Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Notes on contributors
 Back Cover

Title: Jamaica journal
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090030/00050
 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: February-April 1986
Frequency: semiannual
Subject: Periodicals -- Jamaica   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Jamaica
Dates or Sequential Designation: Began with Dec. 1967 issue.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090030
Volume ID: VID00050
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 01797964
lccn - 75027862
issn - 0021-4124

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Table of Contents
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
    Notes on contributors
        Page 63
        Page 64
    Back Cover
        Page 65
        Page 66
Full Text

I~ I44J V.1

9(7.~9, ',J
!t 1

STreasures of Jamaican Heritage


Among the many treasures in the National Library of .
Jamaica is this beautiful sword made in 1799 by John l
Mappin and J. Rowbottom of Sheffield, England. It was
made at the request of the Jamaica House of Assembly
for presentation to Lieutenant William Ross. As
commander of the H.M.S. Recovery, he successfully
defended the island from an attack by French privateers
the preceding year. The sword symbolised the gratitude
of the Jamaican government and people for the
'gallantry' he displayed in this endeavour.
The decorated hilt features miniature paintings depicting
Kingston Harbour, the encounter with the privateers and
the Jamaican and British coats of arms. Engraved on the
underside are the names of the members of the House of Assembly.
The sword is on display in the main reading room of the National Library.



Jamaica Journal
is published on behalf of
the Institute of Jamaica
12 16 East Street, Kingston, Jamaica
by Institute of Jamaica Publications Ltd.
All correspondence should be addressed to
IOJ Publications Ltd.
2A Suthermere Road, Kingston 10, Jamaica
Telephone: (809) 92-94785/6



Vol. 19 No. 1

Olive Senior
Assistant Editor
Maxine Patricia McDonnough
Design and Production
Camille Parchment
Lianne Gayle

Support Services
Faith Myers
Eton Anderson
Patsy Smith

Back issues: Most back issues are available.
List sent on request. Entire series available
on microfilm from University Microfilms,
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106, U.S.A.
Subscriptions: J$50 for four issues (in
Jamaica only); U.S$15, U.K. 10.
Retail single copy price: J$15 (in Jamaica
only); overseas U.S.$5 or U.K. 3 post paid
surface mail.
Advertising: Rates sent on request.
Index: Articles appearing in Jamaica
Journal are abstracted and indexed in
Historical Abstracts and America: History
and Life.

Vol. 19 No. 1 Copyright 1986 by
Institute of Jamaica Publications Limited.
Cover or contents may not be reproduced in
whole orin part without written permission.

ISSN: 0021-4124

Maria La Yacona
COVER: A tragic fire at the Eventide Home
in 1980 provided the raw material for the
Sistren award-winning play OPH which focuses
on the lives of three of the Eventide inmates,
Queenie, Pearlie and Hopie. Here, Queenie
shawls Pearlie in the Ettu dance ritual which
is used as a vehicle for dramatising the lives of
the three women. Sistren's story starts on p.2.



by Pamela Beshoff


by Jeremy Woodley


by Honor Ford-Smith

by Victor Stafford Reid


by Pamela O'Gorman

by Gloria Escoffery




Exploring Women's Problems Through Drama

By Honor Ford-Smith

7 he Sistren Theatre collective is
made up of 10 working class
teacher/actresses and a vary-
ing number of resource persons.
Sistren was started nine years ago as
a part-time amateur theatre group. At
that time we defined our aims as follows:
1. to analyse and comment on the
role of women in Jamaican society
through theatre;
2. to organize ourselves into a co-
operative enterprise;
3. to take drama to working-class
Today Sistren administers a profes-
sional theatre group; a popular education
project using drama as its main tool; a
research project; a screen printing pro-
ject and a quarterly magazine.
We came to the content of our work,
its style and methodology as a direct
result of the problems and contradictions
which confronted us as we tried to carry
out our aims and objectives. Our work
can be divided into two periods. The
first, from 1977-80, was character-
ized by the use of personal testimony to
create plays which explored our lives,
and by our efforts to form ourselves
into a theatre group. In the second period
we re-evaluated our work and tried to
go beyond personal perceptions by
examining them within the context of
the wider society. Our conclusions were
then plugged back into our internal or-
ganization and our theatre and popular
education work.
I first met Sistren in 1977, in an old
broken down schoolhouse in Swallow-
field where we came together to dis-
cuss ideas for a play for Workers' Week,
I asked them: 'What do you want to do
a play about?' They said: 'We want to
do plays about how we suffer as women.
We want to do plays about how men
treat us bad.' 'How do you suffer as
women?' I asked, and we began the
long process of exchange of personal
history out of which our first piece of
work evolved.

0 -l

(2nd left) played by Rebecca
Knowles, is led to the labour ward
in a scene from Bellywoman
Bangarang, which highlights the
harsh treatment and sub-standard
conditions in which poor women
are forced to give birth.

Gloria (1) played by Beverly Hanson
is shunned by an 'upstanding'
member of the community, Miss
Freeman, (Lilian Foster) as she
attempts to find her baby father in
a scene from Bellywoman Bangarang.

Miss Freeman (I) played by Lilian
Foster, encourages Goddy (Cyrene
Stephenson) to spy on a young
couple as they discuss their future.

Didi (Vivette Lewis) and Patsy
(Lorna Burrell-Haslam) gossip
about sex, in a hilarious scene from
Bellywoman Bangarang.

The members of Sistren were all
drawn from the emergency employ-
ment programme of the PNP govern-
ment (1972 -80). Of the 14,000 per-
sons employed to give temporary relief
to the problems of unemployment,
10,000 were women. (The rate of un-
employment among women was double
that of men.) Although the work which
the women were given was low paid and

temporary a common feature of fe-
male employment the fact remains
that it offered a space within which
women could begin to organize around
their own concerns. The programme
offered the women a chance to recog-
nise that they shared something in com-
mon out of which they wished to ex-
plore their situation as women. Two
years after our first meeting, Bev Han-

Mirror' is the game used in
Bellywoman Bangarang to show
how children explore the
development of their bodies and
their sexuality.



son said in a film about Sistren: 'We
have certain things in common. In the
first place we are all impact workers. In
the second place all of us live in the
ghetto. .' Sistren, from the beginning,
saw themselves as representatives of
working class women.

Downpression Get a Blow, as the
first piece was called, set the tone for
how the work was to proceed. One of
the women in Sistren told us how she
had worked in a garment factory for
$12.00 a week. She described the diffi-
culties of trying to meet the production
quota, the complicated relations between
the white American male management
and the black female Jamaican work-
force a relationship which often took
for granted the availability of sexual ser-
vicing from the women workers. She
described the tentative attempts of the
women to organise themselves into a
union. Women were paid off, laid off
and some were fired for trying to start
an organization. They finally seemed to
be getting somewhere when, suddenly
without a word, without a warning,
management locked down the factory,
smuggled the equipment out in the
middle of the night and left.
Since then, we have learned of the
common occurrence of this kind of
situation in the lives of women work-
ers as far away as Sri Lanka and Korea.
Many of the factories which re-locate
in the Third World choose to employ fe-
male labour because it is cheaper and
less organized.
We have gone on to discuss the ex-
periences of go-go dancers and pros-
titutes, of domestic workers, of rural
children, of migrant men and women,
of higglers, housewives and secretaries.
This discussion, this naming of experi-
ence, has brought out in public, after
years of whispering, the specific prob-
lems of many women in our community.
Through dialogue, through encounter
with others, we have discovered that the
possibility of our power can shape for-
ces which at present still shape us.
After Downpression the group asked
me to go on working with them and we
began a training programme with the
help of the Jamaica School of Drama.
We had no clear plan of work, but dur-
ing our training period three main con-
siderations came to bear on the pro-

1. The women in the group were
living examples of what it meant to be
poor and growing up in Jamaica around

the time of Independence and after. The
stories of the women had an inspiring
strength and an immediacy. Our aim
was to capture the immediacy.

2. The women in the group were
part of a tradition of storytelling, songs,
and ritual imagery. Not only had these
forms developed out of attempts to
struggle with a powerful colonial sys-
tem; they also contained the voices of
women in strong protest and complaint,
something which was not true of modern
popular Jamaican music. The singers of
folk songs described women's work in
the market, in housework; the modern
musician tended to write about the ex-
perience of the ghetto youthman. The
voices of women were, in the early
seventies, largely silent. Our aim here
was to extend that earlier tradition and
to explore the cultural identity of Jam-
aican women .

3. Taking the first two points into
consideration, it seemed important not
to impose a method of work, but to
create in the community of the work-
shop an atmosphere which would make
it possible to evoke clear themes from
the relating and discussion of personal
experience. It was important to estab-
lish a community of thought and feel-
ing, a context within which creative
work could be structured. Then the
historical experience of the Jamaican
woman could come into focus for ques-
tioning. We could seek to determine
which of the cultural institutions crea-
ted out of hardship were impeding or
assisting women in the search for greater

It was from these considerations that
Bellywoman Bangarang emerged. The
group wanted to deal with the issue of
motherhood. Bellywoman was presented
at the Barn Theatre, commercial theatre
in Kingston, because it seemed to us im-
portant that the working class woman
should have access to an 'authentic'
cultural institution. We wanted to make
our claims visible, and to bringthe voices
of poor women to the public. We want-
ed to show that working class women
need not be bound by the drudgery
of their work. Sistren was concerned
to inspire other working class women to
be aware of their imaginations and the
basis for social transformation which
existed within them.
Bellywoman confronted the society
with the autobiographies of four women
who were pregnant, exposing their

The Sistren play Nana Yah focuses
on the life and struggles of Jamaican
guerrilla leader and national heroine
Nanny of the Maroons. Here, Sistren
members rehearse a scene depicting
the voyage of slaves from Africa to

experiences of motherhood and their
experiences of having been girl child-
ren. It raised questions of rape, domestic
violence and domestic work. It showed
connections between these things and
unemployment and urban poverty.

Building the Organization

After this first stage of work, in 1980
it became clear that in order to go
deeper into the causes of the experi-
ences we had begun to explore, we
needed to look at the history of the
women in our country and to show how
the many apparently uncontrollable
factors political, economic and
psychological affect and produce our
individual lives. Jean Small began this
process in Nana Yah when, as Sistren's
first guest director, she examined with
the collective the life of Nanny and the
role of women in the guerrilla war with
the European colonists. Hertencer Lind-
say and I have continued the research

process in QPH, Domestick and other
plays and workshops.

The experience of creating Nana
Yah and QPH was infinitely more de-
manding of the actresses' capacity to
think and extend themselves than the
earlier work.
At the same time we began experien-
cing personal problems as a result of our
work. One manifestation was the resist-
ance of men, often partners, who felt
that it was not 'right' for women to 'lef
dem pickney pon dem' and go out to
work until all hours of the night. They
were afraid the women might be using
the time to 'ketch man'. They perceived
our work as a threat to their masculine
privileges and they in turn threatened
and at times used physical violence
against us. One example of this reaction
happened during a dress rehearsal of
Bellywoman Bangarang when one
woman's baby father walked in and
threatened to 'mash up de show' if she

didn't come home and look after 'her
On the other hand we ourselves com-
plained of exhaustion. As the years
went on the first glamour and excitement
of the theatre faded. The long hours
were at variance with the schedule of the
rest of society. The physical demands of
the work and the pressure to meet dead-
lines for production and workshops often
created problems in managing the cook-
ing, the washing and the several other
tasks that go into the maintenance of
men, children, the old and the sick.
Those of us who didn't have families
found ourselves with little time for per-
sonal relationships. One woman, a mother
of two, found herself suffering from
guilt and anxiety. Her notion of herself
was split. She had always thought her
work as a mother was her most vital
and important function, but she was
also enjoying and excelling at the very
activity which caused her to 'fail' at
what she ought to like. Another woman
blamed her work with the group when
her daughter was made a ward of the
state. She felt that the long hours which
the children spent on their own when
she was out of the home had resulted in
her daughter being drawn into stealing.
In 1980, the emergency employment
programme was ended. Members of the
group now found themselves more in
need of the organization as a means of
survival than previously. For two years
we had a very rough time scrounging
funds to subsidise artistic and education-
al work in a society that accords such
work the lowest priority, and even more
so when it is being done by 'unqualified,
untrained streetcleaners'. After six years
of drama training we were still being
called streetcleaners in spite of the fact
that none of us had swept a street for
several years. As one member put it,
'Everybody have a problem before we
start together, but although we try to
solve that problem it is still there. In
fact it is worse.'
We also began to experience another
problem: it seemed to us that our 'con-
ciousness raising' workshops were not
very effective. Often, we were able to
stimulate awareness of questions and
problems affecting women but there
was no structure for follow-up activity.
We could not see where discussions on
teenage pregnancy, rape, childcare and
female unemployment were going.
At the same time the group itself was
having difficulty with its leadership role
in workshops. Sometimes we had trouble

thinking of ways of taking discussions
forward or of dealing on the spot with
issues raised.
When we attract a group of women
we invariably attract children, hence
the concentration of participants is in-
terrupted constantly, especially by the
youngest children who demand at-
tention. Women have to be home early
to cook or clean for their families. This
allegiance to the home unit undermines
a sense of group activity and working
collectively. Any attempt to find a per-
spective had to take into consideration
these and other problems of domestic
work and childcare which our target
audiences experienced.
In summary, we were problem-
ridden. Our attempts to become a self-
reliant cooperative and artistic enterprise
had left us the choice of increased
dependency on foreign grants or certain
starvation in a society which did not
pay for the kind of work we did. Our
labour did not produce things which
could be marketed for individual profit.
Neither was the material we produced
sympathetic to those who controlled
and managed our society. Within the
collective the artistic director and ad-
ministrative officers were an unchal-
lenged hierarchy and the absence of a
democratic structure to resolve problems
which threatened our work resulted in
jealousy, undermining 'kas-kas' about
individuals, and low morale. One mem-
ber expressed the problem when she
said, 'Dis a collective. It mean you come
to collect!'
In our discussions with other women
and women's organizations we found
that none of these problems was peculiar
to Sistren. They were problems which
confront every group of women we have
worked with. They were contradictions
that could only be explained in terms of
the reality in which we worked. I think
we survived that period because of two
things; first and most important, the im-
mediacy of the early work to our lives
and our subsequent commitment to it,
and second, because we implemented a
careful analysis of the obstacles we were
In 1981, we began a serious re-evalu-
ation of our work and our organization
which led to three perceptions that,
while not solving our problems, helped
us make progress. They were:

1. the creation of a more democratic
structure for decision-making and group
education so that neither a hierarchy of

administration nor a hierarchy of artistic
production developed. All are equal in
the general meetings where policy is
2. the awareness of the need to an-
alyse our individual and group problems
within the context of the overall social
structure. We retained faith in the
examination of the personal and private
areas of women's lives as the basis for
cultural work with women;
3. the awareness (based on 2) that
our individual situations as women and
our situation as a group of working class
women could not change unless the
whole complex system in which we live
During the following two years, as
a result of these ideas our work began to
focus on the issue of women and work.
Haltingly, we started to ask certain
questions through our forum workshops
about the way in which relationships
between men and women in the house-
hold affect relations at the workplace.
The material we produced would, we
hoped, strengthen the potential of
women to struggle for change.
In 1981 we began to explore some of
these ideas in our Domestick project.
After the first workshop, audiences
wanted to know what women had gain-
ed from the national struggles of 1938,
so, before our second Domestick work-
shop, we went back to the archives.
When we looked at newspaper accounts
of 1938, we saw that domestic servants
had been very active in the general
strike of that year. But as a group they
had been unable to consolidate their
power after the strike and had not even
gained, as sugar workers had, the right
to organize. Not until 1976 did domestics
begin to realise some of their'demands
of 1938.
Our search for a perspective on the
problems we had been looking at forced
us into areas of theory and research
which are not normally considered part
of the work of a theatre collective. We
had to clarify our ideas. Doing this
required that the collective find new
ways of seeing old material, and of
linking theory with experience. We
had to create a language which could
present experiences and ideas in relative-
ly immediate terms. That language was
to be our drama technique.

Developing A Method of Work
I will now sketch broadly the method

YARD: Hopie (Beverly Hanson)
tries to persuade Eva (Rebecca
Knowles) to pay for her lunch in
one of the tragic scenes, touched
with humour from the play QPH.

inmate of the Eventide Home in a
powerful scene from QPH, which
challenges society's neglect of the
elderly and infirm.

Sister James (Jasmine Smith) helps
Queenie (Beverley Elliott) to
prepare for a revival meeting a
scene from Sistren's award-winning
play QPH.

used in developing our plays, work-
shops and other materials. Each step of
the work described below attempts to
broaden the basis on which the collective
has contact with and expresses support
for the struggles of women in particular
nd the community in general. What is
being articulated and discovered on stage
r in a workshop has to be made real;
,e drama is a rehearsal for change.

irk Process
'ing in from the community: Mining
material for use in plays and work-

The first stage is to identify the com-
munity with whom the group wishes to
work. A community can be bound
together by any number of factors -
age, occupation, or a particular experi-
ence. The clearer the common features
of the group, the easier the rest of the

Creating a space in which to work

It is very important to get as much
information as possible about the group
with whom one is working. If this is
hard to do beforehand, then the intro-
ductory session might most usefully
focus on exercises to do with finding
out about the people you are to work
with and letting them find out about
you. Based on the information revealed,
early exercises can be constructed to
develop an environment in which the
group's energy is released. The aim
here is to learn from the group. Sistren
often uses childhood and folk games to

establish a relaxed atmosphere among
participants. Game work is group work.
Only later does individual work begin.
The traditional game Manuel Road is
a good introductory exercise because it
is a ring game that most people know
and also because it is based on stone-
breaking, a seasonal occupation for
women. There are many other games -
tag games, blind man's buff, name
games, slow-motion races all of
which can be used to warm up parti-
cipants. There are also games which
help to develop language skills. The
warm up process moves from physical
experience to verbal description.

Evoking material

The next step of the process leads to
defining a specific theme or themes
around which to continue working. This
can be done in several different ways.

Scene Presentation andTestimony: Often

Sistren presents a short scene on a series
of problems. The group is asked to
watch the scene and then to select the
problems with which they most identify.
They are then asked to give examples
from personal experience or observ-
ation which further illustrate the prob-
lem. This process of testimony usually
works well because most women have
learned how to narrate personal experi-
ences at traditional Afro-Christian
churches, at wakes, and from listening
to the storytelling of grandmothers and

Drawings: Some groups enjoy the period
of reflection offered them by having the
chance to structure information about
themselves and their problems in an
illustration. A drawing of a symbol of
oppression for example, from which an
individual can speak, has often worked
well with groups which are not inhibited
by using pencils and paper.
Role play: Sometimes to get to more
sensitive areas of experience, we use a
technique of talking to an object or an
empty chair as if it were a person with
whom one has had a conflict. This and
other role play exercises usually work
well if they are structured so that every-
body in the workshop participates. It is
important in evoking material that.there
be no spectators, so that participants do
not feel as if they are performing before
judgemental presence.
Initial work on evoking themes is
followed up with observation outside
the workshop of the informal bonds
among workshop members, and the eco-
nomic, political, religious, and social or-
ganization in the community. Close
interviewing of individuals is also carried
out with the group always being aware
that the material given is used to gain a
greater understanding of their situation.
The emphasis is placed on learning from
their experiences.
For example, we met Iris and Della
(fictional names) when we were doing
workshops in a new housing settlement
for sugar workers.

After seeing a short scene, Della ex-
claimed, 'Ah how you did know me fi
put me in deh', and went on to tell us
more about her problems as a housewife
and baby minder in the sugar belt. She
had come to the area over 20 years be-
fore, because she had been promised a
job. When she arrived she found 'it
wasn't a job at all, but a man who was
looking a woman to live with him'. She
lived with this man, a sugar worker, for

Beverley Elliott as the household
helper reads a letter from her
daughter who has recently migrated
to the United States to do domestic
work, in a scene from Domestick.
The play explores the themes of
migration and domestic labour.

a while and then left him because he
was 'jealous bad'. Later she went to live
with another sugar worker 'for 23 years
and three months' as she put it. But
when he received a house through a
National Housing Trust scheme for
sugar workers 'he put somebody else's
name (on the title) not even a relative'.
When she asked, 'Where is the com-
pensation I get for looking after you?'
He told her that she could borrow a
room in the house until she was ready
to go back to her country. Della's case
impressed us because of the way in
which apparently progressive measures
had passed her by. Whereas in our work
we frequently encountered problems to
do with property in man/woman
relationships, we were struck by the
way in which Della's position as a
working class housewife made her

problem seem private and not one that
could be taken up by any of the organ-
izations in the area.
Iris, on the other hand, had belong-
ed to an organization. She had been a
unionised sugar worker on an estate for
several years. (The term used to describe
this work is 'common labour'.) Later
she became ill and unable to do the
heavy physical work of weeding, plant-
ing and fertilising, which is the woman's
work on the estate and also the worst
paid and most tedious. The manage-
ment made her a supervisor, but in spite
of the equal pay for equal work law, she
was paid less than the male supervisors.
She challenged this through the union

but was unable to rally support for her
claim since the women had little or no
say in the union. They were in what was
considered the least important area of
sugar production and in any case most
of them were non-unionised workers
either employed on a seasonal basis o0
on contract.
This material was supplemented b
interviews with other women sugi

workers, trade union representatives and
the overseer of the estate. Sistren also
observed and took part in some of the
work on the estate.

Moulding raw material for further work-
shops or presentation

Analysis and Selection of Material: Dis-
cussion and analysis of material gather-
ed then begins. Themes are identified
and all observations are pooled. Some of
the questions which the personal re-
velations turn up cannot be answered
from within the experiences of the group.
The collective then has to go outside
for answers. This is the point at which
researchers will be needed. The material
should help the collective to reach a
better understanding of the issues.
We must then identify the themes to
be worked on and the form of present-
ation. This selection is determined by
the needs of the group with whom the
research has been done as well as Sis-
tren's own aims and objectives and re-
sources. Material gathered is always in-
tended for use as part of the process of

bring out and find solutions to the
problems women face in their
communities, both in town and
country. ABOVE: Sugar workers
expose the conditions of women on
the sugar estates, which led to the
creation of a major workshop piece,
The Case of Iris Armstrong, and the
Sistren documentary film Sweet
Sugar Rage. BELOW: It is normal
practice for mothers to bring their
children to the Sistren workshops
which also include the participation
of men and youths in the

the target group's development. The
form used is aimed at concretely help-
ing audiences to a better understanding
of the factors shaping the lives of those
in the group. It should also help them to
identify ways in which they can act in
order to affect those factors.
In discussions of the research done in
the sugar community, it was decided
that the material had important impli-
cations for trade union activity as well
as for women's organizations. Therefore
we felt the material should be made
available as widely as possible to popu-
lar organizations and women's organi-
zations locally and regionally, and that
we should create a piece which could
give theatre audiences a chance to
reflect on the material in greater depth.
The experiences of Iris and Della there-
fore became the basis of our first docu-
mentary film, Sweet Sugar Rage, which
focuses on the conditions facing women
on the estates as well as how we carried
out the research. The film form was
chosen as one which would reach a
wider audience than the theatre work.
We also created a theatre-in-education

piece for use in workshops which both
exposed participants to the material and
allowed them to join in the action and
discuss what they had learned. This
meant the production had to be tailored
for smaller audiences as only then would
discussion and participation be possible.
The group which had given us the in-
formation wanted to continue working
with us so we used the film and the
forum theatre piece for mobilisation
and expansion at the local level. The
material was also used to help stimu-
late the group into questioning problems
facing its members, and to produce ori-
ginal designs for our screen printing pro-
In another example of the varied
use of material we research, workshops
which generated material on the theme
of sexual violence not only formed the
base of our 1985 major production,
Muffet Inna All A We, but was also used
in our booklet, No to Sexual Violence!
Writing and Improvising to Create
Theatre Material: Our plays are still
scripted by a writer from improvisations
by the actors. The group may collective-
ly devise an outline from which improvi-
sations flow or work from a central
image which structures the way the
scenario develops. For example, in
Bellywoman, the ring game was used as
the central image, and in OPH it was the
Ettu ritual.
Through improvisation, the actors
make suggestions for the storyline, ac-
tion, characters and dialogue. They also
propose theatrical imagery through their
use of props, costume and space.
From these improvisations a final
text is written which is then re-interpre-
ted by the director in rehearsals. Within
this situation the actor is required to be
a thinking creator along with the direct-
or instead of merely an interpreter of a
role. He or she is asked to disrespect the
fourth wall and to draw on the Carib-
bean tradition of oral performance,
music and dance as part of acting

Presentations: Giving Back to the

A workshop presentation involves
exploring a particular theme through
the use of drama exercises constructed
from earlier research and used to sti-
mulate reflection. Alternatively, a work-
shop may involve the presentation of a
short play in which the audience be-

comes engaged in solving a particular
problem or in re-writing it for clearer
analysis. In either case the theory
behind the workshop presentation, brief-
ly, is as follows:

1. That by actually experiencing the
problems put before them the partici-
pants will in their imaginations have a
better understanding of the situation
being studied. Cerebral theorising is
discouraged; the aim is to find a link
between thought, feeling and action.

2. That because of its inherent struc-
ture of conflict, drama allows a complex
exploration of problems and the develop-
ment of an awareness of contradiction.

3. That by presenting situations
through improvisation and role play it
often allows things to be brought out
which might otherwise be considered

As Dorothy Heathcote puts it, parti-
cipants learn what they know but do
not know that they know.

The Case of Iris Armstrong offers a
clear example of the theory of partici-
patory drama in action. It is a workshop
piece which can be used in one-off situ-
ations or with on-going groups.
This workshop takes place with the
audience seated among the actors. In an
early scene the audience watches as a
bailiff seizes Iris's furniture because
her payments are in arrears. At the end
of the scene a voice at the back of the
room says to the audience, 'All stand
and say Praise the Lord!' Actresses, now
in character as elders of the church, guide
the audience gently into the role of a
church congregation. Then Iris testi-
fies to her problems. The leaders of the
church, the actresses, inform participants
that they should help Iris decide 'which
path in her life she should follow'.
Three elders have offered alternatives
which are displayed as visual images on
banners in three corners of the room.
The alternatives are education, employ-
ment on the sugar estate and higgler-
ing. The participants, continuing in
role as church members, are encouraged
to walk around the room and talk to the
elders about their suggestions. Each
participant then selects the alternative
which he or she thinks best for Iris. In
groups they plan a persuasive testimony
to convince Iris of their choice. A rep-
resentative from each group delivers
the testimony, and there follows heat-
ed debate as each group questions the

arguments of the others. There follows
a prayer for God to guide Iris in her
selection. She then makes her choice.
The debate in role enables parti-
cipants to come to terms with the actual
alternatives facing women in the sugar
belt. They are forced to consider the
material conditions as they struggle to
weigh the possibilities open to Iris. In-
variably, education is defeated as an un-
realistic choice. Higglering, often a
favourite, is ruled out by church mem-
bers who claim, 'Inna dis yah com-
munity, yuh have more sellers than
buyers'. Work on the sugar estate,
even though looked down on by society
and badly paid, is regarded as the best
choice, offering as it does the security
of a 'sure money' and the possibility for
trade union organization.

