my drums ... sih ...?

Well it so I in town an' doin' de h'African work, until
a' got where a' got now ... gradually everybody
been getting' to know me more an' more an' more an'
more an' coming' up ...
The Future
a' 'ave a nex dahta in Sn Thomas but hi cyan rely on

'er; she is ... she have de h'African spirit tuh ... but
she ...

dem young people deh dem na want to hear of no
control ... yuh see ...

but a' suppose to ...

dat ... in future comin' on an' a' don't depart ..., a'
suppose to have ... a' nudda one after hi depart ... to
cyarry on ... so a' gwine to hable to try to teach dem
dat dey can hable ... you see ... who can cyarry it on
for mih ..., 'cau' ... suppose to have somebody in my
space ... yuh see ...?

Well de mos' ting a' have fe do if dem cyan take it an'
a' depart, a' ride dem bareback ..(laughs3... an'
teach dem hit... sih? Dat's de only way I can hable,
'cau' dey head is very tough now ...

YesEI would come back in de spirit worl'... an' den
teach dem ... yu sih ...?

The folk elements of kumina


Barrett, Leonard E.
Soul-force: African heritage in Afro-American
religion (New York, 1974)
The sun and the drum: African roots in Jamaican
folk tradition (Kingston & London 1976)

Beckwith, Martha W.
Black roadways: a study of Jamaican folk life (Univ.
of North Carolina Press, 1929)

Chevannes, Alston (Barry)
Jamaican lower class religion: struggles against
oppression (M.Sc. thesis, UWI, Mona, 1971).
'Revival and Black Struggle', Savacou 5 (June 1971)

Moore, J.G.
Religion of Jamaican negroes: a study of Afro-
Jamaican acculturation (Ph.D. thesis, Northwestern
Univ., 1953)

Ryman, Cheryl & Hall, Beverley
Notes to special issue of Jamaica Journal (with
record), 10 (1), 1976. There is also comment by Joyce

Seaga, Edward
'Folk music of Jamaica: introduction and notes to
ethnic folkways'; insert album notes to Folkways LP
No. P. 453 (1956: with Harold Courlander)

'Revival cults in Jamaica: notes towards a sociology
of religion', Jamaica Journal 3(2), June 1969

Simpson, George E.
Religious cults of the Caribbean ... (Inst. of Carib-
bean Studies, Univ. of Puerto Rico, 1970
Warner Lewis, Maureen
The nkuyu: spirit messengers of the kumina (Sava-
cou Publications, Mona, 1977); also in Savacou 13


a) ol' arrivants. A Jamaican expression having to
do with immigrant/ancestors. It indicates a very
strong sense among the people of their family origins
from overseas: African/slaves, African indenture,
but is used also in relation to known European
ancestors. See, for example, the use of the word, from
interviews, in Patricia Brown, 'Family history of the
Langley family', Caribbean Studies Paper, UWI,
Mona, 1978. Monica Schuler, who interviewed Miss
Queenie with Maureen Warner Lewis, and is engaged
in research into African immigration to the
Caribbean after Emancipation (see for example her
'The experience of African immigration in 19th
century Jamaica'; Paper delivered to the 4th Conf. of
Caribbean Historians, UWI, Mona, 1972) feels that
the kumina/kongo group of which Miss Queenie is
part, came to Jamaica after slavery: thus explaining
the relative (and remarkable) purity of her/their
Mukongo culture; (see also Warner Lewis, p.60)
though this, I think, could be argued ...

b) a' went in town. Miss Queenie, like so many of
our country-roots people, has become a part of our
immense (internal) migration pattern to town, city,
(metropole). From Dalvey, in St. Thomas, she went
to Kingston, in her early twenties, in the 50s, under
the patronage, apparently, of Alexander Busta-
mante. See Test. From her new home in Kingston,
she became (and still is: though currently not at all
well) quite active as Queen of her band; and it was
while on a 'duty' in St. Mary that she met Edward
Seaga (successor to Bustamante as a leader of the
Jamaica Labour Party), then still doing research into
Jamaican folk culture/religion. (See Reading,
above). Miss Queenie's account of the meeting (on
the Warner Lewis/Schuler tape) is as follows:
'How a' get to know Mr. Seaga ... A' was goin' to St.
Mary to buil' a duty ... when a' was goin' in de truck,
we was singin' an' knockin' de drums, an' a' see a
cyar behine me ... a brown man but a' doan knows
'im ... an' de cyar trail de truck ... an' when a' reach
to de place (a' 'ave to crass a river), an' after de truck
stap an' everybody come out, 'e come an' stap behine
de truck an' 'im come out to', an' after we cross de
river an' go over an' m'cross de river wit us an' 'im
go over ... an' when a' go up de 'ill where a' gwine to
mek de dance, 'im come to', an' 'im stann up an' fole
'im hann like dis ... fuh de whole night ...

'A' went to 'im, a' seh to 'im seh, Please sar, would
yu' want a seat? Him said, No daata ... an'
everybody begin to aux me if a-who de man man
come wit'; a' seh a' don't know, a' saw de man coming'
over de river; well, a' doan know becau' s'tru sport
gwine up here, yu' doan know is 'oo ...

'Well, 'im stann up dere until when it touchin' about
twelve o'clack 'im seh to me dat a' can give 'im de
seat an' 'im sit down; an' 'im was dere wit' us until
when day was lighting' out, dat we ready to come
away, 'im come down to' ...; after we come off, 'im
come down behine us; an' when a' reach in town 'ere
now, 'e started to look for me, about four days after
... an' it so a' come to get in communication wid 'im
... an' ... 'im come to take some of de African
language from me, wid de same tape recorder ...
Sometimes ... night after night ... a' 'ave to be hin de
office wid 'im, to learn 'im de African languages ...

c) The cotton tree In Africa and the Afro
Caribbean, the cotton tree (ceiba) and some other
massive trees are felt to be sacred places, often the
abode of spirits, and are respected as such. Miss
Queenie gives us three aspects of this tree: its
secular/historical use: dey use to heng men' from
these silk cotton trees during the days of slavery
(and no doubt she is collating the 1865 Morant Bay
Rebellion as well); then she introduces the folk

myth/notion of gold (treasure: Spanish jars, etc.)
buried near or under these trees; and the belief,
among many, that a blood libation is necessary when
any of these sacred trees has to be cut down. (See
Slavery-time cotton tree; Blood; Gold)

d) Me mudda is a Zion There is a significant
difference, in Queenie's mind and in the culture -
between the African religion of kumina and the
Afro-Christian Zion. They share of course similar
elements: kinesis/possession especially. (By kinesis
I mean the rhythmic nature of the worship;
possession is the taking over of a worshipper's body:
mind: character by a god/spirit). But while the Zion
possession is technically at any rate by the Holy
Ghost (with of course African 'intrusions'), Kumina
deals specifically in Kongo and Kongo-creole gods
and spirits; and while the Zions speak 'in tongues',
the Kuminas speak kikongo. (See Passage)

e) kittihalli One of Miss Queenie's brothers
intervened on the tape to explain that kittihalli is a
Trelawny stick dance similar to, if not the same as,
warrick (Warwick? 'legacy of the mummers'? see
F.G. Cassidy, Jamaica talk (Kingston & London
1961), p. 261, discussing 'John Canoe'). In Rex
Nettleford's 'Kumina' (1971 for the NDTC)
Warrick/Kittihalli is introduced as a counterpoint
movement to and within the kumina.

f) Queen According to Moore (p. 145) and Simpson
(p. 193), kumina has among its principal
functionaries, a Mother and a Queen. But Miss
Queenie appears to have become both Mother and
Queen ...

g) Babylon The laws against African religious
expression on/in the plantation/colonies were
introduced as early as the Tacky Rebellion of 1760
and are probably still on the statute books. See
Simpson, loc. cit., pp. 82-85. The law prohibiting the
Shouters of Trinidad was repealed in 1961 after 44
ears (see Simpson, p.84) and obeah was made legal
y the Government of Guyana in 1972.

Mukongo Kumina

1. tatimbeenj
It is so easy to think that Miss Queenie is talking
nonsense; 'tate an' beans potato and beans: just
as Christophe is supposed to have named his
followers, after the revolution in Haiti, Duke of
Marmalade etc. But since I knew that Miss Queenie
wasusing words from Kikongo, I set out to read as
much as I could about this language group and its
culture. I have of course not finished this study, but
the following have proved useful:
N. de Cleene, Introduction a l'ethnographie
Congolaise (Anvers, 1944)
Henry Craven & John Barfield, English-Congo
and Congo-English Dictionary (London 1883)
Harold W. Fehderau, The origin & development
Kitubu (Kinshasa 1967)
K.E. Laman, Dictionnaire Kikongo-Francais
(Bruxelles, 1936)
Alan P. Merriam, An African world: Basongye
Village of Lupapa Ngye (Indiana UP 1974)
J.G. Moore, Religion of Jamaican Negroes
(Ph.D. Thesis, Northwestern Univ., Evanston
Placide Tempels, Bantu philosophy (Elizabeth-
ville 1945; Presence Africaine ed. in English,
Paris 1959)
V.W. Turner, /1/ The drums of affliction: a
study of religious processes among the
Ndembu of Zambia (Qxford 1968)
/2/ Chihemba, the White Spirit: a ritual
drama of the Ndembu (Manchester UP 1962)
/3/ The forest of symbols: aspects of Ndembu
ritual (Cornell UP 1967)
Maureen Warner Lewis, The nkuyu: spirit
messengers of the kumina (Savacou, Mona,
Alvin W. Wolfe, In the Ngombe tradition:
continuity and change in the Congo (North-
western UP 1961)

But my most fortunate breakthrough was meeting
Fu-Kiau K. Kia Bunseki-Lumanisa, Director of the
Centre d'Education et de Recherches Scientifiques
en Langues Africaines in Kinshasa, who has
published, among other things, a cosmological study
of the Kongo people entitled N'Kongo ye nza
yakun'zungidila (Le Mukongo et le monde qui
'entourait) (Kinshasa 1969), written in Kikongo and
French. Bunseki and his friend Ernest Wambau
actually attended the Conference on the African
Dispersion put on by the Afro-American Studies
Center of Boston University, May 1976, at which I
presented a version of this study. You can imagine
their and my excitement when after my paper, they
came up to me and said that not only could they
understand what Miss Queenie was saying, but that
she was speaking extraordinarily 'good' Kikongo,
and with a broad dialect integrity which, with some
research, they were sure could be traced to its
specific area in the Congo (see below); and that she
was a remarkable ngunza (priestess). We
immediately arranged to meet (early June 1976) and
discuss the tapes in more detail, and I now have in
my possession several hours of commentary on Miss
Queenie's text: material of considerable cultural
interest: though our (two) sessions were informal a
great deal more of course needs to be done. But the
most significant general point which emerged from
these discussions was not only the quality of Miss
Queenie's Kikongo, but her use of the cosmology of
this language/culture. In other words, the way she
presented her material and to a large extent, the
order in which she arranged her experience (despite,
in a sense, the interview 'format'), was essentially
Congolese. Indeed, Bunseki was so excited about
this New World Bakongo 'survival', that he wanted
to meet Miss Queenie and I did my best to have him
come over to Jamaica during Carifesta 76; but
because of the unexpected economic crisis at that
time and the curtailment of Carifesta funds, this
project, tragically, I think, had to be shelved;
though it is still my hope that a visit by this
Congolese scholar to Jamaica will still be possible.
Indeed, I think it is essential. The notes that follow
are based upon his comments and reaction to Miss
Queenie's tape.

'bent' is a clan; tata means father. 'Tatimbeenj'
(Tata m'beenze) means: 'I belong to the clan benz6'.
Benzc is actually the first name of this clan, whose
totem or symbol is the basket. Note that Miss
Queenie says 'he juss go rounn wid him baskett.
The Kikongo word for basket is kutu (similar to the
Ton Ton Macoute in Haiti: the man with the basket,
though this now has other (political) connotations:
bad/bogey man, among them, which follow from
this) and refers to a fish clan. The significance of
tatimbeenj here is that he is symbolically carrying in
his basket, the soul of the children of the clan. The
tatimbeenj is therefore an ancestor and a person of

religious importance. According to Turner (The
drums of affliction, pp. 30, 31), among the Ndembu
of Zambia (a people culturally connected with the
Mukongo) diviners carry with them, and use for
purposes of divination, 'a round flat open basket
(lwalu), of the type used by women to winnow millet
...' and that the 'diviner is believed to be possessed
by the spirit of a diviner-ancestor, in a particular
manifestation known as Kayong'u (or) kambanji'.
It is here then, that we first see what Bunseki means
when he said that Miss Queenie's cosmological sense
is extraordinary, because Maureen Warner Lewis
has actually asked her 'What is the name of [your]
African language'? Miss Queenie knows (or said)
nothing of the Congo or Kikongo (though the
kumina generation before her did: see Moore, loc. cit
115, 123); but she answers the question by
introducing the image of the tatimbeenj: 'Well we
have ... they say you have ... a' ol' African man in
H'africa, they call im tatimbeenj ...' (see Ancestors).
In other words, Miss Queenie, thinking of Africa, is
correctly beginning with the legendary origin not
only of her people, but of the clan from which she
came: a river/fishing group, and focuses upon the
image/symbol of a diviner-ancestor: the tata
m'benzf. Mister Parker in Dalvey (see Friends:
Neighbours: Messenger), is the local incarnation of
this figure: 'he did 'ave a Hafrican drums', and it is
in speaking of him that Miss Queenie first begins to
speak Kikongo.
Further meaning of benz (and origins) is provided by
Moore (1953:115):

Many of the leading Zombie tee Nzambi,
belowLdancers feel that they know a good deal
about their family background
Membership in Lkuminq1 is a matter of birth ...
Normallyfalthough there may be exceptions
membership is implied because the families go
back to Africa and, therefore, are linked forever
to the African gods. (my italics). For example,
one ... zombie said that his great-grandparents
came from Africa; they came from the same
tribe, or nation, known in Jamaica as kongo.
This man then explained that he is the same
clan as his mother, and that his beezie (flesh)
was from his mother. (my italics).

We can infer from this, then, that Miss Queenie's
m'benz clan is (was) matrilineal, although the word
probably carries with it the more complex notion of
clan-soul-transmitted through the (mother's) blood,
known to the Akan as ntoro. (See for instance, R.S.
Rattray, Ashanti (Kumasi & London 1023) and
Religion & Art in Ashanti (Kumasi & London 1927).

2. dis likkle bwoy
Throughout the interview, Miss Queenie had near
her a little boy called Winston ('Move from me,

Winston!') to whom she referred when asked her age
('How ole I is, Winston?'), on sections of the tape
used neither by Warner Lewis nor myself.2- On the
surface, Winston is just a 'likkle bwoy', but
according to African tradition, chiefs, queen-
mothers, fetish priests and other persons of state/
religious importance are always accompanied by
their what the Akan call their okra or soul; and it is
my impression that Winston here, even if
unconsciously, is carrying out this function.

3. Yetuewe children
Bunseki rewrites this section where Mr. Parker, the
local tatimbeenj, speaks and teaches Bakongo
custom (and language) to the young Queenie (see
Friends: Neighbours: Messenger) as follows
Well all my ... yeto euri children ... kwenda
kuma yendi ... kwenda sika ngoma ... tala mu
nsi before you sika ngoma
Which, if nothing else, indicates the accuracy of Miss
Queenie's oral and memorial rendition.
Literally translated yeto (yetu) means 'us'; euri =
here we are; or, as Miss Queenie herself was saying
partly in English, 'Well all my children [bamma]
gathered here ...' But it is what follows which gives
us an indication of what the dance, which Miss
Queenie refers to, is about. 'Listen (kwanda) to what
the elders (kuma) (Mister Parker is an elder) are
going to tell you (yandi); listen (kwanda) before you
go hunting sikaa ngoma); listen very carefully talaa
mu nsi) (i.e. learn to obey) before you go hunting
('before you sika ngoma'). Or, as Bunseki widened it,
'We are children; the elders turn to us before they go
hunting and say: "You must listen and obey to what
your elders are telling you, because there can be
enemies in the village" '. In other words, Miss
Queenie is here re-inforcing and re-enacting the tradi-
tion and relationship that should exist between the
young and their elders. As Bunseki says: 'Miss
Queenie is here trying to explain, (indeed her lan-
guage indicates that she is dramatizing) a system of
African education which says that when you are
young, you have to listen to your elders, who tell you
what to do. You have to obey. They will instruct you
how to find your enemies, how to hunt food and (as
here) how to play the drum'. Because sika ngoma
(which, on the tape, sounds a bit like sit and
(perhaps) eat (?)) in addition to before you go hunt-
ing means also play the drum (ngoma=goombay),
and tala mu nsi means not only listen carefully
(obey), but literally: don't look up; keep your eyes on
the ground (or drum); which connotes not only have
respect (you shouldn't look the elders in the face);
but, the good drummer always keeps his eyes on the
drum; so you must learn the art of obedience, before
going hunting or playing the drum. The hunt/Drum
connection is in fact there in the rest of Miss
Queenie's statement: 'an' dan we start to play de
cyas [[which Bunseki says is Kikongo for the sensa

drum)] ... de goat time now ... we chop de goat neck
an' we cook ... an' you invokin' a messenger ... which
is a spirit...'
So that Miss Queenie has now cosmologically moved
from an African clan-ancestor to Mr. Parker, his
local 'transfer', who introduces us to a concept of
African (Bukongo) education: obedience: age-sets,
respect; and uses this to introduce not only a sense
of spiritual etiquette (libation), but with it, a
reference to the important hunter complex or culture,
from which follows music (the drum) and the
invocation of a spirit messenger (nkuyu). As Turner
(1967: 280) puts it: 'For the Ndembu ... the hunt is
more than a food quest; it is a religious activity';
while Rattray in Religion & Art (p.39) says
'Medicine-men are often hunters and hunters
medicine-men;' and this is confirmed in most folk
cultures. See for example 'Some reflections on Nuer
religion' in E.E. Evans-Pritchard, Nuer religion
(Oxford 1956), and Technicians of the sacred,
ed. Jerome Rothenberg (New York 1969); John S.
Mbiti, The prayers of African religion (London

An Acholi [Uganda] libation to the living dead

All sing: Your food is here, here it is,
Let the children have good health
Their wives, let them have children
So that your names may not be obliterat
Your chicken is here; ed.
Today we give you blood, here it is
Let us have good health.
Then the ceremony of presenting food to the departed
Leader: Let there be silence, pray.
Today we have cooked for ...
Today we have given him meat;
Let the people have good health.

All: Let the people have good health

Leader: Lions and leopards, let them be killed;

All: Be killed; be killed; be killed;
Leader: Spears let them be sharp;

All: Sharp, sharp, sharp ...

4. The African language

J. G. Moore, working with kumina some 25 years
before Maureen Warner Lewis and myself, found, as
already mentioned above, that the kuminas of the
1950s knew themselves as kongo, whereas Miss
Queenie, in the 70s, doesn't seemr to know (certainly

doesn't say) this; simply referring to 'The African
language'. A most interesting passage occurs in
Moore so interesting and important that it is
imperative, I think, that the material he refers to be
sent back to Jamaica:
'Questions that have been raised in this study,
which demand further investigation, are the
possibilities that the first language for many of
these Negroes may not be English as has been
assumed, but a language they speak of as
African. This might have been suspected for
the (Western Maroon people because of their
isolated) area, but not Negro people thirty miles
from the city of Kingston living in or near one of
the principal coastal towns. The fact that
approximately 5,000 words were recorded
during the field trips of this study indicates
that this aspect of the culture of these people
would present to the ethno-linguist an excellent
opportunity for testing linguistic acculturation
(sic) processes among totally bilingual Negroes.
(pp. 182-3; my italics).
On hearing Miss Queenie's kikongo, Bunseki said:
'I could now imagine the area where her parents
came from. It is very easy by listening to the
language/melodies; I could easily locate it
where her parents came from ...

Q: Could you say where they came from?
A: Definitely. They came from the area of Nzombo
between M'peso and the Congo ...[that is, the
area between] Angola and Kimpese ..? so her
parents came from the mid-east of the Congo
[and speak the Ki-ombe dialect]. So if that lady
should go to the Congo and try to speak like
she's [speaking] now, nobody [would] believe
that she's from Jamaica ... because the accent is
already [authentic] Kikongo ...
In this section (The African language), Bunseki
continued, Miss Queenie is now giving advice on
household management: 'she uses phrases and
expressions [abum] that are very useful in the Congo
area ... and used in that area only where her parents
came from ...' (my italics). For example the word for
money that Queenie uses: nzimbu (she says gy'mbu)
is confined to the Nzombo area;'but in my area we
use m'mongo'.
The actual translation of this section proved
difficult; but Bunseki was able to piece together the
fragments here as follows: It's about household
management: (gy'mbu) and appears to be in the
form of a game or play between women (kwaen't =
kaen (= keinto) and men (lekola, yakala). The women
are sent to the men for money, and the men reply
that they don't have any, etc., as in Miss Queenie's
own translation. But the Kikongo here appeared to

Bunseki to be very fragmented and therefore
difficult to follow literally, m'dung dung perhaps
means something like 'hurry', m'waenda or m'wande
= go/bring; so that m'wande gy'mbu to de kaen
would mean 'go/bring money to the women'.
N'freediko is a negative. The game element is
indicated by Miss Queenie's 'yu' seh' and 'well deh
seh'. What especially interested Bunseki, in fact, was
that most of Miss Queenie's Kikongo (except in the
songs) was rendered in the form of a tacit dialogue or
dramatic conversation. And this is noticeable also
in the tone of voice she uses when speaking the
language. Perhaps some art or technique of memory
is involved here ...
There is also the possibility of a more precise (if
fragmented) kumina meaning, suggested from
Moore's (loc. cit., p. 173) discussion of Manuka Vola
(Miss Queenie's woila?), 'One of the greatest
ancestral zombies of the area ..., a tribal head. He is
mentioned in the following remarks of a man from
the kongo group:
We belong to the kongo nation. We got five
groups: moyenge ..., machunde, kongo, mondungo
[Miss Queenie's d'dung dung?], and mambaka'.
The word transcribes as kwaen or sometimes
kwaen't, gave Bunseki a great deal of trouble. He
finally thought (see above) that it might be a version
of keinto (women), but there was always the
possibility that it might be (English) cane: which of
course made interpretation more difficult. But Moore
(p.221) refers to an 'Earthbound God' called Cain,
who could well be Mondungo Cain. And Cain, a river
god, whose food is river fish, would connect with
Miss Queenie's ancentral tatimbenz totem ...
5. Thunder, God, etc.
Miss Queenie's rain (vula) is the Kikongo mvula;
mataligato (thunder) is matadi (rocks) nkatu
(elephant trump = noise of that grandeur: Laman,
loc. cit.), and according to Bunseki, she is more
accurate about the Kikongo name for God than I
(and J. G. Moore, p.189) and Warner Lewis, n.8) give
her credit for. She is not saying King Zambi a Pongo
(my version), or King Zambi Ampungo (Warner's
version) but Ki-Nzambi y' mpungu (Ki-Nzambi the
Almighty: discussed by Bunseki: 1969: 19, 112).
What is more, in Miss Queenie's part of the Congo
(Nzombo/Ndola) rocks without rain (hailstones:
Bunseki's translation of nkatu) are a common
feature, so that Zambi/Mataligato is a very specific
attribute of God; a God that Warner Lewis (n.8)
says that 'Kongo descendants in Jamaica and
Trinidad associate ... with thunder and rain'. 'If'
Bunseki added, 'we could talk with her, we might be
able to find out a great deal more of [her] concept of
God in this context'.
6. Passage
Maureen Warner Lewis deals perceptively wih the

meaning of Miss Queenie's mystical experience
within the silk cotton tree; and Rattray's 'Souls of
trees', 'Fairies, forest monsters, and witches and
'The training of medicine-men and priests' in
Religion & Art (pp. 1-47) help to provide further
texture of meaning. Maureen also uses M. J. Field
(Search for security, London 1960) to provide back-
ground for the peculiar individual nature of Miss
Queenie's experience: 'A person [and not unusually
adolescent girls] is seized by an abnormal mental
pre-occupation about religion, can no longer tolerate
the ordinary concerns of mankind and escapes into
the forest'. (Warner Lewis, pp. 65, 62). And in 'The
training of medicine-men and priests', Rattray
(p. 38) says:
In localities very widely separated, and among
Ashanti speaking different dialects, I
constantly obtained the same answers to the
questions: 'How did you become a doctor? How
did you become a priest? ... The reply to this
inquiry generally was, the mmoatia (the fairies)
taught me'
The voices that speak to Miss Queenie during her
'twenty-one days' within the silk-cotton tree, could
be construed as mmoatia (see also Warner Lewis,
pp.65), but the essential difference (and one can see
why) between the African and Miss Queenie's
exrAfrican one, is that after the individual call, there
is a communal recognition and traditional/ritual
initiation within the African experience (described
by Rattray: 1927: 38-47, and Bunseki 1969: 41-56;
133-48), which does not appear to be present in
Jamaican kumina today.
And yet it is the solitary nature of the experience
which is nevertheless cosmologically correct. As
Maureen Warner Lewis (p.64) puts it
In the same way that Miss Queenie's symbolism
is both African and universal, so too is the
religious retreat. This withdrawal phenomenon
is universally symptomatic of profound
religious disturbance or concentration. The
human psyche seems to demand that distance
be imposed between itself and worldly routine
distractions to allow communication between
the divine and mortal worlds. It is then that
man can best receive revelation. [What Bunseki
(p.118) calls the descent ofLemba: Lemba itself
being the concept of barrier/threshold (see
Pure Spirit, below) which we have, I suppose,
inherited as Limbo: not in the Mediterranean
but Afro-Caribbean sense: see Brathwaite,
Islands (1969)]

Turner (Forest of Symbols), give us another
perspective. Queenie, inside the silk-cotton tree for
21 days, has become, as a neophyte, invisible: 'a' sit
down dere a' see mi mudder and' all de oder set a

children dem come roun' becau' nobody know where
I am a' everybody cryin' dem cannot faen' me'.
(Warner Lewis, p.66).
But this invisibility is 'correct' not only in Miss
Queenie's actual narrative sense, but in terms of
Mukongo religious culture. The difference, however,
is that while Queenie really conceived of herself as
invisible (and therefore reports the experience as
such), in the traditional (African) context, her
invisibility would have been structural only. Since
the initiation would have been necessarily a
communal act (see Bunseki, 'Initiation a Lemba',
pp.134-43), the neophyte would have been physically
visible, but metaphysically invisible, i.e. in a state of
transition. Equally revealing is Turner's statement
that 'the indigenous term for the ... period [of
initiation/transition] is the locative form of a noun
meaning "seclusive site" (Kunkunka, kung'ula). The
silk cotton tree here is Miss Queenie's kung'ula, with
its cosmologically correct accompaniment of
invisibility. The difference between Thrner's
description of the Ndembu and Miss Queenie's own
lemba experience is the difference between a 'whole'
stable communal socio-culture, and the fragmented
'individualized' (but still remarkably creative)
plantation form, as expressed through Miss Queenie.
I'm dere but a' cyan talk becau' mi tongue was
'tiff in mi head
mi tongue gets heavy an' a' cyan talk, a' only
jus' sit down so an' like a' can't heat
The neophytes are sometimes said to "be in
another place". They have physical but not
social "reality", hence they have to be hidden,
since it is a paradox, a scandal, to see what
ought not to be there! When they are not
removed to a sacred place of concealment they
are often disguised, in masks or grotesque
costumes or striped with white, red, or black
clay and the like. (Forest, p.98)

7. S'wikkidi lango
Miss Queenie says that this means sugar water and
it is easy to think that swikkidi is a corruption of
'sweet'. But in Kikongo sukadi nlangu or nlangu
Wa Sukadi (Means) 'sugar water' and sugar
water (or sugar and water) is one of the items used in
some (at least) Afro-Caribbean religious obser-
vances. See, for instance the Moore Town Maroons
sucradie in Norma Bernard-Powell, 'History and
culture of the Maroons of Moore Town', Caribbean
Studies Paper, UWI, Mona, 1978.
8. Prayers
This segment (Kwali kwali n n'den den de) with its

peculiar strict rhythm, Miss Queenie says is the
same as 'Hour Fader's Praeyer'. But it certainly is
not a direct Kikongo translation of (the Christian)
Lord's Prayer. Bunseki, in fact, could make nothing
of it, saying that it is probably something in the
secret language or invocations (bindokila) of priests,
like the use of Latin in the Catholic Church. It is
interesting to note, however (Bunseki 1967: 26-29;
119-121) the presence of Pem legele/len legele, in
Miss Queenie's prayer, and the presence of
Nzengelele and Mpemba in Bunseki's section on
Water (N'langu), which Miss Queenie herself
introduces right after the Prayer. Nzengela-Nzengela
(Bunseki, p.121, n.6) is the world or land of the
living: those in touch with the movement of the
universe; while Mpemba ibidd. p.117; n.2), a word
which pervades Bakongo cosmology, is the land of
the dead. The connection with the Christian Lord's
Prayer, at this particular juncture/idea, is obvious
and kumina, as a religious complex very much
concerned with ancestors, would be very much
involved with Mpemba. But we still await a
'translation' of this section. However, in his
N'Kongo ye nza yakun'zungidila Bunseki provides
several bindokila (pp.65-72), one of which, an
invocation against disease (p.70) is similar in rhythm
(as are they all, generally) to Miss Queenie's Prayer

Kizeyi die'nka na disa
Mu w nkutu ko
Kanidka mpasi vo
Ye sadisa kanda
Bika muza mama
Mam'v)disa ye zoma ...

Ku zulu ntangu
Ku nsi tadi
NbAndu, mbgndu
Nkasa, nkasa
Mansukudi el
9. "Pure Spirit"
Miss Queenie's placing of the fragment about water
(wini so so lango) in what is really juxtaposition to
her signals about life and death (see Prayers) is
another example of her remarkable Bakongo
cosmological sense. In this section, Miss Queenie's
malavu (ma-lavu), which she translates as 'rum', is
actually 'palm-wine': 'We have been drinking
'[nwini] palm-wine (=wine=rum?).! But it is the
introduction of the image of water (so so lango) at
this important initiatory stage of her spiritual pas-
sage, though only as a fragment here, which is
important. It is the water which brings/carries the
"Pure Spirit" which releases Miss Queenie into the
knowledge of her ancestral culture so that soon she is
able to begin to sing in Kikongo ('a faen a' start to
sing': see Song). The cosmological importance of
water is outlined by Bunseki (1969: 26-29, 119-121)
as follows (my trans.):

Before we can understand what the Bakongo
understand by water, we must look for the
origin of the word and its proliferations of
meaning. Water (n'langu) is a word derived
from the verb longa = to be pure; without salete
... which by extension comes to mean taboo or
sacred. From the root longa also comes:
n'longo (taboo, sacred)
bilongo (fetish, plants that purify the
bun'longo (purity or resemblance of purity)
anlongo (pure state, or semblance of this)
long (union, marriage, the raising of
kin'longo (spiritual)
After this explication, we can see that among
the Bakongo, the idea of the sacred (n,kongo) is
closely linked with the idea of water. Indeed we
can affirm that n'l~ngu, in the context of
n'kongo, means not only pure but the home of
ancestors [italics in text]. Water is either a force
or life and these two categories may be
characterized as follows:

1. N'langu as force:
saliva: which can be used, to bless, depend-
ing on one's intention
tears: expression of joy or sorrow
urine: to insult or heal
blood: good or bad
2. N'langu as life
female secretions
Everything in Mukongo thought, is life and
the origin of all life is water or is in water. Water
is life. And as all comes from water, so all lives
with water. Think of the songs of the frogs ...
and the rain.
Water [and here we have a very specific connec-
tion with Afro-Caribbean and Afro/American
religions] is considered as a barrier, [a limbo=
threshold] between the living (m~ntu) and the
dead (bafwidd). Man is born and dies in water.
When he dies, he must be bathed in water,
symbol of the rehabilitation of his soul for
There follows a song about this aspect of water as
barrier/connection = river
Tuadia ku maza
Tuazieta ku maza
Bulu ku maza
Nuni ku maza
Mbuta ku maza
Mwana ku maza
N'kento, bakata ku maza
Biabio ku maza

When we eat
When we travel
All people

there's the river
there's the river
there's the river
there's the river
there's the river
there's the river
there's the river
there's the river

10. Song
Bunseki's reaction on hearing these two songs by
Miss Queenie ('Ye changeli mbala' and 'Yeri
Kongo'), was that it was 'fantastic ... I was very
very moved; it reminds me of my grandmother,
singing and praying ... It is very emotional. But I
think we'll have to rewrite it. It has not been trans-
cribed accurately'; a fair point, since both Maureen
Warner Lewis (1977: 67) and myself, transcribing
without knowledge of Kikongo from what we could
make of Miss Queenie's lyrics, have arrived at
'different' versions.

The first song is about marriage, (mbala) and its
problems, with the refrain koya ko me ka nkwela
('I've decided never to go back, since I'll never be
married' [me ha nkwela]). But Bunseki also notic-
ed a second and very significant meaning. In 'Ye
changeli mbala', there are in fact two similar sound-
wounds used: ndumbe (a young woman) and ndombe
(which means black). 'So I can't really understand if
the song is not a "joke" about ... slavery and the
master. [For instance] the last [stanza]: Yoka me ka
kuma yande woya ndombe/koya ko me ka nkwela...
If the singer tried to explain [ndombe] as black,
(then it could mean] that "it was difficult for her to
get married", [since] this is in the context of slavery
... It is the problem of slavery and the master. And
seeing these problems, the singer goes back to think
about the ... Congo'. And therefore she begins to sing
'Kongo yeri', which could also be interpreted as an
elegy to Mudder Margret 6 couched, as it seems to be
here, in the form of a lullaby ...

In the second song, which Bunseki says is 'most
traditional', is a clan song about 'the lost [yeri]
Congo' and how 'we have to go back' ... 'It reminds
me of the followers of Simon Kimbangu7 [of Nkamba
who became a prophet (ngunza) in 1921]. They were
sent into exile from Kinshasa to Katanga [in 1922]
by the [French] Colonial Power ... My father was a
soldier, and I remember meeting old women and men
from [this] Nkamba tribe ... singing these homesick
[songs] especially [now] they are old, and ... don't
want to die in exile but would rather be back home

Bunseki's translation of Queenie's 'Yeri Kongo' was
as follows:

Mother Margaret
that was [yeri] our Congo

rebuild, rebuild [rikkita, rikkita]
that was the Congo
send to our homes
that was the Congo

where are the children
that was the Congo

[mwona] of our tribe

oh weep for the Congo
our lost Congo
11 Keinto (Kento)
Miss Queenie explains this as 'we young ones'; in
Kikongo, according to Bunseki, it really means
young women, although n'dumba, which Miss
Queenie also uses (see Song) is also used, though
more specifically in the sense of a young unmarried
woman, with the additional sense of being loose.
('ready to go with anybody'). This section of the
interview with Miss Queenie went as follows:

'The young ones, like we 'ere now, is keinto ...
that is the young ones. Well, the ol' ones ... the
ol' an' the young is de same ...
According to Bunseke, the older women (something
that Queenie didn't know/remember) are called n'da.

The nature and quality of Miss Queenie's narration:
sense of (mystical) reality: may be compared with a
Revivalist's account of conversion as recorded by
Martha Beckwith (Black Roadways: 1929: 163-64)
some time between 1919 and 1924

I was not a great student. I left school in the
first book. And after that I got spiritual at
twenty-five. The Mammy was from Westmore-
land. When there was shouting, I felt that-I was
almost shut out of the gate of heaven and I
closed my eyes and said, "Lord, if it is thy wish
that I be separated, let it be thy will." And I
dreamt that I saw an angel, and he bids me get
a Bible and a Sankey and a rod with a double
fold and a lantern which I'm to light on
my journey.
I didn't know to pray until I got the Spirit, and
the Spirit teaches me to pray and sends me on
the highways and the hedges to bid others to
come and to tell what a sweet Savior I found.
Jesus is Savior in need and Savior indeed.
There is not a friend like the loving Savior.

The angel which I saw had a bunch of flowers in
his hand, white for peace. He bid me get a large
turban. He bid me get one larger, but I can't
afford it to make it five yards. He bid me
make an apron in white. The sash of green with

the number 66 means your shout. You stamp
sixty-six times with your foot. You have a
sash of other colors, some a sash without apron.
All who carry the wand have a sash, but not all
wear the apron. The turban is red or white. The
red turban means that you don't feel to work.*

Sometimes [at the meetings] as I am in the
Spirit, the Bible drops and falls open at a
chapter, and I read and read. I feel to pray, and
there isn't any chance to pray at the time, and
I bow to squeeze the prayer-key. When you are
in the spirit, you feel that the world is going
around and you turn without you want to turn.
When the Spirit overflows within you, you have
to shout and shout and shout. You have to
shout with joy. When you feel that you can't
shout with your voice any more feel as if it
were shut down and locked then you cease

Sometimes when a brother or sister is going to
depart I feel a fullness within me, I have to
speak up, I don't get any ease. But I don't
know who it is. If I had the chance to know who
the person was, I would go and kneel and make
him prepared.
Ms. Beckwith makes the aesthetic mistake (under-
standable, given her prejudices and the prejudices of
the time) of claiming a verbatim report for what is in
fact a clearly edited anglican version of what that
speaker said. We therefore have a stereotyping of an
important personal and cummunal experience which
though 'shared' is (must be) freshly and uniquely
expressed for each individual. The Revivalist here,
Mother Margaret Williams, shares with Queenie a
conversion experience involving supernatural
powers; a sense of election, expressed not only
psychologically, but in the regalia prescribed by the
spirit -

though it should be noted here that Queenie's more
African requirements did not involve symbolic
costume: although in fact, at 'high' public
ceremonies, the kings and queens of kumina tend to
wear crowns and often carry a staff. Miss Queenie
also wears a turban: white, green, blue or red,
according to mood and/or the dictates of the spirit -

there is also exaltation (shout for joy) and prophecy;
though not, it seems (at least in this case as
recorded) possession. Margaret stresses prayer, the
Bible (though the Bible is not so much for
reading/study: as for fetish/talisman; malevolent
spirits (evil) can be 'caught' in the spirit pandora'ss
box, alladin's lamp) and of course the Bible may be
used to help provide texts/visions: oracle.
The crucial difference between the two experiences is
that Mother Margaret has (or admits to no African

language) and coming down to us in anglican rather
than nation language, conveys far less
presence/power than Miss Queenie does and can.
Take for instance the two< descriptions of spirit-
contact during worship:
Mother Margaret:
'When you are in the spirit, you feel that the
world is going around and you turn without you
want to turn. When the Spirit overflows within
you, you have to shout and shout and shout'.
Miss Queenie:
'myal is de ting dat kall a' spirit whe' you head 'pin
rounn an' you drap an' you 'kin puppa lick pon
you neck ...
'a bongo myal spirit ... which all de hole Africa
dem, dem come rounn an' lick you all a' a' in you
inside a' ride you pun yu neck a you drop, 'a'
dem mean to seh, myal hol' yu' now ...!
Queenie, in other words, in addition to being the
more powerful voice and presence, is also the see-er
with the reverb of autocthonous explanation; and
the gift of the ability to create alternative,
autonomous and native worlds within a colonial
situation, cannot be over-emphasised.
From looking at trees I have become a tree and
my long tree-feet have dug in the ground long
serpent holes presaging the pillage to come to
high cities of bone
From thinking of the Congo
I have become a Congo buzzing with forests
and rivers where the whip cracks like a great
the flag of the prophet
where the water makes
where the bolt of anger hurls a good green axe,
forcing the wild boars of putrefaction to pour
over the beautiful violent edge
of the nostrils
At the end of the dawn
the sun with a dry cough
the sun spitting blood
At the end of the dawn
a little trail of sand
a little trail of muslin
a little trail of grains of corn
At the end of the dawn
a full gallop of pollen
a full gallop of a little train
of little girls
a full gallop of hummingbirds
Cesaire, Return to My Native Land
In Jamaica, in fact, there is a whole sweep and

spectrum of 'African religions', starting with kumina
base and ranging through pukkumina (po/kumina)
to Zion, 'Revival, Tabernacle and Baptist. Mother
Margaret is Revival, Queenie is kumina, her mother
was Zion. Zion and Revival are 'Afro-Christian' (and
Queenie makes this clear) in that their worship is
communally centred, as described above; is
locomotive in energy and results, therefore, in
possession; but by the Holy Ghost and sometimes
certain creolized spirits; so that the nature of the
possession differs crucially from the African kumina,
m that it is single (person) centred; becomes more an
aspect of witness: proof: revelation; rather than a
shared communal affirmation of natural equilibrium
(incarnation). Tabernacle and Baptist, on the other
hand, are creo-christian, in that their form of worship
is based on local variations of Euro-American
theological authority: hence God, his trained
(though gifted) earthly ministers, a church
bureaucracy, etc; though there is still maintained a
strong democratic/congregational participation not
only in the worship but in the life of the
congregation. There is also considerable locomotion
of service; but although there are (may be) frequent
'seizures' and 'bounces' of the spirit, crying out and
exaltations (as with ,Mother Margaret), these are
strictly controlled, so that there is no possession in
the African sense (at least not officially) during the
service, and the congregation never leaves the formal
structure of the church: chapel: hall: pews: to use
the space before the table/altar for the dance of god.
There are, however, many 'break-away' churches of
these denominations which are led by black 'people'
Jamaicans, with (increasing) tendencies towards
locomotion towards an increasingly mystical and
myalistical outlook and behaviour pattern.

But none of them, except perhaps pukkumina
(which in any case, is an urbanized aspect of kumina)
can ever approach kumina for completeness of
expression: drum, rhythm, choreography of voice
and movement, language.
It is therefore all the more regrettable that
Kumina has been 'taken up' (recognized) by the
politicians and by the bureaucrats of native
nationalism and culture in that it has made this core-
religion visible before, perhaps, we are ready, at the
same time, to protect it. I don't mean by this the
simplistic notion of conservation of culture: museum
piece. I'm fully, I think, aware of the natural flow of
forces and influences in our social expression/lives;
and I recognize that the folk culture constantly
adapts to situations/circumstances. Rasta, for
instance, is an unexpected and very tough develop-
ment out of this maroon tradition.
Yet in a world of material mass media, instant
communication etc., controlled still by busha and
massa, we cannot afford to too recklessly expose our
nams: hold them up for exploitation: before we have

outselves come to understand what we possess. And
when the people of kumina become, like the maroons,
exposed to 'visiting anthropologists' and worse still:
tourists, who ask, seek, probe and expect certain
answers which they are prepared to bribe for and
reward there is a very real danger.

And when we, through 'Festivals', and other
secular/'cultural' entertainments and events
encourage kumina onto stage, so that it becomes
suddenly public and secular entertainment (with no
explanation, no education into what it is about, what
it meaps, where it comes from, how it connects) we
admit an insult to our selves.

1. The tape recorded interview with Miss Queenie in June 1971
(Warner Lewis /Schuler) was followed by a lecture by Miss Queenie to
my final year class in History, Society and Ideas, at the Creative Arts
Centre, UWI, Mona in November 1971. Warner Lewis' Kuyu and my
own text here are based on a fragment, only, of this material.

2. See note above.

3. The two main kumina drums are the kbandu on banda (bass), a
large hollow log drum, covered at the playing end with goat skin; and
the plain (or playing ) cyas or cast, a 'treble drum, smaller than the
banda. The plain cyaisi the more difficult drum to play and is the one
through which the gods/spirits most usually come. See Moore,
pp.135-37, 172-3.

4. Mbiti 1975:104, from J. K. Russell, Men without God? (London
5. In her Nkuyu, (n.ll) Maureen Warner Lewis suggests, following
Cassidy & Le Page (Dictionary of Jamaican English: 1967:267) that the
word kumina comes from the Kimbundu word kumona: 'to see;
possession' (though Bunseki prefers kumunu: 'rhythm, the spirit of
rhythm'; though later he said and the possibilities of this are
intriguing, that in the eastern part of Kongo/Zaire (Miss Queenie's
area), kumina would translate as lion), and Kimbundu or Chimbundu,
she continues, 'is the language of speakers from an area just south of
the Kongo in present-day Angola, and there is oral evidence that there
are several Kimbundu speakers in the West Indies and that there was
fairly close association between the Kongos and Mbundu, who were
also called (as Bunseki confirms) Ngola & Ndongo'.

6. Moore (pp.246-7) lists a Margaret Miller among the 'ancestral
zombies' of the kumina: Margaret Miller died in 1942 at Denbury Pen.
She was 55 years old and left five children ... She ties her waist with a
piece of cloth that is drawn very tight.

Margaret is a child of a mixed marriage between a Maroon ... and an
african kongo. Often she dances with the Great Maroon Gangfrara,
Cudjo. This is why she cannot always be contained in the ring. She loves
Bilah (Miss Queenie says bailo) f(.e. kumina songs mainly in dialect as
opposed to nation, country or african songs) and likes particularly ...
"Alanda cumina", "Rickeeta (my italics since this in fact occurs in
Mudder Margaret's song: see Song) ... "Seven Year a cooley come";
and "O Kubali" (in Warner Lewis, p.58).