Major productions

The aim of our performance style in
our major productions is to give our
audiences fresh insights to social situ-
ations which are often accepted with-
out question. To achieve this, we con-
sciously try to find new and often shock-
ing ways of presenting those situations,
engaged as we are in a conscious search
for new forms of communication. In
this search, the text is only one element
in the total performance. Our work em-
phasises the immediate presence of the
live actor before a live audience and
therefore seeks to involve the spectator's
imagination in an active sense.
We emphasise the actor's body and
not elaborate special effects. We urge
the audience to work to interpret the
choice of prop, costume, shape and
sound as part of the total theatrical mes-
sage. The dialogue is one part of a range
of signals. The use of rhythm and rhyme,
dance, colour and music are others. The
set suggests a concept and a central im-
age. It never reproduces daily life. So
for example, the set of OPH was com-
posed of coffins and that of Muffet
Inna All A We of mountains of cardboard
boxes and graffiti.
We try to develop forms which come
from our popular culture, and towards
this we have done research on Jonkonnu,
Ettu, Reggae and Maroon celebration
for incorporation into our work. We do
not aim to use popular art forms in a
representational way, however, but
rather to find within them implications
for theatrical form and structure. So in
Muffet, for example, director Eugene
Williams combined the image of the D.J.

Sistren was one of the groups which
initiated and organized the first
Caribbean Popular Theatre
Exchange (CPTE) at the Jamaica
School of Drama, Kingston in
1985. Sistren members and other
participants from Popular Theatre
groups in Belize, Dominica, the
Dominican Republic, Cuba, St.
Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, St
Vincent and Jamaica are seen above
in rehearsal for the collectively
created theatre piece, Ida Revolt
Inna Jonkunnu Stylee. This piece
of street theatre was seen by over
2,500 working people in
communities around the island.

with that of Anansi to create a narrator/
commentator, but the Dance Hall was
not represented in a realistic sense on
the stage.
By paying specific attention to our
cultural experience and by challenging
forms which are accepted as universal
and traditional, we believe we can come
closer to addressing the question of the
strength of our cultural identity.

Observation and Record-keeping
Record-keeping is an important

principle in the entire process. Often we
tape record sessions. Recently we have
been using a workshop secretary or pro-
duction assistant to take detailed notes
in workshops and rehearsals. During per-
formances, audience responses are also
After workshops, Sistren plays back
the tapes and reads the notes to analyse
the content gathered and to evaluate
our method of work and its impact.
Initial testimonies and improvisations
gathered in workshops are often used as
a resource for writing and directing.
Record-keeping in workshops with
target groups also includes notes on
group dynamics. The body language of
participants and responses to exercises
are the kinds of signals which can give
indications of future problems. Record-
keeping is the basis for building a
tradition of cultural expression which
can grow. It is also a way of breaking
down group insularity since material
recorded can be shared in many different
ways with other groups and expand the
sense of solidarity among workshop
groups. A great deal of cultural work by
grassroots groups in Jamaica has gone
unrecorded. One of the results is that
many of our experiences as a people re-
main hidden in official history.

now has over 20 original songs in
its repertory. Eight of them are
included in the group's first stage
musical, Sistren Song. Singing
"Everywoman"are (f-r) Lorna
Burrell-Haslam, Lana Finikin and
Lilian Foster.

Rude-boy, Lora Burrell-Haslam (1)
about to steal the pot off the fire
as Muffett and friend, Beverley
Elliott (c) and Lana Finikin (r) are
distracted by other problems of
the day. Muffet Inna All A W is
Sistren's latest theatre piece which
employs movement, mime and
music to promote thematic images
of sexual and social violence.

Action and Follow-up

Cultural work with on-going groups
encourages them to select areas of
action for themselves. For example, the
sugarbelt group having seen The Case of
Iris Armstrong, selected the problem of
water shortage as something they wanted
to tackle. They had not had water in
their community for several months as
the pump was broken. Although they
recognized the existence of other 'more
fundamental' problems such as high un-
employment, they did not feel they
could really effectively deal with those.
They tackled what they felt they could
solve and in fact achieved a fair degree
of success. If the group selects an area
of work which Sistren cannot help them
with, we try to put them in touch with
other organizations which can.


The development of workshop groups,
the individual performance of tasks by
Sistren and resource, the functioning of
the democratic process within the
group are all evaluated by the collective
twice yearly at staff conferences. Our
creative work is assessed continually
both by ourselves and guest specialists.
We depend very much on criticism to
develop our new theatre and textile
work. A single piece of theatre may
have as many as three or four versions
until we feel it is complete. This was the
case with Muffet, Domestick and Iris. All
these plays had three versions, which
were all presented to audiences at dif-
ferent times. In spite of this, we are
aware of the need for a Caribbean
dramaturgy that is a science of drama
which is specifically related to the con-
text in which we live and work. This
dramaturgy we feel, would help us to
name our stylistic experiments more
clearly as well as consolidate our dis-
coveries as we make them. We look for-
ward to a time when critics will work
alongside us in workshops to debate per-
formance structure and to help us de-
velop a clearer relationship between
popular art forms and a new Caribbean
theatre. This can only happen when the
popular theatre movement as a whole
grows in strength. For this reason, our
recent evaluations have placed priority
on the importance of cultural network-
ing among popular theatre artists. For
example, the Caribbean Popular Theatre
Exchange (CPTE) of 1985,which brought
together theatre artists from different
countries of the region, was a particu-

Major Productions

Downpression Get A Blow
Bellywoman Bangarang
Bandoolu Version
Nana Yah
The Case of Iris Armstrong
Muffet Inna All A We
Sistren Song
Ida Revolt Inna Jonkunnu Stylee
(Caribbean Popular Theatre Exchange

Workshops and Exchanges

Sistren's on-going projects and activities include workshops and cultural exchanges in
Jamaica and with overseas groups; production of textiles and a magazine dealing with
women's issues.

Major Tours

Carifesta '81, Barbados; Canada
Eastern Caribbean
United Kingdom; Holland
Martinique; New York; Belize


1978 Gold Medal, Jamaica Festival Commission for Bellywoman Bangorong.
1st place, Mass Media Contest, OAS Commission of Women.
1979 Certificate of Merit, OAS Commission of Women.
1981 National Theatre Critics Award for QPH.
1982 Thomas Figueroa Award for Popular Education.
'Caribuste' Award (USA) for contribution to development of Caribbean theatre.

Video and Films

1979 Documentary film on Sistren by the Caribbean Institute of Mass Communication
(CARIMAC), University of the West Indies, Jamaica.
1984 Sweet Sugar Rage Sistren documentary film on women's work in sugar production
and Sistren methodology of popular education.


a) Women's work in the sugar industry
b) Women's work and organization 1900 1944



Sistren Newsletter
No To Sexual Violence booklet
(on-going) Sistren a quarterly magazine
(forthcoming) Lionheart Woman autobiographical stories about Sistren members,
Womens Press, London,
(forthcoming) QPH, New Beacon Books, London.
(forthcoming) Bellywoman Bangarang, New Beacon Books, London.

larly significant event in our develop-
ment. It was the start of a real and
permanent network among the young
companies of the region, all of whom
are faced with a similar reality to ours.

With them we can share analysis, ex-
periences and skills. These links will
help us to come closer to realising our
cultural independence as women and as

Monthly notes on the weather of Jamaica,
for the use of Gardeners, Penkeepers and Small Farmers
with supplementary notes
by the late Dr. John Potts of Lucea.

his month is unusually cold and as unusually
agreeable. The flowers of the Gordonia
haematoxylon, called Blood Wood, form a
conspicuous ornament of the mountain forest, and the
Hibiscus Elatus, or Mountain Mahoe, is in blossom.
The Ceiba, or Silk Cotton Tree (Eriodendron
Anfractuosum,) the Baobab, or Adansonia, and the
Bursera or Birch Wood are leafless, with many other
decidious trees.They give a wintry aspect to the scenery.
The hedges are ornamented with a profusion of bril-
liant convolvuluses, and the large Clitoria Plumierii, a
beautiful pea-flower of a bright velvety purple, are
common in the way-side fences.
1st. A dry month, with cool dewy nights, rain sel-
dom; grass and water scarce; limes and oranges abun-
dant; early mango trees in blossom; naseberry-trees in
blossom and young fruit. Cotton in pods; the wild con-
vulvulus or hog slip, plentiful and green, should be
gathered to feed hogs; pimento, rose-apple, and cala-
bash in blossom and young fruit; pickl the calabash;
star-apple trees have young fruit.
8th.-The only fruits
in season are oranges,
sour-sops, granadillas,
sweet-cups, tamarinds,
cocoas, and a few shad-
docks and star-apples,
though these two last
usually come in season
in February and March
in most warm localities
15th. Bread fruits will bear throughout the year,
the yelloww sort is the best. Too dry for planting: dig in

your seed-vams to get heads; white yam or seed yam
coming to market; common yams going out. Aloo
yams may also be had, they are usually dug up with the
white yams; hurry on and finish your crop of arrowroot;
look after your hogs a dangerous time for pigs -
feed them on hog-slip, plantain leaves and root cocoa
head, sour cornmeal and cane-tops.
25th. Groom your horses well, and let them have
plenty of sweet water; grass being dry and scarce, give
them corn if you can get it; fowls still laying; good
time to build and repair house, etc.; eggs plentiful, but
not cheaper, the same old herring price, penny a piece.
31st. Get on with your ginger scraping, ( . .)
Good time to make ginger wine. All the sugar estates
are taking off their crop, the labourers look sleek and

fat as mu ( .. .). English merchant vessels come numer-
ously to the island during this month. Beans and peas
are plentiful; ochras, etc. The flowers in bloom are
Roses, Convolvulus, Marvel of Peru, Dragons Blood,
Plumbago, Barbadoes Pride, Hibiscus, Salvia, Allamanda,
Morning star, Geranium, Clerodendron, south sea rose,
perriwinkle, white and blue pea, ponchetta. Cocoanut
trees bear throughout the year without intermission,
from the age of five near the sea, and in the country,
till they die from suffocation in old age; they are more
frequently struck by lightning than any other tree -
the nuts of one tree are worth six shillings a year. Log-
wood in full blossom, the best locality for bees Hart-
shorn is the best remedy for the sting of bees and

From the Jamaica Almanack 1879-80 in the manuscript collection, National Library of Jamaica. The text is presented here exactly as published, no
attempt has been made to verify or correct botanic and other references. Dots indicate places in original text which cannot be read.

laid in a supply of corn which is now scarce and dear,
from 6s. to 7s. per bushel.
15th. The fruits in season are oranges, cluster-
fruits, shaddocks, sour-sops, sweet-limes and custard
apples, a few naseberries and star-apples may be found
in the market.

varying cold.
The Banisteria in blossom.
It is worth remarking that perfectly decidious
trees within the tropics are invariably worthless timber
trees. The Silk Cotton Tree. the Baobab or Monkey
Bread, and the Bursera gummifera or gummy Birch
Tree, though one is of good size and the other of pro-
digious bulk, yet annually shedding their foliage, are
the softest of all tropical woods used for domestic or
constructive purposes. Large growth, combined with
lightness of texture in the Silk cotton, adapts it for
canoes, and in the Birch tree the facility of working it,
and the clear whiteness of its grain, renders it highly
suitable for the making of wooden bowls or gamelles.
In the temperate zone, those trees which change
their foliage with the seasons, become hard and solid
trees, only under a slow growth and a long series of
years. Ages are required to mature the texture of fibre
in the Oak and the Chestnut. Where vegetation, how-
ever, is never checked by hybernation, as in most trees
in the tropics, and in the evergreens of temperate cli-
mates, trees may acquire the character of durability,
weight, and compactness, through a growth of com-
paratively few years; few, indeed, compared with the
time required to mature the Oak, the Chestnut, and
the Elm.
The Prosopis Juliflora of De Candolle (the com-
mon Cashaw of the southern plains of the island) is
a familiar instance of (...) durability and rapid matur-
ity of growth in a tree that (.. .) decidious.
The Dyewoods are of hard, flinty fibre, but they
suffer no hybernation and are of rigid growth. Such are
the Haematoxylum Campecheanum (Logwood) the
Madure Tinctoria (Fustic) and the Caesalpinia Brasilien-
sis (Braziletto) but the balsamiferous trees, though
they do not cast their leaves, are slow growers, such
as the Guaiacum, or Lignumvitae.*
1st. A very dry month; cool for building, repair-
ing, and travelling, but bad for planting; days warm;
nights cool.
5th. Mangoes generally in blossom with young
fruit: cherry-trees, rose apples, granadilla. guava also in
blossom: estates still taking off their crop.
10th. Cut down your guinea grass to feed your
stock on now, or turn in your stock to feed it down till
May; then clean and shut up again till July; push on the
scraping and drying of your ginger; feed your poultry
with cocoanut and boiled bread-fruit; if you have not

20th. Rob your bees (the only lawful robbery
you are permitted to commit;) melt down the wax,
bleach it in the open air, (occasionally sprinkling with
water) and night dew; then sell it along with your crop
of honey to the merchant. The rearing of bees is interest-
ing and remunerative, and should be generally encour-
aged among small settlers. Wax is sold here at Is. per
lb. Breadfruits are out, and do not come in again till
March and April; plum-trees in blossom; some cherries
ripe, usually later. The flowers in blossom are similar
to those of the previous month; fruits also. Wild
coffee and candle wood tree in full bloom, a beauti-
ful tree, also sweet-sops, star-apples and naseberries
begin to come in. Cotton fit to pick between 9 a.m.
and 3 p.m. Lapwings and partridges fat and plentiful,
healthy sport; Penguins begin to bloom, make a good
pickle; also sweet-sops, guavas, and a few shaddocks
and oranges again. After this month, shooting ceases
until August. Tame your hogs now, that they may not
run wild during the mangoe season, sour cormeal is
good for the purpose, the hogs eat it voraciously.
Sometimes through want of management in this land
of ignorance and laziness, the sows farrow during this
dry month, when the pigs die from mange and star-
vation or cost too much to raise them sulphur is the
best remedy for mange in hogs, sheep, dogs and goats.
Put in a quantity of seed yams, now they are plenti-
ful and cheap, 4s. or 5s. per 100 lbs; dust them well
with white lime, especially where they are bruised; or
they may be washed with a coating of white-lime-wash,
they will keep for several months.

*Several lengthy paragraphs dealing with 'the rise and descent
of sap in the leaves' have been omitted here.

tar-apple and Nisperos in season.
The Quassia Amara in flower.
... ,,,,,, Bleak winds blowing violently. All vegeta-
tion blighted by the severity of the breeze. Exces-
sively dry and dusty. The long grass looking as blasted
as if it had been burnt by a summer drought.
The European population extremely healthy, but
the Creoles generally labouring under a sort of epidem-
ic cattarh.
1st. Usually a very dry month; if you have not
prepared your provision ground for planting, do so at
once; plenty cassada and plantains now; continue to
scrape and dry ginger; still cut your guinea grass or
feed it down.
Teal and White Wing Doves plentiful.
5th. Ship your produce by the first ship; begin
to break and pick pimento; continue to pick in cotton;
torch tree and yoke-wood in blossom.
10th. NOTA-BENE. Pick a bone with a friend, if
you have one and he invites you, but pick no quar-
rels with anybody, and keep your hands from pick-
ing and stealing.
15th. Hibiscus, balsam, mangoes, pimento, pears,
monthly rose, damask rose, lavonia, pomegranates,
and rose-apples are all in full bloom; also limes and
20th. Breadfruits still young and scarce, one here
and there; guavas coming in season; oranges and shad-
docks going out of season; star-apples plentiful. N.B. -
The pulp of the star-apple beaten up with the juice of
the bitter-sweet or sweet orange, much resembles straw-
berry and cream. Grass and fruits are scarce; stock are
starving; cut bamboos for your stock and supply them
with plenty of good water; Sugar crops going on.
31st. The first planting of yams takes place when
the yokewood tree first blossoms; plant pindars now in
a light, marly or sandy soil; a good time to plant sweet
potatoes, and if you are blessed with a few showers,
plant corn. Limes are very scarce and out of season,
and so are all other fruits except tamarinds, of which
put a supply in syrup to make beverage in the hot
season to sip; naseberries coming in; also pines; clean
out your wells, water-courses and springs, preparatory
to the rainy season; repair your duck ponds: glaze your
windows; supply your shingles, and wash them with a
preparation of temper-lime, molasses, sea-water, and
red ochre to preserve them, repeat the washing every
tive or six years.

he aspect of the Country dry, and withered
and nipped.
7th. This morning I heard the Musicapa
Olivacea precluding the coming season of rain, with
those two or three notes from which the children have
given the bird the name of "Whip Tom Kelly" and
"Sweet John Tuwhit".
11th. Light occasional showers.
14th. Heavy rain, but of short duration, falling in
the immediate afternoon. At sun down heard the Goat-
Sucker (Caprimulgus) darting about in the cool atmos-
phere, ever and anon, uttering that quick jarring vi-
bratory sound, from which it has received the name of
the Night-jar. The flight of the bird is very truly repre-
sented as being "rapid as an arrow and noiseless as a
shadow." Its evolutions backward and forward, high
over head are betrayed only by its singular note.
15th. The Mocking-Bird sings the song of a bird
that comes at this season. It is loud, clear and brilliant,
with very little variety, but great peculiarity. From the
doubling notes I suspect the bird it imitates is the Rice-
Bunting, when it retires from the south on its migra-
tions northward.
28th. Fine seasons. Mid-day thunder-showers,
general and exhilirating, so that by evening we have a
cheerful sunset the rain passing off with the display
of double rain-bows. The Goat-Suckers and Swallows
are careering, and the Lanius is darting with its quiver-
ing shrieks off and on the Cocoanut trees a sure sign
that the insects are flying high.
Throughout the month of February the Silk Cotton
tree blossoms and remains leafless. In March it puts
forth foliage, and by the middle of April it begins to
cast the cotton. The cotton adhering to the seeds and
the seeds to the seed vessels, descend in showers from
the branches. It is a curious fact that there is in each
year an alternation in the condition of the Silk Cot-
on Tree; those trees that bear flowers
one year bear leaves the next and so on
'-;- Continued)

The rest of this
paragraph has
been deleted.

April (continued.
'1st. Another dry month, with a few refreshing
showers; continue to pick pimento. We usually get in
this parish two crops in one year, and one crop the
next year, and so on alternately.
lDth. Feed your hogs on cocoa-heads, hog-slip,
and plantain leaves, till guavas and mangoes come in;
pears in full bloom; cherries and cashews coming in
season; yams and cocoas scarce and dear; breadfruits,
young and many falling withered from the tree, and
are good feeding for hogs; tamarinds still in season;
sugar crops going on slowly.
15th. Plant your ground provisions, if you have
not already done so; you may also plant at the same
time and in the same place, corn, french-beans, scarlet-
runners, cock-stones, black-eye-peas, roncevale, and
other kinds of peas and beans, pumpkins and water-
melons. Finish planting your cassada and plantain;
plant also a few canes, chow-chow and oil-nut seeds.

25th. Prepare for the rainy season; "John Tuwhips"
are crying out; repair your house; mend your ways;
your means too if you can. Plough up and manure your
garden ready to plant on the opening of the season; a
few breadfruits, oranges, cluster-fruits and shaddocks
may still be had; mangoes coming in with water-melons,
pines, guavas, jack-fruit, granadillas, sweet-cups, rose-
apples, and cashews. Naseberries are in season and cher-
ries are in abundance.
30th. Breadfruits are in full season, four for 3d.
Poison duck ants with calomel, it is equally as effi-
cacious as arsenic, and is attended with no danger.
Sows ought to farrow during this month and May. Do
not plant too many plantains at once, or they will all
bear about the same time; but plant them at intervals
of a few weeks. Just before the beginning of the rainy
seasons, ants and cock-roaches swarm in the house at
nights and become a great nuisance. Ants may be des-
troyed with temper-lime, and cockroaches with red-
lead, mixed with cornmeal and molasses into a paste,
and placed where they most infest; the skin of cucum-
bers is said to have a similar effect.
* This and several other months has dates out of sequence and
more than one entry for some dates; one set probably repre-
sents Dr. Potts's supplementary notes.


Vegetation is so thoroughly dried before the
Spring rains fall, that the numerous white
Butterflies, a species of Pontia, or perhaps
of the allied genus, the Pieris of Pallas, which they
very much resemble in habit, feeding among thickets
of the Mimosa and Acacia in our arid districts, are un-
able to find a sufficiency of moisture in those places.
Butterflies suffer a great deficiency of fluid in their
transformation from the caterpillar to the winged
state. When the herbage ceases to supply them with
moisture, or the dew fails to fall upon the leaf, they
may be seen occupying a line of some miles in the
bottom of the ravines, or along roads much frequent-
ed by animals, and as they flutter here and there, or
rise and fall in congregated thousands, about pud-
dles or fresh casts of dung, their dense numbers give
the liveliest picture, which can be presented within the
tropics, of a shower of slowly descending snow.
The Earth was excessively parched before the late
Spring rain set in. The strong breeze of the Equinox
had dissipated every particle of moisture. Clouds of
dust had swept over the plains and covered the foli-
age with a thick pulverulent coating, that resisted all
absorption of the dews. Numerous decidious trees
had shed their leaves, and all vegetation was sapless
and withered. In this extremity the white Butterflies
were seen in countless multitudes along the whole
line of road between Kingston and the stagnant marsh-
es of the Ferry, forming one stirring mass of insect
life, unceasingly rising and descending to every ob-
ject that promised them the requisite supply of mois-
ture. The wide spread marshes of the Ferry gave them
space over which to wander, but even here they oc-
casionally sported in such dense groups that the fish
leaped out from the water to feed upon them. These
congregated myriads are characteristic of the Spring
rains, but are only strikingly prevalent on the road when
excessive drought ushers in the season.
After the usual May rains have fallen and the Earth
has resumed its customary verdure, the white Butter-
flies, though no longer observed congregating about
moist places, are not less numerously spread about the
meadows, if we may judge from the abundance of
them which are seen dancing over the yellow wild-
flowers, with which the fields are now prodigally
decorated. They scarcely wander from one spot or flut-

ter many yards away from some particular and favour-
ite herb. This is but one exhibition of that teeming
exuberance of insect life in our lowlands, which brings
to them several varieties of birds, in whose renewed
voices we recognize the promise of the season.
The Rice-Bunting has visited us in its nuptial plum-
age of black under feathers, and grizzled upper plum-
age. It makes a transcient nesting place of the inter-
vening islands between the Southern and Northern
Continent of America,in which last continent it builds
and breeds. By the middle of May it has entirely dis-
A third species of the Old Man Bird (surely a cor-
ruption of Amangona or Anon-bird of the Indians)
spoken of by the Bird shooters under the name of the
May bird, has been brought to me. It is a yellow-billed
Cuckoo, and identical with the Cuculus Carolinensis of
The visit of the May Bird as it migrates backward
and forward between the Southern and Northern
Continent of America, is one of the precursors of the
Spring rains in this Island. The hazy atmosphere which
precedes the showers of the Vernal season, has already
dimmed the usual lustre of the sky; the winds have
ceased, the heat has began to be irritably oppressive;
the air to assume a steamy denseness, hot and heavy;
the Butterflies have left the parched and blighted pas-
tures to congregate wherever they can find any kind of
moisture, and the insects to attract the Night-jars to
the lowlands, when the stuttering voice of this yellow-
billed Cuckoo is heard among the prognostics of the
coming rain.
The May Bird, unlike the other Cuckoo tribes with
us, that never migrate, prefers straggling trees by the
way-side to hedge-row
thickets. With the first A
rain that falls, the
hedge trees, cleared of(
their dust, have begun
to put forth fresh
foliage, and to form
those closer bowers fa-
vourable to the shy and
solitary habits of this 1
bird. It is long-winged,
and its swift arrowy .
flight, might be mis-
taken for that of some
of the common wild
pigeons. It ranges excursively, and flies horizontally,
with a noiseless speed, dropping on the topmost stems
of trees, or descending into the middlemost branches.
When alighting it betrays its presence by a sound like
the drawling- CUCK-CUCK-CUCK of a barn door
In great part of the month the thunder has rolled
exceedingly through the night, and the rains have been
precipitated with unusual violence, lasting throughout
the day, and continuing three days in succession. The
season has been a fine one, vegetation has quickened,
and, from the dry adust character of April, we are in

the green luxury of May.
1st. Usually a very dry month, more especially
towards the end; most of the estates have finished
crop; continue to break in and pick pimento.
5th. Ground provisions scarce and dear; so are
coffee, corn and castor-oil, with which we are com-
monly supplied from St. Elizabeth, and we supply
nothing in return, except a few cocoa-nuts.
10th. Turtle and black crabs in seasons, and very
fat, the latter are caught at night by torch lights; groom
and tick your horses, and apply sheep-wash mixed with
whale oil; mangoes getting ripe, the kidney mangoes
come in first, but are full of worms and only fit for
15th. Cashews and cherries in full bearing; limes
coming in; shaddocks and oranges in blossom and young
fruit; gravel (dig up) your cocoa-fingers before they
begin to sprout.

,^ ^-''" o /. ) :0V0' 1) .

20th. A good time for planting pot-herbs, flowers,
fences, shrubs, etc. the rainy season usually begins
about this date. Take good care of all your quadrupeds,
vermins take them on the slightest scratch. Calomel
kills vermin.


25th. The flowers in bloom are the hibiscus, mari-
gold-, damask, sweet and monthly roses, perri-winkle,
clerodendron, geranium, euphorbia, allamanda, Bar-
badoes pride, ( . .) salvia, red-lily, crocus and the
various jessamines. The fruits in season are a few limes,
water-melons, sweet-cups, granadillas, mangoes, cashews
and cherries. Pigs and poultry plentiful.
31st. A few new yams may be had at this early
season; very rainy weather; colds and billious fever be-
coming prevalent. Young plums should now be put in
vinegar as pickles, and in salt water as olives. When
goats and sheep are about to drop. separate them from
the hogs, or the kids and lambs will be devoured.


S he Spathelia Simplex, or Mountain Pride, up-
rears, from the Mountain forests, its plumes
o. f purple flowers in this month.
1st. A wet and sultry month; good for planting
and transplanting coffee, pimento, pines, logwood for
fences, orange, shaddock, and all other fruit trees,
shrubs and flowers.
5th. Seed yams, afoo, plantains and cocoas ought
now to be planted.
10th. Continue to break and pick pimento, and
gravel cocoa-fingers till they be done; keep your
guinea grass piece shut up, the grass is springing up
15th. The fruits in
season are mangoes,
hog-plums, granadillas,
sweet-cups, pines, limes,
water-melons, naseber-
ries and a few guavas;
guineps, pears, and other
fruits are green, and un-
fit for use. .
20th. Ground pro-
visions are scarce and .
dear, except sweet
potatoes, cassava and
cocoas; breadfruits are
coming in again, and
will be plentiful in July;
corn scarce, but getting
full in the ear. All this month the market is well
supplied with fish, pork and very fat turtle; pig-pork
in very prime condition.
25th. The flowers in blossom, in addition to those
mentioned in May, are the verbena, and the pink and
purple legerstraenia, a very beautiful flower. New
negro-yams and green corn coming to market. The
vegetables in season are beans, cock-stone, radishes,
lettuces, turnips and carrots; harbour usually bare of
30th. Billious and congestive fevers prevalent;
ginger being now young and tender, is just fit to be
,, '-^ 'ain~~~,,~nmorT^TT-n~Om ~ -

1C1~--~-----~-~-----~--- `-----"I-~~.

i L- II during this month I have observed the bam-
.7'-.o.' boos to (...) coiled and to shed them.
;..i.i lst. Usually wet for half the month and
very sultry; hurry on your pimento picking or you may
lose much by the berries ripening and falling from the
5th. Mangoes getting scarce and breadfruits plenti-
ful; guinea-grass seeding, and fit to be cut for stock;
pork plentiful in the market all this month, the usual
price 7V2d. is too much, 6d. per lb. is quite enough;
mutton selling 9d. per lb.
10th. Yellow tails, grunts, and some other fishes
are now deliciously fat; turtle ditto; pears coming in,
but will not be plentiful until August and September.
15th. Green corn coming to market, dry corn still
very scarce and dear, (7s. or 7s. 6d. per bushel,) or
4Vzd. per quart; poultry fed now on cocoanuts and
boiled breadkind.
20th. -Mustard seed
dry, and may be gather-
ed in to plant again, the
seeds though small, are
pungent, and might be
extensively cultivated
and ground for table,
instead of the adulter-
ated trash commonly
imported; new negro
yams begin to appear in
the market; sugar-beans, cluster beans, etc., are bearing
and a dish of them can be had occasionally.
25th. The sugar-loaf or green pine is plentiful,
eaten early in the morning, they cleanse and sweeten
the stomach; the guinea-corn, barbary-corn, and brown-
corn are bearing and getting dry, they are perennial;
sorrel should be sown during this month, it comes in
by Christmas to make sorrel drinks and tarts. Domestic
fowls begin to moult and will not cease till November;
cabbage-tree in blossom, a pretty flower. The flowers
in blossom are the same as in the preceding month;
fruits and vegetables ditto; Barbadoes black-birds, or
cling-cling, are returning in large flocks with their young
broods in the evening to roost on the mangroves by the
sea-shore, whence they return early each morning into
the country to feed. During the same season of incu-
bation, they remain all most in the country hatching
and tending their young, and fly to the sea-side in the
morning to feed, they make an uproarious noise at
night, with their repeated cling, cling, cling.

he Lignumvitae or Guaiacum tree, again blos-
soms; its first flowers are in May.
The Nenupher or Nymphea Lotus, is also again
in flower, after having bloomed in May.
The Bald-pate Pigeon iColumba Leucocephala) is
19th. After sunset the Brown Owl, seated on the
dead limb of a tree in some savanna, makes little cir-
cuits of about thirty feet in diameter, and returns
to perch again. I should judge that it is darting at
Coleopterous insects, occasional fire-flies being seen
wandering at about ten or a dozen feet above the
highest elevation at which the Owls are flying.
The rains, which prevail when the sun in returning
from the Summer solstice is again vertical, have fallen
within these few days. The last week has been inten-
sely hot, from 900 to I. .). The rains, however, have
moderated the heat considerably.
The Musicapa Olivacea is now but seldom heard sing-
ing that simple reiterated song, so similar to the words
"Whip Tom Kelly" and "Sweet John Tuwhit".
1st. On this day, 1838, the slaves in the Birrish
West India colonies were emancipated, and became free

uineps are now in season. The song of the
Musicapa Olivacea has entirely ceased. The
petchary or Piperi, a species of Tyrannus,
re-visits us. The Bald-pate Pigeon (Leucocephala) is
rare in the lowlands. The Sanderling (Calidris Arenaria)
and a species of Sandpiper, about seven inches long, of
mottled grey plumage, perhaps the Tringa Cmerea, and
the diminutive Sandpiper ITringa Pusillai are shot in
the lowlands, about the little pools made by the prevail-
ing rains.
Thunder daily a good deal of rain in the plains.
and every day at mid-day in the mountains.
1st. Usually close and hot with occasional show-
ers at the beginning, but grows squally and cooler co-
wards the end.
5ch. Pimento is blossoming again; guavas are com-
ing in; among planters. the fall cane-plants are usually
planted this month, and a little sugar is made from
the canes cut for procuring the tops.
10th. Coffee plants, flowers and shrubs, may

5th. This month is more or less showery and
breezy but short; pears coming in, mangoes going
out, to be replaced in turn by guavas, oranges and shad-
docks; the market is well supplied with pork and fish,
corn becoming plentiful.
10th. N.B. Lay in a quantity, well-dried for horses.
poultry and pigeons; sweet-cups, granadillas. sour-sops,
pears, guineps and plums in season; breadfruits are
Negro yams are coming plentiful to the market,
though rather dear as yet; plums always come in at the
end of the same time, when young in June, they make
good pickles in salt and water and vinegar; plant lima-
beans, and machette-beans and other climbing beans,
they will come in season at Christmas and during the dry
months of Spring.
20th. Plant cocoas and plantains; continue to
plant the latter during the two following months, when
all are planted at once, too many bear at the same rime;
domestic poultry still moulting: eggs very scarce; lap-
wings, pea-doves, and bald-pates are plentiful and fat.
25th. Ginger may still be preserved before it gets
too tough and stringy. but the best months for this
purpose are June and July.
31st. Pimento begins to blossom, the male trees
usually blossom first; pears are plentiful, pull the
common sort to feed hogs, eat the best; the flowers in
season are the verbena, marigold, hibiscus, roses. jas-
mine, balsams. wax-plant, periwinkle. rhododendron,
and marvel of Peru, etc.

be planted and transplanted this month; beans and
peas ditto; negro yams are plentiful and cheap, from
3s. 6d. to 4s.6d. per 100 Ibs. Breadfruits, six for 3d.
plantains from ten to fourteen for 3d.. young
cocoanuts, six for 3d., dry cocoanuts. tour for 3d.
20th. Dig up and clear away from your gardens
and pastures, all the wire-grass, bur-bush, and cow-itch,
and other noxious weeds, before the seeds get ripe and
full; the two last are annuals, and will not spring again,
and may be entirely extirpated; teals and gallings begin
to come in with the north squalls.
25th. The flowers in season,-are the same as in
last month; petcharies getting fat, and may be shot
very early in the morning before sun-rise: they hail the
rising sun, then disappear, and are heard no more dur-
ing the heat of the day; in October they are very fat,
but very scarce and shy, all other birds are in good
condition; lap-wings and bald-pares are plentiful. Some
very heavy showers fall during this month: chickens are
plentiful; mangoes and guineps are out of season: limes
are now ripe and plentiful, lying to rot under the trees:
pick up the limes and squeeze them, put the juice into
bottles, and cork the bottles lightly; put the tilled bot-
tles into a pot of water, and boil gently for twenty
minutes: then take out the bottles and cork them
tight at once while the lime juice is yet hot; the pre-
served lime juice will keep good for months, a little
mucJage only being deposited, which can easily be
removed by filtration, when required for use.

."'j 'he Shoveler Duck (Anas Clypeata) in season.
Z '_-rhe October Pink The Rice-Bunting, or
I Emberiza Oryzivora, re-visits us.*

1st. Squally and rainy, with lightning and thun-
der; petcharies mud fat; teals, gallings and cranes in
season: land turtles, eels, black and white crabs in prime
condition: Ortolans I butter-birdi in season, a very deli-
cious food.
5th. Your stock should have been feeding down
your established guinea.grass during the two pre-
. vious months, destroying at same time. the young


61 th. The day broke serene; the sky less trans-
F parent than usual, but not hazy. The sun rose
Switch a mass of cumulus clouds. The night was
still, and though breezeless, not hot.
29th. From the 21st. till yesterday the wind has
blown bleak from the north. The temperature of the
air is very reduced, and very chill.
I think it will be found that these sudden stormy
winds from the north coincide with the breaking up of
the Summer on the northern continent. As soon as the
sun has passed the equator, and entered the Southern
signs, sudden winter with its enduring darkness suc-
ceeds the short fervid Summer of the polar regions. It
is not however till the month of November that these
few warm hazy days, sultry, yet dull, sunny and
genial, yet shining with a pale and sickly lustre, called
by the Americans the Indian Summer, set in as the pre-
cursor of decided winter weather. In a single hour the
dull calm is changed to a snow storm; the rush of a
whirlwind sweeps where the waters lay still and un-
ruffled, and everything denotes the stern severity of a
season of unvarying cold, to continue till the return-
ing Equinox. This instantaneous rushing in of winter
changes the entire temperature of our northern hemis-
phere. The aquatic birds, which usually nestle in the
Arctic regions, hastily depart southwards. Our cus-
tomary migratory birds visit us, some to remain with

cow-itch, and other annual weeds; now close up for the
rainy season until January.

10th. Marigold, roses, convolvulus, salvia, hibiscus,
perriwinkles, jasmine, balsams, allamanda, cleroden-
dron, marvel of Perus, etc., in blossom.

15th. Pears, cocoa-plums, granadillas, sweet-cups,
sea-side grapes, breadfruits, guavas, and ackees, in full
season; oranges, shaddocks and cluster-fruits coming in,
but as yet scarce. Cut your small patch of canes, boil
into sugar, or feed your
hogs with them and
plant the tops; fowls,
turkeys, and other
poultry, getting a new,
handsome plumage;
guinea-fowls and turkeys
usually lay in March
and April: continue to
clear away cow-itch and .
bur-bush before the -- --
seeds get ripe.

us during the whole prevailing winter, others to rest
and wend their way to still more genial climates. The
nights from this time have a sensibly frosty feel.
The delicate blue
convolvulus now embel-
lishes our hedge rows
a and thickets, and the
golden cluster of the
W Cassia Alata are beauti-
fully conspicuous. The
S Malachra Capitata, a
common way-side marsh
weed with flowers that
shut at mid-day, blooms
at this season. This is
the Malva Aspera Major
Aquatica ofSloane. The
Sida Penduncularia, a
pretty malvaceous flow-
er, is in blossom.
The White-Wing Dove, resumes its stammering coo
in the mornings, and the peculiar deep and plaintive
tones of the White-Belly are again heard at day-break.
1st. Occasional showers during this month; heavy
dews at night; light fogs in the evening; sultry during
the day; cool at nights.
Frequent squalls, little thunder and lightning; pears,
guavas and pines going out; breadfruits, scarce; limes
still plentiful and fully ripe, good opportunities to make
santa;* oranges coming in; ackees, ditto; granadillas,
10th. Common yams still plentiful, cheap and
flowry, from six to seven for 3d.; beans of various sorts
bearing; guinea-corn, broom-corn, and barbary-corn
also in full bearing; pimento blossoming; papaus bearing;
indeed, they blossom and bear almost continually until
they perish.

_ ~ ~~~~_ ~ I

25th. Common
Sm yams are plentiful and
cheap, lay in a supply,
they will keep for two
or three weeks whole,
or they may be peeled,
dried, and reduced to

31st. Ackees will keep good in salt and water for
five months and more; pick the ackees just before the
red skin bursts open and soak them in salt and water
before bottling them up; Penguin fruit ripens, and
makes good wine.
Cocoanut oil congeals at night; camphor clarifies
and retards the congelation; from ten to twelve dry
cocoanuts make a bottle of oil; the young nuts take
seventeen months to grow, get dry, and drop from the

* Three paragraphs dealing with the weather have been deleted.

15th. Canes begin to arrow, they rarely shoot their
arrows before the second week of November; some
estates have begun crop; fresh pork is still plentiful,
from 6d. to 7V2d. per lb. buy and corn a quantity for
home use; French beans and black-eye peas should be
planted now, they have less vine and bear better.

20th. Irish pota-
toes thrive well at this
season of the year; if
planted now, they may
be searched in Feb-
-ruary; the- large tub-
ers removed, the roots -- 'i
moulded up again and ._ .
suffered to remain till-
the end of March when *S. "
they may be finally dug
up yielding another crop of good potatoes; they are
best planted whole. Pindars (ground nuts) are ripe, and
must be dug up at once; the pindars grown in this coun-
try are much larger than those imported; feed your
hogs on canes, sour cornmeal, cocoa-heads, and plan-
tain leaves, as there are no fruits for them to feed on;
they will become very tame.
31st. Plant your cabbage sprouts now on well-
manured beds, leaving the old cabbage-stalk to sup-
ply fresh plants; coffee and castor-oil are plentiful in
the market, and cheap; some corn may also be had;
put up a supply, you will get no more till May or
June; a few fowls begin to lay about this time, and are
very fat; use or sell the first batch of eggs and let your
hens lay again; a few mango-trees are in blossom. The
flowers in blossom are the same as in the previous
month, except the ponchetta, which has displayed its
crimson leaves.
Santa: "A drink prepared with fruit juice, sugar, rum, and
other ingredients; formerly much drunk" DJE.

th. The northerly winds have so evaporated
the moisture of the earth, that notwithstand-
ing the recent rains, the country is already
looking hungry. As a sign of the prevalence of drought,
I perceive a small species of white Butterfly gathered in
groups of a couple of hundreds dancing over moist
spots in the roads. These are almost the only Butterflies
now visible.
The month has passed with an unusual quantity of
rain heavy showers repeatedly falling at the shut-
ting in of night.

1st. This month is usually dry and cool with an
occasional shower; the estates are busy with their
crops till Christmas, when labour ceases during the
holidays; oranges, shaddocks, and cluster-fruits getting
5th. All sorts of fruit are scarce except those
above-mentioned; sugar-beans, cluster-beans, in season;
machette-beans and breadfruit coming in.
10th..- .imento continues to bloom;-a few mangoe-
trees ditto; the same flowers blossom as in last month;
but the marigold and the morn-
ing star are fading away.
15th. Seed yams
coming to market, but
will not be plentiful till
January and February;
eggs becoming plentiful;
feed your fowls well
that they may be strong
and healthy; manage
your sows, so that they
may farrow in April
(four months time)
when mangoes, guavas,
and cherries will be get-
ting ripe; the pigs may get strong to bear the rainy season
in May and June.

20th. Logrood blossoms at the end ofthis month.
and is covered with thousands or industrious noisN
bees: bottle off .our annual supply of orange wirne
and shrub, and prepare to make a fresh quantity .
while the oranges are in season for the coming year;
Sorrel comming into the market

- --~ -L

Cou tesY Aviso ~ and gusb 5

Conversation with

C.L.R. James

By Pamela Beshoff

C.L.R. James, a 'renaissance man' of the
Caribbean, was born. in Trinidad in 1901.
James is listed in the biographical intro-
duction to his latest work, At the Rendez-
vous of Victory (Allison and Busby 1984), as
'the author of historical studies, a novel, short
stories, a play; early Pan Africanist and a
seminal figure in black politics on three con-
tinents; writer on Hegel and philosophy, poli-
tical visionary and a major innovator in work-
ing class Marxist theory and working class
organisation; literary critic and commentator
on art and sport; prolific correspondent, and
above all a participant, teacher and activist
in the events of his time'. James's most popu-
lar work is the now classic study of the Haitian
revolution, The Black Jacobins. James has
been hailed by The Times of London as 'The
prophet and intellectual father of West Indian
and African independence'. According to the
Sunday Times, 'He has arguably had a greater
influence on the underlying thinking of in-
d dependence movements in the West Indies
and Africa than any living man'. A compre-
hensive bibliography of James's work and stu-
J dies of this work appear in At The Rendez-
vous of Victory.
In 1979 James was one of three outstanding
West Indians who were made honorary Fellows
of the Institute of Jamaica as part of the
Institute's centenary celebrations. (The others
were Rt. Hon. Edna Manley, O.M. and Sir
Philip Sherlock.)
In August 1985, some months before his 85th
birthday, Pamela Beshoff visited James in
Brixton, England, where he now lives. Their
talk began with James's early literary circle in
Trinidad and ranged from thence to Toussaint
L'Ouverture, to Trotsky, literature, cricket,
Marcus Garvey, Pan-Africanism and revolu-
tion before returning to the West Indies and
the influence of his political ideas.

PB: In the thirties you established
a small group of writers, was it
The Beacon?

CLR: The Beacon came out of it but
we didn't establish The Bea-
con.1 We were writing before
and we decided to call it some-
thing. We were writing and
publishing wherever we could
and we would publish ourselves
but we didn't form The Beacon
but after writing and publishing
we said we will call this some-
thing and called it The Beacon.

And the group consisted of yourself and
.... ?
Alfred M.endes, a most important mem-
ber, a man of energy and determination
to be published.

I have read his Pitch Lake. 2

His work I didn't think was so distin-
guished but what I know was his deter-
mination to keep the group going and
really he was the central figure. Then
there was another man, a tall boy named
Evans, Frank Evans, a gifted boy but
idle, had a lot of ability and another fair
skinned boy named Daly and there was a
young man at the library, Carlton Com-
ma. All of them didn't write but we
formed a group which was concerned

with books. Those names meant any-
thing to you?

Those didn't but what about Ralph
de Boissibre?

Ralph de Boissiere yes but he wasn't
there at the beginning. He was near tQ
us, a younger fellow, then he went to
Australia and he was published in Aus-
tralia.3 He was one of us but a different
And Albert Gomes?
He came late and kept it going when we
had stopped. He had had literary com-
pany in the United States. There were
literary writers and a literary circle in
New York and he had been one. He
hadn't done much but he had been
around. He knew the names of Ameri-
can writers and what they were like and
was quite an addition to our circle.

What was it about Trinidad that gave
the impetus to this intellectual gather-
ing because on the whole, as I think you
have said yourself many times, the West
Indies is anti-intellectual, isn't it?

It is not anti-intellectual but it is in-
different. Well, Trinidad. If anything
there I was, an intellectual concerned
with books and then there was Mendes,
an intellectual concerned with books
whose father had money. A wealthy
merchant and I believe that had a lot
to do with it. There were two people in-
terested in books and publications and
one of them had money.

And that meant access to outside jour-

Access to outside journals and being
able to meet and publish in Trinidad.
Oh yes.
Anyway, you decided to come to Eng-

I had to come to England because from
early I had made up my mind, God
knows why, that I was going to be a
writer and to be a writer and to live by
writing could not be done in the Carib-

Not still, I believe.

I think it is still difficult but nowadays
it would be easier. But in those days my
writing was ranging to the left and the
Gazette and Guardian you could
write for them but they were to the
right. So for me to make my living as a
writer I had to go abroad and I was very
lucky, I was full of energy and foresight

and I was very friendly with Learie Con-
stantine, the great cricketer, who was
well established in England and I told
him well I am waiting till I get some
money to go. He said, come on, come
and stay at my house.

And when you left, did you take with
you the Life of Captain Cipriani?4

Oh yes. That was already written.

I have never been able to get hold of
that, only what has been reprinted as
The Case for West Indian Self-Govern-

That is the same book. Not exactly the
same book, but a summary. I wrote that
because I wanted to write something
and I went abroad and here comes a story
that interests me. I had been a cricket
journalist, a cricket fanatic, for years,
much to the amusement and even the
laughter James with his books on
cricket. And there were lots of comic
episodes whereby James at cricket
people would bowl him and he would
read the books to know how to play.
But I kept on. I was interested in the
game and I went to England in 1932,
March, and in September or August
1932 I saw a famous English cricketer, a
man named Barnes. He came to Nelson6
and he played in a match and I was very
much stirred and I wrote an article about

About Barnes?

S.F. Barnes. A famous finest bowler,
and I wrote an article about Barnes and
I asked Constantine, what shall I do
with this? And he told me send it to
Neville Cardus, who was the famous
cricket writer of the Guardian, and tell
him in your letter that I told you to
send it. So I sent it to Cardus asking him
if he knew anybody around who would
publish it. Cardus wrote to me and told
me the Guardian would publish it and
when you come to Manchester next,
come in to see us, we would like to see
you.7 So within a week I found some
business to go to Manchester on and
I went to see Mr Cardus and he said we
are looking for somebody to write
reports for us, will you? And I said yes.
And so within a year I got a job with
the Guardian which is what I would
have chosen. I wouldn't have chosen The
Times, I would have chosen the Guard-
ian. And that created quite a sensation
because when I left the Caribbean to go
to England to write, many people were
quite sceptical and said James is a com-

plete idiot you don't go to England
to write. You get a basis first and then
you go. What is he going to write? He
believes it is Trinidad and you write for
the Guardian.8 But one article and they
said yes, come and I got a job and have
been a cricket writer ever since. That to
me is quite an event you know.
So the cricket and the desire to write
coalesced into an opportunity...
Yes. But I also wanted to write short
stories. And in 1928 I had written a
short story which had been published
among the best short stories of 1928,
"La Divina Pastora".9 Then another
story called "Triumph",10 which is a
masterpiece of a story, published the
next year and it was noted that that
was a good one and I became a writer.

Did you take the script of Minty Alleyl1
with you to England or did you write it
No, I had written it before, two or three
years before and I had written Minty
Alley not for the sake of the book but
to practice writing.
The hero of Minty Alley, Haynes, is a
writer. Did you see yourself in him a
A bit. A young intellectual among the
ordinary people and if I had to write of a
black intellectual among the ordinary
people who could it be but me. And the
ordinary people, they were all char-
acters whom I knew. I had a novel in
script and I had the best short stories of
1928 and I went abroad and then I wrote
an article for the Guardian on Barnes
and they told me come and work for
us I had no difficulty almost auto-
matically everybody accepted me for
which I was duly grateful and then went
ahead my own way and wrote about
So The Case for West Indian Self-Govern-
ment and the jump to what the Haitians
had done about governing themselves in
The Black Jacobins?12 That must have
taken a tremendous amount of scholar-
ship. How did you get the papers? Did
you go to France?

I went to France. I spent about eight
months in France. A great deal of the
work on the Haitian revolution had
been done in France. That was part of
French history.

Had you learned French at school in

Yes, I learned French at school in Trini-

dad and was very familiar with French
literature, Racine, Corneille and all such
like. So I began to read and I wanted to
write the history of Toussaint L'Ouver-
ture and I went to England, nobody had
written about this, then I went over to
Paris and a lot of French writers had
written so I bought the books and took
them away to England. But I examined,
in France, what these other writers had
not paid attention to, the rank and file,
the ordinary people, the slaves, so that
with all their accumulation and my new
Marxist attitude, because I had studied
Marxism, a good book came out. Up to
now I read it sometimes, it is still a good
book; it isn't a book that I would write

Why is that?

Because I would be more interested in
the mass of the population and less in-
terested in the intellectuals and leaders.
That is my view of history now but the
book stands up it's a good book and
much of the literature is still valuable
and is not collected today but yet that
book will stand up. It's a valuable book.
Another thing that that book is notable
for is another thing that I look at with
great interest, the year it was publish-
ed 1938. Nobody was publishing such
books in '38. The books came after the
war and as a result of The Black Jacobins.
In 1938 The Black Jacobins was a
solitary book people wondered why.

What happened to Haiti between Tous-
saint and Duvalier?
The kind of mistake that people make is
to compare Haiti with Kenya and modern
states. When Haiti became independent
nobody cared anything about colonial
freedom. Here was an isolated set of
people not connected with anything,
nobody interested, in constant danger
of being attacked and recaptured by the
French who kept on saying, 'This is our
colony'. So that whatever money they
made, they spent on arms and soldiers.
You only have to look at the environ-
ment to see what happened to them -
they couldn't do anything because no-
body had any interest and the only in-
terest people had in them was to take
them back as a colony. They were not
recognized by the United States until
Abraham Lincoln in eighteen sixty-
something. So they were not recog-
nised by the United States since 1800,
1798 or 1803, that meant for 60 years
they were people who could be attacked
by anybody. So they had one thing to
do, to get arms and train an army. For

60 years that was all. Oh yes. To me
that they did what they did and won
and lasted, that's enough. That puts
them in a place in history which cannot
be forgotten or lightly treated. They are
historical figures.

So then you went to the United States
in 1938?

I went from England to the United
States and there I did a lot of work on
black history. When I reached the United
States in 1939 they were not particular-
ly interested in the history of the black
people but I had been trained in the his-
tory of the French Revolution and the
role the blacks had played in it so I had
a look at the history of the American
Revolution the Civil War. I don't
know, I hope it will be remembered, in
the United States I insisted and brought
to the fore the role that blacks had play-
ed in the Civil War.

Was it about this time you wrote the
History of Negro Revolt?13

No, no. That's a very good question. I
had written the History of Negro Re-
volt before I left Britain so that the idea
that a lot of people have today that
James went to the United States and
the black people taught him the history
of negro revolt is quite untrue. If you
look at the History of Negro Revolt,
1938, before I left, I was interested in
blacks from the point of view of history
and I was interested not in blacks in
particular the St. Domingue revolu-
tion was the study of a revolution -
but when I went to the United States
they said, yes, James, a student of
Marxism, etc. but they taught me the
necessity of making black people and
black slaves a part of the revolutionary
struggle. Oh yes. Not they in the abstract.
A boy named George Padmore whom I
knew his father was a teacher, my
father was one we were boys together
- we used to go in the Arima River
together as boys and I met him in the
United States and he had become a

So Padmore was in the United States
when you got there?