7. It is interesting that Bunseki should have thought of Kimbangu
here, since he represents, along with Chilembwe, Kamwana, Kitawala,
Mgijima, Mwena Lesa, Watu Wa Mngu, Maji-Maji, and so many
others, Afro/Christian messianic movements: the true forerunners of
African nationalism. See for instance, G. M. Sundkler, Bantu prophets

in South Africa (London 1948); Edward Roux, Time longer than rope
(London 1949); Katesa Schlosser, Propheten in Afrika (Braunschweig,
1949);George Shepperson, 'Ethiopianism and African materialism' m
Phylon 14(1), 1953; R. I. Rotberg, 'The rise of African nationalism' in
World Politics XV(1), 1962; Vittorio Lanternari, The religions of the
oppressed (1960), English trans., May 1963, and Bunseki, 'Kingunza',
op. cit., pp.57-64, 149-156.

8. Rikkita (associated, see note above, with Mudder Margaret) is,
according to Bunseki, a Kimba word for an initiation dance (and it
wouldn't surprise me if it's not also connected with Kittikalli /warrick:
see p. ) and /or the kumina's own catatic: 'a flat stick beat against the
centre post of the dancing booth' (Moore, p.172). From the primary
dance meaning, Bunseki graduated to the meaning rebuild; since the
dance, I suppose, is in itself about initiation /reconstruction.

a ..
,I- ^ .. ^.

t. t^

~*hL Z
-- ---'-

S. r -
'3. 4sL'


Mrs. Imogene Kennedy (Queenie) a recent photo with a glass of water on her head. Traditional Queens dance with a glass of
water balanced in this manner (Photo Institute of Jamaica, Keith Morrison)



Commentary: Olive Lewin, distinguished Jamaican musician and
folklorist, makes the following observation: The present
study goes a long way towards alerting us to the invaluable
information that can even now be gleaned from research material
lying neglected on shelves. Dr. Braithwaite's Study also shows
how important it is for research material to be shared by people of
different academic disciplines: how important it is to appreciate
and to sit at the feet of people like Queenie Kennedy before it is
too late. It reveals indisputably that Historical perspective and
the understanding of parent cultures give depth to the
appreciation and interpretation of cultural manifestations; of
seemingly unimportant features: that they guard against mis-
understanding e.g. Notes on Page 31 in commenting on drums
mention the 'cyas or cast' whereas Bounseki, the Congolese
anthropologist (p.18) declares that 'cyas' is the Kikongo for the
sensa drum.
Dr. Braithwaite's fears concerning the exposure of Kumina are
understandable. It is the writer's experience, however, that real
keepers of the culture .... people of Queenie's stature need no
protection. They are expert at detecting superficiality, and
protecting their names from even the most crafty and ruthless of
outsiders. Indeed, the spiritual punishments are so sure and so
swift that they are obliged to be wary .... as Mrs. Kennedy herself
has said 'As wise as serpents yet as gentle as doves'. In
performances they know just how far to go .... just how much to
share. Mrs. Kennedy who is always consulted on the theatrical
performances of the Jamaican Folk Singers has e.g. (1) advised
against the use of a particular drum which she 'knew' had been
used ritually and should not therefore be included in a stage
performance (2) recommended that certain words in a song
should be changed and (3) built a Thanksgiving Table for the
In any event because of the near impossibility of the general
public attending a Kumina ceremony in its natural setting, or
accepting the unadulterated presentation of sounds, movements
and other aspects of the beliefs, it is hard to see how, but through
theatrical performance the initial introductions could have been
made. Introductions which in less than twenty years have led to
enlightenment such as found in Dr. Braithwaite's article.
N.B. More research tapes were obtained by this writer with the
help of Dr. Frank Gillis of the University of Indiana at
Bloomington, and handed over to the Jamaica School of Music in
July 1974.
(1) In the mid 1950's Edward Seaga in the course of his research
submitted forty eight (48) words from Kumina 'country' songs to
the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. Forty one
(41) of these were identified as Congolese.
(2) In 1977 a visitor to the island was in company with Mrs.
Kennedy. He became electrified by her use of words, which
having lived and worked in the Congo, he could identify.
Jamaicans in the group became as 'foreigners' while these two
conversed and exchanged thoughts. When Mrs. Kennedy for
instance, said that 'malavu' was rum, Prof. Kopytoff explained
that in Kikongo it in fact meant palm wine but this he pointed
out did not detract from the authenticity of Mrs. Kennedy's use
of the language.
Page (30) Dr. Braithwaite's assumption that ('Pukkumina is
an urbanized aspect of Kumina') is debatable.
It is hoped that many more articles of comparable depth,
delving into Jamaica's cultural past will continue to appear in
this Journal.

Re Photos on P. 55:
Kumina has many variants: The forward tilt of the torso is very
prevalent now, as is the non-supporting foot on the half point.
Arms are also held akimbo to emphasize pelvic movement. The
accent on the pelvic rotation is always forward, which tends to
make the "belly ride".
The carriage of the arms from side to side in the bent elbow
attitude is done by younger dancers, particularly the youngsters
of Old Pera who dance Congo. The shot of two little girls facing
each other is definitely a Congo movement which consists of 3
slow pelvic rotations followed by a very strong "break" i.e. a
forward pelvic tilt and thrust.
Acknowledgements: Miss Marjorie Whylie of the Jamaica School
of Music for the above comments and Hon. Louise Bennett
Coverley for permission to reproduce from Ring Ding, JBC-TV
for co-operation and assistance.

Modern Kumina scene
(Photo A.C.I.J.)

There is no established orthography for the Jamaican dialect, and it is very difficult to transcribe in a manner which is accurate
in pronunciation and also recognisable from the standard English derivative. After much consideration and consultation we
have found only four words that should give the reader serious trouble: faen = find, cyan = can, cyan = cant, and cyas = 'cast'


Dr. Vincent Hill is the Principal Director of Ministry of Mining
and Natural Resources. He studied Geology, Chemistry and
Mathematics at University of New Brunswick, Canada, 1949,
Mineralogy at Penn State University, 1951, and obtained his
Ph.D. in Geochemistry at University of Toronto in 1956. He is a
member of the following; American Institute of Mining
Engineers, Mineralogical Society of London, Clay Mineral
Society, International Society for the study of Bauxite, Alumina
and Aluminium and Geological Society of Jamaica. He has
published extensively in various Science Publications.
The clay resources of Jamaica can be divided into
five broad categories, based on the criteria of method
of occurrence and genesis, as follows: alluvial,
interior valleys, residual, mixed, and hydrothermal
deposits. The major occurrences are characterized
from the broader resource viewpoint as the basis for
the development of a rational utilization policy.
Emphasis is placed on the opportunities for
employment, the potential for the improvement of
human settlements, effects on water resources and
industrial possibilities.
It is noted that the predominant clay minerals in
the Liguanea Formation are smectite and
hydromicas. The locations in southern St. Elizabeth
and Moneague are the major local occurrences of
kaolinite, but the former is the only ball clay in the
island. The other clay occurrences are mainly
composed of smectites with varying amounts of
kaolinite and hydromicas. Most of these occurrences
are common clays.
The conclusion is that the prospects of a Jamaican
whiteware industry, based on local clays, are not
good. However, there are excellent opportunities for
the production of quality art ware, wall tiles,
expanded clay aggregate, drain pipes, bricks and
vitrified sewer pipes. These operations are ideal for
small businesses. The energy requirements of the
industries can probably be supplied by waste wood
from the furniture industry, bagasse and similar
sources, provided adequate attention is paid to the
location of the plants, and if the kilns are properly
designed, there should be minimal adverse


environmental effects.
The implications -of the local abundance of
smectites, which swell on hydration and may also
undergo liquification during seismic disturbance,
damaging human settlements and aquifers. These
deserve careful attention in local and regional
planning, particularly in greater Kingston for
settlements, and the Clarendon Plains for aquifers.
SIt is not often recognized that clays are the most
important group of minerals on earth because they
are basic to agriculture, are ceramic raw materials,
are important constituents in many chemical
processes, and are major construction materials.
Figure 1 illustrates some of the inter-relationships
between the basic clay minerals sciences, the applied
aspects and the technologies. These inter-relation-
ships are vital to us as a developing country since in
any study of our resources it is our duty, not only to
give scientific information, but much more
important, show how they relate to the generation of
new jobs, and otherwise improve the quality of life of
our citizens.
Interest in Jamaican clays dates to the Arawak
period, when these early Jamaicans made clay pots
and other utensils. Succeeding generations of
Jamaicans continued to use clay for these purposes
and the construction of houses. The many fine
surviving Spanish wall structures are good examples
of the latter; and many of us can still remember the
fine traditional yabbahs, "monkey jars," flower pots
and glazed clay pipes. Present-day art-potters
consistently remind us of the contribution of our
ordinary clay to the world of fine art; but clays still
remain a major structural material, which is critical
to the construction of civil engineering works such as
earth filled reservoirs, bauxite red mud ponds,
housing developments and micro-dams, besides their
traditional role in agriculture.
The term "clay" as generally understood, is
ambiguous, because the study and utilization of
clays involves many disciplines. Geologists regard it
as a rock term, engineers, ceramists and soil

I ~ *,M *

^a6 a^TOFO /1a 5.a1
i s~a 7-Wd^a^^

scientists use it as a particle size term, while
mineralogists restrict the term to the fine-grained
layer silicates. As a rock term, clay is difficult to
define because of the possible variations in
composition. We will however use the definition of
Patterson and Murray (1975) "Clay is a natural
earthy, fine-grained material composed largely of a
group of crystallised minerals known as the clay
minerals." The definitions of the different clay
materials are given in the glossary of clay terms at
the end of this study.
In this review we are concerned with
understanding the locations of the more important
clay occurrences and their characterization from the
broader resource viewpoint, as the basis for the
development of a rational utilization policy.
Particular attention will be paid to identifying the
opportunities which they offer us particularly at this
time of self-reliance and innovativeness. Emphasis
will be placed on the opportunities for employment,
their role in the development of improved human
settlements, their effects on our water resources, and
their industrial possibilities.
Previous Work
Scientific investigations of Jamaican clays date
back to the pioneering studies of James G. Sawkins
in 1869. He described clays from many localities, the
most notable of which was the Black River area
which he compared favourably to the English clays.
Little systematic work was however done until
1956-1958 when a joint investigation of the clays at
Holland Estate, Cave Valley and Bog Walk was done
by the Jamaica Industrial Development Corporation
and the Worcester Royal Porcelain Co. Ltd.
(Vincenz, 1959; and Edgar 1961 a,b,c, 1964). This
study had the limited objective of identifying a
suitable white firing clay deposit to supply the
proposed whiteware plant, so little attention was
paid to structural, refractory and other uses. In an
effort to expand the scope of our knowledge of local
clays the Scientific Research Council initiated a
programme for the mineralogical investigations of
Jamaican clays in 1961 (Anon., 1964). This
programme was later directed more towards the
technical and economic feasibility of substituting
local clays in the manufacture of ceramic whiteware,
and to evaluate other domestic clays as raw
materials for a broad-based ceramic industry
(Holdridge, et al, 1969, a). The clays at the
Frenchman Peninsula were selected for initial
evaluation. Later, however, a contract for specific
investigations as part of the above programme was
given by the Ministry of Finance and Planning to the
Stanford Research Institute (Farley and Halden,
1969) which was supported by the Geological Survey
Department and the Scientific Research Council. As
a result of these studies, ceramic bodies were
formulated and tested for floor and wall ceramic tiles
but none of these has gone into production (Machin

and Holdrige, 1971, a).
The other area of emphasis was the use of clays as
a structural material for engineering works. The
Mona Reservoir was the first earth-filled reservoir
constructed in Jamaica. However, little attention
was paid to the understanding of the role of the clays
present. More recently, however, Alcoa Minerals of
Jamaica Inc. constructed a sealed earth-filled
reservoir for containing the bauxite red mud tailings
from their Clarendon Alumina Works. Based on the
demonstrated success of this type of pond, the
Ministry of Mining and Natural Resources, as part
of its programme to correct pollution from the other
red mud ponds, implemented in 1976 a policy which
makes it mandatory for all alumina plants to test,
design and construct similar types of ponds as a
medium-term solution to the disposal of red mud.
This programme is now underway. The Micro-dam
Project is also affected by the clay present.
Engineers and geologists have also been concerned
about slope stability and foundation problems in
several areas of the island (Wright, 1971).
Engineering studies have been undertaken on
several areas in the Liguanea Plains and the
Portmore area to evaluate the clays present for
foundation purposes.
The geological map of Jamaica shows that the
alluvial deposits, which contain the clay resource, are
more extensive on the south coast, because most of
the rivers draining the central highlands enter the
sea there (Figure 2). This southerly bias may be due
to the southerly tilting of the island which first
occurred during the Mid-Miocene period (about 20
million years ago) and appears to be continuing
today as evidenced by an emergent north coast with
extensive raised reefs and a submergent south coast,
where the reefs are generally absent.
The geographic locations, geological conditions,
mineralogy and assessment of reserves of the
deposits within each category of clays will be
described: -
(1) alluvial, (2) interior valleys, (3) residual, (4)
mixed and (5) hydrothermal.
Alluvial Deposits
The Liguanea Formation: The extensive alluvial
plains of Liguanea, St. Catherine, and Clarendon are
principally the result of the coalescence of the
alluvial fans of the Hope River, Rio Cobre and Rio
Minho. However, several minor and seasonal gullies
have made their sediment contribution during period
of heavy floods in the past along with localised
landslippage and mud flows, such as at Jack's Hill,
St. Andrew.
All three major rivers are now noted to be located
near the eastern margin of their respective alluvial
plains, and it is likely that their present positions
have resulted from an easterly migration of the river


FIG 1 Tr. Inlrirr ac.ns,r..p: Arr,,:.n. Cli, M.nerals Disciplines
(A ri r b,',r..Il a, ..Jai, C ,'T ,,ru.r..,ation)

Figure 3: The Clarendon plains showing the location of the
alluvium, buried river channel and wells (after
McFarlane, 1977).


8a E Ellll'a'.a locl EeI.aIIon CO erIO Line
.------ E.ll-alle Good Clay Area

t 1T PiGfin Cl, 'I..1l"
1 Son, B ea.

0 E.LIO'a'oL Borehole

Figure 4: The clay resources
of the Frenchman Peninsula
(after Farley and Halden,



~ -P-

eX '- rv. r-sKr,.


E^3~ -OF


-. .


Igm ...... .. -............ -% -

Fr-I - I

LI --* -"*

m Y.....

Figure 2-

Map of Jamaica showing locations of recent alluvium which contains the principal clay occurrences

- :,. i- .;i .,.

in Jamaica.

S- Snecrlrl
K K i- r..tp
H Hydrom.ca.
D- Dck.i-



courses. This is demonstrated for the Rio Minho in
the Clarendon Plains, where two buried channels
have been located by drill hole data west of the
present river course (Figure 3). Thus, whilst those
major rivers entered their respective areas of
sedimentation along the eastern margin, they once
flowed in a more south-westerly direction. This
would mean that coarser grained deposits would
generally be concentrated more along the eastern
margins and former channels, while the fine sand and
clay-sized particles would be generally found along
the western margins and flood plains of the former
river channels. Thus in the Liguanea and St.
Catherine Plains where sufficient well data is not
available for the identification of buried channels,
then the location of clay deposits may well be a
useful guide.
The Hope River drains rocks of the Wagwater Belt
in which sandstones, conglomerates, shales and
intermediate volcanic rocks outcrop and generate
mainly a mixture of hydromicas.
The sediments of the St. Catherine Plains are
typically finer grained than those of the Liguanea,
due to the fact that the coarser load of the Rio Cobre
and its tributaries is generally deposited in the
vicinity of Bog Walk before the river enters the
gorge. The major source of sediments of the Rio
Cobre is from its tributaries, the Rio Pedro and Rio
D'Oro which drain the highland of eastern St.
Catherine where granodiorite and thermally
metamorphosed rocks outcrop.
The Rio Minho and its tributaries drain the
Central Inlier in which there is a large variety of rock
types exposed but essentially is composed of
volcanics of andesitic composition and minor
amounts of shale and granodiorite.
The principal clay mmerals i the Liguanea
Formation are smectite and hydromicas*. The
sediments and volcanics supplied a hydromica rich
clay while the exposed granodiorite** stock in the
Jacks Hill area provided well crystallised smectites,
which display the usual characteristic basal
expansion when treated with ethylene glycol. The
typical down slope material contains approximately
60 per cent smectite, 10 per cent quartz, 10 per cent
feldspars and 20 per cent secondary calcite. In the
Grants Pen area the clay also displays the typical
swelling potential of between 5 and 25 per cent and is
associated with significant loss of shearing
resistance and increase of moisture content (Sage
and Sand, 1977). In the vicinity of Spanish Town
smectites are the predominant clay mineral. The
Sydenham Clay loam is typical. Insufficient data is
available on the clay in the Liguanea Formation west
of Spanish Town but preliminary data suggest that
smectites and hydromicas predominate. In areas
where the limestone is in contact with the alluvium
and rivers are not nearby there is sometimes
kaolinite and gibbsite. The upper part of the
Clarendon Plains is an example. The clays in the
lower parts of the Liguanea Plains notably

Doncaster ard Cockburn Pen have been worked for
pottery. building bricks and tiles for about three
centuries. Bricks were made on a commercial scale at
the Kingston Penitentiary until about 1948 from clay
taken from the prison compound. A clay pit was also
operated in the grounds of the nearby Bellevue
Hospital. Aiken's Clay Works on the Molynes Road
used clay from Maverley and Spanish Town for the
manufacture of sewer pipes, bricks and flower pots.
These highly plastic clays can be easily thrown on a
potter's wheel or hand molded. They also have
relatively high green strength and mature at
reasonably low temperatures. Unfortunately, thick
walled vessels sometimes crack during drying and
their vitrification range is narrow (Johnson. 1974).
On the whole, however, these clays are suitable for
the making of art pottery, where the colour of the
product is not important or can be covered under an
opaque glaze.
The most important use of the Liguanea clays is as
real estate for human settlements. Kingston and its
suburbs. Spanish Town and May Pen are the more

important of the communities which are located on
it. Problems of slope stability, land creep and
slumping have already been discussed by Wright
(1971). However, the role of the clay minerals in the
local aquifers and as a receptacle for septic pits waste
has been given insufficient attention.
Frome Plains. The sedimentation of the Frome
Plains is due to the Cabarita and several small
seasonal streams which rise in the Grange and
Jerusalem Mountain Inliers in the north-east and
north-west respectively. In these areas the rock type
eroded are sandstones, conglomerates and minor
amounts of shale and limestone.
The clays in the Hunterwood area of the Frome
Plains contain smectite with either hydromicas or
disordered kaolinite. Hydromicas were noted in the
samples from the vicinity of the Cabarita River.
Smectite was the dominant clay mineral in the west
and disordered kaolinite east of the basin. Traces of
gibbsite were detected in the neighbourhood of
Grange Hill and Fullerswood (Holdridge and Taylor,
1969, a).
Interior Valley Deposits
This group of deposits occupy areas of impeded
drainage in limestone districts where sediment laden
surface water and emerging ground-water deposit all
or most of their load. Typically the topography is
generally flat when the deposit is thick or gently
undulating when limestone is close to the surface.
The principal occurrences are discussed below:-
Bog Walk Area: The Rio D'Oro, which drains
granodiorite and thermally metamorphosed sedi-
ments to the northeast of Bog Walk, is the main
source of the Tulloch clay deposit. Recently, bore
Please see the Glossary for a definition of these and similar
** These terms are discussed by Porter "The Minerals of
Jamaica" Jamaica Journal Vol. 10, Nos. 2,3. & 4.

hole data by the Water Resources Division showed
that coarse alluvial sediments were associated with
the Rio Pedro, to the south of Tulloch, and silt and
clays up to 90 feet deep with the Rio D'Oro. The
typical composition is given in table 1.
The clay minerals around Tulloch Estate are
reported by Johnson (1974) to consist mainly of
hydromicas with some smectite. Other minerals
present are weathered feldspars, quartz, goethite and
hematite. This occurrence was examined by the
Jamaica Industrial Development Corporation and
Royal Worcester. Other investigators have reported
the presence of kaolinite, which is abundant in the
Harkers Hall area (Hill, 1965). This suggests that
the clay mineralogy of the area depends on source
Linstead-Ewarton Basin: The clay overlying
limestone in the McGrath depression, north-east of
Ewarton, is neither associated with surface drainage
nor is it a residual soil. Recent geological mapping in
the area suggests that the deposit is of similar origin
as the Moneague clay. The clay is typical of the
Linstead clay loam soil of which it is a part. These
deposits occur south and north respectively of the
east-west Mount Diablo ground-water divide, which
is composed of volcanoclastic rocks, which are
overlain by argillaceous sands and impure
limestones of irregular thicknesses belonging to the
Yellow Limestone Group. The available information
suggests that sediment from the Yellow Limestone
and volcano-clastics transported by ground-water
effected the deposition of this clay. There was
probably also inwashings of terra rosa for the
surrounding White Limestone.
The clay in the north-western part of the
Linstead-Ewarton basin has been studied by
geologists of Alcan Jamaica Ltd. as part of the
project to construct a sealed red mud pond to replace
the existing Mount Rosser Pond (Porter, 1976). They
found that the thickness of the clay cover varies from
zero to a maximum of 115 feet in the parts of the site
studied. The average thickness is about forty feet
but there are wide variations in thickness over very
short distances. The clay is generally dark red in
colour with occasional light yellow and grey bands in
the upper 10-15 feet. The colour is usually lighter
with depth and becomes light orange brown below 45
The minerals present are disordered-kaolinite,
halloysite, aluminian-goethite, hematite and
gibbsite. No smectite was detected in the clays
studied on the Charlemont property which contains
the McGrath depression. Anatase, quartz and albite
occur, the latter being sometimes abundant near the
contact of the clay with the limestone. Goethite
cemented pisolites are sometimes abundant. The
natural moisture content increases with depth from
about 30 per cent at four feet below the surface up to
50 per cent.
Engineering tests showed that the maximum density

is 88.0 lbs. per cubic foot at a optimum moisture
content of 33.5%. The permeability of the material in
a completely remoulded state and compacted to 95
per cent of the maximum modified Procter density is
of the order of 2 x 10"- cm/s.
Moneague Clays: The Moneague basin is situated
on the north of the Mount Diablo groundwater
divide and in the center of a structural and
topographic basin. The Moneague lake area and
environs have served as a recipient of sediment-laden
ground-water, which emerges in the area. Principally
it receives clays from the weathering of the Yellow
Limestone Group and volcanoclastics from the
Mount Diablo area via the Rio Hoe and terra rosa
from the White Limestone around the northern,
eastern and western margins of the depression.
Preliminary examination of samples of clays from
road cuttings in the Moneague area shows that they
are composed of a mixture of disordered kaolinite,
fine grained quartz, aluminian-goethite and minor
amounts of hematite and gibbsite, and consequently,
the colour of the material varies from yellow to
reddish brown. This clay is typical of that derived
from the Yellow Limestone.
Nassau-Oxford Valleys: The clays from this region
have been extensively studied from a soils
standpoint by Edgar (1961,b) for ceramic
applications, Davis et al (1970) mineralogical, and
Alcan Jamaica Ltd. as a source of reactive silica for
their Kirkvine Plant. The clays extend over an area
of approximately eleven miles in length and two
miles wide. Davis and co-workers conducted a
reconnaissance survey and detailed examination of
parts of Nassau Valley (Raheen) and Oxford Valley.
The foundation problems encountered by Revere
Jamaica Alumina Ltd. in constructing their alumina
plant at Vauxhall near Maggotty are due to the
presence of this clay. The clays in the area contain
disordered kaolinite, smectite, hydromicas, quartz,
alunimian-goethite, and hematite, as the principal
fine grained minerals. Quartz, feldspars, ilmenite,
sphene and anatase are present in the coarser
fraction, in sufficient quantities to give the material
a silky loam appearance. Montmorrillonite was
found to be the more important clay mineral in the
Nassau Valley while kaolinite and halloysite were the
dominant clay minerals in the Oxford Valley.
Gibbsite, although a minor mineral, occurred with
greater frequency in the Nassau Valley.
aluminian-goethite is particularly abundant in parts
of the Vauxhall area. The general conclusion of the
investigators is that much of the material was
alluvial and reflected the rocks in the area drained by
the rivers which flow through it.
Other Interior Valleys: Most of the clay minerals
from the other interior valleys have not been studied
adequately to permit their detailed description.
However, the available evidence suggests that they
are a mixture of disordered kaolinite, halloysite,
smectite, hydromicas and quartz. In many cases