Or he came very soon. He had been to
Moscow and had quarrelled with them
in Moscow and when he came to the
United States he came to me. I didn't
know who George Padmore was and
here comes my old friend Malcolm
Nurse we were boys together. Our
parents knew one another.14

Just to go back to the History of Negro
Revolt for a moment in that you first
raised the point that it was economics
rather than Wilberforce and so on which
precipitated the fall of slavery, an argu-
ment later taken up by Eric Williams in
his thesis?15

It was taken up by Williams and people
think that he was responsible but he got
it from me and I make it quite clear that
I didn't discover it, it was in the French
writers I found it there. The important
part of the work I did was that I made
it part of the British because when I
wrote it the British had all been think-
ing that this had happened because of
Wilberforce and then Williams took it

Also you made reference there to the
Levellers, all the rage now.16

I was interested in the revolution and
the early days of the Levellers helped
me to write The Black Jacobins. Look-
ing at what they did and so on I saw the
blacks in The Black Jacobins more clear-
ly. Oh yes. Marxism taught me a lot.

I don't quite see what was the insight
that Marxism gave you that helped you
with The Black Jacobins.

The insight was that revolutions are made
not by the leaders and not by the writers
and not by those who agitate but by the
ordinary people. That those above are
expressing what the ordinary people are
doing. In other words, I began by seeing
history as the ordinary historian still
sees it, as gifted people leading the mass.
Marxism taught me otherwise. Marxism
taught me look at what the mass is
doing and you will see that the leaders
are merely following them and doing
what they want. Lenin had made that
clear. Trotsky asked Lenin: time and
again we both put forward ideas and it
turns out that you are opposed to us,
and you are right, how does that hap-
pen? And Lenin told him: I am watch-
ing what the mass of the people want
and I see what they want and what they
are doing is going to be policy tomorrow.
That is stated in the literature.

When was it you translated Souvarine's
biography of Stalin?17 Was that in
England or the U.S.?

That was in 1938 in England and then
something happened that made the
book very popular . Stalin overthrew
Trotsky or something like that....

The pact between Hitler and Stalin?


So in the U.S. you became an adherent
of Trotsky?

Yes. I had been that before I left. I be-
came an adherent of Trotsky and went
to Mexico to see Trotsky at Coyoacan
but this may sound fanciful I had
had a lot of doubts about Trotskyism in
1937-38 and I went to see Trotsky and
spent some days talking to him and the
truth is that when I left him I was quite
determined that I was finished with
Trotskyism. The reason is because ques-
tions that I had been doubtful about he
hadn't been able to answer and when I
looked over what he had said ...

Was this to do with the role of black
people in the United States?

No. Trotsky is not never I never
was tangled up in the black role in the
United States, never. I am a British
Marxist and the British Marxists were
not tangled up with black people because
there were no black people in Britain
then. And you will read my book on
Marxism and black people I don't
mention the Caribbean. Africa, not
Britain, but people like to say that I had
found that Trotsky's position on the
black question was wrong. I found (and
the data are there in the book) that
Trotsky's position on Russia was wrong.
He kept on saying do you know what
is the trouble Trotsky said in 1914
Lenin was part of the social democracy
but that the war told him that the social
democracy was wrong. He formed the
Third International then the develop-
ment of the war broke up the Third
International and Lenin took over. Trot-
sky's idea was that the Third International
was therein 1939 and the Trotskyists were
part of it. The war would break up the
Third International and Trotsky's Fourth
International would take over. So in
other words he found in the history and
historical movement ... But I said No!
The Third International is not going to
break up and Trotsky would believe
that living in Mexico. But I knew them
in London, in Paris and I knew they
weren't going to break up and I said no
and people asked me what do you pro-
pose instead and I said I propose nothing.
We have had the First International,
we have had the Second, we have had
the Third. I said workers are not going
to join the Fourth, the Fourth will be
joined by students in universities and
intellectuals running about but there
will be no big Fourth International and

there wasn't. I said the mass of the
workers can do what they want to do -
they haven't to join an International to
lead them. I said there are tens of thou-
sands of workers in the Detriot plants,
tens of thousands in Paris, tens of thou-
sands in Britain. There is no need to be
led by an International.18

Can I just take you back to the black
question because I seem to be under the
impression that in your talk with Trot-
sky in Mexico you suggested that black
people in the United States should have
their own organization which would not
be subject to the rulings of white

I did not say that. I want it to be very
clear. That was a question that came up
and my position was if black people
wanted, they are quite entitled to have
it but I went on to say I don't believe
they want it. I have been in the United
States and I see no feeling among black
people of wishing to form a black organ-
isation. But that is in the discussion
with Trotsky. Oh yes. But when I said
that if they wanted it then some who
wanted to run and say James says .... I
never advocated any such thing.

Between 1938 when you saw Trotsky
and 1952 when you left the United
States I don't seem able to follow your
career. To me it is a gap. Were you writ-
ing a lot?

I was teaching. I had jobs at universities.
I was lecturing at a university in New
York, I did a year at Harvard and a
season at Yale everywhere, I went
over to California. People were anxious
to have me speaking but the difficulty
was they wanted me to stay there and I
didn't object to it but to stay there and
take a job I had to become a citizen of
the United States and I said that I will
not do.20Not for anything in particular.

In 1952 you left the United States and
I think I read somewhere that you want-
ed to write three books, Mariners,
Beyond a Boundary .. .al

Did I say I wanted to write those books?
I may have said so but I don't know
that I had them in mind but I had
Mariners in mind because I thought that
Herman Melville was a writer who did
not receive the consideration that was
his. I thought he was the finest writer
in the U.S. and I had said so in one or
two places and they seemed blank so I
said I would write it down. Moby Dick
is a tremendous book. I said this man

Melville is quite a . no American had
written and here was I, a stranger, and I
felt there was a tremendous gap in
American writing so I went in to fill it.
I was somewhat angry about it, I said
why the hell should I come from the
Caribbean to write this. Anyway I did
it and it has held its own and is still
holding its place, still a valuable book.
The Americans somehow, the intel-
lectuals do not appreciate that book
because it is not a literary book at all.
It is not about intellectuals the intel-
lectual in it is nobody. It is about the
sea and people and things, which in my
opinion is what makes it the book it
is, a book by an intellectual about non-
intellectuals. That's what made me
write about it. I said not many intel-
lectuals go and write about the sea,
they write about how the intellectual
looks at the sea and has a lot of thoughts
and that is what they write about but
this is about the action.

So you then came back to England and
is that perhaps when you wrote Beyond
a Boundary?

No. I went to the Caribbean to teach, to
lecture at the university, between Jam-
aica and Trinidad.

This is when you gave the lectures later
published as Modern Politics?22

Yes. Then I came back to England and
started reporting cricket again and
Beyond a Boundary was written in

So the Trinidad that you had left in
1932 by now, 30 years later, was in-

In terms of government. But it was the
same Trinidad except the younger
black people were confident that they
could go places but fundamentally the
country hadn't changed very much. You
see in Africa and in Asia independence
meant a rebirth of something native,
something that belonged to them. The
Caribbean has nothing native, no lan-
guage, no clothing, no habits, no prac-
tices, the Caribbean is merely a repeat
of Western civilization in a tropical
country, that's all.

But interestingly enough the impetus
for Pan-Africanism all came from the

Yes, because they hadn't anything of

their own. You find time and again, we
all in London we started, I started
the Pan-African Movement because we
were looking for ways of taking part
in that upheaval that followed the war
and there was nothing in the Caribbean
so we went into Africa. I am sorry it is
not more heroic than that but that's
what it was. There was Padmore, there
was me, there was Amy Garvey, there
were one or two others and we had
nothing in the Caribbean, there was
nothing in the United States either but
Africa was there.

As you mention Amy Garvey, what is
your considered view of Marcus Garvey?

My conception of what Marcus Garvey
did and what he was has grown. I
can put it this way. Before Marcus Gar-
vey, there was no black movement. The
black movements that we have today all
started with him and when you con-
sider what it was, and I know what it
was to be a black person in those days
-blacks were essentially people who til-
led the soil and carried, but for Garvey
to come forward and say some of the
things he said (some of the things were
quite absurd) that was a tremendous
vision. The only person I know who
can be compared to what Garvey did is
Adolph Hitler. Adolph Hitler came for-
ward and upset the traditions of Western
civilisation. They had the growth of
democracy, 1789 and everything and
Adolph Hitler said No! Race and blood
matter and the Germans upsetcomplete-
ly the mentality and outlook of Western

But in view of what Hitler's conception
ended up in, surely the comparison with
Garvey is an unwelcome one?

I am not comparing Garvey to Hitler. I
am comparing one historical movement
and another historical movement that
is the only thing I know that can be put
side by side with it. I would not say
anything to lessen or discredit what Gar-
vey meant, I think you have to take that
for granted, that is not what I am doing.
There were these two men who upset the
mental conception of modern history
because before Hitler progress for demo-
cracy race was subordinate and be-
fore Garvey, race dominated the black
people. Western civilisation, the concepts
were destroyed and new ones had to
begin they came from the Russian
Revolution and Hitler was developed
up to a point. But after the breakup
after Napoleon in 1815, Europe had a
hundred years, up to 1914, of peace-

ful development and it looked as if it
was going to go that way. But since
that time the 20th century is the most
disturbed century in the history of man-
kind. 1815 to 1914 was peaceful and
everything seemed to be developing and
the two persons who did that were on
the one hand Adolph Hitler, who broke
up the traditions, and Marcus Garvey,
who had a positive role. He unleashed
the revolutionary capacity of blacks and
colonial people. When you consider
what that did it was part of the break-
up of the 19th century -you realise that
Garvey played a tremendous role. Gar-
vey was a great historical figure. The
world lived according tocertain relations,
the world lived up to 1914 in the pro-
gressive development of democracy for
everybody and the colonial peoples
were to develop and in time become
democratic, etc. World War I finished
up with that and Garvey said No All
black people and people of colour are
going to be free. He said a lot of things
that had no historical basis but his in-
stincts were sound and he was very
bold, very bold. I knew Garvey quite
well. He would say, 'Well, James, how
are you. You and I don't say the same
things, James, but we are headed in the
same direction.'

Your paths must have crossed in

In the U.S. We never crossed because I
never quarrelled with Garvey.

No, I mean in the sense that you met.

We met, yes. I wouldn't quarrel with
Garvey. I disagreed with Garvey. In my
early writing I made some stupid criti-
cisms. Later I realized that Garvey be-
gan that movement. Because various
other movements in various other parts
of the world, they came from Garvey.
What I found vastly comic and vastly
historical was that there were move-
ments somewhere in Latin America and
in the Malay States and other anti-
imperialist movements that called them-
selves Garvey. They didn't know Garvey,
they knew nothing about Garvey and
Garvey knew nothing about them, but
they engaged the imperialists and they
said Garvey.
The role of ideas, eh?

Not so much ideas, but organization,
and the impact that Garvey made. He
was quite a man.

We started in Trinidad and we have
gone to Toussaint and to Trotsky. Can

we return to Trinidad. When you were
giving your lectures there in the 1960s,
that must have been a time when West
Indians who later came to government,
like Maurice Bishop, for example, must
have been influenced by your work?

They were influenced.
There seems to be a difference of opin-
ion as to whether Jamesian ideas of
workers' councils influenced the Grenada
Revolution or not. What is your view of

I don't believe that the ideas of work-
ers' councils influenced, in that the
councils were formed because of James's
ideas, I may have said so before this
morning. I don't believe history goes
that way. They form the councils a
small island, people perhaps close to one
another and they formed it and then
people say, 'James said', so they be-
come a part of history. But no. I don't
think so. And that has been an indepen-
dent movement. The Grenada people
had formed the national organisation
before the great upheaval. Oh yes.

I was asking that question in trying to
get at some idea of whether in the re-
volutionary government of Grenada
they were carrying out a vanguard party
type of government or whether they
were consciously or unconsciously work-
ing towards the kind of workers' coun-
cils ideas that you had really been
speaking about for 30 years.23

What I think about this is very clear.
That ultimately any revolutionary move-
ment today is going to end up in workers'
councils. They may not call them work-
ers' councils but that is the way. Because
up to World War I the movement was to-
wards social democracy to form the
Second International, up to World
War II and after World War II the move-
ment was to form Soviets but still the
mass organisation leading the workers.
But today and in the last few years
workers don't wish to be led by any-
body. The organisation of society is so
concentrated and workers are in such
step with one another that when they
get together they don't want any lead-
ers they don't mind a leader you
must always have a leader two people
walking down the road one must be a
leader, but they don't want leadership
in the form of an organisation that tells
them what to do. My point is the whole
tendency of modern society is against
that. Whereas 100 years ago the ten-
dency was to form an organisation to

lead, today the organisation is so organic
a part of society that the organisation to
lead is no longer a necessity. History has
moved and I am always interested in his-
torical development and the absence of
these historical leaders. If James deserves
to have any credit it is for seeing that
that was going to be, and if you look at
my writings properly you will see I have
been saying so a long time. The modern
worker in a plant doesn't need parties
today to lead him. That's what I have
been saying and I would be glad if you
are working at it if you found the date
on which I said that.24

Said what?

That these little parties are no longer

You have said so in many places, no?

I know, but I said it early. That's the
point I want to make.

1. For a discussion of The Beacon group,
see Kenneth Ramchand, The West Indian
Novel and its Background (London:
Faber and Faber, 1970) pp.63-65.

2. Alfred Mendes, Pitch Lake (London:
Duckworth, 1934) has been republished
(London: New Beacon Books, 1980), as
has also Alfred Mendes, Black Fauns
(London: Duckworth, 1935; London:
New Beacon, 1984). For Mendes's refer-
ences to James's involvement with The
Beacon see Alfred H. Mendes, "Talking
about the Thirties", interview with Clif-
ford Sealy in Voices, I, Trinidad, 5 Dec-
ember 1965, pp.3-7.

3. Ralph de Boissiere, Crown Jewel, first
published in Australia in 1952, now pub-
lished in Britain simultaneously by Alli-
son and Busby Ltd. and in Picador by
Pan Books Ltd. in 1981; also Rum and
Coca Cola, first published by Australasian
Book Society, Melbourne: 1956, now
published in a revised edition (London:
Allison and Busby, 1984).

4. The Life of Captain Cipriani: An Ac-
count of British Government in the
West Indies (Nelson: Lancashire, Coulton

5. Three chapters of The Life of Captain
Cipriani were published under the title
of The Case for West Indian Self-Govern-
ment (London: Hogarth Press, 1933);
an extract is included in C.L.R. James,

The Future in the Present Selected Wri-
tings, Volume 1, (London: Allison and
Busby, 1977) pp. 25-40.
6. Nelson in Lancashire, where Learie Con-
stantine had settled and where James
went to stay when he arrived in England.

7. "The Greatest of all Bowlers", James's
article on Barnes, was published in the
Manchester Guardian, 1 September 1932.

8. On this occasion the reference appears to
be to the Trinidad Guardian.

9. "La Divina Pastora" published in Satur-
day Review, 15 October 1927; reprinted
in E.J. O'Brien (ed), Best Short Stories
(London: 1928) and most recently in
C.L.R. James, Spheres of Existence,
Selected Writings Volume 2 (London:
Allison and Busby, 1980) pp.5-8.

10. "Triumph" published in Trinidad, Vol-
ume 1, No. 1, Christmas 1929, most re-
cently in The Future in The Present,
pp. 11-24.

11. C.L.R. James, Minty Alley (London:
Seeker and Warburg, 1936) new edition
(London and Port of Spain: New Beacon
Books, 1971).

12. C.L.R. James, The Black Jacobins:
Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San
Domingo Revolution (London: Secker
and Warburg, 1938) and most recent-
ly (London: Allison and Busby, 1980).

13. C.L.R. James, A History of Negro Re-
volt, Fact monograph No. 18, London:
September 1938; revised and reissued as
A History of Pan-African Revolt, (Wash-
ington: Drum and Spear Press, 1969).

14. For James's account of Padmore see
"George Padmore: Black Marxist Revolu-
tionary A Memoir" in C.L.R. James,
At the Rendezvous of Victory, Selected
Writings, Vol. 3, (London: Allison and
Busby, 1984) pp. 251-263.

15. Eric Williams's doctoral dissertation,
"The Economic Aspect of the Abolition
of the British West Indian Slave Trade
and Slavery", was submitted to the
Faculty of Modern History of Oxford
University in September 1938. Itwas first
published in the United States and later
in England under the title Capitalism and
Slavery (London: Andre Deutsch, 1964).

16. For the views of two radical British
historians on the role of the Levellers,
see E.P. Thompson, The Making of the
English Working Class (Harmondsworth,
Middlesex, England: Penguin Books,
1968) pp.24-26 and Christopher Hill,
The World Turned Upside Down: Radi-
cal Ideas during the English Revolution
(Harmondsworth, Middlesex, Penguin
Books: 1975) Ch. 7.

17. Boris Souvarine, Stalin, translated by
C.L.R. James (London: Secker and War-
burg, 1939).

18. See also C.L.R. James, World Revolu-
tion 1917-1936: The Rise and Fall of

the Communist International (London:
Secker and Warburg, 1937) written be-
fore his disillusionment with Trotsky
and the Fourth International.

19. See "Discussions with Trotsky" in At
the Rendezvous of Victory, pp. 33-64.
See also "The Revolutionary Answer to
the Negro Problem in the U.S.A." in
The Future in the Present, pp.119-127.

20. On transcribing the tape of this interview,
it occurred to me that this answer ap-
pears to relate to the period of James's
later return to the United States in the
late 1960s and early 1970s. Nevertheless,
since this is the answer he gave, I have re-
produced it.

21. Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: The
story of Herman Melville and the world
we live in, was written on Ellis Island in
1952 where James was awaiting deport-
ation from the United States. It was pri-
vately published in New York in 1953.
New edition (London: Allison and Bus-
by, 1985); Beyond a Boundary (London:
Stanley Paul/Hutchinson, 1963) also
(Kingston: Sangster's/Hutchinson, 1963).
22. C.L.R. James Modern Politics (Port of
Spain: PNM Publishing Co., 1960);
new edition: (Detroit: Bewick, 1973).

23. The development of James's ideas on
worker's councils is too large a subject
to be dealt with in a footnote; neverthe-
less reference can be made to "Every
Cook Can Govern: A Study of Demo-
cracy in Ancient Greece" first publish-
ed in the Detroit based journal Corres-
pondence in 1956, most recently in The
Future in the Present pp.160-174;
"Workers Councils in Hungary" in
C.L.R. James, Grace C. Lee, Pierre
Chaulieu, Facing Reality (Detroit: Cor-
respondence Publishing Co., 1958) and
"Poland (1981)" in At the Rendezvous
of Victory, p. 271-273.

24. The challenge here thrown down by
C.L.R. James to students of his work is
not one that, so far as I can determine,
has ever been taken up. There is, dis-
appointingly, but perhaps not surprising-
ly, no scholarly study of James qua
Marxist, although there is some analysis
of James qua black Marxist (see, for ex-
ample, "C.L.R. James and the Black
Radical Tradition" in Cedric Robinson,
Black Marxism, (London: Zed Books,
1983) pp.349-415. This may in part be
due to the obscurity surrounding his
work in the 15 years he spent in the Uni-
ted States between 1938-1953 when,
more often than not, he wrote under
various pseudonyms, although as one
writer has noted, this was the period in
which he produced 'the intellectual cor-
pus of his philosophical-analytical ad-
vance beyond the notions of the Van-
guard Party, his critique of State Capital-
ism and State Socialism as the class form-
ation to be overcome, and his cultural
critique of industrial society through the
pages of Moby Dick' (Paul Buhle, 'Intro-
duction' in Urgent Tasks, No. 12, Sum-
mer 1981, special edition on C.L.R.
James, his life and work) p2.

Philip Gosse

and the

Natural History

of Jamaica

By J.D. Woodley

Gosse's Jamaica 1844-45. D.B. Stewart (ed.)
Institute of Jamaica Publications, 1984. J$70 U.S.$25.00

Gosse's Three Books on Jamaica
Philip Gosse was a great English naturalist of the 19th
century, who came to study the flora and fauna of
Jamaica for a year and a half in the 1840s. He was
then in his middle thirties, an enthusiastic and indefatigable
collector and observer, who achieved a prodigious amount
during that short stay. We can be grateful that he was also
an accomplished writer and artist, and, charmed and delight-
ed by his experiences in Jamaica, published three popular
books within five years of his return to England. These were
The Birds of Jamaica (1847), Illustrations of the Birds of
Jamaica (1849) and A Naturalist's Sojourn in Jamaica
(1851). Each one is a classic of its kind. Thus, I am here
reviewing not one book, but four; three by Gosse and the
present volume, which has been distilled from them by
David Stewart, erstwhile professor of obstetrics and gynae-
cology at the University of the West Indies.
The Birds of Jamaica is a systematic account of all species
recorded at that time. One of the foremost ornithologists
of the 20th century, David Lack, said that 'it was far ahead of
its time, and remained one of the best bird books on any part
of the world for at least half a century'. What was special
about this, and Gosse's other books, was his dedication to
the idea that natural history should be much more than 'a
science of dead things'. Rather, just as history 'is the record
of the actions of men, the circumstances in which they acted,
their characters, the influence of their lives upon society,
their connection with times preceding and following their
own, and other points of interest, not one of which could be
gathered from a description of their dead and preserved

bodies, though ever so exact and minute', so natural history
should investigate and record 'the condition of living things,
of things in a state of nature; of animals, of living animals'.
He goes on to cite, in a long and breathless list, categories
that we can now recognize as a fairly comprehensive set of
topics in ethology and ecology, which did not become organ-
ized disciplines until the present century. Thus, in the Birds,
formal descriptions are relegated to footnotes, terse and clear
as Latin, while the main text recounts Gosse's observations
on occurrence, behaviour and curiosities of structure. These
are complemented by the many contributions of his modest
friend Richard Hill (of Spanish Town), enhanced by brilliant
and perceptive descriptions, and enlivened by many anecdotes.
His well-chosen phrases catch the character of a bird, often
by skilful anthropomorphism. I think that everyone will
recognize what, Gosse says, 'is one of the first birds which
a stranger notices: his conspicuous size and glossy plumage,
his familiar business-like manners, and his very peculiar
metallic cry, at once attract attention. Gregarious . .not
often hopping... but walking with a swaggering gait'. Similar-
ly, have you not seen Pelicans 'in the evening . pursuing
their laborious course to repose'? Or, visualize a Banana quit
as, after alighting on a flowering tree, it proceeds 'to peep
into the flowers, hopping actively from twig to twig, and
throwing the body into all positions, often clinging by the
feet with the back downwards, the better to reach the in-
terior of a blossom, with his curved beak and pencilled tongue'.
In the last two examples, notice how even the length of
the word-sounds and the rhythm of the phrases match the
movements of the two birds.
Gosse kept some birds in captivity and described their
behaviour faithfully, often with evident affection. One for-
gets that these were generally birds that he had injured while
trying to kill them. For one aspect of his field notes that jars
on modern sensibilities is the frequency with which they are

terminated by Gosse (or his assistant) shooting their subject.
One has to remember how poorly known was the fauna, that
he seemed to lack any kind of 'spy glass' and that he had
been commissioned to collect birds (and insects) for the
British Museum. From his material he described nine new
species and shipped back a reference collection of 1,500 bird
skins (as well as, I must add, about 20,000 other biological
specimens all collected in 18 months!). He was well aware
of another benefit of bird-shooting (the snipe is a 'beautiful
and delicious bird') and his account of the Jamaican Pigeons
will make interesting reading to our shooting fraternity. In
his day, the Blue (or Plain) Pigeon was abundant in open
wooded country in mountains and lowlands. It now appears
to be extinct in Jamaica, perhaps as a result of excessive
hunting, for Gosse rated its flesh 'exquisitely delicious' and
almost as much in demand as that of the Ringtail. The latter
bird is more fortunate in that 'it inhabits the most recluse
and dense mountain forests' so that the species, which is
restricted to Jamaica, still survives.
It would be most interesting to make a systematic com-
parison of the abundance of all our birds then, as recorded
by Gosse, and now. One would find many changes that
could be related to changes in the area of the suitable habitat.
But it would not be only a record of decline and loss; the
Long-tailed Pea-dove or Mourning Dove, found in countries
to the north and west of us, was not recorded in Jamaica
until the present century, but now it is apparently common
enough to be a legal game bird. Stewart points out that Gosse
and his contemporaries never mention the Jacana, or Lily-
trotter, which is native to Central America, as well as the
Greater Antilles. Although not abundant in Jamaica, it is
conspicuous enough to be commonly seen, in our day, in
rivers and freshwater marshes like Salt Island Lagoon or the
Black River Morass. Come to think of it, he doesn't mention
the Glossy Ibis, either. In this way, we can glimpse the dyna-
mic nature of the distributions of some wide-ranging birds.
The most dramatic example, of course, is the arrival of the
Cattle Egret in Jamaica, about 30 years ago, from Europe
and Africa, by way of South America. [See Jamaica Journal
11:3-4] Before then, the 'tick birds' attendant upon cattle
were, as Gosse tells us, the Ani and the Cling-cling; that role
has now been assumed by the ubiquitous egret.

The Illustrations of the Birds of Jamaica consists of 52
coloured plates each showing a bird, or a pair, in a natural
attitude with just sufficient twigs or rock to support it,
against a plain background. Gosse not only drew the pic-
tures but prepared the blocks. I wonder if it was also he who
hand-coloured the prints, or whether he only painted a
master set for someone else to follow? They are remarkable
for their minute accuracy and, in most cases, for their very
life-like attitudes. They do not pretend to the magnificence
of the huge plates of his contemporaries Audubon and Gould,
but the book is much prized by collectors.
Gosse had much broader interests in natural history than
in birds alone, and it is in A Naturalist's Sojourn in Jamaica
that he was able to give free rein to those interests, and also
to his powers of lyrical description. These he applied, not
only to plants and animals, but to scenery, towns and human
activities. The book is a collection of scores of essays, loosely
organized in journal form, which is a gold-mine of anecdotal
information on mammals, birds (yes, morel), reptiles, frogs,
insects, plants (especially trees and orchids) and, to a lesser
extent, fishes and marine invertebrates. Mingled in it are des-

criptions of landscapes, mountains, forests, thunder-storms,
sunlight, moonlight and many other glimpses of the natural
environment, as well as tantalizingly brief accounts of Jam-
aican towns, villages, people and their customs. The latter
are, of course, of historical interest but so, too, are his
descriptions of the forests, farmland, flora and fauna, for
much has changed in 140 years. Particularly evident are the
loss of many fine trees and forests to the axe, and the loss of
ground-dwelling birds and reptiles since the introduction, in
1872, of the mongoose, a novel predator amongst our isolated
island fauna. For instance, the Black Snake (harmless, like
all Jamaican snakes) was 'frequently met with, in all locali-
ties that I am familiar with, lying coiled up among the dead
leaves . or gliding swiftly through the herbaceous weeds
. . hanging half out of the loose walls .. gliding along the
branches'. It is now virtually extinct.