-* vi;y



there are different source materials and consequently
the properties of these minerals will vary. In the
Cave Valley area for example available reports
suggest that smectite is the predominant clay
mineral around Aenon Town. Similarly in the Queen
of Spain Valley the clay mineral present depends on
the source material (Johnson, 1974; Davis, et al,
1970, a). The Castleton clay, which has been
successfully used by Mr. Cecil Baugh as a stoneware
clay, has smectite as the predominant clay mineral.
The deposit has variable iron content. The clay fires
to a light grey with dark brown specks. Some glazes
are adversely affected by this colour. Table 2 gives
the chemical composition of grab samples from two
interior valley deposits.
Other occurrences of clay are Montpellier, St. James,
Wait-a-Bit, Albert Town in Trelawny and Golden
Vale in Portland.
Mixed Deposits
The Clay Deposits of Southern St. Elizabeth are
part of a recent alluvial resting in a limestone valley.
The association of pure and relatively fine grained
quartz sand and kaolinite in southern St. Elizabeth
suggests a common source and transporting agent.
It was previously assumed that the Black River and
its tributaries were responsible for the transport and
deposition of the material and that the source rocks
were the volcanoclastics in the Marchmont Inlier.
However, in the middle and upper reaches of the
Black River and its tributaries no suitable source
rocks have been identified which could produce the
sort of minerals found, assuming reasonable sorting.
Recently, McFarlane (1977) after studying the area
suggested that these deposits are genetically related
to other similar sand deposits extending from Milk
River Bay to Black River. He further suggested that
these were wind blown deposits which were derived
from an igneous or metamorphic source just off the
south coast during the Pleistocene Period. The
deposit however, derived minor admixtures of clays
from the Marchmont Inlier. There are still several
questions to be answered, among them the
provenance and distribution of the associated
The presence of alluvial clay deposits (Geddes,
1976) below the sand in the nearby Alligator Pond
area suggests that the history of the area is complex.
These clays are undoubtedly the most studied in the
island. An extensive survey was undertaken by
Edgar (1961 a,b,c,d,e) for Royal Worcester, and by
the Geological Survey working in collaboration with
the Scientific Research Council (Bailey, 1970;
Holdridge and Taylor, 1969, a). The deposits are
reported to be usually overlain by soil and clean
white silica sand averaging 1-2 feet in depth. The
clay content averages 40-50 per cent of disordered
kaolin with the remaining material greater than 10
micron size silica sand. In the vicinity of the Holland
Estate the clays are particularly iron stained in

predominant iron mineral. Small amounts of
smectite occur in the clay fraction in the vicinity of
Slipe-Frenchman. Smectite was also noted in
proximity to the underlying limestone bedrock. The
deposit appears to be mainly a mixture of quartz and
disordered kaolin. The clay tends to be concentrated
in the valleys and a pure silica sand on the highs.
The conclusion to date is that materials from two
and possibly three sources are intermixed in some
parts of the area. The clay can give a refined recovery
of approximately 50 per cent. This material has a
high drying shrinkage but fires white to pale pink.
Edgar estimated recovery of about 2.5 million tons of
dry clay. Attempts by Royal Worcester to substitute
Frenchman clay for imported ball and china clays
resulted in excessive shrinkage. In addition, the use
of nephelene syenite as a flux was necessary because
of the low alkali content of this clay. This
consistently improved glaze control. Figure 4 shows
the areas drilled and reserves developed. Machin and
Holdridge (1971) demonstrated that satisfactory
wall tiles can be produced using 40 per cent clay from
this area, 40 per cent quartz sand, 10 per cent
calcium carbonate and 10 per cent clay grog.
Information on these clay bodies are at the Scientific
Research Council and deserve consideration for a
new local industry.
A rare example of hydrothermal kaolin occurs at
Jobs Hill, St. Mary, associated with the copper
mineralization. Similar but less well developed
occurrences are at Aligator Church in St. Thomas
and in Portland. The geology of the Job's Hill
occurrence is complex and poorly exposed (Figure 5);
however, the hydrothermal kaolin appears to be
confined within two narrow fracture zones, one of
which flanks, while the other occurs within a body of
volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks probably of lower
Cretaceous age. The best samples exhibit various
colours varying from white, creamy tints, pale green,
pale pink and purplish tint, suggesting a migration
of the ferro-magnesian minerals. In some areas the
rock is indurated by silica making it hard and
consolidated. Most of the apparently massive
materials are structurally disordered. Brindley and
Porter (1977) suggest that there is some evidence for
the existence of a range of structures between
well-ordered kaolinite and dickite members. The
original samples, which were examined in the
Scientific Research Council in 1963 showed well
defined double of the endotherm but at a higher
temperature than is usual for kaolinite, and the free
water peak was absent. Subsequent work by Davis
et al (1970) and Brindley and Porter (1977) confirmed
the occurrence of broad to double endotherm in the
samples and definitely identified the kaolin mineral
as dickite. Bailey (1970) estimates that about 7,000
tons of this material exist. It is highly refractory
clay. A similar material is used for a hand craft


Constituent Range Average

A1203 85.0 38.0% 36.5%
Si02 40.7 50.0 44.2
Fer03 5.5- 11.1 9.8
Ti02 1.2 1.9 1.4
MnO 0.11 -0.25 0.36
CaO 0.03 1.0 0.17
P205 0.1 0.2 0.18
ZnO 0.03 0.05 0.04
Source: Porter (1976)

Chemical Composition of samples from the Benbow
Castleton clays
Constituents Benbow Castleton

Si02 53.5% 76.2
A1203 25.5 11.6
Fe203 3.7 0.7
CaO 1.1 0.6
MgO 2.5 1.5
K20 4.2 -
Na20 0.3
L01 7.4 -
1. Davis(1970)
2. Baugh (1975) in article by PatriciaCumper in JAMAICA
JOURNAL, Vol. 9, No. 2, p.21 119751
patches, but contain only small amounts of quartz
intermixed. Traces of gibbsite occur in the clay. Near
Grange Hill and Fullerswood goethite is the
carving in Kenya. A similar use could undoubtedly
be made of the Jamaican material, which to date is
only used as road ballast and building stone, which
are poor uses of this unusual material.
Discussion of Results:
The review shows the existence of significant gaps
in the available information. As already stated this is
because most of the work done to date had specific
objectives with little provision to expand our general
information on clays. For example, the study of the
clay mineralogy of the Liguanea Formation to date
excludes its westward extension to the Clarendon
Plains, and even the St. Catherine Plains has been
only studied to a limited extent. Similarly, the Black
River Valley and related areas north of Holland have
received little attention. The interior valley deposits
have also been inadequately studied although they

Figure 5: Map showing dickite deposits Jobs Hill (after Davis,

are important aquifers, agricultural lands and
human settlements. There is however sufficient
information for understanding the broad outlines of
the relationships between the deposits but the
details will have to be left for further study.
Perhaps, the most important conclusion drawn
from this study is that the predominant clay
minerals in the Liguanea Formation are smectite and
hydromicas. This is significant because this
formation is an important aquifer and which is
subject to overpumping resulting in saline intrusion.
With smectite as the significant clay mineral the
aquifer is responsive to the presence of sodium ions
which are exchangeable for the presently held
calcium ions. The expected result of this is a decrease
in permeability of the aquifer and an accompanying
reduced yield from the wells. This is therefore
another important reason for the immediate control
of the present overpumping of the aquifers in this

- --,*~ .;. .-.

A 100 acre "sealed lake" contains the "red mud" left after bauxite is converted to alumina at Clarendon Alumina Works, Alcoa
Minerals $100 million refining plant at Halse Hall, Clarendon.
This "lake" is the most modern method of containing "red mud" and rules out any danger of polluting local water supplies. (Photo
API Errol Harvey)

I_ 4.

Unsealed Bauxite Red Mud Lake (A.P.I.)


This exchange of calcium for sodium ions by
smectite also affects the behaviour of the formation
as an engineering material. For example, preliminary
evidence is that Na-smectites is the clay mineral in
the Portmore and Port Royal area and this was the
basic reason why the area underwent liquifaction
during the Port Royal earthquake of 1692. The use of
limestone to stabilise the soil in Portmore is a step in
the right direction since treatment is likely to
provide sufficient calcium ions to ensure seismic
stability. Treatment with both limestone and
calcium chloride is recommended. This is necessary
because the amount of calcium ions must be
sufficient to ensure the stability of the
calcium-smectite complex if sea water flooding
occurred. Elsewhere in the Liguanea Formation, and
the Portmore area in particular, the response'of the
contained smectite to excessive hydration
particularly when sodium ions are present must be
recognized and appropriate precautions taken to
ensure the safety of people and structures. The slope
stability problems which occur, in Jacks Hill and
related areas with slopes in the corporate area,
during periods of heavy rainfall is evidence of the
effects of the smectites in the soil. These are factors
which deserve careful study, evaluation and the
implementation of corrective measures, so a full
study of the clay mineralogy of the formation
deserves priority. Because this formation covers the
most densely occupied areas of Jamaica, the
relationship between the clay occurrences and
mineral composition is interesting. It is noteworthy
that the alluvial clays are mainly composed of
smectite and hydromicas. This is notably so in the
Frome Plains, Liguanea Formation, Bog Walk clays,
and Castleton clays. The clays from Holland to
Frenchmans are the only true ball clays presently
identified in the island. Ball clays are suitable for
incorporation in whiteware bodies. Their local
association with abundant high quality quartz sands
further serves to differentiate them from all other
clays. The interior valley clays are a mixture of
disordered kaolinite, smectite and fine grained
quartz with aluminian-goethite as the predominant
iron minerals. The presence of pisolites in many of
them is notable. Some of these clays also contains
small amounts of hydromicas. The hydrothermal
clays are another unique occurrence which deserve
more attention as a useful raw material.
The clay mineralogy of areas where major
engineering structures are contemplated deserves
particular attention. For example, the success of the
sealed red mud pond at Alcoa's Clarendon Alumina
Works has been noted. Preliminary evidence
suggests that this is a smectite. This material, in the
presence of the liquid phase of red mud, will be
converted to Na-smectite, thereby increasing its
capacity as a seal. On the other hand, a disordered
kaolin is the clay in the available material for the

construction of the proposed sealed pond for Alcan's
Ewarton Works. This clay will remain relatively
unresponsive to the presence of the caustic effluent,
so the seal of this pond will depend solely on its
initial integrity. It is therefore necessary that every
care be exercised to ensure that the construction is
done according to specifications. On the other hand,
the non-responsiveness of kaolin to sodium ions is an
advantage in the design and construction of the
dykes of the dams for the ponds.
The clays in soils which are used for the
construction of micro-dams deserve consideration.
The active response of smectite to the presence of
sodium or calcium ions is important. On the other
hand, hydromicas have only limited response to
these ions, while kaolins do not react at all. Figure 6
is a preliminary map which summarises the available
data on the distribution of clay minerals in the
island. Because of the importance of this
information, the map is being refined.
The fact that kaolin clays are confined to the
Holland and Frenchman areas of southern St.
Elizabeth, and some of the interior valleys, and only
the Frenchman deposit is a ball clay, suggests that
the prospect for the development of a ceramic
whiteware industry based on local clay is not good.
For example, the physical properties of these clays,
excepting green strength, and notably their fired
colour, confirm that only the deposits in southern St.
Elizabeth offer some possibility for use in the
manufacture of whitewares. The experience of
Worcester Royal Porcelain Co. Ltd. demonstrates
this. On the other hand, the experience of our local
art ceramists in producing beautiful hand-crafted
ceramics from local clays using a potter's wheel,
suggests that this approach needs further
development so that high quality pieces are
produced by master craftsmen and their students for
sale on the local market and for export. The major
factor to be noted is that the more abundant
smectites are prone to drying and shrinkage faults
and so skip casting is usually to be avoided, and
great care must be exercised in preventing drying
Areas which should be emphasised are the
production of all tiles, exploded aggregate, drain
tiles, bricks and vitrified sewer pipes. This will take
advantage of the fact that most of our clays are of
the "common" variety. These products offer
opportunities for setting up small businesses
provided sales and management services are
adequate. The energy requirements of these
operations need not be a drain on our foreign
exchange since the kilns can be wood fired, and also
consume the shavings and other wastes from the
furniture industry. This would of course necessitate
proper kiln design to ensure minimal adverse
environmental effects. The question is therefore one

'71311 TIMM

of location to minimise transport costs of this bulky
energy supply..The use of salt glazes particularly for
the sewer pipes would require minimal foreign
exchange. Areas such as Bog Walk and May Pen
deserve special consideration in pilot projects of the
types outlined.
This industry deserves the fullest support. It is
envisioned that to optimism the use of the expensive
equipment, groups of potters including students and
professionals should be organised, and proper
marketing capability developed. Further sources of
raw material of reliable properties need development
so that they can be always available at reasonable
costs. It must be emphasised that in all these
enterprises emphasis must be placed on quality. The
time is long past when Jamaica can afford to offer
anything but quality products on the market place.
Anything less must be destroyed...
The importance of clays to hunmi'settlements and
agriculture needs to be fully appreciated. The role of
clays in the foundations of buildings deserves
particular attention, not only in the static but also in
the dynamic sense, since the behaviour of a clay can
change if its environment changes. For example, the
-exchange of calcium to sodium ions will completely
change the swelling properties of smectites. The
areas covered by the Liguanea Formation and the
Frome Plains are areas which are identified !for
particular attention. The possible effect of this
change on the performance of an aquifer and red mud
S' pondi have been noted.
The distribution of the hydromicas and smectites
are also important for agriculture. The former Can
play an important role in the response of the soil to
various levels of fertilizer treatments. Because some
of our interior valley clays are rich in smectite and
low in iron, suggests that they could be mined,
processed and used as fullers earth. Notable
examples are the Castleton clays and the Benbow
clay. The use of the dickite deposit at Jobs Hill for
carving deserves particular attention; because these,
like the pottery, are labour intensive operations.
These observations show that Jamaica has many
opportunities for the development and full utilization
of our clay resources. Imagination, flexibility and
hard work are however needed to bring new products
on the market while expanding existing uses.
Finally, the observed dominance of smectites
rather than kaolinite as the clay mineral in Jamaica
soils should dispel the old assumption that tropical
soils are kaolin rich.
Anon, 1958, Ceramic Investigations of Jamaican Clays, Un-
published Report to the Worcester Royal Porcelain Co.
Anon, 1964, The Clay Resources of Jamaica, A Preliminary
Survey, Unpublished Report to Ja. Scientific Research
Bailey, B.V. 1970, Jamaican Clay Deposits, Econ. Geol. Rep.

No. 3. Geol. Survey Dept., Ja. 4pp.
Brindley, G.W. and Porter, A.R.D. 1977, Occurrence of Dickite in
Jamaica Ordered/Disordered Forms; (abs.) CMS-
ICSOBA Conf. '77, Jamaica.
Cumper, Pat, 1975, Cecil Baugh Master Potter; Ja. Jour.
Vol. 9, No. 2 & 3, pp. 18-27.
Davis, C.E., Thompson, B.E. and Holdridge, D.A. 1970, The
Mineralogy of Clays of the Nassau and Oxford Valleys,
St. Elizabeth and Manchester Parishes: Ja. Sci. Res.
Council, Ja. Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 63-67.
Davis, C.E., Taylor, W.A., Thompson, B.E. and Holdridge, D.A.
1970a, Two Jamaican Bentonite Clays. Ja. Sci. Res.
Council, Ja. Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 71-81.
Davis. C.E.. Taylor, W.A., Thompson, BE. and Holdridge, D.A.
1970a, Dickite From Jobs Hill, St. Mary. Jamaica. Clay
Minerals Vol. 8. pp. 461-468.
Edgar, J.A. 1961, St. Elizabeth Clays (Frenchman Area) Uapb.
Tech. Summary No. 9, Ja. Pottery Ltd.
Edgar, J.G. 1961a, Third Preliminary Investigation of Clays
Below Silica Sand in Black River Area, Unpb;. u ei rt ;
Ja. Pottery Ltd.
Edgar, J.G. 1961b, St. Elizabeth Clays (Frenchman Area), .Upb. 1
Tech. Summary No. 10, Ja. PBtery-Ltd. .
Edgar, J.G. 1961c, First Pottery Investigation of Clays elow .
Silica Sand in Black River Area, Unpb. Report, J.
Pottery Ltd. .
Edgar, J.G. 1964, General Properties of Frenchman Clay, St.
Elizabeth, Jamaica; Unpb. Report pr.5, F. Ginson. The .:
Worcester Porcelain Co. (Ja. Ltd.
Farley, E.P. and Halden, F.A. 1969, Exploitation, of Jama an
Clay Resources (Frenhcman'se.Ball. iy);e: tt
to Sci. Bee. Council by Statnord -RseatElI n4ta
(Task Order No. 4, Project No. 5 R1-PMP.7420,
Geddes, JJu.S. 1976, Preliminary Study of the. Blacklc4,*ad :
Deposition Southern Manchester, Uapb. Ripbrt,
Mines and Geology Div., MMNR, Ja.
Hill, V.G. 1965, Factors Affecting the Strength and Durablity of
Stabilized Earth (Cinva Rom) Block Structures in
Jamaica: Sci. Res. Council Tech. Rep. 2/65
Taylor, W.A. and Holdridge, D.A. 1969, Pt.I,.lays of the nae m
Area, Westmoreland Parish; Trans. Br. COmraitm So.,
V.868, p. 249256
Taylor, W'A. and: Holdridge- D.A. 1~e8a; .Pt.II, cli.~t
Holland and Frenchman Area, St. Elizabeth; Trans. Br.
Ceramn Soc. V.68, p. 257.
Mc~talane:Neville, 1977, The Non-Carbonate Pleistocen. Saitd
Deposits of the South Central Coast of Jamaica; Paper
presented at X-INQUA Conf. Aug. 1977.
Machin, R.J. and Holdridge, D.A. 1971, Productionof Wall Tiles
from Jamaican Raw Materials, Ja. Sci Res. Council,
Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 17-24.
Machin, R.J. and Holdridge, D.A. 1971a, Production of Floor
Tiles from Jamaican Clays; Ja. Sci. Res. Council, Vol. e,
N.l1, pp. 25-31.
Pattersoni Sam. H. and Murray. Hpyden H. 1975, Clays in
Industrial Minerals and Rooks (Non-Metallics, other
than Fuels) 4th Edition AIME Inc. N.Y., U.S.A.
Porter, A.R.D. 1976, Personal Communication.
Sage, J.D. and Sand, LB. 1977, Mineralogy and Geotechnical
Properties of Weathering Products of the Jacks Hill
Granodiorite. Jamaica; (Abstract) CMS-ICSOBA Conf.
Sawkins, J.G. 1969, Reports on the Geology of Jamaica; Mam.
Geol. Surv. Lond.
Vincenz, S.A. 1959, Reserves of Pottery Clays in Jamaica, W.I.;
Unpublished Report, Ja. Industrial Development

" *- RoWo7ration' '
:: ; Wright, hi nd~.l, *logy and the Environment,.Ja. Sd
Res' Council. Vol. 2, No. 1; pp. .2-40
.-~ ~. ,s a tert originating in the United
Kingdom and relates to a highly plastic, white firing
a. which-is principaWly used forQ bonGil;g ceramic
,' :~, It obsist : principally of kaolknteit :wth minor
amounts of sericite micas and- oranic matter.
e Bntohnlt is a clay consisting essentially of
a.smiite minerals (montmorillorite.group of some
: USges) regardless of qrigin and occurrences.
:., Common- Clay is dflfined as a clay or clay-like
'' m li al that is suffiOently plastic to pei it ready
.-ldn-ql.ing, and vitrlcalion below 1, 1000C. It is
y a:1;is w a fera "coond veariematies of
l ey which are.goverBied by the Quardies Act. On
th Npther. band the speciall v maret s" are controlled
,l, e e4.hng ,.Act. .)t is noteworthy that if a
S' alcmon va~~riety aof cl, can be readily ugrade to
She .speal properties then they ar eas e as
r .. Clay is either a plastic or rock-like detrital
t r continnld lbw percentage of iron oxide, lime,
.a d alh, I,to enable the material to
fistand temperature. of 1,500 C; Fireclays are
eally aolinite, btb may also contain minor
| mts of gibbslte, diaspore, biuley, flint and bell

-sinblse for bleaching, absorbent and certain other
-usei The term has neither compositional nor
t .. ~ ealogic connotation. When applied in the
Sooil-poi sense, fuller's earth has the same
me g .as na turlly active clay. If treatment with
:,.. rotberwse is necessary to improve their
dra le- properties, the product is usually referred
,. t 'e..ctwated clay" (Patterson and MumVry, 1975).
m e cas refers t clay- ade mica.' These are
o t'"o chemiically degraded. c e t erm "fllites" is
considered to be a rock term only, since it may
'inelue other layer silicte minerals.
Kfolin or china clay is a white, clay-like,
monomineralic rock with kaolinite as the principal
Kalinit is the clay mineral that characterizes
iq.elkaop.. and has,.the chemical composition
.AV i|l60(OH)}8 Other members of the kaolinite
family polymorphss) a.e dicklte, 'acrite, and
oysite The differ the de d rytalline
Mpefection of the mineral. Halloysite also has the
composition (OH)8Si4A14010AH20. This hydrated
form is energy a dese rceain-ke hard clay
that dehydrates at surface temperatures to
AI4Si4010(OI)0., The change is not reversible.
Smectite is the mineralogical name of the clay
mineral family which in general has the idealized
formulae shown below:
Montmorillonite Mx(A2-xr Mgx)Si4010(OH)2n

Trioctahedral *
Saponite ---.xM M A! 100'
Hictorite X(
Where M reprqsnts.ions stWh as L, Na, a, :
which occupy, the bads exchange.tes. This' ,
synonymous with the ,rm ''mont4orillonite roup
but is used here to ayoid confusi1 of terms,
Stonewamre.qy Al ^iusuI y, althoughi.noft
lower grade firays or semi-refractory clays, which
are plastic ar4 mature at, fairly low .taO.,, ux ,.,
compared wit '";e hbtter *fwacty r ade -S.r.
vary consider a!d ,c titute a rather- ,'oa ,
hety colour the body is stoaefn*.
grey, but it could beAny colour (mostly buffi)'butj"
white. The ware is thrown, so the clay needs good
plastiity and Wire texture. The other recuweo tx:j..
are vitrifieatOior 'w.ipro rc cones ai'df +iK
(preferably 8), *i'. a ,g r.I"e., .
": **. '" *


.1;. :

Theauthor.wiWelto e6 0. Wehsincere than to Mr. Kevlei
MeFarlane of 'tlA. Geo q8rey, 'for supplying the'
information on th geologic settugs. of the clay occurrences.
Mr. W.A. Taylor uppl tOlp-l information .on ,b. :,
mineralogy of ma8d4.epo t, :ba4i6 an work which he d^ hae'
at the Scientific Research CouciL The reports from the u iEtif I'
Research Council were rlied heavily ihstuty antd i;A ,
Identified in the rehierpcs ea &riliAlMi te i wtitMV*
checked some of the mineal Identications when there was somi
doubt Their contribution i acknowledged. .r. Cecil Ba al so
discussed with the authob the. ceramic factors a'; this
information was freely incorporated.
The author, however, is solely responsible for the con qeions
and preliminary generalizations which are based on the available
data and geological relationships.



Johnson, Donpid, 1974,f lht 4mnaicap ClayO
Prmductlii, Tel ,6r Diplom, Ja. J ,,

Beideslite -"hM.Ai2tSi x '"
Nontronite Mx(AI,Fe 4-Si4-xA1xz)ojo '::', ,
nnl.... "'"i -tli .. .




This paper was presented at a symposium sponsored by Florida International University in, April 1978. The co-ordinators expect
that this symposium will have significant relevance to the August 1979 U. N.Conference. In his introduction Dr.Ventura pointed
I out that the problems which he had identified were not peculiar to his native Jamaica

The standard of living disparity between the rich
and poor societies continues to widen at an ever
increasing rate.' Over the last two decades all social
and economic manoeuvres to narrow this gap have
failed to create more equity between developed and
developing nations, but have rather served to
aggravate the situation, and also to deepen the
chasm between rich and poor within national
borders.2 This was reflected in the fact that although
the per capital GNP of some countries rose
significantly, and there was some improvement in
their science and technology (S&T) infrastructures,
nevertheless, a third or more of their populations still
languish in poverty and despair, with inadequate
nourishment, shelter, clothing, health care,
occupation, and without any visible means of
existence.3 The type of democracy which prevails in
many of 'these countries seems to foster a
distributive system which anchors the majority in
illiteracy, sickness and social indifference, thereby
alienating them from the political process, while a
minority revel in luxury and remain apparently
oblivious to the human deprivation and despair
around them. This alienation and disregard for such
vast human potential have resulted in the lean years
of the 1970's in falling GNP's, in escalating crime, in
social inertia, and, in political instability.
In the face of these inequalities, an abundance of
technological energies and skills are applied to
armaments and other paraphernalia of national
prestige as well as to the production of consumer
goods of marginal importance. Some 40% of the
world's expenditure goes to national prestige and
defence, but less than 5%'is directed at the problems
of two-thirds of mankind who strive to survive on a
meagre agricultural base.
These realities brought into sharp focus the need
to marshall S&T to serve the majority of mankind,
so the UN as well as other international bodies have
taken steps to promote the political will and
structures necessary for the re-deployment of the
world's repertoire of S&T and the direction of more

research and development (R&D) activities to the
correction of the standard of living disparities
between the industrialized and developing nations.
There was need for legislative and executive
measures in most developing countries to improve
the resources for S&T, and to provide the
innovations and skills to meet national goals for
productivity. It is now generally accepted that a
clearly enunciated science policy is vitally necessary
to strengthen S&T capabilities and to link R&D with
the productive and educational systems.
Before one can effectively discuss the problems
experienced by small Caribbean countries in
formulating S&T policies, it is necessary to indicate
the characteristics of such policies, and to elaborate
further on the reasons why they are being
contemplated in many of these countries.
Before World War II, the need to manage science
was not fully appreciated, and indeed was opposed
by the socio-economic systems prevailing in western
countries.6 The need to organise S&T towards social
objectives became more obvious during the last forty
years which witnessed spectacular successes of S&T
in attaining economic and political power.7 Once
technology was appreciated as the major driving
force of socioeconomic progress ,8 countries began
investing an increasingly larger portion of their
physical, financial and intellectual resources in these
activities. Further, the effectiveness of scientific
knowledge in all aspects of public life has been
recognized as being so pervasive and influential that
it was considered politically inexpedient to allow
scientists alone to determine the consequences of
their work.9 All those countries which recognized
S&T as an indispensable pre-condition for national
progress, took steps to formulate codes of conduct
and planning for S&T. These took the form of
national frameworks for legislative and executive
action to link R&D activities with education,
employment and production to achieve specified
social goals, with the hope that such action would
eventually create scientific traditions for these
countries. These manoeuvres implicitly or explicitly,
constitute S&T policies.

The incisive consequences gOf S&'T activities on
socioeconomic and. cultural developiet, and the
need for S&T policies, because clear to most
developing countries only within.the last decade. At
this juncture, most states wee ..onronted -for the
first time with the intricacies and difficulties of
making science policies; they ed only then their
weaknesses and lack of in making
decisions and their impotence inimplmet them.
The existence of severe problems of hunger
transporttion, health, housing education and
clothing in many countries, while S&T remained
uncoordinated and fragmentary, were clearly
recognised by the international community as a
travesty of justice and an insult to humanity.
However, it was also realized that these ailments are
vast, complex, and fraught with political overtones,
and could only rationally be handled by planned,
collaborative, concerted action focused on well
defined objectives. As the body of scientific
knowledge grows, and the co lety of the social
problems become better undestood it becomes
obvious that multi-disc iplnary ktion is necessary.
The task of welding the ST specialists and
institutions into a cooperating unit to identify,
formulate and execute specific projects to tackle the
varied socio-economic problems, and to solicit
national and international support for these
solutions, are the great challenges of science policies.
Characteristics of
Science Programmes
.Having examined the basic concepts and utility of
a science policy, the next step is to outline in greater
deal certain universally accepted objectives of such
policies, to allow better recognition and
comprehension of root causes of some of the
problems encountered in formulating and
implementing these plans.
Until a relatively short time ago it was felt.that if
science policies were necessary, they should be
restricted to development of science per se and
should not be concerned with the utility of science? '
Even in some developed countries, the notion of
planning to provide for science was not well
accepted, because it was perceived that science,
because of its intrinsic qualities, and of necessity,
would always be respected; and as such, would
always be supported. By mimicry a similar stance
was also adopted by many developing countries.
This has proven to be a sad mistake in both the
developed and developing countries, especially in the
latter, where scientific institutions were supported,
primarily because they could enlarge national
prestige in a somewhat cosmetic fashion, and
consequently these institutions were often the first
to be sacrificed in stringent economic periods.
It is now clear that science policies must seek to
promote science per se, as well as provide the

I conditions for the coupling of science and technology
I with the productive process. In small countries,
there is no question that science must be managed in.
such a way that the limited resources are maximally
employed in production. This is not to say that basic
research should be neglected, but it should take place
with a very watchful eye on the development of local
natural resources. To achieve these ends, well
enunciated policies must be formulated to provide a
rational basis for action.
The basic aim of a S&T policy is to channel all the
relevant scientific activities towards national
development i.e. towards growth and change. And
these aims will have to be translated into specific
science and technology objectives. To achieve
growth and change for socio-economic progress, the
objectives must then be priorised and categorised
into those for growth and those to effect
concommitant change; or in other words, those to
stimulate production and those to gear the scientific
community and the lay public to innovate.
The first aspect of a policy is the application of
S&T to production. The modernization of the
productive infrastructure for more efficiency and
social acceptability by the introduction of modern,
local and foreign techniques.into .priority areas, such
as, agricultural and industrial development with
special emphasis on small businesses, rural and
urban upgrading, agrarian reform, trade .and
employment policies etc., are vital.
Regarding the aspect of change, once the
necessary conditions or research and development
are provided, and incentives for creativity identified,
there is not much more that can be done to stimulate
innovation since this commodity is not directly
linked to any form of natural resource except
probably brainpower and attitude.
Science and technology have profound effects on
the dual aspects of development, growth and change.
They can boost productivity as well as contribute to
a new social ambience. A main feature of science
programmes is to stimulate change in social,
economic, cultural and educational sectors, in other
words, cultivate a national scientific tradition. For
many developing countries, the single most
important contribution of science may be the
introduction of scientific attitudes into the national
psyche, such as clarity of thought, honesty of
purpose, accuracy in assessments and an allegiance
to excellence. In this respect, the interphase between
the scientific community and the public at large
must be made vibrant and reciprocating.
For each country, a critical mass of brains,
Equipment, facilities, finances and specialised
institutions are necessary if there is to be a flow of
technology into production. A science policy, no
Smatter how well conceived, will not be satisfactorily
promulgated nor implemented if the adequate
infrastructure is not present to instrument and

~*eaaa~~ ~k~Bl~aBI~R~~

rationalise its goals. There must be a centralised,
coordinating body acting as the pivot of the
infrastructure, capable of digesting the statistical
data, of advising and monitoring, while encouraging
the use of policy instruments. Reconciliation of the
competing claims for resources and national
attention must be undertaken by a well defined and
respected scientific entity.
The development of indigenous science and
technology capabilities must therefore be tackled as
a matter of great urgency by science and technology
programmes in developing countries. Without a core
of expertise, the ability to exploit local natural
resources, and to enable proper transfer of
technology, will be inefficient at best, and perhaps
impossible. Science planning therefore must first
seek to quantify the resources available for its
Science programmes must contribute also to the
national will by creating recognition and sensitivity
to science and technology so that these imperatives
may find a way into production in the shortest
possible time. Science and technology must be
popularised at a national level, and incentives
provided for their use. An appreciation of science will
eventually mean recognition of the scientist and his
A most difficult problem facing all science
programmes is the economic analysis of science.
Technological merit, scientific merit and social merit
are all parameters which have to be considered in
evaluating science. Although it is difficult to
quantify any of these variables, policies must
somehow provide some guidelines for their
All science and technology programmes will have,
eventually, to place in clear context, the value of
maintaining ecological balance against economic
criteria. This is extremely important for small-island
Because science is universal, the S&T plans of
each country should include directions towards
international cooperation and sensitivity.
Requirements for implementation of
Science Policies
Having described the bases and ultimate aims of
science and technology programmes, this should be
followed by an examination of the basic
requirements for the support and implementation of
such policies if they are to be effective.
For any policy to be effective there must be a keen
awareness of the usefulness of science and
technology throughout the community at large. This
should be expressed as a demand for science and
technology by various sectors of the society. Also,
for any policy to be effective it must have the full
backing of the custodians of the society in which it
will be implemented.


Since these policies concern the use of new
methods and procedures, 'the users must be
sufficiently acute and amenable to innovation, and
be confident that the necessary technological
services such as standards monitoring, marketing,
extension services in agriculture and industry, as
well as specialised personnel, will be available to
ensure proper and efficient adoption of the
To have the necessary specialised personnel, the
S&T infrastructure should be capable of training
them for the sectors in which research findings can
be applied. Likewise, a general level of scientific
education among people working in the various
sectors is obligatory for proper application of
The complexity of the elements required to
effectuate technological innovations and change are
such, that a high level of organisation and
convergence of many different activities are
required. Therefore, functional linkages must be
established between universities, technical schools
and institutes involved in both theoretical and
technical research, industry and other productive
agencies. Along with these linkages there should be a
highly motivated S&T community of professionals
operating under relative freedom, recognition and
Problems encountered in
S&T Planning
Many of the difficulties experienced by developing
Caribbean countries in achieving S&T competence
spring directly or indirectly from their small size and
a history of Colonial domination. Colonialism has led
to a dependence on the 'mother' country for
government, trade, education and cultural patterns.
Essentially, their economies were maintained
strictly for advancing the conditions in the 'mother'
countries. The colonies were organised to produce
agricultural products for the home market with little
or no concern for the colonial people. S&T were
developed along these lines in order to exploit a large
unskilled labour force." There was little or no
development of indigenous technologies, and the few
trained people were to man the factories, plantations
and civil service for the plantocracy. There was,
therefore, no evolution of a scientific tradition within
these societies, and this tendency continued during
the years of self-government. In the years following
full Independence, the S&T dependence was
perpetuated, this time by their relationships with
transnational corporations operating out of the
former colonial territories. Again, this inhibited the
development of indigenous S&T infrastructure and
scientific tradition.
With this historical background and social
apperception, the construction and implementation
of science programmes to guide the institutionalisa-

r "9YrrF!p~wr .0rrralqrw~ICm~lqnrr "'.- ?lrr"' --~"1~"WWY''NWW--~ -1' .- -'- .- '~

tion and use of S&T, were confronted with other
major difficulties, mainly because of their
insufficient capital and brainpower, low production
and their small internal markets. Some economies
are so small that they are unable to support even the
rudiments of a S&T system. The fact that up to 60%
of the GNP in countries like Jamaica is utilized in
import and export of the goods and services "needed
to maintain a viable economy, poses great problems
for the effective utilisation and development of an
indigenous S&T base, and for independent action in
technological selection in general.
The major problems confronting small developing
countries like Jamaica will be discussed under
succeeding headings.

Short Term Necessities Eclipse Long Term
The economic and social conditions in many
small developing countries are so desperate
that much of the national energies are
dissipated on short-term actions to suspend
economic and social chaos. These societies
are in perpetual crisis, and not inclined to
entertain long-term coherent S&T planning.'3
The historical setting and the socio-cultural
outgrowth of the past has demanded that
scientists not only carry out research, but
strive to achieve conditions conducive to the
conduct of science. They have a clear
responsibility to indicate the need to
effectively plan for future development while
diffusing the imminent crisis situation.
Scientists must realise that the custodians of
underdeveloped societies often plan from
positions of deep insecurity.
The Politicians, operating in a thankless
society, and compelled to protect their own
careers in a fiercely competitive arena;
cannot be expected to understand the con-
cept of Science and Technology in the long
term, nor its critical importance as a real
investment in social change. Scientists,
therefore, should expend greater effort in
presenting such policies at a lay level and not
in esoteric scientific terms. The public rela-
tions aspect of Science and Technology pro-
jection is as critical, if not more critical than
in the productive sector. It lies with the
Scientist to convince the more discerning
Politicians that with sufficient public educa-
tion, projects which can stand scrutiny of
reason, honesty and facts, will be publicly
Another problem encountered in planning
for S&T in small countries is the paltry
material conditions afforded S&T. When
S&T policies do not forthrightly remedy
these conditions, many workers become

frustrated, disillusioned, indifferent and
ultimately recede.
Scientists should then expect shortages of
equipment, space, materials, facilities and
emoluments for at least a generation, follow-
ing the formulation and promulgation of
science policies. This does not mean that the
scientific community should work any slower
to achieve the objective ends of proper
scientific planning; it simply means that we
must be prepared for a long and tedious
campaign. In many countries this is not
appreciated and many scientists and scienti-
fic planners become disillusioned and give up
the struggle. Each time this happens, it
becomes harder for the succeeding groups
because the public will, by then, become
cynical as to the real objectives of the scienti-
fic community.

Public recognition of responsibility for S&T
A large sector of the public does not re-
cognise S&T as a major responsibility of
Government. To many planners, S&T are
distractions which keep cropping up when
important economic matters are being
discussed. This attitude leads to the further
error of assuming that S&T matters are best
raised and integrated by technicians after
the supposedly more important economic
questions are settled. Those who argue
against this attitude, and insist that sound
planning cannot be advanced without
relevant technical inputs at the very outset,
are often regarded as misguided academics
who should be simply humoured and
ignored. The more enlightened planners may
argue that S&T is important, but that small
countries with meagre resources should not
be bothered with things which are outside of
their reach and that this should be left to
bigger richer countries. Others argue that
they should be concerned with the real
problems of society; sometimes without
identifying specifically what these may be.
Nevertheless, to maintain a national image, a
small financial allocation may be provided
for training in science and research and
development (R&D) activities. Occasionally,
there may be ground-breaking and erection
of stately buildings for S&T, and for the
first years pronouncements are made of
the amounts being given to these institutes,
but these may be allowed to fall into dis-
repair even before they had a chance to
become effective. It is clear then that a
Government should be provided with
sufficient information from science advisers
to allow the correct decisions to be taken in

,4 ,'

F' *

such a way that support for 8~T will be
uniform and well conceived. Ina small
community this r8eponbility falls
on an already over-extended s tific
In these circumstances, there is a real
danger that the scientific community, for
expediency, can succumb to the urge to
coerce support based on false promises, and
project science larger than it really is. This
does not engender respect for scientific work
which will only be achieved when the
utility of S&T is clearly demonstrated in
tangible terms along with its limitations
and social and economic effects. If the
scientist succumbs to this temptation, then
politicians acting on this advice will be
deceived into distorting the long-term values
of S&T. It is extremely difficult to extricate
science from politics in small countries, and
the scientist has a grave responsibility to the
political directorate. Scientists and tech-
nologists must pay attention to the social,
economic and ultimate political aspects of
their work; Further, scientists and tech-
nologists, if socially aware, can better
demonstrate S&T power in increasing
productivity and in augmenting the labour
force both of which are politically desir-
able irrespective of political ideologies and
Similarities in science policies between the
two major political systems of the world
suggest a certain political neutrality and
pragmatism for S&T >but this.should not be
taken to mean that the uses to which S&T
are to be put will not have political implica-
tions. All scientists and technologists in such
developing countries, should therefore,
become more responsive to the society in
which they reside and from which they draw
support, and of necessity become integrated
into the political process.
In order that the political directorate can
obtain the support which it needs from the
electorate, the scientist should assist by
educating the electorate as to the benefits of
S&T. This will not only begin to establish a
scientific tradition in these societies, but will
stimulate the populace to require more
technological inf action and innovation for
their productive processes. If there is suffi-
cient demand by the electorate for S&T,
the political directorate will be strengthened
in projecting S&T.
Unclear national future contributes to
ladecisive S&T Planning
Science programmes mae intended to provide
guidelines for the use of science in the affairs

of society. If the. affairs of society.a e in
disarray, thsa science es to service
thee. societies wil. undoubtedly, reflect this
confusion. Unfortunatery, socio-economic
plans for. many. small countries are ill-
defined; consequently, S&T programmes are
difficult or impossible to construct. It is
difficult to formulate a policy in the absence
of assumptions of the future trends in a
country's plans for production and educa-
tion. In the absence of a preconceived model
of the economic. and social structure to be
achieved, S&T planning will have no target
and hence no meaning. The results of S&T
activities will mature only after long periods,
and therefore they have to be projected to
meet specific demands of society. A
difficulty experienced in small developing
countries, particularly those with agri
turally based economies, is the inability to
determine the future of their traditional
agricultural crops because of a paucity of
technological and marketing information.
Because of this, it is not dear to the sience
planner whether to provide for technologies
to upgrade the production and use of staple
crops, or consider strategies for their sub
stitution. In essence, proper S&T policy
planning cannot take place without clearly
defined and consistent national planning,
Once national directions are set, socio-
economic plans, should not be developed
without recourse to the most recent S&T
ino rmation There must always be an inter
mehing and reciprocating system which
embodies educational, sectorial, employ-
ment, foreign affairs and science policies.