The modern edition
None of these three books was ever reprinted and all are
scarce. They may be consulted in our major libraries, but
only a few copies are privately owned. David Stewart and the
Institute of Jamaica have done us a great service by bringing
out a compilation from the three volumes, under the title
Gosse's Jamaica 1844-45. However, it is not immediately
obvious from that title that the selection greatly favours the
Birds, although it is made perfectly clear in the editor's pre-
face. Stewart is a keen ornithologist and his book is intended
for other people interested in Jamaica and its birds. By my
estimate about 70 per cent of the Birds is reproduced, but
less than 20 per cent of the Sojourn. From the latter volume,
he has 'tried to choose the sections which are of greatest in-
terest to ornithologists, those which reveal most about
Gosse's interest and philosophy, and his descriptions of Jam-
aica, particularly the Bluefields area which he knew and loved
so well'. He has succeeded admirably in achieving those goals;
reproducing many of Gosse's finest descriptions, and letting
us appreciate his passionate enthusiasm for natural history
(if not the breadth of his scholarship), and his piety. Perhaps
the book will find a larger market in this form, but I regret
that 'space would not permit more, and readers who are
interested in his accounts of insects, plants, reptiles and
mammals must still turn to the original edition'. For it does
not seem likely that there will be another in this series on
'The Rest of Gosse's Jamaica'! If such a book were compiled,
it would probably have to duplicate some of the material
published here and would benefit from more extensive anno-
tation, if only because of the great breadth of its subject mat-
David Stewart's version of The Birds of Jamaica, the bulk
of his book, has been skilfully edited for modern readers.
The birds have been arranged in the conventional Wetmore
sequence and identified with modern names. Stewart provides
many discreet annotations, based on his own wide knowledge
of Jamaican birds and bird-watchers. All but a few of the for-
mal descriptions have been omitted, as have most of the dis-
cussions of earlier authors, which now seem very dated.
Moreover, some of Gosse's paragraphs have been gently (and
logically) re-arranged. Dare I say that the present version is
even more readable than the original? Towards that end,
Latin names of other organisms have been modernized or,
where likely to to be unfamiliar, replaced. I do not like reviews
that draw attention to trivial errors but one is so incongruous
(to a zoologist!) that I cannot resist pointing it out. Gosse
had a captive Kildeer that (according to the modern version)

would pick 'minute shells and Brachiopods' from a saucer of
water and water-cress. Brachiopods are primitive sessile inver-
tebrates, restricted to the oceans and, in Jamaica, found only
in dark sea-caves and overhangs! A better rendering of
Gosse's 'entomostraca' would have been 'water-fleas', an as-
semblage that includes the Branchiopoda (was that the name
intended?), although these are not likely to have been pre-
Sixteen of the Illustrations of the Birds of Jamaica are
reproduced in the present volume, eight in colour and eight
in black-and-white. We must be grateful for these but to any-
one who has seen the originals I think they will be the most
disappointing part of the modern production. Why was it
deemed necessary to reduce them to two-thirds the original
size, while wasting a two-inch blank margin all around? Every-
one who has had snapshot prints enlarged has experienced the
greater impact of a larger image. Perhaps the blocks could
now be used to manufacture post-cards, since they are of
that size! However, although the prints are in most respects
well executed, the colours are muddy when compared to the
vivid and striking originals.
To these extracts of the three books, Stewart had added a
brief but valuable section on the life and work of Philip
Gosse, some notes on his collaborators and, as frontispiece, a
photograph of Gosse himself. All of these considerably en-
hance the interest of the book.
In general, the presentation of the book is good. Some
copies have rather flimsy covers and some lack any letter-
ing on the outside so that, without the dust-jacket, you
Might mistake one for a note-book. The print on some pages
is paler than on others, which surely could have been avoid-
ed. However, there are very few misprints. The reader might
think he has found one, near the cottage of Content, when
he reads of the 'barbican, on which coffee, pimento &c, are
dried in the sun'. The error was Gosse's. The most egregious
misprint is surely that in the title; we learn from the text that
Gosse reached Jamaica in December 1844 and left in July
1846, so why '1844-45'?

The popularity of natural history

Technically, Gosse was an amateur scientist; he held no
degree and no university or museum appointment. But the
publications engendered by his enthusiasm and hard work led
to his early election as a Fellow of the Royal Society. They
included, ultimately, 62 papers in the Society's Transactions
and over 30 books. Some of these were zoological reference
books but others, like the ones we have been discussing, were
much more readable, although still good science. For Gosse
was a popularizer of natural history, a Cousteau or Atten-
borough of his day, perhaps one of the first to make a living
from his books. Most successful were those on seashore life.
He was the first to devise methods for keeping marine animals
alive in salt-water aquaria; a feat previously deemed impossible.
In later life, he was much saddened that he had set off such
a craze for marine aquaria and collections that the beautiful
fauna of tide-pools had been decimated all around the coast
of England. He had found a receptive audience in Victorian
Britain, in which an unprecedented increase in material pros-
perity had led to the expansion of a middle class with more
leisure for non-productive pursuits. Their delight in natural
history may have been enhanced by reaction to the urbani-
zation and squalor of the industrial revolution. But, for ex-
ample, the Rev. J.G. Wood's Common Objects of the Country-

side (1859) sold 100,000 copies in a week!
Further, the climate of intellectual liberalism encouraged
scientific enquiry and the free competition of ideas and
opinions. David Stewart tells us how Gosse ventured to take
part in this competition by publishing a theory directed
against the conclusions of geologists that the earth was of
great age and had supported creatures no longer extant. He
proposed that the earth was created in its present form, with
spurious evidence of earlier existence. This theory was round-
ly rejected and Gosse retreated into the descriptive natural
history at which he excelled. For he adhered to the conserv-
ative view of nature expounded by the great naturalist John
Ray as "The Wisdom of God manifested in the Works of
Creation" (1691). For Gosse, as doubtless for many of his
readers, part of the emotional appeal of scientific discovery
came from the sense of direct witness of God's hand and
thought. In an epilogue to the Birds he states that 'the grati-
fication of scientific curiosity is worse than idle' if it does
not glorify the work of God. Nonetheless, in both of the
books under review, he confines himself to the occasional
reverent exclamation and resists the temptation to continual-
ly find 'sermons in stones', as it were. In fact, as with
many another naturalist, his interest dates from boyhood;
the curiosity of a child extended into adult life. Coupled
with this was a highly developed sense of beauty (which owed
much to the Romantic Movement) in landscape or bird, and
a real empathy with the animals that he studied. Listen to
him now, as he describes his first encounter with Jamaica's
National Bird:

While I was up in a Calabash tree, engaged in detaching bunches
of Oncidium, the beautiful Long-tailed Humming-bird (Tro-
chilus polytmus) came shooting by with its two long velvet-
black feathers fluttering like streamers behind it; and began to
suck at the blossoms of the tree in which I was. Quite regard-
less of my presence, consciously secure in its power of wing,
the lovely little gem hovered around the trunk, and threaded
the branches, now probing here, now there, its cloudy wings
on each side vibrating with a noise like that of a spinning-
wheel, and its emerald breast for a moment flashing brilliant-
ly in the sun's ray; then apparently black, all the light being
absorbed; then, as it slightly turned, becoming a dark olive;
then in an instant blazing forth again with emerald effulgence.
Several times it came close to me, as I sat motionless with
delight, and holding my breath for fear of alarming it, and driv-
ing it away; it seemed almost worth a voyage across the sea to
behold so radiant a creature in all the wildness of its native

Clearly, 'interest' in natural history is too pale a word;
for Gosse it was a passion, enhanced in Jamaica by the novelty
of his surroundings, and by the excitement of 'things that I
had read of with eager desire to see'.
Amateur natural history flourished in Britain in Gosse's
time and ever since. We cannot say the same for Jamaica.
Naturalists, and natural history hobbies, are rare, and there
seems to be little public interest in the natural environment.
The popularity of natural history in England since Gosse's
day can be attributed to the long tradition of such studies,
to the burgeoning of science and widespread education, to
leisure consequent on prosperity and to the ready availability
of books on the flora and fauna. Perhaps it is because these
things have been absent from Jamaica, that Jamaican natural-
ists are few. I hope that this book of Gosse's writings will
introduce more people to the pleasures of Jamaican natural
history; it will certainly delight those who need no intro-

Some extracts from ...

Kingston Chronicles
By Victor Stafford Reid

The Kingston Chronicles is a wry but fond look at one man's 70-
year-old love affair with his Town in its travel from gas-light to
jet-port. This extract from FIRSTBOOK (Early Years : The
Seaside Song) gives a glimpse of Eastin, the sweet seaside
Village on the edge of Roe Town where V. S. Reid first saw light
on the Bay.

I was six. Len, seven. Dad was one of the Cascade/Mount
Moriah (St. Ann) Reids. He was bosun on a freighter that
used to ply the Boston-Kingston-Panama ports. When the line
closed the Kingston log, we went, Modda, Len and me, to
live in Colon. For a year. Colon was frontier. Slammingly
alien. Modda missed her family, church and Eastin. So we
came back to our sweet seaside and The Aunts and the
Uncles; and to Sunday Walks to Mass, Matins and Evensong.
Poor Sailor Daddy stuck to his oars on the Panama-U.S. run.
How else eat?


And all the way to Church we were greet
by those at the gates along Fleet Street:
railway wives (husbands "gone down the line");
fishermen's sweethearts gauging the shine
of sun on Wareika;
(they know The Cloud,

the bitch which dresses sou'-east in a shroud).
And, one and all, they nicely beg:

And the little teacher from the Gov'ment school;
and Sarjie, the Barber, seated on his stool
fiddling his violin
(always Humouresque),
score on a Swift box, does for his desk,
(Ole Soja's face full of ginalry;
how else keep sane in the military?)
plucks a note, gives her his wide, sly grin:

And the nice little whores at the House By The Wall,
where the auto-piano ceases not at all
(girls all the way from the Pedro Plain
now In satin, high heels, money like rain;
for Yankee sailors like their long hair
in nostalgic memory of Modda-dear)
softly one calls from an upturned beer keg:


a tram-driver's wife, known as Er Nibs;
seven-eleven dicers, caps on backward,
kneeling in the gutter, wrists twirl clockward
like on the oars (being fishermen),
faces fiercely yelling: "GAWBLIMI! W'EN?"
to Lady Luck; and, suddenly shy:

(Though I don't know why.)

And turn again to the yellow-white bones,
give the finger-snaps, the anxious frowns.
A peaka peow gambler, waked from a dream,
hurries down Fleet Street to stake the theme;
felt hat, silk scarf, sixpence to win,
from a Chinese banker named Fook Sinn,
puts on a swagger, leers jauntily,
And through his spy-hole, Sinn sees us, cries:

For to all of us in this sweet East-side,
living in this funny, lively sunny seaside
on the A venue car-lines;
this populace,
dwelling on the water, open to the brace
of pure-fed winds in passage through Goshen
of whistle-clean thousand miles of ocean,
each of us knew each;
each had a care.
Never short on touching in bad times or fair:

"'Morning, Mister Rawlins! "
He's the fire-brigade
groom to fire-horses.

And the snow-ball man at Ladd Lane and Barry
loading his cream-cart with all it can carry:
100-lb ice-blocks in crocus-bag wraps,
strawberry, lemon syrup, and, in its straps
the wooden cream-bucket, its metal container
set at the centre, Ice-packed retainer
of the deep freeze; pebbled with coarse-salt
the ice stays hardened though at each halt
vapours of cold spill each time the lid
is raised for spooning. Your tongue's undid.
And 'frisco jars with the long-handled pumps;
each time they go in, out 'frisco jumps
swirling and frothing, all kinds of flavours.
Homeward we'll stop for snow-ball shavers.
Me and Len wave at our friend with good cheer.


And so all the way to church we're greet
in our walk to sit at the Goldsmith's feet
in me family pew near the Great North Door
of me Parish Church with the tombs for floor.*


Carpenters, masons, handsawed and trowelled,
skilled men, whose hands brickwalled and dowelled
the Wray & Nephew taverns, sturdy and neat
throughout the City
("Rum-baby teat!"
snaps me Aunt Caro, disliking the stuff);
all wearing neckties; none dresses rough
on Sunday morning; everyone's trim.

A "drop-pan pony", out early
(first pan
is played as early as the Banker can)
to "read" his dream from the Bank's dog-eared
Dream Book
(bought at Times Store; paired
with full belief in its predict powers,
folks prayed to God for dream-filled hours)
shows us his silver as we walk past:

I know, now, she was young and pretty,
tall face bones, like Queen Nefertiti;
with her two boys on the hot and long
journey to Mass and to Evensong
won the affection of our district,
free spirits, brooking no constrict
to our personal Eastin ways.
Never humdrum, nights nor days.

Sunlit streets WE know as EASTIN,
ord'nanced RAE TOWN (that counts least in
OUR yard-tongue).
Our calmest mornings
are known to blow without warnings.

Yet, we are gentle at a priest's footfall,
from North Street Cath'lics or St Michael's stall
(Anglicans) or from Tower Street Wesley
(Methodists). Nevertheless zestly

in our support of poco-actuality,
serving gaily its strong logicality
equally embraced by our motor-car folk
as by our foot-mobile, small-yard broke,
booking not a quattie to his purse,
but supporting EASTIN! chapter and verse.

And, for a fact, some pillars of our churches
are known to shimmy to the beat of poco-searches

into the rhythms of a saucy booroo-mento,
heating an Ancient Hymn to poco-tempo.
Thus, as we passed Mother Minott on an early
stroll, wearing turban, beads gleaming pearly
(long, lovely walk from her Barnes Gully "ground"
through Mc Whinney, East Queen, High Holborn, round
back to the Gully, to her poco place
of flowers, holy loaves, white cloths and lace)
the Great Revivalist nicely bowed her head;

, Wm,

Breezy Castle was our Eastin public playground. The other
was Crab Hole, further east. Nobody flew kites like Eastin.
Crab Hole was famous for cricketers. Like a teenage boy
named George Headley.


When the wind whitens the furious sea,
and the sea-grass bends, and the mountain's free
of clouds, majestic, green-on-blue,
and the Street's streaked with salt sea-dew
westward to Grace Kennedy, Co
and tramlines glisten, white-sugar-on-dough
and horse-hackneys lurch and sort their way
(knock-kneed approaching, cockroach away)
we rush to Breezy, all getting ready:


Box-kites, Chinese-kites, big cutter-kites,
swaying and swing in climbing flights.
Stout frames of bamboo; some smaller ones
are palm-framed with cotton-thread bonds
and flour-pasted;
(for smaller boys,
never used in kite-fights, being just toys).
Hawk-kites, tiger-kites, big Bejeh-jumpers,
a roar to their "singers"; powerful pumpers.
Small boys quit when over the roofs
come these killer-kites kicking like hoofs.
All those grand days which ended so soon,
at Breezy Castle in the afternoon.

The Castle, a concourse a hundred yards square,
had room for each kiter from here to there
to pull on his twine, snap left and right,
paper-singers singing, as, bellied tight,
kites loop and leap, tail-shiners menacing,
pieces of glass, razor-edged, fencing
at other kites.
the other, fending,
skilfully wrists his own line, sending
a long, lethal tail 'cross contender's strings -
and of a sudden a killed kite, flings
into the distance.
Beaten, a loser,
destined to be an aimless cruiser.
Or, caught on wire; dejectedly strung.

Singer and flaunt-tail abjectedly hung.
Or crash at Myrtle Bank. Or at Hanover.
Limp. Broken. Formless.
Finished. All over.

If caught on a wire, it's slowly shredded
and passers-by joke that to flight it's still wedded.

But cut from the life-line that also was shelter,
ingloriously ends.
Wind-whipped helter-skelter.

S'j IT/

Myrtle Bank was claimed for Eastin. Eastin folk went to
Maiden Lane beach for the music and to watch the dancers
and dream of affluence. It also opened a magic window on
the world when the Winter Season opened bell-boy jobs and
we rubbed shoulders with dons (noble and Mafia) and dolls
(debutantes and tarts) and were, ourselves, for a season,

Extracts from MYRTLE BANK HO TEL

... But it was at the Myrtle Bank
you saw the style which made us rank
sadly or hilariously
as a future variously
peopled nation.
Could we make
one-of-many not a fake?

The old hotel
(we claimed It for
EASTI N, since it edged our door,
Maiden Lane beach) led the dance.
Air of upholstered elegance.
But, look close inside the pile!
Ghastly American Stockman Style
Yet, none of our saltfish elitists,
scared to be seen as haply adaptists
ever would think of looking past
that fake Ritz-Astor-Savoy cast;
Instead, every chance donned white ties,
tails, pathetic'lly comic disguise,
went down there with wife and daughter,
pearled and powdered white, for barter,
with us bell-boys looking on
sorrowful at such put-on
as visiting English, wintering from Home,
stiff-lipped seem not to notice the gnome
of a sallow Colonial, a table away
fawning for notice;
grovel-eyed hooray
to all that was ugly in our ruins,
courting by bootlick (future illumines!)...

We were the glamour-boys of the old inn.
We were the bright ones, hustling to win
some place in this uncaring land
which always dealt the better hand
in jobs, in privilege, in status quo,
in heavenly hope, the here-below,
to those of fair skin; and even then
sub-sorts by "family" whom to impen:
thus, in our bell-ranks, many a white boy
whose family purse held little troy.

Gaslit streets cobbled and stoned. Coal stoves. Buggies. Trol-
ley cars. Great mule-drawn ice-waggons. Chinese laundries.
Colour-coded citizens. Yet, I liked the Old City ...


I liked the Old City, the one that had heart.
Streets rolled in crushed stone,
houses that start
in redbrick foundations, ascending in wood
to gabled or pitched roofs;
In sunlight, stood
shining tin-helmeted against the deep blue:
No make-believe North'ner; tropic'lly true.

Worn fire-clay steps, green jalousie blinds.
Ledge for the pot plants for those with the mind -
and nearly all had!
No matter how small
the gardens flourished!
Some of them tall
as the house in back.
Gorgeous agreeables
sumptuously fed from the dozens of stables
servicing buggies and other horse-phaetons
in those green days.
Before the gas stations.

I liked the Old City for its pride in churches.
All carefully tended. Palm-girded.
of crimson cannas; ginger-lily combs;
hedges of crotons in peaks and domes.

I liked the Old City for the gullies which gave
us miles of gurgling clear water to brave.
Yelling small-boys, with room to race free
their cedar-horses through to the sea
v. after the rains...

I -.nL


Such of whom read the novel NEW DAY will remember
Caro, saucy, rebellious, goodlooking, tough. Now meet the
real-life Caro.


The story of Aunt Caro and Bertie was one
which kept all the family for years in fun
and in crises too, for it often neared dangerous
and Uncle johnny held prayers each Angelus
when the Cathedral bells, three times daily
sent the Rosary 'cross Barnes Gully clearly.
They must have been wed before I was born;
Uncle Bertie the Carpenter, handsome, forlorn
when Caro in her rebellious moods
spoke not a word to him, just sits and broods
before she explodes and sends him skittering
into exile, somewhere. And she, eyes glitt'ring
spoke how he left her alone in the world
to fend at what Fate in its cruelty hurled
against Caro Campbell (married name, Weir)
and then, with a tear, wished he was here.
But a few sweetheart-months and the ataclaps!
(read afterclaps, but in homebrew, adapts).

Once he took off and never stopped running
till at New York; and thereafter, shunning
to show where he was, not heard from for years;
until at last, somehow, Aunt Caro hears;
and, as they say: "Dogs and wives have more say
than runaway husbands in the U.S.A.,"
she sicced Immigration to poor Uncle Bertie.
And, in no time, they had expertly
invoked the law for spouses who roam
and poor Uncle Bertie was on his way home.
Detained and deported, he came home by ship,
Princess Street pier and Caro, hand on hip.

Caro too did her own bolting, but wavered
by staying near home; was Cuba she favoured;
and an hilarious in-a-manner Kilkenny
was her secret boarding of the Frank Tenny.
Our secret goodbyes were said In the house:
the hugging, the kissing, the crying. Then douse
all the emotions. Blown noses. Face calmed
when we emerged. Me and Len being balmed
with wangla and cutcake, the part was our own
as we all took the tram like going downtown.
For calling a buggy would be a fool matter.
Folks see the suitcase, they'd start to chatter
So Modda planned, that we would meet
Caro at pierside. Hid the grip neath the seat.
Caro went walk-foot, stylishly dressed,
but that wouldn't draw a district interest
since she was always a fashionable lady:
button-side boots, straw hat large and shady;
from Miss Amy, the Milliner, in Thompson Alley
behind the prison; (only lane vocally
so called in the City; although no narrower
than other lanes) smells of straw like a harrower
working the earth around the Cane River
after a shower; each tine a wet giver
of sweet smells of bamboo, and grasses, and rush,
and ivory rocks bathed in white-water gush
across the stone-ramp below the Falls
where at picnics we hid, mimicked bird-calls
in the great valley where Three-Fingered jack,
our old patriot flung the English back.
So was the Alley because of The Milliner;
no street has ever to me smelled winninger.

However, back to Aunt Caro's runaway
to Cuba from Bertie. What a fun-day
for me and Len and Modda whose grin
escaped at the sides though she'd hold it in.
We'd meet Aunt Caro at Number One Pier
Pechon Street's foot. We'd leave the grip there.
Not looking at us, she slipped aboard
to the Tenny's low deck. (Customs was unheard
of in those days of fast sail to Santiago
by migrant ships. No time for embargo.
There were canes to be cut, an assortment of jobs.
Cuba was America's and the big-money mobs'.)
No hug, nor kiss, in case someone seeing
run-tell Uncle Bertie that Caro was fleeing.

So, straight to the deck, head never turning
to right or left, though we knew she was burning
to look at us there. And so the more
how we were wishing she'd come back ashore!
But all we could see was her sideways face
strong, and yet beautiful, like the old-time lace
in Miss Amy's parlour. And Modda said: "Caro,"
so softly, so wanting she would not go.

But Caro sat there on the deck of the Tenny
face set, like that face on a Willie Penny
('member those pennies named for King William?)
clutching her lunch-box of ackee and roast-yam
for her overnight sail, forward looking
in case she disliked the shipboard cooking.
And while Mister Teacher, who'll always appear
to pray for each migrant ship sailing from here,
in his long black coat and tasselled Book,
and piercing eyes and John Crow look,
was raising his hymn, joined in lustily
the Tenny rumbled, its whistle blew
so loudly, I almost jumped from me shoe.
Three times it bellowed, each time louder,
vroom vroom vroom. Aunt Caro bowed her
head. And, Teacher, his hands in the air,
blessed the boat. And to be fair and square,
blessed us stay-homes, too, standing on dock.
And engines rumbled, the sea was a flock
of sheep milling whitely at the engines turn,
and a voice aboard shouted: "CAST OFF ASTERN!"
And the Tenny moved slowly like taking a stroll
across the harbour. And then, from the bowl.
atop the funnel, smoke, in great gushes;
and people are shouting, and Modda rushes
to the head of the pier and cries: "Caroline!"
like a child. Then, there on the deck, a shine
of black eyes, at last, with ours make four.
No words; but there! at the open door
of her eyes, she's saying: Dont worry. Back soon.
Just chopping down Bertram, that no good ratoon.

And, suddenly, we're laughing as we turn from the sea,
hugging each other, Modda, Len and me.

Illustrations from the National Library of Jamaica and courtesy of Cynthia Smith.

I The Jamaican forests are extremely valuable to the nation,
but in terms which are difficult to assign monetary values.
Firstly, trees contribute to replacing the oxygen of the
atmosphere which is necessary for human and animal
life. Forests are, therefore, vitally necessary. Secondly,
where our forests grow, our water supplies originate, too.
These supplies are replenished by rainfall which in Jamaica
occurs seasonally, in very heavy showers. Our forests are
able to break the force of these showers and thus allow the
moisture to percolate into the natural aquifers or ground-
water table. Without our forests, the rainfall would rapid-
ly run off the steep slopes causing a loss of water to re-
plenish our supplies as well as damage to soil and crops in
the path of the run-off. The forests also provide us with a
source of raw materials for building, furniture, crafts, and

so on. At present we cannot satisfy our growing needs for
wood but there are golden opportunities to increase timber
production on the ruinate forest land; improve our ability
to extract and mill the available timber, and develop a viable
national industry supporting a large labour force. These
opportunities could be of considerable benefit to the needs
of the society. A fourth value is that of knowledge and re-
creation. Forests provide essential elements for scientific
study as well as relaxation and enjoyment, both of which
are necessary to the quality of human life. Lastly, the forest
land of Jamaica has a potential for development with con-
siderable social benefits. The conversion of ruinate forests
to commercial forests by a system of plantations can offer
job opportunities in small areas and create new industries
and wealth for the country.? Extract fromJ.J.Vol.15.no.4 1971

This statement was made 15 years ago and remains true today. Since 1979, F.I.D.C.O.
has developed some 13,000 acres of new pine forests and now controls 20,000 acres of
pine timber. We are aiming at a total production forest of 60,000 acres towards
national self-sufficiency.



Regd. Office: Cnr. of Tobago Ave. and Knutsford Blvd. (3rd floor) New Kingston.
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 557 Kingston 10, Jamaica
Tel: 929-7271 3 Telex: 2377 Cable: FIDCO KINGSTON JA.


Rockfort, Kingston 2, Tel: 928-6231.