Shortage of Brainpower
Scientific research and technological
development rest fundamentally on creativi-
ty, and consequently the most important
commodity in S&T is brainpower. Without
scientists who are energetic, competent and
motivated, a true and vital S&T infrastuc-
ture will not flourish nor indeed will it ever
be initiated. In formulating science poicies
in countries without a scientific tradition; the
notion that the presence of sophisticated
equipment and impressive buildings will
ultimately produce good S&T, has to be dis.
Science and technology brainpower is
needed initially to formulate S&T policies, as
well as to implement them. The greatest
bottleneck to S&T development in small
developingcountries is .aucity of adequate
talent operating in a milieu of entrenched
mediocrityy. Since the development of appro-
^ : '

j[ ->y t ~w1 Vo .--,-,-n-,H n-.. -- ....--.... ..- ......

private skilled manpower is a long-range
proposition, the solution of this problem is
difficult and necessitates enlightened
national planning.
Historically, in former colonies, training at
the tertiary level was restricted to those pro-
fessions such as primary and secondary
teachers, lawyers, doctors and civil servants
which service the needs of the imperial
masters, and bear little relevance to actual
needs of the local population. After Indepen-
dence, these biases remained as cultural
norms, to the extent that institutions of
higher learning which were subsequently
built within these regions, still are geared to
churn out these types of skilled persons. So,
in many developing countries, there is a
tremendous imbalance, not only in types of
required professional personnel, but also in
the ratio of professional to technical
This latter problem has lead to serious
obstacles in industrial production. Con-
sequently, in formulating S&T policies, this
is one of the first short-comings which has to
be tackled. Unfortunately, without a scienti-
fic tradition and an appreciation of the value
of S&T, it is difficult to attract young people
to technical training, as this still tends to be
equated with manual labour, and there is
more appeal to so-called office jobs.
The scarcity of proper training facilities,
insufficient local demands for indigenous
S&T, improper utilisation of skilled per-
sonnel, usually lead to an unhealthy drain of
the few trained personnel. Students who go
abroad for training, are reluctant to return,
and those who return are often employed out-
side of their field of competence and fall into
a non-productive rut, sometimes without
ever utilising their new-found skills. Others
who are willing to remain and make positive
contributions are often confronted with
truncated career opportunities, low prestige,
insufficient monetary rewards, the problems
of functioning within unimaginative bureau-
cracy, a hidden feeling of inferiority within
the scientific community, and insufficient
demand for R&D.
In such cases there may be little or no
encouragement for the training of young
scientists, while frustrated senior personnel
attracted by lucrative job opportunities
abroad often migrate. The net effect is scarce
brainpower. This situation results not only in
the loss of investments made in educating
the senior scientists but also removes valu-
able expertise familiar with local conditions.
This brain-drain poses great problems for

S&T programmes, because it is difficult to
plan around few available skills, and because
of the uncertainty as to whether the situation
will continue to deteriorate or not. One of the
features of effective policies in such countries
is to educate the spectrum and number of
professionals needed to man satisfactory
S&T systems and further to formulate flex-
ible management structures to attract and
retain highly skilled individuals regardless of
Fragmentation of S&T Efforts
As a consequence of insufficient brainpower,
marginal governmental support, inbred
attitudes, and insularity; a strong sense of
protectionism has developed among the
scientists in small Caribbean countries.
Because of this insecurity, each little group,
or individual often working in guarded isola-
tion and insignificance to the extent that
S&T capabilities are uncoordinated, frag-
mentary and fraught with duplication and
waste. Each small group may work without
the benefit of adequate personnel and equip-
ment which could easily be afforded by colla-
boration. The concepts of collaboration and
co-operation are new, and not easily acquired
by those accustomed to the individual work
habit. Without any intention to obstruct,
nevertheless the low level of co-operation
from such workers can be a real block in the
path of progress.
In some cases they may be openly hostile
if they fear that independent creativity is
threatened or that their ineptitude may be
For such programmes to be formulated,
and later succeed, it is necessary to gain the
confidence and assistance of these workers
by indicating that all will benefit from a
process of rationalisation. It should be
pointed out that while the overall planning of
a national science policy should, by its very
nature, be centralised as far as possible,
however, to allow for creativity and in-
dependence within the confines of co-ordina-
tion and collaboration, research and experi-
mental facilities should be decentralised.
Authority to make scientific decisions should
be as close as possible to where action will
take place.
Science programmes in small countries
have to grapple with the historical insecuri-
ties leading to fragmentation and dis-
co-ordination while being obliged to enforce
the need for a central co-ordinating centre,
which will oversee independent units. In
other words, the programmes will have to
discourage independence evolving from

Ioi 'Udeace based iQseaattilc reaivitty.
1Iitl countries a.Rlencee etmay have
to6:ie encouraged to allow for the inter-
disciplinary interaction to achievee critical
mass which is needed to develop and use
mernm technologies. The.iding ic le
e ..be strong; and>., irn ea sp
maximum freedom r individual
attoiat .tole n uits to
l^ l(^3M UtM;eitioned
exiedence4 some db*ltce; This
resistance often is the outgrowth of the feel-
t. ,hat science must resist social and politi-
ur. In many small countries, this
ein the belief among, the citizenry
st science has no real productive function.
So,r r planning will have to take into
tip the nei4or scientists to inter-
wi* the., pcs a well as the
ca Of society td pro~de the neces-
sary conditions for the development and use
o.f-wienice. A fragmentary and esoteric
f fac hto science has lead to a loss of
for the scientists in the small
countries, and this has to be recaptured by
strategies within science policies, and by
Swsentrated public education,
l oP t .Feuds n
most. discoancting problem in, the
m ospp a t and I i _i. of s 0i1i e
0010101pi'V'Ofi.a4j"'T 0MT".'.-''aOi" 11 140if"

moai ers who have little conmpt of the "|
scientists' problems, and often apply strict
civil service regulations which are designed
for office functions very different from crea-
tive scientific work. Red-tape procedures
cause intense irritation and frustration
among scientists and technologists. Another
sore point is the matter of promotion which
may also be handled in this manner. In this
case, creative and scientific criteria 're
superseded by the essentials of bureaucratic
beviour such as condescension, demeanour ,
andfdress. In larger goal-oriented.countries,
specialised functional systems can be afford-
ed which are geared to science-planning
management. Smaller countries should also
think in this direction.
Science & Public Life
The lack of sufficient and effective inter-
action between the scientific community and
tli: political directorate can stultif or
prev~it a realistic science programme. Many
scientists tend to consider science a's being
apart from public life, and consequently, are
reticent to have dialogue with politicians
regardin the provision for and utility of ',
S&T. This is further aggravated by the fact
that the public is not sufficiently aware of :.
tbei wrkbehm conducted by scientistsiThe ,
MMiWssueni Fth;i8e1that scientists appear
tobe :rrelevait to the national purpose, and
a on scarce capital. Inferentially, their

to' say, under these circumstances their
advice is seldom taken.
It is difficult to extricate politics from
S&T in small countries if for no other reason
than because most of the S&T institutions
are supported by Government since private
eierprise is. reluctant to do so or find it
S. omioa l. In formulatingS&T ~poliees,
a facts' should be appreciated and
accommodated. Politicians should be well
informed and made sensitive to the delicate
intricacies of S&T. Without this sort of
rapport, scientific comment may be- inter
preted as dissension.
A careful balance has to be maintained on
the one hand to ensure that non-scientists do
Snq. :gain undue influence in. matters' -hich
ire strictly scientific. On the other hand the
scientist must accept that the translation of
.Ssae ~into technologies for.social benefits is
'a .political issue. In countries, in-
t long overdue change, political
leaders have to consider commitment to
change in nominating scarce advisors or
leaders. Too often sabotage of national

programmes is regarded as fair game by the
subversive, uncommitted or indolent public
servant. The dividing line where science
leaves off and technology begins is hard to
decipher, and indeed there is dynamic social
process in operation.
Another problem which faces those who
will ensure the implementation aspects of a
science plan, is that in weak or corrupt
Governments there is a tendency to fill high
scientific posts with unqualified persons.
This can create chaos within S&T systems.

There is a tendency in small countries
without a long scientific tradition to consider
the planning process as an end in itself.
)nce a policy is written and scientists can be
Identified, it is felt that the foundation for
S&T is truly laid. Therefore, a lot of time will
be spent planning, with little implementation
of the plans. The bewildering changes in the
socio-economic environment seem to force
certain institutes into perpetual planning
with little real research and development
Few programmes are meticulously pursued
to the very end. Confusion often arises in the
attempt to plan for science per se as opposed
to efforts to utilise scientific achievements.
Further, moralising and generalising are
Mistaken as essentials of a science pro-
gramme.'8Executive committees must
realise that they cannot produce S&T; at
best they can only use it.
Over-planning for S&T may also lead to
inflexibility which does not allow for feed-
back and correction of errors. The inability of
the plan to undergo necessary change leads
to frustration and disillusionment of those
SMisguided Education System
The Colonial history of small Caribbean
Islands has left an educational system which
S caters to the affluent elite minority in these
societies. Traditionally, higher education
w as devised. to service a plantocracy by
providing ;doctors, lawyers, and civil
servants; there was really no need for tech-
nologists as technology was brought from
abroad and used by foreign technicians. The
university systems in the Caribbean,
especially the British Caribbean, has con-
tinued along this same vein graduating
over-specialised individuals with little
bearing on the needs of their societies. The
few local technologists who were trained
abroad are inclined to return to their training
.ground as soon as difficulties arise.


Policy-makers, therefore, are now faced
with the problem of modifying their educa-
tional systems to provide not only for top
engineers, scientists, and other profession-
als, but also for badly needed technicians and
middle-management personnel which are
indispensable for any productive system.
The problem of scientific training in these
countries starts at the primary levels, and
later permeates the secondary and tertiary
levels. At all these levels, science is projected
as a foreign commodity to be memorised and
regurgitated at examinations, instead of as
realities which affect everyday life. This
leads to the notion that science was the sole
prerogative of the well educated, and was
primarily an esoteric exercise. Consequently,
innovation was not encouraged, and in some
instances was openly discouraged, so that by
the secondary levels, most students had lost
the enquiring spirit which is natural to all
human beings. Consequently, to formulate
science policies which will ease pressing
social problems, involve everyday activities,
and organize people, the first step is the
education of the public to the true meaning
and power of science to dispel the feeling
that science is beyond the means of the
average person.
Absence of Domestic Demand for S&T
The absence of a scientific tradition, and
an appropriate education system to en-
courage enquiry and experimentation, has
led to few local scientific discoveries and
innovations and an absence of a domestic
demand for indigenous technology. The
absence of this demand has led some to feel

that there is really no need for S&T policies
in the Caribbean. Further, it is contended
that all our technology needs have been
satisfied in the past and this will continue.
Therefore, what is required is purchase of
more technologies to solve all our economic
troubles. Science policies in such countries
will therefore have to substantiate the need
to have local S&T competence by pointing to
the necessity for adaptation of technologies
even if we are to be totally dependent on
foreign methods and equipment. Needless to
say, indigenous efforts wil sharpen the local
talent and open up wider vistas for the
incorporation and use of local and foreign
technologies. In many cases, the local
demand and concomitant financial support
can be governed by selective incentives for
the development and use of local S&T and
disincentives for import packages.
To create and satisfy the local demand for
S&T, science programmes in small countries
i '" , ', *.- . .. '. ., . .A.: .' .,

will have to seek ways of linking R&D with
productivity on one hand and education on
the other.

Shortage of Foreign Exchange
In the Caribbean basin, except for
Venezuela and Trinidad, all states are experi-
encing grave difficulties with availability of
foreign exchange due primarily to spiralling
costs of fossil fuels. Jamaica, for example,
spends at least 40% of its foreign exchange in
this manner, so designing a science policy
against a background of dwindling financial
resources, leads to indecisions and lack of
confidence, and hence a weak policy. With an
unfavourable trade balance and scarce
foreign exchange, importation of equipment,
international travel, subscription to journals
and purchasing of books are curtailed. Like-
wise, problems often arise with local customs
and the bureaucracy, dealing with the issu-
ance of licences for importation of equipment
and supplies. The personnel involved in
making these decisions find it extremely
difficult to understand the need for scientific
equipment against other urgent requests,
and will retard applications. Since these are
circumstances over which there can be little
control, science programmes inevitably find
it difficult to circumvent these issues.
A contributing factor to the foreign ex-
change crisis is that most of the needs of
small developing countries are satisfied by
import/export trade. For Jamaica, this
represents some 60% "of the total economy.
This fact also places more constraints on
planning for S&T development, as this great
dependency makes it extremely difficult to
institute a decent level of S&T control.
Another major decision confronting
science policies in small developing countries
is what portion of the nation's GNP should
be allocated to S&T, and further, what frac-
tion of this S&T budget should go to basic or
fundamental research. With pressing social
problems such as health and employment,
and stringent economic constraints, it is very
difficult to ensure that S&T will successfully
compete, as decisions are often taken by
leaders who are not sufficiently knowledge-
able and are insensitive to science and its
importance. Policies, therefore, have to be
designed to demonstrate that S&T allot-
ments are really investments; indeed they
may be considered in many cases as -
investment in survival. Portions that are
slated for basic or fundamental work may
have to be regarded as a consumption
expenditure.'oThe rationale for justifying

public support of these undertakings may
consist of treating them as a cultural under-
taking or as an overhead to technological
development. Whatever way this basic
science budget is projected, it has to be com-
paratively small. If it is too conspicuous the
entire S&T budget may be severely criticis-
ed. The problem, therefore, is to strike the
happy balance. S&T budgets, in many cases,
will have to be supplemented by foreign
technical assistance for well-defined projects.

Monitoring of S&T Adtivities
In an attempt to come to grips with their
S&T aspirations, small countries with a
Colonial background indulge in much
planning, little real decision-making and
even less implementation. Further, where
there is implementation, there is no monitor-
ing, no accountability, much failure and little
knowledge gained by these experiences.
Monitoring of science, however, is a diffi-
cult affair, although basically there are three
criteria which can be used to make an
estimate. They are the technological merit of
science, the scientific merit and the social
merit.9 Although the technological implica-
tions can, with some difficulty, be assessed,
it is not so easy to estimate the scientific and
social merits.
Economic theory has not been able to fully
characterise R&D as a specific economic
activity, primarily because there are no
convenient parameters to measure the
quality and quantity of science. This
problem encourages economic planners to
ignore S&T and in some instances even the
Science policies, however, must include
some evaluation of the impact of its
programmes, and must be flexible enough to
accommodate change which is suggested by
the monitoring process.
Another aspect of monitoring which
science policy must come to grips with is the
impact of technologies on the environment.
For small island countries, pollution of any
kind has devastating and irreversible results
which become obvious in very short time.
However, there has been a general neglect of
the environment because it is thought by
some that small undeveloped countries
cannot afford the luxury of environmental
fads which retard technological progress.
Any decent science policy, therefore, must
indicate the fact that short-term gains at the
expense of long-term effects on the environ-
ment are eventually uneconomical and fool-

Transfer of Technology
Scientific knowledge is mankind's com-
mon heritage evolving over the ages by the
creative genius of men from many nationali-
ties and creeds. The fruits of science and
technology are, however, so zealously guard-
ed by a few in this age that they effectively
hoard technologies which are presently in
relatively little use, but vital to the survival
of many.
Many small countries are unable because
of size, poverty and manpower to generate
the minimum of the technologies they
require. Needless to say, even those
countries with a scientific tradition cannot
develop all the technologies they want, so all
countries, to a greater or lesser extent,
depend on the transfer of technology. The
economies of small developing countries are
transfixed without a heavy reliance on
foreign technologies. Most of the technology
required by small countries is in the hands of
private organizations which have much
greater allegiance to profit than to any other
human motive. Most of these peddlers of
technology bargain from extremely strong
positions, and by prohibitive contracts
prevent small countries from really acquiring
technologies which are supposedly trans-
ferred. Exhorbitant fees are extracted by
way of patents, trade marks, licences,
royalties and other restrictive arrangements.
The situation is further compounded by the
fact that although small countries normally
have some understanding of money and
commodity systems, they are usually totally
ignorant of the technological markets, and
often make extremely bad purchases. The
sellers of technology also use one small
island against another in their attempt to
squeeze the maximum returns from the
renting of their technologies. In desperation,
small countries get locked into contracts
which are not only very costly and marginal-
ly economical but literally strangle attempts
at local indigenous S&T development. Only
quality control is allowed or encouraged in
many of these contracts. Further, any
innovation that per chance is uncovered is
considered the property of the licensor while
the licensee is dictated to regarding raw
materials, consultants, servicing and
markets. Science policies will then have to
address these untenable situations without --
destroying the livelihood of the local entre-
preneur., and succumbing to technological
rapaciousness. The best way of tackling
these problems is for each country to become
familiar with their own needs and to strive to

gain competence in sourcing and selecting
technologies on a world-wide basis. Further,
no technological packages should be bought
without disaggregation by a team of practis-
ing scientists, economic planners, and entre-
preneurs who are familiar with local condi-
tions and requirements. Each component of
the process should be selected on a basis of
social acceptability and economic return and
not solely on entrepreneurial convenience.
These policies must therefore allow for an
efficient information network to provide the
necessary data to permit good shopping,
proper selection and suitable adaptation of

Weak Regional Co-operation
The small size of the various islands in the
Caribbean, with their similarity of peoples,
climate and topography, and a commonality
of development problems, would seem to
dictate close co-operation and collaboration
in the field of Science and Technology.
Unfortunately, however, a significant level of
co-operation is not to be found in the Carib-
bean. The varied legacies of colonial domina-
tion by different national powers have left
the islands with a kaleidoscopic assortment
of languages, customs, idiosyncracies,
dependency patterns, political directions and
a large measure of suspicion together with an
appalling lack of knowledge about their
region. However, some collaboration and
understanding exists within the English
speaking Caribbean.
The nature of the natural resources,
although similar in many ways, is diversified
enough to allow for beneficial exchanges of
raw materials. Needless to say, the size of the
Caribbean market available to each country
would increase to more respectable levels if
an adequate Caribbean market strategy
could be devised. S&T collaboration would
not only increase the number of scientists,
technicians and materials to tackle any one
problem of mutual concern, but would also
enable problems which require large outlays,
which are beyond the reach of any one small
country, to be broached. The rewards to be
gained by establishing systems for S&T
information exchanges with full cataloguing
of the traditional technologies, which abound
in the region, are incalculable. Further, the
extremely small size of many of these islands
precludes any decent S&T system. Con-
sequently, regional co-operation would
benefit them immeasurably. At best they
will have to rely on S&T extension services
from larger neighboring territories for their

un if 0nce urM 2OulanulZUsl bUw vU L cstu w au -
car o tion to enable the best use of the
material and human resources and experi-
ences in the region.


1. Population, Per Capital, product and growth rates. World
Bank Atlas, Washington, D.C. 1976.
2. World Economic and Social Indicatrs. World Bank Rport
No. 700/78/1, Washdinton D.C. 1978.
3. suggestions for the preparation of National Papers, UN
Conference on Sience and Technology for Development,
COSTED Madras, India, 1977.
4. Science Technology and Developing Countries UN Docu-
ment 77-75589, New York, 1977.
5. International Development Strategy: Action Programme of
the Second United Nations Development Decade, UN
Publication No. E.71.11.A.2, 1971.
6. Ragarao B.V. Science Policy: Role of Academic Societies,
Science and Cultue, 43: 194-200, 1977
7. Promoton of the formulation and Application of Poicies
and Improvement of planning and financing in the field of
Science and Technology. Mid-Term Plan (1977-1982)
UNESCO. 196/4, Page 111, Paris, 1977.
8. Stratton, J.A., Changin Role of Science and Technology,
Nature 203, 466-457, 1964.
9. Dubos Reason Awake, Science for Man, Columbia
University Press, New York, 1970.
10. Science and Technology in Asian Development, UNESCO,
SC. 69/D.69/A, Switzerland, 1970.
11. Girvan. N., Caribbean Technology Policy Studies Project,
General Study: Preliminary Report Institute of Develop-
ment Studies, University of Guyana and Institute of Social
and Economic Research, University of the West Indies,
12. Eternal Trade, Department of Statistics, Kingston,
Jamaica 1976.
13. Sabato, J.A., Quantity versus Quality in Scientific Research
(1): The Special Case of Developing Countries, Impact of
Science on Society, V. zx, 29-41, 1972.
14. Allende, S.G., Science in Chile's Development Programme,
Impact of Science on Society, V. XXII, 29-41, 1972.
15. Salomon. J.J., A Science Policy for the 1970's, OCED
Observer No. 53, 1971.
16. Survey of Jamaica Science and Technology Research
Institutions and Preliminary Outline of Development Need.
The National Planning Agency, Kingston, Jamaica. 1975.
17. Moravocik, M.J., Science Development. The Building of
Science in less developed countries, PASITAM, Blooming-
ton. Indiana, 1975.
18. National Academy of Scienced. Applies Science and
Technological Progress, Report to the Committee on
Science and Astrunautice, Washington, D.C. NAS, 1967.

Old French dredge in canal channel half-way between Miraflore





and Pedro Miguel, July 5, 1913 (Courtesy


mama Canal Co.)

Miss Olive Senior is a Jamaican Author, Poet, and Short Story
Writer. She is currently writing a book titled The Silver Rollers:
West Indian Builders of the Panama Canal. She has pre-
viously published in JAMAICA JOURNAL Savacou and Arts

From Colombus onwards, men of different nations
have sought a waterway linking the Pacific and
Atlantic Oceans. The primary advantage is obvious;
ships would no longer have to take the long journey
round the tip of South America. In the 16th century
Charles V of Spain ordered the first survey of a canal
route through the Isthmus. The idea of a canal was
revived in the 19th century and many surveys were
undertaken. Among the modern proponents of an
inter-ocean canal was Simon Bolivar, "The
Liberator". He first expressed the desire for a canal
across Panama in his Letter to a Jamaica Gentle-
man" in 1815 and a transisthmian canal was one of
the points of discussion at the first Inter-American
conference which he summoned in Panama in 1826.
In the 1870s a group of Frenchmen undertook a
survey, decided on the Panama route, and obtained
concessions to construct a canal from the
Government of Colombia, of which Panama was then
a state. The French hero Ferdinand deLesseps,
builder of the Suez Canal, lent his prestigious name
to the enterprise.
But the project was ill-conceived and the
quotations and projections were not only unrealistic
but the statistics were constantly 'doctored' by those
connected with the project to keep the shareholders
happy. Lavish expenditure, mismanagement and
ineptitude characterized the enterprise.
To the sleepy and backward northern state of the
Federation of New Granada, as Colombia was then
known, the coming of the French was like the start of
a grand debauch:
in the course of twelve months rents of buildings
quadrupled, the prices of land .... were more
than doubled, and the most sober-minded
residents were seized with a mania for specula-
tion. French contractors came in, with adven-
turers, profligates, and gamblers close behind
them. For nine years there were high-prices,
feverish excitement, business activity, hard
drinking, and general demoralization. Cham-
pagne flowed and diamonds flashed. Impro-
vidence in canal management was matched by
reckless play in the gambling hall. Corruption,
bribery and immorality were rampant ....
Panama woke from its debauch in 1889 to live
on water in place of cognac.
After the company went bankrupt in 1889 amidst


a scandal in France which blackened deLesseps'
name, another company was organised to carry on
the work. This it did on a small scale until 1904
when the works and equipment were bought out by
the United States Government which had fostered
the secession of Panama from Colombia. In 1914 the
dream of centuries was fulfilled when the Panama
Canal was opened to traffic.
While the French effort failed to achieve the
ultimate goal, a considerable amount of excavation
was actually undertaken, and the experience paved
the way for the later more successful effort. A factor
which linked both construction projects and which
contributed to the canal's successful completion was
the labour provided by the tens of thousands of West
Indians who made up the bulk of the work foice for
the entire construction period which spanned over 30
The Isthmus was at the time one of the
unhealthiest places on earth: a perpetually damp
tropical jungle in which mountain ranges alternated
with turbulent and unpredictable rivers and
morasses. These were a breeding ground for the
mosquitoes which transmitted both yellow fever and
malaria which were' endemic to the region.
Environmental diseases such as typhoid, dysentery,
and broncho-pneumonia were also prevalent. It was
yellow fever especially which made the construction
of the Panama railway in the 1850s such an arduous
undertaking and which in the 1880s contributed to
the most appalling loss of life, especially among the
French officers. Two out of every three Frenchmen
collapsed and died soon after arrival. At one time
there were empty ships in the harbour: every man on
board had died from yellow fever. Although the
French 'doctored' their medical statistics as they did
other data, thus obscuring the true death rate, it has
been estimated that 20,000 canal employees died
during the nine years of construction.
Even though the loss of life was well-publicised
from the start, adventurers poured in from all over
the world. They included the French painter Paul
Gaugin who worked as a labourer on the canal before
he ran afoul of the Colombian police and had to leave
for Martinique.
But volunteers could not provide even the core of a
reliable labour force, and the company recruited
labourers from Ireland, from China, Negroes from
New Orleans, from the Kru coast of Liberia, from the
French West Indies and the Caribbean coast of
Colombia. But it was from the British West Indies,
particularly Jamaica, that the company recruited the
bulk of its labourers. Jamaican labour had already
gained a reputation from the Panama Railroad
construction of being able to withstand the rigors of
the Isthmus better than other races.
In its first five months of operation February to
June 1881 the company had a work force of 588. By
the next year the force had climbed to 2,652 and by
1884 had reached its peak of 19,000 employed.

After that the number fluctuated according to work
conditions, the availability of capital, the state of the
revolution in progress in Colombia and other factors.
From 1883 the majority of workers were Jamaicans.
Unskilled workers earned $1.00-$1.75, artisans
$2.50-$2.75 for a 10-hour day which lasted from 6.00
a.m. to 6.00 p.m. with a two-hour break from 11.00 to
1.00. But the French soon instituted a system of task
work which the Jamaicans preferred and at which
unskilled labour could earn over $2 a day. (At the
existing rate of exchange, one silver dollar was equal
to three shillings and three pence sterling or over
three times the usual daily wage for male labourers
in Jamaica.)
Life in Colon
In 1881-2, only 3,144 labourers left Jamaica. By
1883 the emigration could truly be described as an
'exodus' as men, women and children fought their
way on to the ships which regularly plied the
Kingston-Colon run. The Royal Mail lines provided
regular fortnightly service but in some months as
many as nine British or American steamers or one
every four days left the Port of Kingston for Colon.
Frequently the departure of labourers generated
considerable excitement in the city as happened, for
instance, when 700 rural people wanting to emigrate
came in by train at one time. In January 1882 a
newspaper noted that on the departure of labourers
on an RM steamer that week "the lower part of Duke
Street and the wharf premises were so crowded by
the vast number of men who were thus emigrating to
a foreign and sickly clime to earn a livelihood, that
the scene could not fail to strike one with
astonishment". On another occasion, in 1883,
Duke Street from Harbour Street to the sea was
"utterly impassable to pedestrians and wheeled
traffic". So dense was the crowd on board the
steamer that she was delayed two hours beyond
sailing time. A similar scene was reported in
January 1884. Although the clerks in the ticket office
warned the throng of people that the ship could not
accommodate them all, they expressed themselves
quite satisfied to have standing room only for the
whole voyage. At 10 o'clock the gates which had
been locked to keep out the crowds were thrown open
and a stampede took place:
Men with trunks on their backs, women with
little children trudging through the crowd, all
trying to gain admission to the ship. In a few
minutes the deck was crowded and it was with
the greatest difficulty that the crew could move
about. The captain told the agent to stop the
embarcation. This was the signal for an extra
rush and the energies of the officers of the
ship, the Inspectors of Constabulary, the
Constables, Water Police and Detectives (of
which there was a goodly muster) were severely
tried in keeping the stage clear. The motive bell
was rung and those who managed to get on

board before were not allowed to leave the ship
and their baggage was consequently left behind,
while others who had put their trunks etc. on
board could not get on board and the stamer
carried these away. When the last bell rang and
the last stages were being drawn off consterna-
tion arose and the people cursed the company
for selling more tickets than the accommoda-
tion. The captain and others reasoned with them
that the Belize would leave in a day or two and
tickets could be used for her the women with
tears in their eyes called attention to the
quantity of perishable articles that would be
spoilt. About 500 people were left behind. There
was a rush for the company's office where those
who wished had their tickets redeemed while
others had them altered for the next steamer.
The ship sailed with an estimated 1,200 on
board, including crew.
The labourers travelled packed on the open decks
without shelter from wind or weather. They would
be dressed in their best clothes for travelling a
feature characteristic of migrants up to the 20th
century. They carried a miscellany of bags,
suitcases, trunks, live chickens, pigeons, food,
bedding, and musical instruments. They squatted on
top of their possessions and made themselves as
comfortable as they could for the three or so days to
Colon. When the weather was fine, they sang at
nights, when the weather was bad, they cowered sick
and shivering. Sometimes they would sing the songs
that were being sung about the grand enterprise in
which they were participating:
Mass Charley say wan' kiss Matty
Kiss him with a willing mind
Me ra-ra boom oh
Colon money done
At other times the plaintive sound of Moodie and
Sankey hymns would rise above the creak of wind
and machinery. One out of every four would never
see Jamaica again.
In sailing to Colon the ship would travel a
well-worn route for it was the route taken by Henry
Morgan when he left Jamaica with a buccaneer fleet
and sailed up the river Chagres to sack the city of
Panama in 1671. It was the same route followed by
Vernon and Wentworth when they embarked on the
useless campaign to take Panama during the 18th
century "War of Jenkins' Ear", and when Jamaica
was a 'free port' for trade with the Spanish colonies,
it was a major shipping route.
For the traveller, the shock of pulling into Colon
must have been great. For the town's reputation far
exceeded its size or appearance. Colon was a
ramshackle collection of wooden buildings thrown up
from the Panama Railroad days, harbouring, one
former resident claimed, "more of the dregs of
humanity than any other settlement of its size on the

globe". It had a single main street running along
the waterfront which was composed almost entirely
of places for gambling, drinking, "and
accompanying vices", diversions which were in full
progress day and night. If the newcomer arrived in
the wet season he would instantly sink knee deep
in mud since there were neighter roads nor
sidewalks. In the dry season he raised clouds of dust.
The streets appeared to be craters filled with the
refuse thrown from houses on either side. Every
vacant lot was a deposit for filth. It was not until the
first decade of the 20th century that the American
Canal Company paved the streets, put in proper
sidewalks, sewers, water supplies, drained the
swamps, and generally sanitised the town. Since
there were neither sewers nor street cleaners in the
1880s, all refuse was thrown on to the swamps or the
rubbish heaps; "Toads splash in the liquid muck ....
rats infect the solid filth, and snakes ... hunt
both toads and rats; clouds of mosquitoes swarm
into the houses ...."
The town was originally built mainly on land
reclaimed from the swamps by the Panama Railroad
Company. By 1882 when construction on the canal
actually started, the city was already bursting at the
seams. There is no evidence that new buildings went
up to accommodate the thousands who more than
doubled the population of the town. "Newcomers
crowd into the place, with little money and few
friends. They sleep on the sidewalks in door spaces,
on the open wharves wherever they can find room.
Among the poor people the death rate is startling".
From the beginning Colon was hopelessly over-
crowded; half the residences were tenements;
rental was astronomical. In 1885 it was estimated
that probably 800 people had no other habitation but
open wharves, the sidewalks, and open railcars; in
times of depression, the numbers sleeping in the
open climbed to thousands. In the dry season such
a life might have been bearable; in the wet season
when Colon was one of the wettest places on earth,
many died as they lived, huddled in doorways and on
top of the railcars.
The fortunate few who had friends who cared and
who could afford it might be given some kind of
burial more often than not the bodies of the
derelict migrants would be scooped up and 'dumped',
that is, thrown into the earth without a coffin in the
cemetery at Monkey Hill. It wasn't until 1887 that
the Colombian government required that burials be
accompanied by certificates showing name, age,
cause of death and so on and there is no indication
that this was enforced. No doubt many of the
migrants died and were dumped without being
identified, and thus, as far as their families in
Jamaica were concerned, would 'disappear' from the
face of the earth.
As soon as the labourers arrived gangs would be
sent to places along the line where work was needed.

Even up to 1884 preparations for them was lacking
- there were frequently no accommodation, tools or
appliances. But the Jamaican was adaptable:
These circumstances have little effect upon mne
final general distribution of these nomads, who
have a way of shifting for themselves and
selecting their own masters and places of work
that the company could scarcely have con-
templated. Frequently they are not to be found
24 hours after their arrival upon the ground
where they were originally sent to work, but go
about from section to section wherever they can
best suit their own particular ideas as to wages
and other circumstances. The best of the men at
once fall to and begin earning money, while the
worthless and shiftless, and these are many, are
always on the move until sickness prostrates
them, or hunger or necessity compels them to
quit their idleness.
The labourers were strung out in 25 villages along
the line from Panama to Colon. In some places the
Canal company provided accommodation in work
At first the labourers were housed in temporary
huts or 'ranchos' made of thatched roofs and earthen
floors, similar to what the peasantry lived in in
Jamaica. Later the company erected wooden
barracks. These were camps of 40-60 barracks which
accommodated 40 men each, though at places like
Gatun there were 100-men barracks. Sleeping
accommodation consisted of two-tier bunks in two
rows. The barracks were built on low concrete piers
to prevent flooding and ants. They were constructed
of well-seasoned imported lumbler and covered with
corrugated galvanised iron roofs. Many of these
buildings were to be rehabilitated for housing
workers during the U.S. construction.
Separate accommodation was provided for blacks
and whites; bathrooms were provided only for
those above the ranks of labourers. Labourers were
provided with pit latrines. The houses were rented
by the company to the contractors at 10 per cent of
their value. Where workmen were quartered free by
the company they had to find their own board. Many
seem to have made arrangements for food at the
cantines or boarding houses run mainly by the
Chinese with whom the Jamaicans seem to have
established a good relationship.
But barracks were not always available at work
sites and not all chose to use this type of
accommodation. Many Jamaicans settled down in
the native villages with their families. Here they
erected flimsy structures that were often consumed
by the fires or floods that swept through the towns.
Public facilities of any sort were virtually
non-existent in these villages. For instance,
Emperador, one of the larger villages was located in
a sort of sink between two ranges of low hills. The
drainage was poor and the only water came from a

stagnant pool which was used for washing, livestock,
bathing as well as drinking purposes. In 1882
approximately 1,000 people lived in this village of
whom 200 were canal employees. Not surprisingly,
gastro-enteric illnesses were endemic.
Until the West Indians on the Isthmus organised
such institutions, the line towns had no churches or
schools. Village shops were plentiful and all the
settlements were well supplied with taverns,
gambling dens and brothels filled with women of
every race and colour specially imported for the
purpose. Gambling was legalised by the Colombian
government which took a share of the proceeds.
Cockfighting was popular among the natives and
Jamaicans soon became avid participants in the
sport. The lottery was established in 1883 and also
became immensely popular with the Jamaicans.
Liquor flowed freely and cheaply on the
Isthmus some claimed it was also a great deal
safer to drink than the water. The French brought in
liquor which they sold at wholesale prices. Brandy
was going at $1-1.50 a quart; champagne at $1.50 to
$3.00; gin from 40 cents to $2.00; rum from $1-2.00;
whiskey 80 cents to $2.00. Jamaican manu-
facturers did a brisk business supplying the
Isthmus not only with rum but with counterfeit J.
Wray and Nephew wrappers to be put on some lesser
known blend. When the Star and Herald noted this
practice in 1887, it remarked that it was as old as the
popularity of the rum.
Without restraining influences or institutions,
many of the migrants fell into a life of dissipation.
The workmen were paid on Saturday afternoons and,
it was claimed, "Sunday is usually a day of
dissipation ... Monday one of recuperation, and by
Tuesday he is generally at work". Drinking was
regarded as mainly responsible for the high incidence
of violence in which Jamaicans were frequently
implicated. Drunkenness of Jamaicans on the
Isthmus was in startling contrast to the prevailing
standards of the time in Jamaica when note was
frequently taken at official level of the remarkable
sobriety of the masses of the people.
During the years of construction living conditions
were highly variable sickness and death were the
lot of many. For despite the high employment
potential of the canal works, hundreds and
sometimes thousands along the line were
unemployed. While no doubt many of these did not
want work, it seems evident that by 1884 the labour
market was overstocked. This was the peak year of
construction, the demand for labour thereafter
fluctuated erratically depending on the financial
stability of the company and its contractors; the
season (work was usually curtailed in the wet season
and consequently affected employment); and on the
progress of the revolutionary movement in
Of course not all the migrants were people who

could find work or who wished to work on the Canal.
Many found service jobs in both Panama and Colon.
Jamaican domestics, cooks, butlers, porters, railway
conductors, store clerks etc. were commonly found.
Others were content to 'scuffle'. The Jamaican
Governor, Sir Henry Norman, in 1885 noted that
"There are a considerable number of men from
Jamaica who do not care to work steadily on the
Canal and have an Independent life, trying to earn a
living in various ways". The Star and Herald
commented that many did not work steadily finding
it "easier to pick up a precarious living in the vicinity
of the docks, hotels etc. to going in for steady
Mortality was possibly greatest among these
people who lived the most marginal kind of life with
no resources to fall back on if they fell sick or if no
work was forthcoming. In the laissez faire
atmosphere of Colon the local community would
probably have been much less supportive in times of
hardships than the family group back home. No
social welfare and virtually no charity organizations
existed though some of the institutions for which the
West Indians on the Isthmus later became famous
pardnerss', burial schemes, lodges and friendly
societies probably date from this time. In 1883 an
organisation called the Society of Charity of Colon
was organised for "the relief of the destitute of all
nationalities and creeds found sick on the streets".
In its first three months of operations the Society
received into hospital 77 patients of which 34 were
Jamaicans. However this society may have been
short-lived as this is the only mention of its efforts.
While in theory the Canal Company was supposed
to provide its workers with free medical care, there is
evidence that this was not always the case as far as
the black work-force was concerned. While hospitals
and medical staff were provided, these were grossly
inadequate to service the entire work force.
Responsibility for sending the labourers to hospital
lay with the contractors among whom the work was
divided. Since they were liable for a fee of $1 a day
for each labourer in hospital, the contractors were in
the habit of discharging men feeling ill to save the
cost. In many cases labourers would simply die by
the roadside. In other cases, those in charge of camps
and works would simply put the sick worker on a
train without provision either for his care or for
access to hospital. Many arriving in the towns would
obtain medical attention only by the charitable act of
some sympathetic person. Hospital facilities for
non-employees were virtually non-existent. In the
rainy seasons especially, the hospitals would be full
to overflowing; a large proportion of the patients
then would be suffering from dysentery due to bad
water, unwholesome meat and the filthy conditions
of the yards and streets. The situation was
exacerbated in 1885 by the burning down of Colon by
revolutionary forces and the general disruption of

work along the line. Unemployment also grew. On
December 2 the town was hit by a storm so severe
that 12 vessels sank in the harbour. It was also the
year of the Culebra massacre (see below). Reports
reaching Jamaica were so bad that the Governor sent
an agent to investigate the condition of Jamaicans
on the Isthmus as well as on the Costa Rican
Railway. He made three points specifically in
connection with the Panama situation:
(i) the Isthmus was overstocked with
Jamaicans of all classes who could not find work;
(ii) A great number of persons were out of
work in Panama, there being little or no work there;
JamaicaAs were frequently being imprisoned for
trivial offences;
(iii) at both the Isthmus and Costa Rica the
unemployed were left to look after themselves when
sick, giving rise to much distress.
A Gazette proclamation issued late in 1885 warned
people against going to both Panama and Costa
The Proclamation did not stop people from
crowding into Colon. The year 1886 continued on the
same depressed note. At the beginning of the year
there were three fires along the line in five days. In
February, another line town was destroyed by fire.
As in 1855 people were dying on the streets of Colon.
In July the Star and Herald noted that there was no
chance for "genteel poverty" on the Isthmus. "There
are hundreds of persons who cannot earn the
wherewithal to buy a meal and for whom the piazzas
in this bleak and inclement season, or other open
places are their resting place at night". In August,
at the height of the rainy season, the paper noted
that under a railway shed about 20 persons of
different nationalities lived, all suffering from
jaundice, fever, and other complaints. In
September at Culebra, the largest work site, work
came to a stop due to a change of contractors, thus
throwing more people out of work.
The year 1887 started with floods. January found
hundreds idle in Colon. Early the next month, 1,000
men arrived from Jamaica to swell the number of
unemployed. "How -tey continue to live is a
mystery" commented the Star and Herald. From
February to April the Canal company listed 10
deaths a day; these would have been deaths only of
white employees in the company hospitals. During
this period large numbers of labourers were also
pouring into Colon from Port Limon having deserted
the Costa Rican railway works, and many were also
coming in from Bluefields, Nicaragua where they had
gone in the vain hope of finding work. Food was
becoming scarce in Colon two or three bananas
were selling for 10 cents. Part of the reason was
that a storm in July had destroyed the provision
grounds in Jamaica from which a great deal of food
used to be shipped.
What seemed to be a new feature of life in Colon
either arose at this time or for the first time became

public what was spoken of as a 'trade' in young
Jamaican girls. This trade in Colon was nothing new,
for large-scale organised prostitution was a
by-product of the frontier society where quick money
flowed and girls were imported from all over the
world to fill the numerous brothels.
However, it is not clear if the Jamaican girls were
intended as prostitutes or were for the domestic
'schoolgirl' type arrangement. In 1887 the Star and
Herald called for an enquiry into the trade in young
girls in Colon being sold into bondage by their
relatives. The newspaper claimed that Jamaican
girls were being imported for 'sale' from $3 up and
noted that some arrived on the Atlas which docked
in October. Later that month a story appeared that
the Rector of the Colon Anglican church had to
rescue three young Jamaican girls from "a career of
abandonment and misery". He opened a
subscription to send them home. The paper also
noted that a large number of the immigrants now
arriving was female, young and good-looking. When
one of the last ships came in before the Canal
company crashed, note was taken of the fact that it
was full of young good-looking females.
Because of the depression in trade the steamship
companies had reduced deck passages to Jamaica.
But the good times, such as they were in Colon, had
ended. During the year, only 1,861 arrived from
Jamaica. After so many years of hard times, the
economic upturn had begun there, and many
potential migrants may have been induced to remain
by local prosperity. In any event, the bad news from
Colon must have by then circulated throughout the
entire society, and Colon no longer held the same
attraction as formerly.
The Return Home
When the Canal company failed, it was a
catastrophe of gigantic proportions for both the
society and for the individuals involved in the
company. The entire line started to close down.
Small shops immediately went out of business. By
March, large commercial houses shut down and
merchants started to leave. Prices fell drastically and
rents were substantially reduced. Although the
prices of many items were slashed in half there
was no sale, the circulation of money on the Isthmus
had dried up. At Colon out of a congregation of 300
at the Protestant church, the offering was only $3.
At Culebra, Colon and LaBoca, the business began
of stonng canal company equipment. People started
to dismantle the canal buildings and take them into
the woods to start life afresh as squatters.
Immediately following the crash the British
Consul General at Panama had cabled the Secretary
of State for the Colonies. He in turn cabled the
governments of the British West Indies colonies to
get in touch with the Consul General. But the home
governments, perhaps not fully understanding the
gravity of the situation, acted in leisurely fashion.

In February and March Dr. Gayleard of the Island
Medical Service was sent by the Governor of
Jamaica to investigate. By early March
arrangements were underway for the repatriation of
the destitute. However, many were so poor that they
were unable to get from the line towns to Colon to
meet the ships. Arrangements were then made for
special trains to convey the people to the docks free.
By the end of March over 2,000 had been repatriated.
Then Dr. Gayleard returned to Jamaica and
repatriation ceased. The reason may have been
that the Governor had so far bean acting on his own
initiative. While a special session of the Legislature
held 24 and 25 April endorsed his actions, the
legislators required that the baggage of the
repatriated persons should be detained until the
passage money was repaid.
But in the meantime the Jamaicans left behind on
the Isthmus were starving. The Rector of Christ
Church found hundreds at Cuiebra who had not
eaten for days. The British Consul was feeding
1,000 in Colon. These were people who had been
flocking in from the line and they were
accommodated in an empty lumber yard. Other
destitute persons were accommodated in empty
On his return to Colon, Dr. Gayleard became the
object "of an enthusiastic ovation from some 1,400
people" and he proceeded to arrange further
repatriation under the new conditions laid down by
the legislators.
In early May it was announced that the final
shipload would leave on May 10. The 'retreat' from
Colon mirrored the order of the arrivals, for in the
days when the French company had first started
work, it was the fittest, most youthful who first left
Jamaica. In the scramble to leave, the fittest were
the first to go, and it was the crippled, the infirm,
those recently discharged from hospital, mothers
with children, who made up the last pitiful remnants
awaiting the final ship home. In Panama where 300
tickets had been issued for free passage on the
railway to the ship at Colon, the Jamaicans waited
all night at the station without food and water. But
the chartered ship never arrived, and they disbanded
and "picked up such charity as was available, rested
under galleries and piazzas". They, along with
another 2,300 destitute ticket-holders along the line,
lived like this for another eight days. The Jamaican
government representative finally undertook to feed
them until another ship was obtained. On 17 May the
William Cliff sailed with 1,126 adults and children. A
few days later the Avon sailed with 1,358. Although
this ship waited all night, large numbers holding
tickets never showed up. When the Avon sailed at
dawn, it marked, for the Jamaicans as well as the
host society, the end of variable times in Colon.
On arrival in Kingston, many of the people were
unable to redeem their baggage. Hundreds loitered
about Kingston for weeks awaiting the opportunity

to get their clothes and effects. The incidence of
breaking and entering rose dramatically. The cause
was not hard to find. The police discovered that in
every case "the perpetrators were men who had
recently returned from Colon" and they stole
nothing but articles of clothing. Out in the
country, larceny of crops and small stock increased
and was attributed to the 'Colon people'.
Many questioned the destitution of those
returning. The Colonial Standard said that those
returning on the Nile brought over 100 tons of
luggage and quoted "a gentleman at the
Gangplank" who said that of 700 embarking he did
not see more than half a dozen who judging from
their dress and absence of parcels could be judged
The Panama paper queried the truth of this
statement, pointing out that on the occasion referred
to, only 87 Jamaicans were repatriated, 18 of whom
were children. To each, one parcel of effects was
allowed. The luggage belonged to 400 St. Lucians on
board who when repatriated had consented to pay
their passage money either in cash or in work on
their return home.
In April the Inspector-General of Police had begun
to furnish the Colonial Secretary witn reports on the
conditions of the returning Jamaicans. In these
reports he could only state that the people had
settled down quietly, were behaving, and that many
of them were already working, "though there is, as
might be expected, some objection to the necessarily
lower rate oi wages than they have received on the
canal. There has been no increase of crime since their
The Police Inspectors of the various parishes
reported as follows:
St. Andrew. The people returned are not
destitute; but many are in ill-health and unfit
for hard labour.
Portland. The labourers have not returned
destitute. They have gone direct to their friends
or relatives.
Saint Mary. The men who have returned
from Colon are well conducted, and in good
St. James. The labourers returned are in a
fair way of providing for themselves. No destitu-
tion amongst them as yet.
Hanover. Returned labourers are still
residing with their families in their several
districts and are apparently well conducted.
Manchester. The persons who returned
from Colon are not destitute, and are residing
with their relatives.
Clarendon. Labourers from Colon have
quietly settled down among their relatives and
friends some have commenced to work. No
destitution among them. A great number are
reported to be in fair circumstances.
St. Catherine. Some of the persons who