Jamaican Music, Cultural Modes and Composers

By Pamela O'Gorman

She musical scene, as it exists in
Jamaica today, has three disturb-
ing aspects: (a) an over-strong
emphasis on music purely as a perform-
ing art (b) its almost total neglect as a
creative art and (c) a general lack of ap-
preciation for those musicians in our
society who actually compose music,
whether it be in the ancestral-tradi-
tional, the popular-contemporary or the
classic mode.1
By way of illustration, we have only
to make a comparison with the other
performing arts, dance and drama. Each,
like music, depends upon performers
to interpret the works of its creators;
and dancers and actors receive due ac-
knowledgement and approbation from
local audiences if they perform well;
but, in addition, these audiences are
equally interested in the creative efforts
of choreographers like Rex Nettleford
and Sheila Barnett, or playwrights like
Trevor Rhone and Louis Marriott and
they discuss, analyse and give opinions
freely about new works, as they appear.
In the musical world, people seldom
discuss music: they almost always dis-
cuss performers or performances, to the
extent that, in the genre of contempor-
ary-popular music, especially, the name
of the author of a song is frequently ob-
scured by that of the performer. (How
many people realize, for instance, that
"No Woman No Cry" was composed
not by Bob Marley but by Vincent
There are a number of reasons for
this, all of which bear looking at in
some detail; but before we do so, we
need to clarify a few points with regard
to music in Jamaica generally.
Although most people who live here
acknowledge the plurality of Jamaican
society, they seldom make any effort
to cultivate a corresponding plurality
in their approach to Jamaican artistic
expression especially music. And

iH l

Bob Marley

yet, we who live here are continuous-
ly called upon to exercise an under-
standing and appreciation of both the
dominant cultural modes in this hemis-
phere: the African and the European.
Where music is concerned, while they
have much in common with each other
(certainly more than either has with
Oriental music) they also have much
that is different, if not downright con-
tradictory. For instance, where Euro-
pean music of the post-Renaissance tra-
dition has a conscious time sense, being
goal oriented and having a beginning, a
middle and an end, that of the African
tradition defies consciousness of time,
and helps the individual to become lost
in time. A piece of European 'classical'
music and even those Tin Pan Alley
songs which were derived from it is
always a psycho-drama in which the
author expresses personal feeling and
emotion through a series of carefully
manipulated tensions leading towards
(or away from) a climax. In African and
African-derived music, composition and
performance are fused into a spontan-
eous, communal act of creation in
which the individual and his personal
feelings are subject to the intended

Olive Lewin

function of the music. European music,
with its highly-developed sense of har-
mony, gives a sense of perspective, plac-
ing all the sound events in a hierarchy of
relative importance and significance in
which every part must make sense in
relation to what has gone before and
what comes after. African music eschews
functional harmony in favour of a con-
tinuous stream of rhythmic tension
and relaxation whose subtlety and var-
iety seem to be part of an unending
continuum, rather than revealing 'a
slice of life'. Where European music
avoids too much repetition for fear of
boredom, African music thrives on it as
a means of losing consciousness of time.
This somewhat didactic excursion
into the characteristics of African and
European music is intended to provide
a point of reference in approaching
Caribbean music, whatever the context.
For if one does not make the effort to
change one's mode of aesthetic percep-
tion according to the inner integrity of
the music, then one is firmly locked out-
side it condemned to continuous re-
jection of one's environment, if one
responds only to the European mode,
or to blank incomprehension of a still-

XX x '291~

dominant world culture, if one responds
only to the African. This happens to
thousands of people in Jamaica every
In fact, even within Jamaican folk
music itself, which represents a continu-
um of ever-changing emphasis between
these two modes, there are many Jam-
aicans who feel decidedly more com-
fortable with "Under the Coconut
Tree" which is probably derived from
English music hall of the early part
of this century, than they are with
the strongly African music that ema-
nates from Maroon Town or Seaforth
in St. Thomas.
Let us also consider the art of
composing music, in the light of these
two modes.
In European terms composing en-
tails sitting down before a blank sheet
of ruled manuscript and writing down
music that will later be conveyed to an
audience through an interpreter usu-
ally a paid professional. Yet, within
the European musical profession, the
ability to perform this admittedly com-
plex function, does not necessarily
make a composer. One is not considered
a legitimate member of the species un-
less (a) one's music is published by an
established publisher (b) one's music
is presented to the public for critical
assessment (c) one can boast a signi-
ficant body of work and (d) one is
taken seriously by the critics as a genu-
ine master of his craft who has some-
thing original to say. Originality has
always been regarded highly in the
European critical tradition, both popu-
lar and classical.

According to these criteria, there
are very few Jamaican composers. In
one fell swoop, the whole creative
movement is denied existence.

Interestingly enough and I find
this of great significance to us in the
Caribbean today before the 14th cen-
tury, music in Europe was not written
down. Only from the 15th century was
a distinction made between the com-
poser one who wrote down music
for others to perform and a 'com-
positor' or performer who improvised
his own compositions. In fact, a 'com-
posite' was the work of a group of
musicians working either collectively
or successively on a piece of music.2

This is the exact description of the
creative process which evolved when
Africa and Europe met in the New

World. It is the dominant creative music-
al process in Jamaica and the one out of
which most Jamaican music is born.
Yet, today, the musical establish-
ment of the European tradition fails to
acknowledge this as a legitimate creative
process. There are very few Jamaicans
who would qualify for the term 'com-
poser' or be recognized as creators in
European terms.
The reason for this lies squarely on
the assumption that literacy is the basis
of musical or any other legitimacy.
The effect of literacy, and especially
printing, upon European thinking has
been examined in revealing depth by
Marshall McLuhan who, despite his de-
tractors, has served an incalculably use-
ful function in making us aware of the
influence of the printed page upon our
thinking and our living. McLuhan's
researches have been taken further and
applied to music by several British re-
searchers who have effectively shown
the limiting effect musical literacy has
had upon Western musical expression,
music education and the aesthetic ap-
preciation of other cultures and other
The literate of any society have al-
ways assumed positions of power and
prestige because it is they who have
always been able to decide what 'know-
ledge' is worth preserving and what is
not. It is they who have had the power
to approve or reject what the rest of the
population is allowed to learn.
In music, the practice has had far-
reaching effects. In Jamaica for example,
the adherents of European 'classical'
music have unquestioningly accepted
a literate system as the only true and
valid system of approaching music,
while all around, other pitches and more
subtle rhythms have been rejected; but
another legacy of literacy is the assump-
tion which also permeates our whole
educational and legal system that
which is not written down, is not valid
or legitimate.
Instrumental lessons given to long-
suffering children have also become ex-
tensions of acquiring literacy. One of
the greatest achievements the old music
teachers could boast was to stop child-
ren 'playing by ear' thus effectively
inhibiting a precious, God-given gift
that, if it had been developed, would
have afforded years of pleasure and
creative activity instead of the ubiqui-
tous and apologetic 'I used to learn
music as a child, but . .'

It has also dominated the approach
to music teaching in schools. Music writ-
ten down (no matter how boring) is
legitimate and acceptable. Oral/aural
music of the folk or popular tradition
is not. A dread fear has permeated the
whole educational system that if we
were once to let go of teaching reading
and notation and supplement them
with oral/aural music-making, the whole
fabric of school life and society at large
would disintegrate (quite ignoring the
fact that, in traditional societies, oral
music is one of the most powerful
means of social control).

I have dwelt for some time on this
problem of literacy. If my prevailing
attitude has been negative, it has been
so in order to make a point which I
feel needs to be made as forcibly as
possible, because it lies at the root
of so much misunderstanding about
music in our own society not only in
regard to classifying creative talent, but
also in regard to the way we should ap-
proach every musical activity perform-
ance, composition, listening, education
and criticism.

In case anyone gains the impression
that I am against musical literacy, let
me say as emphatically as possible that
I am not. It is absolutely essential for
any professional musician; it is equally
essential to anyone who wishes to ex-
plore at first hand the repertory of
American, Afro-American, Latin-Ameri-
can and European music; and, I believe,
it can help perpetuate and disseminate
any music that is notable. (Surely it is
one of the ways in which European
'classical' music has maintained a posi-
tion of global pre-eminence over the
past three centuries). All we need to
do is to keep literacy well in perspec-

For us, it does not have the import-
ance that it has for other cultures. That
huge groundswell of creative energy that
found its outlet through the forms of
Ska, Rock Steady and Reggae draws at-
tention to the fact that most Jamaican
creativity expresses itself most natural-
ly and easily in an African mode.

This explains why those people who
for years have been begging that Jam-
aican popular musicians/composers be
given the recognition they deserve have
had to do so with a certain defiance,
in face of the sure knowledge that they
will be forced to defend their opinions
in terms of a criterion of judgement

Noel Foster-Davis Mapletoft Poulle

Marjorie Whylie

Eddie Thomas

which they know to be irrelevant and
which, unfortunately, their opponents
do not.
But once we reject European norms
of assessing Jamaican music, we must
automatically assume the responsibil-
ity for defining our own. Who defines
them? Our listeners, our musicians, our
critics? The large population that consti-
tutes the audience for popular music,
for instance, takes its music very serious-
ly at a certain level; but its opinions
about what constitutes good music
can be widely divergent from the musi-
cians', as we have witnessed from the
scenes of disorder that have broken out
at Festival Song competitions over
the years. Judges have always been well
advised to depart the scene before the
announcement of their results, and it
has been not unknown to have results
changed in their absence, in an effort
at keeping the peace and the building
intact. Could the divergence of views
arise from the fact that audiences judge
performers and musicians judge music?
Within the African-European oral-

literate spectrum that is Jamaian cul-
ture there are numerous modes of crea-
ting music. The table below gives a
sample, broadly categorized into con-
temporary-popular, ancestral-traditional
and classical.4
Of these three categories, the most
widespread, of course, lies in the field
of contemporary-popular music where a
vital creative force has found its outlet
through the forms of Ska, Rock Steady
and Reggae, which have proved to have
surprising universality. I do not wish to
dwell on this vast subject now, except
to draw attention to the fact that most
Jamaican creativity expresses itself most
naturally in African-derived forms
where the act of creation is communal
rather than individual. This is not sur-
At the other extreme we have those
few composers who have composed en-
tirely as individuals in a European style,
sometimes incorporating Jamaican folk
elements, sometimes not. There is a fair-
ly large body of music, most of it un-
published, in the genres of intimate art


'Composited' seldom notated in creation; charts*
of successful songs are written out for
commercial sale afterwards

Composed and improvised

Songs composed by one
person and notated or arranged
by another (or others)

notated or partly-notated in chart form

single-line notation only

song and short character pieces for
piano that are based wholly on the
European more exactly English -
tradition of the late 19th and early 20th
centuries. Much of it is charming, some
of it excellent, but not original enough
to be published abroad because it has
not kept pace with the rapid change of
music in Europe. It is noteworthy, too,
that Jamaican composers in this tradi-
tion seem reluctant to tackle abstract
extended forms. Is the process of dia-
lectic that lies at the root of so much'
European cultural expression inimical to
the Jamaican? If so, then that is a good
enough reason for not attempting it.
However, there is in existence a piano
concerto by Hugh Moss-Solomori that
should one day be brought out intodthe

It is a pity, however, that there ap-
pears to be no local audience for these
compositions, many of whose authors
must have atrophied for want of per-
formance of their works for an even
mildly interested audience. Unfortunate-
ly, our local classical audiences are bog-

All Ska, Rock Steady, Reggae and
Dub songs.

Don Drummond
Mapletoft Poulle, Sonny Bradshaw,
Cedric Brooks, Peter Ashbourne,
Monty Alexander.
Other 'pop' music of the African-
American tradition.
Richard Holung, Eddie Thomas


Creole-arranged notated or taught Olive Lewin, Marjorie Whylie,
orally to others to perform Noel Dexter, Mapletoft Poulle
Eddie Thomas, Paulette Bellamy
African/Jamaican notated or partly-notated Marjorie Whylie, Peter Ashbourne,
Olive Lewin, Cedric Brooks

European forms using notated Oswald Russell, Olive Lewin,
Jamaican folk rhythms, Noel Foster-Davis, Mapletoft Poulle
melodic patterns etc. Peter Ashbourne, Noel Dexter,
Paulette Bellamy

European abstract notated Oswald Russell, Frank Decasseres,
style Hugh Moss-Solomon, Noel
Foster-Davis, Peter Ashbourne,
Olive Lewin
* A chart is a skeleton score that is used as a basis for group performance and improvisation in popular music.

Paulette Bellamy

Jimmy Cliff

Cedric Brooks
Cedric Brooks

ged down in the adulation of perform-
ers and their readings of the European
post-Renaissance literature and are only
marginally interested in new music
emanating from this part of the world.

Or is it more accurate to say that the
fault lies in our performers? It is they,
after all, who choose the music that is
presented in concert programmes, and
what they choose is what they regard as
being important or interesting enough
to perform. I have no doubt that, if our
local interpreters adopted a policy of
performing music by Jamaican com-
posers, audiences would soon begin to
take an interest in Jamaican composition
in the same way that they take an interest
in Jamaican drama. This could have an
invigorating effect upon our local com-
posers; for no one can develop in this
field unless there are performers to per-
form one's work and audiences to listen
to it.

Within the two extreme categories of
contemporary-popular and classical,
there is a type of musician who oper-
ates successfully in all modes. The out-
standing examples are Marjorie Whylie
and Peter Ashbourne, both of them
classically-trained, (Ashbourne is also
jazz-trained), literate, accomplished im-
provisors (which bespeaks a highly-
developed oral sense) and musically
highly articulate. Oswald Russell, who
has distinguished himself abroad as a
pianist and composer in both jazz and
classical idioms, should also be mention-
ed, although he has not operated in the
field of pop music as Whylie and Ash-
bourne have.

Then there are Olive Lewin, folk re-
searcher, classically-trained who ar-
ranges in the ancestral-traditional and
classical modes; Noel Dexter, classically-
trained, a composer and arranger in folk
style; and Paulette Bellamy, a teacher
and performer on piano and violin, who
has composed and arranged a number
of folk-derived and classical works.

These constitute a type of Jamaican
musician, highly gifted, trained, liter-
ate, operating over a wide spectrum of
genres and idioms, who can boast years
of sustained work and who have few
parallels anywhere else in the world of
music. I like to think of them as models
for the future musicians in whom the
principal modes of Caribbean expression
came together naturally in a fusion that
reveals the barriers between different
genres and idioms as an unnecessary
encumbrance that has less and less legiti-

Peter Ashbourne

macy, certainly in the Caribbean con-

There are those, too, who have
specialized in the contemporary-popu-
lar idiom, who have forged new paths in
Jamaican musical expression outside the
set forms of commercial music com-
posers such as Cedric Brooks and a host
of others. The more one explores, the
more exciting the journey becomes.

And then there is ballet.
While the recording industry has of-
fered a creative outlet for Jamaican tal-
ent through the gramophone record and
video, and while the set forms of popu-
lar music have presented a challenge in
terms of mastering immediacy of ex-
pression and instant musical impact, bal-
let has offered the kind of challenge to
which only the experienced professional
can respond: the opportunity for ex-
perimentation, for originality, for using
instrumental resources sometimes far
beyond the set patterns offered in the
field of popular music and convention-
al arranging. Perhaps, too, the indiffer-
ence of local audiences and performers
has encouraged composers to embrace
a genre in which they felt needed and
appreciated; after all, ballets are usually
composed in response to a request from
a choreographer in need. To be asked is
in itself a compliment and a form of
recognition. Perhaps, too, there lies in
every creative Jamaican musician an an-
cestral urge to re-unite music and dance.
Whatever the reason, ballet music is an
important part of the Jamaican reper-

Of the extant examples of Jam-
aican ballet, two of the earliest are those
by Noel Foster-Davis "Jamaica Leg-
end" and "Anancy's Mattie". It will
be a grave oversight if the scores of
these ballets are not one day preserved
in the National Library as early examples
of creole ballet. Although they have
never been performed in Jamaica, which
is a pity, because they were highly suc-
cessful in London in the 1950s, they
will hopefully one day be resurrected,
perhaps re-choreographed and perform-
ed as serious early examples of the genre,
far deeper, more cohesive and more
dramatic than the prettified versions of
strung-together dances that have become
so familiar on the local stage.

The NDTC has performed a great
service to Jamaican music, for at one
time or another it has commissioned
works from or used music by most of

our leading creative talents Oswald
Russell, Eddie Thomas, Peter Ash-
bourne, Mapletoft Poulle, Marjorie Why-
lie, Noel Dexter, Cedric 'Im' Brooks,
Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley, 'Toots'
Hibbert, and so on.

The diversity is significant, but hard-
ly surprising. No other area in Jamaica
caters to such disparate styles and tal-
ents or offers the kind of challenge that
the NDTC does which serves to under-
line its eclecticism and, more import-
ant, its readiness to utilize the best that
Jamaica has to offer in musical creati-

However, it is supremely ironic that,
if the above musicians were subjected to
assessment as composers in European
terms, most of them would not qualify,
despite their talent, their originality and
their contribution to Jamaican music.
This is clearly ridiculous.

But neither have we in Jamaica made
any attempt to seriously assess the work
of our creative musicians, largely be-
cause as I said in the beginning of this
article we approach music in Jamaica
solely as a performer's art.

It is certainly time for us to start re-
thinking our attitudes and attempting to
make some assessment of what has been
given to us over the past two or three
decades by our leading composers; but
to do so adequately in our own terms
we shall have to broaden and refine the
concepts that have informed the Euro-
pean critical tradition and possibly re-
define them in terms of what our society
demands of its music and its musicians.
One of the most important statements
that Rex Nettleford makes in his book
Dance Jamaica is this:

All civilization by definition share cer-
tain modes of artistic manifestations,
which are categorized broadly as an-
cestral-traditional, popular-contempor-
ary, and classical. These three aesthe-
tic modes interrelate symbiotically:
traditional forms influence the classics,
popular expressions eventually establish
themselves as traditional, and the clas-
sics even draw on pop culture ...
In fact, being in command of such a
process is a responsibility of any society
that seeks to become civilized and in-
vest its new-found power with human
sensibilities that manifest themselves
most urgently in the products of the
creative imagination.

Although we have not been con-
scious of it, that process has long been

taking place in Jamaican music. It is the
continuation of that process as well
as its analysis and re-definition in Carib-
bean terms which constitutes one of the
most searching musical challenges of the
approaching 21st century.

This column will therefore be less in-
terested in music purely as a performer's
art than in music as a creative one, as it
is practised in Jamaica and other coun-
tries of this hemisphere. It will con-
tinuously seek to clarify its criteria of
judgement in terms of the African-
European duality in the hope that, one
day, we shall be able to define our music
in purely Caribbean terms without
having to refer back to either Europe
or Africa.


1. Three classifications made by Nettle-
ford [1985] p.172.
2. A somewhat Eurocentric but fascin-
ating article on the subject by Arnold
Whittall appears under 'Composition'
in The New Oxford Companion to
Music Vol. 1 [1984], from which I
gleaned this information.
3. John Shepherd [1977] in his article
"Media, Social Processes and Music",
has effectively shown the limiting ef-
fect of notation upon sounds avail-
able to the composer. For almost five
centuries European and European-
derived music has been expressed in
terms of the overwhelming limitations
of what could be notated: 12 semitones
to the octave and a series of rhythmic
values expressible as exact multiples of
4. 'Classical' in reference to the major
styles of European art music as dis-
tinct from light, popular, jazz or folk;
'classical' as distinct from 'classic'
meaning a lasting model of excellence
of its kind. Thus a 'Ska' song is not'
classical, but it can be classic.

NETTLEFORD, Rex, Dance Jamaica. Cultural
Definition and Artistic Discovery. The
National Dance Theatre Company of
Jamaica 1962-1983, New York: Grove
Press Inc., 1985.
ARNOLD, Dennis, The New Oxford Com-
panion to Music, Oxford University
Press, 1983.
SHEPHERD, John et al., Whose Music? A
Sociology of Musical Languages, Lon-
don: Latimer, 1977.

Pamela O'Gorman is the director of the
Jamaica School of Music; this is the first
of a regular column by her.

This is what Mutual

is all about.


r life

2 Oxford Road, Telephone: 92-69024-39
* New Kingston Branch Imperial Life Building
60 Knutsford Blvd., Telephone: 92-63710
* People's Life Insurance Agency
10 Oxford Terrace, Kingston 5. Telephone: 92-60143
* 64 Barry Street, Telephone: 92-28150
* Premier Plaza,
12c Constant Spring Road, Telephone: 92-63500
61b Half Way Tree Rd., Tel: 92-93652

* Market Street,
Telephone: 95-25580, 95-25570
* Caledonia Road, Telephone: 96-22410
* 45a Main Street, Telephone: 98-62252
* Graham Street, Telephone: 97-42701, 97-42447

* U

The Tradition goes on.
More than 60 years old in Jamaica,
Shell Company is among the elder
Statesmen of international petroleum
The company has maintained a
frontline position in the field of re-
1111 search related to the world's most dy-
S namic industry, and has trained many
thousands of Shell people, who
account for the continued growth and
success of this worldwide enterprise.
*.. In Jamaica and elsewhere, Shell
makes a point of contributing to those
institutions and systems which foster
management and development.
And Shell will continue to do so with
every resource at its command.

Rockfort, Kingston 2, Tel: 92-87230-9, 92-87300-9




And earn a steady income
Buoing a few shares in some bi hubiness
Smas not mean much But husing units,
,o"6 in the Capital Grolwh Fund or the
Income Fund can make Ihe
Wil r difference. inur Linls *
represent a share in the
B money that is pooled to
purchase shares in
profitable companies
and other inweslmenls
that pay disidends In
build the salue ol ,our
Units in the Capltal Gronth
Fund, or to provide sou with
regular income 1rom disidends
in the Income Fund
Because there'll alwa%, be Ilurlualions
rin ihe %alue of the underl,hnie ;ecurllles in
each fund Unit Values and yields Fup,..Ihe, n .. ......
may go down as well as up and there JAM A A
is no assurance of continuous growth. AMA A
I 41 Trinidld Tn tN lnplTonTel, 929160
Buy units now!Keep your money growing!
Trustees Bank of Nova Scotia Trust Company Limited



Acrobats and Artists

By Gloria Escoffery

The acrobats flashed
Above earth's ancient inertia,
Faltering of the will,
And the dullness of the flesh
In the dream's orbit; shone, soared,
Mocking vigil and ordeal,
And the prayer of long attempting
Body had endured
To break from hard-held trembling seat
And soar at that height.
Ted Hughes, "The Acrobats"
Readers might think these con-
cluding lines of a poem by con-
temporary English poetTed Hughes
a strange introduction to the review of
our 1985 National Art Exhibition.1
However, anyone who has paused before
the large and striking painting titled
The Acrobats by Ralph Campbell -
beside which he may have noticed an
unobtrusive card announcing the artist's
death two days after the show opened -
may conclude that there is some rele-
vant connection here which prompted
my choice of epigraph.
I think it appropriate to focus at-
tention at the outset on this par-
ticular work not merely as a tribute to a
much loved colleague whose passing the
entire artistic community sincerely
mourns, but because it deserves this at-
tention. I hope the curator will find
it possible to hold this work for public
viewing for some time after the closing
date. For what we have here is the last,
profoundly moving statement of one of
our most distinguished artists in his life-
long paean to the dignity of the human
spirit. With what heroic surge of crea-
tive energy must our friend have labour-
ed to produce this work in what he prob-
ably realized would be the last year of
his life! Is it not appropriate that a
distant brother in the arts, often referred
to as a 'survivor poet', should be called
in to witness along with Ralph Camp-
bell the epitome of survival in a tiny
nation of survivors?
Poets throughout the ages have con-
cerned themselves with the bitter les-


Ralph Campbell, The Acrobats. Acry
son of man's mortality, and with his
efforts to cheat Death of his triumph.
One thinks first of the 17th century
Metaphysical poet John Donne whose
faith emerged triumphant in the series
of poems in which he appeared to be al-
most wrangling with God on this issue.
To man as he grows older, death with a
small 'd' takes on the reality of a per-
sonal antagonist, Death, who terrifies,
but may ultimately be faced down. 'One
short sleep past, we wake eternally/ And

lic and emulsion on hardboard. 60 x 48".
death shall be no more; death, thou
shalt die'.2
As I reflect on the temperament of
the individual I knew as Ralph Camp-
bell, I see him as both 'wild' in his un-
predictable jokes and stylistic adven-
tures, and 'grave' in his dedication to his
art and to his responsibility as a teach-
er. For this reason, since I heard of his
death I have had running in my head
some lines from that anguished address
of Dylan Thomas to his dying father

3~88~8ss ~_Kmmmmmmm R 888

-X:X:::X:::::,.% ........e

titled "Do Not Go Gentle into that
Good Night":

Wild men who caught and sang the
sun in flight
And learn, too late, they grieved it on
its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with
blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors
and be gay,
Rage, jage against the dying of the

The flock of loyal art patrons who
knew Campbell mainly as one who
never faltered in his enthusiasm for sing-
ing the sun in flight, will look with nos-
talgia at his last grand essay in this
genre which he did so much to establish
in Jamaica, the Port Antonio landscape
in the current annual show. This repre-
sents one side of the artist's output. The
other side, the Campbell who was social
satirist, mystic and seer, who abandon-
ed rules of proportion, perspective and
'rationality' in search of intuitive re-
velation, will prefer his other work,
The Acrobats spiritual successor to
his Judgement in the National Gallery
If we consider The Acrobats not as
an abstract configuration of colours and
forms but as a parable which is how I
think the artist would have liked us to
look at it, we soon become aware that,
starting from the same key metaphor,
he strongly diverges from Ted Hughes
in the meanings he has forced out of the
painted drama. Ted Hughes celebrates
the achievement of his acrobats as proto-
type of man's highest achievers in
art, or for that matter in science; the
spectators, ordinary beings without this
special talent look up in amazement and
have their spirits lifted by these spell-
binding performers 'fulcrumed without
fail/on axes immaterial as/Only geometry
should use'. Campbell's acrobats are
scarcely professional. A bumbling bunch
of sleazy half-clad females who might
well be prostitutes, they writhe and
heave in such a melee of bodies that the
spectator can hardly tell which limbs
belong to whom. One is aware of gleam-
ing flesh, but of flesh in the metaphysic-
al sense of a corporeal clothing of the
soul; sex is not the issue here. By a
slight extension of the imagination one
recalls a phrase by Sylvia Plath, in her
poem "Fever 1030", when, after the
statement 'I think I am going up', a few
lines later she says, as she tries to find
her bearings in extremis:


0 -
a i

Ralph Campbell

Not him, nor him
(My selves dissolving, old whore petti-
coats) -
To Paradise.4
We must not look here for the ele-
gance that one finds in Seurat's circus
scenes, for instance. What comes across
is that Campbell's acrobats form a sister-
hood bent on rendering assistance to the
central figure, who may have already
fallen, or at least seems to be in the ut-
most distress. The two main protagon-
ists, the central helpless one and the
figureon the picture's right, distinguished
from the rest by having their faces delin-
eated and exposed to the spectator,
seem to be locked in a combat of wills.
The anguished one, tiny head thrown
back in an unnatural posture, stares up
as if hypnotised by the large wing-like
hand of the other, which hovers over
her head and draws her up; willing her
upwards. This large pallid hand at the
same time blesses perfunctorily with
two fingers; it possesses creative energy
which is the antithesis emotionally and
compositionally of the hand of the one
being assisted. Both being equally pale
draw the beholder's eye, for the whole
drama, as I should perhaps have mention-
ed earlier, takes place in front of a flat,
dense background. The outstretched
arm of the central figure has a rigidity
and awkwardness which recall certain
traditional pietas and crucifixions. A
sense of unease is produced by a heavy
rectangle composed of the outer con-

tour of the lurching figure at one side
and the expressive arms of each of the
main protagonists; like a floundering
kite with a tail, this configuration adds
to the impression of emotional turmoil.

This is my interpretation; I leave it to
each viewer to seek his own. Consider-
ed objectively, the artist has rifled the
iconography of Western European art
and intuitively produced an original and
expressive synthesis. In terms of style
we may label the work manneristt', but
this label may after all serve to divert us
from the immediacy of our reaction to
the picture.
I must add that Campbell's choice of
images for this allegory of the soul is
characteristically Jamaican. In another
culture the artist may have taken the
theme of the parable of the Good
Samaritan. In Jamaica, women are those
who suffer and succour, who show the
greatest compassion and vitality. One
recalls Kapo's All Women are One
Woman and also those whirligigs of his
known as Three Sisters.5
As I studied the other works in the
1985 national exhibition, I realized that
the cliched term 'forerunners' does have
some validity. Among the values Ralph
Campbell stood for was commitment to
integrity. He saw himself as a humble
performer, an acrobat in no mean circus
troupe, not merely as a member of a
cartel to keep art prices up. There are
exceptions of course, but in the main,
hard times notwithstanding, our artists
continue to work with integrity, imagin-
ation, vigour, wit, inventiveness and per-
Faced with such a large collection in
a variety of media, 133 works by 83
exhibitors a critic must be mad to
ask for more; after all one of the ad-
vantages of this annual event is that
each year there is room for newcomers;
if it were obligatory for every practising
artist to contribute even one piece an-
nually, the National Gallery would have
as serious a problem as the primary
schools with their chronic classroom
space shortage. Nevertheless, I take this
opportunity to plead with some of our
absentees to make the effort next year.
It is an effort to those who live in the
'country', so I mention some of those
by name; Sylvester Woods, Phanel
Toussaint, Kenneth Williams, Albert
Artwell, 'Doc' Williamson, The Clon-
mel Potters, Austin Campbell, Neville
Budhai .... If I start naming the 30 or
40 Kingston absentees Gene Pearson,
Glenwood Lawrence, Albert Huie, Jan

Watson etc., etc. I shall really get in
trouble with my editor!
Now let us try to find some answers
to a few leading questions. Is there any
unifying characteristic which distinguish-
es Jamaicans whose navel strings are
buried under some Jamaican tree from
those who have come from 'furreign'
and settled in our country? or from
those who may have been born here but
have spent their formative years abroad?
In a welter of styles ranging from the
sophisticated to genuinely primitive -
dare I attach the word to a painting such
as Leonard Daley's Pickpocket, or should
I assume that he belongs to the category
known as 'Intuitive'? In this gorgeous
annual carnival in which styles and cul-
tures intermingle on equal footing, can
we observe the emergence of a coherent,
indigenous artistic tradition? Are there
at least favoured themes which attract
our artists at every 'level'?
Probably I shall find myself on safest
ground if I approach the problem by
way of theme. This is what I shall do,
ignoring distinctions of medium where
possible, and not, for instance, draw a
hard line between sculpture and paint-
ing. Along the way I may, however, find
myself taking note of the origins and
training of the exhibitors.
Let us start with concepts of ourselves
as a people within a particular physical
environment. It is part of our post-
colonial experience as well as our in-
sularity, I think, to see life in these
terms, always aware of the motto "Out
of many one people", like lesson learn-
ed before we could even begin to read.


1i .

Inansi (Nancy Burke), a young artist
born and schooled in Jamaica but art
trained in England, has hit on the wit-
tiest metaphor I have so far seen for
conveying this concept, and with it the
typical individualistic Jamaican response
to life. Using objets trouves for her
mini 'environment', she has featured a
collection of stones or heads with as-
sorted painted faces including one
which looks as if it may be a donkey.
Their habitat, within a cardboard car-
ton, is, sorry to say, nothing more pro-
mising than sandy terrain with a single
crustacean of a tree made of driftwood.
Satire is a very healthy social pheno-
menon, and I notice it is becoming
more prevalent.
Of course there are other ways of
responding to the stimulus of the 'out
of many' ideal. One sees in Fitz Har-
rack's sketch for the Donald Sangs-
ter Airport mural, that it may also be
the motif for a serious, large scale ab-
stract composition. Allon Miller in a
mahogany carving titled Out of Many,
moralises on the theme of our diverse
origins and proclivity for political divi-
siveness; two hands which protrude like
rabbit's ears make the message all too
clear one makes the V sign and the
other brandishes a clenched fist. There
are more subtle ways of suggesting com-
munity of feeling, even without the uni-
fying element of the block or pyramid
or any sort of enclosed space. Susan
Alexander plays with the linear rhy-
thms of women of the people seen from
above in a variety of sprawling poses.
This idea is carried out in a bronze
finish poliform relief titled Sleeping

Sellers probably an entry in the
airport mural competition.
As one might expect, history is
brought into play as a narrative motif
in the genesis of many patriotic works
of art. Carl Abrahams is right at home in
his elaborate sketches for the Norman
Manley Airport mural; on this small
scale the designs look crowded; car-
rying them out full scale must have been
a tremendous undertaking. Folk heroes
are important patriotic unifiers. It is
a pity that Alvin Marriot's sketches for
the Bob Marley statue could not have
been obtained for this show. Barring-
ton Watson has consistently produced
large set pieces which illustrate folk-
ways. In this show he gives us a large
canvas which illustrates the drama of a

Jamaica is its own little world, but it
is also part of a gyrating globe, an entity
much more complex in its movements
than the school books tell us. Perhaps
this, or a similar idea, was in the mind
of Winston Patrick when he designed
the spherical open-work form to be car-
ried out in copper at the Mutual Life's
Atrium. In some quite abstract works I
find hints of a particular sensibility which
seems to be most at home with themes
of enclosure as if the island and/or
thoughts of escape from it, were a given
part of the indigenous consciousness.
Jerry Craig some time ago seemed ob-
sessed with the porthole view of our
'rock'. In his present Painting With
Textures there is this glowing orb which
sits securely within a well defined rect-
angle, its channel to the roughly tex-
tured outer world blocked but not
unpleasantly so by a frame within a
frame. Marguerite Stanigar in one of
her acrylics, dreams of the Perambul-
ating Soul and Collective Sanctuary;
actually I find her serenely classical
conte and pastel drawings, Journeying
and Intrinsic Moods far more beautiful
and soul satisfying. This may not quite
fit in here but I must mention a beauti-
ful mixed media abstraction by Carl
Bailey titled Passion; this work shows
how effective controlled draftsman-
ship and restrained forms can be in com-
bination with rich velvety colour.
We have moved away from the theme
of Jamaican artists and 'the rock'. Let
us get back to real earth, stones, and the
'dutty' we tread on daily without noti-
cing it.
Hope Brooks, Laura Facey and
others of that generation have shown
the design potential of such actual com-

inansi (Nancy Burke), Down on the Rock. Painted stones. 24 x 32'"

Gaston Tabois, Home Below Zion. Oil on hardboard. 16 x 20".




I '~

Everald Brown, City on the Hills. Oil on canvas. 22 x 24'.

ponents of the familiar environment
into works of art.6 Do you recall the
imaginative use of stones in Valentine
Fairclough's triptych from the "Reality
to Illusion Series" of 1983? Our stones,
in all their beauty and variety have in-
deed entered popular consciousness.
They may be employed for esoteric or
expressive purposes, as in David Boxer's
environmental installation.7 They may
also be seen performing the function
which is conventionally reserved for
foliage plants; the Japanese idea that
rocks and stones are beautiful has come
to stay. In the 1985 national show they
are most effectively used in the lobby
downstairs to complement the stylish
dubonnet plinths on which the sculp-
tures are displayed. In emotional terms
the weathered patina on the walls of our
country dwellings spells out the word
'home', but it took the eye of a new-
comer, Susan Shirley, to point out the
beauty of such humble experiences of
sight and touch. Here Susan Shirley
shows two of her typical country
houses, while June Bellew, another
lady with enquiring eyes, or to be more
accurate, the eyes of a botanist, is repre-
sented by two sensitive studies of trees.
Now that painting materials are in such
short supply in our schools it would be
good for teachers to see these works as
examples of what magic can be per-
formed simply with pencils. In this
category of close observation I would
place Hope Thomas-Wheeler, born in St
Ann but art trained in Alberta; it seems
as if a sojourn on the Canadian plains
has sharpened her eyes and given her a
fresh appreciation of the tussocky,
pitchy-patchy terrain in the wilder
reaches of Stony Hill.

Landscape may be studied in quite a
different way, as material for a personal
idiom of forms in the artist's private
imaginary world. Tina Matkovic-Spiro
continues her metaphysical exploration
away from the dust and confusion of
cities. Using a very low horizon, she fol-
lows the mood of last year's Almost
Paradise with another panoramic view
of great tranquility, broken only by the
urgent note of a distant fire in the fields.
The tremendous, placid Rothko Sky is
dominated by two almost incredible
pink clouds of ambiguous, or ambi-
valent intent. Merrilee Drakulich, an-
other artist of American background
who has lived in Jamaica for some time
and exhibits regularly in this show, has
emerged from her window frame phase
and come out into the sunshine, pro-
ducing a boldly decorative triptych

based on observation of the frisk of
waves in a swimming pool.
There are not as many landscapes by
local artists as there used to be. Most
artists who exhibit are city dwellers, and
like David Pottinger and Owen Jolly,
represented here by colourful genre
scenes, they are much too taken up with
what is happening in the streets to
bother about hills and clouds, or even
trees. Protest art is always with us, not
only in the form of graffiti but in the
domain of 'museum art'. Rafiki Kariuki
uses collage to declare War on Apartheid,
Douglas Wallace's gross, wild heads sug-
gest the dementia of the dispossessed.
They are Legion.
Andrew Jefferson, an English artist
who is a relative newcomer but in 1984
exhibited an interesting mixed media
humanoid Bamboo Head, this year exer-
cises his considerable virtuosity in two
fascinating street scenes, Riots in Para-
dise and One Wheel Wheely. I found
the two works very amusing and at the
same time moving because of their lack
of condescension and their grasp of the
essentials of life among the poor.
Though islanders, we are not I think
a seafaring nation. Americans who speak
of 'the islands', meaning accessible
destinations in the Caribbean 'basin',
may be disappointed at the lack of paint-
ings showing beaches or fishermen or
anything but the odd specimen of marine
life, as in Eve Foster's still life of shells
- and, of course Boxer's transformations
of a shell form in the sequence titled
Sleep. There is of course the odd, intel-
lectualised interpretation, notably Laura
Facey-Cooper's Slip of Moon, re-
viewed earlier this year, and Edna Man-
ley's symbolist drawing titled The Ocean,
My Mother. I find her drawing of The
Earth stronger. Allan 'Zion' John-
son's Ancient Ships on Turtle Island
with those busy helicopters buzzing
overhead have about as much objective
reality as the skyscrapers in his recent
New York fantasies. The background of
sea and coastline in my H.R.H. Mass Joe
is less important than the man and his
relationship to the flotsam around him.
When it comes to the mountains it is
quite a different matter. Expressed in
appropriate biblical idiom, what we do
is 'lift up our eyes unto the hills' ap-
proaching nature in a state of grace in
order to share our contentment. Gaston
Tabois shows two such idyllic worlds in
his Country Home Eastern and Home
Below Zion. If I could have got away
with it I would have snatched the lat-

ter off the wall and carried it home to
enjoy it at leisure. What an exquisite
combination of majesty and domesticity!
The other choice work which speaks of
the country man's love for the land as
somewhere to build a house and put
down roots is Everald Brown's mysti-
cal City on the Hills. The valley, as
well as the mountain may be seen as the
ideal locale for a contented closed com-
munity, dwelling in hopes of bliss, and
radiating a sense of harmony. This feel-
ing emerges from Roy Reid's painting
The People of the Valley which makes a
telling contrast with his Escapee clam-
bering down an arid prison wall.
Here we are back with the theme
of containment and escape. To Petrine
Archer the solution lies in the mind.
Seeking tranquility, she turns to the sol-
ace of meditation and gives us two decor-
ative prayer mats, Meditation I and II.
Intensely individualistic, Jamaican
artists often excel at exposing the quirki-
ness of friends or just characters. To be
brief I shall simply enumerate some of
these essays which tend to be quite
witty. Austin Dean Wright's metal assem-
blage Grandpa; William 'Woody' Joseph's
Bredda Bobbie and Jefet, Janette
Collins's Woman with a Drink. Actually
this picture owes its charm less to char-
acterisation by means of rather ob-
vious distortion of forms than to the un-
usual colour modulation, which comes
to fruition in an intriguing, luminous
In the category of portrait sculpture
our Jamaican Rodin, Basil Watson, has
created, in fibreglass, the quintessen-
tial Jamaican thinker. His figure of a
youth titled Contemplation, shows just
that typical gesture of a man who, own-
ing little beside his own body, sits and
studies his outstretched fingers as he
reasons out with himself the whys and
wherefores of existence.
Academic portraiture has always
flourished in Jamaica, and we have
come to expect an annual line-up of
portraits, mostly of women and by
women. Samere Tansley still leads the
field, in spite of certain compositional
flaws which diminish the elegance of the
beautifully painted Nearly Empty and
beautiful model. It seems that she has
been stimulated by Dali's obsession with
white tablecloths and napery notably
in his famous Last Supper and has set
herself the task of squeezing the girl
into a narrow area at one side, balancing
her with a frontal expanse of tablecloth
occupying about two-thirds of the pic-

ture plane. But there is some awkward-
ness at the juncture where the sharp re-
ceding edge of the table meets the con-
tour of the girl's torso, and this is not
helped by the placing of the tambour-
ine. In spite of this nit-picking criticism
I find this nearly successful composi-
tion a worthy successor to Samere's
previous exercises in portraiture as
character plus design. Her only real
challenger this year is a Trinidadian
artist, Angella Staples, whose Young
Girl on a Rainy Day, because of the
convincing spatial relationship and the
detailed rendering of the interior,
epitomises not just an individual person
but a whole lifestyle. Alexander Cooper
also makes the background objects
count for something in his large picture
titled Come Sing With Me; the character
of the upright piano forms a foil to the
figure on her knees mopping the floor.
But here the setting of objects appears
more contrived than in the Staples por-
trait, and, as in the Tansley, there is an
awkward juncture of forms which could
have been avoided. Barrington Watson's
society Lady With a Sombrero I find
rather empty really, and Judy MacMillan
too disappoints this year. The worried
expression and hair frizzing out in the
wind of her Girl at the Gate arouse
interest, but this achievement is not fol-
lowed through in the rest of the pic-
Actually my selection for the most
interesting portrait lies outside the cate-
gory of academic portraiture. Using an
original mixed media technique which
looks like waxed crayon partly scratch-
ed off, Albert Garel has created the bust
of a woman titled Pearl of the Plants
which possesses something of the monu-
mental quality of a sphinx. It must have
taken a thorough understanding of the
skull underneath to achieve the sculp-
tural modulations which give life to
those elegant, snaky coils of hair
Turning to more stylised or symbolist
works, we see here how obsessed with
fertility we are in Jamaica. I do not
mean to be flippant. Two of the most
beautiful sculptures in the show this
year are Lester Hoilett's simple and ele-
mental portrayal of mature love in a
carving in cedar titled Big Love and -
quite different in feeling Christopher
Gonzalez's Tree of Life. Gonzalez ap-
pears to be moving in a phase in which
he finds in wood carving just the right
medium for expressing ideas of organic
fulfilment. I prefer the full plastic vol-
umes of his recent version of this theme
to the more angular 1971 version in


Christopher Gonzalez, Tree of L

ciment fondu also shown here.

From fertility back to the ever re-
curring theme of Mother Earth . . It
is difficult to come to terms with Os-
mond Watson's version of this theme,
perhaps because his present painting
seems almost a travesty of the earlier
genre composition The Lawd is my
Shepherd.8 In the process of styli-
sation, which seems to be motivated by
the desire to move away from genre into
a loftier plane of symbolic meanings, in-
dividual human character has been sacri-
ficed. The stylized treatment of the eyes
as orbs, which worked well last year in
his Mother and Child, is, I would say,

ife (second version) Mahogany. 36".

carried further and to excess here. Not
only do the fruit and all the objects sur-
rounding the woman come under the
spell of his transformation; her shoulders,
belly, fingers and toes are rounded and
highlighted and the palm of her left
hand is turned outward to focus at-
tention on its rather grotesque appear-
ance. Osmond Watson is an artist who
follows the star of his personal artistic
destiny. Respecting him as I do, I can
only stand by and await further develop-
ments, admitting that in time I may
grow to accept the present phase.
The process by which certain symbols
and images take possession of a con-

sciousness within a culture thanks to
their crystallization in works of art, is
most interesting. We seem to be moving
away from fixed, idealistic concepts like
the Earth Mother and the Tree of Life
to more ambiguous, ambivalent, fluid
images such as those initiated local-
ly at least by Eugene Hyde in his
"Casualty Series". Robert Cookhorne
(African), who of all the artists under
30 at present seems to be the most re-
ceptive to tradition, exhibits several in-
teresting works in different media. The
most interesting is an outstanding mixed
media work titled Surgeon which seems
almost to be a tribute to Hyde; his icons

in stained glass may be regarded as a
response to the challenge of Osmond
Watson who has set a high standard to
live up to in this medium. The undis-
puted leader in this group of expres-
sionists to which Cookhorne and also
Nelson Cooper belongs, is Milton George.
His Couple, more muted in colour than
last year's Crucifixion, is a fine, subtle
realisation of feral relationships in the
human/animal kingdom, showing him to
be still in the ascendant as an imagin-
ative artist.

I must close with apologies to Cecil
Baugh, Hope Brooks, Eric Cadien,
Graham Davis, Ike Dodoo, Colin Gar-

land, Norma Rodney-Harrack, Kapo,
Michael Layne, Christene Riley, George
Rodney, Cecil Ward, Clive Webber, Ali-
son West, Richard 'Von' White and all
the other artists who may be justifiably
annoyed because their interesting works
escaped the meshes of my net.

GLORIA ESCOFFERY, O.D., our regular
art reviewer, is artist, poet, journalist and
teacher and lives in Browns Town, St. Ann.


1. Ted Hughes, Lupercal, Faber and Faber,
2. John Donne, Divine Meditations Number
3. Dylan Thomas, Collected Poems 1932-
1952, Dent Everyman's Library, 1966.
4. Sylvia Plath, Ariel, Faber and Faber,
5. National Gallery; Larry Wirth collection.
6. See reviews in Jamaica Journal 17:4 and
7. David Boxer: The Riefenstahl Requiem;
Headpiece 1972-1982 held over by
popular request for this show along with
Dawn Scott's installation A Cultural
Object. See review Jamaica Journal 18:
8. The Lawd is my Shepherd,National Gal-
lery collection.

JAMAICA JOURNAL is offering at
special prices, sets of back issues to
complete your collection. Limited
Quantities available!
The following numbers are available:


Nos 2,3,4
Nos. 3,4
Nos. 1 4
Nos. 1 -4

Vol.7 Nos. 1 -4
Vol.8 Nos. 1-4
Vol.9 Nos. 1-4

Vol. 10Nos. 1 -4
Vol. 11 Nos. 1-4
No. 42 (Vol. 12)
Nos.43, 44
(Vol. 13)
No.45 (Vol. 14)
No. 46 (Vol. 15
Vol. 16 Nos. 1 4

Special prices,
Single copies J$5 US$3 U.K 1.50
Purchase the entire set Save 20%
US$75 U.Kf39 J$136 per set
(Prices include handling and postage

Institute of Jamaica Publications Limited
2A Suthrere Road. Kingston 10, Jamaica,
Telephone: 92-94785/6

Robert Cookhorne, Icon. Stained glass. 165 x 12".

The Perfect Hotel for

The Wyndham combines ideal location with the best
and most comfortable facilities for the city's business

or Pleasure..
RISTORANTE D'AMORE Continental cuisine -
northern Italian style.
JONKANOO LOUNGE Definitely Kingston's most
popular night spot.
RENDEZVOUS BAR The ideal place to meet for
business or pleasure.
CAFE MACAW Varied menu, including many
International specialities.
POOLSIDE Relaxed tropical atmosphere.
Tel 926-5430

6,000 Jamaican jobs.A big responsibility.
In Jamaica, over 2,000 people are directly employed by Productivity and employment are everyone's concern,
Alcan, both in the bauxite/alumina industry and in agricul- and they are Alcan's prime considerations within our total
ture. Another estimated 4,000 are indirectly employed as planning process.
a result of Alcan's interests in Jamaica.
Alcan helps more than 2,600 local farmers by sub-letting
acreages to them and providing a service to help improve
their levels of production and standard of living.

Alcan Jamaica Company I I,

Quietly Achieving Important Goals


.'-:.:" IJ$15.00
the in Jamaica only .

S VICTOR U.S.$5.75
STAFFORD Post paid overseas
S"Invaluable as THE JAMAICANS is
for the Jamaican, it is equally so,
and as instructive for the non-
SJamaican West Indian reader.

S- The outstanding merit of t
'" Jamaicans, lies in its arti-
*: culation of the Jamaican
S.iS \ feeling .... The author of
LEOPARD has done his
Country and his country
distinguished service." -The BAJA
January 19:
Little is known outside of the Caribbean of
the part played by the Jamaican guerilla Juan de
Bolas in the adventure which established the English
in Jamaica. THE JAMAICANS is the great novel
which provides a magnificent tale of these times.

Institute of Jamaica Publications Limited
2A Suthermere Rd., Kgn. 10, Jamaica, Tel: 92-94785-6.





By Edward Baugh
Slave Song
David Dabydeen
Mundelstrup, Denmark: Dangaroo Press, 1984
75 pp. 2.95

T his remarkable first book of poems won the Common-

wealth Poetry Prize for 1984. The power of the col-
lection is all the more striking when we consider that it
comprises only 13 poems occupying 20 pages of text.
Localised in the Guyanese peasant experience, more parti-
cularly the East Indian, the poems are document, indictment,
howl of rage and plaintive keening of and for the slave experi-
ence in the New World, not as it is confined to the historical
period of plantation slavery, but as that experience, however
modified, has continued to be central to the lives of the op-
pressed and exploited. So when the woman cane-cutter cries,
'Booker own me patacake [vagina]/ Booker own me pickni',
Booker is the giant 20th century corporation Bookers Estate
Ltd., which controlled so much of the Guyanese economy, and
we can easily substitute for it, or supply behind it, the name of
any actual slave-owner from the historical period of slavery.
Dabydeen's vision privileges no group of sufferers over an-
other, but holds equal compassion for them all as victims. What
this means in terms of Guyana, with its uneasily even division
of population between African and East Indian, and the violent
clashes that have erupted on occasion between the two groups,
is that the poet is not so much concerned to apportion blame
to either side, but to see that the violence inflicted by the one
on the other is ultimately the work of the colonial and neo-
colonial exploiter.
So, while "For Mala" recalls the massacre of East Indians by
Negroes at the village of Wismar in 1964, the poem ends not on
a note of rancour or anti-Negro sentiment, but with an impartial
dream of peace and reconciliation:

Blackman go pung mata, no battle head,
Feed dem pickni wid fufu, na mattie flesh,
Coolie grind massala, na matte bone, stir dhall, no
De air go fill wid curry-smell an roast cassava
Purl an pepperpot
An sitar an steelband go sound wheh gunfire bin a deh.

The poignant, whispered lyricism of the close "Hear me
dream like birdsaang in yu ear!" is a long way from the sav-
agery re-enacted at the opening, thereby demonstrating some-
thing of the range, the flexibility and the power of the ap-
parently unadulterated Guyanese Creole in which the poems are

The linguistic authority of Slave Song is confirmed by the
novel inclusion of English translations. Following the courage
of his convictions, Dabydeen has taken the logical step which
should already have followed our (West Indian) protestations
that the Creole has its own distinctive subtlety and flexibility,
that it is a language in its own right, that some items in it just
can't be translated, that English can't do just as well. Even those
of us who might think we wouldn't need them, will find our-
selves turning to the translations time and again, and not just
for a gloss on a particular word or phrase. We turn to tl em not
to lean on them, but to find our assent to the originals redoubled.
No other language, no language that has any aspiration to-
wards 'refinement', would have done for these dramatic pieces
- monologue, dialogue, chorus in which a brutalised people
articulate that brutality. It is a language which holds nothing
back, a language of intensity, driven as it were to a vomiting-
up of the horror and a craving for cleansing and life. The horror
and the violence are often sexual, and the craving for comfort
and well-being are expressed in sexual terms. Physical violence
and sexuality have not before been presented with such candour
in West Indian poetry. And after the initial jolt which this can-
dour may provoke in the reader, and in and under the unabash-
ed rawness and crudity of utterance, will remain an enduring
art in the felicity and authentic localisation of imagery,
in the economy and arresting juxtaposition of detail, in the
modulations of mood, tone and rhythm.
The strong sexuality and eroticism are part of a sharp, charged
sensuousness, a physicality of thought and feeling so to speak,
which pervades the collection. This physicality is not only true
to the 'voice' of these poems, but also redeems and enlivens the
degradation and brutality, by witnessing to an indomitable cap-
acity for a full-blooded response to, a joyous reverence for life.
In the title-poem, sexual potency becomes the symbol of that
capacity, which is the will to resist, the essential freedom, as the
male slave acts out, mischievously, satirically, in fantasy, the
sexual stereotype to which he has been assigned by the master:

Tie me haan up.
juk out me eye.
Haal me teet out
So me no go bite.
Put chain rung me neck.
Lash me foot tight.
Set yu daag fo gyaad
Maan till nite -

But yu caan stap me cack flooding in de goldmine
Caan stap me cack splashing in de sunshine!

Look how e'ya leap from bush to bush like a black crappau
Seeking out a watahole,
Blind by de sunflare, tongue like a dussbowl -
See how e'ya sip laang an full an slow!

9 N .1N R N ... R

i \\\\! cf^Li'( o __10QKSVWMTE^r3

In those last six lines, the variations on the central water ima-
gery work with the other images to create a subtle web of sen-
suous suggestiveness that is at once playful, satirical, aggressive,
potent, life-delighting and self-delighting.
One of the more remarkable features of the collection is how
piercingly it articulates the violence--sexual, economic, emotion-
al, psychological done to the 'slave' woman. In some of the
poems a male persona's anguish or concern is the subject, but
it is as if the poet responds with most passionate horror to
woman's pain. Here again there is a striking variety of concern
and mood within a small compass.
The first three poems, with their focus on the horror of
woman's lot, including the savagery of sexual violence, ensure
the maximum impact for the opening of the sequence. In
"Guyana Pastoral", the conventional associations of 'pastoral'
are cruelly inverted:

Under de tambrin tree wheh de moon na glow,
Laang, laang, laang, she lay, laang, laang
She cry, but de wind na blow
An dem wraang an straang
An dem wuk an dem bruk till fowlcack-crow.
Who see who hear when she belly buss, when she mout
splash blood?