have returned from Colon are fit for work and
are working.
In a later report dated May 9 similar reports came in
from the other parishes -
The Inspectors of Manchester and Saint
Andrew are of the opinion that many of them
are not without money, and the Inspector of the
latter parish reports a considerable number as
working on the new hotel.
The Inspector of Trelawny says that those
belonging to that parish seem generally in fair
circumstances, but that many in a very sick and
destitute condition have passed through on
their way to other parishes.
The Inspector of Clarendon reports that the
greater number in that Parish belong to Vere
where work on sugar estates is always
Thus the Colon people went away and returned.
According to the Inspector General there was
nothing special to report about them "They have
generally settled down among their relatives and are
following their ordinary occupations."
The ease with which the Colon people seemed to
have settled once more into the confines of a rigid,
late-Victorian colonial society after the debauch of
Colon seems remarkable, especially in view of the
most publicised and adverse circumstance of their
lives on the Isthmus, and that is their involvement
with violent activity.
Mutual antagonisms ending in violent confronta-
tions have frequently characterized the relationships
between Jamaican migrant labour and the natives of
the host countries. This was so from the first
large-scale migration to Panama for the building
of the Railroad. In the 20th century such
antagonisms expressed themselves formally in the
expulsion of the Jamaicans and/or passage of
discriminatory laws by many of the host
In trying to place the question of Jamaicans and
violence in some context we need to look at the
manner in which the political atmosphere during the
French construction affected the relations between
the races, particularly Jamaicans and Colombians;
at the image of Jamaicans along the line and
terminal cities; and the relationship of Jamaicans to
others, particularly in the field of labour relations.
We need to acknowledge that the society at the
time was virtually without legal or moral restraint;
untempered by integrative institutions. Violent and
lawless behaviour were endemic to the canal
operations. A Handbook and Guide to the Isthmus
published in 1888 noted that 'The line' generally
bears a bad reputation for violence, and wickedness
and immorality of all descriptions .... Scenes of

violence and raping, especially in the early days of
the canal works, were doubtless of frequent
The Canal construction coincided with a time of
political anarcy in Colombia. Beset by its internal
problems, the government at Bogota' could spare
little man-power or attention for its northern-most
province. Corrupt law officers brought the system of
justice into contempt; many who administered the
law were tyrannical and unjust in their treatment of
the Antillanos (English-speaking island Blacks);
finally, the issue of race pervaded the entire
Racial, linguistic and cultural factors often set the
Jamaicans at odds with their neighbours. In an
atmosphere where death through sickness, criminal
or revolutionary activity waited just around the
corner, life was excessively cheap.
Distrusting such forces of authority as existed, the
people frequently took the law into their own hands.
Lack of peacekeeping forces in the towns and
villages also contributed to the absence of harmony.
So delicate was the balance between the people who
shared the line villages, especially the Jamaicans and
the Colombians, that frequently a simple quarrel
between individuals of different nationalities could
escalate into 'tribal wars' embracing several villages.
In 1883 a dispute over money between a Jamaican
and a Colombian ended in wholesale riots and
reprisals along an entire section of the line which
lasted for 10 days, leaving 12 killed and scores
injured. The initial fight at Matachin soon escalated
into a 'war' between Jamaicans and Colombians. The
Jamaicans left en masse for reinforcements from
Gorgona, a largely Jamaican village. When the
Jamaicans returned to Matachin, however, they
found the Colombians all armed and the Colombian
police present. So they returned to Gorgona. The
Colombians then went on a rampage in several line
towns, killing or wounding all the Jamaicans they
could find. The Jamaicans started to leave the works
for Colon where they felt they would be safe. After 23
March however, the soldiers left Matachin, and the
Colombians fearing reprisals from the Jamaicans
fled with their portable property into the woods
where they spent the night. In the meantime, the
Jamaicans gathered to defend themselves at
Gorgona, for they also feared an attack from the
Colombians. At nights they sent their women and
children into the woods while the men kept watch
over the town to the light of bonfires. Although no
attacks were forthcoming from either side, the
contractors were unable to get the men to work along
the line between the two towns until the state
government despatched troops to the area. (On the
13th the families of Matachin were back in the woods
- this time the town was accidentally destroyed by
Two years later in May 1885 occurred what

became known as the 'Culebra Massacre' in which
Colombian troops cold-bloodedly killed 18 and
seriously wounded 20 unarmed Jamaicans. The
Colombians apparently had been sent from
Emperador to Culebra because of trouble involving
Jamaicans. Some skirmishes took place between the
soldiers and the Jamaicans during the day. At night,
while the Jamaicans were asleep in a barrack, troops
broke in and slashed, cut and hacked at the inmates.
General hysteria ensued. The Jamaicans left Culebra
immediately and other nationalities got ready to
leave. The Governor arrived from Panama with a
force sufficient to restore order. The British Consul
reported that the Jamaicans were not to blame, and
the British Government formally lodged a protest
with the Colombian government over the incident.
Partly as a result of the massacre, a Gazette
proclamation was issued later in the year warning
Jamaicans against going to Colon and stated that
the attack had been unprovoked. At about the same
time as the massacre, serious disturbances between
Jamaicans and Colombians also broke out on other
sections of the line.
Most of these episodes occurred at a time of severe
stress throughout the society. The Colombian
revolution was in full swing, the Isthmus fell into a
state of anarchy as it became the scene of
revolutionary activity: Jamaicans were among those
being pressed into the Colombian army. Communi-
cations were frequently disrupted as the
revolutionaries cut telegraph wires and tore up
railway lines. In March 1885 Pedro Prestan, a
Haitian mulatto and Colombian citizen, became
military chief of the revolutionary army in Colon and
on 31 March to prevent the city from falling into
government hands he set it on fire. Only four
buildings were left standing that night. Thousands
were left homeless; those who could, fled to Jamaica.
So serious did the situation become that at one time
the Jamaican government considered wholesale
repatriation and a British gunboat stood by. But an
official sent by the Governor to enquire into affairs
on the Isthmus found that "there is no real necessity
for the measure"; a small number of destitute
Jamaicans were given free passages home.
While a great deal of the violence thus took place
at a time of political tension and could have arisen
from this cause, there is no doubt that there was also
a great deal of organised violence which had racial
For instance, an Englishman living in Jamaica
recounts the following story of organised
A Coolie who was there (i.e. on the Isthmus)
described to me the proceedings of one night
when the 'panish (by which is meant by any
straight-haired people) went out in a' band and
murdered every woolly-haired man they met.
They began at one end of the camp, a straight

line of barrack huts. Some of the victims were
shot through the windows, others slashed with
cutlasses. Wh,'n there were no lights the
assassins passed their hands over the strangers'
heads and if they felt wool, revolver or cutlass
did its work. Straight-haired Coolies, that is to
say East Indians, were allowed to go
In the light of the Culebra massacre, the story could
well be true. Some labourers who returned to
Jamaica from Colon gave as their reason for
returning the fact. that they didn't wish to be
"carved up like fowls" by the Colombians whom
they called "Cartagena devils". This type of
feeling seems to have been widespread.
The whole society was of course stratified
according to racial lines with the whites at the top of
the pyramid. The French clearly distinguished
between its white and non-white work force,
although they came nowhere close to the rigid policy
of segregation and discrimination instituted by the
Americans when they took over the cadal works in
1904; race relations were also much more fluid before
the Americans came.
But race was not the only factor in the hatred that
existed between Jamaicans and others. Most of the
native Panamanians were themselves black or
mestizos, and so it seemed were the Colombian
labourers who came from the coastal towns of
Cartagena and Santa Marta. The Colombian soldiers
or at least the officers seemed to have been white or
mestizo. "A most intense hatred and rivalry" existed
between the Jamaicans and the Carthiginians.
Between them was "a gulf which cannot be
bridged". The animosity between the two was
long-standing and hard to explain, except that they
represented probably the two largest groups of
labourers, that they competed for jobs, and that the
Carthiginians were on their 'home territory', had the
support of the state machinery behind them and
regarded the Antillanos as interlopers. The position
of the Jamaicans was not helped by the fact that
they had no effective representation on the Isthmus.
The British Government maintained a Consul in
Panama and a Vice Consul in Colon but to judge
from the frequent published complaints, neither was
interested in serving the interests of the labourers.
Certainly linguistic, religious and cultural factors
cut across racial lines and exaggerated the cleavage
between the Spanish-speaking native (of whatever
colour) and the English-speakers with the greatest
measure of contempt reserved for the British West
Indians, insultingly called from that time to this,
'chombos'. The Jamaicans and Carthiginians
frequently tried to reduce the threat of violence by
refusing to live or work with each other. In June
1884, 200 Carthiginians arrived on the works and
were assigned quarters at Culebra. Overnight, every
single man disappeared: they refused to work with


the Jamaicans.
The Star and Herald suggested that the racial
problems were aggravated by the personal behaviour
and character of the Jamaicans themselves:
We know of very few cases in which Jamaicans
who are quiet, sober and industrious men, have
not succeeded here to a greater extent than was,
or is possible in their own country. We know
men who have been here for years; done good,
hard honest work, day and night; conducted
themselves in such a manner as to win the
respect of all their neighbours, and who have no
more dread of their Colombian associates or less
confidence in Colombian law than have the
natives of the country themselves. We may say
that in every case in which race prejudice has
been aroused to the extent of armed hostility,
and that murder and other evils have resulted,
the moving cause has been the excessive use of
rum and other vile liquors. Sober men, law
abiding and God-fearing who are not habitues
of the pulperia; or cockpit or gambling room,
are here on the Isthmus as living witnesses of
the hospitality of Colombians to those who do
well, but who on occasion rise in terrible reprisal
against the noisy, turbulent, and vicious.
While some of the paper's assertions might have
been true, it certainly omitted to mention a number
of factors which had a direct bearing on the
treatment and attitudes of Jamaicans on the
Isthmus. The first had to do with the fact that
Jamaicans were frequently singled out for
discriminatory treatment under the law. Secondly,
the haphazard manner in which the law was
administered contributed to its disregard.
It was claimed for instance that the maximum
punishment (10 years) was only reserved for
foreigners. There is no doubt that bribery and
corruption often determined the course of justice;
that petty harassment of Jamaicans frequently took
For instance, in a court report of 1882 we are told
of two identical cases before the Colon money judge
(i.e. Petty Court) of tenants owing money. In one
case the judge gives the delinquent tenant 30 days
rent free before finding new quarters; in the second
case the tenant is ordered to deliver the key to the
landlord at once. The paper commented that the first
case involved a native, the second a Jamaican.
More frequently Jamaicans were singled out for
collection of taxes, not all of it going into the public
coffers. One source of complaint was the fact that a
poll tax was collected from Jamaicans only. In one
casp a Jamaican at Emperador complained that he
had refused to pay the tax on the grounds that he did
not reside there and was kept in the stocks for "48
hours on damp ground without bed, blanket, food
or water". He finally bought his liberty at a cost of
$19.00 Jamaicans also complained that they were
singled out for a special tax on persons found on the

streets after dark which was sometimes enforced in
Colon. Those who fell victim were usually persons
who came down to Colon from the Line the night
before their boats sailed, and were forced to sleep on
the sidewalk. Those who refused to pay were "taken
to jail on some false charge in which case a fine would
then be imposed which in nine cases out of 10 would
take away every cent the victim possessed and in
many cases prevent his leaving the country".
Blatant abuses of the law sometimes had far more
serious consequences:
At Aspinwall on Sunday a desperate character
who features sometimes as a policeman shot a
poor Jamaican man and killed him instantly.
The murderer is in prison but will probably be
soon set at liberty. He killed a woman about a
month ago, for which he received eight days
The story concluded that "People say they suppose
the murderer will soon be at large, as it is almost
impossible to punish crime where the criminal
possesses personal or political influence, or is able to
employ a skilful lawyer".
But the Jamaicans soon learnt to employ the same
techniques. At Miraflores, a Jamaican was
imprisoned for robbery from another Jamaican. At
night a group of his countrymen went to the home of
the police judge and demanded the man's release,
threatening to release him by force. Reinforcements
of police rushed in from the next town prevented
them from carrying out their threats. Again at
Gorgona, two Jamaicans were fighting. When police
arrived to arrest them their friends resisted and said
they should not be arrested. A general riot ensured.
In other cases, innocent people would be shot by
the police and for whom there was no recompense.
This however is not surprising when we are told
that the police force of Colon consisted of "men and
boys armed with rifles when they should not be -
can never be found when needed".
Much of the violence along the line was
exacerbated by a combination of gambling, the
availability of weapons, liquor, and the absence of
authority. Probably because "every man of a certain
class and small boys carry pistols", scores and
quarrels of the most trivial sort were settled by the
gun. In 1884, there was a murder every three or
four days in Colon. Jamaicans figured prominently
in gun crimes, either as perpetrators or victims, as
this sampling shows:
A Jamaican and a Portuguese have a shoot-
ing match at a railway station; both emerge
unharmed and none of the 10 bullets strikes any
of the passengers who are in the vicinity.
At Culebra a 17 year old Jamaican is handling
his revolver when it goes off accidentally,
severely wounding his mother.
In Panama, gunmen attack a Jamaican who
has come into town from the lines to make

purchases. He is the one taken to jail and is
resuced by his countrymen who take him to
A Frenchman and a Jamaican are drinking
together when without warning the Frenchman
draws a revolver and shoots the Jamaican
At Colon, a Jamaican known as "Aunt Sue"
is robbed of her pay, wounded and left to die.
Her body is taken away and dumped at Monkey
Hill cemetery.
A Jamaican leaves a bag with a Chinese man
who demands payment for keeping it. When he
protests the Chinese shoots him dead. In this
case the Chinese is imprisoned.
At Bohio, two Frenchmen duelling with rifles
accidentally shoot a Jamaican labourer at work.
He dies on the spot.
But gun crimes were often surpassed by other forms
of violence:
At Gorgona a Jamaican collecting firewood is
attached by nine Carthiginians who knock him
down and stab him. He runs to the machine
shop of the Canal company where they follow
him and place him on the boiler where he is
burnt to death by steam.
Jamaicans were bound to feature in episodes of
violence if only because there were so many of them.
For the construction period, Jamaicans represented
the largest ethnic group on the Isthmus, probably
larger at times than the entire native population. In
1863 the population of the line settlements did not
exceed 1,500. The population of Panama was about
10,000 and of Colon, 3,500. Thus there was a total
population of 15,000. Given the prevailing health
standards and lack of dynamism in the society, it is
unlikely that the population increased greatly in the
intervening years. In 1883 the population of the line
and terminal cities was 36,000 of which half was of
British nationality mostly Jamaican. By 1884
Colon was being called "the new Jamaica" so much
had the Jamaican presence become pervasive.
Jamaicans also featured in the criminal statistics
of the Isthmus and on at least two occasions those
who had spent long terms of imprisonment were
forcibly repatriated at the expense of the
Panamanian authorities. (Thirty-one men and 15
women were returned home in January 1889 and 42
persons in February.) Imprisonment could have
been for a wide range of activities varying in
severity. Some could have been for trivial offences:
Jamaicans were imprisoned for 'fighting and
scandal'; for ill-treating a horse.
The Jamaicans who went to Colon were of course
of many different sorts. While many of the migrants
were undoubtedly serious-minded and hard-working
people, many others must have represented
undisciplined elements who, in the absence of any
moral force or authority, would adopt the

unrestrained values of the host society. The absence
of moral force or influence becomes even more
important if we assume that a gr3at many of the
migrants came from a very youthful segment of the
Jamaican society which was already accustomed to
migratory habits at home. There seems to have been
a great deal of vagrancy in Kingston and other
parish capitals especially among the under-20s who
drifted in from the rural parts. Roving gangs of
labourers on the estates, especially on the
northcoast, ranged in ages from 14-18 years. If the
evidence presented to the Commission which
enquired into the condition of the juvenile population
in 1879 is reliable, then many of these young
Jamaicans were growing up without the influences of
church, school or home and were leading lives
entirely free of parental restraint from as early as age
12. Child labour on many of the sugar estates was
still common and 12 seems to have been the age at
which wages were paid directly to the young workers
rather than to their parents: they earned almost as
much as adults. Youngsters who were apprenticed
also seemed to be in the habit of setting themselves
up as independent workmen at extremely youthful
ages. This same spirit of independence may well
have carried those youngsters to Colon where their
behaviour would remain untempered by restraining
influences or institutions.
But certainly youthful 'delinquents' have been
only one of the categories of Jamaicans represented.
The migration from the start also included a criminal
element. The Governor's Report on the Blue Book
(1881-2) recorded a decrease of 20 per cent of the
prison population over the previous year, partly
attirbutable to a decrease in praedial larceny and
partly to "the \considerable emigration to the
Panama Canal works of that class which contributed
to the prison population". In 1883 there were about
150 fewer habitual criminals under surveillance than
the previous two years. "It is believed that the
attraction of high wages on the works of the Panama
Canal has relieved the island of many of these
men". In 1884 the Panama newspaper was
complaining that previous to the canal construction,
a judge in Jamaica would spend four or five days
clearing dockets of cases of petty theft and other
minor charges. "Now a day will suffice since they
have all gone to the Isthmus".
Of course, none of the above proves that the
so-called 'criminal element' was necessarily a
contributing factor to violence. For one thing, during
the nine years of construction in which there was
considerable travel to and fro, even the Jamaican
police had to admit that certain criminal statistics
had actually decreased, and found this
even more satisfactory when due consideration
is taken of the exodus of labourers to Colon and
their return. For it cannot be doubted that
owing to the absence of well constituted law on
the Isthmus that the Jamaican labourer, meet-

ing with his Colombian brother, (de) generates
into habits of lawlessness and a ferocity of
disposition, which renders him prone to commit
acts of violence.
What we do know is that there was prevalent in
the Jamaican community on the Isthmus certain
elements which by their manner and general
behaviour attracted unfavourable attention.
In the first phase, an overstocked labour market
led for many to habitual idleness and its
consequences -
Today there are dozens of Jamaicans about our
streets asking for work, three or four a day call
on merchants for employment. Hundreds are
still arriving weekly by each incoming steamer.
During the wet season work is delayed no
work means no pay. With the hundreds of men
out of employ, with no means, and with no fear
of the law before them, the subject becomes one
that causes great anxiety.
One constant source of criticism was the indul-
gence by Jamaicans in profanity and indecent
The population of Colon at present is composed
of all nationalities, but the greater portion are
the Jamaica negroes who, it will appear, have
been allowed too much freedom, for which
reason they indulge in all sorts of scandalous
and indecent behaviour and epithets, and the
ears of the better class of the community are
assailed from early dawn until a late hour every
night with this nastiness and indecency .... we
have had within the last three months a number
of clergymen from Jamaica who were sent here
to preach the gospel and to try by their minis-
trations to convert these people from the errors
of their ways, but alas, I am afraid it would take
St. John the Baptist and all the Apostles, and
then I think they would have a hard time of it.
The only remedy is to ship such characters back
to their own country and relieve us of their
Two years later, the same paper was still
complaining about the 'vulgar talk'. There were also
complaints that Jamaicans were noisy at nights
when others were in bed. At other times they
engaged in public brawls.
Other types of behaviour invited community
sanctions. Jamaican practices surrounding funerals
in particular were noted as offensive. First there was
the question of the Funeral Trains, a problem which
prevailed until 1907 when the American authorities
.put a stop to the practice. The dead along the line
were carried by train to the company cemetery at
Monkey Hill, Colon. Everyone was free to ride out
and back on the cars of a funeral train. "As a rule
crowds of badly dressed disorderly persons go out.
Drinking in the cars and drunken rows result. Blows
are exchanged as well as 'barrels of profanity' ".


The customs of keeping bodies over 48 hours in
order to pass the hat around for a 'grand funeral' also
attracted adverse comment, as did the custom of
'waking' which seems to have been prevalent along
the line. In noting that the custom had been banned
in Jamaica by the authorities, the Star and Herald
suggested that "Should the Aspinwall authorities
determine to adopt the Jamaican law respecting
these repulsive ceremonies, they will be warmly
supported by the great majority of the residents in
the town".
Here we are forced to rely on newspaper reports
and thus what we have presented is the
establishment view of black lower class behaviour.
But that this behaviour occasioned comment
suggests that it differed from the prevailing norms of
lower class people of other nationalities, including
the natives. It should also be noted that virtually all
English-speaking blacks on the Isthmus have
historically been identified as 'Jamaicans'.
Certainly we are on much firmer ground when we
examine the attitudes and behaviour of Jamaicans in
the field of labour relations for this can often become
an abrasive area, especially if one group is perceived
as adversely affecting the economic interests of
another. This is how the Jamaicans were frequently
perceived. Apart from the competition they offered
for jobs, from the scanty data a pattern also emerges
of Jamaicans being used as strike breakers and thus
helping to abort an embryonic labour movement on
the Isthmus, and generally accepting without
protest wages and working conditions to which
others objected. In at least one instance, the church
(brought to the Isthmus through the instrumentality
of the Jamaicans) played a similar role to the one it
had played during slavery: encouragement of
passive acceptance of the status quo.
During the period there were several strikes
especially of deck and railway workers at Panama
and Colon. At least one of these strikes was
identified as having a connection with the American
Friends of Labour movement. Little information is
available on the earlier strikes which occurred in
1880 and 1881. In 1883 a strike of dock and railway
workers in Colon coincided with the arrival from
Jamaica of 1,000 labourers who were immediately
put to work by the railway. Men from the Canal
works at Paraiso were also brought in to Colon to
help the railway authorities, accompanied by a troop
of the national guard. The strikers removed a fish
plate from the line and the train was wrecked. Some,
if not all of the strike breakers were Jamaicans.
In February 1884 canal labourers at Corozal
struck when the company proposed reducing their
pay from $1.50 to $1.20 a day. Of the 410 employed,
200 were natives, 150 Jamaicans and 60 coolies (who
may have been among those formerly indentur in
Jamaica who had joined the trek to Colon). The
Jamaicans and the coolies were satisfied to continue

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