The mood changes in "The Servants' Song"when the female
house-slaves exact a secret, comic revenge on their tyrannical
white mistress. "For Ma" is a refreshingly original celebration
of the peasant mother. The poem is simply a short monologue

David Dabydeen

of command and exhortation by a mother as she awakens her
family to the day's labours. It suggests how she is at one and the
same time a slave to her life's routine of domestic labour and
yet an energising force, a catalyst of purposeful activity, a cele-
brant of life. A different sort of tribute is paid in "Men and
Women", where the delinquent husband returns, too late, to
say 'saary' for his ill-treatment of the woman who was once his
'midnight bride,/Bright, fresh, hopeful .
The dramatic quality of the sequence, scored as it were for a
variety of peasant voices, and relying on the suggestion of song
and choric recitation (no fewer than six of the 13 titles in-
clude the word 'song'), enhances the communal dimension of

the whole and its potential as a piece of ritualistic, 'total' theatre
which can exploit all the physicality of movement and gesture
native to the personae and in harmony with the vivid earth-
tones of their language.

The 44 pages of scholarly paraphernalia- introduction, notes,
translation, illustrations which surround the 20 pages of
poetry, can seem excessive, bludgeoningly reiterative, at times
smug and self-congratulatory, at times questionable in a way
in which the poems never are. The notes are more than notes
in the usual sense; they are also succinct and definitive critical
commentaries on the poems, telling the reader in effect how the
poems should be read. But ultimately one is caught up and dis-
armed by the sheer gusto, self-confidence and passionate sense
of purpose and urgency which informs all the varieties of
discourse which make up what is, in a sense, not so much a
book of poems as an experience. It is a many-sided learning
experience in culture, in history, economics, language and
poetry, and in the question of the relationship between oral and
scribal modes of expression, between erudition and unlettered
motherwit. It should be read through at one sitting, cover to

Edward Baugh is Professor of English at the University of the
West Indies, Jamaica.

By Thomas August
Merchants and Jews: The Struggle for British West Indian Commerce,
Stephen A. Fortune,
(Latin American Monographs, second series, number 26)
Gainesville: University Presses of Florida for the Center for
Latin American Studies, Gainesville, 1984, pp. xiii, 244. $18.00

Stephen Fortune draws four conclusions from his study
Merchants and Jews. First, 'the real capital inflow from
Spanish America through the West Indian trade helped
nudge the British economy into supremacy'. While economic
historians would have little difficulty accepting the notion of a
helpful nudge, controversy would erupt in response to the claim
made (p.90) that 'the commercial revolution, closely linked to
the expansion of Barbadian and Jamaican commerce, resulted in
accumulated capital that aided the early stages of the industrial
revolution'. This statement differs sharply from the viewpoint
of Patrick O'Brien1 and others, that the contribution of the
periphery to the economic development of Britain and the Con-
tinent was in fact peripheral. Fortune's second finding is far less
contentious: that 'the invisible terms of trade compensated ade-
quately for any visible losses of plantation commerce'. This of
course is well-known but bears repeating. The remaining two
conclusions concern the substance of the book (i.e. the Jewish
role in West Indian commerce): a) that 'flow of capital and
staples, whether through Curacao, North America, Barbados,
Jamaica, or directly to England, included extensive Jewish parti-
cipation never before examined'; and b) that 'the entire spec-
trum of commercial activity inspired continuous rivalries between
Creole merchants and Jewish businessmen'. Neither statement is
particularly original in view of the substantial body of literature
written on the subject of New World Jewry in the early modern
For those interested in Caribbean Jewish history, Fortune's
study will be found particularly wanting. With the exception of
what the author refers to as a select minority with the capital and
connections necessary for extensive smuggling, the Jewish com-
munity is virtually ignored. Mention is made of the few who
were planters or the much larger stratum of retailers; however,
no clear picture of the social composition of the Jewish com-
munity in Barbados or Jamaica emerges. In this regard, the stud-
ies by Jacob Marcus and Seymour Liebman, the dissertation by

Robert Cohen, in addition to the many relevant articles in the
Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society are far
more informative.
Merchants and Jews uncovers little that is unknown and ad-
vances nothing new in the way of interpretation. However, in
fairness to an author with so apropos a surname, the reader
does gain insight into the extensive illicit trade in which both
Jewish and Creole merchants were involved. Unfortunately, it is
the former's participation that receives the entirety of the dis-
cussion. As a result, a certain image of the Jew appears in For-
tune's book that is not too unlike that held by the Creole mer-
chants of the period under study. Devious in attaining letters of
denization, adventurous in their illicit commercial activities, the
Jews of the Caribbean are portrayed as unscrupulous economic
beings who through their international connections rose to such
a level of prominence that their Creole rivals were forced to
petition for their disability and removal. On page 32, Fortune
writes that 'the conflict between the Jewish merchants and their
Christian counterparts in the West Indies was serious enough to
cause the Jews to conceal their wealth for fear of exorbitant
taxes or seizures by competitors'. Such a statement on the one
hand stops short in that the Jews' fear of overtaxation and
seizure was solidly grounded; the same sentence goes too far on
the other hand in assuming that Jews as a group concealed their
wealth. On page 131, Fortune admits that English as well as
Jewish merchants were interested in the illegal trade but three
pages later writes that it was the Jews who 'were extremely care-
ful and reticent about revealing their trade'. Can we not assume
that the Gentile smuggler would have been equally reserved
about declaring the source of his income?
It would be reductionist to explain anti-Jewish legislation in
the Caribbean or anywhere else for that matter solely in terms
of economic competition. Fortune is clearly aware of this, as
evidenced by his discussion of plantation caste structure and
the fear aroused by anyone foreign be he Jew, Quaker, or
Catholic (cf. pp. 67-69). Had the author chosen to analyse
Creole-Jewish relations more in this light, his book would
have been far more challenging and illuminating for its readers.

1. Patrick O'Brien, "European Economic Development: The Contri-
bution of the Periphery", Economic History Review, 35, 1 (February

Thomas August is a lecturer in the Department of History,
University of the West Indies, Jamaica.

A Novel by Neville Dawes

"INTERIM is a well written
book, well worth reading...
... one must credit the author with providing us with
an exciting story and coming out on top with his fine
style of writing." Archie Lindo, The STAR.
"Dawes has created a masterpiece in INTERIM ...
the theme of a Jamaican people struggling for an
existence and identity ... ." Joy Scott, DAIL Y NEWS

in Jamaica only

Post paid overseas

By Inez Knibb Sibley
".. the book is undoubtedly informative and demon-
strates the result of a great deal of research ....
".... .a book into which the casual
reader may dip and find something of
considerable interest."
" ... To those who love to learn ofJamaica's history
this book will be a tremendous mental treat."
- Sir Florizel Glasspole, Governor General of Jamaica

in Jamaica only

U.S. $5.50
Post paid overseas

died b D. B. Stewar

A handsome edition
combining the best of
Gosse's work on Jamaica's
natural history with special
emphasis on the
Birds of Jamaica
16 pages of Gosse's
original illustrations
of Jamaican birds,
eight in full colour.

J$70 or U.S.$20 per copy. f \
(hard cover only)
Postage (surface rate) and handling charges included

Institute of Jamaica Publications Limited
2A Suthermere Road, Kingston 10, Jamai.a,
Telephone: 92-94785/6


An interdisciplinary journal published since 1949 concerns
itself with Caribbean culture in all its ramifications. It is an
outlet for the publication of the results of research and
considered views on matters Caribbean. Articles are written
by authorities and scholars of West Indian affairs.
history geography sociology industry mass com-
munications development ethnology religion .
literature a art music poetry
The Journal is published quarterly: March, June, September
and December.
University of the West Indies
P.O. Box 42, Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica

These brief notes on books received
do not preclude a longer review.

xr-- r>

country' from the West Indies
in the 1950s in search of a bet-
ter life. Uses history, analysis
and interview to document the
treatment meted out to the
women by the welfare state;
their health, job and housing
situations; family relationships,
self-image; racism and their at-
tempts to secure a better life
for themselves and their child-

This Island Now
Peter Abrahams
London: Faber and Faber, 1985,
i .

Woman's Tongue
Hazel D. Campbell
Kingston:Savacou Publications Ltd.,
Campbell's second collection
of short stories explores the ex-
perience of the Jamaican wo-
man, the most pervasive themes
being the relationship between
the sexes and religion as a sup-
port to which women turn in
times of stress.
The Heart of the Race, Black
Women's Lives in Britain
Beverley Bryan, Stella Dadzie,
Suzanne Scafe
London: Virago Press, 1985
Argues that the exploitation
and economic hardship the
Afro-Caribbean woman faced
under slavery, continued when
she migrated to the 'mother

;..: .
'. :

Slaves Who Abolished Slavery
Richard Hart
Vol 1: Blacks in Bondage, 1980
Vol 2: Blacks in Rebellion, 1985
Kingston: ISER, illustrated.
These two volumes treat an
aspect of West Indian history
until recently overlooked or
underrated, the part played by
the slaves themselves in resist-
ing slavery. Volume 1 examines
the institution of slavery, des-
cribing the origins of the slave
trade, and the system of plant-
ation slavery and the anti-
slavery movement. Volume 2
refers specifically to Jamaica;
it details the Maroon Wars
and 'the many slave revolts
that were a feature of the Jam-
aican struggle against slavery'.
Caribbean Poetry Now
Stewart Brown led.)
London: Hodder and Stoughton,
pp.120, illustrated.

Features the work of ap-
proximately 40 Caribbean poets
arranged broadly into the fol-
lowing themes: roots; child-
hood and adolescence; folks;
one love; city life; country
life; old folks; death and grief;
gods, ghosts and spirits. Well
known poets such as Derek
Walcott, Edward Kamau Brath-
waite, Oku Onuora, Louise

Bennett, and Linton Kwesi
Johnson are included. Design-
ed to help candidates prepare
for the CXC English B examin-
ation, the anthology contains
notes on each poem and teach-
ing questions.


Beyond Babylon
Len Garrison
London: Blackstar Publications,
pp.58, illustrated.

A collection of poems which
speaks of the experience of
blacks living in Britain today.
Illustrated with photographs
by the author.
A New Earth: The Jamaica Sugar
Workers' Cooperatives, 1975-1981,
Monica Frolander Ulf and
Frank Lindenfield,
University Press of America 1985,
240 pp, illustrated.
U.S.$24, hardcover; $12.50 paper.
Focuses on the sugar workers'
cooperatives organized among
the 5,000 workers at Frome,
Monymusk and Bernard Lodge
estates in the 1970s. Traces the
history of the cooperatives
from 1973 through to their
dissolution in 1981.

1 04 E
First published by Faber and
Faber in 1966. The plot of the
novel develops around the poli-
tical crisis precipitated by the
death of a long-time dictator in
a Caribbean island. Change is in-
evitable and people are un-
certain of what form it will
take. Against the background
of political upheaval, a story of
the eternal triangle is played

Kyk-Over-AI Revived
The little Guyanese magazine
Kyk-Over-AI, which, along with
Bim, Focus and the BBC Carib-
bean Voices programme, had
played such a key role in the
development of West Indian
literature since the forties, and
which was defunct for many
years, has been happily revived.
Three numbers have been pub-
lished so far. It is now edited
jointly by A.J. Seymour, the
original founder-editor, and lan
McDonald. Contributions may
be sent to them at: 23 North
Road, Bourda, Georgetown,
'New Poetry from the West
Indies' in New York Magazine
The Winter/Spring 1985 double
issue (Volume 12, nos. 3 & 4)
of The Greenfield Review, a
highly regarded international
literary magazine edited by
Joseph Bruchac III from the
Greenfield Centre, New York,
devotes 100 pages to a selection
of new poetry from the West
Indies, edited and introduced
by Edward Baugh. The 26

poets include most of the
well-known names (Brathwaite,
Goodison, Hendriks, McNeill,
Mordecai, Onuora, Scott, Sey-
mour et al) as well assome net
so well-known (Beulah Brown,
Cecil Gray, Earl McKenzie,
Mark McWatt).

Caribbean Language and
Two recent issues of Carib-
bean Quarterly are devoted to
Caribbean Literature and Lan-
guage respectively. Vol. 28,
nos. 1 & 2, 'Critical Approaches
to West Indian Literature', com-
prises eight essays, including
Jeannette Allis's 'A Case for
Regional Criticism of West
Indian Literature', Mervyn
Morris on 'Louise Bennett in
Print', and Kenneth Ramchand
on 'The Fate of Writing'. Vol-
ume 28, no. 4 includes articles
by Joy Carew on Suriname's
Sranan Tongo, Velma Pollard
on 'Social History of Dread
Talk', Pauline Christie on 'Lan-
guage Maintenance and Lan-
guage Shift in Dominica', Mer-
vyn Alleyne and Beverley Hall-
Alleyne on 'Language Mainten-
ance and Language Death in
the Caribbean', and Maureen
Warner-Lewis on 'Samuel Sel-
von's Linguistic Extravaganza:
Moses Ascending'. CQ is pub-
lished by Dept. of Extra-Mural
Studies, UWI, Mona. Kingston


Vic Reid on N.W. Manley
Novelist Vic Reid's long a-
waited biography of National
Hero the Rt. Excellent Norman
Manley was recently published
by Caribbean Authors Publish-
ers Ltd [Kingston, 1984] under
the title The Horses of the
Morning. Asked about how his
friendship with NWM began,
Reid had this to say:
'I think like many other
people, I suspect that some-
times you run into adversity
when you meet Manley first -
at least it looks like adversity,
and then suddenly you realise
that, hey, it's not going to
work like that at all. How I
met him first? Very simple.
One evening, I was then on the
Gleaner staff, I was told to go
and interview Manley on some-
thing; I don't remember what

Vic I
it was. So, I called him --well,
he expected me- so I go round
to his office in Duke Street. Of
course, I had seen him; we had
exchanged the odd word, but
he hadn't known me; he just
knew I was on the Gleaner. So
I go into this place and he looks
up in that odd, almost quirky
way he has, going down back
and looking back down at his
desk. So he says, Where is" -
whoever it was, maybe Martin
Smith, I'm not sure one of
the old hands whose short-
hand was so fast they could
write it ahead of the speaker.
Because I have no shorthand.
So I said, "Martin isn't there,
but I've come."
- "Do you take shorthand?"
- Because he had never seen
me in the House or anything.
- He wasn't in the House yet.
- So I said, "No."
- "Well how do you expect to
interview me?"
- I say, "I'm intelligent," and
he again does this little odd
look and he proceeds to talk,
and I proceed to write down
all the key words he used,
because by that time I had
done about three novels*and
I was familiar with getting
your key words in which
you'll flesh out eventually.



MBIIS1 --.

So I put down these words,
and I knew what was hap-
pening in the country, I knew
the history, we were living the
damn thing, so I knew. And he
kept on trying to look into the
notebook, you know, and I
just held it in front of my hand
and wrote my things in my
longhand. And when he was
finished he said, "I can't under-
stand how Michael DeCordova
could send you, a junior man,
who hasn't got shorthand, to
interview me!" and so on.
So I said, "Well, Michael
also is an intelligent man",
and he did a little laugh, a lit-
tle cackle, the sort of cackle
he gives sometimes, a bark,
really a bark, a laugh like 'Ha!',
you know. And so I said, O.K.
and I went back to office, man
it was about getting dusk,
half-past six, seven, you know
and I proceed to put down this
interview in the form of a ques-
tion and answer -this is what
Manley said, this is what he
meant and I wrote, oh, must
be about a half column of stuff
long, and it appeared next day
in the newspaper.
Not a peep out of Manley,
for about a week, so I said to
myself, "The bastard has read
it! He isn't angry at all, ap-

parently." So I proceed round
to Supreme Court one day and
he was appearing in some case
so I waylay him in the corri-
"Hi, Mr Manley! How do
you like your story?"
He looks me up and down
again and says, "Follow me!."
- We go into this robing room
they had, the barrister's robing
room, and he turned round to
me and said, "Very good, very
_ J .. . .. mm -- ,-

good story, son. son: so I
felt like a million dollars:
Manley tell you 'very good'!

*Before Reid's first published
novel, New Day.

Help for Local Publishers

Readers will have noted the
letters ISBN followed by 10
digits which for some time
have been appearing on books
published overseas and more
recently on books published
locally. ISBN which stands for
International Standard Book
Number, is the means devised
by the book industry to cope
with the phenomenal increase
in the number of publications
issued over the past 30 years.
Each new work including
books, pamphlets, microforms,
educational kits and brailled
works is assigned an ISBN
by which it may be precisely
identified and classified. Fur-
ther, each new edition or change
in format is given a different
ISBN, thus facilitating efficient
processing, inventory control,
location and retrieval of pub-

The ISBN system is ad-
ministered locally by the Na-
tional Library of Jamaica which
is responsible not only for as-
signing numbers to new public-
ations but also for promoting
its use. The latter is carried out
through seminars at which pub-
lishers and other closely related
professionals are educated on
its application. One such work-
shop was held 11 February

Serials such as Jamaica
Journal are covered under a
similar system but carry the
International Standard Serial
Number (ISSN) which is not
administered by the National



Library of Jamaica but is avail-
able from the International
Centre for the Registration of
Serials 20 Rue Bachaumont
75002 Paris.
The administration of the
ISBN programme is only one
way in which the National
Library cooperates with the
local publishing industry in an
attempt to attain internation-
al standards in the field. At the
seminar referred to previously,
other concerns such as the
need to observe international
standards in providing biblio-
graphic data for new public-
ations was discussed. Too often
local publications fail to carry
even the most basic data, e.g.
place and date of publication,
information which is essential
to researchers and libraries.
Publishers are urged to ac-
quire copies of the inter-
national requirements from the
Bureau of Standards, 6 Win-
chester Road, Kingston 10.
Cataloguing in Publication
(CIP) is yet another programme
recently introduced by the
National Library for publishers.
This data is published in the
book and is available in book
trade journals, national biblio-
graphies and machine readable

tapes before the book is pub-
Isihed. Librarians and book-
sellers are therefore aware of a
title even before publication.
To date, however, very few
publishers have been making
use of this service.
As the repository of the
nation's heritage, the National
Library has the responsibility
to collect and preserve all
materials produced in Jam-
aica, on Jamaica and by Jam-
aicans. This clearly is both a
mammoth and expensive task.
Publishers are therefore request-
ed to assist by depositing at
least two copies of all items
they produce with the library,
thus ensuring their preserv-
ation as a part of the national
collection. This request is made
in the absence of a legal deposit
law which would ensure the
deposit of publications. It is
hoped that the law will be pas-
sed soon but until it is enacted
publishers are urged to cooper-
ate voluntarily in building the
national collection.
Readers who would like
more information on the pro-
grammes described may write
to the National Library of Jam-
aica, 12-14 East Street, King-
ston, or call them at 92-20620.


No. 1 Jamaica 21 Anthology Series
Jamaican Folk Tales and
Oral Histories
by Laura Tanna
Songs Rhymes Riddles Proverbs
.Historical Narratives *Lying Stories
Parson Stories Duppy Stories *Anansi Stories
Trickster Narratives.
Covers the range of
Jamaica's Oral Art Forms
Over 50 narratives
Written down exactly as told.
Introduction: How the Stories were Collected;
How the Stories were Written Down
Chapter I: Background to Jamaican Folk Tales
Chapter II: Storytelling as a Performing Art
Chapter III: Jamaican Oral Art Forms

Chapter IV: Jamaican Trickster Narratives
Chapter V: Other Old Time Stories

The historical, cultural and linguistic background which
gave rise to the oral narrative tradition in Jamaica is
explained and put into the context of the present situation.
Although the emphasis is on the stories, an effort is made to
examine storytelling as a dramatic art form so as to convey
to the reader some of the dynamic vitality of performance
which keeps the tradition of folk tales alive and enduring.

J$79.95 or U.S.$20
For free brochures on this and other publications on
Jamaican culture please write to us:

Institute of Jamaica Publications Limited
2A Suthermere Road, Kingston 10, Jamaica, Telephone: 92-94785/6

Honor Ford-Smith, artistic director of Sistren, has
been active in the popular theatre movement locally
and internationally as a writer, actress, director and
teacher. She is a founder member of the Caribbean
Association for Feminist Research and Action and
has conducted extensive research on women's work
and organization in Jamaica from 1900-1944.

Jeremy Woodley is the head of the Discovery Bay
Marine Laboratory, University of the West Indies. His
previous contribution to Jamaica journal entitled

"History of the Jamaican Fauna" appeared in 2:3,

Pamela Beshoff is a research student in the International
Relations Department at the London School of Eco-
nomics and Political Science and contributed "Namba
Roy: Maroon Artist and -Writer" to Jamaica journal
(16: 3, 1983).

The Hon. Victor Stafford Reid has written several
novels including New Day, The Leopard The Jam-
aicans, Nanny Town, The Horses of the Morning
(biography of N.W. Manley, National Hero), many
short stories, radio and television scripts. He has been
awarded the Gold Musgrave Medal of the Institute of
Jamaica and the Norman Manley Award for Excellence
in literature. International awards include a Guggen-
heim Fellowship and a Canada Council award.



The Institute of Jamaica is to
honour the memory of two out-
standing men for their contribution
to the development of the Institute
and Jamaican life. They are the
Rev. Deacon Robert Verity, M.B.E.,
C.D., founder and long time mentor
of the Institute's Junior Centre, and
Headley Po well Jacobs, 0. B. E., C. D.,
'journalist, historian, humanitarian,
publicist and Man of Letters' Mr.
Jacobs served as Member of the
Institute's Board of Governors (fore-
runner of the Council) from 1960-
The Institute's Council at its
meeting in November decided to
award the Robert Verity Trophy
for originality and creativity in the
annual Art in Preparatory Schools
Competition organized by the Insti-
tute and will consider other means
of perpetuating his name. The
Council took special note of the
Rev. Mr. Verity's life of service to
the Institute which he 'served with
distinction' from 1939-1967. The
Council recorded its gratitude for
'the seminal role which he played in
the development of the artistic and
intellectual potential of the nation's
youth, through his pioneering and
dedicated work at the Institute's
Junior Centre which he founded
in 1940'.
H.P. Jacobs's memory is to be
honoured by the establishment of
the annual H.P. Jacobs Memorial
Prize essay competition; by a gift
to his widow, Mrs. Lily Elizabeth
Jacobs, and by the preservation by
the Institute of the H.P. Jacobs
manuscripts and papers through the
National Library of Jamaica and
the African Caribbean Institute of

Jamaica's national cultural institution was
founded in 1879. Its main functions are to
foster and encourage the development of
culture, science and history in the national
interest. It operates as a statutory body un-
der the Institute of Jamaica Act, 1978 and
falls under the portfolio of the Prime
The Institute's central decision-making body
is the Council which is appointed by the
Minister. The Council consists of individuals
involved in various aspects of Jamaica's
cultural life appointed in their own right,
and representatives of major cultural
organizations and institutions.
The Institute of Jamaica consists of a central
administration and a number of divisions
and associate bodies operating with varying
degrees of autonomy.
Chairman: Hon. Hector Wynter, O.J.
Executive Director: Beverley Hall-Alleyne
Central Administration
12-16 East Street, Kingston Tel: 92-20620
African Caribbean Institute (ACIJ)
Roy West Building, 12 Ocean Blvd.
Kingston Mall Tel: 92-24793
Cultural Training Centre,
1 Arthur Wint Drive, Kingston 5
School of Art Tel:92-92352
School of Dance- Tel/:92-92350/68404
School of Drama Tel: 92-92353/68335
School of Music Tel: 92-92351/68751

Institute of Jamaica Publications Ltd.
(Jamaica Journal)
2A Suthermere Road, Kingston 10
Tel: 92-94785/94786/68817

Junior Centre
19 East Streeet, Kingston Tel: 92-20620

Head Office
12-16 East Street, Kingston Tel: 92-20620
National Museum of Historical
Archaeology, Port Royal Tel: 98-42452
Fort Charles Maritime Museum
Port Royal
Arawak Museum
White Marl
Military Museum
Up Park Camp, 3rd GR Compound
Jamaica Peoples Museum of Craft
and Technology
Spanish Town Square Tel: 98-42452
Old Kings House Archaeological Museum
Spanish Town Square Tel: 98-42452

National Gallery of Jamaica
Roy West Building, Ocean Boulevard,
Kingston Mall Tel: 92-28541

Natural History Library and
12-16 East Street, Kingston Tel: 92-20620

National Library of Jamaica
12-16 East Street, Kingston Tel: 92-20620

We make



Insurance Protection through the
following types of polices:

The Insurance Company
of the West Indies Ltd.
KINGSTON: 2 St. Lucia Avenue,
Kingston 5, Tel: 92-69040-7
ICWI City Centre: 101 Harbour St.,
Kingston, Tel: 92-28415-8
MONTEGO BAY: 21 Market Street,
Tel: 952-0301
MAY PEN: 2 Fernleigh Avenue, P.O.
Box 421, Tel: 986-2598



The Longhouse, built in 1780 by John Henderson,
a colonel in the militia, has been described by Pro-
fessor David Buisseret as a 'utilitarian but charming
example of late 18th century creole architecture'. It
is one of a number of historic buildings in the Port
Henderson area that was restored by the Jamaica
National Trust Commission in 1963-64 under the
supervision of T.A.L. Concannon, then technical
director of the Trust.
A two storey structure built in coursed dressed
stonework with timber floors and roof, possibly its
most outstanding feature is the length of the two
rooms of which the building is comprised. The lower
room on the ground floor is 60' x 20' with 10'
recesses on either side, while the upper room runs
the complete length of the building 80' and
opens onto a balcony six feet wide. Tom Concannon
noted that this verandah may have extended around
each end of the building in the original structure.
(There is a controversy in architectural circles as to
whether this verandah was originally cantilevered or
supported by posts. It was Mr Concannon's opinion
that the former would be highly unlikely, considering
the date of the building; however if it were indeed
so, it would make the Longhouse of great significance
in the history of timber structures.) The upper floor
is reached by external stone stairways located at
either side of the house. The stone used in the restor-
ation, as in the original structures, came from quar-
ries in the area.
It is not certain what the Longhouse was originally
used for. Some sources refer to it as an inn or lodging

house with accommodation for servants, horses and
bugials on the ground floor and for travellers on the
upper floor which would have been partitioned as
required. Other sources refer to it as a warehouse.

The Longhouse is owned by the Government of Jamaica and administered
by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.




A, I

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs